Some of our readers may recall that the Crystal Ball published its first 2016 Electoral College map at the end of March. It was somewhat controversial — at least judging by many of the reactions we received. As you see below, at that time we projected Hillary Clinton at 347 electoral votes and Donald Trump at 191. While Toss-ups are perfectly reasonable at this stage of the campaign, we decided for clarity’s sake to push every close state one way or the other.
As we find ourselves at the end of the primary season, we can all look back in wonder: What hath the voters wrought? Last summer when he announced a candidacy, almost no political professional picked Donald Trump to be the GOP nominee — yet here he is. And no one we know thought that the big, complicated GOP field of contenders would sort itself out many weeks before the small group of Democrats — but Trump has been in general election mode for some time while Hillary Clinton has had a devil of a time shaking off a persistent foe.
Heading into the 2014 National Football League draft, rumors were swirling that Jerry Jones, the eccentric Dallas Cowboys owner, was considering using his team’s first-round pick on the biggest star available: Johnny Manziel, the controversial star quarterback from Texas A&M. Indeed, when Dallas’ pick came around, and Manziel was still available, Jones reportedly wanted to pick Manziel. But Jones’ son and other team leaders advised Jones against it, and the team instead selected Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. For months after the May draft, Jones fumed over being talked out of taking Manziel, who he saw as a future star and the kind of flashy selection that defined “America’s Team,” the Cowboys.
When a presidential campaign wants to signal that it is turning from the nomination clash to the general election, “sources close to the campaign” make it known the Veep search has begun. Right on schedule, as Donald Trump has become the Republican nominee-presumptive and Hillary Clinton has maintained an unassailable mathematical lead on the Democratic side, both campaigns have reportedly hinted that they have started to vet possible vice presidential options.
“The whole framework of the presidency is getting out of hand. It’s come to the point where you almost can’t run unless you can cause people to salivate and whip on each other with big sticks. You almost have to be a rock star to get the kind of fever you need to survive in American politics.”
— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)
Unfair! Rigged! Corrupt!
We’re hearing a lot of harsh adjectives being applied to aspects of the presidential nominating system this year — from “double-agent” delegate placement on the Republican side that may frustrate the plurality of GOP voters, to the establishment-based superdelegates (fully 15% of the convention, though down from 19% in 2008) on the Democratic side.
When you look at the big picture of presidential elections, and you try to discern the connection between the White House contest and the 34 Senate elections on the same ballot, it becomes obvious there are two types of years.
We live in a post-factual era. Thanks to the Internet and social media, which mix informed and uninformed views in equal measure, the old rule — that people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own set of facts — no longer applies. Somewhere in cyberspace, you can now find blogs and treatises with “facts” that support your opinions, no matter how bizarre.
Donald Trump could have generated unstoppable momentum had he won both Ohio and Florida. But now it’s clear to everyone that this will go right through June 7, the end of the Republican primary season.
So now it has come to this. A near riot at Donald Trump’s Chicago rally on Friday evening may be a harbinger of things to come, not just at campaign events but in Cleveland for the Republican convention. The city’s leaders were wise to order extra riot gear recently. Whether Trump wins or loses the nomination, we suspect that tens of thousands of unhappy people will show up in the city’s streets.