Monday, 29 February 2016

No, Trump Wouldn't Beat Clinton...

...but it might be close, and that could be a very good thing.

I don't think anyone should be worried about President Trump, no matter what happens on the Democratic side.

This isn't because of his incredibly high unfavorability numbers - when he rushes to the center in the general election (and he will), those will go up considerably.

But no Republican can win the White House without endorsing comprehensive and humane immigration reform - that's the one law of political gravity that can't be violated right now, even by Trump.

He'll move well to the center on that issue as well, and it may even be that he's developed enough of a pure, Mao-style cult of personality among his supporters that they'd stick with him even through that.

But he won't fool Hispanic voters, not with any level of pandering, not after the primary campaign he's run.

With that said, the arguments going around that Trump could beat Clinton, while failing to establish that claim, do provide plenty of reasons for believing Clinton would only beat him narrowly. And if Clinton is the nominee, I hope that's exactly what happens.

If Trump gets crushed, the GOP will be back where it was right after election day 2012 - thinking the only thing they've done wrong is oppose immigration reform. If it's close, there's a chance they'll realize that was the only thing Trump did wrong - at least from a general election standpoint (obviously he'd never win the nomination without it). What follows that will be a full-scale crisis for the GOP. Then there's a chance - though probably a small one - that this realization could be the first step toward a new right-of-center party that resembles the current conservative wing of the Democratic Party.

If that were to happen, then all roads lead to the Democratic Party becoming a genuine left-wing workers party.

Either (a) Bernie wins and does it himself; or (b) a Clinton presidency - which would be disastrous in terms of foreign policy (Catherine Liu has just done a great job of pointing out that nothing would look so much like a Trump presidency as a Clinton presidency), and oversee nothing but a continuation of the ongoing slow-motion disaster on the domestic side - will finish Bernie's job for him, and the the Democratic Party will move well to the left in 2024.

Update: 1 March 9am 

Going into what is likely to be a dominant performance on Super Tuesday, Trump is already signalling his shift on immigration.

2nd Update: 1 March 2pm

I may have spoken too soon.

From Politico:

"But while the GOP moderates may feel a break from their party, they're also hostile to Democrats, meaning that bringing them over would require a total rebranding of the Democratic Party in their eyes. In an online poll of 800 likely Republican primary voters, conducted from Feb. 11 to Feb. 16, Democracy Corp found that anti-Democrat attitudes are the most potent driver of Republican primary voters — and their antipathy for Hillary Clinton outweighs even their dislike for President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as a whole, a feeling that cuts across ideology.

Still, the poll shows that GOP moderates may be pliable."

This is terrifying, and potentially very dangerous both in November and in the long-term.

If we end up with Clinton v. Trump, the worst thing that could happen is a Democratic rush to the right.

(1) It completely takes the Left for granted, at a time when it is reawakening - Sanders has gone from 4% national support among likely primary voters to 40% in 13 months.
(2) What lies to the right of where Clinton is now is not even the pretense of an attempt to address the entrenched structural socio-economic challenges facing the country.

If this election looks like a revolt, just wait.

And of course, this is a plan that could definitely backfire in a big way - given all the reasons why Sanders is already more electable than Clinton, and the distinct possibility of you-know-who siphoning off some of those unexpected Sanders supporters from Clinton, in the general.

And if it does backfire...well, the end result (almost) rhymes with "Drumpf".

3rd Update: 2 March 9am 

1. Trump is playing in New England. He's big in New Hampshire, huge in Massachusetts, even winning in Vermont - all states where Kasich came in second. He's not just winning over many voters who have Cruz as their second choice; he's also winning over many voters who have Kasich as their second choice. He's not just winning over very conservative evangelicals; he's also winning over business-oriented moderates.

2. Trump and Clinton won almost identical states last night. (And where they differed - Clinton winning Texas, losing Vermont; Trump winning Vermont, losing Texas - they were still alike in that each lost to a home-state candidate.)

3. Trump's big victories are being delivered by record-shattering voter turnouts. Democratic turnouts are down compared to 2008.

I don't like the way this is shaping up.

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