It would not be an understatement to say that Paul Ryan is not well-liked among Republican conservatives. Even #NeverTrumpsters are having existential pangs wanting so badly to see both Ryan and Trump defeated this Tuesday. Only that is not likely to happen for any kind of Nehlen victory or near-victory will be seen as a Trump win.
Ryan is in many ways a sad character. My son attended college with Ryan, and they were friends. And he still likes him, believing he is still the good dad, husband, and politician. It’s just that national politics, like upper management tracks in the corporate world, changes a person, fuzzying the distinctions between real and pretend world of moralities. We discussed this just this morning, in conjunction with corporate figures in industry and politics we’d both known, including his grandfather, and the strange lure of ambition and power that can cause a man to sell his soul to the devil on behalf of the organization and never even see it happen.
Ryan never saw it. We’re both sure of it.
On the other hand Paul Nehlen is an unknown, a blank slate in many ways. For instance, just a couple of weeks ago a poll showed that despite some of the conservative press Nehlen was getting, only 22% of the voters in Wisconsin’s 1st District had ever heard of him.
That has changed. Our own JadedbyPolitics just returned from a tour of duty in the 1st District, walking the neighborhoods, good old shoe-leather GOTV, on Nehlan’s behalf. Volunteers are pouring in from around the country. Ann Coulter is there now. So Paul Nehlen is suddenly a known quantity, and, unlike Dave Brat sneaking up on Eric Cantor in the 2014 VA-7 primary, Paul Ryan is prepared. This Tuesday will be power versus power, but not necessarily money versus money.
And, since Ryan would not endorse Trump until he had become the clear winner at the Republican Convention a couple of weeks ago, after all the roadblocks #NeverTrumpsters and RNC insiders had hoped would materialize, then grudgingly, Trump also has held his fire.
Trump has reciprocated with the same gesture, strategically withholding his endorsement until he also knows for certain Ryan is the district’s chosen candidate.
Just as the Spanish Civil war was a proxy war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Tuesday’s primary will be a proxy for the power of the RNC and deep corporate pockets (who Ryan has already given so much during his tenure) and the mythical power of the “hidden voter”…if he actually exists at all.
Obviously, Ryan has more at stake, for not only must he win, but he must win big, for it he doesn’t he will become so weakened as to probably lose the speakership on returning to Washington. And, as custom has it, with such a no-confidence vote among fellow GOP members, he will likely retire, either immediately or at the end of the next term, thereby handing his seat to Nehlen anyway.
By the numbers:
I have a call into the Wisconsin Board of Elections to find out how many new voter registrations they’ve had in the 1st District in 2016. If I can get that number, I’ll amend this article, since, if there have been a lot, look out for the “trump Effect”. In 2012 Ryan had no primary challenge, but in 2014 he did, winning 94%-6%, but with only 43,000 primary voters showing up. In 2012, Ryan won the general with 55% of the vote, and 365,000 votes being cast, while in 2014, an off year, he retained his seat 63-37%, with 288,000 votes cast.
Consider these bench marks, for if a post-election analysis shows a significant up-tick in primary voters, no matter who wins, it will be counted as “the Trump Effect”. Nehlen’s win, or even a close call, will be seen as a Trump referendum.
At that point, all bets are off about polling.
This will prove the existence of millions of “hidden voters” from demographics that pollsters have not counted for over 30 years, and haven’t looked for in over twenty. And they have no idea how to find them,
Imagine what this would do to the media? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all go into the November booths driving blind?