Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A March 15 Post Mortem

In a phrase that I don’t expect I’ll need to write ever again, I must note that I had too much confidence in Ted Cruz heading in to yesterday’s voting.  I thought that he would take both both Illinois and Missouri in the primary contests.  Missouri remains too close to call, with a dead heat between Cruz and Trump.  But Cruz lost Illinois.  Though Trump won the state, Cruz did better in North Carolina, which I didn’t quite expect.

It’s notable that in every Republican primary that Donald Trump won yesterday, the not-Trump vote did better than Trump.  Trump earned 46% of the vote in Florida; his opponents totaled 51%.  In Illinois, Trump’s 39% was eclipsed by the 59% share of the vote that Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio earned.  Missouri hasn’t yet called the race; Cruz and Trump both came it at 41%.  Once the share of the vote collected by Rubio and Kasich is factored in, the not-Trump total is 57%.  In North Carolina, the not-Trump tally was 58%.

In all fairness, Ohio shows a similar breakdown.  John Kasich earned 47% of the vote in this state, where he is the incumbent governor.  The not-Kasich total is 52%; similar to the opponent breakdown in Florida.  My point, and I do have one, is that there is a path forward for the Republican party establishment leaders to take command of this process.  More important, the Republican party must now do this if they wish to be viable moving forward.

The alternative is a stark misery: Trump is the nominee and Republican candidates down ballot must contend with the inevitable question: do you support Donald Trump?  Both yes and no answers to this question are damning in their own peculiar way.  Setting aside the fact that the GOP’s own actions landed them in this mess, the party must now lead.  In his Tuesday night victory speech, Trump noted that he and his party are now the biggest story in the world.  I fear that’s true, but not because the rest of the world is looking to emulate America.   It’s true because the self-destruction we are courting is so colossal.  But the party of Lincoln still has time to save itself.  In a fitting metaphor for the month of March, the ball is in your court, GOP.

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