The results are in from the most recent Republican primary in South Carolina. As predicted, Donald Trump won his second consecutive primary contest. Trump- 32% and the runners up- being Senator Cruz and Rubio, both at about at 22%.
I hate to the bearer of bad news to the Republican political establishment, the “Anyone But Trump” cabal of fat cat fossilized old fogies; those die-hard denizens of the National Review and the Weekly Standard- the sanctimonious keepers of the conservative flame; and of course, those hundreds of long-time wealthy and well-connected conservative politicos who have been backing Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
Despite being attacked from all sides in the debates, despite multi-million dollar attack ads from Bush-supporting PACs, and despite being attacked by many lame stream media columnists and commentators from the Washington Post, New York Times, the New Yorker, CNN and Fox, Trump and his core support have held firm.
We have seen this populist movie before here in good old Toronto, with Rob Ford and then his brother Doug.
I predict that Trump’s populist appeal is deeply emotional, visceral, personal and unshakeable. Broad as it is deep.
Nothing short of Trump being criminally indicted will stop this powerful, seemingly indestructible Trump train.
After three hard-fought and contentious primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, we have a much better handle on who constitutes Trump’s core supporters.
The most recent South Carolina primary confirmed that Trump had retained the support of men, moderate conservatives, those without college degrees and older voters.
In addition—and this was a huge shock to Cruz supporters and mainstream Republicans—Trump also won the support of white evangelical voters by 8 percentage points over Senator Cruz.
This very powerful and influential Republican group in South Carolina made up approximately 70 percent of Republican voters in the state and had been the backbone of Senator Ted Cruz’s support. Obviously no longer.
Recall about a month ago, in an effort to bolster his support among socially conservative Republicans, while at the same time alienating Trump from this very same group, Cruz accused Trump of “embodying New York values”.
In other words, contrary to Republican socially conservative dogma, Trump was soft on abortion and gay marriage. Cruz further implicitly accused Trump, as a born and bred New Yorker, as being overly focused on money and the media.
Well, Senator Cruz- Duh!!! Donald Trump owes his very political and public appeal to being totally focused on success, money and the media. And Republicans—both social conservatives and moderates—appear to be fine with Trump’s positions.
Because Republicans, young and old, male and female, conservative and moderate, urban, suburban and rural, all appear to more concerned about the economy, the threat of terrorism and radical Islam, (both foreign and abroad), America’s broken immigration system, and the fact that America has lost its way.
And Trump, above all the other Republican contenders, has clearly tapped into these issues.
My view is that if Cruz could not beat Trump in evangelical-rich South Carolina, then I don’t like Cruz’s chances in delegate-rich and socially conservative states like Texas, Virginia and Florida.
Cruz’s chances become even worse as the primary fight shifts to more moderate Republican states in the northeast, Midwest and the west.
In addition, as Cruz falters more, I predict that Cruz’s natural conservative support will gravitate to Trump, followed by the remnants of Jeb Bush and Kasich supporters and not to the wishy washy Rubio, who has clearly failed to inspire and connect with the greater Republican electorate.
To me, Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries seems inevitable. To the clueless Republican political establishment – not so much.