Sunday, October 09, 2016

Will Trump Sink the GOP?

The Republican Party has been on a self-created death spiral for years now.  The process began with Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" that sought to benefit from the racism of Southern whites.  Over the years dog whistle racism became outright and open racism and white supremacists were welcomed into the party with a wink and a nod. Add to this the toxicity of the Christofascists who seek a Christian theocracy with themselves as the arbiters of a form of Christian Sharia law. Now, with the release of Trump's 2005 remarks on women, the GOP war on women and view of women as chattel to be used for the gratification of men, the cycle of misogyny is complete.  The question is whether or not American voters will punish the GOP for its descent into a party of hate, bigotry and anti-women filth.  A piece in the New York Times looks at this question.  Here are excerpts:
In the history of October surprises, it is hard to think of anything comparable at this stage of a presidential race. Obviously, it is too early to say exactly what effect it will have on Mr. Trump. But the videotape fits all of the major criteria for a damaging scandal, and it puts congressional Republicans in a precarious position.
It fits the Democrats’ contention that Mr. Trump is a misogynist. The Clinton campaign has been laying the groundwork for weeks with ads about his statements about women.
■ The scandal is easy to explain and can be turned into new television advertisements, although in this case it is probably unnecessary.
■ It is bad enough to force condemnation from Republican officials, and even some abandonments. Very few are defending Mr. Trump, ensuring one-sided media coverage and making it easier for Republican-leaning voters to break away as well.
Perhaps Mr. Trump will escape a knockout blow, as he has so many times before. Perhaps he will have a spectacular debate performance on Sunday night. But the potential downside for Mr. Trump and his party is huge. He could lose by a wide margin and endanger the Republican hold on the House at this late stage (although that result is still unlikely).
[A]t this point, it is worth looking at the precedents for how things could get out of hand for Mr. Trump and his party.
Todd AkinIn August 2012, Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin were in a competitive Missouri Senate race before Mr. Akin, the Republican candidate, said that victims of what he called “legitimate rape” very rarely became pregnant.
Like Mr. Trump’s remark, Mr. Akin’s comments about legitimate rape played into a narrative, were fit for television advertisements and triggered mass condemnation from Republican officials.
Mr. Akin’s collapse — he was basically reduced to the Republican base vote — is a reminder of just how far candidates can fall once their party abandons them.
Mark Foley
In late September, it was revealed that Mr. Foley, a Republican congressman, had sent lewd messages to former congressional pages. At least some House Republicans were aware of it, and didn’t do anything. The G.O.P.’s standing in the polls collapsed, the Democratic wave built quickly, and Republicans in safe districts soon found themselves in jeopardy.
The similarities between the Foley scandal and Mr. Trump’s are a little more superficial than those between Mr. Akin and Mr. Trump. What’s most striking is that the prelude feels similar: Like the Republicans of 2006, the Republicans of 2016 had a pretty decent stretch from mid-August to late September. The underlying vulnerability in each case — George W. Bush and Mr. Trump — did not go away. But it really seemed as if the 2016 G.O.P. could dodge the worst of it.
In some ways, the link between Mr. Foley and the conduct of the rest of the Republican House was clearer in 2006: House Republican leaders were aware of his behavior, and Democrats had already been running against a Republican “culture of corruption.” This year, Democrats have not quite laid the groundwork to tie Republicans to Mr. Trump — although they could still try to do so, especially with Republicans who continue to support him.
But Mr. Trump poses a more difficult challenge for Republican officials than Mr. Foley did: There was no cost to repudiating Mr. Foley, but the decision on whether to repudiate Mr. Trump puts Republicans in the unenviable position of alienating either Mr. Trump’s fervent base or moderate voters. It’s difficult to predict how this dynamic will play out — it will probably vary by state and by candidate.
My guess is that even this worst-case scenario would leave the Republicans in control of the House, although narrowly.
As the Foley scandal makes clear, however, there’s a lot of downside for Republicans, and it’s not too late for a whole host of Republican-leaning districts to become much more competitive.

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