15 Jan 2016

3 Reasons To Panic About Donald Trump And 3 Reasons Not To

So you've been horrified by Donald Trump's campaign. You've watched as he's rattled off a series of bizarre, hateful, or otherwise insane things—things that would doom a normal candidate—only to see him rise in the polls. As the Republican primaries inch closer, there's been no sign of slowing the Trump juggernaut.
Now you either need to be talked back from the ledge or you need to fully succumb to the panic. I'm here to help you do either! Choose your own adventure. If you want to breathe easy, read the first half. If you want to freak the fuck out, scroll down even farther.

Reasons not to panic:

1. No one’s paying attention.

Sure, you’re paying attention, you masochistic poll-sucking news junkie, but most people don’t start following the primary process until after the Iowa caucuses (which are still a couple weeks away). Check it out:

It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where Trump—who brags about winning more than a drug-addled 2011 Charlie Sheen—turns in an embarrassing showing in Iowa that sends his campaign into a tailspin. Think about it: How do you sell the idea that you’re a winner when you’re a loser?

2. Trump’s supporters might be flakier than he is.

Trump can pack in the crowds at a rally, but can he actually get them to the polls? A lot of his support comes from people who don't typically vote, and people who don't typically vote tend to continue not voting
This is especially important for the Iowa caucuses, which are more involved than your typical election. Caucus-goers don’t just show up, yank a lever, and get home in time for The Biggest Loser. They have to find their precinct (locations can change), wait in line, sit and listen to some boring speeches, and then vote. Will rabid Trump fans brave the cold to wait in line and hear some non-celebrities make some non-racist speeches or will they stay home and watch Monday Night Raw?

3. Republican Party officials hate him.

Guess how many endorsements Trump has won from GOP governors and congressmen? Did you guess zero? It’s zero! Who gives a shit, right? Actually, endorsements have been better at predicting nominees than polls. This is a problem for Trump, whose adopted party hates him so much they took time out of their State Of The Union response to smack him down. You heard that right: the Republican Party had a chunk of air time devoted solely to criticizing Obama, but they gave some of that up just so they could tell Trump he was an asshole.
So there it is, you can finally sit back, relax, and let those fears of the Hunger-Games-like dystopia ushered in by President Trump slip away. Don't read another word! Seriously.

Reasons to panic: 

Ok, so you want to panic. I understand completely, and there are plenty of reasons it's not completely insane to start looking into plane tickets to Canada. 


1. Trump's not only dominating national polls, he's dominating in every early state.

Remember in 2008 when everyone went along with the idea that Rudy Giuliani could be the Republican nominee because he was leading in the polls? He only led in the national polls. Iowa and New Hampshire didn’t want anything to do with the Mayor of 9/11. But Trump? They love that guy! He could probably even weather some less-than-stellar showings in Iowa and New Hampshire before everyone heads to South Carolina where, much like his suits, the hardball politics are tailor-made for Trump.


2. His support comes from moderates.

When you picture a Trump supporter, it’s tempting to picture a fire-bellowing conservative stalwart, but that’s not entirely accurate. In fact, Trump does best with self-described moderate republicans (who also bellow fire). Why does that matter? Because for a party that’s been sprinting rightward for generations, moderates usually pick the Republican nominee. John McCain won moderates in 2008 and Mitt Romney won moderates in 2012. Trump is winning moderates now.


3. The Republican Party is broken.

There's a pretty solid and well-respected theory in political science that's been useful for predicting the outcomes of presidential primaries called "The Party Decides." Basically, it says the real action in the nominating process goes on behind the scenes and if you look at who "party elites" (elected officials, party activists, etc.) are lining up behind you can predict who's going to win the nomination. This year it seems like the party is...not deciding. Just look at the number of endorsements so far:

That pathetic bundle of red lines at the bottom represents Republican endorsements for this year's race, so GOP leaders seem to be sitting this one out. For a party that routinely knocks the president as weak, cowardly, and unwilling to lead, they sure don't seem to be offering any alternative.


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