Yet another Super Tuesday is upon. Today, we have the Northern Cheese, Wisconsin, with primaries for both parties. I went out on a limb in earlier posts claiming that Marco Rubio would hold out on a rope-a-dope candidacy that would outlast Trump’s bluster to seize the GOP nomination. Well, Rubio at least ran on the latter, but went down in flames in a home-state drubbing. Never gun-shy, here’s my latest prediction. If Ted Cruz wins Wisconsin, as it appears he will (a solid ten point lead for weeks now), then Paul Ryan will be your Republican nominee…
Stay with me, Trump is toxic and the GOP can see the doomed November results. It was a disastrous week that saw campaign manager Corey Lewandowski arrested for battery, a Chris Matthews interview where Trump claimed that women should be punished for seeking abortions and that he could not rule out using nuclear weapons on Europe, not to mention, a general snubbing by Milwaukee rally where crickets could be overheard rustling in and out of the torrent of racial epithets. The inane and insensitive outbursts are nothing new. In fact, they are the sole engine of this campaign, but now his warship is finally taking on water due to the sheer concentration of controversy.
In a Wisconsin rally over the weekend Trump admitted, “If I acted Presidential only like 20% of you would be here right now, because that’s boring.” That may the fatal flaw in Trump’s expansive hubris. He is still chasing ratings when other campaigns are focusing on securing delegate commitments. Like other vaudevillian performers, Trump’s campaign may run out of material and find a public grown tired of his schtick. Like the cratering career of Sasha Baron Cohen, the world has seen these caricatures before and the punch line is all but driven into the ground.
All that to say, if the GOP want to win in November they can’t allow Trump the nomination. If Cruz wins Wisconsin that will push Trump outside of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright, leaving the door open for a brokered convention that no longer has any obligation to select anyone that actually ran for that office. That last detail is crucially important given that Cruz, as the runner-up with several of his own state victories, would be expected to be next in line. Well, funny thing happens when you build a career on being an insufferable zealot that alienates those of your own party, let alone the rest of the country as well. No, if the establishment have half a say in the affair (and they’ll have more than that) Cruz would be lucky to scrape by with the nomination of court jester.
Kasich believes himself to be some eleventh hour savior, a viable and reasonable moderate with the polling data to suggest he can bring the fight to Hillary. All that’s well and good, but Kasich has as much dynamic appeal as tepid dishwater. Voters rarely vote for the safest candidate, chalk it up to wanting a good story but we like a little narrative intrigue to our leaders. Just look at who we have left- Cruz, who wants to patrol “Muslim neighborhoods” and carpet bomb regions of the Mideast indiscriminately and has in the past called for the banning of atheism and homosexuality; Trump, whom I won’t waste the ink on in detailing his laundry list of incendiary faux pas; Sanders, who, for better or worse, wants to dismantle the basic structure of American politics in a fortnight; and Clinton, who’s grocery list of scandals, whether warranted or not, would make Frank Underwood blush. Then there’s the “aw shucks” son-of-a-mailman, Kasich. I’ll let you decide who the odd man out is.
Curdled-milk-in-the-shape-of-man, Karl Rove, has used the confusion to suggest that the voters need “a new face”, as if a primary election with over fifteen candidates wasn’t just that. It should be noted the same thing was said by Kevin McCarthy when he stepped aside to allow Paul Ryan to ascend to the role of Speaker of the House when John Boehner stepped down last year. Days before he accepted the position, Ryan went out of his way to disavow the idea outright; in the exact fashion he is currently denying his potential as a presidential nominee. The GOP would like nothing more to push Ryan to the forefront of the party, pretending like the well-heeled and tempered Speaker is the future of the Party. The problem is that he isn’t, he’s the outlier. There is a reason that Trump is running away with the popular vote so far, it is the same reason a forest fire rages when you add more and more oxygen.
Keep in mind, it was Ryan’s 2012 running mate, Mitt Romney, that crawled from the woodwork to disavow the frontrunner last month. It has been rumored that Romney has also filed the appropriate paperwork to be nominated in a latter ballot selection if the convention is contested. Because what is more appealing than the same duo that went down in flames to Obama four years earlier? I ask that rhetorically, but that is the impossible predicament the Republican Party finds themselves in.
Anyone that is not Trump will alienate a large portion of the GOP electorate. That disenfranchised portion will stay loyal to Trump. Whether he runs third party (as he has threatened) and splits the Republican vote or sits out, his loyalists will not be voting for whomever “stole” the nomination from him, regardless of party lines. All of which plays to the Democratic nominee’s benefit. If Cruz can make a case for his nomination or joining forces with Trump to force their nomination against the Party elders’ wishes they’ll be just as toxic as they’ve always been to the majority of American voters and will get crushed in a landslide Democratic victory. Any last minute candidate the GOP trots out will have to work around the initial label of being an Establishment insider (an increasingly meaningless phrase) and an upsetter. That candidate will have very little time to win over voter confidence and trust, in contrast to their Democratic rivals, who will have had over a year getting to know their supporters.