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“Dump Trump!”: Trump Winning Could Do More To Destroy The Republican Party Than A Messy Convention Fight In Cleveland

Have you noticed Donald Trump isn’t bragging about his poll numbers anymore?

With Trump down 12 points to Hillary Clinton in the latest Bloomberg poll, all of the clever-dick theories about the strength and momentum of the Trump campaign are disintegrating one after the other. There is no evidence that Trump is changing the configuration of the electoral map. There is no evidence that he is bringing in a huge new bloc of previously disaffected voters — instead it’s just the opposite. The theory that a terrorist attack would help Trump? Refuted when his polls continued to tank after the most deadly mass shooting in American history. Even the core “Trump voters,” non-college-educated white men, are turning on him. In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 53 percent of them rated Trump unfavorably. Trump has to do light years better than Mitt Romney among this group to win. He’s failing, and he’s failing faster than any major party nominee in modern history.

The Republican Party should seek to deny him their nomination in Cleveland. Even if it means a messy convention fight in prime time. Even if it hobbles the nominee that eventually replaces Trump.

Their nominee is already hobbled, because he is Trump. Since Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic nomination, it turns out that it was not just a few right-leaning ideologues and scribblers who think Donald Trump is unfit to be president. A significant portion of the GOP’s traditional coalition simply will not let Trump represent them. Many elected Republican officials think Donald Trump cannot be trusted with the awesome powers of the presidency. Trump’s disloyalty to Republican orthodoxy and the cartoonishly aggressive style that made him electrifying to his core group of primary supporters turn out to be enormous general election liabilities.

Some Republicans are quietly hoping Trump loses in November, and loses badly enough that the party can just move on afterward. But there’s a problem with this line of thinking. Trump has shown himself willing and able to inflict more damage on the party even after securing its nomination. He still refuses to bury the hatchet with Paul Ryan and other leaders. He will drag other Republicans to defeat with him, and he will wreck the party’s image for years to come.

Besides, there is still a minor risk that some other exogenous event makes Hillary Clinton unelectable. Say a terrorist attack happens featuring weapons from former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s unsecured stash. Or Clinton has a debilitating but not fatal stroke weeks before election day and simply disappears from the campaign trail. If his past is a preview of his presidency, Trump winning could do more to destroy the Republican Party than a messy convention fight in Cleveland.

Stopping Trump before the convention may not just be the civic-minded thing to do, it may be in the best interests of the Republican Party long term. If Clinton’s campaign somehow fails, Trump’s failures as president will still belong to the GOP.

Of course, a convention coup is likely to fail. Republicans have been notoriously slow-footed and uncoordinated in responding to Trump. And there are two major obstacles to its success. The first is the moral obligation that convention delegates feel to vote for the winner of their state or district. Trump may have only won a plurality of primary voters, but even if the Rules Committee unbinds the delegates, many will still feel morally obligated to vote for him on the first ballot. If that’s the case, Trump will be close enough to prevailing that the effort to deny him may stall out immediately.

The second obstacle is more familiar. His name is Ted Cruz. The Texas senator will come in with the biggest anti-Trump weapons, the loyalty of delegates who are pledged to him and the many party activists who admire him even if they are bound to Donald Trump. Cruz would be essential to organizing any coup at the convention. And as the next leading vote-getter, he would have demands — possibly including the nomination itself. While Cruz may be more electable than Donald Trump, it is by a margin so slim that the risks of a convention coup and riot in Cleveland may not seem worth trying. Many elected Republicans and big GOP donors view Cruz as treacherous and repellent. They won’t give his candidacy much more support than Trump’s.

Republicans will have to regroup as a party after 2016 anyway. The Trump challenge showed the deficiencies of Republican orthodoxy, and those must be addressed. But in the meantime, the best thing that the party can do is send Trump back to what he does best, welching on his creditors and selling over-priced garbage with his name on it.

 

By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, June 16, 2016

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why Is Trump Upset?”: It’s Because Cruz Is Schooling Him In The Art Of The Deal

Donald Trump prides himself on being able to bend arcane and unfair systems to his will.

Well, every system except one.

For years, Trump has been dogged by questions about his companies’ several bankruptcies, which are potential blemishes upon his business career.

In response, Trump has argued that there was nothing illegal, morally wrong or even shameful about restructuring debts and breaking contracts. On the contrary, these bankruptcies are a testament to his business acumen.

“I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage,” he told Forbes.

“I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera,” he echoed at the first Republican presidential debate.

And on Twitter, he argued, “Out of hundreds of deals & transactions, I have used the bankruptcy laws a few times to make deals better. Nothing personal, just business.”

He’s exercised similar rhetoric when talking about how he’s benefited from another controversial use of the law: eminent domain.

Governmental seizure of property for private commercial development, he argues, is not only good for the public and (allegedly) for the people forced out of their homes. It’s also used all the time by other prominent entrepreneurs and businesspeople, including members of the Bush family. So why not take advantage of this ripe system for himself?

Likewise, when asked why he’s donated money in the past to ideologically problematic politicians (including Hillary Clinton), he offers the same rationale: This is how the system works when you’re in business. It may not be fair or transparent, but a businessperson would be foolish not use it to his advantage.

“Maybe it’s a good system and maybe it’s not a good system, but it’s the system in which I was under and I thrived,” he boasted on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

In Trump’s world, exploiting the nation’s byzantine bankruptcy laws, or its bizarre eminent domain laws, or its opaque campaign finance rules, or any other system-rigging tools freely available to entrepreneurial types is proof not of shadiness but shrewdness — of his unwillingness to play the chump.

Which is why it’s so odd when Trump whines about Cruz behaving the exact same way.

Cruz has been quietly wooing delegates to the upcoming Republican convention, as well as the local party leaders who help select those delegates. He and his staff have traveled around California, Colorado, Arkansas, South Carolina and other states to help put sympathetic delegates in place in preparation for the possibility of a freewheeling contested election.

The upshot is, according to a Post analysis, that Cruz may already have effectively blocked Trump from the nomination should Trump prove unable to secure a majority of delegates on the first ballot.

As my colleague Marc Thiessen observed this week, Cruz is taking advantage of the peculiar, convoluted delegate system just as adeptly, and just as amorally, as Trump has taken advantage of the nation’s peculiar, convoluted bankruptcy laws.

Trump does not appear to appreciate the parallels. Instead, upon realizing Cruz’s behind-the-scenes efforts, Trump has gone apoplectic.

Having built his campaign on Twitter and free-media coverage, failed to invest much in a ground game and taken little interest until recently in how the delegate system works, Trump now indicts both a “totally unfair” system and Lyin’ Ted himself.

“It’s a rigged, disgusting dirty system,” Trump complained of a primary system whose rules have been available to him for many months.

“He’s trying to steal things because that’s the way Ted works,” Trump carped about a competitor who is cutting deals that the great dealmaker himself should envy.

There are two lessons to be gleaned from Trump’s selectively righteous indignation about unfair systems and those who exploit them.

One is that he’s a hypocrite. Obvious enough.

The other is that the main premise of his campaign — that his wiliness in the business world will translate to wiliness in politics and policy — is bunk.

Trump boasts that his whole life he’s been “greedy, greedy, greedy,” that his greed has paid off in the private sector, and that ergo he’ll be effective at being “greedy for the United States” in all its affairs. But if he can’t even figure out how to manage a primary campaign — let alone get his own children registered to vote for him — the chances that he’ll be able to seamlessly convert his monetary greed into political greed look slim.

 

By: Catherine Rampell, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Quite Unpopular At Home”: Rubio’s Must-Win State Is His Own — And He’s Losing There

As political observers absorb Thursday night’s tenth Republican-candidate debate and argue over Trump’s untouchability or Marco Rubio’s new fight-club mentality, Nate Cohn of the New York Times takes on the more prosaic chore of examining how, exactly, Rubio might survive a losing streak and still win the GOP nomination.

The good news he offers Rubio and his growing circle of party and conservative-Establishment fans is that he doesn’t have to win a single state on March 1.

[I]t wouldn’t be optimal for Mr. Rubio to lose all 12 contests on March 1, Super Tuesday. His chances of amassing an outright majority of delegates, and becoming the presumptive nominee before the convention, would be quite low. But he would still have a real chance to take a clear delegate lead over Donald Trump, and win the nomination.

Rubio’s key to survival thereafter is to take advantage of proportional award systems by exceeding the 20 percent threshold necessary to win delegates in every (or nearly every) state. If he does that, a more ambitious goal may come into sight: edging out Ted Cruz for second place in enough states — especially in the South — to all but knock him out of the race and set up the long-awaited head-to-head competition with Trump.

On the other hand, says Cohn, excuses for Rubio not actually winning primaries come to an abrupt end on March 15:

Ohio and Florida will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Missouri will award its delegates on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district, and Illinois isn’t much different. North Carolina, on the other hand, awards its delegates proportionally. It figures less prominently in the delegate math and as a result the candidates are unlikely to spend money there on television advertisements or campaign stops.

If Mr. Trump swept the day in the same way he is expected to sweep Super Tuesday, he would net nearly three times as many delegates as he would on Super Tuesday, defeating Mr. Rubio, 282 delegates to 40. For Mr. Rubio, winning Florida would make Mr. Trump’s advantage a more manageable 183 to 139, but his hole would start looking pretty deep.

With that sort of a deficit, Mr. Rubio’s chances of winning a majority of delegates would all but evaporate.

So Rubio really needs to win in Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois on March 15 to stay in the game with Trump (assuming Trump doesn’t stumble on March 1). And it goes without saying he must, must, must win his home state of Florida. Getting skunked there would decimate his delegate math, even if his Establishment friends somehow found a way to madly spin a home-court loss into something other than a disaster.

Signs are growing, however, that winning Florida won’t be easy for the state’s own junior senator. For months Rubio languished in third or even fourth place in Florida public-opinion surveys. Only with Jeb Bush’s withdrawal from the race — giving Rubio a boost in both elected official endorsements and favorite-son status points — has he begun to rise; a post-Jeb Quinnipiac poll has him within 16 points of the longtime leader in the state, Donald Trump. What should be more troubling to Team Rubio, however, is that Trump is now rivaling him on his home turf in all the indices of basic popularity.

This is made most evident by the very latest Florida survey, from Public Policy Polling:

[Rubio’s] approval rating as Senator has cratered to a 31/55 spread, compared to a much more evenly divided 41/44 when we last polled the state in September. Only 40% of voters in the state think he should continue with his campaign, compared to a 44% plurality who think it’s time for him to drop out. And he narrowly trails both Hillary Clinton (45/43) and Bernie Sanders (44/42) in head to head general election match ups. Rubio’s become quite unpopular at home over the course of his campaign.

Winning has made Trump more popular. 64% of Republicans in Florida now have a favorable opinion of him to only 27% with a negative one. That actually puts him ahead of Rubio’s 60/28 standing.

Let that sink in for a minute. From the very beginning of the 2016 cycle, Marco Rubio’s ace in the hole has been high and positive favorability ratios all over the country. Nobody much disliked him, and that made him the likely beneficiary of the winnowing of the field. Now Donald Trump’s more popular than he is with Florida Republicans, at least according to this one survey. And PPP has more bad news for those who assume the fading of other candidates on and after March 1 will put Rubio over the top:

The most remarkable thing in this poll though is what happens when you narrow the field down to just Trump and Rubio- Trump still leads by double digits at 52/38. Rubio does win over supporters of Cruz (56/25), Kasich (47/32), and Carson (64/21) in such a scenario. But Trump has such a big lead to begin with and picks up enough of the supporters of the also rans that it gives him the overall 14 point advantage.

Is the PPP survey an outlier? Maybe, though the Quinnipiac poll that offered Rubio relatively good news also found that Trump’s “negative score” — the percentage of Republicans who say they could not support him — is now lower in Florida than Cruz’s and not much higher than Rubio’s. That may be the overriding reason Rubio suddenly went after Trump with a claw hammer in last night’s debate. A scenario where the mogul is as popular as Rubio in Florida is simply catastrophic, to the point that Rubio is willing to risk his own warm-and-fuzzies to undermine acceptance of Trump.

And Rubio can’t entirely count on another strong finish among late-deciders to win Florida for him: Early voting is a very big deal there, with some local election officials estimating a majority of primary votes will be cast by mail or in person before March 15. The option of lying in the weeds and waiting for Trump to self-destruct or for someone else to take him out has vanished for Marco Rubio. He’s potentially two and a half weeks away from watching his candidacy expire where it started.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 26, 2016

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Florida, Marco Rubio | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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