Well I want to be really clear at the start that this is NOT and anti-Trump post. I may add more content about what confuses me about the attraction of Trump but this post is really about how once people start saying things enough it seems to be true and lots of people start believing it without any reality behind it. You see this in all phases of life, not just politics.
Here are some of the headlines that I’m talking about. All of them imply or state that Donald Trump is a force that cannot be stopped:
- Trump’s Super Tuesday Wins Set Off Alarm Bells (Politico)
- GOP Choice: Embrace or Rebel (CNN)
- Trump is unstoppable; it’s game over for the rest (Fox News)
- 5 Moments the Establishment Missed to Take Out Trump (ABC News)
- Trump is huge, and he isn’t going away (CNN)
- Rivals Have Just Two Weeks to Stop Trump (NBC)
- Trump Dominates as Rivals Pick Up Few Wins (RealClearPolitics)
Here’s the actual reality from the primaries and caucuses completed so far:
- Trump has gotten only 34% of the vote in the GOP contests
- According to many reports, this includes lots of Democrat voters who crossed over to vote in the GOP races because 1) they thought their vote didn’t matter in their own race; and 2) they would rather run Hillary Clinton against Trump than anyone else in the field.
- The only reason Trump is the front runner is because there are 10,000 candidates. At this point four years ago, Romney had 40.7% of the GOP vote vs. Trump’s 34.2% today. Trump is not some kind of superstar.
- Trump has gotten only 316 of the 1237 delegates necessary for the nomination.
- While he has 100 more delegate than Cruz, Trump must win a majority and does not currently have a majority of the total delegate count and he does not have that now.
- The upcoming winner take all states mean a lot – if Trump does not win those, he will be in very bad shape.
- For all the talk of him steamrolling through the GOP primaries, he has not once gotten a majority of the GOP votes, and gotten over 40% just a few times.
- This last number is the most telling for me. Looking at total registered voters, Trump has gotten only 5.4% of the total registered voters in states that have chosen so far. The highest number he has gotten is a little over 10% in Alabama.
The last figure is important because Trump’s supporters seem to believe that he is somehow a lock to beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. The GOP primary numbers do not support that and there is not a reliable outside poll showing that. Most visibly, I don’t know of a single person who is not voting for Trump who says they would vote for him in the general election. I’m sure they exist, but if even 10-15% (not the greater than 65% of GOP voters opposed to Trump) of registered republicans stay home in November then the Democrat will win.
This highlights why narratives matter so much. They get people moving in a direction that makes no sense.It’s why politicians talk about “message discipline” rather than “fact discipline”. They know that repeating the same things over and over tend to make an increasing number of people believe them.
Trump may win the nomination and everyone should vote their conscience, but let’s not pretend that the drip, drip, drip of the same comment over and over does not have any effect on America’s collective thinking.