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Trump’s ‘Dominance’ of the GOP Primary Is an Illusion

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Are the media guilty of judging Joe Biden more harshly than Donald Trump when it comes to things like verbal gaffes and a general lack of popularity? That’s the narrative I keep seeing from liberals and Democrats on social media. As Paul Glastris, editor in chief of Washington Monthly, complained recently: If Trump wins [South Carolina] by 70 percent, [the] media will say ‘crushing victory.’ If Biden wins [Michigan] by 80 percent, it’ll be ‘catastrophic underperformance.’”

Well, the South Carolina votes are in. And Trump garnered 60 percent of the vote in the Palmetto State on Saturday, which is to say he lost nearly 40 percent of Republican primary voters in a deep red state. (It’s worth noting that South Carolina has an open primary, meaning Democrats and independents can vote as long as they didn’t vote in the Democratic primary.)

And, like clockwork, headlines touted how Trump easily defeated Nikki Haley in her own home state.

Glastris has a point. Most mainstream media types would be writing Biden’s political obituary and demanding he drop out “for the good of the party” if he turned in a similar performance. Yet, despite being a former president who is effectively running in the GOP primary as an incumbent, Trump somehow continues to enjoy the rewards from the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Still, despite benefitting from this double standard, the South Carolina results (particularly when you delve into the exit polls) have exposed some of Trump’s vulnerabilities. And more and more media outlets are starting to catch on.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe opened its Monday show with this point (I was a guest). Likewise, a Drudge Report headline on Monday morning, blared: “40% REPUBLICANS VOTE AGAINST TRUMP IN SC / DEMOGRAPHIC WARNING SIGNS DIVIDED PARTY.”

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The Drudge headline linked to reports in The Hill, Axios, and The Wall Street Journal: all buttressing the argument that losing nearly 40 percent of the vote should be interpreted as a “five-alarm fire.”

It’s even worse for Trump than that. A Fox News voter analysis showed that 59 percent of Haley voters in South Carolina “say they would not support Trump in the general election if he were the nominee.” And if you think this is unique to South Carolina, consider the fact that nearly half of Nikki’s Iowa backers also said they wouldn’t support Trump come November.

Make no mistake: Trump could lose the presidency if Haley-style Republicans stay home. In fact, there is reason to believe this phenomenon already cost him the 2020 election—at least, in one key state. During a surreptitiously recorded conversation in 2021, MAGA Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) admitted: “The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is that 51,000 Republican voters didn’t vote for him.” (Trump lost Wisconsin by almost 21,000 votes.)

Now, the good news for Trump is that the other side has problems, too. As I write this, Arab American Democrats are planning to send Biden a warning that continued support for Israel could likely cost him not only the state of Michigan (where there are more Arab Americans than any of the other 49 states), but the entire general election.

But while Biden’s challenges are widely understood, Trump’s supporters seem convinced he’s invincible. They shouldn’t be.

Trump has consistently invited trouble—and I’m not even talking about his impeachments or indictments. Indeed, from day one, Trump has chosen a style of campaigning and governing that focuses on narrowcasting and fan service directed toward his most rabid base, even at the expense of offending Reagan conservatives, suburban women, independents, etc.

For nearly nine years now, Trump has gone out of his way to create a cult-like movement of loyal fanatics, rather than a broad coalition of voters. And a necessary part of this process was purging anyone who wasn’t 100 percent pure.

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Take, for example, Trump’s declaration that Haley supporters are “permanently barred from the MAGA camp. We don’t want them, and will not accept them.” You won’t find that in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” but it’s classic Trump.

This is an ethos that has been internalized and repeated by Trump’s cheerleaders.

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, MAGA Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) warned, “…any Republican that isn’t willing to adapt [sic] these policies, we’re completely eradicating from the party. So it’s up to Nikki Haley, what she does.”

During her 2022 bid in Arizona, Trumpy gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake similarly told “McCain Republicans” to “get the hell out.”

Because politics is about addition, not subtraction, Lake went on to lose that race.

Lake is now attempting a comeback in 2024, and step one was an attempted rapprochement with McCain world. In what could only be described as a blunt dismissal of her overture, the late Sen. John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, replied: “NO PEACE, BITCH!”

Based on the way things are headed, come November, Donald Trump could very well receive a similar message from the people he dismissed as “human scum.” The chickens, as they say, are coming home to roost.

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Source: The Daily Beast

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