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“Some Folks Are Gonna Switch Parties”: There’s Potential For Some Real Shifting In The Shape Of The Electorate

David Bahnsen speaks for a lot of Establishment Republicans. Today, he’s linked at the National Review. At this point, Bahnsen is so exasperated with the persistent popularity of Donald Trump that he’s calling on us all to beseech God to intervene.

I’m not sold on his political analysis here, but I do want to note his conclusion.

Trump will not be the President of the United States. His support level is maxed at 35-40% (generously) of the Republican primary voters. In a general election contest, he will lose the nine figure free publicity of the national media, who will turn on him in a New York minute. The blue collar white males who resent the economic changes of the last 25 years will be more than offset by his depleted support from Hispanics, females, and other grown-ups. His skyrocketing unfavorables will matter, and he will lose. And if I am wrong, that is even worse. The United States will be the laughingstock of the world if this man were to become our commander-in-chief.

You will not hear me talk about Trump’s ceiling. I won’t say he’s maxed out at any level. I am not about to say that he will lose the general election. I’m somewhere between skeptical, agnostic and terrified about these questions.

But, if Trump is going to lose as big as people like Bahnsen think he’s going to lose, it’s because a lot of moderate/soft Republicans conclude that it will be better if Trump loses to (presumably) Hillary Clinton than if he wins.

This is the time in the four-year election cycle when people love to promise that they’ll never support the nominee they don’t prefer. Sanders’ voters will never vote for Clinton. Erick Erickson will never vote for Donald Trump. If Ted Cruz is the president, we’re all moving to Costa Rica.

It’s mostly bullshit. The vast majority of people will hold their nose and vote for one of the two major party nominees. Very few committed Democrats or Republicans will cross over to vote for the other side. And no one is moving to Costa Rica.

But this cycle is a little different than most. I can see a lot of New Jersey Democrats who work in the financial sector deciding that they’d rather deal with Trump or Rubio or Cruz than with Bernie Sanders. And I can see a lot of Wall Street Republicans not going for the religious anti-choice extremism of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, and who know Trump well enough to be embarrassed by him and his desperate efforts to show he has class. They don’t like his act and they’re not haters on immigrants, Muslims, or anyone else.

This year, there’s potential for some real shifting in the shape of the electorate. And there really are some voters in both parties who might leave their party for good if they don’t get the nominee that they want.

There are also a lot of young voters who will be making up their minds about whether they’re aligned with the left, the right, or reality television.


By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 22, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cruz: I’m Not Shady, But The People I Hire Are”: Thou Shalt Not Criticize Another Republican, Unless You Can

It’s hard to run a campaign on the slogan, ‘TrusTED’—as Sen. Ted Cruz is doing—when everyone thinks you’re a dirty trickster.

As allegations of shady behavior continues to erode his image, just one day before the Nevada caucuses, Cruz dismissed a senior staffer who circulated a false news story that questioned fellow GOP candidate Marco Rubio’s faith.

“I had made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity,” Cruz said, in making the announcement to a group of reporters in a small meeting room at a YMCA in northern Las Vegas. “That has been how we’ve conducted it from day one.”

This is the latest indication that the Texas senator is concerned about the narrative that has gained strength with each passing state, that far from being trusTED, he is a con artist; a cheater, a liar.

The Cruz campaign has found itself in the middle of a number of controversies, starting from the very first presidential contest in Iowa. The Texas senator’s campaign circulated information that suggested Carson might be leaving the presidential race, drawing the lasting ire of the neurosurgeon.

Even some Cruz’s supporters, who are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, worry about how nasty that campaign has become. Andrew Russell said he thought that circulating information about Ben Carson’s potential dropout on the night of the Iowa caucuses was “a dirty trick.”

“I don’t know if I would point it to Cruz directly, as opposed to his campaign. I saw on Fox News that he fired his communications director today. So I think maybe people on his team have probably gone too far… they’re definitely dirty tricks. I definitely don’t like it, but I’m willing to overlook it,” Russell told The Daily Beast. “This election process in general has become way too negative, way too harsh.”

And other die-hard supporters blamed Cruz’s opponents for dragging the entire presidential campaign into the mud.

“His campaign is positive, because he’s not attacking anybody… Rubio, Carson and Trump all [are] basically lying about him, so I think they’re the ones running a negative campaign,” said Sheila Rhinehart, a Cruz supporter, who called the Iowa caucus incident “unfortunate.”

It’s true that Trump’s opponents have been hammering him for lies and tricks.

Cruz tried to make nice with Ben Carson, who has argued that Cruz’s campaign spread false information about him on the night of the Iowa caucuses. Despite a face-to-face meeting in a large closet in South Carolina, Carson and Cruz did not make amends.

Sen. Marco Rubio told reporters, “It’s every single day, something comes out of the Cruz campaign that’s deceptive and untrue, and in this case goes after my faith…but this is a pattern now and I think we’re now at a point where we start asking about accountability.”

And Donald Trump can’t seem to utter the name “Cruz” without saying the word “liar” immediately afterward.

Still, the Texas Republican has insisted, from the beginning of the campaign, that he would refrain from criticizing other Republicans, frequently citing Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: ‘Thou shalt not criticize another Republican.’ But the campaign has turned nasty, and he is losing control of his image.

“When other campaigns attack us personally, impugn my integrity or my character, I don’t respond in kind,” insisted Cruz Monday.

So, at a critical point in the presidential contest, Cruz had to dismiss one of the most senior members of his staff.

The most recent incident involved communications director Rick Tyler, who was forced to apologize after posting a story that alleged Rubio telling Cruz’s father that the bible did “[n]ot have many answers” in it. The story included a video with incorrect subtitles—Rubio was in reality praising the bible.

Cruz announced his decision to ask for Tyler’s resignation in a small, nondescript meeting room at a northern Las Vegas YMCA, before taking the stage and delivering his standard stump speech. To his supporters, he made no mention of his dramatic announcement. It was a shock, perhaps even to Tyler himself, who reportedly stormed off the MSNBC set when the news broke, even though he was scheduled to appear on television.

“Rick Tyler’s a good man,” Cruz told the press. “This was a grave error of judgment. It turned out the news story he sent around was false, but I’ll tell you, even if it was true, we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate.”

Cruz faces a seminal moment in his campaign Tuesday: a neck-and-neck race with Rubio for second place in the Nevada caucuses, and then a race to a slew of states that will be contested on March 1st, also known as Super Tuesday. If he can’t build trust, Cruz could be obliteraTED.


By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, February 22, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | GOP Primaries, Nevada Caucus, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“John Kasich – Only Moderately Extreme”: Remember The Last Time We Had A “Compassionately Conservative” President?

If you’ve watched John Kasich at any of the Republican presidential debates so far, two things stand out about him: (1) he wants to be the “Republican with a heart,” and (2) he completely embraces trickle-down economics. That’s pretty much the kind of thing we heard from George W. Bush in the 2000 election when he called himself a “compassionate conservative.” Compared to the rest of the field this time around, that has a lot of pundits calling Kasich the moderate of the group.

The problem is that we all got a pretty good lesson on the failure of trickle-down economics during the Bush/Cheney years. And right now, Kasich is demonstrating just how un-moderate he is on some important issues. For example, here’s what happened at a town hall event in Virginia today.

Notice that even one of his supporters called him out for saying that “women came out of their kitchens” to work on his campaign. That little gem comes the day after Kasich did this:

Gov. John Kasich has signed legislation to strip government money from Planned Parenthood in Ohio…

The bill targets roughly $1.3 million in funding that Planned Parenthood receives through Ohio’s health department. The money, which is mostly federal, supports initiatives for HIV testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and prevention of violence against women.

All of that reminded me of something that happened just after Kasich was elected Governor of Ohio. He came under heavy fire in his home state for the fact that all of the appointments in his administration went to white people. For a Republican, that isn’t terribly surprising. But it was his response that was jarring. Instead of working with communities of color to improve, he got defensive.

“We pick people on the basis of who’s qualified. We don’t pick them on the basis of quotas. I mean I think quotas are yesterday,” Kasich said on Jan. 2.

Kasich said he’s color blind when it comes to hiring.

“I mean let’s get the best people for the job,” said Kasich.

In other words, “the best people for the job” just happened to all be white. People of color need not apply. When Ohio’s Legislative Black Caucus offered to help him out with that, Kasich said, “I don’t need your people.”

So the moderate in the Republican presidential race is the guy who believes that:

1. if we just give rich people more tax cuts our economy will boom for everyone,
2. women are still in the kitchen and don’t deserve access to reproductive health care, and
3. the best person for any job in his administration just so happens to be white.

I’ll grant you that compared to the other 4 candidates still in this race, Kasich is slightly less extreme. But then, I’m old enough to remember what happened the last time the country had a “compassionately conservative” president.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 22, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Compassionate Conservatism, George W Bush, John Kasich | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Momentum Meets The Wind”: Clinton’s Nevada Win Casts Democratic Race In New Light

The run up to the Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada offered something oddly refreshing: a race in which no one really knew what was going to happen. Most pollsters stayed away, and those who tried found a race in which Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were effectively tied.

As of yesterday morning, no one could say with any confidence who was even favored. But when the dust settled, there was nevertheless a clear winner.

Hillary Clinton won Nevada’s Democratic caucuses on Saturday, NBC News projected, scoring a much-needed boost in the nomination race and depriving rival Bernie Sanders of a victory in a racially diverse state.

The loss is a blow for Sanders, who hoped to use the state’s contest to prove himself as a viable candidate in a state with an electorate made up of more minority voters and fewer self-described liberals than the race’s earlier contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

With just about all of the precincts reporting, it looks like Clinton’s margin of victory was about six points, 53% to 47%. In terms of delegate distribution, it was also fairly close, with Clinton picking up 19 delegates to Sanders’ 15.

But what makes yesterday’s developments so important has less to do with these precise totals and more to do with the impact on the Democratic race overall.

There are two broad angles to keep in mind. The first is the fact that if Clinton had come up short in Nevada, as many observers predicted, the coverage was going to be brutal. The Washington Post ran a piece last week with an ungenerous headline – “Hillary Clinton could blow it in Nevada” – which seemed emblematic of the general media buzz.

Nevada, the conventional wisdom said, was supposed to be a Clinton “firewall” state, which would help the former Secretary of State bounce back after Sanders’ landslide victory in New Hampshire last week. A Sanders victory would have created chatter about a crumbling “firewall” and a renewed sense of panic among Clinton’s supporters in the party.

Her six-point victory does the opposite.

The second angle is that Nevada was a real opportunity for Sanders to change the trajectory of the race. When the Vermont independent nearly tied Clinton in Iowa, and cruised to an easy win in New Hampshire, skeptics noted that the first two states were practically custom made for the senator: Sanders is strongest in states where the universe of Democratic voters is very white and very liberal. Based on previous performance, that means the three best states in the Union for the senator are, in order, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa.

Nevada, therefore, offered Sanders a chance to prove that he can win in a more diverse state – an argument that would give his candidacy renewed credibility as the race goes forward.

Clinton’s win yesterday means that opportunity has come and gone. Conditions may yet change, but she’s favored to do well in South Carolina’s primary next week, and there’s some polling that suggests she’s well positioned to win most of the March 1 primaries soon after.

Sanders said last night that, in the wake of a defeat, his campaign has “momentum” and “the wind is at our backs.” That pitch would have been far easier to believe had he not come up short in a state he fought to win.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 22, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Nevada Caucus | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Conservative Electorate’s Massive Meltdown”: ‘Browning Of America’ Is Tearing The GOP Apart

Before Pope Francis spoke a single word at the Mexican border, Donald Trump had — quite predictably — denounced the pontiff’s message. The real estate mogul and former reality-TV star has built his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination on an ugly nativism, so the moment was tailor-made for him.

The counter-messaging only escalated after the pontiff told reporters that anyone who wants to build a border wall, as Trump has infamously proposed, “is not Christian.” That prompted a retort from Trump, of course: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” he said.
(If the pontiff’s remarks were recorded correctly, he didn’t say Trump isn’t “a” Christian. In other words, he didn’t question the faith to which Trump ascribes; rather, the pope described Trump’s behavior as failing to follow Christian principles.)

Trump-isms notwithstanding, Pope Francis couldn’t have picked a better moment for his message of compassion toward migrants. This presidential campaign season has revealed some unseemly passions roiling in the American electorate — especially on the right; those resentments needed the criticism of an authority figure outside elective politics. Who better than the pope?
Concluding his swing through Mexico with a pointed stop at the border city of Juarez, Pope Francis bemoaned the global “human tragedy” that forces people to risk death to try to gain sanctuary in safer places. He called migrants “the brothers and sisters of those expelled by poverty and violence, by drug trafficking and criminal organizations.”

Not that the pope’s call for charity is likely to have an immediate calming affect. In this country, the conservative electorate is in the midst of a massive meltdown over the nation’s changing demographics. Make no mistake about it: Stagnant wages and economic uncertainty have fueled the fires of outrage, but the flames were lit by a deep-seated resentment over a slow-moving but obvious cultural shift as white Americans slide toward losing their majority status.

The election of President Barack Obama is among the more striking signs of that shift, but there are others: Among the wealthiest and most influential pop culture figures are two black women known only by their first names, Oprah and Beyonce. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, has been hit by protests over its lack of diversity. Interracial couples, and their kids, are routinely featured in television commercials for common household products.

But the “browning of America,” as some social scientists have called it, has not been propelled by growing numbers of native-born blacks, but rather by increasing numbers of immigrants from Asia, Africa and the rest of the Americas. Of those, Latinos constitute the largest and most visible group. That helps to explain why immigration has occupied a central place in this presidential campaign — and why it threatens to tear apart the Republican Party.

Its leaders have spent decades pandering to the fears of those white Americans who are least comfortable with changes in the social and cultural hierarchy. Instead of displaying a leadership that might have eased the anxiety of white conservatives, GOP candidates broadened the old “Southern strategy” to disparage not only native-born black Americans but also immigrants of color.

Now, those GOP voters are displaying a xenophobia that has pushed the party even further to the right — and which threatens to alienate voters of color for decades to come. Even as Republican strategists tear their hair out over the hateful tone emanating from the campaign trail, the candidates, with a couple of exceptions, keep up their harsh rhetoric. While The Donald has displayed the most outrageous bigotry, including a call to bar all Muslims from entry, his rivals have tried not to be out-Trumped. Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, has disavowed a plan, one he once endorsed, to grant legal status to undocumented workers.

President Obama and the Democratic contenders, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have pushed back against the biases oozing from the GOP hustings, but they have no credibility with ultraconservative voters. Perhaps there are still a few of them who will be swayed by the loving and generous message of Pope Francis.


By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, February 20, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Pope Francis | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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