The 2016 Republican primary is now essentially a two-man race. Donald Trump has tallied an astonishing 678 delegates, while Ted Cruz, the dogmatic, far-right Texas Republican, who apparently gets along with no one in his own party, has garnered 423. Even though John Kasich, former governor and the last great hope for moderates, won his home state of Ohio, his candidacy is mathematically dead in the water; his only hope is to pull some remarkable trick at a contested convention.
For Cruz as well, it’s still an uphill battle. But depending on the outcomes of subsequent primaries, other Republican leaders may yet rally to his side. As CBS News put it: “Cruz may be the only candidate who can beat Trump in the delegate count before the convention.”
This is the mainstream party’s worst nightmare. Comedy Central’s Daily Show compared the choice between Trump and Cruz to picking between getting a blood clot or bone cancer, and to listen to the party’s establishment, the clot has so far been getting the most attention. As a Los Angeles Times headline put it, “Cruz is Scary, Trump Is Dangerous”. Jeb Bush memorably called Trump the “chaos candidate”. George W. Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, describes Trump as a “wrecking ball”.
South Carolina senator and former GOP candidate Lindsey Graham has decided to back Cruz in a desperate effort to stop the chaos candidate, but even he once compared the decision to choosing between being poisoned or shot by a firing squad. The cyanide capsule seems to have cracked between Graham’s teeth.