Trump and the Democrat crossovers
There has been a recent flurry of news items regarding Donald Trump’s ability to appeal to a diverse crowd of Republicans, dissolving the ceiling that many pundits had declared would limit Trump’s primary victories. The next issue is how he would fare as a general election candidate against Hillary Clinton.
Democrats are quitting the Democratic Party in Massachusetts and presumably will in many other states.
Matt Stout reported in the Boston Herald:
Nearly 20,000 Bay State Democrats have fled the party this winter, with thousands doing so to join the Republican ranks, according to the state’s top elections official.
Secretary of State William Galvin said more than 16,300 Democrats have shed their party affiliation and become independent voters since Jan. 1, while nearly 3,500 more shifted to the MassGOP ahead of tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday” presidential primary.
Galvin called both “significant” changes that dwarf similar shifts ahead of other primary votes, including in 2000, when some Democrats flocked from the party in order to cast a vote for Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary.
The primary reason? Galvin said his “guess” is simple: “The Trump phenomenon,” a reference to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who polls show enjoying a massive lead over rivals Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others among Massachusetts Republican voters.
“The tenor of the Republican campaign has been completely different from what we’ve seen in prior Republican presidential campaigns,” Galvin said. “You have to look no farther than the viewership for some of the televised debates.
“The New York Times referred to the campaign as crude; I suppose that’s fair,” added Galvin, a Democrat. “The fact of the matter is the tenor has been very different this time. And that has an effect. People are interested. It’s exciting.”
Galvin said the state could see as many as 700,000 voting in tomorrow’s Republican primary, a significant number given just 468,000 people are actually registered Republicans. In Massachusetts. unenrolled — otherwise known as independent — voters can cast a ballot in the primary of any party.
Can Trump convert Democrats into Republicans? The Democratic agenda seems to be giving him a helping hand. We live in interesting times.
Now, it is possible that some of those defections were a tactical ploy among Democrats to help Trump become the nominee, since many believe he would be the easiest Republican for Hillary Clinton to defeat. Surveys show this to be the case in one-on-one matchups among Republican candidates facing Clinton.
Granted, it is early in the game, and such one-on-one surveys are not the most reliable. Trump does have the highest unfavorables of any presidential candidate ever recorded by Gallup in American history, and that could be a warning sign in the days ahead.
But the counterpoint might be that Democrats are leaving the Democratic Party, and Trump is leading the way to a realignment of political parties in America. Perhaps many Democrats feel, as did Ronald Reagan, that the Democratic Party has left them. Certainly Donald Trump has tapped into this feeling among Democrats, since many of the so-called Reagan Democrats feel left behind, unprotected, taken for granted, and mistreated by the Democratic Party.
Could Trump swing enough Democrats away from Clinton to win the general election? His populist stands on jobs, elites, and immigration may lead many Americans to depart from the Democrats. Trump’s speech after Super Tuesday and his rumored move to the center on the immigration issue when he appeared before the New York Times editorial board indicate that we may see the emergence of Donald Trump 2.0 in the months ahead as he strives to reach out to possible defectors from the Democrats. After all, he has been one of them for decades and boasted he can change rapidly (“I am capable of changing to anything I want to change to.”) Trump may truly be the “change candidate.”
We will see in the months ahead.