Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I keep thinking about the speculation that the Republican presidential race will come down to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump -- an idea inspired by a Quinnipiac poll of Iowa in which the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat.

Ever since Trump rose to the top of the polls, we've been told by some pundits that there'd be a "firewall" in the latter part of the nomination contest -- in blue and purple states with lots of delegates, a sensible moderate like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio is sure to do better than an angry wild man like Trump. As FiveThirtyEight's David Wasserman pointed out a few weeks ago, every congressional district awards three delegates, regardless of the district's redness or blueness. This favors a moderate candidate, Wasserman wrote:
The average blue district awards one convention delegate per 28,912 Romney voters, while the average red district awards one delegate per every 56,714 Romney voters. Thanks to this disparity, if a hard-right candidate like Cruz dominates deeply red Southern districts in the SEC primary, a more electable candidate like Rubio could quickly erase that deficit by quietly piling up smaller raw-vote wins in more liberal urban and coastal districts.
(The "SEC primary" is the "super Tuesday" that will take place on March 1, when a large number of mostly Southern states will vote.)

But if the field gets winnowed down and it's a race between Trump vs. Cruz, with states such as New York, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey voting late, the "moderate" who'll be favored in those states is likely to be ... Trump.

Cruz's strength, beyond the fact that he's as crazy as Trump, is that he appeals to conservative Christian voters as a fellow evangelical. That's a big reason he's gaining ground as Ben Carson, another religious-right favorite, fades.

But that's why the states that were supposed to be the GOP Establishment's firewall could be Trump's firewall. The more urbane states are wary of candidates who stress Christian conservatism -- that's why Trump has consistently had a bigger lead in New Hampshire, where religiosity is much less of a selling point, than in Iowa, where it's a huge selling point. Trump still does well in states with a lot of religious Republicans -- fascist authoritarianism playes well anywhere Republicans gather -- but he does better in the secular states, and Cruz does much worse. (Cruz may be close to the lead in Iowa, but he's still a distant third in New Hampshire, as he is in a new Suffolk poll of Massachusetts, where he's 22 points behind Trump.)

Cruz's top surrogate in heavily religious states is his father, Rafael, a fire-and-brimstone wingnut preacher who argues that evolution is Marxist and gay marriage is satanic. Those messages that have a lot less appeal in states where there are still country-club Republicans, some of whom even support gay rights.

So the guy that establishmentarians were counting on to stop a crazy front-runner could turn out to be ... the crazy front-runner himself.


Oh, and I'm not particularly impressed by Philip Bump's gloss on the latest Suffolk/Boston Globe poll of New Hampshire:
Suffolk and the Globe added something to the mix. If we added Mitt Romney to the list, they asked, would you switch to him? For 30 percent of respondents, the answer was "yes." Romney leads all other Republicans by a two-to-one margin. Trump loses a third of his support.
Yup -- but Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, Fiorina, and especially Bush lose big as well, and Trump still has a huge lead among all non-hypothetical candidates:

Bump suggests that this means Trump's support is extremely soft. He writes:
When news of this survey first came out over the weekend, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver noted that this reinforced the idea that much of Trump's support comes from name recognition. Give voters another name they know, and that name gets a lot of support, too.
"Another name they know"? They don't know the name "Bush"? And why has Ben Carson done as well as he has in the polls? Does he have Trump-level name recognition?

Mitt Romney isn't doing well in this New Hampshire poll because he has name recognition. Romney is doing well because he was the governor of a neighboring state who owns a house in the state and remains popular there. Try polling Mitt in Iowa or South Carolina (or Texas or Mississippi) -- I bet you get a very different result. Meanwhile, the strongest challenge to Trump from an actually existing candidate could be from a crazier one than Trump.


Victor said...

I've been saying this for awhile, and I still think, as crazy and Fascist-seeming Trump is, if elected (a stretch), he would do far less harm to this country than Cruz, or any of the other really crazy, Fascist, and "Christian" mixed-nuts on the GOP side - ok, maybe Jeb(:-(
Maybe I'd add Marco, because that childish nitwit would be such a puppet, that he's make W look like Pinocchio as a real boy.
Jeb and Marco would readily do the bidding of the Kochsters and other billionaires.
Cruz would look to make himself into an American Pope, with the power of the early Middle Ages Popes, and do whatever he could - if he had the Congress - to make this into a "Christian" Theocracy. (This, despite, my doubts about his real beliefs. Imo, I think he dons those much like a suit, to impress the rubes - though, far be it for me to question a person's faith).

They ALL scare the shit out of me!
I'll leave it at that.

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve M: "the strongest challenge to Trump from an actually existing candidate could be from a crazier one than Trump"

You mean Cruz? He's not 'crazy' crazy; he's power mad, sure; but calculatingly messianic. That's not psychopathy, nor even strictly sociopathy: it's massive self-regard with the intellect to back it up. There's no doubt he's by far the most dangerous contestant, but I doubt any shrink would find in him anything like the hang-ups Carson has.

The most 'insane' feature I see, in all these contestants, not just the ones leading in this race, is each lacks any sign of self-doubt, fear or actual humility. The top 4 each SEEM to have an especially inflated self-regard, but that's when compared to wee hobbits like us.

The one sort-of attractive character feature of Jeb! is he so reliably displays his anxiety over being in this setting & having to say the bullcrap he feels obliged to say, along with his relative lack of self-regard. Jeb! was the one out of them all who really needed that ! attached to his name, because all the others were born with inflated codpieces.

(Well, maybe not so much Kasich and Pataki, but they're each such natural assholes, the difference doesn't matter. The country doesn't exist that would vote Jeb! into office due solely to his projected ill-ease, and I certainly wouldn't vote for him against any Dem - even John Bel Edwards, who's taken a bit of beating on the libblogs the last few days - but Jeb!'s so anxious to please while being so fearful of failure, in this company he's almost endearing.)

Professor Chaos said...

I don't know who would be scarier in the White House, Trump or Cruz? Trump might start WWIII accidentally in an egomaniacal fit of pique. Cruz would start it intentionally to help bring on Armegeddeon and the End Times.
Ooh, great name for a metal band, Armegedeon and the End Times! Anyone who wants it is welcome to it!

Never Ben Better said...

Jeb? always comes across to me as prissy grandmotherly. Maybe it's the glasses and the wattles. In any case, he just doesn't project the manly aggressiveness of the other leading candidates -- except narcoleptic Carson, who you'll note is fading as the base's favorite.

Ten Bears said...

While he may not be Bill Clinton's best idea evah, he certainly is doing a bang up job of exposing the Retard Party's dark underbelly. Emphasis on underbelly. The weak spot.

I know an awful lot of conservative types, successful business types, Titans of Their Industries, who don't necessarily pay as close attention as I and are suddenly calling in the middle of the night asking "Thomy WTF is going on!? Who IS this fruintcake!?" Know a bunch of grumpy old Viet Nam Vets whoses wives are working down at WalMart who would no more vote for a prissy trustfunder to rich to serve his Tour of Duty than the asshole who was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard. Know a bunch of pot-heads that try to sound like Retards but... they're pot-heads who really like to smoke weed and don't a shit about blacks or gays or Mexicans, they're not gonna' vote for it. See where I'm going with this? There's a lot of people out there who don't pay as close attention as we and he's doing a bang up job of driving those voters away from the Retard Party. I applaud that.

Yes, Retard. Look it up.