The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump’s Appeal, Like Obama’s, Doesn’t Transfer to Like-Minded Candidates

From the midweek Morning Jolt, a look at last night’s primary results… reinforcing a point made by Charlie below

A ‘Mini-Trump’ Is Not Trump.

There’s no great sin in making a prediction that didn’t come true. But the heart of human folly may rest in an inability to distinguish what you want to see happen from what is likely to happen.

A few newsletters back, I wrote about the coverage at about the primary between House Speaker Paul Ryan and challenger Paul Nehlen that declared Ryanwas “running scared”, that his team “terrified” of defeat Tuesday and that his “policy record is collapsing among voters here under scrutiny.” Of course, Ryan won, 84 percent to 16 percent.

Sometimes coverage of a race goes astray because of the journalist’s preferences for a candidate; sometimes it simply comes from the media’s appetite for a competitive race or a dramatic storyline.

Talking Points Memo, back in June:

“Rubio is going to have some challenges to overcome. Carlos Beruff, who is a Trump knock-off, is one of them,” Mac Stipanovich, a Florida-based Republican strategist told TPM. “Marco will be facing a Mini-me of the guy he lost to badly not too long ago.”

A Rubio vs. Mini-Trump contest would indeed be an exciting storyline! But Beruff wasn’t an almost-universally-recognized figure like Trump, nor could he dominate the airwaves the way Trump did in the weeks before the Florida primary. One of the less dramatic stories of this election cycle is that there is no Trump-ism without Trump. His surrogates and supporters are learning that Trump’s appeal does not transfer to lesser-known, less charismatic figures with the same stances – as Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds and a lot of Democrats learned Obama’s appeal doesn’t transfer in 2009 and 2010.

Last night, Rubio won 72 percent of the vote, Beruff won 18.5 percent of the vote. Despite the lopsided result, Beruff’s concession statement wasn’t exactly brimming with grace:

With regard to young Mr. Rubio, in my judgement [sic] he made a life mistake.  A man’s word is the most important thing he has.  Mr. Rubio must live with that decision.  Sadly, he could have learned a lot about America and about himself by leaving politics and spending some time in the real world.  Nonetheless, he is the best of the remaining options.

Elsewhere in Florida, Alan Grayson won just 17 percent of the vote in the Democratic Senate primary, which is probably the greatest service to the public Patrick Murphy will ever achieve. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

For what it’s worth, Rubio consistently and comfortably leads Murphy. Chuck Todd concluded, “Democrats really blew it when it comes to recruiting in Florida.”

Meanwhile, out in Arizona…

When John McCain won reelection in 2010, most observers probably thought it was his last term in the Senate. The editorial board of National Review endorsed McCain in the primary, partially a reflection of the flaws of his challenger, former congressman J. D. Hayworth. Not everyone at National Review agreed; Andy McCarthy publicly dissented. (This sort of thing is fine at NR. We’re a magazine and web site, not a Borg Collective.)

The man was 74, surely, this would be his last term, right?

Apparently it isn’t, and I should stop calling people “Shirley.”

Last night, John McCain beat Kelli Ward, 51 percent to 39 percent.

From the perspective of our Alexis Levinson, that’s just above the threshold McCain needed to feel okay about November:

The senator is intensely disliked by many Arizona Republicans, and with Donald Trump underperforming in the state, some party strategists are quietly concerned that he could be in trouble in November against Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, a top Democratic recruit. If McCain can’t clear 50 percent of the vote Tuesday against a group of candidates who have largely failed to gain traction, it will be the clearest sign yet that he’s vulnerable with Republican base voters. And if he has to worry about his base, it will make beating Kirkpatrick a taller order: In the final 70 days, he’ll have to win over independents and some Democrats while at the same time working to keep Republicans in his camp.

There’s been surprisingly little polling of the general election in Arizona, but McCain should be the favorite; a CNN poll from earlier this month had him up 13 points. 

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