All Bad Options for GOP Presidential Nominee

Donald TrumpTrump won the Nevada caucuses handily. He got 46% of the vote with Rubio and Cruz running far behind with 24% and 21%. Carson and Kasich had 5% and 4%. And that’s all there is in the field. Now I know the conventional wisdom. Carson will drop out and give his votes to Cruz and Kasich will drop out and give his votes to Rubio. I don’t think that’s so clear, but even if true, all that would have done would have made Rubio and Cruz closer to each other and still left them far behind Trump in the fight to be the Republican presidential nominee.

The last great hope of the Republican establishment is that Trump has a ceiling and what needs to happen is for this race to get down to a one on one fight between Trump and literally anyone else and then we will see Trump’s downfall. But after one bit and another of establishment conventional wisdom has shown to be wrong, why do we believe this? Anyway, given that Rubio and Cruz seem to be running neck and neck, why would one of them drop out? But then there is the very important question of who drops out in the bid to be the presidential nominee.

The establishment is not clear about who they hate more: Trump or Cruz. So they are hoping that Cruz will drop out. According to what is looking more and more like simple wishful thinking, the presidential nominee will then be Rubio. But I see no reason why Cruz would drop out given that he has scads of money and and army of very committed volunteers. But if he drops out, his voters are not going to jump on the Good Ship Rubio. The very best the establishment could hope for would be that Rubio would get half of Cruz’s votes. Let’s look at that for a moment.

Forget Nevada, where Trump likely did better than he normally would. But if we did take it as typical, the Republican primary is over and Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. But look back to South Carolina, which gives Rubio a much better chance. Trump got 32.5% of the vote, and Rubio got 22.5%. Cruz got 22.3% of the vote. If Trump and Rubio split that, Trump would have 43.6% and Rubio would have 33.6. Even if you gave Rubio all of Bush’s and Kashic’s votes and gave Trump Carson’s vote, Trump would squeeze out a victory with 50.8% of the vote.

Presidential Nominee Marco RubioAnd I think I’m being way too generous to Rubio. I doubt there is much of an appetite on the part of Cruz voters for Rubio. If Hillary Clinton has a problem in terms of seeming authentic, Rubio has the problem in spades. But he’s coming at it from a position of weakness. That’s why I think it is much more likely that the Republican establishment would say that they can better live with a Cruz candidacy than a Trump one, and force Rubio out of the race. That, at least, seems like a plausible way to defeat Trump. Because we all know that Rubio will do whatever the establishment tells him to.

But this is what you get when a party has cobbled a coalition based upon lies. Trump has been brilliant in focusing in on what most motivates Republican voters: fear and anger. The establishment claims that they don’t like Trump because he’s a loose cannon. They like Rubio because they know that he will do as he is told. Well, that’s clear enough to me. And it’s clear enough to Republican voters. And that doesn’t make him very appealing as the party’s presidential nominee.

Each GOP Presidential Nominee Would Be Bad

There is something deeper, however. I wrote about this months ago: the real concern is that if Trump is the Republican presidential nominee, he won’t win in the general election. The main thing that the Republican establishment cares about is winning. But at this point, Donald Trump seems to be their best chance of winning. I can at least see him making a run for it against Clinton. Rubio is a joke. Imagine that there is a terrorist attack some time before the election, are the voters going to look to Rubio and think, “He’ll protect us!” The very idea is laughable. Rubio is not substantially more impressive as a candidate than Sarah Palin.

I hope that the Republican establishment gets what it wants and Marco Rubio is their presidential nominee. I will look forward to watching Clinton eating him alive and then cleaning her teeth with one of his smaller rib bones. But it looks like it is going to be Trump. Regardless, the Republicans are screwed. They can get a presidential candidate that they and most other people hate (Cruz), a candidate who is unpredictable (Trump), or their own inside man with all the gravitas of Mort in Madagascar.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

18 thoughts on “All Bad Options for GOP Presidential Nominee

  1. It probably should not have been a surprise-the media gives way more air time to Trump, they want him because he is ratings gold and no one else on either side is going to bring home the bacon like he will.

    Yet I don’t think writing articles like Salon’s Illing did today really helps because the Trump voters are not actually idiots-they just want something different who doesn’t lie to them like they are used to. But most thinking Republicans are either going to stay home or have hysterics then vote for Clinton. Of course there are only seven of them left so I don’t think it will change anything.

    • I didn’t see the article. But I do think people misunderstand what ideology means to the Republican base. It sure doesn’t mean what it means to the elites. And as many have said before, the Republicans have been using xenophobia to get people to vote for their tax cuts for rich. So what do they expect. It wasn’t the tax cuts for rich that the people were voting for.

      • You mean Clinton? She lies about some things like sniper fire. And catches heck for it.

        If you mean Republican nominees for general election? They know their candidates are going to lie once the general hits.

        • OK (not taking a side between you two on this, I have my own side, and it’s not relevant to the discussion) — can we agree that Clinton is not as leftist as Bernie, and be done with it? Since she’s practically won the nomination already, let’s focus on getting the Democrat elected, and finding ways to force her to be more leftist.

          Recall how Obama was pretty gung-ho for they Keystone pipeline and activism forced him to put off approving it. There’s no reason we can’t support liberal movements that push Clinton in the same way.

          Where I agree with Elizabeth is that it does no good at this point to criticize Clinton’s pragmatic centrism (not until she takes office.) Where I agree with paintedjaguar is that anointed nominees don’t tend to inspire much enthusiasm among voters (see Bob Dole’s “well, we suppose it’s your turn now” run in 1996.) But Sanders made it a harder anointment than many expected, forcing Clinton to ramp up her campaign efforts, and that will help us in November.

          • James, people like to preach about how the “left” should organize, but every two or four years that all goes out the window and everyone is told they must get behind some conservative Dem. It’s always the most important election evah, yet the end result is always further drift to the right and it’s never a two-way street. You know all this. Further, the real lessons of 2000 and 2004 should have been that preemptive concessions are a sure way to lose.

            Anyway. win or lose, there are good reasons for Bernie to keep going right up to the convention, and I hope he does. Here’s the most important point — the time to apply political pressure and make deals is before a vote, not after. Not “give them what they want and then we’ll hold their feet to the fire”.

          • I think most of us get that politicians at times lie to voters because voters get mad when someone is 100% honest with them. Like say when they don’t say to a voter “this was your fault you know. You voted for that jackass.”

            • Do you apply that condescending logic to yourself? You were right the first time — whether they can figure out the con or not, people know they are being taken and are angry about being lied to.

              • You mean do I vote for people I know who are lying to me? Yes. Do I know they think that when they talk to me? Yes. Do I care? Not really.

  2. Hmmm … I see the Republican establishment pushing Rubio as the most palatable candidate from the party leadership’s position — young, energetic, fashionable even!, not dangerously religious, and Hispanic enough to appeal to the Latino voters Republicans keep hearing about without being …. you know … the kind of Latino-that-starts-with-“M” that really upsets Reublicans. He’d be a nice boy, so docile, so easily guided when making appointments, so approachable to the sensible men with money.

    Other hand, I think Trump supporters would be less enthusiastic about young Marco, especially if Trump reached the nominating convention with more delegates. And Cruz supporters would probably be really upset, maybe even more so, just because they love Ted so much, and have heard the awful stories about Republican bigshots who don’t love their hero.

    So, I’m predicting a Trump-Cruz ticket. 35% of the GOP solid for Trump, 25% or so solid for Cruz …. That’s a nice majority, and even people who don’t love Trump might favor it for the sake of getting “a regular Republican” for Veep.

    And being Veep could work well for Cruz. Trump’s already pushing 70; he might well decide to give up the White House after one term, making Cruz the most plausible candidate in 2020. At worst, he might have to wait till 2024, but he’s still young, and nobody more prominent is likely to eclipse him. (Can’t you imagine how pleased Marco will be when he takes a seat in the Supreme Court?) Also, after 4 or 8 years of being Veep, people will forgotten most of the smarmy, selfish, things that bother people about him today; even the ultra-Fundamentalist tinge may seem less important. Ted Cruz in 2020 or 2024 is a lot more electable than Ted Cruz in 2016, and I suspect by convention time he’ll have reached the same opinion.

    • By 2020, the Republican base will consider Ted Cruz a RINO. I believe that Rubio is the only Republican candidate who isn’t even more an abortion exception for the life of the mother. That’s one step too far. You can argue that it isn’t the fetus’ fault that the mother was raped. But when you are talking about life of the mother, it is one life against another. And that just means that you hate women. Which, of course, is exactly the Republican position. But usually more finessed.

      • Oh not just women, Frank. All the sinners. All of us. The fetus is more deserving because it is “innocent” life… although some fetuses are of course pre-tainted. “Sins of the fathers” (and the mothers) and all that.

        • Good point. It’s like, “Hitler was good to his dog.” Almost every horrible person I know is nice to animals. I think it is because they don’t talk back, they don’t demand respect, they never disagree.

  3. I’d been hoping for Cruz, just because he’s the one candidate where, after losing, no one could say it was because he “wasn’t conservative enough” (though some would doubtless try anyway).” I want conservatism itself to be rejected by the voting public.

    • I understand. If it isn’t “wasn’t conservative enough” it will be “the establishment sabotaged him.” So it doesn’t matter. The right will always have a reason because they just know that the voters are really conservative. Hell, everyone on the hate radio station they listen to is!

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