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“Reasons To Remain Skeptical”: The Case Against Trump Winning Remains Strong

Not one but two new polls give former reality TV star Donald Trump commanding national leads among Republican voters. So it must be time for another installment in my ongoing effort to document the reasons he won’t be the nominee.

The New York Times’ “The Upshot” blog provides the latest fodder, with the excellent Nate Cohn making a thorough and persuasive case today for Trump as long-shot (but, importantly, not an impossibility) for his party’s nod.

First, there’s recent history: “In nearly every election cycle, there are candidates who lead national polls and sometimes even win states, but don’t come close to winning the nomination,” he writes. Four years ago, it was Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, eight years ago it was Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton, four years before that Howard Dean was the clear Democratic front-runner at this point.

Mr. Trump shares a lot in common with strong factional candidates who have ultimately fallen short in recent cycles: He does not have broad appeal throughout the party; he is unacceptable to the party’s establishment; and there are reasons to believe that his high numbers may be driven by unsustainable factors — like voters who are less likely to turn out or who are responding to pollsters with “Trump” because they haven’t heard any other name for four months.

Second, Cohn notes the important fact that the tyrant of Trump Tower does worse in polls that screen for likely voters (a point, to his credit, he’s been making since August). That’s ground Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur also covers today in what the headline of his piece calls the “Trump uncertainty principle.” In brief, Trump’s “leads tend to be higher in surveys of Americans who say they plan to vote than those whom pollsters traditionally consider more likely to vote as they have voted in recent elections.” The question, Kapur notes, is whether Trump can build a world-class organization that will produce yuuuuge turn-out (the answer is that either he is or he’s doing a great job of convincing the media that he is), a la Barack Obama eight years ago.

A third important – and related – point that Cohn makes is that Trump’s “dominance of media coverage may be harder to sustain once the field narrows, or actual voting results roll in.” The surest way to puncture the Trump media bubble is to beat him; if, for example, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has moved to the front of Iowa polls, beats the real estate developer in the Buckeye State, he’ll enjoy an incredible media boomlet. Cohn even envisions scenarios with an early Trump win followed by a quick fizzle (think 1996 Pat Buchanan) as the field winnows, and the not-Trump vote coalesces around a single opponent.

Cohn’s whole piece is worth a read because he gives important caveats explaining why he isn’t dismissing Trump entirely.

The Washington Post’s Steven Ginsberg mentioned in a recent interview with Trump that his opponents’ campaigns assume that one way or another he’ll disappear from the race. They no doubt have many of the aforementioned factors in mind. One gauge as to whether that thinking still holds will be this evening’s debate: If there’s stepped-up ferocity in the attacks on Trump, it could be a sign that they’re starting to take the alternative seriously.


By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U. S. News and World Report, December 15, 2015

December 21, 2015 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , ,


  1. In his favor is the cognitive dissonance of his ardent supporters who do not believe the fact-based criticisms and believe legitimate questions and questioners are the liberal media out to get him.

    On his downside are the many folks who consider his candidacy as not from a serious-minded person. They see through his false bravado and find little substance.

    The party needs more credible candidates to earn the voters’ trust. Cruz, Carson and Fiorina do not fit that bill and Rubio has many issues, but stands a better chance than these three. The better candidates who are more moderate and reasonable or unfortunately polling poorly.


    Comment by Keith | December 21, 2015 | Reply

    • It seems that in every election, from Mayors, to state legislatures, to Governors, to Congressional representatives, the extremists have become the GOP’s useful idiots. Moderation has no place in the party and is unacceptable to these ideological extremists, aided and abetted by the attention they are getting from the media and the unlimited and unnamed dark money self interested mega donors. Only if and when the party realizes they need to return to a more centrist ideological position, they will continue to lose at the Presidential level. And I suspect and hope that over time, these same extremist positions will trickle down and affect the outcomes of the elections at the lower levels. The GOP electorate needs to wake up and pay attention to what’s happening to their party.


      Comment by raemd95 | December 21, 2015 | Reply

      • Agreed.


        Comment by Keith | December 21, 2015

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