Skip to comments.Don’t Assume Conservatives Will Rally Behind Trump
Posted on 02/29/2016 10:27:27 AM PST by Citizen Zed
If Donald Trump wins the Republican presidential nomination, hell have undermined a lot of assumptions we once held about the GOP. Hell have become the nominee despite neither being reliably conservative nor being very electable, supposedly the two things Republicans care most about. Hell have done it with very little support from party elites (although with some recent exceptions like Chris Christie). Hell have attacked the Republican Partys three previous candidates Mitt Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush without many consequences. If a Trump nomination happens, it will imply that the Republican Party has been weakened and is perhaps even on the brink of failure, unable to coordinate on a plan to stop Trump despite the existential threat he poses to it.
Major partisan realignments do happen in America on average about once every 40 years. The last one, which involved the unwinding of the New Deal coalition between Northern and Southern Democrats, is variously dated as having occurred in 1968, 1972 and 1980. There are also a lot of false alarms, elections described as realignments that turn out not to be. This time, we really might be in the midst of one. Its almost impossible to reconcile this years Republican nomination contest with anyones notion of politics as usual.
If a realignment is underway, then it poses a big empirical challenge. Presidential elections already suffer from the problem of small sample sizes one reason a lot of people, certainly including us, shouldnt have been so dismissive of Trumps chances early on. Elections held in the midst of political realignments are even rarer, however. The rules of the old regime the American political party system circa 1980 through 2012 might not apply in the new one. And yet, its those elections that inform both the conventional wisdom and statistical models of American political behavior.
This doesnt necessarily mean well be completely in the dark. For one thing, the polls although theres reason to be concerned about their condition in the long-term have been reasonably accurate so far in the primaries. And some of the old rules will still apply. Its probably fair to guess that Pennsylvania and Ohio will vote similarly, for example.
Still, one should be careful about ones assumptions. For instance, the assumption that the parties will rally behind their respective nominees may or may not be reliable. True, recent elections have had very little voting across party lines: 93 percent of Republicans who voted in 2012 supported Romney, for example, despite complaints from the base that he was insufficiently conservative. And in November 2008, some 89 percent of Democrats who voted supported Barack Obama after his long battle with Hillary Clinton.
But we may be entering a new era, and through the broader sweep of American history, theres sometimes been quite a bit of voting across party lines. The table below reflects, in each election since 1952, what share of a partys voters voted against their partys presidential candidate (e.g., a Democrat voting Republican or for a third-party ticket). Theres a lot of fascinating political history embedded in the table, but one theme is that divisive nominations have consequences.
In 1972, for instance, about a third of Democrats voted for Richard Nixon rather than George McGovern, who won the Democratic nomination despite getting only about a quarter of the popular vote during the primaries. The Democrats tumultuous nomination process in 1968 was nearly as bad, with many defections to both Nixon and George Wallace. The 1964 Republican nomination of Barry Goldwater produced quite a few defections. Primary challenges to Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992 presaged high levels of inter-party voting in November.
There are also some exceptions; Republicans remained relatively united behind Gerald Ford in 1976 despite a primary challenge from Ronald Reagan. And there were high levels of Democratic unity behind Obama in 2008, although one can argue that a party having two good choices is a much lesser problem than it having none it can agree upon.
Overall, however, the degree of party unity during the primaries is one of the better historical predictors of the November outcome. That could be a problem for Republicans whether they nominate Trump or turn around and nominate Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz or John Kasich; significant numbers of GOP voters are likely to be angry either way.
It doesnt necessarily mean that Republicans are bound to lose; Id agree with David Plouffes assessment that a general election with Trump on the ballot is hard to predict and that Trump could lose in a landslide or win narrowly. But if I wouldnt bet on an anti-Trump landslide, Im also not sure Id bet against one. The presumption that presidential elections are bound to be close is itself based on an uncomfortably small sample size: While three of the four elections since 2000 have been fairly close, most of them between 1952 and 1996 were not. Furthermore, the closeness of recent elections is partly a consequence of intense partisanship, which Trumps nomination suggests may be fraying. The last partisan realignment, between about 1968 and 1980, produced both some highly competitive elections (1968, 1976) and some blowouts (1972, 1980).
Although what voters do will ultimately be more important, it will also be worth watching how Republican Party elites behave and how much they unite behind Trump. On Twitter this weekend, there was a lot of activity behind the hashtag #NeverTrump, with various conservative intellectuals and operatives pledging that theyd refuse to support Trump in November. Rubios Twitter account employed the hashtag also, although Rubio himself has been ambiguous about whether hed back Trump.
Its reasonably safe to say that some of the people in the #NeverTrump movement will, in fact, wind up supporting Trump. Clinton, very likely the Democratic nominee, is a divisive figure, and some anti-Trump conservatives will conclude that Trump is the lesser of two evils. Others will get caught up in the esprit de corps of the election. Some of them might be reassured by how Trump conducts himself during the general election campaign or whom he picks as his running mate.
But Id be equally surprised if there were total capitulation to Trump. Instead, Id expect quite a bit of resistance from Republican elites. One thing this election has probably taught us is that there are fewer movement conservatives than those within the conservative movement might want to admit. Rank-and-file Republican voters arent necessarily all that ideological, and they might buy into some of the Republican platform while rejecting other parts of it. They might care more about Trumps personality than his policy views.
But there are certainly some movement conservatives, and they have outsized influence on social media, talk radio, television and in other arenas of political discourse. And if you are a movement conservative, Trump is arguably a pretty terrible choice, taking your conservative party and remaking it in his unpredictable medley of nationalism, populism and big-government Trumpism.
If youre one of these ideological conservatives, it may even be in your best interest for Trump to lose in November. If Trump loses, especially by a wide margin, his brand of politics will probably be discredited, or his nomination might look like a strange, one-off black swan that youll be better equipped to prevent the next time around. Youll have an opportunity to get your party back in 2020, and your nominee might stand a pretty decent chance against Clinton, who could be elected despite being quite unpopular because Trump is even less popular and who would be aiming for the Democratic Partys fourth straight term in office.
But if Trump wins in November, you might as well relocate the Republican National Committees headquarters to Trump Tower. The realignment of the Republican Party will be underway, and youll have been left out of it.
And don’t assume they won’t.
Don’t assume Consevatives won’t.
Janitor closet or restroom?
And they can have it.
Trump is winning even a very significant number of “Very Conservative” voters
Bitter Ender “Movement Conservatives” can try this tactics at their own peril. When significant portions of your own audience are behind a candidate, it is a high risk, low reward strategy to try and sabotage that candidate.
A lot of conservatives will do the obviously expedient thing and support Trump.
Republican National Committees headquarters. There maybe an eminent domain case coming up for that location.
” And if you are a movement conservative, Trump is arguably a pretty terrible choice, taking your conservative party and remaking it in his unpredictable medley of nationalism, populism and big-government Trumpism.”
This is where I am.
This could be worded better:
If a Trump or Cruz nomination happens, it will imply that the Republican leadership has been weakened and is perhaps even on the brink of failure, unable to coordinate on a plan to stop Trump or Cruz despite the existential threat they pose to the leadership's personal power.
“A lot of conservatives will do the obviously expedient thing and support Trump.”
Most will, I agree.
But there will be a huge bleed, akin to how they stayed home when it was Romney. I would have a hard time voting for Trump, even in the general. Only the fact that Hillary is so bad could drag me.
In case you hadn’t notice, the GOP hasn’t been anything remotely resembling a conservative party since 1999. I really do not see how Trump could make it worse.
But what about the Republican candidates lower down the ticket?
It’s a matter of “define conservative”. Globalists who are only conservative about keeping cheap sources for goods and labor and for low taxes for themselves consider themselves to be conservatives. They have ZERO interest in our Constitutional Conservative priorities.
Not to worry, I’ve been informed that Trump does not need or want Cruz supporters by people right here on this forum. So no big deal, right?
Concervatism may not die with Donnie as the nominee but the wounds will be extremely deep.
In the end, the number of people who will vote for him vs. Clinton is all that matters.
As badly as conservatives want Rubio or Cruz to be the nominee, neither will be able to capture enough votes to beat Clinton. Their is little enthusiasm from the electorate, outside of “hard line” conservatives, for Cruz. There is little enthusiasm at all for Rubio no matter what segment of the electorate you choose.
Which is why you'll see more and more of the #NeverTrump crowd suddenly reverse direction; specially after Super Tuesday. Most being pragmatists, don't want to be left out.
I actually think article is pretty good. I am one of the movement conservatives that is tired of holding my nose and voting for someone year after year. If Trump is the nominee I will have to hold my nose with both hands.
Trump is not a conservative, I am. I am also one of those people that make calls and walk precincts. I will not be walking or calling for Trump.
Of course definitions matter - who does he consider to be a “movement conservative”? We can all answer correctly I suspect, but here is the top of the Wikipedia list:
Activist Phyllis Schlafly
Commentator Pat Buchanan
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Paul Weyrich, founder of the Free Congress Foundation and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
Columnist and economist Thomas Sowell
Congressman and Vice President nominee Jack Kemp
Kemp is dead, and it’s pretty safe to say Sowell won’t come out of the NR corner for a while at least. But Trump has already got the support of Schafly, Buchannan, and Falwell (Jr). If you go to the “Honorable Metions” you find Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Sarah Palin. Probably 2 out of those 3 will support Trump.
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