In my last post I included a link to CNN’s demographic breakdown of the SC Republican primary vote. What I left out of my analysis of the exit poll data is that Trump and Cruz are attracting most of the same type of voters: older, less educated, lower-middle income voters, with one important distinction. Cruz attracts the more conservative of that demographic, while the deciding factor in Trump’s favor are the independents.
Scott Sumner has a post on the Money Illusion about the odds for each of the candidates to become the Republican Party’s nominee, and to win the presidency that includes the following:
It’s a two person race between Trump and Rubio, with Trump leading for the nomination while Rubio is more likely to be elected president. That reflects the fact that Trump’s chances of being elected, conditional on getting the nomination, are abysmal, far below Rubio’s.
The other candidates should just get out. The main question of interest now is who would win between Trump and Rubio on a head to head, with no one else in the race.
Tonight was a disaster for Cruz, as South Carolina is one of his very best states, and he came in third. Rubio will destroy him in big, non-evangelical states like California, New York and Illinois. I think Trump’s best hope is that other non-Rubio candidates stay in the race. He may stop attacking Cruz.
Before commenting on this, I’d like to say first that I am somewhat agnostic toward the candidates. I have donated to Rubio’s campaign, but switched to Cruz after he questioned Janet Yellen in a full and frontal manner about the Federal Reserve’s mistakes in the period immediately before the financial crisis intensified 2008.
Though I switched from Rubio to Cruz, I do not like Ted Cruz very much. He is, however, the only candidate who has publicly brought up the possibility that the Fed was responsible for turning a garden variety recession into the worst financial crisis and economic difficulties experienced in generations. I do not know what is in his heart and his questioning of Yellen might have been unadulterated campaign season rhetoric. But talking about what is likely the larger part of our nagging economic policy problem is the first step toward solving it, which is much farther than we’ve gotten with any other politician to date. Rubio, on the other hand, though I find him much more likable, to my knowledge has not entertained the topic of monetary policy and that is the most important item on my agenda.
The rest of the gambit of issues are important, but if you have sound economic policy that supports the tenants of economic freedom for everyone to have the things that make living life desirable, the rest of them don’t seem as important in the sense of public discourse. In other words, I am much happier with a bright future to look forward to than I am when worried about having a job and barely making ends meet with no light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing can be accomplished within the political environment when most people are in the latter state of being because all of the other issues simply intensify the annoyance and hardship they are already feeling. After years of economic hardship since the 2008 crisis, nobody really understands what a moderate is anymore, the center has been completely ripped out of existence.
Back to my point, though, if the demographic breakdown of SC holds for the rest of primaries, and if the desire is to stop Trump, the worst possible thing to happen would be for Cruz to drop out. If Cruz were to drop out now, Trump would be unstoppable.
I wrote some time ago about the Party rules on the presidential nomination that, in a nutshell, are unless a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in eight of the primaries, there will be no automatic winner and the nominee will be decided at the convention. Cruz will be staying until the end or he runs completely out of money because he is attracting the same kind of voter as Trump, and there are a limited number of primaries in which independents and Democrats can vote (Trump’s area of strength), most of which are front-loaded at the beginning of the cycle. There are a lot more delegates to be racked up for Cruz and less for Trump as the primary season progresses, delegates Cruz can use at the convention to make deals with that would, in probability go to Trump in the primaries otherwise.
Cruz isn’t going to be the nominee. He probably already knows that he won’t be. But he could possibly turn out to be the only thing between the Party having a grip on sanity and Trump becoming the nominee. And with that in mind, I will be making a donation to his campaign.
[Update] Just a clarification of the Party rules because my statement was overly simplified. In order for a candidate to put his/her name in for nomination, they have to have the majority of delegates from 8 states sign a pledge to vote for them. The 50% majority vote applies only to winner-take-all primaries, which aren’t considered winner-take-all for the purposes of the RNC unless the candidate wins at least 50% of the vote.