The Sixth Ring

538.com divides the Republican electorate into five partially overlapping rings:  moderate, establishment, Christian conservative, Tea Party, and libertarian.  But this year there’s a sixth ring, and it’s distinct.  It’s Trump people.  Actually, a lot of them aren’t even Republicans, according to Nate Cohn.

There are enough of them to give the nomination to anyone but Trump.  A strong majority of Republicans are adamantly opposed to the Donald, they control the party apparatus, and they will be able to coalesce around a candidate or a strategy to deny Trump the Republican nomination.  One of the big questions this year is, then what?

This question will most likely come up in New Hampshire, a week after Trump loses Iowa.

And lose Iowa he will, by a large margin.  It’s hard to imagine a state more unsuited to Trump than Iowa.  Trump’s all Noo Yahk, Noo Yahk, swag, braggadocio, insults, showmanship.  That’s not Iowa, at all.  Look at Sen. Joni Ernst  — fresh faced, cheerfully castrating hogs.  She’s nice.  That’s Iowa.

New Hampshire Trump voters, and Trump himself, will be confronted by the fact that he’s a loser.  He lost.  It wasn’t close.  How many will bail?  And where would they go?  Mostly to Cruz.

And with Paul disappearing, Cruz should pick up some libertarian votes, too.  Carson’s campaign just blew up, so some of those New Hampshire evangelicals may go to Cruz as well.

When you think about it, it’s pretty neat political trick to be the candidate of both the Christian conservatives and the libertarians.  Two very different types of people.  But that’s what Cruz is doing.  Just like Reagan did.

The more I think about it, the better Ted Cruz’s chances in New Hampshire get.  I’m about finished with my AT article for Monday.  It makes a whole lot of sense to me.  Cruz may not have thought of this angle himself.  He’s a very busy guy, and has a million things to think about.

I can hardly overstate my optimism for 2016.  I feel more confident than I ever have in my life.  But I’m too involved to be impartial.  Only time will tell.

And the time is coming.

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