News & Politics

GOP Defections Are Few, But That Hasn't Stopped the Feeding Frenzy

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Yesterday, major GOP donor Meg Whitman and Congressman Richard Hanna announced they would support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton for president.

It’s not surprising that either individual would defect to the Democrats. Both are relative moderates on most issues. Both are social liberals.

But reading headlines the last few hours would lead one to believe that the entire Republican Party is in meltdown with nervous politicians wondering whether they should repudiate their nominee. Meanwhile, the press is in full-throated howl with speculation running rampant that Trump is going to be forced to drop out, or that everyone from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to the lowliest backbench congressman was set to jump ship and, like Whitman and Hanna, vote for Clinton.

This feeding frenzy based on anonymous sources and wild speculation is unprecedented in the history of presidential campaigns. But Trump has only himself to blame for it. With talk of “interventions” and a “suicidal staff,” each hour brings fresh revelations about the state of the GOP and Trump’s candidacy that even a casual voter would find off putting.

Is any of it true? The defections of Whitman and Hanna are real enough, but what about other prominent Republicans?

Allahpundit on GOP defections:

Interesting timing. This isn’t a case of Team Clinton springing into action this week to capitalize on disgust over Trump’s scrap with the Khans. Hillary called Whitman before the conventions. She’s probably called many other Republicans since. In fact, if there’s an element of convenient timing here, it likely has less to do with when Hillary recruited Whitman than when she asked Whitman to go public about it, hoping that the news breaking now would compound the sense that Republicans are staging a mutiny against Trump. The Whitman story is, I’d guess, a carefully choreographed signal to Chamber of Commerce GOPers that there’s plenty of room still available on the Hillary train. And if that’s true, Team Clinton may already be preparing to roll out other big-name endorsements this week to amplify the perception of a GOP meltdown. Who’s next? I doubt Carly Fiorina would switch to Clinton after spending most of her primary campaign swinging a hatchet at her, but if there’s anyone Fiorina might like less than Hillary, it’s Trump.

So how much of this froth the press is churning up is to be believed? No doubt there are pockets of Republicans who are ready to jump ship in frustration over the stupidity of the candidate. But for the politicians running for re-election, they really have little choice but to stick with Trump — for the present. For every vote they gain by showing “independence” in abandoning the candidate, they will probably lose a vote from an angry Trump supporter. For most candidates, repudiating Trump is a zero-sum game.

That doesn’t mean that Trump is going to make it easy on them, nor that there won’t come a point in the future where Trump becomes so toxic, it will be a matter of survival for a Republican candidate for office to repudiate him. But we haven’t reached that point yet, although the press wants us to think we have.

Hillary Clinton may be putting out feelers to a lot of prominent Republicans, but she, herself, is so toxic in party circles that few are likely to take the overt step of announcing their support.

So, while the press wants us to think that the race has changed overnight, in fact, there is very little movement away from Trump by the GOP. Many are angry and frustrated with him, but a mass movement ready to take flight and turn their backs on him? Despite the outcry, there is little evidence for it.