— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) December 6, 2015
Is it necessary for Trump to win the GOP nomination for him to “win” the longer argument? Dave Weigel, at the Washington Post, asks “Why do data journalists keep missing the political story of the year?”:
… The story of an election is far, far bigger than the story of who won it. The Trump drama, and the movement that has discovered and elevated him as its candidate, is obviously the political news story of 2015.
Actually, it’s the latest in a long, semi-tragic history of primary campaigns that revealed plenty without producing a nominee. You can start the clock in 1964, when then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace ran for president for the first (of four) times. He had no chance of defeating President Lyndon B. Johnson in the primaries, but where he competed, he scored margins that baffled the political establishment… You could have looked at that result and chided the media for making “news” out of what was, obviously, not a victory. You would have missed a historic moment in the politics of backlash.
Losing campaigns have played that role again and again. Ronald Reagan didn’t win in 1976; you know how that turned out. Pat Robertson’s 1988 primary campaign cemented the influence of the religious right in Republican electoral politics. Howard Dean’s 2004 primary campaign collapsed memorably in Iowa, but accelerated the Democratic Party’s evolution from a party that could put Joe Lieberman on a national ticket to one that was skeptical or apologetic about foreign military intervention. Indeed, by the autumn of 2006, Dean was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Lieberman had lost his Senate primary…
… [F]or five months, Trump has been able to swing into states and draw the biggest crowds of any Republican candidate. It’s been two and a half months since a thinly-attended South Carolina event, organized by a third party group, that was supposed to mark the end of Trumpmania. It’s been a month since a rambling Trump speech in Iowa, where even the people standing behind him grew bored with his rants about Ben Carson. The crowds kept coming. And they keep coming.
Few, if any, reporters will tell you that they expected this to happen. Some may fantasize about another universe, where the field is Trump-less, and candidates like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) are dominating the news with substantive fights about privacy rights and terrorism. Even this summer, the rise of Trump was seen by the Republican establishment as a way to freeze the field, while the grown-ups could hibernate and take over when it counted.
We do not live in that universe. We live in the one where, as The Fix’s Philip Bump points out, 53 percent of Republicans want all illegal immigrants to be deported and many are finding a champion in Donald Trump…