Susan in Atlanta, Georgia, Ken in Cleveland, Ohio and Garrison in St. Paul, Minnesota aren’t a representative group; they’re chance acquaintances traveling through those states that are holding primary elections. Susan and Garrison voted for the first time on Super Tuesday in the Republican primary and Ken will do the same on March 15 in Ohio. All three will vote with the intention of blocking Donald Trump from being nominated.
All three say they aren’t hardcore Democrats. They see themselves as independents, those voters without party affiliation. They consider the current trend toward right wing populism to be a national embarrassment and say that’s not who they are and that’s not their America. Beyond that, they feel it’s dangerous as well and that someone with an erratic temperament shouldn’t have their finger on the nuclear trigger.
Trump Boasts that He Attracts New Voters to the Republicans
The big question for 2016 is the size of this new voter bloc. Trump claims he is renewing the Republican Party and increasing the membership rolls. In fact, participation in the Republican primaries has risen sharply. That’s the case in southern states like Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia as well as in the northeastern state of Massachusetts. In Tennessee, the increase was over 50 percent. It doubled in Virginia while Democratic voter participation there fell by 20 percent. Such a double shift was also apparent in other locations: South Carolina experienced a 20 percent increase in Republican participation with an attendant 20 percent decrease among Democrats.
Many of the New Voters Want To Stop Trump
Trump interprets this as a win for him. Republican enthusiasm rises if he is the party’s choice while it sinks among Democrats. Thanks to this “enthusiasm gap” he boasts that beating Hillary will be child’s play. He sees himself as the savior who will breathe new life into the Grand Old Party.
But what happens if the motivation for this phenomenon is reversed? What if increasing numbers of voters go to the polls with the express intention of stopping Trump? As far as the independents and moderate Democrats who voted in past elections are concerned, the choices they make will not be difficult. They may be skeptical of “socialist” Bernie Sanders and prefer to see Hillary Clinton leading the Democrats, but this assumed that they would have the undisputed lead on Super Tuesday and would then vote tactically – as Republicans. The rules simplify that, most states allowing voters to decide up to Election Day where they would cast their primary ballots.
His Mission Is To Destroy the Party
One should not take the meeting with Susan, Ken and Garrison too seriously. They are part of a group that has an above-average interest in politics, that has an above-average education and that earns more than the national average. They have an above-average interest in what happens outside America. They can be seen at European conferences dealing with the European migration crisis. They want to discuss whether Angela Merkel deserved to be named Time magazine’s Person of the Year or is risking the demise of her chancellorship.
They’re not representative of the average American in the sense of “the average Joe.” On the other hand, they quite possibly have a better feel for how America ticks politically than Trump’s fans do. According to recent surveys, 35 percent say they would actually vote for Trump in the general election. More than 50 percent say they wouldn’t even consider doing so.
He Has Exposed the Idea Crisis the Republicans Are Suffering
In their eyes, Donald Trump isn’t the savior but the undertaker of today’s Republican Party. He intends to destroy its very core. He lacks not only a majority in the nation, he doesn’t even have a majority in the party he wants to represent.
Many Feel They’ve Been Economically Abandoned
Most give Trump credit for one thing: He has exposed the lack of ideas in the Grand Old Party. They offered the lower and middle classes an alternative to the Democrats’ welfare state: Get government out of the way and the resultant growth will lift all boats. But when they were in power it was tax cuts mostly for the wealthy. The poor and the middle class didn’t see much improvement in their economic condition. If Susan, Ken and Garrison are right, the GOP will lose the 2016 election — and then have to reinvent itself.
All thanks to Trump.