blueollie

2016 General Election: how will Trump and Clinton run?

This promises to be interesting. Donald Trump might strike a more populist tone than recent Republicans have:

On a range of issues, Mr. Trump seems to be taking a page from the Sanders playbook, expressing a willingness to increase the minimum wage, suggesting that the wealthy may pay higher taxes than under his original proposal, attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left on national security and Wall Street, and making clear that his opposition to free trade will be a centerpiece of his general election campaign.

As Mr. Trump lays the groundwork for his likely showdown with Mrs. Clinton, he is staking out a series of populist positions that could help him woo working-class Democrats in November. But in doing so, he is exacerbating the trepidation some Republicans already feel about his candidacy at a moment when the party typically rallies to its nominee.

Asked how Mr. Trump could reassure his own party, Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, suggested the party standard-bearer needed something close to a complete overhaul. “He could start by saying, ‘I was just kidding,’ ” Mr. Flake said, bemoaning what he called Mr. Trump’s “protectionist” approach. [..]

Mr. Trump’s approach has scrambled longstanding assumptions about how the two parties can position themselves in a general election fight, and could augur at least a short-term shift in how a Republican presidential nominee campaigns. Until Mr. Trump’s successful campaign, unwavering support for free trade and the business community, a robust American presence in the world, and a commitment to deep tax cuts have been articles of faith for the modern Republican Party.

But Mr. Trump, who has also made attacks on illegal immigrants central to his campaign while vowing to protect Social Security and Medicare, is plainly going to run as more of a Sanders-style populist than as a conservative. And this approach suggests that the 2016 campaign will not be decided in the increasingly diverse states that represent the face of a changing nation — Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia — but in the more heavily white Rust Belt, where blaming trade deals for manufacturing job losses provided resonant themes for Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders during the primaries there.

[…]

But for every voter Mr. Trump wins over with his ad hoc populism, he risks repelling others — including conservatives who are aghast at how, on some issues, he is trying to outflank Mrs. Clinton on the left. While he may put parts of the Midwest back into play, at least initially, his approach could also endanger his prospects in some states that usually lean Republican.

“I think he’s more likely to take Michigan than he is to take Arizona,” said Mr. Flake, whose state is home to a fast-growing Latino population.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has some options available to her that weren’t available to Mr. Trump’s Republican opponents:

Think about Trump’s obvious weaknesses, why Republicans couldn’t exploit them, but why Democrats can.

First, he’s running a campaign fundamentally based on racism. But Republicans couldn’t call him on that, because more or less veiled appeals to racial resentment have been key to their party’s success for decades. Clinton, on the other hand, won the nomination thanks to overwhelming nonwhite support, and will have no trouble hitting hard on this issue.

Second, Trump is proposing wildly irresponsible policies that benefit the rich. But so were all the other Republicans, so they couldn’t attack him for that. Clinton can.

Third, Trump’s personal record as a businessman is both antisocial and just plain dubious. Republicans, with their cult of the entrepreneur, couldn’t say anything about that. Again, Clinton can. [..]

And there’s one last thing, which I suspect may make the biggest difference of all: Clinton’s campaign can go after Trump’s fundamental buffoonery.

I mean, he is a ludicrous figure, and everything we learn just makes him more ludicrous. So why couldn’t Republicans make that stick? I’d argue that it was because there was something fairly ludicrous about all his opponents, too.

Think about Marco Rubio: even before his famous brain glitch, it was just obvious that he was a prefab candidate, a nice-looking guy with no real convictions or experience reciting lines he was told to deliver. The infamous “We must dispel with …” wasn’t just vile and stupid (even the first time, let alone repeated); it was also, transparently, not something Rubio believed or even cared about except that his handlers told him to say it.

Or think about Ted Cruz, whose mean-spiritedness and self-centered nature evidently stand out even in today’s conservative movement, making him a hated figure even among those who should like his message.

Clinton, on the other hand, is not ludicrous. She can think on her feet; she’s tough as nails. Do you really think the person who stared down the Benghazi committee for 11 hours is going to wither under schoolboy taunts?

Here is my take: yes, Trump will do very well in rust-belt states, among white males. But that is the group that McCain and Romney won anyway. I’ll be very surprised to see the electoral map change very much from 2008 and 2012.

May 17, 2016 - Posted by | politics, politics/social | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: