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According to this article, down-ticket Republicans might as well start writing their concession speeches. This is proof that a little paranoia goes a long way. According to the article, “New polls that came out yesterday showing Hillary Clinton with a double digit lead over Donald Trump in the race for the White House has to have many House and Senate Republicans that are up for re-election this year shaking in their boots and running for the hills. The Trump Train nightmare is set to wreak havoc on a GOP-controlled Congress, cutting political careers short and leaving many looking for jobs.”

That’s before the author gets into full panic mode.

Jason Taylor, the man who wrote the article, then said “You have Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, who is going to have a tough fight for re-election, along with Richard Burr in North Carolina, Marco Rubio in Florida, Mark Kirk in Illinois, Roy Blunt in Missouri, Patrick Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rob Portman in Ohio just to name a few. Don’t get me wrong, anything is possible. I just think far too much damage has been done to hold the Senate.”

Now that it’s established that Mr. Taylor sounds like he’s in full panic mode, let’s introduce some reality into the conversation. This article highlights last week’s Quinnipiac poll. It paints an entirely different picture:

Brown continues, saying “In general, this poll of the three major swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, is good news for the GOP. Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with former Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio. But that is an improvement for Portman, who earlier in the campaign was down as much as 9 points. And in Pennsylvania, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey has a 9-point lead. It is far too early to say he’s a sure thing, but he is in good shape.”

Apparently, voters are smart enough to differentiate between the loudmouth at the top of the ticket and these senators. Who would’ve thunk it?

Prediction: Republicans will keep control of the House and Senate. Marco Rubio will score a strong victory in Florida. Ditto with Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. Sen. Ron Johnson will defeat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, thus ending Feingold’s anything-but-illustrious political career. Rob Portman has an uphill fight but he’s fought back into a tie with Ted Strickland after trailing by 9 points early. That’s before talking about Republicans flipping Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada and ousting Michael Benet in Colorado, both distinct possibilities.

Message to the Chicken Littles out there — the sky isn’t falling:

This Quinnipiac poll is the best news Mitch McConnell has seen in months. Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said “With Republican national leaders worried about keeping control of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Marco Rubio might ride to their rescue if he decides to reverse field and seek re-election. This Quinnipiac University poll finds Sen. Marco Rubio in good shape when matched against his two potential Democratic opponents.”

Brown continues, saying “In general, this poll of the three major swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, is good news for the GOP. Sen. Rob Portman is in a dead heat with former Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio. But that is an improvement for Portman, who earlier in the campaign was down as much as 9 points. And in Pennsylvania, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey has a 9-point lead. It is far too early to say he’s a sure thing, but he is in good shape.”

This has to be considered good news for the GOP, too:

Pennsylvania

While the presidential matchup in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Senate race both feature a Democratic woman running against a Republican man, Sen. Pat Toomey has the advantage of incumbency. He leads 56 – 35 percent among men, while women are divided with 44 percent for Katie McGinty and 42 percent for Toomey.

If Republicans hold those 3 seats, they’ll hold their majority in the Senate. I expect them to hold Wisconsin, too, where Ron Johnson will benefit from the fact that he’s running 5+ points ahead of Trump in Wisconsin.

Something noteworthy is happening, too. Each of these candidates are running well ahead of Mr. Trump. While it’s still early, this suggests that voters are differentiating between Mr. Trump and mainstream Republicans. If that’s what’s happening, then that’s good news for those who’ve been worried about a major GOP thumping this upcoming November.

With Rubio now officially running for re-election, coupled with this news, the NRSC just got a major morale boost.

If I were a betting man, and I am from time to time, I’d bet that Sen. Rubio will run for re-election.

According to the article, “Politico reported Wednesday that López-Cantera had urged Rubio to jump in the race, saying he would back out if the senator ran for reelection.” I can’t see Sen. Rubio saying no at this point, especially considering the fact that his friend has a) urged him to run and b) promised to drop out if Sen. Rubio runs for re-election.

After the Orlando bombing, and considering the fact that Sen. Rubio would have a prominent role in crafting policies to prevent terrorist attacks, it’s difficult picturing Sen. Rubio declining this option.

Further, this is pretty much proof that Sen. Rubio isn’t on Trump’s short list of VP candidates. Either that or Sen. Rubio doesn’t want to be on Mr. Trump’s short list. Either way, if Sen. Rubio runs for re-election, that eliminates the possibility of the Democrats flipping that seat. It doesn’t hurt the Democrats’ chances of picking up Florida’s senate seat. It eliminates that possibility.

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Saying that Laura Ingraham isn’t honest isn’t easy for me to say. Still, it’s what I must do after reading her latest pro-Trump spin piece. It isn’t that I disagree with everything in her article. I’d be lying if I said she’s constantly dishonest. Still, I can’t sit silent after she said “I, too, would have preferred an ideal candidate who would unite us and cruise to an easy win over Hillary. Unfortunately, the conservative movement failed to field such a candidate. Much of this is due to the fact that many so-called conservatives, and their enablers in the donor class, wasted their time and money promoting the candidacies of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, two men who were, and are, utterly unacceptable to almost all actual voters in the Republican Party.”

While there’s no disputing the fact that large parts of the GOP rejected Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, it’s equally true that they were significantly more qualified, and more honest, than the GOP’s presumptive nominee. Further, Trump has been rejected by a large percentage of “actual voters in the Republican Party.” He just wasn’t rejected by as many people as Bush or Rubio.

This paragraph can’t go unquestioned:

First, some NeverTrumpers (like the Bush family) violently disagree with Trump on issues relating to immigration, trade, and foreign policy. In each of these key issues, however, Trump represents the traditional views of conservatives like Ronald Reagan, while the supporters of Bushism are locked into an extremist ideology that makes no sense in theory, and has been a disaster in practice.

That’s breathtakingly dishonest. The only other explanation is that Ms. Ingraham is just stupid. Since she once clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas, it’s a safe bet that she isn’t stupid.

Saying that Trump’s foreign policy is identical to Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy is like saying that an arsonist’s goals are essentially the same as the firefighters’ goals. First, when did President Reagan ask President Gorbachev to squash America’s enemies? When did President Reagan think it was wise to give the Soviet Union free run in the Middle East? When did President Reagan insist that we were getting screwed by other countries? When did President Reagan insist that America couldn’t compete with the world if our taxes were low and our regulations were reasonable?

The answer to these questions is simple: never.

Further, saying that Trump’s foreign policy is virtually identical to President Reagan’s is saying that Trump has carefully thought through what he’d do. How does that square with Trump telling a rally that he’d “bomb the s—” out of ISIS, then telling a national audience during a debate that he’d get President Putin to take ISIS out?

The reality is that Ms. Ingraham isn’t being honest with her readers or with us. That’s a sad thing because she used to be a person of integrity. I wish that woman hadn’t disappeared.

If, God forbid, the general election pits Hillary against The Donald, the most important factor might be whether Hillary is better at playing the victim card or whether Trump is better at playing the whiner. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess on who wins that match-up.

What isn’t open for debate is whether Trump’s demographic troubles are too deep to dig out of. This graphic shows Trump underwater with Hispanics in a big way:

That’s a net -65 with Hispanics. By comparison, Romney lost Hispanics by 44 points in 2012. Trump performs worse than Romney. It’s interesting to note that Trump accuses Romney of running a terrible campaign and of losing an election he should’ve won. Then there’s Trump’s women problem.

I’m not talking specifically about Trump’s name-calling of women like Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina, although that’s contributing to his women problem. Trump’s rating with women is terrible:

The good news for Trump is that his net favorability with women is better than his net favorability with Hispanics. Trump is just a -47 with women compared with a -65 with Hispanics. The bad news is that women make up a majority of voters in the United States.

Which brings us to whether voters will vote for a whiner like Trump:

Trump: Honestly Kasich should not be allowed to run. And I’ll go opposite on you- he hurts Trump much more than he hurts Cruz. And, in New York, I have tremendous numbers in New York and I have tremendous numbers in Pennsylvania, those two numbers just came out from CBS, I guess you saw them…but Kasich shouldn’t be allowed to run.

Reporter: Under what grounds?

Trump: Under the grounds that Rand Paul could have stayed in, and he had nothing. Marco Rubio could have stayed in, Jeb Bush could have stayed in. They all could have stayed in. They could have just stayed in. That’s all he’s doing. He’s 1 for 29. And the one thing that he won barely, and if I spent one more day in Ohio, I would have beaten him because I came pretty close. The only thing Kasich won was Ohio, where he’s the governor and where he has the machine working. Which isn’t doing well, it’s in the middle of the pack of his neighbors. He’s only in the middle of his pack, he’s not doing well in Ohio. If you look at his neighboring states, he’s exactly in the middle of the pack. That’s not great. Kasich shouldn’t be allowed to continue, and the RNC shouldn’t allow him to continue. And Kasich has more of an impact on me than he does on Cruz.

Kasich shouldn’t be allowed to continue because he hurts Trump more than he hurts Cruz? What a whiner. A candidate’s supporters and family have the final say over who stays in and who needs to drop out, not King Donald.

According to this article, Donald Trump opted out of speaking at CPAC because he “will be in Witchita, Kanasas for a major rally on Saturday prior to Caucus.” Don’t criticize my spelling of Wichita, Kansas. I just copied/pasted the quote from Trump’s statement. Apparently, making America great again doesn’t mean you’ve passed a fifth grade spelling class.

The implication of the Trump campaign’s statement was that Trump simply had to cancel his CPAC speech to win in Kansas. So much for that myth:

Will Katrina Pierson, Trump’s mouthpiece, insist that Trump had to cancel his speech to preserve a resounding defeat? Surely, she can’t argue it was because Mr. Trump was competitive.

UPDATE: With 23% in, Sen. Cruz leads Mr. Trump 49.0%-26.0%. Trump has closed the gap from 25.8% to 23%.

Trump skipped CPAC because he anticipated getting booed frequently during the speech. That isn’t new for Trump. What’s new is that he can’t blame getting booed by lobbyists. Everyone knows that CPAC isn’t filled with lobbyists. It’s filled with activists, many of whom are young and idealistic. The truth is that Trump doesn’t like conservative principles.

Trump has frequently talked about making the federal government run better. That isn’t a conservative principle. Limited government conservatives want as many responsibilities and decisions dealt with at the state, local or family level. Conservatives don’t have faith in the federal government getting things right. They’d rather have local units of government make decisions than have the federal government put together a one-size-fits-all plan that isn’t a solution.

UPDATE II: With 61% in, Sen. Cruz leads Trump 51.1%-24%, with Sen. Rubio getting 14.5% and Kasich getting 9%. That pretty much verifies, not that there was much doubt, that Trump skipped CPAC because it would’ve looked bad for him to get loudly booed at the biggest conservative event before the convention.

UPDATE III: It’s official. Cruz wins the Kansas caucus.

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Laura Ingraham has apparently named herself the determiner of who is the GOP establishment and who is part of a populist movement of, by and for the people. In one of her articles, she throws the kitchen sink at the GOP establishment. (I won’t supply the link because I don’t want to drive traffic to her website.)

According to Ingraham’s article, the “takeaway for the GOP Establishment, and its enablers at places like National Review and RedState, will be that Marco Rubio’s win in Minnesota, combined with Cruz’s victories in Texas and Oklahoma and the close-ish race in Virginia, show that Donald Trump can be stopped. They just have to keep going negative.”

First, it’s frightening to think that Ms. Ingraham thinks of RedState is part of the GOP establishment. While I haven’t always agreed with RedState’s beliefs and political analysis, I’ve never questioned their commitment to TEA Party principles. Second, while I agree that NRO is GOP Establishment-ish, I can’t say that they’re card-carrying members of the GOP establishment. Writers like Jonah Goldberg, Jim Geraghty and Kevin Williamson are thinkers who don’t take their marching orders from anyone, much less from the ever-morphing GOP Establishment.

This statement is utterly mindless:

There’s no point in complaining about this. Trump represents a potentially existential threat to the Donor Class.

When Trump told Bret Baier that soldiers would obey his illegal orders, did that represent a “potentially existential threat to the donor class” or did it represent that rantings of a lunatic who didn’t care about the rule of law? Trump didn’t reverse himself until after conservatives wrote negative articles criticizing Mr. Trump for his willingness to order troops to commit war crimes.

At the same time, this primary season has demonstrated that the Establishment has some real problems. It’s clear that Rubio is a deeply flawed candidate. It’s clear he struggles to reach people who aren’t already committed to the Establishment Agenda. It’s clear that the voters are screaming “NO!” to the Establishment’s agenda; they have rejected it in almost every state by almost overwhelming numbers.

What’s equally clear is that conservative activists, like the activists populating CPAC, have noticed that Mr. Trump “is a deeply flawed candidate” who “struggles to reach people who aren’t” repeating Mr. Trump’s clichés.

The GOP Establishment didn’t start the #NeverTrump movement. Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-NE), is the spiritual leader of the movement. Calling a freshman senator from Nebraska who confronted Sean Hannity at CPAC, “chastising the Fox News host for suggesting his refusal to vote for Donald Trump was equivalent to a vote for Hillary Clinton.” Here’s the set of questions Sen. Sasse posed to Mr. Trump that have gone unanswered:

Q1: You said you want single-payer “govt pays4everyone” [health care]. If that isn’t your position now when did it change? Why?
Q2: You’ve said you “hate the concept of guns.” Why the change? When did it happen? What’s the 2nd Amendment mean to you?
Q3: A few yrs ago u proposed $6trillion tax hike. Still want to do that? Agree w/ Biden that higher taxes=more patriotism?
Q4: You brag about many affairs w/ married women. Have you repented? To harmed children & spouses? Do you think it matters?
Q5: I believe 1 of the most damaging things POTUS Obama did is ignore Constitution, act on his own,& bypass Congress Next GOP POTUS must roll this back & reaffirm a Constitutional system b4 we lose this special inheritance forever. Do you agree that exec unilateralism is very bad? Because you talk A LOT about “running the country” as though 1 man should “run America.” Will you commit to rolling back Exec power & undoing Obama unilateral habit?

Do those sound like questions that the GOP Establishment pose on a daily basis? Of course they aren’t, which proves my point that populists mindlessly use the term GOP Establishment whenever their indefensible positions are questions. (They’ll use the term elitist, too. The words are interchangeable.)

Opposing Trump isn’t part of a GOP Establishment conspiracy to thwart the will of the people. It’s the re-invigoration of the TEA Party movement after high-profile TEA Party activists sold out TEA Party principles for high-paying positions with politicians. We’re opposing Trump because he’s the embodiment of the corruption known as crony capitalism.

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Jonah Goldberg’s article highlights the transition that’s happening within the Republican nominating race. Goldberg rightly highlights the fact that candidates are starting to use reality TV tactics against the reality TV star. Goldberg also highlights the fact that Mr. Trump doesn’t like it when the tactics that he’s used against his opponents are used against him.

When Mr. Goldberg wrote about shows like Survivor, The Bachelor and The Apprentice, he said that “in many of these shows, the game is played the same way: Groups form alliances. Sometimes these alliances are formal, often they are tacit and voluntary — but they are all temporary.” Then he said “Trump has been playing the game all along, and now that he’s ahead, he doesn’t think anyone should be allowed to change their tactics to beat him.”

It isn’t surprising that Mr. Trump doesn’t like having his tactics turned against him. That’s because Mr. Trump doesn’t like losing. That’s tough. It isn’t required that he like having the tables turned on himself.

The race has hit a potential tipping point. If Trump wins Ohio and Florida, he’ll be the GOP nominee. After last night’s debate, it isn’t as likely to go Trump as it was the night of Super Tuesday. That’s partially because John Kasich had a solid performance, partially because Sen. Rubio and Sen. Cruz beat up on Trump last night.

Further complicating matters is the #NeverTrump movement on Twitter. It would be deliciously ironic if Twitter took down the Twitter gutter snipe. In state after state, politicians and conservative activists are putting together a movement that’s opposing Mr. Trump. They’re saying that they’ll never vote for Trump, even if he’s the GOP nominee. That gives activists in the upcoming states a base of support to vote for the Republican not named Trump with the most support in that state.

In Florida, that means the #NeverTrump forces should rally to Sen. Rubio. In Ohio, they should support John Kasich. The first goal of the movement is to deny Trump a first ballot victory at the Republican National Convention. The next goal is to pick a candidate that Republicans can unite around.

Trump’s supporters won’t like it if he’s denied the nomination but that’s tough. At this point, we should admit that the GOP won’t be a portrait in family harmony. The good news is that they don’t need to be. The GOP won’t be running against a juggernaut. They’ll be running against Hillary Clinton, who is a mediocre candidate.

I won’t predict that #NeverTrump will tip the nomination in the direction of Cruz, Kasich or Rubio. I will say, however, that it isn’t the longshot that Charles Krauthammer and Laura Ingraham think it is. It doesn’t help Trump that he’s constantly changing positions on important policies. In this instance, he changed his position on H-1B visas twice in a night:

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I could write a lengthy article filled with multiple attacks that Sen. Rubio hit Mr. Trump with but I won’t do that here. I did that in this article. I could write about Sen. Rubio hitting Trump with a health care haymaker. I won’t do that because that’s what this article is about. (I am tempted, though, because Sen. Rubio hit Trump so hard on Trump’s answer so hard Trump’s great grandkids will be born with a concussion.)

I could provide links to the various articles out there that talk about how Rubio and Cruz tag-teamed Trump, after which Trump whined that he got too many questions from the moderators. (Yes, that really happened.) Instead of doing those things, I’ll just post this picture because it says it all:

That picture shoots Trump’s criticism that Rubio was sweating all to hell:

“It looked like he just came out of a swimming pool. He was soaking wet,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “He’s a meltdown guy. I mean I look at him, he’s just pouring sweat. … We need somebody that doesn’t sweat.”

Trump would be fun to play poker against. He’s got tons of tells. One thing that’s clear after tonight is that he gets rattled when people question his understanding of issues. The minute that Rubio and Cruz ripped on him, he became unhinged. He started making wild accusations. When the camera panned out, Trump’s posture was terrible, what with his jaw jutting out, his nose in the air.

While Rubio and Cruz both had strong nights, Rubio’s performance was the strongest. He taunted Trump and laughed while he watched Trump disintegrate. At one point, Trump looked like a patient who hadn’t taken his medication for a few days.

The important thing for Cruz and Rubio to do is to keep taunting Trump. Questioning his policies clearly got under Mr. Trump’s skin, too. It exposed him as an empty suit, something that hadn’t been done to this extent prior to last night’s debate.

One other thing that I’ll talk about is Trump’s insistence that he’s pro-Israel. Here’s what Trump said and Sen. Rubio’s response:

TRUMP: I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. OK? But it doesn’t help if I start saying, “I am very pro-Israel, very pro, more than anybody on this stage.” But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors, because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors.
RUBIO: I don’t know if Donald realizes this. I’m sure it’s not his intent perhaps. But the position you’ve taken is an anti-Israel position. And here’s why. Because you cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith. The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multiple efforts to make peace, very generous offers from the Israels. Instead, here’s what the Palestinians do. They teach their four- year-old children that killing Jews is a glorious thing. Here’s what Hamas does. They launch rockets and terrorist attacks again Israel on an ongoing basis. The bottom line is, a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, given the current makeup of the Palestinians, is not possible.

And so the next president of the United States needs to be someone like me who will stand firmly on the side of Israel. I’m not — I’m not going to sit here and say, “Oh, I’m not on either side.” I will be on a side. I will be on Israel’s side every single day because they are the only pro-American, free enterprise democracy in the entire Middle East.

Apparently, Trump hasn’t figured it out that the Palestinians are terrorists yet. That’s stunning. Not taking sides between Israel and the Palestinians is taking the terrorists’ side.

Finally, Rubio made this great point:

A couple points, number one, I do think it’s amazing that on this stage tonight there are two descendants of Cuban origin, and an African American. We are the party of diversity, not the Democratic party.

Technorati: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Opposition Research, Donald Trump, Trump Towers, Illegal Immigration, Obamacare, Israel, Republicans, Election 2016

To say that Mark Levin has lost it with regards to Marco Rubio is understatement. His latest diatribe reads like the rantings of an unhinged lefty. One statement that questions Levin’s state of mind starts with him saying “But Rubio has no significant accomplishments other than his election to various public offices. He has few if any accomplishments outside of politics and virtually no accomplishments in public office as a U.S. senator.”

There’s no question that Mr. Levin is a well-informed conservative. That doesn’t mean he’s always right. This time, he’s terribly dishonest. Yuval Levin highlights Sen. Rubio’s biggest accomplishment, saying “The answer, it seems to me, is that none of it would have happened if Rubio had not made the risk-corridor insurer bailout an issue, starting in 2013. Before that, a few health wonks on the right had raised red flags about the issue, but it wasn’t until Rubio and his staff grasped its significance, insistently drew attention to it, and produced a bill to avert an insurer bailout that the issue became prominent among the priorities of Obamacare’s opponents. Rubio was without question the first and most significant congressional voice on this subject, and if he hadn’t done the work he did, the risk-corridor neutralization provision would not have been in last year’s (or this year’s) budget bill.”

Unlike Sen. Cruz, who shut down the government trying to do the impossible, Sen. Rubio highlighted a provision that would have been used to bail out insurance companies, then wrote legislation that was eventually included in a major spending bill that prevents insurance company bailouts. Is Mr. Levin willing to insist that this isn’t a significant accomplishment? If he’s willing to deny the importance of Sen. Rubio’s bailout prevention provision, then he isn’t honest.

Rubio fancies himself the next Ronald Reagan. But such self-aggrandizement is unmerited.

With all due respect to Mr. Levin, who worked in the Reagan administration, I’ll trust Michael Reagan’s word over Levin’s:

If @marcorubio beats Cruz tonight that’s the win of the night….

Levin hasn’t hidden the fact that he’s supporting Sen. Cruz. He’s certainly entitled to do that. What he isn’t entitled to do, though, is use deceptive arguments to make Sen. Cruz’s chief competitor look bad. I’d expect that from a Democrat. I won’t tolerate that from a former member of the Reagan administration.

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