Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Trump is in trouble


Trump in trouble

Rough going for the Trump campaign

Donald Trump is in trouble. 

What else is new, you might ask sarcastically. Bottom story of the day! He’s been in trouble for years at this point.

You’d have a point, but there are some new developments in the presidential campaign that do not bode well for The Former Guy. It is these developments that I’m specifically referring to today when I say that Trump is in trouble. 

(Michael Vadon on Flickr/Wikimedia)

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First, there is the ongoing story of the Republican primaries. Trump has clinched the Republican nomination, but he is not winning over Republican holdouts. A Washington Post analysis of Republican primary elections found that an average of 17 percent of voters are voting against Trump, even with no other candidates in the race. 

Many of these voters say they may not vote for Trump in the general election. In one example cited in the article, 84 percent of Ohio Republicans said that they would probably vote for Trump, but about 10 percent said they would probably vote for Biden. Losing 10 percent of Republicans is significant in a close election, and that doesn’t even include the remaining five percent who are uncommitted. 

The report acknowledges that Biden is facing an intraparty revolt as well, but the resistance to Biden is smaller. Biden loses an average of 11 percent to choices like “uncommitted,” compared to the 17 percent who voted against Trump.

Personally, I think that Trump’s lost voters are more likely to be permanently gone than Biden’s as well, compounding the Republican problem. A lot of the Democratic opposition to Biden is centered around two things. First, whatever you might hear on Fox News, Biden is no radical socialist. In fact, he’s about as moderate as any national Democrat could possibly be and still get elected. Biden isn’t in trouble with his voters because he’s too corrupt or too liberal, but because he’s too conservative. 

This includes his support for Israel, which is the second big problem that Biden’s voters have with him. A big part of the Democratic coalition is sympathetic to Gaza and the Palestinians. These voters are not happy that Biden is continuing to supply Israel with arms, even as he calls for a ceasefire.

Personally, I’m not sure that calling for a ceasefire is the wrong move. As I noted in December, Arab-Israeli wars tend to last for short periods until the international community and UN pressure the two sides to halt the fighting. At this point, civilian casualties are mounting and continued combat operations are reaching a point of diminishing returns. Hamas is heavily damaged but won’t be totally destroyed even if the war continues. Ending the fighting might help to preserve Israel’s reputation in the international community. No matter what happens, Israel is going to face adversaries again in the future. The bigger problem will be getting Hamas to abide by any ceasefire

At any rate, Biden’s intraparty opponents are likely to take a look at Donald Trump and decide that Biden isn’t so bad after all. After all, Trump is the author of the Muslim ban, the man who abandoned our Kurdish allies in Syria, and the man who almost started a war with Iran. Progressives and people who sympathize with the Palestinians are unlikely to vote Trump and after 2016, they aren’t likely to stay home either. 

On the other hand, anti-Trump Republicans are called Never Trumpers for a reason. For Republican Trump skeptics, the concerns are less about his policy than his character and his unfitness to lead. It isn’t necessarily that they don’t like Trump’s policies while in office because some do, it’s that they don’t like Trump personally and don’t trust him with power. This is harder to overcome than a policy disagreement. 

Trump’s troubles with retaining Republicans may have gotten worse with his announcement that he won’t push for a national abortion ban. This is, of course, a smart strategic move since abortion restrictions have become very unpopular with voters since the Dobbs decision, but it isn’t what a lot of Trump supporters want. 

Never mind that Trump’s new position, that abortion restrictions should be a state issue, is what conservatives have said for decades, many pro-life Republicans are furious at what they now see as a betrayal of the cause. Of course, Trump was never a committed pro-lifer so flip-flopping on this and most other issues is completely natural to him. 

Mike Pence spoke for many Republicans when he posted on the platform formerly known as Twitter, "President Trump’s retreat on the Right to Life is a slap in the face to the millions of pro-life Americans who voted for him in 2016 and 2020.”

In the real world, an abortion ban would never pass Congress and campaigning on such a policy would be a sure path to defeat, but Trump’s move puts him at odds with his base, which might encourage more Republicans to stay home. Republicans who don’t like Trump but supported him because he was pro-life may have just lost their last reason to go to the polls. 

In several previous cases, notably on immigration in 2016 and an “assault weapons” ban in 2018, Trump had to reverse his flip-flop (flip back? flop-flip?) when supporters failed to follow along. He may have to similarly engage in damage control on the abortion issue, which would put him at odds with general election voters. 

The second piece of bad news for Donald Trump is that No Labels announced that they will not be fielding a candidate in 2024. The nonpartisan group had hoped to forge a centrist, unity ticket but had trouble finding candidates to run under its banner. 

“No Labels has always said we would only offer our ballot line to a ticket if we could identify candidates with a credible path to winning the White House,” the group said in a statement. “No such candidates emerged, so the responsible course of action is for us to stand down.”

In this partisan environment, finding candidates willing to buck their party and reach across the aisle is always difficult, but it’s even more of a problem this year when many moderates worry - openly or quietly - that a third-party option could help Donald Trump to get re-elected. 

Polling from March by G Squared and Third Way found that, with the two-party race essentially tied, a No Labels ticket finished fourth behind RFKJR, who may still be a problem for Biden. (LA Magazine reports that an RFKJR staffer is openly talking about denying Biden 270 electoral votes to throw the election to the House to elect Trump and “get rid of Biden.” Rita Palma, an RFKJR aide, said, “The Kennedy voter and the Trump voter, our mutual enemy is Biden.”) Most respondents took their vote seriously and did not want to waste it on a quixotic third-party candidacy. 

Incidentally, that’s where I’ve been since 2020. As a “double-hater,” I voted third party in 2016, but by 2020 I decided that I needed to put my vote where my principles were and vote for the only candidate who could beat Donald Trump, especially since my home state of Georgia was in play. I haven’t seen anything since 2020 that would make me change that position, and I’ve seen much to affirm it. 

The election is still a long way away, but as I’ve said in the past that I think that Biden will ultimately prevail despite Trump currently experiencing some favorable polling (although I’m not going to say a Trump win is impossible). In the end, Trump’s character flaws and deep personal unpopularity will be too difficult to overcome, even considering a lackluster opponent like Joe Biden. 

When that happens, it won’t be because the election was stolen. It will be because Republican primary voters picked the worst candidate of the litter for the third time in a row despite numerous warnings to the contrary, including many cautions from his own appointees and staffers.

From the Racket News

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