The third Republican primary has come and gone, and Donald ‘no Muslims’ Trump has booked another victory. South Carolina proved yet again that his supporters will in fact turn out to vote, giving him 33% of the vote, followed by 22.5% for Marco Rubio and 22.3% for Ted Cruz. Meanwhile in Nevada, Hilary Clinton eked out another disappointingly small victory against Bernie Sanders. So with three real candidates left on the Republican side to the Democrats’ two, what are some concrete ways this bizarre election could go?
Trump vs. Clinton: Despite some columnists’ fever dreams, the biggest election landslide in American history. While Trump’s base would turn out to vote, there are far too many voters who hate him, and a huge number of Republicans would probably decide not to vote at all. Clinton would turn out Hispanics and progressives by the millions and would completely demolish Trump. The only good thing for the Republicans would be that the loss might finally convince them to stop moving to the right.
Trump vs. Sanders: This would be more interesting, but probably would again be a win for the Democrats. While many Americans reel away from a self-described ‘socialist’, Sanders could actually compete for votes from Trump supporters concerned with globalisation and declining income. Trump on the other hand is probably a bit too toxic to steal votes from Sanders. This is the most probable way Sanders could win the election, shaking up American politics in a whole new way.
Cruz/Rubio vs. Clinton: This could be a tough one. While Cruz is too openly puritan to fight for the middle ground, Rubio packages his extreme social conservatism in a more palatable wrapping. It would also bring up terrible memories for Clinton of the last time she faced off against an inexperienced, non-white, candidate. My money’s still on Clinton, but it’d be a hard-fought battle.
Cruz/Rubio vs. Sanders: Same tough battle here. Again, Cruz might be too extreme to defeat even Sanders, but a Rubio vs. Sanders line-up is probably the only way I can see the Republicans winning this election. It would be fairly simple for Rubio to move to the centre and portray his opponent as out of touch and unrealistic. On the other hand, Sanders would have the opportunity to portray Rubio as ‘business as usual’ in this anti-establishment election. Also, expect this disaster to show up a lot if Rubio runs.
Trump vs. Cruz/Rubio vs. Clinton/Sanders: Ah, no this would be the biggest election landslide in American history. If Trump loses the candidacy to either of his two opponents, there’s a decent chance that as someone who cannot admit defeat, he’ll blame it on the Republican establishment and run as an independent. Drawing almost only right-of-centre voters away, the Republican party would be crippled. Every leading Democrat probably has a bottle of champagne stored away for if and when Trump makes this announcement.
So which of these lineups do I think is most likely? Well, so far in this election the experts have been wrong almost every time, and while I’m no expert, I’ll still hold any predictions until after thirteen states vote on Super Tuesday, March 1. I will say this though – it wouldn’t surprise me if last year’s ‘Summer of Trump‘ carried on into America’s Trump Spring.