The media and pundits are still scratching their heads over Donald Trump.
A few analysts are contrite over their misjudgment of the property mogul. David Byler, elections analyst for Real Clear Politics, was the latest to give several reasons why he and others got the Republican primary race wrong. In short, the models used in 2008 and 2012 did not work this year.
Byler wrote that party operatives proved unnecessary to Trump’s success. Polling estimates were terribly inaccurate. Complex data models did not work. The debate jabs, such as ‘low energy’ Jeb and Chris Christie’s spontaneous take down of Marco Rubio, were unexpected game changers.
Most of that, I think, is down to Trump and his way of doing things.
Yet, some observers still don’t understand. On Sunday, May 8, the Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberly Strassel told Fox’s Chris Wallace rather inarticulately that everything was still up for grabs. Trump’s presumptive nominee status means little to her. Charles Krauthammer characteristically says that Trump’s Hillary Clinton strategy is ‘unbelievably risky’ and could harm his election chances with independent women voters.
Fox’s Megyn Kelly is another. She asked Paul Manafort all manner of questions, most of which revolved around Trump’s style. Surely, now, it needs to change, doesn’t it? Watching the video, I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking — about her.
Manafort explained how the campaign was going through natural phases. The early primary season victories were needed, then came the need to ensure delegate numbers and now it is moving into the general election phase. Trump’s attention has turned towards Hillary Clinton. He will be holding different ‘formats’ of speeches. He will be more involved with the GOP, including fundraising.
Manafort and Kelly ended with a brief discussion of the polls. Kelly, embarrassingly, should not have challenged Manafort’s knowledge, especially when it concerns the 1980 election. (Manafort worked for Reagan that year.) He contradicted her and she argued back. He smoothly shut her up with the facts.
Speaking of polls, Quinnipiac shows Trump and Clinton are tied in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Already!
The Washington Times interviewed several residents of Pennsylvania and Delaware who support Trump. These are typically blue (Democrat) states. One man was unhappy that top Republicans haven’t yet universally thrown their weight behind Trump:
“It’s childish or maybe even selfish,” said Mr. Staudt, 55, a former Marine. “The power brokers in Washington certainly don’t want to give up their gravy train — that’s both parties.”
He was talking about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who is ‘not ready’ to endorse Trump. On May 9, the New York Times reported that Ryan’s tone had softened somewhat. He and Trump will meet privately with RNC chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday, May 12 in Washington. Ryan and Trump will also be at the House Republican Conference that day:
Mr. Trump could be facing a tough crowd on Thursday. A number of House Republicans have taken issue with his tone and positions throughout the campaign.
Mr. Ryan has said he might still be able to endorse Mr. Trump, but that he needed to hear more from him.
The meetings may be further complicated by Mr. Trump’s recent statements on fiscal issues.
Mr. Ryan has served as chairman of the House budget committee, and has a strict set of policy views that generally adhere to conservative orthodoxy on issues like taxes and monetary policy. But Mr. Trump seemed to challenge those views in the last week, when he suggested in a string of interviews that he would increase taxes on high earners, that repaying the national debt would not be a problem for Washington “because you print the money” and that he would be open to an increase in the minimum wage, a concept Republicans oppose at the federal level.
Of course, Ryan is not the only Republican refusing to board the Trump Train. On May 6, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told Fox’s Sean Hannity:
There is something wrong here when these people, who the Republican Party has done a lot for, let’s be honest. The Bushes, the Romneys – The Republican Party has been pretty darn good to them, and they owe it to the party and the people who make up that party, beyond their own hope to be above it all.
In the case of Paul Ryan he made a big mistake today and he needs to understand this. He needs to understand this.
He is the Speaker of the House. He has an obligation to unify the party. He has an obligation to reach out. Obviously he and Donald Trump are going to have disagreements. Some of them will work out and some of them they won’t. That’s fine. Our constitution provides that speakers and presidents can fight, but I think he sends the wrong signal and a signal which I think endangers the House Republicans and endangers the Senate Republicans.
I much prefer what Mitch McConnell did, what John McCain did – they both said, ‘OK game’s over, we have a nominee. I’m for him.’
Maybe it’s a moot point. As we all know, Trump can’t win, right? Fred Hiatt wrote a good editorial for the Washington Post. He is not a Trump supporter, but he warns: ‘Democrats, don’t celebrate Trump’s nomination. Fear it’:
Republicans are divided, the economy is improving, the demographics are increasingly in Democrats’ favor. The likeliest result of a Trump nomination is a Republican washout up and down the ballot.
I do get all that.
Still, when I hear smart people explaining why Trump cannot win, all I can think is: Aren’t you the ones who told us that he couldn’t top 30 percent, and then 40 percent, and then 50 percent in the Republican primaries? Weren’t you confident that he was finished after he called Mexicans rapists, and insulted prisoners of war, and dished out a menstruation insult?
Did you predict his nomination? If not, we don’t want to hear your certainty about his November defeat.
He says that Democrats should start ‘running smart, but scared’.
Challenging months lie ahead for Hillary. Of that, we can be sure.