Charlie Cook | So far, the crowded primary field is nothing but good news for Republican voters

Charlie Cook, National Journal:

While GOP apparatchiks are concerned about the consequences of the unprecedented size of the field of contenders, Republican voters are deliriously happy with the large and varied selection of candidates. Particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire, where party activists crave being courted, they are in heaven these days.

There is nothing inherently wrong with starting out with a big field; typically, the Darwinian course of caucuses and primaries ultimately serves to winnow it. That natural-selection process was disrupted in 2012, when a couple of wealthy benefactors kept a few candidates on life support, allowing them to stick around longer than they would have otherwise. There’s no question that the extended nomination fight, which dragged well into April, made Mitt Romney’s odds even longer than they would have been. But in this cycle the party seems to have a greater awareness of that potential problem.

Then there is the matter of Donald Trump. His remarks are unquestionably toxic among Mexican-Americans, highly damaging among other Latinos, and probably unhelpful among other minorities and white moderates. Indeed, when one minority group witnesses overt racism or racial intolerance toward members of a different minority group, it can have a profound negative impact. Asian-Americans, who voted against Bill Clinton in 1992 and were evenly split in 1996, voted against Romney by a 47-percentage-point margin; he did 3 points worse with Asians than he did among Latinos. One would be hard-pressed to come up with anything Romney or any other prominent Republican said that would directly offend Asian-Americans (Romney’s “self-deportation” remark wasn’t aimed at them), but the broader insensitivity appears to have taken its toll.

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