Thursday, March 3, 2016

The ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Super Tuesday

Who Will Save Us In Our Hour of Need??
Listen For The Sound of the Horns on the Third Day of the Convention!
Super Tuesday was, for real, pretty darn super. There were enough surprises (Rubio won Minnesota hours after Ted Cruz called for anyone who 'hadn't won a state' to prayerfully consider dropping out) to keep it going. There were also things that weren't a surprise:

  • The front-runners front-ran. Hillary dominated. Trump came in first or second in every state but one (and his 3rd in MN still got him delegates).
  • Also-rans also-ran: Kasich and Carson were shut out.
  • Polling was decent. Cruz won Texas. Rubio lost VA.
Over-all, it was more or less what we could have expected--but not what 'we' could have hoped for.

An Agonizing Choice

Republicans who want to stop Trump at all costs are now left with an agonizing choice: Rubio or Cruz or ??.

What About Cruz?

Well, Punchable-Face won Texas. He's second in delegates. Sure, y'all hate him--but numerically he stacks up best next to Trump. He's also the most likely person to inherit Trump-voters should big-money carpet-bomb him into oblivion. So def Cruz, right?

Wrong. Cruz shot his wad on Tuesday. Unless he has another "home state" with 150 delegates, Tuesday was as good as it's going to get for him. His pitch is also that he wins with evangelicals--including a secret clone-army of evangelicals sleeping in cold sleep under Groom Lake. Well, the clone-army didn't materialize and the evangelicals we know about voted Trump. 

In other words, buying Cruz is like investing heavily in real-estate in June 2008.

Only Trump University would recommend that.

Okay--So: Rubio?

The Boy-Who-Would-Be-King is still the most likable of the candidates who could possibly win (Carson is more likable but has pulled the rip-cord). He totally improved his game in the last few weeks looking less robotic and higher energy. He slung some decent zingers at Trump and landed blows on him at the debate. He's also got room to grow: the later, bigger, bluer states will be kinder to him--and hey, there's still his home-state, Florida--the big Kahuna--in just two weeks. Finally, 538 says Rubio is the best-fit to win a national election--by far.

So, Rubio, right?

Wrong. Rubio got decimated on Tuesday--losing VA is losing a state tailor made for him and he's tanking in Florida. Florida will be a Big Kahuna, alright, but coming in on March 15th means it's winner-take-all. If you back Rubio and Trump wins--as he is likely to today--Rubio goes into the ground like a lead balloon.

Rubio did win a state--that's right--a state. And that was maybe by accident: Even Team Rubio's game-plan is to win in a brokered convention.

In other words, betting on Rubio is betting on a loser because you 'know his luck is about to change.'

Alright? So What's '??'

Republican strategists, horrified conservatives, and casual observers have come up with several different scenarios.

The Rafalca Scenario: Mitt Romney will address the nation today ahead of the next GOP cage-match. What if he announced he was gettin' in? Could Romney ride in to save the day just when our hopes seem darkest? Well, he's said that today he won't be announcing and won't even endorse. It's also unlikely that, at this point, Romney would be seen as a better choice than Rubio or Cruz--sure, he's more presidential--but he's also a loser.

The Brokered Convention: If nothing changes then Trump will win enough delegates to win the convention sometime in maybe May. Now, Trump is going to be subjected to all kinds of attacks we haven't seen before--but he's also the clear front-runner--so who knows. In any event, the thinking goes that if you can't destroy Trump, you at least hold him under the delegate threshold to clinch the convention.

And then what? The theory is that the delegates then pivot and vote for your candidate (Rubio! The Omnivore is psychic) but not everyone sees the same end-game. A Brokered Convention could just descend into chaos and wind up nominating (eventually) someone nobody wants.

Trump, You Idiots: A third option is just to go full-Trump. If the window to stop him is fully closed, it's time to move to the acceptance-phase of grieving and hope he survives the next wave of assaults in good enough condition to beat Hillary. This has the bonus of backing a winner. It has the negative of branding the Republican party with Trump for the next four years.

This, combined with the #NeverTrump movement would have the effect of splitting the party (somewhat) which might be enough to wreck it mathematically even if it didn't totally sunder it. Finally: opportunistic politicians (but The Omnivore repeats himself) will not jump on the Trump-Train cleanly. They will defect in small batches over the next several days/weeks making it look like a messy collapse rather than a sound technical decision.

So . . . What Now?

Now we see what happens in the next week or so. Do the escalated, sustained attacks on Trump work? Does either Rubio or Cruz break out? Does Kasich finally drop? Where do Carson's six voters go? And so on. If things change rapidly enough to point to someone other than Trump winning Florida then  you can afford to let the process take its course. If things are not looking like a turn-over in the sunshine state? Then you need to do something dramatic--and fast.


  1. I doubt Kasich even contemplates dropping out before Ohio, where 66 winner-take-all delegates would give him legitimacy in the theoretical Brokered Convention. If Kasich shows himself capable of winning a battleground state but Rubio doesn't, his folks will argue that he's the better establishment candidate.

    Doesn't it seem pure desperation for the party to be relying on a brokered convention? There are so many bad outcomes: the Trump voters take their marbles and go home, the Trump voters flock to a Trump third-party campaign, the far-right splinters to some other candidate, etc. Expecting a Kumbaya moment where Trump gets the most delegates, has the most popular support, and then goes meekly into the night while his followers blithely follow a very different candidate force-fed on them by the insiders in the smoke-filled room... yeah, maybe, but I doubt it.

    1. I gotta admit that at this point I have no idea what happens. I tend to go with "they'll muddle through somehow" as a general rule--but it's reaching the point where I think it might be dramatic . . . and real damage has certainly been done.

  2. I think Romney wishes he had run this year, and wouldn't be surprised if he's running Frank Underwood -style back channel deals to get him the nomination in a brokered convention.