Wednesday, March 2, 2016

After Super Tuesday the Little Trump Train is still chugging... Oh, what is a party to do?

Now that Super Tuesday is history, one has to wonder about the future. The Donald Trump train looks a little less like a juggernaut than it did yesterday… but just a little. Of the 11 states contested, Trump won 7, Cruz won 3 and Rubio won Minnesota. Seven out of eleven sounds pretty staggering, but when you look at the delegates it’s a little less so. Overall, after 30% of the contests (including Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada) the math looks thus:
  • Trump has 285 delegates and earned 34.54% of the votes cast. Those 285 delegates however represent 50.35% of the delegates pledged.

  • Cruz has 161 delegates and earned 24.17% of the votes cast. Those 171 votes represent 28.45% of the delegates pledged.

  • Rubio has 87 delegates and earned 22.27% of the votes cast. Those 87 delegates represent 15.37% of the delegates pledged.
So Trump’s 35% of the votes has translated into victories in 77% of the contests and earned him 50% of the delegates so far. For better or worse, that’s what one calls punching above your weight.

But the juggernaut may not be so robust going forward. Indeed, in order to secure the nomination Trump will have to do exactly as well going forward as he has done thus far. That might get harder. If you watched Thursday’s debate you saw something utterly different than you have seen previously. You saw Rubio and Cruz take out the knives and attack Trump in a way he had not been targeted before. But it wasn’t just style, it was substance as well. Going forward we will likely see not only more of that during the debates – unless Trump hides – but commercials that in many cases use Donald Trump’s words to expose him as the liberal that he is.

Of course, for what appears to be a base of about 30% of the GOP, none of that will matter. And if Democrats in other blue states jump parties to vote for him, (as at least 20,000 did in Massachusetts, giving him his highest percentage yet 49%) that could put him over the top. But for Trump going forward, everything has to go his way if he wants to win the nomination. For the other guys they just have to keep Trump from getting a majority of delegates before the convention. Or... if Rubio, Kasich and Carson drop out, Cruz could very well win the nomination outright. But that doesn’t seem to be happening now.

If it goes that far, a convention fight would likely result in someone other than Trump emerging as the GOP nominee… with Rubio being the likely winner, although at that point the field would be wide open. Of course the prospect of backroom deals and inordinate establishment influence is exactly what a majority of GOP voters are fighting against (Trump + Cruz voters) but I’ve learned never to underestimate the ineptitude and stupidity of GOP leadership.

A convention outcome with anyone but Trump will likely lead to Trump running 3rd party… which in turn might well throw the election to the House… and another opportunity for the GOP leadership to screw the American people and put one of their Democrat light darlings in the White House.

Like a Trump presidency, that would lead to the end of the Republican Party. Conservatives would decamp and start their own party… or more likely parties. At that point they would become spoilers in the American political scene, not winning, but keeping the GOP from winning. Like a zombie, the GOP would likely limp along for a while until conservative opposition coalesced around a unifying party that could put together a viable slate of candidates. Of course the country they know might be gone by the time they get around to doing so as the Democrats would be running the place…

The bottom line is, unless this thing plays itself out just right, the Trump phenomenon may very well be the end of the GOP. Odds are at this point that the nomination will either go for Trump or head to the convention, and who comes out the other side of that will likely determine the outcome in November. The GOP will have three choices at the convention:
  • 1) Give the nomination to Trump and watch a sufficient number of disaffected voters sit out or go third party to give the election to the Democrats.

  • 2) Give the nomination to one of their establishment darlings and see Trump bolt and run 3rd party, resulting in a Democrat victory or a House vote.

  • 3) Give the nomination to Cruz and potentially see victory. The difference between Cruz and any other potential non Trump nominee is that Cruz is a small government guy, a real reformer and the GOP establishment hates him, and thus, many who threw in with Trump could be convinced to return to the fold in a way that they might not if a squish is on the ticket, particularly on immigration.
Whatever the outcome, this election has everything that is the worst in American politics. From smoke filled rooms with power brokers and moneymen to populist charlatans to a sizable portion of the electorate knowing few facts and caring even less, one can’t but help but wonder what the rest of this decade will look like. It also has something we've not had in a while... a candidate who promises to reduce the power and influence of government while at the same time championing liberty and individual freedom.  It would be nice to see what a Cruz White House would look like...

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