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Why Isn’t Donald Trump Losing Like Barry Goldwater?

One of the mysteries of this election is why the race is still so close, less than a month before November 8. Sure, all the official pundits say it is a sure win for Hillary, but the frantic actions of the Clinton campaign and its ally, the corporate media, belie their assurances. Thus the orchestrated nonstop revelations of women Donald Trump has allegedly groped. I’m sure it’s only a matter of days before we learn about The Donald’s gropings as a kindergartener. The last time we had a cacophony like this was when Howard Dean threatened to dethrone the war party in the 2004 Democratic primaries. (Remember that normal campaign-rally speech to his supporters in Iowa, incessantly played and distorted by the media to portray him as mentally unbalanced?)

I am reminded of the media war against Barry Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater’s problem was an excess of honesty, not recommended for a political candidate. Trump’s problem is his own narcissistic and buffoonish behavior, which plays into the hands of the Democrats and the establishment media (I know, that’s a redundancy). He refuses to take coaching advice, apparently believes in his own invincibility, seems to be as fixated on sex as the media are, and overreacts to every taunt by his opponents rather than sticking to attacking Clinton’s very clear vulnerabilities.

Goldwater was a sophisticated political operative by comparison (not to mention a much better man). Yet by this time in 1964, it was apparent that the election results would be disastrous for the candidate and his conservative supporters. And indeed, Goldwater lost the popular vote by 61.1 percent to 38.5 percent, and the Electoral College by a margin of 486 to 52.

In contrast, the polls this year show a relatively tight race, one within the normal historic range for a presidential campaign. What gives?

A tragic and staggering historical event—the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963—certainly had an immediate impact on the 1964 election. The prospect of three presidents in two years was a bit much for many Americans. But over the decades, changes in the political landscape tell us more about why the vote promises to be closer this year than in 1964.

First, 1964 was the new conservative movement’s first foray into a national race. We now know that as disastrous as the election results were that year, the campaign catapulted conservative ideas into the national political discourse. Ronald Reagan was able to win the presidency as a conservative in 1980, and ever since then more citizens have considered themselves conservative than liberal.

Second, the composition of the media has changed dramatically. In 1964, Americans got almost all of their political news from establishment media, most notably the three liberal television networks. Since then we’ve had the media revolution that Richard Viguerie and I documented in our 2004 book, America’s Right Turn—the Internet, talk radio, Fox News on cable TV, and the rest. Americans are no longer held hostage by liberal-media “gatekeepers.”

Then, of course, there is the populist revolution brewing around the world, including in the United States, as a reaction to the utter failures of the ruling elites. While the changed electorate and the changed composition of the media are by now well-established, this populist revolution is still in its infancy. Just as we couldn’t see the results of the Goldwater revolution in December 1964, we can only guess today the results of our current populist revolution.

change_me

Despite the nonstop media assault on Trump, most polls show national preferences at around 50 percent for Clinton and 40 percent for Trump. Given the unreliability of polls and the many unfolding aspects of this very unusual election (especially the WikLeaks disclosures), I consider this to be “within the margin of error.” There is a real possibility of Trump winning the popular vote in November, even if by a narrow margin.

There seems to be very little possibility, however, of Trump winning the vote in the Electoral College. So what if Trump wins the popular vote but Clinton wins the presidency in the Electoral College? I see that as a possible national disaster, especially since nobody understands the Electoral College anyway. The electorate on both sides is already more partisan and heated than I can remember since 1964, and Trump will not accept defeat as gently as Al Gore did in 2000.  The results of having two presidential winners—one by popular vote, the other in the Electoral College—could be scary.

David Franke was a founder of the conservative movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He is currently writing his magnum opus on the trajectory of conservatism and American politics during his lifetime.

58 Comments (Open | Close)

58 Comments To "Why Isn’t Donald Trump Losing Like Barry Goldwater?"

#1 Comment By Mayme On October 20, 2016 @ 3:57 pm

Barry Goldwater was not on TV everyday for two years, like Trump has been on FoxNews and Goldwater didn’t run World Wide Wrestling for years……oh! and the Miss Universe Pageant. People believe the crap they see on TV, unfortunately.

#2 Comment By Noah172 On October 20, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

Michael Powe wrote:

The answer is the elephant in the room. A significant minority of Americans don’t want a woman as President

You do realize that most of the people who will vote for Trump voted for the McCain-Palin ticket, don’t you? And that almost every state Trump will win has had female statewide office-holders?

We haven’t had a woman on the top of the ticket for 32 years

Again, you forget Palin. You don’t have to like her, but she is a woman.

It’s taken a woman with exceptional ambition, incredible determination, and the hide of a rhino to get to this point

Also helps to be a former President’s wife. Hillary Rodham would not be where Hillary Clinton is today.

Also helps to have an army of plutocrat funders.

Also helps to have a sitting President cover up your criminal activity.

Also helps to have every potentially dangerous challenger step aside, leaving to face an aged gadfly who is not even technically a member of your party.

As of this year, twenty-three countries (including now the UK) have women leading them

The UK had a female head of government back in 1979.

#3 Comment By Tommy On October 20, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

I need hardly say that in our poor, sad, morally rotten and intellectually exhausted America, the name “conservative” is past all meaning. It is claimed at will with full assurance by various and sundry war profiteers, gay marriage advocates, sexual dysmorphics, corporate globalists, jingoists, cigar connoisseurs and–who knows?–perhaps by some Marxist-Leninists. So on what grounds can I possibly challenge your claim to have founded the Conservative Movement a full generation after Robert Taft? (We won’t mention Henry Adams or Nathaniel Hawthorne another century back) Al Gore, after all, invented the Internet. I do not recognize your name, but what can be made of that?

What I can and do challenge is your right to hurl an ugly and damaging slander against Mr. Trump, without a word of corroboration, imposing your accusation, or jeer, or whatever it is supposed to be, on your readers as if they were all in full agreement.

“Buffoonish”? “Narcissistic”? Does it strike you, whoever you are, that these are rather harsh characterizations in themselves, and perhaps deserve at least a word of definition? And while the television propaganda machine–the thing that destroyed Barry Goldwater and Howard Dean and Ron Paul–repeats over and over, beating it into the dull, distracted mind of the debased American electorate, that Mr. Trump “gropes women”, still, little or no evidence for it is given, while much exists to the contrary.

Yet you pick up and retail the slander as if you had witnessed the flagrant act. After all, it is repeated over and over on television, and this fact is the sole remaining epistemological test that satisfies our sleepy and helpless people.

Mr. Trump is running for President on his own money, and doing it from a motive of alarmed concern for the imminent loss of our country’s laws and freedoms. He expects–he has said it himself–to have to endure, in payment for his trouble, the horrid Billingsgate jeers of the corrupt establishment.

But he does not, I think, expect those same ugly cries from persons claiming–with whatever degree of truth–to be conservatives and who have at least convinced themselves that they are founders of the movement.

#4 Comment By Tommy On October 20, 2016 @ 6:35 pm

I need hardly say that in our poor, sad, morally rotten and intellectually exhausted America, the name “conservative” is past all meaning. It is claimed at will with full assurance by various and sundry war profiteers, gay marriage advocates, sexual dysmorphics, corporate globalists, jingoists, cigar connoisseurs and–who knows?–perhaps by some Marxist-Leninists.

So on what grounds can I possibly challenge your claim to have founded the Conservative Movement a full generation after Robert Taft? (We won’t mention Henry Adams or Nathaniel Hawthorne another century back) Al Gore, after all, invented the Internet. I do not recognize your name, but what can be made of that?

What I can and do challenge is your right to hurl an ugly and damaging slander against Mr. Trump, without a word of corroboration, imposing your accusation, or jeer, or whatever it is supposed to be, on your readers as if they were all in full agreement.

“Buffoonish”? “Narcissistic”? Does it strike you, whoever you are, that these are rather harsh characterizations in themselves, and perhaps deserve at least a word of definition? And while the television propaganda machine–the thing that destroyed Barry Goldwater and Howard Dean and Ron Paul–repeats over and over, beating it into the dull, distracted mind of the debased American electorate, that Mr. Trump “gropes women”, still, little or no evidence for it is given, while much exists to the contrary.

Yet you pick up and retail the slander as if you had witnessed the flagrant act. After all, it is repeated over and over on television, and this fact is the sole remaining epistemological test that satisfies our sleepy and helpless people.

Mr. Trump is running for President on his own money, and doing it from a motive of alarmed concern for the imminent loss of our country’s laws and freedoms. He expects–he has said it himself–to have to endure, in payment for his trouble, the horrid Billingsgate jeers of the corrupt establishment.

But he does not, I think, expect those same ugly cries from persons claiming–with whatever degree of truth–to be conservatives and who have at least convinced themselves that they are founders of the movement.

#5 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 21, 2016 @ 2:17 am

“As of this year, twenty-three countries (including now the UK) have women leading them”

I never had AP European History, but my count Great Britain has no less than seven queens as head of government throughout her history.

[1]

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 21, 2016 @ 2:19 am

“As of this year, twenty-three countries (including now the UK) have women leading them”

I never had AP European History, but my count Great Britain has no less than seven queens as head of government throughout her history.

[1]

An at least who was head of state but did not hold the title of Queen.
Excuse me if this double posts.

God save the Queen.

#7 Comment By the why of it On October 23, 2016 @ 4:02 pm

Electoral blowout is Reagan vs Mondale – Mondale won 1 state. Popular blowout is Johnson (61%) vs Goldwater (39%), 1964. Trump will win at least 15-20 states and will be well within 10-15 points of Clinton. Heck, if the stars align a certain way he might even win.

Anyway, Trump isn’t losing like Mondale or Goldwater because 1) too many people hate and distrust Hillary and 2) too many people are deeply concerned about the direction the country has taken under Hillary style Establishment candidates (endless wars, ongoing financial catastrophes and economic malaise, radical social engineering, out of control immigration and job outsourcing, unprecedented wealth inequality). In that respect Trump is “other”, or “none of the above”, and even if people find him loathsome he retains that “other” appeal.

#8 Comment By Isolato On October 23, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

I would think a “conservative” would welcome the Electoral College saving us from what our Founders recognized as the most dangerous characteristic of Democracy…demagoguery, immensely enabled in our age by a 24/7 news cycle.

The Electoral College was conceived of as a last “filter” to keep such men (in those days) from dragging us over a cliff.