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Random thoughts about the Other Party

OK, this has nothing to do with policy or well, anything, really, but I think it’s hilarious that Donald Trump’s campaign is purchasing millions of dollars worth of services from companies in his empire—renting the lobbies of his hotels, of course, for his rallies, but also disbursing money to Trump Restaurants LLC, Trump Tower Commercial LLC, Trump Payroll Corp, and my very favorite, Tag Air Inc. (D. Trump, CEO).

I don’t even think it’s unethical, really, and if it happens that a candidate owns a sign-printing company, why wouldn’t his campaign use it to print signs? It’s just that this particular candidate owns pieces of companies that do everything. And if he didn’t, it would be easy enough to buy one. If he doesn’t own a company that makes hotel maid uniforms, he probably ought to, and then why not use them to make all those hats?

Meanwhile, yeah, he’s probably going to be the nominee of the Other Party. It’s not my Party, I don’t have any dog in that kettle, but wow, that’s terrifying. I think this Hilzoy twitter rant is worth reading in its entirety, as are a lot of other, even scarier takes. I cling to the knowledge that for all the craziness, Donald Trump still gets about a third of the vote (OK, a bit more, but less than two-fifths) among Republicans who vote in primaries. Any of these doomsday analyses that purport to explain why Republicans vote for Donald Trump need to explain why most Republicans don’t vote for Donald Trump. Still and all, the Super Tuesday results were very bad for the Party—very bad for Marco Rubio’s campaign, obviously, but worse for the Party because it wasn’t bad enough for Marco Rubio to knock him out entirely. (This is Ross Douthat’s surprisingly insightful point) It seems obvious to me that if Marco Rubio dropped out today, Ted Cruz would be the nominee; he would easily get over 80% of the remaining delegates. If Ted Cruz dropped out today, Marco Rubio would probably get 70% of the remaining delegates, which would still be plenty to rack up a majority before the convention. They can’t continue to split the delegates 49/35/16, because the rules (correctly, in my opinion) start to force the bulk of the delegates into one or another camp with winner-take-all or winner-take-most rules. So I still think we will wind up with a candidate getting more than half of the delegates before the end. Still, if Donald Trump manages to grab half of the 350 delegates in proportional states over the next ten days (plausible!) and Marco Rubio remains stuck at 15%, he needs something like 80% of the delegates from March 15 forward, which is possible, but. The problem is not so bad for Ted Cruz; if he carries on with 35% of the delegates over the next ten days, he needs to beat 65% from when the winner-take-all states start, and 65% is totally plausible in a two person race.

So much of this cycle has been a lesson in how the primaries really did work for eight or nine cycles, if only by them not working like that now.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Two questions:

What about John Kasich?!? (well, maybe just one question, actually)

On what grounds do you conclude that the Rubio voters would go to Cruz if Rubio dropped, or vice versa? It seems to me that Cruz voters probably hate the Republican Establishment as much or more than Trump voters, so they would be as likely to go to Trump as to Rubio if Cruz dropped. Rubio voters, on the other hand, probably hate Cruz (because everybody does!) more than Trump, so that, if Rubio dropped, Trump would gain as much as Cruz, or more. I am skeptical of the idea that Trump is leading in the race for the Republican nomination only because his opponents are splitting the "anybody but Trump!" vote. My guess is that only about 1/3 of Republican primary voters actually fall into that group, 40% tops. I haven't been digging into preferences polling, however, so maybe there is evidence that an actual majority of Republican primary voters hold the "anybody but Trump" position, but I suspect if there was polling to that effect, those results would be receiving enough media play for me to have seen them somewhere.

What do you think?

The things that lead me to believe that non-Trump voters would be likely to continue voting for a non-Trump candidate if their preferred candidate drops out, more or less in order of persuasiveness to me personally.

  • Everybody already knows Trump. Trump has been a major television presence (I often call him a star, but that may be stretching it) for ten years, and a minor one for twenty before that, and furthermore has been dominating the national conversation for months and months. I doubt that anyone is learning anything new about Trump that is good—they may well be learning bad (for them) things about him that weren't much in the discussion earlier, but not so much good things.
  • The polls seem to indicate it. This is one such that includes second-choice, and there are others. Trump picks up some second-choice votes, but many, many fewer than the other candidates. Probably more important than the second-choice polls are his favorable/unfavorable ratings, where Trump is, you know, really really unpopular among everyone who doesn't like him a lot.
  • Our Story So Far. This is in two parts, really, but essentially as we went down from seventeen million candidates to four, Trump has not picked up many of the available supporters. Also connected to this is that Trump still mostly polls better in places where his opponents have not yet campaigned than in places where they have.

The problem, of course, is that only a very small subset of things I thought would obviously happen have so far happened, and everything involving Donald Trump is clearly Different, so we'll see.


Your analysis does seem to be corroborated also by recent movement. It seems to be the case that as Rubio is fading, little of his support is going to Trump. Looks like most of it is going to John Kasich(!), who looks to be the stealth Establishment candidate emerging. Rubio, who was a terrible candidate, really, has fallen on his sword attacking Trump head-on. As he fades, Kasich gains. . . .

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