New Jeb! ad: Trump's going to lose to Hillary, you know

“DON’T PANIC,” reads the graphic midway through the Jeb Bush campaign’s latest scare ad, presumably targeting New Hampshire voters. If Republicans nominate Donald Trump, the ad argues, they will play directly into Hillary Clinton’s hands. The only way to prevent the nightmare scenario from rolling to its preordained conclusion would be to vote for Jeb Bush:

Kudos to Team Jeb for actually going after the frontrunner on a salient point, rather than other runners-up over footwear. While Trump resonates with a significant plurality of the GOP electorate, he remains deeply unpopular outside of it. NBC’s First Read team notes just how risky this bet might be, should the GOP take it:

Trump’s overall positive/negative score: 29% positive, 58% negative (-29)

  • Among African Americans: 9% positive, 81% negative (-72)
  • Among Latinos: 22% positive, 69% negative (-47)
  • Among women: 26% positive, 62% negative (-36)
  • Among independents: 26% positive, 52% negative (-26)
  • Among suburban voters: 31% positive, 55% negative (-24)

It’s a good argument against Trump, but perhaps not much of an argument for Jeb Bush. Bush’s favorables have routinely been negative in this campaign. This Quinnipiac poll from December is a good example, where Bush scored a 28/56 among all registered voters, and a 37/52 among Republicans. Trump got a 33/59 among all RVs.

If favorability and electability is the main argument against Trump — and a good case can be made that it should be — then Republicans are better off with Marco Rubio. Rubio routinely scores high in favorability (37/28 in this Q-poll, best among Republican candidates), and has a much more approachable backstory. He’s also a far better communicator on political vision than either Trump or Bush. And yet, until just very recently, Team Jeb’s guns have been aimed mainly at Rubio.

But will Trump face Hillary if he wins the nomination? Glenn Reynolds isn’t so sure:

Back last summer, I wrote about the prospects for aTrump-Sanders 2016 race. At the time, I thought I was just being cute. Now it looks as if it might happen.

Trump, of course, remains atop all of the polls for the GOP nomination. And now Bernie Sanders is crushing Hillary Clinton in CNN/WMUR’s latest New Hampshire poll, 60% to 33%. That’s right, Bernie has a 27-point lead among New Hampshire Democrats.

There’s no question that Hillary is in real trouble. As Peter Wehner noted in Commentary, “Mrs. Clinton is now running as basically the third term of President Obama. She may tweak what he did here and there, but she is fully embracing Mr. Obama. In an election year in which anger and disgust at the political establishment and business as usual are dominant, and in which only a quarter of the American people believe the country is headed in the right direction, that is a dangerous strategy to adopt. In addition, there’s a historical burden Mrs. Clinton faces: Since 1948, a political party has won three straight presidential elections only once, when George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan, who was much more popular at the end of his second term than, in all likelihood, Mr. Obama will be.”

With the Middle East on fire and the U.S. economy looking shaky, the “Obama’s third term” strategy isn’t looking very good. But Hillary was part of his administration, so what else can she do?

A Trump vs Sanders general election would be the ultimate “burn it all down” outcome, would it not? Trump might fare better against the self-declared Socialist in a general election than he would against Hillary, too. However, that outcome might start looking mighty familiar to Minnesotans in particular, and not in a good way, as I explain in my column for The Fiscal Times. We have some experience in entertainers running on anti-establishment fervor, you see:

 Once in office, though, Ventura seemed lost. He picked fights with the local media, eventually issuing press credentials adorned with a drawing of a jackal, later withdrawn. He tinkered around the edges of policy (light rail and lowered registration fees being his most enduring legacies), but did little to change the direction of state government. Mostly, Ventura used the office to promote Ventura, including spending several months as a television football announcer for the ill-fated XFL, launched by professional-wrestling showman Vince McMahon.

When the final biennial budget had to be concluded, Ventura had alienated nearly everyone, including many of his former supporters. In the end, the GOP and DFL wound up working together to marginalize Ventura’s influence. Ventura opted not to run for a second term, citing the impact of his office on his family life, but it was clear that Minnesotans had tired of their experiment in anti-establishment outsiders as chief executives. No third-party candidate has come close to winning since.

All that took place under much different circumstances than we face now. During the late 1990s until the Great Recession hit in 2008, Minnesota had a booming economy and few of the other problems that plagued America in those years. Politics were mostly clean and played out in the open. Prosperity reigned. Other than the few months each year in which we return to our Ice Age roots, it was exceedingly easy to be Minnesota Nice – and yet Ventura wore out his welcome quickly. …

It’s possible that an anti-establishment outsider could shake up the existing order and provide the kind of leadership needed to forge new alliances and make sharp improvements. It seems more likely that both Trump and Sanders would become another Jesse Ventura – an executive with no alliances, whose inexperience and/or antipathy toward institutions produces little but a lost four years and strengthening of the party establishments they both seek to demolish.

As that ancient Minnesota proverb warns, be careful what you wish for, uff dah – you might just get it, you betcha.

We have problems orders of magnitude larger than what Minnesota faced during the Ventura years. A lost presidential term might provide some level of satisfaction for those with legitimate anti-establishment goals, but in the end it might just make the current disasters worse — while strengthening the hands of the establishment anyway. It’s something voters should consider.

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