Saturday, April 09, 2016

Race for the White House Volume 67

This past week, I saw a remark that the Republican Party, which was born in 1854 in Wisconsin, might have prevented it's death in 2016, in Wisconsin.

One hundred days from today, the Republican National Convention will gavel into session in Cleveland, and it is likely to produce intrigue and political theater, not seen in generations. The results in Wisconsin, which saw Donald Trump suffer a 14 point loss and lose most of the delegates to Ted Cruz, only make it more likely that nobody will have the requisite 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. Since that will be the case, it is going to make it harder for Trump, who seems to be seen as more increasingly toxic for a general election to be nominated.

In the meantime, Cruz continues to use his organization to pick up delegates at party conventions across the country. His team definitely seems to know what they are doing. While it is unlikely he would have enough delegates either, he is putting together the capacity to perhaps wrest the nomination away on the second ballot. The fact that Cruz also looks like a candidate who would struggle mightily to win a general election is something that Republican delegates will have to consider when faced with the possibility of an "open convention." The party is very likely to gather in Cleveland without knowing whom the nominee will wind up being, which seems to indicate that a Vice Presidential running-mate selection will not have been made at this time either. That leads to all sorts of scenarios as to how the vetting process might work out and who exactly will pick the candidate for Vice President. Might that matter wind up left entirely up to the convention, which is something that has not occurred since Democrats picked Estes Kefauver in 1956.

Not surprisingly, Trump did not react well to his Dairyland shredding. He released a statement accusing Ted Cruz of lying and cheating his way to victory and somehow illegally working with Governor Scott Walker and his allies in the primary. Uh, that's actually called politics and winning votes. The Trump campaign went on to call Cruz a "puppet" and  a "stalking horse" and maintained they will still have enough delegates headed into the convention. Some have been remaking though that Trump almost seems to be deliberately attempting to "jump the shark" (which would be fitting as it relates to Wisconsin, the home of Fonzie), and that he really does not want to be President, and that his political success all went further than they ever imagined. I maintain, that at least initially, Trump entered the 2016 campaign as a means to help elect Hillary Clinton. While I do not know if that objective has remained, as Trump's ego has been feted throughout this, there is not much more he could have done to put her in better position as it relates to the GOP contest. Trump allies are continuing to express outrage at the process, as Cruz uses the system to his advantage. Trump guru Roger Stone is even making veiled threats against any delegate in Cleveland who might oppose Trump.

John Kasich did not have a strong showing in Wisconsin, as anti-Trump voters strategically supported Cruz, either with or without enthusiasm, but there are some upcoming Northeast states, where Kasich might do better, and at least has to try to finish second and win some delegates, if he is to have a better case for himself at the convention. Kasich and Cruz are definitely not working together to try to stop Trump, which remains an overall problem for the GOP, and they and their allies are targeting each other over the airwaves and on the trail. All of this might eventually make it  more difficult for a united Cruz/Kasich ticket, in either formation, at the convention. Cruz, who realizes that his electability issues and unpopularity, even within the Republican Party, might make it hard to survive multiple ballots in Cleveland is openly declaring that only he and Trump should be considered and that voters would "revolt" if anyone else is eventually selected.

On the other side, Bernie Sanders was expected to win Wisconsin over Hillary Clinton, but he did so by an even wider margin than anticipated. This continues a major winning streak for Sanders, after the pundits had declared last month that the race had basically been decided. Hillary Clinton's vulnerabilities as a political candidate continue to fester, but yet it is hard to see how the party would eventually accept a Sanders nomination over her, and the GOP mess still has her as the national favorite (at least against Trump and maybe Cruz. Polls show Kasich would have a significant edge over her.)

With all the turmoil among Republicans, this was not a good week for Democrats as Clinton and Sanders have battled it out in increasingly harsh tones. She has said he is not really a Democrat and he, citing her past Senate votes, has said she is unqualified to be President. That produced a bit of a backlash and he backed away from the statement. The Republican debates may be over now, but Democrats are going to be having at least one more, and the next one, in New York, might make for interesting political theater.

For both parties, the race has now moved to the financial and media capital of America, the state of New York, which will vote a week from Tuesday. The Empire State has not mattered this much in Presidential politics since the Democrats fought it out in the 1988 primary. Donald Trump is a lifelong New Yorker, while Bernie Sanders was born and raised there. Of course, Hillary Clinton was twice elected to the U.S. Senate from the state, where she had never lived up until that point, and her campaign is headquartered there now. It is pretty amazing that all these figures from the New York City area are among the last contenders for the Presidency and will be placing so many hopes on the state.

After Wisconsin turned out to be so brutal for the front-runners, both Trump and Clinton are hoping to win large amounts of delegates on home turf. In reality, that should happen. Polls show Trump with a hefty lead in New York, but as his poll numbers come down nationally, that also has to be expected to occur, at least somewhat in the state. His campaign is continuing to go after Ted Cruz for the controversial "New York values" comments he had made earlier in the campaign. That sort of theme helped Cruz win Iowa and several other states, but might make it very hard for him to gain much headway in New York. I would assume that John Kasich might be in the best position to take second place and the second most delegates out of New York, so I wish Cruz could have just skipped the state for more fertile territory. Trump seems to be taking no chances. He has cancelled campaign events in other states, which is curious itself, to stay home and work New York.

The former Senator from New York, Mrs. Clinton, should win New York easily, as she did over Barack Obama eight years ago, but there are many indications that Sanders might be gaining on her there, as he has elsewhere. The expectations game will be critical for Clinton and if she only wins New York by single digits, it will be seen as a major rebuke. There have been lots of back and forths in the media this past week about candidates making gaffes as it relates to riding on the NYC subways, and of course lots of talk about Wall Street. The Clinton campaign is saying that Sanders had a disastrous session with a New York City newspaper over his plan to break up big banks, although the Sanders campaign disagreed anything was said incorrectly. The Clinton campaign seems especially anxious to use the issue of guns and the nearby Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy to shame Sanders, who has stated that gun manufacturers should not be liable for killings. That sounds like common sense to me and it is amazing that Clinton Democrats do not see how radically left-wing that might make them sound in a general election.

There was also an incident this past week of Black Lives Matter protestors interrupting a rally featuring former President Bill Clinton. The husband of the Democrat candidate angrily fired back against them and I feel like it was a strong moment for him and he was right on the substance, that there is no defense of black criminals who had taken innocent black lives. It was sort of a modern day Sister Souljah Moment, but Democrat politics being as culturally left as they are now, had Clinton basically apologize for his remarks to the protestors. What a shame.

After New York, where anything other than victories for Trump and Clinton would be shocking, the campaign moves on to Pennsylvania, where things might be more competitive and then to other remaining states throughout the country all the way up to California and the final voting in June. In past cycles, we have long since known by this point who the nominees would be, but things seem very much up in the air at this point in 2016, at least for Republicans. Both parties should brace for some very divided conventions and lingering harsh feelings.


At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good analysis but wrong on almost all points. Trump beats Hillary in a landslide. She's haggard and getting fatter by the day. Nobody likes her. Trump will appear as a huge winner next Wednesday. And everyone will rally behind him.

Eric Dondero rittberg
Houston Texas

At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty sad that wissing has banned most Trump supporters from hedgehog. But a sign of how woosie you all establishment freaks are.


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