The above graphic shows the final vote totals from Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary results. The biggest shock to me was predictable to many; Jeb’s poor showing in what until Saturday night I would have called “Bush Territory” officially ended a campaign so embarrassing it caused me to feel genuine pity for a member of the Bush family. This, along with Marco Rubio pulling out a second place finish, by a nose, over Ted Cruz were the sole bright spots for the GOP “establishment” in their own primary. Rubio regained some of the momentum he lost due to his disastrous debate and primary performance in New Hampshire, while Jeb’s exit from the race puts an end to his superPAC’s attack ads targeting Marco and frees Bush supporters up to fall in line and back the GOP’s golden child. All other news coming out of South Carolina is bad news for the GOP, while all the results are bad news for the nation as a whole. How did we fall this far?
First things first. Trump won. Easily. No Republican candidate has ever won both New Hampshire and South Carolina and failed to win the nomination. Add that statistic to the pile of historical records Trump will break when he inevitably falls apart and loses the nomination, as the beltway pundits keep insisting is just around the corner.
Is Ann Coulter even a pundit? I said pundits keep insisting Trump is going to collapse….
There, that’s better.
Trump won in South Carolina after attacking a Bush in the final pre-primary debate, making the victory that much more unsettling, as his attack on George W. was heralded once again as Trump’s fatal mistake. How many fatal mistakes is this now, anyways?
Diving a little deeper into the numbers, we find that 54.7% of the voters in S.C. cast a ballot for either Trump or Ted Cruz. As much as this terrifies me, it has to frighten the GOP just as badly. They have stoked the anger and resentment of the white working class for decades now, creating an unlikely group of dependable GOP voters. After using dog whistles for so long, why do they seem so surprised that bluntly declaring what the party has been hinting at is so damn effective?
The GOP seems to think it could still snatch victory out of this mess by quickly turning it into a three man race. Once they can get their golden boy alone against Cruz and Trump, so the logic goes, the GOP voters will come to their senses and give Rubio the nomination. For the nation however, the GOP side has nothing but three horrid choices who would each damage the country in their own way. But that is for another post.
Other GOP losers on Saturday? Gov. Nikki Haley, who used her position in the state to launch a “Stop Trump” campaign that failed miserably, along with both sitting senators from S.C., who saw exactly how much their endorsements matter to their constituents. I’d count John Kasich in with the losers, but unlike Bush, he honestly wasn’t expected to do well in S.C. and he isn’t dropping out of this thing yet, moving back up north to campaign in the more moderate Super Tuesday states.
Sigh. I would feel so much better about all of this if the Democrats were nominating an unstoppable juggernaut to run in November. As it is?
I laughed as much as anyone when a reality television star became the GOP front runner last year. When second place was taken over by a Senator members of his own party refer to as a “jackass“I howled with glee. I admit it. Like just about everyone else (not Brad Friedman from the Bradcast though, who took Trump seriously the whole time.) I assumed that once the voting started, a small bit of sanity would return to the United States and we’d see the end of Trump and Cruz. Even after Iowa I felt this way. Hell, Trump losing Iowa to Cruz reassured me. The actual winner of Iowa really doesn’t matter, after all (I don’t remember the Obama v Santorum election, do you? Or Huckabee V Obama? How about Bush v Carter in 1980? Dole v Gephardt in 88? No?) but Trump was winning Iowa according to the polls yet was lucky to take second. It looked for all the pundits to see that Trump’s lack of a ground game would be the factor that doomed his run.
The New Hampshire happened. And South Carolina.
It isn’t funny anymore.