Donald Trump’s “excess baggage”

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Anecdotal stories can be a tempting trap to fall into when trying to frame national elections. Sure, one voter feels a certain way for a certain reason. But how many other voters feel that same way for that reason? Five thousand? Five million? Just five?

Still, when anecdotal stories are backed up by overall numbers, it can provide important context for what’s really going on. For instance, even though Trump is ahead in the popular voting and delegate count in the 2024 Republican primary race, he’s only getting about 55% of the Republican primary vote in the process. Of the nearly half of Republicans who aren’t voting for Trump, about half of them say they won’t vote for Trump in the general election either.

This guy’s story helps explain what’s going on:

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This guy is a registered Republican, so he’s presumably a conservative, and he presumably agrees with some or even many of Donald Trump’s political positions. In this video he’s not knocking Trump on an ideological or even necessarily a personal level. Instead he’s simply saying that Trump has “too much baggage.”

“Too much baggage” is a phrase that the media (on the left and right) used quite a bit about Hillary Clinton in 2016. Of course that was all made-up baggage, in the forms of phony email scandals and such that turned out to be absolutely nothing. That phony perception of “baggage” hurt Hillary in that election, because voters see it as a problem.

Now Donald Trump is coming into the 2024 election with more baggage than anyone could ever have imagined. He’s just been effectively bankrupted by the courts. He’s three weeks from the first of his four criminal trials. And he comes off as more senile in every public appearance.

There is such a thing as voters – even voters who are firmly locked into a certain party – deciding that their party’s nominee has too much baggage, and simply staying home. Do they really want to have to get behind an odious washed up clown like Trump? This is a good reminder that Trump’s base isn’t the story and never has been. Their votes are baked in. But the numbers suggest that Trump’s base only makes up about one-third of the Republican primary voting base. It’s the Republicans outside Trump’s base, like the guy in the video above, that make Trump nonviable.

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