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I was toying around with a similar post to when I read a Daily Kos item arguing the very same thing–that Trump’s win could prove Pyrrhic to conservatives–so I will just provide a link. Worth your time as you work your way through the depression/anxiety (whatever path you’re taking) over the election. I will say that it’s a mistake to just assume Trump’s rust belt voters will drift away from him if he doesn’t deliver anything. It’s safe to assume he won’t deliver anything, but who knows, downtrodden voters sometimes stick with politicians who they emotionally connect with even if they don’t deliver. The Greek electorate has largely stuck behind Alexis Tspiras, even though he’s morphed completely from a radical, arguably Trumpian figure who was going to tell off foreign creditors into an appeaser of them indistinguishable from the prior management. It’s the hero complex. I personally don’t believe in heroes, but most people do. Anyway.

What I will add is that Trump’s presidency is most likely to end up as a failed shitshow. Nobody who is elected president is truly prepared for the office, sure. But Trump’s lack of preparation is unprecedented: he’s basically starting at zero on policy, structure of government, legislative process, history, etc. I don’t want to make the mistake of underestimating him again, and perhaps he’ll be a quick learner. But being a candidate played into his particular strengths–gaining and holding attention–that the presidency does not, and the portrait given during the primary season was one of a man with an extremely short attention span, incapable of focusing for extended periods of time with difficulties in retaining information, which is a good thing when you have two months to learn literally everything. We saw that he can batten down the hatches when faced with dire humiliation for a while, at least, so I guess we’ll see. But come on. And this isn’t even getting into the personality issues, which disprove the “but he’ll have smart advisers around him!” canard–advisers can’t fix characterological defects (such as, say, a propensity for manufacturing chaos), and the more ignorant the person is, the more you have to worry about manipulation from those advisers. There’s simply no replacement for an engaged, curious, stable person in the presidency, and we will not have one. (Yes, there is sometimes an element of calculation to the chaos, and it’s possible he draws on qualities he always had, but for a man in his seventies who by all accounts has always been the same, I wouldn’t count on it.)

Not that this is a good thing, there’s a lot of damage he can and will do. But you do see why so many Republicans resisted him for so long. You really think Republicans want this guy selling their donor-class driven agenda? I suppose Trump has some administrative experience running his companies, but that sometimes ended in bankruptcies and lawsuits. Again, I don’t want to underestimate the enemy: Greg Sargent’s nightmare scenario of Trump riding a wave of stimulus growth to re-election in spite of mediocre approval ratings is definitely plausible (though also a possibility is probably the GOP’s greatest nightmare scenario: tax cuts + defense spending + infrastructure spending – any cuts = inflation, triggering a catastrophic revolt against the party by the elderly on fixed incomes). But it’s telling that that is the nightmare scenario, not that Trump winds up being a successful, dynamic, broadly popular right-wing president a-la Reagan. That would be the true nightmare scenario, I think, but Sargent doesn’t even envision it as a possibility. It could happen Greg! Anything can happen. But some measure of humility would be required in order to make the adjustments necessary to get there. Not much sign of that.

I’ll emphasize that this doesn’t mean to get off the horse–Trump’s going to do a lot of bad things, not the least of which is creating an environment of fear for ethnic minorities, which is already happening. We need to do everything in our power to stand up to him. But even George W. Bush–a clearly failed president–had observed presidential politics intimately and served as a governor. Trump is worse prepared than Bush while still possessing many of the same character traits (insecurity masked by arrogance, ignorance, dominator-dominated thinking, etc.) that led to his ultimate defeat. The only conclusion to be drawn is that Trump will be even less competent than Bush. Incredible.

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Lev filed this under:  

Howard Dean is running for DNC Chair again.

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Looking less and less like Trump found those elusive missing white voters, and more and more like Hillary Clinton’s stayed home. So that sucks. But while I like a lot of this Chait piece, I really think this misses the point:

Clinton’s own failures contributed to her image. Paranoia and terrible judgment caused her to bypass proper email etiquette, and greed led her and her husband to dangle their foundation and lucrative speaking business with the prospect of future access. It is fair that Clinton is not seen as a paragon of virtue. But it is absurd that she is seen as criminal, or coming within an order of magnitude of Trump’s dishonesty. That a figure of unparalleled secrecy and self-dealing managed to position himself as the candidate of relative honesty and good government is a staggering failure of the electoral process.

It took not only Clinton’s own contributions but months of attacks by Bernie Sanders on corruption related to big money and an allegedly “rigged” primary win.

Let’s talk about this for a second.

Bernie Sanders did indeed raise a narrative that badly harmed Clinton’s image. But there’s a big difference between the email server flap and the Sanders critique of the banker speeches: the former was spurious and the latter was not. Not at all. That it damaged Clinton wasn’t because Sanders had the temerity to bring it up, but that Clinton never actually managed to have a decent answer for it. As we discussed on the blog, she treated it mainly as an irritation or an intrusion. Clinton had months to come up with a way to deal with it and she never did. Months.

My point isn’t to rehash old business, but to say this: this is why Hillary lost. Democrats like Hillary (and Bruce Braley, and Creigh Deeds, and John Kerry) assume that campaigns are about information. Getting out information about policy. Getting out information about opponents. Getting out information about yourself. And so on. Information. Data. Policy. Supply it and voters will evaluate it and choose you. But information–and policy–while important, actually have a small role overall. Campaigns are about storytelling. Telling a story about yourself, about the country, about your opponent. Obama knew that. Bill Clinton knew it. Bernie Sanders knew it. But Hillary did not. Other candidates have faced worse scandals on an objective basis than her emails and speaking fees. I’d rate Obama’s Jeremiah Wright scandal over both in terms of a threat to the campaign. But Obama overcame it by weaving Wright into the narrative he was already telling about America and race. Admittedly, it wasn’t exactly a comparable case: Obama’s relationship with the media, while bad, is nowhere near as bad as Clinton’s, and we’re talking about a very different context and skill set. Still, it’s pretty difficult to deny that Wright was a white person’s nightmare of a black radical, and Obama nevertheless deftly dealt with it, maybe even making it an overall plus. That’s skill. Clinton could not do this over either of her scandals (or “scandals”) precisely because she had no story to tell, so they became the story. It remains amazing just how many Democrats fail to get this. I’m beginning to think they never will.

What should the story have been? It’s hard to say. Clinton was a fundamentally flawed candidate in that she was tasked with defending two separate presidential legacies, Obama’s and her husband’s (as well as her own less-than-spotless career). That’s a lot of constraints. Then you have the political currents of the times, which ran strongly toward populism and against establishment centrism. And then there’s Clinton herself. She lacks presentational flair and has little obvious talent for narrative, as well as tendencies toward paranoia and secrecy. The better choice would have been a different candidate altogether, a fresh face who could have run on their own, defining their own relationship to recent history. But barring that, the better choice would have been going aspirational rather than a Sandersian message that nobody bought coming from her anyway. Maybe that would have been a disaster, I don’t know. But it would have fit the candidate, and it might have cut a contrast with the rest of them.

God, what a mess.

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I’m never issuing an election prediction again.

Insanity.

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Lev filed this under:  

Vote, people!

Also, while everybody has been talking nonstop about what a horrible election this has been (myself included), it wasn’t entirely barren of wonderful little moments:

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President: Clinton 353 Trump 185


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Probably the biggest limb I’m climbing out on is calling Arizona for Clinton. This could easily turn out to be wrong, but I’m trusting the record-breaking Hispanic turnout to clinch it for her–TPM has it as Trump +5, but they also have Nevada as leaning Trump, so… I’m also giving her NE-2, which is the second-biggest limb I’m stepping out on. The polls are ending on about a 4-point difference so I’ll stick with my original 7-point prediction, on the basis of superior Clinton organization and undercounted Hispanic voters. It may count for more than that.

Senate: Democrats 52 Republicans 48


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Again, counting on superior Hispanic turnout in some of these predictions, namely in Florida. Doesn’t help Democrats as universally as Colorado, say, due to historic (but rapidly fading) Cuban Republican sympathies. But Clinton should be able to pull Murphy over the line. The Evan Bayh comeback has been tragicomic and while he may still win, everything about that race feels like a Bayh loss to me. I’ll count my tears. As for the rest, Clinton has fallen to 9 points behind in Missouri, so that’s an extremely tall order for Koster to overcome, though not impossible. And, sadly, I’ve seen no indication that McCain has to worry.

House: Democrats +21 (GOP Control 226-209)

270towin doesn’t allow House maps to be shared, so you can refer to that if you wish and I’ll just call the undecideds (as well as the leaners I disagree with). California Republicans will experience yet another humiliating death by dropping four House seats (Denham, Valadao, Issa, and Knight), as well as dropping below 1/3 in the legislature again. My guess is Clinton 65-Trump 35 or so for the state overall. Three seats should also be gotten in New York (Katko, as well as the open seats of Hanna and Gibson). Probably another gettable three if Trump really tanks in New York, which is possible. Heavily Hispanic TX-23 will flip back for the fourth or fifth straight election, and Democrats will take back swingy, wealthy IL-10. The Democrats will finally finish off Mike Coffman in CO-6, and Scott Garrett’s reign as a Trumpian in slightly red NJ-5 will end. John Mica’s lazy campaign will cost him his long-held seat in FL-7, Democrats will win open seats in MI-1 and PA-8. And that’s it. Eight short of House control, though with enough leaners that a truly terrible Trump performance could make it interesting. If Republicans hemorrhage more seats in New York and Florida, we could get quite close.

Also too: Democrats retain their governorships and add Indiana and North Carolina. In terms of statehouses: both Nevada chambers, the New Mexico House, the Washington Senate, the Colorado Senate, both New Hampshire chambers, the Minnesota House, the Michigan House, and the New York Senate seem the most likely to flip to Democrats in roughly that order. The Kentucky House and the Iowa Senate are the most likely Republican pickups, but I predict both still somehow survive due to the oft-proven resiliency of those local parties. At least until 2018.

So, all in all, not a Trumpocalypse, but a thoroughly shitty night for the Republican Party. Let’s see how it goes.

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I’d like to thank Jon Ralston for salvaging my weekend. It’s likely that I would have spent all of it anxious about the possibility of Trump winning, but Rolston’s reporting about explosive Hispanic turnout in Nevada–a must-win Trump state–really did help me relax and enjoy life for a goddamn minute during this endless slog of an election (which, incredibly, is about to end). I suppose this is another way of saying that Wednesday can’t come quickly enough for me, but I’ll do some predictions later today.

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