Is GOP being Too Clever by Half?

Ted Cruz’s refusal even to mention Trump’s name at the Republican convention continues the pattern seen more commonly in firms targeted by hostile takeover: poison pill.

In a sense, they may think they are being clever: Trump is very weak among the regular Republican voters–affluent, educated whites, especially women.  He has always been.  Being too closely associated with Trump might alienate them and ensure their collective defeat down the ballot, they are thinking, so they want to ensure that they are seen as unlike Trump as possible.  At the same time, they are hoping that they can capture whatever extra support Trump can squeeze out of the working class whites that trickles down.

This is actually a rather clever strategy, even if, I suspect, they had not thought through this carefully.  Trump simply has not been a very competent campaigner: while he may end up getting more turnout from working class whites than Romney, the show of incompetence is not winning him any more support.

This, unfortunately for the Republicans, is where their party leaders’ attempt at sabotaging Trump may be working too well. The entire Republican Party, not just Trump, looks inconpetent and petty as consequence, and these are additional nonspatial characteristics that, for many, trump policy.  All these antics are certain to drive down turnout among the regular Republicans and whatever voters that Trump might have salvaged.

This is taking place, of course, while an analogous struggle is taking place in the Democratic Party, where the party regulars, having won the nomination, are playing hardball with the insurgents, and in process, helping themselves to a position of much unpopularity.  Unlike the Republicans, however, the Democrats have not been so obtusely incompetent and they draw on a larger base of regulars than the Republicans to begin with.  What the Democrats are giving up on is the chance to expand their support base and put a serious dent on Republican majority in the House, specifically by becoming competitive in the rural North, especially the Midwest, but they may yet find comparable votes elsewhere, in the suburbia instead–not by actually winning their votes, but simply by watching the Republicans drench themselves in an “ideology”-laced orgy of incompetence, even while whittling down their own turnout.


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