Everyone called South Carolina for Hillary the second the polls closed, so here’s a Clinton victory thread, if you want one, and some thoughts on November.
With Clinton and Trump looking like prospective nominees, it’s time to take a hard look at the strategy for defeating Trump. Anyone who thinks beating him will be a cakewalk is suffering from a failure of tragic imagination. Josh Marshall is one of the best observers of Trump, and I thought his latest on the genesis of the Trump phenomenon was spot-on. I also was interested in this observation by Kevin Drum, reacting to McConnell’s remarks in the Times saying he will have his Senate candidates break with Trump and run on a “we’ll block Clinton” platform:
Mitch McConnell is the ultimate transactional politician. He never bothers with fancy justifications for what he wants to do; he just tells reporters that his goal is stop x or push y because it’s what he wants, and that’s that. It’s almost refreshing in a way.
So if he’s seriously suggesting that Republicans in significant numbers might break with Trump and hand the election to Hillary Clinton, he’s probably serious. He doesn’t play 11-dimensional chess. I’ve been frankly dubious about all the promises I’ve heard from conservatives about abandoning Trump even if he wins the nomination, and I still am. I think most of them will eventually invent some reason to “reluctantly” pull the lever for him thanks to their existential horror of a Hillary Clinton presidency. But who knows? If McConnell is up for it, maybe it’s a more serious possibility than I think.
Another possibility is some kind of third-party run by someone who would be palatable to more centrist Republicans and the elusive “Independent” voter. Some Republicans I’ve talked with in New York like Bloomberg for this run, but I don’t think he plays well outside of the Northeast. Still, who knows – he has the money and ego required to do it. I think a sane, “centrist” fig leaf Third Man — someone who Republicans who hate Clinton and Trump could choose in order to maintain the fiction that Trump is an anomaly and 2020 will be better days — is a real possibility. Republicans do love to vote, so if they get into a voting booth in November and have a palatable white male candidate for whom they can vote, they’re going to pull for the Third Man. For them, a Clinton presidency just slightly better than a Trump presidency, so why not live through the disaster of either a Trump or Clinton presidency with a “don’t blame me, I voted for the Third Man” bumpersticker on your SUV as it sits in the driveway of your gated community? The question is whether this Third Man can pull enough votes from Clinton-curious “Independents” to give Trump the election.