Thursday, January 14, 2016

If Trump Manages to Win the Iowa Caucus, He Will Win the Republican Primary

An interesting note is that the GOP used its response to Obama's State of the Union Address to attack Donald Trump (David Herszenhorn and Emmarie Huetteman, "Obama Speech Points to Successes, as Would-Be Successors Look On"):
In this year’s response, Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina seemed to be part of a pointed effort by Republican leaders to wrest control of the party’s message back from Donald J. Trump, the billionaire and leading presidential contender in the polls. 
Ms. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants who became her state’s first female and minority governor, urged Americans not to marginalize immigrants in the face of current threats, an apparent reference to Mr. Trump’s recent call for barring foreign Muslims from entering the country.
“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” she said. “We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.” 
Ms. Haley has also been especially critical of Mr. Obama on national security and military cuts, a message that resonated in her response on Tuesday. 
“We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around,” she said in a jab at Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
This is why Trump is likely to be the winner in the Republican primary. The GOP is peddling pure hokum, not the tolerance part about welcoming immigrants, but the neocon call for perpetual war that Haley sounds in the last sentence. Trump might be bellicose, but his position, believe it or not, is not as manifestly contradictory as that of the GOP Establishment. Trump is telling people he will build a wall to keep out the immigrant hordes. Wars might be raging across the globe, but Trump will keep the flotsam and jetsam from washing up on U.S. shores.

Republican Establishment candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are sticking to the same script as conservative German chancellor Angela Merkel, espousing tolerance while backing devastating wars in the Middle East. At some basic level, probably beyond the ability of most to articulate, voters understand this contradiction and are at the beginning stages of rebellion. It is happening all over Europe. Trump is the right-wing manifestation of that rebellion in the United States.

A legitimate question is whether this rebellion can be communicated through the ossified channels of the political system. A persistent criticism of Trump's viability as a candidate is his lack of "ground game," the absence of volunteers in precincts to knock on doors and staff phone banks to get out the vote. In Iowa this is all the more important because caucuses require a level of commitment not found in your average voter in the United States.

An enjoyable "hit piece" directed at Trump's Iowa campaign appears this morning in the national edition of The New York Times. Written by the prickly Trip Gabriel, "Donald Trump’s Iowa Ground Game Seems to Be Missing a Coach," puts a spotlight on the half-ass, amateurish volunteer effort to get voters to the caucuses on February 1. But my takeaway from the article is that the Trump volunteers interviewed just don't have the practiced knack for lying -- because the voter outreach problems they voice are real for every campaign.

The main "hit" component of Gabriel's piece is to besmirch the Trump campaign because one of its voulteers is a "9/11 truther," someone who believes the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were an inside job, a conspiracy:
In Fairfield, in southeast Iowa, Mr. Shaddock, the 9/11 skeptic, said it would be difficult to find someone to speak publicly on Mr. Trump’s behalf in each of the eight precincts in the area. He asked the Trump campaign for $500 to rent the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center so all precincts could caucus together, which would require just one speaker. The campaign turned him down. “Donald himself could have spent $500,” he said. 
A computer network installer, Mr. Shaddock said he was disturbed by Mr. Trump’s comments about Muslims. “It comes across as bigoted,” he said. “I have customers who are Muslims.” 
Although he was not at the Ottumwa rally, Mr. Shaddock said he would have stood up to object when Mr. Trump referred to Muslims flying planes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. 
“That hasn’t been proven,” he said. “I would have stood up and said, ‘Listen, it was remote-controlled takeover of the autoland’ ” technology. 
Mr. Shaddock’s outspokenness on these views, which the campaign has asked him to rein in, was not tested on Tuesday night as he placed calls to voters. Using an app, Ground Game 2, supplied by the Trump campaign, which also provided a list of prospects in his precinct, he placed calls to all eight names — as many as he had been given for the day by Trump headquarters. 
Six times he reached voice mail messages. Another number was not in service. At the one number he reached, a woman picked up, and Mr. Shaddock asked to speak to the voter on his list, a man. 
“I don’t know that person,” the woman said. 
“I did dial the correct number, right?” Mr. Shaddock asked. 
The woman hung up.
That's the way it goes when you phone bank. The way people use telephones has changed in the last 15 years. Voter outreach is harder than ever. If anything, Gabriel's description of the Trump volunteer cuts against the mainstream grain that all Trump's support comes from bigots and haters.

Based on organization alone, one would have to wager that Ted Cruz will win Iowa because of his status as champion of the Evangelicals. But then there is that unfortunate frontpager today that documents how big banks -- Goldman Sachs and Citibank -- funded Cruz's U.S. Senate campaign and Cruz never declared it. Even if you're an Evangelical you don't want to vote for a Wall Street shill.

So if your upset with the way the country and the world is trending, and you're of a conservative bent, there is no alternative to The Donald.

My prediction is that if a ground-gameless Trump can win a caucus state like Iowa chock full of Evangelicals as it is he will win the Republican primary. The next question then becomes to what lengths does the GOP Establishment go to rig its convention in order to steal the nomination.

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