February 10, 2016 9:29 AM
Last night (AFTER Fat Tuesday celebrations) I decided I would follow up on last week’s Iowa results with another 5 takeaways from New Hampshire. After reading them, they were circular and contradictory – a lot like this Presidential race. So I’ve taken another pass. Now I think they’re just mostly circular. Consider it the start of a conversation, which you guys may finish. I’ve got to get back to Georgia matters.
1) Democrats have spent the entire year arranging a coronation. They need to fire their arrangements committee.
Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton, and she has never been a good – much less a great, candidate. It shows. The result is that many Dems have spent a year gloating at the GOP and enjoying fits of schadenfreude watching Trump lead a field of a half dozen or so Republicans. Meanwhile, Hillary can’t accept a gimme over a field cleared of everyone but a man that has served his career in the Senate not as a one of their own, but as a socialist. Republicans still have choices to make. That’s far superior to Democrats, who have a clear problem to solve. For it is now the Democrats, not the Republicans, that are desperately trying to nominate an establishment candidate over the wishes of their base.
2) Donald Trump and Jeb Bush both have roles, but neither will be the nominee.
Let’s start first with Trump. Iowa is the proxy for the GOP’s (social) conservative base. Trump lost that. New Hampshire is the proxy for the “Establishment” GOP, but occasionally decides to throw away their king-making status on a populist temper tantrum. If you doubt this, please visit your local Pat Buchannan Presidential Library. Trump has among the highest negatives among any candidate and will be unable to galvanize this field. He has no record of holding traditional GOP values. His only claim to fame is being an unmitigated jerk who has made slurs of religion and national origin semi-acceptable. Republicans will need to quickly collapse this field in order to offer a majority counter position to this traveling reality show of nativism masquerading as conservatism.
3) Jeb Bush is the walking dead.
Over $100 Million spent, much of it on negative ads aimed at Marco Rubio rather than asserting why a Governor of Florida with a good record should be the standard bearer. And for that great investment, Jeb is clustered with Cruz and Rubio in a battle for 3rd/4th/5th place as of this writing. No candidate has underperformed this race as much as Jeb Bush. He is the poster child for “the establishment” to too many voters. He’s not winning, but he now has a choice: He may end his campaign with dignity and possibly join with Chris Christie to play kingmaker, or he may continue to injure others on a path to irrelevance. Jeb will not be the nominee, but he still has the chance to help chose which non-Trump candidate that could be.
4) Republicans now have to decide if winning their way is more important than winning.
Jeb Bush is a solid Republican. Ted Cruz is a solid Republican. Marco Rubio is a solid Republican. John Kasich is a solid Republican. Chris Christie is a solid Republican. Yet if you talk to the supporters of any of the above, they’re going to speak like some of the other candidates and those that support them are the devil. And many would rather tank the entire party and turn the country over to an avowed socialist than to have to compromise with someone in their own party for the good not only of the GOP, but for the country. This is petty and childish. There’s not room for all of these folks if anyone is serious about stopping Donald Trump. Some of them are going to have to put the good of the party ahead of their own dreams and ambition.
5) John Kasich will get a moment in the spotlight. Is he another comeback kid or Huntsman 2.0?
He came in second, and is now the Governor in the pole position. Can he demonstrate ability to be the “adult in the room”? Well, the last guy that used this trademarked strategy was John Huntsman, who also had Kasich’s campaign manager. Huntsman got 16.8% of the vote in NH. As I write this, Kasich has 16.2%. He’s in second place, and he’s got a brief period to try to bring others to his side. But the longer he, Bush, and Rubio fight it out, the longer Donald Trump continues to amass delegates.