Guess what, folks. Americans really dug Donald Trump’s fearfest.
That’s likely to shock those of you who watched the Republican convention and felt the urge to take frequent showers. But it looks like you’re out of sync with the masses. For now, at least.
Nominees typically get a “bounce” from their conventions, and Trump’s was fairly big — if you take the average of four new polls, it’s 6.3 percent. Maybe it’s the result of saturation free media, but it’s big enough to nudge him past Hillary Clinton for the national lead. Which nudges us just a wee bit closer to America’s first autocratic coup.
But before everyone who reveres American pluralism and abhors fearmongering nativism finds the nearest cliff and launches themselves skyward, a few key caveats: In 1996, Republican Bob Dole scored a bounce of 6.5 percent — and lost decisively in November. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush scored that same bounce — and lost decisively in November. On the Democratic side, Michael Dukakis in 1988 and Al Gore in 2000 scored 6.5 percent — and both lost in November (in Gore’s case, thanks to a decisive heave-ho from the Supreme Court).
On the other hand — where’s that cliff? — Trump scored a convention bounce bigger than either of Obama’s. It was bigger than either of George W.’s. It was bigger than John McCain’s. It was bigger than Mitt Romney’s. The only conclusion one can draw is that the week-long parade of plagiarism, C-actors, floor spats, Cruz boos, Hillary hatred, and serial lying was viewed by millions as downright endearing.
But on the other other hand, the Democrats get their turn now. If they’re up to it.
A party spokesman said this morning that it’s wrong to judge the race based on just one convention, that the smart move is to wait a month and see how the race shakes out after the public has absorbed both conventions. (After all, McCain in ’08 left his convention with a modest bounce and a five-point lead over Obama, but got trounced in November.)
So the heat is on Clinton and Kaine to erase Trump’s bounce. And by the way, if Bernie Sanders’ bitter-enders refuse to heed Bernie’s unity message (his text to supporters today: “I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor”), if instead they insist on stoking tumult hour after hour, then hey, nobody is happier to exploit their purblind grievances than Donald Trump. And his Kremlin friend.