February 9, 2016


A Party on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Ross Douthat, FEBRUARY 8, 2016, NY Times)

Sadly no political technologist has yet pioneered that kind of retroactive excision, so Rubio is going into the final forty-eight hours in New Hampshire with a bad debate moment that plays directly into his foes' main line of attack -- that he's a callow scripted smoothie -- hanging over his head. Which, in turn, raises the odds that someone else might be the candidate of late deciders ... and after a debate in which nobody laid a glove on him, that someone else could very well be John Kasich, who has the distinction of being the establishment Republican least equipped for a long drawn-out post-New Hampshire primary campaign.

At which point we would be in truly chaotic territory, in which the Republican Party's ideological center, such as it is, would have great difficulty holding. A Rubio-Cruz-Trump race, as I've pointed out before, would already be the most ideologically consequential primary battle the G.O.P. has featured in decades if not generations. But at least it would be a relatively orderly battle, in which most of the party leadership would end up behind the Florida senator, rather than turning the knives on one another. If Rubio can't consolidate things, though -- if he falls into a tie with Jeb, let's say, while Kasich is alone in second place -- then we're in a situation where Jeb might stick around till Florida and Kasich till Ohio, both on March 15th, an eternity away.

If Trump wins tonight but is below thirty percent and a governor (either Kasich or Jeb) beats Cruz and Rubio, then it's open for Jeb in SC.

Posted by at February 9, 2016 1:20 PM