While most eyes have been focused on the winner-take-all primaries in Florida and Ohio tomorrow and the rather thin evidence of a concerted effort to stop Donald Trump, a lot of interesting things are happening in the other states voting on Tuesday.
Both Missouri and North Carolina are in play. A good guess is that Ted Cruz wins Missouri and either wins North Carolina or, more likely, comes in a very close second. The real fun is happening in Illinois.
Cruz is throwing a lot of effort in there. He's making five stops in Illinois today
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) March 13, 2016
The polls, for what they are worth this season, seem to indicate a Cruz surge.
Illinois has an open primary system but what we've seen thus far this cycle is that Trump, even in open primary states, polls about 5 points higher than his actual take at the ballot box and Ted Cruz usually over performs his polls. If you look at the most recent Illinois polls, IF they are meaningful, they show Cruz gaining strength at the expense of Kasich and Rubio.
If there is one thing we know about the Trump campaign is that they worship polls and they obviously don't like what they are seeing. So now we're seeing the Trump Illinois campaign beginning to look like your typical Donald Trump business venture:
Donald Trump’s Illinois campaign director has been sidelined after the national campaign grew furious over what sources described as a lack of organization in the state in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary.
Instead, two others have assumed duties that were held by Springfield-area attorney Kent Gray, who is also running for state representative, a person intimately involved with Trump's political operation confirmed.
Reached late Sunday, Gray said by text message that he had not been removed. When asked if his capacity within the campaign had shifted, he referred questions to a Trump spokeswoman.
Spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sources told POLITICO that Gray was sidelined early last week after the Trump camp learned he made few inroads with get-out-the-vote efforts and organizing volunteers.
This is Chinese fire drill style panic (can we say "Chinese fire drill" these days?). The election is tomorrow. Today they fire the campaign director and replace one incompetent with two. And what brings this on? The campaign suddenly discovered that in a major state they had virtually no volunteers and no visible GOTV apparatus. The real person who should have been fired is the campaign manager who, when not beating up girls, has been asleep at the switch.
None of these moves are going to help Trump on Tuesday. He may still win but the lesson here is that Trump's organization has become lazy and flaccid from its easy diet of earned media. Now that the field is winnowing, and the primaries are no longer confined to one small state, Trump is going to find that an organization is essential and he's squandered the time he's had to build one.