The number of candidates in the Republican Field has the Party establishment a bit worried. A dinner party was held a couple of weeks ago ostensibly to discuss what the Ohio convention would look like if none of the candidates reaches the required 1237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.
How many political junkies are really falling for that spin? One doesn’t have to be a “James Carville” to know what was being discussed over the filet mignon. The quandary that Republicans face is not a contested convention; it is figuring out how to save the historic GOP and the two-party system from the malady that is the Trump campaign. And that was by far the most important topic discussed at the dinner party held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for his 20 guests that together make up the “Who’s Who” of the Republican Establishment.
The oddity of Trump’s success as a candidate for an office that would make him the leader of the free world, frightens both Democrats and Republicans alike (and the Free World). Republicans know they cannot win national elections by relying on the vote of the “angry white man” demographic, and Trump’s message does not appeal to the demographics Republicans must garner support from in order to be a party that can win national elections.
For the past 8 years, Republicans have been courting the Latino vote. It is the only demographic that Republicans can peel away from the winning Democratic coalition. There has not been much courtship between African-Americans and the GOP. And the Republican attacks on Planned Parenthood have not endeared the Party to young women. The Latino demographic is socially conservative on issues like abortion and gay marriage, making them the only segment of the Democratic Coalition not completely at odds with the GOP.
Trump is the antipode of what a Republican Presidential candidate needs to sound like in 2016. If the GOP wants to remain a viable national party in the years to come, they cannot have their leading candidate spewing xenophobic insults at Latinos. Trump’s antics, his racism, his ignorance, and his unfortunate decision to interpose his crude and arrogant “Apprentice” TV personality into the Republican Primary process, might have extirpated years of hard work by The Republican Party to win over Latinos, who sympathize with a number of conservative principles. Trumps loud, obnoxious, shock and awe style of campaigning consumes Network TV’s earned/free media time and makes it difficult for the actual conservatives (Trump is not a conservative) in the Republican Field to get any traction with Latinos or even the electorate at-large.
The one conservative candidate that Democrats are truly fearful of is Senator Marco Rubio. Not only is the youthful Marco Rubio a moderate who can appeal to the “undecideds” in the general election, he is Latino. And his moderate conservatism is palatable to his fellow Latinos who might have voted Democrat in the past couple of presidential elections, but are socially conservative enough for Rubio to win over in this 2016 presidential bought. The fact that he hails from Florida is another glaring strength of a Rubio general election ticket.
A Rubio/(name of a prominent Evengelical/Tea Party candidate that won’t scare off moderates and undecideds) ticket would put the GOP within reach of taking back the executive branch. Republicans would officially become a big tent party with a winning national coalition that could usher Rubio into the Oval Office. As dreamy as this sounds to my conservative friends, a dream is all this scenario is right now. Rubio’s potential second place finish in NH could very well be his best showing in this 2016 Republican Primary. Real Clear Politics has Rubio down by 7 points in South Carolina—not 7 points behind Trump, but 7 points behind the second place Cruz. The story is the same in the most important Super Tuesday states: Rubio a distant third, Cruz a distant second, Trump a commanding lead.
Can Republicans still save their party from the embarrassment and ruination of a Trump Republican Primary victory? If New Hampshire and South Carolina thin out the herd enough for Republicans to coalesce around their best candidate–Senator Marco Rubio–then, yes, it is conceivably possible for Rubio to start competing seriously with Cruz and Trump on Super Tuesday and beyond. However, it is difficult to envision the Republican Party pulling off such a rational and winning strategy in the face of such an irrational election year in which the conservative ideology of the Republican Party is being replaced by fascism.