You can't always get what you want.

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Trump's Still Wooing His Own Party Faithful

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday night and then proceeded to deliver a shouted,  scare-mongering speech about a nation beset by constant lawlessness and violence. It was not a portrait that jibed with the facts and statistics, but perhaps it will resonate with the American voters out there who are still on the fence.  

He certainly didn't give those who weren't supporting him any reasons to change their minds.  

Beyond his "build the wall" refrain, the Republican nominee hardly even pretended to have solutions to reach his goals. This seemed well-suited to a party that mostly gave up on policy long ago. 

As his performance showed, maybe the Republicans in Cleveland didn't want the specifics on how he was going to pull the country out of the abyss. After all, the party has nominated a candidate who barely has any interest in most Republican ideology, and actively opposes its traditional agenda in several important areas, trade and virtually everything having to do with foreign policy chief among them. 

Remember, the context of everything at the Republican convention is that the party is far from united, as conservative pundits Philip Klein and Jonah Goldberg said earlier this week (see also party scholars Jonathan Ladd and Hans Noel). 

So even if Trump had solutions in mind -- though he almost certainly does not -- he had a strong incentive to be vague and to reach out mainly to Republicans, that is, the population that can't be told enough what a huge disaster the Obama years have been.   

Conventions are easy, even if you wouldn't have known it judging by this one, with the flagrant plagiarism, the rules fights, the missing party luminaries, the senator who got booed off  the stage. The nominee's speech is especially easy. All the people in the party want the convention, and their candidate, to succeed. The nominees normally get a polling bounce, as millions of partisans who haven't paid attention yet or who supported his rivals tune in and discover that, hey, this candidate really does sound like politicians they've liked in the past. 

So this, the most off-the-rails convention in decades, may manage to help Republicans return to their party after all. We'll see. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net