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.
Let’s have some speculative fun, if such a thing is possible in this election year. After recent primaries, it’s not a stretch to imagine Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee; in fact, the odds at the moment favor this outcome. Now, add a second, more controversial projection: Trump loses the general election handily to Hillary Clinton. If you’re a Trump supporter, you will vigorously object.
As the dust settles from Super Tuesday, we think the race is the same now as it was before the voting: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the favorites to win their respective nominations.
After very narrowly winning Iowa and losing New Hampshire in a blowout, Hillary Clinton has moved on to her “firewall” -- the more diverse states that come after the lily-white leadoff contests. Clinton’s wall held in its first test in Nevada, but her modest margin of victory isn’t going to scare Bernie Sanders into surrendering. Clinton remains on track to win the nomination, barring intervention by the FBI or some unrelated, unexpected development, but Sanders is hanging around. And with the money he’s raising and the enthusiasm he’s generating among the young, he likely can continue for quite some time.
If you had told us when Donald Trump entered the race that he would take second place in Iowa, win New Hampshire easily, and then triumph in South Carolina, you’d have needed smelling salts to revive us. But he’s done it, and no one else has really been able to shake the intense hold he has on about a third of the Republican Party.
That Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire was not a surprise. That he won by so much is. It’s a tremendous shot in the arm for his campaign and a jarring setback for Hillary Clinton.
Keep this in mind: While we and many others have been suggesting for months that Clinton could lose New Hampshire and Iowa (which she very barely won), most of the rest of the country does not follow politics nearly as closely as we do. To these voters, the idea of Clinton losing to Sanders by over 20 points is going to seem shocking. It could lead to some perilous times for the Clinton campaign, which already was rocked by reports of infighting and rumors of potential staff changes even before New Hampshire voted. There may be many Barack Obama campaign veterans working for Clinton, but one thing she couldn’t import from the campaign that beat her eight years ago was its “No Drama Obama” mantra.