Donald Trump Laughs at Your Puny Human Horserace Coverage


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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108 Responses

  1. Avatar Roland Dodds says:

    At what point do we say that because the election is a year away that all of this means nothing?

    I honestly can’t stand the idea that the reality of a Clinton/Bush race is what we have in store for us. Maybe I’ll be one of those liberals who threatens to leave the country if candidate X wins, but extend that criteria to candidates X Y Z,Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Don’t everybody love the smell of gasoline?Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    If I may quote a wise man responding to criticism of some early stumbles and slowness, @rtod ,

    R, E., L.. A… X. Relax.

    23% of Republican primary supporters support Trump at the moment, up 1% from the pre-debate 22%. Which means that 77% of Republican primary voters who responded to this poll do not support Trump.

    Which gives us a pretty good hint as to the percentage of Republican primary voters who are actually troglodytes. It’s higher than I actually thought, but lower than I feared.

    I also notice that my far-right friends have been telling everyone who will listen and lots of people who don’t care that until 2008, Trump was a Democrat who gave more money to Democrats than Republicans, that Trump supported Obamacare and before that single-payer healthcare, that Trump is pro-choice.Report

    • Avatar Francis says:

      Brother Burt:

      Trump may be the first favorite of only 23%. But for how many people is he second favorite? I would not underestimate the bandwagon effect as people move to support a winner.

      I think it is way too early to assume that he has reached his cap on popularity.

      Should be an interesting few months.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think the 23% reflects a lot of that bandwagon. Back when he was polling at 10% the first or second choice was 27%… I think he’s won over a lot of those people. I think his cap is probably close to that. Maybe a bit higher.Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      Which means that of all the 17, Trump is the least scary contender, the least dangerous for our nation.

      Let that sink in a moment.

      I will just say again what most liberals are saying, that Trump isn’t a conservative or liberal, he is a demagogue who will position himself wherever the mob wants him to be.

      And he is just reflecting back at the GOP mob what they crave in a leader- the strong man on horseback who will make Those People obey and restore our nation to greatness.

      The 22% who support him are what, a strange outlier in Republican circles, the discredited powerless fringe? Or do they represent the heart and soul of the conservative movement?

      Remember, the 78% who don’t support Trump don’t withhold their support because he is too conservative, too extreme; they withhold their support because of various reasons, but mostly that they believe the others are more effective at implementing the values that Trump advertises.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Agreed with Burt. Trump is a clown and if he somehow manages to not be a clown then he will merely defenestrate the GOP this election cycle. As a Democratic supporter I view with possible result with complete aplomb- the GOP is perfectly welcome to self combust for a while. The Dems have been mostly running the country, taking out the trash, keeping the lights on, paying the bills etc for about eight years. I am fine with them continuing to do so overtly.Report

      • Avatar nevermoor says:

        My opinion is that an honest conservative party would be a good check on the crazier democratic problems (e.g. we are bad at saying no when not forced to for budgetary reasons). That said, no such party exists, and no such candidate is running. I’d much rather have people acknowledge the crazy than pretend someone like Walker is that person despite his lunatic views.Report

        • Avatar LWA says:

          Well, we do, but they are called Democrats.
          Nope, not really snark.

          I mean, look at Obama and the way the budget deficit has dropped under his administration.
          Or Brown in California, who has turned a deficit into a surplus.

          Where are the people pounding the table demanding for deficit spending?

          Oh, right…Kansas.

          I honestly believe that it is the Democratic Party that best fits the Burkean vision of caution and prudence and the Republicans who are reckless and utopian.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor says:

            I don’t think that’s really true.

            I don’t think Democrats could unilaterally close military bases/introduce sanity to the prison system/etc. because then we are soft on crime/weak/whatever but the GOP can, and in certain states on the latter point has. In my limited experience (which is CA politics) prisoners were better served by Arnold than Brown because the former has baked in prison union support while the latter has to sweat it.

            Now, to be clear, I’d like that sane GOP to be the minority party because I prefer democratic ideas, but I don’t think the best outcome is for the GOP to either fall apart completely or to become the party of Trump/Rubio/Cruz/etc. Which it basically has.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I generally concur.Report

  4. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Tod, what is it you fear is going to happen here?Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      I think he’s worried that it’s already happened; that Trump’s lead in the polls is not because he’s loud, but because conservative Americans actually believe the stuff he’s saying and strongly desire someone to say it for them. That conservative America is going to turn around and say “you know what? All this time you’ve been joking, you’ve been lampooning, you’ve been exaggerating us for comedic effect, but in fact you weren’t, and now we’re going to show you that you actually weren’t going far enough.”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah, I think basically this.

        Or, alternatively, I worry that this age of mass media has made US politics so much of a reality-show joke that all we really care about is that someone entertains us. Will they be a terrible person to helm the country? Will their policies be disastrous? Are they looking to actually cause harm to certain groups of citizens? Who cares, so long as they’re so interesting?

        Or, alternatively, I worry that this signals the end of any possible era where parties are incentivized to work together and compromise.

        Or, alternatively, I worry that the fact that anyone who says and does these kind of things can be made into a major party forerunner — even for a limited time — because they do and say things like this says something very dark and disturbing about this country (and perhaps democracy) that I’ve never been willing to believe.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          The worse this gets, the greater the incentive for the GOP to do everything they can to prevent this from happening again. In a way, the worst thing for you is that it dies now. My own fear is that the GOP will cut a deal with him (to speak at the convention in prime time) to avoid a third party bid. In a weird way, I think the longer this goes on, though, the less likely they are to do so to avoid giving him more power in 2020.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            You say that like the moderates and establishment wing of the GOP is destined to win that battle.

            I’m less sure than you about that.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              Not the moderate wing. The portion of the party that dislikes Trump, which is greater than the part of the party willing to vote for him. First and foremost, the money men who want a return on their investment, and those who want their money.

              If this situation goes unresolved, it’s not a tenable one. And that which is not tenable ceases to be.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Let the wingnuts win then my Todd. A historic shellacking could do the GOP a world of good.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          this age of mass media has made US politics so much of a reality-show joke that all we really care about is that someone entertains us

          I have a pretty high tolerance (even affinity) for absurdity as entertainment, and I don’t think even I would be mentally prepared for the absurdity of a President Trump.Report

        • Avatar Patrick says:

          I worry that this signals the end of any possible era where parties are incentivized to work together and compromise.

          I think we passed that point in 1993. If we didn’t then, we certainly did in 2009.

          Which means we’re probably closer to a correction than anything else.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            It seems to me that both parties are held together by spit, intertia, and baling wire.

            If one party collapses, it will soon be followed not by the other party dominating, but the other party collapsing as well.

            Or, I suppose, we’ll see another 2004/2006, 2008/2010 bunch of whiplashes.Report

            • Avatar Patrick says:

              That depends somewhat on *how* the party collapses.

              The dynamics of our two-party system have a lot of gravity. If one side jettisons a group, the other side has – historically – had a tendency to pick them up.

              But I do think there may actually be a difference the next time this happens, if it happens soon enough. If Trump leaves, and a goodly number of the most xenophobic members of the GOP leave with him… historically, that would be the call for the Dems to absorb them.

              But I don’t see that happening.

              There’s a legitimacy issue here, not only on the part of the parties not necessarily being willing to accept the chunk-to-be-cast-off, but also there’s no way I see the most xenophobic members of the GOP considering the Democrats a legitimate option.

              The polarization of the bases has gotten so far apart.

              Now, the question is, what happens if that happens… because *if* the GOP fractured like that and the Dems didn’t pick them up, we’d have an actual three party system with two of the three parties unable to compete nationally, and we’d have a very… very weird result. One that probably wouldn’t be sustainable.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          worry that this age of mass media has made US politics so much of a reality-show joke that all we really care about is that someone entertains us. Will they be a terrible person to helm the country? Will their policies be disastrous? Are they looking to actually cause harm to certain groups of citizens? Who cares, so long as they’re so interesting?

          If that’s the case here with Trump, why is it not bilateral? Why isn’t the Democratic candidate a clown to entertain us?Report

        • Avatar nevermoor says:

          I worry that this signals the end of any possible era where parties are incentivized to work together and compromise.

          Agreed on this fear. I don’t think we get back there until/unless we take away the ability to block as an option (i.e. eliminating the filibuster). If the minority can only influence policy by trading bipartisanship cred for concessions, we have a healthy role. If the minority can stop anything for any reason, we won’t be able to sustain this form of government.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Let’s say 23% believe that so much that they’re willing to endorse the guy who supports single payer. Now what? What dreadful thing does that leave in store for us? This is the thing he’s been complaining about coming to a head in a way that the party, a much larger portion of which is mad as he’ll at the whole thing, cannot ignore (if it doesn’t self-correct).Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “Let’s say 23% believe that so much that they’re willing to endorse the guy who supports single payer. ”

          Single payer plus a whole raft of other stuff, yeah, some of which you might strongly disagree with (and which a President would have a whole lot more control over than actual legislation.)Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            One of the things I have just a bit of difficulty with is that we don’t know what that “whole raft of other stuff” is, exactly. That which we do know is at odds with what his supporters theoretically believe, and some of what we have heard sounds closer to LWA’s worldview than Jeb Bush’s. A few people have said that “he’s not substantively any different than any other GOP candidate” except that we don’t really know about that.

            The focus is on style – support or opposition – in good part because of that.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              (And when I say “We don’t know” I don’t mean “We don’t know what’s in his heart of hears and whether or not he means what he’s saying… I mean he hasn’t really said. Not where people can hear, anyway. And he has no track record.)Report

          • Avatar North says:

            What I really don’t follow is how the assumption goes 1: Donald Trump gets the GOP nomination; 2: Donald Trump becomes President!!!

            Maybe it’s me but it seems to me that there’s a non-trivial step missing in there.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I agree; but it’s important to hone in on what he’s saying; and I don’t really think it’s all the anti-PC rudeness; it’s the way he told Rand Paul, “You’re having a tough night. . . You’re not hearing me, you’re having a tough night.”

        It’s that he has some weird ability to create other people’s reality; to manifest what he wants in others’ heads. So long as people who want (and are failing) to manifest their own visions are able to fill in the blanks of Trump with what they want, maybe he’ll be the fairy godfather and make it be, like he made Rand Paul have a tough night.

        I don’t think it’s necessarily the particulars of it, so much as the forcing his own vision on the conversation.

        (And yes, I’m repeating myself.)Report

  5. Avatar Morat20 says:

    I would say that the poll results should terrify the RNC, but the truth is I think they should rightly terrify everyone.

    I wouldn’t call it “terrifying” to everyone. To the RNC, of course. But honestly, have you read Eric Erikson in the past? Visited RedState? Trump isn’t saying anything new — the only novelty is that Trump is saying, loud and on stage, the sort of stuff that got said in tweets and in posts on RedState.

    Which is one reason Eric is facing a backlash for un-inviting Trump. Trump isn’t saying anything RedState hasn’t said before — he’s not saying anything Eric himself hasn’t said before.

    It’s not terrifying to me, as a non-Republican, because I’ve had many years to get used to that particular horror. I already knew those people existed in the GOP base, and in large numbers. I knew because I read the tweets by their movers and shakers, listened to Rush Limbaugh, and followed the memes and comments.

    Didn’t you already know about these people? Or is the percentage shocking to you?

    Sure, the RNC should be terrified. They’re losing control of their pet monster. They built it and fed it on fear and anger and watched it grow strong and turn out for primaries and off-year elections. And now it’s breaking it’s bonds. It’s supposed to be tame, to show up full of vitriol and hate and blame and pull the R lever on every election, year in and year out.

    So sure, the RNC should be frightened. The rest of us were already aware of the monster in the GOP’s closet.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      There has always been a Morton Downey, Jr. or someone who’s carried his intellectual DNA. But no one would have suggested that Downey be President. Or to put it another way, Pat Buchanan could do nothing when the RNC put him in the corner after he embarrassed them on live TV back in ’92. That Trump can put the RNC in the corner, I think, is pretty new territory.

      Also, I don’t know that I see all of this being restricted to the Republicans — though I see them much, much further along on this path than everyone else.

      Oddly, the other night when I was watching the debate and Trump answered Kelly the way he did about calling women “fat pigs,” what I was reminded of at the time was an almost identical conversation just a few days prior in these very threads — where a leftist making a point very strongly called a woman a c**t, and then doubled down and complained about people “getting the vapors” about it when someone objected. Which is basically exactly the same thing that Trump did. Point is, I actually see this trend growing on all sides, even as I recognize that only one has gone so far down the road that they’re actually driving off the cliff at the moment.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Did you really mean to say that a leftist on a blog making a rude comment is just like a leading candidate for the Presidency, who carries the support of 23% of his party?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          No, I was saying that they basically said the same things. What you said I said was just a pivot and reframing of what I said into something I obviously didn’t mean to make a debate point.

          But now that you’ve brought it up, can we make some kind of hierarchical chart so I’ll know how high-ranking a guy has to be in order to be wrong to call a women a fat pigs or a c**ts in the future? ‘Cause I confess it looks pretty much the same in all cases to me.

          (See what I did there? I pivoted and reframed your point in a way you obviously didn’t mean just to make a debate point!)Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “Did you really mean to say that a leftist on a blog making a rude comment is just like a leading candidate for the Presidency, who carries the support of 23% of his party?”

          I think that what he did say was that a leading candidate for the Presidency, who carries the support of 23% of his party, is acting just like a leftist on a blog making a rude comment.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        There’s a lot of distance between “A random guy making a rude comment” and “The current poll leader of the GOP primary”.

        Because no matter what grouping, ideology, or sorting you use — once you pass about a 100 people, there’s always gonna be someone who is willing to say something upsetting. Sometimes because they believe it, sometimes because they can’t, but mostly because they’re anonymous online.

        So you’re straining really hard if “one anonymous guy on a blog” — no matter his politics — has anything to do with Trump speaking it out loud in a Presidential primary debate and currently leading the pack.

        Because I can assure you that if Bernie Sanders said something like that? Whatever his support is would vanish overnight.

        So back to the point: The GOP built a monster because this monster would vote reliably. And now they’re losing control.

        And the GOP establishment and media has deliberately fed this monster. Trump isn’t going off the rails — he’s just stopped speaking in code, and started talking like the folks on RedState. The “Real Americans” of the GOP.Report

  6. Avatar LWA says:

    I will risk going full Godwin, and recall the saying that Stalin lied and everyone believed him; Hitler told the truth and no one believed him.

    When rabid posters at RedState or Ace O Spades say they want to round up all immigrants and deport them in cattle cars, or turn Iran into glass, or ban abortion in all circumstances, they aren’t lying or exaggerating for effect. When Ann Coulter or Jonah Goldberg or Michelle Malkin envision conservatism as a Manichean battle of Christianity versus Islam, of conservatism versus fascism, they aren’t kidding either, and those who read their books mean it literally.

    Sorry to sound strident, but the “reasonable” Republicans like those present, and Doug Mataconis, even David Brooks or George Will need to realize you no longer hold title to the name- you are the outliers, the fringe of your movement.Report

  7. Avatar North says:

    We are talking about Trump here. Maybe we should breathe a bit for a moment and consider reality.

    We’re talking about a person who has absolutely slimed our Latino population with the most horrible kind of invective repeatedly and unapologetically. He has then doubled down by being an absolute pig towards women (51% of the entire electorate may I remind you). He will (most likely) be facing a not exactly cuddly but undeniably competent woman candidate of a party that has done considerable outreach to Latino voters and has who has so far not alienated any constituency except the tiny left wing rump of her party.

    There is a reason the GOP bigwigs are sweating through their suits at the thought of Trump making headway; they know that Clinton would landslide against Trump. The man could put the bloody house in danger let alone the Senate.

    What does it say if he wins the nomination or even comes close? It means the parasitic right wing media machine on the back of the GOP/Right will be exposed to even the right wing. It means the GOP’s eight year tantrum will finally yield its logical fruit, it means the boil will burst and there’ll be a flood of puss and vitriol. Then the GOP and the right will wash out in this election.. and then finally they can get on with the business of figuring out where the fish they go in the aftermath of Bush and Neoconservatism instead of hiding their heads under the pillows and doing their tea party tantrum dance.

    And then once they figure out what the fish they stand for that’ll probably help true liberals figure out what the fish they truly believe in too (while the horrible centrists keep the lights on).Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Are any of the Republicans polling well against Clinton? I don’t think so. What impressed me most about the whole lot of them at last week’s debate was what an unimpressive lot they were, almost to the point of making me long for Mitt Romney who, at the very least, possessed an air of competency.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        None polling well, though some better than others and with more favorable state polling. And of course it’s a long way out.

        I don’t think the GOP should feel hopeless at this point, but I’d rather be in Hillary’s shoes for sure.Report

  8. Avatar Autolukos says:

    If you’re going to worry about that poll, worry about Ted Cruz.

    If you go past the top-line support (which barely changed), Trump has 18% saying he did the best in the debate. That’s very good; only Fiorina is ahead, and she’s only at 22%. But he also has 29% saying he did the worst; that’s double the next candidate (Paul, at 14%). This fits with poor favorability and mediocre second-choice numbers: Trump does have a lot of supporters, but he also has a lot of detractors. Polarizing isn’t the way to go if you’re trying to pull in bandwagoners.

    Furthermore, there is a lot of reason to think that Trump’s support is of low quality in a primary. The 54-19 split for Trump as an independent over the Republican certainly suggests that these aren’t core GOP voters.

    Cruz, on the other hand, has a good “best” number at 12% (in fourth place, barely behind Rubio), basically nobody who didn’t like his performance, and the largest surge of support as a first choice.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I commented that if the numbers held up, Trump’s numbers are at most the third most interesting thing about that poll. The Cruz thing, the non-traditional candidate vote, and Jeb’s and Walker’s fall each rate more significant to my eye. Making Trump fourth or fifth.

      The real winners of that poll are Ted Cruz and Romney, if it holds up.

      Also, thank you for making the point about independents. I’ve been meaning to.Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “…his campaign payed an undisclosed amount of money to write positive stories about him…”

    The explains the borderline fanatical (even by Breitbart standards) “coverage” they’ve had for him lately.

    Several times they pulled out one of my favorite Breitbart moves where they cape one of their own “reporters'” opinions and headline it as a “Breaking Breitbart Exclusive.”

    Like, they’ll have Breitbart reporter Joe Blow say, “I think FNC is intentionally trying to harm the Trump campaign,” and then someone else will write a piece with a headline, “Breitbart Exclusive: FNC trying to harm the Trump campaign!” and then they’ll quote Joe Blow with zero corroborating evidence and everyone pretends it is okay because Joe Blow was just stating an opinion and the article writer was just quoting Joe Blow so, ya know, no one actually flat out lied.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Do we have those sort of sites on the left? I am honestly drawing a blank.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Not since Jane Hamsher packed it in.

        Heyooh, Zing!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Breitbart is unique in that I think they are a pretty transparent money grab. They are clickbait on top of clickbait and have more ads (Including goddamn popups! In 2015!) than Times Square. They know exactly how to generate page views among their target audience and how to piss of their ideological opponents. There is nothing sincere or genuine about the work they do and it is actually sad sometimes to see the way they prey on their readers.

        I’d be surprised if something like that existed on the left mainly because the left functions differently. I mean, Upworthy is, in a way, the left version of it. But the tone is different because the tone needs to be different to reach the left (hence why left-wing talk radio is NPR instead of an equal-but-opposite Rush).

        This doesn’t make one side better or worse than the other. Just different.Report

  10. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Another online poll, but it’s worse, not better:

    278 R’s, 111 I’s – Trump 21, Bush 11, Rubio 6, Huckabee 5, Walker 4

    R’s only – Trump 24; Bush 12; Rubio, Huck, & Carson 8, Walker 7

    Walker’s taking it on the chin in this one. Tod might have been right about Thursday for Walker. Maybe he needed to do more, not less.Report

  11. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Okay, so here is where I am, ultimately, on the whole thing.

    1) I honestly feel rather foolish for caring about the polls at this point. Virtually all talk, including my own, starts explicitly or implicitly with “It’s early, but…”… and we should probably stop there. And not just because Trump won’t win.

    2) Where were things four years ago? Where they were when this was previously talked about. Giuliani was way out ahead or at least significantly ahead (depending on the poll, followed by Thompson, followed by Romney, followed by McCain. The placement was consistent across multiple polls.

    3) I was hoping that the debates would prove to be a turning point, but they clearly haven’t. So first benchmark fail. On the other hand, in 2007, there had already been several debates by this point, and the frontrunner was a guy who never had a shot. Also, the second guy bowed out early. And the third guy lost.

    4) So yeah, I suspect I am going to feel really foolish for paying attention to any poll before Labor Day Weekend. Which is approaching! But man, I’ve wasted too much thought on this.

    5) I will be alarmed if, by Thanksgiving, Trump is still #1. Even if this benchmark is also missed, aside from a flirtation with Thompson, Giuliani didn’t lose his position until somewhere in December when it became a three-man race between Giuliani, Huckabee, and McCain. McCain took over and January and never looked back.

    6) So why are we looking at these polls? Two reasons. First, they’re all we have. Second, they’re interesting. Most people are likely looking at this like entertainment. And perhaps answering polls accordingly.

    7) We should probably treat it as such. Really. Yes, things that should have crushed other candidates haven’t crushed Trump. That could portend bad things. But it assumes that people care at this point a fraction of how much we do. Everything – and I mean everything – relies on assumptions at this point.

    8) I don’t even remember what it was that knocked Rudy off of his perch. It’s seeming that maybe that’s what’ll be the case with Trump.

    9) We have been reading tea leaves. And, as I said above, I suspect that at the end of the day, we will feel foolish for doing so.

    10) If Trump gets 10% in either Iowa or New Hampshire, or gets into the top three, most of the above will be demonstrated to have been some degree of wrong. It will also be demonstrated to have been wrong if the candidates or the party respond to the current situation dramatically.

    11) If you want to say “Yeah, but…”… so do I. We’re being impatient because we want the attention devoted to this to matter. Rudy Giuliani was polling consistently at 30% in a field of up to 11. I need this tattooed to my arm.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      I don’t really get why Giuliani has this much significance for you, other than as an example of things just turning around, ad they always do. But has as a political artifact, Giuliani leading GOP primary has nothing like the significance of Trump doing do. Giuliani was a serious person, a serious political commodity, and had a real constituency in the GOP. It was never crazy for him to poll well in a GOP primary. It is crazy for Trump to do so, even now.

      As predictor, Giuliani is a fine examine that things change. Fair enough. As a gauge of how crazy this is, I don’t see where it informs what’s happening right now at all.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        The only difference with Gulianni is that the people in the press and such who pushed him were working hard to overlook his many many flaws. That he crashed and burned wasn’t a surprise to people that had seen him for years. With His Trumpness everybody knows his many many flaws and have been talking about them since the frickin 80’s. It’s not like there are hidden sides to him. Trump now is everything he has always loudly and consistently been.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Giuliani may have been a serious candidate, but he was a candidate on the wrong side of core issues that should have immediately disqualified him from the nomination, but didn’t do so. In part because he was on the right side of a major one, but mostly I think it was a matter of the presumptive electorate not taking the race seriously until later in the cycle. And once they did, Giuliani fell quite naturally.

        But in 2007,I don’t think it can really be said that Giuliani indicated all that much about the party. Maybe Trump actually does tell us something – I think so – but maybe not in the way we’ve been talking. Not as a potentially serious player who may be doom in the party.

        At this phase, that remains to be seen.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I rather obviously respectfully disagree. The only way all of this means nothing is if the only thing that matters in politics is the horse race.

      Look, if someone in the Democratic primary went national television tomorrow and said… I dunno, let’s go with “the Jews are ruining this country, something needs to be done about them,” and that led to them taking a big lead in the primary polls, that event doesn’t suddenly become meaningless in three or six months time when they bottom out and Clinton eventually wins the nod. The mere fact that he or she would ever get the lead based on such rantings would — in and of itself — should be seen as something fairly significant, something worth both paying attention to and addressing.

      Right now we have a primary where the candidate in first place says, well, all the things Donald Trump says. The closest person to him right now is someone who, best as I can tell, got a huge bump in the polls for saying that we needed to start executing all the Muslims in the middle east who didn’t show proper fealty to the US — not ISIS member, not terrorists, not those who were the most militant in nations we have poor relationships with, just “death warrants” for any Muslims that didn’t like the way America is doing business in their region of the globe. There aren’t “liberals are all tax and spenders” or “liberals want to legislate away your soda” kinds of statements; they’re not even on the same page. I think that means something, and I think it means something fairly significant. I think it’s important. I mentioned Buchanan a while back in this thread. You should go back and re-watch his convention speech, which along with Perot’s spoiler was one of the things everyone at the time agreed helped hand Clinton the White House. Compare it to the things either Cruz or Trump is saying now. Buchanan seems like an It’s A Small World Kumbaya-singing liberal hugger in comparison.

      I don’t believe that either Cruz or Trump will get the nod, but the fact that they get such enormous bumps from a major party by saying the things that they say means something, even if we all know they’re going to crash and burn.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Everything flows from those poll numbers, and assuming they take on some significance. I’m really not sure they do, that the responses are considered. That the people giving the answers that are driving this part of the story really care at this point.

        According to the poll MD cites, the number two may be Jeb Bush. Does that change that part of the story for you? Maybe it shouldn’t because maybe the numbers we’re building theories off of don’t matter yet and maybe we shouldn’t be psychoanalyzing voters who perhaps like Trump because he’s entertaining and they’re annoyed by the guys trying to be all serious because who cares right now.

        I really don’t know. I know that we’re talking about third party runs that might doom the GOP. We’re talking about an existential crisis based on the showing of a guy that may place no higher than fifth in any primary or caucus.

        Or maybe he will! And then, man, this all really did say something. And maybe it says something anyway, but I really don’t know how we go about figuring out what at this point.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          I think it’s fair to say that the proper way to look at this is to see it as a blip that will be revealed as such in the fullness of time. It rather obviously is.

          One problem with that view taking hold, though, is the GOP establishment keeps making moves against Trump and then proclaiming that they’ve surely scored the mortal hit this time – just watch him deflate now! (Granted, the moves are to capitalize on outrageous things Trump says on his own, but they’re still manipulated in such a way as to advance that message). It keeps not being true, which makes something that is surely transient seem a bigger deal in the present, since the RNC/GOP/Fox is trying to kill it, announcing they’re doing so, and repeatedly failing.

          So if they want people to think that this is a big ball o’ summer-nuthin’ that will pass with time (which you do, but maybe they don’t – either they don’t think it is (are fearful it isn’t), or think that’s not good enough for their purposes), then maybe they should start acting like that’s what they actually think.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            Yeah, I agree that there has been too much premature celebration. And what they’re doing is pretty clearly not working. And it’s making things worse. I think there has to be a different plan of attack. Even if the “attack” is actually just ignoring him, asking him questions, and letting Trump be Trump until the act gets tiresome and voters start considering things more thoroughly in the progression to viable candidates.

            Hell if I know, at this point.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I will add that, more abstractly and more largely, what has me most spooked is this. It articulates the thoughts that have been swimming in my mind for a while now, about Trump as the symptom.

              The good news, at least from my POV, is that there does seem to be an awareness of the nature of the problem even from people who have until recently been the problem. Which could make Trump a good thing, assuming a blip. In the short term, though, I just don’t know that they know what to do about it. I sure don’t know what to do about it (at least, on the scale that I think they might be willing to act).

              There’s a lot of bad blood being generated right now. The good kind of bad blood, from my perspective. Which is the good-case-from-the-bad-case scenario that I was talking about earlier. Even if this is something of an illusion, it’s an illusion that the right people are seeing. (And if it’s not an illusion, all the more important.)Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                What’s seems insane to me is that they’re challenging Trump where he lives, over his Trumpiness. They’re going after what he say about John McCain or Megyn Kelly. This means they’re not going after what he thinks about health care or the fact that he offers conservatives all the downsides of Trump, but an immigration position that they essentially could have from any of about five different actual real-life politicians on the stage.

                But ultimately, there’s nothing they can do about the fact that people will take it from Trump for now precisely because they don’t see him as a politician, and see someone not willing to play by any of the rules. I don’t know how you go after any of that. You sort of just have to point out that he doesn’t offer anything of real added value, and hope it runs its course. But, as I say, the establishment no longer thinks it has the luxury of that kind of time. Maybe the question is whether you are right or they are.Report

              • Avatar Michelle says:

                Thanks for the link, Will. Josh Marshall argued something similar over at TPM and I think both are on to something about Trump’s support emerging out of the politics of grievance, resentment, and victimhood. I’d add in a good dash of white male rage as well. Wingnut bloggers and talking heads have been playing on these resentments for years, but Trump is the walking personification of them. It’s ironic given his elite, pampered background, yet he manages to come off as both tough guy and victim, attacked because of his alleged ability to speak truth to power and not put up with any of that PC nonsense.

                He’s also helped by the fact that the rest of the field is relatively blah and relatively indistinguishable from each other. Yawn fest. Rand Paul is a pale, creepier imitation of his father. Cruz and Walker play on similar resentments but with far less bravado. Bush, Rubio, Kasich—zzzzzz.

                Initially, I thought Trump was a joke who’d be easily dismissed. Now, I’m pretty sure he’s not going anywhere and is likely to win some primaries. He’s the id of the Republican Party and has more than enough money, ego, and support to make him a real contender.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I dunno when he’s going away, but I would be pretty amazed if he won any primaries. Even setting aside everything else, that requires a degree of professional organization that he won’t have.Report

              • Avatar Michelle says:

                Perhaps at this point he lacks an organization but, if the polls keep going his way, I bet he puts one together. Maybe he’ll even come up with a few actual policy suggestions. I further suspect that even he’s surprised by how well he’s doing.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I don’t necessarily disagree with anything you’ve said. But here is my question for you (and I mean this genuinely as you know FAR more about this stuff than I do…):

        Have prior candidates made similar statement and fallen in the polls?

        Because I don’t think the sentiment that is driving the polls is anything new. I think playing to that sentiment is “new” insofar as the past couple decades made those statements SEEM like death sentences even if they never actually were.Report

  12. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    as used in an old 538 post:, part of a 3-part series on the history of primary polling

    BTW, count me still in the nothing (new) to see here, move along camp.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      How the heck does a guy with the name “Scoop Jackson” not win the primary??!! Shenanigans, I tell ya. Shenanigans!Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

        Scoop wasn’t his given name. It was “Action,” I believe.

        Been thinking about sacrificing some additional defenseless brain cells to this conversation. Instead, I’ll deposit this fond memory from the Clown Team Relay Race of 2012.

        As a follow up to a September 22, 2011, debate performance in Orlando, Florida, at which Cain received high marks from focus groups and pundits,[25] Cain won the September 24 Florida GOP Presidency 5 Straw Poll with 37% of the votes cast by Republican party activists in attendance; Cain’s nearest competitor was Rick Perry, who garnered the support of 15% of attendees at the event.[26][27] A national interactive opinion survey released in September 2011 by IBOPE Zogby International showed Cain with a ten-point lead against the nearest competitor, Rick Perry, among likely 2012 Republican primary voters.[28] “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds that Obama earns 39% support while Cain attracts 34%”. Rassmussen went on to say, “In a match-up against President Obama, just 61% of Republicans are ready to vote for Cain. Eighteen percent (18%) would prefer a third option and 11% are not sure. Among unaffiliated voters, 33% prefer Cain, 31% Obama, and 36% aren’t ready to commit to either candidate.”[29]


        On September 24, 2011, Cain won a surprise victory in a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida, with 37 percent of the 2,657 votes cast. The front-runner Rick Perry, who had been leading in the polls, came in second with 15 percent.[30] Continuing with his success, on October 1, 2011 Cain won the TeaCon Midwest straw poll by a landslide with 77% of the vote.[31] Cain also won the National Federation of Republican Women straw poll by a wide margin with 48.9%. The nearest contender was Rick Perry with 14.1%, followed closely by Mitt Romney with 13.3% and Newt Gingrich with 12.5%.[32] Of the delegates voting, 80% said they were satisfied with the field of candidates; asked whether they identified with the Tea Party, about half said yes and half said no.[33] A Fox News poll administered on October 23–25, showed Herman Cain as the front-runner receiving 24%, and Mitt Romney coming in at second place with 20%.[34]

        Trump has, rough guess, about 50 times the national name recognition that Cain had prior to his brief run with the baton – so that makes the former’s numbers and performance at this earlier point in the process much less impressive. Among vaper candidates, Giuliani was, IIRC, running about two or three tims better than Trump was at a similar point.

        The rubber band isn’t very tight right now, and 20% doesn’t exert a lot of pressure on it even when things are much tighter. Expecting Trump’s missteps to come right back at him in the polls is unrealistic.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      That is a scary, scary poll. As if it exists just to remind us that life could always be worse.

      Would people have been mad enough at Ford about the “pardoning Nixon” thing to actually elect George Wallace president? A deeply unsettling thought.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Wallace had a low ceiling. Not unlike…Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

        KatherineMW: Would people have been mad enough at Ford about the “pardoning Nixon” thing to actually elect George Wallace president?

        It’s a poll of Democratic voters. GW, nominally a Democrat, had name rec and represented a last or near-last gasp of the Dixiecrats. The eventual nominee and winner was, of course, also a Southerner, as was the next Democrat winner and their near-winner in Y2K.

        I wonder if anyone has begun computing the potentials for an HRC popular vote plurality or majority, electoral college loss yet.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I’d have to break out the spreadsheet to be sure, but I think the EC has mildly favored the Democrats. As in, the percentage needed to win the state that would tilt the election being greater than the tilt required to win the popular vote. (Of course, 2000…)Report

  13. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    There are a lot of people naming Trump in the polls because it irritates people for him to do so well. It irritates “coastal elites” and the highly-educated, and just all sorts of the right people. And remember, people like Chris Matthews and Meghan Kelly are part of the “coastal elite”, even though they might be conservative.

    There are tons of people there that just want to hurl the worst insult they can imagine at someone when they are mad at them. Trump does that, and says it’s a joke later. This irritates people like you and me, @tod-kelly. Or, I should say, it used to.

    This is an important social interaction that I think I’ve finally spotted: If someone hurts/insults/discomfits someone I don’t like, then they gain status in my eyes. We might call this Warrior Status. In politics it works like this: Politician talks smack about X. People who don’t like X cheer and trade it around on social media and Politician’s standing rises with these people.

    (This works a lot in the non-electoral media too. Writers on the internet respond to a complex system of incentive and many of them end up in activities that gain them Warrior Status rather than making actual progress, which is slow and discouraging and painful and thankless.)

    None of this means that they are serious about him actually being president. All it means is that they don’t especially like the “mainstream” candidates, or the sort of double-talk they have to use to get elected.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I think it was Atrios (from Eschaton fame) who promulgated the theory that conservatives actions should be best understood according to a single calculus: pissing off liberals. Course, even he doesn’t think it’s a complete picture of contemporary politics, but at times like this, with Trump on the Rise, I can’t but think we’re seeing real-time evidence for the view.

      A while ago I wrote something to the effect that Trump is appealing to a segment of the population that really wishes, more than anything, that they had the power to say and do whatever the eff they felt like saying and doing without suffering any “liberal” consequences for so doing. What you’re saying up there strikes me as being aligned with that theory. (Somehow. Someway….) (It struck me as of a piece anyway.)Report

    • Avatar krogerfoot says:

      Warrior Status—this really rings true for me. It’s something I’ve vaguely thought for a long time but would never have been able to put it so clearly and succinctly.Report

  14. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Can we stop talking about this guy? How about we discuss the Canadian election instead?

    He makes the first Canadian leaders’ debate of 2015 round (aka: My Statistics Are Better Than Your Statistics) look better just by comparison.

    Or if we must discuss both elections: If the NDP got elected, which Republican candidates would support invading Canada to overthrow the socialist menace?Report

  15. Avatar Damon says:

    “I would say that the poll results should terrify the RNC, but the truth is I think they should rightly terrify everyone.”

    My you do go on Tod. This is the third or fourth posting where you talk about the HORROR of Trump being either the GOP nominate or the Pres. Afraid of a little Democracy? Shesh. All hail our new overlord, “President, The Donald”. The screeching from the right is almost as good as the left.

    Let them all drown in lakes of blood.Report

  16. Avatar North says:

    Okay I saw one thing in the poll that floored me.

    Trump is # fishing One among Christians and Evangelists. Holy fishity fish!

    *update* Rod Dreher apparently beat me to it and he is very very unhappy. If i was a Christian I would be right there with him.Report

  17. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Here’s a good discussion on what we can learn from early polling:

    It sounds like early polls are only informative of general interest in issues, and not at all informative of candidate performance. So Trump’s surge is telling us that there is a lot of passion around taking a hard line on immigration and being a “Washington outsider”. I’m sure the campaigns and the party elite are re-tooling around this information, but I don’t think there’s much else to be learned yet.Report

  18. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    Well, I was thinking about writing a whole post about this, but I’ll just post the basic thoughts here:

    1 – We know Trump – he’s a person, unlike the possibly-reptilian, human avatars wearing identically bland suits and using identically meaning-devoid language to Trumps left and right who are just so desperate to avoid pissing off as many people as possible. Just pleasing people is weak, and it is not what a leader does. It’s what a parasite does. And all politicians are parasites and sycophants.

    2 – Trump is not a parasite. He’s strong. He doesn’t care about pleasing people. He’s like the cool kid in high school who disrespects the teachers and principle and gets elected class president, prom king, valedictorian, and all state in several sports despite refusing to run in practice and drunkenly tping the coach’s house after homecoming.

    3 – The people who hate Trump and complain about him are all manner-obsessed, effete, degenerate media liberals and Internet cowards, whose complaints mostly consist of just repeating what Trump said and swooning.

    4 – Trump is a winner. This matters. He’s willing to destroy his reputation time and time again by picking fights, taking risks, burning bridges, using intentionally-provocative language, and doubling down on mistakes, just to win. He’s managed to bully his way to the top of the polls, defy longtime lesser villains Rupert Murdoch, the Republican Party, indeed the entire political establishment, and we admire him for this. Can you see Trump standing up to Putin? Can you see Marco Rubio?

    I’ve written about this before – the samurai master Miyamoto Musashi is considered the greatest samurai single-combat warrior of all time. Musashi’s signature tactics consisted of using two swords when it was proper to use one and showing up very very late to battles. This tended to rattle Musashi’s petty, pedantic, rule-following opponents to the point where they would also swoon. Trump follows no rules. He just wins. Despite the absolute insanity of his political positions (which no one cares about anyway), this is very appealing.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

      Let’s also compare this to Hillary Clinton, who, after months of whining, finally handed over her personal emails to the FBI. Trump would have never done that.Report

  19. Avatar Damon says:

    “dismissed a female Fox News anchor for being on her period”

    Yeah, let’s move past this as even the left isn’t 100% convinced that that’s what he meant.

    ” If you listen to the full segment, though, it is not entirely evident where Trump was going with that “wherever.” At the end of the sentence, he did sort of peter out, distracted by the gleam of his own next thought about how well he was doing in the polls. Several minutes later, he declared that Chris Wallace seemed to have “blood pouring out of his eyes” while interrogating him, too.”Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      All of which goes to show what a titty baby Trump really is. He’s still whining about his unfair treatment at the hands of the evil Fox News interrogators. A real man would have simply dismissed their questions as being par for the course being that he’s the clear front runner.

      And, of course, he was complaining that Kelly was, as they say, on the rag. He hesitated because something in his little lizard brain told him it was best not to go there.Report