Nate Silver on why Republicans backed Trump

Nate Silver writes about the Trump phenomenon.

It is a great article from a writer who is the best predictor in politics.

If you’d told me a year ago that Trump would be the nominee, I’d have thought you were nuts. Don’t just take my word for it: Read what I wrote about Trump in July or August or even in November. Those pieces variously treated Trump’s nomination as being somewhere between improbable and extremely unlikely. You can also read pieces from October, December orJanuary that were less skeptical of Trump’s chances and show how our opinion of him evolved over time. Still, other than being early skeptics of Jeb Bush, we basically got the Republican race wrong.

Nice to see a pundit admit he was wrong. But how did he go wrong?

For a candidate like Trump to win the nomination, it means that several things have gone wrong — both for the Republican Party and in the assumptions we made about how party nominations work. The other day, I summed up the three most important such factors as follows:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 2.15.25 PM

To take the last one first, it’s irresponsible to reflect on Trump’s candidacy without considering the unprecedented way in which he dominated media coverage from the beginning of his campaign, which was worth the equivalent of $2 billion in paid advertising. Any time a demagogic candidate wins a nomination, it suggests a potential failure of political institutions, including (but not limited to) the media. This is something I’ve written about a lot from the earliest points of the campaign, so we’ll move along for now.

I’ve also spent a lot of time writing about the failings of the Republican Party as an institution. To some extent, these problems ought to have been foreseeable, and some empirically minded scholars like Norman Ornstein foresaw them. The Republican Party had a lot of near-disasters in recent years over matters including the debt ceiling and the selection of a new House speaker; furthermore, it had some actual disasters in the form of Senate, House and gubernatorial primaries that left the party with “unelectable” candidates. This raised the likelihood of a disaster in the presidential race as well, and early warning signs included theunprecedented number of candidates in the race and the lack of strategic coordination to stop Trump.

They simply couldn’t stop Trump because they all underestimated him, from the Media party to the delegates.

My theory as of a couple weeks ago — and having not gotten so many other things about the Republican race right, I’m sticking to it — is that Republican voters were swayed by Trump’s arguments that the candidate with the most votes and delegates should be the nominee. (Meanwhile, voters regarded Cruz’s wins over Trump at state party conventions as undemocratic.) Some voters might have preferred Cruz or John Kasich to Trump in the abstract, but not at the expense of a contested convention in which the plurality winner would be denied the nomination and replaced with another flawed candidate.

But if that explains why Trump had a strong finishing kick and went from getting 35 or 40 percent of the vote to 50+ percent, it doesn’t explain how he got to 35 or 40 percent in the first place.

To me, the most surprising part of Trump’s nomination — which is to say, the part I think I got wrongest — is that Trump won the nomination despite having all types of deviations from conservative orthodoxy. He seemed wobbly on all parts of Reagan’s three-legged stool: economic policy (he largely opposes free trade and once advocated for a wealth tax and single-payer health care), social policy (consider his constant flip-flopping over abortion), and foreign policy (he openly mocked the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq War, which is still fairly popular among Republicans).

Previous insurgent Republicans, such as the tea party candidates of 2010 and 2012, had run both as “anti-establishment” candidates and as more conservative than their rivals. Trump kept the anti-establishment branding, although this was also a selling point for Cruz, who often ran neck-and-neck with Trump among voters who said they felt “betrayed” by the Republican Party in exit polls.

Momentum helps. Once that gets going it is hard to stop, and after Wisconsin Trump got momentum. The other factor is that people don’t like backing losers and when it became apparent that only Trump had a path to victory, then people started backing the only candidate with that path to victory.

A path to victory is important. Without one it is hard to gain support.

 

– FiveThirtyEight


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to Podcasts?
  • Access to Political Polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

53%