As I sat and listened to the nomination acceptance speech of Mike Pence, Republican vice-presidential candidate, I began to think more and more about what the nomination of Donald Trump means. Regardless of what you think of Trump, he gained the nomination against 16 seasoned veterans of the Republican Party. He did this despite the fact that he had never held elected office. Only four Presidents had never held elective office: three (Taylor, Grant and Eisenhower) were generals, and one (Hoover) had held a Cabinet position as well as various administrative positions.
Trump is therefore the consummate outsider, in a year in which outsider in both parties have had incredible strength. Trump prevailed in the Republican Party because he had an exceptional amount of free publicity from the media. The other outsider, Bernie Sanders, came very close to winning, losing mostly because the media purposely ignored him and treated Hillary Clinton as the purported Democratic nominee from the beginning.
As the Republican Convention reaches its crescendo, it is worth noting that Hillary Clinton is virtually tied with Trump nationally. However, in the five bellweather states of Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia (the only states to vote for Bush in 2000 and 2004 but for Obama in 2008 and 2012) Clinton is leading. So the situation even at this early stage is a tossup between Trump and Clinton. But the last polls between Sanders and Trump had Sanders with a 10 point advantage.
A substantial part of the Bernieites will either sit out the election, vote Green, or write in Bernie. The independents will vote Trump or follow the Bernieite lead. Democrats will vote Clinton reluctantly.
In the meantime, Clinton continues to struggle with a morass of controversies and scandals. The Republicans' shout at their convention was “Lock Her Up,” which started within the first 10 minutes of the start of the meeting. It supplanted “Make America Great” as the symbol of the convention. And it is the call that is unifying the Republicans.
We can predict that the election will become a struggle between the outsiders (Trump and the Republicans) and the establishment (Clinton and the Democrats). A substantial part of the Bernieites will either sit out the election, vote Green, or write in Bernie. The independents will vote Trump or follow the Bernieite lead. Democrats will vote Clinton reluctantly. And the Republicans will become more and more solidly Trumpeters. Please do not forget that Trump received more votes, both for and against him, than any other person in a GOP primary. He beat the primary record by George Bush in 2000 for the most votes in favor of a Republican candidate. But he also gets the primary record for the most votes against. If he can capture most of those voters who were against him in the primaries, and then solidify that with independents and even Democrats who are disgusted with Hillary, he can win.
We know that Trump is a master at public relations and branding. Clinton is the exact opposite. Each of them have many harsh things said against them. But the marks against Clinton are far more serious, and the tone of the shouts against her are rising in intensity as time marches on, while those against Trump remain more or less the same.
At this stage, the hope that—somehow—the Democrats might at last see the light and dump Hillary is almost beyond imagining. Bernie actually torpedoed that hope by his endorsement of Hillary before the convention. There will be marches in Philadelphia for Jill Stein, and even for Bernie, but they are unlikely to change the outcome. The Republicans will be united and the Democrats divided, and the hope of the Bernieites will need to wait for another day. We can only hope that America will survive until that day comes.
Michael T. Hertz