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Donald denialism, an ongoing series

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Commenter Anon21:

I think Cruz could do it. I put it at about Rubio 55, Cruz 40, and the field 5.

I’m not saying Trump is a lock or anything, but to not consider him the favorite at this point seems very unrealistic. Cruz and Rubio are both going to stay in this thing to the bitter end, and Trump will win a plurality of GOP primary voters against those two I think.

I would be shocked at this point if Cruz wins the nomination. South Carolina is an almost ideal state for him and he barely got 20% of the vote. 72% of the voters in the primary tonight identified themselves as evangelical or born again (this is the largest percentage ever), and Trump won the plurality of those voters: 33%, to 27% and 22% for Cruz and Rubio respectively. If Cruz is losing the evangelical vote to Donald Trump he is toast.

Rubio is another story, as the GOP establishment will be all in for him after tonight, but needless to say that cuts both ways in 2016.

Anyway, people who talk as if Trump still has no chance — and there’s still quite a bit of that going around — are flat-out delusional, but the man does seem to have that effect on lots of observers.

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  • joe from Lowell

    I’m very surprised by Cruz’s poor performance.

    • Is it possible that someone could be too awful a human for the South Carolina Republican primary voter?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        Cruz, while being a terrible person, just doesn’t act it out with the same panache Trump does- why go for the greasy copy when the real deal is right there and bigger than life? And if you don’t want terrible, at least Rubio doesn’t look like the kind of undertaker who removes people’s gold fillings- which I certainly wouldn’t put past Cruz

        • PhoenixRising

          My 16yo gets info on the race from the time lagged close captions and the visuals plus transcriptions.

          “Voldemort is leading. The vampire & Robin are battling for second, and I’m pretty sure the neurosurgeon is a Horcrux.”

          She’s described Cruz as ‘the vampire guy who reads Dr Seuss’ since he came onto the national scene.

          • Nick056

            Your 16yo is delivering the best assessments of the race.

            • PhoenixRising

              The advantage she has over the pundits is that she can’t hear what they’re saying. She’s using how the candidates try to make her feel (visual/emotional cues) and their policy positions, not what they say. While this is described as a disability, under the right circumstances (primaries are all about the id) it’s a superpower. I’d like to read more from SEK on his observations.

              Her summary of the Dem debates: Grandma wants Grandpa to stop yelling the same thing over and over–we all get it, and no one even disagrees with him.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                thanks for telling us all that. it’s really interesting. it reminds me of something I read a long time ago, that certain disabled people (I don’t think they were deaf but I don’t remember for sure) would watch Reagan and say “he’s not telling the truth”

                • It’s in Oliver Sacks, I think a vignette in “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”.

              • Nick056

                Jim Fallows said that some debate professionals watch with the sound turned off. The video at this link might be fun for you and your daughter.

                • PhoenixRising

                  Thanks! we watch it all with the sound turned off, captions on, under the terms of the Compromise of 2011 (she got to be a good enough reader to grasp that the captions were coordinated with sound and STARTED TURNING THE TV UP TO 99+ SO SHE COULD HEAR and the dogs tried to run away from home).

          • BubbaDave

            Your daughter’s thoughts intrigue me (in a non-creepy way) and I wish to subscribe to her newsletter.

          • djw

            “Voldemort is leading. The vampire & Robin are battling for second, and I’m pretty sure the neurosurgeon is a Horcrux.”

            Someone get her on CNN

            • Snarki, child of Loki

              on CNN? I think something more like “Buffy The Vampire-Slayer” reboot would be appropriate.

              With more violence this time.

          • Trump is George Wallace with a little bit of Perot thrown in; Cruz is Nixon merged with Joe McCarthy; Rubio is a better looking, slightly more charismatic Dan Quayle; and Carson is the answer to the question nobody ever asked, “What if Michele Bachmann was a black male brain surgeon?”

            • PhoenixRising

              Perfect. I needed to dredge up George Wallace from some vague things my dad said and…yes. Trump is that plus the nutty Texas billionaire with the easy answers on charts.

      • brad

        Or the birther stuff really hurts Cruz in part of his would be base.

        • LosGatosCA

          This.

          Democrats can vote for the black guy with the Islamic Kenyan commie name

          But

          In 2012 South Carolina Republicans did not vote for the Mormon and in 2016 they ain’t going for the Hispanic Canadian, no matter how much everyone else hates him because he’s a pious asshole.

          • Warren Terra

            More pietistic than pious, surely

            • LosGatosCA

              More asshole than pious or pietistic, assuredly.

              • Snarki, child of Loki

                Listen, once the pie goes in the Cruz pie-hole, I don’t want to know what happens to it.

          • dr. hilarius

            Not sure if I buy this. It’s not like Ted Cruz sounds super ethnic. Marco Rubio, I can see.

            But Cruz? It’s not like Hernandez or Rodriguez. How many non-Spanish speakers, especially who live in an area with very little exposure to Spanish, realize that Cruz is Spanish (it means cross)? My guess is not very many. If you don’t read a lot and only listen to the radio, “Cruz” sounds like “Cruise”-and whatever you think of Tom Cruise, he’s American.

            Cruz does seem to talk a lot about being Cuban, so it could be that. But he’s white, and Cruz doesn’t sound “weird” like some other hispanic last names.

      • Bruce B.

        No. But they can be awful in the wrong way.

      • Hard to imagine for anybody who has followed South Carolina politics over the past 20-odd decades, and yet Cruz has conquered many apparently insuperable obstacles in his time. Certainly if anybody can do it, Ted’s your man.

    • AMK

      Trump seems to have trained most of his fire on Cruz (and Jeb!) up to this point, without really paying much attention to Rubio. I’m sure that’ll change now. He’s such a rich target, after all (even if there’s not that much natural overlap in their voting blocs).

    • Scott Lemieux

      Carson keeping the grift going really hurts Cruz. You have to think most of his 7% would go to Cruz.

      • keta

        If those two couldn’t make it in a closet then they’re just never going to be happy in this spin-the-bottle.

      • brad

        Trump won the plurality of evangelicals tonight, bizarre as that is if you ignore the obvious cracker authoritarian undertones.

        • brad

          Derp, now I notice that’s in the OP.
          Point being I think the evangelicals stay fragmented, this is concrete proof Trump can take enough of them.

        • Don’t ignore them! That’s far more important to that religion than “Two Corinthians”, or even the selected abominations of Leviticus.

      • joe from Lowell

        Good point. I mentioned the “Trump/Cruz voters vs. Rubio/Bush/Kasich voters” theory elsewhere, but it’s really “Trump/Cruz/Carson voters,” isn’t it?

        • djw

          Right. Part of what makes this really hard to handicap right now is that “Establishment,” “Trump,” and “Carson+Cruz” are three virtually identically sized constituencies.

      • Brett

        That might not be just grifting at this point. Maybe he’s also running as a fuck-you to Ted Cruz after what Cruz’s campaign tried in Iowa.

      • dr. hilarius

        Normally I might wonder if Cruz’s ethnicity would affect that. But if they’ll vote for a black guy, I don’t see why they wouldn’t go for a white hispanic.

      • cleter

        There’s some bad blood between those two camps. I would guess the people still invested in Carson don’t actually like Cruz for his behavior toward Carson. I think if Carson bails his people just scatter rather than go as a bloc to Cruz.

    • Sly

      Trump has been aggressively pandering to old white people ever since he started his birther nonsense. Him routing Cruz among the SC GOP base – probably the most racist fucks in the country – is not exactly surprising. Cruz isn’t going to win against a guy who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country and who promises to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it.

      Cruz may have a better grasp of the ins-and-outs of White Evangelical Protestantism, and is fluent in all the cliches of that particular identity, but WEPs don’t just love Jesus… they love White Jesus, and Trump better encapsulates White Jesus than any other candidate.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Trump better encapsulates White Jesus than any other candidate.

        “Christ: what an asshole!” kind of thing?

        • efgoldman

          “Christ: what an asshole!” kind of thing?

          I think that’s equally true of all of them, and not in a New Yorker caption kind of way.

        • Sly

          A combination of Al Franken’s Supply Side Jesus and Bad Religion’s American Jesus.

  • I fail to see how anyone could dismiss Trump at this point. He’s going to win most of those Super Tuesday states and probably the nomination. I’d put him at about 70% chance to win the nomination.

    • AMK

      I feel like if Kasich gets out and the GOP donors really get in gear, Rubio might be able to give Trump something like a run for his money in some of the later blue-state GOP primaries (CA, NY, NJ) and scoop up enough delegates to theaten Trump at the convention. One would think Rubio could seriously compete in Florida as well, sans Bush and Kasich, and with gobs of money.

      • Gregor Sansa

        I agree. But only if Cruz can be sidelined. That will not be easy.

        And even then… imagine a two-man debate between Trump and Rubio. I understand that Rubio could be replaced in that debate by a bottle of water and still get at least the 45% of Republicans who will never vote Trump under any circumstances, but I also think the bottle-of-water has a better chance of beating (or even matching) Trump in a debate.

        • AMK

          Yup. Trump has hardly even glanced at Rubio this whole campaign. But Jeb’s gone and Rubio’s as least as big a threat as Cruz now, so he’s gonna pull no punches. Chris Christie took Rubio apart onstage, and Christie’s like a bobcat to Trump’s siberian tiger.

          • efgoldman

            Christie’s like a bobcat to Trump’s siberian tiger.

            In your metaphor, I think of Trump and the opossum on his head more as a rogue elephant (convenient also for the party symbolism). Nothing can stop him, you just hope he goes away or loses interest before the damage is unrepairable.
            Except I don’t think he will. And yeah, whenever the next debate is (do you think Reince would dare cancel any?) he will take Kris Krispie’s cues and pound on Brave, Brave Sir Wonderboy Marco. The carnage will not be pretty.

      • Jackov

        Trump will kill in the California Republican primary.

        They have been hating on Mexicans since forever and were yelling at Muslim kids five years ago – and that is just the elected officials. Rubio might do okay with the techies/old$
        in noCal but suburban soCal is Trump’s playground.

        • Thom

          That primary doesn’t come until June, though.

      • random

        Each of CA, NJ, and NY (Trump’s home turf) are more likely to go to Trump than Rubio, even in a one-on-one contest.

        • petesh

          Yeah, but in the general? I’m not sure about NJ, but NY seems unlikely and even if both the Republicans left in CA vote for him, he still loses by a huuuuuuuge margin.

      • cleter

        Kasich isn’t going to get out before Ohio, which is March 15,the same day as Florida. It’ll be too late for them to coalesce around Rubio by then.

        If Kasich wins Ohio and Rubio loses Florida to Trump that’ll be it for Rubio.

      • MacK

        This really will end up with who gets the third-place guy and Kasich, Carson and even Bush’s delegates. There is no strict rule on that – they can go with whoever their candidate endorses – or they can be free delegates. Then there are the automatic delegates – 3 per states (the state-party chairman, state committeeman, and state committeewoman) some of whom are bound, some not (depends on the state.)

        To get the nomination you need 1,237 delugates. Even now Kasich has 5, Bush 4, Carson 3 – and since it is there Huckabee, Christie and Paul have 1 each. Assuming Kasich drops out that leaves 15 loose delegates so far.

        So what happens. You probably have Trump with the largest share of the delegates possibly over 1000, but a hundred or more short of the nomination, Cruz and Rubio second and third. Putting Cruz and Rubio’s delegates together might make it to the magic number – or gasp, just short (at which point the drop-out’s delegates become an issue.)

    • McKingford

      The one thing I can see hurting him (but it might not be close enough to matter) is that he’s a cheap-ass SOB who refuses to spend any of his money on his campaign – even though he’s this close to taking the whole damn thing.

      The big lie (of so many) of his campaign is that he’s self-financing. He’s not, of course, and the media seems to be so amused at the claim it refuses to call him out on this bullshit. But even though he’s manifestly NOT self-financing, he’s also not prioritizing fundraising, being satisfied with his free earned media. Which means he’s not spending money on targeted ads of any kind. And with Jeb! out of the race, the moneycrats are going to be falling over themselves to fund Rubio, who until now has treated Trump with kid gloves. I don’t see how that can last, and he’ll finally have some money to put against Trump. Will Donald finally loosen the purse strings to fight back? He’s shown no such inclination to date, which is actually kind of remarkable when you consider how close he is to running away with this thing.

      • I’ve long thought money in presidential politics was pretty overrated. I don’t think the RNC can carpetbomb Trump with ads and it will matter. If anything, it might send voters to him.

        • weirdnoise

          I suspect the strong anti-establishment sentiment that just flushed Jeb(!) from the primaries makes traditional advertising even less effective than usual.

        • The point where money makes a difference is when there’s enough of s lack of one. Ca pains do run out of money and then stop. For nearly everyone else, everyone can get “enough” money that it’s not decisive. Once you get to “enough”, being outspent isn’t decisive, even if the outspending is by quite a lot.

      • Morse Code for J

        Advertising only works if you can put your product in front of the appropriate audience.

        I’m 40 years old, not particularly tech-savvy, but I don’t really watch TV with commercials any more. Nor do I listen to a radio station whose content is paid for by ads. Most of my news comes from the Internet, where it’s hard to make me sit still for an ad I don’t want to see or hear, which categorically includes all political campaign ads. How does your money reach me? Billboards? Paid staff getting out the vote?

        • Lee Rudolph

          Straight to my bank account?

          • Morse Code for J

            Jesus, if only. Sign me up, Donald. I’m offering a competitive rate here.

        • mscibing

          Social Media. During the last Federal election there was a ton of Liberal Party of Canada advertising on my feed. It was super effective at getting their message out and I liked what I heard. But there are limits to what advertising can do. (The LPC had voted for C-51 in the previous session so it felt a bit like “who are your going to believe – me or your lying eyes?”)

    • DrDick

      True. I do think Cruz has a chance at it, but he is rather a long shot at this point. The rest of the rabble really just need to go home and get some rest. Rubio might have a chance, given that he is pretty much the last man standing in the Establishment camp, if he were not almost as pathetic a candidate as JEB(?). Neither of them has acted like they really want it.

  • Ktotwf

    So, the main page agrees with me. Good to know. Can I get a second on the punitive Roman triumph style parade of anti-Trump pundits?

    • Don’t give Trump ideas for a still possible inauguration. Clinton would get to play Vercingetorix, strangled as a sacrifice during Julius Caesar’s triumph.

  • tsam

    I don’t see how anyone can stop Trump. He can’t stop himself–he’s said a half a million dumbass things and only gets more popular. Any time another candidate takes a shit at him, he disappears.

    • PohranicniStraze

      “Any time another candidate takes a shit at him”

      I can’t tell if this is a typo or not, but it’s a wonderful comment either way.

      • tsam

        Heh-lucky accident

    • BubbaDave

      I think you mean “flings” instead of “takes” to really capture the spirit of the Republican debates….

      • tsam

        Was aiming for “takes a shot”. But I like this way better I think. My phone is more clever and funny than I am.

  • jamesepowell

    Who do you think wrote Rubio’s “I am the winner!” speech?

    Does he have the stuff & the organization to campaign in all those Super Tuesday states?

    Now that Bush is out, my next wish the demise of Rubio.

    • efgoldman

      Who do you think wrote Rubio’s “I am the winner!” speech?

      I thought Republiklowns didn’t believe in participation trophies.

      • pianomover

        Rubio touts himself as the next Ronald Reagan, while also telling his back story of having been the son of a poor single mother. Rubio was ten years old when RR was elected which would make that one of the worst times to be the son of a welfare queen.

        • rea

          Well, that’s back when Rubio’s brother-in-law was one of the biggest drug-lords in Miami, so maybe he shouldn’t make too many claims of family impoverishment.

    • addicted44

      Really? I think Rubio would be clobbered in a general.

      His major threat is that he may improve the Republican showing with Hispanic Americans. But if he makes it ot the general, his background is gonna be a huge handicap with his own base. He will have to explicitly distance himself from Hispanics.

      So he’s in a catch 22 in the general. Either he forsakes his only strength to keep his base, or takes advantage of his strength but loses a huge section of the base.

      • efgoldman

        Either he forsakes his only strength to keep his base, or takes advantage of his strength but loses a huge section of the base.

        Brave, Brave Sir Wonderboy Marco could be in big, big trouble. His home state (FL) votes on March 15. Per RCP, Trump and the opossum on his head was leading with 40%, Tailgunner Teddy Cruz was at 19, and Wonderboy and ?jeb? together had 22%.
        BUT most recent date was January 21. ?jeb?, obviously, was still in it, and Kris Krispie, Bennie the Blade and Snarly all had their little single-digit slices.
        So, how much of ?jeb?’s voters will Wonderboy pick up? Enough to displace Tailgunner Teddy from second? Enough to catch Trump and the opossum on his head?
        I haven’t got the faintest idea, but I can’t see Wonderboy staying in if he doesn’t win his home state, with ?jeb? out, or at least finishes within three to five points of Trump and the opossum on his head.

        • Nick056

          Yes. This. He could win only Minnesota on Super Tuesday and lose FL on the 15th. Things are dire for him.

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        Cuban is to “Hispanic” as somewhere in between what Mormon or Catholic is to Christian. Some significant portion of the latter don’t recognize the former as really one of them. Romney was dead to evangelicals and Santorum only made it with them because (a) he went way over the top, and (b) the anti-Christ spawn of Joseph Smith was the alternative. I don’t know about Mexican-Americans but “I’m Cuban” is not much of a selling propostion for a lot of Puerto Ricans.

        • ironic irony

          Exactly. I don’t want to generalize, but most Hispanics look at Cubans and think “snobs,” especially the older, whiter, and more South Florida the Cuban is. There are some legit reasons for that.

          *In my experience, Tampa Cubans are far less “snobby” than their compatriots from the Miami area.

          ** For the record, I don’t believe all Cubans are snobby. But there are some!

          • Rubio represents the whitest and most Republican Miami Cubans (who haven’t really been subject to US immigration laws for 50-odd years), backstory or no backstory, they were his financial backers and voters from the start. Cruz doesn’t represent any Cubans at all other than his father’s parishioners. But the GOP idea that either of them was gong to attract the Puerto Rican or Mexican or Dominican vote was always a sign of how delusional they are about nonwhite people in general, almost as bad as looking to Alan Keyes to get them the African American community. (Or Cornel West, heh-heh.)

  • Becker

    I don’t find Trump’s shtick funny, nor do I find his chances laughable. We’re a recession away from President Trump. And even absent a recession, I have this nightmarish feeling that his appeals to white nationalism and ressentiment could very well supercharge the white vote to Mississippian levels, if Sean Trende is right, and there are white voters just waiting for a candidate who speaks their language, one who openly and proudly hates all the people they secretly hate.

    • pianomover

      Trump is a buffoon yet what’s wrong with saying we gave out jobs away to China and Mexico? It’s true no?
      If he claims that he’ll somehow force xy or z corporation to return to the US what is different than the Clinton message of bringing jobs back to America?
      Every president has talked about securing our borders but none have been very successful at it Trump ratchets it up a notch but the message is the same.
      I don’t find his message that different than any other candidate other than he tells his followers how he’s going to do it absurd as his ideas may be they at least seem more fleshed out than Cruz or Rubios.

      • CP

        Trump is a buffoon yet what’s wrong with saying we gave out jobs away to China and Mexico? It’s true no?

        I doubt if he’s going to take it out on the Chinese or Mexican governments, or on the corporations who shipped the jobs there. He’ll take it out the local illegal (and legal) immigrant demographics.

      • ThrottleJockey

        There’s a qualitative difference between John McCain and Pat Buchanan (who started this schtick) saying, “I’m going to build a wall between the US and Mexico,” and Donald Trump saying, “ALL the Mexxicans coming across the border are murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and prostitutes, and so I’m GOING TO MAKE MEXICO PAY for a wall that would make The Great Wall of China tremble in inferiority.”

    • random

      I actually think that a recession might not be sufficient to put Trump on top, especially not against Bernie. And I can see how a foreign policy catastrophe likely wouldn’t help him against Clinton, either.

      And you can rest easy about the Sean Trende claim about the Missing White Voters of 2012. It was largely rebuked by the National Election Survey, which showed the ‘missing voters’ from 2012 had about the same demographics as the rest of the nation and the majority of them preferred Obama.

    • addicted44

      I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone explain this, but why is President Trump any worse than President Cruz or President Rubio?

      • I think part of it is snobbery.

        Part of it is that he shouts the quiet stuff which makes him seem more extreme (think Alito vs Scalia).

        The fear of his ineptness cuts two ways: maybe he’ll be less effective in destruction or maybe things will fall apart even harder.

        Personally, Cruz seems the worst.

        • Matt McIrvin

          I think the George W. Bush administration stopped me from ever thinking again that incompetent evil might be preferable to competent evil. Competent evil, you can see being restrained by enlightened self-interest. The blunderers have the highest body counts.

          • Hmm. Cruz has been pretty destructive already and only blocked by relative lack of power and that he is easy to hate. Let him have more power and it won’t be good.

          • CP

            Well, one of the things the Bush administration raised for me was that “incompetent evil” and “competent evil” aren’t necessarily who we’d expect. Or at least that there are varying degrees of incompetence.

            Towards the beginning of his admin, it would’ve seemed like Bush was the epitome of “incompetent evil” (clueless frat jock who was there to smile for the cameras and take long vacations in Texas) and that Cheney and his posse were more in the “competent evil” variety (longstanding insiders, a record under previous, moderate Republican presidents, greed a motivating factor – etc). And yet as it turned out, Cheney and Rummy and the rest were the ones raring for a third war (with Iran) and Bush was the one who had enough sense to stop listening.

            TL/DR: I think “establishment” candidates (i.e. in this case, the not-Trumps) benefit from a perception of “competent” evil that’s completely unearned.

          • To me the difference is between letting your management do the work like Reagan and insisting on doing it yourself, like George W. in his phase as deciderer. I blame jealousy of Cheney for the latter, and Cheney was far worse in just that respect. Trump would be contented with the PR aspect of the job and tweeting insults at everybody who disrespects him, Cruz would like to rule the world personally and kill those who don’t show respect.

            • CP

              But that’s the thing, W didn’t do it himself. He gave Cheney, Rumsfeld, and that little clique of neocons a license do whatever they wanted and/or let them tell him what to do, at least for most of his administration. Things actually got “better” (relatively speaking) after he stopped listening to them, firing Rumsfeld to replace him with someone who wasn’t a complete moron and ignoring Cheney and other hard-liners’ advice to start a war with Iran.

              (To be noted here is that Cheney & co. took a level in dumbass at some point between 1991 and 2001, as you can tell from the differences between Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom).

              • JR in WV

                But was Cheney completely in charge of Desert Storm? I think not. There were competent military staff put in charge of that whole mission, which is why it worked so well.

                But when Shrub and his masters/minions came along, if you gave them professional superlative advice they didn’t like, you got fired. For which you can only blame W Bush II, really. Because he was the Commander In Chief.

                Bush the First let the professionals take charge after he gave them their high level instructions. Take Kuwait back from Iraq, and punish Iraq severely for what they have done. Then Bush the Elder sat back and watched.

                Cheney was deluded into thinking that he was a military genius, and got into the details. When a General with 35 years of studying warfare came along and contradicted Cheney, he got fired, or put in charge of some logistics train somewhere.

                The results are obvious, aren’t they?

        • CP

          I think part of it is snobbery.

          I absolutely think that’s the reason the MSM and so much of the “establishment” insists that Trump would be worse than the rest of the GOP candidates. Though I don’t know if it’s snobbery against Trump, or against the rabble that he’s seen as promoting. Or against Trump for promoting himself as a candidate of the rabble instead of sticking to his own kind.

          I’m willing to believe that a Trump presidency would be worse for minorities, if only for the lynch mobs I can see him inciting.

        • River Birch

          No way is Cruz worse than Trump. The success Trump is having is the worst omen for our democracy in a very long time and portends some extremely dark times ahead.

          Trump is a candidate without constraints: He has no political career to worry about, money is not an existential issue for him and he is evidently immune to shame. By telling working-class white voters the racist, xenophobic, misogynist, jingoistic nonsense they so desperately want to hear, he is normalizing and legitimizing rhetoric that has been beyond the pale for major political figures in this country for quite some time.

          If he wins and governs as he campaigned (and what reason is there to think he won’t, since he operates free of the constraints under which almost every other major politician must work?) it will be a catastrophic blow to our democracy. And unless he is completely crushed at the polls come November — an increasingly unlikely prospect to be sure — you can rest assured that someone who actually has some level of expertise when it comes to electoral politics will arrive on the scene knowing full well just how far you can get channeling America’s id.

          • Well, he’s sorta campaign without constraints, I guess. I don’t quite know what this means. He talks a lot of crazy stuff, for sure. And he’s not yet paid a price at the polls. The polls are really the only effective constraint.

            In terms of governing without constraints, well, there are real constraints on the presidency. Even in foreign policy, he needs cooperation from a lot of actors. For domestic policy, he needs some cooperation from congress.

            Impeachment would be a very interesting threat. It could be a Hail Mary move by a republican controlled congress.

      • Matt McIrvin

        These guys are all running on bigotry, but Trump is the one who frequently says things specifically intended to incite his followers to commit acts of violence, and gets away with it.

        With major presidential candidates, in recent years, there’s always been this point at their rallies where somebody shouts something horrifying and they actually stop and talk the guy down. Trump won’t do that. He’ll egg the guy on, crack a joke about how passionate his fans are. That’s fuel for his engine.

        He’s the guy who the Stormfront white-supremacist crowd have specifically adopted as their candidate, and his disavowals of this stuff are muted at best. That troll who posted all the comments here cheering about the impending Holocaust, and telling all the Jews and blacks to smell the Zyklon-B? There are a lot more like him out there.

        I expect a lot of killing to happen if Trump becomes President.

        • random

          Yeah I think the potential for brownshirting is another reason President Trump may be the worst of all the options.

          He’s not used to being told he can’t do things, is a racist asshole, has his own cult of racist asshole followers, and is reflexively maximal in how he responds to things.

          • Matt McIrvin

            The saving grace, if there is any, is that most of these potential brownshirts couldn’t organize a corner bake sale, and Trump probably isn’t going to give them any kind of coherent structure to operate in. But a lot of them could be provoked into sporadic acts of violence.

            If Trump starts talking about nationally organized vigilante squads to protect us from Mexican rapists and mosques loaded for bear, watch out.

            • CP

              The saving grace, if there is any, is that most of these potential brownshirts couldn’t organize a corner bake sale, and Trump probably isn’t going to give them any kind of coherent structure to operate in. But a lot of them could be provoked into sporadic acts of violence.

              Yeah, exactly. Does the organization really matter? Not every murder of a black man in the Old South was planned and scheduled on the calendar of events of the local KKK chapter. Sometimes all it took was a random asshole on a street corner screaming “GET HIM!”

              Trump is more than willing to be that asshole.

              • Matt McIrvin

                I’ve heard that the Second Klan of the 1920s (probably the most popular and successful iteration) was really more of an MLM scheme grifting money from these guys than anything else. They could get on with the murdering quite well without the white sheets.

      • random

        It’s like choosing which pile of shit you’d rather be forced to eat, isn’t it?

        One argument is that Cruz and Rubio are both experienced politicians who know about and mostly respect the core concepts of the Constitutional order. They would be horrible, but horrible in a predictable manner mostly within the limitations of the powers of the Presidency and unlikely to actually nuke any foreign nations.

        Trump is more like putting a really nasty 8-year old in charge of the whole country. It’s kinda like the difference between lawful and chaotic evil.

        • efgoldman

          Cruz and Rubio are both experienced politicians who know about and mostly respect the core concepts of the Constitutional order.

          Facts not in evidence, your honor. Their experience has been in political office, but not in politics (i.e. legislating, compromise, administration). Also neither of them, but especially the Tailgunner, shows respect for the constitutional order. First Amendment? What’s that. Tailgunner Teddy would move, restrained only by the courts, to make this a christofascist dominionist nation.

          • random

            They at least know the difference between a bill and a law and are aware that there are things that POTUS legally can and cannot do. Their political platforms are awful but both of them actually will back down if SCOTUS or Congress directly rebuffs them. If they were liberals you wouldn’t have much of a problem with either of them being President.

            That’s not true with the billionaire though. He seems to think he’s running for dictator. And even if he was a liberal and his politics aligned with yours, you still probably wouldn’t want him anywhere near the Oval Office.

            • Cruz says he can abolish the IRS and collect his 16% VAT that isn’t a VAT without any department to do it, and suggests making the Duck Dynasty guy his ambassador to the US. Rubio says he can give 11 million undocumented workers permission to stay in the US at the same time as not doing it. I don’t think either one of them is that closely in touch with reality.

              • You assume they believe what they say.

                • No, they wouldn’t dare just bullshit because the press would call them out on it, right?

                  No?

                  *gulp*

    • Morse Code for J

      If resentful white men were enough to win, it would have happened four years ago when Romney turned out a greater proportion of them than had been seen since the days of Ronald Reagan. The key states from an Electoral College perspective are riddled with all of these demographics with whom Trump has picked a fight, with more still to come when Trump is made to embrace things like repealing or limiting Roe and Obergefell or risk the social conservatives staying home.

  • PhoenixRising

    I read a little something on how the GOP actually awards delegates and I don’t feel so good.

    Raising my final glass of the night to Michael Schiavo, the symbolic winner of SC’s GOP primary, and heading off to what will be some scary dreams.

    Trump is the frontrunner, and the math favors the frontrunner. Reince Priebus is so goddamn stupid that he made the party take a loyalty oath to Trump (he thought he was making Trump take a loyalty oath to the party).

    To date, Trump has performed at or above polls in each state. The polling has been less accurate on who’s in 2nd or 3rd, or 8th, but who cares–Trump is most liekly the nominee, because the GOP put a winner-keeps-winning thumb on the scale when they last jiggered the process.

    • MDrew

      Is there any “major” figure more irrelevant in this play than Wisconsin’s own Reince Priebus and his ridiculous pledge?

  • djw

    At some point–I think it was about 72 hours before Iowa–it was like a flip switched, and I went from “everyone is overrating Trump’s chances” to “everyone us underrating Trump’s chances.”

    • howard

      djw, just to follow up on a discussion point from the other day: i was surprised, you’ll recall, at rubio’s surge in the polls that now appears to have foreshadowed his second by a whisker finish.

      and you asked why.

      so the answer is, i couldn’t really see what it was about the rubio campaign that suddenly convinced someone new to vote for him.

      so i can only assume that the power of endorsement loomed larger than i imagined, although from a keep the gop out of the white house perspective, i think rubio finishing second by a whisker is a good outcome, keeps it a three-way.

      • efgoldman

        i couldn’t really see what it was about the rubio campaign that suddenly convinced someone new to vote for him.

        It may not be any positive choice for Brave, Brave Sir Wonderboy Marco, as much as ?Jeb?’s loser stink causing voters to fall away.

      • djw

        Nothing about him, per se, but just establishment consolidation. His problem is even if he can complete the establishment consolidation process relatively quickly, it’s not an obvious winning constituency–it might not beat Trump or Carson/Cruz.

  • brad

    50% Trump, 30% Rubio, 20% Cruz.
    If you want to subtract 5% each from the latter two and give 10 to the Donald I wouldn’t really object.

    • Hercules Mulligan

      45% Trump, 35% Rubio, 15% Cruz, but the last 5% is contested convention, and I think that’d give us Rubio.

      • BubbaDave

        If a contested convention gives us Rubio I think that also gives us a Trump third-party run.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Except that by the time the convention rolls around, it will be too late for Trump to get on the ballot as an independent in quite a few states. (I think it was Fivethirtyeight that had the breakdown on this awhile ago.)

          • CrunchyFrog

            Tell me that it’s impossible for him to run as the American Constitution Party’s candidate, or that they wouldn’t welcome him in a heartbeat to pump up their electoral visibility.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              Their national convention is in mid-April: http://www.constitutionparty.com/ So unless Trump decides to run under that party banner nearly as soon as he would have to to be able to run as an independent, yes, I would say that’s impossible. (Not to mention that I’m not even sure that the party has ballot access in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes — it was only on 26 ballots in 2012 — to which point see my response to random below.)

              • CrunchyFrog

                Hmmm … thought they had more states. In that case his options are the greens or the libertarians – neither remotely plausible. So it’s the GOP label or bust.

          • random

            He doesn’t have to actually be in position to win as an independent to have leverage against convention shenanigans. He just has to be able to throw the election to Clinton, which he can and probably will do if they try to screw him.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              True, he doesn’t need to be able to win to spoil the election, but you need to ascribe a supernatural level of vindictiveness to Trump to believe that he would spent millions of dollars of his own money to run a race that he’s literally mathematically incapable of winning.

              • random

                Oh he’d definitely do it. His normal personal spending allowance is more than sufficient to cover the whole thing, and he’s thrown money into the Presidency previously when he had no chance of winning, for example in 2000 when he was still a Reform Party guy.

                Almost every state allows write-ins and he would be the most-successful write-in candidate ever. And gathering signatures to meet ballot requirements is actually not that hard when you have as many hard-core supporters in each state as him, and he likely would be preparing for that if he thought the GOP was going to screw him in convention.

                And yes, not only is he vindictive enough to do this, but he’s also narcissistic enough that he won’t willingly leave the spotlight. He’d rather spend his money on this than another swimming pool.

              • Ahuitzotl

                you need to ascribe a supernatural level of vindictiveness to Trump to believe that he would spent millions of dollars of his own money to run a race that he’s literally mathematically incapable of winning.

                he HAS supernatural levels of vindictiveness, and he wouldnt spend a dime, just coast on free media and donations – not very effectively, but if he’s not going to win himself, it doesnt need to be maximised effect, just enough to snip 5% off the republican pile would rain all over the GOP parade.

          • Matt McIrvin

            I just looked this up: here’s Ballotpedia on filing deadlines.

            In most of the states, you have to file your petition sometime in August. A tiny number are later, some are earlier. The conventions are in July this year, so there’s a little window there. But in some of the big states, you have to collect a lot of signatures to get on the ballot, and I can only imagine that takes a while. You’d need real organization to do it.

            Texas is one of the toughest cases: you need a huge number of signatures and the deadline is in May.

            • Matt McIrvin

              …Also, Texas is one of the two states whose “sore loser” law specifically prohibits a presidential primary loser from running as an independent. So Trump would probably have to write that one off anyway.

            • random

              Due to write-in campaigns, he doesn’t even need to be on even one ballot in any state to easily and fairly cheaply cost the GOP the election.

              He absolutely has a platform and the support-base to do this, the money is almost incidental in fact. And he’s not going to let anyone put him in a corner like that, especially not if he legitimately can say that he won with the voters.

      • brad

        Except that the Trump 3rd party threat is especially real if he comes into a convention with a sizable plurality of the delegates. The winnowing out process is ongoing with Bush done and Kasich having no obvious reason to keep going, but Carson will stick around for his 5%, and right now Trump is winning and building up a substantial lead and making himself more legitimate as a candidate with each win.
        I’d love a contested convention, but the odds of it giving us Rubio have to be balanced with the cost of a continued, angry, Trump campaign.

        • PhoenixRising

          An October featuring a GOP stalwart who’s earned his spot at the top of the ticket (Kasich), a Clinton, and an emotionally troubled angry billionaire is…too much to ask from this cruel world. Isn’t it?

          (PS I am not a crank and I can’t be the first to have thought this.)

          • so-in-so

            As long as the third party billionaire isn’t named Bloomberg.

        • Manny Kant

          I don’t see why Kasich’s reason to keep going is any worse than it was after Iowa or New Hampshire. He’s going to stay in till Ohio on March 15.

          • Warren Terra

            Even though he’ll probably average 5% or less and not see double digits until then? Even though refusing throw in the towel, preferably onto a puddle in Rubio’s path, will tick off the Republican establishment and gain him nothing?

            • Ahuitzotl

              he might like being Secretary of Labour for President Trump

        • addicted44

          Yeah, I see Carson sticking around for a while. The moment Carson feels like he’s had enough, Trump will entice him to stay till the end by dropping some Benjamins. You’ll see a copy of Gifted Hands next to the Bible in every Trump hotel.

          But I don’t think it will ever come to that. Carson’s whole play is the grift, and it’s working well, so he’s gonna stick around just for that. And if that wasn’t enough, Cruz’s shenanigans made it personal. He seems really pissed at Cruz, and is probably gonna stick around just to piss him of.

          Also, I wouldnt be surprised if Trump has offered Carson a Secretary of Health position in his administration, in return for verbally assaulting the crap out of Cruz (but soporifically).

          • Joe_JP

            Carson appeals to conservative voters who simply want someone who expresses their views. Cruz would serve this function, maybe, if he wasn’t just a crafty asshole there to get ahead in politics.

            The speak of “graft” really is off to me. The guy doesn’t need money or something. From what I can tell, he truly believes people want to hear his conservative message, which he seems to really believe too. And, promoting a message has long been a reason people ran for President, even if they have no chance to win.

            Since he is just there, in his retirement from his medical profession which actually served the population more than most of these people did, there is no reason for him to step down. Jeb! actually was a serious political candidate (once governor) with the reputation of his family at stake. And, unlike a bunch of people who stop running, he actually has supporters. Carson got about the same votes in SC as Jeb and Kasich.

            I can see Trump giving him Secretary of Health or Surgeon General. And, who knows, that might actually be as good or better as other alternatives, since that is something he knows something about. Probably not, since you need to know how to run an agency, but it’s not totally out there either.

            • djw

              The speak of “graft” really is off to me. The guy doesn’t need money or something.

              Unfortunately, this isn’t how rich people work.”Now that I’ve got plenty of money, I don’t need to do silly/awful things to try to get more of it” is something I really like to think I’d say, at some point, and obviously some wealthy people reach this conclusion, but it’s depressingly rare.

              An examination of his campaign’s financial model makes the grift conclusion difficult to avoid.

              • Matt McIrvin

                I think we tend not to hear much about people who reach this conclusion. Most of them aren’t really rich, because you typically can’t get really rich if you think this way. The amount of money that is plenty for a reasonable human is way below the famously-rich category.

                Now, you could have inherited the money to begin with, but if so, you’re likely descended from people who had the crazed-money-accumulator ethos, and you’ve probably also been living in a bubble all your life, which makes people do strange things.

              • random

                His campaign is inept and that tends to attract grifters, sure, though this griftathon keeps making its poll numbers in the primaries, which were in Jeb range, so somebody is apparently doing some GOTV.

                But Carson himself is a true believer who’s abilities and character and professional background are all inconsistent with him being able to just up and run a massive political con on this scale with no prior experience.
                In fact he had to actually resign his most lucrative sources of easy income (his symbolic BoD positions were bringing him more money than any book deal) to put himself into this high-risk meat-grinder.

        • Matt McIrvin

          If it’s just a write-in campaign (because he decided to do it too late to get on ballots), I could see it not actually coming to much.

      • Barry_D

        “45% Trump, 35% Rubio, 15% Cruz, but the last 5% is contested convention, and I think that’d give us Rubio.”

        Not with a whole bunch of winner-take-all states.

  • Anon21

    What has happened so far in this primary cycle is completely consistent with Party Decides theory. It is not at all historically unusual for 4 or 5 candidates with serious voter support to go into South Carolina. Winnowing is proceeding apace. Kasich will be out shortly–remember, he finished behind Jeb tonight, and a second-place finish in New Hampshire is not going to keep him going until Ohio.

    That leaves it as a three-man race, with one of the two actual Republicans falling further and further behind. (As I said, I think it will be Cruz who falls behind.) And this is where Paul’s key premise comes into play:

    Cruz and Rubio are both going to stay in this thing to the bitter end

    No, they will not. This is how the party decides: it forces out candidates who have no chance to win. Rubio, if he ends up on the short end of the race for second in the upcoming primaries, will absolutely drop out. His entire campaign is premised on support of mainstream party elites and campaign professionals; if their message changes from “Run Marco, run!” to “You gave it your best shot–2020 will be your year,” he will leave the race. Cruz I’ll grant you is a tougher nut to crack, but he’s dependent on support from a factional set of party actors, and those party actors do not find Trump acceptable. If it becomes clear that Cruz’s continued candidacy is primarily helping Trump, Cruz will bleed support of all kinds to Rubio, and he will either become irrelevant a la Santorum in 2012 or he’ll end his campaign.

    But, you say, if the race comes down to Trump vs. Cruz, party actors will back Trump. Why, they even told us so! But no, they won’t and they don’t. A few of them very publicly said that, because they were assuming Trump would dissolve on contact with actual voters and that Cruz was the real danger. In a real live Trump-Cruz contest, there is no choice: Cruz is a Republican, even if a particularly obnoxious one, and Trump is not.

    There is no underpants gnome theory here. This doesn’t require Trump to lose the 33-35% support he pulled in New Hampshire and South Carolina, it just requires the normal winnowing process to continue on to its conclusion, at which point the remaining GOP candidate will finish Trump off.

    • PhoenixRising

      If you think Kasich is leaving this race before March 15, I’d like to place a bet on the other side while the window is open.

      He was never going to drop out before Ohio, IN, MI. No poor performance to date has proven that he isn’t the last hope of a GOP that prefers sane, mentally stable professional politicians who have won competitive contests over decades. And until March 15, he will hold onto his hopes for his party.

      • jamesepowell

        I tend to agree, but what if, as seems likely, he gets wiped out on Super Tuesday? How does he continue to argue for his chances?

        • Manny Kant

          Given how likely that is, I don’t understand why “doing exactly as expected” would result in him dropping out. And his case would presumably continue to be “I am the only one of these clowns who is remotely qualified to be president.”

          • jamesepowell

            The GOP primary voters’ ideas of “qualified to be president” are a little different from those of sane humans. I’m sure some of them still think Sarah Palin would make a great president.

            And wasn’t that the argument JEB! made? He had more money & RW bona fides than Kasich does and no one really cared.

            • cleter

              Kasich has done a much better job of managing expectations than Jeb did, though, as well as actually doing substantially better than Jeb in one of the key early contests. Kasich at least seems to have put more thought into a plausible road ahead than Jeb did. Jeb’s strategery was to raise so much money other people drop out, which was a fine idea in 1999 when W did it but that doesn’t work now, especially not with a rogue billionaire in the race.

    • Scott P.

      This doesn’t require Trump to lose the 33-35% support he pulled in New Hampshire and South Carolina, it just requires the normal winnowing process to continue on to its conclusion, at which point the remaining GOP candidate will finish Trump off.

      That doesn’t work if 15% of the 65% non-Trump vote goes to Trump when their favored candidate drops out.

      • Anon21

        Don’t see it. Not when literally every endorsement save for a scattering of no-name state legislators is going to the GOP candidate. Not when Fox News and Rush Limbaugh turn into that candidate’s unpaid oppo research and attack ad arms. Not when all those GOP billionaires’ money is going to carpet bomb Trump in paid media. (Keep in mind, Trump is not self funding, and has shown no inclination to put his money where his mouth is yet.) Voters don’t scatter like marbles when the race winnows–they go where they are told. And the entire institutional party will be singing from the same hymnal when this gets to be a 2-candidate race.

        • Gregor Sansa

          But look at Bernie; running against the entire institutional party and much of the press, and still pulling to within a few percentage points of Clinton nationally. It’s not enough for Bernie unless he somehow rises another 5% or so. But for Trump, with his delegate cushion from wins (up through a few states on Super Tuesday, I’d guess), I think 48% in the post-super-Tuesday two-man race would be enough to have at least a plurality going into the convention.

          And a plurality is enough for him to credibly threaten “it’s me or I’m running as an independent”, and to carry out that threat if necessary.

          I’m not saying I know what’s going to happen. But I think the nominee-Trump scenario is very plausible right now. He’s still got the best odds of any of them, in my book.

          • Anon21

            But for Trump, with his delegate cushion from wins (up through a few states on Super Tuesday, I’d guess), I think 48% in the post-super-Tuesday two-man race would be enough to have at least a plurality going into the convention.

            If he could actually get 48% in a 2-candidate race, I agree that he would be a serious threat to win the nomination. But his poor performance in polls of second-choice candidates and his poor favorability among Republicans suggests that he will actually end up a distant (sub 40%) second, not a close second.

            • Scott P.

              Head-to-head polls show Trump beating literally every other Republican candidate.

              • Anon21

                I think you’re wrong, but what’s your source? None of the major poll aggregators is even tracking primary head-to-heads.

          • efgoldman

            But look at Bernie; running against the entire institutional party and much of the press, and still pulling to within a few percentage points of Clinton nationally.

            Yeah, but… we Democrats might be fractious, but we’re still a sane political party. Can you imagine any legitimate Democratic candidate suggesting we build a border wall, or deport 11 million people, or throw tens of millions of people out of the medical insurance system, or destroy the education systems, from primary through university, of multiple states, or carpet bomb any region of the world, or register and forbid adherents of any religion, or….
            The closest we’ve come in a major candidate is Gerry Brown in his Governor Moonbeam stage, and he’s turned out to just be an effective liberal Democrat.

            • Gregor Sansa

              I’m not conflating Bernie’s platform with Trump’s in any way; just pointing out that their position with respect to their party establishment is similar, and that Bernie nevertheless holds his own in a two-way race.

            • Matt McIrvin

              It’s still hard for me to believe now that Gerry Brown was advocating a national flat tax in 1992, and yet I distinctly remember him doing that. Though that’s really just a sign that the Democrats have moved left since the 1990s.

        • Breadbaker

          The Trump voter is not swayed by endorsements, or is swayed by a Ted Nugent more than his local Congressman’s endorsement, let alone his local county chairman. And I used male pronoun’s on purpose.

        • addicted44

          The Party Decides theory seems like the political equivalent of the “Print more money and we will have inflation!” and the “housing never goes down” economic theories.

          Basically, you look at a few correlations (which are too small in number to begin with) in the past, and assume the correlation always holds. You don’t try to investigate the actual mechanisms which are causing the correlation to hold.

          If people investigated the mechanisms, I suspect they would find endorsements and Party support worked because they were the best way to get your message out to the voters. In the last 5 years, however, social media has completely upended that. In a day where Donald Trump personally echoes my tweet to all his followers, why do I need to know who my congressperson supports to know who to vote for?

          • Anon21

            The Party Decides theory seems like the political equivalent of the “Print more money and we will have inflation!” and the “housing never goes down” economic theories.

            One of these examples is not like the other.

            You don’t try to investigate the actual mechanisms which are causing the correlation to hold.

            Except The Party Decides absolutely does investigate the mechanisms.

    • JonH

      “Cruz is a Republican, even if a particularly obnoxious one, and Trump is not.”

      Unless they decide that people would stay home if Cruz was the candidate, and would rather win with Trump than lose with Cruz. Cruz lacks the freakshow yahoo and juggalo appeal that Trump has, in spades.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Cruz winning would be a massive fail for The Party Decides theory.

      • Anon21

        I don’t agree. The Washington wing of the party hates him, but he absolutely is garnering support from a substantial faction of the party. The Washington wing is the easiest set of party actors to observe, but that doesn’t mean they’re the most important.

        • keta

          Yeah, this. I believe there’s a lot more party base support for Cruz than is apparent, especially if he’s perceived to be the only over-card to Trump.

          They won’t pretend much to like it, but they’ll suck it up to put a true GOP pol in the nominee slot.

        • Nick056

          What’s become clear is that proponents of the Party Decides theory will say that the theory explains any eventual outcome — even, post hoc, a Trump victory. That’s because the party has absolutely decided on Rubio and he is doing very poorly, so they need to revise their thesis on the fly to accommodate outcomes like a Cruz victory.

          A key component of the theory is the predictive value of endorsements, which would have said Jeb! or perhaps Rubio. But Jeb! Is out and Rubio is busy trying to spray paint participation trophies so they look like Olympic Gold.

          The theory is looking not so hot right now, because the lions’ share of voter support is with Trump and Cruz, and will be with them through Super Tuesday, despite them both being completely unacceptable to the party.

          • Anon21

            What’s become clear is that proponents of the Party Decides theory will say that the theory explains any eventual outcome — even, post hoc, a Trump victory.

            No, absolutely not. If Trump wins the nomination, Party Decides is busted. You can argue about the reasons why–was it a good descriptive theory for the past that missed what was changing about American politics?–but it will have failed as a predictive theory.

            But as for Cruz, you’re not really answering me here. The Party Decides does not take a narrow or Washington-centric view of who constitutes an important party actor with influence over the nomination process. It never did, even before this election cycle kicked off. Cruz has been showing real strength with important party actors within the conservative evangelical and tea party factions, and both of those factions are powerful within the GOP coalition. If he wins the nomination primarily on the back of that support, it will not be a loss for The Party Decides.

            • Nick056

              I was tweaking you a bit about Trump. I think even the actual authors have said Trump is a perfect test of their theory.

              But regarding Cruz, you’re not really explaining how his victory could fail to worry the Party Decides theory given that his entire campaign is premised not merely on change, or negativity toward Washington, but open loathing for the party apparatus in Washington. I understand that it is an incorrect reading of the theory to say “the party” is the Washington establishment, as opposed to a network of actors, elites, and interests who each have a compelling voice in the selection process, including the “invisible primary.”

              But I still think that if Cruz wins, a single faction in the party will have triumphed at the expense of other, frankly bitterly opposed, party factions. Far from any sort of acceptable consensus it would be a brutal wresting away of power.

              • dpm

                I’m missing something. Surely if anyone gets the nomination that means that they have support from powerful factions or voting blocs within the party. That would be true for Trump as well as Cruz, wouldn’t it? So why should a Cruz nomination count as a confirmation of the party decides, and a Trump nomination count as a disconfirmation? I guess the view must be that Cruz has support from powerful members of the blocs, not just foot soldiers. But is that really correct?

                • Anon21

                  That would be true for Trump as well as Cruz, wouldn’t it? So why should a Cruz nomination count as a confirmation of the party decides, and a Trump nomination count as a disconfirmation? I guess the view must be that Cruz has support from powerful members of the blocs, not just foot soldiers. But is that really correct?

                  Yes, it is correct. In FiveThirtyEight’s tracker, Cruz has 22 “endorsement points,” and Trump has 0. And the endorsement tracker is not a perfect measure; it’s composed of elected officials, where Cruz does poorly, and doesn’t take into account evangelical and tea party leaders, where Cruz does better.

                • Nick056

                  Yes, it is correct. In FiveThirtyEight’s tracker, Cruz has 22 “endorsement points,” and Trump has 0. And the endorsement tracker is not a perfect measure; it’s composed of elected officials, where Cruz does poorly, and doesn’t take into account evangelical and tea party leaders, where Cruz does better.

                  I have 538’s tracker right here. You can see that lately Cruz is picking up small-ball support from Congressional Reps. These are the same insurgents who came into office when he did, and with whom he orchastrated the shutdown that made him toxic. Meanwhile Rubio is starting to pick up governors, senators, and more Reps than Cruz has. The electeds have decided on Rubio and they’re in the midst of openly confirming their choice now. It’s not Cruz. It was never going to be Cruz. Any support he has is not being reflected in governors or Senators.

                  Yes, Cruz does better among a network of evangelicals, which is what propelled him to victory in Iowa. But they are a weak faction in the party: the last time their candidate won, it was W. Bush, who had other assets that Cruz lacks. Meanwhile Falwell has endorsed Trump and SC just gave Trump a YOOGE victory, which really undercuts your argument that Cruz is even the decisive favorite of that segment of the party.

                  Bottom line? Trump is almost certainly going to wake up the morning of Super Tuesday with a 3-1 record and the only other candidate with a victory will be Cruz, who is also unacceptable to the party. The theory is on life support. Jeb Bush was supposed to keep it going, but plugged the plug tonight.

                • addicted44

                  There is almost no correlation between the the 538 tracker and the actual results on the field.

                  Let me correct that. The only correlation is negative. You want to find the order of success in actual results, you start at the bottom of the table.

                  I don’t think it’s possible to imagine a scenario which discredits the theory more than what we’ve seen so far.

                  The only saving grace for the theory is that it’s still a small sample size. But that’s hardly comforting for a theory which itself is based on terribly tiny sample sizes spread over an extremely large period of time.

                • Anon21

                  There is almost no correlation between the the 538 tracker and the actual results on the field.

                  Some people in the thread understand, but you have missed it: The Party Decides, which is where this idea for an endorsement tracker came from, predicts who will win the nomination. It is not a prediction about who will win a few early state primaries, because the outcomes of those early state primaries have only a tenuous connection to the ultimate nomination outcome.

              • random

                Every major party actor in South Carolina endorsed Rubio and he only came in third. The governor of IA very specifically targeted Ted Cruz for destruction and he came in first there.

                On the microcosmic, state-by-state level we are seeing that the party definitely just does not decide. Matt Drudge has substantially more power to influence the GOP primary than the last two Republicans Presidents put together.

                • Manny Kant

                  Didn’t Graham endorse Bush?

                • random

                  Didn’t Graham endorse Bush?

                  Yeah my bad, it looks like Droopy Dog did back in January. Though that still means there was no party-deciding. But the big rock star in SC is Nikki, who appeared with Rubio (and they really did look good together). And still they got the Trump.

            • joe from Lowell

              So by “a substantial faction of the party,” you’re not just talking about voters? You’re postulating another set of party centers that influence voters and otherwise play the role of the “party.”

              I read your first comment the same way that Nick did. That brief comment looks like you’re saying that a majority faction of Republican voters was “the party.”

              • Anon21

                You’re postulating another set of party centers that influence voters and otherwise play the role of the “party.”

                Right, but it’s really the authors of TPD who postulate that–they explicitly say they don’t limit consequential party actors to elected officials and other members of the formal party apparatus.

            • addicted44

              So the Party doesn’t really decide who wins the nomination. They just decide the couple of people who don’t? Is that the idea?

        • Scott Lemieux

          The Washington wing is the easiest set of party actors to observe, but that doesn’t mean they’re the most important.

          Sorry, but no way. Ask Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum the power evangelical leaders have in the party as compared to Washington elites. If someone as despised as Cruz is among Washington power brokers wins the nomination, that’s not consistent with the Party Decides model unless it defined to be nearly tautological. (Although it’s moot because it’s pretty clear he’s not winning the nomination if he can’t beat Rubio in South Carolina.)

    • AMK

      I don’t see how Cruz’s support “bleeds” to Rubio over time. It’s not like half the establishment GOP supports Rubio and the other half backs Cruz…..Cruz has virtually zero establishment support; his organization is funded by outsider money and driven by tea party activists and the like. The Cruz voter is like the Trump voter, but more ideologically “informed” (if that’s the right word; “indoctrinated” is probably better) and more religious, but still hugely contemptuous of the beltway elite Rubio represents. I think if Cruz can’t gain enough momentum to really hold his own above Rubio, more of his voters with just join the Trump bandwagon.

      • LosGatosCA

        Keerect

      • jamesepowell

        The Cruz voter is like the Trump voter, but more ideologically “informed” (if that’s the right word; “indoctrinated” is probably better) and more religious, but still hugely contemptuous of the beltway elite Rubio represents.

        Especially if Cruz voters see Rubio, rather than Trump, as the one who brought Cruz down.

      • Warren Terra

        Your argument sounds right, but I thought the polling suggested Trump still had a ceiling, that he wasn’t predicted ever to get over 40-45% of Republican primary voters?

        Mind you, Trump + Cruz + Carson – the especially crazy vote, if you will – totaled over 60% tonight, and did so in Iowa, and almost did in New Hampshire (throwing in Fiorina, which might be wrong as people crazy enough to back her may be an incompatible flavor of crazy).

    • addicted44

      If it comes down to Trump-Cruz, the “Party Decides” is already discredited, because the party wants neither Trump nor Cruz.

      If it comes down to Trump-Rubio, I don’t understand why people think Cruz, who is clearly a non-establishment candidate (and has probably been nicer to Trump than anyone else and still sucks up to him after being threatened lawsuits)’s supporters will fall behind Rubio instead of Trump?

    • Pugachev

      I hope you’re right, Anon21, because Cruz scares me the least out of the three.

      Based on your take on Cruz, I would assume you’d think the 11:1 odds you can get for him in the prediction market makes a great value.

      https://www.predictit.org/Contract/509/Will-Ted-Cruz-win-the-2016-Republican-presidential-nomination#data

    • Manny Kant

      Are you the one who was saying for months that Trump would drop out before Iowa, or was that somebody else?

  • ploeg

    His trump card, as it were, is that he can and will take his show third party if for some reason he doesn’t get the nomination. Not that it will necessarily come to that; if Cruz or Rubio get close, he’ll go birther on both of them. (Rubio is “native born” by any definition, but don’t expect the Republican faithful to care so much about it in Rubio’s case.)

    • Manny Kant

      He’s already gone birther on Rubio!

  • Scott Lemieux

    Agreed. This broke pretty well for Rubio, who I’d make the slight favorite. But if Cruz can’t do better than this in South Carolina I don’t see what his path to the nomination is.

    • Hercules Mulligan

      Scott, just to be clear, you have to buy Paul the pack of beer now, right? Two primaries?

      I think functional tie between Rubio/Trump; I’m only giving the slight edge to Trump (above) because I want to see what happens when Trump goes after Rubio, hard.

      • efgoldman

        Scott, just to be clear, you have to buy Paul the pack of beer now, right?

        Yeah, but he’ll get him Bud Lite Lime out of spite.

        • Malaclypse

          I thought they specified beer.

        • Warren Terra

          I’d assumed any LGM-based bets in which the stakes are beer would if not otherwise specified require payment in Lawyers, Guns, & Money beer. You wouldn’t wager someone 100 dollars and then try to pay them using Zimbabwe Dollars!

          • efgoldman

            if not otherwise specified require payment in Lawyers, Guns, & Money beer.

            Holy crap! 10% ABV? I won’t be trying that one anytime soon, unless you want to pay my cab fare home.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yup.

  • If the Republican establishment manages to get a majority for Rubio going into the convention, what do yo suppose the 40 or 45% of the Party who are devoted to Trump are going to do? Just go along?

    I don’t think that Cruz has a route to the nomination this go-around, but he strikes me as a Nixon-like figure with a long-term plan. He’s young, and if Trump gets shot down in ’16, there’s always ’20.

    • ProgressiveLiberal

      …if Trump gets shot down in ’16, there’s always ’20.

      Does anyone else want to curl up in a ball and die when they realize these are the clowns that we will have to prevent from destroying our country every four years for the foreseeable future? It feels like perpetual russian roulette – “who do we have to beat THIS year?” Realizing, too, that in perpetual roulette, you eventually lose.

      • Warren Terra

        Trump is 70 and doesn’t look amazingly well. There’s no reason to think he’ll be back in 2020, unless he is (shudder) the incumbent, in which case an actual election in 2020 would be a pleasant surprise.

        But: the party members that have empowered this cavalcade of escaped mental patient candidates are here to stay. It may not be Trump in 2020, but you might wish it was.

        • Kalil

          Will Bristol be old enough?
          Or maybe Cliven can run! He wouldn’t be the first person to run for office from federal prison (and I’d like to think that I would have actually voted for Eugene V. Debs…).

      • CP

        Does anyone else want to curl up in a ball and die when they realize these are the clowns that we will have to prevent from destroying our country every four years for the foreseeable future? It feels like perpetual russian roulette – “who do we have to beat THIS year?” Realizing, too, that in perpetual roulette, you eventually lose.

        I came to this conclusion years ago – while watching the procession of Not-Romneys lunatics in the last primary, actually.

        The bottom line is that there’s really nothing a Republican candidate could possibly do that would cause his share of the vote to fall below 45%. And it doesn’t take much for that 45% to increase until it’s a winning margin – another economic crash or terrorist attack at a particular moment, a Democratic candidate who’s uninspiring or runs a sub-par campaign, or simple voter fatigue (that alone will ultimately kill off any winning streak).

        Which is to say that fairly soon, if not now then in 2020 or 2024, we will have one of these freakshows in the White House. And it will be one of these freakshows; maybe not those specific ones, but the Republican base is much too worked up and much too insane to have allowed the party to improve in any meaningful way by then. If it’s not Trump or Cruz, it’ll be someone just like them.

    • AMK

      People always compare Cruz to Nixon, but Cruz’s problem with the party goes deeper than being a nasty guy. He’s also opposed by large segments of the establishment on policy, ideology and political strategy in a way Nixon never was. You can be a human asshole and have the correct platform with the right background and tactics, or you can deviate on policy to some degree and compensate with charisma, friends and political capital; but what you can’t do is be a total duchebag in style AND a deviant on substance.*

      *I would say Trump is very charismatic, and his policies are largely in line with the base’s priorities, even if they clearly “deviate” from the party establishment

      • efgoldman

        He’s also opposed by large segments of the establishment on policy, ideology and political strategy in a way Nixon never was.

        Right. Tricksie Dicksie Nixie spent the years between ’64 and ’67 on the GOP rubber chicken circuit, appearing pretty much anywhere and any time he was asked to, for any GOP candidate at almost every level. By the time ’68 rolled around, he had collected literally thousands of political IOUs. Then the disaster happened on the Democratic side: LBJ declining to run, RFK assassinated, Wallace, the riots and schism at the Chicago convention, and poor Hubert Humphrey, a good man who deserves to be remembered better in history, never had a chance.

        • James Simon Kunen, writing of Humphrey in The Strawberry Statement (1968): “I know the man is ten years ahead of his time. But his time was 1948.”

        • Breadbaker

          Given all that he had going against him, Humphrey actually did all right. 1968 was a year like 2008 in American history; the idea of an incumbent party surviving it wasn’t great, yet even with everything Nixon could throw at him (and remember this is the last Presidential election with no campaign financing restrictions or disclosure at all), he came within a few hundred thousand votes of a plurality (and Wallace hurt Nixon significantly more than he did Humphrey). Nixon had paper thin margins in Alaska, California, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin, with a total of 139 electoral votes between them, more than enough to swing the election if anything at all had gone right for Hubert.

        • I have a huge soft spot for Humphrey. My mother was a MN political pol and felt she needed to go for McCarthy in 1968. Vietnam, you see. She knew both HHH and McCarthy well. Hubert understood her and bore her no ill will. My father had Humphrey as a political science teacher at Macalester College in 1942 or so, before HHH became mayor of Minneapolis.

          When HHH lost the presidential race in 1968 he came back to run as a much beloved MN senator in 1970. I met him many times. Once, in 1970, I came home to have my mother tell me: “Put on something nice — Hubert is coming to dinner.” He was a wonderful listener and conversationalist. He actually listened and related to me, the callow youth. He was so sincere it made your teeth hurt. It made you want to be like him.

          I think Humphrey was one of those folks caught in the wrong place by history. I will always think of him as a wonderful person.

          • *like*

            My parents came from Minneapolis and had the same views, though not the same connections.

    • Barry_D

      “I don’t think that Cruz has a route to the nomination this go-around, but he strikes me as a Nixon-like figure with a long-term plan. He’s young, and if Trump gets shot down in ’16, there’s always ’20.”

      Note that this is moreso for Rubio, who is younger and is the Establishment’s favorite. For him, it’d be far better if Trump wins the nomination and fails spectacularly than if Cruz wins.

  • efgoldman

    So the only real politician left on the Republiklown side is Elmer Fudd Kasich, the union-busting, education-selling (but medicaid-accepting) large state governor.
    And he’s losing to a billionaire bad businessman/reality TV star who apparently is unable to offend their RWNJ TeaHadi base no matter how hard he tries; a less than one term senator dominionist chistofascist who repels anyone who’s ever come in contact with him in any way; and another less-than-one term senator who, if he were in college, would be on academic probation for never going to class, and never had an original thought in his life.
    Tricksie Dicksie Nixie must be spinning in his grave, and Spiro Agnew and Bill Miller makes three. These guys make late Alzheimers Sanctus Ronaldus Maximus look like fucking George Washington.

    • keta

      I know! Ain’t it grand!

  • randy khan

    At this point, I think you have to peg Trump as the favorite, and the longer Kasich and Carson stay in, the better the odds for him. (If they drop out, it might turn Cruz or Rubio into the clear alternative choice, but until they do or their vote totals drop precipitously, they just help maintain separation between The Donald and the other two.)

    • Warren Terra

      Kasich and Carson are almost rounding errors already, and will continue to dwindle and be used only as protest votes.

      The real question is how long both Rubio and Cruz will persist. With every party official, elected official, and media person behind him Rubio has no reason to quit; having tied Rubio or beaten him in all three contests, sometimes by a lot, and already accustomed to friendlessness (and fearing accusations of weakness), Cruz also has no reason to quit. One would have to beat the other by an average of say 10 points on Super Tuesday for the other to honorably concede, if then – and after Super Tuesday Donald will possibly have won most or all the delegates from a dozen states!

      • Kalil

        It’s also worth noting that under GOP rules, any candidate must have won a /majority/ of delegates in at least 8 states in order to even be elegible to contend for the nomination. Even if Cruz and Rubio manage to win, say, Texas and California and a few other states by enough of a margin to hold Trump under the magic 50% of delegates at the convention, they still may wind up losing be default.

        • Warren Terra

          Wow. That is not a rule I’ve heard mentioned. In theory Super Tuesday could whittle the race to two, the remaining non-Trump could win the remaining contests, and they’d get the nomination, especially if they won the last dozen or so convincingly (there are I think 35 states after Super Tuesday, maybe more if the Republicans give delegates to overseas territories) – but as of now I have to assume Trump is overwhelmingly favored.

          • Kalil

            Here’s my source for that.

            Some other reporting suggests it will be ultimately irrelevant, on the grounds that the rules can still be changed between now and the convention, but… I am not sure how likely that really is, especially as it would give Trump justification to bolt if used to deny him a plurality victory…

        • randy khan

          I’d make two points about this rule. First, the rules can be changed between now and the convention, so if it somehow turns out to be Trump 40%, Cruz 30%, Rubio 30%, then the Cruz and Rubio forces can get together to kill the rule or modify it to keep them both in the running.

          Second, as an alternative, in the same scenario, Cruz and Rubio could make a deal to have their pledged delegates support each other in enough states to put both of them over the threshold.

          • Kalil

            The first is a definite possibility, although it might be enough justification for Trump to lead a schism or go for a third-party attempt. The second strategy wouldn’t work, though, I’m pretty sure, since I believe the rules require pledged delegates stick to their pledge.

      • random

        I dunno about Kasich, but Carson has a floor of fanatically devoted supporters who are impervious to any normal logic and they have stuck with him all the way since he first announced, back when the field was much bigger than this. It’s possible they are going to stick with him until he quits.

      • randy khan

        South Carolina results:

        Kasich 7.6%
        Carson 7.2%

        They’re not rounding errors. The question is where their votes go if they drop out or if their voters migrate before they drop out. I think we can guess that Carson would want his voter to go to Rubio rather than Cruz, but of course he has no control over that. It’s hard for me to see Kasich voters going to Cruz, but I’m not a Republican, and I have a difficulty understanding their voting logic. (If I can be excused for using the word “logic” here.)

        • Kalil

          There’s also a very real possibility that many of the Kasich and Carson holdouts are people who are disgusted enough with the other candidates that they’d stay home if their choice dropped out. At this point, anyone with the slightest whit of political consciousness recognizes that those two candidates are Doomed, but there are still people voting for them out of protest – either for Kasich on grounds of “he’s an actual real politician instead of a certifiable madman” or for Carson on grounds of “he’s an actual nice guy instead of a crude bullying psychopath”. (Note: I don’t buy the legitimacy of either of these statements, but there are certainly people who do.) These protest voters may not choose to settle for a lesser evil.

          • randy khan

            I can’t disagree with that as a possibility, and I would expect that at least some of them would start dropping out of the voting pool.

        • FFFFFFIIII

          Sure he does. He could drop out and endorse Rubio. He could even go on the stump for him if he was feeling really vindictive.

        • Kalil

          Adding to my previous:
          I think there’s also a very real chance that Carson himself will back Trump. Trump is certainly courting Carson pretty aggressively. Watch that (hilarious) video of Carson’s NH debate fail again – Trump stayed back with Carson, talked to him a bit, waited for all the names to be called, and then went out, allowing Carson to not be the only person off-queue. That was a big and ‘unnecessary’ personal favor, sparing Carson embarrassment at pretty much same time as Cruz was plotting to humiliate him. Trump is above all else a salesman, and he may well have sold himself to Carson.

          Don’t know how much effect a Carson endorsement of Trump will have on his supporters, but they’re certainly no lock for Rubio or Cruz.

          • Thirtyish

            I actually didn’t see that debate fail moment as a “favor” on Trump’s end–I interpreted it more as Trump seizing an opportunity to make as grand an entrance as possible for himself. Listen to the crowd roar when he finally walks out on stage: he played it well.

            • fd2

              Doing yourself a favor while convincing someone else you’re doing them a favor is one of the most basic aspects of Trump’s style of “dealmaking”.

  • 4jkb4ia

    I just want to go on the record somewhere with what I said to my husband that the very idea that actual voters think that President Trump would have a consistent enough philosophy of anything to pick a Supreme Court justice utterly boggles the mind. However, this is consistent with the theory that actual voters are not too enamored of movement conservatives. If they were more enamored Cruz would be doing significantly better, but as the commenter above said Cruz is held back by being a generally unpleasant human being.
    Perlstein is looking like a genius by pointing out that in Reagan 1980 the party didn’t decide in the conventional sense. Both Reagan and Trump were able to cultivate fans over many years by telling them that their already cultivated sense of right and wrong was perfectly good enough. I am very worried that HRC with all the ethics smears that have been levied against her doesn’t have a good response to this kind of thing except “vote for sanity” and “I will utterly destroy Trump in any debates”. However, my husband does represent one typical voter who has been utterly turned off by Trump and his behavior, so it can be done.

    (Please, Kasich, for utterly selfish reasons, stay in. The longer I can postpone the evil day when I have to choose between Hillary and Bernie, the better. I know Kasich is not perfect and the issues that Kay had with him. But I could respect him as President. I cannot say that about anybody else left for the Republicans.)

    • GeoX

      Boy, *I* sure couldn’t respect him as president. I was living in Ohio while he was gleefully cracking down on unions there. Thinking about it STILL makes me angry. Just because he’s less obviously mad than most of them doesn’t make him any less contemptible.

    • efgoldman

      But I could respect him as President.

      I couldn’t. The last Republiklown president that I could pretend to respect was Poppy Bush. The last one before that, Ford, and the last one before that, Ike.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Kasich’s actual policy ideas are as insane and vicious as anyone’s. It’s only his soporific Midwestern affect that creates the illusion of more serious politician.

      • Thirtyish

        I wouldn’t respect him as president, but I could stomach him a whole lot better than I could the alternatives the GOP has on display.

    • NonyNony

      You’d realize about 3 months in that you were wrong. Kasich would be a slightly smarter W with anger management issues. There’s a reason quite a few people call him “King John”.

      Kasich hides what he is better than the clowns on stage with him, but he’s no better than any of them.

    • djw

      What everyone else said; he’s a bog-standard 21st century Republican whose commitment to using public resources to enrich his cronies is substantial, and whose concessions to decency were primarily motivated by the political realities of his state. If you think he’s a better choice than Clinton or Sanders, there are only two options: you’re a Republican, of you’re not paying attention.

      • liberalrob

        John Kasich was the Paul Ryan of his time in Congress.

  • If I were a naughty foreign person who wished this country very ill indeed, I would be simultaneously rooting for Trump to clinch the nomination, and preparing an operation to behead an entire daycare center and a basket of kittens on prime-time television the last week in October.

    • Warren Terra

      Yeah. Two people with overseas roots, a rifle or two, a couple of pipe bombs, and no other plans past Halloween could swing the election by five points towards the far right, easily.

      • Breadbaker

        Or plans that involved a certain number of virgins just past Halloween.

  • LosGatosCA

    Trump vs Rubio is going to be a mercy killing, the lamb to the slaughter.

    The GOP establishment has to end the debates if they don’t want Trump.

    • Warren Terra

      Or: pack the audiences, and skew the moderators. Although Rubio may be too amazingly dumb and ignorant just to answer with comforting twaddle.

      • efgoldman

        Although Rubio may be too amazingly dumb and ignorant just to answer with comforting twaddle.

        Oh, he’ll have the comforting twaddle script down pat… down pat… down pat… down pat…..

      • Nick056

        They’ve already been packing the audiences. Honestly it plays terribly: you watch, you know he’s leading in the polls in-state, and he gets booed consistently. He’s started gleefully giving it right to the audience. It happened in NH and SC and he won both places.

        • Breadbaker

          The in-person audiences are irrelevant to a crowd used to see The Donald on TV. The only times they hear the booing is when Trump cues them to notice. And it’s the studio audience that loses then. This is child’s play for him. The problem is that Putin isn’t child’s play and the Trump voters think that he can handle it because he can handle a Cruz or a Bush or a Megyn Kelly.

    • randy khan

      There wouldn’t be anything merciful about it.

    • jamesepowell

      If Trump can end the political careers of JEB! and Rubio I will always be grateful to him. I would never vote for him, but I’d be grateful.

  • Nick never Nick

    It’s weird how similar Trump is to Shinawatra and Berlusconi — is there something that having a ton of money does to people, or is it just the spirit of the age that assholes like this contend for the throne?

    • PohranicniStraze

      That’s more than a little unfair to Thaksin, who whatever his faults did more to improve the lives of common Thais than all of his predecessors put together, and was consequently thrown out by a military coup backed by a corrupt aristocratic elite.

    • Crusty

      Yes and yes.

    • tsam

      Lots of people dream of being the assertive, dominant rich guy who takes what he wants. Take an emotionally stunted white male who sees every faliure in his own life as the fault of anyone but himself, (usually a woman because they just want your money), and now you have the perfect minion for a con artist like Trump.

      • Thirtyish

        Yep. And don’t forget that having lots of money equates to providence (divine or otherwise) in the minds of Trump supporters. But it’s not just the money–Rmoney was filthy rich also, but he didn’t inspire the same kowtowing worship in his supporters that Trump does. It’s the attitude, as you mention, that having money makes you a better, more worthy person that goes just as far among authoritarian followers.

  • So, there was a guy shooting apparently random people in Kalamazoo tonight, who was apparently apprehended without additional gunfire.

    People might have opinions on this that are somewhat suspect.

    • Manju

      Huma Abedin was born in Kalamazoo.

      • Warren Terra

        Dude, what the ever-loving fnck is your point? Are you just free-associating now? Drunk-commenting in the small hours of the weekend?

        If you want to know more about this sick person / monster / whatever, wait. We’ll find out more. Abedin almost certainly won’t be involved even peripherally.

        • Manju

          “People might have opinions on this that are somewhat suspect.”

      • Breadbaker

        And Derek Jeter grew up there.

        • Manju

          No Gift Bag for you!

    • JonH

      I’m guessing he’s probably *not* a regular at the big Kalamazoo medieval studies conference. If he were, surely he’d have used a longbow.

    • Warren Terra

      Police have identified the suspect as a 45-year old white guy; he lacks obvious religious or ethnic identifiers that would lead to fears of international terrorism, and no strong political ideas are being mentioned.

      Unless we learn something interesting about his motives, he seems to be an excellent candidate for the Some Asshole Initiative.

      • Uber driver. I’m convinced this will turn out to mean something though I don’t know what.

  • Based on the “what would be the oddest outcome” metric, I’m saying Trump vs Sanders.

  • FFFFFFIIII

    If nothing else, this sets up a very long, bloody primary, exactly what the RNC wanted to avoid.

  • addicted44

    So I watched the Donald Trump victory speech (yeah, I know). The guy can be ridiculously charismatic. He also has an amazing way of appearing gracious while sticking a dagger in his opponents’ heart.

    But what I found most interesting is that I think Ivanka Trump will be standing for President soon. Especially if Hillary wins 2016, I wouldnt be surprised to see Ivanka stand against her in 2020. She seems extremely polished, and she’s obviously the Donald’s favorite child.

    Based on cursory appearances, she could be a really good Presidential candidate, IMO.

    • randy khan

      I know someone who’s had some dealings with Ivanka, and who commented both on her extremely high heels and her obvious competence.

      • JR in WV

        Her bio is pretty good, cum laude BS in econ at the Wharton School at Penn. You don’t get that on looks, although looks don’t hurt.

        And no one is saying that The Donald is stupid, just odd. I suspect he’s really a Dem, and will renounce all that bigotry before the climax of this political season. Or something even stranger. I don’t think things are what they appear right now.

  • I sort of feel bad for Cruz.

    OK, no, not really but hear me out: he spent the past four years positioning himself as the renegade in the Senate, pissing off McConnell et al endlessly, from the Green Eggs and Ham stunt to just staking out a contrary position on everything, ensuring nothing got done.

    Even Rand Paul had enough brains to avoid losing the respect of his colleagues.

    So, in his own mind, having firmly positioned himself as the Outsider on the Inside, what happens?

    Here’s comes Marco Rubio, an even younger and (it’s hard to believe but…) smarter version of Cruz, from a state vital to any chance the Republicans have for winning the general election. To boot, he’s actually a likable guy.

    OK so Ted doubles down on the unlikability thing: be more pompous, more flatulent in his pronouncements, stake out a harder line…

    And then Trump jumps in and takes away his entire right wing flank of uberangry white voters. Worse, he takes the young AND the old ones, which actually gives Rubio some room to poach from Cruz’s left.

    So the guy who should have been the hands-on nominee (Bush being basically irrelevant without Trump’s reflected light) doing a coronation tour is now fighting for second place, any hope of winning thru attrition gone.

    Cruz’s lot is so bad that Rubio winning second place has to be seen as less of an upset than an endorsement, despite the fact that he lost while being from the same fucking region of the nation.

    • Jackson87

      Not sure how one arrives at the conclusion that Rubio is smarter than Cruz. Going by any usual metric in the legal world, Cruz dwarfs him.
      Which for me is a selling point. If I am going to have to live with a Republican President, I’d rather he be inept. Less damage to undo down the road.

      • tsam

        Compare the damage Bush Jr left behind and the damage his dad left. The inept ones have a Rasputin behind the curtain.

  • MacK

    I have said this repeatedly – this will very likely be a contested convention. There will be at last 3 candidates with delegates (and maybe a minnow) but while Trump may have a plurality – it will not be a majority. That is when it will get really entertaining as the Republicans try to work out what to do – who concedes their delegates – and to Trump or the other guy (who will be a good few delegates behind) while facing the real risk that this will antagonise the Trump voters and/or make Trump try to run as an independent….

    It could be complete mayhem…..

  • I get that people might view T. Ronald Dump’s nomination as disastrous for a variety of reasons, but I don’t understand why it is supposed to be unpossible (or at least highly unlikely).

    • N__B

      Because, as we all know, the world is just and evil men never prosper.

      • Weeeelllll, he is keeping Cruz out of the top spot.

        • tsam

          Right–and I don’t see how it’s any kind of disaster to nominate Trump. I can’t see any way HRC doesn’t dumptruck his sorry ass in the general.

    • Denverite

      Because he’s a right-wing populist, and we haven’t seen one of those be a serious candidate in, well, in my lifetime. And I’m not super old, but I’m not that young, either.

      • Casey

        Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot and Ronald Reagan.

        • Malaclypse

          I don’t think Perot counts as right-wing. And while Reagan was by 1984 popular, that isn’t populist. And did Buchanan ever win more than a handful of primaries?

          • joe from Lowell

            Nor did Ross Perot run in a Republican primary.

    • LosGatosCA
    • joe from Lowell

      I understand why: because every time there has been an anti-establishment candidate challenging the party-establishment favorite, that candidate has enjoyed his time in the sun and then collapsed as the obedient sheep who vote in Republican primaries get whipped back into line. We saw it with Pat Buchanan, we saw it with a host of non-Romneys. It’s a movie we’ve seen over and over again, so it’s reasonable to conclude that the pattern will hold.

      You know the saying: “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.”

      This year, though, it appears that the well-established pattern in actually going to break. But that’s why people thought/think it is impossible.

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