Divining Day

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149 Responses

  1. Will Truman says:

    I still think he’s the most likely nominee, although I don’t know if his odds are better than 50/50. People keep going to Romney ’12 but he’s not Romney’ 12. He might be McCain ’08 though. The guy who wins because someone has to.

    As for the cause of his troubles I agree that economy weighs more heavily than Iraq. Party dynamics also an issue. But the biggest issue is that he’s been a lousy candidate from the get-go. He’s had some good moments, but he seems disinterested and uncertain about why he’s there. That doesn’t inspire votes.

    • Kim says:

      Snotty’s the Money’s pick.

    • Kazzy says:


      Semi-related… if we concede that Trump won’t win the nomination, will his endorsement (assuming he offers one) matter or carry any weight?

      • Will Truman says:

        Might. He probably won’t be a kingmaker I don’t think but he could help Cruz out a lot and if Cruz is otherwise competitive… or it could backfire on whomever he endorses. Depends on a lot of factors.

  2. North says:

    I hope you’re wrong Zic, since I think Hillary would beat him like a piñata.

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    I still think it is too early to tell but I find it interesting that most if not all of the big names in the GOP race are proving themselves to be not ready for prime time. Jindal, Walker, Bush, Cruz, seem to be constantly tripping over themselves.

    • Will Truman says:

      Jindal hasn’t been a big name in a while. I think Cruz is doing pretty well all things considered, his problem is ideology.

      Jeb, Walker, and Rand aren’t meeting the hopes of their supporters, though.

      Right now we’re stuck in a trumpy fog, though. It’s hard to know how things will look out the other end.

      • Saul Degraw says:

        I think the best theory about Walker is that he is a horrible politician but was granted with the good luck of districts and electorate that were very favorable to what he was selling. Walkers base is the WOW suburbs of Milwaukee. I’ve read that Milwaukee went through white flight much later than the rest of the United States so walker is like a 1970s-80s right wing culture warrior in 2015.

        Don’t know where I read that theory. Perhaps on Drum?

        Maybe Rubio can find a way to leverage all this or Kaisch.

        • Kolohe says:

          Walker got elected state wide, right? And survived state-wide referendums?

          • Saul Degraw says:

            Couldn’t a majority of his votes come from a few counties?

            Anyway Wisconsin has an interesting history of electing the most progressive and the most conservative politicians in the country. You have Russ Feingold, Poindexter, La Folette and many others on the progressive side and you have McCarthy and Walker on the reactionary side.

            • Kolohe says:

              I didn’t know Congressman McCarthy was elected on a statewide ballot.

              • Jesse Ewiak says:

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCarthy – Senator Joseph McCarthy, @kolohe .

                Also, Walker has won 3 statewide elections, but all of them have been in off year elections.

              • Burt Likko says:

                The recall was in 2012.

              • Jesse Ewiak says:

                Was using off year as shorthand as ‘not on the same day as the Presidential election.’ Forgot the recall was the same year as the Presidential election.

                My larger point is that Walker has never faced Presidential turnout.

              • zic says:

                I agree that off-year wins matter in the calculus here, @jesse-ewiak

                Here in ME, Governor LePage also benefitted from lower off-year election turnout to win office twice. I’ve had discussions with @will-truman about how that might make some state’s look a lot redder than they actually are, and some candidates look like they have more support then they actually garner from voters.

              • Will Truman says:

                That’s where you look at things like approval ratings and the like. Which used to paint an okay picture for Walker but paints a pretty bad one right now.

                (Also should add that we don’t know what difference there is or isn’t between a presidential election year and an Obama’s running year, which may be the same or may not be.)

              • Morat20 says:

                Walker, like Christie, seems to be one of those politicians that looks good locally but not nationally.

                He’s a fit for his state, right now — but not so much for the country.

                Christie’s particular combative style might fit into New Jersey’s rather rough-and-tumble political scene and their established norms, but some of the things he does (Bridgegate aside) don’t work as well outside Jersey.

                Of course, I thought Dubya’s fake cowboy schtick wasn’t going to work on the nation (seriously, the man went out and bought a dude ranch. It was an absolute campaign prop, cynical and not even particularly subtle, and the nation swallowed it up. A Yalie who was afraid of horses was somehow downhome Texan and owned a working ranch? It was a prop). Anyways, suffice to say it DID work on the nation.

                heck, it worked on Texans who should know better. (You know who clears brush in August? People who have to if they want to eat. Everyone else waits until the temperatures are sane and they’re not risking heat stroke).

              • Saul Degraw says:

                LePage also had a dumb stroke of luck with that independent candidate deciding to be vain.

              • dexter says:

                @zic , In the last governor’s election in Louisiana Bobby Jindal received 61% of the votes. He called it a huge mandate forgetting to mention that only 31% of eligible voters bothered to go to the polls.
                What is it with your governor not knowing how to veto a bill? Is he really that oblivious?

              • Burt Likko says:

                I concede that the numbers are definitely with you there, @jesse-ewiak :

                2008 Wisconsin Presidential election: 2,983,417
                2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial election: 2,158,974
                2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall: 646,458 (vote was on June 5)
                2012 Wisconsin Presidential election: 3,068,434
                2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial election: 2,410,314

            • Will Truman says:

              We should come up with a system by which a few high-population counties can’t elect a governor…


            • Michael Drew says:

              You’re thinking of Senator William Proxmire, Saul. Poindexter’s a different dude.

        • Burt Likko says:

          Walker’s popularity goes well beyond the whitebelt surrounding Milwaukee. He’s consistently carried lots of the more rural and suburban portions of the state. Some of that is simply because he has the “R” after his name, of course, but there’s something else there: check out this map that shows all the rural counties that voted for Obama in ’08 but voted to keep Walker in office in ’12. Just having an “R” isn’t going to help you that much in quasi-exurbs like Fond du Lac.

          I think the analyst from the Journal-Sentinel gets it right: “Democrats don’t have to win the rural vote in Wisconsin, but they can’t afford to lose it by large margins.” Wisconsin, like Minnesota and maybe Vermont, has an unusual dynamic of strong New Deal-style liberalism surviving in rural and agricultural areas — perhaps because the reach of religiously-motivated conservatism took longer to permeate in these areas than elsewhere for some reason. This is how we get “prairie liberals” out of places like that from time to time. But make no mistake, the conservatism of the evangelical megachurch is most certainly present and making inroads in Wisconsin, although I’ve personally observed it in places like Waukesha County where my cousin is an assistant pastor in one of these megachurches, an impressive facility indeed. Can’t say as I’ve seen that happening so much in places further north and west, like where my in-laws live, although that may not be surprising as these areas are simply not as densely-populated as places like Racine or Menomenee Falls and you need a relatively large population of people tithing in order to support one of those big institutions.

          Anyway, Walker certainly has appeal in places like Sun Prairie and Whitefish Bay, but he also does well in places like traditionally blue-collar Green Bay and Sheboygan, which are out of the periphery of either Milwaukee or Madison. He’s got a way of speaking in code to the Jesus! wing and while delivering appealing plain text to the Money! wing and once he gets a sufficient margin with them, he can take the Guns! crowd for granted and it’s not as if the Moats! wing is going to vote for the Democrat anyway.

          Which is why I see him doing pretty well in Iowa, at least — and remember, those are actual delegates, not just polling numbers. If he doesn’t totally bite it in New Hampshire, and can grab first or second place in the delegate count from South Carolina with enough Jesus! and Money!, I still see his path to the nomination thereafter as the one of least resistance.

          Notwithstanding that he’s as bland as creamed potato casserole. In the midwest, bland is a feature, not a bug.

          • Saul Degraw says:


            This is a fine analysis. Needless to say that almost all of my Wisconsin contacts are from liberal Madison and even those that are not, dislike Walker significantly.

            Sometimes I feel a bit “odd” for being born and raised in a part of the United States that seems to have largely resisted the megachurch and Evangelical Christianity. The evangelical churches in NYC tend to be of the storefront variety and serving very different congregations than a suburban megachurch.

  4. zic says:

    And something just happened in Colorado.

    Colorado Republican Party’s executive committee voted to cancel the presidential preference poll that would have been held at its 2016 presidential caucus. In effect, Colorado has just dropped out of the Republican presidential nomination process.

    • Burt Likko says:

      Huh. From TFA:

      The state GOP chair seems concerned about the large number of presidential candidates and the volatility of the race; a candidate could very well win the caucus, get a ton of pledged delegates, only to drop out a week or two later, leaving the delegates unpledged.

      I pretty much agree with the author that this is a solution in search of a problem. I suspect that the real problem here is that party leaders fear that too many people expressing a preference this early on in the process will express a preference for Trump.

      …And to think. Some of you people right here on these pages doubted me when I said that the grownups were going to step in and put a stop to all this messy populism. I’m looking at you here, @michael-drew , with a “Hah!” ready to spring from my newly-vindicated lips! Witness the wheels a-churning in the no-longer-smoke-filled back rooms!

      • Burt Likko says:

        (I’m not really all that serious about calling out @michael-drew , for the record. Just being playful.)

      • Michael Drew says:

        Not sure I follow the implication of the nugget to the question, @burt-likko.

        There’s no doubt party elites want to step in to stop it, nor that they will step in. Indeed, they have stepped in to a degree. The question was how will they stop it?

        They can step in all they want, but if what happens to end it is that it just runs its course, then you won’t have been right about whether they put an end to it.

        I know I raised the scenario in which Trump is a help for Bush. I meant that as something of an alternative way to view how the campaigns are seeing the equities. But I have no doubt that figures in the party will make moves to end Trump. I just wonder what those will be, and whether they’ll be effective.

        • Burt Likko says:

          The playbook now seems to look like “Wait for him to stumble, then pounce.”

          This Colorado thing looks like “Give him more time to stumble.”

          • zic says:

            Unless it opens the trap door in the election floor and it’s they who stumble.

          • Michael Cain says:

            I don’t have any inside information, but I think the Colorado thing is more about local concerns. For contests farther down on the ticket, the party needs the booming population of the leftward-drifting Front Range suburbs north of Douglas County to not think of the Republicans as the party of crazy. There’s been enough miscues over the last two or three election cycles that removing the chance of the caucus poll looking whacko is, I think, a sound tactic.

            • Burt Likko says:

              You are so harshing my mellow right now, @michael-cain .

              • Michael Cain says:

                What can I say? Over the last few years I have been tempted to submit a resume to the Colorado Republicans with a cover letter that says basically, “You should hire me to do tactical planning for you. It’s a sure thing that I won’t be worse than whoever is doing it for you now.”

        • Michael Drew says:

          Alternatively, the playbook might be something more like “Mitigate the absolute worst-case scenarios”:


          Wow. Interesting. All that guy does is deals. He got something. It seems to me that there’s literally nothing ls he could have asked for in exchange less significant than “Just don’t run an all-out, collusive effort of rival campaigns and party to drive me out of the race sooner rather than later.”

          It seems to me this development can really only signal a longish-term agreement on the part of the party and major rivals on basic acceptance of Trump as a legitimate part of the race until such time as losing the way candidates normally lose pushes him out.

          But guess we’ll see.

          • Jaybird says:

            If he’s being a buffoon in public in order to improve his leverage when making deals in smoke-filled rooms, then that actually scares me.

            Because that tells me that he might not, in fact, be a buffoon.

            • zic says:

              Total Coyote; buffoon act and all.

              The die are spinning; and the odds are not being calculated the way they were just a few weeks ago.

            • Michael Drew says:

              The substance is buffoonery. The communications chops and to some extent the tactics are formidable, however.

              Though Chait is right that ultimately his indifference to outcome and even more fundamental lack of even a conception of purpose in all this is a limiting condition on his candidacy: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/08/donald-trump-is-going-to-lose-because-hes-crazy.html But it’s a limit that’s still a ways down the road.

              • North says:

                I’m mournful though, a Trump third party run would be helpful. Then again, he hasn’t exactly committed to that in iron or ink- if the GOP give him or his supporters the vibe that they don’t respect him/them it could still be off to the races.

                But in all seriousness, I don’t won’t he’s an actual Thing until he wins a state or two.

      • Tod Kelly says:

        @burt-likko @michael-drew Something that I don’t think gets enough play but should: the potential fallout to the GOP if and when the grownups do step in. And I’m not talking fallout in the form of Trump as a 3PC, which I still have a hard time seeing as a realistic thing. I’m just talking about how the base will react to the grownups spoiling their fun.

        It could be fairly brutal.

        I have to admit that, win or lose, Trump is turning a lot of my assumptions about presidential politics (and the GOP) on its collective heads.

        • North says:

          It’ll depend on how it goes down. If, as I suspect, Trump simply can’t translate his ostensible support into actual votes in the primary then the establishment will relax, the candidates will ease their fire and Trump will just fizzle out.

          Now if he runs off with an early state and keeps clowning and the establishment brings him down with some kind of procedural maneuver or the candidates bring him down with a concerted barrage of attack ads, well then all bets are off.

          • Tod Kelly says:

            You don’t think the base turning on Fox is important in and of itself?

            Because I sure as hell do.

            • North says:

              It depends on if it is durable and lasts. Right now it’s one Fox Personality takes on another Fox Personality and the Fox Partisans pick sides. I’ll be more impressed if I start seeing a lot of “Wait a minute, it’s Fox behind all of this and my Grandpa spent all my inheritance buying gold and stock advice from right wing monkeys!”

            • Kolohe says:

              The base is turning on Fox News – and giving it the highest ratings it’s ever had for the slowest part of the biennial news cycle.

    • Stillwater says:

      Hmmm. That’s innersting. Weird. I wonder what people on the inside have to say about it.

      {{Michael Cain, ya got a minute? Somethin I’d like to ask ya!}}

      • Michael Cain says:

        Sure. mcain6925 at gmail dot com if it’s private; I don’t worry much about security on that address, it’s easy enough to run down for anyone making an effort.

  5. dexter says:

    I really don’t see how anybody could blame the republicans for the recent recession when the real reason is because the democrats forced Nixon to sign the epa law. That law and all the ridiculous osha rules forced companies to move to third world countries where one can exploit workers and pollute as much as they want. If it hadn’t been for that, America would still be the great country it once was.
    All joking aside, I think the reason Jeb! is going to lose is because he not is coming off as the smarter Bush. He has made several truly stupid statements and, if it isn’t photo shopped, did an ad about how good his hurricane readiness was with “heck of a job brownie’ standing behind him.

  6. Damon says:


    The Trumpening….it’s happening…

    • North says:

      And I’ve gained like 5 pounds from all the popcorn I’ve been eating.

      • LeeEsq says:

        It is certainly going to be a very entertaining election. Hillary Clinton is going to get the Democratic nomination and will run circles around whoever gets the Republican nomination because of her smartness. Trump is really the only capable of going head to head with her but that is mainly because of his bluster and confidence rather than anything else. All of the GOP candidates are shooting themselves in the foot with minority voters, LGBT voters, and women voters. My only concern is that the China situations spirals out of control and gives the Republicans a real big economic edge. I’m not as sanguine about the overall result as you are.

        • North says:

          There’s no way Trump gets the nomination. In some bizzaro world where he does the GOP establishment will run a different candidate so as not to be branded as Trumps.

          I’m not super sanguine about the outcome which is why I view the GOP’s vigorous foot shooting with such satisfaction. Maybe with a steadier Dem candidate or a deeper bench of backups I’d be more relaxed but I cannot deny a level of anxiety.

        • Kolohe says:

          If Hillary Clinton has so much smartness, why hasn’t she already been elected President?

    • It’s going to be Bush, Walker, or Rubio.

      In other words, the game is three no Trumps.

      • Burt Likko says:

        Nice trick there, @mike-schilling . Way to bridge the gaps in our forecasting ability: when the rubber meets the road, Trump’s gonna get slammed.

      • Michael Drew says:

        I’m starting to feel Rubio more and more. It’s still early for him (like, in life), so normally he would be looking four years down the line. But he’s got punch that Walker hasn’t, and ability to sort of keep it together and not make unforced errors that apparently, oddly, at this point Bush doesn’t seem to. (I guess he’s rusty.)

        If Bush implodes, I think Rubio *easily* takes down Walker on wattage alone. Mental wattage, personality wattage, facial wattage. Hair, too. Right now I think Rubio could give either of them a run for their money, which is what it would take.

        • Burt Likko says:

          I’m kind of with you on this: Rubio is definitely a top contender. I have my doubts because of , but he is most definitely educable and seems to have at least minimal amounts of every piece of the puzzle: broad charisma, intelligence, fundraising ability, educability, organizational skill, work ethic. Rough around the edges yet, but most definitely can be polished. Just keep him well-hydrated.

          • Michael Drew says:

            I’ve certainly never thought too highly of Rubio’s national chances other than as a VP before now, but right now he’s starting to stand out in this group.

            I will say that from where I sat, Rubio’s speech at the 2012 convention was one of the best (and only really good?) things that happened for the party that week (with Clint Eastwood blotting out nearly all else that happened). That speech was a friggen masterclass, and from what I’ve seen nearly universally acknowledged as such in liberal blogland.

            • Michael Drew says:

              …Just remembered: I heard that one on the radio. May explain a bit of why it stands out.

              Protip for fellow junkies, actually: take in the conventions on the radio in part. Really gives a different kind of feel of what’s going on.

            • North says:

              I agree, Rubio is the one that makes me the most uneasy.

              • Tod Kelly says:

                If I were a D, I would be deliriously OK with anyone whose hat is already in the ring getting the nod against Hilary — except Rubio.

                I do not believe he can get out of modern-day GOP primary. But if he somehow were able to, I think he’s the only candidate that could have a shot at winning the general.

              • Jesse Ewiak says:

                @tod-kelly and @north – Presidential Announcement Speech Rubio scares me.

                Actual Rubio, from the time he was sworn into Senate and Debate Rubio – Doesn’t Scare Me at All.

                Honestly, the only two candidates that scare me are Kasich and Walker. Kasich because he’s a standard issue conservative Republican behind all the moderate bluster and Walker, because he’s basically the Koch’s wind up toy and I think there’s a punchers chance that if the Koch went all in on him, and Clinton stumbled, he could get a narrow win (or as Republicans call it, a mandate).

          • Michael Drew says:

            …Btw, that video would not have been such a problem if it had been a normal 12-oz. bottle of water.

          • zic says:

            I would be more comfortable with Rubio (with the whole field) if they’d read this.

    • Glyph says:

      Have you got anything without Trump in it?

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    Speaking of Trump:


    “We know his goal is to make America great again,” one woman said. “It’s on his hat, and we see it every time it’s on TV. Everything that he’s doing, there’s no doubt why he’s doing it — it’s to make America great again.”

    • Kim says:

      Need I mention the multiple people who commented about voting for Obama?
      Proudly proclaiming that they’re voting for the n-word?

  8. Christopher Carr says:

    I have little doubt that Donald Trump will be the next President, despite, nay, because of, the media’s representing his campaign as entertainment.

  9. aaron david says:

    I am divining that Hillary(tm) will not get the nomination. Too many calls for, well, anyone to run really. The Bern is doing too well to just drag her to the left, and because she is so smart, she put the arrow on her emblem pointing to the right…

  10. Richard Hershberger says:

    I am on record as predicting that Jeb! will be the Republican nominee, because he seems to be the most establishment candidate and the establishment generally gets what it wants.

    I am growing increasingly less sure of this. The Donald seems to be driving a wedge between the Republican base and the establishment. It was bound to happen eventually. The coalition was never really a natural or comfortable one. I wouldn’t have predicted just how it would come about, though.

    This leaves us with the problem of who will the nominee be? Last time around it was Mitt or someone else. This time around the pattern doesn’t quite fit: it doesn’t seem to be Jeb! or someone else. But neither can we comfortably slot Walker into that formula. I am starting to lean toward Cruz, who is just playing dumb. (I personally know a former congressman who knows Cruz, and whose personal assessments I trust to a point. He tells me that Cruz is actually quite smart and is playing stupid. To his credit, my informant is unimpressed by this performance.) I think that Cruz is trying to fly under the radar hoping to puck up the Donald’s supporters come the inevitable implosion, while meanwhile keeping his establishment ties intact.

    • Will Truman says:

      My list is about the same as a month ago, minus one candidate. Most likely to go to Jeb, Walker, or Rubio, followed by Cruz or Kasich. Nobody else (except Mitt) is really possible, and so one of those people has to win. Beyond that, I don’t think anybody really knows until the Trump fog has passed and people start actually thinking about who they are going to vote for.

    • Kim says:

      Establishment (by which we mean the Kochs, this year — no vast right wing conspiracy this time, and more’s the pity) wants Snotty Walker.

  11. At least Jeb didn’t call them “ankle babies”.

    • Morat20 says:

      Jeb just decided to make sure Asians weren’t feeling left out when it came to immigrant bashing. Diversity is important.

      • North says:


      • Jaybird says:

        My jaw dropped when I saw that Jeb had said that.

        “Let’s see… I really want to get in on this anti-immigrant bandwagon… but I want to not only do it in such a way that doesn’t impress a single person among the Nativist crowd, but in such a way that offends the only immigrant group inclined to vote Republican in the first place!”

        What a stupid blunder.

        I had always assumed that Dumbya was the dumbest one among the three. As it turns out, he might be… but “self-discipline” is a hell of a lot more important than “smart” once you get to that level. “Smart” is a dime a dozen up there.

        • Morat20 says:

          The thing is — he wanted to talk about birth tourism, right? Which really IS more of a problem from other countries than Mexico. The way he said it was just…it wasn’t inartful, it was downright stupid.

          That’s the kind of dumb phrasing you’d expect from, oh, Carson.

          This isn’t the first time he’s flubbed so badly. It’s almost as if he’s refused any coaching or practice — no practice Q&A, no prepared remarks, no nothing. He’s just…winging it, and he’s not good at winging it.

          Which says he’s either not very invested in the process (he’s not willing to do the work) or he’s arrogant and doesn’t think he needs to. Either one is a bad sign. Or, I suppose, he’s just really bad at a critical skill for modern politicians — which means he’s out of his league.

          And in the YouTube age, that sort of thing doesn’t go down the memory hole. It shows up, live and in color, in attack ads.

  12. Tod Kelly says:

    Also speaking of Trump: I wonder when we are all going to have to stop readjusting his absolute, complete, can’t-get-higher-than-this ceiling upward.

    • North says:

      May it be my Tod. A Trump backed electoral shellacking could be just the kind of harsh medicine the GOP needs to lance the boil and start turning into an actual political party again instead of something that plays one on Fox.

    • Burt Likko says:

      Ah, eff it. Maybe I’ll just start taking Trump seriously as a candidate now and enjoy the calamitous, death-spiral spectacle that is the result of the confluence of Citizens United and the GOP orthodoxy arms race.

      • Tod Kelly says:

        Another rather astounding fun fact I saw Josh Marshall note this week…

        $ Spent by Trump on Ads or Media Time So Far: $0

        • Burt Likko says:

          Why buy what they’re giving away for free? Trump’s not the first guy to figure that out.

          • Stillwater says:

            Why buy what they’re giving away for free? Trump’s not the first guy to figure that out.

            If the story is correct, then my guess is Trump is the first front runner to actually (not) do it.

      • Kolohe says:

        Self funded rich person campaigns have always been allowed, well before Citizens United, right? What we’ll see now is if the only thing that can stop a bad person with a billion dollars is a good person with a billion dollars.

        • Burt Likko says:

          And your nominees for the second position are….

          • zic says:

            (mitt mitt mitt mitt)

            I keep coming back to that.

            • North says:

              Neither I, nor Hillary, nor the Democratic Party is that lucky.

              • Kolohe says:

                Mitt has most of the same weaknesses (as a politician campaigning) as Hillary Clinton, and could plausibly distance himself with the current malarkey if he were to lay low for the next 6 months and just parachute in in the event of a Trump first place finish in three of the four of NH, IA, SC, and NV.

              • North says:

                Well sure, but if the GOP is in that much disarray even if Mitt gets the nomination a united Democratic party behind Hillary would shellac him.

      • zic says:

        A good read from Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason, with this incredible line:

        Still, it’s perhaps not all bad news for liberty if the GOP becomes purely the party of white butthurt.

  13. Tod Kelly says:

    And just to put a cherry on the whole Trump discussion, allow me to quote from the abstract written up by Public Policy Polling on the latest NH numbers:

    Trump’s advantage over the Republican field is thorough. He leads with Tea Party voters (44%), men (39%), independents (36%), conservatives (36%), voters who are most concerned about electability (35%), both younger voters and seniors (at 34% with each), evangelicals (32%), women (30%), and moderates (29%). Trump has a 56/32 favorability rating and he also leads when you match him with the other Republican hopefuls head to head- it’s 47/39 over Ben Carson, 53/35 over Scott Walker, 53/34 over Marco Rubio, and 56/33 over Jeb Bush.

    I know it’s early, but those number suggest that a whole lot of the “common knowledge” about why and how Trump is doing what he is doing is twirling down the drain at the moment.

    • North says:

      My Tod, I submit this nugget of wisdom in hopes that it pleases you.
      Repeat after me: “It is August 2015; the Iowa Primary if in February 2016. It is August 2015; the Iowa Primary if in February 2016!” Seven months away.
      Seven months, my Todd, seven months away. Where was Trump seven months ago?
      Also remember it is August and the political commentators are absolutely stiff with boredom.

      • Tod Kelly says:

        @north This is all true, and I find it impossible that he might have it in him to either win the nod or make the convention interesting.

        But despite all of that, whatever it is that is driving Trump higher and higher each week is far and away unlike anything I have ever seen in my lifetime. I can’t shake the feeling that what’s happening right now if far, far more important than anyone is acknowledging. How it’s important exactly, I have no clue. But I think this will prove to be a signal moment that we all look back on a decade from now.

        • CK MacLeod says:

          Tod Kelly: whatever it is that is driving Trump higher and higher each week is far and away unlike anything I have ever seen in my lifetime.


          • Tod Kelly says:

            @ck-macleod This assumes I am merely talking about a potential third-party candidate picking up steam. I’m not.

            Ross Perot was a lot of things, and several of those things were eccentric and quirky. But he was not Donald Trump.

            • CK MacLeod says:

              Your assumption about my assumption is an erroneous assumption. I was just producing evidence that by the middle of 1992, the actual election year, a buffoonish blowhard billionaire was leading the candidates of the establishment. Though he was a different kind of buffoon, his profile was in key respects quite similar to Trump’s, somewhat the same populist, nativist, xenophobic nationalist shape that the Tea Party also had, and that insurgent campaigns like Buchanan’s also in ’92 and even McCain’s in 2000 also captured, if in somewhat more conventional guises. So in that sense the Trumpening is not a new phenomenon in post-war American politics at all. In other ways it represents a naturally recurring feature of democratic politics.

              Did you see the note or did someone mention here that he has received more nightly news coverage than the other 16 candidates combined? I still think he’s at or near his ceiling, and is likely in the end to be a footnote on the campaign. One thing that’s already similar to the ’92 cycle is the perceived weakness of the establishment candidates. Both GHWB and WJC were perceived to be damaged goods whose defects fed anti-establishment energy.

    • Saul Degraw says:



      Chait has it as a result against the elites of the party.

      Sanders and Trump have a spot light because they represent views of the base that get scorned by the elites who run the party. The Democratic base is much more liberal economically (and maybe more socially conservative!) than the average Democratic Party apparatchik. The GOP elite also tend to be more socially liberal than their base. But Chait thinks the division runs deeper in the GOP.

      • Tod Kelly says:

        @saul-degraw But again, I think that’s all wrong. Comparing Trump to Saunders is the same as CK’s comparing Trump to Perot. It’s trying to force the kind of political comparison that has always worked for punditry in the past, because everyone running for President in the past either followed a baseline set of rules (even as they pretended not to) or they lived in the cellars.

        I should probably write about this, I suppose, but the single thing that stands out to me with Trump is that I don’t think he actually has any positions on anything. I think he just says things, somewhat randomly and almost always in response to a question fro the press on a matter he hasn’t bothered to think about, and either the things he says don’t stick and he moves on or they do and the GOP base eats them up.

        I’ve never, ever seen anything like it.

        • North says:

          This Trump thing is, interestingly, just natural evolution. Trump is basically an alien predator invading an ecosystem that has changed to suit his strengths.

          For about fifteen or more years the GOP has been systematically dismantling their internal controls. They’ve been doubling down on conspiracy theories, hyperbole, over the top accusations, dismissal of objections as biased nonsense and above all elevation of angry tone over actual substance. They started out doing this cynically: to exploit a segment of voters; they evolved to doing it as mercenaries: realizing that this large segment of voters could be mined for enormous amounts of money; now suddenly a related critter- a chameleon like apex predator from television, has swum into the suddenly hospitable waters and the GOP’s politicians are realizing to their horror that Trump is better at this shit than they are.

          What Trumps success suggests is that, having for years cultivated a base and strategy that is congenial to an all style-no substance-television-huckster the GOP is starting to turn into a party where only an all style-no substance television huckster can thrive.

          On the other hand, right now I still am unconvinced that Trump can translate his windfall of support into actual votes on the ballots. My current money is that after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina Trumps campaign will be a crashed wreck. The question will be if that wreck will just vanish without a trace (simply go away), leave an oily smoke screen lingering over the other candidates (lasting damage with women and Latino voters), or pour burning fuel oil all over the field (a party schism with possible third party run),

    • Stillwater says:

      Holy hockey sticks, why didn’t she say this exact thing, what, four months ago? Six months ago?

      Better late than never, I guess.

      • notme says:

        I dont know. Personally i wanted her to keep arguing about it. Maybe with bernie and joe nipping at her she is getting worried? She cut her vacation short as well.

        • Stillwater says:

          I don’t think she’s worried about Bernie or Joe. I think she’s (finally!!!) worried about being under investigation during a Presidential run.

          She handled this situation incredibly poorly. Now she’s doing damage control.

          • Jaybird says:

            If she loses her clearance (something that routinely happens during these sorts of investigations and it doesn’t imply guilt), that’s something that feels like it is something from which opponents could make hay.

            The defense “this routinely happens! It doesn’t imply guilt or anything!” strikes me as being somewhat inadequate despite my knowing that this routinely happens and it doesn’t imply guilt.

  14. Stillwater says:

    What do you read in your teacup this morning?

    I drink coffee so predictions don’t just spontaneously reveal themselves at the bottom of a cup for me, but I do think this primary is turning into another catastrophe for the GOP. I’m (frankly!) incredibly surprised that the field is not only so weak, but (as Trumwill said upthread) there isn’t even a Romney (!!) hanging out in the background to make sense of the chaos.

    My own view – and this isn’t a prediction – is that Trump is really good for the GOP since he’s actually talking about issues that yer average GOP voter really (like really) relates to. For better or worse. Eg, despite the boasting involved, he’s said that because he has so much money he can’t be bought, unlike other politicians. Now whether or not you think that statement is true it IS something that conservatives are intensely interested in (ending political corruption, not necessarily boasting about how rich you are). On the flip side, even his remarks about Messco sending their worst across the border resonates with conservatives (and not necessarily for racist reasons). So even tho the pintalking heads think he’s a political abomination, he’s pretty much what the base has been craving: a political leader who’ll unapologetically stick it to liberals and The GOP Establishment and won’t back down from rockin the PC status-quo boat.

    • Jaybird says:

      There are a lot of reasons that the lumpenproletariat feels like it is getting screwed. Without getting into all of the reasons that it is right (or wrong) to feel that way, one of the interesting reasons is that it feels that it is being ignored totally.

      In the same way that the lumpenproletariat inclined to vote Republican has been a mixture of idly ignored by the establishment catering to the Neocons and the Club For Growth, their reflection inclined to vote Democratic has been similarly ignored by the establishment catering to Neoliberals.

      Trump is the first candidate I’ve seen in a damn sight that is not catering to either the Neocons or the CFG.

      Bernie, similarly, is a reflection in this way.

      • Stillwater says:

        Agreed. I tend to think yer average conservative is more pissed off than yer average liberal, and Trump is appealing to those folks precisely because he’s unapologetically talking trash about all (well, some) of the things they’re upset about and which the establishment either won’t speak about or only speaks in panders. It’s his tone, more than anything, which elicits attention and (where it does) support. And personally speaking here, I think that he’ll get better at policy as the campaign moves along. Which isn’t to say the he’ll win the dang thing (I mean, its GOP primary pachinko!) but that he’ll more than likely get stronger as things move forward.

        • Kolohe says:

          I can’t really see Trump getting any depth on policy statements. Trump’s go with his gut instincts make W look like the epitome of Hamletian introspection.

          • Stillwater says:

            I think he will. And necessarily so. Whether he succeeds in that endeavor is an enticement to engage in heavy gambling and the placing of exorbitant bets. But he will, of necessity, express more expansive views on current policy as time goes by.

            I think he’ll do pretty well on that, myself. At least at the beginning, when he’s cherry picking his preferred policies. How it turns after that out is any gambler’s guess.

            • Kolohe says:

              When he was on with Chuck Todd a week or so ago, Todd asked him about DC statehood. Which he seems to be mildly in favor of, (‘I got a lot of friends in the DC government’ or something like that) but then said that he can’t answer the question because of ‘conflicts of interest’ with his Old Post Office hotel deal. ‘Lots of conflicts of interest’).

              Yes, he has a big mouth and, right now, a big (and free) microphone, but he’s just going to say the first thing that comes to mind based on his reading of the current zeitgeist. Which is kind of an impressive skill, in and of itself, but he’s just going to go “San Dimas High School Football Rules!” when any question comes up that would require more than a moment’s thought.

              (but weirdly enough, there’s not that many of those type of questions – or rather, the population has gone from Lincoln-Douglas attention spans, to Edward R Murrow attention spans, to MTV attention spans, to Twitter/Vine attention spans – so he does have a chance to simply bluster his way into the first month of actual voting).

              • Stillwater says:

                Well, I’d say that predicting the End of Trump hasn’t worked out all that well so far. I mean, for folks who think he’s just a buffoon, his demise always, necessarily, is right around the corner. Yet ever since the first prediction that he’d tank, all he’s done is continue to rise on the polls and gain more free media exposure, and the reason is pretty dang simple: lots of voters like him. And the number seems to be increasing. (No matter what Nate Silver says!!)

                So you’re theory that he’ll finally crash and burn will be born out by his crashing and burning, yeah? But as it stands, everyone who’s said that incident X will be the end of Trumpmentum has been wrong so far. So there’s that.

                Personally speaking here, I mentioned a few weeks ago to North that money likes a winner and insofar as Trump continues to lead in the polls, more and more “establishment” folks are gonna wanna hedge their bets by getting on his train. Couple that with him getting better at politics – which I think he inevitably will – and all predictions (in my view) go right out the window.

                Course, we’re talking about the GOP primary here (pachinko odds), so there’s that as well.

              • Kolohe says:

                I had thought Megyn Kelly was a turning point for Trump. That turned out to be totally wrong. (or rather, it was a turning point, but in an upward trajectory).

                Yeah, it looks like he’s not going to implode anymore. Someone made the analogy somewhere on the internet that Trump throws up so much BS, it’s like chaff that saturates a weapon’s sensor, so he’s become impervious to ‘gaffes’ by making them pretty much every waking moment. (and he probably insults and berates people in his dreams too).

                I still think, contra Our Tod, that his upside is capped, and he’s pretty close to it. But with a fractured field where nobody else can get any traction, it looks like Trump will be able to hold on to his 1/4 to 1/3 of the primary electorate for some indefinite time. Until someone else emerges as the consensus not-Trump – which may not occur now until March or April of next year – that 25-35% of the vote is probably enough to give him plurality victories in the early contests.

                But then, *someone* will break out of the field and get the backing of “the Establishment” and beat Trump in a bunch of 60-40 contests.

                Or else, we’ll get a brokered convention and political junkies everywhere will figuratively die of overdoses.

              • Tod Kelly says:

                “I still think, contra Our Tod, that his upside is capped, and he’s pretty close to it.”

                Oh, FTR I’m not actually sure that’s contra me.

                My point above (below? where are we again?) was more that X number of weeks ago it didn’t matter that he was in the high teens, because that was clearly his his max ceiling. The party simply wouldn’t allow him higher numbers, and in fact he was lucky to get into the teens for a week. Until he was 20, which was the new ceiling we all knew he couldn’t break. Until it was 25. Until it was 30. Until it was 35.

                I just think that sooner or later declaring each week, “but this is totally the cap, and in fact he’ll probably be planting by week, two weeks top now that he’s said/done X” starts to make us all look a little silly. (And I am absolutely including myself here.)

              • North says:

                I’m in agreement. Let us not forget that it is August and the first primary is seven months out. Half of the poll respondents who are picking Trump are probably only doing so because they know who he is.

                Basically Trumps success will lead to his undoing. If the Paul’s, Walkers and other stragglers begin falling out of the race that support should probably flow to the remaining not Trump candidates.

                My interesting scenario, however, is that most of the candidates have a couple committed wealthy backers; as long as the money keeps flowing the candidates can, in theory at least, stay in the race indefinitely. Maybe even hold out for the establishment or frontrunners to make an appeal for their support on the down low. If that turns out to be the case things could get pretty interesting.

              • Don Zeko says:

                Trump’s campaign is like a stock market bubble. You can be very confident that it will ultimately burst, but that doesn’t mean that it’s possible to predict exactly when it will finally do so.

        • North says:

          I’m with you and Jay Stillwater. Bernie is definitely the reflection. The Liberal base, however, is smaller than the GOP base, less used to power and less passionate because, let’s face it, Obama has delivered things that the base wants and most of their largest outstanding complaints lack easy answers.

      • Kolohe says:

        “Trump is the first candidate I’ve seen in a damn sight that is not catering to either the Neocons or the CFG.”

        The CFG has become somewhat agnostic on immigration, so as long as they get their tax cuts and deregulation – things Trump are nominally for – they’ll be copacetic enough.

        In some ways, Trump’s out-neoconing the neocons (heck, the Neocons have always been about ‘making America great again‘). Going against the Iraq War – in hindsight of course – is a mild annoyance to them, but it is a popular (and populist) move. Trump’s against the Iran deal, which is the current litmus test for the War! What Is It Good For? Absolutely Everything! (W!WIIGF?AE!) wing of the part.

  15. Jaybird says:

    Something that has been bugging me.

    You know who sold the most units of game consoles in the last gen between XBox, PS3, and Wii?

    The Wii. By about 20 million units.

    You know how they did it? By selling millions and millions of consoles to millions and millions of people who never, ever, would have considered even playing one (let alone buying one) before the Wii showed up.

    If Trump has a blue ocean strategy…

    • Burt Likko says:

      Because no mainstream politician has thought of that before, ever.

      • Jaybird says:

        The fact that there are precedents (multiple ones!) should make me think… what?

        “I need to worry more”?

        • Glyph says:

          “Help me, Deez Nuts, you’re my only hope.”

          • Jaybird says:

            “My Fellow Americans. I saw you talking with that guy yesterday.”
            (at home, eating microwave dinner from tv tray) “wait, what guy?”

        • Burt Likko says:

          No, you need to worry less. There is no blue ocean. Wrong metaphor.

          If it were really possible to mobilize an army of previously-unregistered voters and get them to the polls, a professional politician would have done it already. About all you’re really going to do is get people just entering adulthood who care enough about politics to register in the first place, which is only slightly better than the rate other voters drop out of the electorate through attrition (death, disinterest, or judicial disenfranchisement).

          I think the metaphor here is a gold mine. Pretty much all the gold ore from this lode has been mined already. If you want to accumulate gold, you’re not going to have much success digging it out of the earth: better, easier, and more effective to do something aboveground that induces people to transfer their gold to you.