The nomination race isn’t over yet but the possibility of Trump winning that race is something both sides are having to take more seriously after his Super Tuesday showing. On the Democratic side there is dawning awareness that, despite polls showing Clinton would beat him in a head-to-head matchup, Trump may turn into a more formidable general election candidate than expected. Politico reports on some of the advice Democrats are getting about the need to take Trump seriously:
“It’s fair to say there’s been a graveyard already out there of people underestimating him,” said Doug Sosnik, a former Bill Clinton White House adviser. “And I am old enough to remember the sort of Democratic intelligentsia that was hoping Ronald Reagan would be nominated by Republicans in 1980 because everyone knew he was a doddering old right winger who could never get elected president.”
“I think Trump could beat her like a tied-up billy goat,” said Mudcat Saunders, a rural Democratic strategist who’s supporting Bernie Sanders. “There are many areas in key swing states like Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that look like Sherman went through and didn’t burn anything. Empty factories, empty buildings, few opportunities for young people. It’s sad. It should be no surprise to anybody that voters in those areas are gravitating to Trump.”
Doug Rubin, an adviser to Elizabeth Warren, is worried about the record turnout Trump is getting:
“One thing that scares me the most about Trump is the fact that every one of these Republican primaries to date has record turnout. And I think a large part of that, though not all of that, but a large part of that is that Trump is bringing out people who don’t normally vote, and adding to the Republican mix on those things and so I worry that in the general election along with the traditional Republican voters that he has the opportunity to bring out a chunk of voters that don’t normally vote in those elections and in some elections that could tip the scales.”
All of these people are paid to worry about things like this and there’s certainly an argument to be made that the record turnout could upset Democrats’ carefully laid plans, especially with an uninspiring candidate like Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, the Real Clear Politics average of head-to-head polls shows Trump as the weakest candidate against Hillary in a general election. RCP has Clinton at +3 vs. Trump whereas Cruz beats her by an average of +1.5 and Rubio by +5 based on polls conducted in the last month. Polls can be misleading of course but plenty of conservatives got carried away with their fallibility in 2012. Let’s not make that mistake again.
All that to say, Trump supporters who are hearing exactly what they want to hear from Democratic strategists should keep in mind the source and the possibility that there are ulterior motives involved. Maybe they are giving us the unvarnished truth about Trump’s chances, but one thing we know for sure: They are all Democratic strategists who would rather see Clinton (or possibly Sanders) win.