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“This Too Shall Pass”: Everyone Should Calm Down About Trump’s Ongoing Presence At The Top Of The GOP Field

I’ve been consistent in my belief that former reality TV star Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee. I wrote as much a week-and-a-half ago arguing that neither Trump nor retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson would be the nominee, given that never in history has a major party nominated someone as bereft of political or military experience as either of these two.

Since then Carson has started his descent back into oblivion – he’s dropped five points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls over the last two-and-a-half weeks – perhaps because the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris exacerbated questions about his grasp of foreign policy. Trump, as has been the case at virtually every turn since his announcement of candidacy, has benefited, gaining three points over this same time period.

So it was gratifying to see yesterday a post by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver arguing that everyone should calm down about Trump’s ongoing presence at the top of the GOP field. He makes a few strong arguments, the first being that while Trump has remained comfortably in the 25-30 percent range, his “middling” favorable ratings make it unlikely that he will be able to grow that base as the field winnows. Another is the question of whether the Trump coalition will actually show up and vote (a question we’ve previously considered in this publication).

And, he adds:

It can be easy to forget it if you cover politics for a living, but most people aren’t paying all that much attention to the campaign right now. Certainly, voters are consuming some campaign-related news. Debate ratings are way up, and Google searches for topics related to the primaries have been running slightly ahead of where they were at a comparable point of the 2008 campaign, the last time both parties had open races. But most voters have a lot of competing priorities. Developments that can dominate a political news cycle, like Trump’s frenzied 90-minute speech in Iowa earlier this month, may reach only 20 percent or so of Americans.

He looks at Google search data and exit-poll data from previous elections to demonstrate both when voters have typically indicated that they made up their minds and also when their interest (as expressed by their online search patterns) starts to rise. “This burst of attention occurs quite late – usually when voters are days or weeks away from their primary or caucus,” he writes.

So as he suggests, everyone should calm down. Return to your regularly scheduled wondering if Trump’s latest insanity will be the event to pop – or at least start taking the air out of – his balloon. Last week it was his flirtation with fascism (yes, I know that he didn’t come up with the idea of stripping Muslims of their constitutional rights, but he didn’t bat an eyelash at it either and to the best of my knowledge still hasn’t actually repudiated the idea); over the weekend he mused about how roughing up a protestor at one of his rallies was the right thing to do. Now we’re onto his fabricated recollection of “thousands” of Jersey City, New Jersey, residents – he has identified them as Muslims but even supposing such an event took place, how would he be able to tell their creed over the television? – celebrating the 9/11 attacks. “It was well-covered at the time,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” What’s actually been well-covered is the fallaciousness of his memory on this topic. Think about this: Is there any way that mass celebrations in an American city would have not been – to borrow a Trumpism – a yuuuuge story in the supercharged days, weeks and months after 9/11? If such video existed, it would have run on an endless loop on Fox News Channel. It would have become an instant and enduring meme on conservative talk radio and on the right-wing of the Web. Even Carson, who initially shared Trump’s “memory,” has since retracted the claim. I suppose the same conspiracy that has purged every news report of the thousands of cheering New Jerseyans from the collective memory and all contemporaneous news reports must have gotten to Carson too!

The Iowa Caucus is scheduled for February 1 of next year. One circumstance that is bound to change in the more than two months before that event kicks off the formal primary season is advertising. Most of the ads that have run thus far have been positive and soft – basic introduce-the-candidate ads. But sooner or later rival candidates and other outside groups will start training their negative ads on Trump. There is reason to believe that advertising has been able to move numbers – which makes sense if you believe that the polls thus far have been driven by news coverage (which I do). Let’s see what happens when the ad dollars start flowing in earnest and especially start recounting some of Trump’s greatest hits, like those mentioned above.

The whole thing is bizarre – and will be superseded by his next outrageous pronouncement, which will no doubt be that Muslim terrorists attacked the first Thanksgiving dinner.

This too shall pass, in other words – rather like the Trump candidacy.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report; November 27, 2015

November 28, 2015 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, GOP Presidential Candidates, Racism | , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. And why what a few hundred thousand people think in Iowa compared to 100 million voters in the rest of the country is major media fodder is way beyond me.

    Like

    Comment by Barneysday | November 28, 2015 | Reply

  2. I actually want Trump to win the Rep’s primary.

    Like

    Comment by renxkyoko | November 28, 2015 | Reply

    • Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

      Like

      Comment by raemd95 | November 28, 2015 | Reply


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