There have been roughly 456,343,455 articles written explaining the Trump phenomenon. My estimate might be off by one or two, but it’s in the ballpark. While I’ve long maintained that Trump is the most inappropriate vehicle possible for those who rightly feel dissatisfied with the Republican party, to me the anger expressed in the pro-Trump movement is entirely justified.
You would think by now that Republican party boosters would have a firm grasp on the political culture in which we’re operating in. Alas, based on the continued intransigence of a certain subset of the #NeverTrump movement, it is clear that they are as pigheaded and foolish as any Trump supporter.
#NeverTrump, for those of you who (smartly) don’t use Twitter, is a hashtag to express the solidarity of a movement that not only seeks to deny Trump the nomination, but which has also indicated its unwillingness to support Trump in the general election, no matter what. This group – and I am or was a part of this movement – has advocated strategic voting meant to deny Trump the ability to win the needed delegates before the GOP convention to secure the nomination. Many anti-Trumpsters advocated strategic voting wherein people voted for non-Trump candidates that were not necessarily their first choice but who had better chances in select states. So, for example, Cruz supporters should back Rubio in Florida, while Rubio backers were advised to go with Cruz in Louisiana.
We are now nearly two-fifths of the way trough the primary season, and it has become manifestly obvious to all but the most strident of Rubio and John “let them bake cakes” Kasich boosters than Ted Cruz is the only viable option to Donald Trump. Cruz has now won six states, and finished ahead of Trump in another. He has, moreover, won in the northeast, the northwest, and the heartland. In other words, the GOP electorate is coalescing around Cruz, while Rubio and Kasich struggle to even win enough votes to garner delegates. Cruz continues to poll the strongest against Trump, and regularly maintains an advantage in a two-man race.
Unfortunately Rubio supporters have acted much like Homer Simpson chasing the pig in the clip above. They deny the reality of the situation, and instead insist on strategic voting despite evidence that such a strategy will, at best, simply deny Trump getting the required 1,237 delegates. If this strategy works we’re left with a nominee being selected at the convention. If that nominee is anyone other than Donald Trump (unless it’s someone like Cruz who garners a similar amount of delegates during the primary season), then the result would be just as disastrous for the long-term future of the Republican party as a Trump outright win in the primary.
Considering the mood of the electorate – Democrat and Republican alike – a brokered convention that nominates Marco Rubio or, even worse, John Kasich, would completely turn off not just Trump supporters, but a fair number of other voters as well. Sure, it would be within the rules (as people are fond of repeating), but such a nominee – again, if it’s someone who didn’t have at least 1,000 or so delegates going into the convention – would be utterly damaged. Whatever your opinion of Trump supporters, completely turning them off and making them feel disenfranchised is an awfully stupid election strategy.
No, this thing needs to get settled in the primary, and the only two men who can win the Republican nomination outright are Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Rubio backers have relied to a great extent on the argument that Marco Rubio is the most electable Republican in the general election. This argument from pragmatism – which is dubious to begin with – is countered by another pragmatic reality: Rubio is not nominateable. Neither is Kasich. It’s over for them, and any process that gives them a nomination through the back door of a contested convention will damage any general election chance they have.
So if you live in Ohio, Michigan, or Florida, and you don’t want Donald Trump to be the nominee, here’s your strategic play: vote for Ted Cruz.
NB: Rubio backers might argue with some credibility that Rubio’s poor numbers are due to strategic voting. While I can’t deny that there might be something to this, it’s hard to believe that the enormous gap between Cruz and Rubio/Kasich is due to any great extent to Rubio/Kasich backers voting strategically. Voters are not quite that sophisticated.