One of my colleagues, Demi Dowdy, and I were talking about whether Donald Trump would lead a third-party movement, which the Republican presidential hopeful has said he wouldn’t do. I said I doubted Trump, who loves "winning," would try such a bid, which would be doomed to fail. That would make Trump a loser, and he hates being a loser.
But then another hypothesis came to me: what if Trump said he wouldn’t make a third-party bid because he’s already confident he’ll get the Republican nomination?
Here’s a well-respected blogger’s take on what the race looks like after the most recent GOP debate: “The game is over. Donald Trump has won the nomination.”
Perhaps he’s being a bit facetious. But the Real Clear Politics site says an average of the national polls gives the billionaire developer a nearly 17-point lead.
And what’s going to stop him? He’s going to say something outrageous that will knock him out of the race?
What if Trump is like a football quarterback with a big lead in the fourth quarter …. except that if he fumbles or throws an interception, he just grabs the ball back and keeps his offense on the field. And every time the referees (the media) throw a flag, he ignores it and keeps his team moving ahead.
At the same time, that's just the nomination. Can he really sustain this lead? Then, can he win the general election? Our most recent Civitas Poll, pitting him one-on-one against Hillary Clinton, showed him losing to her. Perhaps more important, verbatim answers showed many voters had negative views of him. (BTW, we are now working on new polling of what NC voters think of the candidates on the national and state stages.)
It's often said conservatives will finally settle on the establishment candidate most likely to beat Clinton. Perhaps Trump's fans will, at the last minute, turn to another candidate — someone more mainstream, more acceptable to the establishment.
But what if conservatives are hopping mad at the establishment ?
Today, conservative voters will be seeing news about the latest budget debacle in Congress. As the Drudge Report put it:
What if a significant number see this news and become steaming mad with Republican politicians? There's one obvious way for such voters to vent their ire at the GOP establishment: vote for Trump in the primaries. Noted economist and American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks has spoken at Civitas events three times in the last three years. He always stresses the power of emotion in politics. What if conservatives' anger — forgive me — trumps their rational motivations at the primary elections?
At the same time, let's not forget that he has tapped into legitimate fears and issues, including immigration, terrorism and national security.
These are just "what ifs" tossed out there for the political discussion. This is not to advocate for or against Trump or Republicans. It is an analysis of the politics from my personal view.
But what if ….