According to exit polls, in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, two out of three GOP voters favor Trump's proposed temporary ban on all Muslim immigration - despite the universal reaction from the massed ranks of the politico-media class that this time he'd really gone too far. In other words, as I said all those months ago, it's the old Broadway saw: Nobody likes it but the public.
The only reason any pollster is even asking this question is because Donald Trump proposed it. As those numbers suggest, any of Trump's rivals could have helped themselves by "stealing his issue". And yet no other candidate has gone anywhere near it - or anything like it. Perhaps one reason why American elections have the lowest voter participation rate of almost any developed nation is because the political class mostly seems to be talking about its own peculiar preoccupations. Consider this astute observation by Steve Sailer:
American citizens have turned in large numbers to old-white-guy candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. For all their differences, both give the impression that they are running for president of the United States, not president of Davos.
I live in northern New Hampshire, where every town that isn't a ski resort is dead. They were pleasant, sleepy places in genteel decline 20 years ago. Now they're hollowed out by heroin and meth, and offering no economic opportunity beyond casual shifts at the KwikkiKrap. And when you listen to the Dems they're worried about micro-aggressions and transphobia and when you listen to Congressional Republicans they're talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The two-party one-party state has nothing to say to tens of millions of Americans.
Trump won because he put real-world issues on the table. Nobody needs to be told that he "isn't a real Republican". That's the point of Trump. The Republican base loathes the Republican leadership far more than they love the vessel they've chosen to express their loathing.
There are contrasting approaches on offer: John Kasich wants to bring everyone together; Ted Cruz says he can bring back "Reagan Democrats", although I'd love to know what that term means in 2016 other than nonagenarian FDR voters; and Trump is promising to blow up the party. In New Hampshire, it's not hard to see why that last option won.
~Did Marco Rubio really destroy himself in that debate? Or is it the case that, after a week of fawning profiles post-Iowa, there aren't really a lot of takers for him beyond that 11 per cent fifth-place finish? More than Trump, Kasich, Cruz or even Bush, Marco Rubio policy-wise is offering the same old same old. I doubt there are enough takers for that to win the nomination this season. As for his promise of "a new American century", I said a few weeks ago:
In 1980, Jimmy Carter's "malaise" was an aberration - a half-decade blip in three decades of post-war US prosperity that had enabled Americans with high school educations to lead middle-class lives in a three-bedroom house on a nice-sized lot in an agreeable neighborhood. In 2015, for many Americans, "malaise" is not a blip, but a permanent feature of life that has squeezed them out of the middle class. They're not in the mood for bromides about second American centuries: They'd like what's left of their own lifespan to be less worse.
The New Hampshire results bear that out.
~Carly Fiorina, the Great Emasculator, is out. She was impressive in debates, if somewhat severe in mien - which undoubtedly is part of why primary voters never warmed up to her. On the other hand, given the way the media treat more genial Republican women like Sarah Palin, you can see why Mrs Fiorina preferred to stick with deadly seriousness. Her brutal dissections of Hillary will be missed.
~On the leftie side the sewer that is the Democrat Party organizing apparatus may yet save Mrs Clinton. Bernie crushed her by 22 points, but the machine hacks nevertheless delivered up more delegates to Hillary because she's sewn up the "super-delegates". Facing a grassroots revolt, the party elders have declared they don't need no steenkin' grassroots. This is likely to get problematic if he keeps winning states but she keeps getting the delegates.
Hillary's real problem is that she's running on biography, and no one gives a crap. The consultants always say candidates need a "compelling personal story". Really? Trump doesn't have one, nor does Sanders, aside from occasional glimpses of his Soviet honeymoon, etc. No one cares about Kasich being the son of a mailman or Rubio being the son of a bartender. But whatever the opposite of a "compelling personal story" is, Hillary is it. Everything she has "accomplished" derives from the two central facts of her life:
1) She got married...
2) ...to a serial adulterer.
She was the first First Lady to be turned publicly into the First Doormat. And, because of that, Democrats felt sorry enough for her to give her a Senate seat in a state she'd never lived in. She accomplished nothing as senator but felt she was owed the presidency. This time Democrats felt that was a consolation prize too far and went for a more glamorous and seductive rival. This time the consolation prize was responsibility for America's foreign relations. Again she accomplished nothing: She traveled while the world burned. Everywhere is worse than it was in 2008: Iraq, Libya, Syria... Afterwards, she joined her husband in massively enriching herself by giving six- and seven-figure speeches to those who understand that, while you can never really own a Clinton, you can put down a deposit for services to be rendered. She became a senator, a presidential candidate, a secretary of state because she was Mrs William Jefferson Clinton - and her sense of entitlement was such that she never felt obligated to make anything of the job other than using it as a springboard for personal enrichment.
And even then it need not have mattered had her campaign had a rationale other than her curious belief that somehow she's entitled to be president.
By contrast, Bernie is all policy. Lunatic policy to be sure, but policy nevertheless. Hillary is nothing but "I'll never stop fighting for you". She has no platform. Nothing. Its vapidity is encapsulated by her pledge to the young voters who have abandoned her all but totally - that even though they aren't there for her she will always be there for them. You can almost hear the snorts of derision in response.
She'll always be there: That's the problem.