Will Trump Actually Be the GOP Candidate?

platonictrumpNo, not another post about what kind of shenanigans the Republican Party might employ at the convention, but rather whether Trump himself will stand.

Now, like all political prognostication, I must surround this with caveats. Things change, Clinton may become more embroiled in scandal, events may derail the campaigns, Trump may suddenly show a previous untapped popularity outside his core supporters. However, lets assume things are as they appear to be right now. Will Trump actually stand for President and if he doesn’t, then what?

  1. Was his candidacy ever serious to begin with? When he first put his name forward it was regarded as something as a joke. As we’ve all seen the joke turned into an electoral monster that consumed the Republican Party. However, Trump was presumably not delusional when he started and probably also believed that his chances were slim. He didn’t invest much in campaigning compared to other candidates and road a wave of disaffection. Assuming his commitment to becoming President has always been low then his capacity to just quit from the race is much higher than your typical candidate. This is a substantial reason why he would quit but it does mean it is easier for him to do so than it would be for another candidate.
  2. Currently it looks like he will lose badly. A humiliating defeat may be in the cards based on current polling and there is good reason to think that Trump would lose badly anyway. The counterargument amounts to the fact that standard political analysis has repeatedly failed to predict Trump’s success…but Trump doesn’t actually have magical powers and his rhetoric is frightening moderate voters and encourages major demographic chunks of the US population to actively turn out and vote against him. If Trump isn’t delusional then he is looking at the same numbers and must be wondering whether ending up looking like a loser is something he wants.
  3. Everybody is out to get him – not literally everybody but the man has made more enemies than usual and that includes many very wealthy Republican donors. This means more dirt, more investigations into his affairs and more scrutiny. If Trump feels he has a decent shot at winning the Presidency then he might think that extra scrutiny into his business affairs is worth it. However, he thinks he is going to lose then he isn’t going to want to not only have lost a Presidential election but also find himself with his business affairs publicly exposed – with possible legal ramifications around that.
  4. It costs money to run for President and Trump isn’t going to want to spend his own money. The GOP donor class apparently hates Trump, the quasi-libertarian Koch brothers hate Trump, the usual rich suspects aren’t going to be bank rolling his campaign. Maybe he’ll be able to fund a campaign from more grassroots donations and maybe he can even find a way of making an extra dollar or two for himself that way…maybe. However, again if we assume that Trump is to some extent not delusional and does actually think sometimes like a business owner, the downsides of this ‘deal’ look bigger than the up sides.
  5. The magic isn’t working. Trump had an amazing ride in the primaries. He was a deeply flawed candidate but by picking up some support early, his rivals treated him cautiously. Each one of the many other candidates assumed that Trump would flare out at some point and then his supporters would be up for grabs. Consequently the Republican candidates were cautious about saying anything that might alienate Trumps core supporters. None of that is true anymore. The Democrats aren’t interested in winning over Trump supporters, they are interested in grabbing the anti-Trump vote and more importantly getting that anti-Trump vote OUT on the day.
  6. Trump would probably prefer to leave the race on his own terms than to lose or be maneuvered out by shenanigans.

Having sunk very little into the campaign so far (comparatively), Trump has fewer reasons not to leave than most. He also owes the Republican Party establishment nothing. Normally a candidate just dropping out and leaving their party candidateless and in the lurch would be a reputational disaster but Trump notably does not give a shit. Trump could use maneuvers by the GOP establishment to side line him as a pretext for a giant F___-You! to the party hierarchy.

That would NOT be a good outcome. There is an obvious benefit that it would remove the possibility of Trump winning. However, it would be bad for US democracy for a Presidential race to be effectively uncontested. The Republicans might struggle to get a candidate on ballots. In addition it would leave Trumpism undefeated (another reason why he might quit). Trumpism being massively defeated in a Presidential race is the best outcome (but Trump winning is obviously the worst outcome).

And that’s all my pseudo-pundity for the day ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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15 comments

  1. Mark

    Is Trump capable of a rational judgement of his chances? He’s certainly ridden a version of political Dunning-Kruger to success so far.

    If the version of Trump that’s just in this for a profile boost and will drop out at the optimal point is the one we actually have, he will need a pretence to wave around and build some future mythology around. A stab in the back at the RNC would be ideal, for example, but that’s looking a lot less likely now.

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  2. Greg Hullender

    If Trump withdrew before the Republican National Convention meets next month, then the convention would pick someone else (possibly Ted Cruz) and the election would go on as usual. If he waited until after the convention, then the Republicans would have to reconvene and pick a replacement. I think that replacement would go on the ballots in all 50 states, unless it was very late in the process, but even if not it wouldn’t matter because we don’t directly elect the president; the ballots determine which slate of electors to the electoral college is seated, and the Republican batch are pledged to vote for whomever the convention nominated.

    The real wild-and-crazy scenario would be if he withdrew after the election but before the electoral college met. In that case, the convention is apparently supposed to meet again and nominate a replacement–even though that replacement could be someone who didn’t even run in the primaries–and then the electors would be bound to vote for that person.

    Liked by 1 person

      • KR

        I had thoughts on the topic (no surprise there), but my faith in words is at a low point today.

        Sometimes I want to escape my brain and just be a body. Along with sunshine and walking meditation, putting on music and just dancing, swaying, moving can be enormously restorative. Oddly enough, for an atheist, gospel-inflected song affect my spirits positively. I spent my evening outdoors with a pine oil candle, the stars, and Aaron Neville (I Bid You Goodnight, Ave Maria, La Vie Dansante, Amazing Grace), Bob Marley, the Soweto Gospel choir, the Beatles (Hey Jude), Simon & Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water), the Fijian song Ni Sa Bula, and the Mongolian Altai Praise Song. An introvert’s strategy.

        In the spirit of taking a sad song and making it better, I made donations to Doctors Without Borders/ Syria Fund for Ms Cox, and to the True Colors Fund to alleviate LGBT youth homelessness for those murdered in Orlando.

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      • iamzenu

        And Romney is going to win in a landslide. Wingnuts are delusional.

        BTW – being delusional is pretty common, particularly those of a religious nature. While I suppose most can be benign, some can be dangerous. I think that was the case in Texas where a sick baby was taken from elder to elder and died from lack of medical care. On a large scale I think of those people in Jonestown where the term “drink the Kool aid” was born. I think Orlando will prove to be like that and in that respect will compare to other spree killers. Sad because with mental health treatment the tragedy might have been avoided.

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      • iamzenu

        By the way – as an example of those suffering from religious delusions, here is an example of a Baptist Pastor in Texas:

        This man is dangerously mentally disturbed just as the shooter was. Very sad.

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  3. Lurkertype

    “Trump isn’t delusional”

    Facts not in evidence, m’lud.

    I really do think he’s in too deep to quit. He believes he’s going to win. And if all his business failures (and personal ones) haven’t made him think he’s a loser, neither will getting stomped by Hillary. He’ll just blame her and the GOP for “rigging” it.

    If he does drop out, the Republicans reconvene and nominate one of the others. Or go with his VP if he’s picked one by then. Whoever it is will probably get on all the ballots no problem.

    But he’s in till the end, I’d bet.

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    • iamzenu

      Trump is narcissistic and I do mean that literally. I think he will stay in. I do think the Republicans are looking for a way out and that could be some form of calculus to deny any candidate 270 electoral votes and have the president selected by the House. The obvious way to do that is have Romney run as a 3rd party candidate.

      Or they might be looking to rewrite the convention rules so that delegates are not bound. That would probably mean Ted Cruz as a candidate which might help with down ballot races.

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      • Lurkertype

        Some of them are really hoping to rewrite the rules to unbind the delegates. Which is ironic b/c they rewrote the rules last time to BIND the delegates to keep Ron Paul’s people from voting for him instead of Mitt or whoever.

        The Kochs are thinking about giving big bucks to the Libertarians this year to split the electoral vote. Mitt’s spoken favorably about the Libs.

        But yeah. Trump is in it for the long haul. His ego won’t let him quit, and it’ll survive him losing.

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