Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Ides Have It

Where were we?  Oh yes, "super" Tuesday analysis and the like, including Willard Romney's non-endorsement of the frontrunner.  Much has happened since, including the first truly subdued debate performance by the Donald, Carson's endorsement the next day despite having been compared to a child molester by Trump, and the rather scary outbreaks of rally violence.  Most of all, some key delegate victories, notably for Cruz, as well as the upset victory for Bernie in Michigan on the Democratic side.

But what does it mean?  Trump still seems inevitable - despite the increasingly fervent calls to stop him by conservatives from deep within the party.  Clinton well on course too, although her inability to seal the deal in key states against her socialist opponent certainly raises some serious flags for the general election.  So hard to see the end game for Sanders.  He continues winning among his core support, who will not be moved, even as he is running out of time and delegates along the way.  Tonight looks like it will provide further embarrassment for Clinton at the same time as she extends her delegate lead, thanks to expected big wins in Florida and North Carolina.  What a time this could have been for Elizabeth Warren if she had decided to put her name forward.  Here's hoping the Democratic brain trust have a plan on how to rally some of Hillary's unconvinced supporters in the general.  Would Sanders be interested in the Veep slot?  Starting to think he would actually fit in well as a successor to Biden...

The real story - as ever - is on the Republican side.  In what universe this time last year did I foresee that I would be typing the 4 word combination of "trump ohio delegate math" into trusty Google?  That is where we find ourselves, and as ever the answers flow forth (in 0.48 seconds).  Here's a memo from one of the Super PACs getting paid millions to stop Trump in his tracks, and the upshot if Trump loses Ohio:

Trump can win ALL the delegates in the Virgin Islands, Arizona, Delaware, Oregon and New Jersey…  AND win the large majority of delegates in Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana and California… AND win DC, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington and New Mexico and STILL FALL SHORT of the 1,237 threshold. 

Sounds ominous for the current delegate leader, although perhaps this is just another example of the preachers speaking to the converted?  I am taking the polls at face value and assuming this will be one of the more embarrassing nights of Rubio's life.  I am not sorry to see him go, since the beginning I was most worried about his chances as the nominee, extraordinarily conservative positions dressed up to look entirely unthreatening.  Strange to see a politician in his position decide outright that one turn in the Senate was enough, and now unemployment beckons.  Hopefully, we have seen the last of him on the public stage, although at just 44, I would be surprised. 

At least with Cruz, the smarminess and self-righteousness and radicalism is on full display.  A truly impressive performance to get to this point, where it seems he is now the only other legitimate candidate left with any chance to stop Trump from breezing to the nomination in Cleveland.  I remember reading this take on him from Josh Marshall back almost a year ago when he announced (can it have been that long?) and laughing along at the truth of it.  All of it basically still applies.  He has had his share of luck in getting into a position where the chips have fallen such that he still has a path despite his many obvious faults.  Hard to imagine convincing Lindsey Graham that he would be backing Ted even a few months ago.

I have little doubt Cruz would likely turn out to be a worse President than even Trump, but I have fewer doubts about his ability to actually win the White House, regardless of the circumstances between now and November.  So here's hoping Cruz holds his own in the other primaries tonight, and even squeaks out a better than expected delegate count.  And I could see it.  There was a lot of talk about how Trump did well in the most recent debate, but I wonder if it that storyline might get rewritten if Illinois, North Carolina, and particularly Missouri shift late toward Cruz.  It would truly be spectacular to watch the carnage that would unfold if Trump somehow arrived at the convention with a plurality (but not a majority) and then Cruz breezes past him on a second ballot.  Truly, truly spectacular. 

For that glorious chaos to happen, it does seem to require at minimum a Trump loss in Ohio to blunt tonight's momentum and limit his delegates.  So a final word for the jovial, experienced Kasich.  Proper kudos to the extent of the delusions required for him to remain positive throughout this entire race in the face of such craziness, and to arrive at a space this deep into the primaries with a straight face, despite basically nothing at all to show for it except a few second place finishes.  He keeps saying he thinks he is going to be the nominee, and I guess that's what he has to say to convince himself to get up every morning, but... wow.  Talk about suspension of disbelief.  His victory speech tonight, if it comes, will be so over the top it could be hilariuos.  I am already looking forward to the Trump machine starting into the attacks.  Low energy Jeb, Lying Ted, Little Marco.  What quality sobriquet will the Donald come up with this time, I wonder?

So - "Fasten your seatbelts," as Kasich is prone to say.  There may be a twist or two to come after tonight yet.  How fitting it would be if PaddyPower actually did jump the gun after all!     


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