The folks at The Washington Post who are handicapping the Democratic primaries -- they go by the collective name "The Ranking Committee" -- have decided to predict a possible 2020 Republican presidential race:
So if Trump gets removed, who’s the GOP nominee?
With evidence accumulating and public sentiment shifting rapidly ... there’s a chance, however outside, that the incumbent might no longer be a shoo-in for the 2020 Republican nomination.
But what is the Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking if not a vehicle for obsessing over outside chances? So with that in mind, this week we’ve got for you a bonus ranking: the Top 10 Republicans situated to win the nomination should it not go to Trump.
Here are the rankings:
Ummm ... no. Or at least that's not what's going to happen if the nominating process involves GOP voters in any way. If the nominee is chosen in a smoke-filled room, this ranking might make sense -- but rank-and-file Republicans will be infuriated.
You know my argument on this subject: When Trump is gone, Republican voters will want the next nominee to be a brawler and a lib-owner. This is especially true under the circumstances envisioned by the Post's prognosticators -- an abrupt Trump departure as a result of the process that started when the Ukraine whistleblower story broke. If you're an ordinary Republican voter, the idea that Trump might have to leave office for that is especially infuriating. Nothing happened! It was a perfect call! The whistleblower's complaint doesn't match the transcript at all, and the whistleblower is a partisan Democrat and a tool of the Deep State! What about Hunter Biden? What about Hillary's server? That's what the vast majority of Republican voters believe. That's what they'll believe after an impeachment in the House and a Senate trial.
Sure, if Trump is out of office, that will mean that his numbers (and the numbers for Republicans overall) are significantly worse than they are now -- but even when George W. Bush's approval ratings were in the 20s and low 30s, in the run-up to the 2008 election, he still had strong support within his party, and its voters nominated an Iraq War dead-ender for president.
That's what GOP voters will demand if Trump falls: another Trump. Maybe a Trump who doesn't tweet, but certainly someone who rails against what happened to Trump, or at least someone who rails against Democrats and liberals in general. So no one who voted to impeach or convict will stand a chance -- I assume Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse will be in that category if Trump is gone. No primary challenger or declared critic stands a chance, so Joe Walsh, Bill Weld, and Justin Amash are out. And I think anyone positioned as an establishmentarian -- Nikki Haley, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush -- is out.
From that list, only Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and Liz Cheney seem like contenders, along with Don Jr. -- and, yes, Ted Nugent, although he's been threatening to run for office off and on for twenty years and he never does it. (UPDATE: I should have also included Ted Cruz on the list of genuine contenders.)
It would be an insane race. The education value of it would be the opportunity to learn that the party wouldn't change at all. Rhetorical Trumpism would be triumphant even without Trump -- maybe not in the specifics (TV obsession, schoolyard nicknames), but in the radical absolutist attitude. In a way, it's a shame it won't happen.
Published with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog