Yes. Well, probably. At least, I don’t see how he doesn’t win the Republican nomination given current facts on the ground (the general election is a much different and much more unpredictable story). Donald Trump has won nearly every category of voter – and in Nevada, every category – so far that has come out for the Republican contests. It used to be self-evident that support for dropouts Chris Christie and Jeb Bush would go to Marco Rubio. Reality had other plans. If Trump’s lead only increases when a candidate drops out, he wins. Now we have the three-man race predicted here, and if Rubio and Ted Cruz don’t play rock-paper-scissor or whatever it takes to get one of them to drop out, Trump wins. And if one of them drops out, Trump probably still wins.
Those of you who have been reading Swinging Dead Cats since it started last August already knew that Trump was likely to win the Republican nomination. Along with declaring Trump the frontrunner in my post “Surprise! Donald Trump Appeals to White Nationalists” I mentioned that the Republican party harbors a substantial minority of no-doubt-about-it racists. I got some pushback on that one. This is an important point that people keep missing. Sometimes, the answer to questions like the ones I asked in the linked post are really, horrifyingly simple.
So what’s going on here? Why would a bloc of voters who have always voted for GOP economic policies all of a sudden be open to Democratic economic policies espoused by someone who sounds like a racist demagogue?
Anyone pushing back want to read this polling of South Carolina’s Republican voters and try to argue again that many of them are not racists? A staggering 38% of South Carolina Trump voters wish the South had won the Civil War. If 38% of Trump voters wish the South had won the Civil War, and the South fought the Civil War over the right to continue owning slaves, then 38% of Trump voters still believe that we ought to have the right to own slaves. As Esquire’s Charles Pierce likes to say, South Carolina is the “home office of American sedition.” So some might say hey, it’s South Carolina. But if people think that 38% number isn’t similar across the South, they haven’t been following American politics.
Now, Christie’s endorsement of Trump blunts the momentum Rubio may have had after Thursday night’s debate. The idea that Rubio did any real damage to Trump among the latter’s own core supporters was laughable anyway.
Meanwhile, the math is what it is: Trump is winning and racking up delegates, and a strong plurality of the hundreds of delegates up for grabs on March 1st look likely to go Trump’s way. Trump is leading in every state that votes next Tuesday and usually by wide margins, except in Texas – Ted Cruz’s home turf. Cruz is likely to win in Texas, giving him a second state (he won Iowa). Rubio will do well enough that the Republican establishment and much of the media will convince themselves he still has a chance. So Cruz and Rubio will both stay in the race.
This is a nightmare scenario for the GOP establishment. Starting on March 15th most Republican contests are winner-take-all, meaning that Trump would win all of a state’s delegates with only a plurality of the vote. This will almost certainly happen if both Cruz and Rubio stay in the race. Trump could essentially have the nomination wrapped up by the end of March!
The Trump phenomenon is not really a mystery, as Matt Taibbi explains in his excellent recent piece over at Rolling Stone. The racial and cultural resentments of many Americans, and their justified anger over their economic situations (though deeply ironic as they’re the ones who have been voting middle class-gutting Republicans into office, after all) – these were always there for someone to come along and put them together, unleash them without filters, and see what happens.