Thursday, March 17, 2016

Alienating Trump Opponents Is More Costly

We're hearing a lot about how costly it would be to alienate Trump supporters. If Trump gets the most delegates, but the nomination is given to somebody else at the convention, we're supposed to believe that such a scenario would be too costly. Trump supporters would leave the party, refuse to vote for the nominee, or whatever.

There are a lot of problems with that kind of reasoning. A big problem is that alienating Trump's opponents would cost even more. There are at least about as many highly committed opponents of Trump as there are highly committed supporters. Most likely, the opponents outnumber the supporters (though a lot of Republicans aren't in either category). We know that Trump supporters are less educated, make less money, and are less active in the party. Who would you rather alienate? The Trump supporters, who are much less a part of the backbone of the party? Or the more educated, wealthier, and more politically active people the party is more dependent upon?

A large group of Republicans will be upset either way. Upsetting the Trump supporters makes more sense. And nominating somebody other than Trump will be better in other ways. It will give us a more electable candidate, will be more beneficial to the party's reputation in the short term and long term, will discourage movements like the Trump movement in the future, will do less damage to other campaigns (e.g., Congressional races), etc.

Trump and his supporters decided to participate in the Republican party and its nominating process, with all of its structures and rules. Part of that Republican system is the option of denying the nomination to a candidate who has the most delegates, but not a majority. Another part of the system is that the rules can be changed along the way, even to the point of denying the nomination to a candidate with a majority of the delegates. As I've said before, Trump ought to be denied the nomination either way, even if he has a delegate majority. I doubt that he'll get a majority, though, and that makes the complaints of his supporters even more hollow. Denying him the nomination when he only gets a minority of delegates before the convention, even if it's the largest minority, isn't a difficult decision. It's easy. Republicans need to start acting like it. Stop wringing your hands, stop being nervous and hesitant, and start treating the Trump movement with the opposition it deserves.


  1. Good points, Jason!

    Not to mention a lot of Trump supporters are liberal. Such as those who voted for him in open primary states.

  2. Cruz is doing a decent job of positioning himself as a Trump alternative, but that's a fine line too. To alienate both the GOP establishment AND Trump's base would be fatal, I think.

    Plus it appears that all comers lose to Hillary in all scenarios, so I'm not sure what difference it makes in the end. Trump has exposed and driven a wedge into a schism within the Republican party, which will continue to be exploited and explored by future candidates. He's opened Pandora's box, and there's no closing it.

    1. appears that all comers lose to Hillary in all scenarios, so I'm not sure what difference it makes in the end....

      I think if you look at the polling methodologies, you'll find that the pollsters are having difficulties this year. For example, Sanders has been much closer than the polls have predicted, and they were flat out wrong in Michigan (and the couple of states that Sanders won on Tuesday) -- and I'd chalk that up to the fact that the polls can't measure the "enthusiasm gap" -- the folks out at the rallies aren't the folks who are sitting home and taking phone calls from pollsters.

    2. Many of the polls do not poll cell phones. This particularly skews results when there is strong age bias in the results. Many young people don't even own land lines. Sanders is a particularly good example of that since his support tends to heavily skew toward the younger crown.

  3. Great points, Jason.

    "will discourage movements like the Trump movement in the future"

    This is a very important one. It would greatly damage the public discourse and political process if future candidates started taking cues from Trump's puerile demagoguery and running their campaigns like Trump. We could expect more rioting at political events as people accept it as part of the tough-guy political process and candidates believe that it won't damage their support base but only solidify and mobilize them.

    Unfortunately Trump has probably already done a lot of damage in regards to how future campaigns will be run.