The signs of GOP collapse are all too evident. Yesterday, a conservative politician announced a third party bid for the presidency. While he doesn’t have a real chance at winning, professional Republicans from the Koch brothers on down are jumping on board. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine became the latest GOP member of Congress to say she can’t support Trump’s candidacy. Fifty former GOP national security leaders sent a letter calling Donald Trump unfit to serve as commander-in-chief. And now a report shows that GOP who donors who didn’t support Trump in the primary are more likely to give to Hillary Clinton than him. It’s a recipe for disaster and the making of a Democratic wave.
However, while Republicans across the country are distancing themselves from Trump, Republicans in North Carolina are jumping on the Trump Train. He’s doing events in Fayetteville and Wilmington today and two big fundraisers in Charlotte next week. Pat McCrory and Richard Burr are listed as co-chairs of the Trump events next week and most of the GOP Congressional delegation has endorsed him.
Republicans here are stuck. If they abandon Trump, then much of their base might stay home. If they support him, they might lose the white college-educated voters they need to win. They’ve apparently made the calculation that holding the base is more important than winning the middle. They’re also probably hoping that Trump can actually pivot in a way that attracts traditional conservatives who are currently turned off by the Trump persona.
Waves are often built more by depressed voter turnout than large surges of voters. Moderate conservative-leaning voters who only come out in presidential years may well stay home. To combat that apathy, Republicans need a stronger than normal ground campaign. Unfortunately for them, Trump has declined to build any sort of infrastructure. Instead, he’s relying on rallies to gin up enthusiasm.
In contrast, Democrats are building a big operation. The Clinton campaign has paid staffers and offices throughout the state. They benefit from an infrastructure built by the Obama campaign and experienced volunteers to make it work. Instead of rallies, Clinton is on TV. While Trump might be reaching tens of thousands of people barnstorming the state, Clinton is reaching millions in their living rooms every night.
Finally, Republican overreach is turning the political environment sour for the GOP at the state level. While social media is lit up with Republican operatives blaming Charlotte for the HB2 debacle, the rest of the world blames them. The court of appeals told the truth on their voter suppression laws and exposed them for targeting specific groups of voters including African-Americans. And their heavy-handed redistricting of local jurisdictions like school boards and city councils has angered people of all persuasions who don’t want Raleigh meddling in their affairs.
The North Carolina GOP response mirrors that of Trump. Play the victim and attack everybody—the liberal media, the rigged courts, and the NBA “elites.” Create anger and hope to channel it against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. They seem to have given up on winning the middle and are banking on evoking enough anger to create a surge that sweeps them to victory.
I doubt it will work.
Thomas Mills is the Founder and Publisher of Politics N.C.