Reading two excellent articles by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight (here and here), I remembered a thought that passed through my mind last Friday.
After reading some of National Review’s “Against Trump” issue, I wrote blog post. To me the NR issue showed the magazine is out of touch with voters. I’m not talking about traditional, reliable, motivated, and informed primary voters.** I’m talking about the broader pool of voters who vote in general elections every four, eight, or twelve years** and occasionally in local elections. (Yes, there are people like that.)
The bits I’ve read since then reinforce my perception that conservative pundits (count me in) often (always) forget that most Americans are not conservative pundits. Then there’s this gem from Rod Dreher on American Conservative, Trump & the Conservative Intelligentsia.
Moving back to Louisiana to live really did reveal to me the gap between the conservative punditocracy and those for whom they — for whom we — presume to speak. Ideas and reason matter far less to most people than they do to people like us (this is true of the left as well), not because most people are stupid, but because their mode of experiencing life is not nearly as abstract as ours.
[Why conservatives need to stop talking about abstract political principles and promote conservative policies that help real people.]
People who hang around with conservative activists have trouble seeing the world from any other perspective. And there are, at best, a few thousand conservative activists, pundits, writers, and radio/TV hosts in America. And 320 million “others.” You get the point.
So the easy answer to NR’s Trump issue is affinity bubbles. Now, what’s the not-so-easy answer.
Maybe Republican elites (and you have to include Ted Cruz’s campaign in that mix) know something they’re not saying. Maybe National Review just wanted to be able to claim victory when Trump loses Iowa badly.
It’s possible that Trump is polling in Iowa and somehow keeping it very quiet. Businesses are really, really good at stealth polling. But a lot of newspapers claim he is not polling at all. He’s flying blind.
The other campaigns and PACs are polling like their lives depend on it. Polling is one of the consultant class’s biggest money makers. Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Jeb!, Carly, and Christie have numbers that you and I do not see.
We also hear that** Trump has almost no ground organization in Iowa**. And public polls show that a lot of Trump’s support (up to 30 percent) comes from non-traditional caucusers. (But reports of no ground game could be hogwash, too.)
If you put it all together, it’s very possible that the Republican elites believe Trump will get trounced in Iowa.
That would explain why the GOP establishment has made Cruz, not Trump, their Party Enemy Number One. They could reason that Trump’s rise owes to his perceived invulnerability. If he stumbles in Iowa, the mask will slip and his supporters will scramble for another candidate.
The Establishment does not want Trump-defectors to find a home with Cruz, so they’re building the case that Cruz is worse than Trump. With Cruz struggling in New Hampshire, the winner of New Hampshire could quickly gain a lot of energy going into South Carolina.
In other words,** the GOP Establishment could be killing two insurgents with one Iowa surge.**
If the second scenario is the way it is, Rich Lowry and crew are busy planning their victory lap right now, and I should be writing my mea culpa. (Unless his blog counts.)
But, again, only time will tell.