The painful dilemma at the heart of the US Republican party

To win the Republican nomination you need to be a very right wing. The Republican base who vote in primaries tend to be very right wing. The influence of the Tea Party has exacerbated this situation. So Donald Trump is doing very well in the GOP (“Grand Ol’ Party” = Republican party) polls for the 2016 Presidential nomination. The more he says that Muslims need to be tracked on a database, the border needs to be closed to them and a border wall needs to be built by Mexico, the more the Republican core adore him.

I’ve lost count of the number of times commentators have expected a “Howard Dean moment” to befall Trump. It’s not going to happen. He’s like Boris Johnson. The more he makes embarrassing comments, the more a certain constituency of people love him. He can talk himself out of any corner. – Even if he uses the verbal equivalent of a 12 bore shotgun.

There’s a dichotomy here though. You need to be a right-wing nut job to win the Republican nomination. But to win the Presidency, you need to appeal to Independents and moderate Democrats. I don’t see them going for Trump.

So that is the Republican dilemma for the Republicans. Trump is best placed, currently, to wow the grass roots in their party. But they love him for the traits which are the opposite of those which appeal to the nation as a whole.

I would fancy Chris Christie or Jeb Bush to do well in the national contest. Chris Christie recently made a fantastically good speech about tackling drug use as a medical problem. Jeb Bush has a magical key to the Hispanic vote – which in the Republican party is worth its weight in gold.

But those two are “softies” as far as the Republican grass roots are concerned.

So goodness knows what will happen. At the current rate of progress I expect Trump to be Republican nominee and Clinton to be the Democrat. Currently Clinton is polling four points ahead of Trump in potential match-ups – Bush and Christie erode that lead to around three points.

But it’s early days. Normally there is much chopping and changing within candidates in the non-incumbent party nomination race. Already we have seen Scott Walker lead the Republican race and then crash and burn.

With George W Bush we often said that we couldn’t believe America would elect him – and they did. So I think we need to brace ourselves for President Trump. You never know, it could happen.

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