By any reasonable standard, the fat lady is standing at the microphone, warming up. It’s over. The score is 49-27 at the two-minute warning. Sure, it’s possible; it’s just never been done.
Simply put, there isn’t a precedent for a candidate coming back to win this late in the game after being behind by as much as Trump is now. That’s not to say Trump is dead in the water — polls are not perfectly predictive — but history doesn’t offer much hope for candidates in Trump’s position.
But we all knew this. November 8th will be no surprise. The electoral map will be ugly. There’s a fleeting, tiny chance the election could deadlock, if Evan McMullin wins Utah and Trump overperforms in Hillary Clinton’s “firewall” swing states. Really fleeting, which is to say less chance of that than Trump winning outright. (FiveThirtyEight gives Trump at 15 percent chance, and the best calculation they have pegs the McMullin/House/Deadlock scenario at between 1 and 3 percent.)
So, then, what? Will Trump keep his promise and go back to his “really nice life” and days of golf, beauty pageants, and a fine piece of–ahem? Odds are, not a chance in the world.
First, the narcissist doesn’t like to lose, so he’s systematically doubling down on his “rigged” conspiracy.
The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
And not just on Twitter. He’s spending lots of time on this at his rallies.
At a rally on Friday in Greensboro, N.C., Trump leaned into his “rigged” premise.
“This whole election is being rigged,” Trump told the roaring crowd. “The whole thing is one big fix. One big ugly lie. It’s one big fix.”
Let’s say that Trump sends his “people” to as many polling places as he can for the election. In most states, it won’t make any difference because the outcome won’t be in question. In Ohio, Trump cut off the GOP chairman, likely losing any friendly tilt of its official observers. Trump’s army of outraged cultists won’t get past the door in most counting rooms. At worst, they’ll be jackasses and get themselves arrested.
Other than fodder for news segments, that accomplishes net nothing.
Let’s say Trump files lawsuits in contested congressional districts and against county election officials where the vote is close. He could march out a phalanx of lawyers to replicate the 2000 Bush v. Gore fiasco, and delay the election’s inevitable results. But that won’t work either.
On December 12, 2000, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 “per curiam” (non-specially authored) decision, ruled that the Florida Supreme Court’s recount order was unconstitutional because it granted more protection to some ballots than to others, violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This clause forbids states from denying “to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Court argued that voting for a president constituted a “fundamental right” strictly guarded by the Equal Protection Clause, and that the Florida Supreme Court’s order violated this right because it was “arbitrary.” The Court alleged that the order contained standardless and unequal processes to divine the “intent of the voter” that were above and beyond the settled processes required by Florida election law.
Given that 2000 was a very specific instance, the Court established itself firmly on the 14th Amendment as it regards dealing with vote manipulation. No matter how much pressure is placed on getting to the bottom of every vote tabulation discrepancy, the Court will likely punt in favor of a decided result and a peaceful transition of power.
A bevy of lawsuits will therefore probably be summarily dismissed by the Supreme Court in time for electors to be submitted to Congress.
And that leaves…Trump as a cult leader, media personality, and gadfly…forever.
Chris Cillizza wrote in the Washington Post, and I agree, with one nit:
Trump, I think, has two options for his future in politics, assuming he loses this fall. The first is that he works to keep his bloc of voters together post-election and forms some sort of conservative alternative third party that aims to bash Republicans and Democrats in roughly equal measure. The other is that he starts a conservative media/broadcasting company in an attempt to monetize the loyalty his supporters have for him and the anti-elites, anti-party message he has been pushing throughout the campaign.
I think Trump will do both and, not either or, and I think he won’t form a third party outside the GOP, but will seek to further eat the GOP like a snake devouring a toad. He’s already devoured the head. After November 8, everyone assumes there will be this great heave-ho as Republicans who supported Trump will suddenly disavow him. But why would that happen?
There’s a rich vein of gold and treasure to mine blaming “The Establishment,” the #NeverTrump movement, and media personalities (such as Erick Erickson) who bashed Trump from the beginning. Trump’s troll army could mobilize, elevating those who side with Trump, who will be offered sweet media deals in Stephen Bannon’s new flagship (whatever that is).
It worked for this election cycle with the GOP, so why would it not work afterward? Trump will never concede, but will want to play kingmaker and transform the Republican Party. Kneel before Zod will be his slogan, just like it was in Iowa.
In fact, the “big tent” Trump offers doesn’t need to include pesky evangelicals, social conservatives and conscience voters. Everyone gets to save face, and everyone gets to be right. Those who opposed Trump will simply become irrelevant to the GOP. We conservatives will be in the wilderness–fighting for a third party.
I would love to see the GOP do what Erick recommended and have a post-Trump revival. But I fear there will be no post-Trump at all. The curse, like the Red Sox curse of the Bambino, may very well be with us for many decades, if the Republican Party survives at all. Like all Trump enterprises that fail, this will just be one more for the books, where Trump walks away with more millions and everyone else gets the shaft.