- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2016


This political season, almost as remarkable a storyline as Donald Trump’s ascension in GOP politics, is the Republican establishment and anti-Trump forces’ inability to coalesce around a viable alternative.

Some conservatives would blame the highly fractured GOP field — that 17 contenders in August were simply too many, splintering votes and money. I would argue none of them had what it took to both win over the American electorate and Washington insiders, thereby sending the establishment into complete chaos.

For Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, voters rejected his inexperience and youth; for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, it was his last name and the voters’ refusal in wanting to continue a political dynasty.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker couldn’t seem to pivot from domestic policies in his early days and came off as a single issue (anti-union) candidate. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was never able to recover from his earlier gaff in the 2012 debates and couldn’t raise the money needed to propel his campaign into the fall. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had an identity crisis — was he or was he not a libertarian candidate? And all South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham could do was talk about was foreign policy.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came off as aggressive and mean, and it’s unknown whether Republican voters ever forgave him for his embrace of President Obama right before the 2012 presidential contest.

Social conservative candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum had an aura of “loser” around their names — yes, they were both likable enough, but neither had what it took to win in 2012, so why should Republicans believe they were winners now? Plus, the establishment wing, which is more the Chamber of Commerce crowd, often pinches its nose at GOP candidates with a social agenda.

Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson had zero hope — both were political newcomers who hadn’t built enough trust from the Washington elite. Where were they on policy? Why didn’t they have white papers, plans and seriousness? Did Mr. Carson even bother to study up when it came to Middle Eastern politics?

As the Washington insiders and the donor class bickered among themselves about who they should back, or why none of their candidates were gaining traction, Republican voters were making up their minds, and it was for Mr. Trump.

As the anti-Trump crowd complained about Mr. Trump’s lack of conservative values, his flip-flopping and his outrageous, politically incorrect statements both on-air and in their columns — other candidates suffered a lack of support, a lack of media attention and a lack of funding.

The establishment and #NeverTrumpers love to constantly remind the American public that more than 60 percent of Republicans don’t support Mr. Trump and that a winning candidate needs to actually win the majority of the vote. But while preaching this, they too failed in producing one single candidate who could unify the 60 percent.

Now there are only two others in the race, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Mr. Kasich, like Mr. Trump points out, is now 1 for 47. Perhaps it’s his stubborn nature, smug campaign or moderate track record. Who knows? But one thing is for sure: Mr. Kasich can’t and won’t win the GOP nomination.

So that leaves Mr. Cruz.

And the establishment can’t stand him.

The anti-Trump crowd seemed to rally behind Mr. Cruz for a victory in Wisconsin, but the flood of donor money, endorsements and on-the-ground help in the New England states — where everyone knew Mr. Cruz was weak — never seemed to materialize. Mr. Cruz has been plugging away, fighting for himself, and trying to build a broader Republican coalition as he progresses, but it so far hasn’t worked.

Mr. Cruz reliably picks up the “true conservative” voters at the polls, as well as the more socially conservative, religious voters. But he’s had a hard time reaching out to moderate, urban Republicans. Perhaps this difficulty is because he’s received no help from the Chamber of Commerce folks, or perhaps it’s because of Mr. Cruz’s own personality — which many find polarizing and unlikable. Then again, maybe it’s his platform, which is hard right.

It appears Indiana will be Mr. Cruz’s Waterloo — and that he’ll either win it or lose it by himself.

As the GOP establishment now freaks out over their lack of choices, Mr. Trump is consolidating more votes, dipping into new demographics and reaching beyond what they considered to be his 30 percent ceiling.

Mr. Trump, for the first time on Tuesday, swept all five states, winning not only a majority of the vote in every state, but coming close to 60 percent or exceeding it in several places. He won practically every demographic group in every state.

Mr. Trump did better with conservatives rather than moderates in these states. He won the “very conservative” vote, suggesting he’s now pulling from Mr. Cruz’s crowd. He trounced Mr. Kasich in Connecticut and Maryland among those voters with postgraduate degrees, coalescing the educated, elite vote.

Perhaps there never was an establishment lane this political season. Or perhaps it was too confused, arrogant or disbelieving to actually understand what was going on.

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