Monday, April 18, 2011

Monkey Cage Asks, We Answer

Joshua Tucker asks: Should we take Trump seriously? Since someone serious has now asked the question, I'll get around to answering it: No, we should not.

Tucker points out correctly that it's not at all unusual for celebrities to enter U.S. politics at a fairly high level. However, it's one thing for Bill Bradley to be a Senator from New Jersey or even Jesse Ventura to win a flukish race to become governor of Minnesota, and it's a whole other deal for a guy who doesn't actually believe any of the things that Republicans believe to win their presidential nomination. Even if he sort of pretends that he does. Hell, no one is sure if Mitt Romney can win the nomination because of his original positions, and he's been consistently pretending to believe whatever he thinks Iowa caucus participants want for almost five years now.

What I will say is that traditional reporters really, really, overrate the presidential chances of very wealthy people and New Yorkers. And therefore Trump benefits from a systematic bias. Now, note that hardly anyone does take Trump seriously, as it is, with that bias, so just realize how silly taking him seriously sounds after you apply appropriate discounts.

As far as what he'll do over the course of the next several months...well, as always, I'll caution against trying to get inside the head of politicians (or, in this case, whatever you want to call him). I will point out again, however, that the presence of Trump, Bachmann, Newt, Roy Moore, Santorum, and the rest of the circus does pose a bit of an image problem for the GOP when they get around to holding debates, although remember that very few people, and almost no swing voters, watch early presidential nomination debates.


  1. Whenever I think about the early debates, I can't help but thinking about this:

  2. Sure, but this time it may be eight Sharptons, three Kerrys. We've never had that before.

  3. Is support for Trump in polls really just a "none of the above?"

  4. I had the impression that there was some event in June, like the end or start of a new Apprentice series, that would remove all the incentives for Trump to act up as he is doing now. I was assuming that no matter what was happening in the summer, he would just disappear from the political arena because he had gotten the publicity he wanted from it. Is there something to that?

  5. One of the things which his current high poll numbers absolutely rests on is the fact that most voters aren't paying attention to the race at this point. Believe me, a guy who's on record having supported single-payer health care, stated that the economy is usually better under Democratic presidents, and adopted socially liberal positions, has no chance of maintaining his current level of support among the rank-and-file should he officially enter the race.

  6. "I will point out again, however, that the presence of Trump, Bachmann, Newt, Roy Moore, Santorum, and the rest of the circus..."

    If by "circus" you mean candidates with no realistic chance to win, I question whether Bachmann belongs in that group. She's ranked #5 on Intrade (basically tied with #3 Daniels and #4 Trump), and it's quite plausible that she could win Iowa.

  7. He has money, name recognition, and support in the polls. All of the other candidates have major flaws or are running away from their previous positions. Maybe it's all a publicity stunt, but I'd say based on the above that Trump ought to be taken at least as seriously as clowns such as Gingrich, Palin, or Romney until such time as he drops out.


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