It’s time to face the facts after last night’s debate, and two weeks out from when the voting begins in Iowa: Either Trump or Cruz is going to be the GOP nominee, and if Cruz loses Iowa as a result of Trump’s birther attacks on him, Trump will most likely be the nominee.
Rubio? Where does Rubio win? He’s polling 12 percent nationally, and about the same in the latest Iowa and New Hampshire polls. If Trump wins Iowa, is Rubio going to beat him in New Hampshire? The one outside shot is that a Trump loss in Iowa somehow damages Trump in New Hampshire, allowing Rubio to pull ahead. But New Hampshire typically ignores Iowa.
Right now Trump is pulling ahead in Iowa, according to the latest Gravis poll. It may be an outlier, but the poll taken January 11 and 12 shows Cruz holding steady with 28 percent of the vote, Rubio collapsing to 5 percent, and Trump surging to 34 percent.
Why does that make me unhappy? It is not because I believe that Trump will obviously lose to Hillary Clinton. I do think Trump would lose to Bernie Sanders, who is fighting to get the respect he deserves against a very weak Democratic front-runner, as he is locked in his own narrow battle to win Iowa and then New Hampshire. But Hillary versus Trump would be a race between the ultimate unattractive and inauthentic establishment candidate versus an authentic, in-your-face outsider, and politically, I think Trump would destroy Hillary. I have never disrespected or misunderestimated Trump. I have never believed he’s a clown or a fool or any of the other silly criticisms thrown his way by an establishment that cannot believe the message voters are telling them about their disgust with both parties in Washington.
So what’s the problem with Trump?
For me, two big things.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.