The next two weeks are critical for the Republican candidates. Donald Trump will possess a 300 delegate lead by 27 April. The Cruz campaign will survive this ebb as Trump adds an additional 150 delegates to crest 900. Then the Cruz campaign will ascend as the contest moves west. Indiana is a critical state. Is there any polling data? It should be favorable to Cruz and Kasich.
The Cruz bashing will end. He will no longer end up in third place after the campaign leaves the northeast except possibly New Jersey. With a strong showing in Indiana and California, Trump will be 70- 100 delegates short arriving at the convention. The Cruz ground game has dominated the Trump ground game consistently and persistently.
Trump has resorted to accusations to put his opponents on the defensive. Mike Huckabee reveals Trump’s strategy in this video.
at around 4 minutes, Mr Huckabee says “That’s where you always lose politically, when you have to explain something”.
Trump’s populist message appeals to his supporters, but inflames them by attacking the Constitution. He opposes states’ rights and the election process. Trump’s attacks include this incomplete list.
- Rosie O’Donnell
- Megyn Kelly
- Ted Cruz
- Marco Rubio
- Charles Sykes
- Reince Priebus
- Roger Ailes
- Jeb Bush
- Heidi Cruz
- The RNC
- Michelle Fields
- Scott Walker
- Rick Perry
- Ben Carson
Then Trump threatens to: spill the beans on Cruz’s wife, calls Cruz a liar, accuses Cruz of felonies – coordinating with Super PACs, alleges the delegate system is corrupt, and even proposes that the election should be by popular vote, and threatens delegates and officials. Ben Carson, a Trump surrogate, has been questioning the need for the electoral college.
This two-prong offense (attacking people and processes) produces the following results:
- Provokes the media to pursue the rumors
- Dominates the news with Trump stories
- Drives his spox talking points to stay on the attack
- Keeps his opponents in a defensive stance
- Arouses his supporters passions by constant repetition of “unfair” treatment
- Forces reasonable people to consider his threats
The options for his opponents are tough. Do they ignore his attacks? Do they punch back? Do they introduce new attacks to put him on the defensive? Trump and his team excel at brawling and mudslinging. Most of the candidates and their teams are not equipped for low brow gutter fighting.
The best roadmap is to follow the high road when attacked, answer the reporter’s questions, and stick to the message. Continue working the air game (voters) and the ground game (delegates). The rules will not change significantly this election. However, taking advantage of the rules is the way to win, especially against a popular front runner that hasn’t won a majority of votes in ANY state after 34 contests. He may win over 50% in his home state of New York this Tuesday.
I believe that Cruz and Kasich will keep Trump from winning on the first ballot. If so, then Cruz is well positioned to win on a succeeding ballot. Trump recently showed his trump card by mentioning Rubio and Kasich as possible running mates. If either accepts the offer then Trump will probably win on the first ballot. Would either of them accept his offer? Could they serve with him? Former candidates Huckabee, Christie, and Carson chose to support him after his vicious attacks. In the timeless words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been”.
Note: Trump’s 51 SC pledged delegates are in danger since he violated his pledge to support the eventual republican nominee. This will be challenged by the Cruz campaign before the convention. The SC penalty for violating the pledge is non-specific, requiring a court to judge the validity and penalty. Here is a link to Trump rescinding his pledge.