Loose Trumps (1)

There’s so much to say about Trump on a daily basis that he’s perfectly adapted to my new “Loose Ends” format. So here are some “Loose Trumps.”

DT is short for Donald Trump of course, but the DT the GOP is currently suffering does resemble the medical abbreviation for delirium tremens for sure. DT is defined as “a rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol” (fortunately it is impossible for me to suffer this malady because the “withdrawal from alcohol” part is out of the question), but certainly the “rapid onset of confusion” part is correct about the GOP and Trump right now. (And don’t forget—there is Trump wine to go with Trump’s steaks. No—Power Line has not reviewed any Trump vintages. I’m sure they are terrific, the best, the greatest, most amazing, incredible wines ever, and that you can’t get a hangover from drinking too much of them. With Trump vineyards, you’ll get so much wining that you’ll get tired of all the wining.)

This talk of ousting Trump as the nominee seems more likely to be a big flashing public signal to Trump to get his act together right away. (The smart lefty writer John Judis thinks Trump’s scripted speech Tuesday night is a sign he got this message.) If you were really going to depose Trump from being the GOP nominee in Cleveland, I’m not sure you’d go big with lots of public chatter about it as you’re seeing right now.

 Paul notes that Trump has received the most primary votes ever for a Republican presidential nominee, but that this is largely a function of a larger GOP primary electorate, and Trump got a smaller proportion of the total GOP primary vote than previous nominees. So far so, good. But people should take account of “Why Trump Was Inevitable” in the latest New York Review of Books. There political scientists Ronald B. Rapoport, Alan I. Abramowitz, and Walter J. Stone take note of the data and point out that Trump was correct when he argued that much of the support of other candidates would go to him as they dropped out. Based on a survey they took around the time of the Iowa caucuses, they found that no single candidate topped Trump in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. Cruz came the closest, and not coincidentally he was the last man standing. You can see their numbers in this chart:

NYRB chart copy

Some of their analysis is worth taking in:

Even though almost two thirds of Republican voters supported a candidate other than Trump at the time of our survey, a substantial number of those supporting other candidates shifted to Trump when their favorite candidate was eliminated from the choices available. Only Rubio, Carson, and Cruz attracted even 60 percent of other candidates’ supporters in the survey when the race narrowed to a two-person contest. And only Cruz received two thirds or more of other candidates’ supporters.

Cruz, with 48 percent in a one-on-one contest, came much closer than any other candidate to defeating Trump. . . As our data here show, Donald Trump’s primary victories on his way to the nomination were not simply a result of a crowded field. Among our national sample of likely Republican primary voters, Trump was favored over every other Republican candidate in one-on-one matchups.

This part is more significant:

An examination of the results of our question asking Republican voters about the electability of various GOP candidates shows that the electability argument was unlikely to persuade Republican primary voters. . . So our data offer little reason to think that Republicans interested in winning could have been persuaded to defect from Trump.

This is one reason why dumping Trump in Cleveland would likely be a disaster for the GOP. A large portion of the party cares more about making a statement than winning an election. But there’s also this interesting part, showing the underlying split in the party:

Trump and his supporters were not in line with the opinions of a majority of Republican voters. . . Trump supporters were quite distinct from other Republicans on issues like raising the minimum wage and raising taxes on upper-income households. Almost two thirds of Trump supporters favored raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 compared with only 41 percent of other Republicans, and while almost half of his supporters (48 percent) favored raising the minimum wage, that was true of less than a third of those supporting other candidates.

Roger Simon, who said early on last year that Trump would be the nominee and that the election was his to lose, beat me to wondering whether Trump does in fact want to lose it. My own view is that Trump decided to run for president in order to build up his business brand value, and if he had some influence on the political scene so much the better. There are credible accounts of him saying he expected to finish in the middle of the field. With his monumental ego and confidence, once he started gaining momentum he probably changed his mind. But he can’t seem to help himself from his outrageous statements and self-sabotage. Cue Roger:

Does Donald Trump really want to be president?

Ask me a couple of weeks ago, when he was riding high, closing in the polls, and I would have rolled my eyes in disbelief at the question.  Now I’m not so sure.  I wrote long ago the presidency was Trump’s to lose. I meant it then and I mean it now—only Trump can bring down Trump. Unfortunately, he’s doing it. His signal-to-noise problem is getting the better of him. He doesn’t know where to pick a fight, so he’s doing it everywhere.

Worth reading the whole thing.

•Pretty clear how the Democrats are going to run against Trump. Why he’s even crazier than Barry Goldwater! One of the more outrageous slanders of Goldwater in 1964 was a widely publicized survey of psychiatrists by the American Psychiatric Association in which something like 1,000 psychiatrists judged that Goldwater was not mentally fit to be president. Goldwater subsequently sued the magazine behind the stunt and won, which led the APA to issue new guidelines (called “the Goldwater rule” in fact) to forbid such a squalid exercise in the future. The folks at FiveThirtyEight have a good retrospective and preview of what’s unfolding against Trump right now here.

The Goldwater rule hasn’t stopped Howard Gardner of Harvard from speculating publicly that Trump has psychological “issues.” Gardner may be right that Trump is a classic narcissist (as opposed to Hillary and Bill??), and while Gardner occasionally has some interesting things to say about psychology, I always found it odd that an old book of his on leadership went on for several pages about the leadership qualities of Hitler, but made no mention of Churchill. Not sure I’d look for serious political insight from such a politically unserious person.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton has already said “I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants,” hint, hint. Can a TV ad with little girl picking daisies before a nuclear explosion be far away?