Dan Drezner: My very peculiar and speculative theory of why the GOP has not stopped Trump – Washington Post

CK MacLeod

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42 Responses

  1. Christopher Carr says:

    I also found it bizarre that Serious Journalists have kept repeating the assertion that Trump can’t win, even now. And that’s it – it’s just an assertion.

    On the other hand, pro wrestling has captivated more hearts and minds than political science has.Report

    • That stopped after New Hampshire. Current goalposts are whether he will win or whether we don’t know.Report

      • CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman says:

        You might have seen the graphic that goes with this tweet being sent around last night:


        Poli Sci types and just political observers in general can’t look at that without saying to themselves this Trump thing can’t last.

        I had the wayward thought last night that the Trump bubble, which many of us have been expecting to pop with an audible sound, in one Trumpastrophic moment, would just deflate on its own – that one day soon, we’d just look up from our wailing and gnashing and notice that his support was declining, that people just weren’t very interested anymore in his latest verbal atrocities, that fewer people were showing up at his rallies and those who did were less excited… in short that the story would just move on without him. It happens to shows that make a splash then turn boring. I thought it had happened months ago, but was wrong, but what if Trump sort of limply runs the table during the SEC primaries, loses a handful of states to Cruz and or Rubio, under-performs his polls, in some places severely? At that point brokered convention scenarios might start getting more real – unless his slide is more precipitous, and he stops winning anywhere: Then we’d be back to figuring out how much of a platform he’d get at the RNC.

        The only real downside would be that all of our wailings and gnashings – and careful analyses and theoretical speculation etc. – would turn out to have been as much a waste of time as all of the bombastic campaigning and kerfuffles of the day.

        If that’s what occurs, I hope it doesn’t happen – or isn’t noticed – until my current featured wailer-gnasher-theorizer has moved into the deeper archivesReport

        • Will Truman in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          The deflate has been a hook on which I have been hanging a hope hack. I doubt there will be a collapse. Could be a deflation that becomes reinforcing.

          Right now few delegates have been elected. Even a week from now, it will be less than a third. Plus, Trump has yet to pick up what could be considered “momentum” and has gotten relative little in the way of drip-drip-drip TV ads against him.

          However, it has to actually happen. If it doesn’t happen by Super Tuesday, it becomes harder to see happening. Much harder.

          My spitball for Trump is at 55% and I pretty sure that’s significantly too low and (barring something unforseen) about to be revised upward.

          The chart speaks mostly to his general election prospects, which are grim. A large faction of the party seems to simply not believe it, or not care. (And in the worst of all possibilities, they’re right.)Report

          • CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman says:

            The chart speaks more directly to his general election prospects, but it also makes him an outlier compared to every nominee, successful or unsuccessful, of the last generation. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there had never been as personally unfavored a nominee of a major party in the entire history of polling.Report

            • PD Shaw in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that but for Trump, Hillary Clinton would be the most personally unfavored nominee of a major party in polling history. Link (currently showing poll average of 53.0% unfavorable; 40.8% favorable) This is not going to be an uplifting election.

              Edit: same website has Trump’s at 57.0% unfavorable; 36.4 favorable.Report

          • CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman says:

            I’d thought the deflation had started months ago. Was wrong. If you could predict such developments accurately, or always detect them early, you could very soon become the richest person in the world.Report

          • Art Deco in reply to Will Truman says:

            The chart speaks mostly to his general election prospects, which are grim

            He polls satisfactorily against Hellary, a bit worse against Sanders. Cruz and Rubio do slightly better. .Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          This is what everyone has been saying for a while but the issue is that Poli Sci types are generally connected with the elite and have the same tendency to dismiss non-elite concerns. What if political revolts are more like the famed Spanish Inquisition sketch from Monty Python? No one expects them and when they happen, it is too late to prevent them.

          Other issues include that fact that it might be unprecedented for so many candidates to be funded well enough to stay in this long even heavy-hitting candidates like Cruz and Rubio. Bush was able to spend 130 million dollars for nothing.Report

          • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            You’re exactly right and it’s why Trump will continue to surprise the media and those with at minimum upper middle class sensibilities. Trump’s rhetoric is ugly and his policy agenda is incoherent. What his critics fail to do is try to think about how the world looks from the perspective of a white, blue collar male without higher education in a globalized economy. He’s giving a voice to people who perceive themselves as the losers in the future United States.

            Interestingly I think the only other campaign that has an answer for those voters is Sanders but there may be a cultural divide that can’t be bridged.Report

          • Art Deco in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            while but the issue is that Poli Sci types are generally connected with the elite

            I doubt many academic political scientists have ‘elite’connections. Sounds more like research university faculty, and not most of them (at least those I knew a generation ago). Professors are professional-managerial types who share certain biases and the arts-and-sciences faculty’s a bubble.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          By the same reasoning, this Clinton thing is pretty much doomed too https://twitter.com/adrian_gray/status/701960243396354048.

          But, I don’t think the the US has a provision for nobody to win the general.Report

          • CK MacLeod in reply to dragonfrog says:

            In that plot, she’s at the lower range of recent history. Given the decline in favorability ratings of politicians generally over the same period, maybe you’d be justified at least in looking at her opponent before offering predictions. Unlike her, Trump seems to have achieved near-complete separation from the bunch. Drezner’s point, put abstractly, is in fact that maybe even numbers as dramatic as these are just numbers, or, as my old buddy Leo said about political science, “It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              That’s true – Clinton right now is at the lower range of recent history, for politicians who lost the general election. Trump manages to be even less popular than her.

              If these two become the nominees, whatever the ultimate outcome, I’d predict an unusually depressing election season.Report

        • Christopher Carr in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          As a natural sciences methods guy I chuckle at the utter meaninglessness of that graph.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          A note about that chart – which does look impressive at first glance – the author has been tweeting out similar plots for the other candidates and they consistently appear *below* the historical losers. I think what it’s actually showing is that net favorability for *any* candidate is lower than in previous elections. Which is consistent with generally increased polarization that has been documented in poli-sci.

          Basically, he’s taking a metric which has been trending lower than the historical average, and then showing how individual data-points are … also lower. Not surprising in that context. What would be *really* interesting is to see how these candidates do adjusted for the trend. In other words, is Trump doing worse given what we expect to be the case in 2016.

          Unfortunately, guy’s not releasing his data, and he’s drip drip dripping the charts one candidate at a time (which is entirely his prerogative as parsing all polls from 1992 is a freakin’ pain).Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    the people who could have stopped him

    That’s speculative, all right. Just assuming those people exist, let alone the reasons for why they didn’t.

    It’s like a reverse conspiracy theory.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    Plausible enough because previously insurgent candidates burned off rather quickly. There are still people who remain thoroughly unconvinced at Trump getting the nod and call people worrying about it as chicken little’s because of the old rules.

    Though I also wonder if the elites prefer Trump to Cruz?Report

  4. PD Shaw says:

    I’m skeptical that political science profs have embraced some newfangled stats. I certainly don’t see many making statistical arguments. A lot of politics is simply observational and pattern recognition. The betting markets went strong with Rubio after the Iowa caucuses because Cruz and Trump appeared to fit the pattern of people like Huckabee and Santorum, who make big waves but don’t win. Trump simply doesn’t fit the pattern.Report

  5. “the people who could have stopped him”

    I don’t care who they might be, party elites, vampire hunters or Ivana, my question is, what legal means were available to any of them. What could “could have stopped him” possibly mean?

    It seems that we have having a peculiar moment here, and whether we do analysis by the gut or by the numbers (I haven’t been checking in with 538 – did they see this coming?), it seems that there are enough people with political Oppositional Defiant Disorder to have kept Trump going no matter how much political therapy, tough love or “cognitive interventions” were thrown at Trump or them.

    This historical moment is only beginning to come into focus. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Atomic Geography says:

      Along these lines… he’s stoppable as long as a “respectable” Republican was willing to adopt a number of his … I won’t call them policies … ideas and build on them.

      Not a few of the things he’s making hay on are things that have been much bespoke by various Reformocons.

      But, here’s the thing… movement conservatism isn’t interested in those ideas.

      QED, there’s no stopping Trump.Report

      • CK MacLeod in reply to Marchmaine says:

        @marchmaine – You might be interested in this piece that Trumwill linked the other day at the top of his Morning Ed, if you somehow missed it. (It got a relatively large number of clicks, but no discussion.) Very succinctly argued, more historical-theoretical in its approach than you might get from the title: “Is the Republican Party Splitting Apart?”:


        • Marchmaine in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          @ck-macleod Thanks CK, yes I saw it and thought a handful of his observations quite interesting, the middle a bit muddled, and the conclusion somewhat distant from the rest of the article. As a result, I couldn’t think of anything dumb to say; and, if you don’t have anything dumb to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. Is what I always say.Report

      • Art Deco in reply to Marchmaine says:

        he’s stoppable as long as a “respectable” Republican was willing to adopt a number of his … I won’t call them policies … ideas and build on them.

        Sen. Santorum is something of an immigration hawk and was the runner up in 2012, not that anyone’s noticed this year. It might have worked had one of the momentarily prominent candidates (e.g. Gov. Walker or Gov. Christie or Dr. Carson) had emphasized it. They did not for their own reasons. Gov. Bush lead for most of a year and a half and Sen. Rubio had one turn in the lead, but neither could sell themselves as advocates of immigration enforcement (and Bush is too principled to attempt it).Report

    • Charles Murray talked about this.

      We talked about it a couple of times… but my assumption was that it’d blow over instead of getting worse.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Atomic Geography says:

      The only way to stop Trump is to become more Trumpian than Trump.Report

    • Atomic Geography: I haven’t been checking in with 538 – did they see this coming?

      Short answer: No, not really. Took some licks. Moved on.

      In theory, if serious analysts told the Top Men that the Trump was going to be eating all their lunches, they could have together developed a top flight serious lunch protection strategy. Maybe they would have required Jeb!’s PAC to spend all its money attacking the Trump and selling a Serious Reformocon strategy to Movement Cons instead of savaging competitors other than Trump, and put out photos of a shirtless Jeb! wrestling Alligators. Maybe someone would have advised Marco to get a buzz cut and get a circle of scary mostly lily white Lt Colonels, Generals, and gray eminences to show up at his rallies and in his ads. Maybe someone would have trained Christie to bark at gingers rather than Latinos… and so on.

      Maybe Reince would have worried less about keeping Trump in the fold with the “pledge to support” I mentioned in my post, and worried more about encouraging Republicans to be Republican. What if any of the candidates could have said, before or after they suspended their candidacies, “No, to be frank, I could not commit to supporting Mr. Trump if he were to win the nomination, not after ______ and ______, and anyone who expects me or my supporters to do so is as unhinged as Mr. Trump appears to be”?

      Would it have stopped Trump? No one can say, but it might not look like this all looks.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod says:

        Just a few days ago Nate Silver had Trump at 22% chance to win the nom. So he’s apparently still not taking it seriously.Report

        • Alan Scott in reply to Stillwater says:

          OTOH, Silver said that the betting market prediction of a 50% chance of Trump winning was about right on monday’s podcast. And their predictions for primary & caucus results have been correctly estimating or overestimating Trump’s share of the vote.Report

  6. North says:

    I’m not ready to budge on my 15% chance of Trump opinion until after Super Tuesday when we see how the Nottrump field fares with Jeb! removed from the equation.

    Thus the cited article, while interesting, is either prescient or chicken little.Report

  7. Joe Sal says:

    Does anyone have a political compass plot of the last 10 presidents?Report