The Trump juggernaut moves on

So Donald Trump has handily won the Nevada caucuses, surpassing all expectations with 45.9% of the vote, exceeding even the combined total of Marco Rubio (23.9%) and Ted Cruz (21.4%). Trump currently has 81 delegates out of the 1,237 required to win on the first ballot at the convention, while Cruz and Rubio have just 17 each. Note that he handily won both South Carolina and Nevada after saying that George W. Bush did not ‘keep us safe’ because 9/11 happened on his watch, and that the war in Iraq was a mistake and that GWB lied the nation into that disaster, all unspeakable heresies that pundits felt might finally, finally, doom his candidacy.

But more importantly than the delegate totals, the rules require a candidate to have won at least eight contests for their names to be placed in nomination. This was increased by the party establishment from five in previous election cycles in order to prevent an outsider from winning but it now favors the outsider Trump, showing once again how the best laid plans o’ mice and men gang aft agley. The hope of the establishment is that Cruz, Kasich, and Carson drop out soon leaving just Trump and Rubio and that Rubio will get the support that previously went to all the others. But all those hopes are built on sand.

Cruz at least has won one caucus, even if just barely and under highly dubious conditions. His record so far is 1-3-3-3. Rubio has not won anything, finishing 3-5-2-2 in the four contests so far, with him and Cruz almost tied in the last two contests. While Rubio will try and tout his barely second place finish in Nevada as a ‘win’ for him and seek to use it to establish his place as the only viable alternative to Trump, Cruz will claim that it was a tie for second and that he is the real alternative. But there is a limit to how far you can push the idea of not winning being the same as winning. In the clutch of 11 contests coming up next on March 1, Cruz leads in the polls only in his home state of Texas (that votes on March 1) but Rubio does not lead anywhere, not even his home state of Florida. Trump leads John Kasich in the latter’s home state of Ohio. Both Ohio and Florida vote on March 15.

As Tim Dickinson writes, the depth of Trump’s victory should not be underestimated.

Trump won big among: men and women, those under 45 and over 45, and white voters and nonwhites. He took every category of education, and every category of political orientation, from moderate to very conservative. He won born-again voters and non-evangelicals. He won voters who care most about immigration, and those who prioritize the economy, and those worried about terrorism, and the ones who want to rein in government spending. He won voters who are angry and voters who are merely dissatisfied. He took those who care deeply about the Supreme Court vacancy, and those who really can’t be bothered. City dwellers, suburbanites, rural folk — they all went Trump. All of them.

Hang on to your hat (and discount for a small sample size and a high margin of error): Despite his xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric, Trump won among Republican Latino voters in Nevada, taking 44 percent, compared to Rubio’s 29 percent and Ted Cruz’s 18 percent support.

At the next Republican debate on Thursday, you can just imagine Trump rubbing Cruz’s and Rubio’s noses in the fact that Latinos supported him by a huge margin over them, despite his calling them rapists that need a big wall to be kept out and his promise to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Matt Taibbi has a hilarious, perceptive, must-read, piece on the carnival-like atmosphere that permeates Trump events.

In person, you can’t miss it: The same way Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, Donald on the stump can see his future. The pundits don’t want to admit it, but it’s sitting there in plain view, 12 moves ahead, like a chess game already won:

President Donald Trump.

A thousand ridiculous accidents needed to happen in the unlikeliest of sequences for it to be possible, but absent a dramatic turn of events – an early primary catastrophe, Mike Bloomberg ego-crashing the race, etc. – this boorish, monosyllabic TV tyrant with the attention span of an Xbox-playing 11-year-old really is set to lay waste to the most impenetrable oligarchy the Western world ever devised.

It turns out we let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go.

And Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He’s way better than average.

But, in an insane twist of fate, this bloated billionaire scion has hobbies that have given him insight into the presidential electoral process. He likes women, which got him into beauty pageants. And he likes being famous, which got him into reality TV. He knows show business.

That put him in position to understand that the presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show whose production costs ludicrously include the political disenfranchisement of its audience. Trump is making a mockery of the show, and the Wolf Blitzers and Anderson Coopers of the world seem appalled. How dare he demean the presidency with his antics?

But they’ve all got it backward. The presidency is serious. The presidential electoral process, however, is a sick joke, in which everyone loses except the people behind the rope line. And every time some pundit or party spokesman tries to deny it, Trump picks up another vote.

No one should be surprised that he’s tearing through the Republican primaries, because everything he’s saying about his GOP opponents is true. They really are all stooges on the take, unable to stand up to Trump because they’re not even people, but are, like Jeb and Rubio, just robo-babbling representatives of unseen donors.

Now that his path to the Republican nomination seems even more assured, Stephen Colbert looks even further ahead and prepares us for a Trump presidency.


  1. deepak shetty says

    You have a typo

    Cruz currently has 81 delegates out of the 1,237 required to win on the first ballot at the convention, while Cruz and Rubio have just 17 each.

    Should be Trump has 81 delegates

  2. sonofrojblake says

    the depth of Trump’s victory should not be underestimated

    It will be though. People are still scrambling to explain it away, and to explain away why it was perfectly reasonable that they didn’t see it coming.

    Also, someone isn’t paying attention:

    any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go

    And while the writer grudgingly and disingenuously admits Trump is way more than “half-bright” in the very next sentence, he doesn’t admit -- or less forgivably, doesn’t remember or never knew -- that this is not Donald’s first run at the White House.

    It is most entertaining watching both sides of political punditry in the US tie themselves in furious knots dealing with the fact that Trump is trampling over their carefully-tended croquet lawn. I’m not sure I’m particularly keen on the fact that he’s going to be President. I have no idea what the ramifications will be for me here in a foreign country, and in any case we in Europe have bigger fish to fry this year what with the Brexit referendum and the refugee crisis. The Presidential race across the pond is an entertaining sideshow to that… so thanks! 🙂

  3. StevoR says

    Okay, I got this very wrong.

    I expected Trump to explode and disappear early on, hell, I never thought he’d even really properly enter the race but was just a joke candidate. Pretending for the publicity gains. Expected Jeb! To romp it in. Mea culpa. Got that so wrong. This has stopped being funny a long time ago.

    C’mon America! Choose wisely please.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    I got this very wrong.

    Yes, you did.

    But if it’s any consolation, so did practically everyone else.

    Not everyone, though.

    Note the date on that blog post: August 5th. Trump overtook Bush in the polls on July 20th. Just over two weeks later, Adams was calling it for Trump, and showing his working. Follow the progress of his predictions here:

    Note: Adams did NOT foresee Cruz winning Iowa, and he’s made some other duff predictions in the interim. But he has, consistently, since the beginning of August, predicted a Trump nomination and a Trump election win, and justified that prediction. His only adjustment to his prediction has been to go from predicting a narrow win to predicting a landslide in the general election. He has also predicted that people would ignore his predictions, because it doesn’t make sense to them that someone could have foreseen where we are now from that far back. They don’t like the idea that this was predictable.

  5. lorn says

    Thinking about Trump I’ve wondered if more people knew about how he made his fortune, inheritance and government giveaways at taxpayer expense, or perhaps the failure of so many of his undertakings, the USFL and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City NJ, if they might be far less enthusiastic about supporting him. On consideration I think that perhaps, as long as their gaze is limited to short term estimation, and particularly in the form his rhetoric takes, a blustering contest of confidence and presentation entirely free of practical concerns. That he will be favored. He is simply the best there is, at least in the political world, at appearing confident and commanding. The look of a winner is a mile wide but a fraction of an inch deep.

    It works for now. The demographic voting for Trump are mainly people who feel disenfranchised and neglected. They drank the Kool-Aid, sucked up the alternate reality world-view and voted the GOP party line. The GOP, having reinforced the homophobes fear of gays and the ‘homosexual agenda’ so they would reliably go to the polls, really didn’t feel any need to make their policy match the rhetoric. Sure, gays are a threat to your children and family and nation, and they need to be shot before the ghay cooties spread, but, tell you what, let’s just discriminate against them instead. The homophobes are quite justly feeling frustrated, and a little used.

    It is the same story with Islamophobes, xenophobes, gun nuts, racists, insurrectionists, conspiracy theorists, free-market fanatics, and neo-confederates. All of them were embraced lovingly and had their ideological erogenous zones vigorously stimulated to the point they weep for release. And then they were told who to vote for to bring about their most fervent desires. Oh yes, they talked about Republican unity, and their deeper desires in hushed tones. They gave money. They voted. They dreamed of the coming paradise when their desires would murder their fears. But it never came.

    They have an itch they can’t scratch, and they are pissed off and want to pound and dominate the people they fear and those who have kept them both alarmed and frustrated for so long:

    Trump is an icon of dominance and his posture and demeanor wordlessly promises decisive action, not negotiation or compromise. He is the Great White Hope expressing the denied the dominance they were promised.

    Of course Trump doesn’t have a clue as to give what they want. He can build Trump Plaza but he can’t make it work for long and it never had any chance of delivering for the area. In the end Trump Plaza is closed and Atlantic City NJ is poorer than when it opened.

    A longish documentary of how Trump operates:

  6. sonofrojblake says

    Trump is an icon of dominance and his posture and demeanor wordlessly promises decisive action, not negotiation

    If Trump is an icon of anything, it’s negotiation. He literally wrote a book about it. He promises decisive action because he can make the deal that will make something happen. If you think he’s not going to negotiate over the wall, over the travel ban on Muslims, on the immediate deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants -- if you think his opening position on those subjects is also his final position -- then there’s someone here who doesn’t know anything about negotiating… and it’s not Trump.

    Compare and contrast with, say, the current President, who promised within his first 100 days to close Guantanamo Bay. Seven years on, how’s that promise of decisive action coming along?

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