Donald Trump

Donald Trump's Secret Weapon Is Hillary Clinton

Race to the bottom.

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Don't think of the 2016 presidential election as a popularity contest. Think of it as a race to see which candidate the American electorate detests slightly less.

These days, there's a lot of excitement in Trumpland. Since March, the billionaire has picked up 11 points in the Washington Post/ABC News national poll, nudging him slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton at 46 percent to 44 percent. We find a similar statistical tie in the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, with Clinton leading by three points, 46 percent to 43 percent. Most polls show a predictable partisan split.

Trump is "surging," they say.

Now, I'm not sure why we keep treating national polls with such deference. For one thing, it's way too early. President Obama, for instance, led Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by a couple of points in the same NBC/WSJ poll in April 2008. For another, as liberal columnist Juan Williams points out, it's far more informative to take a state-by-state look at polls, where we see just how difficult it will most likely be for the presumptive Republican nominee to win the electoral college.

Still, naturally, it's better to gain in the polls than not.

The relative closeness of the race might come as somewhat of a surprise to those who've seen the unprecedented antagonism of the GOP primaries, Trump's general obnoxiousness, and ongoing efforts by intrepid conservatives to mount a third-party candidacy. But it shouldn't.

Although I'm still skeptical Trump will remain competitive, it's not inconceivable that voters who loathe the political class with this much vigor will slap around conventional wisdom for a little bit longer. There are plenty of pundits warning Democrats not to underestimate Trump's crossover appeal to independents and other groups. But perhaps Democrats are just seriously overestimating Clinton's appeal.

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans "dislike" or even "hate" Clinton, according to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey election-tracking poll. According to the NBC/WSJ poll, more than of half of registered voters claim their vote is mostly about opposing the other candidate. And in the Washington Post/ABC News survey, as well as a new CBS/New York Times poll, an "unfavorable impression" of both candidates is approaching the 60 percent mark. Trump's is a bit higher than Clinton's.

Thanks to Clinton, Trump's unification of the GOP is still happening despite his best efforts. Anecdotally speaking, the rationalization I hear most from conservatives who now begrudgingly back the billionaire has nothing to do with the candidate's policy positions, outlook or temperament. It's generally little more than a deep detestation of Clinton, who conservatives believe must be stopped for the good of the country. The thought of a Clinton presidency is unpalatable for most Republicans, in a way that even an Obama presidency wasn't. President Obama's favorability numbers in 2008 and 2012 were far better.

Clinton rouses a special kind of disdain. So does Trump, who carries around historically low favorability numbers among female, black, Hispanic, and Asian voters. But we shouldn't forget that a chunk of those numbers are already baked into the electoral cake for Republicans. The GOP candidate was going to lose those groups anyway, even if a soft-spoken establishmentarian had won the primary. Obama, for instance, won 73 percent of the Asian-American vote in 2012. What percent will Clinton win? 75? Right now, 62 percent have a favorable view of her. The numbers may be similar, but they are unlikely to be much worse.

Don't get me wrong: Trump will almost certainly exacerbate the GOP's minority problem in the long run and ensure that it's a generational issue. But let's put it this way: Although all the ugly things Democrats usually say about Republican candidates might actually be true this cycle, it doesn't look like they will shake up the traditional dynamics of a partisan presidential election in the short term. The only way it seems Trump will suffer is if his own party turns on him (fingers crossed).

This is mostly due to the fact that Clinton is a galvanizing force for conservatives, like few others. Is she the same for liberals? She does not possess the charisma of Obama, nor the idealism. Her campaign is predicated on a single unbreakable promise: She will do whatever it takes to become president. She is a woman, yes. She will promise to protect Obama's legacy—a collection of policies that half the country still doesn't like. No one trusts her to keep her word. She is ethically compromised. The unfolding Terry McAuliffe mess—and the entire decade of the 90s, to think of it—should remind us that the Clintons are always on the brink of a scandal.

These are not things that will make her more popular. (But all of these things, incidentally, also make good fodder for the #NeverTrump argument that conservatives should sit this one out. An ethically compromised, unpopular, unreliable liberal presidency would almost certainly reanimate conservatism.)

It's early. A lot of things can disrupt these dynamics. Perhaps it will be the libertarian or a third-party candidate, although, at this point, Libertarian Gary Johnson, who is polling at 10 percent in a number of polls, is drawing more from Clinton than he is from Trump. As it stands now, the luckiest thing that's happened to Trump might be Clinton.

COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

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  1. I hope Trump debates Sanders. They will debunk and discredit each other, and will both lose. But Sanders will get the worse of it because his supporters actually care about being right (even though they are mostly slackers and artists and aspiring actors). Whereas Trumpkins revel in their own stupidity – “Ther tekkin er jerbz! I saw Muslims dancin in the streets!” So they are both terrified of it and it will never happen. But I would love to see it! The winner will be Clinton, but mostly it would create an opportunity for Libertarians to blow by saying something crazy about sending immigrants to the moon or Nazi cakes.

    1. Walking around believing that Socialism works is reveling in stupidity with a big does of evil.

    2. Dreams are a great thing, but you know something? They take a lot of energy. But that’s OK. There’s a job waiting for you down the block from your house that doesn’t require a thought in your head or a hope in your heart. So come on down and work for the artificial flower factory. Why fight it? OK? Thank you.

      1. “They take a lot of energy. ”

        Never underestimate the capacity for change to be had from a small group of dedicated, intelligent people. Paraphrasing Margaret Mead here.

    3. It will happen, because they’ll both win.

      1. “It will happen, because they’ll both win.”

        I agree. But there’s another winner if such a debate takes place. It’s the all too often neglected cause of Women’s Health, which will come out of the debate with an extra 15 million $US in her pockets.

  2. You know who else had a secret weapon that turned out to be a dud?

    1. That’s easy. Captain James Cook.

  3. But all of these things, incidentally, also make good fodder for the #NeverTrump argument that conservatives should sit this one out.

    The strategic genius of Cucks – losing is always better.

    1. And the Trumpites who just want all-powerful government to go after their enemies are truly patriots.

    2. You sure it’s spelled “cucks”, not “cocks”? It’s pronounced halfway between.

  4. Hmm, I have to give credit where it’s due, I was expecting a Suderman piece, but I forgot about Harsanyi’s Trump Derangement Syndrome. Reason has made my game of “guess the byline from the title” more challenging.

  5. Personally, I’ve just been praying to Jesus, Alah, and Cthulhu that a meteor hits during the debate and takes both of them out. One of them has to be real and grant my wish.

    1. meteor hits during the debate

      “Women, minorities hardest hit”

      1. Koch’s are blamed.

    2. Hehe, got news for you bub:

      All three of them hold the view of Mencken, “You folks think you are *SO* smart and can figure this out on your own, well why should *WE* bail you out? You wanted this, you got it. Good and hard.”

      I’m quite sure Jesus is having a deep belly laugh, Allah is simply directing more Mohammedans across a porous border during this distraction, and Cthulhu is disgusted there isn’t MOAR TEnTAcLE Pr0N!!!!one!elventyfrillion!

    3. praying to Jesus, Alah, and Cthulhu

      You’re thinking of Allah, Alah’s brother.
      Their names can be confusing but All-ah is the supreme being whereas Al-ah runs the all-night food joint in downtown Riyadh, Al’s Ramadiner. And although Al-ah’s 72-cherry pie is to die for, I don’t think he has any sway over the goings-on in the cosmos.

      1. cherry raisins

      2. It’s al-lah, “the god”. Unless it’s Alar, daminozide.

  6. Too bad for the Dems they completely rejected Jim Webb. How easy a fall campaign would he have if he had won the nomination?

    1. But it’s Hillary’s TURN!

      1. Only, please gods, if she’s on a spit.

    2. Rand Paul vs. Jim Webb is the contest America needs. Trump vs. Clinton is the contest America has earned.

  7. Trump fails the RINO purity test. Maybe he could win a few of them over if he picked Jeb! or Mittens as his VP

    1. If anyone said the things trump says in a Republican primary, but without the celebrity and bombast, they would be slaughtered.

      It really is a phenomenon.

      1. “If anyone said the things trump says in a Republican primary, but without the celebrity and bombast, they would be slaughtered.”

        It comes with being a talented showman. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan had the same advantage to varying degrees. Surprisingly, given the political lean of Hollywood, all these examples are from the Republican side.

        1. I’d assume that’s because the lefties are more interested in being fantastically wealthy than actually working to change things.

          1. You’ve just put your finger on the Left’s secret weapon, or maybe not so secret, but in any case their most powerful one: the promise of fantastic wealth without having to work for it. What that has to do with GOP frontmen Trump, Reagan and Arnold all being Republican, I can’t guess.

  8. “The only way it seems Trump will suffer is if his own party turns on him (fingers crossed).”

    Lolwut? Also, Gary Johnson is this generation’s Ross Perot: thanks for playing, but gtfo.

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  15. Trump is a loudmouthed jackass with an out-of-control ego. Hillary is that, plus totally devoid of either ethics or morals, and ostentatiously stupid besides.

    Plus, on a practical level, Hillary knows about as much about the use of military force as she does about quantum physics, and almost certainly firmly believes all the drivel about the military that the Left has ben spouting since the end of WWII. Trump may or may not know a damn thing about the military. It ain’t much, but it IS better.

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