Donald Trump has been out there all year, dutifully stumping for Republican candidates, the supposed "amateur" proving a good enough politician to realize he needs firmer support in Congress and the governors' mansions . . . and it doesn't hurt to have those office-holders owe him a few favors.
(And of course, his campaign also gathers data on every person who signs up and attends those rallies — each and every one a potential donor and volunteer, each of whom will be contacted and urged to drive four friends or family members to the polls, a year from now.)
Trump campaigned for many GOP Senate candidates in 2018. Some won, many didn't. Though even the Never-Trump gang have had to acknowledge he's capable of turning losers with 38 percent approval ratings (see Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky, least popular governor in the nation with a 38 percent approval rating, two months out) into contenders who manage to pull 48 or 49 percent support on a nail-biting election day.
It happened again in Louisiana, last weekend. The GOP foolishly fought a divisive primary only five weeks before the general election. The 50-some percent of voters who voted Republican in the primary had their votes split between two candidates, Congressman Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone. In effect, that means Rispone, with only a month to go, started with about 28 percent statewide support. Despite many Abraham supporters sitting out the run-off against Democrat Jon Bel Edwards, Trump's multiple rallies in Louisiana managed to push Rispone up to a 48 percent showing.
Any honest press corps would be running hour-long specials trying to analyze the phenomenon of the Trump Rally – something not seen in U.S. politics since the dawn of the Television Age, 70 years ago. Up till now, only serious rock stars could get thousands of people to wait in line overnight to fill a 10-, 20-, or 30,000 seat venue. And Trump doesn't even have a bass player, let alone Keith Richards or Eric Clapton.
In fact, this phenomenon terrifies the left. (And all of America's "Mainstream Media" are a paid-off part of the NeverTrump Left.) If with a couple of such rallies Trump can add 10 or even 20 points to the vote total of an unimpressive candidate in a state or local race, imagine what he's going to do to some shrill crypto-communist opponent who has to bus in high-school girls to put together a crowd of 200 in some college gym next fall -– even assuming Democrats don't nominate some old white guy who can't remember what state he's in, or who proceeds to drop dead of a heart attack.
Our childish, petulant, heel-kicking press corps responds by ridiculing Trump's fans and supporters as "toothless rural shit-kickers" or "zombies." Hey, real insightful analysis, guys. Been wearing out your shoe leather, doing interviews in the crowd? Just trying to keep us informed, right?
And when Trump manages to carry an otherwise unimpressive Republican candidate up to but not quite over the finish line, Democrats, predictably, employ a scripted talking point that even they clearly don't believe (else why their sham "impeachment" attempts to cripple Trump's popularity, rather than just campaigning against his trade and immigration policies, straight up?) asserting this means "The public has soured on Trump; he's a loser."
Republicans, in turn, look at how massively Republican candidates have been winning many of the down-ticket races in places like Kentucky and Louisiana, while the Democrat at the top of the ticket gets more votes than any down-ticket Democrat nominee by an unlikely large margin, and cry "Vote Fraud!"
TOO 'SOPHISTICATED' BY HALF
I'm sure there IS a lot of fraud. It would be easy to require the same ID to vote as you usually need to cash a check or use your debit card; Democrats block this under the absurd claim that it's a scheme to disenfranchise black voters, who presumably can't figure out how to get a photo ID. (?!!) So why are they against it, really?
"Early voting" is also custom-made for fraud, since instead of voting in a neighborhood polling place where a poll watcher might say, "Wait a minute, I know John Jones and you ain't him," "voters" get bused by their party or labor union to polling places in supermarket parking lots, miles from where they live, staffed by total strangers, so no one there is ever going to challenge them (if challenging is even ALLOWED, any more.)
But lots of "election analysis" is too clever by half. Come on. Don't you think it might be THE CANDIDATES? Specifically, the way a lot of these the Republican candidates look and sound?
Have you ever been in a room with 40 or 50 people when a governor, U.S. Senator, or in many cases even a mayor or county commissioner walks in? The rule on physical stature (though not personality — see Marsha Blackburn) changes a bit with woman office-holders, but it doesn't take guys blowing trumpets to let you know "The Guy" has arrived. There's a perceptible "wave" in the crowd as people break off their chit-chat and turn toward the arriving alpha male. "There he is," someone murmurs. He's usually taller than almost anyone else in the room – sometimes by three or four inches — with broader shoulders. He'll usually have a fairly deep voice, pitched a bit louder than anyone else's. He's relaxed, he smiles, he calls people by name (he REMEMBERS their names, and when he saw them last), claps them on the back, starts telling an amusing story.
We gravitate towards these men, hoping to be noticed, to have a word with them. Gosh, wouldn't people be impressed if I could get HIM to drop by my next backyard cookout? Imagine how people will look at me when I say, "Actually, I mentioned that to the governor the last time I saw him, and he said . . ."
I started covering presidential politics in the late 1970s. Believe me, George McGovern, Gene McCarthy, and Mo Udall were big, impressive guys (as was Lyndon Johnson — seriously ethically challenged, maybe, but BIG.) People's faces changed when they talked, even if they were just asking where they could find the nearest telephone. You WANTED to hear those guys talk. They got a response from onlookers that was quite different from that awarded the rather bedraggled looking senator from Oklahoma, Fred Harris (fellow looked a little like a duckpin), and it had nothing to do with their "policy positions," or even their ranking in the polls.
I'm afraid this way of identifying a likely leader has been wired into us since the days when the cave men picked someone to lead them on the hunt. And if anything, I suspect this "Alpha Male Effect" has even MORE impact on women. Once of my first memories with any political context is of an evening when I would have been 10 years old, my mother and two of her faithful Democrat-voting friends returning from attending a speech by candidate John F. Kennedy in Hartford. Did the women stand in our kitchen discussing candidate Kennedy's wise and nuanced policies on taxation, foreign relations, or Civil Rights for the Negro? They did not. "He's so handsome!" one of them sighed. "And that red hair! Oh my goodness!" another responded, clearly wishing she could run her fingers through it.