Thursday, August 6, 2015

Trump ahead in the South: Walker Remains a Tea Party Favorite

The Weekly Standard reports that Donald Trump is stumping and dominating in the South.
A new OpinionSavvy/InsiderAdvantage poll shows Donald Trump doing better in the South than he is nationally. In Georgia, The Donald’s 30 percent is nearly double his closest competitor, Jeb Bush (17 percent), Ben Carson’s at 10 percent, and the rest of the field is single digits—or zero, as in the case of southern boy Lindsey Graham. 
So, even homeboy Graham is losing in his backyard. Frankly, there is no story here. Graham has been unpopular with the South Carolina conservative base for a long time, and only won reelection in 2014 by splintering the vote against conservative challengers -- and no one in the Palmetto State is going to elect a Democrat to represent them in the US Senate.

Donald Trump announcing latest David Blaine feat.jpg
Donald Trump (David Shankbone)
The South used to be “Establishment Country,” where a Dole or a W. could go to rescue a stumbling candidacy after setbacks in Iowa or New Hampshire. But Gingrich’s South Carolina win in 2012 proved that the southern firewall had been forever breached.
Not sure about this argument. Gingrich did break through, but the SC debate in February helped propel him into the win. He is a Georgia native, too, and won that state -- yet nothing else up to the nomination.
It’s hard not to focus on the fact that in both Georgia and South Carolina, Donald Trump has as much support as Cruz, Walker, Christie, Fiorina, Kasich, Paul, Rubio, Jindal, Perry, Graham, Pataki and Santorum combined. But it may be more important—and problematic—that the “conventional wisdom” choices like Walker and Rubio are polling so poorly. Forget how far behind Trump they are. Walker and Rubio combined don’t even match Ben Carson’s numbers. They’re losing to Huckabee.
Southern sentiment is staunchly anti-Washington. Has been for decades. Even the LA Times reported that Walker is having a hard time making traction in Southern states -- for now. The first debate, taking place today, will feature experienced candidates, both in their records in government as well as their rhetoric in debate, will finally determine who stands a chance of lasting the Election 2016.
“With the exception of Bush, who is consistently in second place across the South, the establishment candidates are struggling,” Towery says. “It’s Ben Carson, not Scott Walker, who is currently emerging as the third choice of Republican voters.”
Interesting. Bush has coalesced the Big Government, pro Chabmer of Commerce vote very well. If the Republican base and conservative voters in general can coalesce around one conservative, then Bush and Trump do not have a chance.
The flip side is that Donald Trump is emerging as the candidate of the South. “When you consider how much he’s out-performing national polls down here, Trump’s numbers must be lower elsewhere.”
The anti-Washington, anti-Big Government rhetoric engages everybody. However, just because a candidates does well in the South does not set them up to succeed anywhere else. In 2008, Mike Huckabee did very well in Southern states, yet lost the nomination to John McCain. Rick Santorum excelled against Romney in 2012, and was closer to toppling the weakened front-runner as the primary process continued -- yet Romney still won the nomination in 2012.
Being a Southern favorite does not translate into national victory.
How does a flashy, New York billionaire become the candidate of the NASCAR crowd? It’s not the Tea Party.  Emily Ekins at the Federalist writes:  
Tea Party voters prefer Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (24 percent) to Trump (14 percent). In contrast, Republicans overall favor Trump first (19 percent) followed by Walker (17 percent), according to a PPP poll. Furthermore, Trump does about as well among moderate Republicans as he does among very conservative Republicans (seeABC/WashPo and PPP polls.) 

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Scott Walker (Gage Skidmore)

The above statistic deserves more attention. The fact that Walker remains a Tea Party favorite after all these years, with the infighting among Republicans and the incessant media hate against his campaign, his family, and the ups and downs of governance in Wisconsin -- all of this is a tribute to his tenacity and integrity on key issues.
The Tea Party favorite is in the best position to gather together conservative sentiment and push past big money. National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg called Walker "The Vanilla Candidate" because he was the perfect "second choice" for primary voters whose first choice candidate can't win because of their failure to form strong, broad coalitions (as Reagan did in 1980 and 1984).
Trump is enjoying the limelight of national notoriety, but the heat is coming, and candidates who have no substance will wilt under the pressure. Walker the battle-tested candidate, on the campaign field, in government, through hard negotiations, and before the press, has a better record for withstanding these assaults and coming through victorious.

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