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“Why Trump Won’t Win”: The Demographics Do Not Look Good For Him In A General Election Campaign

Shortly after Donald J. Trump announced for president, I published a blog post on these pages entitled “No Filter and No Chance.” This was followed by a number of pieces lamenting the surprising lack of substance evident in his campaign, the out of control ego and the sad descent into outrageous, violent, racist, sexist comments repeated with abandon. I, like many others, had predicted his downfall. Hmm, brilliant, right?

But now it is more clear than ever that Trump has all the makings of a George Wallace candidacy, only with less experience in government.

So how could this nasty, vitriolic blowhard become president of the United States?

According to Stephen Moore, the conservative writer, here is how he does it: “Trump is remaking the GOP into a populist/reform party of working class/evangelical and entrepreneurial class voters.” And Pat Buchanan writes: “A Trump campaign across the industrial Midwest, Pennsylvania and New Jersey featuring attacks on Hillary Clinton’s support for NAFTA the WTO, MFN for China – and her backing of amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants, and for the Iraq and Libyan debacles – is a winning hand.”

Thus, the bottom line for the Trump trumpeters is that he mobilizes large numbers of new voters who are angry and fed up with Washington, pulls in the Reagan working-class Democrats and independents, and carries states that have voted Democratic over the last 25 years.

There are several problems with this analysis.

First and foremost, Trump is not a candidate who is appealing to the majority of Americans – 67 percent can’t see themselves voting for him in November, according to a March NBC/WSJ poll. He has a 25 percent positive rating and a 64 percent negative rating and is trailing Hillary Clinton by 13 points and Bernie Sanders by 18. (This was before the Clinton sweep of five primary states on March 15.)

Furthermore, 43 percent of Republicans believe he will be harmful to their party; 27 percent of all voters feel Trump’s version of change for the country would be right and a full 52 percent believe it would be wrong.

And even before most of the violence at the Trump rallies and the latest Trump rhetoric, 50 percent believe “Trump’s comments are frequently insulting and he has the wrong approach to the issues.” Only 18 percent believe Trump “tells it like it is and has the right approach on many issues.”

My guess is that these numbers are not going to get better as the campaign progresses but will only get worse for Trump. This is not a zebra who will change his stripes – if anything, the numbers will become more pronounced. Can you imagine the recording of Trump from Howard Stern’s radio show turned into political advertisements? More and more examples of his inconsistencies and outright falsehoods? His complete and total lack of knowledge about policy and failure to articulate issue positions?

He is also outright dangerous. Is this the person Americans want two feet from the nuclear codes?

Many of Trump’s supporters are arguing that he will bring to the polls millions of new voters – basically angry white males. Data on this is very sketchy given where we are in the primaries. There has not been a huge surge in voter registration beyond normal numbers and there is some evidence that turnout models may, in fact, hurt Trump and the Republicans, as Robert Schlesinger argues so persuasively in this space.

Here is a run-down of Trump’s problems:

Hispanics: Washington Post polling shows 80 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump. Romney got 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, Trump will be lucky to reach the upper teens. According to Pew, 48 percent of Hispanics voted in 2012 and more than 1.4 million new registrations have been recorded since 2008. Clearly, the number of Hispanic voters will only continue to grow. You better believe that turnout in 2016 will be closer to the mid-60 range for whites and blacks, not the upper 40s of the past.

African-Americans: It may be difficult to match the Obama numbers but given Trump’s treatment of blacks at his rallies and his talk of “political correctness,” it will be close.

Women: Of course, women will be a majority of the electorate in 2016. Trump’s problems with them, I believe, are just beginning. The more women see of him, hear of his past statements, view the treatment of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and others, the more they will be turned off by his antics. Never mind his position on issues affecting women, which will be highlighted and are of grave concern.

Millennials and younger voters: Sen. Bernie Sanders may have excited them, but it is hard to believe they will sit on their hands if Trump is the nominee against Hillary Clinton. Voters in this age group are growing fast and flexing their political muscle.

Educated voters: This is a serious problem for Trump. Turnout for people with advanced degrees is over 80 percent: about 75 percent for those with bachelors degrees, 64 percent for those with some college, a bit over 50 percent for those who are high school grads and less than 40 percent for those without a high school degree. Trump’s strength right now is with less-educated voters. The big question is: Can he put together an organization that produces a sea change in registering and bringing to the polls the less educated, non-voters? There’s not much evidence yet that he can.

Finally, as we all know, the electorate is more diverse with each passing year. Close to 30 percent of 2016 voters will be non-white. Given the failure of the Republican Party, and particularly Donald Trump, to appeal to those voters, this is a serious problem. The current and future demographics do not bode well for a Trump or any other candidate who fails to appeal to all of America.

It is still possible that Trump will not be the nominee, but most Republicans who are worried about their party are looking right now at a train wreck come November. And maybe for years down the tracks. Unless things change, 2016 could make the Johnson-Goldwater election of 1964 look like a nail biter.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Head, Fenn Communications; U. S. News and World Report, March 21, 2016

March 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, George Wallace, GOP | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Racism By Region”: Donald Trump And The Rise Of The New Dixiecrats

There is one man who might be able to beat Donald Trump. But it would involve amending the Constitution, exhuming former Alabama governor George Wallace and re-constituting his ashes.

The current Republican frontrunner has been able to accomplish something that Wallace, in his living days, could not. In the months since Trump announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, he has singlehandedly built a bipartisan, largely white coalition of conservatives who are attracted to his nativist brand of economic populism. For them, the fine details of actual policy proposals appear to be less important than the notion that Trump is the one who can take their country back.

Much like Wallace—who was a Democrat—and despite his inconsistencies on the issues, Trump has tapped into a reservoir of resentment. He gives voice to the grievances of his supporters in a way that no other viable candidate for national office arguably has or can. As Trump continues to intensify his rhetoric, he has revealed deep fissures between the Republican establishment and the party’s grassroots. But his support does not stop at the water’s edge.

Those measuring Trump’s electoral “ceiling” should look again. There was certainly a ceiling on how much support Wallace received nationally. And, without a doubt, there is a cap on how high Trump’s stock will rise. But Trump is getting some unanticipated help—from Democrats.

Feasting on a public mood that is strikingly similar to what fueled Wallace, backing for the billionaire businessman has crossed the partisan aisle. The Trump voter is buoyed by his proclamations that he can “make America great again.” One constant refrain is that he “tells it like it is,” a thinly veiled reference to the way Trump eschews politically correct speech and frequently deploys bigoted, divisive language.

Among his electoral strongholds are so-called “blue dogs.” According to The New York Times, Trump carries a full 43 percent of voters who are registered Democrats, but who lean to the right.  In the mold of Wallace, Trump has given rise to a modern-day Dixiecrat—only this one is not contained to the American South.

Up North, he is drawing support from “Reagan Democrats”—those who are disaffected by the broadening diversity of the Democratic Party. Reminiscent of Reagan, at least one poll shows that 20 percent of Democrats would defect and pull the lever for Trump this November.

His promises to rebuild the nation’s manufacturing base, hunt down Muslim terrorists and stop “illegal aliens” at the border have earned him deep support across the South, in rural areas in the country’s mid-section and in rusting smoke-stack cities in the North and upper Midwest. Never mind the fact that many of his proposals are unworkable and others would bust the national bank or qualify as war crimes. Trump’s “us versus them” mentality has attracted substantial support from white evangelicals and catapulted him into what is likely an insurmountable lead.

Without question, Trump has shocked the chattering class, energized his base and driven up turnout numbers in Republican primaries and caucuses. As the real estate denizen steamrolls through states like Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee on Super Tuesday, it is worth noting that he polls strongest among working class-whites who are less educated and who were the least likely to vote. His reach also extends to north to Massachusettes and his home state of New York.

Nate Cohn says it is a “familiar pattern.”

“It is similar to a map of the tendency toward racism by region, according to measures like the prevalence of Google searches for racial slurs and racist jokes, or scores on implicit association tests,” Cohn writes for The New York Times.

Trump may also be benefitting from the election of the country’s first African-American president. Once thought to be an augur of a post-racial America, the 2008 election instead gave rise to tensions thought by some to be already resolved. For some people, that clear demonstration of black voting power within the highly diverse Obama Coalition was something to be feared rather than embraced.

Wallace, a segregationist who is perhaps most famous for the assertion, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” would later come to rebuke that ugly ideology, but he never let go of economic populism.

However, what some political prognosticators miss about Wallace is the way in which he and his contemporaries used racial animus and economic fears to destabilize the Democratic base after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts. While Wallace never actually became a Republican himself, he helped to inspire the party re-alignment that would last for generations. That schism would become the precursor to the “Southern Strategy” adopted by Republicans to maintain national political power.

Trump appears to have taken up the mantle in a way that separates him from Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who continue to trail him in the polls.  But even as he benefits from the old Southern Strategy built by Republicans, Trump is remaking the tactical approach in his own image. He has rejected critical elements of the modern-day conservative doctrine.

“Trump has called for abolishing the carried-interest tax loophole for hedge-fund and private-equity managers,” writes James Surowiecki for The New Yorker. “He’s vowed to protect Social Security. He’s called for restrictions on highly skilled immigrants. Most important, he’s rejected free-trade ideology, suggesting that the U.S. may need to slap tariffs on Chinese goods to protect American jobs.”

Trump’s impact on party alignment is unknowable today. But Democrats and Republicans are right to fear the result. Like Wallace, Trump is shaking the table and there is no telling where the pieces might fall.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, March 2, 2016

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Dixicrats, Donald Trump, George Wallace, Regional Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Donald Trump Owes George Wallace”: Demagogue’s Ability To Tap Into Fear And Anger In American Politics

Donald J. Trump, reality television star and real estate mogul, is different in many ways from major political figures in our past. But there are striking similarities between Mr. Trump and George C. Wallace, the Deep South politician who ran for president each opportunity he got from 1964 through 1976. The connections between the two — their rhetoric and their ability to fire up crowds — give us a better sense of what Trumpism will mean once he is gone from the campaign stage. After all, political losers as well as winners can shape the future.

Mr. Trump started his business career with what he called a “small loan” of a million dollars from his father. Mr. Wallace, the son of a struggling South Alabama farmer, clawed his way to power with hard work and a political antenna always ahead of the next public opinion poll.

And despite his reputation as a belligerent speechmaker, the insecure Mr. Wallace privately sought to ingratiate himself with friends and foes alike. It’s hard to imagine the egotistic Mr. Trump beginning a call to a hostile newspaper editor by cheerfully explaining, as Mr. Wallace once did, “I just called up to kiss your ass some more.”

What both share is the demagogue’s instinctive ability to tap into the fear and anger that regularly erupts in American politics.

Mr. Wallace’s 1963 inaugural address as governor of Alabama (“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”) and his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” that same year seemed to limit his role to that of a strictly regional figure, part of Dixie’s long tradition of racist politicians. His presidential candidacy in 1964 and surprising strength in Democratic primaries in Wisconsin, Indiana and Maryland did little to change that national image. In April 1967, when Mr. Wallace told a Syracuse, N.Y., audience that he had decided to run for president as a third-party candidate, the television networks ignored his announcement, as did most of the major newspapers.

But in 1968, against a backdrop of urban riots, a war in Vietnam that dragged on inconclusively, tumultuous antiwar demonstrations and the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, a fiery Mr. Wallace began to draw interest across the nation; by September the crowds at his rallies rivaled those for his two main opponents, Richard M. Nixon and Hubert H. Humphrey. Mindful of his reputation as a defender of segregation, the Alabama governor avoided explicitly racist language. He was a pioneer in the use of code words to attack African-Americans while seldom mentioning race, instead condemning “asinine” school busing, the “bloc vote” and the “thugs” from America’s inner cities who supposedly stalked the nation’s streets.

Uncertain of what to make of the political upstart, the nation’s print media initially played down their coverage of Mr. Wallace rather “like parents who refuse to look when their child is doing something naughty for fear it might encourage him to show off,” in the words of one British journalist.

As his poll numbers rose from single digits in the spring to more than 20 percent by the fall, it was no longer possible to ignore Mr. Wallace, and the major newsmagazines and largest newspapers attacked him with a barrage of thinly veiled invective: He was “simplistic”; he had not “one constructive proposal to offer a troubled nation”; he sought “political profit in fear and hate.” Attacks by the mainstream media only strengthened his support. As one of Mr. Wallace’s followers told a newspaper reporter, “I could care less what Time magazine thinks; I only use it once a day in the outhouse.”

The hypersensitive Mr. Trump obviously cares a lot more about Time’s opinion. When the magazine failed to choose him as its 2015 Person of the Year, he complained that, despite being “the big favorite,” Time had snubbed him in favor of Germany’s Angela Merkel, “who is ruining Germany!”

Hostility to the civil rights movement was only a part of Mr. Wallace’s rhetorical repertoire. He was a “populist” of sorts, defending good, hard-working (white) Christian Americans, but his enemies were not the economic bankers and monopolists of his 19th-century forebears. He had found new dragons to slay.

On paper his speeches were stunningly disconnected, at times incoherent. But videotapes of those 1968 rallies captured a performance. A wild energy seemed to flow back and forth between Mr. Wallace and his audience as he called out their mutual enemies: bearded hippies, pornographers, sophisticated intellectuals who mocked God, traitorous anti-Vietnam War protesters, welfare bums, cowardly politicians and “pointy-head college professors who can’t even park a bicycle straight.”

For the television networks the spectacle became irresistible, particularly since rallies often erupted into violent chair-throwing confrontations between Mr. Wallace’s supporters and angry demonstrators. Hunter S. Thompson understood that George Wallace’s followers were not interested in position papers on banking regulations or the pros and cons of thermal energy. Watching the Alabama governor perform was awe-inspiring to the gonzo journalist, who likened the rallies to a Janis Joplin concert “in which the bastard had somehow levitated himself and was hovering over us.”

Both George Wallace and Donald Trump are part of a long national history of scapegoating minorities: from the Irish, Catholics, Asians, Eastern European immigrants and Jews to Muslims and Latino immigrants. During times of insecurity, a sizable minority of Americans has been drawn to forceful figures who confidently promise the destruction of all enemies, real and imagined, allowing Americans to return to a past that never existed.

At the same time, the rejection of the euphemisms of polite political rhetoric is part of the great appeal of such figures. As one of Mr. Trump’s supporters at a Dallas rally told a Slate reporter: “I love that he’s talking in everybody else’s language. He’s not trying to be politically correct.”

That response is simply an update from one of Mr. Wallace’s 1968 followers: “George doesn’t give us some mealy-mouth ‘on the one hand and on the other’ spiel. He tells it like it is and if it offends some government bureaucrats and loudmouth civil rights agitators, so what? He’s standing up and fighting for real Americans.”

George Wallace was never going to be president; neither is Donald Trump. But their influence, even far from the White House, has an impact. The Alabama governor’s success in mobilizing white working-class voters forced other candidates — particularly Nixon — to adapt a housebroken version of his rhetoric and policies. Mr. Wallace may have begun his career as a New Deal Democrat, but the way he appealed to these predominantly Democratic voters by channeling their frustrations against the federal government did much to pave the way for Ronald Reagan’s more genial anti-government ideology.

It is more difficult to assess the long-term implications of a figure like Mr. Trump, whose “policies” seem even more incoherent than those of George Wallace. He, too, has learned how to exploit the deepest fears and hatreds of white Americans frightened about the present and despairing of the future.

Whether he is nominated by the Republican Party or simply disappears into the long line of discredited demagogues, he has already left his mark. Just listen to what some of his fellow Republican candidates are saying.

 

By: Dan T. Carter, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina; Opinion Pages, The New York Times, January 8, 2016

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, George Wallace, Racism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Take Heed”: Donald Trump Is The GOP’s George Wallace

Tuesday night, following the fourth Republican presidential primary debate, the pundit class will dutifully declare Marco Rubio the winner, extolling his debate prowess with the usual breathlessness. And then, the overnight polls will find that once again, Donald Trump has won the night (with Washington GOP bête noir Ted Cruz likely coming in second), and establishment GOP heads will explode again.

The Trump phenomenon might feel both interminable and unprecedented to Republican elites, but of course it isn’t. American populist politics has a long tradition, from Andrew Jackson to Huey Long to Joseph McCarthy. But the politician Trump is most like could be George Wallace. And if the rumors of an establishment plot to somehow prevent the current frontrunner from getting the nomination are true, Trump could wind up as the GOP’s Wallace in more than just style and bluster.

Back in Wallace’s day, it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were bedeviled by their extremist flank. The Southern wing of the party was in full rebellion over the push for racial integration in schools and public accommodations; over the civil rights laws pushed through by a majority Democratic congress with the help of Republicans and an apostate Southern Democratic president; and even over the war in Vietnam, which drew a spirited investigation by ardent segregationist Sen. William Fulbright of Arkansas.

Wallace ran for Alabama governor in 1958 touting his ability to “to treat a man fair, regardless of his color.” He lost and vowed to “never be out-niggered again.” He ran for governor in 1962, this time as a hard-line segregationist, and won. The new George Wallace was a political thespian, dramatically “tossing the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny” on behalf of the “great Anglo Saxon Southland” and declaring “segregation now and segregation forever.” He staged his “stand in” at the entrance of the University of Alabama in June of 1963 to dramatize the fruitless fight to keep two black students, and their armed federal escorts, out; and ran his soon-to-be ailing wife, Lurleen, for governor when the Democratic state legislature refused to let him vie for a second term.

In 1966, Wallace declared his independence from the political establishment, calling himself “an Alabama Democrat, not a national Democrat,” and adding: “I’m not kin to those folks. The difference between a national Democrat and an Alabama Democrat is like the difference between a Communist and a non-Communist.” He commiserated with conservative white voters, saying both major parties have “looked down their nose at you and me a long time. They’ve called us rednecks—the Republicans and the Democrats. Well, we’re going to show there sure are a lot of rednecks in this country.”

When he ran for president as an independent in 1968, Wallace did so as a pure populist, capitalizing on a segment of the electorate’s disdain for traditional politicians.

His campaign focused on law and order in the face of hundreds of riots in 1967. He declared it a “sad day in our country that you cannot walk even in your neighborhoods at night or even in the daytime because both national parties, in the last number of years, have kowtowed to every group of anarchists that have roamed the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles and throughout the country.”

He zeroed in on white working-class voters’ anxieties over the decline of traditional values, deriding the Supreme Court for promoting a “perverted agenda” that ripped prayer from public schools while concocting a right to “distribute obscene pornography.” He lamented the inordinate amount of time Washington elites spent pandering to communistic black civil rights scoundrels and “welfare cheats” while prying into the affairs of the common white man who just wanted to run his business as he saw fit or sell his home to someone with “blue eyes and green skin” via restrictive covenant if he so chose.

Like Trump, Wallace rose steadily and improbably in the polls, with consistently high ratings for “saying it the way it really is” and “standing by his convictions.” New Republic columnist Richard Strout in 1967 dubbed Wallace “the ablest demagogue of our time, with a voice of venom and a gut knowledge of the prejudices of the low-income class.” Even John Wayne donated to his campaign, which raised most of its money through small donations.

By December 1967, Wallace made Gallup’s list of America’s 10 most admired men, at No. 8, one notch above California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Gallup would later note that Wallace’s support was strongest among those “with a high school background or less” and those who strongly disliked President Lyndon Johnson.

Wallace ran in some Democratic primaries, as he had briefly in 1964. But; his segregationist views had become an anathema to the party of LBJ, and he got almost no votes. Instead he accepted the nomination of the new, far-right American Independent Party, and he chose retired General Curtis LeMay, who wanted to nuke Vietnam, as his running mate.

Though his principal strength was in the South, Wallace also held large and raucous campaign rallies up North; drawing 20,000 people to Madison Square Garden in October 1968, as anti-Wallace protesters clashed with police outside. One Wallace strategist, arch-segregationist John J. Synon, boasted of Wallace’s Northern supporters in a 1967 column: “Who faced down M.L. King in Cicero, last summer [by throwing bottles and bricks at black civil rights activists who marched through the all-white Illinois town]; who takes the brunt whenever there is trouble? Blue collars, that’s who.”

Wallace’s campaign rallies were characterized by intermittent spasms of violence, including in New York, where several of his supporters notoriously surrounded a group of black protesters and began chanting “kill ’em! Kill ’em!” And Wallace, like Trump, seemed to encourage their bravado, declaring at Madison Square Garden: “We don’t have riots in Alabama. They start a riot down there, first one of ’em to pick up a brick gets a bullet in the brain, that’s all. And then you walk over to the next one and say, ‘All right, pick up a brick. We just want to see you pick up one of them bricks now.”

In the end, Wallace’s independent presidential run took more votes from Richard Nixon than from Hubert Humphrey—four out of five Wallace votes would have gone to Nixon were Wallace not in the race, pollsters concluded at the time, and Nixon won by fewer than 1 million votes, while Wallace pulled 9.9 million. Wallace won five states in the Deep South, along with more Electoral College votes, at 46, than any third-party candidate before or since (one “faithless elector” in North Carolina stubbornly cast a vote for Wallace over that state’s victor, Nixon). The results prompted Nixon campaign strategist Kevin Phillips in 1969 to devise the “Southern strategy” to capitalize on Wallace’s popularity with disaffected conservative white voters in the South.

By 1972, it was Nixon and the Republicans who would never be “out-niggered again.”

Wallace ran twice more for president, both times as a Democrat. He finished a close third to George McGovern and Humphrey in the 1972 primary and came in third again in 1976, behind Jerry Brown and Jimmy Carter. But he was returning to a party he had helped break, by accelerating the realignment of the two major parties that began in 1964. Wallace never came close to being president, but his 1968 bid helped kill the New Deal coalition of black and white working-class voters. The Democratic Party was forever changed.

Which brings us to the Republican Party in 2016.

If their George Wallace—Donald Trump—wins the nomination, the party’s die is cast with a message that’s doomed among the increasingly multiracial presidential-year electorate. If he loses but his opponents continue to pander, self-protectively, to the most hateful aspects of Trump’s message, that die is cast anyway.

If he loses, particularly through some convention gamesmanship, and his supporters decide he was robbed of the nomination by a party elite who looked down on him, and on them, Trump could launch a third-party effort of Wallace-like proportions and tear the GOP in two. And that, in the end, is what Republican elites fear most.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, December 15, 2015

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, George Wallace, GOP | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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