In the National Journal recently, ace political prognosticator Charlie Cook mused about how the GOP presidential contest would likely move forward once the Trump distraction ran its course.
The GOP splits roughly 60-40 these days: 60 percent of its voters are pretty conventional, mainstream Republicans, while the other 40 percent are of a somewhat more exotic variety, up from just a third a decade ago. This latter group is made up of three subgroups: secular, anti-establishment, tea-party adherents; evangelical conservatives driven chiefly by cultural issues; and those who are just really conservative and more ideologically driven than your normal garden-variety Republicans. Historically, this collection of less-conventional Republicans has loomed large in Iowa, then gradually given way to more-mainstream GOP voters in the final stretch, but the harder-edged Republicans have been on the ascendency and may play an even greater role in choosing the nominee this time around than in the past.
Bush, Rubio, Walker, Christie, and Kasich he sees as dominating competition for that 60-percent bloc of more-conventional conservatives. Cruz, Paul, Huckabee, Perry, Carson and maybe a few others will contest, in his view, the more ideologically driven 40 percent of the GOP electorate.
Sure. In the end, Bush wins the nomination and loses the general. There. That was easy.