2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, Strategy, Trump, Uncategorized

Anatomy of a Trumping

May 31, 2016

Donald Trump went to war this morning. Again. It’s both old news and worthy of dominating coverage for the next 48 hours or so. Responding to questions about his dispersal of funds raised for veterans groups, Trump went on the attack, lashing back at his press conference inquisitors.

Anyone who was still thinking he might moderate himself for the general election can officially jettison the concept. Trump is going to be Trump. Today, tomorrow, in October, and after January 20, 2017 if Hillary Clinton can’t stop him. Most of the talk about pivoting or otherwise limiting the bombast came from advisors such as Paul Manafort, not The Donald himself.

There is simply no reason for him to change course. A partially neutered Trump would not win over the voters who are currently very opposed to him. If he took that course and reverted at any point to the Trump we’ve become accustomed to, he’d lose whatever minimal gain he picked up. It’s a bad deal for him. The majority of GOP officialdom is now at least grudgingly on board with him. Maybe Paul Ryan formally throws in with him, maybe he doesn’t. How many votes actually depend on the answer? Continue reading

2016 General Election, 2016 Libertarians, Counting Delegates, State of the Race, Uncategorized

Can the Libertarians Get a Post-Convention Bounce?

May 29, 2016

If you were busy enjoying the long weekend and missed the ruckus, after a bit of drama, the Libertarian Party just picked their ticket for 2016. I’ve written a few pieces under the assumption that Gary Johnson would be the nominee. It happened, but not on the first ballot.

His VP choice, ex-Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, also required two rounds to gain approval. Weld is new to the Libertarian Party, after spending his career as a moderate Republican, the type that used to regularly win elections in New England, but is now only visible in the Smithsonian.

As such, many delegates were highly skeptical. The final team combines the closest thing Libertarians have to an establishment candidate (Johnson), and a new convert. In a year where Donald Trump hijacked the GOP, and Bernie Sanders is temporarily affiliated with the Democrats, it’s only right that Libertarians got to deal with the party/ideological purity issue too. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, Trump, Uncategorized

Are Hillary and Trump Just an Exception?

May 28, 2016

This week, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee was essentially found guilty of what she claimed she hadn’t done by the State Department Inspector General. The majority of her assertions were knocked down. She doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It probably doesn’t matter.

For over a year, Hillary Clinton has maintained she had permission to set up a private server. She didn’t. The new argument is she made an error, but we should view this oversight through the larger arc of her career contributions. As the Trump campaign is reminding us on a daily basis, that lengthy career is studded with controversy.

Of course, when your opponent is looking forward to a fraud trial, these things are all relative. Way back in the 19th century, scurrilous things were said about presidential candidates on a regular basis. Before the Civil War, most newspapers were specifically linked to political parties. Whatever your take on the bias of MSNBC, Fox News, et al, it’s nothing compared to what you would have read a couple hundred years ago. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, Counting Delegates, Poll Watch, Uncategorized

California Poll Watch: Will Bernie Go Out in Style?

May 27, 2016

The result won’t change the result. As she and her campaign are fond of pointing out, Hillary will have enough delegates with or without a win in California. Unless the Justice Department says otherwise, she’s the Democratic nominee for 2016, preparing to do battle with The Donald this fall. Game. Set. Match.

That doesn’t mean Bernie wouldn’t really like to win California, or that it wouldn’t serve as a clear rebuke to the presumptive nominee. Until the recent release of a poll from PPIC, it appeared Hillary had this. A KABC/SurveyUSA survey taken last week/weekend had her ahead by a commanding 57/39.

We don’t have the range of polling we would if the nomination race was more in question, but the SurveyUSA data matched their findings from late April. A full look at the numbers over the past several months shows Hillary has led each and every survey. PPIC has her up by 2 now. Fox News had Hillary leading by 2 a month ago. Those are the two closest results.

SurveyUSA consistently shows a large lead, while other pollsters had the gap around ten. Overall, we’ve seen little movement. This is consistent with the actual results in the rest of the country. The candidates are winning the states you would have figured they would based on what we saw in the first several contests.

Momentum is fleeting at best and demographics and type of election win out over everything else. In this case, we have a partially open primary. Nonaffiliated voters can participate on either side, but registered Republicans, Libertarians, or anything else cannot vote in the Democratic primary. This eliminates the possibility of mischievous Republicans deciding to make life difficult for Hillary by supporting Bernie.

Sanders does best against his polling numbers in caucuses. He does next best in completely open primaries. Neither apply here. He virtually never beats his numbers in fully closed primaries. In a semi-open contest, we should figure he might wind up a little ahead, but shouldn’t suspect a major shift.

If PPIC and Fox are correct, he’s within striking range. If everyone else is more accurate, he’s not. Both of the recent surveys were completed on 5/22, meaning voters were not aware of the State Department report that confirmed she was effectively lying about having approval for her private email server.

There’s no indication pro-Hillary Democrats are troubled enough by this to withhold support. If Sanders manages to win in California, it could indicate this is more of an issue than we’ve figured. That would leave Democrats in the unenviable position of having a candidate their voters aren’t comfortable enough with, but little justification to pull the nomination from the candidate with more earned delegates, popular votes, etc.

Until we see another survey to the contrary, Hillary is still the favorite in California. However, there are 10 days left and opinions may change. Keep your eyes open for movement with a pollster who has already surveyed the state. If SurveyUSA shows something closer to 10 points, or if Fox has Bernie ahead instead of close.

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, History, State of the Race, State of the States, Uncategorized

The First National Election in Decades

May 26, 2016

We think of presidential elections as a national event, but they’re not. The Electoral College means each state separately chooses whom to support. Once upon a time, many states were competitive. In 1976, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford were within 5 points of each other in 20 states. Another 11 were closer than 8 points. That gave them plenty of campaigning options.

It’s normal to have blue states and red states. The extent to which we can assume many states are not up for grabs in a competitive election is not. Barack Obama’s margin over Mitt Romney in 2012 was only a couple points more than Carter-Ford. But only 4 states were decided by less than 5 points, another 8 by less than 8.

We’ve become used to thinking about a few key states. If Democrats can take Florida or Ohio from the Republicans, they’ll probably win. If Republicans can hold those and take Pennsylvania, they’re likely celebrating on election night. Places like Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire are considered competitive. That’s about the list. Maybe add Nevada. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, Counting Delegates, History, State of the Race, Uncategorized

Berners Have a June 7 Fork in the Road

May 25, 2016

The primary season ends on June 7. Democrats in D.C.┬ástill need to vote on June 14, but we’re basically done after the 7th. That’s when California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and the Dakotas come out to play. Having a schedule of elections gives Berners something to rally around.

It’s like a team almost mathematically eliminated from qualifying for the postseason. The odds are bad, but there are remaining games left on the schedule. You can keep trying to win the next game and hope your rivals fail. Once we’re past the 7th, there aren’t more games to look forward to (Hillary should win the heavily African-American D.C. electorate easily.)

The other event scheduled for the 7th is Hillary becoming the official presumptive nominee (ok, clumsy terminology. Deal with it.) She will not win enough earned delegates ahead of the convention to clinch the nomination that way. She will clear the barrier with earned delegates plus super delegate endorsements. While he could technically flip these delegates in Philadelphia, previous candidates from Walter Mondale to Barack Obama declared victory at the same point. Continue reading

2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, Strategy, Trump, Uncategorized

Pols Follow Polls

May 24, 2016

Donald Trump made up the majority of his polling gap with Hillary Clinton by winning over skeptical Republicans. Donald Trump is winning over skeptical Republicans because he made up most of his polling gap with Hillary Clinton. It’s a great virtuous cycle for him.

There are many reasons why various establishment Republicans/elected officials were slow to give Trump a partial or full endorsement. There are the questions about whether he’s appropriately conservative. The big problem with him not being adequately housebroken. Questions about temperament. All of that was enough to give someone pause, but the largest issue was fear he would lose. Badly. In doing so, he would destroy down ballot candidates and hand the Senate to the Democrats.

Now it’s looking like Hillary is an equally effective anchor weight. Perhaps The Donald won’t capsize GOP hopes after all. It completely changes the calculus for several prominent Trump opponents. After speaking as badly of him as is possible, Lindsey Graham had a productive private conversation with Trump and has semi-quietly suggested to various contributors and party figures that it’s time to rally around the candidate. Continue reading