Smart Ideas: Trump’s Coalition, Clinton’s Priorities, and the Splintered Conservative Movement

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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Aug. 11, 2016, 8 p.m.

A new Republican coalition

Ed Kilgore, writing in New York Magazine

Why is Donald Trump trailing in places like Georgia? Because Republicans have maxed out their margins among working-class white voters, while Democrats are growing their numbers among ever-expanding minority populations. This factor could put Virginia and North Carolina in play as well. But in states where Republicans have been less dominant among working-class whites—Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania—Trump may be able to make inroads to offset his struggles with minorities. “To put it bluntly, Republicans are running out of rednecks (I’ll use the colloquial term here, since we’re talking about my own people) to protect their advantage in some parts of the South, where a large minority voting base gets Democrats within sight of a majority. But in parts of the country where voting habits, residual unionization, and down-ballot strength have kept Democrats competitive among non-college-educated whites, there’s more room for Republicans to grow their vote.”

A splintered conservative movement

James Heaney, writing for The Federalist

With their party picking Donald Trump as its standard bearer, many conservatives are struggling to decide the best course to take. They can embrace him, reject him, or waffle between the two, but all agree the conservative movement must be the one to save the Republican Party. “The problem is, there is no conservative movement. The ‘Reagan coalition’ stopped existing as an operational political force some time ago.” Today’s Republican Party has splintered into three seemingly irreconcilable factions, each claiming the mantle of conservatism. The factions have even “come up with nasty names for each other, because the three wings of ‘conservatism’ largely hate one other.” So where to go from here? “We cannot properly debate how to rebuild unless we recognize the full scope of what’s been destroyed. … Conservatism is dead. Long may it live.”

Clinton won't be veering right

Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg

If liberals are worried Hillary Clinton will change her policies to earn more support from anti-Trump Republicans, their fears are misguided. Clinton has made a number of policy pledges that will do far more to define her agenda than any GOP endorsements. She’s also far more invested in continuing the legacy of President Obama, who will be a key surrogate for her. And many of her closest advisers are veterans of the Obama and Bill Clinton administrations. “So Clinton is going to be a mainstream liberal Democrat if she’s elected, and that is going to be the case whether or not she receives some Republican support. She has made too many promises by this point to start recasting herself as someone primarily dedicated to uniting across the parties.”


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