Trump’s yuuuge negatives and the Ron Paul delusion

During the 2012 Republican convention, I spent a day at the Saddlebrook Resort outside Tampa, where the Texas delegation was staying.  Ron Paul had 20 of the state’s 155 delegates, and there were 20 alternates along for the ride.

I had lunch with some of the Paulists and spoke with them afterwards.  They were a likeable bunch, friendly (they were Texans, after all), bright, and well read.  But they were, most of them, True Believers.  Ron Paul was the messiah.  I was told by one alternate that historians would some day rank their man with Washington, Jefferson, and Madison.

They still also believed in the mantra I’d been hearing from Paul fans for years that there was a great mass of potential supporters out there, but they’d been hoodwinked by the media, which imposed a news blackout on Paul.

His delegates were never specific about the demographics of these latent libertarians.  But they were folks who shared Ron’s mistrust of politicians and deeply resented the wastefulness of government spending and the regulations that cost them so much time and money and curtailed their natural rights.  There were lots and lots of these freedom-loving, government- and Wall Street-hating types.

The only problem was this vast army of disaffected Paul voters didn’t exist.  Texans knew Ron very well, and he got only 12% of the primary vote, to 69% for Mitt.  The guy they saw as a saint others saw as a thin-lipped, humorless, tinfoil-hat ideologue.

It’s hard to imagine two politicians more unlike than Ron Paul and Donald Trump.

But Donald’s fans idolize their guy with the same fervor as the Paulists did theirs.  He can do no wrong.  And they also share the delusion that there are masses of voters out there who feel the same way but are being very quiet about it.  Of course, they don’t make the case that there’s a media blackout on Trump  only that these voters haven’t really given much thought yet to their candidate.  White working-class, blue-collar Dems, whatever they’ll come around.

They won’t.  Trump’s cult is at least three times the size of Paul’s.  But it maxes out below 30% nationally.  Among GOP voters, in the most recent polls in the 12 Super Tuesday states, he’s averaging 29.75%.

Familiarity has bred contempt.

Here are the net negatives on Trump from Gallup.

Among those familiar with him, his net favorable ratings are only +30 among Republicans, -30 among independents, and -74 among Democrats.  (As for favorable ratings among GOP voters which don’t directly translate into votes, of course Cruz had a net 65, Rubio 59, and Carson 58.)

Why do so many people despise Donald?

He has a yuuuge ego, but also a fragile one.  This is not an attractive combination. 

Last week, Mitt Romney asked all the candidates to release their recent tax records.  Fine.  Cruz and Rubio said they would.

How did Donald respond? 

He said he’s being audited for the last 12 years.  Really?  (Trump claims it was because of his “strong Christian faith.”) 

The IRS is still working on an audit from 12 years ago?  But so what?  He can still release his returns.  Nothing’s stopping him.  Then he said the returns tell you nothing.  Nothing interesting there, folks; move on.  Everything’s in the unaudited financial statement.

How about letting us decide?

And then, inevitably, he attacked Mitt Romney.  He went after him in his usual way:  a demeaning, mocking personal attack.  The Trump trademark.

When Hugh Hewitt asked Donald a question he didn’t like, Trump ridiculed Hugh’s ratings.  When another candidate says something critical about him, he disses the candidate’s polling numbers.

Bullies are attractive to people who have fragile egos themselves.  They’re not attractive to people who value civility, decency, and good manners. 

Ronald Reagan defended America’s security and restored prosperity.  He came across as strong and principled.  But those of us old enough to remember him know that he was at the same time genial, courteous, and thoughtful.  He had a sense of irony.  He never mocked or belittled anyone.  He was never abusive and insulting.  He didn’t gloat or smirk.

Personality matters.  We learned that if we didn’t know it already in 2008.  Obama had no legislative accomplishments and offered no specifics about his policies.  It was all about Hope and Change, and the fact that, as Joe Biden memorably put it, “you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.  I mean, that's a storybook, man.”

In all the elections since Jimmy Carter’s 1976 win, the most likeable guy has won, whether he’s been the most conservative candidate since World War II, like Reagan, or the most leftist, like Obama.

We’ve got someone in the White House now who lies, conceals records, and is incredibly thin-skinned.  Do we want a nominal Republican who does the same?

Obama concealed his unpleasant underside.  Donald trumpets his.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons for conservatives to dislike Trump.  But the bombast, the incoherence, the anger and abusiveness are by themselves yuuuge negatives.

If Trump is the nominee, some conservatives will hold their nose and vote for him, given the alternative.  But lots will sit the election out – many more than did for Romney.

Ironically, Trump’s candidacy will be a boon for Ron Paul fans.  The Libertarian Party could more than double its 2012 vote total.

And Donald is not going pick up many independents or Dems, the way the candid, amiable, civilized Reagan did.

During the 2012 Republican convention, I spent a day at the Saddlebrook Resort outside Tampa, where the Texas delegation was staying.  Ron Paul had 20 of the state’s 155 delegates, and there were 20 alternates along for the ride.

I had lunch with some of the Paulists and spoke with them afterwards.  They were a likeable bunch, friendly (they were Texans, after all), bright, and well read.  But they were, most of them, True Believers.  Ron Paul was the messiah.  I was told by one alternate that historians would some day rank their man with Washington, Jefferson, and Madison.

They still also believed in the mantra I’d been hearing from Paul fans for years that there was a great mass of potential supporters out there, but they’d been hoodwinked by the media, which imposed a news blackout on Paul.

His delegates were never specific about the demographics of these latent libertarians.  But they were folks who shared Ron’s mistrust of politicians and deeply resented the wastefulness of government spending and the regulations that cost them so much time and money and curtailed their natural rights.  There were lots and lots of these freedom-loving, government- and Wall Street-hating types.

The only problem was this vast army of disaffected Paul voters didn’t exist.  Texans knew Ron very well, and he got only 12% of the primary vote, to 69% for Mitt.  The guy they saw as a saint others saw as a thin-lipped, humorless, tinfoil-hat ideologue.

It’s hard to imagine two politicians more unlike than Ron Paul and Donald Trump.

But Donald’s fans idolize their guy with the same fervor as the Paulists did theirs.  He can do no wrong.  And they also share the delusion that there are masses of voters out there who feel the same way but are being very quiet about it.  Of course, they don’t make the case that there’s a media blackout on Trump  only that these voters haven’t really given much thought yet to their candidate.  White working-class, blue-collar Dems, whatever they’ll come around.

They won’t.  Trump’s cult is at least three times the size of Paul’s.  But it maxes out below 30% nationally.  Among GOP voters, in the most recent polls in the 12 Super Tuesday states, he’s averaging 29.75%.

Familiarity has bred contempt.

Here are the net negatives on Trump from Gallup.

Among those familiar with him, his net favorable ratings are only +30 among Republicans, -30 among independents, and -74 among Democrats.  (As for favorable ratings among GOP voters which don’t directly translate into votes, of course Cruz had a net 65, Rubio 59, and Carson 58.)

Why do so many people despise Donald?

He has a yuuuge ego, but also a fragile one.  This is not an attractive combination. 

Last week, Mitt Romney asked all the candidates to release their recent tax records.  Fine.  Cruz and Rubio said they would.

How did Donald respond? 

He said he’s being audited for the last 12 years.  Really?  (Trump claims it was because of his “strong Christian faith.”) 

The IRS is still working on an audit from 12 years ago?  But so what?  He can still release his returns.  Nothing’s stopping him.  Then he said the returns tell you nothing.  Nothing interesting there, folks; move on.  Everything’s in the unaudited financial statement.

How about letting us decide?

And then, inevitably, he attacked Mitt Romney.  He went after him in his usual way:  a demeaning, mocking personal attack.  The Trump trademark.

When Hugh Hewitt asked Donald a question he didn’t like, Trump ridiculed Hugh’s ratings.  When another candidate says something critical about him, he disses the candidate’s polling numbers.

Bullies are attractive to people who have fragile egos themselves.  They’re not attractive to people who value civility, decency, and good manners. 

Ronald Reagan defended America’s security and restored prosperity.  He came across as strong and principled.  But those of us old enough to remember him know that he was at the same time genial, courteous, and thoughtful.  He had a sense of irony.  He never mocked or belittled anyone.  He was never abusive and insulting.  He didn’t gloat or smirk.

Personality matters.  We learned that if we didn’t know it already in 2008.  Obama had no legislative accomplishments and offered no specifics about his policies.  It was all about Hope and Change, and the fact that, as Joe Biden memorably put it, “you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.  I mean, that's a storybook, man.”

In all the elections since Jimmy Carter’s 1976 win, the most likeable guy has won, whether he’s been the most conservative candidate since World War II, like Reagan, or the most leftist, like Obama.

We’ve got someone in the White House now who lies, conceals records, and is incredibly thin-skinned.  Do we want a nominal Republican who does the same?

Obama concealed his unpleasant underside.  Donald trumpets his.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons for conservatives to dislike Trump.  But the bombast, the incoherence, the anger and abusiveness are by themselves yuuuge negatives.

If Trump is the nominee, some conservatives will hold their nose and vote for him, given the alternative.  But lots will sit the election out – many more than did for Romney.

Ironically, Trump’s candidacy will be a boon for Ron Paul fans.  The Libertarian Party could more than double its 2012 vote total.

And Donald is not going pick up many independents or Dems, the way the candid, amiable, civilized Reagan did.