Why some GOP candidates aren’t taking the fight to Trump

If you, like us here at FiveThirtyEight, were initially skeptical of Donald Trump’s chances of winning the GOP nomination in part because you assumed that the Republican Party would go out of its way to stop him, then you’ll find the following pretty remarkable. According to Tim Alberta of the National Review, there are currently no negative television ads running against Trump in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina.

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There are a lot of reasons for this — including, paradoxically, both resignation to the idea of Trump as the nominee, and conversely, a belief that Trump’s support in national polls won’t translate into winning margins in Iowa and other early voting states. But there’s another dimension to the problem too. It should have been perfectly obvious, but it became clearer to me after spending the past week in Iowa: The campaigns competing against Trump are acting in their own narrow best interests, and not necessarily in the best interest of the Republican Party.

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