Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Trump and the Polls

    I don't believe Donald Trump is really running for President. Even before The Donald decided to slam John McCain as "not a war hero" because he "got captured" (as if Trump, who did not serve, would ever have been trusted with a plane),  it hasn't looked like a real campaign. I'm not convinced that Trump will ever consent to a real FEC disclosure filing, and I don't believe he will ever expose his ego to the risk of public defeat at the ballot box. Trump will only stay in if he finds some built-in excuse for losing, like running as a third-party spoiler. Actually being the Republican nominee would mean facing a fear that Trump has built his life around not facing: losing a contest in public. But the fact that Trump has briefly led (!) in the Republican polls tells us something about the rest of the Republican primary field.

    1. WTF, Jeb? Trump's early (and probably brief) success as a novelty candidate can largely be chalked up to name recognition. It's July 2015, and most voters have no idea who's running. The campaign is meant to tell them who those other guys are. So a lot of Trump's poll numbers are about the fact that he's on TV and people recognize his name.

    But what is Jeb Bush's excuse? I think people are pretty clear who the Bushes are. Jeb(!) could only have better name recognition if he changed his last name to Lincoln, or maybe Bartlett. Based on name recognition, Bush should start out with a big early lead. But that is not happening. People who basically only know who Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are have been splitting their votes between them. That cannot be good for Jeb Bush.

    2. There Is No Front Runner. Trump has been the "front-runner" in some polls, but he hasn't even hit 20% of any poll. No one has. Nobody ever gets more than 15% or 18%. So in reality no one is the front runner, and no one has been.

    Now, somewhere between 15 and 17 Republican candidates means that the vote gets split up a lot of ways. 16 candidates means an average support level of 6.25% apiece, leaving out "Undecided" and "Don't Know." But votes don't usually split evenly. You could have a candidate with 25% or 30%, another two or three polling between 10% and 15%, and a peloton of backup riders polling in the low single digits. You could have a front-runner with 30%, a main rival with 25%, and a bunch of others polling around 2% or 3% apiece. Instead, the vote-share distribution is looking pretty flat.

    Undecided is your Republican front runner right now. Undecided in the lead, Don't Know in second, and Maybe That Guy, You Know the One, in the third.

    3. The Size of the Field Helps Keep the Field Large

    At this point, the fact that the GOP field is so large and the differences in polling relatively flat actually keeps the field large. If it were a field of 6 with two predominant front-runners, candidates #5 and #6 would have to ask themselves what they thought they were doing. More importantly, donors would start asking candidates #5 and #6 what they thought they were doing, and stop paying for them to do it.

    But none of that happens when you're candidate #11 of 16 and nobody has even 20% of the vote. You can always tell yourself that all you need is one or two strong showings, or one or two strong debate performances, to launch yourself into the top tier. After all, there isn't a settled top tier yet. The top of the field is totally undefined, so you can tell yourself you have a puncher's chance of fighting your way in.

    Nobody so far is ever more than ten or fifteen points behind the leader. That's enough to keep you from winning, but not enough to keep you from trying. And, while no one has more than 15% or 18% of the voters, there's an incentive to stay in as long as you can. If you outlast enough other candidates, you have a chance of picking up their supporters, and picking up most of the votes from two of the others, or maybe even from one of the others, could put you neck and neck with Jeb Bush. But if you drop out early, your votes will go to other people. No one else running for President expects Trump to be around by South Carolina, and Trump's voters have to go to somebody. Why leave the dance before you've had a chance to pick up the early departers' dates?

    And remember, some of the candidates, likely including Trump, don't genuinely expect to win and aren't trying to. They're staying in the race to raise their profiles for other reasons. If they were the distantly trailing 6th candidate of 6, that would quickly stop being worth their time. But if there's still a massive field without any clear front runner, the sheer number of other candidates provides cover for the opportunists who are just hanging around so they can be in the debates.

    So while what benefits the Republican Party most would be a primary that quickly boils down to a few serious candidates with major support, the actual Republican primary candidates are being incentivized to stay in as long as possible, keeping the field large and chaotic. That's not good for the Republican Party at all. But that's how it will be until one or two clear leaders emerge from the pack.



    I usually like hearing attacks on the military. But it is base for someone who was never in combat to blame someone for being captured.  What was McCain supposed to do, shoot himself? I'd say that McCain qualifies as a hero, not because he killed Vietnamese(I don't admire that), but because he withstood torture, and overcame the trauma afterwards.

    Yeah. I've had plenty of criticism of McCain on this blog. When I first joined, during the 2008 election, you could pretty much count on me whacking McCain every week. But I would never, ever, go after him for his service as  POW. That's insane.

    What's wrong with Trump requires a whole separate post.

    Ben Carson was dumb enough to follow Donald Trump into the rabbit hole. Asked if McCain was a hero, Carson said" it depends on your definition of a hero". Carson did allow that McCain had done some good things.

    Carson is politically stupid.

    Carson is also not an actual candidate, but an unhealthy attention-seeker.

    I don't think the serious Republican money (about 150 people connected to the Dallas/SMUI crowd gave over $1 million each to Dub. I doubt, for example, that Trump will get a penny of this kind of dough) money has ever been worried about Trump. One of the reasons is that Trump is an Ailes-made man; he can be taken down the same way. I suspect the other reason is that the inside money knew/knows he'll self destruct eventually---if not already. And there is even a scenario where Bush benefits by looking presidential by comparison.

    "a lot of Trump's poll numbers are about the fact that he's on TV and people recognize his name."

    No, Doc, a lot of Trumps's poll numbers are because he is loudly mouthing off what the racist Southern Strategy confederate flag waving dimwits, snake handlers and willing dupes of The Base love to hear, and listen to every day on Hate Radio and always just under the surface at Fox News.

    And the reason there are so many GOP candidates is because there is money to be made being a GOP candidate huckster. Huckabee, who used to tout his fried squirrel diet in 2008 primaries, now lives on a multi-millionaire dollar estate in Florida.

    The stinking sea of hypocrisy the Republican Party exists in was never more evident than this week in their outrage at Trump criticism of war veteran McCain.

    Any idiot with half a functioning brain recalls that the GOP establishment and deep pockets spent millions on TV ads denigrating the combat service and Purple Heart of John Kerry in 2004. They went to the extent of producing Purple Heart band-aids for the rubes to wear, insulting not only Kerry's service, but that of every veteran wounded in combat.

    The dirty Republican campaign even resulted in a new word, 'swiftboating'.

    The GOP used the same tactic on Max Cleland who left three limbs in Vietnam.

    McCain at least deplored the swiftboating GOP 2004 campaign attacks.

    Bush/Cheney of course denied involvement, as they denied accountability (in typical GOP fashion) for everything else they wrought on the nation and the world in their disastrous 8 years in office.

    Lindsey Graham, in defense of John McCain, said, "Just because you're captured doesn't mean you are a loser."  No shit.

    So was this remark aimed at Trump supporters, or the party in general? Begs the questions, "How damn dumb does Graham think Republicans are to need this explanation? and How damn dumb are they? 

    What should Graham have said?


    Something along the lines of "a man shot down facing enemy fire is a hero".

    The wording directly links McCain to the word hero

    Graham's wording has you thinking of why McCain is not a loser. McCain gets linked to loser. 



    Being captured means you nearly got killed in a war. But didn't. It means the war for you wasn't like showing up once a month, or not showing up at all, to your Alabama Guard unit.

    It means that your Daddy didn't get you trained on an obsolete aircraft, and then assigned to a Guard unit (for which you never showed up), so you could never be killed, or captured, or get other bad stuff happen to you in the war your Dad, your Party and you supported.

    McCain plans to run again for his seat in 2016. The crazies are already lining up to primary him.

    As one of the few remaining old guard Republicans who, in his own way, shows a sense of responsibility for governance, and who retains some personal integrity, his days may be numbered in today's huckster dominated GOP.


    Graham's remarks could be a way to differentiate the kind of criticism Kerry received--lied and shot a guy in the back---slurs which are permitted,  from what happened to McCain---in this case, and so forth.   

    When it comes to being the number one GOP candidate, Trump is in good company.

    What was it, 9-9-9 ? And let them eat pizza?

    I think Trump will have better campaign longevity for a couple of reasons that should be pretty obvious.

    I think it was-----$1.99, are you outta your mind?

    Oops, that was Denny's Grand Slam breakfast.

    (good comments above, NCD)


    Excellent analysis, Doc. Better than the NYT's upshot.

    Thanks, Michael!

    Looks to me like there is some knee jerkin' messin' up some brain workin'. Here is the quote I get from google.

    "He's not a war hero," Trump said. "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."

    It is an ambiguous statement that can be taken two ways.  One way is the fact that he was captured negates anything he may have done that was heroic. Another way to take it that I completely agree with and is the fact of being captured and tortured does not, in itself, make McCain or anyone else a hero any more than being killed on 9-eleven makes all those people heroes. They are/were victims.  John McCain being in the complete control of an enemy that abused him after he had bombed them numerous times does not make him a hero. I do not give him any credit in that direction but I also do not hold it against him one iota if he succumbed to the pressure of torture as some have reported. Like one of his fellow prisoners said when asked if McCain had given up more than is allowed, everyone gives in to torture. 

     John McCain is just a damaged old man and much of that damage probably came from his experience as a prisoner of war. I have no special respect for his service. I am sorry for him for what he had to endure. I am more sorry that he has used that experience to help boost his credibility as the disgusting war hawk that he is. He has never seen a foreign relationship problem that he doesn't think could be solved with bombs. Fuck that. It is too bad that the meme of honoring military service [as long as it is service in the U.S. military, that is]  has such a strong hold that it over-rides any consideration of what that service was in the cause of. I also don't really care if Trump is damaged by peoples knee jerk reaction to what the jerk said even if it was correct. Screw Trump too.  



    Trump is floating the idea of running as a independent if he don't get nominated.  That should keep his numbers up for a while.  I don't think he will actually do it.  It is a little more work then what he likes to do. On the other hand I would like to see him run.  We would get a chance to really see how many hard core far right is actually voters. 

    The other thing that is keeping people in the republican race is that they are being bankrolled by superpacs.  So at this point, if you have a Sugar Daddy paying the bills, you don't need  popular support.  Presumably that too will end.


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