Trump’s antics in the race for the Republican presidential nomination may make for great entertainment, but he still is never going to be president.
Here’s a question that seems to be rolling around in the back of the heads of pundits and political observers: could Donald Trump be the next Republican nominee for the White House? He is after all leading the polls right now and clearly has enough money to self-finance a White House run.
To be sure there is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents the possibility of a president Trump. But everything we know about the nominations process tells us that he simply isn’t going to win. Simply put his “strengths” don’t really mean much at all.
Take “The Donald’s” high polling for example. As Matt Yglesias pointed out the other day this isn’t so much a sign of Republican voters falling in love with Trump as it is the fact that lots of other candidates are running:
Of course, if a nationwide first-past-the-post primary election were being held tomorrow, this would be irrelevant. Trump is polling ahead of any of the real politicians, and he would win. But there is no nationwide first-past-the-post primary, and the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire won’t start for months. Between today and the settlement of the nomination, lots of these candidates are going to drop out—Bush and Walker and Rubio and Kasich and Christie and Jindal and Huckabee and everyone else have their differences, but none of them wants to see the GOP nominate a fatally weak general election candidate who’ll lose to Hillary Clinton and endanger the party’s grip on the US Congress.
If anything Yglesias is still overestimating Trump’s strength here. His high polling numbers are probably little more than name recognition from his years in the celebrity spotlight and the fact that he is getting a lot of media attention right now. As Kevin Drum pointed out as well, the media just loves to cover silly things in the dog days of July and August:
Look: we’re in the silly season right now. It’s August. Congress is about to go into recess. We still have six months before anyone actually votes. Nobody’s paying much attention to the Republican race except political junkies. News is in short supply. And whatever else you can say about him, Donald Trump makes good copy. For now, everyone’s got the popcorn out and they’re enjoying the show, right along with Ant-Man and Mission Impossible.
So, sure, Trump is a political outsider channeling voter anger blah blah blah. That’s not exactly a daisy fresh strategy. Nor a winning one. But Trump is like a housing bubble: you know he’s going to burst, but he can last a lot longer than you think. That’s what happening now: it’s been seven whole weeks since Trump announced his candidacy and he’s still polling well.
August news obsessions of the inane and trivial and pretty common, remember all those blow up about shark attacks or random missing persons from previous summers? Having said that though we probably shouldn’t ignore Trump entirely, after all it is pretty interesting that one of America’s two great political parties can have it’s internal debate take over for a few months by a loud mouth bellowing blatantly racist things. But he’ll be off the national stage soon enough.
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Photo by Richard Drew/AP