The other from 2012:
Which brings us to today. Third time’s the charm:
Let me give you one little thing: My instinctive feeling right now is that Trump is gonna win, beat Hillary badly, that it could be landslide proportions…
If you follow the news, it’s clear Bernie Sanders is winning (it seems like) every primary the past month. And accompanying every Bernie Sanders victory story is the fact that he won nothing, that Hillary gets the delegates. So there’s just as many — or proportionally just as many — agitated Democrats. You add up people supporting Bernie Sanders to people supporting Donald Trump, and the people that supported Ted Cruz.
You add up those voters — and if they all vote, too, Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a prayer. I don’t care about the Electoral College. I don’t care about anything else. Just like in terms of the people that are fed up with Washington and the establishment, as we sit here today, she is the lone candidate representing what obviously so many Americans, Republicans and Democrats for their own reasons right now happen to despise. She’s losing the vote in every state, and yet the Democrats expect her to triumph. Where is her momentum?
Bernie fans are going Trump, huh? Even with superstar leftists like Elizabeth Warren already taking the gloves off to attack him and Barack Obama set to hit the trail for Hillary this summer to reassemble the Obama coalition? All I can say is it’s been a big week for Republicans having gut “feelings” about a Trump victory this fall without any data to back it up. Anti-Trump pundits ignored endless polls this past year indicating that Trump’s support was durable; now pro-Trumpers are making the same mistake, ignoring not just early general-election polls but deeper demographic realities. Go play with the numbers here and try to find a demographic model of the electorate that seems remotely plausible yet also produces a comfortable Trump victory.
I can imagine all sorts of scenarios — the Hillary landslide, the barely-hanging-on narrow Hillary win (which I think is most likely), the narrow Trump win, but … the Trump landslide is a toughie. I could even understand it if Rush was counting on some deus ex machina to upend the electoral table, whether an economic crash, a terrorist attack, or a string of very ill-advised protests-turned-riots by SJWs that drive voters towards Trump’s authoritarian message. (If you’re a Trump critic, read Sean Trende’s argument for why the 2020 cycle and the heightened risk it brings of black-swan disasters is when you should start really worrying about a populist-nationalist candidate’s chances.) Rush isn’t predicting that something extraordinary will happen to shift liberals towards Trump, though. All he’s saying is that in a populist climate, an underwhelming oligarch like Hillary Clinton will surely end up the target for a broad-based revolt among most of the electorate. It’d be some neat trick for the candidate who embodies “identity politics for white people” to peel off enough members of the Democrats’ racially diverse coalition to win (never mind Trump overcoming his problems with women voters), but a day after the Trumpocalypse, anything seems possible, I guess. Vaguely.
Incidentally, isn’t there a bigger story out there today than whether Trump can pull off a win against Hillary this fall? The conservative-media belief that a strong “true conservative” candidate would be unstoppable in the primaries has now been conclusively disproved. Ross Douthat:
Trump proved that movement conservative ideas and litmus tests don’t really have any purchase on millions of Republican voters. Again and again, Cruz and the other G.O.P. candidates stressed that Trump wasn’t really a conservative; they listed his heresies, cataloged his deviations, dug up his barely buried liberal past. No doubt this case resonated with many Republicans. But not with nearly enough of them to make Cruz the nominee.
Trump proved that many evangelical voters, supposedly the heart of a True Conservative coalition, are actually not really values voters or religious conservatives after all, and that the less frequently evangelicals go to church, the more likely they are to vote for a philandering sybarite instead of a pastor’s son. Cruz would probably be on his way to the Republican nomination if he had simply carried the Deep South. But unless voters were in church every Sunday, Trump’s identity politics had more appeal than Cruz’s theological-political correctness…
Finally, Trump proved that many professional True Conservatives, many of the same people who flayed RINOs and demanded purity throughout the Obama era, were actually just playing a convenient part. From Fox News’ 10 p.m. hour to talk radio to the ranks of lesser pundits, a long list of people who should have been all-in for Cruz on ideological grounds either flirted with Trump, affected neutrality or threw down their cloaks for the Donald to stomp over to the nomination. Cruz thought he would have a movement behind him, but part of that movement was actually a racket, and Trumpistas were simply better marks.
Conservative talk-radio hosts who “affected neutrality” between Trump and Cruz? I can’t think of anyone like that. Can you?
A pol as ambitious as Cruz will soldier on to 2020 but a man as brilliant as Cruz is surely absorbing the truth today of Douthat’s point about large swaths of “true conservatism,” including some of its major players, running a racket. If it’s a racket that’ll sell him out now, why wouldn’t it sell him out again in four years? And why wouldn’t the primary electorate, which lefty Jonathan Chait accuses of having revealed itself as driven by “ethno-nationalistic passions” rather than conservative dogma, go on preferring nationalist candidates to Cruz’s “constitutionalism”? If Cruz wants a shot at the White House, he may have to reimagine himself — to some extent — as a nationalist. That’d be tragic, but it would help with the base. It might even help with the Republican establishment, which can’t tolerate the idea of Cruz-style “disruptors” being rewarded electorally for their disruptions but can, apparently, tolerate the idea of a guy like Trump swooping in and claiming that they’re all morons who are weakening America. Good luck to all party members, starting with Rush, in their new-ish roles as apologists for nationalism.