History may not repeat itself, but it does echo. Right now we’re getting a powerful echo coming off the hills, can you hear it? 2016 (teen) (teen) 2016 (teen) (teen) The similarities of this election to 2016 are glaring and a message is there for Team Trump to decipher, but don’t expect that to happen. Remember, Trump is as totally predictable as he is for one reason: his consistency. He never changes because he can’t change. Change requires powers of discernment and discernment is dependent in no small part upon intelligence and you know he hasn’t got that.

Plus, now he’s in a situation where it’s not a question of teaching an old dog new tricks, but rather teaching a demented one. And the money pressures are phenomenal. So on these facts, don’t expect any strategic changes right now in Trump’s game. He’s a one trick pony, an insult comic iconoclast, and that’s the pale horse he’s going to ride into the sunset of his own self ordained destruction.

And what are the details of that destruction that Trump is missing? Like Hillary Clinton, in 2016, his own party is deeply divided against him, and he’s choosing to ignore that. That’s a mistake and that’s our starting point.

Trump’s repeated underperformance—and Haley’s decision to stick around even after it has become clear that she will not be her party’s nominee—recalls Hillary Clinton’s struggle to lock up the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016. Then, as with Trump today, voters repeatedly sent the message that they were unenthused about their party’s presumptive nominee. That lack of enthusiasm destroyed Clinton’s campaign—and handed the presidency to Trump. Now the same alarms are blaring, and Trump, like Clinton before him, is ignoring them.

Eight years ago, Clinton wanted a coronation—and almost got it. Biden, the sitting vice president, declined to run, as did a number of rising Democratic stars. Instead, the field was full of long-shot candidates with little national name recognition—former governors Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee and former Senator Jim Webb—and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose campaign began as a kind of protest aimed at pushing Clinton to the left and ended up creating the most significant left-wing movement the country had seen in half a century.

Let me make it clear that while there are definite similarities here, there are also glaring distinctions. Bernie Sanders was Clinton’s ideological opponent, yes, but this was old school politics. They were discussing differing views in foreign policy, hawkish v. pacifist in relative terms, economic differences which were also relative. Nikki Haley is pointing out something substantially different about her opponent, namely that he’s incoherent, doesn’t know who she is or where she was on January 6, and is in bed with Russia. We’re talking apples and oranges for the most part in comparing the two campaigns, but where the similarities exist, they are striking, and that’s my point.

Sanders’s stubborn success in the primary was partially an endorsement of a completely different approach to politics. Haley’s continued support—she has received between 25 and 40 percent in early contests—should be seen in a similar light, even if her approach (cautious, polite) is quite the opposite of Sanders’s. [Note: I disagree with the writer here. Haley’s gloves have been off for sometime and Bernie never got anywhere near the level of rancor that we’ve seen between Haley and Trump.]

But this support, by persisting in the face of certain loss, is also the inverse of an endorsement: a protest vote against the opponent. Haley’s voters are coming out to reject the reprobate who most elected Republicans are already treating as the nominee, and who has spent many months whining that he has not received a coronation. Clinton was similarly miffed by Sanders’s challenge, which defied expectations but ultimately never posed a mortal threat to Clinton’s glide path to the nomination, thanks to her rock-solid support within the party’s establishment.

Now here’s where the two campaigns are in fact similar.

Clinton’s struggles within the party pointed to deep problems, though. She narrowly lost to Sanders in Michigan and was defeated by more than 10 points in Wisconsin, two key states that would go on to cost her the presidency. In the primary, she repeatedly struggled with young voters, but there were also signs of vulnerabilities with white working-class voters. Trump’s struggles in the 2024 primary suggest a different demographic vulnerability: Haley is cleaning up with college-educated voters and doing very well among the handful of moderates who still vote in Republican primaries. (She has also performed reasonably well in states with open primaries that allow anyone to vote regardless of party ID, with Michigan being a recent exception.)

In retrospect, Clinton’s struggle to put Sanders away should have been treated more seriously by her campaign. It represented a larger struggle to unite her party and build a coalition that could win the general election. Trump’s struggles at this point are almost identical—and may in fact be more pronounced. He is running a campaign with no overtures to a wider electorate and is instead relying on his sizable coalition of die-hard supporters to carry him to victory. That reliance is coming at the expense of moderates and Republican-leaning independents who have, again and again, come out for Haley.

Again, these comparisons are not completely accurate because at no point was Hillary openly alienating or threatening to excommunicate the Bernie Bros, as they were known back in the day. And while there was a schism in the Democratic party in 2016, Hillary was not an extremist cult leader. But there are some good points to be taken here, which Trump is not taking into account at all. Trump should be looking at his underperformance. He’s crowing about 100,000 voters hitting the “uncommitted” box during the primary, which is a mild form of protest, but in no way does it represent the tanking of Joe Biden in Michigan. However, Trump openly excommunicating anybody who ever supported or contributed to Nikki Haley, might very well do that for him.

Now there’s another aspect of the 2016 and 2024 elections, where Trump finds himself in the same position that Hillary was in 2016 and nobody is writing about — yet: the media and the polls predicted that Trump had a 15% chance of winning. Hillary’s polls were always running 85%, 95% and once I even saw a 98% probability that she would win. So what happened?

Ask Michael Moore. He was one of the few people who was seeing the election with clear eyes that year and he predicted a Trump win. Moore saw the rust belt states going against Clinton and he also saw the effects of a twenty year hit job which the right-wing media had done on Clinton as bearing fruit. He was right on both counts.

The point is, data points and statistics that could have told us the truth in 2016 were under reported and underplayed, because Trump was providing bread and circus and the media was too busy raking in the cash from ratings gold and normalizing him. So the few people declaring he would win were in the minority. And right now people pointing out his obvious, glaring weaknesses, which keep repeating themselves, are likewise in the minority.

The media in 2016 also underestimated the fact that a lot of normal, run of the mill Republicans would vote for Trump simply because he was on the GOP ticket and to them that represented a sort of vetting, a kind of security. It wasn’t until he was a drop dead disaster of a president that these same Republicans saw the truth and did not vote for him in 2020 and will not vote for him in 2024.

But the media hasn’t caught up with any of this yet. Trump is still underperforming and that gets swept right under the rug because of the need to create a horserace narrative. And so this time, Trump is the one being lulled into thinking that he might pull another inside straight and handily win a second term. And the fact is, he might get clobbered. He was supposed to once again “trounce” and “decimate” Haley in Michigan, by 60% no less. And he underperformed by twenty points. That is a lot.

Trump may end up getting trounced and decimated. And he doesn’t even see it coming. The media put him where he got in 2016 with giving him publicity he couldn’t have bought for a billion dollars, and now it’s lulling him into a false sense of security, telling him that his die hard MAGA base is going to be enough to carry him across the finish line.

Maybe the moral of the story is that television giveth and television taketh away. Because the same flaws in the media coverage of Trump in 2016, which assisted him in winning, may be the very thing that guarantees his loss in 2024. He doesn’t see his defeat coming and so he’s not doing anything to defend against it. And that’s due to not only his own pigheadedness, but mainly to media coverage of this election. Remember: to Donald Trump, television is the only thing that’s real. If they’re saying he’s in a racehorse on television, then that’s what he believes is going on. Meanwhile, the truth lies buried.


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  1. Agree. Ask yourself does the public believe Trump never met Jean Carroll when he’s in a photo with her or do they believe he now owes her 88 million dollars? His bluster is wearing thin among rational people of both parties. Nikki is a liar, a racist, and would do terrible things like she did as governor. She does avoid looking totally batshit crazy whereas he will continue to do so. Trump also benefitted, as you noted, from APPEARING as a dynamite self made businessman on the Apprentice for years. The bloom is off that rose, and as he struggles to meet these judgements, with more suits to come, his empire will be sold off to pay the bills. Our culture is fickle. We love to tear down celebrities once we’ve made them into gods. He’s on his way down and the gop with him as you’ve noted. Good riddance to the American Nazi Party.

  2. Ursula, you make a very good point. Irritating though it is for our side to have Biden’s lead underplayed and the whole thing played out as a ‘horse race’, it is what Trump wants to hear, and it lulls him into a false sense of security. Which is what we need.

  3. I believe that it will be the women of America who doom Trump. He’s claimed full credit for the disgraceful destruction of women’s rights to freedom of choice, so no woman should be in doubt who’s to blame in the wake of Trump’s sycophant Supreme Court killing Roe v Wade. There are millions of faithful Republican wives who won’t say it out loud, but they’ll vote against Trump in November. I hope and trust that they’ll vote against all the MAGAt candidates down-ballot too, because they’re all complicit in Trump’s attack on women’s rights.


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