This column isn’t directed at those Republicans who believe Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are equally bad. I think they’re insane: as insane as they’d think I was if I argued that Louis Farrakhan was no worse than Mitt Romney. But I can’t convince them because we don’t share basic ideological premises. If they really believe that abortion is murder, for instance—that Clinton’s Supreme Court justices would ensure that America’s holocaust continues for decades more—I can’t argue with them. Morally, we live on different planets.
This column is for the high-profile Republicans who actually do believe that Clinton is better, perhaps far better. They’re planning to vote for her. They just won’t say so. They’re willing to identify themselves publicly as Never Trump. But they won’t come out as pro-Clinton. The political risks are too high.
How many such people are there? Probably quite a few. In September, BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins reported that “a large number of the party’s consultants, fundraisers, and operatives privately preferred” that Hillary win. When I asked one prominent conservative writer what percentage of the Never Trump Republicans he knew would vote for Hillary, he guessed 30 percent. When I asked a prominent Republican political insider the same question, he answered, “Probably half. Maybe a little more.” If these estimates are correct, then dozens of high-profile GOP commentators, talk show hosts, senators, governors, and former presidential candidates will likely cast their vote for Clinton without publicly admitting it.