Several months ago, when we learned that 17 Republicans were going to vie to be there party's presidential nominee, many of us Democrats perused the field and picked the candidates we most wanted our nominee to run against.
It was clear to us at that time that the two nuttiest GOP candidates -- the least likely to win a general election -- were Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. We dreamed of the Republicans picking one of those two to be their candidate -- and some of us even said we'd happily forgo our next christmas and birthday presents if that could happen.
Of course, none of us actually believed we could be that lucky. We knew there were a lot of racists and other nuts in the Republican base, but they did want to win the election, didn't they? Surely, they would pick a candidate that could pose as a moderate in the general election, even though they weren't moderate (like Bush, Walker, Christie, Kasich, or Rubio). They couldn't be crazy enough to choose Trump or Cruz, could they?
Well, it looks like we may have underestimated just how crazy and extreme the Republican base has become. After losing in 2008 with McCain and 2012 with Romney (both about as moderate as a Republican gets these days), it looks like the GOP base has decided to nominate a candidate that is far more extreme -- evidently thinking they lost those elections because their candidates weren't extreme enough.
And to Democrats great surprise (and delight), the two candidates leading all other Republicans in every poll are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It now seems likely that one of those two will actually win the Republican nomination. Even the Republican establishment is starting to believe that, and are trying to decide which one of those two will do the least damage to their party.
Meanwhile, Democrats are starting to lick their chops (and beginning to believe in miracles). Could we really be that lucky?
(The caricatures of Trump and Cruz above are by DonkeyHotey.)
The following charts are from a new YouGov Poll -- done between January 15th and 19th of a random national sample of 2,000 adults, with a margin of error of 2.9 points.