What happens in an election where one side is led by a nominee who cannot make an argument on behalf of his party? The answer is: Nobody really knows. Until now, the major parties have nominated candidates who could communicate their basic messages to voters. Even those who lost by large margins—Barry Goldwater in 1964, George McGovern in 1972, Walter Mondale in 1984, Bob Dole in 1996—could at least make their parties’ case, even if their salesmanship was less than impressive. Trump is a different species of candidate entirely. His typical argument is a mishmash of catchphrases and off-the-cuff bluster. And when Trump does stumble upon a coherent thought, it’s likely to offend some crucial voting bloc.
Republican officials may be tempted to write Trump off and simply focus instead on down-ballot races. That assumes other candidates can effectively communicate the party’s message while the GOP nominee is spouting gibberish and the Democrats are marching in lockstep behind Clinton.
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