Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Moving into the House

Before today's scandals broke (this and these with the WPost providing some context in what may be an evolving story), the chatter was about whether and when each party--especially the Dems--turns its main attention to downballot races, and what will happen in the wake of Trump's defeat.

The political party question is raised as polls continue to show Clinton gaining, even in some unlikely places.  Today's polls of 9 states show Clinton ahead in all but one (Missouri.)  She is effectively tied in Utah (where a major newspaper endorsed her today), thanks in part to the unusual "fifth party" strength of what used to be called a favorite son candidate, McMullin, who presumably is soaking up votes of Mormon Republicans who were too scandalized by Trump's sexual predator bragging to vote for him.  Utah is probably lost to Trump.

In any case, Clinton is ahead in all the swing states, seems to be turning Arizona, and her campaign has its eye on Georgia as well as Arizona.  And even Mike Pence's state of Indiana is no longer safe for his boss, or him.  She has momentum in Ohio, which starts early voting today, and Florida, where the federal judge today extended voter registration by a week.

So, several pundits suggested today, why not go after the House?  There's at least one report than Dems are now confident of getting the Senate back, but the House is a much tougher proposition (though Nancy Pelosi said that if the election were today, the Dems would do it.)  So why not go after it?  It could make a great deal of difference for an effective couple of years at least.

Though this process has already begun in a small way, that decision to reallocate resources could come early next week, when the round of polls taken after Sunday's debate come in.  Early indications are that Trump rebounded somewhat, as Republicans returned to his fold.  However, a flood of new allegations of sexual impropriety has started--though so far not with a lot of video evidence.  And a post-debate poll in Michigan shows Clinton up 12 points, and generic Democratic downballot candidates up 7.

Then there's Trump.  Politico's latest interview with Trump biographers yields the quote that he's "a very dangerous man" for the rest of the campaign.

So far he seems dangerous mostly to himself. Trump's railing against Republican leadership may fire up his most fervent at the rallies but he's doing damage to his own chances as well as the party's.  Even mentioning by name his only meaningful party ally--the chair of the RNC-- as insufficiently supporting him, is self-destructive.  Trump is depending almost entirely on the RNC for his ground game, particularly the get out the vote effort.  He's not providing much motivation by antics like this, even if he meant it half in jest (Who knows? Probably not even him.)

But what has many people worried is his insistence on everything being "rigged" against him (a cabal of media and Clinton, the debate commission, his own party, etc.), especially the election itself.  That, coupled with the anger he engenders and the ugliness he releases in his supporters.

That ugliness has been mentioned before, and is being felt in many places apart from the campaign, leading (for instance) to therapists worried about the effects on mental health.  As Trump goes full bore vicious, the anger and violence among his followers seems also to have escalated.  When Josh Marshall warned that things could get dangerously ugly on November 9, he started hearing from readers with harrowing stories about how it's getting pretty ugly right now.

One of them (a 75 year old man harassed by a screaming Trumper in central CA) compared Trump to Mussolini, and that comparison came up in several other quotes today, two of them from unlikely Republicans: by John Yoo, Pentagon lawyer for Bush and author of the notorious torture is okay memo,  and Joe McCarthy clone Ted Cruz.

The other Trump news Wednesday was of GOPers getting back in line supporting him, including some who previously called for him to drop out.  It will be interesting to see how some of Trump's endorsers come out of this, like the weasel brigade of Ryan and McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and the RNC enabler Reince Priebus, who is currently getting disrespected by everybody. Meanwhile Trump on the stump is more unhinged than ever.  Election day can't come too soon, for anybody.

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