Should conservatives supporting Rubio in Iowa switch their votes to Cruz in the name of stopping Trump?

posted at 9:21 pm on January 26, 2016 by Allahpundit

Pretty sure I know what Rubio fans will say to this, although Phil Kerpen’s idea is worth promoting anyway. Partly that’s because Rubio fans themselves seem perpetually impatient for supporters of other candidates to ditch their guy already and unite behind The Candidate Of Light And Hope, and partly because Kerpen’s sentiment ably captures the state of panic right now among anti-Trumpers. Not a single vote has been cast anywhere — and yet we may be mere days away from Trump effectively locking up the nomination, or so the narrative goes.

The time for voting one’s conscience is over before it began. The time for voting strategically is now:

Any true blue Rubio fan in Iowa would be nuts to do that knowing how heavily Rubio’s depending on a good showing there to boost him in New Hampshire. If he finishes a strong third with 20+ percent, he’s got something to build on. If he finishes a distant third or, heaven forbid, fourth, he’s a paper tiger whom the media will place on life support as NH gears up to vote. The only way it’s worth voting strategically for Cruz in Iowa for Rubio fans is if some deal could be brokered in which Cruz supporters in New Hampshire then turn around and vote strategically for Rubio there, an arrangement which would probably finish off Trump but which is obviously undoable.

Even if it were doable, arguably Rubio fans in Iowa would still be better off sticking with their guy instead of backing Cruz for fear that, by boosting Cruz over Trump, they’d be setting Rubio up to face a more formidable opponent in South Carolina and beyond. The greatest irony of this primary is that Trump has led basically wire to wire in every state and national poll and yet every candidate remains convinced that the one infallible path to the nomination is to somehow end up in a one-on-one race with him. That’s Jeb’s strategy in attacking Rubio as a flip-flopper. That’s Cruz’s strategy in attacking Rubio as pro-amnesty. That’s Rubio’s strategy in attacking Cruz as weak on defense and cynically calculating in his policy stances. Make yourself the only alternative to Trump, the theory goes, and you’ll win with the 60 percent of the GOP electorate that’s still kinda sorta conservative-ish. If Cruz could maneuver Trump into a true one-on-one in Iowa, with Rubio and Ben Carson and Huckabee and Rand Paul no longer picking off votes, he’d win, or so the argument goes. Maybe we’ll see that theory tested on Monday night: Given all the “Trump versus Cruz” two-man-race hype lately, Iowans who are inclined towards another candidate must already be toying with the idea of voting strategically. Rubio fans are probably the exception since he needs a good showing in Iowa, but if you’re with Christie or Kasich or Santorum or Fiorina right now, you may end up treating the vote on Monday as a de facto Trump/Cruz referendum. That’s another huge X factor in Iowa polls alongside Trump’s unknown ability to turn out first-time caucusgoers. How many voters who are supporting someone else this week will grudgingly decide over the weekend that they can’t stand Trump — or Cruz — and have little choice but to vote for the other guy on Monday night? Never before that I can remember has Iowa had two guys at the top of the polls who are so passionately disliked by very different segments of the party.

Meanwhile, adamantly anti-Rubio Ace makes the case that if you’re undecided between Trump and Cruz in Iowa, you should vote Cruz partly because it hurts Rubio in New Hampshire:

If Trump just wins in NH and Iowa, Cruz is not much of an alternative, and that means that someone like Rubio will probably rise to be Trump’s main competitor.

Keeping Cruz in the race keeps Rubio, or some other Establishment stalking horse, out of it…

In addition, you’re going to want to keep Trump dishonest. Right, I said dishonest, because I have no illusions he’s really a conservative. I’m okay with that, as long as we can force him to stay dishonest, and stay in his current pretend mode as a conservative.

Trump is going to run to the middle, in all likelihood, as soon as he can. You’re going to want him to continue to having to play to the right, to make as many specific promises as we can wring out of him, before he runs to the middle.

Cruz is your best hope for that — so even if you support Trump, assuming you’d like the conservative version of Trump he’s currently selling you on, you’re going to want Cruz forcing him to stay to the right.

If you’re a populist and a border hawk, a two-man race for the nomination between Trump and Cruz is better than a three-man race between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio and much better than a two-man race between Trump and Rubio. And the way to maximize the odds of that Trump/Cruz race is for Cruz, not Trump, to win Iowa since Trump’s probably going to win New Hampshire anyway. I don’t get the argument about Cruz dragging Trump to the right, though. Even if it were true, Trump will still run to the middle the moment Cruz is eliminated. What good does it do conservatives to have Trump spend a few more months making promises to the right when he’ll pay no penalty for breaking those promises? And why would Trump continue to run right-ish against Cruz when he’s already talking up ethanol and gladhanding Pelosi and Schumer in Iowa? If this is how he sounds before a famously conservative electorate voters, imagine how he’ll sound before the California primary regardless of whether his opponent is Cruz or someone else. Trump is going to run as hard to the middle as he wants whenever he wants because he’s convinced that Republican voters won’t hold him accountable. And between the hardcore cult-of-personality Trump fans and the rest of the party who’ll tolerate him saying anything in the interest of beating Hillary, he’s completely right. Vote Cruz in Iowa because you like Cruz or, as Ace says, because you want to maximize the number of populists who can win the nomination, not because you think it’ll have any meaningful effect on what Trump will do as president.

I’ll leave you with some good news and bad news for Rubio fans. The good news: He finished first in the new ABC/WaPo poll at 23 percent when Republicans were asked who their second choice was, meaning that he really does have room to grow as candidates drop out. The bad news: The last two polls of New Hampshire tracked by RCP have him in … single digits. His polling average, which stood at 14 percent there on January 8th, is down to 10.5 now whether from the sheer weight of Jeb Bush attacks ads being piled on him or his own lack of luster. Put those two data points together, though, and you see clearly why few Rubio fans in Iowa will be taking Kerpen’s advice, even though Trump will benefit. Rubio needs a big bolt of good news to get him moving in New Hampshire and, barring an unlikely eventuality like him totally dominating the next two debates, a strong showing in Iowa is probably his only chance. Unless and until Mitt Romney endorses him, I mean.


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Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

So that’s now a goal ? Stopping Trump ?

Letting the veil drop entirely, I guess.

deadrody on January 27, 2016 at 7:13 AM

Right now, we have a chance to swing some Hispanics our way,

evergreen on January 27, 2016 at 5:30 AM

Oh we do, do we ? ROTFLMAO!!!!!

deadrody on January 27, 2016 at 7:28 AM

AP self delusion is a wonder to behold. HA throws a poll and the results are always overwhelmingly for Trump. Instapundit throws a poll and their results are overwhelmingly for Cruz. Hey AP, do you know who your audience is. Does Salem know where their clicks are coming from? This blog is undergoing an evolution-in-action-moment. I was always taught it was a good idea to dance with the one who brung ya.

Old Country Boy on January 27, 2016 at 8:15 AM

Just because these spoiled rotten cry babies call themselves “conservatives” doesn’t mean they actually are . . . and frankly, who gives a damn what they do.

rplat on January 27, 2016 at 9:17 AM

Should conservatives supporting Rubio in Iowa switch their votes to Cruz in the name of stopping Trump?

And would 3 “conservative” Rubio voters make any difference?

dominigan on January 27, 2016 at 9:28 AM

rubio go home

Pragmatic on January 27, 2016 at 10:09 AM

posts that include rubio are very boring

Pragmatic on January 27, 2016 at 10:10 AM

AP self delusion is a wonder to behold. HA throws a poll and the results are always overwhelmingly for Trump. Instapundit throws a poll and their results are overwhelmingly for Cruz. Hey AP, do you know who your audience is. Does Salem know where their clicks are coming from? This blog is undergoing an evolution-in-action-moment. I was always taught it was a good idea to dance with the one who brung ya.

Old Country Boy on January 27, 2016 at 8:15 AM

Are you suggesting we should all move in lockstep and HA should represent only one point of view which is coincidentally yours? How very Democrat of you.

evergreen on January 27, 2016 at 11:46 AM

Oh, aren’t we ever so clever.

Just vote for the candidate you want.

MaggiePoo on January 27, 2016 at 11:56 AM

Are you suggesting we should all move in lockstep and HA should represent only one point of view which is coincidentally yours? How very Democrat of you.

evergreen on January 27, 2016 at 11:46 AM

I really don’t have a point of view as to candidates. I think they all are good, and I don’t wish to lie about or slander anyone of the opposition (what ever that is). However, HA and AP in particular appear to be all in for Cruz. It is their blog and they are certainly entitled to do that. However, they have lots of readers that may not agree with them. It might be good business to feed them some meat also instead of beating the same-ol’ same-ol’.

Old Country Boy on January 27, 2016 at 1:12 PM

As a Rubio backer, the last thing I would do is support Cruz to stop Trump. We don’t really have any idea how the caucuses are going to turn out. I am urging my Iowa friends and relatives to support Rubio as the positive conservative who can beat the Democrats. We don’t need a dirt bag like Trump as nominee and we won’t win with a scold like Cruz as nominee. Rubio is the lower middle class kid who worked hard and succeeded. He understands middle class families and that’s why the Rubio-Lee tax plan favors middle class families instead of the rich like Cruz’s plan does. And he’s being honest about immigration instead of lying about his views like both Trump and Cruz are doing. Cruz won’t stop Trump, but in the long run Rubio can.

Bart Burk on January 27, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Comment pages: 1 2