So Donald Trump has handily won the Nevada caucuses, surpassing all expectations with 45.9% of the vote, exceeding even the combined total of Marco Rubio (23.9%) and Ted Cruz (21.4%). Trump currently has 81 delegates out of the 1,237 required to win on the first ballot at the convention, while Cruz and Rubio have just 17 each. Note that he handily won both South Carolina and Nevada after saying that George W. Bush did not ‘keep us safe’ because 9/11 happened on his watch, and that the war in Iraq was a mistake and that GWB lied the nation into that disaster, all unspeakable heresies that pundits felt might finally, finally, doom his candidacy.
But more importantly than the delegate totals, the rules require a candidate to have won at least eight contests for their names to be placed in nomination. This was increased by the party establishment from five in previous election cycles in order to prevent an outsider from winning but it now favors the outsider Trump, showing once again how the best laid plans o’ mice and men gang aft agley. The hope of the establishment is that Cruz, Kasich, and Carson drop out soon leaving just Trump and Rubio and that Rubio will get the support that previously went to all the others. But all those hopes are built on sand.
Cruz at least has won one caucus, even if just barely and under highly dubious conditions. His record so far is 1-3-3-3. Rubio has not won anything, finishing 3-5-2-2 in the four contests so far, with him and Cruz almost tied in the last two contests. While Rubio will try and tout his barely second place finish in Nevada as a ‘win’ for him and seek to use it to establish his place as the only viable alternative to Trump, Cruz will claim that it was a tie for second and that he is the real alternative. But there is a limit to how far you can push the idea of not winning being the same as winning. In the clutch of 11 contests coming up next on March 1, Cruz leads in the polls only in his home state of Texas (that votes on March 1) but Rubio does not lead anywhere, not even his home state of Florida. Trump leads John Kasich in the latter’s home state of Ohio. Both Ohio and Florida vote on March 15.
As Tim Dickinson writes, the depth of Trump’s victory should not be underestimated.
Trump won big among: men and women, those under 45 and over 45, and white voters and nonwhites. He took every category of education, and every category of political orientation, from moderate to very conservative. He won born-again voters and non-evangelicals. He won voters who care most about immigration, and those who prioritize the economy, and those worried about terrorism, and the ones who want to rein in government spending. He won voters who are angry and voters who are merely dissatisfied. He took those who care deeply about the Supreme Court vacancy, and those who really can’t be bothered. City dwellers, suburbanites, rural folk — they all went Trump. All of them.
Hang on to your hat (and discount for a small sample size and a high margin of error): Despite his xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric, Trump won among Republican Latino voters in Nevada, taking 44 percent, compared to Rubio’s 29 percent and Ted Cruz’s 18 percent support.
At the next Republican debate on Thursday, you can just imagine Trump rubbing Cruz’s and Rubio’s noses in the fact that Latinos supported him by a huge margin over them, despite his calling them rapists that need a big wall to be kept out and his promise to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Matt Taibbi has a hilarious, perceptive, must-read, piece on the carnival-like atmosphere that permeates Trump events.
In person, you can’t miss it: The same way Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, Donald on the stump can see his future. The pundits don’t want to admit it, but it’s sitting there in plain view, 12 moves ahead, like a chess game already won:
President Donald Trump.
A thousand ridiculous accidents needed to happen in the unlikeliest of sequences for it to be possible, but absent a dramatic turn of events – an early primary catastrophe, Mike Bloomberg ego-crashing the race, etc. – this boorish, monosyllabic TV tyrant with the attention span of an Xbox-playing 11-year-old really is set to lay waste to the most impenetrable oligarchy the Western world ever devised.
It turns out we let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go.
And Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He’s way better than average.
But, in an insane twist of fate, this bloated billionaire scion has hobbies that have given him insight into the presidential electoral process. He likes women, which got him into beauty pageants. And he likes being famous, which got him into reality TV. He knows show business.
That put him in position to understand that the presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show whose production costs ludicrously include the political disenfranchisement of its audience. Trump is making a mockery of the show, and the Wolf Blitzers and Anderson Coopers of the world seem appalled. How dare he demean the presidency with his antics?
But they’ve all got it backward. The presidency is serious. The presidential electoral process, however, is a sick joke, in which everyone loses except the people behind the rope line. And every time some pundit or party spokesman tries to deny it, Trump picks up another vote.
No one should be surprised that he’s tearing through the Republican primaries, because everything he’s saying about his GOP opponents is true. They really are all stooges on the take, unable to stand up to Trump because they’re not even people, but are, like Jeb and Rubio, just robo-babbling representatives of unseen donors.
Now that his path to the Republican nomination seems even more assured, Stephen Colbert looks even further ahead and prepares us for a Trump presidency.