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Last week, two prominent GOP opponents of Donald Trump said that almost every other member of the Republican primary field other than Trump would have beaten Hillary Clinton. Rich Galen, a former press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich, told CNN that if another Republican were the nominee the current polls showing Clinton pulling away “would likely be reversed.” MSNBC commentator Steve Schmidt, a top McCain campaign official in 2008, said virtually all of the GOP candidates other than Ben Carson could have beaten Clinton.

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These are not isolated comments. They are part of a growing media narrative that sees the 2016 presidential election as entirely a referendum on Donald Trump, and not the parties’ respective policies.

In other words, GOP pundits and their media allies are already discrediting Hillary Clinton’s election. Forget how the GOP’s anti-immigration reform position has alienated Latino voters. Ignore that the economy is booming compared to the Bush years. Make believe young people don’t care about climate change, marriage equality, and other issues where the GOP’s views are out of touch with the broader electorate.

Pundits accusing Trump of being disconnected from political reality need to look at their own inaccurate perspective on this election.

For the #NeverTrump crowd, the GOP’s soon to be fifth popular vote loss in the last six presidential elections is not because voters don’t support them on issues. It’s all about Donald Trump.

Pundits accusing Trump of being disconnected from political reality need to look at their own inaccurate perspective on this election.

Stop Blaming Trump

In May, I wrote “Why Donald Trump Won’t Win.” I began, “Donald Trump will lose the November election in a landslide. I’ve heard such insightful observers as Van Jones suggest Trump probably will win, and Willie Brown explain how Trump could win, but a Trump presidency is not going to happen.

I cited five reasons for Trump’s defeat:

  1. No Republican could win the White House in 2016 due to the demographic shifts that prevent the Party from winning the presidency;
  1. The economy is stronger than in 2012;
  1. From gay rights and a higher minimum wage to the future composition of the Supreme Court, voters strongly favor Democratic positions on key issues;
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  1. The electoral map is largely unchanged from 2008 and 2012;
  1. Trump is the most unpopular national candidate since polling began.

Only the last factor has anything to do with Donald Trump. And none of these factors propelling Clinton to victory last May had anything to do with Trump’s comments about women on Access Hollywood or Howard Stern’s show.

Because the media loves pundits who speak against their party’s position (which is why MSNBC’s Schmidt and CNN’s Ana Navarro are regularly on), the GOP’s failure to follow through on its own post-2012 election analysis is rarely mentioned. Here is what the March 2013 report, described by the Washington Post as “controversial and bold,” said about immigration:

We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”

Before the Schmidt’s, Galen’s and Navarro’s of the world blame the upcoming defeat on Donald Trump, they should remind themselves that none of Trump rivals backed comprehensive immigration reform in the primaries. Marco Rubio, thought by many to be the most winnable nominee, completely backed off from his prior support for reform. John Kasich, another candidate who many believe would have done better than Trump, said he favored “a path to legalization, never to citizenship.”

The truth is that Donald Trump’s views on most issues were little different from those he defeated. He most distinguished himself by opposing free trade deals, which put him on the side of most Democrats.

randy shaw

Randy Shaw

GOP political leaders are keeping distance from Trump not because they strongly disagree with him, but because they believe he will lose. And keeping this distance enables them to discredit the election as a vote against Donald Trump, not a vote for Hillary Clinton’s agenda.

The attempted deligitimizing of the 2016 election has begun, and will become a stampede starting on election night.

Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

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