Friday, February 26, 2016

After GOP did almost zero opposition research on Trump, a treasure trove awaits Democrats

The Republican Party is infamous for being dismissive of actual research, like in science with climate change or in economics with trickle-down theory. In 2012, they ignored all the external polling, preferring to view the world from their precious "Mitt will prevail" bubble. Well, all the bubble think has caught up with them ... again. Apparently, no one bothered to dig up any dirt on Trump because surely he couldn't win the nomination. Right? Sam Stein reports:

Multiple Republican campaign sources and operatives have confided that none of the remaining candidates for president have completed a major anti-Trump opposition research effort. There are several such efforts being run by outside conservative organizations. But those efforts are still gathering intel on the businessman after having started late in the primary season, these sources told The Huffington Post. And they worry that it may come too late.

"It is one of the many ways we underestimated him, I suppose," conceded one top Republican campaign official whose candidate has since exited the race.

For those hoping to blunt Trump's momentum, the late start on opposition research is no small problem. One operative compared it to not having ammunition at the precise moment when there is a collective realization that a Trump candidacy needs to be shot down.

Really, the level of head-in-the-sand incompetence here is just stunning. True, almost no one thought Trump’s candidacy was going anywhere when he announced in June. But after months of dominating the polls and proving to be practically bulletproof, no one woke up and said, "Hey, maybe we should look into this guy"?

It's kind of telling, actually. Trump's candidacy has repeatedly demonstrated just how out of touch GOP leaders are with their base voters, and so they turned a blind eye to the candidate who brought that to light. Well, just ‘cuz you close your eyes, it doesn’t mean Trump goes away. It’s a pretty basic lesson on object permanence that Republicans have repeatedly failed to learn. 

Meanwhile, Democratic researchers have reportedly been compiling research on Trump for eight months—better than the GOP but nothing like the 2-3 years they were looking into Mitt Romney leading up to 2012. While there's plenty more records to mine, one researcher said most of what they've uncovered has yet to see the light of day—meaning a Trump general election could prove to be a bloodbath.

That researcher estimated that of all the material they’ve compiled -- court and property records, newspaper clips and videos -- approximately 80 percent of it has yet to surface in this election cycle.

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