In response to comments I have done some proofing. Also fixed the link to the 538 chart.
Steve Deace, a talk show host and commenter, had a really good discussion on a podcast of his radio show last week, which I would link to if I could find it again. If you can, please feel free to add it in the comments. Here is a summary of what he said: The things that are being said about Cruz as a candidate he has heard many times before Deace has been involved in several insurrectionist campaigns including Matt Bevin’s run against Mitch McConnell and Chris Mc Daniel’s attempt to unseat Thad Cochran.
In each case, he said, the establishment candidate runs as a conservative. We have seen this with plenty of candidates. Remember Todd Akin? The media called him the Tea Party candidate which is easy to do because there are thousands of groups who put Tea Party in their name. In fact, the non-establishment candidate, who lost the primary, but was endorsed by Sarah Palin, was Sarah Steelman. so, Deace noted, they run as conservatives. McConnell ran on a promise to eviscerate Obamacare. But they govern as liberals. Peace attributed much of the anger of the electorate to this fact. They keep voting for people they think are conservatives and getting people who act like liberals.
It isn’t as much a lack of support for conservative principles, as many commenters would have you think, as it is a lack of ability to persuade the electorate about who is really going to govern conservatively.
Early in the campaign, Trump pretended to be conservative. Even now, he says he is conservative. He just doesn’t support actual conservative policies.
The second thing we have to understand is that our opponents label candidates and attack the on a personal basis, rather than on their positions. They do this for the reason that people tend to agree with a lot of conservative positions. So the best way to attack is to find some personal attribute to attack them on.Deace noted that Bevin became “Bailout Bevin” because of some loan that he took out. Ted Cruz became “lying Ted” because one of his staff members suggested, based on an actual news story, that Carson might be dropping out. What we have to understand is that this “mis-step” assumed great importance only because of the media, which is a)looking for some excuse and WILL find it in any innocuous thing, to attack real conservatives and b)will twist, distort and repeat the most outrageous lies against a candidate it doesn’t like.
Despite the many attacks against him, Cruz was holding his own until March. The Northeastern sweep plus Indiana did him in. In that regard, please look at this trend chart from 538 There was a sudden swing right around May 1. Cruz had pulled ahead and was trending upward until around May 1. My theory, which is doubtless controversial and sounds paranoid, is that it was the anti-Trump demonstrations in California that caused the swing. They received nationwide coverage and Trump became the plucky victim who had to scramble over fences to get to the convention hall. Trump himself, in talking about earlier demonstrations, noted that his “advisers” told him that such demonstrations not only didn’t hurt him, they helped him.
And don’t downplay the part Fox News played and continues to play. I tended to do that because I stopped watching when they started fawning over Trump. But I was missing an important part of the story. I realized it when an elderly friend of mine started asking me some questions. She is a Republican. She doesn’t really do digital. So she gets her news from the television and the papers. She started asking me if the Colorado primary was rigged. That should have been a flashbulb, and maybe it was. People were buying the whole Trump lie that the Colorado vote was rigged by party insiders. And they wouldn’t believe my explanation because they heard that the system was rigged against Trump over and over again from Fox News, their trusted news source. Hannity, for one, can protest his innocence as much as he wants but I saw how he went after Cruz for winning a caucus type primary in Colorado which was conducted in substantially the same way it has been conducted for more than a hundred years.
As for other hosts, I note that when Trump brought up the JFK assassination with Brian Kilmeade, allegedly a surprise to Kilmeade, Fox had a visual of he National Enquirer cover handy to reinforce the absurd allegation. So, not only did Kilmeade repeat it without questioning it, but he reinforced it, or Fox reinforced it with a visual. I can’t claim to be an expert on TV Production but I do know that can’t just conjure up pictures that they don’t have on standby to use if needed.
My friend hates Trump, preferred Kasich, but was open to Cruz until the Cruz bashing on Fox began. She still wasn’t for Trump but became firmly for Kasich as a result of the mud being thrown at Cruz.
And don’t make the mistake of some commenters of thinking that Trump voters agree with all of his positions on the issues. A number of Trump commenters insist that he will defend the constitution. Because, like Obama voters, they see what they want to see.
The first conclusion I draw from these insights is that it is very hard to fight a candidate who has the mainstream media and Fox News pushing him 24/7 and it is also almost impossible to counter the effect that demonstrations have on conservative voters.
I am not saying that Cruz made no mistakes or that there might have been a better campaign strategy, but that he was in fact in line to pull it out until Fox News turned on him 24/7. There were a lot of surprises in how the electorate voted this time. One of the biggest was the willingness of alleged evangelical voters to vote for a serial philanderer who brags about his conquests of married women, who owns strip clubs, and makes his money from gambling casinos.
So we live and learn. We have a long time to mull over what new strategies we can try. One is to inoculate voters against slogan campaigns with a long term introduction of a candidate. Bevin may have been bailout Bevin, but now he is the governor of Kentucky. We have also learned that Fox News is not a friend of conservatives.