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Presidential Horse Race 2016: “Can Trump Win?”

Heading into the final days of July, it seems clear that not only is Donald Trump not going away, he’s increasing in support day by day. Logically, some are starting to ask, “Can Trump win?” Pat Buchanan wrote a column arguing that it could happen.
Donald Trump
Buchanan thinks Trump touches all the right nerves in politics today, a man who mocks the political establishment of both parties and is loathed by the mainstream media. The more they discount him, the higher his poll numbers rise.

Buchanan doesn’t claim that Trump will win, but says unless Donald commits some kind of egregious error, he’ll at least be around long enough to make it interesting. “If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals. For if Trump is running at 18 or 20 percent nationally then, among Republicans, it is hard to see how two rivals beat him.”

Trump’s poll numbers are indeed impressive, as a recent survey in New Hampshire indicates. Trump’s lead has stretched to 12 points over his nearest rival, and further, it appears that his comments on John McCain have not undermined his popularity in the Granite State (of course, McCain won there in 2000 and 2008).

For another perspective on Trump’s war of words with John McCain, try G. Murphy Donovan’s piece at American Thinker. Donovan, a fellow Vietnam veteran, writes, “The difference between Trump and McCain should be obvious to any fair observer; Trump has done something with his talents. McCain, in contrast, is coasting on a military myth and resting on the laurels of Senatorial tenure.”

At least McCain isn’t running for president again. We can be thankful for that.

Rand Paul is one of those who is running, but Erick Erickson at RedState wonders why Paul is “missing in action.” Erickson notes that Paul isn’t raising any money and is largely missing out on key news cycles. Erickson thinks it’s because Paul’s made some bad hires.

“Paul has drawn to his side a group of campaign consultants and advisors who seem to be doing well for themselves, but I have to wonder if they are doing well for their candidate.”

It’s not too late, but Paul better pull out of the tailspin soon.

One candidate who’s most definitely not in a tailspin is Ted Cruz. Cruz’s poll numbers perhaps do not reflect his visibility and his recent throw-down with Mitch McConnell over the failure of the Republican establishment and party leadership will likely win him more support with the conservative voting base.

David M. Drucker at the Washington Examiner writes, “Even before the rise of Donald Trump, the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was a bull market for Washington-bashing that in past years might have been deemed excessive.”

Cruz is too principled to speak out for political benefit alone – after all, he’s done it his entire political career at all levels – but furthering his reputation as a populist won’t hurt his larger campaign, despite what the “consultants” might say.

One candidate who would seem to be completely consultant-driven is Jeb Bush, who said – in Spanish during an interview with Telemundo – that he was “hurt” personally by Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants.

In addition to the pain Bush felt, he added that his family eats Mexican food and speaks Spanish at home (Bush’s wife Columba is Mexican, after all).

As if trying to prove he has no principled and ideological foundation, Bush is embracing the very kind of identity politics often employed by Obama, Hillary Clinton and most Democrats.

Jeb also questioned the “language” spoken by Mike Huckabee in reference to Obama’s awful deal with Iran, saying Huckabee should watch his “tone.” Huckabee responded by saying we need a Churchill, not a Chamberlain.

Finally, Bush and Huckabee look like safe bets to be at the first debate next week, but there’s controversy ahead to decide who will fill out the final two spots on stage.

According to Jonathan Easley at The Hill:

“Fox News is capping the Aug. 6 debate in Cleveland at 10 candidates based on five as-of-yet unspecified national polls released by 5 p.m. on Aug. 4. Based on five polls used by RealClearPolitics (RCP), eight candidates look like locks to make the stage, while the race for the final two slots is headed for a controversial photo finish. For the candidates currently ranked between ninth place and 14th place, the polling differential is negligible.”

That group includes Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, all within 1.5 points of each other according to Real Clear Politics.

(Note: Lindsey Graham and George Pataki are polling at near-zero. They won’t be there. No one will notice anyway.)

For those left on the “outside,” however, Fox will hold a one-hour forum earlier in the day.

There will be plenty of griping… but will it help any of them?

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