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Trump Dooms the GOP

The Donald has managed, in his inimitable way, to create the perfect storm for the GOP. The Republican establishment is freaking out over his antics like swiftboating McCain’s Vietnam experiences and issuing, seemingly daily, unfiltered statements on immigration, Mexicans, the treaty with Iran and religion.

They are doing what they’ve always done with someone who breaks rank: attack. Lindsey Graham called him a “jackass,” McCain accused him of “firing up the crazies” and Rick Perry issued a rare coherent statement condemning Trump as “a barking carnival act … a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.” Similar missiles were fired by Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and many of the big-money folks who actually run the party.

They’re all wigging out because they see that he’s undermining their (mostly feeble) attempts to appear to be at least sane. But the truth is that Trump is saying loudly and often precisely what they all believe but won’t/can’t acknowledge for the simple reason that they know these attitudes do not go over well with the electorate.

Fascinatingly, it isn’t workin’. The more outrageous Trump’s statements become, the higher he goes in the polls. The more the GOP establishment tries to reign him in, the more the base embraces him.

Now I, you, we, all of us, know he’s not going to win the nomination. But he’s now in a really interesting spot, one we have not seen before.

(a) He’s popular enough that he is a force to be reckoned with.

(b) His adopted party (he used to support Democrats) hates him.

(c) He’s pissed to beat the band over the fact that the GOP insiders dismiss him and insult him.

(d) He’s threatened to bolt and run as a third party candidate if they don’t change their tune.

The intersection of these factors has become, for now at least, a nightmare for the Republican Party.

If the party insiders begin to moderate their stance on his candidacy and give him the kind of support they typically give front-runners, they run the risk of appearing to be embracing his positions or, worse, they could actually end up with him as the nominee.

But, of course, they cannot do this. Normally, legit candidates get money, advice, support and counsel from their national organization. If the RNC were to suddenly begin treating Trump as a serious potential nominee, they will draw the ire of the establishment candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or Scott Walker, folks who actually have a legit shot at taking on Hillary. The firestorm within the party will be something to behold.

If they don’t, if they continue to attack him and try to marginalize him, Trump will do what he always does when folks won’t give him the backing he believes is his due. He will pick up his football and leave to play in a stadium he built down the street. He’ll run as a third party candidate.

Now, I, you, we, all of us, know he’s not going to win the presidency as a third party candidate. But he won’t care. His great joy will come from knowing he “fired” his own party, tossed Reince Preibus in the dumpster behind some building with “TRUMP” emblazoned on it. He will bask in the glow of the Hillary Clinton landslide that will result and know, with the certainty of a true believer, that he took down the Grand Old Party just because they snubbed him.

If you think this won’t happen here are the results of a recent poll:

Among likely voters asked to choose between Hillary and Jeb, she’s ahead 50% to 46% — a signficant but breachable gap.

With The Donald in there the numbers shift dramatically. Now, Clinton is backed by 46%; Jeb’s support drops to 30% and Trump garners 20%. Hillary jumps from being a 4 point favorite over Bush to holding an astonishing 16 point edge. Similar patterns would likely be seen with any of the other viable Republican candidates in there instead of Jeb.

If these folks end up voting for state and local candidates at anything like this ratio the Dems will probably take back both houses of Congress and win more than a few state houses.

The irony here is that, by insulting and denigrating Trump, the RNC has lost its negotiating position with him. The more they attack the more supporters he gains and the more they piss him off.  Right now Trump is acting like someone who’d be just pleased as punch to push the whole damn GOP over the cliff because they failed to stroke his ego.

Hillary’s got to be enjoying this little drama — while wondering whether Bernie really might make things difficult for her.

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