Thursday, February 11, 2016

Looking Forward - Republican Edition

Back home again.  Always quite the trip when it results in your picture making the pages of the New York Times.  Hard to imagine much funnier.  Long live the first in the nation primary.

I was planning on writing a lengthier post on Donald Trump and why he should no longer be treated as a joke, but fortunately Ezra Klein has done my work for me.  Agree with every word.  The hours spent among the Trump supporters, and witnessing the extent of some fairly abhorrent and repugnant ideas given large cheers in huge crowds of people, was unlike any other political experience I can recall.  It left me feeling... concerned, for lack of a better word.  I saw a massive billboard driving past Concord on the interstate that said simply: "Donald Trump is unhinged.  - Jeb Bush" and that says quite a lot in itself.

So how might he be stopped?  An exceedingly tough question.  It is rather funny that last week I was hoping Rubio would falter post-Iowa, since a strong second there really would have set him on his way, and I was worried about him as the strongest general election candidate.  But now I am far more scared of Trump as a real possibility, and less so Rubio since his debating collapse.  Robotico looks to be toast now though, so the question is whether there are other alternatives that will stand in Trump's way to the nomination, seemingly against the will of the party.

The delegate math is fairly complicated, and therefore all the more fun to dive into.  538 has an excellent primer here.  The bottom line is that the initial states tend to be more favourable to Trump and Cruz, but the winner-take-all nature of Florida and Ohio make subsequent primaries from March 15 onward fairly critical.  The real question becomes whether big early wins for a candidate like Trump will translate into bandwagon support that allows him to run the table, or if there will be time for the so-called "establishment' to train their guns on Trump in a more sustained way.

To date, Trump seems to have managed a teflon campaign beautifully, but you have to think at some point he will have to withstand the type of attacks that Republicans are so adept at waging.  South Carolina is certainly a state known for its share of dirty politicking, and I am looking forward to seeing Saturday's debate and the new ads to come to see if any other candidate can make any inroads.  The early efforts are far, far from promising, but hope springs and all that.  Plus I am not the target audience anyway.

I expect Trump to emerge with the victory from South Carolina, with maybe only Cruz (and possibly Bush?) doing well.  Based on the delegate math, it looks to me like the pressure for the "establishment" (i.e. non-Trump/Cruz) candidates to coalesce will only really be felt post-Super Tuesday.  Trump is likely to have a good night then, with seemingly only Cruz in a decent position at this stage to challenge him head on in those early states.  So we are going to be stuck with him for awhile.

The question is whether Trump starts to look inevitable, or whether he has taken some hits to that point that put doubts into the minds of voters in the states to come.  Either way, the longer the race goes on, you have to think the advantage is to anyone but Trump.  The dream possibility of a split convention where no candidate has a majority of delegates is still in the cards, and may be the only way that Trump ends up losing the nomination at this point, and which would be must-see television for sure and a fitting end to this truly amazing race. 

All of that is to say you can at least see the logic behind the Bush attacks that are designed to get Rubio out of the race as early as possible, and certainly before March 15.  Recently Bush has started to hit Trump as well - worse than Obama is quite the charge in that party (on a side note, you can just make out my red Arsenal jersey behind Bush in the stock photo for that article, hilariously).  But seems that in the next week, the key head-to-head fights are more likely to be Cruz v. Trump, and Rubio/Bush/Kasich amongst each other.  No matter what happens, Trump is going to dominate coverage for at least the next few months.  It does not appear that there will be any way to stop him for some time to come, and the time for the Republican party to decide, and decide against him, is running out.


Post a Comment

<< Home