The GOP political machine has gone beyond crisis mode, and is now in a full-scale panic over the prospects of Donald Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination. No matter how outlandish some of his comments have been, he refuses to back down, and his poll numbers refuse go down.
Wealthy donors are banding together, no matter which establishment candidate they support, in an effort to topple Trump from the lead he has enjoyed since July.
The Teflon Don
Every time Trump makes a statement that has political pundits predicting his downfall, he manages to keep in the lead in a crowded GOP field. Even insinuating that Ben Carson had a pathology similar to a child molester wasn't enough to knock him from his pinnacle. (Carson took the high road in response, asking his supporters to pray for Trump.)
Perhaps the most damaging faux pas by Trump came after the Paris terrorist attacks, when he voiced support for all Muslims in the United States being registered in a government database. In a related event, Trump refuses to back down from his assertion that he saw "thousands" of New Jersey Muslims on TV celebrating the September 11 terrorist attacks. There is no evidence of any television station airing such footage, nor any news reports of such an event.
Still Riding High
The latest Quinnipiac presidential poll shows Trump still in the lead, with Ben Carson fading fast. Carson had been in a statistical tie with Trump in earlier polls, and was beating Trump in Iowa. Carson's assertions that the Pyramids of Egypt were granaries built by Joseph from the Bible, among other gaffs, may be behind his flagging support.
Carson is now embroiled in a three-way battle for second place, polling 16%. Ted Cruz is also at 16%, with Marco Rubio at 17%. Jeb Bush, seen as the ultimate insider by many voters, trails the field at 5%. Trump dominates with 27% support.
In the latest Ipsos/Reuters poll, Trump tops the field at 31% This is 12 percentage points lower than his standing a week earlier. The drop was attributed to his call for the mandatory registration of all Muslims in the U.S. In the same poll, Carson falls to 15%, half the support for Trump. Rubio and Cruz split third place, at 8%, with Jeb Bush in a statistical die with the duo at 7%.
The GOP Establishment Nightmare
The Republican political machine has seen forecasts of Trump flaming out fail to materialize. "The Donald" has tapped into the anti-establishment anger of working class conservatives. The GOP Establishment fears a Trump candidacy would lead to a disastrous election for the party.
Some data seems to point to this fear-- 26% of Republicans polled in the latest Quinnipiac poll said they "would definitely not" support Trump if he was the GOP candidate. (The anti-establishment current among voters is prevalent, with 21% saying they would definitely not support a third Bush in the White House.)
Wealthy GOP donors are putting aside their differences in the face of the Trump Threat, and are pooling their money into a super PAC supporting Kasich for president that plans on running anti-Trump attack ads.
The Republican Party is warning Senators up for reelection in 2016 to keep away from Trump. Ward Baker, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, tells the New York Times “Our candidates will have to spend full time defending him or condemning him if that continues. And, that’s a place we never, ever want to be."
In the face of this concerted effort to sabotage his candidacy, Trump has threatened to revive his "nuclear option" : going back on his promise to not run as an independent if he loses the GOP nomination.
Trump Could Make History
If the stars align for Trump, he could make history. Only three men have been elected President without prior political experience:
- Zachary Taylor (1849-1850): Major General, and hero of the Mexican-American War
- Ulysses S Grant (1869-1877): General of the Army in the Civil War
- Dwight D Eisenhower (1953-1961): Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, WWII
A Trump Presidency would truly be historical, as he would be the first President to not only have no prior experience AND not have commanded the US Army in war.