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“At This Point, I Am Out Of States”: Trump’s Path Goes Through Michigan And Pennsylvania

Right up front, I want to provide the caveat that I don’t think presidential polls, even state rather than national ones, amount to a hill of beans this early in the process. Having said that, let’s take a look at what it would mean for the Electoral College if the latest Quinnipiac polls out of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are correct.

The polls show Clinton with a clear lead in Florida (47%-39%), but locked in ties in Ohio (40%-40%) and Pennsylvania (42%-41%).

So, let’s say that Florida is solidly blue at this point but suddenly Pennsylvania is winnable for Trump. Or, to be more precise, let’s look at what it would mean if Trump lost Florida but won in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.

For starters, Obama won in 2012 with 332 Electoral College votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. If we keep everything the same and award Ohio and Pennsylvania to Trump, the result is 294-244.

So, winning Ohio and Pennsylvania is a good start, but without Florida being a possibility, it’s hard to get from 244 to the 270 votes needed to win.

Let’s give Trump Virginia. That get’s him to a 257-281 deficit. New Hampshire gets him to 261-277.

I don’t feel like I can give Trump Iowa based on his poor performance there in the caucuses, but even if I did, he would still lose 267-271. At this point, I am out of states. I can’t see Trump doing well in Nevada or Colorado. He seems terribly weak in Wisconsin. The only remaining state out there that is theoretically ripe for Trump is Michigan.

So, if Trump can win Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia and New Hampshire and Michigan (but not Iowa). That gets him a 277-261 victory. In fact, in this scenario, he doesn’t even need New Hampshire.

This seems like his only path.

And it assumes that he won’t lose Arizona or North Carolina or Indiana or Georgia, or any other states that were carried by Romney. But, of course, John McCain lost North Carolina and Indiana to Obama, and Georgia and Arizona are going to be hotly contested this time around.

If Quinnipiac is correct and Florida isn’t even a swing state this time around, the path to Republican victory is very, very narrow. But it is at least discernible. Trump will need to go after Pennsylvania and Michigan with everything he’s got.


By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 21, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Electoral College, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Quite Unpopular At Home”: Rubio’s Must-Win State Is His Own — And He’s Losing There

As political observers absorb Thursday night’s tenth Republican-candidate debate and argue over Trump’s untouchability or Marco Rubio’s new fight-club mentality, Nate Cohn of the New York Times takes on the more prosaic chore of examining how, exactly, Rubio might survive a losing streak and still win the GOP nomination.

The good news he offers Rubio and his growing circle of party and conservative-Establishment fans is that he doesn’t have to win a single state on March 1.

[I]t wouldn’t be optimal for Mr. Rubio to lose all 12 contests on March 1, Super Tuesday. His chances of amassing an outright majority of delegates, and becoming the presumptive nominee before the convention, would be quite low. But he would still have a real chance to take a clear delegate lead over Donald Trump, and win the nomination.

Rubio’s key to survival thereafter is to take advantage of proportional award systems by exceeding the 20 percent threshold necessary to win delegates in every (or nearly every) state. If he does that, a more ambitious goal may come into sight: edging out Ted Cruz for second place in enough states — especially in the South — to all but knock him out of the race and set up the long-awaited head-to-head competition with Trump.

On the other hand, says Cohn, excuses for Rubio not actually winning primaries come to an abrupt end on March 15:

Ohio and Florida will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Missouri will award its delegates on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district, and Illinois isn’t much different. North Carolina, on the other hand, awards its delegates proportionally. It figures less prominently in the delegate math and as a result the candidates are unlikely to spend money there on television advertisements or campaign stops.

If Mr. Trump swept the day in the same way he is expected to sweep Super Tuesday, he would net nearly three times as many delegates as he would on Super Tuesday, defeating Mr. Rubio, 282 delegates to 40. For Mr. Rubio, winning Florida would make Mr. Trump’s advantage a more manageable 183 to 139, but his hole would start looking pretty deep.

With that sort of a deficit, Mr. Rubio’s chances of winning a majority of delegates would all but evaporate.

So Rubio really needs to win in Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois on March 15 to stay in the game with Trump (assuming Trump doesn’t stumble on March 1). And it goes without saying he must, must, must win his home state of Florida. Getting skunked there would decimate his delegate math, even if his Establishment friends somehow found a way to madly spin a home-court loss into something other than a disaster.

Signs are growing, however, that winning Florida won’t be easy for the state’s own junior senator. For months Rubio languished in third or even fourth place in Florida public-opinion surveys. Only with Jeb Bush’s withdrawal from the race — giving Rubio a boost in both elected official endorsements and favorite-son status points — has he begun to rise; a post-Jeb Quinnipiac poll has him within 16 points of the longtime leader in the state, Donald Trump. What should be more troubling to Team Rubio, however, is that Trump is now rivaling him on his home turf in all the indices of basic popularity.

This is made most evident by the very latest Florida survey, from Public Policy Polling:

[Rubio’s] approval rating as Senator has cratered to a 31/55 spread, compared to a much more evenly divided 41/44 when we last polled the state in September. Only 40% of voters in the state think he should continue with his campaign, compared to a 44% plurality who think it’s time for him to drop out. And he narrowly trails both Hillary Clinton (45/43) and Bernie Sanders (44/42) in head to head general election match ups. Rubio’s become quite unpopular at home over the course of his campaign.

Winning has made Trump more popular. 64% of Republicans in Florida now have a favorable opinion of him to only 27% with a negative one. That actually puts him ahead of Rubio’s 60/28 standing.

Let that sink in for a minute. From the very beginning of the 2016 cycle, Marco Rubio’s ace in the hole has been high and positive favorability ratios all over the country. Nobody much disliked him, and that made him the likely beneficiary of the winnowing of the field. Now Donald Trump’s more popular than he is with Florida Republicans, at least according to this one survey. And PPP has more bad news for those who assume the fading of other candidates on and after March 1 will put Rubio over the top:

The most remarkable thing in this poll though is what happens when you narrow the field down to just Trump and Rubio- Trump still leads by double digits at 52/38. Rubio does win over supporters of Cruz (56/25), Kasich (47/32), and Carson (64/21) in such a scenario. But Trump has such a big lead to begin with and picks up enough of the supporters of the also rans that it gives him the overall 14 point advantage.

Is the PPP survey an outlier? Maybe, though the Quinnipiac poll that offered Rubio relatively good news also found that Trump’s “negative score” — the percentage of Republicans who say they could not support him — is now lower in Florida than Cruz’s and not much higher than Rubio’s. That may be the overriding reason Rubio suddenly went after Trump with a claw hammer in last night’s debate. A scenario where the mogul is as popular as Rubio in Florida is simply catastrophic, to the point that Rubio is willing to risk his own warm-and-fuzzies to undermine acceptance of Trump.

And Rubio can’t entirely count on another strong finish among late-deciders to win Florida for him: Early voting is a very big deal there, with some local election officials estimating a majority of primary votes will be cast by mail or in person before March 15. The option of lying in the weeds and waiting for Trump to self-destruct or for someone else to take him out has vanished for Marco Rubio. He’s potentially two and a half weeks away from watching his candidacy expire where it started.


By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 26, 2016

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Florida, Marco Rubio | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Too Late To Catch Him?”: Trump’s Remorseless Delegate Math Means Rubio and Cruz Are Screwed

The story of Donald Trump’s doomed campaign has been replaced by the story of his inevitability as the Republican nominee.

It’s a sea change indicative of his constant ability to defy expectations. He placed second in the nation’s first contest in Iowa, went on to dominate in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and won Nevada’s GOP caucus on Tuesday night.

But it’s not Trump’s past wins that foretell doom for any Republican candidate trying to stop this phenomenon. It’s the fact that a week out from Super Tuesday, Trump is the overwhelming favorite to win most of the remaining voting states—and their delegates—across the country. To clinch the nomination before the Republican convention, Trump needs 1,237 committed delegates. Before Nevada, he had 67 delegates, and Ted Cruz was in second place with 11.

Here’s how the math works.

On Super Tuesday alone, the only states that Trump currently risks losing, according to Real Clear Politics averages, are Arkansas and Texas. And both of those states have Cruz leading by surmountable percentages (note, though, that polling in both states is not always frequent or entirely current).

Even if Trump comes in second in Texas, he could still win.

Texas is a state that is typically proportional in its delegate allocation but has what the website Frontloading HQ calls a “trigger,” which creates a condition in which the state becomes winner-take-all. This would happen if a candidate wins a majority of the vote. Should this overwhelming victory not happen for Cruz, and, say, Trump comes in second in a proportional setting, the senator from Texas must cede a portion of the 155 delegates in play, thereby essentially handing the contest and the nomination to Trump. If Cruz can’t win his home state, he has little chance throughout the rest of the spring.

The Republican primary contest has long had what Sam Wang, a Princeton University professor and neuroscientist, refers to as a “deadline problem.” Wang, who runs the Princeton Election Consortium, posited on Feb. 11 that the Republican field needed to get smaller in a hurry, setting two specific deadlines to try to defeat Trump.

The first deadline is Feb. 29, at which point Wang thinks there need to be only two alternatives to Trump prior to March 1 voting. The second is March 14, when Wang thinks there can be only one other option besides Trump.

The issue is that many of the states leading up to March 8 fit the model of Trump’s South Carolina victory, in which he captured about a third of the vote but still managed to get all the delegates due to proportionality rules.

Even after Jeb Bush dropped out of the race following his defeat in South Carolina, Trump still faces four opponents before March 1. Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Cruz will all try and see if they can win their respective home states (where all of them except Rubio are leading). Ben Carson has stubbornly stayed in the race despite finishing fourth at best in most states. But he could be out if his campaign contributions dry up in the coming weeks.

This means that unless everyone but Rubio and Cruz quits in the next week, Trump can’t be caught.

“Any talk of stopping Trump is highly unrealistic,” Wang told The Daily Beast. “Nearly all analysts, including data pundits, are blinded by the peculiarity of Trump’s campaign.”

Wang said he thinks Rubio has no chance of locking up the nomination anytime soon because the field is too divided for him to corral a lot of delegates by Super Tuesday. And if the senator loses his home state of Florida, which polling suggests he might, there isn’t enough time to make up the delegate difference before the Republican convention in July.

Josh Putnam, a political science professor at the University of Georgia who runs Frontloading HQ, told The Daily Beast that the only scenario that would allow a Trump defeat in the primary is a one-on-one matchup.

“If only Trump is winning, then no one can catch him in the delegate count,” Putnam said. “The only play in that scenario would be for opponents to either drop out or play to keep Trump under the 1,237 delegate majority needed to clinch the nomination on the first ballot at the national convention.”

One state that could slow Trump’s speeding train is Ohio, whose winner-take-all contest could keep him shy of the delegate count necessary to clinch the nomination. Trump sits atop the polls there, narrowly beating Buckeye Gov. Kasich.

Even in a situation in which Trump, Rubio, and Cruz are the last three standing, as conventional wisdom would suggest, the road still looks rocky for Cruz and Rubio. An Economist/YouGov poll taken last week showed Trump with 46 percent of the vote, Rubio with 28 percent, and Cruz with 26 percent. An earlier NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Trump leading in the same circumstance.

Also, as saliently noted by Sahil Kapur in a Bloomberg Politics piece, as of January, Trump had a higher share of Republican voters who would consider voting for him than Mitt Romney had in 2012 around the same time. This suggests the mythic establishment lane has been almost entirely consumed by the singular Trump lane.

Rubio, the presumed second-place candidate at this point, cannot merely rely on absorbing Bush’s supporters either, as ideologically those supporters could just as easily go with Kasich as Rubio. In fact, the only way the Florida senator could catch the frontrunner is to siphon off some of Trump’s support, which seems unlikely. In a January NBC poll, 51 percent of Trump supporters said they were absolutely sure of their choice, while only 26 percent said the same for Rubio.

Wang says the question of Trump’s “ceiling” in terms of national polls is worthless. The real question is just how high his delegate count can go.

“Under Republican rules, it is possible to win a majority of delegates with as little as 30 percent of the vote, if conditions are right,” Wang said, using South Carolina, where Trump took all 50 delegates with only 33 percent of the vote, as an example. “That involves a split field, which is why I have been so focused on that. At Trump’s current level of support, about 35-40 percent, his delegate ceiling is above 50 percent,” meaning, according to Wang’s model, that even if Trump garners 35 percent of the popular support, he can still earn at least half of all the national delegates available.

As for Rubio, the blunt question is, what state can he win on Super Tuesday? He led by a small margin in Minnesota and could see an opening in Colorado. But otherwise his chances look bleak.

In the fantasy scenario where Rubio is viewed as a possible foil for Trump, is it possible to still be a viable contender if you don’t win a state before March 15?

As Nevada’s caucus began, Rubio was getting ready to test this hypothesis with a slew of new endorsements in hand. But in an election where facts don’t matter and Trump is drowning out the noise, it’s going to take more than an impressive posse to catch the frontrunner—as Tuesday night’s results showed.


By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, February 24, 2016

February 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Super Tuesday | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Can Marco Rubio Even Win A Primary?”: The Rubio Problem No One Is Talking About—Yet

Everybody I know, I mean everybody, thinks Marco Rubio is the strongest Republican candidate. Yes, there’s a debate about how strong. Some say he’d beat Hillary Clinton, some say that what with some of the extreme positions he’s taken so far in this race, he’d be hard-pressed to do much better than Mitt Romney’s 206 electoral votes plus maybe his own Florida. So there’s a debate about that. But there ain’t much debate that he’s the, shall we say, least unelectable of the lot.

But here’s the thing. To win the general, he has to win the primary. And on this count, as things stand, he’s hurting. I mean he’s in big trouble. Ed Kilgore of New York magazine had a post about this earlier this week, but this is worth digging into in more detail.

Start with the first four big races—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Rubio is behind in all of them. In three of them, seemingly way behind.

How often does it happen that a presumed frontrunner can lose the first four contests and stay in the race? On the Republican side, it’s never happened. In 2012, Mitt Romney won New Hampshire, and with respect to Iowa, on the night itself, we all thought he’d won that (the state was called later for Rick Santorum, but Mittens got the mo). Romney also won Nevada. In 2008, John McCain took New Hampshire and walloped the competition in South Carolina. Before that, George W. Bush won early states, and Bob Dole (not New Hampshire, but Iowa), and Bush Sr., and so on.

The opposite—a presumed frontrunner blowing off or losing the first few because he’s going to make a roaring comeback starting in state X—never seems to work out. The obvious example here is Rudy Giuliani in 2008. He skipped the first primaries—even though he’d been running second in New Hampshire as late as early December—and bet everything on Florida. But, largely because he’d been such a zero in the early contests (he ended up a distant fourth in the Granite State), he tanked in Florida and withdrew.

In the modern primary era, which started in 1976, almost no one has won a major-party nomination without winning at least one early contest. The one partial exception here is Bill Clinton. But those were very specific circumstances.

First of all, an Iowan was in the race, Tom Harkin, so Clinton and the other Democrats didn’t even bother to compete there, and Harkin won 77 percent of the vote. Second, Paul Tsongas was almost a favorite son in New Hampshire, since he was from Lowell, Massachusetts, right on the border. Third, Clinton was enduring his Gennifer Flowers-draft dodger baptism of fire at the time of New Hampshire, so when he finished a strong second, that was under the circumstances just about as good as a win and enabled him to carry on, arguing that he’d endured the bad press and came out alive. Fourth, Clinton led in most of the national polls then, so he was more able to absorb an early blow or two than Rubio, who is tied for a pretty distant third  in national polls. And fifth, everyone knew then that the Southern states, where Clinton was going to romp and rack up delegates, were just around the corner.

So there is basically no precedent for losing a bunch of early primaries and carrying on, let alone winning the nomination. Now, let’s look at some of Rubio’s numbers.

In Iowa today, he’s a distant fourth,  with around 12 percent to Donald Trump’s 27 percent. New Hampshire is the one early state where he’s not off the boards completely, but even there he’s not in great shape: He’s second with 12.5 percent to Trump’s 26 percent. In South Carolina, he’s basically tied for third with Cruz,  but again, both have less than half of Trump’s 29 percent. Nevada is less obsessively polled than the first three, but the latest one, from mid-October, has Trump miles ahead with 38 percent. Rubio is at 7.

So that’s the big four. If anything, after that, it gets worse for Rubio. Here is the official GOP primary schedule. Here is the most comprehensive list of polling from every state that I’ve seen. Match them up against each other and see for yourself. But because I’m a nice guy, I’ll give you a little taste for free.

After Nevada comes the big date of March 1, Super Tuesday, when 12 states have primaries or caucuses. Most of the big ones are in the South—Texas, Georgia, Virginia. In Georgia, Rubio is right now a distant fourth. He’s also a distant fourth in Texas, where Trump and Cruz are tied for first. In Virginia, things look better: He’s only a distant third.

As for the other nine March 1 states, Rubio leads in none of them and looks to be better positioned in only two, Massachusetts and Colorado. Vermont Republicans are also voting that day, and I could find no polling of Vermont Republicans at all (but they’re so crucial!). So according to today’s polling, the best—best!—Rubio can hope for coming out of Super Tuesday is three wins in the first 16 contests. And two of those wins would be in Massachusetts and Vermont, two states where he or any Republican is going to lose next November by at least 25 points. If you’re trying to tell conservatives in the South and Midwest that you’re their man, it’s literally better to lose those two states. Colorado would be the one state that Rubio could claim as actually meaning something, but even if he overtook Trump there, he’d be 1-13 (tossing out the deep blue states). In the real red states—Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Idaho—as of now, Trump is the guy who’s killing it.

You might be thinking three things. First, well, how good is that polling? All right—some of it is old. October, September, in a few cases even earlier. Ben Carson is still holding his own in some of these state polls, and presumably he’s slipped. But the thing about Carson’s slippage is that we don’t have any reason to think Carson defectors are transferring to Rubio. They’re probably moving to Trump and Cruz at least as much as to Rubio.

And you might also be thinking, well, what about the delegate count, because it all comes down to delegates? OK then, here is a little info on each state’s delegate allocation process. Most states have proportional allocation according to vote share, or they’re proportional with a complicated trigger, or they’re a hybrid. It’s all complex, but the long and short of it is that you can’t keep finishing fourth with 7 percent and expect to be collecting enough delegates to give you any leverage or juice.

And this leads us into the third thought you might be thinking, which is what about Florida? Here’s where Rubio has a reed of a chance to save his skin. Florida votes on March 15. So does Ohio. Interestingly, both are winner-take-all delegate allocation. If somehow Rubio were to win both of those, that’s 165 delegates in one night (1,237 are needed to win), and a huge dose of momentum.

But but but…26 states vote before those two. That’s an awfully long time to expect to be hanging around if you keep finishing third and fourth. And, oh, here’s the current polling in Florida and Ohio: In Florida, Trump leads Rubio by 36 to 18 percent, and in the most recent Ohio poll, Rubio’s in sixth place at 7 percent.

For such a good general election candidate, Rubio is looking like a pretty lousy primary candidate! How can he survive this? He probably can’t. He needs a couple sugar daddies to keep him alive, who don’t mind underwriting a series of out-of-the-money finishes. And what he really needs is for Trump to collapse. If Trump falls apart, Rubio is in the game. If he doesn’t, it’s very hard to see Rubio’s numbers changing much, and if they don’t, it’s just not in the cards for someone finishing third and fourth repeatedly to hang in for that long.

Should make for an interesting January between those two.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, December 4, 2015

December 5, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Went Straight For The Billionaire’s Jugular”: John Kasich Doesn’t Want To Play Nice Anymore

John Kasich had a clear plan in the third GOP presidential debate: Attack Donald Trump.

As the curtain rose and the 10 candidates took their podiums, the Ohio governor started out aggressively, as if already planning to lob whatever he could at Trump, no matter the question. CNBC moderator John Harwood asked Kasich to explain his comments Tuesday at a rally, where he said “I’ve had it” with candidates like Trump and Ben Carson. Kasich elaborated on his assault, saying: “This stuff is fantasy.”

“Well, right here they’re talking about, ‘We’ll just have a 10 percent tithe and that is how we’ll fund the government,’” Kasich said Wednesday night, clearly taking a jab at Carson. “‘We’ll just fix everything with waste, fraud, and abuse. Oh, we’re just going to be great, and we’ll ship 10 million people out of this country, leaving their children here in this country and dividing families,’” he added, taking a shot at Trump.

“Folks, we’ve got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody that doesn’t know how to do the job. You have to pick somebody who has experience, somebody that has the know-how, the discipline, and I spent my entire lifetime balancing federal budgets, flowing jobs, same in Ohio. I will go back within 100 days, it will pass, and we’ll be strong again.”

Trump, of course, leapt in, saying Ohio turned around economically because Kasich got “lucky with fracking.”

“First of all, John got lucky with a thing called fracking, OK?” Trump said, striking a typically defiant tone. “He hit oil, he got lucky with fracking, that is why Ohio is doing really well. That is important for you to know. No. 2, this was the man who was a managing general partner at Lehman Brothers and almost took us down with it, too. Lehman Brothers, they managed it all. Thirdly, he was such a nice guy, his poll numbers tanked. That is why he is on the end. He got nasty, so you know what? You can have him.”

Kasich shot back by saying he traveled around the country learning about how jobs work while he was at Lehman Brothers, giving him the economic chops to be the leader of the free world.

This “nasty” approach from Kasich was calculated, and one that many other GOP candidates, including Bobby Jindal have tried: Fight fire with fire against Trump.

“Part of being president is speaking the truth to the American people. That’s what Governor Kasich did today,” Kasich’s communications director Chris Schrimpf told The Daily Beast on Tuesday of Kasich’s newly aggressive strategy.

The governor of Ohio doesn’t want to play nice anymore.


By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, October 29, 2015

October 30, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Donald Trump, John Kasich | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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