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“Virtually No Path To 271”: The Electoral College Will Be Trump’s Downfall, Even If Clinton Falls Flat

I can say with some satisfaction that I have never underestimated Donald Trump. That’s important. While most every other pundit was writing his political epitaphs, I was predicting early on that Trump or Cruz–and probably Trump–would take the nomination over anyone in the establishment lane. (I also predicted that Sanders would do better against Clinton than most gave him credit for and for similar reasons–a prediction that also more or less came true.) Voters are angry, and angry voters usually try to jolt the system by choosing unpredictable candidates outside the status quo.

So when Hillary Clinton gives a speech to rave reviews that calls Trump “dangerous” and “risky,” I can’t help but roll my eyes. Most voters want dangerous and risky right now, or at least they want someone who won’t just keep doing the same things for the next four years that we’ve been doing for the last two decades. The differences between Bush and Obama are enormous, of course, but a great many Americans on both the right and the left want a greater range of policy options than that on offer by the centers of the two parties.

So it’s entirely possible that Trump could end up doing better against Clinton than almost anyone suspects, even without an exogenous event like a recession or terrorist attack. But I wouldn’t go so far as to predict even a decent likelihood of a Trump victory.

The problem for Trump isn’t that he couldn’t possibly win the popular vote. The problem is that he has virtually no path to 271 in the electoral college. Greg Sargent has more, cribbing from an analysis by Dave Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight:

Wasserman ran a simulation designed to calculate what would happen in 2016, relative to 2012, if whites turned out at the same rate they did in 1992, while assuming that the vote shares of every other group remain constant. The good news for Trump: This really could theoretically bring in some nine million additional white voters, which could be enough for him to win the national popular vote (again, assuming that everything else remained consistent with 2012).

But here’s the catch: Wasserman finds, remarkably, that “these ‘missing’ white voters disproportionately live in states that won’t matter in a close presidential race.” In only three battleground states — Florida, Ohio, and Nevada — would full activation of these “missing” white voters be enough to potentially make a difference. But even in Ohio and Nevada, Trump would still have to win whites by overwhelming margins to overcome Obama’s 2012 edge in those states.

Of course, even that analysis is overly kind to Trump, who has no prayer of reaching Romney’s 2012 totals among minority voters in a country that has gotten significantly browner since then.

It’s not at all clear how Trump or the GOP plan to deal with this problem. No matter how you slice it, Democrats are almost a lock to win the White House even if their presidential candidate is struggling. The blue wall remains virtually unassailable even for a Republican with some crossover appeal along race and gender lines–and Trump is definitely not that. If the election were held today, either Clinton or Sanders would demolish Trump in the electoral college in a landslide.

And about that popular vote total? That’s not looking too good for Trump, either, as the latest national poll puts Clinton up by 10 points on the presumptive GOP nominee.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for Clinton to lose. But it does mean that Trump would have to do something miraculous to beat her.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 4, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Electoral Colege, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What A Healthy Political Party This Is”: Why Sarah Palin’s Feud With Paul Ryan Matters

For months, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) offered two competing messages. The Republican leader repeatedly felt compelled to denounce Donald Trump’s rhetoric, but at the same time, the Wisconsin congressman insisted he would support his party’s presidential nominee – no matter who prevailed in the primaries and caucuses.

But late last week, with Trump’s GOP rivals having abandoned the race, Ryan just couldn’t bring himself to follow through. “I’m just not ready to do that at this point,” he said when asked about backing Trump publicly. “I’m not there right now.”

Some congressional Republicans were incensed, as were some Republican pundits. Trump is even threatening to remove Ryan as chairman of this year’s Republican National Convention. But as MSNBC’s Christina Coleburn reported yesterday, a certain former half-term governor of Alaska intends to go even further.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said in an interview that aired Sunday that House Speaker Paul Ryan could be ousted for his hesitancy to back Donald Trump, and suggested that Ryan’s reluctance was fueled by aspirations to run for president in 2020.

When asked for her thoughts about Ryan’s stance on Trump, Palin invoked former Rep. Eric Cantor. The ex-Republican House majority leader, who was viewed as the likely successor to former House Speaker John Boehner, was defeated by a Tea Party challenger in a stunning upset in the 2014 Virginia primary.

“I think Paul Ryan is soon to be ‘Cantored,’ as in Eric Cantor,” Palin said on CNN. “His political career is over but for a miracle because he has so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of the GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral, and for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his.”

I see. So, the Republican Party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee has decided to go to war with the Republican Party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee.

What a healthy political party this is.

The reference to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wasn’t accidental. The Alaska Republican added yesterday that she’s throwing her support behind Trump supporter Paul Nehlen, who’s taking on Ryan in a Wisconsin primary.

“Yes, I will do whatever I can for Paul Nehlen,” Palin said. “This man is a hard working guy, so in touch with the people. Paul Ryan and his ilk, their problem is they have become so disconnected from the people whom they are elected to represent … they feel so threatened at this point that their power, their prestige, their purse will be adversely affected by the change that is coming with Trump and someone like Paul Nehlen that they’re not thinking straight right now.”

A few hours later, Palin posted a Facebook message, which she appears to have written herself: “Rep. Paul Ryan abandoned the district he was to represent as special interests dictated his legislative priorities. Without ever having a real job outside of politics, it seems he disconnected himself from the people, thus easily disrespected the will of the people. It’s time for a change.”

Remember, by most metrics, Paul Ryan is the most conservative House Speaker in modern American history, but for the Trump wing of the Republican Party, Ryan is just an establishment sellout who needs to be replaced.

There’s little to suggest Ryan’s career in jeopardy – though, in fairness, I would have said the same thing about Eric Cantor two years ago at this time – and there’s even less to suggest the Speaker is worried about the primary. Palin has a habit of picking pointless fights that don’t amount to much, and for her to complain about someone else “abandoning” their constituents is kind of hilarious.

But the bottom line is that in a normal, functioning party, fights like these simply don’t happen. In 2016, it’s become almost commonplace in Republican politics.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 9, 2016

May 10, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Left With A Choice Of Three Varieties Of Defeat”: Republicans Are Faced With Their Worst Nightmare After Wisconsin

At long last, Donald Trump has shown the vulnerability that Republicans have been seeking for so long. Controversies over his words and ideas now trouble him like they never did before, everyone has realized how spectacularly unpopular he is with the general public, and just at the right time, he got beaten handily in Wisconsin by Ted Cruz. He has lost primaries before, but this one seems particularly wounding, as though it portends more hard times to come. Now he can be struck down, to fall with a thundering reverberation on the blood-soaked field of battle.

Or so Republicans hope. But the truth is, they may be facing the worst of all possible worlds: a terribly damaged Trump who nonetheless can’t be stopped from winning their party’s nomination.

Trump has certainly suffered in the last couple of weeks, as the horrifying farce that his candidacy represents has become more clear with each passing day. He could lose momentum and lose more primaries before the final contests in June. Then he could limp into the convention in Cleveland with fewer than the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright. But for all that, it may already be too late to stop him.

Why is that? The first reason is that Trump’s lead in delegates is simply too big for Ted Cruz to overcome. Trump came into this week with 737 delegates to Cruz’s 505, a lead that will get only somewhat smaller after Wisconsin’s 42 are allocated (Cruz will get most of them, but Trump will probably pick up a few). Cruz will still need to win almost all of the remaining delegates to get past 1,237 himself, which is essentially impossible. Trump, on the other hand, needs to win around 60 percent of those that remain — difficult, but still possible.

And if he doesn’t, what happens? Everyone arrives in Cleveland with Trump having won far more primaries, votes, and delegates than anyone else. The convention can hand the nomination to another candidate, but no matter who that person might be, it will be seen as a grave injustice by Trump’s supporters, who are a clear plurality (if not quite a majority) of Republican voters.

And who would grasp that nomination? Ted Cruz, who came in second? That won’t sit right. In the current establishment fantasy, a deadlocked convention is resolved when the attendees finally give the nomination to that fine young man, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

That would be a disaster of a different sort. It would validate everything that the angry voters who have dominated the GOP for the last seven years, and who have driven this primary race around every dangerous curve, have been saying all along. Just as they feared, the party bigwigs — or what Cruz likes to call “the Washington cartel” — came in at the end to steal the nomination away from the guy who got the most votes, and hand it to an insider who didn’t even compete for the people’s favor. Trump may or may not have been right when he said “I think you’d have riots” if that happened, but you can bet that Trump’s voters — and probably Cruz’s too — would be positively enraged. They might even be angry enough not to bother voting in November.

But in the meantime, they’ll shout and scream and maybe even throw a few punches. And with the first contested convention in decades, every camera will be on the lookout for signs of chaos. The country will watch as the GOP tears itself to pieces, all before the Democrats hold an optimistic yet sedate convention at which Hillary Clinton assures the country that whatever they may not like about her, at least she isn’t some kind of lunatic like the people who populate the other party.

Up until now, Republicans had a hard time imagining anything worse than Donald Trump becoming their party’s nominee. But their minds might just be able to expand to envision an even more horrifying scenario. It’s one in which the widely loathed Ted Cruz becomes the man on whom they pin their fading hopes, and yet they are not saved. It’s one in which they are left with only a choice between three different varieties of defeat, and find themselves with no power to choose. And it’s one in which Donald Trump grows more and more unpopular even before the general election begins — and then they wind up stuck with him anyway.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, April 6, 2016

April 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump And The Tyranny Of The Minority”: A Brand Of Populism Rooted In Anger Overtaking Rational Thought

The rise of Donald Trump has been both fascinating and frightening. Fascinating in that no one could have predicted the boorish billionaire would be such a political tour de force as a presidential candidate. Frightening in that the ferocity of his supporters has blurred the lines of logic and lunacy. We’re all familiar with how powerful a cult of personality can be, but the sheer fanaticism of many Trump followers is cause for alarm.

We all get it. Voters are mad as hell and they are looking for someone to channel their frustration through. In swoops Trump with his simple yet effective brand of Making America Great Again. It can mean different things to different people, but the common denominator is Trump’s uncanny ability to convince the masses he is uniquely their voice, their avenger, their change agent. But is he really?

For months, Trump has co-opted the fears and anxieties of a fed-up electorate to ignite a brand of populism so rooted in anger that it’s overtaking rational thought and common decency. In the beginning, the idea of a Trump candidacy was just a temporary novelty. A political side show—until he actually started winning votes.

Alex de Tocqueville famously warned against the “tyranny of the majority.” Trump’s candidacy is turning into the tyranny of the minority as he continues to rack up primary victories without ever amassing 50 percent of the vote. As a matter of fact, he’s only received an average of 37 percent of the GOP primary vote to date. Even with a winnowing field, Trump is doing more to alienate voters than to unify them. After Trump won Florida, knocking Marco Rubio out of the race, the conventional wisdom was he would make the presidential pivot. Based on Trump’s antics since then, it’s clear he has not.

Trump’s continued petulant behavior and willful ignorance on a host of critically important issues is scaring the bejesus out of more than just the political establishment. His latest spat with Ted Cruz over their wives, his bizarre obsession with discrediting a female reporter who was manhandled by his campaign manager even after he was charged with simple battery, and his most recent comments on punishing women who have illegal abortions are just the latest examples of why 73 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

Even with his litany of disqualifying remarks, Trump’s loyal followers are unwilling to hold him accountable for anything he says or does, no matter how outrageous or untrue. They are sending a message that they are sick of politics as usual and Trump is their populist conduit. But in that populist quest for retribution, Republican primary voters are investing in someone who represents everything they claim to despise—big-government intervention, fiscal irresponsibility, authoritarian tendencies, political hypocrisy, duplicitous tactics, and flat out disregard for constitutional constraints. The contradiction is breathtaking.

But so is the intensity of Trump’s support.

Many Trump supporters are quick to lash out, condemn, even threaten the rest of us who find Trump objectionable. Yes, threaten. All it takes is a cursory examination of the social media of outspoken critics of Trump to get a sense of the intense vitriol and attempts at intimidating non-Trump supporters into silence. Myself included.

The freedom to dissent has always been a hallmark of American values. After living under the authoritarian rule of the British monarchy, the Founding Fathers understood the importance of protecting individuals’ right to express dissatisfaction with their government, have a free press unimpeded by the influence of the government, and enjoy the freedom to assemble. Trump’s campaign has challenged every one of those sacred rights, but his acolytes continue to make excuses for him. It makes you wonder what attracts so many people to someone who exhibits the characteristics of an authoritarian in a country that was founded on opposing such tyranny?

Thankfully, our Founding Fathers had the foresight to create the framework of a constitutional republic instead of a pure democracy to protect us from ourselves. Pure majority rule can accelerate the destruction of an entire society if left unchecked. Look no further than ancient Rome.

At the time, John Adams’s suspicions of democracy were evident in his spirited exchanges with Thomas Jefferson. Adams warned that democracies had a tendency to ultimately destroy themselves because the passions that fueled monarchies could be similarly found in “all men, under all forms of simple government and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence and cruelty.” Our republic has many constitutional checks and balances for a reason, including the Electoral College. Time to brush up on American Civics 101.

This may be news to many Trump supporters, or even Trump himself, as they try to push the narrative that Trump should be the GOP nominee even if he has only a plurality of delegates and not the majority, despite the fact that every GOP nominee for president has been required to obtain a majority of delegates since the party’s first convention in 1856. It’s terribly disingenuous for Trump and his surrogates to peddle the false idea that the game is somehow rigged against him when this is the game he signed up to play. Whining about the rules and threatening litigation is juvenile but befitting of the vexatious litigant that Trump is. Then again, it’s much easier to take advantage of angry populists than it is to do the work of marshaling patriots who respect and understand the responsibility of protecting the republic for the good of all Americans.

Whether Trump’s candidacy is sincere or a massive ego-trip reality-show episode remains to be seen. But the American people ultimately determine the ending. Choose wisely.

 

By: Tara Setmayer, The Daily Beast, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Founding Fathers, Populism, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Say It Ain’t Ted, Wisconsin”: The Badger State Should Know Better Than To Go For The Texas Senator

I am taking Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary personally. That’s the progressive state with the capital P, the home of the Progressive Party founded by the LaFollettes about a century ago. Sen. Bob LaFollette is considered one of the very best senators in history. Scenic blue Madison is the city where the university anti-Vietnam War movement caught on fire and tear gas.

An irony that gives no pleasure: the Republican candidate favored to win, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, reminds people of Wisconsin’s own shameful demagogue. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who went on witch hunts for Communists at home, was a national disgrace. His tear was not stopped before he wrecked hundreds of lives – maybe more.

The radical demonization of others is what Cruz and McCarthy share in common. In one campaign debate, Cruz insulted the island of Manhattan for its views on reproductive rights. The Texan even looks like McCarthy, I’ve heard people say. Yes, there is a resemblance. Is Wisconsin going to vote for Cruz, for old times sake?

Please say it’s not so.

Here’s one more irony. The Republican party elders and regulars are so adamantly against mogul Donald Trump winning the nomination that they are openly willing to settle for Cruz, the most hostile antagonist to other Republican senators. He’s a freshman, about as rude as Trump, without a drop of the milk of human kindness. He has very few friends in the Senate, making a practice of insulting senior senators, both Republican and Democratic. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no idea what to do with him. Most senators like to be liked and put up a good front.

The Republican establishment and the arch-conservative Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, are egging on the only Republican in Trump’s league for arrogance. It’s rare to have a politician who loves to be hated. Cruz thrives on it. If he becomes the nominee, it will be hard to have the party rally round him.

In a normal political season, the governor of Ohio would be elected Republican party darling. Gov. John Kasich comes across as an experienced and reasonable candidate. He speaks well, inflected with Midwestern earnestness. Beware. His political rise took place in Speaker Newt Gingrich’s House. And he is no moderate friend to women’s rights and health. He is scary on that score.

The truth is, I feel about Trump what Winston Churchill declared about democracy as a system of government: that he’s a deeply flawed contender, but better than all the others. Better than Cruz and shallow Sen. Marco Rubio. Better than the prince of privilege, Jeb Bush. Better than the self-serving, acid Gov. Chris Christie. Better than the clueless Dr. Ben Carson.

Let me explain. Trump’s the only candidate to speak out strongly against the ill-fated Iraq War, which shattered our well-being as a nation. He told Bob Woodward of The Washington Post that our presidents could have “gone to the beach” and the Middle East would be in better shape. Thank you, that’s true. The Middle East with the Islamic State group is a hot mess, thanks to us.

The brash New Yorker gets no credit for that forceful fresh analysis, because the media always sees Trump in black and white. First, he was a clownish figure in a freak show. Now he’s a danger to all the liberties we hold dear. National security experts, many of whom beat the drum for war in Iraq, wrote a letter stating that Trump is a threat to national security. What does that make them?

On the issue of choice, Trump was clearly chastened by outrage at a careless remark about women getting “punished” for exercising their constitutional right to privacy in personal medical matters. He learned from this mistake. Very soon after, he became the only Republican to admit the laws on legal abortion are clear and set since 1973. He said the law should stay as is. Unlike the rigid Cruz, Kasich, Rubio and the rest, Trump gets Planned Parenthood as a women’s health organization. No small thing.

As for accusations of misogyny, I’ll be the judge of that. Too many male pundits toss that word out there like a pitch on Opening Day. Many don’t grasp it’s a heavy, ancient Greek word that should be saved for the real thing.

Wisconsin is America’s dairyland, but much more than that. Madison, the state capital, was a paradise to me, set by the shore of Lake Mendota. The country will be watching Wisconsin closely Tuesday night for clues to our state of mind, nobody more than me.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Progressives, Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Primary | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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