If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I’m ambivalent about Trump as a candidate. I’m enjoying the Trump Effect, but I’m not a Trump fan. I don’t hate the guy or have any strong feelings about him one way or the other. I’m just not a fan of his personal style and I have a tough time imagining him as president. Therefore, I have not thought much about him being president.
Watching the press go nuts over Donald’s schlong, er…Trump’s use of the idiomatic expression “schlonged” with regards to Hillary Clinton, I’m pretty close to convinced that Trump is not only going to win the nomination. He is going to be the next president. You can’t be this clever by accident. Sure, some gaffes turn out to work in your favor, but this guy is playing the press like a fiddle. This schlong business smacks of showing off.
Think about it. He uses an odd term that has been used by liberal media outlets like NPR and the NYTimes. That term has a sexual connotation to most people. He uses it on Hillary Clinton. His enemies immediately assume he means something vulgar, but narrative collapse kicks in and we end the cycle by talking about how Clinton’s husband is a rapist. That’s super villain clever and Trump does it regularly.
It’s pretty clear by now that Trump has a solid base of support. The remarkable thing about Trump’s polling in 2015 is the consistency. Poll after poll, pollster after pollster comes up with the same steady climb higher and higher. He started the year around 10% and is going to finish the year at 40%. No other candidate has had this steady rise in the polls, not even Hillary Clinton.
What has not been so clear, largely because Republican media has been flooding the zone with wishful thinking, is that the Trump vote has been splintered, split among several candidates. The GOP spin has played this the other way, claiming the establishment vote was split among a bunch of candidates, thus giving the illusion of a Trump lead in the polls. Once the minor figures drop out, the theory goes, the voters will coalesce around a party man and that would be it.
Yet, the math says otherwise. The latest CNN poll has Trump and 39% and Cruz at 18%. There’s no reason to think that the Cruz vote would go to an establishment figure. People supporting him hate the GOP just as much as the Trump supporters. That’s 57% of the vote. Carson, another outsider candidate is at 10% and it does seem that his vote is shifting to Trump and Cruz.
When 67% of the vote is going for candidates that exist as a rejection of the status quo, it is ridiculous to think that the remaining candidates will collapse into a unitary candidate and win the primary. Given that they are all equally weak, none of them are ready to quit and support the other so by the time a champion midget is crowned, it will probably be too late anyway.
My hunch is we are about to see the race transition into a new phase where the party establishment tries to salvage what they can from the wreckage. I’m not really sure how they can pull it off, but that seems to be the plan Cruz has been banking on for months. His act has been to avoid taking on Trump, letting the others take the beating while he lies low, waiting for his moment. My guess is he thinks his moment will be Iowa.
That sounds a like a great plan, but it assumes Cruz has not already hit the same ceiling we have seen over the past year with other candidates. They bubble up to about 18% and then start to decline again. It also assumes he can survive contact with Trump, something no one has done so far. In fact, the sign that your campaign is over has been when Donald Trump says your name.
I’m not making any predictions, but the way to bet right now is for Trump to be the nominee. He is schlonging Hillary Clinton right now, which will go a long way toward winning him converts in the GOP. Unless Cruz can handle the Trump schlong, he’s probably going to break on the wheel of Trump too.