Trump’s current polling lead—as in 2011 when he momentarily rose to the top by appealing to voters who believed the president isn’t a native-born American—is not a cause of the GOP’s problems, but rather a potent symptom of its yet unsuccessful effort to craft a compelling platform. Or put another way: The so-called “serious” candidates with the “right” qualifications are not yet taken seriously on what have always been the election-defining issues of peace and prosperity.
In this sense, Trump is a gift: He is forcing rivals to develop their messages earlier and with more clarity. We call this the “Trump Primary.” As we approach the first GOP presidential primary debate, who will win the Trump Primary remains much in doubt. There may be no victor, since winning isn’t scored by delegates won as in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and other future GOP nomination battlegrounds.
But we do know this: In the Trump primary, and thereafter, the billionaire is no threat to a candidate with a winning Republican message, only a losing one.