It’s the first time in my memory that Indiana might have a meaningful role to play in presidential elections. If Trump wins in Indiana, he will have the Republican nomination in the bag. However, even if Trump looses in Indiana and we end up with a brokered Republican convention, I predict that the Republican Party establishment will be divided about whether they dislike Cruz or Trump more, so Trump will win by default.
Trump and Cruz represent two possible futures for the Republican Party. Trump represents a European-style right wing, which is economically populist and protectionist and anti-immigrant. Cruz stands for small-government, the Tea Party, and military interventionism.
I know where Cruz stands, but I often wonder if what Trump really stands for aside from his own self promotion, since he says contradictory things, often within the same interview. Even when I agree with what he says, such as when he criticizes NAFTA and the TPP, I find it worrisome, because he talks about violating standing treaties and threatens illegal actions against companies. I just finished reading Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin and I see a lot of proto-fascist tendencies in Trump in the ways he scapegoats Mexicans and Muslims.
Trump has shown himself to be a horrible manager from the way he runs his campaign and his 4 bankruptcies. The fact that he didn’t have a ground game in Iowa and his campaign was so incompetent in Colorado shows that he doesn’t bother to learn the details or know how to manage complex operations.
I don’t know what to expect from a Trump presidency: bumbling incompetency, rampant disregard for the law, scary protofascism, harmless narcissism or more Washington deal making that furthers crony capitalism and insider interests.
On the other hand, Trump has a better chance against Hillary Clinton than Cruz in my opinion, because Trump has more appeal with independents and he can attack Hillary for being corrupt and controlled by big money interests, while he can claim that nobody controls him. If Trump is even half-way competent, he will destroy Hillary’s reputation in the general election. All he needs to do is talk about every favor she did for groups that gave her Foundation money and paid her speaking fees. Bernie Sanders probably could have won if he had been explicit in detailing her corruption. Trump might just do it, and it will be devastating to Hillary if he does. The corruption uncovered by Peter Schweizer in Clinton Cash and David Sorota (1,2,3,4,5) is very damning. For all Trump’s faults, he is a darn good publicist, especially when detailing the faults of his opponents.
If it is a choice between Trump and Hillary in the general election, I predict that a large proportion of the American electorate will stay home on election day. I also predict that the Libertarian and Green candidates will get a record number of votes this election.
Hillary will probably win, but it will be a very ugly election–a wallow in the mud for everyone. Even in a normal year, the electoral math favors the Democrats and Trump’s comments have so alienated minorities and many women, that Hillary is virtually guaranteed to win. Still, it won’t be a cake walk for Hillary, since she will emerge from the election with a tarnished reputation and won’t have the coat tails to significantly change the congressional elections, so she will be a weakened president.