Post-primary and post-caucus analysis
I’ve been predicting for several days that Bush would drop out, and I was right again. But I have to admit that even I was a little surprised that he dropped out on the night of the election.
Two weeks ago, I thought Trump could break 40% in South Carolina, but he only won 32.5%. What went wrong? All of the bad stuff that happened to Trump during the last week, including attacking W at the SC debate, the brouhaha with the Pope, attacks by the other candidates, saying the “wrong” thing about Obamacare, I think all of this depressed Trump’s potential share of the vote.
But despite this, the tone on CNN is that Trump had a “huge” night. I think I heard Wolf Blitzer use the word “huge” several times. Why the different perception? Because for months and months, the MSM believed that Trump would magically disappear. Winning South Carolina by a substantial 10 percentage points is the very opposite of a magical disappearance. Trump has vastly exceeded what has been the expectation of the MSM for months and months, so from their perspective they are genuinely awed and amazed by Trump’s commanding first-place finish.
On the other hand, some people are noting that if Rubio had only collected all of the votes of both Kasich and Bush, he would have beaten Trump. Anti-Trumpers still believe that Trump has a “ceiling” of 35% of the vote, so as soon as enough other candidates drop out, Trump will start losing.
I have always believed that Trump’s ceiling is above 50% of the vote. I still predict that social proof and the desire to associate with a winner will cause Trump to do better in each election hereafter and eventually we will see Trump winning more than 50%.
It should also be pointed out that the longer Kasich stays in the race and splits the “establishment lane” vote with Rubio, the better it is for Trump. Kasich seems to believe that as the only governor and the only adult in the race, he will pick up Jeb’s voters and catch up to Rubio. Indeed, he may surprise us in Nevada. A lot of Rubio’s support comes from evangelicals. They like Rubio’s absolute opposition to abortion even in cases of rape. Among non-evangelicals (alas, only 28% of the SC Republican primary voters), Rubio beat Kasich by the very small margin of 22% to 19%. Nevada has a lot fewer evangelicals than SC, so we could see Kasich have surprising strength, especially with Bush out of the race.
Now, on the Democratic side, I think that if Bernie couldn’t win in Nevada it means he doesn’t have enough support (mostly because he does so poorly with blacks and to a lesser extent with Hispanics) to win in South Carolina or on Super Tuesday, and Bernie will suffer a devastating loss of momentum when he gets crushed on Super Tuesday.