Tag: Marco Rubio

Stupor Tuesday

So more primaries yesterday. Clinton won at least four. As of this morning, she’s also leading in Missouri but it’s too close to call for sure. Kasich won Ohio, but Trump won three states, including Florida and is currently 0.2% ahead in Missouri. Depending on how the delegates shake out, Trump could be on the path to a clear majority in the delegates, which would give him the nomination outright. Projections now have him at 691, just a shade below the 700 he needs to be on track for majority.

After losing Florida, Rubio dropped out and gave a speech that was a reminder of why he was the candidate the Democrats feared most. With Rubio out, Cruz is now the clear NotTrump. But it may be too little, too late. Rubio and Kasich split off enough of the vote for Trump to win several states. Unless Cruz really starts surging, it won’t make a difference.

It’s not over yet. Arizona and Utah are next. Arizona is a closed primary and Trump had not done as well in closed primaries. Utah is a caucus and Trump’s support among Mormons is very low. You then have a bunch of contests stretching into May, including New York (where Trump should clean up) and Pennsylvania (a closed winner-take all primary). But, if Cruz starts winning some states, I suspect this will go down to California with its closed winner-take all 172 delegates on June 7. That will be the final battleground to stop Trump.

So yeah, we may have another three months of this. And then, maybe, another two months while we slug out the convention. Of course, even then, Trump will probably still have a plurality of delegates. And if he’s denied the nomination, it could get ugly.

Hold on to your britches, folks. It’s not over yet.


One of the many reasons Trump is winning? This one.

Expect the media to turn on Trump once he’s the nominee. It’s all about electing Clinton. Always has been.

Catching Up

So, let’s go through what went on while I was on vacation.

No, there is too much. Let me summarize:

  • The Republican frontrunner assured America that there is nothing wrong with the size of his genitals. Despite this, he continued to win primaries. He capped off the week with a campaign event where he hocked a bunch of his branded merchandise, some of which turned out not to be his merchandise and attacked those suing him over his bogus university.
  • Surprisingly, this was only the second most-nauseating piece of world-leader-genitalia-related news in the last year.
  • Despite endorsements, a positive outlook and policy smarts, Marco Rubio sank like a stone. He now appears likely to lose the Florida primary, which would basically finish him as a candidate.
  • Ted Cruz surged forward as the only viable rival to Trump at this point. I have my issues with Cruz. But at least he’s better than Trump. As I noted before, I’m not sure if I’d vote for him, but I’d feel a lot less doomed if he were the Republican candidate.
  • A socialist won a stunning victory in the Michigan primary, upending a 20-point deficit in the polls.
  • Clinton tried to call him out on how he’s going to pay for all his crap. Of course, this elided the problem that we don’t have enough money to pay for our existing load of crap, let alone any of the stuff that Clinton has proposed.
  • Telemundo had the temerity to ask Clinton about her scandals and was flayed for it by the pro-Hillary press. She smugly assured us that she will not be indicted. She’s probably right. The elites never are. That’s precisely why millions of Americans are turning desperately to a crackpot commie-sympathizer and crackpot pseudo-billionaire.

In short, the country continued to go to hell in a handbasket whether I was documenting it or not.

I’ll have more to say on several issues. But there’s some comfort in knowing that it’s not just me: our politics is getting stranger by the hour.

John Oliver Nails It; So Does Rubio; And So Does Cruz

So John Oliver broadcast this epic takedown of Trump last night:

In addition, Rubio has been hitting him hard as had Cruz. I’ve especially been impressed by Ted Cruz. Rubio is getting all the attention right now and becoming the default non-Trump (at least tin the media). But Cruz is being a team player, staying on message and refraining from attacking Rubio. He’s slowly putting Texas out of reach for Trump (and not-Trump’s should vote for Cruz in Texas, rather than Rubio. If Cruz gets 50% of the vote, Trump gets zero delegates). It’s made me much more sanguine about a potential Rubio-Cruz alliance.

However, a part of me thinks this is too little too late. Trump is still leading the polls and this morning’s CNN poll indicated that he may be surging toward 50%. And I think a part of that blame for this goes to the media. Where was this John Oliver takedown months ago when it might have made a difference? Right now, the media are castigating Rubio for making jokes about Trump’s hands. But they paid no attention to him when he talked policy (and he’s still talking policy; the jokes are a couple of lines in 30-45 minute speeches).

The media were happy to play along with the Trump show when it looked like it was just going to hurt the Republican Party. But now that he might the nominee, suddenly they’re realizing what kind of person he is? I’m glad to have them along, finally. But this is not because they want the best Republican nominee possible. This is because they’re starting to ramp up for a general campaign and they’re suddenly realizing what they’ve helped create.

Rubio and Cruz Go After Trump

So last night’s debate was … something else. Rubio and Cruz both came out swinging, hitting Donald Trump at every turn on his support for Democrats, his lack of policy detail, his shady business dealings and his refusal to release his tax returns. Trump got the most flustered I’ve ever seen him and hit back, but futilely. His attempt to hit Rubio on the latter’s meltdown at a previous debate backfired when Rubio pointed out that Trump repeats himself all the time. It was like watching a WWE match with Trump playing the heel and Cruz and Rubio taking turns whacking him with folding chairs. For someone who despises Trump, it was beautiful.

(Although the line of the night went to Ben Carson. Carson, even more than Kasich, was sidelined by the Rubio-Cruz-Trump show, going something like half an hour between speaking. Blitzer lost control of the debate, letting the three front-runners constantly demand a chance to respond to attacks. This promoted Carson to quip, “Can someone please attack me?”)

This is what the candidates should have been doing for months. It’s what the Democrats will do should Trump be the nominee. It may be too little, too late. It probably won’t peel voters off of Trump, who seem immune to any failing on his part. But at least if Rubio and Cruz go out, they went out on their shields.

It Might Be Trump

So Donald Trump won the Nevada caucuses last night and seems on ihs way to wins on Super Tuesday. I’ve made no bones about my feelings about Trump. Here’s Bill James, putting it succinctly:

Of all of the people who are running for President or have now dropped out of the race, Donald Trump is absolutely the last one that I would vote for. I could summarize the reasons for this in five bullet points:

(1) I believe that Trump is more interested in what is good for Donald Trump than in what is good for America, not that the same could not be said about many of the other candidates, but it seems to me that this has to be more of a concern in the case of a man who has spent 30 years plastering his name to everything he could put his name on

(2) I don’t think Trump’s background in business prepares him for the challenges of the Presidency

(3) I think Trump’s hard-ass approach to problems, in the Presidency, would be very dangerous for our nation, and might have terrible consequences for all of us

(4) I dislike self-promotion. I intensely dislike self-promotion. Donald Trump is the nation’s most notorious self-promoter—and was, before he decided to run for President.

(5) I don’t believe that Trump is sincere in 99% of what he says. I think almost everything he says is either an outright lie, or something he is merely saying because it is convenient for him at the moment

I’ve heard versions of that from a lot of Republicans. Hell, National Review ran an entire issue on the subject. And yet, Trump continues to win. Why is that?

Well, first, I think he is capitalizing on a general dissatisfaction with the party. A lot of people see the GOP as feckless and constantly caving into Democrats. Trump gives them a hope of a GOP that stands for something.

I understand this impulse. I’ve been frustrated with the GOP as well and left the party in 2004 (although that had less to do “fecklessness” and more with their very feckful decisions to turn to the Religious Right, support torture and spend like Democrats on a bender). But I think people massively underestimate what establishment conservatism has accomplished. Charles Cooke:

Not only have the vast majority of the stands that have been taken against Obama been futile from the outset (the president really isn’t going to sign a repeal of his major achievements, and the public really isn’t going to force him to do so at the point of a shutdown), but to focus on their failure is rather to miss the point, which is that the Right’s consistent willingness to block progressive change before it can be put into law has kept a parade of horribles from ever intruding upon the scene. Had the conservative movement not held the line since 2008, Americans would have seen the quick death of the Bush tax cuts; the introduction of a growth-stifling cap-and-trade regime on carbon dioxide emissions; sweeping gun control, including both an “assault weapons” ban and a federal firearms registry; the provision of a “public option” within Obamacare, if not a move toward full-blown single-payer; the false promise of “free” college; union “card check”; an unabashed de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants; wildly increased legal-immigration levels, with an emphasis on importing the unskilled; a host of religious-liberty violations, with no Religious Freedom Restoration Act to counteract them; and overall spending levels that would make today’s look modest.

Elsewhere — where no national veto is possible — things would have been dramatically different, too. At the state level, there would have been no marches toward right-to-work or liberalized concealed carry; no progress on school choice or eminent domain; no restrictions on late-term abortion or state-constitution amendments defining marriage; and none of the regulatory and fiscal reforms that are coaxing Americans out of the blue states and onto the red horizon. Despite voting unanimously against the bill, Republicans could not stop Obamacare. But they have managed to prevent Medicaid from being expanded universally, and they have mostly forced the federal government to own its messy system of insurance exchanges. That was no walk in the park. And in the courts? Well, without the two judges that George W. Bush appointed to the Supreme Court, we would have had no Heller, no McDonald, no Citizens United, no Harris, no McCullen, and no Hobby Lobby. Moreover, we would have read only two disgusted dissents in both Windsor and Obergefell, and, backed by a 7–2 cushion, the ruling justices might have been able to establish a more sweeping set of precedents than they did.

Cooke does admit that there are reasons to be unhappy with the GOP: the 2015 budget is a particular thorny point with me. But the “burn the whole thing down” crowd seem to miss what has been accomplished and what has been prevented by the GOP. How soon we have forgotten how bad things were when it was Obama and a Democratic Congress.

Another reason for Trump’s surge is a pushback against political correctness. Bill James again:

Also, Donald Trump is advocating real democracy in a way that the other candidates are not, and in a way that is too subtle for most of the Talking Head class to understand. We have in this great nation, blessed by God but not uniquely blessed by God, and not chosen by God to stand ahead of other nations. . . .we have a class of professional do-gooders who have made a lot of rules for the rest of us, and who have, with the knowing co-operation of the media, forced the rest of us to comply with their rules. These rules were never voted upon, and were never agreed to by most of us. Some of these rules are good and proper, and some of them are useless and counter-productive. I will explain a little better what rules I mean in just a moment, but first my main point.

Donald Trump is saying “screw you” to the professionally self-righteous, and he is saying “screw you” to those people who are trying to force him to obey these rules that the nation has never really agreed to, but has been forced to accept by leaders who lacked the courage to stand up to the professionally self-righteous.

It’s one thing to get people to stop hurling racial slurs or sexist remarks. But the media has turned us into a nation of thin-skinned lunatics. You can’t use the phrase “illegal immigrants” to describe … foreigners who are in this country in violation of the law. Students erupt in protest because a dorm supervisor treats them like adults who can deal with mild racism on their own. And God forbid we should act on the international stage without making sure France thinks its OK.

There is a backlash against this and people are eager for politician who disdains political correctness. The problem is 1) “saying it like it is” makes you feel good but can burn political bridges that you need; 2) the Trumpers are more than happy to get all offended when someone says something they don’t like; 3) people are mistaking Trump’s rudeness for a principled stance against political correctness rather than just Trump being an asshole.

The biggest factor in Trump’s rise, however, has been the divided GOP field. When we started out, there were 17 candidates, the largest field ever. Pundits praised the field’s depth, saying it reflected GOP strength. It didn’t. It represented weakness because with so many candidates, it was hard for any particular candidate to stand out.

Trump was able to stand out. He simply said outrageous things and let the media do his work for him. He would bash Mexicans, bash McCain, make sexist remarks … and the media would go into their politically correct outrage cycle. But the public didn’t care. The media were the boy who cried wolf. They had spent so long describing Republicans as racist for even mentioning illegal immigration than when a Republican said racist things, the public shrugged.

And so the cycle began — Trump says something crazy, the media have a frenzy, the attention brings him a surge in the polls. A huge amount of Trump’s rise is because of the perpetual media outrage machine that has surrounded him, giving him free publicity, making him stand out of the crowded GOP field. People who favored abortion restrictions or tax cuts or a strong defense had a variety of choices to pick from. Their vote was divided. But the anti-establishment, anti-PC crowd? They had their guy. And with every CNN fainting spell, every spittle-flecked 2000-word Vox article, every hand-wringing Slate pitch, he became more their guy.

They media has yet to cotton onto this. Every time Trump’s poll numbers stall, he says something vile. And every single God damn time, they take the God damn bait and give him hour after God damn hour of free publicity. They think, because they are so wise and erudite, that the American public shares their outrage. And some do. But there are many who are gleeful about it — who see the intelligentsia’s outrage as amusing and deserved. How many times have we hoped for a GOP candidate who would tell the media to pee up a rope?

And this is what has allowed him to surge. With 17 candidates, anyone who stood out for any reason was going to surge to the front of the pack. Not only would they build a base of support, the other candidates would divide what was left into a dozen pieces. Ask yourself, who has this primary season been about? Can you even name all the GOP candidates we started with? It’s been Trump and Not-Trump.

The GOP’s response has been too little too late. At first, they didn’t take him seriously. And then they avoided him. Non-Trump candidates spent the debates attacking each other. What we needed at the debates was, as Jesse Walker Matt Welch put it, a Murder on the Orient Express situation where they all stabbed him instead of waiting for someone else to do it. They all needed to call him a liar, a charlatan and a liberal (and he is all three). But they didn’t want to do that. They were so concerned with being the consensus candidate when Trump fell that they didn’t actually bother to make sure Trump fell. Instead, they tore each other down.

Trump does have a ceiling. His negatives among the GOP are very high. Usually, a candidate who had won three of the first four primaries would be running away from the field by now. If you look at past elections, Bush, McCain and Romney all began to take off at this point. Romney was in the lead at the end of February and took off by April. McCain had exploded at the polls by this point, surging past the field to become the clear winner by Super Tuesday. Trump has not taken off like that. He may yet. But he hasn’t so far. I think that reflects a deep distrust of him.

Unfortunately, Trump’s advantages still remain. He still dominates the news cycle because our stupid media still hasn’t caught on to his game. And the field is still divided. Rubio is surging but unless Kasich and Cruz drop out (and most of their supporters go to Rubio), he’s not going to catch Trump. And neither has indicated that he will drop out. Trump is in an unprecedented position — he could win the nomination while never having more than about a third of the party behind him.

(Carson hasn’t dropped out, but he’s not really relevant to this. Carson’s supporters would probably either drop out or split relatively evenly between Rubio and Trump).

For many years, my Aussie wife has disparaged the primary system. She sees it as destructive because the candidates spend time bashing each other instead of concentrating on building the party behind a candidate, like they do in a parliamentary system. She has a point. But I think we’ve now seen another problem. For a long time, I’ve been saying the GOP wouldn’t nominate Trump because they don’t nominate crazy. They will flirt with crazy. They will fool around in the back of a car with crazy. But, in the end, they will go with a sensible candidate like Romney. But now we’re seeing that the primary system can cough up a crazy person given the right circumstances.

The way I see it, we’re looking at three possible scenarios, all of them bad for the GOP. I rank them by how likely I see them.

1. Trump Wins a Plurality but Not a Majority of Delegates. Brokered Convention. The rules of delegate assignment are rather opaque and difficult to project. Nevertheless, it looks like Trump could keep winning primaries but split the delegates enough to not get a majority. The result would be a brokered convention where the candidates try to form alliances to build a majority.

Trump could still win in that scenario, since he’d control the largest block of delegates. But even if he didn’t, it could be a disaster for the GOP. If Trump wins a plurality of the delegates but a Rubio-Cruz ticket takes the nomination, the Trumpers might tear the party apart. It might make 1968 look like a picnic. And Trump would cite it as justification to break his promise and run as an independent, splitting the vote and putting Clinton into the White House.

2. Trump Wins the Nomination Outright. This would be almost as bad. It would tie the GOP to Trump for a generation, shattering any progress they’ve made building the party toward minorities and women. It would also, as Dan McLaughlin pointed on Twitter last night, undo everything conservatives have been building for 40 years. The GOP would nominate a supporter of Obamcare and an advocate of trade war, an obnoxious big-government hypocrite who has, in the past, supported massive taxes, gun control, wealth confiscation and single-payer healthcare. In combination with a Clinton win — or even with a Trump win in the general, it would be the inverse of the Reagan Revolution, turning this country back to big government in a way none of us have seen since Carter was in the White House.

And it would very likely come with a Clinton win. As big as Trump’s negatives are among conservatives, they are even higher in the general public. In the Bill James essay, he argues that Trump could win the nomination but get slaughtered in the general because you can get 1/6th of the country to act like idiots and nominate Trump. But getting the half the country to do it is much harder. And while it’s true that there are lot of idiots out there, many vote Democrat.

(On a side note, I am certain that many of the conservative pundits currently attacking Trump will fall in line should he be the nominee. The fell in line behind RINOs McCain and Romney and, faced with another Clinton presidency, I’m sure they will fall in line this time. Allahpundit thinks so too. In fact, I’m already seeing pieces on conservative websites that are basically, “Well, actually …”. Almost all of the the pundits will support him if he’s the nominee.)

3. Rubio surges and takes the nomination. This is what I’m hoping for. Regardless of whether I support the GOP or not — and I could this year — I want each party to have the best nominee possible. I’ve always despised Democrats voting in Republican primaries to nominate the worst Republican or vice versa. Because you never know what’s going to happen. I’m sure there are a lot of Democrats who would love Trump to be the nominee because they think it would make it easier for Clinton to win. But even though they are right that Trump would be an easier opponent, they are thrice-damned fools. Because Hillary Clinton could have a stroke tomorrow. Or she could just … not win. And the next you know, Donald Trump is in the White House.

You always want the least bad option to be on the table, whether you’re Democrat, Republican or The Rent Is Too Damned High. And Marco Rubio is a lot better than the least bad option. I could actually vote for him.

But … I think a Rubio win is very unlikely at this point. We keep getting told that Rubio can win this. And we keep waiting for him to actually win anything. Cruz and Kasich draw off enough support that it will be hard for him to catch Trump. And it would be unprecedented for someone to win three of the first four primaries and not win the nomination.

Even if Rubio did surge, the path to the White House would still be fraught with peril. Trump has shown that he is a sore loser. He might cry foul and either wreck the convention or run as a third party candidate.

The more I turn this over, the more I think this ends with Hillary Clinton in the White House. And I hate the thought of Hillary Clinton in the White House. Not because she’s a woman but because she’s a petty spiteful woman who has shown very little skill in either foreign or domestic policy. She’s the author of our disastrous Libya intervention, supported the collapsing Obamacare and has proposed ever more spending. She would nominate Scalia’s replacement (assuming the GOP sticks to their guns with Obama) and likely replace two retiring liberal justices with two younger ones, cementing a liberal majority on the Court.

And … I have to wonder if maybe that’s the entire point of Trumps’ candidacy.

More Election Results

So, we had some more voting last night.

In Nevada, Clinton barely edged Bernie Sanders in a state she once led by forty points. Naturally, this was spun by the pro-Hillary media as a huge victory for her. And naturally, they mindlessly repeated baseless claims that Sanders supporters were chanting, “English only!” at Spanish speakers.

The latter is good illustration of why the likelihood of another Clinton presidency makes me ill. When Bill was President, this stuff went on all the time. They were constantly sliming their opponents: making hay out of Alma Powell’s depression, spreading false rumors about Newt Gingrich divorcing his wife while she was in a hospital bed, leaking info from Linda Tripp’s confidential FBI file. Just this month we’ve seen baseless accusations of racism and sexism, wild inaccurate claims about “Bernie Bros”, their allies claiming Sanders wasn’t involved in the Civil Rights movement and now this. And all eagerly lapped up by the media.

This is what the Clintons do. This is who they are. And with Hillary in charge, it will be worse than it was under Bill. Is this what you really want, Democrats? Apparently it is.

On the Republican side, Trump won South Carolina with about a third of the vote, with Rubio and Cruz finishing in a virtual tie for second. Afterward, Jeb dropped out, giving a classy speech that was a reminder that the Bush Family, whatever their political failings, are basically decent people. Carson and Kasich seem ready to stay in, but neither really has a chance. It’s not even clear that Kasich can take his home state, let alone anywhere else.

Last night was a big problem for Ted Cruz, who had hope of winning South Carolina as the evangelical vote coalesced behind him. It didn’t and it isn’t. A lot of evangelicals voted for the twice-divorced social liberal. And Trump maintains leads in the southern states that Cruz is hoping to win, with the exception of Texas.

Rubio has a path to the nomination. He’s done well in urban areas, is getting endorsements and is trying to broaden his appeal. But Cruz is a problem. Without the evangelicals solidly behind him, he doesn’t really have a path to the nomination but he’s not going to drop out either. So unless they both start polling better than Trump, this means Trump could keep winning primary after primary with a third of the vote and eventually take the nomination with about two-thirds of the party uncertain whether they’ll vote for him.

(It’s clear that Trump now sees Rubio as the bigger threat. This morning, he was questioning Rubio’s citizenship based on … his being Latino, I guess.)

In short, while the field is narrowing, we’ve taken another step toward a calamitous Trump-Clinton showdown.

Yeah, the worst of all possible worlds. It’s February 21 and I already hate this year.

Where I Am Right Now, February Version

So we had two more debates over the weekend. I won’t go blow-by-blow through them. Trump continued to be obnoxious. Bush punched back. Rubio and Cruz sparred, occasionally in Spanish. Kasich tried to set himself up as the adult in the room (not always successfully). Instead of going through that, I thought I’d lay out what my current impression is of the candidates and the order in which I would vote for them. I’ve put all the candidates in the list except for Ben Carson. The reason I’ve left Carson out is because I’m not sure what I make of him and I don’t think he’ll be in this much longer. The others should last at least through Super Tuesday.

So here’s my current preference for presidential candidates. Keep in mind that these rankings are fluid and could change significantly as the race progresses.


New Hampshire Votes

Last night we had another early primary, this time in New Hampshire. It went pretty much as the polls predicted. On the Republican side, Trump won, Kasich came in second and Rubio a surprisingly distant fifth. Sanders beat Clinton handily.

A few points:

It tells you a lot about the Democratic Party that Sanders walloped Clinton, beat her by twenty points. And yet Clinton actually won more delegates, according to CNN. The reason is that New Hampshire has eight “superdelegates” — party bigwigs who will vote with the establishment. In 2008, you may remember that the superdelegates became a big deal. For a while, it looked like Clinton would lose the primary vote but win the nomination due to the superdelegates. It will be interesting to see if that dynamic plays out again. I predict a rebellion at the convention if Clinton wins because she locked up the party establishment early. Sanders still trails nationally so I still expect Clinton to win outright. But the gap is closing, as you can tell by the increasingly desperate cries of the Clinton supporters (e.g., Steinem and Albright castigating young women for supporting Sanders).

If the GOP doesn’t get their act together, there’s a very good chance Trump will be the nominee and a very good chance Clinton will be the next President. Last night’s tally was a paradigm of everything going on right now. Trump only got a third of the vote. His negatives among GOP voters are actually very high. But the difference is that the faction supporting Trump are supporting Trump. The non-trump vote is divided among seven different candidates. So Trump walked away with the state and nine of its twelve delegates while getting less of the vote than Clinton did.

So who is the non-Trump candidate? Rubio was supposed to be surging. He finished fifth. Was it the gaffe at the debate? Everyone is claiming it was and I’m happy to eat some crow on that. But we tend to get too wedded to narratives in political season. Throughout this election cycle, Rubio has always been the candidate of tomorrow and tomorrow never seems to come. He may just not be that good a candidate, debate gaffe or no debate gaffe.

Kasich finished second but that’s because he bet everything on New Hampshire. He has minimal national presence and will almost certainly be finished by Super Tuesday.

It’s time for Fiorina to drop out. She’s going nowhere. It’s also time for Christie to drop out. I like the big guy and think he’d be a formidable national candidate, potentially swiping blue states from the Democrats. But New Hampshire was supposed to be his big breakthrough and it wasn’t. I also think it’s time for Carson to drop out. Carson is a nice man but he’s not happening.

That would leave us with a field of Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Bush and Rubio. It would free up 15% of the vote and give a Trump alternative a real chance to emerge. Will the GOP man up? Will the non-candidates drop out? On such decisions will the fate of the 2016 election turn.

Yet Another Republican Debate

I was in and out, catching parts of last night’s Republican debate. I missed what the media are assuring me today is the end of Marco Rubio’s campaign: when Chris Christie called him out for repeating the same canned talking points over and over and Rubio responded by … repeating his talking points.

Strictly on points, that was a big deal. Christie has been making this point for a while — and it’s a good one — that he (and Kasich and Bush) have a lot more experience in getting things done while Rubio (and Cruz) are mostly good at making speeches. Rubio does tend to fall back on canned speeches and his record of accomplishment is thin. He isn’t very good at improvising, something that has hurt him in direct interactions with voters and party stalwarts.

But …

This really crosses me as inside-the-beltway media stuff. I really don’t think the voting public is going to care very much whether Rubio is repeating himself. If this were debate club, Christie would have won, but it’s not. Repeating talking points is part of politics (Christie should know, as he never forgets to remind us that he was appointed as a federal prosecutor after 9/11). And Rubio gave an answer on abortion — talking about the rights of the woman the rights of the fetus being in contention — that was off the charts with conservatives in my Twitter feed. I disagree with Rubio on abortion, but his answer, pre-packaged or not, really resonated with GOP base. That’s what they’ll remember.

The other highlight was Jeb Bush finally landing a punch on Donald Trump. Bush hit the Donald hard on Trump’s abuse of eminent domain and the Donald had no answer, eventually turning on the audience as they booed him. I think the second place finish in Iowa and the leveling of the polls is getting to Trump. He’s still leading in New Hampshire, but if he loses, we could see an epic meltdown.

Overall, I think this is still a three-man race, with Christie as a possible dark horse should the leaders falter. I expect Trump to win New Hampshire. But the race is anyone’s to win right now.

Bernie and Cruz Take Iowa

Well, take is perhaps a generous word. Bernie Sanders finished the night neck-and-neck with Clinton. Clinton will win slightly more delegates (based partly on winning six straight coin flips). But this is a big blow. A large part of Clinton’s campaign has been, essentially, “This is happening. Stop squirming.” Sanders’ tie disrupts that narrative. He’s likely to win New Hampshire going away. But I think he will have a problem winning Super Tuesday. In the end, this is still Clinton’s nomination to lose.

So why did Bernie win? Two reasons, I think. One, Clinton is a lousy candidate, as I’ve noted many times. This is the third time she’s been handed an election on a silver platter and blown it. But second, Bernie is … and I hate to say this … running a very enjoyable campaign. He’s positive, he’s refusing to mudsling and he’s running impressive patriotic ads. I still disagree with every iota of his economic policy. But I can see why a lot of Democrats are supporting him.

On the Republican side, Cruz won by several percentage points, with Rubio placing a surprisingly strong third. Trump’s numbers plunged in the last week. That might be because he skipped the debate. But it also might be because people are getting serious about voting. And I’ve said many times, the Republican Party may flirt with crazy. They may get in the backseat of a car with it and unhook its bra. But in the end, they will go with a nice sensible candidate they can take home to meet their mother.

Trump’s campaign has also been built a lot on his inevitability. And he still hold big leads nationally and in the upcoming primary states. Iowa is, at best, a shaky predictor of Presidential elections. But this is a sign that Trump is not inevitable.

PS – Oh, Huckabee and O’Malley dropped out. I note that just in case you forgot they were running.

Update: Lee loved this Downfall parody when Clinton’s 2008 nomination went up in flames. I still find it hilarious. I think Clinton is still going to win. But I imagine something like this played out in Clinton HQ last night.