If it’s not too late, I’d like to take a mulligan — a do-over — on a prediction I made in December.
I may have gotten part of it right, which is really no great accomplishment. I anticipated that Trump, Cruz, and Rubio would be the finalists for the Republican nomination. That appears to be accurate.
But from there, my prediction went downhill, fast. My crystal ball, much to my chagrin, said that Donald Trump would not get the nomination, and that Ted Cruz would.
Furthermore, I predicted Cruz would lose in a landslide, similar to the debacle when Lyndon Johnson trounced Barry Goldwater debacle in 1964.
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This appears to be a whopping miscalculation. Trump, it is now pretty safe to conclude, will win the nomination going away.
I also said in that prediction a couple of months ago the nominee would be picked by the time of the Republican convention. I stand by that.
This will not be a brokered convention, even though the entire Republican establishment is praying for that last-minute reprieve.
So, where did I go so wrong?
I believed once Cruz hit the conservative and evangelical South — and later other conservative states — that he would dominate. I never in my wildest dreams thought Trump would carry the evangelical, conservative vote over Cruz.
Trump is obviously very loose on faith and religion. He also is weak on many conservative issues. I can only speculate, as have others, that issues like lost jobs to other countries, out-of-control illegal immigration and terrorism are of more concern than Trump’s religious convictions or his spotty track record as a conservative.
I knew I was dead wrong about Trump’s appeal when the exit polls in South Carolina indicated that 75 percent of voters agreed with Trump that Muslims should be banned from coming to the United States.
Trump has tapped into people’s fears and anger. Frankly, I did not realize the extent of the fear and anger. Only political pundit Pat Buchanan warned about it consistently.
Now, the question is, can Trump go all the way and beat the inevitable Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton?
It would seem, since polling indicates a majority of Americans have no use for Trump, he would sink like a stone in a general election. But that assumes Trump would continue to behave the same way he has so far in the Republican primary.
This is a brilliant and cunning individual.
Certainly, he knows he can’t beat Clinton by saying inane things and acting brashly. He could and almost certainly will modulate his fiery rhetoric. Whatever happens, this will not be a landslide.
Although I still tend to believe Clinton will prevail, I will not make that prediction. I will not underestimate Trump again.
His message not only could capture a majority of Republicans, but he could also attract blue-collar Democrats and independents. That could keep the election close, even if he loses the Hispanic vote by a huge margin.
The nation will not get a mulligan if it chooses a President Trump. We will have to live for at least four years with the unpredictable consequences.
On the other hand, President Clinton would be no walk in the park. She is way too liberal for this moderate Republican, and I join those who do not trust her.
I never thought I would confront this catastrophic choice. I have voted Republican almost my whole life, the exception being Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968. But I just don’t think I can see myself voting for Trump. At the same time, I shudder to think of four or eight years of Hillary.
Never mind the predictions. It would just be a wild guess.
Suffice to say that the choice, either way, is absolutely frightening. Somebody wake me up from this nightmare.
Steve Rose, longtime Johnson County columnist: firstname.lastname@example.org