First a definition of the Establishment - and it is probably worth dividing it into the professional and the amateur. The first is made up of the career politicians, the relatively small number of people paid by the parties, the ousted politicians who wind up in government sinecures, the army of operatives who drift from one campaign and PAC to another, and the nuveau riche lobbyists in Washington who have multiplied as the federal government has become larger and more powerful. Whatever their reasons for entering government, these folks inevitably look out for their families and their careers - reasonable behavior in the private sector, and in the public. These people may prefer one candidate or another, but they will support whoever succeeds. Presumably this is the group that Donald Trump and Ted Cruze rail against.
The second Republican Establishment - the "center of mass" of the party - is the thousands of county party central committee members, the lightly paid members of local boards and legislative offices, and the tens of thousands of committed volunteers. Most are motivated by a belief in the individual rather than in large government; most believe in American exceptionalism; most hope that the hobby doesn't cost too much. They knock on doors, man phone banks, advocate on social media, host house parties, and drive people to the polls. These people need to believe in their candidates and causes, and they need to be organized.
Observation 1. In addition to getting media attention and raising $1 billion, a successful presidential candidate must understand, organize, and motivate group two. Barack Obama succeeded in 2008 and 2012 in large part because of his speech-making ability, and his ability to energize large crowds, but at least 20% was due to the organization skills of David Axelrod - the data base; the use of social media; the Get Out the Vote efforts of an army of volunteers. After being outmaneuvered by Ted Cruz in the search for delegates, Donald Trump may now appreciate the important of the nuts and bolts of the game.
Observation 2. Hillary Clinton has a large, well funded, experienced machine. None of the Republican candidates do. The plan was for Reince Priebus' RNC to provide the organization. They have been working on a data base since Romney's social media system imploded in 2012; they have established a network of party workers on the ground in battleground states; they have a Rolodex of big donors; they have the ability to marshal resources where and when they are needed. The nominee cannot be at war with the RNC.
Observation 3. This presidential election cycle has witnessed the likely vanquishing of both ideological wings of the party - the true conservatives in the form of Ted Cruz; the moderates in the form of Jeb Bush, Chris Cristie, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. Likewise the libertarians with Rand Paul. Likewise the evangelicals with early exits of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum and the later exit of Ben Carson. When it comes time to pick up the pieces there needs to be a lot of humility and recognition that these factions have reached their shelf life. For that to happen shortly after the July convention will require the leadership of a bridge builder - with both Trump and Cruz taking pride in the opposite.
Observation 4. It is common for partisans to respond to the candidate who aggressively attacks the opposition - from the crude "Give 'em Hell" Harry Truman in 1948, to the more worldly Newt Gingrich in 2012, to Donald Trump in 2016. Normally the vitriol is reserved for the other party, but after months of insults for his fellow Republicans it is a bit intriguing to think about what Trump would do with Hillary's record and persona. That contest would have little to do with policy and the future of the country, and everything to do with the personal character failings of the other candidate. Four months of the Jerry Springer Show. (Springer actually was the Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio before getting into "reality TV" - the reverse of Trump.)
Observation 5. While the Northeast was kinder to Trump than expected and he consistently exceeded the 50% threshold which he had not previously achieved, the #NeverTrump forces still have a chance if Ted Cruze can carry Indiana on May 3, and the Cruz/Kasich forces can perform mildly above expectations in California.
Observation 6. This weekend's California Republican Party convention has maxed its headliner spots with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, and an army of San Francisco-area protesters. In the June 7 primary Kasich looks to be competitive in the Bay Area, Cruz should do well in the Central Valley, and Trump will be everywhere. This amateur "establishment Republican" is hoping to be a Kasich delegate at a contested convention in Cleveland.
This week's video contains the highlights of Donald Trump's April 27 foreign policy speech. Not too bad.
bill bowen - 4/29/16