The Party of Stupid indeed…
Once Cruz won Iowa, the best way to have stopped the monster that was and is Trump was for everyone to have thrown their support, from Gowdy to Haley to voters on down, to Cruz.
Ideally, if others had dropped out then, realistic or fair or not, we would not be looking now at the specter of making hard choices. In 2 man race, it would have been a lot easier for Cruz, who had won out of the gate to stun the Trump legend, to have competed fully in SC.
I noted something like this even then.
For some time now literally EVERY GOP nominee gains some early momentum that grows despite on paper it being a long way from over in terms of delegates. This means something like winning Iowa, then SC or NH then SC, etc. hoping for a an inevitability meme to develop pronto which the recipient wants to turn into a domino.
Because once that mentality sets in, human nature causes people to want to “not waste their vote” and to “back a winner” etc.
In this cycle, given the celebrity of Trump, and a media planning to go hell fire on him ONCE he’s “on the hook” as the presumptive nominee, it’s far more dangerous. Trump is already getting the customary “can he be stopped” quotes on various news channels, cementing in the minds of the public that the race is already over. His aura reminds one of 2008 and Obama, where first time voters around age 18 flocked to support his candidacy in part because all their friends were doing likewise.
But Cruz won Iowa, defying a 7-8 batching of consecutive gold standard polls that placed Trump outside the MOE by 5-7 points.
Almost at once, the media pumped a candidate who “beat expectations” and finished where he in fact was expected to, though higher in vote % totals. They all but ignored the winner who DID beat expectations, having also beat the ethanol lobby.
Then, they promoted some non-story (Carsongate) with CNN taking it personally. Erin Burnet and others engaged Cruz in a childishly personal momentum sucking fight that stalled any propulsion he could have gained from the win.
The story was all about how Cruz cheated Carson, and then made “misleading statements” in his interaction with CNN. Trump took advantage of the megaphone he has developed where everyone repeats all that he says FREE by chastising Cruz.
Thus, the single easiest shot to derail Trump before it became unrealistic was gone almost at once.
Trump regained his footing critically by a big win in NH, and now the chatter of him not winning for once, when he had been constantly talking about leading the polls for ages, was muted.
After placing 3rd in NH, Cruz benefited from a dismal 5th place showing by Rubio, which was contributed to by a debate gaffe sequence that led to jokes over him being “robot Rubio” spitting out identical manufactured talking points which glitched in repetition to a series of unrelated questions posed to him by Christie.
Even the overall media, which had promoting Rubio as having “marcomentum” since at least a week or so from the vote in Iowa, ridiculed Rubio, showing images of him being depicted as a robot in homemade costumes by various opportunistic foes.
But he recovered, and had a good debate performance ahead of the SC primary. He added a key endorsement from Haley to add with those from Scott and Gowdy, and Fox and others again resumed their fawning coverage of him, at least compared to that of Cruz, whom they have been and still are negative against almost to a fault.
The media had already been running with a dual proof of questionable tactics by team Cruz by rehashing the mailer in Iowa and the Carson flap. Cruz was dogged in later debates defending various campaign operation actions. Then came the Photoshop Rubio shaking hands with Obama, just before the vote in SC. This was not as uncommon as portrayed, but the meme was on.
Certain televised pundits warned Cruz of not allowing this to become a recurrent theme to be distracted by.
Cruz and Rubio over recent weeks began open warfare over immigration policy differences and what Rubio said in Spanish on Univision. Rubio took a page from the playbook of Trump, and started deflecting charges by calling Cruz a liar and a dirty trickster. He did not answer the charges, he just accused the accuser. Trump helped repeat that endlessly in the media.
SC voted, and Rubio clearly gained from the change the question strategy, and while Trump won he got 2nd by a very narrow margin. Haley’s endorsement and favorable media coverage over more “marcomentum” poll stressing no doubt helped contribute to the late decider edge he obtained.
Very important was not just that Trump won among evangelicals, but that Rubio got almost as many as Cruz.
This vote splitting paradigm has served Trump well.
Bush dropped out, helping mostly Marco, not so much in vote gains (though they likely at least broke to him) but in that it freed up donors from the Establishment body to move to him, coalescing as fast possible around the least objectionable fallback choice. Dole and others came out to endorse Rubio, and online chatter suggesting that Cruz was rapidly becoming damaged goods and that he should drop out or make a deal with Rubio as the top guy emerged. Others suggested Marco offer a SCOTUS slot up.
The campaigns, in concert with the media, began concern trolling Cruz, suggesting his operation had ethics challenged operatives. Rick Tyler went down in flames and was rightly fired over a poor audio video questioning Rubio over religion, claiming he said something with unintelligible audio that he did not and blamed the transcript.
By now, the media was running open stories repeating opportunistic quotes by Rubio in accepting the apology of team Cruz, echoed by Trump, suggesting Tyler was a fall guy, not the rogue many suspect he was, that a culture of dirty trick philosophy permeated team Cruz, emanating from the top. Tyler, a former Gingrich 2012 spokesman, made more than one misstep.
Entrance/exit polls from SC results showed the approach of Rubio, Trump, the media, etc. had some effect as they agreed that only Trump ran a more unfair campaign. Today, Greta V.S. actually polled on whether he was a dirty trickster, and more agreed he was than disputed that assumption. The meme is sticking, and that’s unfortunate given the actual fair fact balances.
Some on the right saw through this, such as Ace at Ace of Spades, who has regularly called out the media and Rubio and Trump over their tactics, citing the failure of media to criticize and try to build a misleading “narrative” on Cruz rivals. Mark Levin has complained about some of the same concepts.
In the past, president Roosevelt actually bought several minutes of time after his speeches on radio in key market stations to stop listeners from even hearing alternative views. Many cycles put this one to shame over underhanded robo calls, etc. Team Bush was not fatally painted as a dirty dealer after his operatives (may) have had a role in circulating a story about McCain fathering an illegitimate bi-racial child. How many other underhanded things were done without much media scrutiny?
Clearly, the public is disconnected to what are relatively common campaign tactics, in some form or another, since mailers and even doctored joke photos are not uncommon. Cruz asserted his rivals did similar things this cycle to deaf ears and his camp also complained over team Rubio supposedly planting flyers on windshields at Cruz rallies in SC painting Cruz as a liar.
Some of the charges attributed to Cruz were even adopted in some form by his rivals, but the media has not cared. Trump relied on a false quote from Coburn, then used it AGAIN after it was debunked. No firestorm erupted as it did over the false quotation video involving Rubio. Trump used that line to prove Cruz was dishonest!
President Roosevelt went so far as to purchase air time for many minutes following his speeches, so that unaware foes would follow in key radio media markets to few or any listeners, since the audience would assume the event ended via the silence!
Now the media is attempting to suggest that if Cruz, who could easily lose to Rubio in NV for 3rd, does not do better he’s toast even before March 1st. Cruz is not similarly situated in this state and is contending with big turnout signaling a Trump win.
This is to, again, raise his expectations so that any decent showing below Rubio spells doom on Super Tuesday.
Clearly, the media does not like Cruz, and does NOT want him a supposedly less electable person for several reasons, to win the nomination so that they could destroy him in November. One does well to ask why, since this approach is being used on Trump.
It is fair to argue that the best approach to stopping Trump in theory this late in the day is to keep several in, at least Cruz and Rubio, a strategy used in Europe of all places, to deny nationalist insurgents the top spot in anger cycles with strategic voting. In America, the plan would be to coordinate Cruz, Rubio, and even Kasich supporters (hoping that Carson drops out and sends supporters to the other 3) such that in “candidate friendly” regions and where those candidates were either just leading or in second place behind Trump, to strategically vote for a possible rival to deny Trump an easy delegate romp. Then the dice could be rolled at the convention to deny Trump and possibly implant Rubio with bones thrown to others for cooperation.
The problem with this approach is that it’s possibly impractical, and bridges have been burned regarding Cruz and Rubio causing their supporters to reject strategic voting for the other man. The plan might still fail, since if Trump has too many but not a majority and the party tries every possible trick to deny him (assuming they can by their own rules) it would divide everyone and might still hand the election to HRC or Bernie even if Trump does not act on a 3rd party vengeance response.
Now several talking heads, including some at Redstate, have been drumming the beat with a highly unbalanced claim that Rubio is the best final chance at Trump. Some folks are even suggesting that Cruz speedily drop out, arguing Rubio is more electable and his increasing Establishment backing means he is the one we need to rapidly coalesce around.
They are mostly wrong.
Now some are claiming CRUZ is the man to go to, and Rubio should drop out, and while both of those claims are probably true in terms of strict tactics they are missing the most important reasons as to why.
Cruz has the best, but rapidly diminishing chance. His best shot followed Iowa, but his vote splits with Rubio and others remaining have ended the most realistic path. Even so, he needs something unlikely to occur, a Rubio exit very soon.
But to understand why, you have to understand realism as it relates to situations like this, in concert with the primary dates and state compositions.
Ironically, several pundits have noticed the idea that the Super Tuesday states supposedly relatively favorable to Cruz, are proportionally allocated. Thus, he needs to win and even run up the score then to have a chance. Much beyond March 6, the landscape changes and the state ideological makeups are more favorable to Rubio and soon a number of winner take all contests involving states more favorable to predictably moderate candidates means the party has put the thumb on the scale before any votes have been cast. Fair or not, this means Cruz HAS to score early, and faces trouble getting ANY wins down the stretch.
Trump, who is already receiving media framing of being inevitable before NV, is leading in several places, even ones Cruz hopes to win in the contests from Super Tuesday and up to March 6, is still trailing Cruz in Texas in a new poll by 8. By contrast, Rubio is currently not winning even his home state, a more mixed ideology terrain more suitable to him shows Marco in third behind Cruz in all 3 snapshots taken in January and leading the RCP averages. Florida happens March 15, when Rubio needs to shine.
The problem for Cruz is he needs to do well early, but if he does, his chances even in “less friendly” areas are likely to improve, again assuming Rubio is not splitting votes with him. He has beaten Trump, Rubio has not and he’s set to inflict more losses on him at a point where at least some possibility of overcoming inevitability talking points may exist. That’s not as true for Rubio.
In Ohio, again, more Rubio friendly by conventional wisdom shows a recent poll with Trump leading, Kasich 2nd, and Cruz leading Rubio 21% to 13% and this one is also on March 15.
So Rubio, even ahead of the period he hopes to make his case in finds him trailing even Cruz in both his home state + OH.
It’s not that Rubio is in trouble over anything about him, though he had another issue over robotic answers on O’Reilly recently after he seemed to have fixed the problems.
His problem is simply timing, and a map that more favors him coming too late to compete with Trump who, with another likely win tonight and some wins on ST and in the following days leading up to the later WTA states where Marco hopes to challenge Trump, will have gained so much momentum with wins previously that he will be leading so clearly that a fight is unrealistic.
Cruz has to make his stand to stall momentum EARLIER and that is helpful, but still his chances are less than stellar even if Rubio drops out pronto. His chances are better than that of Rubio, but likely to also be perilous. A Rubio dropout would probably yield more voters migrating to him than that of him leaving and Rubio benefiting, since several will go to Trump.
What pundits understate, is the herding nature of voters. They want to “back a winner” and don’t want to “waste their vote” the result is that they make numbers flip almost automatically. If Cruz had “his” states coming after March 6, HE would have the bad luck that Rubio is suffering from. What would happen is he’d likely suddenly see an 8 point TX lead erased and would be losing. As it is, Rubio will be losing handily in FL and in the other WTA states he hoped to compete in, due to inevitability psychology that the media will help in relaying.
The idea that Rubio will win later, based on favorable demographics, is just not sound since he will be buried under the bandwagon assuming Trump does reasonably well heading into those contests. Even if he were leading in FL now, which he is not, he would likely be well under water by March 15 there simply due to the bandwagon effect.
It looks like Trump is going to win NV, and even if Rubio finishes 2nd, he will not get a real chance in time. It’s not a mistake that Trump is going after Cruz first. He realizes this is his only practical threat, since it’s the one that is coming fastest before he can totally convince everyone in the nation he’s virtually a sure thing to win the nomination due to his momentum.