Update: Ted Cruz has a South Carolina firewall:
What if the firewall crumbles?
That’s the worry of a growing number of people close to Ted Cruz’s campaign, who are privately beginning to fear that a big loss in South Carolina to Donald Trump on Saturday could signal more defeats to come in the so-called SEC states that are the lynchpin of Cruz’s strategy.
“If they’re pretty far back from Trump and they can’t get southern conservative evangelicals in South Carolina, I do think they’re probably going to have a hard time elsewhere,” said Erick Erickson, a conservative writer in touch with Cruz’s team. “I sense a real fear from people that if Trump blows everybody out of the water in South Carolina, that he is suddenly unstoppable.“
South Carolina is not a Trump “firewall” because Trump has a diverse coalition. A Trump loss in South Carolina would be a big blow never-the-less. It would be a weakness and a sign of a long slog to come. Granted, by all logic Donald Trump should lose South Carolina. Trump has been, in one short week, attacked by the Pope, by Big Media and the entire political establishment – then responded with a lethal attack on some of the delusions about George W. Bush the Republican establishment holds most dear.
But South Carolina is a Cruz “firewall” not a Trump must win. If Trump beats Cruz in South Carolina, we believe Cruz will have to get out of the race even though we also believe foolish Cruz will decide to stick with his loser campaign. Of course, Cruz could win. Cruz once thought he would would win South Carolina:
Cruz’s team once envisioned South Carolina as a rubber match between Trump, the New Hampshire victor, and Cruz, the Iowa winner. Now, it’s being read as an omen of what’s to come in 10 days’ time when Southern states vote on Super Tuesday.
Cruz once called the God-fearing, gun-toting SEC states that vote then on March 1 his “firewall,” but polls show Trump leading in South Carolina, and a dominant performance Saturday would show that Cruz has not been able to sufficiently consolidate the evangelical base that he needs to win down the road in places like Tennessee and Georgia.
Cruz could win if evangelicals come out in massive numbers and vote in massive numbers for Cruz. Still, that would make Cruz a niche candidate and the states to come won’t have that high a proportion of evangelicals voting.
Just as Hillary Clinton required at least a ten point win in Nevada to douse the louse Bernie Sanders, Trump could use a big win because that would put the nail in the Cruz coffin:
Several people close to the campaign concede that losing South Carolina by double digits would spell serious trouble for Super Tuesday. If it’s a tighter loss, some say, it would validate the theory that Trump was susceptible to their attacks and encourage more. [snip]
“But if Trump gets 38 or 40 — and Cruz is second with 22 or something like that — it’s going to be very ominous,” the fundraiser added. [snip]
It is hard to overstate the importance of March 1 to Cruz’s self-professed path to victory — he has made the date, which will award more delegates than any other day in the Republican calendar, the cornerstone of his strategy.
Allies tell CNN Cruz is hoping to win 60% of the delegates there.
The next state to vote in the GOP nomination race is Nevada. Trump has a large lead there already. Cruz has a lot of firewalls that might go up in a Glenn Beck blaze:
Assuming Cruz does hold off Rubio, though, the key will be how large the margin of loss is to Trump, who also holds a large lead in Nevada.
“If Trump wins and we’re second, the SEC primary becomes a 50/50 scenario,” said one Cruz insider. “It’s our territory, but he’ll have the momentum.”
Firewalls will burn tonight. Whose?
Rubio had a 3-2-1 strategy (come in 3 in Iowa, 2 in NH, 1 in South Carolina). Cruz had a #1 in South Carolina firewall too. Trump has a win-win-win strategy. Not all three men can be #1.
Trump has almost always led by a great deal in South Carolina polls. Cruz had a firewall that might or might not burn down tonight and set a-blaze other firewalls on March 1. Marco Rubio needs to be something other than the perpetual bronze medal winner somewhere. Somethings gonna burn.
There will be losers as firewalls burn:
GOP elders want poorly performing candidates to quit
South Carolina could reshape the 2016 contest, with donor dollars shifting to a single Trump-Cruz alternative.
The South Carolina primary is poised to dramatically alter the Republican nomination contest, winnowing and clarifying the largest and most rambunctious GOP field in decades.
Many in the party’s upper echelons have grown impatient with their splintered field of center-right, mainstream contenders and say they intend to put pressure on whichever candidate falls short of third place on Saturday night to quit. [snip]
“South Carolina will reshape the race,” said Scott Reed, the chief political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [snip]
After disappointing showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Jeb Bush has staked his campaign on South Carolina, dispatching his brother and mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, to jog voters’ fond memories of Bushes past. Despite the family’s efforts, however, most polls in recent days have shown Bush hovering in single digits, far behind rival Marco Rubio.
The GOP establishment wants to stop Trump. Stop Trump is the goal:
If Bush bows out, a large and wealthy set of establishment-minded donors will be free to throw their support elsewhere. The former governor has tapped into his family’s loyal political network to amass over $120 million in contributions, and many Republicans say they think Rubio would be able to secure the backing of most of those donors, many of whom are eager for the party to unite behind a single contender to combat Trump and Cruz.
“The donor community is desperate to get someone out to focus on stopping Trump,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who won the South Carolina primary in 2012.
Rubio backers also hope that a smaller GOP field will bring party veteran Mitt Romney off the sidelines with an endorsement. Those close to Romney say he’s anxious to defeat Trump and Cruz – and that a Bush exit could nudge him closer to blessing Rubio. [snip]
South Carolina may transform the contest in other ways. Some in the Republican establishment worry that, following his runaway performance in New Hampshire, a lopsided Trump win would create an unmistakable sense of momentum heading into Nevada and the Super Tuesday states that vote on March 1. Most South Carolina surveys show Trump holding leads of anywhere from 15 to 20 percent.
“I think it would make him very difficult to stop, especially if he wins by a large margin, which is what the polls are indicating,” said McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee. “To state the obvious, if he wins, it’s significant.”
The firewalls are burning. A Trump victory in South Carolina would burn the biggest firewall of all:
How a Trump win in South Carolina could tear the GOP apart
For political junkies, the past week has been among the most astonishing in a political season already jam-packed with astonishing weeks.
In last Saturday’s GOP debate in South Carolina, Donald Trump took his disruptive tactics to a whole new level, laying into Jeb Bush and accusing his brother, former President George W. Bush, not just of invading Iraq for no good reason and ineptly managing the occupation of the country, but of intentionally lying to justify the war in the first place. In Trump’s telling, Saddam Hussein didn’t possess weapons of mass destruction, Dubya knew it, and he hyped the threat to justify a war he wanted to initiate for unrelated reasons. That’s long been a trope of far-left conspiracy theorists and dismissed by mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike. Yet there was the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination leveling that charge from center stage of a nationally televised GOP debate.
Conservative pundits understood instantly the gravity of what they were witnessing. If a Republican candidate for president could win a primary in a deeply conservative Southern state after such an outburst, it would be the strongest evidence yet that the conservative movement had lost control of the party — that a significant bloc of its voters is ready and willing to repudiate the movement and the ideas that have defined it for several decades.
That’s what’s going to be tested this Saturday in South Carolina. A dominating victory by Trump, which most polls are predicting, will not only strongly indicate that he’s likely either to win the nomination or prevent the nomination of anyone else prior to the GOP convention this summer. It will also portend a tumultuous future for the Republican Party, regardless of who ends up as the nominee in 2016. A party with such a large bloc of voters who diverge so sharply from the party’s organizing ideology is either a party that will need to significantly change its ideological direction — or one on the verge of breaking apart.
Whether this is in fact what’s in store for the Republican Party will be clarified as never before once the results in South Carolina roll in.
The biggest firewall to burn tonight is the GOP establishment firewall. If Trump wins South Carolina Trump will likely win the nomination and control of the Republican Party. The GOP establishment is burning, set ablaze by the voters, mostly the white working class, tired of the lies and corruption of the entire national political establishment:
The white working-class base of the party has been devastated by stagnating wages, globalization and de-industrialization, and various forms of social and cultural breakdown. And through it all the Republican Party has offered little beyond tax cuts for the wealthy and stern, moralistic reprimands (“Stop whining and get a job!”). That’s hardly a strategy inclined to generate long-term loyalty and enthusiasm for the party.
But that’s just the beginning.
Judged by any objective standard, the Republican Party’s record of governance over the past 16 years has been dismal. The largest and deadliest terrorist attack in American history took place with a Republican in the White House. He started two wars in response. The first failed for years to achieve its most immediate goal (capturing or killing Osama bin Laden) and dragged on for well over a decade, producing a deeply muddled outcome.
The second war was far more controversial. It failed to turn up the weapons that were the proximal cause of the conflict; sparked an insurgency that killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers; killed, maimed and displaced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; and spawned groups (al Qaeda in Iraq, which later became the Islamic State and its affiliates) that now radiate destabilizing violence throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, with carnage occasionally reaching as far as France and California.
Meanwhile, the same Republican president pushed through two massive tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy, inspired only modest economic growth, and did little to buoy middle-class wages. He then presided over the most severe economic crisis and collapse in seven decades.
That’s an awful lot to answer for. But not even this record filled with ample doses of bad luck, missteps, and outright mistakes gets at the deepest source of present-day dissent within the GOP — which is the response of the party and its conservative-movement cheerleaders to these mistakes and missteps.
We typically think of ideology as a web of policies and the arguments that are used to justify them. But ideologies can also shape tactics. And the fact is that for much of the past generation the GOP has been in the grip of a tactical ideology of willful stubbornness. [snip]
Which brings us back to Trump.
What voters hear when he rails against the stupidity of the country’s political leadership, the incompetence of George W. Bush, and what he likes to call the complete disaster of American policy in Iraq and the broader Middle East is a man willing both to face the ugly truth that they themselves perceive and to call out those who refuse to acknowledge it. If he gets a little carried away in countenancing some unsavory conspiracy theories, that’s a forgivable offense. Certainly more forgivable than Republicans failing to take even the least bit of responsibility for what they’ve done, and failed to do, while holding positions of power.
On Saturday night in South Carolina, we’ll see how many Republican voters are willing to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt — all for the sake of telling the party’s leadership just how unwilling they are to continue extending the same benefit to them.
Firewalls will burn today. It is not just political campaigns set ablaze. Today, the political establishment faces the Götterdämmerung conflagration all tyrants fear.
Today and/or tonight, firewalls will burn. We don’t know which firewalls will burn. But today, firewalls burn.
The biggest and earliest firewall that might Bern? Hillary Clinton’s Nevada firewall.
Hillary2016 must win a resounding victory of ten points or more if she is to keep her Nevada firewall pristine, not charred. If Hillary2016 loses in Nevada, a state where her campaign bragged of its lead for so long, then it will be the first of burnt firewalls and Hillary2016 will resemble bombed out post war European cities.
If we see a Bernt Hillary2016 firewall in Nevada, Bernie Sanders will be able to survive the earlier primaries which should be Hillary2016 victories. If the Hillary2016 Nevada firewall Berns down Bernie Sanders will have his great comeback in the Western primaries and caucuses towards the end of the nomination process.
If Nevada Berns, there will be few credible excuses. The dumb “analysis” that suggests Hillary2016 will be saved by the odious Harry Reid, just don’t know what they are talking about. Harry Reid in 2008 helped destroy Hillary and in 2016 Harry Reid is up to his same tricks.
If Nevada Berns, there will be zero credible excuses for the failure. Hillary2016 campaign manager Robbie Mook grew up in Vermont so he understands the Vermont senator. Also, Robbie Mook was the 2008 Hillary state director in Nevada.
If the firewall holds without a singe on it, then Hillary2016 will be back on track. But an Iowa style “victory” will only serve to fire up the Jacobins of the Bernie cinder campaign.
If the Nevada firewall Berns today, the spiritless Mook “data driven” campaign will be in flames. Mook’s head and the hapless Jennifer Palmieri’s head will have to be removed. If the Nevada firewall Berns today, the long slough for Hillary2016 will begin. It will be a long slough to defeat.
We will update with the Republican contest in South Carolina and the burning firewalls there, before the voting ends at 7:00 p.m.