In the NYT Nate Silver makes the case against Cruz. Forget evangelicals, Cruz wins by being the overwhelming favorite of “very conservative” Republicans. There were enough of them in Iowa to allow him to win, but they’re not enough of them in New Hampshire or the big northern states.
All true, but there’s a bloc of voters who will soon be up for grabs who are not “very conservative.” They are what I call the Sixth Ring — the tribe of Trump. They don’t come from any particular sector of the Republican Party. Many aren’t Republicans. They’re populists and one issue motivates them like nothing else: immigration. When Trump leaves they will not go to Rubio. They remember the Gang of Eight, and will never trust him. Based on my unscientific survey of American Thinker commenters, a fair number will sit out the election. But most, by far, go to Cruz. Based on what we saw in Iowa, 25% of Republican voters are Trump people. If Cruz gets the bulk of them, he can start to build a majority within the Party. Immigration is the key.
Since Iowa these commenters are not as numerous or vocal. Every criticism of Trump used to be met with a reference to his polling. Not so much of that now. And there is leakage. People are saying I was with Trump, but his erratic behavior is driving me away. Before Iowa he was mad at all the stupid politicians. Now he’s just mad, and it’s unbecoming.
If Trump loses New Hampshire I think he blames it all on voting fraud in Iowa and dirty tricks in New Hampshire, and he bails. He will have made his point. His candidacy will have forced his issue, immigration, to the front of this whole campaign, he neutered Bill Clinton, destroyed Jeb Bush, and lasted longer, and gotten more votes, than anyone could have imagined. He declares victory, suggests a possible third party run, and withdraws. But first he’ll tell us how much of his own money he spent.
I’m encouraged that he’s now making nice with Cruz. But what the devil Trump is really thinking is anyone’s guess. And that’s the scary part. He could still, conceivably, go third party, but it could cost him $50 million of his own money if he really wants to try. Her doesn’t want to do that, and he doesn’t want to lose a second time. He’s a man who takes things personally, so Rubio and Cruz have to try to maintain a level of cordiality with this human time bomb. I’ve read credible accounts that Ross Perot ran in ’92 mainly with the idea of screwing over the Bushes. He had been disrespected, and got his revenge. I’ve also read accounts that when Trump entered the race, the Bushes were partly responsible for him losing the Miss Universe franchise. This only motivated him even more, and made him determined to take Jeb out. Mission accomplished, Donald can retire from the field. Eventually, after much dramatic posturing, he can declare he won’t go third party and will endorse the Republican — for a price. Who knows what he’d ask for? It might even be reasonable.
I’ll admit it. I’m anxious to see the debate and find out what Trump’s latest will be. He’s even got me hooked.