Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Sanders keeps winning, still losing; Carnival Cruz sails ahead

Post-Badger State wins for both, Ted Cruz's prospects for snatching the GOP nomination -- unfortunately for us all -- appear to be a little brighter than Bernie's.

First, the losers.

As the results came in from Wisconsin last night, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the front-runners in the Republican and Democratic primaries, were nowhere to be seen. According to reports from the television networks’ campaign correspondents, they were both in New York. Trump was holed up in Trump Tower, and Clinton, after attending a fund-raiser in Riverdale, had returned to her family’s home in Chappaqua, in Westchester County. The fact that Trump and Clinton had chosen to stay at home and not to schedule any press availabilities indicated that they were both expecting to lose. However, it is doubtful that either of them expected to be defeated quite so badly.

Lucky thirteen.

In the Republican primary, Ted Cruz beat Trump by about thirteen percentage points, forty-eight per cent to thirty-five per cent, delighting the organizers of the “Never Trump” movement. And in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders also won by about thirteen points, fifty-six per cent to forty-three per cent, earning his sixth victory in the last seven contests. Despite the fact that Sanders had been expected to win in Wisconsin, and that his campaign had expended a lot of energy and money there, his margin of victory was impressive. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, Clinton was holding a narrow lead in the polls. Buoyed by a large turnout, Sanders turned that deficit around and won handily. According to the network exit poll, he came out ahead among voters of both sexes and all income groups, and with college graduates and those who did not graduate college.

It should be stated straight away that neither of the two Wisconsin results made much immediate difference in regard to the delegate math, which will ultimately decide who the parties’ Presidential nominees are. Both Trump and Clinton still have substantial leads in the number of elected delegates, and Clinton also has a big advantage over Sanders among Democratic superdelegates—party officials and politicians who can cast votes for whomever they want at the convention. (The Republicans have far fewer superdelegates.)
On the Republican side, forty-two delegates were up for grabs in Wisconsin, which is a “winner-takes-most” state for the G.O.P. The nature of the contest insured that Cruz received the overwhelming number of those delegates: as of this writing, he was set to win either thirty-six or thirty-nine, depending on the final vote tallies. That left just three or six delegates for Trump, who went into the night with two hundred and fifty more delegates than the Texas senator.

It sets us up nicely for the New York debate between Clinton and Sanders on April 14 and the vote on the 19th.  My expectation is that Hillary and the Prags are going to come out slinging.  More bricks and bats in the Five Points from Poop Cruz and Drumpf are on tap as well.

What can’t be disputed is that both New York primaries are shaping up to be epic showdowns. Trump, who has had a terrible couple of weeks, will be trying to steady things and confirm his position as the front-runner. Sanders will be seeking an upset victory in the state that Clinton served as a senator and where she now lives—a result that would hit the Democratic Party like an earthquake.


... It’s hard not to see Cruz’s victory as a consolidation of anti-Trump forces—one that is likely to continue and perhaps expand further, especially if John Kasich, who finished a distant third in Wisconsin, were to drop out. (Despite the result, he showed no signs of doing so. “Nothing is more important than winning back the White House in November,” his campaign tweeted. “Only John Kasich can make that happen.”)

Watch to see how the state elections going forward -- New York and Pennsylvania this month -- have different elements that favor Clinton and Trump to some greater degree. 

From now on, most of the primaries, including New York’s, will be closed or semi-closed, and many will take place in states with a larger percentage of minority voters than Wisconsin has. That doesn’t mean that Sanders can’t win in such places. It does mean, however, that he will have to win over more registered Democrats and non-whites than he has previously.

Senior pol David Gergen sees Trump now as the underdog.

With 16 primaries and caucuses remaining, Donald Trump has to win 70% of the delegates to secure the 1,237 needed to win a first ballot at the Republican convention. Several states are coming up that are more favorable territory for Trump than Cruz, especially New York and Pennsylvania where Trump still has significant leads.

Even so, winning more than two thirds of the remaining delegates is a daunting challenge for him. In the 36 primaries and caucuses leading up to Wisconsin, Trump won only 46% of the delegates. And now he heads down a tough homestretch with Cruz seizing the momentum.

In a year crammed with surprises, no one can say for sure what will unfold in Cleveland, Ohio. But there are two likely outcomes: First, Cruz and Trump have each vowed to vote against a change in the GOP's Rule 40. That's an obscure provision that requires any candidate to win at least eight primaries and caucuses before he or she can be nominated.
Trump and Cruz will be the only two people in Cleveland with that distinction. They should also have enough delegate strength between them to block a rewrite of Rule 40. In other words, potential candidates like John Kasich, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney won't be eligible even if many delegates think them likely to fare better against Hillary Clinton -- the race could narrow to Trump vs. Cruz.

If Trump then falls short on the first ballot, there will be a donnybrook. But it is now becoming apparent that Cruz is much better prepared to win that fight. Trump has run a campaign long on the outside game of televised rallies but short on the inside game of quietly piling up delegates.


In a first ballot, delegates must vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged but thereafter, of course, may vote for someone else. Signs increasingly point to the fact that Republican party regulars pledged to Trump are ready to bolt on a second or third ballot. With Cruz the only other man in the race, that almost certainly means they will drift -- rush? --toward the Texan, and he will take the crown.

Wisconsin exit polls gave further evidence, as if any were needed, that Trump's self-destructive behavior in the two weeks leading up to the vote cost him dearly. He reacted so badly to various challenges, especially in his inability to speak clearly about abortion, that one wondered whether he had tired of the game and wanted to go home. Wisconsin voters punished him severely.

Trump's trump card has always been to ditch the Republicans and go his own third way, but the time remaining for him to qualify for the ballot on enough states to compete -- not to mention the 'sore loser' laws that would prevent him from doing so in states like Texas -- make it clear he can't be anything but a pure spoiler in that regard.

Is it possible that Trump is going to prove to be a very bright flash in the GOP pan?  Can the so-called establishment wrest control from him, only to see Cruz grab the rebound?

So if we're headed to a Hillary v. Ted fall matchup, the Texas media will be thrilled, crowing about all the Lone Star influence to be had once again in DC and yaddayadda, and with Julian Castro riding side-saddle with Calamity Clinton producing the same measure of Texas pride in Democrats, maybe we won't all be bored to tears.  Nobody should whine about Texas not being a swing state, thus nobody should complain if Bernie's revolution keeps going left and maybe Green.  There will still be angry conservatives in bunches when Cruz runs aground on the shoals of sanity, the po' folks will still be scratching out a living without making time to vote, and the biggest headache the wealthy will have is crossing Panama off their tax haven lists.

Kinda sorta same as it ever was.

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