With just days left before the country's first presidential primary in New Hampshire, everything is playing out exactly like how the smart money said it would. The MAGA wing of the Republican Party doesn't appear to be a wing at all. It appears to be the whole plane.
Ron DeSantis's shockingly bad performance in Iowa - a state where his campaign had all but risked it all - revealed that the campaign of the country's most accomplished conservative governor was going nowhere.
Nikki Haley isn't in a better place. While DeSantis went all-in on Iowa, Haley has done the same in New Hampshire. And if the polls of Republican voters prove as accurate for former President Donald Trump there as they did in Iowa, the Haley camp will be all but extinguished in just a few days.
Vivek Ramaswamy is out and has thrown his full support behind Trump (as has DeSantis). The Republican establishment has done the same. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Rick Scott, Josh Hawley, Speaker Mike Johnson, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, majority leader Steve Scalise - all of them are telling Republican voters to accept Trump as the nominee and get on about the business of defeating Joe Biden.
In the commentariat, pretend kingmakers like Charlie Kirk could hardly wait to taunt all the conservatives who thought it was time to move beyond Trump.
"This charade." That's real enticing messaging for a significant number of conservatives (though admittedly not anywhere near a majority) whose convictions led them in a different direction than running back another Trump/Biden match-up. While Kirk has always seemed to excel in the self-confidence department, it might be helpful if someone clued him into the fact that those folks he's insulting will be needed if Trump is to win in November. And they don't seem too persuaded to jump aboard the Trump train at this point:
Sour grapes? Certainly could be. Honestly, it may have been silly to think once Trump declared his candidacy that any alternative would have a chance, but many of us did. And we thought there were plenty of others who believed like us. But facts are facts. The media wants him, MAGA wants him, and the spirit of revenge is simply overwhelming in politics. That's why the seeming nominee-in-waiting responded to his victory in Iowa by mocking his opponents:
If Tuesday goes as well for the former president as the experts say it will, it may be the "Octogenarian Grudge Match: Part Two."
The 2024 election is setting up to be precisely what the Left wanted it to be: A referendum on Trump. That's what the Republican electorate apparently wants as well. Time will tell who miscalculated.