Saturday, February 20, 2016

I think the Republicans will make the first Sam Wang deadline

With Jeb! out, I think it is likely that Kasich will hang on to see where Jeb!'s support goes. Jeb! didn't have much, 5.4% nationally, according to the RCP average. But if you add that to Kasich's 8.6%, that at least puts him close to Rubio's average of 16.0%.  Of course, that assumes that Kasich gets all the Jeb! supporters. It's more likely that he will split them with Rubio. Still, Kasich has got to cling to the hope that he will get most of them and the Rubot does some new dumb thing, giving him an opening to be the alternative to CruzTrump.

That's such a long shot, I don't think it will work. Plus, if you look at the polling average for Nevada, Jeb! only has 3% to give to Kasich (who is currently at 7%). So if Kasich gets all the Nevadan Jebians that will only get him to 10%, which is still about half of Rubio's 19%. So while I think Kasich will stick it out to see if he can be the last "establishment" Republican standing, his gambit won't work. He will do badly in NV even without Jeb! and so he will drop out soon thereafter.

I also think that Carson will finally call it quits in the next week (although I don't know if that will be before or after the NV GOP caucuses). Either way, that will mean the Republicans will end the month with only three candidates: Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. Which means the Republicans will meet the first deadline that Sam Wang identified for nominating someone other than Trump (Wang figured out that the GOP would not be able to nominate someone other than Trump, given the primary calendar and how delegates are allocated, unless they got down to three candidates by February 29 and two candidates by March 14).

In other words, there still is a clear path to having a Republican nominee who is not Trump. That alternative, assuming an alternative wins, might very well be Cruz instead of Rubio. Also, just because they have a path to go with a Trump alternative does not mean they will take it. Trump is, as Josh Marshal notes, now the clear favorite for the GOP nomination.