In late February 2016, it’s easy to figure out how this will go from here on out.
So far, Josh Kraushaar over at the National Journal has the best analysis of the S.C. results.
—As diminished as the establishment is within the GOP, its three favored candidates (Rubio, Bush, John Kasich) outdistanced Trump, 38 to 33 percent. Rubio’s goal will now be to perform strongly in the suburban, college-educated elements within the Super Tuesday SEC states (in Nashville, Northern Virginia, and the Atlanta suburbs, to name a few). It’s the constituency that propelled Mitt Romney to victory in 2012. If Rubio can hit enough Southern delegate thresholds on Super Tuesday (a growing possibility given the South Carolina results), he’d be positioned to take the delegate lead two weeks later with wins in his home state of Florida and other swing states holding primaries that day. Trump may be the front-runner, but Rubio’s odds of winning the nomination have also never been higher.
We can base the predictions, below, on these four political assumptions: (1) the USA is not “very conservative” (while Cruz is); (2) a majority of Republican primary voters can see that America is not very conservative, and they want to win; (3) seventy percent (round number) of these voters don’t like Trump; (4) tone and imaging count more than substance in the day of the Selfie Voters (though substance is still important within limits).
It’s that last factor –image and tone–that pundits who have the national TV cameras and radio mics overlook. It’s been around a while. think the Nixon – Kennedy debate, but no one seems to highlight anymore, even though the Selfie Voter dominates.
The only assumption that isn’t a political reality right now is the second one; the others are historically based.
So here are the easy predictions that will happen over the next three to five weeks:
1. The time limit on Trump’s boorishness and assault on conservative principles will run out; no man can say what he says and get away with it forever in our America. He has stayed in this long only because the votes have split. He will fade, but not completely, for his TV ego won’t let him drop out.
2. Kasich and Carson will eventually drop out, and their supporters will go nowhere else than Rubio. Kasich’s and Carson’s tone and imaging match better with Rubio than with Trump or Cruz.
3. Bush voters will also go to Rubio (tone and image again).
4. As Kraushaar notes elsewhere in his piece (not quoted above), Cruz can’t seem to get out of the “very conservative” lane; the age of social media won’t let him. I add that his shutting down the government in his Gang of One didn’t help his cause. Cruz has always been unelectable due to his substance and his tone and imaging. Sorry to his supporters.
5. So here’s my easy prediction: Rubio will win the nomination (as Kraushaar also more cautiously predicts). It’s not a bad thing to have a winsome and friendly (tone and image) conservative (substance) to be the nominee. And it’s not a bad thing to have someone who can speak to Hispanics and other minorities about conservative principles.
6. After the convention: he can easily beat compromised Hillary.
7. But somewhere in the process there will be chaos and confusion, probably coming from Trump.
Update: March 8, 2016: If Cruz rises, then I misjudged the fourth assumption (above the list). The GOP primary voters are unable to see how a hyper-conservative like Cruz will have a very difficult time to persuade the centrist voters to go his way in November.
But I don’t believe I am misjudging the electorate outside of the GOP. If Cruz is the nominee, the only way he can beat Hillary, is if her corruption deepens, possibly to the point of indictment.
How conservatives can finally read America accurately (for a change).
This post appeared on the American Thinker website on Feb. 22, 2016, and has been corrected here.