It appears more and more insiders in both the Republican and Democratic parties believe Donald Trump is “the one” for GOP voters in 2016. POLITICO talked to multiple consultants who think Trump’s campaign is beyond a summer fling and getting more serious by the day. In fact 50% from both GOP and Democratic insiders think he’s going to win the nomination.
“I think he’s now mounting a serious campaign,” a South Carolina Republican said. “His stump speech had matured and even though the novelty of his candidacy is wearing off, his straight talk is appealing to people who are so sick of being lied to by the political class.”
Another Iowa Republican agreed, saying, “The more time that goes by that he continues to lead — the more likely it is he wins. That simple. Also, comparatively, he is building a real campaign. More so than many others.”
“Not sure why anyone should be so surprised that Trump’s campaign is getting so serious in terms of infrastructure build-out,” a New Hampshire Democrat said. “Trump may be a jerk, but he is an extremely successful jerk. He has the means and the smarts to compete everywhere — and he is not slowing down.”
Of course Trump has long proclaimed his campaign was serious as a way to thumb his nose at the so-called “consultant class” of the GOP. His appeal is extremely understandable because he has no filter and there really is a lot of justified anger at the GOP establishment for their actions towards candidates who aren’t theirs. One thing Jonah Goldberg noted at National Review is how Trump is getting polished in his answers.
Meanwhile, Trump keeps on a’Trumping, flouting those constraints. His unfavorable numbers have actually come down in the process. It’s a cliché to say he’s defying the laws of political gravity, but it’s true. He respects only the laws of entertainment gravity.
And those laws may ultimately prove his undoing. Eventually, his shtick could get old, even for his fans. There are signs that this is happening. But there are also signs that he’s improving as a candidate. His interviews are getting sharper and less manic. Earlier this month, reporters kept asking Trump what it would take for him to drop out of the race. It seems to me what they were really asking was, “When will things get back to normal?”
The hard truth: They just might not get back to normal.
It will be interesting to see how things turn out if Trump keeps leading in the polls and wins a couple primaries. One GOP insider claimed people were already starting to put together a “stop Trump” campaign. But this campaign has apparently been in the works for at least a month and a half and there hasn’t been any real dip in the polls (except for the Iowa ones AP noted yesterday). Trump has populist support and that’s appealing to a lot of people. Goldberg is right, “[Things] just might not get back to normal.” To a certain extent that isn’t bad because the GOP establishment has to go and the rise of Trump is a good thing because it’s got the establishment freaking out. But people need to be careful what they wish for and it could (I’m not saying it will) lead to American politics becoming more like France where it’s the socialists vs. the ultra-nationalists. Again, I’m not saying it will but it is something to think about.
The other thing which is interesting is what might happen if Trump gets the GOP nomination. One consultant suggested to POLITCO it would mean a third party would start rising.
“Maybe, just maybe, Trump wins an early contest or two. That will trigger a much stronger Stop Trump movement. The party will nominate Bob Dole — in 2016 —before it will nominate Trump. And a Trump nomination would result in a third candidate emerging.”
This is actually something which has happened to the Right in America multiple times. The Whigs were an offshoot of the Democratic-Republicans after Andrew Jackson became president. The Whigs then split over slavery in the 1850s and became the Republican Party, the Know Nothing Party, and the Constitutional Union Party. The GOP briefly split into the GOP and the Bull Moose Party in 1912 before the latter pretty much faded. Another split kind of happened with the Reform Party in 1992, but that didn’t really take. It just shows how the Right always likes to fight, which isn’t a bad thing but isn’t always a good thing. It also shows the true struggle freedom always has with big government and the temptation the latter is.
It’s completely possible the polls are wrong and Trump is going to start fading like other populists candidates including William Jennings Bryan, George Wallace, Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and Theodore Roosevelt’s third run for the WH (the Bull Moose Party). But it’s also possible Trump is a once in a lifetime candidate who will ride populism into the White House like Andrew Jackson did in 1824. Time will tell, but right now more GOP and Democratic Party insiders are starting to believe he’s more the latter than the former.