race with numbers in the mid- to high-twenties, has a ceiling of around 30 percent? That's fine so long as there are 17 candidates in the race, but what happens when the field winnows down to just two or three? That won't look so good if the candidate the establishment finally coalesces around, say Jeb Bush or John Kasich, has numbers in the fifties, right?
A piece in Politico yesterday, "GOP candidates wobble but don’t fall down: Perry, Paul and Santorum keep going, fueled by super PAC money and a hope for that breakthrough moment," argues that This Time May Be Different. All emphasis mine:
Yet unlike previous cycles, the tiering of the 2016 Republican
presidential field appears unlikely to result in the quick exit of the
GOP laggards. That’s because each is the beneficiary of super PACs that
in many cases have raised orders of magnitude more than the campaigns
themselves. The PACs, in effect, become a bridge to viability,
sustaining struggling candidates who may genuinely believe they can
surge or who simply want to stick around long enough to amass delegates
and wield clout with the eventual nominee.
“I don’t think there’s
any incentive to drop out as long as you can put gas in the truck and
there’s PAC money out there,” said Sam Clovis, an Iowa adviser to the
Perry campaign, who said Perry’s as upbeat about his chances as ever.
“There will be some adjustments — but again, it’s just a matter of
resetting the stride.”
PAC situation is going to keep people in this race longer,” said Karen
Fesler, an Iowa activist who recently defected from the Santorum camp to
Now, let's assume for the sake of argument that Rick Perry, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum do drop out early in the process. Let's throw in George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, who are all polling at less than five percent. That would still leave seven candidates besides Trump: Jeb, Kasich, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. (I think the GOP bigwigs will want to keep the only African American and woman in the race.)
Suddenly 30 percent looks pretty good again.
But I know what you're thinking: while a plurality is a wonderful thing, the eventual winner needs a majority of delegates. Good point. But that's where this comes in:
The benefit of hanging on to a failed candidacy, Anuzis said, is that
even bit players can amass enough delegates help winning candidates
clinch the nomination. Those delegates can become trading chips in
conversations about Cabinet posts or the vice presidential sweepstakes.