April 1, 2016
Pretend it was April 1, 2015 and someone told you the following would occur over the next year:
Bernie Sanders would raise over $100 million in a single quarter from small donations.
Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio would combine to win one state.*
PAC money wouldn’t matter.
Speaker Paul Ryan.
Hillary Clinton would have 147 FBI agents investigating her, but remain the presumptive nominee.
You’ll notice none of the above included the word Trump, though he had a lot to a little to do with each.
Also no mention of a potentially brokered/contested convention. That’s actually something that appeared very plausible a year ago, when it was already known we would see an unusually large GOP field. Combined with the calendar and delegate allocation rules, that wasn’t a big stretch.
Given what we’ve seen in the past year, almost anything is imaginable in the next one. It destroyed the value in doing a traditional April Fools prank post. There’s little I could have invented that would appear less plausible than what really happened over the past 366 days.
I will take this opportunity to make a prediction of something we’ll wake up to a year from now. While it’s not a cinch, it also feels way more likely than any of the above items did a year ago.
President Nikki Haley.
The best part is nobody would have a difficult time believing this now, but I’ll take you through it anyway.
Step 1: Trump falls short of 1237. Easily could happen. Especially if he doesn’t win Wisconsin where he’s currently trailing.
Step 2: Cruz finishes second in delegates, but is well behind Trump. Kasich isn’t interested in trading delegates for a VP spot, holding out on being the nominee himself and having no interest in being Ted’s Cheney. A Cruz-Rubio combination doesn’t add to 1237.
For all of Ted’s skill in maneuvering behind the scenes to pick up extra delegates, it does more to stop Trump than get Cruz to the promised land. There just aren’t enough who are actually for him instead of against The Donald.
Step 3: Though Kasich is still doing well in matchup polls with Hillary, it proves impossible to rally the delegates around a candidate who only won his home state and lost EVERYWHERE ELSE. Even if he wins Pennsylvania and Oregon or something, it’s still an issue.
Step 4: The candidates who dropped out/suspended their campaigns are summarily dismissed. A wave of Marcomania sweeps over the crowd before everyone remembers he lost his home state by 20 points and choked in the New Hampshire debate.
Step 5: Mitt Romney is dismissed as an option because he’s Mitt Romney. In all seriousness, this is a complete non-starter. His favorability ratings stink, there’s limited chance of pulling Trumpists back in, and he’s already lost a presidential election.
Step 6: Paul Ryan says no. They talked him into the speakership by refusing to rally around anyone else. There’s an alternative here. Plus, he’s not necessarily the ideal candidate anyway. Being speaker doesn’t lead to the presidency for a reason.
That leaves Haley. What better way to immediately correct for any gender gap created by Trump? No matter what happens, Republicans will need to rely on Hillary’s weakness as a candidate. If Trump wins, he has obvious electability issues. Cruz would have something of an uphill fight in the fall.
Any non-Trump candidate is going to have some potential voters stay home. It’s still a better bet for the GOP than taking their chances with The Donald, at least assuming his overall favorability numbers are anywhere near this rancid in July.
With Rubio discredited, Kasich losing too many primaries (and not sounding conservative enough for many stalwarts), and Ryan compromised by his new job, there really aren’t any other options.
This is how conventions used to work back in the day. They picked the candidate they thought could win, and who could unite most of the segments of the party and regions of the country.
When the current system developed, beginning with the 1972 cycle, it forced candidates to begin preparing years ahead, raise a ton of money, and commit in a way they didn’t need to before.
There were always candidates who tried to get an early jump, knowing they needed to win on a first or second ballot or lose to someone waiting in the wings, but if you ask yourself who the ideal GOP candidate is at this point, she’s the answer. A deadlocked convention would allow them to actually pick that person.
While Trump would threaten to huff and puff and blow Reince Preibus’ house down, he’s stuck. With a big lead in delegates, he can’t logically begin a third party run now. If he waits until July, it’s logistically too late to get on the ballot in many states.
Especially if the economy is a bit softer in November, wouldn’t you favor Haley against Hillary?
So figure on President Haley.
* Rubio also won D.C. and Puerto Rico. Saying one state plus two other places that count, or three contests just doesn’t sound as good.