Bullish on Trump
Donald Trump is now poised to be the Republican Party’s presidential candidate. Are there a few scenarios out there where Trump doesn’t win the nomination? A few. Is there any indication that any of these scenarios will take place? The door is rapidly closing and we will know for sure after March 1st (Super Tuesday).
The “establishment” of the Republican Party (basically, people with very fancy degrees and titles in Washington DC and New York) has revealed itself to be wholly incapable (or unwilling) to present a cogent response to the Republican base that, through Trump has indicted it.
The turnout numbers so far in the GOP primaries are shattering records. In each of the first four contests, we are seeing massive numbers of voters coming to the polls. We saw record-breaking debate watching crowds and we are seeing that same enthusiasm actually translate into election results. Are all of those people Trump supporters? No. However, given that the Democrats’ turnout numbers are significantly down from 2008, we can project that the Republican base is at least more energized (at this stage).
Donald Trump is, at best, a moderate (and that’s probably okay). The big attack from conservative media outlets is that Donald Trump is not a conservative (at least by their definition). Trump has shown that he really doesn’t care much about the “social issues.” In the minds of some hardcore conservatives, this is a sin that should be shouted from the rooftops. However, if you look at the people who are voting for Trump, they’re a far larger demographic and political cross-section than some “hard right” fringe. Honestly, pointing out that Donald Trump isn’t a “purebred conservative” is probably helping him to look like a moderate.
Trump has become a better politician in a very short amount of time. Remember when he wore the “Make America Great Again” hat to every speech? If you watch Trump’s progression as a politician, you can see that he’s making a transition from a “big splash” branding rollout to one of sustained momentum. This momentum will likely continue.
So, it makes sense to be bullish (that is, expecting positive future returns in stock parlance) on Trump.
He’s the most likely nominee. This is the “assent or stay silent” argument. But-for something particularly strange happening on Super Tuesday (3/1), Trump should build on his lead and maintain something like a 60% delegate majority.
He’s going to turn off conservatives in the general, but it might actually help him win. Donald Trump doesn’t really care much about abortion and he’s attended same-sex marriage ceremonies. He’s for limiting America’s involvement in foreign affairs and for strengthening America’s negotiating power abroad. Sure, he’s got some hard thoughts about immigration and Islamic terrorism, but, once Trump gets into the general election, you’re going to have him up against Hillary Clinton, the bane of the GOP.
Clinton will have to run to the left to stave off Bernie Sanders’ attacks and will have a far weaker general campaign than what would have been expected. Now, Trump may lose conservative Republicans in the South, but, does it really matter? Not to discount the good people of red states, but, as we know very well, our elections are not decided by the popular vote, but rather by the electoral vote.
There is really no chance of Hillary Clinton being able to make any headway (beyond Obama’s) in the South. Trump, on the other hand, can make a solid play for rust-belt states like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. While Trump is unlikely to bring around states like New York or Illinois, his appeal to working class voters should not be underestimated.
Any “bad news” helps Trump. While we all hope that things will always get better, we know that there are unpredictable events that pop up in campaigns. For example, any major market correction we can currently foresee either originates from a Chinese market slowdown or a Wall Street crisis. Ordinary investors already feel like their individual economies are faltering despite hearing about positive economic growth. Trump, ever the populist, has a much more compelling anti-China and anti-Wall Street message than Hillary Clinton. Or, God forbid, a terrorist or terrorist cell launches an attack inside the United States. Not only will that strengthen Trump’s tough talk on immigration and enforcement, but also on his bellicose language about terrorist detention.
Trump has, at least up until this point, seemed impervious to critique while Hillary Clinton has wilted tremendously. We can imagine a debate between the two where Hillary attempts to take the moralistic high road before Trump calls her a liar who should be behind bars. His utter unpredictability and, apparent fearlessness, will engender some respect from the same conservative media that is currently writing him off. Likewise, Trump will have a chance to play the middle ground and make Hillary look like a leftist.
So, to briefly wrap up: while the “age of Trump” still has the majority of Republicans concerned, there is some cause for optimism:
- Turnout has been “huge” and Republicans will be enthusiastic in the fall
- If conservatives stay home, it will probably be in states where Trump should still win
- Trump has seemed impervious to criticism while Hillary has melted
- Trump can play to the middle better than anyone on the GOP side
- Trump’s current trajectory could give him the nomination before Hillary (and force her to start running against both Trump and Sanders simultaneously
(Is this an overly-rosy projection? Potentially, but it’s worth the preparation and discussion before the Fall)