Campaign conventional wisdom is dead

Again, pundits were right that Trump on the surface was a preposterous bet to win the nomination, given that 57 percent of Republicans disapproved of him in the summer of 2015.

But he won anyway, not so much because Republican voters learned to love Trump, but because they couldn’t shake the belief that the other choices were worse. Voters were ready to try anything that was different. On the trail they frequently said things like, “Why not?” and “We have to try something.”

The huge, underreported story of 2016 was the utter failure of the Republican Party Brahmins to be competitive in their own primary. Big-dollar donors poured $150 million into the campaign of Jeb Bush, only to end up with three whole delegates. People simply would not respond to the usual cues.

The failure of all that cash, institutional muscle and media clout to reel voters back to any “traditional” Republican — to the latest Bush, McCain or Romney — was evidence of a massive crack in the political establishment.