Since the first of March, Republican voters have sent the party a message that the party apparently does not want to hear.
More than two out of three GOP voters in 19 states have chosen someone other than a candidate that would be acceptable to the party elite.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz – both disfavored to one degree or another by the GOP leadership – have taken a commanding majority of the votes. Marco Rubio, the candidate most acceptable to the so-called “establishment,” has won in only two states, was badly beaten in all four primary states last night and faces the almost certain humiliation of losing his home state of Florida in a winner-take-all primary next Tuesday.
As we reported this time a week ago, the GOP faces a choice. On the one hand the leadership can examine the results of the primary season so far and say to themselves, “The voters are trying to tell us something.”
On the other hand, they can dig into their position and say, in effect, “We don’t care what the voters want.” So far, this is the route they are taking.
Mitt Romney, displaying a degree of passion and outspokenness that he was never able to muster against Barack Obama in 2012, went out and delivered a scathing attack against Donald Trump last week. He fails to appreciate the fact that if there were a ballot option labeled, “Mitt, you had your chance and blew it,” it would win in a landslide.
What the GOP leaders still cannot grasp is the magnitude of voter resentment. Voters (on both sides, when you think about it, look at Bernie Sanders) feel betrayed. Their incomes are stagnant. Their advancement prospects are poor. Their retirement savings are shrinking. Their kids are drowning in college debt with few good job prospects.
For these things they blame the “establishment” for self-dealing and cozy relationships with big, unaccountable institutions in banking, big business and government.
Trump has tapped into that resentment and is winning as a result. Cruz is drafting on Trump.
If the GOP leadership wants to avoid a Hillary Clinton victory in November, they must look themselves in the mirror very soon and ask the question, “Why do two out of three of our voters want someone other than who we want?”
The failure to develop a good answer to that question – and to then act accordingly – could cost the Republican Party an otherwise very winnable election.
Decision 2016 is sponsored by Hibbs-Hallmark & Company Insurance. Follow us on Twitter @paulgleiser, here on 97.5 FM and 600 AM KTBB, and online at KTBB dot com slash decision. For Hibbs-Hallmark & Company Insurance, I’m Paul Gleiser.