Donald Trump is running riot in the GOP china shop and gleefully tearing the place up.
Consider the strength of Trump’s position: If he wins South Carolina by a big margin, he goes into Nevada with momentum, and the latest poll there has him leading by 26 points and pushing 50 percent. If he enters Super Tuesday a week later having won three out of the past three states — and with Cruz diminished by a South Carolina loss and Rubio having won nowhere — he could easily win, say, 10 contests that day.
It might still be possible to beat Trump at that point if the field is narrowed (states don’t become winner-take-all until March 15), but doing so would involve wrestling to the ground a candidate who will have cut a formidable swath through the first month of the nomination battle.
Even now, it’s hard to imagine a happy outcome for the party from the three likeliest scenarios:
— If Trump wins the nomination outright, many Republican voters may stay home, and senators and members of the House up for reelection will probably scurry their own way, seeking cover from the loose cannon of a nominee.
It is certainly possible that Trump will prove a better general election candidate than expected, just as he has proved a much more potent candidate in the primary than nearly anyone thought (and he will presumably be facing a very weak Hillary Clinton). But it is also likely that the general public will be less enamored or forgiving of those qualities in Trump that have charmed or at least not bothered a plurality of the Republican electorate — the lack of political experience, the foul mouth, the constant psychodrama, the spotty business record. Surely, the first Democratic ads against him will portray him as a “vulture capitalist” like Mitt Romney, except without the manners.
— If Trump is dragged to an open convention and leads in delegates, but falls short of a majority, and is denied the nomination, there will be a bloodbath. Trump will make Andrew Jackson’s angry cry of a “corrupt bargain” after Old Hickory lost the presidency in the House of Representatives in 1824 — despite leading in popular and electoral votes — look like a measured, cool-headed response. Trump will stomp off, and no doubt take a lot of his supporters with him.
— If Trump is beaten prior to a convention, it will presumably require an all-out war against the mogul. Well-heeled Republican donors will have to pour money into an thermonuclear advertising campaign to destroy his image. The party will have to rally around a Trump alternative, doing everything in its power to bolster him and tear down Trump. Such an effort will no doubt strike Trump as “unfair,” and he will do all he can to delegitimize it and find targets to sue over it. Needless to say, none of this would be conducive to keeping Trump voters insider the Republican tent.
Has any political party ever had a candidate who is such a wrecking ball, and who isn’t a fringe candidate, but a dominant one?
The Republican front-runner is threatening to sue one of his challengers, Ted Cruz (who is now daring Trump to file suit and saying he would relish the prospect of himself questioning Trump under oath — this is really happening). The Republican front-runner thinks the last Republican president was guilty of impeachable offenses and lied the country into war. The Republican front-runner routinely attacks his own party for its perfidy — he claims the Iowa caucuses were stolen from him and the debate audiences are stacked against him — and insults his competitors in the harshest, most personal terms.
You know it is getting to be bad when the latest Quinnipiac National Poll is rating Bernie Sanders ahead of any Republican candidate, including Trump, in theoretical head-to-head match-ups. The starting number for Sanders in the head-to-head is 47%. The number should sound familiar – it does to Mitt Romney.
The Republican party is not my concern; the NATION is. The opportunity for the Republican establishment to avert something like Trump has passed. To have accomplished that, more Republicans should have been following Cruz’s lead and opposed the anti-American antics of Obama; immigration, budgets, credit limits, etc. Now, many of those who actually care about the survival of the nation feel they have but one way to turn… Trump.
The goal should not be to deny Trump but to defeat the left. I still have serious doubts Hillary will even be in the race and, if left with Bernie, the left will field another candidate. The Republican candidate just MIGHT be Trump and launching a campaign to destroy him now would have devastating consequences in the general election should he be. How would you take it back?
The fight among the Republican candidates is so bitter, I believe, because they each want to be the one to face off with the Democrat tomato can that gives every indication of being easily defeatable. I wish they would all be a bit more mature about it.
@David: Kasich nips Bernie and beats HRC easily. America truly wants a uniter–Trump against HRC would be a disaster comparable to a UFC brawl–The winner wouldn’t be able to govern, the animosity so great.
Better Donald Trump than Snidely Whiplash. Someone should call the Mounties and have him taken back.
Speaking of our neighbors to the north, there might be a third alternative.
@David: But what are Bernie’s chances?
The delegate count right now, after 2 states is