Saturday, April 16, 2016

Race for the White House Volume 68

Throughout the course of the week, I often think of a topic or a theme I could cover here in a somewhat coherent method, but then when I sit down to this on Saturday, it is harder to organize my thoughts.

It has been that kind of election. However, as a Republican, things look a little bit brighter than they did a month ago. That might just be for comparison sake though, as the potential nomination of Donald Trump has taken some major hits while the potential nomination of Ted Cruz has made major gains. I guess that is like getting rid of a horrible problem with a lesser problem. It's still a problem though, and an unfortunate one because Democrats are having a pretty rough month as well. They know almost for certain whom their nominee will be and despite having a ton of political problems, she is likely to luck out in terms of a Republican opponent. At least I have sports to distract me.

This past week has seen the campaign continued to center on New York. On the GOP side, there is little doubt that native son Trump is going to win and do so comfortably. The media will build that up and once again try to make it seem like he is inevitable, despite the fact that a well-organized and dedicated effort is being put together to stop him at the July convention. Trump will clearly get the lion's share of the delegate votes out of New York, and will get others in April and May (after going through a rough stretch this month), but every one that might be denied to Trump, under the specific New York rules for delegate allocation will be important. It will be interesting to see if Ted Cruz or John Kasich wins more votes than the other out of the handful that might be kept from Trump on Tuesday, though Kasich is likely to finish second in the state, that has never really warmed to Cruz, after he insulted them pre-Iowa.

The "rules" though have been talked about a ton this week, as professional whiner Donald Trump has executed his media strategy of blaming others for his defeats and riling up his supporters to the unfairness they feel and how it relates to his campaign. It's all very transparent and very cynical, yet it has clearly been working for him to some extent. There is no doubt that Ted Cruz and his campaign has successfully and legally utilized the well-established party rules in the various states to amass delegates. That is what happened last Saturday, in Colorado and elsewhere, as Trump was shut out of the contests for delegates. The Trump campaign knew the rules and did not try to win, despite his claims of being such a great negotiator and deal maker who can overcome any situation and did not complain about it beforehand. He simply went online and television afterwards to complain about fraud, unfairness, and disenfranchisement. He has pointed to examples of being burning Republican voter registration cards, etc, as if they were ever actually Republicans.

Trump is insisting he is being screwed out of delegates, despite having more votes than any other Republican candidate. He says that the delegates should be awarded based on who has the most votes.

Let's look at the facts though. Based on all the states that have voted thus far, Trump has gotten about 37 percent of the vote, but has 46 percent of the delegates. So, why is he complaining? The current system is clearly working to his advantage. It is of course because they know that if he is short of 1,237 delegates, there is a very slim chance he might be nominated in Cleveland, in spite of what his campaign is saying. They were not complaining about the "rules" when he got under half the vote in Florida but all the delegates.

So, this is likely to continue as the Trump campaign (which did see battery charges dropped against the campaign manager, who has since lost much of his power to more seasoned operatives) is putting itself in the position of either taking the nomination or claiming political dirty tricks if he is denied. RNC Chief Reince Priebus, who is likely to become more of a Trump target in the weeks ahead is acting increasingly frustrated by Trump's dishonest attacks on the party rules. I would feel sorry for him if he did not basically allow himself to be put into that position by the party not disqualifying Trump from seeking the nomination early on.

Political junkies continue to crunch the numbers to determine what number Trump may finish with in regards to delegates and what that might mean on the first ballot at the convention. I happen to think Trump will lose out at the end and we will have political theater like we have never seen before in the modern era. House Speaker Paul Ryan had a big public statement this week saying he does not want to be considered for the nomination under any circumstance and that the eventual nominee should be someone who ran for President this cycle. I do not really know what to think of all that. Ryan may have had a short-term political need to tamp down speculation about himself at the convention and he may be looking ahead to years in the future as well. Still, if nominated, say on the 7th or 8th ballot, I have to imagine the Speaker would accept.

With all this going on, it looks more likely that the convention may be left with little choice but to turn to Cruz as the anti-Trump alternative. That is in spite of the facts that polls (which are probably artificially inflated to some extent for him), show that John Kasich would beat Hillary Clinton fairly easily at this point. With increasing belief that neither Trump nor Cruz can win a general election, these GOP delegates really have to consider the importance of winning and actual governance. It seems fairly obvious that they would do so, but there's a lot of anti-common sense pressure out there these days.

Those same national polls also continue to show that Bernie Sanders, a 74 year old socialist, is easily a stronger general election candidate than Clinton. He has also once again closed the gap with her in primary polls nationally, after his own pre-New York winning streak. In fact, Sanders leads Kasich and everyone else in these polls. I find it extremely hard to believe that Sanders could win a general election, even against Cruz (Trump may be another story), but it just goes to show how "anti-establishment" the mood of the voter is, and how that is benefiting Sanders, who has not gotten too much scrutiny about his far-left views , but people just think he comes across as "honest." That sort of thing is also working to Kasich's benefit, despite his fairly traditional political background and ideological positioning. It is a big deal to many voters to not be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, or I think ultimately Bernie Sanders, which is why John Kasich would have a strong path to the White House, if only he were a stronger primary candidate.

Clinton should beat Sanders in New York, perhaps by a solid margin, but the Sanders campaign and its supporters are not giving up and promising their own attempt at a convention fight. It is become very obvious that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have had it with each other personally and that this contest, which was supposed to be a formality, looks like a real battle, despite the strong odds in favor of Clinton clinching it on the backs of superdelegates.

The two candidates met in a debate in Brooklyn this past week and yelled at each and other bickered like that famous New York City couple Frank and Estelle Costanza. I have to say, especially with all the dysfunction in my party, I liked seeing that happen. However, they both were just loathsome in many things they said. Sanders attacked Clinton for her husband's 1994 crime bill (despite the fact that he voted for it) for being racist and Hillary is trying to walk a tight rope in regards to apologizing for it. They fought over who is more committed to as high of a minimum wage as possible, and she amazingly tried to blame him and the state of Vermont for the Sandy Hook school shootings.

Clinton was booed as she squirmed once again over her refusal to release transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs, while she went after him for not releasing his tax returns (as if Sanders has all sorts of secret offshore bank accounts). I think Sanders has not been as effective as he could for trying to call Clinton out on the speech thing and saying what a shameless politician she looks like over her refusal. It seems obvious that she said something behind closed doors that would be very damaging to her campaign and that is why she does not want them out. The same could be said about the unfortunately forgotten situation of Trump saying things behind closed doors to the New York Times that he does not want out there.

Spring is here and the political hatred in both parties' primaries will be in full bloom, even after New York.


At 6:47 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

When will Kasich drop out ?


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