If you are arguing that the most recent insider endorsement of Rubio (Nikki Haley) or any other establishment candidate is a big deal…just stop. Stop. It doesn’t matter. At some point you need to realize the rules don’t apply to this election. I argued Trump was a flash in the pan for several months. He’s not though and it’s going to be easier for you the sooner you accept that. This is a similar point to when people kept insisting that each time Trump ups the ante and says something even more offensive that it will now hurt him. All the establishment opposition and all the ugly racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc etc etc aren’t hurting him. In the words of the early blogosphere, the establishment opposition and offensive behavior are bugs, they are features.
The models aren’t holding this year on the Republican side especially. What is most disturbing is that people aren’t putting together what has changed in the last several years.
First, we see unprecedented amounts of money from outside groups. The money is no longer funneled through the party or party elites. That weakens the influence of the party and the party elites.
Second, we have new political tools that don’t require candidates to use party leaders as gatekeepers. You used to need to have lists from the party to build an operation–phone lists, address lists, e-mail lists. Now campaigns can just build those lists in a short amount of time.
Third, the media is no longer an establishment media that goes to party leaders only. There are multiple sources and people tend to choose their media based on their beliefs leading primary and caucus voters away from the establishment sources.
All of this has been going on for some time, but the impact is hitting now as these forces have become stronger and reinforce each other.
It’s all centrifugal forces at work away from the party and the center since the stronger believers who are dominating this year are more polarized and view moving from the center as a good thing. Is it going to be like this going forward in the next election? I don’t know.
We need to remember our models are based on assumptions that the same processes are at work in each election. The processes have changed and the outcome is going to as well. I don’t know if it is a lasting change, but you shouldn’t expect the same result from different actions.