Some friends asked me to write an analysis of what I think should happen. I don’t think this is likely to happen.
The memo was sent around.
Ted Cruz should cut a deal to become vice president and work to name judges.
I have a 35 to 1 bet on Cruz winning the nomination. I would make $250,000 if Cruz were the nominee and I’ve already spent about $125,000 on research projects to help Cruz. I stand to gain the longer the nominating process takes place but I’m not convinced that would be best for Cruz’s long term political future.
Reasoning and analysis:
Cruz is 45-years-old. Donald Trump will be 70-years-old on Election Day. Cruz would have a one in five shot of becoming president upon President Trump’s death or resignation. He’d have about a 33% of becoming president one day. Even if Trump were to serve as president for eight years and a Democrat were to serve eight years after that, Cruz would still be younger than Trump is now. In other words his odds are much higher through the vice presidency than through the current strategy he’s pursuing.
The optics of Cruz’s decision are clear. Cruz looks presidential by making it about the future of the judiciary—the issue that is of most anxiety given the current fight over the Supreme Court. He undercuts the losing #NeverTrump strategy which hasn’t been coalescing thanks to the consultant class’s avarice and he takes away a major argument (or sentiment) against his candidacy—his foreign birth. If Trump makes Cruz the vice president he’ll neutralize that question once and for all in the minds of the voters most susceptible to it.
Cruz’s brand is suffering. He seldom mentions the shutdown—which was an example of how he stood up to the Establishment—and now he’s in a political alliance with Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney. If the Washington cartel is so bad why is Cruz working with them to beat Trump? And what will happen if Cruz fails to win? The Establishment will say that they backed him even though you’ll notice that Mitt Romney didn’t say in his statement that he wants Cruz to be president.
Cruz’s Establishment friends are setting him up for a fall. There has never been a candidate who has ever won the nomination by building a coalition of anti-voters. It didn’t work well for the anti-Romney coalition in 2012 or the anti-McCain coalition in 2008.
Trump turned TrusTED into “Lyin’ Ted” and there’s no compelling narrative to stop him.
There is no compelling narrative against Trump at this moment beyond an ideological one — he isn’t a conservative! — but this is a tribal election. When Trump says he’s given money to both sides he’s not saying he’s corrupt but that the system is, and, indeed, it is. He’s saying he bought the politicians at auction. He’s saying don’t hate the player hate the game.
It’s too late to redefine Trump the politician. Trump the celebrity has been in American homes for 30 years—or the lifetime of the millennials. We needed a moment to redefine him early on or to narrow the field quickly – hence my push on a massive opposition research outfit – but it’s too late. Every attack on him simply serves a rallying cry for his in group supporters.
Cruz’s strategy of running for pastor rather than president has failed overwhelmingly because the economics have dictated the politics of the social conservatives. Globalization—the movement of goods, services, people, and information—is ending. You can only have so many immigrants before you become a new people. You can only have so much free trade before you produce everything at slave Chinese wages. You can only have so much information sharing before it becomes predatory—as Facebook and Twitter have been against conservatives. You can see the breakdown of globalization in the increasingly nationalistic politics of Europe, or inwardness of Russian aggression, or Brexit, or even Canada backing the social welfare liberalism of Trudeau. Moving toward neoconservative advisors on military questions was exactly the wrong political move to make in this political environment. You want to short Goldman Sachs, multiculturalism, and neoconservative cosmopolitanism in this environment. Personnel is policy and Cruz’s policy people aren’t the right ones to have right now.
Who are the Cruz Democrats? They haven’t shown up.
That is, who are the Democrats that are crossing over from the Obama coalition to vote for Cruz? The answer is that they, like our evangelical friends, didn’t show. The Reagan Democrats are with Trump, not Cruz, as we had hoped. The Democratic Party has gone so far to the left on social and racial issues that a lot of Democrats are coming over to Trump. Trump’s avoidance of social issues – which have largely been settled thanks to the Supreme Court – have made it easier for them to cross over. Social conservatives simply aren’t demographically ascendant like they were during the Bush years. Meanwhile the economic factors affecting the livelihood of evangelicals have pushed them from focusing on social issues to more basic economic concerns like jobs.
Candidate Barack Obama interestingly enough prophesized this future in April 2008 in his famous “bitter clingers” comment:
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Cruz has been running on guns and religion; Trump has been running on “antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” and “anti-trade” and “anti-immigrant” sentiment. Trump neutralized the gun attack by favoring concealed carry everywhere and the religion attack by meeting with pastors everywhere he could get an audience.
The demographic concern is real. Cruz has been winning lily-white states like Wyoming, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, and Idaho—places where multiculturalism and #BlackLivesMatter haven’t brushed up against the average white voter. Cruz will probably win Utah given these demographics and lose Arizona. It’s telling then that Cruz hasn’t won a single southern state beyond Texas. And the more Black Lives Matter protestors attack Trump, the more whites want to vote for him to defy them. Go and read what the police say in their message boards about Ted Cruz. They are the descendants of the Reagan police-teamsters coalition.
Closed primaries aren’t going to help. California, Connecticut, Montana, and Wisconsin have same day registration meaning the Democrats who like Trump can come to the polls. Early voting is similarly harming Cruz because the more passionate of the Trump voters have already voted. Trump wisely rented the Americans for Prosperity get out the vote machine, thanks to the Koch decision to sit out the election.
Why Trump should pick Cruz:
- Running for president is expensive and Trump is going to need some money. Cruz has money and a strong financial network; Trump does not. He’s loaned his campaign $21 million but he’s not made of infinite money. He’s going to need money at some stage.
- He gets to be a uniter, not a divider. If Trump and Cruz unite they will have won every single state except for Minnesota and Ohio. Cruz has served in every branch of government and can give Trump solid advice from having been inside of government.
- Cruz and Trump get to forego a bruising convention where both of them get screwed out of the nomination.
- Trump’s brand would suffer by picking any Establishment player. If he goes too far out of bounds and picks a Democrat or a non-political person he runs serious risk of losing his right flank.
- He cuts down the #NeverTrump people at the knees. What’s National Review going to do when Cruz and Trump run together?