On ABC's This Week Sunday, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona uttered a Sunday talk show heresy:
At this point, I don't see a path where Donald Trump probably doesn’t become the nominee.
Matt Bai was having none of it. He assured us that Trump's numbers will never get better than they are now, and once other candidates drop out, it's over for Trump:
BAI: -- no, the question, look, we know what we've got with Trump now. You have an inelastic base of support that maybe 25-30 percent of the party -- he couldn't shake that if he went out and, you know, killed a bunch of people today.
The question is -- the question is, you know, can he grow it?
He's shown no capacity to grow it and I think the things he's done in the last couple months make that impossible.
Apparently Bai is unaware of the recent Economist/YouGov poll in which Trump was pitted one-on-one against Marco Rubio. In that poll, Trump trounced Rubio, 57%-43%.
So, yeah, Trump can "grow" his voter base.
Bai tells us to chill out -- the GOP Establishment has got this:
BAI: ... So the -- so what you're really looking at is -- the question you have to ask yourself is can the governing establishment of the Republican Party at this point be like the Tea Party in 2012, in which they just remained split, choose a bunch of different candidates in different states and can't coalesce?
That's the scenario under which you're talking --
CARDONA: That's right.
BAI: -- that you're talking about. I don't think establishments behave that way. I think ultimately, they do congeal around one or two candidates. And if that's the case, they will eclipse Donald Trump because he can't grow 25 or 30 percent in the election...
Except that the GOP Establishment isn't "congeal[ing] around one or two candidates." The Establishment likes Rubio, but it also can't quit Bush, or give up on Kasich. And now Chris Christie has won the endorsement of New Hampshire's Union Leader newspaper, and the ABC panel thinks he's having a "moment" -- not just because of that endorsement but because of terrorism:
[COKIE] ROBERTS: -- and Chris Christie, regardless of the "Manchester Union-Leader," is in a little moment because of what happened in Paris. And -- and terrorism, once it becomes the primary issue, it really does sink everything else, because if people don't feel safe, nothing else matters, so.
BAI: Well, he's also the best pure...
BAI: -- he's the best pure...
[MARTHA] RADDATZ: Very quickly, Matt.
BAI: -- retail candidate in the field. And that's why I think "The Union Leader" endorsement does matter at this point, because I think the establishment does have to congeal somewhere and he's got a lot of strengths as a candidate.
It's so typical that panel made up of Northeast Corridor elitists thinks that the guy most likely to be seen by voters in Iowa and South Carolina and Texas as a terrorism fighter is ... a mouthy lawyer. It's the Giuliani fantasy all over again. These people are approximately as dumb as the Trump voters, except that they think writing legal briefs is almost like being a war hero and Trump voters feel that way about getting golf courses and casinos built.
And Bai is telling us that the GOP Establishment will "congeal around one or two candidates," but a renewal of phony Christiemania will make them more likely to remain divided. Christie? Kasich? Rubio? Bush? The longer the Establishment remains indecisive, the better life gets for Trump (or possibly Ted Cruz).
And if Christie may be having a "moment," the voters seem not to have noticed: He's still in seventh place in New Hampshire, with 5.3% of the vote, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average. He's at 2.3% in Iowa, 1% in South Carolina, and 1.5% in Florida. He's at 1% in the only Nevada poll conducted this fall. He's going nowhere.
But you keep waiting for that Christie "moment," GOP Establishment. Donald Trump thanks you.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog