All the fighting about wives between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump appears to be hurting both, while John Kasich is swooping in to claim the moderate/liberal lane in a divided GOP.
A new Wisconsin poll has Trump slumping to 31 percent, just two points ahead of a surging Kasich, who is in turn two points ahead of Cruz. That’s a drop of 3 points for Trump and of 9 points for Cruz. You cannot out-Trump the Trump. Headlines detailing the spat over wives, whomever started it first, are turning off voters who want a president who will make their lives better, not further degrade their daily experience.
By staying outside the feuds and relatively unknown, Kasich is putting himself in contention to block Cruz in Wisconsin and possibly Pennsylvania, where a new poll shows Trump stuck at 33 percent and Kasich surging to 30 percent.
Cruz’s super PAC has responded with this attack ad, finally focused on Cruz’s economic message and emphasizing that Kasich is not an economic conservative:
(Since Kasich has boldly seized the moderate lane, as Patrick Ruffini just tweeted, I’m not sure that emphasizing he’s not that conservative economically helps).
The divisions in the GOP are now boldly on display. The DC GOP establishment should be getting a clear message: the standard Republican economic message is not connecting with voters — not even GOP base voters. This is the true divide Trump is exploiting — he has conceded and adopted social conservative positions and has driven a stake into the standard Chamber of Commerce pro-business Republicanism.
What happens next? It’s hard to see.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.