Douglas Carswell

04 MAY 2016

Is Donald Trump the new Wendell Willkie?

Donald Trump is now virtually certain to be the Republican nominee. For someone fighting his first election, it's a remarkable achievement. But is he America's next president? Or is he the new Wendell Willkie?

Trump isn't the first political outsider to win the Republican nomination.

The closest parallel might be Wendell Willkie.

Like Trump, Willkie was a rich Manhattan big businessman who claimed he couldn't be bought by vested interests. Like Trump, Willkie was a former Democrat. Like Trump, Willkie divided Republican opinion.

Willkie won the Republican nomination in 1940. But he went on to lose the Presidential election to FDR. Will the same happen to Trump?

Trump has beaten the Republican establishment. But beating the Democratic establishment looks trickier. Trump trails Hillary Clinton by some distance in head-to-head polls. Millions of Americans love him, but millions more despise him.

Hillary should be beatable. She is the ultimate political insider, as deeply entrenched on Wall Street as she is in Washington. She is tainted by scandals, some of which are still under criminal investigation. She has neither the charisma nor the novelty of Obama. Her only Democratic opponent is a seventy-four year-old socialist, and she is struggling even to overcome him.

In an anti-establishment election season like this, the establishment candidate shouldn't win. This ought to be the wrong place and the wrong time for Hillary Clinton. Yet to many Americans, she still looks like the lesser of two evils.

It's possible Trump will beat Clinton in November. It's more likely that he'll lose. If that happens, isn't it possible he's not the right kind of insurgent after all?

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