The new conventional wisdom about Trump: He’s winning because his opponents aren’t attacking him.

The old conventional wisdom, still held by some party elites, was that Trump simply could not win. The new line is that he’s winning because he’s not being attacked by his two main rivals for the nomination, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The GOP 
establishment, which continues to downplay the fact that Trump has tapped into racist attitudes stirred up by the party for decades and widespread dissatisfaction with the party itself, seems to be moving from “denial” to “anger” on the Kübler-Ross model. 

This argument isn’t quite true. Ezra Klein overstates the case somewhat, since there has been some opposition to Trump (even if Rubio has barely hit him at all). It also ignores many of the factors fueling Trump’s rise. But it is much closer to the truth, even if it’s just a precursor to the “bargaining” stage.

For now, a rising chorus is demanding attacks on Trump. Wishing may make it so, but there’s strategy to laying off. Both Cruz and Rubio know their only chance of overtaking Trump is in a one-on-one matchup, so their priority is still getting the other one out of the race. A 1 percent chance of winning a two-man race is still better than a zero percent chance of winning a three-man race. Right? 

June 26, 2019

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Welcome to TNR’s coverage of the Democratic debates.

Yes, the debates are upon us, a mere 16 months before voters will cast their ballots to decide whether President Trump should get a second term. In that time, babies will be conceived and born, the earth will orbit the sun and then some, and Democrats will, with any luck, choose a champion from the two dozen candidates running for the nomination. It all begins tonight, with the first of two debates in Miami this week featuring the 20 candidates—ten each round—who qualified to participate by either polling at 1 percent in three surveys or receiving 65,000 individual donations.

The staff of The New Republic will be watching the proceedings, offering running commentary and post-debate analysis, and hopefully answering any questions readers might have. Who’s up, who’s down? Who, if anyone, seems qualified to stall America’s spiraling descent into a fiery wasteland overseen by Trumpian kleptocrats? And who is Eric Swalwell, anyway? Pop by TNR’s Minutes blog at 9 o’clock EST tonight and tomorrow night to find out!