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.
Commentary by Larry J. Sabato
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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.
What Would – and Would Not – Be Surprising in New Hampshire By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
Last week, we wrote that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the favorites to win New Hampshire, and while there have been plenty of fireworks between then and now (Monday afternoon), our overall assessment hasn’t changed. Polling in the New Hampshire primary is often far off the mark — the electorate has a remarkably high number of late-deciders and switchers — but keep this in mind: Trump has appeared strong in New Hampshire for more than half a year. Since mid-July, he has led 72 straight polls, almost all of them showing a double-digit lead. And since early January, Sanders has led 38 straight polls, with most also showing a double-digit lead.
New Hampshire, as usual, will not be inclined to ratify the result of its early-state rival, Iowa. In open seat races, it’s natural for New Hampshire to zag after Iowa zigs: In the modern era of presidential nominations starting in 1972, there have been 16 contested presidential primaries (seven for the Republicans, nine for the Democrats). In only four of those races did the same candidate win both Iowa and New Hampshire: Presidents Gerald Ford (R) and Jimmy Carter (D) won the first two contests against, respectively, Ronald Reagan in 1976 and Ted Kennedy in 1980, and Al Gore and John Kerry won both while cruising to the Democratic nomination in 2000 and 2004.*
As the 2016 presidential race officially begins, both party contests are in a place that we, and many others, did not expect them to be. On the Democratic side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton faces a stern challenge from a stronger-than-expected foe, Bernie Sanders. And the Republicans could be on the verge of nominating Donald Trump. Still, no votes have been cast. Pulling down the curtain on a contest yet to begin is both premature and foolish.
18 Days to Iowa: Presidential Demolition Derby Revs Up By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
What is there to add about Donald Trump that has not already been said? The political world has moved from disbelieving that he would even follow through and become a candidate, to expecting him to wither on the vine as more conventional choices gained steam, to accepting his nomination as a distinct possibility, to speculating that he will go all the way and defeat Hillary Clinton in November.
The CW on New Year's Day Has Often Been Wrong
Simple maps can teach a lot. Presidential election maps show at a glance where the nation was at four-year intervals beginning in 1824, when popular voting (of a very restricted sort) became established. John Quincy Adams lost that vote but won the White House anyway in the House of Representatives.
10 Factors That Will Determine the Next President By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
Here’s a thought experiment: What if Republicans nominated the 2012 version of Mitt Romney — same fundraising, same baggage, same everything — at their 2016 convention? What sort of odds would that candidate have in 2016?
The Donald Trump Show continues to dominate the airwaves and the polls, and the other candidates seem mere apprentices by comparison.
The billionaire’s appeal is very disproportionately tilted to the blue-collar half of the Republican electorate — many are the old Reagan Democrats who have long since defected from the party of their fathers. Much of the college-educated half of the party, by contrast, views Trump with disdain, but they are fractured and split among the rest of the contenders.
Republican presidential polling leader Donald Trump signed a pledge earlier this year agreeing to support the eventual GOP nominee, but that agreement is certainly not legally unenforceable. If Trump wants to run as a third-party or independent candidate, there’s nothing stopping him. Trump is aware of this: The weekend before Thanksgiving, he retreated to his pre-pledge position, saying that he needs to be “treated fairly” by the GOP in order to rule out an independent bid. Some senior Republicans naturally wonder if the only outcome Trump will regard as fair is his installation as the party nominee.
1968: Ball of Confusion -- A year of chaos that makes today’s political battles seem tame by comparison By Larry J. Sabato
The UVA Center for Politics’ latest documentary, Ball of Confusion, has begun airing on PBS stations across the nation this week. Check your local listings to see when it’s playing in your area, and click on the image below to watch the trailer. The documentary recounts the three-way presidential contest among Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace held against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and civil unrest at home. That election, decided 47 years ago today, remains amongst the most extraordinary in American history, as Larry J. Sabato writes below.
— The Editors
The third Republican presidential debate, held in Colorado on Wednesday night, was an odd, disjointed affair. The moderators arguably engaged in too much confrontation with the candidates and had a hard time divvying up the speaking time. With 10 candidates on the stage, the problems of the first two debates — too many candidates, too little time — became more apparent than ever.
Kentucky Governor: With a Month to Go, Bevin Has Squandered His Edge By Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik
For months we’ve argued that Kentucky’s increasing lean toward the Republican Party and the state’s antipathy toward President Barack Obama gave businessman Matt Bevin, the Republican nominee, a generic edge in the open Kentucky gubernatorial race. While Bevin is not a strong candidate, we thought that ultimately those inherent advantages — advantages that have nothing to do with Bevin’s campaign — nonetheless made him a small favorite over state Attorney General Jack Conway (D).
Whatever else it is, the Republican presidential contest has become a full employment act for reporters and analysts. With the largest (though gradually shrinking) field of any major party in U.S. history and a Republican electorate that appears mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore, the GOP caravan is careening down the highway with drivers hurling insults at one another and racing recklessly to get into position for the voting that begins in a little over four months.
It was a debate with winners (certainly Carly Fiorina) and losers (sorry, Scott Walker). Mainly, though, the Reagan Rumble reinforced the strengths and weaknesses that voters already associate with each of the candidates. Already, millions tuned in mainly to cheer for their current choice.