Sunday, January 17, 2016

Post-Debate Thoughts: Is Trump Finally Finished?

By Kit

Last Thursday’s debate more or less set in stone the next few weeks. Iowa will be a Cruz vs. Trump cage match, which will be very nasty, while Christie and Rubio campaign for New Hampshire. Jeb will keep trying to stay in. Now, some people, such as Larry Kudlow and former RNC chair Michael Steele, are calling the race for Trump. While, right now it looks a bit likely, especially considering how much the establishment loathes Ted Cruz, and that, for the first time, Trump is was leading Hillary in a poll, there are problems.

The first obstacle Trump faces is Iowa, where, for the first time he has met a candidate willing to take him on, a candidate who doesn’t care what dirt Trump throws at him, doesn’t care about his petty insults, and is willing to take the fight to him in a way no candidate has yet. That candidate is Ted Cruz.

For the first time since Trump clashed briefly with Carly Fiorina back in September, a candidate has fought with Trump and come out looking stronger or at least not like a dog with a tail between his legs. It is also good news for him that many of those Talk Radio guys and sites like reitbart.com who were playing both Cruz and Trump are now switching towards Cruz. Trump has Larry Kudlow, who is a friend, and Ann Coulter, who has gone insane. He might also have sites like World Net Daily. I’m not entirely sure where Hannity will go but my gut says Cruz.

While it is true everyone is saying the New York Values was a loss for Cruz, I have a feeling that is true only for the general election and some of the later primary states, which is bad news for Cruz. For Iowa, I doubt it will be a huge problem, but we will have to wait until the first post-debate polls come out. The birther fight, though, Cruz flat-out won, smashing Trump’s arguments to pieces. I am not ashamed to admit that I was whooping and hollering during that particular moment.

The only good news for Trump is, as state above, a lot of establishment Republicans loathe Ted Cruz and will might very well prefer him over Cruz, if it comes to that. Which means in a Trump-Cruz showdown, Trump likely wins. However, if you consider magazines such as National Review, Weekly Standard, and Commentary as “establishment” then Trump has a huge problem; a number of writers there, especially those who withered “cuckservative” attacks from a number of Trump fans last year, might have trouble swallowing that bitter pill.

But Trump has another obstacle as well, one that may be hidden from him as he focuses all his attention on fighting Ted Cruz: Marco Rubio.

Rubio has a chance to to grow in size and become the establishment’s favorite, their “anti-Cruz” but he will have to do (1) grow in size and (2) pick up a fair deal of moment before the New Hampshire primary on February 8. The next three and a half weeks will be crucial for him. But he has a problem; whereas Cruz’s has only one really close opponent, Rubio has at least three major opponent named Christie, Cruz, and Jeb.

I doubt Rubio will start hitting Trump until (or if) he starts gaining in the polls above the 11-14% numbers. Right now he seems to be trying to kick Christie out of the race by painting him as a northeastern liberal who is pro-gun control and pro-Common Core. They have a lot of overlap on national security so Rubio probably hopes that knocking him out will give him room. He also appears to be nipping at Cruz for basing his views on “political calculation”, again they are very close on many issues but he is saving his brunt for Cruz. He also appears to be trying to appeal to evangelical voters with an anti-abortion ad out called “Life”. Jeb will be a problem but, unless he overcomes the intense dislike many Republican voters have for him a major and has a major comeback, he will probably be no more than a minor nuisance.

But will this work? He will have to improve his standing in Iowa and have at least a close second in New Hampshire or a win. Something like this is very difficult but not impossible. Howard Dean was leading in the Iowa caucuses until Kerry swept in at the last minute to carry the largest share of votes in Iowa. If Cruz clearly starts getting the better of Trump and the establishment’s common sense over-rides their hatred of Trump Rubio could start seeing a trickle of endorsements and a slow increase in the polls which eventually snowballs into a last-minute sweep as Cruz and Trump bloody each other.

Rubio gets second place, or maybe even first, which gives him the momentum to win New Hampshire, then, though Cruz grabs South Carolina, Rubio grabs up Nevada, and Rubio is on a roll. All the big names start endorsing him. Maybe a Romney endorsement prior to Super Tuesday, which gives him Massachusetts and some other blue states. Rubio needs at least second place in Iowa to be on strong footing, though he might be able to survive at third place. Again, the next three and a half weeks could make or break the Rubio campaign.

In an interview with Claire Berlinski for her fantastic book, Why Margaret Thatcher Matters, Neil Pinnock said, “Politics is a bloodsport.” The next month and a half will give us a front-row seat to a one-of-a-kind clash. So sit back, pop some corn, and keep your fingers crossed for your candidate.

7 comments:

Critch said...

I think Cruz could have used better wording than "new York values" however, let's be honest...do you know how many times I've heard Yankee pols refer to the South in disparaging terms? I would love for some of these NY based reporters to call them on the carpet for their remarks.

Kit said...

If want another view of a possible Rubio win, here is Dan McLaughlin (a.k.a. @baseballcrank):

"What Would a Rubio Win Look Like?"

Kit said...

"do you know how many times I've heard Yankee pols refer to the South in disparaging terms?"

I agree, Cruz could've used different wording than "New York Values", he walked right into the 9/11 trap.

But you have no idea how much I've enjoyed seeing New Yorkers realize, to their horror, that the rest of the country doesn't see New York City as the Center of the Universe.

ScottDS said...

I hate to be a contrarian but considering how often politicians cater to Middle America "where the real Americans live" (to quote NewsRadio), I have to say it was actually kind of refreshing to see a Republican presidential candidate praising Manhattan. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

I do have thoughts on this and will post them. :) Sorry to be so long in responding to the article. :(

Kit said...

Andrew,

It's ok. I know you're recovering.

Critch said...

Rock and Roll is really taking it on the chin, Bowie, Frey, Dale Griffin, the drummer from Mott the Hoople, all gone....the Lord sure is putting together a Helluva band...

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