Krugman’s blog, 3/8/16

There was one post yesterday, “The Geometry of Progressive Trumpism:”

Should progressives fear a Trump nomination or cheer it on? The basic answer is, of course, who cares? While Ted Cruz may insist that the liberal media are conspiring to choose Trump so they can blow him up later — it’s all tinfoil hats over there, folks — the truth is that Republican primary voters don’t watch John Oliver, and an endorsement from the NY Times is probably the kiss of death. Still, it’s something people think about, and I found myself trying to clarify things with a silly diagram.

So let’s think of the choice being between Trump and Not-Trump, who is somewhat less awful but more likely to win in the general. (This worked better before Marco Rubio’s implosion; Cruz may be just as awful and just as bad a candidate as Trump.) Then the comparison is between the expected awfulness to come if the GOP chooses Trump versus choosing non-Trump. In the figure, I use orange to represent Trump (I tried to replicate the spray tan, but this was as close as I could get), and red to represent non-Trump. In each case, the expected awfulness is the product of the probability of election versus the awfulness if elected, i.e., the area of a rectangle whose base is the probability and whose height is the awfulness:

As you can see, the downside of a Trump nomination is his extra awfulness multiplied by his chance of winning; the downside of Non-Trump is his own awfulness, multiplied by the extra chance of a GOP victory.

My sense is that Trump is awful, but not that much more awful than the others — Rubio, for example, is among other things the candidate of the people who brought you Iraq and want to do it all over again. Meanwhile, I think that Trump would be a very weak general election candidate — the conditions that have let him flourish in the GOP are really unique to that party. So I think that progressives should be cheering Trump on (which is why my secret committee has been orchestrating that conspiracy Cruz talks about.) But you may differ.

And that was a good way to waste a bit of time, wasn’t it?

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