Thursday, March 10, 2016

The GOP's Wild Ride

  We have now reached the nightmare for the establishment GOP. The hated Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are looking like the will end up battling each other to become the party's nominee, while the establishment is left with plans of chaos at the convention in July. In my adult life, which goes back to Reagan years of the 80s, the Republicans have seemed pretty stable and orderly when comes to picking a presidential nominee. Since 2008 the order has been unraveling until it reached bizzaro world anarchy you have now.

  In 2008, after some initial chaos in the Summer and Fall, the path to the nomination was somewhat smooth for John McCain once voting started. It makes sense that there would be some chaos, because you had open nominations on the Republican and Democratic side. Then in 2012 Mitt Romney ended up winning the nomination, and was aided greatly by strong establishment support, more money and better organization than any of the challengers like Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. The Republicans seem to settle on the safe pick, because they just wanted somebody to beat President Obama. The problem for Romney is the nomination took him so far to the right, out of his comfort zone, that nobody bought the "severely conservative" Mitt Romney appeal.

  Now the Republican base is so angry and put off that even with big wins in the 2010 and 2014 off year elections, they were not able to deny his re-election in 2012 or undo Obamacare even though they have been promised that is GOP's top priority. In 2012 the Republican's flirted with an out of the box candidate, but ended settling on the establishment friendly Mitt Romney. This year the voters have simply rejected the establishment choices and the side of the road is littered with candidates like Scott Walker, Jeb! Bush, and Chris Christie with John Kasich and Marco Rubio hanging on for dear life to not get thrown out of the clown car. Instead the clown car is being driven by huckster and reality tv star, Donald Trump, who has the campaign strategy of shouting whatever the really mad base wants to hear. The fact that Trump is winning means that experience and policy mean nothing to a good portion of the base. In interviews there seems to be a lot of "What the heck, give Trump a shot" answer from his supporters. This means that establishment can't use simple logic and reason to beat Trump, because his supporters simply don't seem to care.

   The Republican establishment basically has three uncomfortable choices that all seem to point towards Hillary Clinton being sworn in as the next president. Choice one, accept that Donald Trump is the nominee, but that means they will probably lose the Senate and chances for Trump beating Hillary is at best a coin flip. Choice two, put all your money and energy into Senator Ted Cruz beating Trump, but it's hard to tell if establishment hates Cruz or Trump more. Also Cruz has the only mathematical chance of beating Trump, he is still facing an uphill battle. While Trump is a wild card that could win White House, I just don't see how Cruz will be able to win anything other than the red states, and will be a drag on down ticket races. Choice three, try to hold Trump under the winning number and stage a coup at the convention in Cleveland. The strategy will be based on how close Trump comes to the delegate number, if he does fall short, but no matter if what if Trump supporters think the establishment is trying to steal nomination, there will be a full scale revolt, and the ensuing civil war will all but guarantee President Hillary Clinton.

  After the 2012 election the conventional thinking was you can't insult black people, women, and Hispanics and hope to win a national election. While they played lip service to these groups, the actual policy tells a different story, and tends to point towards doubling down on winning more of the white vote. As long term strategy, winning with just white vote has no chance, and even winning 2016 is iffy at best. There is no way to see who the nominee will end up being, much less predicting what would happen if they lose again. What will happen when you don't have Obama fueled hate to run with? Is Donald Trump a one time anomaly or shape of things to come in the Republican party? Can you make changes as your base continues to get older and whiter? That having brown faces on stage talking to a sea of white faces does not mean the same thing as being an actual big tent party? No matter what at some point there will need to be some soul searching for the GOP.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bernie vs Hillary: Day after Michigan

  I posted about the Bernie versus Hillary yesterday, and I was ready to concede that Clinton Campaign was on the verge of putting the race away. She looked she was poised for big wins in Michigan and Mississippi, and while she did get the Mississippi win, Bernie Sanders put up a huge upset win in Michigan. I understand that the overall course of the race has not changed, but even with every structural advantage Hillary Clinton has, she is still struggling to win consistently outside of the South. Next week Clinton has another chance to break this trend with primaries in Illinois and Ohio. If the Clinton wins in those two states, and if she combines that with probable wins in Florida and North Carolina her campaign will be back on track to her being the nominee. If she loses or has close wins, there will be no reason for Sanders to quit any time soon, because the race is about to shift to more Northern and Western states. The campaign seems to sense that are at crucial junction, because they have flooded MSNBC with a steady stream of surrogates to say that Michigan was a tough fight, but things are still on the right course. I was feeling pretty good until today, and I got hit with wave after wave justification of Hillary losing Michigan is not a big deal. Now I just feel a bit testy and annoyed by Team Clinton. I know she is just playing the same math game that Obama used in 2008, and no matter what I will support Hillary in the Fall, I just need a break from it today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bernie vs Hillary

   OK let's get the obvious out of the way first. Unless there is some kind of huge turn around Hillary Clinton has put together the kind of mathematical advantage that she was on the wrong side of in 2008 versus Obama. The Clinton campaign has learned some important lessons from Obama by putting together a series of big wins, support of super delegates and winning big chunks of delegates in states that Sanders won. Over the next couple of weeks they can put a solid lock on the nomination if the results reflect what the polling says it will. Even though I support Bernie Sanders and voted for him in the Tennessee primary, I will vote for Hillary in November over whoever pops out of the GOP clown car. Hillary Clinton would be a better president than Cruz, Trump, or whoever the GOP picks in Cleveland if they successfully stage a coup in July. So the bottom line of all this is simply Bernie Sanders is the candidate I would like to be the nominee, but Hillary Clinton is the one I am going to get.

   Jamelle Bouie from Slate has done a really good job of summing the state of the Democratic race in his piece "The Real Difference Between Bernie and Hillary". Mr. Bouie says, " Hillary Clinton is running to lead Democrats, Bernie Sanders is running to lead liberals." That one sentence covers why I am supporting Sanders over Clinton. While I am Democrat because they tend to be more liberal than the current GOP, I support Sanders specifically because he represents a more liberal wing of the party. I am not naive and I understand that you need coalition of voters to win the nomination much less the White House. Senator Sanders is having a difficult time winning with just liberals, just like Senator Cruz is having trouble winning on Republican side with mostly very conservative voters. Based on that reasoning we can assume that Hillary Clinton will not only be the nominee, but has a very good chance of being the next president. Based on that, let's look at where we stand with Clinton 2016.

   At first it appeared that Clinton had no true competition for the nomination, and it looked it was going to be a fairly easy path for her, but then Bernie Sanders came out of the left wing of the party and message caught on especially with younger voters. Hilary was forced to talk her progressive and tried to get left on Bernie on guns to try and show that she and not Bernie is true progressive champion. her tag line is, "I am a progressive that gets things done", which indicates that Sanders is an out of touch idealist who has no shot of getting anything done as president. She is trying to get younger voters on her side, but has done much better with older voters who tend to be more conservative. She has overwhelming won the support of other elected officials, who seem to feel more comfortable with her than Sanders. She has done very well with African American voters, especially in southern states where they make a up large part of the Democratic base. It is the African American vote that let her gets big wins in the Southern states.  Although I think the Sanders campaign has served a purpose. If nothing the success of Bernie Sanders has forced Clinton to at least acknowledge the liberal wing of the party instead of going straight for the more centrist positions.

  One of the more frustrating aspects of the election cycle is Hillary Clinton and her supporters are not only trying to sell the idea that she is the true liberal but that she is also some kind of anti-establishment outsider. Bill and Hillary Clinton helped create the coalition that not only won two elections for Bill, but was pretty much the template that helped Obama win two terms and Al Gore and John Kerry used in their narrow loses to George W. Bush. Despite all the claims by the Republicans of runaway liberalism, the Clinton/Obama coalition has mostly been a center left one. It's hard to believe that Gore or Kerry would have been substantially different as president than Clinton or Obama. It seems Hillary is trying to say she is a voice of liberalism, but her actual policies are much more in line with the more moderate wing of the party. Such as I can collect large speaking fees from big corporations but as president I am going to crack down on them. Also I understand establishment seems to be a dirty word this cycle and Clinton is trying to downplay that angle in some ways, but her actions all but scream I am the establishment. Having most of the female Senators on stage with you or having a never ending stream of elected supporters is no way to play up your outsider street cred. The real test will be what Team Clinton does when they feel they have a true lock on nomination, early indications are they will immediately pivot to the center which will be more comfortable for her than trying to pretend that is anything other than a hawkish blue dog.

   Which brings us to the general election in November. If Ted Cruz is the nominee at the very least her electoral map will match what Obama was able to accomplish. There is nothing to indicate Ted Cruz can win the swing states that have been in play since 2000. If Republican establishment manages to get someone other than Trump or Cruz the nomination, they are probably facing a full scale war inside the party and will probably mean a fairly easy win for Clinton. If Trump wins the nomination, I have no idea what would happen. So far the conventional wisdom about Trump has been wrong, so it is just very hard to predict what a Clinton versus Trump election looks like. Clinton should be able to beat Trump, but then again nobody thought he would be in the position he is now. In the next week there are primaries in Ohio, Florida, and Michigan. For Trump, in Florida and Ohio it will be a test of how he will do in states the Republicans need to win if they want to win the White House in 2016. For Clinton, Michigan and Ohio will be test of her appeal outside of the south. For the most part Clinton has run up big wins in states that Democrats will probably not win in November, and having much closer races in traditionally blue or battleground states, because no matter what the Industrial Midwest will play a big part in deciding who the next president is. At the end of the day most of the Bernie people will support Clinton, and while it is gotten a bit testy at times, it is nowhere near the mosh pit the Republican as become. Most of disagreements have been about policy, instead of how big is Trump's dick or any of the other silly things that have come in the GOP debates. The Democrats will probably be united, while the Republicans are a ticking time bomb on the verge of a civil war.