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Politics & Policy

Do Trump and His Fans Even Want to Persuade Others?

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Do Trump Fans Realize How Badly He Polls Against Hillary Clinton?

I realize that if you’re a Trump fan right now, energized by his in-your-face combativeness with the media and anyone who disagrees with him, I’m unlikely to change your mind on his qualities as a GOP presidential candidate.

But let’s take Stephen Covey’s advice to “begin with the end in mind” — presumably that is conservative governance — and recognize that to achieve that, we need a Republican president. And as much as Trump may be rising in the polls of the GOP primary . . . let’s take a look at his numbers head-to-head against Hillary Clinton:

CNN: Clinton 59 percent, Trump 35.

Fox News: Clinton 51 percent, Trump 34.

Quinnipiac: Clinton 50 percent, Trump 32.

Could those numbers change? Sure. But Trump has pretty high name recognition as is, so the usual explanation of “that just reflects that more Americans have heard of him” doesn’t fit. A rational Trump fan would at least acknowledge that beginning with a 17- to-24 point deficit represents a major challenge, and recognize that electing him would be a Herculean task.

(One caveat: That CNN poll had Hillary ahead of Rubio by 16, Walker by 17, and Bush by 13, so perhaps we can argue that it was a Democrat-heavy sample. Most polls have these candidates trailing by single digits or tied with Hillary.)

Because it’s not just Democrats or independents who don’t like Trump! Here’s Harry Enten last month:

Trump is the first candidate in modern presidential primary history to begin the campaign with a majority of his own party disliking him. A whopping 57 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Trump, according to an average of the three most recent polls. That beats former record holder Pat Buchanan, who had a 43 percent unfavorable rating at this point in the 2000 election cycle

Taking into account name recognition, Trump’s net favorability rating (favorable minus unfavorable) of -32 percentage points stands out for its pure terribleness at this point in the campaign. Like his unfavorable rating, it is by far the worst of the 106 presidential candidates since 1980 who are in our database.

Anyone who wants GOP skeptics to take a fresh look at Trump has to come up with some reason to believe that Trump’s favorable/unfavorable numbers will significantly change for the better in the next 16 to 17 months.

Now take the last two pollsters to measure Hillary against Ben Carson. (Because there are so many Republican presidential candidates, pollsters aren’t surveying respondents on every possible head-to-head matchup.)

Fox News: Clinton 46, Carson 41.

PPP: Clinton 46, Carson 43.

Ben Carson looks like a much safer bet than Donald Trump in a general election.

I suspect none of this will be persuasive for the Trump fans; the thinking seems to be, “If you can’t see why this man needs to be our next president, you’re a hopeless idiot.” (Funny how fan bases tend to emulate the figure of adoration.) Both the candidate and his fan base aren’t all that interested in building a path to enough delegates and 270 electoral votes. They mostly want to rant.

Last night at happy hour, we shared some laughs about Twitter users who feel the need to list who has blocked them in their biography. (If you don’t use Twitter, “blocking” is just what it sounds like — adjusting settings so that you don’t see what a person writes.)

Not only is there a certain oddity in people feeling that who blocked them is one of the most important things about them to share with the world, but they’re certain this speaks well of them.

Look, when people don’t want to listen to us, we prefer to think it’s because of our bravery, our willingness to tell it like it is, and that those who walk away from us are like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, they can’t handle the truth. Sometimes that’s the case. And sometimes it’s just that you’re a jerk.

When you’re driving, and somebody passes you on the right, that other driver is terrible. But when you’re driving and everybody is passing you on the right, you’re terrible.


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