Trump is Winning
Matthew Iglesias breaks reality to the GOP establishment on vox.com.
The establishment’s consistent dream, ever since Trump rocketed into a national polling lead, has been that consolidation of the “establishment lane” candidates will lead eventually some someone from the Rubio/Bush/Christie/Kasich foursome taking a strong lead. The problem for the establishment is that New Hampshire is the only state where this would have actually worked. Had supporters of those four men all united behind a single candidate, he would have won.
But they didn’t.
And in national polling averages, winnowing alone doesn’t work. If you combine Rubio’s 17.8 percent with Bush’s 4.3 percent, Kasich’s 4 percent, and Christie’s 2.5 percent you get a grand total of 28.5 which is still slightly behind Trump.
But worse than that, there’s little reason to believe that actual voters endorse the “lanes” schema that political journalists have embraced. Voters who like Christie’s tough-talking persona may be drawn to Trump as the next best thing. Kasich and Trump stand out as the two candidates in the field who are a bit soft on the welfare state. Rubio and Trump are running on similar themes of rescuing the United States from Obama-induced decline. And then of course national polling still shows a healthy ten percent of Republicans backing outsider figures Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, who may naturally gravitate toward Trump.
Absolutely none of this in any way makes Trump inevitable. He fell a lot in national polls in the week between Iowa and New Hampshire, showing that the race remains fluid and momentum really can shift very rapidly.
The problem for Republicans is that the momentum is about to shift in the other direction. A win in New Hampshire will create a burst of positive press coverage, while the establishment candidates remain in total disarray.
So far, the establishment has been trying to beat Trump with wishful thinking. It keeps not working. Trump could self-destruct or drop out for no reason at all. He could be abducted by aliens. Who knows? But merely hoping for those things is not a plan. The plan reality is that right now he is on course to win the nomination unless some concerted effort is made to stop him. And so far, there’s no sign that any such effort is under way. Republican leaders not actively involved in the campaign simply seem baffled and stunned into indifference. And they’re running out of time.
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center