Winner-take-all primary: Will Trump sneak through with plurality while Jeb and Rubio split the “home” vote?
Early in the 2016 cycle, the Republican establishment pushed Marco Rubio aside in Florida and put its money and support behind Jeb Bush. That decision has created a scenario which could rob both candidates of the state’s highly coveted delegates.
Jim Newell of Slate reported:
Has the Republican Establishment Created a Monster?
Last fall, when Jeb Bush was still mulling a bid for the presidency, Bloomberg Politics reported on what was considered then—and is still considered now—Bush’s greatest advantage as a presidential candidate: His ability to separate wealthy donors from vast sums of money quickly. “Unlike his competitors,” the thinking went, “Bush could lure donors off the fence in a hurry, without undergoing a hazing trial to test skill and stability.”
That is precisely what happened. Instants after announcing over the winter that he was “seriously considering the possibility of running for president,” Bush and his team set up the Right to Rise PAC and super PAC to serve as cash receptacles for eager GOP establishment donors. The money rolled in, and by July the super PAC announced that it had met its goal of raising more than $100 million in the first six months of the year.
Now that it’s becoming clear that Bush is in the doldrums, it might be too late for Rubio:
Rubio’s problem—and perhaps soon a problem for the GOP establishment and the Republican Party writ large—is that Bush will face no financial pressure to leave the scene. These donors made the mistake of paying the contractor in full before he’d begun the job. In no way can Bush be ruled out as the nominee. But we’re definitely at the point where he cannot simply wait for the other candidates to cancel each other out, McCain-style, and have their support matriculate to him as the only acceptable option.
The possible winner in all of this? Donald Trump. A new poll already shows Trump leading in the state but the rules established by the Republican Party are the real kicker.
Back in May, Eli Stokols of Politico reported:
Florida quietly sets up an epic 2016 primary clash
The campaign for the Republican presidential nomination may have a new expiration date: March 15.
That’s when Florida holds its primary contest — which will now be winner-take-all.
The state’s Republican Party quietly approved the new delegate allocation rules Saturday night, while the political world’s attention was focused on Iowa and the 11 Republican presidential hopefuls stumping there.
But the Florida decision, another attempt by the state GOP to boost the Sunshine State’s relevance in the party’s nomination process, is the far more consequential event because of the size of the prize: 99 delegates. It could even turn Florida’s primary into a climactic battle between two native sons, Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush.
“The winner-take-all nature of this gives them the inside track, but it also raises the stakes,” said Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee-based Republican operative. “Whoever wins that one moves on, but I think it probably eliminates the other one.”
What that means is that Jeb and Rubio could essentially cancel each other out and hand all of Florida’s delegates to Donald Trump who seems to genuinely enjoy taking the fight to Jeb.
Welcome to the law of unintended consequences.
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