Establishment Republicans are jumping overboard like Jack and Rose in the final reel. Democrats are paddling lifeboats to take in soaked and shivering GOP voters. And amid maniacal laughter, the Trumptanic steams on.
Perhaps the situation is not that dire, but the campaign of Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has suffered some serious hull damage and is definitely taking on water. Some elected officials from his own party are saying they’ll vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Trump’s slim and recent lead in the polls has slipped beneath the waves. And even the staid David Gergen, who has advised four presidents, says “It’s hard to tell if he’s running a campaign or a circus.”
To be sure, Trump’s fans seem delighted by all this. Pissing off the GOP base? Great. Lighting into the family of a dead U.S. soldier? Fantastic. Lobbing questionable comments about sexual harassment? Booyah! But unless Trump really can draw a whole lot of these enthusiastic, new voters into the fall election, the numbers suggest he still needs a solid share of moderates or Hillary Clinton will sink him.
The weird thing is, it should have been easy for the Republicans this time. Clinton has admitted she’s a flawed candidate – not particularly skilled at making speeches or connecting with voters. So between her email/secret bank speeches/and trust problems, the DNC leaks, and an economy that is still struggling, Republicans had every reason to expect a win. I think they might have had a fair chance if they nominated that chair Clint Eastwood was talking to in the last election.
But the party leaders were locked in their cabins while Republican voters were laying heavy bets in the “primary casino,” and they allowed Trump to buckle his swash all the way into the GOP captain’s seat. Now he is careening amid the icebergs like a man possessed. If his supporters are right, that’s just the kind of daring that could yet carry him to victory. But this week experienced, mainstream Republicans who know these electoral waters exceedingly well, started sounding alarms and strapping on life vests in earnest.