Trump has lost the neoconservatives

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is doing pretty bad in a number of demographics, and is pretty much doing well in one demographic: white men. And even in that demographic, Clinton is catching up.

Even among white men, there are sub-demographics where Trump is doing bad. Some of these are unsurprising, e.g. he is doing badly among LGBT, young men and men with college or higher degree, while others are a bit more surprising, e.g. neoconservatives.

In one sense, it makes sense that neoconservatives are against Trump – they are usually highly educated and international in their outlook. In another sense, it is highly surprising – they are extremely partisan on behalf of the Republican party, and they generally dislike the Clintons. In recent months, however, a number of neoconservatives have come out and said that they would not vote for Trump, and probably would vote for Clinton instead.

The most recent is Paul Wolfowitz, joining people like Bill Kristol in explicitly stating that he is preferring Clinton over Trump.

The Atlantic has a good cheat sheet of where the different Republicans are standing on Trump.

Looking down the list, I am not surprised that monsters like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are backing Trump, but I can’t help being amazed by how many GOP politicians and intellectuals have abstained or even directly opposed the official presidential candidate of the Republican Party.

Think of what this would mean, in the highly unlikely case of Trump winning the election. There would be some kind of civil war in the GOP, probably resulting in a lot of prominent people either leaving the party or getting expelled (Trump doesn’t take opposition nicely).

Even if Clinton wins, as everything points towards right now, there will be a deep schism in the party – probably bigger than the one that the Tea Party takeover created. This would probably mean that the Republican party would spend more time and resources on fighting itself. While this sounds great, the Tea Party takeover of the GOP shows that this might actually be harmful, pushing moderates out and giving power to the extremists.

The only way I see avoiding that, is if Clinton and the Democrats win big, showing that the majority of the electorate rejects extremism, giving GOP moderates the leverage.


  1. llewelly says

    “The only way I see avoiding that, is if Clinton and the Democrats win big, showing that the majority of the electorate rejects extremism, giving GOP moderates the leverage.”

    …. and that, you see, is where the conspiracy calvary rides into battle. Trump supporters are hearing a constant drumbeat of lies about how Clinton plans to steal the election. In their eyes, the bigger the margin of victory, the bigger and more evil the conspiracy, and the more damning the indictment of election results.

    There are two chances that the Trump supporters will accept a loss as legitimate: Slim and none. The GOP moderates have been outnumbered by the conspiracy cranks for a while, and a sweeping victory in the electoral college won’t change that. Every argument any moderates present will be treated as having been hatched by the grand enemy conspiracy. And we will probably see the Trumpists repurposing left wing material to argue that the Koch billionaires secretly supported Clinton. They won’t have any trouble re-arranging the material to hide the fact that it wasn’t originally intended to support such nonsense; that’s the magic of a “I only believe in one conspiracy, but it goes everywhere, and all the way to the top” illusion.

    Further, it’s worth remembering how almost all of the GOP lionizes fake martyrdom. Being harshly defeated, especially by an enemy who is believed to have cheated, is an enormous, irresistible rhetorical opportunity in their culture.

    Thus, I think it’s extremely unlikely that any combination of GOP moderates and neocons can gain the upper hand in a schism. Either they lose, or they end with an uneasy stalemate.

    Note that while huge loses in the Senate and the electoral college are now likely for the GOP, they are still likely to retain the House, though perhaps by a slim margin, and also likely to retain control of about 30 state governments.

    Clinton will find it extremely difficult to make effective policy without the budget on her side, even with the Senate on her side. Think of how many Obama policy ideas were ruined by the GOP Senate filibusters. Constant defunding events from the GOP could be worse – and, it seems likely the filibusters will continue, as the odds of the Democrats getting 60 votes in the Senate seem slim. I think all we can hope for is Clinton being very good at exploiting the schism. But that’s of limited value, because both sides of the schism will continue to agree on opposing most of the things that Democrats want.