January 17, 2016

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Trump Scares Democrats Almost as Much as Republicans.

Republicans say publicly and privately that they’re worried that Trump will win their nomination and then get shellacked in the general election, robbing the party of necessary support in congressional races. The truth, I suspect, is they are also concerned about him winning the presidency, which would empower the tea party wing of the party and marginalize insiders.

It’s that latter scenario that suddenly has Democratic elites wringing their hands.

For a long time, they seemed content to watch Trump wreak havoc on the Republican primary field. Now, though, it’s clear they’re alarmed at the possibility he could win the presidency.

And why wouldn’t they be?

Trump’s more open to policies that appeal to Democratic voters than any of the other Republicans in the race. Though he tends not to emphasize them in the primary — for obvious reasons — he holds or has held un-Republican positions on the social safety net, taxes, campaign finance, gay rights and other issues.

That is, he would be more likely as president to find common ground with Democrats in Congress than any of the other Republican candidates, most of whom have gotten to where they are through careful attention to party orthodoxy.

While his un-Republican positions on these issues won’t win over Democratic activists who are repulsed by his rhetoric on immigration and his inarguably loutish behavior on the campaign trail, they could present a threat to the Democratic nominee holding less sticky Democrats in place. That is, he could fray the Democratic coalition in a general election.

The Cassandras in the Republican primary have been shouting into the wind that Trump isn’t really a conservative. This has also occurred to Democratic operatives.

“As offensive as Trump is, we underestimate his threat at our own peril,” veteran Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis said. “I’ve heard too often about candidates who can’t win, who do. The country is divided and angry, and as bad as his ideas are, Trump will try to exploit this by appealing to those desperate for change.”

Well, the country is angry because we have the worst political class in our history. Thus, a “burn it all down” candidate is appealing to people in both parties.

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