The old conventional wisdom, still held by some party elites, was that Trump simply could not win. The new line is that he’s winning because he’s not being attacked by his two main rivals for the nomination, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The GOP
establishment, which continues to downplay the fact that Trump has tapped into racist attitudes stirred up by the party for decades and widespread dissatisfaction with the party itself, seems to be moving from “denial” to “anger” on the Kübler-Ross model.
This argument isn’t quite true. Ezra Klein overstates the case somewhat, since there has been some opposition to Trump (even if Rubio has barely hit him at all). It also ignores many of the factors fueling Trump’s rise. But it is much closer to the truth, even if it’s just a precursor to the “bargaining” stage.
For now, a rising chorus is demanding attacks on Trump. Wishing may make it so, but there’s strategy to laying off. Both Cruz and Rubio know their only chance of overtaking Trump is in a one-on-one matchup, so their priority is still getting the other one out of the race. A 1 percent chance of winning a two-man race is still better than a zero percent chance of winning a three-man race. Right?