The guy just wasn’t Trumpy enough.
This will no doubt be the opposite of the conclusion most analysts will come to. They will see it as a bad sign of things to come for Trump’s adopted party.
Here’s the thing … and we’ll leave aside the speed with which Trump turned on the guy he was supporting. Where was I?
Right, here’s the thing.
Politically, it’s a very smart tweet for the President. He is assuring his deeply Trump-devoted base that this loss does not reflect on him or on them. In fact, he is saying to them, it shows that you have to be even more Trump than ever if you want to win. What America wants, he is telling them, is MORE Trump. Not less.
Expect this to be the message from his big boosters, too. Especially on social media. Despite Gillespie having gone very pro-Trump and pro-Trumpism.
This reinforces not only their self-perception and their view of him as the great one, but it also forgives any Trump voters who failed to turn out. You were right, he wasn’t good enough for us. Ironic, considering the burning hate his base has for anyone who failed to vote for him. “Binary choice” and all that.
Considering the down ballot, it’s maybe not so accurate. But it’s savvy.
And it was smart in another way, too. It confirms a truth about the new GOP in general. That truth, which Brit Hume missed in some of his tweets tonight, is that Trumpists are supportive of or voting for the GOP per se. They are voting for other Trumpists. And as we have seen countless times in the past year, those who are not Trumpists are the enemy, no matter the letter behind the name.
If you’re insufficiently Trump, the President says, you won’t win. And we’ll find out if that means being insufficiently Trump means you won’t get any support either. Remember, Trump stumped for Gillespie, and pitched him today on Twitter. But now he lost. Trump doesn’t like people who lose.
Next time maybe there’s no stumping at all. And it will be easier to do, considering Bannon is out there hand-picking only Trumpists.
To put it another way: Tonight on Fox News, Brit Hume described Ed Gillespie as the dictionary definition of “a mainstream Republican.” President Trump turned around and said “yeah, that’s the problem.”
Election analysis will, by habit or necessity, see this race as a barometer of the D vs R dynamic. But Trump’s tweet shows how his base will view it. A measure of R vs. T. If you aren’t T, then maybe you aren’t even R.
Wednesday morning update: I told you the legions would make the same claim.
Ed Gillespie’s loss proves you can’t fake Trumpism with spooky ads and voter pamphlets. You have to be authentic.
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 8, 2017
There are dozens and dozens more examples.