Saturday, April 23, 2016

Race for the White House Volume 69

After all the attention paid to the New York Primary, the results, on both sides, seemed sort of anti-climactic.

Despite the belief that the race was tightening, including some very much off exit polling data on Tuesday evening, Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by a solid margin. Considering that it is her home state, and she has been the overwhelming front-runner from the start, the size of her victory was not overwhelming, but she did more than exceed expectations, which is seen as bad news for the Sanders campaign. Many are calling for Sanders to end his campaign or at least refrain from criticizing Clinton, but he seems to be invested in going all the way to the convention, and national and upcoming state polls even show him shrinking her margin of a lead. He clearly has to rely on Independents though to win contests as opposed to a closed Democrats only affair as seen in New York.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump won as expected, but did so with over 60 percent of the vote in his home state, which is more than most expected. He won almost all of the Empire State's delegates, but John Kasich, who actually carried a Manhattan Congressional district, won a small handful. Ted Cruz, was shut out in the state, a strong indication he never should have even bothered to campaign in New York, and finished a distant third statewide. I would suggest that the New York results were more bad for Cruz than they were simply good for Trump. Some now wonder if Cruz's strong stretch in picking up delegates might now be permanently halted and that Trump is once again seen as somewhat "inevitable." I maintain that there is going to be one hell of a fight at the convention.

It is worth mentioning that despite Trump's landslide win, he actually received less votes in New York than Cruz received in Wisconsin. However, Trump won a lot more delegates under the system. Needless to say, he did not complain about a "rigged process" or say that voters were disenfranchised.

Regardless, the Trump campaign continues to send mixed messages. The campaign has undergone a bit of a power shift with experienced Republican lobbyist types now taking over from the crew which catapulted Trump into front-runner status. These new "handlers" are insisting that Trump is going to be running somewhat of a more traditional campaign and the media seems to go along with it, making note when Trump went one day without referring to Cruz as "Lyin' Ted" as if it was a sign of new-founded maturity. Not to be worried though, Trump soon returned to the theme.

Paul Manafort, the top lobbyist now involved in the Trump effort told a group of people this week that the sort of stuff that Trump says is just for show and that some sort of more real version will be coming out as the campaign progresses. How else to take that but to think that Trump is just saying whatever he thinks will benefit him and really does not have any core convictions? He is expected to do well this coming Tuesday in Pennsylvania and other northeastern states holding primaries, but other states that will be voting between now and June may be less hospitable to him. Indiana in May and California in early June will be perhaps the most closely watched battles. Recent polls show Trump ahead in both and there is continued confusion over how the Ted Cruz and John Kasich dual presence in the race may be working against the anti-Trump efforts. I just know that if Kasich was not running in New York, Trump would have taken even more delegates there.

The pressure is clearly on Cruz to once again to weather the storm of Trump is inevitable headlines. He clearly will have the opportunity to appeal to conservatives after Trump has continued to wing it in interviews on matters such as taxing the rich, getting rid of the Pro-Life Republican platform plank, and even political battles raging in states over transsexuals and public bathrooms.

It is really hard to believe the 2016 election could hinge on bathrooms but Cruz really has no choice but to try to push this issue in the primaries, even if it might be seen as divisive to the greater electorate. So, we will have Cruz talking about how Donald Trump is ok with grown men being along in the same public bathrooms  as little girls. The issue is actually a lot more complex than that of course. (To be brief, as it relates to my own opinion, this seems like more of a solution in search of a problem. I can understand though why public attention being placed on this might have reasonable people concerned. There has to be some sort of distinction made to protect the convenience of people who might legitimately identify with the other gender and live their lives by that accord, and those who would actually be predators and would exploit any loophole in the law as our cultural mores and standards have changed. In any event, it was really pretty dumb for Trump to opine on this the way he did, even if the left will give him some semi-props.)

By this time next week, Trump will likely have increased his delegate advantage and be closer to 1,237. I still do not think he quite gets there though, and even if he somehow did, there will be some attempt made in Cleveland to use party rules to deny him. I happen to think it is very likely that Trump is counting on seeing the nomination "stolen" from him and that he would far prefer that than to actually have to go on to a general election and be destroyed in November by Hillary Clinton.

As has been the case for months, my party really needs to get it's act together. This entire nomination process has been a disaster. Trump remains morally unacceptable and while Cruz is a legitimate conservative, it is hard to see how he could win a general election. That leads John Kasich as the one active candidate that clearly has the capacity to defeat Clinton in the fall.

Hopefully, the delegates this summer will think all of this through and get it right. Otherwise, the news that came this week that Harriet Tubman, a great figure in American history, will soon replace Andrew Jackson, a President who led a controversial life (sort of the Trump of his day), but who remains a revered figure as one of the founders of the modern Democrat Party, might be one of the few GOP pickups of the year.


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