Friday, May 13, 2016

May 13, 2106--Quinnipiac

Yesterday's meetings in Washington between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, the House and Senate Republican leaders, and the head of the Republican National Committee were ostensibly about GOP unity.

With Trump riding a wave of unorthodox popular support and with various congressional egos and ambitions to be catered to, Trump, the mountain, came to the Washington mole hill.

He was there to put his softer side on display and to show deference to the GOP leadership by coming to them in trade for their endorsement and support--he doesn't want to have to spend a billion of his own money since he has a lot less of it than he claims and a hit of that magnitude on his personal fortune would require him to liquidate much of his real estate empire.

(As a sidebar, he does not want to release his taxes because, unlike Mitt Romney four years ago who did so kicking and screaming because it showed him paying just 14 percent of his huge income in taxes, or to reveal how parsimonious he is when making charitable donations--he is notoriously not generous--Trump does not want to release information about his taxes as it would show that his net worth is much less than half of what he claims it to be.)

The dance with Paul Ryan was the trickiest since they need each other if Trump manages to win the presidency and intends to actually govern--his legislative agenda, such as it will be, will need to be approved by the House. And with Paul Ryan having stars in his eyes about running for the presidency himself in 2020 or even 2024 if Trump wins and serves two terms, Ryan has to pretend he is getting Trump to calm down and back off from some of his most extreme and divisive positions such as the temporary Muslim ban.

Also, as the publicity-obsessed Ryan knows, getting joined at the hip with Trump is the best thing he can do to build his brand. Trump's powerful spotlight shines on anyone nearby. Look at how Megyn Kelly's star rose after confronting Trump during the first GOP debate. As a result she has a $5.0 book deal and a highly-rated Fox primetime talk show.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has a simpler agenda--his is one of the few senators not thinking about running for president--he love his job, the prerogatives, and the fancy office. So he dons't want any trouble with some of the down-ballot Republican senators who are worried about their reelection. To have Trump not taking pot shots at him and the landlocked Senate is pretty much all he wants to extract.

But here's what's really going on--

Just as the schedule for yesterday's Washington visit was being firmed up, the credible Quinnipiac poll of three purple swing states was released--with Trump having a bad week otherwise, matching him against Hillary Clinton, they showed him already doing better than expected in Florida and Pennsylvania (a virtual dead heat both places with Hillary leading 43 to 42), but with Trump having a outside-the-margin-of-error lead in critical Ohio--43 to 39.

Seeing these numbers and projecting their implications for November, GOP party members junior and senior by the end of the week were falling all over themselves to jump on the Trump bandwagon.

This is because these guys (and they are still mostly guys) care about just two things--themselves and winning. Not what the Founders had in mind when they drafted the Constitution but what we have devolved to: a professional politician class waging a lifetime campaign.

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