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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'The Republican party as we have known it in America is gone'



One of my favorite parts of our monthly Florida Insider Polls is the comments. If you're a political junkie, they are worth a read.

Here are this week's questions:

***If Donald Trump fails to win a majority of delegates but comes close - say about 1,200 delegates, rather than the required 1,237 -- would it be appropriate for Republicans to nominate someone else?

***Do you expect Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee

***Would it be appropriate for Republicans to nominate someone other than Ted Cruz, John Kasich, or Donald Trump

***Do you expect Marco Rubio to run for president again in 2020

***In a general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump who would win Florida

***In a general election between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump who would win Florida

***Between Clinton and Ted Cruz

***Between Sanders and Ted Cruz

***Whom do you expect to be the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee

***Whom do you expect to be the Republican U.S. Senate nominee

And the comments:

Republican: What a mess

Democrat: Republican establishment will need to decide between losing badly or losing badly and destroying the party. A brokered convention will destroy the party without improving the November results.

Rep: We've written Trump's political obituary over and over - he's got more lives than Morris the Cat and it's time we realize the inevitability of his presidency. Voters want the reality TV star, not the politician - any politician. 

Rep: This is the year of the outsiders and the Republican Party is now Trump's Party.  Anyone who stands in his way will get steamrolled.

Rep: Whether is it's on the first vote or on the tenth vote, RNC rules dictates that a majority of delegates is necessary for a candidate to become the nominee and the convention fight that may occur due to a candidate not having the necessary 1,237 is fair game.

Rep: Trump cannot win Florida in a general election. Especially with his unfavorables w/women and Hispanics continuing to climb

Rep: I expect Rick Wilson to lose his mind and announce that he will far away. 

Rep: Regarding the convention question:  'appropriate' and 'smart' are two different things.   Appropriate in that it is within the rules and the prerogative of the party to do so, smart at this junction is a whole other ball of wax.  Frankly, none of the convention shenanigans may matter.  Humpty Dumpty may not be able to be put back together again, and all that remains is to watch this epic shit storm play out ending in President Clinton.  I'll be drowning my depression with beer - before moving on to scotch.

Rep: Donald Trump is on a collision course with the establishment. While the pundits have been wrong about the mood of the country and failed to see Trump's surge, they were right that fundamentals matter. Ted Cruz is fundamentally running a better campaign and he will be rewarded by winning the nomination at a contested convention.

Rep: Rubio has delegates and he should be allowed to negotiate as part of the open convention

Rep: Trump's weakness is in not understanding the election process and not having an organization of professionals who know how to navigate it.

Rep: Everyone is so focused on Trump's problems that they are ignoring Hillary's. But an FBI investigation and potential charges are far more troubling to the American people than anything Donald Trump has said or done.

NPA/other: I say Trump should be nominee if he is very close to delegate majority because otherwise there probably will be a riot in Cleveland.

Rep: Questions of what would or wouldn't be "appropriate" don't at all speak to what I desperately hope will happen, which is to end up with a republican nominee other than Trump or Cruz, where Trump and Cruz are happy with the outcome. But I'd love to see a real, live unicorn, too...

Rep: If Trump is fairly close to the delegates needed to secure the nomination and it goes to a contested convention, the party will implode. We are in the age of social media and the electorate will not be happy with any back door deals. ... Electoral Fatigue meets Electoral Anger

Rep: Wouldn't this be easier with Marco?

Rep: There are some huge assumptions we are being forced to respond to here. For instance, Donald feels like going to the convention that week, Hillary gets a preemptive pardon for her crimes from Obama, Bernie stops giving things away and Ted's personality stops getting in his way.

Dem: The Republicans have written off the presidency and are now concerned with the down ballot impact of their presidential nominee. Maintaining some semblance of power  means sacrificing the White House.  Not sure Cruz will help in that regard either, but he is better than Trump.  Sanders is a draw for the young people and the underclass.  But his electability is negligible and he can't get his legislation passed to help people.  He is a 2 issue candidate and he believes his own press releases.  Bad thing indeed.

Rep:  Our polls always have unsure as a potential response. Wish that was available as an option on some of these. Its a very strange, unpredictable  election.

Dem: In a race between five nobody's on GOP side, the nobody with money will win....Cleveland will be a shitshow that will make the dumpster fire of the primary look tame.  They are going to rip the nomination from Trump, who will literally set the Cuyahoga River on fire - again....Clinton is the luckiest pol alive. There might be only two GOP candidates on the planet she can beat, and she's going to get one of them.

Rep: What happened to our country? When did everyone start hating each other?

Dem: (1) If Trump can be blocked from the nomination, Paul Ryan seems to be the favorite of party insiders.  (2) If the race is is Sanders/Trump or Sanders/Cruz, I'm not sure who wins but I know who loses: the American people.

Dem: We could not have a less predictable race thus far and so I am wary of further predictions, but it is hard to see how Trump gets denied the nomination. When that happens, you will see an unprecedented groundswell of voters who make up Trump's unfavorables pour out and elect his opponent. If the Senate refuses to do its job, that groundswell will affect races all the way down the ticket and the Republican Party will suffer one of its worst defeats ever.

Rep: I only put that Trump would get nomination at a brokered convention if he can somehow win it on the first or second ballot; after that, it will be Kasich or someone else. Cruz is being used to simply stop Trump, he'll never be the nominee.

Rep: Answers are guesses, based on the current information, which seems to change every 5 minutes.  The fact is that the years of experience that most political insiders have seems to be null and void, this election cycle.  On the Democrat side, you have an avowed socialist competing with the front runner, and on the Republican side, the front runner is a billionaire that has given a speech about the quality of words in his vocabulary and advocated for killing the families of terrorists.  We are coloring outside the lines.

Rep: After Wisconsin, it looks tough for Trump to get the 1,237 bound delegates.  It looks like the unbound delegates are really going to play a part at the convention - and they are going to be courted like never before.  If Trump has close to 1,237 his best chance will be these unbound delegates.  If he is close to 1,237 and denied the nomination, then expect the party nominee to go down in flames in November.  The problem is that a lot of establishment Republicans seem happier with a Clinton presidency rather than a Trump presidency because their positions in the party will still be secure, while Trump would make them seem irrelevant.  Trump also seems more of a risky proposition for down ballot Republicans who fear that if Clinton beats Trump in a landslide that they would be wiped out too.  As for the Republican Senate primary, I'll go out on a limb and say Carlos Beruff will take it as the most Trump-like candidate running...assuming he spends some of his huge wealth on the race to break through this large pack of candidates.

Dem: It may very well be the complete and final demise of the Republican Party if Donald Trump wins that many delegates and is denied the nomination. To alienate so many new voters would be detrimental to any future growth of the Party.

Dem: It is starting to appear that my political wet dream (as a Democrat) may come true.  Trump shows up at the R convention way ahead in delegate votes.  The Republicans deny him the nomination.  Trump runs as a third party or write in candidate. Trump voters vote for him, no one else, and go home.  Maybe they don't vote at all.  This is the only way the D's retake both Houses of Congress.

Rep: The Republican Party as we have known it in gone...:(

Rep: This will continue to be the craziest cycle of my lifetime.

Rep: Rubio should run for reelection 

Rep: Looking forward to watching one wild GOP convention. 

Rep: (Libertarian candidate) Gary Johnson may have an unexpectedly good year. 

Dem: Alan Grayson can not escape the congressional ethics issue

Rep: Crazy cycle.

Rep: both  Parties's Candidates need to be sent to Time Out...Both Parties need to start building/grooming a new A Team Bench...NOW....Before some/ most of us have to move to Costa Rica

Dem: Thank goodness for unlikely heroes. While Wisconsin hasn't supported a GOP presidential nominee since 1984, the Republican Party now has reason to appreciate the Badger State. Donald Trump's loss in that primary may slow him down just enough to stop his party takeover. Democrats should thank the Office of Congressional Ethics for its scathing report on Alan Grayson, one of the most Trump-like figures in our party. Perhaps the report's findings will finally explode the absurd myth that Grayson is a populist champion of everyday Floridians.

Dem: The Republican US Senate race is very interesting; no clear front runner and no candidate with a statewide presence.  It is anybody's ball game. 

Dem: Trump has hit a heavy speed bump in Wisconsin.  He lacks the flexibility to adjust tactics and will come up short at the Republican Convention.  Then the party regulars will decide who the nominee shall be (it will not be Cruz).

Rep: If Trump doesn't get the needed delegates it is fair game for the convention to decide 

I put yes for Trump being gop nominee but if Cleveland gets ugly who knows what party will come out of that. There could be a GOPnominee and a GOPTrump...This the most unpredictable election year ever unless you believe really it is all reality tv being produced by the illuminati that runs America.

Rep: Unthinkable words 3 months ago: Cruz is all that's left to keep GOP from crushing defeat. Also the only one that can keep Rubio seat in GOP hands. Can't vote for Senator if they're staying home.

Rep: Everything that was up and is now down, and down is up. 

Rep: What a Twilight Zone of an election year this has been so far.  Up is down and right is wrong.  Wake me when it's over.

Dem: Florida is a center right state, so when presented with centrist options, that is where voters go, when pressed with extremes they will default to the right.

Rep: Senate race will be largely overshadowed by Presidential debacle, and slate of candidates is virtually unknown...if Trump nominee, all bets are off on which candidate can find a message that plays off of his strengths and weaknesses.  Trump likely a noose around their necks.

Rep: Key will be GOP unity after the convention

Rep: On several of these questions I am honestly not sure -- I'm just guessing.

Dem: The turnout among African American and Hispanic voters will determine whether or not Dems. carry Florida and there's no doubt that Clinton factors better in that equation for putting us in the blue category on the big map. 

Dem: This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy. 

Rep: The whining argument from the Trump campaign about the nomination rules and the endorsement of their argument by some in the media is really quite something.  

Rep: I think Trump is going to get to 1237 -- but only if he unloads some capital into his campaign. He could have put this away if he hadn't been so cheap. Sad!

Dem: Rubio got farther than most people expected and now he'll be able to head into the private sector.  His decision not to run for Governor recognizes Putnam's strength in a primary and probably some fatigue on his part. His ability to stay relevant in Republican/National politics will be limited and therefore makes it hard to ever run again - the line of R's coming up the ranks who want to run too make it too hard for him to come back.  The Florida story going forward will be the emergence of Patrick Murphy as the future of Florida Democrats, and just how far Grayson will sink with all of his ethical and legal issues.

NPA:For Rubio in 2020 - if Republicans lose in 2016, which I expect they will at this point, then Rubio will run. If however there is a Republican incumbent then Rubio will wait until 2024.

Rep:While Carlos Beruff is portraying himself as an outsider, similar to Rick Scott and Donald Trump, his self funded campaign will go far -- but will fall short of becoming the GOP nominee. If Beruff does squeak by, he will be defeated by Patrick Murphy in the general election.

Rep: You should ask us how confident we are in each prognostication. I'd also be curious who people in this group see as the potential outsider R for '18 Gov

NPA: Republican Party is a disaster. Deserves to lose

Dem: The question about Marco is - does he know how to do anything but run for office. Since 2010, we have seen him basically be Charlie Crist Jr. Someone who abandons any claim to core values for the sake of political expediency. Someone who is too busy with ambition to do his job. .... So going forward, the question will be - is Marco Rubio basically the same as Crist. Will Marco be able to survive in the real world outside of politics? Or will he be someone who can't live without the trappings of public office? Is he so desperate for attention and approval that he gets back in the game? Senate 16/18, Gov18 or POTUS 20 are all options for him. But if he does - he will be nothing more than what he told Florida was all that was wrong in politics in attaching Crist in 2010. 

Dem: Politics are finally feeling the disruptive era we are currently living 

Dem: If the Republican Party brokers the convention for someone other than Trump, those Trump supporters will vote Democrat or simply stay home.  It's like the Republican's are fighting over who will be the captain of a sinking ship. 

Rep: This is first election where I feel my answers are pure guesses rather than reasoned responses because there is very little that follows usual paths, tactics, logic. For GOP establishment to back Cruz is beyond bizarre 

Dem:Feeling the burn

Dem: There is absolutely no good scenario for the GOP this cycle. I expect they will invest their funds in down-ticket races to stem the tide but I seriously doubt the effort will be successful. The commercials tying Trump or Cruz to every House and Senate candidate will be devastating. 

Rep: If the Republican convention is contested, it must be open to any candidate at the point.  That's how Lincoln won and it worked out well for the Republicans.  Garfield was not even a presidential candidate and he won the nomination and the presidency.

Rep: The Convention rules may allow for various scenarios to play out -- but it seems clear now the most plausible scenario is Trump comes up short, and on a 3rd or 4th ballot the GOP takes the safe route -- holding their nose all the way to November -- hoping to control some of the down ticket damage -- and nominates second place (sure to lose the general) Ted Cruz.   Only Donald Trump could make Ted Cruz look like a viable option at this point.

NPA:  A presidential nominating convention,  an extension of the state by state primaries,  is a political event held by a political party, which sets its own rules. So, yes, it is "appropriate" for delegates to nominate the candidate of choice.  Of course, the losing candidates will probably agree with the late Murray Kempton: "A political convention is just not a place where you come away with any trace of faith in human nature." 

Rep: A Cruz-Rubio ticket would be the best case scenario for not only America but the Republican Party 

Rep: All bets on certainty this election cycle are off

Rep: We are only at the beginning of the crazy election. Strap on your seat belts. 

Rep:  I sense Trump's style is wearing thin. In your face will win battles, but not wars.

Rep: I should turn in my prognosticator card. This cycle has been nuts. 

Dem: The Republican Party has become a vessel for the worst instincts of our nation. The fallout: President Hillary Clinton and NFL Commissioner Marco Rubio.

Dem: Donald Trump has a large lead over Cruz and looks poised to add delegates from NY and PA. There is no doubt that the GOP establishment wants to do everything possible to stop Trump, but Trump Train has left the station and is on track for the general election.

Rep: Never have I been wrong as often as the last year regarding political prognostication.  Almost afraid to open my mouth when people ask my opinion. 

Dem: If Trump has 90%+ of the delegates needed but is denied the nomination then the resulting fracture within the GOP will result in Democrats taking control of the Senate and possibly the House.  Of course the same could be said if Trump is the nominee.  What a mess.

Rep: Person with most votes should automatically get 85% of all delegates. A win is a win

Rep: Fractured convention in Cleveland ensures Clinton win.

Dem: Can"t wait for Cleveland. It will be the most exciting thing to happen in Ohio since the Cuyahoga River caught fire. 

Dem: I expect Trump to run as a third party candidate. If that happens, Clinton wins Florida.

Rep: Doesn't matter who the Republican nominee is, Patrick Murphy will win.  No strong general election Republican in the primary.

Dem: Trump's unpopularity makes it likely either Clinton or Sander will win Florida.  However, if Cruz winds up the nominee, Sander's could lose the state.

Rep: This entire election cycle has been a complete shitshow on both sides of the aisle. The people who make it on the ballot should be the best each party has to offer. This year, both parties are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Sad!

Dem: Appropriate is a difficult question.  But the purpose of a political party is to elect candidates and the convention can do whatever it decides. 

Dem: Rules are rules.

Rep: Don't blame me, I voted for Jeb! :)

Dem: The question of "appropriateness" is subjective.  It may be appropriate, but totally impractical or politically suicidal.  The current rules would allow either Trump or Cruz to be nominated, or via multiple ballots, the choice could be somebody else.  The rules will be exploited with lots of interpretations and attempts to modify them for specific advantage.  The real question is how much "scar tissue" has already developed as a result of the bruising primary, and how much additional damage will occur as a result of the convention fight in Cleveland.  How the Republican nominee leaves the convention and how the perceptions and expectations of delegates and Republicans around the country are managed during and after the convention will go a long way in predicting the outcome of the election.

Dem: First we can take Sanders out of the equation, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, that's math not opinion. I still believe there are enough Republicans and Democrats that love their country more than their political party.   Hillary vs Cruz or Trump, Hillary wins.  Hillary vs Paul Ryan or another moderate could be a photo finish horse race, but with Obama's favorability rating sky high I believe this is a the Democrats race to loose.

Rep: I think Trump will be the nominee on the the 2nd or 3rd ballot.

Dem: Panama papers may become a factor 

Dem: This is the most unpredictable election of my lifetime. Until both parties start looking out for the interests of working people instead of the rich and powerful, our country will be dysfunctional. 

Dem: If the elitists in the Republican party leadership think they can dismiss Trump and name their own insider and live happily ever-after, they are sadly mistaken.  They are on the precipice of a major fracture that could destroy the party.  If they don't follow the will of Republican voters, they risk not only losing the presidential election and the Senate but the future of the party as well.  "Measure twice and cut once" is a wise old saying that means once you "cut" it can never be put back together so carefully consider what you're planning.  In any reasonable man's world, Donald Trump is a savior over the pure evil of Hillary Clinton or poor old Bernie Sanders who thinks he's a modern day Robin Hood.  There is no perfect candidate and it's starting to look like a perfect storm approaching.

Rep: If it's Sanders and Trump, God help us all...

Dem: Strangest Presidential year ever!  The republican primary has been a reality show and Trump has changed the tenor and tone of presidential campaigning.   Clearly, Americans are thoroughly frustrated with the  inability of the federal government to address the many challenges facing our country here at home and abroad.  The political class is being dismissed and rejected by the public at large as ineffective, incompetent and corrupt.  

Dem: The Trump hot-air balloon has been pricked.  It won't collapse on itself but it will keep getting smaller.

Rep: Standing rules should be enforced and should not be changed if a candidate cannot secure a majority. Delegates should not be threatened by Trump surrogates if they change their vote, as they are permitted to do so in a contested convention. 

Rep: The thought by many Republicans that they can nominate someone other than Trump or Cruz is likely fantasy. The real fear should be what would happen were Ted Cruz to become the nominee. His world outlook, particularly his desire to roll back the rights of women, gays and anyone who doesn't subscribe to the dogma of his fantasized fundamentalist caliphate, would set Republicans up for a historic shellacking. Trump may be viewed as unhinged, but he has a redeemable quality or two, specifically his demonstrated ability to build a brand. Cruz, on the other hand, brings a promise of a return to the Massachusetts of 1692.

Rep: It may only take 25% to win the Republican nomination for Senate. Trump will be lucky to win 15% of the black vote, 20% of the Hispanic vote, and 30% of women voters---he cannot win the General with those kind of numbers....

Rep: Republican US Senate race is totally wide open at this point.  Very hard to forecast a winner since no one seems to be distinguishing themselves as a frontrunner.

Dem: Take all of my above answers with a grain of salt. It's April, and we still have no idea where we are going.

Dem: Few options, little hope

Rep: The Republicans need to focus on who can win in November -- that is the end game.

Rep: FYI Some of the questions were phrased in a way that forced an answer I didn't agree with but had to make a choice for the balance of my answers to be considered..... IE for only 37 delegates maybe not appropriate for the health of the party.....but a wider deficiency I would say the rules are the rules and it would seem more appropriate gauge ballots after multiple votes....also really don't see a breakout in Republican Senate race but had to vote so I voted on fundraising success at this point since many are not brand names statewide...needs big bucks to get their name out...also think Hillary can be beat in Florida...if not by much....

Rep: The GOP is in disarray, Marco Rubio damaged Trump, he brought up issues like con man, Trump University, and showed Trump as reckless, he also caused the never Trump movement. The republicans are in a no win situation,  the never Trump supporters forget that he actually is going to win by millions of votes and at least 40% of the GOP primary voters support him, if he does not get the nomination, a large portion of his supporters will not vote, on the other side if Trump does get the nomination, at least 10% of the movement conservatives will never vote for him. 

Dem: You can stop asking about Sanders.  There is no path for him.  It's just silly to keep including him.  If they try to nominate someone like Ryan - I don't care if they succeed because the party will be so broken at that point that they will get crushed up and down the ballot this fall. 

This month's Insiders:

J.C. Planas, Anthony Pedicini, David Rancourt, Susie Wiles, Towson Fraser, Stephen Bittel, Joe Gruters, Pablo Diaz, Sarah Rumpf, Wayne Bertsch, Alex Patton, Sam Rashid, Ryan Duffy, Robin Rorapaugh, Slater Bayliss, Rich Ramos, Trey Traviesa, John Konkus, Seth McKee, Rodney Barreto, Nikki Lowrey, Roly Marante, Jack Seiler, Stebe Uhlfelder, Rick Wilson, Ryan Tyson, Bill Lee, Gayle Andrews, Steven Vancore, Jim Cherry, Steve Schale, Eric Zichella Tony Hill, Jason Rosenberg, Ron Gunzburger, Tom Scarritt, Jamie Miller, Chris Hartline, Stafford Jones, Jason Altmire, Richard NeNapoli, Peter Wallace, Ron Bilbao, Steve Geller, Tom Lewis, Chip Lamarca, Rich Heffley, Mike Fasano, Darrick D.McGhee, Peter Antonacci, Jason Unger, Robert Wexler, Fred Karlinksy, Mike Hightower, Chris Hand, Scott Arceneaux, Jon Ausman, Mark Zubaly, Bob Sparks, Ann Herberger, Bob Poe, Gus Corbella, Andrew Gillum, Brian Crowley, Bud Shorstein, Barry Edwards, Shannon Gravitte, Clarence McKee, Brad Coker, Pat Neal, Mark Ferrulo, Kevin King, Nick Hansen, David Johnson, Jim Rimes, Karl Koch, Brian Ballard, Aubrey Jewett, Christina Johnson, Jim Davis, Greg Turbeville, Jeff Johnson, Doc Dockery, Eric Jotkoff, Marc Reichelderfer, Jeff Wright, Frank Tsamoutales, Joe Perry, Paula Dockery, Ana Cruz, Andrew Weinstein, Darryl Paulson, Cory Tilley, Greg C. Truax, Nancy McGowan, Adam Goodman, Travis Blanton, Allan Bense, Kathy Mears, Kevin Cate, Dan Gelber, Christian Ulvert, Brett Doster, Jamie Wilson, Paul Mitchell, David Bishop, Michael Hamby, Lanny Wiles, Eric Eikenberg, Pete Mitchell, David Bishop, Michael Hamby, Eric Eikenberg, Pete Mitchell, John French, Jon Mills, Husein Cumber, Marty Fiorentino, Matthew Isbell, Ryan Wiggins, Donald Hinkle, Dave Aronberg, Bernie Campbell, Andy Ford.Karen Unger, Ron Klein, Alan Clendenin, Henry Kelley, Kirk Fordham, John Wehrung, Caren Lobo, Susan Smith, Marion Hammer,Jeff Hartley, Brian May, Alan Stonecipher, Susan Goldstein, Christian Camara, Abel Harding, Meredith ORourke, Jeff Kottkamp, Ron Greenstein, Monica Russo, Ron Pierce, Chris Korge, Jason Roth, James Harris, Geoffrey Becker, April Schiff, Justin Day, Bill Bunkley, Doug Kaplan, Josh Geise, Scott Barnhart

[Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2016 8:18am]


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