Given its potentially lose-lose alternatives, some GOP elites are still hoping for a last-minute savior to be drafted at a brokered convention. But that’s a pipe dream—if not procedurally, then substantively. Even if any of the missing candidates were to reverse course and run, it’s hard to picture the 75 percent embracing them. Chris Christie is relatively moderate on guns, immigration, and climate change. Mitch Daniels has called for a “truce” on social issues. Paul Ryan’s Draconian plan for a Medicare overhaul was so unpopular with voters that even many in the Republican congressional caucus had second thoughts about it. (Nor has any sitting member of the House been elected to the presidency since James Garfield in 1880.) Jeb Bush’s very name is political poison—and he’s a moderate on both immigration and tax hikes besides. In the end, the most powerful Obama opponent remains the same it has always been—the economy.
Whoever ends up on the GOP ticket or in the White House, the 75 percent is no sooner going to disappear than the aggrieved 99 percenters in the blue populist camp. What Republican aristocrats in denial like Karl Rove can’t bring themselves to recognize is that “the most unpredictable, rapidly shifting, and often downright inexplicable primary race” they’ve ever seen is not just a conservative revolution but one that has them in its sights.