Aggregating the Wacko Bird Vote

Speaking of that first post-debate Fox News poll, and of Ben Carson, and of wacko birds…Matt Yglesias makes a simple, stunning observation today:

Back on August 5, I was dismissive of Trump’s lead in the polls on the grounds that when the more mainstream candidates’ support was consolidated it still overwhelmed Trump. That’s no longer really the case.

The combined 26 percent behind Bush/Walker/Rubio/Kasich/Christie is basically neck-and-neck with Trump. A majority of Republican voters currently say they like Trump, Carson, Cruz, or Huckabee — none of whom are acceptable to the party elites.

Simply consolidating everyone behind one of the candidates who is acceptable to elites isn’t going to get the job done. Party leaders need to find a way to actually pry support away from one of the candidates who’s unacceptable to them. So far, they have no idea how to do that.

Let’s underline that: 53% of respondents in that Fox News national poll support Trump, Carson, Cruz or Huckabee, which is more than twice the percentage supporting Bush, Walker, Rubio, Kasich or Christie combined.

Of the four candidates commanding the majority, I’d have to say that at this point Ted Cruz is the “moderate.” He’s not, after all, threatening to unleash the military on women seeking an abortion like Huck or dismissing international rules against torture as “political correctness” like Carson or talking about dunning Mexico for building a wall across the southern border after deporting 11 million people like Trump.

Yes, yes, it’s one poll the August before actual votes are cast, but still, if I were a member of the Republican Establishment, I’d be wondering if my party is about to be taken away from me by the much-derided “base,” not matter what The Party Decides says about it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.