Way back before the 2016 election cycle turned into a John Schwartzwelder script, I thought that Ted Cruz was an underestimated presidential candidate. Some political scientists put a lot of faith in the power of elites to control the nomination process, and they thought that Cruz would be toast because the party elites hate him so much. As I explained before, though, I never thought the party elites had that much power, so I initially thought Cruz was a plausible nominee.
Lately, I haven't seen it. There is no way for Cruz to get an outright majority of delegates. None whatsoever. He only gets the nomination, then, if a contested convention hands it to him, and he probably can't even catch Trump in the delegate count. So, Cruz has to keep Trump under 50% in the delegate count (plausible), and then convince the establishment to throw out the election results, toss aside the plurality winner, and to do so in order to give the nomination to... Ted Cruz. That's a ridiculous hill to climb. It relies on the establishment risking the full backlash of Trump's rage, bloody riots at the convention, and maybe even a party collapse. To give the nomination to... Ted... Cruz.
Once you've decided to steal a car, you don't steal a Pinto when there's a Porsche right next to it. Stealing the nomination from Trump when he has a delegate lead over everyone is a big risk. You don't take that risk to nominate someone you hate. If you're going to do that, you're going to give the nomination to someone you like. That's why I couldn't see a case for Cruz.
I've been thinking about this all wrong. Cruz is a serious threat to Trump.
Let's take the following statements as given:
1) The Republican establishment hates Trump, and sees him as a surefire loser to Hillary.
2) The Republican establishment knows that denying Trump the nomination means he burns down the convention, figuratively if not literally, and either runs as an independent, or otherwise undermines the Republican nominee.
3) The Republican establishment despises Ted Cruz.
4) The Republican establishment knows Cruz really wants to be president.
5) The Republican establishment knows that once you lose the general election, you don't get to run again. The days of Nixon and Stevenson are gone.
6) The Republican establishment knows that their power to block the candidates they hate is limited.
See where I'm going with this? It all leads to one conclusion: Steal the nomination from Trump at the convention, hand it to Cruz, let Cruz lose to Hillary (with assistance from a spurned Trump), then try to get their act together before 2020. If Trump can't win, and he'll block any other Republican from winning, then 2016 is a lost cause. Why not use that to take Cruz out of the running for 2020?
Is this plan crazy? Yes. You can make gunpowder from it. (Read some history). Am I convinced that this will happen? Not yet. I'm just spit-balling here. It's a blog-- it ain't peer-reviewed.
Until I put it together this way, I didn't think Cruz had a chance. Now I do. PredictWise currently puts his chances at 27%, with a sharp upturn in the last week or so. As a general rule, I don't think I can beat the markets, so let's go with that.
Of course, though, my 2016 disclaimer bears repeating: 2016 makes no sense. Up is down, black is white, and Superman is dark and gritty.