Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Trump Is Winning the Invisible Primary

Donald Trump isn't doing well on the legal front, we would say. But, as we've noted multiple times, with some chagrin, the more guilty he looks, the more electable he seems to get.

Now, allow us what will appear to be a non sequitur: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is a grifter. That is not too unusual among politicians, and it's positively commonplace among Trumpublicans. We're only picking on Stefanik because she got caught being particularly hamfisted about it. She's been sending out e-mails urging followers, in ALL CAPS, to "RUSH A DONATION TO OUR OFFICIAL TRUMP DEFENSE FUND TO STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP." As it turns out, however, only part of the money goes to Trump's defense. The rest goes to the congresswoman. Exactly how much of it does Stefanik get? Get ready for it: Ninety-nine percent. That means that if you send $500 for the "OFFICIAL TRUMP DEFENSE FUND," then the Representative keeps $495 and passes on just $5 to Trump. There's just no honor among thieves.

The point of this little anecdote is that we honestly aren't sure there is a single Republican politician who is a True Believer in Trump. They may pretend to be a True Believer, and they may even be sympathetic to a lot of the things Trump stands for. But, as far as we can tell, every interpersonal relationship in Trump's life is transactional, and that most certainly includes his various political relationships.

That means that when various officeholders endorse Trump, the main thing they are thinking is not "How can I elect a guy I really like" it's "At what point is backing him more beneficial to me than any other alternative?" It is true that many, and probably most, politicians are transactional like this. But with Trump, it seems to be all of them, and to the Nth degree.

Assuming we have the right of this, then the Trump endorsements will really start to roll in once it's clear that he's got no real competition, and that puckering up for him is the only plausible option for a Republican politician who wants to keep their job. And indeed, with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) flailing, that's exactly what is happening. Yesterday, for example, all six Republicans in Michigan's House delegation formally endorsed Trump.

We've done this before, and we'll presumably do it again, but Trump is absolutely crushing DeSantis when it comes to endorsements from Republican officeholders. A quick overview:

Trump: 2
DeSantis: 1

Trump: 10
DeSantis: 0

U.S. Representatives
Trump: 67
DeSantis: 6

U.S. Representatives from Florida
Trump: 12
DeSantis: 1

It is not good news for DeSantis that Trump has considerably more U.S. Representatives from Florida than DeSantis has overall.

In the interest of completeness, we will note that DeSantis is doing well with state legislators, thanks in particular to his endorsements from members of the Florida legislature, who are afraid to oppose him for fear that funding to their districts will be cut. Also, DeSantis has locked up the people in the right-wing media who think Trump is not far-right enough, like Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, Liz Peek and Piers Morgan. On the other hand, the people who know DeSantis best, and who don't have to worry about him cutting their personal pork (i.e., the members of the House) want no part of a DeSantis presidency. In addition, Trump is doing plenty well with right-wing media types himself, and he also has a hammerlock on the celebrity endorsements, assuming that folks like Randy Quaid, Jon Voight, Ted Nugent and Don King still count as celebrities.

The bottom line here is this: The polls suggest this thing is slipping away from DeSantis. And the invisible primary, which involves politicians who are paying close attention to how the winds are blowing, suggests the same thing. (Z)

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