A new National Journal survey of “Republican insiders” finds that 57 percent of these political professionals think Donald Trump will bow out of the Presidential race before the Iowa Caucuses. This survey probably says more about the state of the Republican political class than anything about the 2016 race or Republican voters.
Interestingly, 65 percent of “Democrat insiders” believe Trump will compete in the Iowa Caucuses in February next year.
The survey results could easily be dismissed as both groups answering what they hope will happen. Some Republican campaign professionals offered comments beyond the question:
“No meteor or political candidate burns that brightly and survives very long.”
“Unscripted, he will crash and burn by Thanksgiving.”
“Flavor of the month.”
“Campaign will probably die of a self-inflicted wound.”
The easiest political prediction to make is that the Trump campaign will implode after some impolitic remark. To date, though, that hasn’t been the case, despite a full-throttled assault by the media and DC’s political class.
Trump currently leads all national polling in the race. His lead has apparently increased even after he made off-the-cuff remarks criticizing John McCain’s war record. That he has gained support after those remarks should be a sobering wake-up call to the political class.
Peggy Noonan, the Republican establishment’s Greek chorus, has woken up to the realization that the Trump phenomenon — and it is exactly that — is real. She understands something the political class doesn’t:
His rise is not due to his supporters’ anger at government. It is a gesture of contempt for government, for the men and women in Congress, the White House, the agencies.
There are myriad reasons why Trump won’t win the nomination. There are also myriad more reasons why candidates don’t drop out before the Iowa Caucus. The fact that almost 60 percent of professional Republican consultants think that is likely in Trump’s case is more wishful thinking than hard analysis.
True, the national polling this summer is of little consequence to the actual race once voting starts. That said, Trump is polling very strongly in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states to vote early next year.
Further, it is hard to imagine any new information coming to light that will blunt Trump’s raw appeal to a significant section of Republican voters. Trump has lived his life in the public eye for decades. His bombastic, off-the-cuff, outrageous demeanor is already baked into the cake.
Voters know all of this about him and a large number of them don’t particularly like him, but they like less the thin intellectual gruel that has been served up by the political class for the last several years.
This is the real threat of the Trump campaign. As Noonan observes:
American political establishment, take note: In the past 20 years you have turned America into a nation a third of whose people would make Donald Trump their president. Look on your wonders and despair.
National Journal helpfully lists the political “insiders” included in its survey. It allows us to look on the roll call of the political class and despair.