Is the GOP Down to a Two-Man Race?
This has been the most unlikely Presidential race in decades. Former Democrat Donald Trump is setting the talking points for Republicans. Hillary Clinton has somehow not been eliminated from contention and is actually poised to win the Democratic nomination. Ted Cruz is not only in the conversation, but is considered by many to be the most likely GOP nominee. What in the world is happening?
Most pundits are saying that Trump, Cruz, and Senator Marco Rubio are the clear leaders while Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie have outside chances of getting into the race if the right things happen. It’s Rubio that we want to look at today. Is he in the top tier simply because he’s the highest-polling Republican Establishment candidate? Is it even possible to conceive that the Republican Establishment doesn’t actually have a horse in the race anymore?
Polls are, for the most part, simply glimpses of sentiment rather than actual representations of likely voters, but here’s the thing. They’re painting a very clear picture and Rubio isn’t really in it. With a month and a half before the Iowa caucuses, is it too early to call this a two-man race and to say that the Republican Establishment doesn’t have one of those men? Any other year, this would be an utter impossibility. Any other year, we could point to the destruction of Newt Gingrich who was still leading in the polls going into Iowa in 2012 or to John McCain who was far behind in 2008.
This isn’t any other year. I think it’s fair to say that the Republican nomination comes down to Cruz or Trump, that Rubio is the only other candidate with an outside chance, and that the other three are pretty much out of consideration altogether. This points to a potentially darker (or brighter, depending on your perspective) scenario that could, for the first time ever, give clear attribution to the conspiracy theory that the Presidential election is controlled by outside forces.
If Trump gets the nomination, the conspiracy theory would be that he was the only candidate that Clinton had a chance of beating. If Cruz gets the nomination, the conspiracy theory would be that Trump was running as a shield against attacks from the left and more importantly from the Republican Establishment. Either way, if things continue on their trajectory, there is a conspiracy theory afoot and it surrounds Donald Trump.
No need to speculate at this point. Anything can happen. The best we can do is grab the popcorn, sit back, and see how it all plays out.