The State of the Race

Is Trump done? Not at all. He only needs to secure on the first ballot 482 of the remaining 798 delegates outstanding. That is about 60% of the remainder, though, so he’d have to do much better going forward than he has so far. And that is much more difficult for him to do because there’s only three in the race, now, and Trump has made himself ever more toxic to everyone but his core supporters.

Cruz, meanwhile, has the nearly impossible task of getting about 90% of the remaining delegates to secure a first ballot nomination – anything can happen in politics, but it is almost a certainty that Cruz won’t be able to do that. But that, at any rate, doesn’t seem to be Cruz’ plan right now – the reason he’s working hard at getting his people into the delegations to the Convention is he figures (a) he can’t get a first ballot majority and (b) neither can Trump. Many of Cruz’ people will have to vote Trump on the first ballot but after that, it’s pretty much anything goes…but as these people were selected with massive input from Cruz, it is highly unlikely they’ll go for anyone other than Cruz, unless the convention deadlocks after multiple ballots are taken. Then Cruz backers might start looking around for a non-Trump, non-Establishment alternative. Of course, Cruz also has to worry not just about how Trump does, but how Kasich does…if Trump plus Kasich equals “nominating majority”, then Kasich might well throw his support to Trump, putting him over the top. Whatever amount Trump falls short, it will be vital to Cruz to make sure he falls farther short than whatever Kasich has.

It occurred to me today that as well as securing himself friendly 2nd ballot delegates, Cruz may also be making a play to take over the Party. Remember, regardless of who they are pledged to vote for on the first ballot, Cruz-backing delegates will be voting on the rules for the Convention. If Cruz gets enough of his people in there, then Cruz sets the agenda for the Convention. And given how diligent Cruz has been at this nuts-and-bolts stuff, I’d be shocked if among his selected delegates there aren’t people who have mastered the rules of parliamentary procedure. People who know that stuff can tie things up in knots, and untie them just as swiftly…while those who don’t know the rules won’t know what hit them. Given that Trump has proven himself manifestly ignorant of the nuts-and-bolts of politics, I’d expect the Convention to steamroller Trump…and, also, go a long way towards making sure Establishment types don’t parachute someone else into the nomination.

I have to admit to being ever more impressed with Cruz. I’ve always admired his firm stance on Constitutional government, but he’s also showing rare ability to just work the system – set up, it must be said, by people who despise him and wanted to precisely keep out people like him – to his advantage. He prepares. He studies. He does the mind-numbingly boring stuff it takes to get things done. Of course, he can’t do it alone so he must have hired some really cracker jack people to help him out. Given the towering unpopularity of Hillary and her massively dispirited base, I’m starting to think that Cruz might be able to make mince meat out of her in the fall. We’ll have to see – and, of course, it is not even remotely certain that Cruz will prevail in Cleveland. Lot of politics to go through before we get there.

Bernie is, however, done – he never was other than done, anyway. The Democrat Party has determined that Hillary will be the nominee. Lot of factors probably playing to that. Not least is the fact that the party it honeycombed with Hillary loyalists…but it is more than that. It is her “turn”, you see? Democrats really think like that – not all of them, but enough to grind it out. But it is still remarkable that Hillary has yet to put Sanders down. I suspect it will be end of April, start of May before she manages it…and then only with the sort of chicanery which often gives her as many delegates from a State as Sanders gets, even when he blows her out among the voters.

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Out and About on a Friday

I’ve seen people saying that in a choice between Trump and Hillary, Hillary is the better choice. This just flabbergasts me – for all that Trump has done, he’s not as bad as Hillary. Hillary has deliberately lied again and again throughout her public life. I’m not talking about the exaggerations and evasions common to politics – I’m talking about deliberately lying to the American people about what she has said and done. The latest outrage, in my view, is the way she’s claiming that the families of the Benghazi dead are lying about what she said! This is getting very far into the theater of the absurd – and she just keeps going down it. Like Trump, Hillary is incapable of admitting error…but so far Trump’s enormities haven’t lead to the catastrophe which has been Hillary Clinton actions. I can well believe that Trump will wind up as disastrous as Hillary…but to say he’s now, today, worse than Hillary is just silly.

For those casting blame for the rise of Trump I do suggest you check one, last place before finishing: the mirror. It is all of us Conservatives who have failed, to one degree or another. Sure, some are far more culpable than others, but each of us had a duty – if we wish to engage in politics, at all – in making our movement palatable to the widest possible cross-section of Americans. If the GOP primary electorate was even 15% African-American, then Trump simply would not have been able to get as far as he did. Whatever happens in November – the Election of Generalissimo Trump or the Coronation of Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I – we Conservatives need to think long and hard about how we get more people into our movement.

Watch what people do, not what they say. People are saying that Trump is a massive electoral defeat waiting to happen…but if that were the case, then President Obama wouldn’t be turning up the heat to save Hillary (and his legacy) from Trump.

Is the fate of the GOP in the hands of Kasich?

Secretary of State Kerry, once again Johnny-on-the-spot, has declared that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and other non-Muslims. Only a liberal, American government would take more than two days to figure this out…and only a liberal, American government would only make the move when forced to by outraged public opinion.

John McCain is in trouble in Arizona – only leads his challenger by 1 percentage point. Question: will McCain seek some anti-Establishment street cred by endorsing “whacko bird” Cruz? Alternately, will McCain toss over the GOP in order to save his own political skin and try to force a vote on Obama’s SCOTUS nominee?

GOP Establishment increasingly shows itself willing to rally around Trump – meanwhile, the True Cons grow ever more dismayed by him. So, we might have Everyone But Conservatives for Trump…this year will be strange.

Hey, remember Islamist terrorism? It’s still a thing.

Instead of appointing a Harvard or Yale lawyer to the Supreme Court, why not someone who lives in the real world?

In contested conventions, the guy who starts with the most votes usually doesn’t win it. Reason: If you can’t snag a first-ballot majority, it indicates a firm level of dislike for your candidacy. Those who vote against you the first time tend to dig in their heels and cast about for any reasonable alternative. We’ll see if this comes out like that if the GOP convention is contested.

Super Tuesday

UPDATE III: Votes are still being counted, but I’m encouraged. It has been a good night for Trump but not that good. There’s no reason, I can see, for either Rubio or Cruz to get out at this point (Rubio’s big stand will have to be in FL in two weeks. He must win there).

Sure, Trump still is the front-runner and has the best chance of getting the GOP nomination, but there is a chance that either Rubio and Cruz will keep dogging him and denying him a first-ballot majority, or one of them may yet become the Anti-Trump and roll up more delegates than Trump. We’ll have to see how it comes out.

UPDATE IV: Ok, so the votes are counted.

First and foremost, the Democrat turnout has collapsed against 2008 and the GOP turnout was not just large, it was remarkably large, historic…record setting, I understand in some States. These are numbers which in normal politics would indicate a Republican landslide in November…but with Trump at the top of the heap, we just don’t know…and might not know until the votes are counted on November 8th.

Second, I don’t see any reason for Bernie to drop out on the Democrat side. Hillary did roll up some big wins, but the States that the primaries are heading to are much more Bernie-friendly. In the end I do expect the Democrat leadership to muscle Hillary into the nomination, but if I were Bernie – or one of his supporters – I’d carry on the fight. I’ve talked with a number of these Democrat Bernie supporters…unlike the Obama-bots, they don’t seem to be relentlessly nasty people. They are wrong, but not wrong-headed. I wish them well – I don’t want a Socialist United States, but I admire the sincerity and conviction of these people.

Third – now what, for the GOP? As I said last night, no reason for Cruz or Rubio to back out at this point, though Rubio has to win in Florida on the 15th to remain in any way credible. There is a chance – a small one – that the combination of Cruz and Rubio can deny Trump a first ballot majority at the Convention. This does not mean that Trump isn’t going to be the nominee – the only way to prevent that at this point is for a candidate to roll up more delegates than Trump does, and that is a vanishingly small probability. But if Cruz and Rubio come to Cleveland with enough delegates to prevent Trump from winning on the first ballot, then Trump is going to have to make a deal…and it will be a deal with two candidates who rose out of the TEA Party movement. In other words, if Cruz and Rubio are worth anything, they’ll be able to force Trump to make some moves which would make a Trump candidacy and Presidency far more palatable. Just as one scenario: Rubio gets the VP slot, Cruz gets a SCOTUS promise. That sort of thing would make #NeverTrump into #WTFOkIGuessTrump. We’ll have to see how that plays out (no, I’ll never be a Trump supporter)

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So, About New Hampshire

Biggest thing for me about it is that 42,000 fewer people participated in the Democrat primary than in 2008; the returns aren’t 100% yet, but my calculation is that about 245,000 people voted in the Democrat primary last night, in 2008 it was 287,000. That is a 15% decline – rather large. What is shows that the Democrats are not enthused about 2016 – and the Democrats need at least most of 2008’s enthusiasm to carry their nominee – still almost certain to be Hillary – over the finish line. Meanwhile, over on the GOP side, a bit more than 280,000 people participated, while in 2012 it was 248,000 – showing GOP enthusiasm is up. If this sort of turnout prevails over the primaries (and I suspect it will), then it will demonstrate that the Democrats are in deep trouble.

From what I’ve seen, Sanders didn’t just beat Hillary, he crushed her. But, will it matter? Next up is South Carolina where the Democrat electorate is heavily African-American and African-Americans have been Clinton loyalists since 1992 – with the exception of 2008. But was 2008 merely a reflection of running against Obama, or an indication that African-American loyalty to the Clinton’s isn’t as deep as people think? We’ll find out in South Carolina – if Sanders can peel away even 35% of the African-American primary vote from Hillary, then we might not have Hillary as the Democrat nominee. And that, actually, worries me a bit. I know that the official line is that Hillary is impervious but I’m starting to suspect she’s a loser – against any GOPer. Sanders, the Socialist, is allegedly the George McGovern of 2016…but with his populist, anti-Establishment credibility, he might actually be harder to beat, especially if the GOP nominates someone like Jeb or Kasich.

On the GOP side, the only remarkable thing for me was Cruz coming in strong third – he spent little time or resources in New Hampshire and did very well. Meanwhile, Jeb poured in resources and came in fourth. It is time for Jeb to pack it in – though I suspect he’ll hang around until Florida. Rubio had a bad night – fifth place behind Jeb, of all things. Some say it was the debate and maybe that did it; I don’t really know. Maybe 2016 just isn’t Rubio’s year. Right now, I think it shapes up as a battle between Cruz and Trump, with a slight chance that Rubio rebounds as the Great Establishment Hope.

Get ready for a strange political year…