Many others have used the term clown car to describe the strange and wacky group of candidates that are running for president. Clown car is perhaps too happy of a description of what is happening here. I think a better description for the 2016 Republican race is a car full of carnies, which reflects the dark nature of this group of grifters and con men that say they are running for president, but are really just a bunch of guys trying to make as much money as they can off of the idea becoming the next president. Governor Perry and Governor Walker both seemed to be actually running for president, but quickly dropped out when it was clear that was not going to happen, because they were short on support and money. Of the candidates left Bush, Rubio, Kasich, and Christie seem to be actually running to become of the next president. Cruz is probably more of a huckster than a candidate, but you have to think there is some dark fantasy he has of being President Cruz. I am not sure where Trump falls on this scale, because his entire nature is self promotion and making a buck, so it is a given he looking to make money, but with his massive he ego he could think that he would be able to make a ton of money and become president. The rest of these guys are looking to make as much money as they can off of the right wing gravy train, and like Newt Gingrich in 2012, would more surprised than anything if it looks they might be winning.
One of the strangest offshoots of this wacky GOP race is the idea of how some of the supposedly smartest guys have said some of the dumbest things in the name of connecting with the far right wingnut base of the party. Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz are intelligent and well educated men, who have simply gone off the rails of sanity by playing to the religious right so much. All three men realize than they will probably not be the next president, but have doubled down on saying the right things that will excite the base. Fox News, book tours, lecture circuits, and conservative gatherings are waiting with open arms for these guys when they stop pretending they are running for president and jump on the gravy train. So what if most of the rest of the world thinks you are some kind of lunatic, they are not the ones paying your bills.
As far as how this will all work out, no one really knows what is going to happen. It is probably going to be a ton speculation over the next couple of months until the actual voting starts. By then a few more candidates will have dropped out, and after Iowa and New Hampshire, there will be a fairly good idea of who the real contenders are. Once the Republicans get through this brutal nomination process, it then becomes, how damaged will this candidate actually be. An outsider like Trump or Cruz might fire up the base but will horrify the rest of the country. An establishment person like Bush, Rubio, or Kasich might have the same challenges of a less than excited base, that McCain and Romney faced the last two cycles. If the Republicans are facing the same electoral map that has been around since 2000, they have to figure how to win both Ohio and Florida, even though they have completely ignored the 2012 advice on how to deal with women and Hispanics. No matter who wins this thing, they appear to be facing an uphill battle next November.