GOP overpromised and didn’t deliver — and now it’s stuck with Trump

REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Donald Trump speaking to supporters at his Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday night.

You could almost feel sorry for the Republican Party establishment if they hadn’t done this to themselves.

They have over-promised and undelivered to the increasingly enraged non-wealthy portion of the Republican coalition who have coalesced around Donald Trump.

Then, the last time they rejiggered the party nominating rules, they were worried about nominating contests that dragged on too long, hurting the party’s chances in the general election. So they set up a bunch of winner-take-all primaries that kick in about halfway through the primary process, in hopes of bringing things to a decisive conclusion well ahead of their convention. That way, they could spend the late spring and early summer unifying the factions of the party and smoothing over hurt feelings among supporters of the losing candidates.

Now comes The Donald, dumping the whole plan on its head, or should one say, on the heads of the geniuses who made this plan. Donald Trump is the GOP establishment’s nightmare. They don’t like him, can’t control him and can’t stop him, and right now their big plan is working for him and against them.

Trump had a great night Tuesday. He won — by a mile — the biggest prize of the night, Florida, a winner-take-all state worth 99 delegates, all of whom will go to the convention pledged to Trump. In Florida, Trump crushed — by 46 to 27 percent — the former establishment favorite, Sen. Marco Rubio, even though Florida is Rubio’s home state. Rubio suspended his campaign.

True, the establishment’s new favorite, Gov. John Kasich, did carry the second biggest prize of the evening, Ohio, worth a winner-take-all 66 delegates. Note that 66 is a lower number than 99 (although the two numbers do bear an eerie physical similarity). Note also that Kasich is actually the governor of Ohio, which might give him a slight advantage. Note that Kasich’s solid but unspectacular winning margin (47-36 percent) was less than Trump’s margin in the more-valuable Florida contest. Note that this was Kasich’s first win, and he does not appear to be leading at the moment in any state of which he is not the current governor.

Trump, by contrast, has won, by my count, 15 of  the 24 state contests that have occurred so far.

To repeat, the establishment’s former favorites — Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Rubio — are now out of the race, having won a total of one state (which happens to be the best state, Minnesota, carried by Rubio in our caucuses). Their new favorite, Kasich, has won one state, his own. Trump has won 15.

The other states thus far have been won by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whom the establishment also detests and who has made his name trashing the members of said establishment as sellouts and not real conservatives. Cruz has won seven states. But other than his own home state of Texas (which happens to be enormous, the second most populous in the nation), he has specialized in winning dinky states. (We’re talking Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Maine, Oklahoma, Kansas.)

If Texas wasn’t so big, Cruz’s delegate total would be way less than half of Trump’s. Instead, he trails Trump by about 621 to 395, pending late results from the contest Tuesday night in Missouri, where Trump held a slight lead with 99 percent of votes counted.

Studying the party rules

If the leader in the nomination was anyone other than Trump (or maybe also Cruz), the establishment would at this point be pounding on everyone else to drop out for the sake of party unity. Instead, they are studying the rules (and thinking about changing them if they have to) to find a way to deny the nomination to Trump, who will have an enormous lead in delegates on the first ballot. And the guy they are now looking to pull off this stop-Trump mission is Kasich, who (I know, I already mentioned it) has carried exactly one state, his own.

I seldom agree with Fox News personality Sean Hannity, but I did write down his very solid description of where things stand in the race for the Repub nomination and how it came about and what will happen if the establishment figures out a way to bamboozle the nomination for anyone other than Trump. Said Hannity (with apologies in advance for any errors in my shorthand transcription):

“The big story that has come out of the campaign so far is that the establishment has lost, and they have been beaten badly. Rather than being introspective, instead of realizing they caused a lot of what’s happened here tonight and throughout all these nights, they’re thinking of ways to anger people even more [by rigging the convention to nominate anyone but Trump]. If the person who has won the most delegates and the most states has the nomination taken away from him, I would predict that the supporters of that person are probably gonna walk away pretty quick.”

Cruz won no states out of five Tuesday night (and that doesn’t count too-close-to-call Missouri, where he trailed, and doesn’t count the Mariana Islands, where Trump stomped him by 73-24 percent to capture all nine delegates at stake). So naturally Cruz started his televised no-victories speech with “tonight is a good night. Tonight, we continue to gain delegates.” (That’s technically true, but he gained fewer than Trump in every contest on this “good night” and none in the two big winner-take-all races.)

He presented the results as yet one more overpowering bit of evidence that the party must unite behind him. He made gracious remarks about Rubio, whom he despises (and the feeling is mutual as both have amply displayed during the campaign to date), and even more graciously didn’t mention Kasich at all, who represents an inconvenient fact in his argument that the party has no one other than himself around whom to rally in the effort to stop Trump.

He disparaged Hillary Clinton as a candidate so flawed that she could not beat any of the Republican candidates — except Trump, whom Cruz described as “the one person on the face of the earth who can lose to Hillary.”

Clinton lead grows

Speaking of former Secretary of State and Sen. Clinton, she may have had the best night of anyone. She won solid victories over Bernie Sanders in Florida (65-33 percent), North Carolina (55-41) and Ohio (57-43) and a narrow victory in Illinois (51-49). As on the Repub side, the race in Missouri was too close to call as of this writing but she clung to a microscopic lead with 99 percent reporting.

There are no winner-take-all states on the Dem side (banned by party rules). But her lead in delegates is large and, of course, grew Tuesday night. These included big important highly industrialized states where Sanders has strength and getting shut out Tuesday was a blow to his effort, all-but-erasing the benefits to Sanders of his recent surprise win in Michigan.

Over on CNN, political analyst Gloria Borger said the results gave Clinton an “almost insurmountable lead” in delegates and regular commentator Van Jones described the results as “a massive backbreaking blow” that converts Sanders from a fairly serious contender to a “serious message candidate” whose campaign will be remembered for raising to prominence several issue positions, like a preference of single-payer health care and a great desire to crack down on the excesses and greed of Wall Street.

In her victory statement, Clinton spoke graciously of Sanders, but switched into general-election mode, characterizing Trump as a bigot and a sexist and adding: “That doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong.”

The conventional wisdom in Democratic circles is that Clinton would be favored in a general election against Trump. (Trump constantly claims that he leads her in various matchup polls, but this is utter rubbish. Clinton beats Trump in all five such polls taken since mid-February, aggregated by Real Clear Politics. Sanders, by the way, also beats Trump, and by wider margins.)

So it was a little surprising late Tuesday night to hear David Plouffe, campaign manager for Barack Obama in 2008, expressing uncertainty about how Clinton might fare against Trump. Said Plouffe:

“[Trump] says a lot of things that a lot of swing voters, particularly blue-collar voters, would be agreeable to. He’s really much more of a populist than a traditional ideological conservative. That’s what would make it hard for Hillary. You just don’t know what you’re going to get with this guy.”

Comments (30)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/16/2016 - 09:42 am.

    Less than 50% of a motivated “Republican” base provides hardly a clear path to winning an election. It falls well within the demographic that has believed Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist fascist dictatorial dupe. It is a segment that is able to deny facts in the service of the goals of their thought leaders.

    But the destruction for the current form of the Republican party is almost certain–shenanigans at the convention to deny Trumps coronation or the successful coronation are almost equally bad for the party.

    And it can all be laid at the foot of a policy of fact-lite, consequence-free policy where anything said in opposition to the other party and its leaders and followers is acceptable and accepted as the gospel-truth.

    The real focus of the Trump project now has to turn to the question–“Who will have his ear ?”. He has proven to be pretty fallible in his judgement, business acumen, personal relations, and he has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t necessarily think before he speaks, and believes he can constantly remake history to suit his current story, and that simplistic brute force works as a solution to most problems. Who, if anyone, will he rely on for answers to problems that he has never encountered before ?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/16/2016 - 09:42 pm.

      Since he has trouble formulating

      a coherent sentence,
      it is likely that if President he would be ignored and ‘his people’ would run the government for him.
      After all, Nancy Reagan did it for at least two years, as did Woodrow Wilson’s wife.
      Since Trump has had three (legal) wives, I would expect him to do three times as well!

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 03/16/2016 - 10:23 am.

    my imoressions of speeches last night

    I had MSNBC on last night and heard several speeches late in the evening. Kasich and Rubio gave nice speeches that touched on issues and passion for their country. That is the first time I have listened to either. Rubio was especially impressive, not sounding like the little whiner from the debates. Cruz just sounded deluded or lying. He blamed Trump on the “liberal media” who have given him a lot of free air time.in a supposed plot to get him nominated because he is supposedly the only Republican who could loose to Clinton. Actually my impression is that he is the only one who stands a chance.with his weird coalition. But still Cruz at least stuck to issues of importance. Trump spent his whole speech, at least the part I could stomach, bragging about how he is winning, how everyone in the world is following his success, Instead of mentioning voting blocks or voters he spent time listing all the famous and powerful people he had talked to. Oddly he mentioned talking to Paul Ryan as if Ryan had approved of him. He didn’t mention how the whole world is watching in fear and dread at the destruction of the Republican party imagining what would happen to the world if he were elected.

    • Submitted by Roy Everson on 03/17/2016 - 11:04 am.

      Cruz’s deflection

      A great way to absolve oneself of responsibility is to find another culprit who is equally guilty. Cruz’s legendary cleverness is exemplified by his assertion that the media bear some guilt for the rise in Trump — that’s easy to swallow. It helpfully serves to distract from his own lame record in being viewed for many months as Trump’s BFF among the horde of GOP candidates. Never, never challenging Trump’s appeal to bigots. When given countless opportunities to call Trump out he and his colleagues refused to do so. Cruz’s strategy never wavers — to be the more acceptable angry outsider ready to benefit from Trump’s “imminent” implosion. But hey, the media.

  3. Submitted by John Appelen on 03/16/2016 - 11:53 am.

    Curious

    If it does come down to Trump vs Clinton, I will be curious how many “Liberals” vote for Trump in part due to name recognition, celebrity, desire for change, their amusement, etc.

    My guess is quite a few since he sure isn’t a traditional Conservative.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/16/2016 - 04:23 pm.

      My Guess

      Few, if any. Those who would refuse to vote for Clinton because she isn’t far enough to the left are certainly not going to vote for a “non-traditional” conservative like Trump.

      Whatever moderate to liberal Trump may have advocated at some point in his life have certainly been overshadowed by now by his know-nothing anti-immigration stand, his blatant racism, and the general demeanor of his campaign (I don’t like to throw the “F” or “N” words around lightly, but if the black or brown shirt fits, wear it). Name recognition and celebrity are not going to overcome those very strong, and very real, negatives. I can see most Sanders supporters holding their noses while voting for Clinton, rather than enable a Trump presidency.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 03/16/2016 - 10:10 pm.

        Forgetting

        I think you are forgetting that we are the folks who study politicians, what they say, etc. The reality is that many many voters just show up and pick names. I mean remember Jesse Ventura…

        And these folks think he may do okay with Black voters…
        http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/how-donald-trump-defeats-hillary-clinton-217868

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/17/2016 - 09:04 am.

          All Well and Good

          “These folks” are Republican pollsters. Based on their record in the last Presidential race, I wouldn’t put a lot of store in what they say.

          Jesse Ventura was a relatively unknown quantity whose campaign events did not turn into riots. He also avoided racism, xenophobia, and sexism in his campaign. The voters who “just show up and pick names” are going to be aware of Trump’s record.

          • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/17/2016 - 09:39 am.

            Also…

            Ventura had several experienced, publicly known and highly-respected people around him helping create an early Independence wave. While Jesse was the “personality,” they were the “credibility.” Ventura, himself, had some sensible and resonating views at the time. That he later became a rather sorry sight, is not relevant to his administration of Minnesota. Especially for Minnesotans, Ventura’s provocative characteristics were the proverbial “fresh air.”

            Trump so far has given us nearly only provocation, with no substance of detail or organization. This is a very different audience today, given years of 24/7 mass marketing and hours filled with cable/radio talk/blather not yet established then. Perhaps Trump need only now add flesh to the skeleton that many claim him to be. His plan seems to be working pretty well so far, with some critical weeks down the road.

            We shall see, and most definitely HEAR.

      • Submitted by Richard O on 03/21/2016 - 11:26 am.

        Trump vs Hillarry

        If/when it comes down to Trump vs Hillary, I will be one of those holding my nose while pulling the lever for Hillary regardless of who else is also on the ballot. Trump’s demeanor and style in addition to what he says keep reminding of that guy in Germany in the 20s and 30s. The surest “no” vote for Trump is a “yes” for Hillary.

  4. Submitted by Jim Boulay on 03/16/2016 - 12:40 pm.

    Blue collar supporters?

    Here’s the quote of the night from Trump.

    “We’re going to make our country rich again; we’re going to make our country great again,” the GOP presidential front-runner told an audience at his Palm Beach club Mar-A-Lago, shortly after being declared the overwhelming victor in Florida.

    “And we need the rich in order to make the great, I am sorry to tell you,” the billionaire added.

    How does this jibe with his working man audience? OOPS!

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/17/2016 - 09:58 am.

      Well,

      His syntax seems to demonstrate “rich” applies to “country” in both strings that here suggest separated thought, when they were consecutive phrases.

  5. Submitted by joe smith on 03/16/2016 - 01:43 pm.

    GOP didn’t overpromise they just flat-out lied! The country was disgusted by what was taking place under the White House, Senate and House in control of the Dems. The country voted out Dems in the House, Senate and Governorships in record numbers with the promise to change Washington DC and local Govt. Those elected at the Federal level fell in line with the establishment (must be too tempting to avoid) and we had the same old, same old. The voters are tired of being lied to by GOP, Dems and politicians in general.

    Amazingly, neither party will address the number one issue facing our country, the economy. Part time jobs taking over the workforce, middle class incomes falling $3,300 on average past 7 years, losing manufacturing jobs by the 10’s of thousands, companies fleeing USA for other countries, war on coal miners (green energy jobs not filling in as promised) and a general malaise for average Americans as Wall Street, DC elites and the well connected grow by historic measures. How about addressing that with more than “we will make America great again”, free college and forgiving student loans, Hillary’s silly “claw back” plan, 15 dollars for flipping burgers or name calling GOP rivals.

    Dems have no plan I see, Hillary wants a continuation of Obama’s economy which led us here and GOP would rather name call than fix it. Folks are tired of it and because of that we have Trump!!

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/16/2016 - 03:52 pm.

      Widen your view a little bit–the US economy right now is doing better than all of the other economies in the world.

      The issues you talk about–unemployment, under-employment, flat or falling wages, companies chasing the lowest cost venues, concentration of wealth–it’s happening all over the world in every country, including the US. But things are better in the US.

      Find another country that meets both your right-ward tilt AND has a better economy, and then we can have a discussion about what needs to change.

      Until then, you are chasing a fantasy that doesn’t exist–and that’s where the lie is.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 03/16/2016 - 11:18 pm.

        Wasn’t Obama going to fix all of that with Top Down big Govt? Everything I sited is true, to say “oh well, everybody else is doing it”, doesn’t solve the problem. That is how we get Trump.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/17/2016 - 07:41 am.

          Again, if you widened your view to the rest of the world, you would see that every other country encountered the same problems, addressed them in their own way, and ended up in a worse situation than in the US. Go ahead, tell us a real-world example of who has done what you want and ended up with the result you wanted. There’s been 8 years from the economic collapse–surely there is an example of how you thought it should go.

          So yes, Obama did improve the situation more than any other leader, with as much control as he had over the situation. So if you believe that any of the candidates will make perfection on earth, you are deluding yourself. Especially when you have the possible presidency of a person that has directly and personally fleeced many people and many companies over the years with his schemes and has clearly said that workers make too much in America.

          You seem to forget that in capitalism, the capitalists win. You, not so much.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/16/2016 - 04:10 pm.

      And Sanders, too

      He has helped divert the same-old-same-old, as well.

      I haven’t yet heard the “expert” analysis on Missouri’s effective tie.
      That should be an interesting tale, if told straight.

      Most interesting primary stuff I’ve ever known, this year; otherwise, I wouldn’t know or much care about rhetoric until summer conventions, or perhaps later. Certainly more interesting than college basketball elimination rounds, for me, at least.

      The Blue Establishment should be listening more closely right now to the man who wrote the marketing plan for the Obama campaigns. Maybe they really are, and are quietly more uncertain about certain former “certainties,” thanks to Bernie Sanders…and, Donald Trump. The Red Establishment really has no similar oracles, so to speak, certainly not the guys who ran the McCain and Romney campaigns.

      I’d guess both parties are similarly somewhat pleased by all this distraction and news focus. Not many Americans seem to have a clue as to the serious issues developing in Europe and Asia; therefore, little clue to recent forecasts of global economic weakness for the next five years, and likely beyond that. If more of us were paying attention to issues mostly ignored by radio talkers and cable hawkers and cyber bloggers, we might be asking better questions and demanding clearer answers. But, we mostly are not.

      Going to be interesting, likely not pretty, maybe somewhat cathartic for the country.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/16/2016 - 04:50 pm.

      Funny How

      Middle class (real) wages have been falling for decades under administrations both R & D, but the R’s have only just discovered it during Obama’s term.

      It is sort of like the debt and deficit, which they re-discover during D administrations, but forget about during R administrations.

      Of course, none of the Trumpsters are concerned about falling middle class wages since Trump has said on more than one occasion that our incomes are too high. The Trumpsters want wages to fall more.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/16/2016 - 09:48 pm.

      There is no law of nature

      (or of economics) that says that the demand for labor must meet the supply.
      So right now corporate decisions to automate and outsource have reduced the demand for labor; hence unemployment.

      The one way in which we do lead the world is economic inequity; the proportion of the economy controlled by the top 1%. So far the Democrats have proposed brute force redistribution, while the Republican proposals (such as they are) are to cut taxes and increase the resources controlled by the rich.

  6. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 03/17/2016 - 08:26 am.

    For years…

    The GOP dangled red meat in front of its faithful- guns, abortion, gays, war…. And they made minimal changes to keep these groups voting Republican with the promise of future change.

    Trump has called them on the hypocrisy, while providing entertainment and engagement to conservative disenfranchised voters.

    Now they want to record the status quo by focusing on Hillary instead of their own internal failures. They just keep doing the same thing over and over.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/17/2016 - 09:51 am.

      I agree…

      It is likely too late to focus on internal/structural party issues for this November. All must wait for the possible coming convention floor fights. That may not happen, either.

      To be fair all around, we should also recognize the perennial HRC campaign since 1991 to be in that bin of “doing the same thing over and over.”

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/17/2016 - 12:25 pm.

    Over promised and didn’t deliver….

    Kind of an understatement actually. What they’ve really done is spent 30 years attacking most their constituents and inflicting incredible damage on our economy, society, and system of governance. they made crazy-stupid an ideological objective and have finally reached their goal with this current crop of presidential candidates. Now they’re toast and they think they can save themselves by “drafting” Paul Ryan at the convention. Stick a fork in them, they’re done.

  8. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/19/2016 - 07:12 am.

    Listening

    Heard an interview with Bobby “we have to stop being the stupid party” Jindal. He attributed the rise of Trump to a failure of GOP leadership to properly school the masses on the truth and beauty of their key messages. I would suggest the failure is of the GOP leaders not listening to the crowd and discovering their rank and file align better with the Trump message:

    1. Giving every economic advantage to the 1% and watching it trickle down to the working class does not work. Who knows what Trump will do to change this but it will be a HUGE change.

    2. The belligerent, aggressive foreign policy of GWB was a mistake and it’s now OK to say so.

    3. Total and absolute fealty to Israel’s every wish is not required: we can try to be a fair broker in the Middle East.

    4. Free trade or fair trade, whatever the GOP stands for does not work and a HUGE change is required

    Thrown in a little “it’s OK to blame and hate” X, Y and Z and the likes of Bobby Jindal have a lot of explains to do on the truth and beauty of their traditional message.

  9. Submitted by Jeffrey McIntyre on 03/20/2016 - 07:29 am.

    Blind Trust

    I’m waiting for someone at one of the debates to ask Trump how he feels about putting his “wealth” in a blind trust while he is in office…will that mean no more “branding” of the Trump name for 4 years? That seems to be his main source of income.

  10. Submitted by miki polumbaum on 03/23/2016 - 08:12 am.

    Here’s the problem:

    While I’m not enamored with the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency, I think that Trump is such a loose cannon that there’s no telling what he’ll do once he takes office, in the event that he does get elected POTUS. The fact that protestors have been beaten up for little or no reason at his rallies indicates the kind of thing that could happen if and when Trump is elected President, and it won’t be pretty.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/23/2016 - 12:26 pm.

    Remember…

    When 17 clowns took the stage and republicans bragged about having so many great candidates to choose from? Yeah, that was funny.

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