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I’ve seen it posted in various places that establishment GOP types are more afraid of Cruz than Trump. Having spent the last several days at meetings that were nothing but establishment GOP, I can report that is absolutely backwards. They don’t fear Trump because they think he will win; they fear him as the GOP nominee because they don’t see how can possibly avoid losing.
Of the remaining candidates, the establishment likes Rubio best, because they believe he has the greatest chance of winning, as he is personally likeable and has a positive message that could appeal beyond the base. Cruz is not liked by the establishment, but all recognize that he is smart and conservative. They believe they would have a tough time winning the general election were he the nominee – they worry that his appeal is now narrowed to only the most conservative/evangelical voters and so won’t have broad enough support — but they think they could win.
Why the focus on winning? Because whichever party prevails in the presidency will likely control of the Senate and, by extension, the balance on the Supreme Court.
Thus, Trump inspires despair. At a personal level, a lot of people in that world tell me they have done business with him, know him, and don’t like or trust him. Several say they think about writing about their experiences, but expect that if they do there will immediately be a harassing letter from his attorneys initiating a lawsuit, and so stay quiet. But they are deeply concerned about what the Democrats’ attack ads will say, and worry that many of Trump’s current enthusiasts will think — too late — “Oh, I didn’t know that. I don’t like that”.
Worse, they don’t believe Trump means what he says, and believe he will say one thing one day, the opposite the next — whatever suits the moment — so they don’t trust that his conservative pronouncements will stick when no longer expedient, and worry that he may start a trade war (think Smoot-Hawley tariffs and the resulting Great Depression).
But their greatest concern is that if Trump is the GOP nominee, they don’t see how he can win; his negatives are higher even than Hillary’s. If the top of the GOP presidential ticket loses, they know that almost certainly means senators running in states the GOP nominee loses will also lose, and the Democrats will take the Senate. And if the Democrats take the Senate (and there are more than enough vulnerable GOP senators to do so), that means Obama’s disastrous and debilitating policies like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank become permanent, a culture of dependency grows, the debt continues to spiral, and we’re looking at a court that for a generation won’t follow the constitution or the law but what it “reasonably knows” ought to be the law.
So here is their calculus: If you are eager enough to kick the SOB’s out of DC that you’ll vote for Trump, then you ought to be prepared come January to live with a Democrat in the White House, Sen. Chuck Schumer as majority leader, and Scalia’s conservative seat filled with someone far to the left, tipping the Court’s balance for a generation.