Monday, November 7, 2016
President-elect Trump, and What Will Follow
Four years ago, on election eve 2012, I believed that Romney stood a chance of winning; had I been aware of Dr Helmut Norpoth's system - which predicted an easy Obama win in 2012 and retroactively has predicted the winner of every US presidential election of the past hundred years - I would have been disabused of the notion.
Norpoth's model cracks the code of US presidential elections. It relies on two premises. The first is that the candidate who wins the primaries - in particular, after 1952, the primary in the state of New Hampshire - goes on to win the election; the second is that an incumbent party in the White House can't win a third term unless it has won its second term in an electoral landslide (see the re-election of the Republicans and Democrats in 1988 and 1940 respectively - both wins were built on the back of huge victories in 1984 and 1936). In contrast, a re-election after a first term proves, for the most part, to be easy, so long as the incumbent candidate can again win the nomination in the New Hampshire primary without difficulty. In 2012, Obama coasted through the primaries (including the one in New Hampshire) and faced no opposition, and this in itself predicted an Obama victory. This rule - that whenever a president cruises through the second-term primaries and easily wins re-nomination from his party, he always wins - holds true for the elections of 1916, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1956, 1964, 1972, 1984, 1996. If the candidate of the incumbent party has won the nomination after a loss or a narrow win in New Hampshire, he goes on to lose: see 1952, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1992, 2000. Norpoth uses mathematics to prove his point, but we can understand his model without it. All we need to know is his two premises, and from these, it followed that Obama would win in 2012 with no trouble.
What of 2016? After the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries were held in February this year, Norpoth confidently predicted that Trump would win. South Carolina has become important in Norpoth's model since 1992; it forecasts the black vote and how well a candidate does in the South. During a 'change election' - that is, an election held after an incumbent has held office for two terms - a candidate can do badly in the New Hampshire primary and still go on to win the election, providing that he did well in the South Carolina primary: see Clinton in 1992, Bush 43 in 2000 and Obama in 2008. (It should be noted that each of these three candidates swept the South; even Obama, a Democrat, managed to take North Carolina, Virginia and Florida). Which brings us to 2016. Trump won crushing victories in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, whereas Hilary won only in South Carolina. (Hilary's appeal to blacks led her to surpassing Sanders; the Jewish candidate from Vermont whose following was, in the main, white, couldn't break through to black voters in the South and elsewhere). This led Norpoth to predict that the Democrat two-party vote would fall to 47.5% (meaning that Trump should win with 52.5% - a performance comparable to Bush 43's in 2004).
So Trump, the primary winner, won the nomination: suppose he hadn't? Then, says Norpoth, the Republicans would have gone on to lose. The party which doesn't put its primary winner forward for the nomination always loses and in fact will suffer a crushing defeat. Norpoth posits that Republican losses would have been minimised had the party nominated the primary winners Roosevelt in 1912, Brumbaugh in 1916, France in 1932, Borah in 1936, Dewey in 1940, MacArthur in 1944, Warren in 1948 and Lodge in 1964; similarly, the Democrats would have minimised their losses had they nominated their primary winners McAdoo in 1924, Kefauver in 1952 and 1956, Johnson in 1968, Muskie in 1972 and Hart in 1984. As we can see, for the past thirty years, the Democrats and Republicans have always given the nomination to their primary winner; the party no longer will take the nomination from a primary winner and give it to a candidate who is comparatively unpopular. This year, the 'Never Trumpers' and 'Tru Conservatives' in the Republican Party wanted to engineer machinations at the last minute before the convention which would deprive Trump of the nomination, but fortunately for the party (from the point of view of Norpoth's model), those efforts didn't pan out.
Once the nominations were locked in - for both the Democrats and the Republicans - at the July 2016 conventions, then, Trump's path to victory was assured; nothing could change the course of events - not polls, gaffes, scandals, 'ground game', 'October surprises', and certainly not psychological warfare waged by operatives for the Democrat Party and the 'Never Trump' faction of the Republican Party. One of the blessed things about a Trump victory will be that the relentless spamming of the message boards and comments sections by Democrat Party 'Correct the Record' trolls will come to an end. We won't have to put up with them any more.
The 'concern trollers' - who have promulgated the line that 'Trump just can't win' - will disappear as well. These men spread their doom and gloom on Far Right and nationalist boards as part of an effort to suppress the Trump vote, for motives known only to themselves; but after November the 8th, they will vanish. (Or perhaps they'll remain and take a new line: that Trump won't abide by any of his commitments, that he'll stab the elect Trump movement in the back, and so forth).
We'll also see the anti-Trump pundits - the Maureen O'Dowds, the Charles Krauthammers, the George Wills, the William Kristols, the Jonah Goldbergs, the James Pethokoukises and the rest of that 'I don't like Hilary, but how could anyone vote for Trump' brigade - put in their place. (Many of these pundits who claim to be 'conservative' are in fact in wolves in sheep's clothing; their 'conservatism' has become subordinated to leftism and Culture-Marxism). And the patronising know-it-alls in the mainstream media, who condescend to 'give advice' to Trump on how to win, and auger that Trump will fail for not having followed their advice, will be shown to know very little after all. They couldn't accurately predict the results of an election, so, we may ask, what are we paying them for?
Finally, the Marxist Left will be thrown into disarray. At present, the hardcore and communist Left consists of two factions: those within the Democratic Party and those outside of it. The first of these has largely taken over the Democratic Party - and indeed, has authored its 2016 platform - and probably will consume it entirely after a Clinton defeat; the old, centrist-liberal party of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton will be converted into a thoroughly Marxist party with a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as a figurehead. As for the Left outside of the Democratic Party, which has criticised Obama throughout his time in office, it will continue to fester and moulder and live a subterranean existence as usual; but it will be put out, to say the least, by a Trump victory. Presumably it will try and foment more Black Lives Matter race riots, and incite Hispanics and Muslims against Trump.
Given that Trump has enjoyed a strong working-class backing, and has made use of a populist rhetoric which borders on (at times) anti-capitalism and Marxism, a window opened for the Left early on; but it did not seize the opportunity. It could have jumped on board the Trump train and attempted to recruit his followers to Marxism: the really clever and far-sighted of the communist activists could have used the Trump phenomenon to their own advantage and formed an alliance - albeit an unorthodox and unconventional one. But the Far Left in America has shown itself to be constitutionally unable to pull off such a tricky manoeuvre. For one thing, it hates the white, working-class voter; secondly, it has aligned itself with the blacks and Hispanics (and now, in 2016, Muslims) against the whites and has made race war its goal. The Marxist Left in America has always striven to recruit blacks and aggravate racial tensions, and has always held to the idea that race war helps bring about class war, but, over the decades, the Marxist and socialist doctrines have become subordinated to what is a kind of black supremacism; American Marxists have become tools of black, and now Hispanic, nationalism - and of Islamism as well. This explains why American communists were unable to think pragmatically - or 'dialectically', as Lenin would put it - in relation to Trump.
It could be that Clinton will win and Norpoth's model will be proven wrong. But a even far simpler model than Norpoth's shows that a Clinton victory is unlikely. Trump is polling well in Ohio, and Ohio - being middle America, part of what Colin Woodard in American Nations (2011) calls the 'Midlands' - has gone with the winner for every election since 1912, with two exceptions. The first is 1944, when Dewey beat Roosevelt in Ohio by a mere 11,500 votes; the second is 1960, a controversial election in which, Norpoth argues, it was Nixon and not Kennedy who really won the popular vote. In both instances, Republican candidates won Ohio but lost the election. But Ohio has gotten it right 24 out of 26 times - not a bad track record. Because the much-vaunted opinion polls show Trump consistently ahead in Ohio, it's reasonable to believe - given the history of the past hundred years - that he'll go on to win the election.