The Trump factor
I’m reluctantly wading back into the world of politics with this column but the Donald Trump show is simply too intriguing to ignore.
Whether you love or hate, or simply don’t care about the Donald, he certainly has stirred things up among the 16 or so other candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination. He’s even garnered the attention of the Democratic candidates, one of whom has had to explain why she went to his wedding in 2005.
The Republican field is a strong one with eight sitting or former governors, six sitting or former U.S. senators, a former Fortune-20 CEO, a retired neurosurgeon and Trump.
Many were surprised when Trump entered the race because few gave him much of a chance to win and he’s not famous for entering contests that he will likely lose. Trump maintains he’s in it for the long haul and, although he wants to run as a Republican, he has not ruled out running on a third-party ticket. He says he’s leaving that option open for leverage and to ensure that the Republican establishment treats him fairly.
If, as expected, Trump does not win the Republican nomination, a decision to make a third party run will almost certainly hand the presidency over to whomever the Democrats nominate. A week ago I would have simply said, “Hillary Clinton,” but recent email discoveries have muddied up the Democratic side.
Conventional wisdom is the success of Trump and, more recently, poll bumps by former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, are a result of public dissatisfaction with politics as usual.
Trump is somewhere between a train wreck and a loose cannon, while Fiorina has done an excellent job of picking apart Hillary’s record and presenting herself as a capable female presidential alternative. Carson, an African-American, was largely unknown when he announced his candidacy but has been most impressive when voters hear what he has to say, most recently at the first Republican national debate in Ohio.
Mainstream Republicans are worried Trump’s bombast will turn crucial swing voters away from their party. Polls also show Trump would be beaten badly in a head-to-head battle with Hillary Clinton. These same polls show several other candidates, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker defeating Clinton. Of course all this could change.
At this point Trump continues to lead most of the Republican polls with about 24 percent of the vote. But as political pundit, Mark Levin, and several others have pointed out, this means that 76 percent of Republican voters favor someone else. And nearly all of the others favored have more in common with each other than they do with Trump. Conclusion: Trump will have difficulty moving his numbers much higher than 30-35 percent, even as contenders drop out.
Four months ago I put up a Facebook post stating that I would have no problem voting for a Rubio/Fiorina ticket. I like and admire several other Republican candidates and, given the probable Democratic opposition, could vote for whomever emerges from this long nominating process on the Republican side.
But what about the Trump card? Here’s what I think will happen (and actually hope will happen).
The Donald will entertain us for several more months. He will have the guts to say things that will resonate with voters unhappy with the direction our country has taken during the past 6+ years. He will also say a lot of dumb stuff that will have Republicans, Democrats and Independents shaking their heads.
At some point Trump will declare victory and graciously bow out of the primary race. He will say he accomplished his goal of bringing several important issues to the forefront of the discussion and that he’s happier and more comfortable building hotels, hosting popular TV shows and making money.
Trump will speak at the Republican National Convention and throw his support behind the national ticket. The party will be united.
If all this happens, I might take another short break from writing about our community and offer additional political thought in a Summer 2016 column. Or maybe I won’t.
Finally let me offer a disclaimer that I’ve heard others use before and would seem appropriate here: “Of course I could be wrong.”