Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hillary's Plan to Beat Trump

The big frontpager this morning in "the newspaper of record" is "Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump" by Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy. Bernie Sanders tossed aside like a candy wrapper before a single vote has been counted on Super Tuesday, Team Clinton now spins its fantasy of a general election victory against the avatar of the unwashed. The plan is to go negative 24-7, "an all-out assault," against Trump. David Brock is already working up a video montage of bloopers and blunders that The Donald delivered from the stump (which will probably end up drawing more alienated voters to the polls to vote for the reality TV star than indignant soccer moms for Hillary).

There are several problems with this "plan." Using Bill Clinton and Obama as surrogates to harsh on Trump will draw more voters to the real estate tycoon's ranks. Obama and Slick Willie personify to old, white America everything that is wrong with establishment politics. Both, by the way, are stalwart backers of huge free trade agreements. The average voter, despite a uniform mainstream media message about the amazing bounty produced by free trade, has concluded that the U.S. has been de-industrialized because of it. Trump will pounce on Obama and Bill with a viciousness and glee that will fill television and smartphone screens until election day, drawing the Oxycontin and Budweiser denizens into the political process like never before.

Conventional wisdom is that negative campaigning suppresses turnout. In this case  Hillary's scorched earth attack on Trump will actually boost his numbers. The last status quo election in the United Status was the 2014 midterm, which had the lowest turnout since World War Two. In one state, such as Ohio, turnout was as low as the early nineteenth century -- before there was universal male suffrage. There is no more faith in elections.

Enter Trump.

The Super Tuesday bar for Marco Rubio has been set at his winning a single state. Nate Cohn highlights the chances of "Little Marco" in "Where Marco Rubio Has the Best Chance to Win." The answer is nowhere. If Cruz doesn't squeak through in his home Lone Star state, then the primary will be all over except for the crying of GOP apparatchiks. It might be better for Trump in the long run if didn't come away with a clean sweep because then the Republican establishment can persist in its magical thinking a bit longer.

Campbell Robertson has a so-so story about the lost cause of the Democrats in the South. A lot of the commentators to the first story in The New York Times announcing Hillary's big win in South Carolina noted the fatal flaw in Team Clinton having to rely on a Deep South firewall to protect her path to the nomination. How can a candidate expect to win a general election when she won a primary based on states she can't carry in November?

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