North Carolina Republicans this year will get to experience what we Democrats went through in so many presidential elections: how to avoid going down with the Titanic.
Because the S.S. Trump is going down, and it will be hard to avoid getting sucked into the vortex.
The Republican convention is officially a disaster. It didn’t rescue Trump from the trouble he had spun for himself in the primaries. It just made a bad situation worse.
The party is badly split, with the spectacle of Ted Cruz being booed off the stage overshadowing Mike Pence’s speech.
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The GOP all week has looked like a party under the control of people who are so angry they are nearly unhinged. Their only strategy is to stoke our fears and hatreds.
And Trump has branded himself as the greatest narcissist ever in a profession chock-full of champion narcissists.
Now Republican candidates in North Carolina – from Pat McCrory and Richard Burr down – will spend the campaign trying to avoid Trump AND avoid making Trump’s supporters mad.
It’s hard. I know; been there, done that. In 1984, when Jim Hunt ran against Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan got 62 percent of the vote in North Carolina. To beat Helms, we had to get one in five Reagan voters to vote for Hunt. We came close, but not close enough. Hunt got 48 percent.
It’s a lot harder to get people to split their tickets today. All politics isn’t local anymore. It’s national. How people vote for President pretty much predicts how they vote all down the ballot.
If Hillary wins North Carolina, even by the narrowest margin, McCrory and Burr will have a hard time surviving.
I tell my Republican friends: I feel your pain. But it’s nice to see the concrete shoes on your feet.
Gary Pearce is a veteran N.C. Democratic strategist writing on the 2016 conventions.