Friday, December 11, 2015

Damn you, Jonathan Chait

I've been meaning to write a post walking through the different scenarios for the GOP primary (working title: "I was distracted by the flock of black swans"):

I. Trump gets the nomination

II. Trump doesn't and instead
     A. Fades away and/or decides to play nice (that second one just got even less likely)
     B. Runs as an independent
     C. Causes as much trouble as possible

Unfortunately, while I've been procrastinating, Chait has been writing, producing a string of really sharp posts that are on track to anticipate all of the major points I wanted to make. He already gave us the definitive brief analysis of Scenario I and today he covers most of what I wanted to say about II.B.

Chait is the only news analyst I've seen so far who is seriously thinking through the GOP's dilemma: they can't afford to keep Trump but they can't afford to lose his supporters. The Republican model requires very high turn-out from the base. Pissing off a large segment of those voters could have significant consequences.

Chait actually goes so far as to suggest that the party's best way out of this dilemma might be the much-feared third party run:
2. A Trump independent candidacy would have down-ballot benefits for the party. Trump would split apart the Republican vote at the presidential level, but the socially conservative white working-class voters who turn out to vote for him would overwhelmingly pull the lever for Republicans in Congress (and in state elections). The deepest risk Republicans face is the prospect of an electoral wipeout that puts its control of Congress at risk. An independent Trump candidacy would close off such a prospect.


  1. I've heard 2 opposing scenarios, one in which 1) a lot of in-your-face people tell pollsters they support Trump, but then DON'T pull the lever for him once inside the voting booth, AND 2) a lot of people are too timid to say out-loud they support Trump, but then actually DO pull his lever once inside the voting booth.

    I think Trump has a solid 25% of the Repub. vote... but that is all... in a dozen-man race 25% looks impressive, but once it gets down to 3 people he'll be in 3rd place behind someone with 35% and 40%. I still expect a raucous, multi-ballot Convention, with at least a possibility the nomination goes to someone not even currently running. An actual Trump nomination would likely be a Goldwater-like debacle, and a 3rd party run would be insane... even for Donald (yeah, there'd be some "down-ballot" GOP benefits, but those are already locked in through gerrymandering anyway).

  2. "Benefits" might not be the best word. The down-ticket effect of an independent run would include bringing some people who otherwise wouldn't have voted, but I suspect the bigger impact would be keeping angry Trump supporters from staying home.