The Five Stages of Grief: Coming to Terms with “President Trump”

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

DENIAL

Donald Trump won the Nevada caucus last night. Big deal. Everyone expected that.

The real story is who finished second. And Marco Rubio came through BIG — winning second place with 24 percent of the vote!

All that matters is the delegate count, okay? And last night? Marco Rubio won delegates! He’s keeping pace. He has Trump right where he wants him!

Rubio’s genius 3-5-2-2 strategy — i.e. finishing third in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, second in South Carolina, and second in Nevada — is really panning out! He’s on fire! He can’t be stopped! He’ll take second place all the way to the convention!

This definitely isn’t over!

#Marcomentum

ANGER

Wow, it’s over. We blew it, America. We’re nominating Donald-freaking-Trump.

We picked the reality TV star. “You’re fired.”

I remember a year ago, when we started The Pulse 2016, we were gearing up for a substantive, issue-focused debate. It was exciting. We were ready for conservatism to finally take over the Republican Party.

Instead, we are settling for ideologically-fluid authoritarianism. Our “policy debates” in this primary have been limited to: 1.) Is Ted Cruz a liar? 2.) Is Mexico really going to pay for a wall on our southern border? 3.) Is Jeb Bush pathetic or what?

God help us.

Last night, exit polling showed that Nevada voters were really angry. Me, too.

#DeportNevada

BARGAINING

Okay, maybe this isn’t so bad.

Trump has flip-flopped on pretty much every issue, but to be fair, he is flip-flopping in the right direction. Continue Reading

Trump’s Huge Night

Donald Trump (photo credit: iprimages via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Donald Trump’s victory in Nevada was huge. Together, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio could not muster more voters than The Donald. Looking ahead at the polls, Trump looks hard to beat.

Trump crushes Rubio in Florida. He’s beating Kasich in Ohio. Cruz is leading in Texas by a lot, and in Arkansas and New Mexico by a little — that is before this latest loss. The rest of the map if filling up Trump. The “moderate” states in the Northeast? Trump. The Midwestern middle? Trump. The deep South? Trump.

Trump, Trump, nothing but Trump.

And yet, to date, Super PACs have spent $215 million in ads and mailers, and just 4 percent of that in attacking Trump.

If any of the other guys wants to be president, they had better focus on beating Trump, not each other, starting today.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

New Post-S.C. Poll: Can the Trump Train Be Stopped?

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

In the first national poll to be released following last Saturday’s South Carolina GOP Primary, Rasmussen shows Donald Trump increasing his lead to 15 points over the rest of the field. Trump registers 36 percent support in the poll, leading Marco Rubio (21 percent) and Ted Cruz (17 percent) by double-digit margins. John Kasich came in fourth, with 12 percent.

With 12 states voting next week on Super Tuesday, these numbers bode well for Trump’s chances, though tonight’s Nevada caucuses and Thursday’s CNN debate could alter the outlook between now and then. However, as Rasmussen points out, more and more Republican voters seem to be accepting the fact that Trump is now the clear favorite:

Rasmussen Reports’ latest weekly Trump Change survey, released the day before Saturday’s South Carolina primary, found that 71% of Republicans believe Trump is likely to win the GOP nomination, with 36% who say it is Very Likely.

More from Rasmussen:

Trump leads Rubio 33% to 21% among likely primary voters who identify as Republicans. Among independents who say they plan to vote in the GOP primary in their state, Trump posts a 44% to 19% lead over Rubio.

As Shane wrote yesterday, Trump has a clear advantage in open primary states, where he is able to profit from his huge lead among independents. Both his state wins so far, New Hampshire and South Carolina, were open primaries. And although tonight’s contest in Nevada is a closed caucus, nine of the twelve Super Tuesday states allow unaffiliated voters to vote in primaries, meaning Trump should not be at too much of a disadvantage in most of these states. Continue Reading

After South Carolina, It’s a Three-Way GOP Race

From left: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Donald Trump, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

I shared some post-South Carolina Primary thoughts on Facebook Saturday night, but I wanted to expand on that here. This is a three-way race between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Currently Donald Trump is in the driver’s seat.

Finally after South Carolina pollsters can finally pat themselves on the back because the polling finally reflected the primary results.

The RealClearPolitics average of South Carolina polls showed:

  1. Donald Trump – 31.8%
  2. Marco Rubio – 18.8%
  3. Ted Cruz – 18.5%
  4. Jeb Bush – 10.7%
  5. John Kasich – 9.0%
  6. Ben Carson – 6.8%

With the South Carolina Primary results, the order was right and the close race for second was correct. Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Carson all slightly out-performed their polling. Bush and Kasich under-performed. The final results:

  1. Donald Trump – 32.5%
  2. Marco Rubio – 22.5%
  3. Ted Cruz – 22.3%
  4. Jeb Bush – 7.8%
  5. John Kasich – 7.6%
  6. Ben Carson – 6.8%

You don’t get it much closer than that.

Some thoughts on the primary:

  • Those who claim that Ted Cruz underperformed haven’t been paying attention to polling. Polling consistently had Trump leading this race by a wide margin. The highest that Cruz ever polled was at 23 percent, and the most recent polling had him under 20 percent, so I’m not sure how one can say he underperformed. Did they hope to do better here? Sure, but this is hardly a surprise.
  • Rubio to his credit recovered from the disappointment in New Hampshire.
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New Nevada Poll: Trump Leads, Cruz Second, Rubio Distant Third

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The latest Gravis poll has Trump ahead in Nevada with 33 percent, Cruz second at 20 percent, and Rubio third with 11 percent. That’s a slight decline for Trump from the October CNN poll but a huge surge for Cruz from 4 percent to 20 percent.

Carson was at 22 percent then but has plummeted to 6 percent now. It looks like Cruz has been the main beneficiary of his decline. Rubio is up slightly from 7 percent to 11 percent.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

The Rubio Path to Victory: A Roadmap?

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

In light of the Rubio Nevada firewall strategy, I offer Dan McLaughlin’s (RedState) Rubio roadmap that seemingly validates it, though contrasting it with Cruz’s more viable path to the nomination. It’s an intriguing look – based on a presumptive Rubio victory in Nevada – at what would have to happen for Marco Rubio to win the GOP nomination.  To wit:

I should stress that what follows is not an exercise in prediction, and that a lot can still happen between now and the Iowa Caucus on February 1. This is obviously a somewhat optimistic hypothetical scenario for Cruz, and a more strongly optimistic hypothetical scenario for Rubio, but I think it is an entirely plausible one if we consider the history of two-horse races like Obama vs Hillary in 2008 and Ford vs Reagan in 1976, both of which ended with each candidate solidifying a distinct geographic and demographic base of support.

He goes on to outline several feasible scenarios and backs up each with plausible political predictors in each state, complete with delegate mapping and interesting thoughts on who drops out when:

Working off the current polling for the first two states in particular, I start with Cruz-Trump-Rubio-Carson in Iowa, Trump-Rubio-Christie-Cruz in New Hampshire, with Rubio a fairly distant third in Iowa and Christie a fairly close third in New Hampshire. This, the conventional wisdom properly tells us, is not great news for Rubio, but he’s still in the game.

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If Nevada Is Rubio’s Firewall, Will It Be Too Little Too Late?

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

There’s a chance the promising primary campaign of Marco Rubio and his “New American Century” may sputter before it ever ignites.

Elaina Plott writes in National Review:

Marco Rubio is going all in to win Nevada.

Though the Florida senator has eschewed the idea that he needs to hunker down in any particular state, his campaign has quietly and steadily poured resources into the Silver State, where chaos and dismal turnout rule the caucuses. Rumors of the Rubio campaign’s weak ground game in Iowa and New Hampshire have led many to conclude that his strategists don’t believe he needs an early-state victory to remain competitive as the primary season moves into March…

It’s obvious that his campaign sees Nevada as his firewall.

Will Rubio’s “Waiting for Nevada” be the 2016 rewrite of Rudy Giuliani’s “Waiting for Florida,” itself a one-act political parody of Beckett’s absurdist “Waiting for Godot”? Before the first delegate has been pledged, this primary season has proved to be anything but conventional. But common sense would suggest no matter the cycle, sitting in third or fourth place and spotting your opponents a three-goal lead is either a sign of grand confidence or a kind of sling shot desperation.

Plott notes that Nevada is Rubio’s to lose:

Few candidates have invested resources in the state, and Rubio has benefited.

With the ability to make inroads in the Mormon community and in Las Vegas, where he lived until he was in eighth grade, and with a campaign strategy centered on caucus training and voter turnout, Rubio is positioned for a strong showing on February 23.

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Trump Up Double Digits in South Carolina, Nevada

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The good news keeps coming for Donald Trump as new CNN/ORC polls show the real estate mogul in first place in South Carolina and Nevada, the third and fourth contests in the presidential primary race:

Trump holds 38% support in Nevada, with Carson in second with 22%, and in South Carolina, Trump doubles Carson’s support, 36% to 18%. No other candidate comes close to those top two in either state; the third-place candidate in each case has less than 10% support.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that Trump dominates the other candidates on issues like the economy and immigration. In fact, the only place his dominance fades significantly is on moral issues like abortion:

Trump’s lead rests on widespread perceptions that he’s the best candidate to handle the economy (67% say so in Nevada, 59% in South Carolina, while no other candidate hits double-digits) and illegal immigration (55% in Nevada and 51% in South Carolina, topping the other candidates by 40 points or more). About 6 in 10 in each state say Trump is the candidate most likely to change the way things work in Washington (60% in Nevada, 58% in South Carolina). Furthermore, nearly half — 47% in Nevada and 44% in South Carolina — view Trump as the candidate with the best chance of winning the general election next November.

…On social issues, Trump runs about even with Carson as most trusted in both states, 25% Trump to 23% Carson in Nevada and 26% Carson to 22% Trump in South Carolina.

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