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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ted Cruz Takes a Partner


After his humiliating primary defeats on Tuesday, Ted Cruz tried to change the story on Wednesday by announcing that he would select Carly Fiorina as his running mate, should he receive the nomination.

The announcement certainly impacted the headlines for the day.  However, in these circumstances, it comes across as an act of desperation.  Typically, a Presidential candidate announces a running mate in the days before the Convention, or at least after he has secured the nomination.  A candidate in second place with many more primary elections ahead looks more like a gimmick rather than a serious decision.

Of course it is a gimmick, but Cruz is at the point where he has to try some gimmicky out of the box actions if he wants to change the trajectory.  What exactly though does this stunt hope it will accomplish?  There are two questions: Why Fiorina and why now?

Why Fiorina?

Fiorina is from California.  If this ticket put California in play, that would be a game changer. However, California is far too liberal to go Republican, especially for Cruz.  Fiorina could not even win the Senate election in the State in her own right, and that was in 2010, which was a landslide year for Congressional Republicans.  Winning her home state was certainly not a serious consideration. Possibly Cruz thinks her California home might provide him with some help in the upcoming Republican Primary in that State.  It seems unlikely that even in the primary election Fiorina will get much traction for being the home town favorite.

Fiorina is a good debater.  She received positive attention for many of her debate performances, even if she was often in the "kiddie table" debates.  Perhaps her debating skills had some influence on the decision.

Fiorina is a known quantity.  Opposition research probably did not turn up much about her that is not already known.  She is not terribly controversial and tends not to have high negatives at least with most voters.

Most likely, the fact that Fiorina is a woman was major factor.  The selection of a woman highlights Trump's negative numbers with women.  It puts those statements that Trump has made about women front and center in the news again.  Further, it blunts any criticisms that Cruz is anti-woman.  Cruz has been accused of opposing many so-called women's issues.  Having a female on the campaign team helps to nullify that.  If Cruz gets to the general, a female VP candidate may also help him blunt the female support for Hillary Clinton.

Why Now?

Selecting Fiorina changes the headlines.  We are not talking about Cruz coming in third in most of Tuesday's primaries.  We are talking about his VP selection.

Having a ticket now gives voters in the remaining primaries a reason to take a second look at Cruz. They have a better idea of the type of decisions he will make.  He did not pick some nut case conservative or religious zealot.  He picked someone who is not too establishment but also not an unknown.  Perhaps voters may think he is not as extreme as they thought.

The new name also gives him someone to send around the States for personal experiences.  People have not been showing up for Mrs. Cruz appearances.  Maybe they will show up for Fiorina appearances.

Will it Work?

Probably not.  It comes across as desperate.  Fiorina has no independent constituency that she brings to the Cruz campaign.

Already, Donald Trump has taken back the headlines in the way he does best: by saying something offensive (Hillary getting the nomination just because she is a woman) and by saying something off the wall (talking about staying at a Holiday Inn Express).  The 24 hour news commentators are already talking more about those comments than Cruz's VP pick.

Is This Unprecedented?

While this is unusual, it is not unprecedented.  In 1976, a loosing candidate Ronald Reagan announced that he would pick Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker, despite the fact that he was trailing President Ford in delegates.  Reagan hoped the announcement might sway some delegates.  It did not.  Ford went on to win the nomination.  Also, the announcement took place just before the Convention, not while Primaries were still ongoing.

Conclusion

Cruz's decision was an interesting swing for the fences, hail Mary, or whatever sports analogy you prefer.  But such moves are always an act of desperation and usually fail.  That will likely be the situation here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trump & Clinton sweep the mid-Atlantic States.


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both had a good night as the mid-Atlantic Primaries held their regional primary day.

Contests for both parties took place in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

Republicans

Trump dominated the night, winning all five States.  Particularly impressive was the fact that Trump won an outright majority in all States, some by over 60%.  Trump has won most States with a plurality, leading to the story line that a majority of Republicans opposed him almost everywhere nationwide, regardless of how many opponents he had.  After a majority last week in New York and majorities in five states this week, Trump shows that he can get a majority of Republicans to vote for him.

In Pennsylvania, the largest State, Trump won all 17 pledged delegates.  Alert readers might note that 17 is not very many delegates, and that Pennsylvania is sending 71 delegates to the convention.  The remaining 54 delegates are elected as uncommitted.  Voters vote for specific people to be delegates, who may promise to vote for a particular candidate, but are not bound to anyone.  So, this is part of that "rigged process" that seems to frustrate the Donald.

Maryland was the next largest, where Trump won all 38 pledged delegates.  He also won all 28 in Connecticut, and all 16 in Delaware.  Rhode Island was proportional, so Trump took 10 of 18, with Kasich getting 5, and Cruz 3.

These States should have been strong ones for Kasich: moderate Republican States.  But it seems voters are not going to back him anywhere.  Cruz's claims of a two-man race though were weakened by the fact that Kasich beat him in 4 of the 5 contests.  Even if Kasich had dropped out and Cruz had won 100% of his voters, Trump still would have beat him everywhere.

At 983 delegates, Trump needs only 250 more to have a majority.  That is just over 40% of the remaining delegates.  At his current pace, that seems very possible.  Even if Trump comes up a little short, it is almost certain that some percentage of the hundreds of unpledged delegates may go his way.  So even there, he has wiggle room.  The stop Trump movement seems to be close to collapsing, as the Republican urge to "fall in line" seems to be taking hold finally.  The Trump bandwagon seems to be building up speed.

Democrats

Hillary Clinton also did well, winning four of the five states by double digits.  Bernie Sanders had a solid 12 point win in Rhode Island.  But even if he had won all five states by 12 points, that would not have put him on a pace to catch up with Clinton.  It seems clear that Clinton will hit the majority she needs before the convention. Her lead only continues to widen.  Clinton is about 300 delegates ahead of Sanders in pledged delegates.  But including Superdelegates, that lead widens to over 800.

To show how strong her position is, Clinton needs only 219 of the 1246 still available.  She could lose 100% of all but one of the remaining primaries by 100-0, then lose California by 59% to 41% and still collect enough delegates to win a majority for the convention.  If she wants to compete in all the remaining states, Sanders could win 80% in all the remaining States and still Clinton would win enough delegates.  Stick a fork in Sanders.  He's done.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Primaries

Thus Tuesday, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware hold their primaries for both parties.  All are holding closed primaries, meaning only party members can vote.

The largest of these, Pennsylvania, has a particularly strange method.  Most delegates are elected personally, not as a representative of a candidate.  In other words, voters may vote for "John Smith, delegate from Altoona".  Voters would have to know that Mr. Smith is a supporter of Ted Cruz as there is no indication of that on the ballot.  Delegates elected this way are unpledged.  This means, that even if Mr. Smith supports Cruz today, he could change his mind and vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot at the convention.  As a result, candidates must carefully vet the people selected as their delegates, and then get the message to their voters to support those particular delegates.  Although, Trump is favored in the State, this level of organization and planning may end up favoring Cruz.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

In all of these State, many of which are winner take all, Trump is ahead by a good 15 to 20 points. He is likely to greatly increase his delegate lead, although the 1237 majority may still remain elusive.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton also polls well above Sanders in all five States.  If she does as well as polling suggests, she will continue to widen her lead, although still will not hit the needed majority of delegates until June.

Cruz, Kasich, and Sanders all seem resigned to stick it out until the Convention despite no realitsic path to winning the most delegates.  Cruz seems to be  hoping to prevent Trump from obtaining an outright majority and possibly picking up delegates on later votes.  Kasich knows he is an extreme longshot at this point, having won only one state and not likely to win any others.  He is hoping for some extreme event at the convention and for chaos to give him a shot.  It seems very unlikely.  Sanders does not expect the nomination at this point.  He is mostly hoping to influence the Party platform and perhaps get a shot at a prime time speech at the convention.

The contests on Tuesday will likely tighten the noose around the challengers as the front runners continue to extend their leads.  Still, the outright majority remains elusive for both leading candidates.

At this point, it seems clear Clinton will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee, and Trump very likely the Republican nominee.  Both candidates have extremely high negatives.  It will be interesting to see if a third party candidate sees blood in the water and decides to mount a serious campaign.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Big Wins for Frontrunners in NY

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both won big in their home state of NY.  While both were expected to win, the size of the victory, especially Trump's took many  by surprise.

Republicans

Trump dominated NY with over 60% of the vote.  Delegates would have been awarded proportionally if his two opponents could have kept him below 50%.  That was not even close though.  Trump also won more than 50% in almost all the Congressional districts, giving him all of those delegates as well.  In total, Trump has one at least 89 of the 95 delegates.  Kasich, with a strong showing in NYC, picked up at least three delegates.  Cruz left with a big goose egg, nothing.  Cruz seemed to have seen the writing on the wall and began turning his attention to other states a few days ago.

After yesterday's win, Trump has 845 delegates.  He needs 1237 for a majority at the convention. There are only 734 still available, so Trump still needs to win a majority of all outstanding delegates in order to collect another 392 to clinch the nomination on the first vote.  It remains possible but difficult.

Cruz, who had a good run in some smaller conservative caucus states in the middle of the country, is looking much weaker on the east coast.  This third place finish behind Kasich takes away from the idea that his is the only choice for the anti-Trump crowd.  For Kasich though, a said second place finish is probably too little too late.

Next week, we see another five mid-Atlantic States, Pennsylvania and Maryland being the largest. Trump's polls indicate a win for him next week as well.  A Trump nomination on the first ballot still remains within reach.

Democrats

Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by a good 15 points.  Even a tie or small win for Sanders in NY would have made his delegate math more difficult.  While it is still mathematically possible for Sanders to win, something really drastic would need to change.

Including Superdelegates, Clinton has 1930 of the 2382 needed to win.  With 1646 still up for grabs in future contests, Clinton needs a mere 28% of the remaining delegates for her majority.  In other words, Sanders would need to win more than 70% of the vote in every remaining State.  With Clinton ahead in most remaining State polls, that seems highly unlikely.  Still, Clinton will likely have to wait until the California Primary in June before she can claim the needed majority of delegates to put her over the top.

Looking Ahead:

Next week, five States hold primaries: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.  Expected results in those States will probably be similar to NY, although the wins might be a little closer.  Trump will be focused on getting over 50% to take advantage of winner take all provisions.  That will be the main question in these contests.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Candidates in a New York State of Mind

With nearly two weeks of inactivity before the New York primary, and nearly a month since the last real contest of any size, candidates have had lots of time to campaign in this large state full of delegates.

Three candidates can claim some personal attachment to the State.  Bernie Sanders was born and grew up in the Bronx.  Hillary Clinton served as a Senator for about eight years.  Donald Trump has lived and worked in New York for much of his life.  Ted Cruz has no real attachment and has also incurred the wrath of New York voters by derisively accusing Trump of having "New York values" earlier in the campaign.  Then, there is John Kasich.  Is anyone even still talking about him?

New York is a proportional State for Republicans.  This means all candidates will likely get some delegates based on performance.  As a result, it is tough for the State to be a real game changer, but will continue the ongoing fistfight for every single delegate.  The State holds a closed primary, meaning only Republicans can vote in the Republican primary and only Democrats can vote in their primary.  Independents get to stay home.  The time to change your party was six months ago, so "troublemakers" cannot cross party lines to vote, unless they planned far in advance.

Closed primaries have tended to favor Cruz over Trump.  But that also tended to be in more doctrinaire Republican States or in such liberal States that Republican voters made up a small doctrinaire minority.  New York has a thriving and relatively moderate Republican party, which has produced leaders that tend to be relatively liberal by Republican standards, e.g. Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, and George Pataki.

For the Republicans, Trump has solid support in the State and is expected to win over 50% of the vote.  It is an extremely weak State for Cruz, who may finish third behind Kasich.  Cruz and Kasich both hope simply to minimize the number of delegates that Trump does get and move on to friendlier states.  Trump his hoping for a stronger than expected win.  Otherwise, he may go into the convention without the absolute majority he needs for a win on the first ballot.

On the Democratic side, Clinton remains the 10-15 point favorite over Sanders.  Clinton remains on track to win a majority of delegates, despite Sanders' surprising support.  Sanders currently would need to win more than 2/3 of all remaining delegates.  Failure to win, and even a bare win in New York would not do much for Sanders' chances.  Because Sanders has won a string of smaller State Caucuses, Clinton is counting on a solid win here to crush the spirits of the remaining Sanders supporters.  It will be the end of the Sanders momentum story as the campaign swings into a bunch of other races in mid-Atlantic States the following week.

Therefore, expect New York to be relatively good news for both front-runners, Trump and Clinton.  But still no knock out blows expected.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Is the system rigged?


In recent days, Donald Trump has been railing against the Cruz Campaign for "stealing delegates" and acting like "union-boss thugs."  Much of Trumps ire seems to be focused on the fact that the Cruz campaign lobbied hard in Colorado to get Cruz supporters nominated to be all of the unbound delegates that the State is sending to the Republican Convention this summer.  Cruz has aggressively fought behind the scenes wherever he can to get friendly delegates appointed.  Even delegates bound to support Trump on a first vote, may be inclined to support Cruz on a second.  This has apparently enraged Trump.

Because of the wide variety of contests, a candidate cannot simply count on appealing to voters for votes and expect to win the nomination.  That may work if a candidate has broad appeal and can sweep 80% of the delegates  But in a heavily contested race where every delegate matters, a campaign needs to do whatever it takes, within the rules, to acquire delegates.  Colorado started it's State Convention process back on March 1.  Voters at the precinct level select delegates to later conventions where delegates are eventually chosen to go to the national convention.  The Cruz Campaign lobbied heavily at each of these levels to ensure delegates who were predisposed to support Cruz for President at the National Convention.

One the one hand, Trump is correct that the process is very undemocratic.  Voters in Colorado did not get a chance to vote for their candidate of choice.  Cruz got his delegates by lobbying insiders, despite what voters might have wanted.  On the other hand, the system is what it is.  There are lots of undemocratic elements of the primaries.  Closed vs. open primaries deliver very different results. Caucuses that require hours of participation rather than a simple vote also skew results.  Winner take all States disproportionately benefit candidates with a bare majority, or even a plurality of support.

This diverse and convoluted process tests a candidate's ability to maneuver and focus on where to apply resources in order to maximize delegates.  These are skills that also hopefully lead to qualities we want to see in a President, as opposed to a popular figure without much substance.

Perhaps the process is undemocratic.  But the founding fathers feared pure democracy.  They created a system of checks and balances to ensure that a brief level of democratic popularity would not be enough to wipe out decades or centuries of well established systems and procedures.  Although the founders did not anticipate the influence of political parties, and many actively despised the idea of parties, they do remain a check on the system, for good or ill, to keep the process relatively stable.

Politics is a dirty business.  George Washington got his start in politics by buying a large amounts of liquor for supporters on election day.  Abraham Lincoln got the Republican nomination by forging delegate papers for the Convention and getting illegitimate delegates to demand his nomination. There are things any candidate must do to get to the nomination.  Cruz's fight for delegates within the rules is pretty tame by comparison.

Trump understands how to grease the wheels in business, but is clearly out of his element in politics.  As a result, all he can do is complain.  I suppose if I were a Trump supporter I would complain with moral indignation as well.  Clearly it is not democratic.  But as someone who sees Trump as a dangerous dilettante in the world of politics, I guess I am happy to see the system weeds out such people before they can become a real danger to the nation.

Friday, April 15, 2016

How Do You Solve a Problem Like The Donald?

Say what you will about Donald Trump.  He has certainly thrown the Republican Party and the election in general into a storm of chaos and confusion that no one ever expected.

First, it is extremely rare for Republicans ever to have a protracted primary fight.   The last time we've seen anything close to this is when Gov. Reagan challenged incumbent President Ford for the nomination in 1976.  For years, the saying about Presidential candidates is that Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.  Few Republicans are falling in line behind Trump this year.

Most people thought that Trump himself never expected to get the nomination.  He was running to give himself publicity as a protest candidate.  The former Communications Director for the pro-Trump Super PAC, Make America Great Again, published an article indicating that Trump's own top strategists never expected this level of success.  This makes sense given many of the crazy promises that Trump made early in the primary season. No one seriously believes he could ever get Mexico to pay the costs of building a wall between our two countries.  It should be clear that Trump never expected to have to make good on that promise.

Trump, however, remains solidly in front of everyone else.  Even if he does not win an outright majority, he remains a major force within the Republican Party and in politics generally.  It's easy for some to write off Trump as a con man, or perhaps more generously a publicity genius who is lacking is substance.  Clearly though, Trump has tapped into a popular sentiment that is not of his own making.

A large portion of this country seems to think that life is becoming worse for them and their children. Many of these are working class people without college education, or with a degree that is virtually worthless.  They have seen manufacturing jobs and other typically middle class jobs disappear. Those who blame government policies for this traditionally vote Republican.  Those who blame big business generally vote Democrat.  Both groups have remained frustrated with both parties' inability to change the general trends away from the need for large labor.

Many of these voters reject Democrats, who they see are more focused on minority issues and aiding those at the very bottom who have no work at all.  They worry that such programs make it easier for people who do not work at all than people like them who work at very low wage jobs and who do not want to live on government hand outs.  These same voters are tired of Republican rhetoric that says they want to re-energize entrepreneurs.  Yet, Republican policies seem much more focused on benefiting large businesses which thrive by cutting wages and benefits, or moving jobs overseas.  As a result, this group has become frustrated with both parties and seeks a candidate who is going to change the game in a big way.  They would rather bet on a wild card who may do just about anything that a candidate who they know will continue to screw them.

That seems to be the appeal of Donald Trump.  He appeals to workers who think their situation was better 20 or 30 years ago, someone who will repeal the policies they blame for their decline, including both large entitlements, and free trade deals.  They want to see less competition for existing jobs via the removal of illegal immigrants, who remain a very real competitive force in keeping labor cost low by depressing wages for all lower level jobs.

I am not convinced that Trump can fix these things, or even that he wishes to do so.  But Trump is speaking credibly to these voters in a way that other candidates are not.  You can try to write off Trump as appealing to racism, or white privilege, or him making wildly unrealistic promises about how much any President can really control the economy.  The reality though, is that Trump has tapped into a discontent that seems to be the number one issue for a very large minority of working class Americans.

Unless a credible candidate can address these concerns in a believable way, voters will turn to a candidate that unrealistically promises them the moon than one who realistically promises to continuing their miserable downward trend.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sanders Wins Wyoming

Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin Caucus yesterday.  The 11 point win (Sanders 55% to Clinton 44%).

For Sanders, this is mostly about bragging rights, as he can now claim 8 victories in the last 9 contests.  As far as delegates though, the win in virtually meaningless.  Because Wyoming is so strongly Republican and because Democrats award delegates to States based on how many people voted for the Democratic candidate for President in prior elections, Wyoming has a whopping 18 delegates at stake, the smallest of any State primary or caucus (there are a few territories with smaller delegations).  Further, because delegates are awarded proportionally, both candidate ended up with seven pledged delegates.  Clinton has already received pledges from the four super delegates.  So despite her loss, she will walk away with 11 Wyoming delegates to Sanders' 7.

Clinton, of course, has been much more focused on the New York Primary this Tuesday.  A big win in New York could give Clinton more delegates than Sanders has won in all 8 of his last small state caucus victories.  Sanders made the point as well as anyone.  After announcing his victory in Wyoming during a campaign rally in New York, he commented “There are probably more people in this room than there are in Wyoming.”

Clinton is poised to do well in New York, followed by a victory in Pennsylvania and several smaller States the following week, which brings her ever closer to her desired majority.  Clinton is only about 600 delegates away from the 2383 majority, with nearly 2000 delegates still in play.  Sanders, however, continues to beat expectations and nip at her heals.

A Wyoming victory for Sanders contributes to his "momentum" argument, that the tide is turning in his favor.  Polls show him headed for a serious setback next week.  He is so far behind at this point that doing anything less than surprisingly amazing in the remaining States is pretty much fatal to his chances.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cruz and Sanders Keep Hope Alive in Wisconsin

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders both won decisive victories in Wisconsin last night, blocking the respective front runners in each party from their goal of obtaining a majority of delegates as soon as possible.

Republicans

Cruz beat Donald Trump by more than 13 points in a winner take all state.  Despite the "winner take all" name, some delegates are awarded by winning a Congressional district.  Trump will pick up at least three delegates, with six more still undecided, while Cruz takes at least 33.  Voters seem to have ignored John Kasich, whose 14% showing leaves him with no delegates.

Trump is expected to do much better next week in the larger New York Primary.  New York, however, is proportional, meaning that Cruz, and even Kasich may pick up some delegates there.  It is looking more and more difficult for Trump to hit the necessary 1237 by the Convention.  Voters seem to have accepted that Cruz is the only viable Trump alternative and are coalescing the anti-Trump support around him.  Even if Cruz can close the delegate gap, he will almost certainly be behind Trump's delegate numbers at the convention, making for a nasty fight.

One interesting exit poll response in Wisconsin shows why Republican leaders fear Trump so much.  37% of Republican primary voters said they would not vote for Trump in the general election if he ran against Hillary Clinton.  They would either vote for Clinton, stay home, or vote for a third party. With such high negatives within his own party, it is easy to see how Republicans fear a massive loss in November.  Most disconcerting for Republicans are the voters who say they will stay home.  There is no hope of a split ticket there.  Republican races for Congress or State offices will simply see fewer Republican voters at the polls.

Democrats

Sanders did much better than expected against Hillary Clinton, winning by more than 13 points an taking 45 delegates to Clinton's 31 (with a few still undecided).  Unfortunately, for Sanders he needs to average more like 65% of all delegates if he wants to obtain a majority at the Convention.  With Clinton victories expected in New York and Pennsylvania, Sanders will only fall further behind.

Still, he may succeed in keeping Clinton from a majority until the final few primaries in June.  This will leave Clinton with less time to pivot to the general election.  Fortunately for her, the Republican decision will be even later and more controversial.

Conclusion

With neither party willing to rally around the front runner, both contests will continue to move to the end of the primary season, something we have not seen in decades.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Convention Games

With Cruz poised to win Wisconsin, the Republican Convention is looking more and more like a two person floor fight.

There are now reports that Cruz and Trump are both working to keep Kasich off of the Convention ballot.  Republican Convention Rule 40 requires that a candidate can only get on the ballot if he has the majority of delegates from at least eight states.

Kasich does not meet that criterion, but has been banking on the fact that the delegates can change that rule at any time.  It is obvious why Trump might want this rule, as it makes his chance of victory much stronger, even if he does not have the majority of delegates.

Cruz's support for such a strategy seems stranger.  Conventional wisdom would hold that he would try to win the nomination in a brokered convention after the first ballot.  If there are only two candidates on the first ballot, and Trump has more delegates than Cruz, he is much more likely to win on the first ballot.  He would only need a very small percentage of the delegates who had been awarded to candidates who did not meet the eligibility requirements.  Say, for example, Trump in only 40 votes short of the majority and there are 400 delegates not bound to wither Trump or Cruz. Trump would need only 10% of those delegates to choose Trump over Cruz in order to win.

Perhaps Cruz believes that Trump will be much further from the number for a majority and that the anti-Trump sentiment is strong enough that he can pick up the overwhelming majority of delegates on the first ballot.  It is a risky bet, but perhaps better than fighting a two front war against Trump and Kasich for delegates on later ballots.

Whatever strategy finally prevails, it looks the the Convention will be both interesting and consequential this year.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sanders Ahead in Wisconsin

After some blow out victories in recent caucuses, the Sanders campaign seems to be reinvigorated.  Polls had been showing Sanders running about even with Clinton.  More recently, it looks like he may be running 5 points ahead.

Sanders continues to make life difficult for Clinton, even though it looks very unlikely that he could ever pass Clinton in the delegate count.  Although Sanders may win Wisconsin, Clinton maintains solid leads in some of the following large State primaries, such as New York, Pennsylvania, and California.  Sanders needs to average over 67% in all the remaining contests in order to pass Clinton, which seems highly unlikely.  Still, if he can continue to stretch his lead in Wisconsin, it may help his momentum in some of the remaining States.

I don't think Sanders ever seriously thought he could be President. Perhaps he is emboldened by the level of success he has reached.  But his primary goal of forcing Clinton to address important issues related to wealth disparity has already been made.  Sanders, a man who for years thought the Democratic Party was too conservative to join, really carries too much baggage to become President.  Although head to head polls show him doing well against potential Republican nominees, that is before the Republican attack machine has even started in on him.  His support for socialist causes, his desire to raise taxes significantly on large portions of the population, and his past backing of Communist governments would all fall upon him with full force in a general election.  He knows that as well as anyone.

Sanders will continue to keep Clinton on guard, but despite any additional successes, Clinton will be the nominee and remains the stronger choice for a victory in November.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Cruz Surge in Wisconsin

With a dearth of primaries in recent weeks, politics watchers have been waiting for the next contest, which is going to be the Wisconsin Primary on April 5.

If Kasich could do well anywhere, one would think that a mid-western State like Wisconsin would be a good place to make a stand.  In fact, Kasich remains a distant third, making his continuing candidacy more of a joke every day.

Trump had been ahead in most Wisconsin polls until recent weeks when Cruz moved up to a statistical dead heat.  Now, with the endorsement of Gov. Scott Walker, several gaffs by Mr. Trump, and a growing realization among the electorate that Cruz is the only real option to Trump, Sen. Cruz is enjoying a surge in the polls.  It looks now as if he might win the State.

Wisconsin is considered a "winner take all" State, even though a large number of delegates are given to the winner of each Congressional district.  Therefore, delegates may get spread around.  But Cruz looks poised to take the lion's share.

Following Wisconsin, there are a range of States that seem to indicate a Trump win: Colorado, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware all look good for Trump.  Of course the situation remains fluid.  Voters seem to be slipping away from Trump in these later contests.

Still, Trump's delegate lead is significant.  Cruz and Kasich remain focused on simply denying Trump an outright majority, not winning a majority themselves.