CLOWN BUT NOT OUT: Let's just admit that the Donald is here to stay.
A pattern has emerged in the GOP presidential primary and it seems to be pretty durable. If you conduct polls, nationally or in a particular state, about a fifth of the respondents will say that they support A Donald. Well not just Any Donald. The Donald.
This is either despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact, that Our Donald says ugly stuff. Like he's said a lot of stuff that is racist and misogynist. Media pundits kind of don't like that. More recently he's insulted John McCain
and Megyn Kell
y, and media pundits really
don't like that.
And then the way this works is that some media pundits say that THIS TIME is different. THIS TIME he's really done it. Most recently, it was picking a fight with Fox News. Data journalists like Ezra Klein
and Nate Silver
noted that Republicans like Fox News. So THIS TIME Trump was in trouble. But nope. It keeps turning out that, in the same way that Trump is shameless and so impossible to shame, many of his supporters are impossible to offend.
The D is not good at everything, but The D is good at this. He is good at the goofy celebrity posturing of modern campaigns. He is good at staying in the spotlight and gobbling up media attention. He is good at making a long, somewhat tedious process into an entertaining, trash-talking, reality-TV-infused wacko pageant. He is good at standing on a stage with a bunch of blowhards and blowing harder
. He is good at appealing to a subset of Republican primary voters who seem less interested in establishment bona fides or in ideological purity (some of Trump's previously liberal stances would doom any other candidate) and more interested in bluster and cult of personality and free-wheeling anger and stick-it-to-em, middle-finger nationalism. He is good (if I had to guess) at appealing to those folks who feel anxious and scared and pissed off because stuff is changing, which can be legitimately scary for lots of folks.
What The D is good at is good for around 20 percent support in the Republican party primaries, at least according to the current polls. And The D seems to very much enjoy all of the attention that comes with running for president. Donald Trump is not going away.
Trump is not going to win
the nomination. But the Republican Party wishes that The D would just disappear, ASAP, and that is not going to happen. He could plausibly win a state while the field is so big, he's not going to run out of money, and if his support has a ceiling, it also has a floor. He's taking advantage, however incoherently, of some of the fears stoked by the conservative movement for years. And as the Washington Post reports
, he's building a legitimate ground game:
For many Americans, the Trump presidential campaign amounts to a billionaire talking endlessly, and entertainingly, on television. But here in Iowa, it’s another story. Trump is trying to beat the politicians on their turf, building one of the most extensive organizations in the Republican field.
The groundwork laid by Trump’s sizable Iowa staff, with 10 paid operatives and growing, is the clearest sign yet that the unconventional candidate is looking beyond his summer media surge and attempting to win February’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
This is becoming a cause of concern for rival campaigns.
“I see them as a major threat to all the other campaigns because of the aggressiveness of their ground game,” said Sam Clovis, an Iowa conservative who leads former Texas governor Rick Perry’s campaign.
“You cannot swing a dead cat in Iowa and not hit a Trump person,” Clovis continued. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. . . . Every event we go to — the Boone County Eisenhower Social, the Black Hawk County Lincoln Dinner, the boots-and-barbecue down in Denison — the Trump people are everywhere with literature and T-shirts and signing people up.
The show must go on.