Thesis: Every conservative that declares for the 2016 nomination, regardless of his/her ideological bona fides, decreases the probability that a conservative will actually win the nomination.
Every four years, we get the same thing in the GOP primary season: Several conservatives, one or two moderates acceptable to the establishment, and occasionally, some unabashedly liberal candidate who spends his campaign attacking the views of the 99% of the party who are to his right.
The conservative candidates all have passionate fan bases of varying sizes. These candidates spend the bulk of their time trying to win the other conservative factions over, all but ignoring the establishment candidate(s) at first: "If only the other conservative candidates would drop out of the race, their voters would unite behind me, and we could win this! How can they be so selfish?"
|Conservatives select a 2016 standard-bearer.|
(Note: the establishment candidates are the relaxed ones in the foreground)
Too late, the conservatives stop clawing at each other long enough to realize that the establishment candidate is pulling away. By then, it usually doesn't matter if all but one conservative drops out; all the moderate must do from this point forward is to calmly and cheerfully quote the remaining candidate's erstwhile conservative opponents against him or her. The conservative, who up to this point has focused exclusively on fellow conservatives, can do little but splutter in response.
|Jeff Koterba, February 8|
I've been an active voter for over 30 years, and I've witnessed this phenomenon far too many times for it to be attributed to my imagination. Alas, more than a year and a half prior to the 2016 election, this cycle appears to be no different.
There is much that I like about each of the likely conservative candidates, but I doubt that any of them will get the nod. The Texas primary is held late in the season, typically meaning that we will have only the establishment candidate and the last major conservative candidate to choose from. As usual, I'll probably cast a protest vote against the establishment. For all the good it'll do.
April 10 UPDATE: Rasmussen shows that I'm not alone in my pessimism.