Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Bucket of Crabs Election

Last night, predictably, Donald Trump crushed another GOP Primary vote--this time in Nevada. He now holds 81 pledged delegates. The entire rest of the field combined (including Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, and Jeb Bush) hold 51. Trump's win was decisive: He won all but two districts (those two went to Cruz . . . who came in 3rd) and his score of 41.6% of the vote not only beat his HuffPo average of 42% but was larger than Rubio + Cruz together.

If one of them had dropped before the vote and all their vote had gone to the other? Trump would still have won.

Last night, however, was less notable for what did happen than what didn't. No one dropped out (and to listen to their rhetoric, no one is going to--but they always say that). Trump thus approaches the first PEC Threshold of Feb 21: In order to reliably stop Trump there must be no more than two anti-Trump candidates before voting begins on Super Tuesday, March 1st.

Currently there are 4 anti-Trumps and only one event, a GOP debate on the 26th, before the largest delegate-event in the primary happens.

Is Trump The Nominee?

It sure looks like it. For starters, he seems to have a higher ceiling than 30%. He's running strongly. It looks unlikely that the next GOP debate is going to kill him. It's unclear if Rubio or Cruz--even in a 1-on-1 could defeat him.

Worse, a view of voter's 2nd-choice nominees has Trump getting a lot (in some cases most) of another candidate's voters. If Cruz and Carson both bail out, Trump just gets stronger than Rubio (assuming this holds up--which is not a given--but still!).

Is The GOP Dead?

Ezra Klein on Vox (yeah, The Omnivore knows) declares that the Republican Party is Broken. Yes, Vox has, we could say, a bias--but he also has a pretty irrefutable point:
The party doesn't have any magic powers. All it has is its credibility with its voters. Because, in the end, parties can only influence — it's voters who actually decide. And the Republican Party has, for whatever reason, lost its ability to influence its voters. Donald Trump is winning this thing, and so far, Ted Cruz, the only guy elite Republicans hate more than Trump, is vying for second place.
Anyone paying attention must acknowledge that this is true. Noah Rothman thinks the time has come to more or less declare war and have every candidate go full steam against Trump--to save the party. Anyone who has even glanced at Ted Cruz's resume knows he'd never go for this (Cruz is the guy who, when a bear appears, doesn't just try to outrun you--ties your shoelaces together while he's down lacing up his boots).

This, of course, goes to everyone else to some degree: Jeb quit after a string of humiliating defeats. He did not bail on an even theoretically winnable race for "the good of the party." The

What Now?

The Omnivore thinks it is pretty clear that, yes, the conservative ideology is under attack and, yes, the GOP as a national entity is under mortal threat. If PEC's analysis is right, the Party has about 5 days to get Kasich and Carson out of the race and then hope that Cruz or Rubio drop by March 15th--oh, and that Trump doesn't exceed his numbers or pick up their votes.

Working against this is, well, everyone.

Ted Cruz

Cruz apparently wants more than anything in life to be president. His rapid ascent and near-perfect planning has brought him to striking distance of this. Not only shouldn't he drop, he's in freakin' second place. What reason could he have to get out now?

On the reverse side, though, Cruz's voters were supposed to be an evangelical wave and the wave has yet to materialize (tons of new evangelical voters). He's also, uhm, not winning evangelicals. They're going to Donald Trump.

Oh, and Additionally: If the GOPe, the Club For Growth, and Marco Rubio all train their guns on Trump and Cruz hangs back? He's in the best position to win. He knows it.

Marco Rubio

Rubio is in 3rd Place delegate wise, yeah--but he's one freakin' delegate behind Cruz. He's also, polling says, way more likable and the party has line up behind him (they hate Cruz). Rubio polls best to win the GOP a national election. There's no way he's getting out now.

On the other hand, though, if Rubio dropped most of his support would go to Cruz (Cruz's support would go more heavily to Trump). It's also unclear he can actually beat Hillary in the general. He polls well--but he's going to be savaged in a debate--both by her and the press--and he currently avoids open-ended Q&A sessions (on the other hand, Cruz shines when confronted on the issues). Cruz has made it perfectly clear that as the nominee there's nothing he won't stoop to. Finally, Rubio doesn't have the good-will of the base and establishment hugging isn't going to help with that. A Rubio-force could lead to revolt.

Oh, and Additionally: If the GOPe, the Club For Growth, and Ted Cruz all train their guns on Trump and Rubio hangs back? He's in the best position to win. He knows it.

Dr. Ben Carson

Carson is an anomaly--he has no even remotely viable path to win the nomination and he has clearly hurt himself with voters who want to win the general election--but he's still in. There are a number of theories ranging from (a) He's about to get out to (b) He feels he can't let his fans down to (c) There's still money to be made by running to (d) He believes in miracles.

We can be pretty darn sure that Dr. Ben Carson believes in miracles. As such, nothing but a sign from God is going to dissuade him. Oh, and also: he clearly hates Ted Cruz and probably does not feel the same attachment to the Republican Party establishment that, say, Senators Rubio and Cruz do. As a fellow outsider, he might even feel that sticking around to stick it to the establishment is the best use of his time.

Oh, and Additionally: If the GOPe, the Club For Growth, and Ted Cruz all train their guns on Trump and destroy each other, he's the last Outsider Left. All he has to do is remain standing! He knows it.

Gov John Kasich

Special K spoke to the party in the aftermath of the election: "None of you understand," he told them. "I'm not locked up in here with you--you're locked up in here with me." He's got a point. Yeah, he took hits--but his strategy was to avoid SC and NV. In the last place he ran? He took second. Also: Ohio is crucial to any Republican map to victory and he polls second to Trump there and is only behind by 5pts. Where it counts? He's strongest.

Finally, he's the actual establishment candidate. Rubio is the "choice" because Rubio is a severe conservative. Kasich actually has cross-over appeal. In a bruising national election, Kasich's resume might be the best to stand up to Hillary's.

Of course unless the entire conservative base either sucks it down again or gets hit with the orbital mind control satellite laser,  they aren't going to vote for Kasich. In an era of literal Party Revolt he really does have no chance. One on one? Carson might beat him.

Oh, and Additionally: If the GOPe, the Club For Growth, and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio all train their guns on Trump and destroy each other, he gets the establishment crown. If the Party Decides and Rubio is damaged / out of money / under performing? Kasich is next-in-line . . . and he knows it.

The Net-Net

The Omnivore saw on the net that someone was complaining how everyone was just running to get their Fox TV show. That's a good point. Almost. Did you catch what it's missing? No? Did you watch The O'Malley Effect last night? The Lincoln Chafee Hour? No? Is Bernie lining up a slot on MSNBC after this? Hillary?

No. Everyone on the GOP side has a Fox Slot that might well appeal to them. This isn't happening on the other side. What we are seeing is the net-effects of drivers creating unintended consequences and leading to self-destructive self-interest.

Primaries were always a zero-sum game in terms of winning--but now they're becoming zero-sum against the party itself. This reflects itself in the "Basket of Crabs" philosophy that characterizes the primary: it's every man for himself because, clearly, The Party doesn't have much, if anything to offer.

If you want to be president badly enough to go through the misery of running, the more people drop, the more incentive you have to stay in.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed an articulate, well structured analysis. Nice work. Will be back to see more from the blogger.