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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

How a Serious Third-Party Presidential Run Could Still Happen

How late is too late for an independent or third-party presidential run?

That question is becoming paramount as the Republican Party barrels through its primary season bitterly divided and with the chances growing that it will open its July convention without a nominee in hand. Conservatives resolutely opposed to a Donald Trump presidency have been investigating a third-party bid for weeks, hoping that if they can’t rally the party behind Ted Cruz then at least they’ll be to give the Never Trump movement an alternative not named Clinton in November. And the recent, if hardly surprising, demise of the paper-thin “loyalty pledge” that Republican candidates signed last year means that either Trump or Cruz could conceivably mount an independent campaign if they lose the GOP nomination in Cleveland.

The short answer is that no, it’s not too late for a third-party or independent run, and it might even be possible for someone as wealthy and well-known as Trump to launch a serious campaign as late as July. (Note: Serious does not necessarily mean winning.)

But for the anti-Trump forces scrambling to find a conservative alternative, time is very much running short.

The most organized Never Trump group...

Are Voters Getting Tired of Trump?

Donald Trump’s shtick may be getting old.

In Wisconsin, host of the next big Republican primary, a new poll shows Texas senator Ted Cruz ahead by 10 percentage points in what should be prime Trump country: a state with a high percentage of non-college educated white, Republican voters.

But even Trump’s base may be flagging: A new national survey shows that every demographic group has a negative view of the real estate developer—even white men, who were previously his stalwarts.

It could be a stamina problem. When Trump hosted the “Apprentice” reality shows, he made a big splash—and then ratings quickly sunk. At one point, Trump threatened to quit before NBC could fire him, though the network and the host patched things up.

Political analysts have long predicted that Trump’s offensive rhetoric would eventually make him politically radioactive, but that hasn’t happened. His flip-flop immunity (on full display yesterday as he suggested punishing women who obtain abortions before retracting the idea) insulates him from traditional message problems.

And the deep roots of his appeal in the Republican party have made it easy for establishment figures like former Bush consigliere Karl Rove to run ads...

Will Trump Destroy the Party of Reagan?

Ron­ald Re­agan is long gone, but for dec­ades Re­pub­lic­ans have con­tin­ued to revere his al­leg­or­ic­al three-legged stool: eco­nom­ic, so­cial, and for­eign policy con­ser­vat­ives, united as one to carry the party to vic­tory.

So what hap­pens when real­ity-TV star and self-styled “com­mon-sense con­ser­vat­ive” Don­ald Trump gets stew­ard­ship of the GOP? He in­sists that So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care should be left un­altered, de­fends the non-abor­tion re­lated work of Planned Par­ent­hood, and calls NATO ob­sol­ete—thereby of­fend­ing all three ele­ments of the Re­agan trin­ity.

“He shat­ters the stool when he sits on it,” said Ari Fleis­cher, a top aide to former Pres­id­ent George W. Bush. “It’s bizarre, be­cause he has no prin­cipled, co­her­ent ideo­logy that we’re used to…. It cer­tainly won’t re­semble the stool any­more.”

What last au­tumn might have been an idle in­tel­lec­tu­al ex­er...

Poll: Voters Are Backing Anti-Muslim Proposals

If Donald Trump needed another poll to reinforce his bluster, he might’ve just gotten it.

A new survey from Morning Consult, conducted in the wake of the Brussels bombings, details voter sentiment on national-security policies, including support for Trump’s prohibition on Muslims entering the United States. Trump—a poll obsessive—may tout the percentage of voters backing his idea as proof he knows what the country needs. 

He wouldn’t be alone in making that argument: A proposal from rival Ted Cruz to increase police presence in Muslim neighborhoods saw similarly high support, and Trump himself said just days ago he’d “100 percent” support Cruz’s plans. What neither candidate might care to dig into, though, is how sincere that support is—whether voters would back these plans in practice, or whether they were searching for something, anything, to prevent a Brussels-style attack in the United States.  

Brussels was certainly on the mind of the voters surveyed. Morning Consult’s poll—comprised of more than 2,000 registered voters and with a margin of error of 2 points—began just two days after the attacks. Eighty-one percent said they’d seen, heard, or read of the bombings...

The Game Theory Principles Behind a Political Endorsement Against Trump

In 1936, the economist John Maynard Keynes invented a beauty contest. In examining why stock prices fluctuate, he suggested the metaphor of a newspaper pageant, where readers select the six prettiest faces from 100 photographs. But only people who picked the most popular choices would win.

“It is not a case of choosing which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinion genuinely thinks are the prettiest,” he wrote. “We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.”

I doubt Keynes was on Jeb Bush’s mind Wednesday, when the former presidential candidate announced his support for Ted Cruz on Facebook. But you’d better believe the beauty pageant was in play. While it’s hard to gauge Bush’s actual feelings for Cruz—it appears he left most of the insults to his brother—he spent only one sentence in his statement praising the Texas senator before moving on. Cruz’s foremost qualification, it appears, was his ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.” 

And so Bush joins a slew of other prominent conservatives—Mitt...