How Republicans Chose Trump & Now Regrets For It

October 24
11:40 AM 2016

Anything is possible with two weeks to go until Election Day, but here is the reality of the 2016 race: Another national poll shows Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by double digits, as Trump's campaign manager admitted they're behind. Democrats are outhustling Republicans in the early voting, Nevada, for example. GOP downballot candidates are at risk of drowning in a wave election. And Trump overshadowed his own big "Gettysburg Address" over the weekend by threatening to sue the women who are accusing him of sexual misconduct. So how did the GOP end up here in what was an entirely winnable presidential election, especially since parties controlling the White House rarely hold on for a third-straight term? We can point to five reasons how Republicans ended up in this predicament with Trump.

  • Immigration trumped all:Once again, the issue of immigration dominated a Republican primary, and GOP voters broke for the candidate who was the most conservative on the issue -- not Jeb Bush (who supported comprehensive immigration reform), or Marco Rubio (who was part of the "Gang of Eight"), or even Ted Cruz (who couldn't get to the right of Trump on the issue).
  • GOP voters discarded the advice to focus on reaching out beyond the base to minorities:Relatedly, Republican primary voters nominated a candidate who talked about Mexican "rapists," who didn't address the NAACP, who claimed that a Mexican-American judge was biased against him because of his heritage, and who called for banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. That ran counter to the advice from the RNC"s 2013 "autopsy" that the party needed to reach out to minority voters. "If our party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out."
  • The conservative echo chamber drowned out doubts about Trump:That Trump is trailing Clinton by double digits shouldn't be surprising. In our April NBC/WSJ poll -- before the GOP primary season concluded -- Clinton led Trump in a hypothetical matchup by 11 points (50%-39%), but she was ahead by just two points against Ted Cruz (46%-44%), and she trailed John Kasich by 12 (51%-39%). But GOP voters didn't listen to those MSM voices and poll numbers. As conservative radio host Charlie Sykessaid back in August, "We've basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers. There's nobody."
  • GOP voters no longer trusted its party elites:And it wasn't just the MSM or those poll numbers. Mitt Romney spoke out against Trump; the Bush clan said it was sitting out the election; and other prominent Republicans sounded the alarm. But those voices made Trump stronger -- not weaker. (It was a notable contrast to what happened inside the Democratic Party, whose party elites -- hello, superdelegates! -- successfully checked Bernie Sanders' insurgent candidacy.) And one of the main reasons why GOP voters didn't trust their party leaders was because those same leaders either over-promised or under-delivered (think Obamacare) or no longer looked like their base (which was more working class than they were).
  • Other GOP elites stood on the sidelines:But not all Republicans spoke out against Trump. Some -- perhaps fearful of the GOP base they helped create and won midterm elections with -- stood on the sidelines, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And those two are now crossing their fingers that Trump doesn't cost them their congressional majorities.

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