Both parties are a bit flummoxed this primary season. The Democrats are dealing with the persistent weakness of presumed nominee Hillary Clinton, and the resulting surprise strength of the quirky self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders.
On the GOP side, it was assumed that Jeb Bush, with his intimidating mountain of cash and the well-established Bush campaign apparatus, would prove formidable against the rest of the Republican field.
In neither case has what was expected turned out to be what happened.
Most still believe that despite everything, Hillary Clinton will eventually emerge as the nominee. But many in the GOP, who once thought it could never happen, are conceding that Donald Trump could leave the convention in Cleveland this summer as the Republican nominee.
The Marco Rubio surge appears to have been turned back by Chris Christie’s blistering attack during the GOP debate here in New Hampshire on Saturday night. He is, at this writing, expected to finish second in New Hampshire, but by a very wide margin.
Ted Cruz — no darling of the GOP “establishment” himself — is the only other candidate that appears to still have a shot at the nomination. The rest of the field — Bush, Carson, Christie, and Kasich — are all so far back as to be effectively out of the race. Only something seismic that adversely affects one or another of the three front-runners could put any of these four guys back in contention.
Therefore, one has to believe that some back channel negotiations are now taking place. It would be naive to think that the pooh-bahs of the Republican National Committee are not talking to Bush, Carson, Christie and Kasich about getting out and throwing their support behind either Cruz or Rubio — and probably Rubio.
In other words, anyone other than Trump.