by Rod D. Martin
November 5, 2015
Most important political fact of the week: The people you think most electable may not be, and vice versa.
Yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll confirmed the trend we’ve been following: Jeb Bush dropping like a stone (now at just 4% with a net negative favorability of 33 points), Donald Trump still in the lead at 24% but statistically tied with Ben Carson (23%), with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also statistically tied – for second – at 13% and 14% respectively.
But the real insight from the poll concerns electability. Conventional wisdom among Beltway Republicans has always been that consistent conservatives are anathema to the American electorate. This is why they’ve worked so hard to give us Presidents Dole, McCain and Romney. This year, with at one point an 18-candidate field, there hasn’t been as much consensus as in the past, but one thing they have decreed certain: Ted Cruz – and anyone like him – would destroy the Party next November.
Alas, the American people disagree.
The Quinnipiac poll finds that in head-to-head matchups with Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz wins (46% to 43%), as do Marco Rubio (46% to 41%) and Ben Carson (a whopping 10-point winner, at 50% to 40%).
Who does Hillary beat? Donald Trump (43% to 46%). Which is interesting primarily because it’s actually pretty close. The Establishment would have you believe that Trump is an unelectable “clown,” never mind that he’s a clown who’s beating Jeb Bush by 20 points.
And what about Jeb vs. Hillary? I asked the same thing…and marveled to discover that the lovely folks at Quinnipiac saw no pressing reason to publish that particular match-up. Hmmm….
But never mind that. Last week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has Hillary beating Jeb by four.
So the most important political fact of the week is that Donald Trump is at least slightly more electable than Jeb Bush versus Hillary Clinton, and the guys we were told to write off – because they’re “crazy rightwing extremists” don’t you know – are the most electable people in America. And that helps no one so much as the infinitely-maligned Ted Cruz.
Which segues nicely into our second most important political fact of the week: Hillary is on the wrong end of all of this. And if you think back for a second, you’ll remember just how odd that is. Can you think of a year in which the Democrat front-runner wasn’t scorching the entire Republican field at this point in the race? We can debate whether that polling was legitimate, but let’s go with yes: a united media has always buoyed the Dems, no matter what the ultimate outcome proved to be.
This year, not so much. Which is all the more interesting given what’s happening to polling generally. Take the earthquake in Kentucky this week, wherein a Tea Party favorite marked for death by the Establishment won the Governor’s office, only the second Republican in 40 years to do so. The polls were off by 14 points.
It’s not just Kentucky. The 2:1 win against a radical LGBT ordinance in Houston was far bigger than predicted. And for that matter, neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor David Cameron are supposed to have majorities right now (nor is Eric Cantor supposed to be a former Congressman).
In all these cases, the polling models gravely underestimated both conservative sentiment and turnout. One wonders just how far behind Hillary – and Jeb – really might be.
Which brings us to the third most important political fact of the week: yes everyone, Jeb is in deep, deep trouble. But no: he’s not dead.
It’s easy to think so. Indeed, according to an internal Bush campaign memo, 70,000 campaign phone calls have identified only 1,260 supporters in all of Iowa, and produced just 4 volunteers. (And by the way, this more than confirms my analysis last week regarding the meaning of Bush’s historically-unprecedented 15:1 ratio of major donor to small donor dollars.)
That’s gotta hurt. You’d think we were talking about Lindsey Graham here.
But Jeb is far from dead, so get that out of your heads right now. $100 million of Super PAC money guarantees it. And as the Washington Post pointed out this week, the Bushes are using that to great effect: the “leaked” campaign document everyone’s talking about telegraphed to Jeb’s Super PAC – which may not legally coordinate with the campaign – exactly where he needs help.
So no, Virginia, Jeb’s not dropping out, no matter how far he’s dropping in the polls. And given the dollars involved, that’s a very important fact indeed.
Speaking of dollars, our fourth most important political fact concerns them quite directly: Donald Trump hasn’t considered his endgame.
Now I’ve never been one to underestimate Donald Trump. But this became shockingly clear (to me at least) during last week’s debate, during Trump’s assault on Super PACs and the supposed corruption inherent in benefiting from them. “I’m very rich,” he likes to say, as a way of making sure you know he can’t be bought and he can’t be influenced. He takes no money, he needs no money, he is solely looking out for you.
Which is fine for now. The media has kept him center stage without any need for serious spending. That will change during the primaries, but he’s surely accounted for that.
What he seems not to have considered is the one thing no one believed possible when he announced: that he could actually win. And winning the nomination would be…very costly.
How bad would it be? Based on historical numbers, from July to November, Trump would need at least half a billion dollars. A more reasonable estimate is twice that, or a cool billion, particularly since he’s polling behind Hillary.
This is a problem. Trump is a real estate mogul. Whatever his net worth may be (some say $5 billion, some say $10 billion), not that much of it is liquid: you’re literally sitting in it when you have a slice of pizza at Trump Tower. He can’t spend condos and cologne.
But he also can’t go back on the promises he’s made, not without destroying his entire raison d’etre. If Trump takes soft money, if Trump forms a Super PAC, Trump becomes just one more candidate: smaller than life rather than larger, mastered by the machine.
He can’t allow that to happen. But losing the nomination may be the only way to avoid it.
Finally, our fifth most important political fact of the week: your grandfather’s Democrats are gone. Most Democrats now prefer socialism over capitalism.
Electing Hillary is not going to be like electing Bill, or even LBJ. Democrats today want Clement Attlee. Smart Republicans will use this to bury them, just as Margaret Thatcher used it to annihilate Labour in 1979, 1983 and 1987 in a far-further-gone UK.
But first, Attlee beat Churchill, dismantling Britain and nationalizing everything in sight, from coal mines and trains to private homes. A generation later what had been the center of the world was almost Third World. And likewise, before its century of socialist/fascist debauchery, Argentina began the 20th Century wealthier than America.
The left believes there is a fixed pie to be divvied up. It doesn’t believe in wealth creation, and thus does nothing to encourage it (and a great deal to spend it away). Wealth wisely flees.
Pundits moan about polarization, but in fact, two very different views of the world are contending for the soul of the most powerful, most innovative nation on Earth. Killing it will be catastrophic for the entire world. So forgive me if I do not join them. This is the time to realize what has abolished so much poverty, created so much freedom, defeated so many threats to it, provided opportunity to so many.
And it’s time to say so: persuasively, tirelessly, uncompromisingly. Or this will surely be the last generation that can truly be called American.