Sunday, November 20, 2016

Would Trump have won if there hadn’t been a vacancy on the Supreme Court?

I have no deep thoughts for you on this but it’s worth asking the question since it’s interesting and I haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere in all of the post-election counterfactuals. SCOTUS is always an issue for voters in a presidential election but it’s typically background noise: Yes, there’s a chance — almost a sure thing, really — that at least one vacancy will open up in four years’ time, but usually that’s an abstract reality, not a concrete one. Supreme Court appointments under normal circumstances are just one in a basket of issues that makes you a member of the party you belong to. If you’re pro-life, pro-gun, support smaller government, and so on, you vote Republican and simply assume that the president’s Court picks will reflect those priorities.
This year was different for two reasons. One: We’ve had a vacancy on the Court for nine months, and not just any vacancy but a vacancy that imperils the fragile conservative majority. If one of the Democratic justices had died the Court would also be an unusually vibrant, concrete issue this year, but in the end the election would merely have decided how dominant the conservative majority would be. Because it was a conservative justice who died, though — and not just any conservative justice but the conservative justice — the issue of who would replace Scalia was momentous in every sense. Two: One of the major problems with Trump all along to conservative skeptics like me was that you simply couldn’t, and can’t, be sure if he’ll govern conservatively. He’s a protectionist; he won’t touch entitlements; he’s spoken warmly at times about single-payer. All of this was arguably disqualifying. But Trumpers always had a, er, trump card — he’ll appoint a conservative to replace Scalia. He’ll protect that fragile majority on the Court. If for no other reason, Trump is worth backing for that. And that argument was … highly persuasive. Even if, like me, you have no use for the guy and fear he’ll end up as a centrist Democrat as president, there’s really no denying that his SCOTUS picks will be better than Clinton’s would have.
Put those two factors together, the visceral fear Republicans felt of losing their long Supreme Court majority in the first weeks of a Clinton administration and the fact that it created a compelling reason to back Trump despite his many loathsome qualities, and you come to the question in the headline. How many Trump-skeptics bit the bullet in the end and voted for him despite their misgivings, in the name of protecting a conservative Court? How many of them wouldn’t have voted for Trump, or wouldn’t have voted at all, if not for the Scalia vacancy?
Read the rest from ALLAHPUNDIT HERE.

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1 comment:

cimbri said...

It's a good argument, and it also shows why you can't compare previous elections to the current one, which is what many pundits waste their time doing. Every election has a unique (understatement) set of variables, which favor a candidate who may not have won in a previous race.

Granted, there is also such a thing as making your own luck. Obviously, Trump, being outside the government circle jerk in DC, was able to detect the populism rising in the country before anyone else.