President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Reno Saturday and Las Vegas Sunday. A bunch of maskless people will crowd airport-area venues in both towns and spread the coronavirus among each other so they can then distribute it in their respective communities. Trump will say Trump things, and then he will leave.
At least let’s hope that’s how it works out, and that things don’t go in, say, a different direction.
Trump’s chances of winning Nevada seem twofold: slim and fat. True, this is a year when thousands of acres go up in flames thanks to a gender reveal party, which just goes to show anything can happen in 2020. But maybe Trump’s visit is only partly to whip up the base in Nevada, and partly a chance to look in on Sheldon Adelson. They had a mini-spat, you’ll recall, so Trump may have to apologize before Sheldon follows through with his next tranche of millions Trump can spend on states that are more important than Nevada this cycle (a list which includes but is not limited to Wisconsin, Florida, and closer to home, Arizona).
Trump’s base is unshakable, but also capped. He made the 2018 midterm elections all about him, and you saw how that worked out for him and Republicans in Nevada. His campaign may have some hope of reaching swing/casual voters, assuming there are any. But swing/casual voters are probably among those paying the least attention to things like, well, presidential campaign visits, or presidential campaigns generally – especially in a year when everybody already knows more about both candidates than they ever wanted to.
That widely held sense – that voters’ choices are already baked into the cake and aren’t going to change much if at all – along with Trump’s insatiable appetite for carnival barking and unquenchable thirst for attention, is why Trump and his campaign will become even more outrageous, outlandish and out of control.
Avid partisans and political junkies are breathlessly following every ephemeral twist and turn of the most grotesque presidential reelection campaign ever. But among humans who don’t live on Twitter, there seems to be a very strong sentiment in 2020: “Yeah whatever let’s vote already.”
Trump’s campaign problem isn’t that people have tuned out him and his Antifact demagoguery. His campaign problem is that people have checked out of the daily campaign to and fro in general.
So there will be no limits on his attempts to shock and awe an exhausted nation. How far – how low – will Trump & Co. go next? Hopefully we won’t find out this weekend. Hopefully his song & dance in Nevada will be no more than just another cheesy midway attraction Nevada voters can safely ignore.
(A version of this commentary was originally published in the Daily Current Newsletter, a morning roundup of the latest from the Nevada Current as well as some other Nevada news, presented with perspective and opinion by the Current’s editor, Hugh Jackson. You can sign up for the newsletter here.)