Let’s review the candidates as they stand today starting with Donald Trump. While he’s the so-called Republican front-runner, there’s very little chance he’ll win the nomination let alone the presidency. So let me be very clear about my prediction: Donald Trump will NEVER be the President of the United States. Period.
Why would I go out on a limb so early? First and foremost, you can’t be President and also a loose cannon – and Donald Trump is an unapologetically loose cannon. It makes for great political theatre as evidenced by his TV ratings, but you can’t win an election with 40% of the vote. Suppose for a moment that Trump was somehow (inexplicably) able to cinch the nomination. Now it’s just Trump and Clinton – all the other voices silenced in the primaries. How long do you think it will take Trump to say something stupid like he’s done so many times before – calling Rosie O’Donnell a pig, Carli Fiorina ugly, and Megan Kelly a bimbo. You can’t expect to get away with that stuff forever, no matter how brazenly unapologetic you are. And what works in primary season when only politicos care about the election is different from October of an election year when the rank and file voters start to get interested in the contest.
Next there’s his controversial immigration policy – if you can reasonably call it that. Threatening Gestapo-like tactics to round up and deport millions of illegals is a losing issue with the majority of the voters, let alone Latinos. You might find a few confused Mexican-Americans willing to vote for Trump, but most people are smart enough not to vote against their own interests when the consequences of an election would hit so close to home. In other words, what person would vote for a politician who advocates kicking their friends and relatives out of the country?
Trump is also weak on policy. He’s just a salesman with big, shiny ideas. But his ideas only appeal to the extreme right, and those folks don’t care about substance. It’s fine with them that Trump wants to build an expensive, impractical wall between the US and Mexico. They’d rather deport Mexican immigrants than worry about the cost or practicality of such an endeavor. But the voters at the center aren’t going to be so easily bamboozled and there’s still a year before the election where Trump is going to be forced to debate his ideas with more substantive policy positions. Telling us he’s going to have wonderful, talented people and amazing results will only take him so far and it’s only a matter of time before voters figure out he’s selling snake oil.
Ted Cruz will never be president either. Nearly all his colleagues hates him and he’s far too extreme anyway. His tactics are slash-and-burn with a heavy dose of take-no-prisoners, and it will cost him. He’s far more knowledgeable than Trump when it comes to policy and will be a much better debater, but you can’t win from the fringe, and Cruz isn’t a pragmatist. Cruz has a shot at the nomination because he’s not stupid and he appeals to the republican base, so it’s possible he’ll the eventual nominee, but that’s as far as he’ll go.
And now for the rest: Jeb Bush never had a chance. He’s a Bush. I know it seems simplistic in the general analysis of things to say that Bush can’t win because of his family name, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Also, he’s been so underwhelming in his overall performance that it’s difficult to see him climbing out of the hole he’s in.
Kasich, Paul, and Fiorina just don’t have the star power or support to present a formidable challenge for the nomination. They might as well have been on the JV debate stage with never-were candidates like Santorum and Huckabee. Meanwhile, Carsen, it turns out, is something of a whack-o and he’s not going anywhere either.
So who does that leave? Just Marco Rubio, the only other person with a credible shot at the nomination. The problem with Rubio is that he’s no more capable of defeating Hillary Clinton than Ted Cruz. He might be smart, relatively clean, and even able to lure some Hispanics. But when compared with Clinton, he’s going to come up short. She’s got decades more experience than the young Florida Senator and he’ll be out of his league competing against her in a general election. He might not lose some debates, but he’s never going to win any.
Assuming that Marco Rubio grabs the nomination, and putting aside Hillary as a nearly unassailable challenge, Clinton still has two weapons for which the Republicans have no answer. Not one, but two former, beloved presidents. Bill Clinton is still wildly popular with many Americans, and Barack Obama gets passing marks from the majority of voters as well. Both will campaign relentlessly for Hillary and their star power will mean something when it’s time to vote.
Meanwhile who among the Republicans compares to these two men? There are none who do. Former Republican candidates are weak, fringe, or controversial. George Bush and Dick Cheney are toxic. John McCain and Mitt Romney are both blah. Palin is a joke and hardly worth mentioning, except as an example of the ineptitude of the available Republican surrogates. Simply put, the Republicans are a rudderless ship.
So it’s difficult to see how the Republicans win the Whitehouse. This will be the third presidential election in a row where they have failed to field decent candidates. When it comes time to vote, it’s hard to see how anyone but Hillary will prevail.