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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

How Trump Rules the GOP

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the role of political parties in the United States. The update -- published in 2019 --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

 Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman at NYT talk to Republicans, including former Rep. David Trott (R-MI):
Interviews with current and former Republican lawmakers as well as party strategists, many of whom requested anonymity so as not to publicly cross the president, suggest that many elected officials are effectively faced with two choices. They can vote with their feet by retiring — and a remarkable 40 percent of Republican members of Congress have done so or have been defeated at the ballot box since Mr. Trump took office.
Or they can mute their criticism of him. All the incentives that shape political behavior — with voters, donors and the news media — compel Republicans to bow to Mr. Trump if they want to survive.
Sitting in a garland-bedecked hotel restaurant in his former district, Mr. Trott said that he did not want to seek re-election “as a Trumper” — and that he knew he had little future in the party as an opponent of the president.
There is no market, he said, for independence. Divergence from Trumpism will never be good enough for Democrats; Mr. Trump will target you among Republicans, Mr. Trott added, and the vanishing voters from the political middle will never have a chance to reward you because you would not make it through a primary. That will be ensured in part by the megaphone the president wields with the conservative news media.
“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way,” Mr. Trott said. “But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.” He added that he would be open to the presidential candidacy of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.
On the other hand, Mr. Trump dangles rewards to those who show loyalty — a favorable tweet, or a presidential visit to their state — and his heavy hand has assured victory for a number of Republican candidates in their primaries. That includes Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who did as many Fox News appearances as possible to draw the president’s attention.
“The greatest fear any member of Congress has these days is losing a primary,” said former Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, who lost his general election last year in a heavily Hispanic Miami-area district. “That’s the foremost motivator.”