May 23, 2016

The fact that GOP leaders and voters are coalescing around the party’s nominee, Donald Trump, doesn’t mean he is a credible candidate. It means that all the GOP’s character attacks on President Obama and Secretary Clinton over the last decade have been completely disingenuous. Republicans have long focused their criticism of Democrats on personal characteristics. They do this because for the most part the majority of Americans favor Democratic policy positions. In other words, Republicans cannot win a presidential election based on the issue positions or governing philosophy, so instead they try to distract voters from the issues by pretending presidential elections are about the candidates, not the interests of the American people.

Donald Trump is the most unqualified person ever to run for president. He is also the most transparently flawed candidate ever to run for president. His lack of intelligence and integrity are on full display every day. Over the next six months, the most unqualified, morally and intellectually bankrupt candidate in history will be spewing ignorant and hateful attacks at the most qualified candidate for president in modern times.

Stay tuned for six months of “swift boating” Trump-style.

The only question is whether the commercial media will play along or not.Commercial media outlets have a real dilemma on their hands. On the one hand, they certainly don’t want to be used and abused by Trump again the way they were during the primaries. On the other hand, exposing Trump for the fraud he so clearly may require journalists to acknowledge that elections turn on issues and party loyalty, not the latest gaffe from the campaign trail, or counter-intuitive horse race polling data. Issue positions and party leanings are very stable. They do not hinge on the stuff of 24/7 political media reporting or analysis.

Media outlets make a living by exaggerating the significance of “breaking news,” but voters are driven by three factors: party identity, issues positions, and candidate characteristics. At the end of the day, Secretary Clinton will prevail because at best Donald Trump could only fight a personal popularity battle with Clinton to a draw. As the Democratic nominee, Clinton will have very clear (and very stable) advantages on issue positions and party identity.

We are in for a wild and unpredictable campaign season, but not a surprise ending.

Trump, Swift boating, Hillary Clinton

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