The 4th GOP Debate has passed us with nobody else dropping out--and it seems like on the Democrat side, everyone but Hillary and Sanders has already dropped out. Oh, right: O'Malley. Whatevs. Where does this leave us?
No GOP Knock-OutThe general consensus from last night is that Christie won the under-card and that there was no knock-out performance in the main debate. Jeb didn't shine--but he maybe, maaaaaybe--sparkled a little. Trump wasn't dominant--but he has improved. Carson too. Rubio and Cruz are still the preferred smart-set to duel it out when the grown-ups start voting but . . . Carson and Trump still lead.
By a lot.
Carly Fiorina doesn't look like she's on her last legs either. Jindal seems to, somehow, still have fight in him. Santorum won the Twitter-Mind-Share numbers. Santorum! . . . Santorum??? So when the fuck is anyone actually going to drop out of this thing?
The Next Demarcation PointLooks like Thanksgiving: if no one drops out before Thanksgiving, there's a whole week where there's pretty much no reason for anyone to drop out. If Trump and Carson don't tank in the polls--dramatically--before then, the "okay, how do they fail?" question becomes kinda nonsensical.
What will the election look like after Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz drop out?
Is The 'Scrutiny' Stage Broken?The idea behind The Party Decides is that there's a cycle of rise, scrutiny, and fall for most candidates and The Party pretty much has the lion's share of determination in who wins in the end. This is, apparently, based on a whole lot of facts and history. What if part of that cycle breaks?
It was painfully clear in 2012--and to a degree in 2008--that on the national stage there were very, very few candidates who could possibly compete in a general election. Herman Cain? Michelle Bachmann? Come on. Even Newt Gingrich was a hideous long-shot. Rick Santorum, the runner-up behind Romney was a C- grade candidate.
People saw that, didn't they? That was the "scrutiny phase" working the way it was supposed to. Wasn't it?
What if it wasn't?
The assessment that neither Trump nor Carson--nor probably Cruz--could win a general election is, to be fair, pretty strong. These are smart, charismatic, and certainly ambitious candidates--but the environment of a general, national election, would not be good to them. This isn't helped by the fact that Hillary, whatever she says now, will probably get to run as a centrist. It also isn't helped that minority votes--despite the candidates' racial categorizations--are not likely to cross over to these GOP standard bearers (Rubio and Jeb? Maybe.).
Conservatives really do overestimate the power of identity politics--to think that Cruz will win Latinos or Carson will win African American voters because of their backgrounds is ludicrous. They may not even make in-roads.
Is it possible that the natural check on candidates in the primary--the idea that scrutiny exposes weakness and then the candidate declines--is broken? Or is it that every candidate out there today has a substantial weakness and none of them is clearly "the most electable"?
The Omnivore isn't sure--but if nothing changes by Thanksgiving, it's going to be a hell of a Primary.