How Could Clinton Possibly Be Elected?

Donald became his own category in the first Republican debate, when he refused to pledge to support the Republican nominee if he is not it. Numerous writers have documented Trump’s record of supporting Democratic causes in general (Neil Stevens notes his recent paeans of praise for Bill de Blasio just before “suddenly” becoming a Republican). Perhaps the most significant revelation -- reported in the Washington Post and the New York Times, neither a bastion of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” -- in explanation of his sudden conversion is the revelation that Trump, who was always close to the Clintons, discussed politics with Bill shortly before his announcement.

The most charitable thing that can be said of Trump is that he is trying to emulate another of his previous favorite politicians, Michael Bloomberg, who ran for mayor of New York as a Republican to avoid the crowded Democratic primary. He did not hold any Republican convictions. A bit less charitable thing to say of Trump is that he is a willing dupe of the Clintons. If Trump goes through the motions, loses in the primaries, and declares a third-party candidacy, taking his 20% or so with him, there is likely to be another president Clinton in our future. That is, if Obama is somehow restrained from exercising his well-documented antipathy for the Clintons, and the boom is not lowered.

Who will be the likely Republican candidate? That will depend on the winnowing process of the primaries. As of right now, both in terms of votes and operating capital, the front-runners are still Bush, Walker, and Rubio, as Charles Krauthammer astutely observes. To these we can add at least Ted Cruz, who has been raising money very assiduously and spending it very carefully.

The big test will be March 1, when 11 largely southern states, including Republican powerhouses Georgia and Texas, will have their primaries. If there is a very clear winner by then, we’ll have our candidate, for better or for worse. If not, and the process drags as it did in 2012, the probable rapid collapse of Kasich, Christie, and Graham will cause the establishment types to coalesce around Bush. If a similar coalescence has not occurred around Walker, Rubio, or Cruz on the conservative side, then another Bush will likely be running, and the election will be close and equivocal at best. If Clinton is the Democratic candidate, she may well win. But if one of the above optimistic conservatives gets the nod, I expect a Reaganesque blowout no matter who the Democratic candidate is. One even large enough to trump Trump, should Clinton get through the coronation unindicted. In that case it won’t be close, so they won’t be able to cheat.