Should the GOP Throw the Match?

Rich Galen
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Posted: Mar 28, 2016 12:01 AM
Should the GOP Throw the Match?

We have talked about the power of expectations before and we saw it in play this past weekend when Bernie Sanders won all three contests on the Democrat side: Hawaii [or Hawai'i as it was spelled on CBS during the NCAAs] (70%-30%), Alask'a (82-18), and Washingto'n State (73-27).

The Hillary Clinton campaign made it abundantly clear to all who would listen that they expected to get skunked in all three states, but because of the proportional rules, Sanders wouldn't make much headway against Clinton in the delegate count.

So it was. As the Easter morning sun arose over the Continental United States, Sanders had only closed the delegate gap by 20: 56-36.

Overall, Hillary leads Bernie 1,712 - 1,004 including Super Delegates (Clinton + 708). Without the Super Delegates the count is 1,243 - 975 (Clinton + 268).

By the way, that is fewer than the difference between Donald Trump's current delegate total (739) and Ted Cruz's (465). The delta on the GOP side is Trump +274.

Sanders has plenty of money in the bank, is still attracting tens of thousands (and the occasional bird) to his events, and so can - and does - control the Democrat message agenda: Income disparity, education, trade, immigration, and so on.

All that is important because there is plenty of time until the conventions begin. Unelected Super Delegates are not bound to a candidate. Not to Hillary, not to Bernie. If the political granite on which Clinton's campaign has built its foundation turns into quicksand, those unelected, unbound Super Delegates are free to switch sides.

What might cause that? If the Department of Justice decides to empanel a grand jury (assuming it has not already done so) and begins to work its way up the food chain toward the former Secretary of State, that might have an impact, even if it doesn't reach all the way to Clinton.

Or, if Democrat voters determine that the polls are right - and they can win the White House against Trump with either Clinton or Sanders - they might well decide that they'd rather be true to their liberal principles with Sanders, than be required to suspend disbelief and vote for Clinton.

If only half the Super Delegates now pledged to Clinton decided to switch sides, the delegate math goes from 1,712 - 1,004 as mentioned above, to 1,477 - 1,239 a difference of only +238 for Clinton.

That's a far cry from the relative safety of the +708 delegate lead she is boasting today. On the GOP side of the ledger, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz spent the past few days in an immature - even for this campaign - schoolyard battle of "Your Mother Wears Combat Boots" and, apparently, little else.

You have got to give Trump this: No one else in America, maybe no one else in the Milky Way Galaxy, have made Ted Cruz into a victim. But, threatening, via Twitter to "spill the beans" on Heidi Cruz following the social media blitz (not by the Cruz campaign) of a spicy - but far from pornographic - photo of Melania Trump appears to have done the trick.

That doesn't mean it moved any votes, but the intensity of the discussion all but pushed the Brussels massacres out of prime time.

While the prospect of a series of back room - or even convention floor - deals to wrest the nomination away from Trump make for lively conversation among the CNN/Fox/MSNBC panels night after night, the reality is that is not likely to happen.

If I am correct about that, then the elders of the Republican Party might be wise to begin looking beyond the rest of the primaries, beyond the convention and beyond, even, the general election.

They need to decide if the time has come to throw the match: Let Trump be nominated and then do the minimal amount required to back his general election campaign and sit back while Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

That would give Donald Trump control of the levers of GOP power for not more than four months - from the end of the convention to the final counting on November 8.

That would trade four years of Hillary or Bernie in return for probably retaining control of both the U.S. Senate and House, the majority of Governors and state legislatures.

I'm not at all certain what the elders would do with a political party that is as scattered and useless as Autumn leaves on a wet city street; just waiting to be swept up and recycled into something useful.

They might spend the next six or seven months looking at younger Senators and Governors who are the natural and necessary heirs of the mess they have created.

And, hand the keys over to that new generation.