Friday, May 06, 2016

May 6, 2106--Mea Culpas

With Donald Trump the almost certain GOP nominee many are twisted in knots.

First among them are leaders in his party such as Paul Ryan who worry that he will bring about the apocalypse--not the biblical apocalypse the crazies on the right are awaiting but the more immediate, secular one that means difficulty getting reelected or fear that unpredictable Donald will mean that there will be no more business as usual and thus it will be the end of their prerogatives and lobbyist and consultant cash flow.

Also pulling out their hair and offering mea culpas are the political journalists who got it wrong, who until almost the last minute proclaimed (read hoped) that someone, anyone other than Trump would be nominated.

Nate Cohen, who writes the "Upshot" column in the New York Times, a political-junkie, numbers-guru of sorts yesterday wrote a confessional article whose title said it all--"What I Got Wrong About Donald Trump."

It easily could have been a one-word column--"Everything."

The most important thing missing, what is really at the heart of his and many others' problem, is his failure--acknowledged by David Brooks--that he spends all his time in New York or Washington, hooked up to the Internet, and thus has not talked to actual Trump supporters. Especially those who do not fit the conventional algorithms.

I just spoke with one yesterday morning--a friend from Maine who is a lifelong liberal and feminist who whispered on the phone, "You know, he makes a lot of sense."

Cohen's data do not capture people like my friend who do not fit the familiar paradigm, and do not show up among the demographic categories in most of the suddenly obsolete polling formats.

He should be talking to her and asking her why Trump makes a lot of sense to her. Then he'd have something insightful to write about.

Having mentioned David Brooks, though he got it right when he confessed that he and his media colleagues need to emerge from their cultural cocoons and talk to their metaphorical neighbors if they want to understand what is roiling the electorate, he too has some more confessing to do.

Having fessed up to his own social isolation, he needs to deal with the fact that he's another pundit who proclaimed that there is one thing he can guarantee in this confounding political year--that "Donald Trump will never be nominated."

This suggests he is still living within the Beltway.

Maybe for the general election he'll get out more. If he doesn't he may miss the next chapter's storyline--though Trump as of right now is trailing Hillary Clinton by 10-12 percentage points, back last June/July among the 17 GOP aspirants, he was at two percent.  Forty percent now must be looking pretty good to him.

My take on the general election campaign that has already broken out is that Trump will do much better than expected among women; he will manage to dramatically expand his base by getting many more white men than usual to vote--thereby enlarging the demographic pie chart of voters; and if he names someone like Susana Martinez, Republican governor of New Mexico, to be his running mate (Wiki her to see how compelling she might be) as a result, as well as by throwing in a few pivots, if he attracts 30-35 percent of Hispanic voters, come November things could look pretty complicated.

Oh yes, then there's the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who said he'd "eat" his column if Trump is nominated. He is now soliciting recipes for how to roast, stew, or fry newsprint.

Seeking Recipes

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