Why the GOP Convention Snub Could be a Boon for Trump

By | 5/09/2016 Leave a Comment
Many GOP establishment figures refuse to attend convention

Since seeing its efforts fail in spectacular fashion after the Indiana primary, the Republican Party’s anti-Trump faction has struggled to come to terms with a reality that until recently many thought they would never have to face: Donald J. Trump as the presumptive nominee of the their party.

In fact, rather than face it, many of them have stuck their heads right back in the very same sand that they’d been buried in for the better part of the last year. 

Both former Republican presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, along with former presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain, have all made it very clear that they will not be showing up at the convention in Cleveland in July. A whole host of other senators have also stated that they’re unlikely to attend, including Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Jerry Moran of Kansas, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Throw in a healthy dose of GOP House Representatives and State Governors and that makes for quite a lot of party no-shows.

But for Trump, that could be a blessing in disguise.

Perhaps in a different year, with a different presumptive nominee, that kind of unprecedented rejection from insider grandees might have rained on – nay, deluged – the parade of the party’s newly-minted standard-bearer. But this is the year of Trump, where conventional wisdom is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.

The zeitgeist that has fuelled his entire campaign – and which apparently still remains a mystery to much of the establishment – would suggest that the one thing that could have spoiled Trump’s crowning moment in July would have been the sight of the party’s most archetypal dynastic patricians smothering him with their tired, business-as-usual platitudes. 

The idea of having George W. Bush, John McCain, et al. droning on endlessly in front of teleprompters, extolling the grand old traditions of the Grand Old Party would seem entirely counterintuitive to the spirit of excitement and energy that has driven Republican voters out in record numbers this year. Add Jeb Bush’s less-than-riveting oratory skills into the mix and you’d likely see the life sucked out of Quicken Loans Arena faster than you could say “Jeb!”

With the old guard out of the way, Trump, who on top of his storied skills in deal-making is unquestionably a master brander, marketer and entertainer, will have free reign to turn what could have been a musty, self-congratulatory clambake into a celebrity-driven, high-voltage ratings magnet. 

There’s also been some hay made over the apparent hesitation of some big name sponsors, such as Coca-Cola and Walmart, to commit to the convention due to controversy surrounding some of Trump’s statements and the scenes of violent protest at some of his rallies. But it’s probably safe to assume that they’ll come around before too long, because at the end of the day it’s all about the bottom line, and with Trump as the name above the title, that translates into big advertising dollars.

You only have to look at the ratings for the Republican debates this election season to see the effect the former Apprentice star has on viewing numbers. The first debate, in August of last year, resulted in a staggering 24 million people tuning in, and while subsequent debates didn’t quite reach those giddy heights, each nevertheless achieved record-breaking numbers. The Detroit debate in March of this year drew an estimated 17 million viewers, compared to the Democratic debate in the same state which drew approximately 5.5 million. And if one looks back to the 2012 primary, the highest rated Republican debate in that entire election cycle netted a mere 7.1 million viewers.

The upshot:

However much the party elite might like to think their cold-shouldering of Trump’s coronation will somehow delegitimize the nominee’s credibility as their new leader, the fact is very few voters will notice. They’ll all be eagerly tuned in to watch what was once the Republican National Convention, soon to be rebranded as “The Donald Trump Cleveland Spectacular!” 

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