Why Trump will win

The morning after the 2020 election—even before all the votes were counted—I had a flash of insight that the result was actually bad news:

Early in the evening I was rooting for a Biden win. But when I saw how close the election was, I wondered if we’d be better off with a Trump win. That would mean at most 8 years of Trump, then we get the virus out of our system.

Now with a “stolen election” we face a scenario where Trump returns in 2024 (possibly from jail, just as Napoleon returned from Elba) and runs against an old and likely unsuccessful Democratic president, who disappointed his supporters by being unable to get anything through the Senate. Or perhaps against a minority woman candidate. Trump will say, “Remember how good you had it in 2019!”

Meanwhile, we face 4 years of non-stop Trump tweets. A grand total of 12 years of Trump trolling. You heard it here first; Trump wins the 2024 election. (From the guy that was wrong about 2016 and (probably) 2020.)

But I’m actually feeling pretty good about my prediction for this election. I predicted a huge gap between the roughly 8% lead that Biden had in the national polls (at 538) and the final outcome in the tipping point state—perhaps a 5% gap. Now it looks like the actual gap will be at least 7%, as Biden will probably win the tipping point state by about 1%, if not less.

I still believe that, although now I have poll numbers to back it up. Forget about the small lead Trump has in national polls, Biden would need a lead of about 6-8 points to win again. He needs to win by 3-4 to offset the Electoral College advantage of the GOP, and Trump consistently does better than the polls in national elections. Trump is actually far ahead.

But why will Trump win? Both liberal and conservative intellectuals keep telling us that he is beyond the pale. They told us he was finished after the November 2020 election, again after January 6, and once again after the 2022 midterms. And then after he was indicted for multiple felonies, for which he could spend the rest of his life in prison (but won’t.)

By a wide variety of metrics, Trump presided over the worst economy since Herbert Hoover (very slow GDP and job growth, etc.) He was far and away the most corrupt president in history–literally attempting to abolish democracy and make himself dictator. So what are the pundits consistently getting wrong about Trump?

I don’t believe the pundits are wrong about Trump, I believe they are wrong about America. This is no longer the country that forced Nixon to resign back in 1974. Trump would have had no chance in the America of my youth. This is banana republic America, and our pundits are stuck in pre-banana America. They think we are still like Canada, but we are more like Mexico, or Hungary, or Turkey.

American voters no longer care about procedural niceties like democracy. They want a strong man who will bring prosperity. Trump is not that man, but he seems like the guy they want. Banana republics like the Philippines elect empty headed TV stars as president. Trump was a failed businessman who played a successful businessman on TV.

But what about the horrible economy under Trump? Voters forgive him for that outcome, attributing it to the effects of Covid. The economy actually did fairly well during Trump’s first three years.

You could argue that in not blaming Trump for the severe 2020 recession, his voters have a relatively sophisticated understanding of the economy. But that’s setting the bar very low. A truly sophisticated observer would note that Trump set us on the path to fiscal disaster with his reckless late 2010s budget policies, and also appointed Jay Powell to head the Fed. But even Powell wasn’t dovish enough for Trump—who pressed Powell to juice the economy even more aggressively.

So while it is true that Trump is not to blame for the bad 2020 economy, it’s equally true that Trump is to blame for the 2021-22 inflation surge. Indeed he and Biden are pretty much equally to blame, as they share almost identical fiscal and monetary policies. But voters are not that sophisticated. They understand enough economics to know that Trump didn’t cause the 2020 recession, but not enough to know that he did cause the 2021 inflation.

All of the preceding is only half the story—Trump also benefits from an exceedingly feeble opposition. The Democrats seems determined to commit mass suicide.

Consider the issue of crime. The crime rate soared dramatically higher during the Trump administration, and has fallen back over the last two years. So that should be a huge win for the Dems—right? Actually, the crime issue favors the GOP, due the the almost unbelievable incompetence of the Democratic Party.

The Bill Clinton Democratic Party is dead. No more “era of small big government is over”. No more pro-consumer antitrust approach. No more free market prosperity. No more welfare reform. No more balance budgets. No more tough on crime. No more Sister Souljah moments. That party would have destroyed Trump in a general election.

But it’s long gone—replaced by an enfeebled woke Democratic party. The modern Democratic Party worships those who fail and has contempt for the successful. It is seen as being unwilling to prosecute the sort of crimes that make urban living a hassle. It is seen as wishing to prevent some students from being more successful than others. It is are seen as favoring deadbeats who won’t pay their student debts, or who won’t pay their rent. Some of this is unfair (Biden is not particularly woke), but just enough is true that the charge sticks.

Given a choice between a party that favors those who fail and a party that favors those who succeed, modern America will choose the party of success. In the 1930s, most voters would have chosen the party that defends the weak. Biden doesn’t realize that this is not the 1930s, it’s the 2020s.

Of course all thinking people will vote for Biden next year, despite his pathetic performance as president. But to paraphrase Adlai Stevenson, the problem Biden faces is that he needs a majority.

PS. Trump now claims to despise all of the “RINO” Republicans who managed his first administration (and trash him in private.) I find it amusing that half of his supporters think he’ll recreate the success of his first term, and the other half think he’ll dump the Mike Pence approach to policy and replace it with a Steve Bannon approach. I will derive great amusement watching the frustration of whichever group ends up being disappointed.

Voters prefer Trump on the economy because he gave them a big tax cut without reducing government spending. But the next president will be faced with the choice of either doing the reverse, or having America’s banana republicanism spread from the political sphere to the economic sphere.

Either way, it should be great fun to watch!



58 Responses to “Why Trump will win”

  1. Gravatar of Matthias Matthias
    8. November 2023 at 04:16

    Out of interest, how does / will your retirement income look like? Have you diversified enough that the US completely turning into a banana republic doesn’t affect you financially?

  2. Gravatar of CSK CSK
    8. November 2023 at 05:22

    The post should read: the era of *big* government is over.

  3. Gravatar of Solon of the East Solon of the East
    8. November 2023 at 05:51

    Of course all thinking people will vote for Biden next year, despite his pathetic performance as president. But to paraphrase Adlai Stevenson, the problem Biden faces is that he needs a majority.–SS

    I may thoughtlessly vote for RFK2.

  4. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    8. November 2023 at 07:24

    Listening to focus groups on the next Presidential election, many of the participants don’t even realize that Trump versus Biden is likely to be their actual choice next year. Most haven’t begun paying attention to the next election.

    That’s not to say that the current poll numbers shouldn’t be concerning, and while prediction markets don’t predict a Trump victory, the expected probability of him winning is much too high.

    I just wonder where the new Trump voters will come from. Who has he gained? Biden doesn’t inspire much passion, but Trump does, for non-Trump voters. I think Trump will attract a larger anti-Trump than pro-Trump vote.

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. November 2023 at 07:51

    Matthias, I’m fine. Plus, I have few needs (as I’m old.)

    CSK, Thanks, silly typo.

  6. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    8. November 2023 at 08:26

    So much to agree with here. Very interesting you were thinking of Stevenson. I thought in discussion of the American public you would go either Jude Wanniski (Two Santa Claus Theory) or Friedman (TCJA wasn’t actually a tax cut without a spending cut).
    But thank you for holding the Powell fed accoutable!

    Still waiting your take on the Bucks bagging Damian Lillard…

  7. Gravatar of Max Max
    8. November 2023 at 09:07

    The real worry is that if Trump wins, the Republicans will certainly also win majorities in the House and Senate. Who knows what our country will look like then.

  8. Gravatar of Student Student
    8. November 2023 at 09:29

    Another one I completely agree with. Interestingly enough though… the betting markets don’t reflect this view… yet?

  9. Gravatar of Thomas Moore Thomas Moore
    8. November 2023 at 09:30

    I don’t think the inflation issue is either Trump or Biden’s fault. I think you’d agree that if the Fed is to be considered an independent actor, then the fault lies with the Fed. Every day that inflation trends above target, and the Fed communicates they are fine with that, is a day they are failing to do their job.

    Trump + Biden may be in a running battle to be the two worst people for office, and as much as I dislike them both, I don’t really fault them for it.

    It’s hard to say if it would have been better if Trump had won a second term. I could easily imagine a situation where he wins and the democratic party runs even further to the left.

    The democratic party is going to have a really hard time holding on to many of it’s voters with the split over the Israel-Hamas conflict. I agree with you that I think those poll numbers, in practice would be much worse for the democrats than people think.

    It’s sad state that we’re going to get another rematch of the worst presidential election in modern history.

    The old Republican and Democratic parties are dead, and their replacements offer nothing meaningful/helpful or inspiring to the American public. It’s a race to the bottom, hopefully one of them dies soon and something else can be born from the ashes.

  10. Gravatar of Todd Ramsey Todd Ramsey
    8. November 2023 at 09:40

    I get and like the point about rooting for Trump (in 2020) so that we are rid of him after that. I suppose that applies to 2024 as well.

    But isn’t it likely that future politicians will follow Trump’s lead and bully and bloviate without any principles or substance? RFK Jr. seems to be following that path.

    Are we destined for a future of political leaders drawn from the pool of social media and reality TV stars? I foresee a Kim Kardashian vs. Dwayne Johnson presidential campaign, although I’m not sure who would be the Democrat and who the Republican, and I’m not sure it matters. Taylor Swift on deck, since she is not old enough to be President yet.

  11. Gravatar of acebojangles acebojangles
    8. November 2023 at 09:50

    The difference between now and the 70s is Fox News and the rest of the right wing media world. If Nixon had Fox News, he wouldn’t have resigned. Conservatives can now stew in resentment and partisan BS rather than facing reality.

    I think Democrats are bad at messaging, but they’re main problem is that it’s much easier to sell hate and fear than policy. Crime is a great example. Democrats are doing fine on crime, but it’s impossible to overcome fear with reality in America.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. November 2023 at 09:51

    Thomas, You said:

    “I don’t think the inflation issue is either Trump or Biden’s fault.”

    I partly agree. But voters think otherwise, and to the extent presidents influence the process (appointing Powell and pressuring him to ease) it was in the direction of inflation. So if voters want to judge them on the economy, they are both guilty.

    I don’t think voters care about the Middle East. Why would they? Oil? We don’t get oil from Israel or Gaza.

    Otherwise, I agree with your general pessimism.

    Todd, You said:

    “I suppose that applies to 2024 as well.”

    Surely at some point he’d have to move on from the scene?

    “But isn’t it likely that future politicians will follow Trump’s lead and bully and bloviate without any principles or substance?”

    Yes, that’s what it means to be a banana republic.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. November 2023 at 09:57

    acebojagles, You said:

    “Crime is a great example. Democrats are doing fine on crime”

    Not really. Sure, the murder rate is down somewhat. But in lots of Democratic run cities they don’t even do anything to help you if you car is stolen or if people steal stuff from your store. They simply don’t care. You can tell the cops exactly where your stolen car is, and they’ll do nothing. They let street people hassle pedestrians.

    Agree that Fox News is one of the many reasons why we’ve become a banana republic. But there are many others factors.

  14. Gravatar of Thomas Moore Thomas Moore
    8. November 2023 at 10:00

    @ Scott

    I would agree with you that I don’t think voters care about the Middle East. But I think MANY democratic voters are defined by their attachment to what they would call victimized groups. It’s not that they care about the Palestinian’s, but the Palestinian’s are just the most recent “victim” group. I don’t really see a difference between the protests in support of Palestine or BLM. The problem is, the Democratic party can tie into the anger and stupidity of the folks backing BLM MUCH easier than they can the Palestinians. It will create a rift and they’ll get a lot more people who won’t show up at the polls as a result.

  15. Gravatar of acebojangles acebojangles
    8. November 2023 at 10:05


    Fair enough. I don’t think crime is handled particularly well in America by anyone, but I don’t see how that’s a reflection of Democratic policies. Are Democratic mayors and DAs telling police not to assist with stolen property? I sincerely doubt it. They’re certainly not running on that platform.

    Actual policy differences on crime are things like whether poor people should be held on bail they can’t afford, whether we should be putting homeless people into camps, etc.

  16. Gravatar of MSS1914 MSS1914
    8. November 2023 at 10:11


    Have you read Scott Alexander’s review of “Comandante”, a book about Caesar Chavez?


    It’s a pretty entertaining review and if we are going to become a Banana Republic, then that’s the kind of leader we have to look forward to.

  17. Gravatar of MSS1914 MSS1914
    8. November 2023 at 10:13

    Wow. I meant Hugo Chaves in my comment above.

  18. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. November 2023 at 10:22

    Thomas, Many? How many will refuse to vote because of the Palestinian issue, which will likely not even be in the news a year from now? How many would vote for Trump, who’s far more anti-Palestinian? Remember when the messy pullout from Afghanistan was a major issue? Now no one cares.

    Acebogangles, You rightly dump on Fox, but are your news sources reporting on lax crime policies in places like San Francisco? There’s a real problem, and it’s partly public policy. If you tell cops you won’t prosecute “petty crimes” (not petty to me), don’t expect cops to enthusiastically enforce the laws.

    MSS1914, I read part of it, but basically already knew about his craziness. I had Venezuelan students back then, and they told me about his long tirades.

  19. Gravatar of acebojangles acebojangles
    8. November 2023 at 10:31


    Here’s the SF police website with crime statistics:


    Unfortunately, it only goes back to 2009. Is there a point in there when you think Democratic policies changed? I know Chesa Boudin is often scapegoated here. Does his time in charge jump out at you?

    We have lots of problems with policing, but I think they’re cultural and structural. I want police who respect their constituents and are more helpful. It’s possible, but I see no evidence that Republicans will provide it. Rather, Republicans will make things worse by executing people, building more prisons, reinstating cash bail, etc.

    One other note: You’ve written previously about how squeamish people have gotten about things like poop on sidewalks. I wonder how shoplifting, etc now compares to the 70s. I suspect many petty crimes were more prevalent back then, but homelessness was less of a problem because housing was cheaper.

  20. Gravatar of Thomas Moore Thomas Moore
    8. November 2023 at 10:58


    Hopefully not as many as the protests would indicate, always depressing to see people promoting war crimes under the guise of “freedom and equity”, but I would think enough to potentially sway a few battle ground states. Glad to see some democrats vote to censure Rashida Tlaib, but I think this issue is going to start creating more of a divide in the party than people realize. Maybe I’m wrong. But this issue is a lose – lose for democrats and the longer it continues, the more it’s going to affect the party dynamics. I unfortunately, could see this carrying on longer than people anticipate.

    The messy pullout from Afghanistan, as despicable as it was, was not a proxy for the party ideology. Israel v Hamas is because it is shows the moral hypocrisy that’s infused so much of the party dynamic. Afghanistan did not force members of the democratic party to support or condemn war crimes – the Israel v Hamas conflict will. Very different in my opinion.

  21. Gravatar of acebojangles acebojangles
    8. November 2023 at 12:19

    Thomas Moore,

    Maybe Democrats think police shouldn’t be able to kill people without consequence and 4 million people shouldn’t be held in an open air prison indefinitely. You argue as if nobody on Earth is actually mistreated and concern for victim groups is all fake virtue signaling.

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. November 2023 at 13:08

    acebojangles, Here are three Yglesias tweets from the past 4 hours:




    Each individual tweet is of very marginal significance. But when you see 100s of data points along the same lines, a picture begins to form.

    Thomas, Tlaib is dumb, but people should be censored for corruption, not stupid remarks.

    No more cancel culture.

  23. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    8. November 2023 at 14:01

    Sumner is a bonafide moron. Continues to make these bizarre claims, which have been refuted over and over.

    Are all Chicago economists this mentally slow? It’s a real shame, because that school used to have some powerful minds.

  24. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    8. November 2023 at 14:59

    Trumps pre-COVID actually was the best economy we have had since I’m not sure when. He told Powell to cut rates but he was correct on that. We did have excess slack in the economy. Fiscal was too loose during his time but he did correctly realize we weren’t operating at full capacity. I do agree the inflation surge likely happens under trump.

    The court cases don’t matter because it’s extreme selective prosecution. Been happening since 2016 when Biden wanted to use the Logan Act against Trump which was probably unconstitutional and broken by every administration and politician.

    The reason we don’t have a Nixonbacklash against Trump is the Democrats are not all that keen on Democracy and the system. Every single organization that ranks keys to a good Democracy are against mass mail-in ballots because they eliminate the secret ballot. That just got thrown out the window because they believe it benefits them. Plus the whole Russian hoax to discredit his administration from the very start. The coverup of the Hunter laptop information as key for CIA agents aligned with Democrats all lied that it was a Russian hoax (despite many of them possibly having direct access to it in their prior jobs).

    Trump may be the disease but the virus came from the Democrats.

    I’d likely vote for Bill Clinton over Trump but Trump all day now.

  25. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    8. November 2023 at 17:21

    Mike Pence is a warmongering neocon, hell-bent on bankrupting the nation because he’s another brainwashed babyboomer.

    Pence has no coherent philosophy, and he’s bought and paid for.

    And as Reagan would say: “here we go again”. Your anti-trumpism, and political bias is front and center.

    I’m so glad you became an economist, and not a lawyer, because you’d be as bad as the woke Attorneys in the state of NY who think Mar-a-lago is only 27M, when Bloomberg values it at 300M. Bloomberg, incidentally, hates Trump, and has hated him since 1990, which is always why they undervalue his assets, so it’s probably worth even more than 300M. But it’s definetly not 27M.

    Nobody would sell it that cheap, when the revenue is over 100M.

    Only in the woke states of New England, and Sumners mind, could such hatred continue to emanate.

  26. Gravatar of Edward Edward
    8. November 2023 at 17:50

    I’m going to vote for Trump, just because Sumner and his thugs tried to impeach him twice, tried to remove him from the ballot, contemptously ripped up his speech (how childish), and use teenage epithets like “trumpism” and “trumpistas” in a hostile, passively agressive attempt to denigrate other Americans with different views.

    The man has stood tall, and confronted the vicious hatred head on, which is admirable.

    His stump speeches are also full of optimism, hope, and a return to practical politics. He doesn’t villify entreprenuers; he doesn’t talk about war, war, war; and he’s one of the few with the guts to call the media out for their blatant disregard for truth.

    And it’s going to get worse for the democrats, because the Jews are are going to leave the party. And you know, you might say who cares there aren’t that many; well, jews donate a disproportionate amount of money to Democratic campaigns, so you watch as the jewish owned hedge funds pull out of that corrupt, hate-filled, anti-semetic party and throw their wealth and connections behind a third party candidate or a republican candidate.

    Sumner says it’s not about the woke. Oh, it is about the woke. BIG TIME!

    Marxism, vicious contempt for political opponents, and canceling scientists under the pretext of “disinformation” is reactionary, and more closely resembles the old Soviet Union than the precepts upon which America was founded.

  27. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. November 2023 at 04:41

    And so the loonies show up . . .

  28. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    9. November 2023 at 05:47

    If the election were held next Tuesday, Trump would win. But if the US is a banana republic, we should be expecting crazy, unpredictable things to happen in the 12 months leading up to the election. What happens if Trump, or Biden, or both have major health issues? What’s going to happen with the economy over the next 12 months? Will third party candidates have any impact on the election? I think that it is too soon to make confident predictions about the outcomes of the 2024 elections.

  29. Gravatar of Thrawn Thrawn
    9. November 2023 at 07:37

    It is pretty sad to see Scott joining in on the appropriation of the term woke. Regressives will not win the culture war, and it is sad to see intelligent people try to help them.

  30. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. November 2023 at 07:48

    Lizard, Good point.

    Thrawn, It’s the fault of the loony left for tainting the term “woke”. Of course I fully support equal rights for blacks, gays, trans people, women, etc. It’s the left that has created cancel culture, defund the police, and advocated absurd ideas like all differences in income or test scores is evidence of racism, or that “cultural appropriation” is evil. (BTW, all culture is appropriated.)

    Don’t blame me.

    I wonder if Trump is funding the woke movement–it’s doing wonders to help his re-election. Every day it keeps creating new Republicans. The left should listen to Matt Yglesias; he’s trying to prevent them from committing suicide.

    But I do agree with you on one point—regressives won’t win the culture war, fortunately. They been on the losing side of history for centuries.

  31. Gravatar of Student Student
    9. November 2023 at 09:43


    It’s not regressive to point out the excesses of wokeism… nor is it appropriation to use a word. Your use of even that term indicates you’re deep into that religion. The wokes have gone crazy. Their views on gender and sex are faith based nonsense… in addition to what Scott pointed out.

    A woke today be like…

    There are no differences between men and women. Gender is simply a state of mind and that males should be able to take some hormones and put on a wig, some makeup and beat the shit out of women in the UFC… yet cry out with shrieks that a man should never hit a woman for any reason and down with the patriarchy.

    When someone as liberal as Bill Mahr is becoming a favorite of the reactionaries… you ought to start looking in the mirror.

  32. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    9. November 2023 at 11:29

    One thing not mentioned on Trump is the betting markets haven’t moved much and still favor the Dems and Biden. I think he’s up big but markets as of now do not believe it.

  33. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    9. November 2023 at 11:32

    Woke has a specific definition in my mind it’s explaining any disparate outcome to racism/misogyny etc. Which I do not believe is true.

  34. Gravatar of David S David S
    9. November 2023 at 12:55

    I was going to point out the RFK jr. will siphon votes from Trump, but then the Jill Stein campaign announcement dropped.

    I give 2024 even odds, which is terrifying. Again.

  35. Gravatar of Dale Doback Dale Doback
    9. November 2023 at 15:15

    My theory is lead exposure of children in the 60’s and 70’s lowered IQs and pushed that generation more towards favoring authoritarianism as adults. Lead in gas was reduced after the 70’s and then banned completely in the 90’s. So if true society might start to recover from it’s current trajectory as the boomers die off.

  36. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    9. November 2023 at 15:27

    Sean, I wish I’d bought Trump contracts when they were down around 1%.

    Dale, Nice theory, but has measured IQ changed much since then? And why wasn’t authoritarianism even worse in earlier decades, when people were dumber?

  37. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    9. November 2023 at 19:40


    You said, “I wonder if Trump is funding the woke movement–it’s doing wonders to help his re-election. Every day it keeps creating new Republicans. The left should listen to Matt Yglesias; he’s trying to prevent them from committing suicide.”

    There’s some truth to this, and it’s also true that Democrats are hapless politically, but Republicans have lost a lot of elections since Trump became President. Tuesday was just the latest example. True, the abortion issue may be the primary driver in many of these races, but most of Trump’s chosen candidates aren’t winning general elections.

  38. Gravatar of Dale Doback Dale Doback
    9. November 2023 at 21:39

    I believe IQ scores have long been trending up including post lead bans and possibly for a wide variety of other reasons, but I don’t know enough about IQ to comment.

  39. Gravatar of Nikita Nikita
    10. November 2023 at 05:13

    Anyone impartial can see that Trump has been treated unfairly.

    The argument about inciting violence at January 6th is not logical. His speech on that day did not call for violence, and the people at the protest were unarmed.

    If believing the election was stolen, and the words “please march peacefully” is the equivalent to inciting violence, a very strange proposition, then in the interest of fairness and justice we would have conclude that Sumner’s words on this blog, and the protestors who marched for clinton, incited violence in 2016 when they both said the election was stolen by Russia and to march peacefully.

    And then, take, for example, the judge presiding over the case in NY. Judge Engoron’s wife is an anti-trumper in the same mold as Scott. She has repeatedly posted profanity laced tweets towards Trump, and belittled the blue collar mid western workers who support him.

    Engoron, himself, has a disheveled appearance, speaks incoherently at conferences, and is a radical intentionist. He also susbcribes to Karl Marx’s labor theory of value, which was disproven by Menger over a hundred and fifty years ago. In short, he’s not an educated man.

    It’s a given that all judges must, to some extent, interpret a statute. Whether you are a natural law theorist or a positivist, you still must interpret the words. But the interpretation of those words and the intention of the statute can be taken out of context to fill an agenda. engoron, for example, which is why he’s known as an “activist judge” creates his own clauses or makes wild interpretations that don’t exist with the goal of “filling in the gaps.”
    How dangerous is that?

    Clearly, it’s the legislatures responsibility, not the will of one person, especially one so radical and so partisan, to fill in the gaps.

    Even if we set aside his own philosophical views; Any reasonable judge, based on their wife’s tweets, would immediately recuse himself from such a case.

    And the entire case is frivilous. Every business person overvalues their assets. Every business person believes based upon brand name, upon site location, ammenities offered, revenues being generated, that their business is worth a certain amount. It’s almost entirely subjective.

    No prosecutor ever brings these types of cases for the reasons aforementioned. No bank ever files charges against clients for overvaluing. It’s a waste of their time.

    But the establishment doesn’t like him, and because they see him as a “threat” to the established politburo, and the broader corrupt plutocracy in Washington, and to their preferred means of production (no private property), they will do anything to remove him from the ballots.

    It’s self-evident.

  40. Gravatar of Thomas Moore Thomas Moore
    10. November 2023 at 06:24


    There should be consequences, the internationally community shouldn’t let Hamas hold it’s own citizens hostage to further it’s own goals. The UN should request a formal surrender from the Hamas leadership, then they should be tried for the war crimes they perpetrated. Unfortunately, the UN is arguably one of the most laughable institutions in the World.

    I imagine you have a very basic view of “victim” groups – Israel is wealthy + Gazans are poor = Israel has victimized. You can’t possibly imagine a situation where a well off group could possibly be the victim. That was like AOC saying the US shouldn’t provide Iron Dome tech to Israel because it “wasn’t fair”… which is essentially arguing for the death of civilians.

    Hamas which is the elected government in Gaza – in it’s own charter, calls for 1) The complete destruction of Israel and every Jewish person globally (and every none Muslim for that matter), 2) Rejection of ANY two-state proposed solution. And you think Israel should have an open border with them? Absolutely insanity.

  41. Gravatar of kangaroo kangaroo
    10. November 2023 at 09:25

    You keep going on about Trump turning the US into a Banana Republic but you’re comically ignoring the bananafication pursued by the left.

    I got a howl this week out of our Meta engineer testifying before Congress about the “harms” that Instagram supposedly causes to young people. Here’s a man – who’s high up in Meta no less so he knows what’s going on – letting his daughter log on to instragram totally unsupervised, where every dark corner of humanity can intereact with anyone and anything. Would he let her loose in the San Francisco homelss camps with all the addled addicts? No, but that’s what he’s doing on Instagram, and somehow that’s Meta’s fault? What a fool!!

    So his conclusion is because he’s an idiot parent, Meta should institute more speech controls.

    And that’s not even touching his claim that is daughter was “harmed” because someone told her to “get back in the kitchen”!!! What a laugh!!! Malala Yousafzai was harmed by the Talibs. This fool’s daughter was not “harmed” by anything but his incompetent parenting. His claim of “harm” to his ridiculously priviledged daughter is a disturbing insult to people like Malala who have truly risked something for the their achievements. This is a contemptible ass, yet he and his quack claim of “harm” is *the quinetessential expression* of the new left (not even getting into the surreal Gaza affair).

    Beyond that, I’m with Bari Weiss: in the end, though Trump frequently makes a fool of himself, he was right about everything, from the border to China, while the ducks of the left were quacking their beliefs about their fairy tale land.

    If the modern left is the alternative to your “banana republic”, bring on the bananas.

  42. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    10. November 2023 at 11:49


    Trump wasn’t right about anything policy-wise. In the few instances in which policy was decent, he can’t get credit, because he not only doesn’t understand a thing about public policy, but doesn’t care. He’s all about himself. His administration never even presented a budget to Congress.

    His views about economics are exactly wrong. In macroeconomics, the zero-sum games Trump complains about don’t exist. His stupid, blustering nationalist approach is nothing, but counter-productive and extremely dangerous. He’s as stupid as the fascists in World War 2 who thought they needed to conquer territory to gain resources. The fact is, thanks to trade, countries can grow their econonmies and achieve the highest standards of living by simply being productive with the resources they have available, even if their natural resources are few. Innovation is the driver of frontier economy economic growth.

    Trump thinks that central banks setting interest rates is a competitive enterprise. He’s stupidly wrong about that.

    Trump thinks he can “renegotiate” public debt the way one can private debt. He’s stupidly arong about that.

    Trump thinks he can “win” trade wars. Both sides lose trade wars. He’s stupidly wrong about that.

  43. Gravatar of Andrew C Andrew C
    10. November 2023 at 12:54


    Here’s an alternative view of the political cycle that is (in my opinion) better and, in this case, more optimistic.

    Back in the 70’s, and really throughout the post WW2 era of good vibes, the parties were largely mixed ideologically. Knowing what party someone was a member of didn’t translate to knowing their positions on any particular issue. Voters reaction to this was to be far more sway-able and vote on things like economic performance or corruption. Now that this has entirely changed, to vote against someone of your party has a real cost; you can’t just vote for somebody who also thinks abortion is murder but isn’t a corrupt dictator in training, you have to vote for the candidate who supports the legality of mass murder of unborn children.

    (I know that’s not your view, you get the point. Also this only explains general election phenomenon)

    The above explains about 85% of voting patterns. What remains are independents who are more cross pressured than partisans, they being the margins on which elections are won and lost. And most of them (1) don’t pay much attention to the news and (2) react to events only when they happen. Polling shifted dramatically after the Dobbs decision was handed down, even though it didn’t change at all when the decision was leaked weeks prior.

    Looking at the numbers now, they show a tight race, with a few polls like the NYTs show Trump up in some key states. Forecasting into the future, I think two things are almost certain to happen in the next 12 months. 1, inflation will continue to recede, which should alleviate some concerns about the economy. 2, Trump will be convicted in the DC case on at least 2 federal felonies (probably all 4, but Smith’s interpretation of 18 usc 1512 is still being litigated). Both of those will give a boost to Biden among those inattentive, undecided voters.

    I think I’m right, mostly because this story explains the decline in bipartisanship and rise of intense negative polarization. Both candidates will have a floor of something like 42% of the popular vote. But I think these events will push normal people away from Trump more than they already have. Not to mention, without Trump, Dobbs doesn’t happen, and that decision has been a stone around Republicans necks for several elections.

  44. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    11. November 2023 at 09:42

    Dale, I’m 68 and taught for 35 years. Sorry, I must have missed the rise in IQ. It’s obviously too small to be noticeable. Furthermore, there’s little difference in average IQ between the two parties.

    Nikita, LOL, that lunacy is worth a post.

    Kangaroo, You said:

    “You keep going on about Trump turning the US into a Banana Republic but you’re comically ignoring the bananafication pursued by the left.”

    Do you actually not know how to read? Woke? Defund the police? Pack the Supreme Court?

    “he was right about everything”

    Like when he said money was too tight? When he said (14 times) Xi was doing a great job on Covid? When he said Putin was great? When he said we should leave NATO? When he said he would pay off the entire national debt? When he promised to build infrastructure? When he says we should invade Mexico?
    Treat Covid with bleach? Nuke hurricanes? I could list 1000 more. Release drug dealers from prison or kill drug dealers?
    He said both–was he right both times? Right about everything?

    Andrew, You said:

    “Looking at the numbers now, they show a tight race,”

    No they don’t. Did you read the post? A tight race would be Biden up 7% in Wisconsin, like the polls in the previous two elections. Trump’s way ahead.

    I am pessimistic about the economy. Bringing inflation down is painful, and the pain will likely happen in 2024.

  45. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    11. November 2023 at 11:30


    There is some hope in the possibility that there will be two abortion initiatives on ballots in Florida and Pennsylvania in 2024.

  46. Gravatar of Abe Abe
    11. November 2023 at 13:56

    Biden is one of the most corrupt politicians in American history. Don’t expect anyone to report it, though, since it doesn’t serve their political interests.

    And the republican establishment isn’t much better.

    Nikki Haley smirked when Ramaswamy told everyone the truth about her, which is a sign of affirmation. This woman was broke when she left the Trump administration, yet now, miracously, she’s a millionaire from sitting on the board of companies she’s wholly unqualified to represent in any capacity other than through special interests.

    I like Trump, if for no other reason than Nancy “tuna” Pelosi won’t be able to sleep at night, or that McConnell and his Chinese shipping company might lose money, or that Romney and Bain capital, the company that sent millions of jobs to China for profit, might not get everything they want. Or that the Bush family, the Cheney family, the clinton family (so much nepotism) will lose their negative and destructive, influence on Washington.

    I like knowing the WEF, WHO, NATO, and the European Union more broadly, might actually receive some pushback when they call for things like mandatory digital ID’s, closed blockchains, banning bitcoin, open borders, more wars and more money, which Trump doesn’t support.

    Washington, China, and most of Europe won’t sleep with Trump in office, but I will sleep like a baby knowing that they can’t.

  47. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    11. November 2023 at 17:27

    Sumner cites Canada, the country where pronouns are criminalized, as a beacon of hope and prosperity.

    He says Hungary is a banana republic. Hungary has a prosperous economy, and social harmony, mostly because they have a tradition and culture which values goodness and truth. The standard of living in Hungary is quite high; they have lower nominal incomes, but their real income is higher.

    Sumner says Trump was a “failed businessman.” In what world does Sumner live in? Where is this fantasy land, this clown world, in which he resides? In what reality is Trump a failed business person? If golf courses and skyscrapers are failures, one wonders what Sumner would call a simple shop owner. He must walk by mom and pop stores and scream “loser”…

    What product or service did Sumner ever create for the American people? Did you provide tomatoes at the farmers market? No? Did you create a product and try selling it? No?

    You taught at a third rate university, which isn’t even ranked globally? You published — hardly anything at all in relation to your peers.

    I can already here your illogical rebuttal: the story that Trump got all his money from his daddy is untrue, old, and not logical. Fred didn’t own golf courses around the world, or build skyscrapers in Manhatten.

    Sounds like someone is just a bit jealous of Donald’s success. But as the rappers like to say: “haters gonna hate.”

    Sumner then laments that Bill Clinton isn’t in office because he balanced the budget for a few years. However, for the record, the budget was balanced because of Newt Gingrich and the republic congress which demanded a balanced budget, not because of Bill Clinton. Clinton doesn’t write checks. Congress does.

    Read a book!

  48. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    11. November 2023 at 18:04


    Given credible estimates of Trump’s wealth, which he has long overstated, his rate of return on the roughly $400 million he inherited is terrible. It’s way, way below the rate of return on the S&P 500.

    The vast majority of properties bearing his name are the result of licensing deals. He’s always been a bullshitter, but even he’s admitted he would have gone personally bankrupt in the early 90s had his creditors not worked with him. They were concerned they’d get even less out of him in a bankruptcy.

    Also, very many companies he started went to zero, including every public company, except for his current one.

  49. Gravatar of Dale Doback Dale Doback
    11. November 2023 at 22:03

    IQs have apparently long been and continue going up, google the Flynn effect. This is irrelevant to my theory though. I bring up IQ merely as an example of how a neurotoxin like lead can broadly affect a population and so could slightly favor authoritarianism. I agree IQ alone isn’t causal of banana Republics. Another theory of mine is the obesity epidemic has caused and exasperated sleep apnea which affects brain and cognitive function and so could also push authoritarianism.

  50. Gravatar of John John
    12. November 2023 at 11:36

    Scott must be drinking that Romney Kool Aid!

    Trump the real estate developer is not a “failed businessman.”

    He’s had a few failures in his life, but so does every investor. Even those that call themselves “experts” at investing (VC’s) fail nine out of ten.

  51. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    12. November 2023 at 11:59

    So if you disagree with Dale, presumably a democrat, you have a low I.Q. due to lead poison AND you prefer totalitarianism.


    Somehow advocating for free speech, more liberty, and peace now equates to totalitarianism.

    That’s one magnificent theory. You must have been validectorian of Mao’s Beijing Language and Cultural University.

    FYI, Hitler thought the same about his political opponents, as did the radical left Jacobins. They thought the right wing was “oppressing them” and “totalitarian.” Even the moderate Edmund Burke was considered a “coercive force of evil”

    I just hope Dale doesn’t impale me, and ride around paris with my head on a stake because I voted for Donald J. Trump.

  52. Gravatar of SK SK
    12. November 2023 at 12:21

    Hi: I think you are underestimating the effect of a third party candidacy in siphoning off votes from either Trump or Biden with it too soon to tell which of those two likely candidates in hurt more.
    America is in fear mode: Crime( regardless of statistics) is a worry; Southern Border; Ukraine war and China. Take all those issues with others weighing them as you like and still seems to me that an authoritarian type figure has a good chance of winning; and Biden is not so far behind Trump in that regard.
    I hope that the outcome of the election is not such that we have a repeat of Gore v Bush with SCOTUS deciding; the EC vote based on various districts in key states might has been close and a third party might make that even closer.
    America is a banana republic or appearing to be more and more of one and lots of reasons for that.
    Were I dumb enough to run for office my platform would be: Sensible not crazy; educate not indoctrinate. I have yet to hear any candidates fully express that kind of narrative.
    We need to reform and do away with all the roadblocks that affect anyone from getting the nod from a given party; I remember well the rise of Eugene McCarthy who unseated LBJ and days gone bye when a candidate did not get the nod by his party until and during the convention of the party. Long ago America with less impediments, but impediments that restrict all kinds of betterment exist in today’s American and that suggests ongoing gloom for those of us who would like to see some sensible thinking and polices enacted. Not holding my breath

  53. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. November 2023 at 06:26

    Abe, You said:

    “Biden is one of the most corrupt politicians in American history.”

    So the solution is Trump?

    Sara, You said:

    “You published — hardly anything at all in relation to your peers.”

    Yes, that’s why my peers at Bentley awarded me scholar of the year.

    You forgot to mention how I dodged the draft, at age 16.

    “the story that Trump got all his money from his daddy is untrue, old, and not logical.”

    One out of three ain’t bad. It’s logical a rich man would leave millions to his son. It’s also true. But you are right, it’s an old story.

    John, He was a successful TV actor but a lousy businessman. He made money from being a celebrity, not business skill. He was a con man—look at Trump University.

  54. Gravatar of Student Student
    13. November 2023 at 15:51

    “Interestingly enough though… the betting markets don’t reflect this view… yet?“.

    Well… less than a week later they do lol. The polling was just a week or two ahead (which is interesting to think about in its own right).

  55. Gravatar of Tacticus Tacticus
    14. November 2023 at 14:12

    God, I forgot how terrible these trolls are. Shame.

  56. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    14. November 2023 at 16:18

    “This is no longer the country that forced Nixon to resign back in 1974.”

    This explanation is not enough, it’s not even an explanation. There are just too many dysfunctional totally overaged politicians in America who just don’t leave their positions and don’t make room for new young politicians. And when they did, politicians like Merkel or Obama came.

    Many voters probably have various key moments when a lot of their illusions died.

    One of my disillusioning moments was the infamous Romney vs. Obama election debate in 2012. Romney warned impressively how dangerous Russia is, he even talked about Ukraine (in 2012!) and the “neutral” questioners were totally biased for Obama and Romney was made fun of for 90 minutes. He basically was portrayed as a crazy idiot. In a “neutral” debate.

    Afterwards it even came out that Obama had secretly received many questions beforehand because a “journalist” thought this was fair and just. There were no consequences. My faith in American democracy died that day. Trump is just a follow-up. The unwinding of an incontinence.

    “Either way, it should be great fun to watch!”

    It’s only great fun when one is relatively old and doesn’t have to bear the consequences. And even then it’s no fun.

  57. Gravatar of Thomas Moore Thomas Moore
    15. November 2023 at 04:00

    @ Christian List

    Totally agree. That was the first moment in my life where I realized how tribal the average person is and that even intelligent people usually have too much ego to admit when they are wrong.

    The “media” class, has only got worse. There is no longer “news” only entertainment

    The amount of blame placed on Trump for the state of our current society is laughable, it’s like these people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

  58. Gravatar of Tacticus Tacticus
    15. November 2023 at 07:05

    Christian List, wasn’t it Clinton who was given questions in advance, not Obama? And wasn’t she given like… one or two questions?

    As I recall, Romney was made fun of for saying he had ‘binders full of women’ and complaining that the US Navy was the same size it had been during WWI. He was, of course, absolutely correct about Russia still being a threat. But, overall, he came across as very much stuck in the past.

    Just seems like an odd moment for your faith in democracy to die.

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