(Editor’s Note: Even before the first primary vote was cast and well ahead of other pundits, political analyst Tony Quinn wrote the following column for Fox and Hounds predicting that Donald Trump would win the GOP nomination, mapping out his success in Southern States and even the fall of Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida. We re-publish that column here).
Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. The last gasp in the long and brutal fight to stop Trump will be June’s California Republican primary, but it will fail. Trump will be the nominee because Trump is today’s Republican Party.
America has changed greatly in the past 40 years. The middle class, the Republican Party’s backbone since the Civil War, has declined from 61 percent of the population in 1971 to less than 50 percent today. Wealth generation today is concentrated in high technology, entertainment and social media, and the billionaires who dominate these information age industries are notably hostile to Republicans.
The new rich, liberal and environmentalist, drives the culture of this nation and they overwhelmingly reject Republicans. They are joined by young voters and minority voters. The Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 18 to 29 year olds found them favoring Democrats by 20 points, with the gap between the parties growing. Mitt Romney in 2012 did as well as Ronald Reagan in 1980 among white voters, at 59 percent of the white vote, but still lost because of a huge minority vote for President Obama
So with no growth among young voters, non-whites and those in the emerging economy, the Republican Party has become a party of elderly whites, at the very time when the demographics of the country are going in the opposite direction. The newest party registration figures for Orange County, the county at the heart of the Reagan Revolution, shows Republican registration now at less than 40 percent, the lowest in California history. This is because of the decline of white voters and growth of minorities within the country.
So it should be no surprise that Republicans feel threatened by the cultural and demographic changes occurring in this country. They are lashing out against their own party in Congress because they cannot stop the Democrats winning on every issue from climate change to homosexual rights. Obama, the most partisan president in history, showed his contempt for them with his famous statement tin 2008 that they are simply backward people who cling to their guns and Bibles.
Alienated top to bottom from the political structure in this country, Republicans have found a new voice in Donald Trump. But it goes beyond alienation. There is what might be called a racism of nostalgia deeply imbedded into the Republican psyche. The stable world they once knew, a world of middle class folks living in nice homes separated by white picket fences, is being overrun by Mexicans, minorities and now Muslims.
Republican voters are not opposed to illegal immigrants per se; the biggest problem in immigration is the 40 percent of illegals who entered the country legally and have overstayed their visas, as did most of the 9/11 hijackers. But GOP voters could not care less about them; it is the Mexicans they are mad about. They want fences to keep them out. They would defeat any politician who says give these people a path to legality, even though Republicans happily eat the vegetables the illegal Mexicans pick for them and sleep in hotel beds made up by illegal Mexicans.
The same is true of Muslims. If you asked a Republican why we should keep out Asians born in Indonesia or Malaysia they would have no idea what you are talking about. What about dark skinned people in turbans, well yes we probably should keep them out. In fact, Indonesia and Malaysia are Muslim countries but the dark skinned people in turbans are Sikhs and not Muslim at all. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with over 200 million Muslims.
So it is not religion, or even a threat to the country, that drives Republicans to want to keep out Muslims, it is their race. They don’t fit their “white picket fence” America. Trump’s call to keep them out has found a deep well of support among Republican voters, despite near universal condemnation of Trump from the political class. A December 10 Rasmussen Poll found that 66 percent of likely Republican voters agree with Trump. A Survey USA the San Diego Union Tribune showed that 71 percent of Republicans strongly or somewhat agree with him.
But polling also shows that the larger electorate does not agree. A Bloomberg Poll shows that 75 percent of Democrats disagree with Trump, and by a 50 percent to 37 percent margin the nation as a whole disagrees with him. All of this may explain the twin phenomena of Trump’s growing domination of the GOP primaries and Hillary Clinton’s increasing lead against him in the fall.
There is a further factor pushing the Trump inevitability; the same one that accounts for Republican domination of Congress. That is the collapse of the Democratic Party in the south and border states. While Republicans have alienated the growing non-white electorate, Democrats went too far to the left and alienated the old white electorate, especially in the south. There is almost no Democratic Party left in the states of the old Confederacy (save Virginia) or in the border states. GOP victories in the south and border have given Republicans their majorities in Congress.
But this has also brought into their party the most resentful and historically racist part of the country. Half a century ago the Deep South, still nominally Democratic, fought to the death, literally, against racial integration. It is hardly any surprise that the most militant opponent of legalizing the illegal immigrants today would be a Republican Senator from Alabama.
Donald Trump’s assault against the political, media and economic elites finds a welcome ear especially in the rural south, where resentments against the tide of change in this country date from surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. And as luck would have it, these states will dominate the Republican presidential race following New Hampshire.
South Carolina is the second state to vote in the presidential sweepstakes, on Saturday, February 20, 2016. That will be followed by the SEC Primary on March I, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee Georgia and Texas. These states will award delegates proportionally, and that is likely to benefit a candidate like Trump who will probably win pluralities in these states. Appeals to anger and alienation have often carried the day in these states in both parties, and they are tailor made for Trump.
Then comes the long slog all the way until June 7, the California primary. Most of the “loser” candidates running today are little more than fire hydrants for the big dog Donald; and most observers feel that only Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are even still credible. If Rubio loses his own state of Florida on March 16 (the first winner take all primary) he is out; and Cruz is running a campaign to be the non-Trump Trump but has no real base of support among either angry white working class voters or the larger GOP electorate.
So California could well be the last hope to stop Trump and somehow force a deadlocked convention where someone else might emerge. It probably won’t work. As Henry Olsen, a leading observer of political trends, pointed out recently in The Atlantic magazine, the Trump electorate may well include voters unwilling to tell pollsters their real preference, and so there is every reason to believe the Trump electorate is even greater than GOP polls indicate at present.
In a party whose voters are overwhelmingly white, older and resentful, the not so subtle racism of nostalgia is a powerful force, and in 2016 these voters have found the outlet for their frustrations in Donald Trump. They will not easily abandon him.