Sunday, February 21, 2016

In SC Trump Wins Big But So Did Rubio

Will the Trump attack machine that cut down Cruz now turn to Rubio?

Final SC GOP primary result:


As polling in the last week indicated, Florida Senator Marco Rubio came on strong in the final week of the South Carolina primary. Few would have foreseen a tie with Cruz for second place a few weeks ago. Some attribute his stronger than expected showing to endorsements by Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott and Representative Trey Gowdy. All well and good but perhaps there is more to it than that.

From the exit poll:
Attacks on Ted Cruz from the Trump campaign did a great deal of damage to Cruz who also may have lost ground by being dragged into the fight with Trump. In the last days before voting robo-calls from Sarah Palin and others attacking Ted Cruz on behalf of Trump had to bite.

Rubio escaped most of the mudslinging though he was the target of a very expensive mail campaign by the political action committee supporting Jeb Bush. Ironically, now that Jeb Bush has dropped out of the race it would appear that Rubio will be the prime recipient of Bush's supporters who tend to be more pro-establishment.

There is a strong desire on the part of many GOP voters to support a candidate who is NOT Donald Trump. Cruz and Rubio would seem to be the obvious contenders for that mantle. Now that Rubio looks ready to mount a more serious challenge will the Trump attack machine be turned on him next? Will Rubio do a better job than Cruz in avoiding getting sucked into the mud?

Why doesn't Trump pay a bigger price for the mud throwing? Well, it's clear his supporters don't care. Remember when Trump said "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." That may be true. But it may also be true that Trump's tactics are turning off a large portion of GOP voters that would be needed in the fall if Trump is the GOP nominee.

Trump continues to benefit from having both Cruz and Rubio split the ABT (Anybody but Trump) vote. Once we enter states with winner take all primaries Trump can win with 30% of the vote and clinch the GOP nomination.

P.S. Trump won evangelical Christian vote in SC. What's up with that?


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