Nevada’s weird caucus rules were supposed to put a hamper on Donald Trump, who supposedly lacked a ground game.
Tell that to Nevada GOP caucus goers, who delivered nearly 46% of the vote to Trump in a semi-crowded field of five candidates, three of whom are “serious.”
WaPo’s James Hohmann sat up and noticed that this morning, too:
After his surprisingly soft second place finish in Iowa, many operatives concluded [Trump] would struggle to close the deal in future caucus states. Most of the coverage before last night said it was possible The Donald could lose in Nevada – despite leading in polls – because his rivals had built impressive ground games and his own supporters tend to be lower-propensity voters. Trump’s people proved last night that they will show up for caucuses.
Ted Cruz finished in third place with 21.4%, a couple points behind Marco Rubio at 23.9%. If there’s a bright spot in this for the GOP-As-We-Knew-It (GOPAWKI), it’s that Cruz’s poor showing still gave him a vote total greater than Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders got combined in their party’s caucus on Saturday.
Cruz and Rubio have until Tuesday — this Tuesday — to make a stand. And when I say “Cruz and Rubio” I really mean “Cruz or Rubio.” That’s when votes will be held in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado (sort of), Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming. It’s gonna be yuge. According to RCP’s poll averaging, Trump dominates in Georgia, Massachusetts, Alabama, Tennessee, and Vermont. He’s up in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Alaska. And he’s competitive in Cruz’s home state of Texas.
And Trump has momentum behind him after three consecutive wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
Unless Super Tuesday voters give us a big surprise, Trump is certain to pick up enough delegates to make him the presumptive nominee — assuming he isn’t already.
The real shocker might be how many Jeb! voters switched to Trump instead of Rubio, indicating (again) that the CW is wrong and that Trump’s appeal is broader than hardly any of the political pros suspected. Nevada showed that his appeal is deep, too.
Deep enough maybe to win the general against Democratic heir apparent Hillary Clinton, whose sclerotic campaign had trouble in the early going defeating an aged and unknown opponent who kept pulling his punches.
My former boss Roger L. Simon wrote last night:
A lot of my Republican friends are depressed about this situation. They worry that Trump is not a real conservative. They cringe at his vulgarity. They are concerned he’s a bully, even totalitarian.
I’m not. And I am not depressed, even though I admire many of the other candidates in the race. Given the gravity of the situation, what Obama has done to this nation and the candidates being offered by the Democrats, a world class liar and a Eugene V. Debs retread, a personality as large as Donald may be necessary to revive our country. In fact, I think I’ll take the “may” out of that.
I have to part ways with Roger on that last line — I’ll have to leave the “may” in that. Or at least modify it a bit. Trump may well have the big personality to revive our country, but revive it to what? There are almost nothing but unknowns about how Trump would settle in behind the Resolute desk, although surely he couldn’t maintain this exhausting pace after taking the oath of office. And by “exhausting,” I mean, “exhausting to us.” Otherwise, Trump remains a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in a policy paper he never read.
As a person, Trump’s Putinesque tendencies worry me less than America’s apparent appetite for them. But as has been discussed here and elsewhere, we have eight years of Democratic hyperaggression and GOPe acquiescence to thank for that. Trump is a symptom of what ails our polity, not the disease.
So perhaps the question conscientious conservatives need to ask themselves going into November is this: Could Donald Trump prove to be the cure for Trumpism?
I remain cautiously optimistic about the prognosis.