Ted Cruz, right, talks to Jeb Bush after a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
As you have undoubtedly heard, Jeb Bush has endorsed Ted Cruz. I originally wrote that out as ‘finally endorsed Ted Cruz,’ because the writing has been on the wall for some time now – but there was, I suppose, a chance that it wasn’t going to happen. But it has happened – so what does it mean? Well, three things:
- First: this is in fact a net plus for Ted Cruz. Jeb Bush’s endorsement may not be a money spigot, but it won’t hurt Cruz’s fundraising efforts in the slightest. And it probably won’t hurt Cruz’s state infrastructure, either, which is likely more important at this point. Key here is that Bush’s endorsement of Cruz has just the right amount of urgency to make it clear that Bush isn’t buying Cruz; he’s depending on him. Which is sensible of Jeb.
- Second: at least part of the ‘Establishment’ – whatever the heck that term means, at this point – has decided that Ted Cruz is preferable to Donald Trump. And sure, I knew this, and you knew this, and certainly Ted Cruz knew this… but I’m sure we were all wondering when the rest of the 65% of the party was going to work that out for themselves. The practical outcome of that? The primary campaign now overwhelmingly likely continues on until June*. And, depending on how the results go, to multiple ballots at the convention itself.
- Third, and maybe most importantly: it’s a not-very-subtle hint to John Kasich that he should stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. Kasich’s argument, such as it is, is that if he can hang on until the convention then the folks in the no-longer-smoke-filled-rooms will pick him to unite the party. This argument didn’t particularly appeal to voters last night; and it would appear that it’s not particularly appealing to the folks in the aforementioned rooms, either. Unlike Cruz, Kasich does in fact need cash and infrastructure support; and it’s likely that he won’t be getting either from Bush, or his network.
This is not a game-changer, obviously. Although there were any number of people today who proclaimed that it was, and that said game-changer just happened to reinforce any number of pet theories. What it is is a sign that the game shall continue on for a good bit, yet.
*I hope I am not surprising anybody when I point out that Ted Cruz or Donald Trump probably didn’t expect the campaign to last this long. And to be fair: neither did anybody else, really. Although in retrospect: 2008 on the Democratic side should have warned us…