The caucuses being held tomorrow will determine who will represent Massachusetts as a delegation to the national convention in Cleveland. Donald Trump holds the lion’s share of delegates and I don’t anticipate he’ll have any issues getting true supporters elected tomorrow.
More important, I think, is the arc of this race and what it means. Here’s a broad overview:
- Donald Trump represents a non-partisan/non-ideological anti-establishment movement.
- Ted Cruz’s presidential fortunes have been both increased and hindered by Trump’s addition of this element to the Republican primary.
- Donald Trump has brought a critical mass of voters into the Republican Party and will, regardless of whether he wins the nomination or not, have largely benefited the Republican Party.
- The 2020 Presidential Contest will remain open to nearly every candidate that was relevant to this cycle.
Donald Trump represents a non-partisan/non-ideological anti-establishment movement.
Donald Trump could easily have run in the Democratic Primary, and would be earning more support than Bernie Sanders if he did so. Trump’s platform has little to do with ideological conservatism or liberalism as they are understood by activists in those movements. Trump’s key issues of the border wall and preventing terrorists from entry into the country transcend traditional partisan lines even though partisans take stances on them. By contrast Ted Cruz represents a partisan, conservative anti-establishment movement. Bernie Sanders represents a partisan, socialist anti-establishment movement.
Ted Cruz’s presidential fortunes have been both increased and hindered by Trump’s addition of this element to the Republican primary.
Ted Cruz is in his current position both because of and in spite of Donald Trump. Trump’s presence has turned over the apple cart of usual political expectations and calculations and given the anti-establishment voice a mass movement. As the most disciplined and adaptable traditional candidate in the field when it comes to turnout operations, voter contact, and campaign basics Ted Cruz has maneuvered this environment effectively and remains the last man standing with a viable opportunity to oppose Trump at the convention.
However, because this movement is not Ted Cruz’s movement he finds himself in second place. Mobilizing a non-partisan movement is nearly impossible, but Trump has done so on the basis of his name brand and his ability to summon free air time at will. Some of this is able campaigning, some of it is reality TV show train wreck, and some of it is wish-casting on the part of the media (both conservative and liberal) that the more people are exposed to Trump the less they like him – so they put him on the air.
Incidentally Ted Cruz has done his best to try and blunt this advantage. Why do you think he announced a VP pick the day after Trump’s sweep of Mid-Atlantic Blue Country? Because that’s what we’re all talking about today. I also noticed that California’s primary is coming up and Cruz’s VP selection happens to have run a statewide campaign there recently – but maybe I’m reading too much into that.
Donald Trump has brought a critical mass of voters into the Republican Party and will, regardless of whether he wins the nomination or not, have largely benefited the Republican Party.
This is where Trump’s choice to run in the Republican Primary instead of the Democratic Primary does the most good. There are now two possible outcomes at the convention in Cleveland: Trump becomes the nominee, or Cruz becomes the nominee. Or I guess The Stupid Option which is to parachute in someone with no campaign organization or votes in the one primary cycle where every state’s vote was critical to the outcome. I don’t think Reince Priebus or the RNC as a whole is that dumb, but in Massachusetts I’ve learned you can never discount the possibility your party likes working relationships with Democrats more than Republican victories.
That aside, turnout has reached record levels in each state for Republican Primary contests. Those people have already voted for a Republican. Whether their guy wins at the convention or not, as long as convention rules were followed (i.e. not The Stupid Option) they will remain attentive through November. Right now you have the standard primary triumphalism where every time your candidate has a good night everyone else should drop out. That isn’t how it works and it isn’t how the candidates treat it. Based on how Cruz has generally conducted his campaign he cedes ground and preserves resources where he cannot compete and redirects them to contests where he can. I haven’t seen the numbers but I can guess that the only place Cruz seriously invested this week was Pennsylvania and maybe Rhode Island to get an additional proportional delegate. Otherwise Blue-per Tuesday had East Coast Blue States with weak Republican Party presence going Trump – conforming to established trends.
The 2020 Presidential Contest will remain open to nearly every candidate that was relevant to this cycle.
I don’t think anyone’s political future was ended this cycle with the possible exception of Jeb Bush – chiefly due to age, not politics. As far as I have read Trump only intends to have one term, and if he is nominated and then selects a Vice President it will then depend on who that person is. If he chooses someone with no presidential ambitions of their own (a Cheney style figure) then it is open season again in 2020. If he chooses someone with ambition they will be the favorite for 2020, but not prohibitively so. It depends on how Trump Presidency fares.
The remaining candidates in the field are relatively young, are still fairly new politically, and / or have multiple avenues they can pursue. Even outsiders who want to remain interested can usually land a contract with Fox News or another network as a contributor to hold place for national attention over the next four years.
With all that said, go and vote at your Congressional District Caucus tomorrow. And tell whoever is elected as a delegate: For the Love of God and Future of The Party, Don’t Enable The Stupid Option.