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February 06, 2016

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Did he win anything, or did Bush and Christie and Kasich drop out?

Guessing at what you didn't say:

Trump is odds-on to implode. No argument here.

Bush, Christie, and Kasich haven't caught fire yet, and there's no reason to think they will. Hmm. On the one hand, I've rarely seen a group of politicians as uninspiring. On the other, are you sure that more moderate Republicans, cheered on by media looking for headlines, won't give them a boost later in the primaries?

And what happens to Cruz?

I'm still wondering how long the normal pattern of "Base sucks it up to vote for someone electable" can endure. Especially as we run through the south where your clergy are going to be strongly advocating Cruz from the pulpit, I increasingly think that he might have a shot at the folks who want a True Believer.

I wonder how much of the GOP base has convinced themselves that Cruz is an electable Trump? Despised by the GOP establishment that they resent for taking them for granted, willing to "say what he thinks" and so on.

Just as Trump's second place in Iowa had the rest of them thinking he's vulnerable, I think if Cruz doesn't do as well as initially expected in NH the pile-on for third place will continue.

But when does he lock down the nomination? And does it matter if it takes longer?

Noel may remember his previous post based on my idea that with the way the calendar is structured (New York Times has a great graphic on it http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/02/02/us/cruz-trump-rubio-nomination-paths.html?_r=0) there may be an incentive for some of the establishment candidates to linger until later March and see if they can use Michigan, Florida, Illinois, or Ohio as their breakout state. If you can be the last establishment guy standing at that point, with Cruz and Trump slugging it out, you have a number of late blue states (like California) where you could clean up. Maybe you win or maybe you just go into a brokered convention in a strong position.

OTOH I think it is clear Bush is on his way out. That should help wrap this up.

I'm sure the HQ will figure out a fix in the next Rubio 3.5 update. But it does reveal deeper problems with the program and openings for future attacks. I was reminded of the debate scenes from West Wing with the "What comes next?" If you can't change Hillary's age and need to push back against Rubio, you have to double down on the "experience matters" line. And Rubio, as a charismatic good actor, can get through the prepared remarks but is weak on the "3 AM phone call" line.

Of course Hillary ran that campaign against Obama and lost. But that was when her major foreign policy decision was increasingly rejected by the base, and without the added time at Secretary of State. I don't see evidence the GOP has gotten Benghazi to stick to her among the vast pool of swing voters. So it's just emails. Which I'm not saying is a non issue but to me doesn't seem as fatal as her Iraq War vote was among Democratic primary voters. We'll see.

I'll flip around Carlos's post-mortem from a Democratic defeat. The international economic crisis starts to spread to the United States, with the public concerned and not clear if they turn to the experienced legislator or the youthful agent of change. But unlike 2008, when the experienced legislator seemed surprised and fumbled around trying to show leadership, this time the youthful candidate was unable to reassure voters that he had the steadiness to guide them through uncertain times.

That's the Democratic hope and this debate made it seem more plausible than previously.

If Rubio can't outpoll Kasich or Jeb in NH, who exactly is going to vote for him in the general election?

Congratulations to your candidate for picking up the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! Swishy Twin Cities suburbs like Edina and Brooklyn will be hallowed ground, where Air Rubio first achieved flight.

Yeah, that was a bad prediction. I was trying to convince myself. Sadly, I also wrote that I was hoping for an interesting primary season. I guess we're getting that.

I wish we weren't. Unless maybe Drumpf can be held to less than half the delegate count. (Hah!)

Here's a writeup of Rubio's media strategy and how it devolved into off-color jokes before Super Tuesday. That this article was able to be written probably means that Rubio's campaign is close to suspension, barring a miracle in Florida. I can't see Issenberg given that level of access if they thought it mattered.

Paul Kane at the Washington Post has noted that Rubio's ground game was not stellar, and that the campaign relied on media coverage to draw out voters who made up their minds at the last minute -- hence the importance it placed on Rubio being the most popular second choice. Trump's use of free media in particular drowned out Rubio, which might not have been the case had Rubio used a more conventional get-out-the-vote operation. (Then again, Cruz was said to have an excellent GOTV operation through the evangelical churches, and that didn't pan out either.)

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-03-03/the-best-laid-free-media-plan-of-marco-rubio

[This is the Optimus report on the American electorate referred to in the article: http://media.wix.com/ugd/e7599c_5f7f4dd999bc4aaab7cd620a6e125652.pdf ]

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