I fancy myself as a bit of a skeptic and try to keep a realistic view of the world. I watched the Donald Trump “phenomenon” with quite a bit of bemusement. I have blogged before about how I see nothing new here.
Nate Silver over at the 538 blog has re-analyzed the primary election results on the Republican side along with some exit polling data which asked who people would vote for in various head to head matchups. What he found was not too surprising.
These figures estimate that Cruz would have won South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana in addition to the states where he already beat Trump. He also would have won Minnesota and Puerto Rico, which originally went to Rubio. Several other states, such as Michigan, Georgia and Virginia, would have been close between Trump and Cruz. Trump would be fairly dominant in the Northeast, however, and would still have won Nevada easily.
Silver found that using some assumptions, that if Cruz were running head to head with Trump, he would have the 100 delegate lead, not Trump. Now, of course we can’t do a rewind at this point, Rubio looked like the more viable candidate early on, but first impressions didn’t pan out. But I will point out that had there been a single candidate that appealed to the Cruzio voters (a little religion, a bit of outsider, not a complete whack job) with a bit more experience and popularity so that vote was not split, it is pretty clear Trump would not be the “front runner.” Actually, had the non-Trump vote not been split early on, Trump probably would have dropped out after Super Tuesday, he would have to get out before getting labeled as a complete loser.
Cruz and Rubio were sort of victims of kind of prisoner’s dilemma. Unfortunately for the Republican party both of them refused to check his ego at the door and cooperate earlier. Had they done that, one of them would be heading toward the nomination and possibly the other going on to be VP. As in the dilemma, continuing to complete left them both worse off.
To my way of thinking the country got a case of the DTs as a result of three simple factors:
- The mainstream media is most biased towards audience, not ideology. More people tuned in to see Trump, so they kept him front and center.
- The Republican presidential field is extraordinarily weak. Cruz and Rubio are freshman Senators with little appeal. Most Republican politicians dislike Cruz personally and Rubio has shown himself to be a lightweight. Kasich is pretty much your grandfather’s Republican. Carson, Fiorina, Huckabee and Santorum were all from the delusional class. Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Jeb! looked more like they were running away from being president. Frankly, Trump didn’t have much to contend with.
- Last factor, also no surprise, is that about one third of Republican voters care more about slogans and scapegoating rather than actual governance. We have known this for years , the Tea Party “movement” was just a cynical exploitation of this fact.
So, now this question really is: What should the Republican party do now? And the answer is actually pretty simple: Dump Trump.
Some people freak out at the prospect of Republicans using convention rules to deny Trump the nomination. Ben Carson, who endorsed the “more cerebral” version of Trump today said that going against Trump would be “thwarting the will of the people.” Like most of what Carson has said outside the operating room, that is a crock of BS.
By a wide margin, Republican voters have voted against Trump. I think the party would be well justified in listening to the two-thirds non-Trump majority of their voters. Why should he get the nomination when he can’t get a majority of the party’s voters? It’s only common sense.
And the idea that taking out Trump in some way at the convention will cause a revolt is an idea that only the ego of Trump sees as real. Most Republicans don’t want him, getting rid of him will lead to greatly more cheers than jeers.
The party rules (which of course they made up and so can change) combined with unusual circumstances have conspired to make a loser look like a winner. The Republican party has the right to nominate anyone they want. If the Republicans really follow the will of their people, someone other than Trump will be their nominee this November.
Replacing Trump with a Cruz-Rubio ticket, or even better a Cruz-Kasich ticket (they probably can’t win the presidency without Ohio) would make both mathematical and logical sense.