Wednesday, January 10, 2024

At the risk of stating the obvious, having the majority of your party believe that you actually won the last election and should be in office now gives you a tremendous advantage in the primary.

  Consider this recent you-gov poll on conspiracy theories.


The first obvious thing that jumps out is that Republicans have a much more serious problem with conspiracy theories and feral disinformation than do Democrats. Not exactly surprising, but it's always nice to find data that backs up your intuition. 
Now take a look at these three questions...

There are lots of interesting things to look at here but the big relevant takeaways for me are that Republicans tend to be far more paranoid about the establishment and that a majority of them believe that the election was stolen.

The implications of this last point are huge. For one thing, these people believe that Donald Trump was the legitimate winner. From that it follows that January 6th could not have been an insurrection; instead, it was actually an attempt to prevent an insurrection. Once you believe this, all sorts of major events of the past couple of years are completely inverted. Suddenly, the January 6th rioters become political prisoners. The Jack Smith and Georgia investigations become nothing more than politicized attempts to keep the rightful winner out of office. The near universal condemnation of the stolen election lie in the non-partisan press becomes damning evidence of a vast leftist conspiracy, and the fact that most Americans don't believe the lie proves that the conspiracy has been frighteningly effective.

At the risk of stating the obvious, having the majority of your party believe that you actually won the last election and should be in office now gives you a tremendous advantage in the primary. This is one of the antibodies that Josh Marshall has mentioned that makes it all but impossible for a challenger to take the nomination away from Donald Trump.
(this is not to say that Trump can't be taken out, just that it would almost certainly require external forces like health issues or big legal developments ).

The establishment question points out another almost insurmountable obstacle for those trying to knock the former president out before the general. Trump is seen, in many ways accurately, as the ultimate outsider candidate. This presents challengers with something of a catch-22. In order to have any chance of unseating Trump, they have to have the full support of the Republican establishment, particularly in its now weakened state, but if they are seen as having the support of the establishment, they don't have any chance of unseating Trump. This is particularly a problem for the mainstream media's flavor of the month.

 Nikki Haley’s Rocket Ride to Second Place

December 2, 2023

In April, Sarah Longwell of The Bulwark wrote what is still one of the most insightful reports about the Republican electorate. Longwell, strategic director of Republican Voters Against Trump, has sat through hundreds of focus groups to understand the mental state of the party. Her primary conclusion is that most GOP voters see the Trump era not as an interregnum but as a kind of revolutionary event she calls “Year Zero.”

“The Republican party has been irretrievably altered,” she wrote, “and, as one GOP voter put it succinctly, ‘We’re never going back.’” Such voters have bought into Trump’s argument that the party leaders who preceded him were weak losers. (This argument conveniently absolves Trump of blame for his own losses — he was sabotaged by the Establishment, you see.) “If you forged your political identity pre-Trump, then you belong to a GOP establishment now loathed by a majority of Republican primary voters,” she concluded. “Even if you agree with Trump. Even if you worked for Trump. Even if you were on Trump’s ticket as his vice president.

Longwell laid out a roster of Republican politicians whom the voters could never accept for this reason. The first name on her list was Nikki Haley.

Even if Haley was running a good campaign (and in case you haven't been paying attention, she's not), the very things that make her so appealing to the establishment also make her toxic to a large portion of the GOP base.

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