Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Donald Trump was the most dominant non-incumbent presidential candidate since 2000

The Republican race is over.  It has been for a while now.  And it is worth taking a look back at the contrast between the actual numbers and the narrative that will be told about 2016.

The narrative will be as follows:  a brutal, tooth-and-nail struggle between the populist insurgent and the old guard establishment, with lots of back-and-forth, and uncertainty and tension to the bitter end.

The reality has been quite different:  total domination by Trump, the impotence of the "establishment," the worthlessness of endorsements, the meaninglessness of money, the pointlessness of superPACs, and an outcome that was clear months ago.

Let's start with the raw numbers.   I have been directing readers, over and over again, to the national polling averages at RealClearPolitics.  In January and February, leading up to SuperTuesday parts I and II, the state-by-state polling mattered, but the national polling averages tell the real story of the campaign.  The real story is that Donald Trump took an immediate lead in the polls as soon as he announced his candidacy,  A handful of polls in October showed Ben Carson with a narrow lead, but that collapsed quickly.  Since then, there was one outlier poll in February showing Ted Cruz with a 2 point lead, but it was clear at the time that the poll was an outlier.  Donald Trump has maintained a double-digit polling lead over all of this competitors for essentially the entire course of the campaign.

SuperPACs backed Jeb.  Sorry, "Jeb!"  They did nothing.  Endorsements eventually started to come in for Rubio.  Bupkis.  Trump promised to spend his own money.  He never needed to.  Over and over again, Republican "establishment" types have fretted about Trump without ever finding a way to lay a glove on him.  Total domination.

In 2012, Mitt Romney got the Republican nomination after constant shifting in the polls.  Perry led the polls for a time.  Then Cain.  Then Gingrich.  Then Santorum.  Then Gingrich again...  Romney was positioned to win the whole time, but there was real movement throughout the course of the campaign in the polls.

In 2008, Hillary started with a commanding lead before being overtaken by Obama.  On the Republican side, an unstable race eventually settled on McCain, who was written off as toast in the summer of 2007 when his campaign went broke.

In 2004, Dean was the presumptive nominee until a brutal fight in Iowa knocked him off his pedestal, to be replaced by Kerry.

You have to go back to George W. Bush's 2000 campaign to find a non-incumbent presidential campaign more dominant than Trump's.  Or Gore, but Gore was the sitting VP, and close to being an incumbent.

Then go back to 1996.  The Republican race was a tough struggle between Dole, Gramm and Forbes.  In 1992, Clinton called himself "the comeback kid" after having his campaign written off for dead, and the "comeback" was coming in second in New Hampshire.

I could keep going, but the basic point we need to understand is that the 2016 Republican presidential campaign has been one of total domination by Donald Trump.  The only clear, modern case of a more dominant non-incumbent was George W. Bush in 2000.

The campaign narrative is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Let's keep some perspective.  Ignore the narratives.  Focus on the numbers.

Trump will win Indiana today.  Tomorrow morning, either the Trump denialists will acknowledge a little thing I like to call "empirical reality," or twist themselves into knots with ever-more-absurd scenarios in which Trump loses.  In honor of the denialists, here's this...



Warren Haynes is better than Steely Dan anyway.

Trump loss scenario of the day:  He is currently sitting at only 5% support in Indiana, but he bought off all of the polling agencies to pretend otherwise.  The scam will be uncovered tonight with a landslide victory by write-in candidate Vermin Supreme.

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