Monday, August 15, 2016

That Which Survives

Labor Day, the traditional start of the presidential campaign in years past, is three weeks from today and it already looks like the campaign is over.

Via Washington Monthly:

First and foremost is the new CBS battleground tracker showing Clinton with sizable leads in Florida and New Hampshire, and within four points even in Georgia. Clinton’s lead is outside the margin of error in Florida at 5 points, and in blowout territory in New Hampshire at 9 points. Even if Clinton can’t pull ahead in Georgia (contrary to other polls that have shown her doing so), the likelihood of forcing Republicans to play defense there is already a big win for the blue team.

Meanwhile, a new USA Today poll shows that Trump is getting creamed among young voters by unprecedented margins, dwarfing even the gap faced by Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War. Clinton is leading Trump by an astonishing 56% to 20% margin among voters under 35. By contrast, Nixon got 32% among 18-29 year olds in 1972.The RCP average with no toss-ups gives Clinton a whopping 362 electoral votes In other words, this isn’t just a single-year disaster for the GOP. This is an ongoing generational and demographic catastrophe that threatens to permanently change the electoral map.

Nor is it entirely clear where Republicans can go from here. Younger and middle-of-the-road voters are deeply offended by the overtly racist and sexist appeals of the white supremacist Alt Right. But even the white male working class voters that Republicans have long relied on for support no longer buy into the Romney Republican supply-side argument: minorities aren’t being adequately disadvantaged by subtle economic discrimination on behalf of the rich to make up for the damage that blue-collar white men are facing from free trade and Wall Street friendly policies.

Meanwhile, the voters under 40 of all races and genders who so strongly backed Bernie Sanders’s democratic socialism are just as hostile to Paul Ryan’s objectivist economic agenda as they are to Trump’s bigoted cultural one.

If the campaign stays on the track it’s on, Hillary Clinton will win with such numbers that challenging her totals will be akin to Walter Mondale asking for a recount in 1984.

Via FiveThirtyEight, the Nowcast; if the election were held today.

FiveThirtyEight Nowcast 08-15-16What will be left of the GOP?  Will Donald Trump still remain a force in the party or will he be given the bum’s rush like the Democrats did with Michael Dukakis and will the party reshape itself along more moderate lines?

Wait, didn’t they try that in 2013 with their autopsy that called for reaching out to minorities and women and embracing such things as immigration reform with a path to citizenship and less emphasis on being the Stupid Party?  How’d that work?

The problem isn’t the candidates that they march out and get their base to vote for, it’s the base they’ve recruited.  Doubling down on the Nixon-era Southern Strategy, the Republicans have gone after the foolish, the bigoted, and the gullible (see here for a sample of that) who now make up the foundation of the primary voters.  Through abstract threats about gay marriage, who is peeing where, abortion via vending machine, defending the indefensible (the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage, right?), and shredding the Constitution in the name of defending it, they have let loose the worst of the American id.  And losing three or four presidential elections in a row will only make them madder.

This corner they’ve painted themselves into won’t be easy to get out of.  The various state legislatures have gerrymandered all these safe Republican districts and it won’t be until after the next census in 2020 that they will be able to reconfigure them even if they wanted to.  They are bought and paid for by a murderous lobbying group, the NRA, who can, at the push of an e-mail blast, replace a moderate Republican with a gun-stroking ammosexual in a primary who is sure the Bill of Rights ends after the Second.

Donald Trump co-opted the base of the GOP and exploited it for his own self-aggrandizement, and once the election is over he will — or so he says — retreat to his lair for a “long vacation.”  Trumpism will not survive without him because it is a cult of personality, and without him, it will return to what it has always been: white people who believe that their entitlements to wealth and power — or the dreams thereof which keep the poor buying Powerball tickets and drooling over celebrity gossip — are threatened by unknown conspirators and boogedy-boogedy Others.  It’s what gave rise to the Know-Nothings in the 1850’s, the Klan during Reconstruction, the Tea Party in 2010, and it’s been the fodder of dictators for centuries.  Exploiters like Huey Long and Joseph McCarthy come and go, but the seething base — those who believe somehow that their skin color and religion give them the right to surrender their grievances to grifters — will never die.

The only question is who will be the next one to pick up the burning cross and run with it.

One bark on “That Which Survives

  1. Interesting analysis by Alterman: those kindly grandpas who are acting so viciously, shouting “kill her” and attacking reporters as traitors have been brainwashed by right wing radio and television. With nothing to do all day they are glued to the tube or listen to Rush in the car and absorb the message. We know who to blame if somehow Trump or his ilk survive this horrible election – Pence isn’t much better although seemingly kinder and more well-spoken – it will have been at the hand of Fox and Friends.

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