Trumped Up
I must confess that I have spent more time talking about Donald Trump in the past week than at any other time in memory. You may recall my earlier plea back in October 2010, when I encouraged Trump to run for the Republican presidential nomination just for the sheer entertainment value it would bring to the retail politics experience in New Hampshire. Now it appears that some members of the Republican establishment are just a little unnerved by a new Public Policy Polling survey showing Trump trailing only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the Granite State.
So, do I think Trump has a chance to be the Republican nominee in 2012? No, I do not. But Trump’s poll numbers illustrate the increasingly important role that celebrity-driven name recognition plays in our electoral politics. These results also underscore the fundamental tension within the Republican Party between feeding the populist beast of Tea Party outrage toward President Obama (i.e., Trump’s extensive birther talk), and working legislatively within the institutional parameters of divided government (i.e., the bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown). I wouldn’t be the first political analyst to suggest that these two dynamics seem to be working at cross-purposes within the party at the moment.

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