Forget his current inability to fire up the Republican base, his low position in the polls, and his latest campaign cost-cuttings and staff reductions that analysts suggest is a sign of a troubled campaign. Forget the debates. They don't matter. Barring the revelation of a shocking personal scandal, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will win the Republican presidential nomination next year.
Though Donald Trump and Ben Carson currently battle it out for first place in the latest polls, they will eventually fade as Republicans circle the wagons around Jeb, regardless of how well or how hard the others fight for their vote. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will never rise above a low two-digit score. They will finally yield to the inevitable and throw their support to Bush in the hopes of getting the vice presidential nod, which they probably won't. Carly Fiorina, already fading, is unlikely to enjoy resurgence.
Race to the Finish
The mainstream media generally shrinks from calling out the undercurrent of racism and sexism that powers various Republican factions, but it does exist. A 2012 Baylor University study found that some of the largest Obama hate groups on Facebook focus on the president's race rather than politics.
It's manifested in the birthers who relentlessly challenge Barack Obama's citizenship and accuse him of being a Muslim. It's there in the gun owners who carry rifles to protest rallies, suggesting they will use their weapons on the president if he challenges their right to bear arms. It's present in the pro-life groups that ostensible decry the killing of unborn fetuses because they believe them to be human life. Yet beneath it all is a conviction that only unmarried black, Hispanic and other minority women seek out abortions. Forcing them to have their children is their just punishment.
The xenophobic faction within the Republican Party is revealed in the fervent, instantaneous support enjoyed by Trump for his denigration of Mexicans, Muslins and other immigrant groups. This faction can tolerate Cuban-Americans like Rubio and Cruz on the smaller stages of congress and the senate, mayors and governors. But it will never embrace them as president. Here's an example: Several years ago, Ted Cruz was lauded for forcing a government shutdown in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. His group was dubbed the Tortilla Coast Caucus, a name that came from the restaurant where it met. It seems innocent enough at first glance, but it suggests that, even as Republicans praise him, they do not forget where he came from.
Beyond the Pale
Yes, it is possible that we have all awakened in an alternate universe where women, African Americans, and Hispanics are treated as equals by the various, extremist factions that drive the Republican Party - but it is unlikely.
As the primaries draw near, these extremist groups will eventually cast off all lingering pretenses to supporting an African American, a Hispanic, or a woman for president. Donald Trump had a chance but lost it with his continued posturing and blustering, creating suspicion and distrust of his motives. Support for Ben Carson is just a smokescreen. Eventually, they will all throw their votes behind a safer haven, perhaps not a perfect one, but a dull and comfortable candidate who offers a more familiar platform of conservatism -- who comes from the "right" type of people -- and that person is Bush. They will forgive him for having a Mexican wife, as long as she knows her place and stays quietly behind her man.