Defeatism and liberalism go hand in hand in the US. Those voters who survived disasters like the candidacies of George McGovern and Michael Dukakis are no doubt scarred by the experience, and the younger generation of voters will never again trust the American public after watching it re-elect George W.

Bush in 2004 (ignoring context and the feebleness of the Kerry candidacy in favor of an endless "How could you?" aimed at the electorate). This makes sense. It is also, however, terribly counterproductive. In 2008, for example, resources that could have been put to productive use in competitive races were instead wasted on the Obama campaign in states in which it had double-digit leads in the polls. "The polls must all be wrong," they thought. "Oh god, the McGovern dreams are happening again," they said, followed by soft weeping.

Certainly overconfidence is a bad attribute to bring to an election. A balance between that and paranoia exists, though, and we're seeing considerably more of the latter from Democrats who are absolutely convinced that we are a mere 11 months away from President Trump. I have listened to an entire Carlos Mencia comedy special and yet this is still the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Like Trump's supporters must do, Chicken Liberals (gosh I'm clever) must do a handful of things to convince themselves of this possibility. And by handful I mean like a dozen, every one of which must work out in reality in Trump's favor.

1. Pretend the Electoral College isn't a thing. Lacking a basic understanding of the way the president is actually elected will greatly enable this fantasy. Just pretend it's a popular vote or, I don't know, a contest to see who can get interviewed more on CNN.

2. Ignore every previous election. "Who needs data when I've got this theory!" said every person in history who was terrible at constructing logical arguments.

3. Pretend that Trump is better and more likeable than previous Republican losers. Media darling and widely respected war hero John McCain and plastic billionaire Mitt Romney, both charming in that unpleasant, avuncular way that people who like Republicans tend to find Republicans charming, fell dramatically short of getting elected. They didn't lose – they were crushed in the Electoral College (which, for a refresher, is how presidents are elected). Despite being generally not entirely horrific human beings, they failed, and yet the most repugnant person on the planet is going to be more appealing.

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Somehow. But certainly…

4. Pretend that Trump is going to bring new voters out. Millions upon millions of them. It is crucial to ignore the fact that his core supporters, uneducated white people, don't vote. Half of the people at his rallies probably aren't even registered, and since his campaign is rudderless and unprofessional nobody is in charge of making sure they're registered. Also, the ones who vote aren't already voting Republican. No. They must be disaffected Democrats.

5. Insist that Trump's effect on the Republican voter is solely additive. Yep, he's just gonna bring all these new people out in droves.

And of course there's no chance that he could drive anyone who would otherwise vote Republican to stay away, right? He's only the most disgusting person in the country after all. There's zero chance that, like, the GOP would lose in Hispanics what it gains (theoretically, allegedly) in white morons. And it's impossible that something like, let's lowball it and say 1 out of 20 Mitt Romney voters finds Trump too repulsive to support. Five percent isn't much, right? Wait it's actually three million people.

6. Exaggerate the flaws of the Democratic candidates.

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Even though the Democratic field clearly has two strong candidates similar to the dynamic it had in 2008, make up some theory about how everyone who would support them will magically turn away at some point because, I don't know, let's say "the media."

7. Imagine that the GOP candidates are going to fall in line to support this asshole, whom they all loathe. I bet the process of getting their 57 candidates to rally around this human excrement will go smoothly!

8. Live in a world in which no one from the GOP's high rollers would bankroll an independent run by a moderate, or at least what Republicans call a moderate. The Koch Brothers seem like the type to take a Trump candidacy in stride. Lying down, even.

9. Forget that Donald Trump has never succeeded at anything, ever. This, the hardest thing to do in this country, will be the first thing he succeeds at. That seems plausible. Granted we're already pretending he has the attention span necessary to see this through 11 months of hard campaigning so I guess we can take it a step further.

10. Ignore the fact that Trump hasn't even won a single primary yet, and that his "team" does not appear to understand or to be executing even the most basic fundamentals of campaigning. Just get on TV a lot, say a bunch of stupid shit, and magically everyone comes out to vote for you. Yep, that's how our nomination process works.

I could go on but I'm already bored with the stupidity of this entire scenario. When you have no choice but to speak to someone who is claiming that Donald Trump can win the election, ask them to tell you which are the states that superficially pleasant, charmingly incompetent upper class twit Mitt Romney lost in the Electoral College but Trump is going to win. Keep asking the question until you get a list of states or an admission that they don't know what the Electoral College is. Look for a convenient exit. Point at a bird or something. They distract easily.


  • I agree with you in general, but I'll take up the challenge.

    Obama won Florida by less than one percentage point, Virginia by three and change, Pennsylvania by around four and Ohio by five. I would argue that the eventual winner has to win at least two of those four.

    So what could do it? If it's Hillary, I can tell you that sitting on a hard drive right now, already completed and waiting for deployment, is a commercial showing Hillary at an event agreeing with a questioner that Australia's gun control policy should be looked at in America. Australia did what anti-gun people insist they aren't interested in doing: they forced people to turn in many, if not most, of their guns. Obama never hinted at going that far in his campaigns, in fact, other than the "clinging to God and guns" or whatever he said, he wisely treated gun control like the poison it is for the Democratic party.

    Those are four states that freaking love guns, Florida in particular, and it's the closest one. Now, Trump doesn't have a sterling pro-gun record, far from it, but many gun people aren't interested in that subtlety, they just know Clinton=bad, therefore whoever is running against her is better. That commercial could highlight that nicely.

    If it's Sanders (I know, I know…), another hard drive somewhere has footage of him proudly saying he's a Democratic Socialist– AIIIIIGHHHH, AN ADMITTED SOCIALIST, HE'S NOT EVEN TRYING TO HIDE IT LIKE OBUMMER! And gun stuff for him too, particularly assault weapon crap.

    Is any of that likely to overcome Trump's handicaps? Nope, but they aren't insane possibilities either.

  • Whether or not Obama ever actually said he was coming for their guns, they believed, behaved and likely voted, like he was. All you have to do is look at gun sales after mass shootings, even though we can't manage to pass any meaningful gun control legislation. And those people are voting reliably Republican every time anyway.

  • I have never thought that Trump would win the presidency. Ed brings up some good points that reinforces that idea.

    Also, as one of those "young generation American voters", I could not believe we elected W for a second term. I voted for Kerry. How could you?, indeed.

  • To Jason's point, the 4 closest states in 2012 were OH, NC, VA, and FL. Trump could pick up all 4 of them and would still lose (only 266 EV's.) So he'd need to flip those 4 plus another one. I'm with Ed. It's not going to happen.

  • Steve in the ATL says:

    I still refuse to conceded that W won either election. Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 were bullshit. And who knows what other fraud took place that we don't even suspect.

  • The president will be, as it always is, whoever the corporatocracy wants it to be. My guess is that they want Hillary. She's bought and paid for and she and Bill have been very very good to them so far.

    Obama wasn't some mixed-race kid who pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He was carefully chosen at the Chicago School and groomed as he compiled a paper-thin resume before running for president.

    The one thing the corporatocracy doesn't like is uncertainty. Trump is an uncertainty. So was Romney. He may have been a one percenter, but no one was quite sure what he was up to. Hillary is a certainty, and none of the GOP candidates is.

    They will find some way to take Bernie down if he becomes too much of a threat. In 2003, it took them about three weeks to take Howard Dean from "unbeatable front runner" to "unelectable."

    They knew they would have a hard time selling a black candidate in 2008. Enter Sarah Palin who singlehandedly guaranteed that racist Dems and a lot of indies would flock to Obama.

    As usual, the corporatocracy will get what it wants. It fucked up with FDR, but they learn from their mistakes. We have not had a president since that hasn't been in their pocket.

  • As the resident old troll who lives under the G&T bridge (and who finds Mr. Trump unacceptable on so many levels) – I think Ed is wrong about #9.

    Unless I have tapped into a batch of Trump Kool-aid, I thought Mr T. inherited a few million and turned it into billion(s) ?es verdad?

    That would qualify as pretty successful in the usual economic measurement game…


  • schmitt trigger says:

    When Bush Jr won for the second time, there was a headline in one of Britain's leading newspapers:

    "How can xxx millions of Americans be so stupid?" Or something to that effect.

    Don't underestimate the stupidity of the American electorate.

  • @bb in GA,

    Yes, The Donald inherited several million dollars, but from what I've read, if he had invested it in an index fund he would have made slightly more money. So, he rose with the tide.

    In addition, when he brags on his billions, he includes his perceived value of the Trump "brand". Which, along with $5, will get you a nice cappuccino.

  • @bb in GA. Not really. If Trump had simply taken the gobs of money Daddy left him and put it in safe investments he'd be just as rich as he is now. Instead he's flailed around, won some, lost some (let's hear it for the New Jersey Generals!), bounced through a few bankruptcies and turned up amazed as how talented he is.

  • You missed one. The general election will have maybe six debates with only two people on the stage. Trump will be asked complex questions and answer in bromides and insults that fail to respond over and over and over again! Eventually the swing voter is going to mark him for a buffoon. He starts with negatives of almost 60%. That number will only head up.

  • I keep saying it here: Trump will stay in this thing until it becomes hard work or until March when some serious deadlines have to be met to really get on the ballot. Then he'll be gone, having fluffed his ego adequately. My worry is who will step into the vacuum nature abhors. I fear it will be Rubio…..

  • But if not Trump, then who? Beyond Trump the Republicans have….a bunch of rubes who can't even look more appealing than Donald Fucking Trump. Most of the "serious candidates" have already thrown in the towel. This is going to be the biggest beatdown in a Presidential election since Mondale.

  • There is a lot of PA which likes guns, but those people are outnumbered 2 to 1 by people in Philly, which is why the Republican party in PA is trying its hardest to suppress the minority vote. There are plenty of pissed off old white people in PA and it doesn't matter because they are dying off and are losing political power.

    Trump is successful at selling "TRUMP" but not great at business (see Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, etc.) He hasn't developed or built anything in years, he's just been licensing his name and doing reality TV and generally not doing real "work".

    Cruz is actually worse than Trump, because Cruz seems to actually believe the bullshit that he spews. Trump is just a bully who believes that he can do no wrong "I could literally shoot someone and people would still vote for me" and just wants attention.

  • @Skipper, I agree with everything you wrote with one exception; JFK was not an "establishment" President… But of course they killed him.

  • I'm very bored with the entire thing already because I am old and my attention span is not what it once was. So wake me in early November and point me toward my polling place. I'll pull the lever for the D and hope for the best.

  • I know "Trampolini" is unlikely to be elected, but I'll sleep better when he gives up or loses. And remember, bad things happen when people vote Republican…

  • @Lless; never underestimate the stupidity of the American public. Like you, I'm sure Donald Trump would completely blow it at a debate. However, do you remember what an absolute frickin' disaster Sarah Palin was anytime she opened her mouth in public? That didn't stop a huge (YUUUUUUGE!) proportion of Rill Murkkkuns from sighing, "She's soooo purty! She should run for PRESIDENT!"

  • 8. Live in a world in which no one from the GOP's high rollers would bankroll an independent run by a moderate, or at least what Republicans call a moderate. The Koch Brothers seem like the type to take a Trump candidacy in stride. Lying down, even.

    A strong third-party candidacy is one thing which could throw the election to Trump.

    Suppose the nominees are Trump and Sanders. Somebody like Michael Bloomberg, Mitt Romney, or Scott Walker runs as a "moderate, pro-business" candidate with billionaire and corporate backing.

    The popular vote splits 36% Trump, 34% Sanders, 30% Bloomberg. Trump narrowly takes a few states won by Obama in 2012, as the other two candidates split the unbigoted vote. Bloomberg takes only a handful of states, but enough that no one candidate has a majority in the electoral college.

    As Ed has consistently pointed out, the electors can do whatever they damn well please, but presumably the candidate's endorsement will carry some weight. What does Bloomberg do? He's a pretty reasonable guy, but also a creature of Wall Street. Does he throw his support to his fellow billionaire businessman, or to the self-described socialist?

    And that is how President Trump and Vice President Bloomberg are sworn in next year. Unlikely? Yes. Totally ridiculous? I think not. May Cthulhu have mercy on us all.

    As for the debates: Trump is perfectly capable of finding an excuse for not taking part.

  • @Skipper: It's scarier than that. There is no meeting of shadowy conspirators to decide who the next President will be. Almost by definition, the rich and powerful have colossal egos and are not good at sharing their toys. They have varying agendas and no particular coordination. This leaves plenty of room for incompetence and blind luck.

    Conspiracy theories are reassuring because they tell us somebody is in control. They help make sense of confusing events. The frightening truth is that nobody is in control.

  • Donald Trump is a distraction. A very successful distraction. I've heard no one that I take seriously claim that he'll be the nominee of the Republican party or that he could win the general election. Just a bunch of "Well, if such and such happens…" scenarios. To my mind the most significant factor is that his campaign organization is almost non-existent.

    Fear Ted Cruz. He's got the organization to guide the shock troops. He'll burn down the house to get rid of what he perceives are the roaches (me and mine and the things I care about).

  • Well, this is the nth article I have read of his upcoming demise, since the opening 'debate', where n is a large positive integer. It is more reasoned than many.

  • Just a quick fact check here, which normally doesn't go over very well on this blog, but Mitt Romney isn't worth anything near a billion dollars.

  • The inescapable conclusion drawn from the Snowden revelations is that there is a shadow government of sorts composed of the highest echelons of the international intelligence services (MIC) and other industry. Otherwise, who exactly is listening to the private communications of all of our elected officials and judges and what do you think they are doing with that information?

  • Blackvegetable says:

    " I bet the process of getting their 57 candidates to rally around this human excrement will go smoothly"

    Spinach, to!

  • I know Richie Rich was a terrible candidate (maybe calling half the people in America freeloaders wasn't such a great idea, Mitt), but given the state of the economy and the 2010 Congressional results, I was still surprised to see Obama win such a commanding electoral college victory in 2012. Even had Romney managed to win FL and OH, he still would have lost pretty badly. Trump has no real political organization and no real chance of being President.

  • I've never really been worried that Trump could make it all the way. For one thing, I don't think he even really wants it. For another, he's a major creep. Many fear Cruz, but I think he is also unelectable, between his smug, punch-me face and the fact that pretty much nobody who knows him can stand him. Honestly I have no idea who of the ones who are left could pull off a victory within the GOP, much less in the general against either Hillary or Bernie. Maybe Rubio, but he just doesn't seem very compelling. Whatever happened to Dr Ben? Not that long ago, he was ahead of the pack and now we never hear of him.

  • #4 is a good point. I see Trump energizing a lot of anti-establishment wingers who may not normally vote, but, ironically, the anti-voter policies the GOP has been implementing will work to keep these newbies from voting. And as Ed notes, it's one thing to turn out to watch the Trump carnival, registering to vote and then showing up at the polls is something else.

    Thanks Ed, I'll sleep better now.

  • Regarding a three-way between Trump, Bloomberg, and the Dem (Hillary or Sanders): if it's as close as Talisker suggests, who's to say anyone would get 270 electoral votes? If that doesn't happen the incoming House elects the next President. I guess at that point the result would depend on which party controls the House (I assume it would still be the Republicans) and how much of a loose cannon/asshole they'll tolerate as President (which could be Trump depending on how much the "Freedom Caucus" dominates the proceedings). In that scenario I think all bets are off.

  • If we lived in a functioning democracy, I wouldn't be so quick to write off the Trumpenproletariart. He's shown a willingness to say whatever it takes to roil them up. I'm not entirely convinced that just because they haven't voted for one of the suits that have usually served up to them, that they're incapable of voting altogether. Right now Trump sounds like an insane, right-wing demagogue because that's what will win a Republican primary. Expect that if he's nominated, he will immediately and shamelessly pivot on a dime to a less racist populism that will directly hit at Clinton's ties with the military-industrial-financial complex. There are an awful lot of people in the Democratic camp who would be susceptible to someone who makes the case that we should spend our trillions on bridges and schools rather than foreign adventures and corporate welfare. That's ground Trump is already staking out. I expect the powers that be to rally around Clinton and see that she gets those electoral votes, but I'm not as confident as Ed. After all, I think conservatives wrote this kind of screed to each other about how they should stop worrying about a Trump winning the nomination.

  • @scout:

    "I've never really been worried that Trump could make it all the way. . . . he's a major creep."

    So was Richard Nixon, and he won two elections.

  • C'mon. This is a country that just elected Barack Obama twice. And what lesson did the GOP take from that? That you can't win a general election by denigrating minorities, demeaning women and denying science? Why of course not. John McCain and Mitt Romney didn't do those things emphatically enough, so this time the candidates are dispensing with dog-whistling and going balls out. At this point I have no patience with anyone from either party who can seriously entertain the notion that a Republican could get elected, much less Donald Trump.

  • Davis X. Machina says:

    JFK was not an "establishment" President…

    His SecTreas — an Eisenhower campaign chair — owned an investment bank, and he had a Ford president as his SecDef…

    Yup, rebel all the way.

  • @Davis X Machina; as a Vietnam veteran (1969) I'm very aware of McNamara, but you must remember we are talking about 1960's America and a certain amount of pragmatism has to be taken into account.

  • I wonder why you waste the time and pixels writing about the Coddled Chump when Bernie 'the real deal' Sanders is going to chew him up, spit him out, and grind his detritus into slimy obscurity.

  • @Alan C: The House chooses only if no candidate has a majority of the 538 electors; and as Ed has told us before, the electors are not obligated to vote the same way as their states.

    In the event of an exact tie between two candidates in the Electoral College, the House would decide. If the EC is split three or more ways with no single candidate having a majority, we can expect a frantic round of deal-making between the candidates (and potentially the electors themselves) to avoid throwing the election to the House.

    In theory, the electors can vote for anyone they please for President and VP (at least, anyone constitutionally eligible). This is the reasoning behind my Trump/Bloomberg scenario.

    Even stranger results are possible. The winner doesn't have to be on the popular ballot. In the above Trump/Sanders/Bloomberg split, Sanders and Bloomberg could agree on a compromise Stop Trump candidate. They could draft Joe Biden, Al Gore, or Bruce Springsteen if the electors and the new President are willing. It's not terribly likely, and it would be a terrifying political circus such as we have never seen, but there's nothing in the rules to prevent it.

  • I disagree strongly on one point in this rant: I think it's pretty well established that Mitt Romney IS an "entirely horrific human being." He's a tax cheat too, not that anyone cares about that.

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