Jim Clark: Trump or Hillary – who would you prefer?
January 13, 2016
Full disclosure: If, hypothetically, the choice of the 2016 GOP presidential and vice presidential candidates were left solely to me, my choices would be Marco Rubio and John Kasich.
Why? Because that's the duo Democrats fear the most; both are popular in their critical swing states of Florida and Ohio, and winning the White House is what it's all about.
However, it's not up to me. Last June's entry into the race by Donald Trump has made this a most difficult race to call. Clearly the GOP "establishment" kingmakers are appalled by Trump's pronouncements and his inexplicable rise in the polls.
Wall Street Journal Columnist Peggy Noonan posited an interesting scenario … suppose by the time of the GOP convention no candidate has a majority, the "establishment" kills Trump's bid, Trump runs as a third party candidate, no one gets a majority of electoral votes and the election goes to the House of Representatives (it's happened before)?
The GOP controls the House but would a majority of Congress support Trump or the "establishment" candidate?
Interesting question, but the most likely course of events is that the 2016 presidential election will go like previous elections, so let's examine the GOP side as we head into presidential primary & caucus season.
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Trump's support comes in part from a surprising source. The New York Times recently reported that Democratic data firm Civis Analysis found that Trump's very best voters are self-identified Republicans who are actually registered Democrats, a coalition concentrated in the south, Appalachia and the industrial north.
Civis's sampling consisted of over 11,000 respondents and began in August 2015. The results showed Trump's strength also spans other demographic groups including GOP women, well-educated voters in affluent areas and even conservative Hispanics. Moreover, Trump seems to gain support with each terrorist incident.
As of my deadline (Jan 12) Iowa looks like a tight race between Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz leads Trump among likely GOP voters by 4 points according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Among all Iowa GOP voters, Trump leads Cruz by 2 points, indicating a large turnout could favor Trump. The same poll shows Trump up by 16 points in New Hampshire, the next contest.
Following that will be South Carolina where the Real Clear Politics latest poll averages show Trump at 33% and Cruz at 22%.
Nevada is the last of the four early voting states holding its GOP caucus on February 23. The Real Clear Politics poll averages in the Silver State have Trump leading Cruz by 13 points. Nevada's caucus will be followed by Super Tuesday (March 1), when seven southern states hold presidential primaries. Absent a huge shift in sentiment, Trump could have the GOP nomination tied up before Easter.
I have conservative friends and family members who tell me they would vote for Hillary Clinton before they voted for Trump. My advice? Wait and see.
Granted, Trump has made some outrageous public statements but don't all politicians stretch the truth in the heat of a campaign? Will Trump pass a law banning Muslim immigrants? Not without Congress. How about a temporary ban on mid-east asylum seekers while the US figures out a vetting process? That could pass Constitutional muster.
Is Mexico going to erect a wall for our benefit along our southern border? Don't snicker. Trump, the great negotiator, could actually pull it off in exchange for Mexico getting huge quantities of excavating equipment that would negate the wall, so we'd forget it and go on to something else.
The bottom line is this. Unlike a certain ethically challenged former first lady, Trump has developed successful businesses and built his inheritance into a $5 billion enterprise.
Who would you prefer?
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.