I have read, as have you, articles over the past year foretelling this primary would come down to two people. In February we were told, by WaPo, it was going to be Scott Walker and Jeb Bush when the herd thinned. And then the real test would begin.
Back in September , Erick Erickson explained that this race would come down to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. This was before Scott Walker bowed out but Erickson saw it coming and expected in the aftermath Republicans would gravitate toward one of two camps.
“Next month’s debate performance could rupture it. There’s still a lot that could change. But right now to me it looks like we are headed toward a Cruz vs. Rubio primary and, given how well the outsiders are doing currently, Cruz has a slight advantage.”
Erickson wasn’t the first to make this prediction, but most who did said it under the expectation Donald Trump would not be a factor for much longer.
Thus the map was laid out. Ted Cruz would take the road that met up with Constitutionalists, the Evangelicals, the staunch Conservatives, and Libertarians. While Rubio’s path was paved with those more establishment oriented. He was viewed as more well liked by his congressional colleagues while still having some conservative bona fides. It was believed those not flocking to one would embrace the other and then the real test begins.
But Trump did not fade away and, as Leon explained, he’s since become the darling of the establishment . Suddenly, the establishment turned away from Rubio and, for spite, attached itself to the shiny object that was Trump. They would never accept Cruz. They may not love Trump, but Streiff warned at least they could mold him into whatever they wanted. Gone were the days when they wanted him banned from debates.
I believe the race has now come down to Cruz and Trump. Not just in Iowa, but nationwide. Cruz still walks the path he set out on seeking the same supporters he did months ago as well as hoping to attract those who don’t trust Trump due to his much publicized support of Democratic principles. Rubio’s road has now become more crowded. While he still hopes to siphon off as many Cruz supporters as he’s able, he can no longer count on as much of the establishment that had once looked his way.
Then there is the matter of money. Although Trump has claimed in the past he is self funding his campaign he does, to this day, accept donations. Cruz has never claimed to self fund and will have to continue in the same manner he always has, soliciting funds from those who view him as the conservative best hope against the establishment.
Could Rubio, Kasich, Christie or one of the others come back with a surge? Absolutely. But how quick would the establishment pivot from Trump to the next star? They have his ear now, why change to someone else if he’s already being molded? No need to be hasty. Besides, as Dan Spencer tells us: the democrats love him. And the establishment has no problem with accepting votes from Democrats as has been proven in a recent Mississippi senate race. Of course once you accept those votes you end up accepting some of the principles.
But what of endorsements? Certain one’s may not make much difference, at least in Iowa. The Street looks at the odds:
“In a new report about how Palin’s endorsement has changed the race, Betfair, the world’s largest prediction market, wrote, “Donald Trump is now 5/4 (44% chance) from 11/4 yesterday (27% chance) in the Iowa Caucus Republican market.” Cruz is still the favorite, the report noted, “Ted Cruz still favourite [sic] for Iowa but has drifted to 8/11 (57% chance) having traded at 1.25 (1/4 or an 80% chance) a fortnight ago.” Betfair now gives Trump a 39% chance of winning the Republican nomination.”
Finally, there’s the matter of “electability.” Mitt Romney and John McCain were viewed as the “electable” candidates. With the backing of the establishment and some democrats they could race across the finish line. That was the grand scheme years ago and “leaders” in the Republican party haven’t deviated from it. They’ve just changed their candidate preference from the moderate ones of the past to a more left-leaning choice.
Even though only 11 names are on Republican polls things haven’t changed much a year ago. The criteria we use to pick a preferred candidate still hasn’t changed. We have to trust the candidate, have comparable values, identify similar important issues and ally with our candidate on the best course regarding those issues. And has been foretold we are now in a two man race, only the names of those participating have changed. Once again, the test begins.