mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Donald Is Trumping The #NeverTrumps”: Can Ted Cruz Or John Kasich Stop The Trump Train?

Terrible tag-team, murder-suicide or surrender? Those are the options available for the ill-named, ill-executed and probably ill-fated #NeverTrump movement.

The Ides of March were unkind to retiring Sen. Marco Rubio, whose hope-not-fear, praise the lord farewell speech could just as easily have been a brief Et tu, Florida? Then fall Marco! Rubio had played Brutus to Jeb Bush, his former governor and mentor, and then it was retired reality TV star Donald Trump, who doth bestride the party like a colossus, who administered the coup de grace against Rubio in the Sunshine State.

That reduced the GOP field to three finalists, only one of whom – Trump – has a clear and realistic path to an acceptance speech on the final night of the GOP convention in Cleveland. In addition to Florida, he picked up wins in Illinois and North Carolina and was in a tight battle for Missouri.

The one place he fell clearly short was in Ohio, where the popular, two-term governor – John Kasich – held serve and survived the kind of existential test that took Rubio down. But, as I argued last week would be the case, dopey Don won for losing: Kasich’s victory “guarantees at least two not-Trumps remain in the field … with Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz splitting the non-Trump portion of the pie.”

Do you want more happy news, Trump-ists? Savor this: Per The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, the two states that have gotten seen the biggest anti-Trump independent expenditure efforts thus far (or at least through March 13, when the latest Federal Election Commission records were available to them) were Florida, where at least $15.7 million was spent, and Illinois, where another $5.3 million was poured in. Guess in which two states Trump ran up the biggest margins Tuesday night? That’s right – the Sunshine State and the Land of Lincoln, both places where Trump scored double-digit wins.

So where does that leave team #NeverTrump? With a series of unappealing options. In spite of Kasich’s win, this is arguably a two-man race now between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is the only other candidate anywhere near the real estate tycoon in terms of delegates. But Cruz faces a number of problems, starting with his own alienating personality and approach to politics. The non-Trump GOP may yet coalesce around him, but it’ll do so holding its collective nose. Anyone who hadn’t made a virtue of accumulating enemies in Washington would already have the not-Trump field to himself by now.

And the time it took to winnow the field can be marked off in the Southern states and more heavily religious electorates that have cast their ballots already. Here’s where the campaign trail leads for Republicans: the Arizona primary and Utah caucus next week; Wisconsin two weeks later and New York two weeks after that; and then a week later most of the remaining Northeastern states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Where does Cruz notch his next victory? Trump’s going to be strong in Arizona, with former Gov. Jan Brewer and immigration nut Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his corner. Maybe the freshman Texas senator can score a victory in Utah but the map looks bleak after that. Can he go oh-for-April and survive until Indiana on May 3?

As FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik observed Tuesday night, polls show that Trump is stronger vis a vis Cruz in states that haven’t voted yet:

Trump led Cruz by 17 points in places with votes on or before March 15, according to data provided by the online-polling company SurveyMonkey, based on its interviews of 8,624 Republican registered voters from Feb. 29 to March 6. But Trump’s lead expanded to 24 points in places that vote later.

In a hypothetical head-to-head against Cruz, Trump led by 1 point in places that had voted by today, but by 8 points everywhere else. As our delegate tracker indicates, Cruz needed a lead over Trump by now to be on track for a majority of delegates, because the voting gets tougher for him from here.

And that brings us back to Kasich. Appearing on CNN after winning the Buckeye State, the governor was spouting some fairly high octane spin: “I may go to the convention before this is over with more delegates than anybody else,” he said. “There’s 1,000 yet to pick.” Here’s the thing: Even if Kasich – who has less delegates than the dear-departed Rubio – wins those 1,000 or so delegates, he won’t get to the 1,237 needed for the nomination. And the guy whose first win in 31 tries just came in his home state isn’t poised to win the next 1,000 delegates anyway.

At this point Kasich’s sole hope – and arguably sole purpose – is to deny Trump delegates where Cruz is ill-equipped to do so. It’s the carve-up-the-map strategy offered last month by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove laid it out on Fox Tuesday night: “Look at the contests coming up: We have bunch of Western states where Ted Cruz is probably likely to do well,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of Northeastern states where he hasn’t been doing well where he hasn’t been doing well where John Kasich has done well. So you’ve got Cruz who could cover you know Utah and Arizona and Montana [on June 7] and you could have Kasich who could challenge Trump in places like Connecticut and Delaware. … It gets us to an even more contested convention. In chaos is opportunity for the little guy.”

This is what we’ve come to: Rove is trying to chart a path into chaos for his party in the hopes of benefiting the GOP establishment, or the “little guy” as he puts it. This is, by the way, the third of the five stages of Trump: the first two are the convictions that he could be stopped before or during the primaries and the third is the hope of a convention battle.

So the #NeverTrump-ists and their allies – specifically the Cruz and Kasich campaigns – have to decide quickly whether the last not-Trumps can either tag-team the front-runner before he recedes entirely from their view or at least stay out of each other’s way; the alternative is to continue competing with each other in the grim game of winnowing while more contests slide inexorably past them into Trump’s column.

Because sooner is becoming later and before they know it, the #NeverTrump will be faced with its own existential test: Whether to morph into #NeverTrumpUntilHeFacesHillary.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, March 17, 2016

March 21, 2016 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Share your comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: