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The Establishment’s Last Stand

I’ve got a really, really long column—more of an article, honestly—up at The Week about Super Tuesday and the rest of the race for the GOP nomination. I basically go through each of the non-Trump campaigns and ask: what would it take for them to stop Trump? And the answer is: very probably more than they’ve got.

Key points:

  • Rubio can’t afford to lose everything on Tuesday, because he’s weak in the Midwest. His best shot to win something is in Minnesota, followed by Georgia or Virginia, followed by the border states (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee). But it’s not looking good for him anywhere, and that’s partly because his message—I am the electable nice guy who is an orthodox conservative—is badly wrong for this election cycle and actually not a great one for the candidate.
  • Cruz can’t afford to lose everything either, because he’s even weaker further down the line, but he’s also more likely to actually win something, starting with Texas. If he outperforms, he could pick up border states like Oklahoma or Arkansas, as well as conservative caucus states like Wyoming or Alaska. His messaging problem: he knows how to sell himself as “Mr. Conservative,” but he doesn’t know how to sell that brand as a good thing.
  • Kasich actually can afford to lose just about everything tomorrow—because with momentum he could put up some wins in the Midwest and be a strong contender in a two-person race with Trump. But he has to come in at least a strong second in places like Massachusetts, Virginia and Minnesota, Rubio has to seriously underperform, and he needs Cruz take a bite out of Trump. None of which is likely to happen. His messaging problem has been providing voters with a cause for his candidacy beyond “I’m not a crazy person.”
  • There’s not going to be a brokered convention—or, if there is, there’s no way the nominee is going to be someone who ran and won less than a plurality of delegates. So if the non-Trump candidates continue to run simply to deny Trump a majority, they are no longer running for the nomination themselves.

It’s long, but that’s because it’s pretty comprehensive. So I do hope you’ll read the whole thing.

about the author

Noah Millman, senior editor, is an opinion journalist, critic, screenwriter, and filmmaker who joined The American Conservative in 2012. Prior to joining TAC, he was a regular blogger at The American Scene. Millman’s work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Week, Politico, First Things, Commentary, and on The Economist’s online blogs. He lives in Brooklyn.

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