Labor Day is gone. The summer is over and the 2016 presidential campaign season has officially begun. In presidential politics, things start to matter after the Labor Day parades end. I've worked on three presidentials - after Labor Day, things get real, really fast.
Now, it’s too late to say “it’s still too early” and it gets harder to say “polls don’t matter yet”. Now, if you’re leading in the polls, it starts to mean something. And it means more every day - it helps you grow.
According to national Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, the GOP candidate growing is Dr. Ben Carson. In contrast, some polls show billionaire Donald Trump has stopped growing. A recent survey found Carson beats Trump by nearly 20 points in a two-man race. But in a season when the Republican rank-and-file are sick of insiders, Trump, the outsider, beats all the establishment comers.
In his Sunday CNN article, the savvy Castellanos says Trump could be the nominee. That's a first as far as I know; he previously shrugged off Trump's chances. That signals more smart mainstream commentators may be moving beyond the "Trump can't win" meme. Castellanos knows his stuff, and he says we'll know in March:
On March 15, the GOP nomination process moves to winner take all contests in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Missouri. If Trump is still No. 1 in a crowded field mid-March, The Donald could take a big lead.
Today, the presidential race truly begins. Trump is in the lead, big time. The big question: Can Trump hang on? It's really all about the money - something that Trump has aplenty, but will he spend it? Castellanos says get ready for a big TV push this month, and watch for the candidates who aren't on-the-air:
Candidates who can't flood the airwaves with great positive TV ads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina will begin to fade.
Some candidates will drop even if they're on the air - guys like Senator Ted Cruz, who still has millions to spend. Castellanos thinks he's just about done.
Ted Cruz is toast. He is waiting outside a door that will never open. Carson, Trump, and Fiorina aren't going anywhere and they are genuine outsiders. Cruz will continue to be Donald Trump's "Chester," the subservient Looney-Tunes sidekick who drooled, "Spike is my hero, because he's so big and strong." At some point, even Cruz will figure that out. He will turn on Trump. Then, Trump will murder him.
If you ask me, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. After what Ted Cruz did to American businessman Jordan Fishman, I'll never cast a vote for him. If the race were Cruz-Clinton, I'd have to stay home. But Joe Biden? I trust him more than Cruz.