There have been two particularly remarkable patterns in the Republican primaries so far: Record number of voters turn up to vote, and Donald Trump wins or — once, in Iowa — comes in a close second. And that is no coincidence.
Trump is the candidate of passion in this race, and the passionate are showing up at caucuses and polls in droves. Record numbers of Republicans have cast votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and the long lines recorded Tuesday in Nevada suggest the same thing happened there. GOP contests in the first three states to vote drew more than 1.2 million voters, up 24 percent over 2012, the New York Post reports.
Voter turnout negates the advantages of Trump’s opponents and fits perfectly with his playbook. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are better organized than Trump and have superior “ground games.” But you don’t need buses and perky twenty-somethings to drive voters to the polls if they’re going anyway. Trump is inspiring people, and they are turning out.
What’s more, by striking such a resounding chord with voters, Trump, whose spending has been dwarfed by his rivals, doesn’t need to pound them with ads or drop cash getting them to the polls. “Money can’t buy me love,” the Beatles sung five decades ago. Trump has the love, and he doesn’t need to try to purchase any.
Rubio is starting to rack up endorsements. Trump won’t be accumulating many at all. But endorsements represent someone else’s devotion, not that of the voters. The approval of the Establishment will be overwhelmed by the ardor that is driving Trump’s voters, and it will make little difference for Rubio.
You don’t marry someone because someone else loves them. Not usually, anyway.
By contrast, the other passion candidate in the race, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is losing to Hillary Clinton. And that’s because his energized acolytes are sweet young things who are excited about Sanders’ socialist message but who haven’t taken the hits life offers and haven’t watched the slow decay of their nation over decades. And thus, they are turning out for rallies, but not so much for voting. Sanders blamed his loss in Nevada Saturday to low turnout. It’s a problem he may continue to have on Super Tuesday.
Trump’s voters are angry, the Nevada caucus entrance polls show it. They know Washington doesn’t work. They know the economy is limping. They know their jobs are being stolen by bad trade deals and cheap labor from Mexican immigration, which is swamping the country in numbers too big to absorb. They realize traditional politicians have failed time and again to get the job done. The Marco Rubios, the Jeb Bushes or the world — they’ve seen these types before. They want someone who is brash enough and determined enough to really make a change. And Donald Trump fits the bill.
In Nevada, Trump took the over-65 population. They don’t have the same volume of hormones driving them into adoring and adorable frenzies at Bernie’s rallies. But even if they have to employ walkers or wheelchairs to get there, they show up to vote.
And for those doubting Trump’s ability to win in the general election, take the polls you see showing him narrowly losing to Sanders or Hillary Clinton, print them out and drop them in the trash. Because he is, as he says, the “high-energy” candidate with the high-energy voters who will arrive at polling stations on Nov. 8, 2016, Election Day in the United States.