I had planned, and so stated, to set down a three-part commentary
on the 2016 presidential campaign to date, and why it has turned
out as it has. In fact, I had already published in this space Part 1,
and was intending to write part 2, on Donald Trump’s meteoric
rise and success on the Republican side.
Newest developments, however, cause me to postpone Part 2, at
least for a few days, as the latest crisis in the Trump campaign,
including rumors of his possible withdrawal, erupts in the national
If Mr. Trump’s behavior were not that of someone seeming in a
conscious or sub-conscious fashion to self-destruct, I would
otherwise say there is close to zero chance he would resign from
the GOP ticket. Mr, Trump is, if nothing else, a street fighter, and
during the past year has given little evidence of willingness to
back down or shrink from battle. On the other hand, he seems to
be doing everything possible to turn away some of his most
fervent supporters, not to mention make those who have
reluctantly endorsed him now regret their decision. Compulsively
and obsessively striking out repeatedly at anyone and everyone
who has criticized him might please a few supporters, but it is
simply no formula for success. As I have said before, just do the
It is undeniable that during the past year Mr, Trump has connected
with a large sector of voters who feel they have been ignored, taken
for granted or exploited by establishment politicians in both parties.
As I recently wrote, Bernie Sanders also connected with a
significant number of alienated votes on the left, albeit he failed to
win his party’s nomination, and disrupted the Democratic
presidential contest. Mr. Trump, however, not only disrupted his
party’s contest, he actually won it.
Following the two party conventions, the simple (but large) task of
the two nominees is to assemble a majority of votes in the electoral
college via the popular vote in the states. Every election is different,
and a contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is bound
to have its own character. No part of this task, however, should be
to deliberately give away votes either to your major opponent or to
one of the two third party candidates who will be on all or most state
ballots in November.
I often speak of the laws of political gravity, laws which follow
human psychology and common sense. In recent hours, I have heard
and read that Donald Trump is going to go on in the manner he has
so far --- from verbal crisis to verbal crisis for the next three months.
I have been fastidious about not making predictions about the 2016
presidential race, but I will say this:
The U.S. electorate will not accept favorably 100 days of incessant
self destructive controversy after controversy, no matter who is doing
it and no matter his or her cause.
I explicitly make this point not only in regard to Mr. Trump, but also
to Mrs. Clinton who has lingering controversies of her own.
When I recently wrote that “anything can happen” in 2016, I don’t
think I fully realized how true that might turn out to be.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.