Monday, March 14, 2016

Inevitability Deferred

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton appeared poised on the edge of inevitability. The hoped-for certainty was delayed and possibly even eliminated by equivocal results on Super Tuesday. Primary results since then have done nothing to vault either candidate into their respective parties's thrones.

Clinton has been surprisingly challenged by Bernie Sanders, who made a good showing on March 1st but not enough to convince any public observers that he had a long-term chance. Nevertheless, he has continued to win primaries alongside Clinton. She leads only marginally in pledged delegates and her aura of inevitability is sustained only by a horde of super delegates whose loyalty is not guaranteed.

More importantly, as some observers have noted, she continues to win states that the GOP will most likely win in the Fall, while Sanders wins states that will be more likely to vote Democrat or sit on the fence. And Sanders has the following and the energy to turn out a lot of young new voters to secure those states for the Democratic party.

Trump's own ascent has been frustrated. Indeed, the only reason he may win out in the end is because his opponents have failed to unite. Should they do so after tomorrow, it will probably be too late. He appears likely to win all but one of the winner-take-all states, with Ohio still a possibility. Should he lose Ohio to Kasich, it will make little difference because Kasich trails him more significantly than Cruz. Trumps lead will grow despite such a loss. He will continue to approach the minimum needed for an uncontested nomination in July.

However, the ugliness of the GOP primary circus has not been alleviated. Violence has erupted in and around Trump rallies. While this has preoccupied many observers, there is no sign yet that it has turned off any of Trump's supporters.

Tomorrow may very well be the day that March 1st promised to be for Trump. As for Clinton, she desperately needs some quality wins tomorrow to prove once and for all that Sanders is not a viable candidate, giving her the opportunity to turn her political weaponry against the GOP early as her nomination becomes a fait accompli.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Eve of Inevitability

Super Tuesday is upon us and each side of the election process, Republican and Democrat, is nearing the point of inevitability. Trump only needs to do moderately well tomorrow to acquire the last bit of momentum needed toward the Republican nomination. Hillary Clinton, after a landslide victory in South Carolina on Saturday, is ready to put down the Socialist threat and claim the democratic throne.

How did these elevations occur? A lot of people doubted one or the other possibility, even after early victories by these two contenders for the US Presidency.

Trump's Path to Ascendancy

Naysayers in the Republican party doubted, and liberals feared, Trump's chances from the very beginning. That he had a strong and devoted following was never contested. However, he had what was an apparently firm ceiling of 30-35% support among likely voters. Surely, thought his legion opponents, the party would eventually coalesce behind an establishment candidate and send this reality-TV star packing.

But this did not happen. And, really, by the time that this need to stop Trump became truly obvious, there were not many establishment candidates left. After the Iowa caucus, people looked to Jeb Bush and his uninspired campaign to stop the push for an outsider. But Jeb's number's hadn't left single digit support since the previous fall. For all the money that he had spent (over $100 million), Jeb had generated very little support. If you were one of Jeb's supporters before he left the race last week, you should feel flattered. He probably spent thousands of dollars just on you.

Besides Jeb. there was only Rubio, the junior senator from Florida. Cruz, Carson and Kasich could hardly be called establishment candidates and they each had a non-trivial portion of the republican vote. Cruz had even won Iowa, though there remain questions about the accuracy of the results from that caucus.

The establishment never had a chance. The truth is that there are not and never were going to be enough votes for any of the establishment candidates. The people supporting Cruz, Kasich and Carson were themselves troubling signs of cracks in the GOP foundation. Trump's ascendancy is due to the flood pouring in through those cracks.

High Hillary

For a while, it looked like Sanders really had some momentum. Even a cynical old bastard like me, who would never vote for a man who backed down so cowardly in the face of an interrupting BLM protest, was moved by his America campaign ad.

There was one major problem with the ad. It was super-white. I noticed this right away but I assumed that Clinton would have a hard time motivating black voters this time around. She did not. She certainly is not generating Obama levels of black voter participation but she is getting more than enough apparently. And this voting bloc was not enthused about Sanders' message. Like other democratic voting blocs, they wanted to know what politicians are going to give them specifically and Sanders' union background and free college offer was not considered relevant enough to black Americans, if the statements of leaders like John Lewis are representative.

So we head into Super Tuesday with several candidates holding on to slim hopes for a last-minute surprise. However, Trump and Clinton appear to be riding juggernauts toward a November showdown.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Republican Herd Stubbornly Refuses to Be Culled

As the contest in South Carolina approaches, I am amazed by the number of republican candidates that still hold on to some shred of an idea that they may pull this thing off and win the nomination. Of course, I admire their tenacity and respect the fact that they have some reason to cling to hope. This has been a season of unexpected events.

Not many people took the candidacy of Donald Trump very seriously when this campaign season began a year ago. No one took Bernie Sanders seriously then either but he has also made his potential for winning the Democratic candidacy very obvious, with unexpectedly strong support from more than just the youth vote. A number of lesser republican candidates have similarly experienced support that even they may not have believed possible.

Who would have expected that Jeb Bush would be fighting just to stay in contention? That Chris Christie and Rick Perry would already be out of the race after experiencing such national popularity as vocal and successful republican executives? Scott Walker was a major contender for this election a year ago and now hardly anyone remembers that he was in the race.

Instead, we have a junior Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, contending for the candidacy with much more support than Jeb. We also have a Texan Senator, Ted Cruz, despised by apparently all of his colleagues, also challenging the unlikely billionaire front-runner, Donald Trump. Meanwhile, everyone is wondering if a neophyte neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, will make a comeback and regain his prior strong support for the nomination.

Given this background, you can't blame anyone for thinking that they might win. Nevertheless, I still blame George Pataki. Thankfully, he finally retired his run for the nomination several weeks ago.

With less than a week until the South Carolina decision, Trump remains in the lead. In fact, has increased his support, much to the chagrin of the media which still likes to trumpet headlines about the Donald's nonexistent losses. Immediately after the last debate, which media pundits claimed was a huge loss for Trump, they ran headlines saying that he had suffered terrible losses. Nevertheless, polls taken the following day showed the billionaire even more solidly in the lead.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

On This Wintry Iowa Caucus Eve

'Twas the night before caucus, and all through the House (of Representatives),
Not a politician was stirring, not even to grouse.
Overcome with fear of status quo nightmare,
They hoped that some solution would soon be there.

Hope is the key term tonight. Both the democratic and republican establishments are a little stunned right now. For months, they have waited for the initial excitement traditionally given to political newcomers to wear off and allow the tried-and-true insiders to take the lead. They got their wish with Ben Carson, whose foibles and inadequacies were exposed in the long, hard grind from last summer to the Iowa present.

But this return to the mean just hasn't happened with Trump and with Sanders. Trump has held onto a lead which he only briefly shared with Ben Carson. Sanders has actually climbed up from decent also-ran numbers to a shockingly competitive level of interest among likely Iowa voters. In New Hampshire, he leads.

Heads are spinning in Washington and elsewhere. To tell the truth, even I am surprised. I have referenced Jeb's money on several occasions with the open belief that his treasure chest would carry him through to the end. Only in my most secret nihilist dreams did I think that one of these two upstarts would cause some interesting chaos in primary season. I never expected to have both of them pissing off the nancy boys in their respective parties.

Still, it's not over till the fat lady sings. In question are not just the sincerity of Trump supporters to to turn out and vote on Monday night, but a possible snow storm will complicate matters even more. Candidates like Cruz have die hard supporters that will show no matter what and Clinton has an establishment network ready to work the party machinery and clinch the nomination for her.

A lot is at stake tomorrow night in Iowa. Will we have revolution or will we succumb to traditional party politics?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Iowa Caucus Approacheth!

Since the beginning, this blog has focused on the numbers more than the quality of the candidates. Hopefully, that can begin to change as hordes of candidates drop out of the race.

For the democrats, the nature of the coming battle is essentially decided.There is the status quo candidate in Hillary Clinton and the radical left candidate in Bernie Sanders. Personally, I have despised Sanders since he played pussy to the BLM protesters back in August. However, I am glad that he is on stage because I have long felt that the hard left of the Democratic Party has been ignored.

Both parties today are really amalgams of groups which have little in common. Clinton represents the status quo party but Sanders represents the significant segment of society that thinks that America is long overdue for socialist reforms. In fact, I have a crush on him simply because some of what he says resembles my dreams when I was a young democrat who still believed that the party represented blue-collar workers and their families. However, walking away from pond scum that should have been sent packing at that meeting in August soured whatever lingering sympathy I had for him. I am not interested in an America in which rude BLM protesters have any say.

On the republican side, the equation is only starting to become clear. While some are already calling for a Trump fait accompli, I am more cautious and, as always, remember the power of money, of which Bush has a lot.

Nevertheless, things have become more clear. At the very least, that fucking zombie candidate George Pataki has dropped out. His continuing candidacy was a sign that the republican party was still playing around and not getting serious about the election. The number of real republican candidates can now be counted on one hand:

  • Donald Trump. Liberals long discounted the seriousness of his campaign because they are unable to imagine a world in which people do not agree with their views on some visceral level. In the minds of liberals, conservatives would agree with them if only they would engage in dialogue. Trump's ongoing popularity may finally be beginning to show libs that some Americans are simply out to get them, with no apologies.
  • Ted Cruz. Long seen as an unofficial ally of Trump's, Cruz is starting to distinguish himself from the billionaire by courting evangelicals. He is increasingly looking like the hard-right Christian candidate, though his eligibility to be POTUS is even more in question than Obama's.
  • Ben Carson. His star is definitely falling and I do him a favor just including him on this list. The era of white-guilt voting is over. Carson will not be the GOP candidate unless somebody literally kills three or four other candidates.
  • Marco Rubio. The press tried hard to give the candidacy to this young Latino months ago but his appeal has waned. He is not the Christian candidate and he is not the white-anger candidate. In the GOP today, this means - no votes for you!
  • Chris Christie. I am not a fan but but I commend him for sticking it out, fighting his way up from the kiddie table debates to be included in the final selection. He actually has more merit than many candidates in that he has held executive office and acted as a national figure for years now.

Notice that I forgot Jeb Bush? Okay, I admit that this was intentional. I do not want another member of the ruling Clinton-Bush-Obama dynasty to win but I actually think that his chances are decent. Money talks and Bush can hang in there for months to come. It does not matter if he loses Iowa and New Hampshire. He has the cash to wait in the wings and exploit any chaos in the electoral process to his own advantage.