The Iowa caucuses are mere days in the future and, as the first electoral test of the 2016 campaign season, it will be eagerly watched by all. As it stands right now, the only question is the size of Ted Cruz's victory:
That isn't sitting well in some quarters. For instance, long time GOP leech and quote-a-matic, John Feehery put out this on Twitter.
Listen, if Trump gets the nomination, I will support him. Cruz? Not so much.
— John Feehery (@JohnFeehery) January 7, 2016
But it is more serious than one disgruntled consultant. Feehrey is actually voicing the views of the GOP establishment. From here I go to my good friend Erick Erickson's new venture The Resurgent:
I just got today’s Hotline from National Journal. It is behind a pay wall, but it is worth noting their top story confirms what I have been seeing and hearing. Josh Kraushaar writes,
It’s the $64,000 question for establishment-minded Republicans: Would they rather see Ted Cruz or Donald Trump win the Iowa caucuses, assuming none of the more moderate candidates prevail?
In an informal survey of senior GOP strategists, the clear winner was Trump. Their arguments were reasoned but underscored: a) how they’re still underestimating Trump; and b) how much they personally hate Cruz to the point where emotion is trumping strategy.
The Establishment thinking is that if Trump beats Cruz in Iowa, they can then beat Trump with Rubio, Bush, or Christie.
Why would the GOP Establishment be rooting for Trump? There are several reasons.
The immediate tactical reason, of course, is that they figure if Cruz gets bruised in Iowa, by performing below expectations, that his popularity will wane and he will lose voters to Rubio-Bush-Christie-Kasich. All of these are more palatable that Cruz. They are convinced that Trump is not for real. If Cruz is beaten, the non-Trump vote will coalesce about an acceptable alternative. They are probably hoping that is Christie but they can live with Rubio.
The secondary reason is that their objection to Trump is not based on anything that Trump stands for... to the extent we can presume to know what that may be... but rather on aesthetics. Trump is in their social circle. They go to the same parties. They play golf together. They belong to the same clubs and are boards of the same philanthropies. Trump is quintessential establishment. What they don't like is his public (I say public because I've never met Trump and certainly never been around him in a private setting) persona. They don't like his populism. They don't like his seeking the adoration of the mob rather than ruling the mob. But, push come to shove, he is one of them, they are convinced they can deal with him because he really doesn't have any guiding principles above self-interest. In other words, they are Trump but with better public manners.
Cruz, on the other hand, represents something they have never had to deal with: a man who actually believes what he is campaigning on.
If this does come down to a Cruz vs. Trump contest rather than the Cruz vs. Rubio contest that many of us have predicted, the GOP establishment is going to fall in solidly behind Donald Trump.