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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Can Ted Cruz weather the Trump storm on the horizon?

We start a certain-to-be interesting week in the 2016 Republican presidential race with news of another Ted Cruz victory in the rocky mountain west – this time at the Wyoming Republican convention.

Fox News reports, “Ted Cruz on Saturday won all 14 delegates in the Wyoming GOP convention -- a relatively small number but enough for the Texas senator to declare victory and keep GOP presidential front-runner Trump stormDonald Trump from securing the nomination.

“’We are likely to have a battle in Cleveland to decide who is the nominee,’ Cruz told party members before they picked the delegates. ‘If you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee, … then I ask you to please vote for the men and women on this slate.’”

Wyoming brings to five the number of consecutive Cruz wins. Like in Colorado the week before, the news was somewhat muted in the media because the victory came at a state party convention and also because Wyoming is a scarcely populated state far from the attention spans of the eastern elites.

Donald Trump has spent the better part of two weeks claiming the individual state delegate selection processes are “rigged,” so it seems clear he’ll be adding Wyoming to the growing list of states with corrupted procedures.

The Fox article details Cruz’s months-long effort to secure Wyoming in his column, so his win there is certainly no accident.

If Trump were realistic – and truthful – he would admit he has very little strength in this region of the country where conservatives are much more open to Cruz’s limited government, constitutional emphasis than Trump’s populist themes. High plains folk care more about property rights, gun rights and the overreach of the Bureau of Land Management and the EPA than they do about Trump’s promises to stick his fingers in the eyes of the elites.

If you live in the west you already know you can survive without much government “help”. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter whether someone can “make great deals” when you really just want to be left alone.

Perhaps in anticipation of Trump’s impending attacks on the Wyoming process, state GOP Chairman Matt Micheli said during an interview with Fox News, “Every presidential candidate for the last 40 years has managed this process and has worked through this process and has followed the process that we have in Wyoming. We are simply following the rules that are in place and that have been in place for a long time.”

Such a statement would be good enough for your typical presidential candidates. But Trump doesn’t fit that description, so who knows what he’s going to say.

Cruz’s Wyoming win brings Trump’s lead down to 185 delegates, with Trump tallying 744 and Cruz claiming 559. This total doesn’t include the “behind the scenes” work Cruz has put in to ensure his supporters are well represented in state delegations.

Trump fans can take heart that New York tomorrow and the five eastern states set to vote next week (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) are all solid blue states virtually guaranteed to favor The Donald.

Trump’s lead could very easily double before May, but that doesn’t mean the contest is over. The race is just starting to get interesting again after a lengthy break after Wisconsin. Stay tuned, folks.

Trump’s starring in his own reality TV show again, this time it’s the Republican race

It goes without saying Donald Trump has rewritten the rule book when it comes to running for president. From the beginning, Trump’s relied on a heavy earned media emphasis and his celebrity status to project himself as a candidate who’s larger than life.

His “look at that!” ability to draw cameras and microphones is truly impressive, practically without compare.

Trump has taken every opportunity to say he’s not a typical politician. He’s right. His candor on politics and the great issues of our day has been both refreshing and shocking at the same time.

As a result, the Republican race has almost seemed like a scripted theatrical production with Trump playing the role of himself. The “reality TV series” quality of the contest has been amplified by Trump’s fondness for social media and talent for controlling news cycles with his outlandish statements.

Trump’s obscure behavior caught the eye of one former contestant from his successful reality TV series, The Apprentice, who basically says the Trump you see on the campaign trail is the same one he remembers from his time on The Donald’s show.

Former Apprentice contestant Surya Yalamanchili writes in Politico Magazine, “[W]hen I watch the rallies and the friendly TV appearances, I get the distinct sense that the line between Trumpland and actual reality is blurring. Donald Trump has turned the campaign into a reality show, and we can’t seem to stop watching. Having lived in the former, I can attest that’s not a good thing…

“[W]ith my time in Trumpland long behind me, I find myself questioning why I had ever wanted it in the first place. I can’t help but wonder if the supporters at his rallies will eventually find themselves asking a similar question.”

It should be noted Yalamanchili ran for Congress as a Democrat in Ohio, so it’s not too surprising he wouldn’t be real open to Trump’s message, but his observations about Trump as the dominating force on his own reality TV show and the Republican campaign trail in a similar fashion are salient and certainly relevant.

I’ve thought often about how long it would take for people to get tired of the Trump “act” and at this point, a day before the New York primary, it’s still not clear when he’ll run his course.

Having not been a regular viewer of The Apprentice, I can’t say for sure how well the program did in comparison to other reality shows of the same genre (basically, the kind where you keep “eliminating” contestants weekly until a winner is determined). But it certainly appears that “fans” of the show and of Trump are all-in for renewing another season full of episodes.

Trump is essentially acting as a contestant on his own show this time, treating all of his opponents as obstacles on the way to winning the lucrative “grand prize”. He takes pride in having “eliminated” more than a dozen competitors already and it’s almost like he’s fighting to the end in order to smash the remaining two.

The question then becomes, now what?

Should Trump end up with the nomination, the Democrats and the media aren’t likely to be as cooperative as the Republican Party has been in putting up with Trump’s excesses. He won’t be able to control the narrative like he’s done throughout the Republican race. He’ll still have his backers in the “conservative” media, but the voters he’ll need to win in November don’t listen to Michael Savage or watch Fox News.

Let’s not forget, Trump’s voters are “fans” of his reality TV show-like campaign. There’s very little evidence that general election voters are likely to be as accepting.

In other words, they’ll be more likely to “eliminate” Trump than Hillary – that is very scary, indeed.

This is one “reality show” that voters in New York and the remaining states should give a lot of consideration to canceling before it’s too late.

Kasich’s reality TV show looks more like a fantasy…or a comedy

Speaking of odd behavior, if Donald Trump is starring in his own “reality TV” version of the Republican presidential race, John Kasich is taking the lead role in his own weakly produced “fantasy” show as well.

Polls show Kasich and Ted Cruz will run about even in their quest to finish second to Trump in New York tomorrow. Both could conceivably pick up delegates in certain districts where they’re able to hold Trump under 50 percent. And it’s even possible Cruz could take over half the vote in heavily-Democrat districts that he’s targeted for extremely low Republican voter turnout.

Notwithstanding New York, the real question is how well Cruz would do if he was allowed to take his conservative voters and join with the not-Trump vote in total to prevent Trump from gaining the 1237 delegates necessary to win the nomination.

Here’s where Kasich is making his largest un-reality calculation. If Trump isn’t stopped before the convention, then NO ONE will be able to defeat him on subsequent ballots – and that includes Kasich himself.

Matthew Continetti writes in National Review, “Here’s John Kasich’s fundamental misunderstanding of this primary race: The Trump vote is static. His supporters aren’t going anywhere. But the anti-Trump vote is elastic. It can bend in any direction. It shifts between Kasich and Cruz depending on the terrain. In proportional states, the distribution of the non-Trump vote doesn’t matter.

“But in states where there’s a prize for coming in first, either statewide or by congressional district, then the distribution of the non-Trump vote is all that matters. When asked to choose between Cruz and Trump, Kasich voters go with Cruz overwhelmingly. Yet Kasich is so stubbornly and stupidly and selfishly focused on maximizing his share of the anti-Trump vote that the Trump vote remains the same.”

Watching John Kasich continue to make the case that he’s going to win the Republican race at the convention is sad and funny at the same time. It’s sad because you can’t help but shake your head when a supposedly intelligent adult continues lying to himself, his donors and voters. It’s the same feeling you get when watching the Democrats debate – lie after lie after lie, with the audience hooting and hollering along.

It’s also funny, because Kasich looks like the type of idiot we used to see trapped on ‘Candid Camera’, the precursor to modern day reality programming. In this scenario, the hidden camera would catch Kasich looking at vote totals from the various states and still claiming he’s going to be president.

It’s hilarious delusion, which means maybe Kasich’s show really isn’t a fantasy after all…it’s more like a comedy instead.

Ted Cruz has been dominant since Marco Rubio called it quits

Finally today, to expand on the points made above, with his win in Wyoming this past weekend, Ted Cruz has now won over twice as many delegates as Donald Trump since Marco Rubio dropped out a month ago.

Steve Berman of The Resurgent writes, “It’s going to come down to the convention and the delegates. Politics is about the fundamentals, and Cruz has the best fundamentals in the race. Cruz has beaten nearly $2 billion in free media, legions of Trump Twitter bots, withering and despicable personal attacks, and a phalanx of Trump-zombie political coverage from Breitbart and Drudge.

“Despite all of that, and being pegged as irredeemably unlikable, Cruz is beating Trump mano a mano by a 2 to 1 margin since it became a two man race.”

Why does Berman call it a two-man race? Because John Kasich hasn’t won a single delegate in over a month, that’s why. If Kasich is still a serious contender, someone’s got to tell him he needs to have delegates in order to win the Republican nomination for president.

The narrative of the race is guaranteed to change once again after tomorrow’s New York primary. The question then becomes whether Cruz can somehow regain momentum after what’s looking to be a rough couple weeks for him.

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The Klingon and the Trump

The Sainted Klingon Kasich will tell us over and over, as if he's smoking REALLY good stuff, that he CAN win the nomination, and only HE is sensible and likeable enough to be president.

I didn't like him much as a Fox commentator, and his record in Ohio shows him to be devious and scheming, indeed, more liberal than conservative.

So, while claiming all the time that he can win, and that he doesn't want to be veep, when we step back and ask "Cui Bono?", it becomes self-evident that Kasich is one calculating SOB.

Yes, the non-Trump vote is elastic, but it's not that simple: With 15% or 20% cut-off levels in most proportionally awarded states, the one who is kept below the line gets nothing, and thus, far more than preventing it becoming a two man race, Kasich is increasing Trump's haul in states where Trump has the lead, and is likely preventing Cruz getting any delegates in some of those states.

Now, as the smoke-filled room clears, we can see who has done "The Deal", and thus what his price must be - the job everybody claims not to want, until it is offered - VP!

Kasich's only utility as a Trump stopper was in Ohio, and it is noteworthy that the only place he got serious Establishment help was his home state.

Now, let us see if the GOPe is smart enough to realize that getting Cruz an improved share of delegates in the Northeast is the price they have to pay in order to stop Trump. (If they were REALLY smart, they'd embrace Cruz as the candidate who represents their purported platform better than any other.)

Can you imagine the field day that the media would have with a Trump-ich ticket? With all The Donald's baggage, and with Hillary's sidekick calling little Johnny "likeable enough"?

Call your GOPe Dopes (state party leaders) NOW and tell them it's Cruz or bust, "There. Is. No. Alternative!"