Increasingly, ordinary Republican voters are rallying behind himby Andrew Stuttaford / May 23, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: What would Trump do?
In July last year, former Texas governor Rick Perry, then running for the Republican presidential nomination, took aim at Donald Trump, then—as now—amazing just about everyone (full disclosure: including me) by how well he was doing.
Trump, warned Perry, offered “a barking carnival act…a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.” Trump’s candidacy was, he added, a “cancer on conservatism.”
That was then. Last week Perry said that he would be prepared to serve as vice-tumour. If Trump needed somebody with his experience then Perry would not say, “Aw shucks sir, I’m gonna go fishing.” No sir, he would do his duty by his country.
Leading figures in the Republican Party are coming round to the political reality that Trump’s success represents. For some that’s a matter of personal ambition (absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but the whiff of power does a pretty good job too). For others it’s the product of hard-eyed, if bleak, calculation. They are unlikely—despite recent polling suggesting a swing in Trump’s direction—to think that the Donald can win the presidency (or to agree with what he stands for), but they may well have concluded that losing as a relatively united party would be less harmful than any of the alternatives.
Ordinary Republican voters are finding it easier to rally behind Trump. Those who, just a month or two ago, were telling pollsters they would not vote for him in November are falling into line. And fewer are holding their noses as they do so. In April, Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling showed that around 40 per cent of GOP voters regarded Trump negatively. That’s now dropped to 25 per cent. Politics are tribal. With the primary fight over, most will unite behind their leader despite earlier misgivings.
It helps that Hillary Clinton, the presumed chieftain of the other tribe, has been a bogeywoman to the Right for decades (and she’s not too popular with anyone else: her unfavourables—astoundingly high for a candidate in her position—are only exceeded, if by a…