Well, we had yet another crazy week on the campaign trail, in both parties, but mostly with the Republicans. As usual.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won big in New York, thrashing Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, 58% to 42%. A couple weeks back Bernie believed he had a shot in the Empire State and there was a poll a few days before the primary that showed only a six point deficit, but it was an outlier, a poll by Gravis Marketing, and that group only gets a C grade on Nate Silver’s Pollster Ratings page. Now you know why.
And after Bernie’s performance at the last debate in New York City, well, he had no chance. I actually thought he would lose by at least 20%. My anger at how Sanders kept attacking Israel got the best of me, but he did worse than the 11.7 deficit in the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of New York polls.
The Sanders people still say they can win the whole thing and Bernie isn’t backing down, thinking he may be able to talk Hillary superdelegates into supporting him (nope), but the Sanders campaign is now looking to shape the Democratic platform, a sign it knows it is done. Actually, it never had a shot.
And Hillary is now looking toward who her running mate will be. More on that in another column.
Ah, the Republicans. Businessman Donald Trump took New York, winning a huuuuuge 60% of the vote. He took 90 delegates and Ohio governor John Kasich, five. The whiner Trump, who complained vociferously when he was outmaneuvered by Texas senator Ted Cruz with Colorado’s delegates a couple weeks ago didn’t seem to mind that although he won 60% of New York’s voters, he received 95% of its delegates.
When Kasich was mathematically eliminated a little over a month ago, Cruz dismissively told Kasich to get out of the race. More than once. Kasich and his supporters said the strategy was to get to a brokered convention – businessman Donald Trump not getting the required 1,237 delegates before the convention and the first ballot – and go from there. Cruz and his supporters were not impressed.
Now that Cruz is mathematically eliminated, will Cruz withdraw? Of course not. Why? Because he and his supporters say the strategy is to get to a brokered convention and go from there. Typical.
Cruz is working very hard to gain delegates, if not on the first ballot with actual citizen votes, then on the possible second ballot or others, by getting loyalists to become state post-primary or caucus delegates in already-voted states that yes, awarded more delegates. It is a bit confusing and you can read about it here if you wish.
And although the Republicans don’t have the disenfranchising superdelegate scam the Democrats do, convoluted state delegate awarding rules make things so baffling, one needs a PhD to be able to figure it all out. (With the Democrats as well.)
Also, there are unpledged or unbound Republican delegates who can do what they want at the convention on any ballot vote. They generally are from states and territories without citizen votes, but some are from states with citizen voting. Delegates from states that had, or will have, primaries or caucuses must vote for the candidate to whom they were pledged by the citizen vote, on the first ballot, then they can fly free on subsequent ballots.The unpledged can do what they want.
Also, although Florida senator Marco Rubio may wish to hold his delegates, they are not officially bound to him because his campaign is suspended, and those delegates are free to roam right from the start as well. All of this could amount to upwards of a few hundred delegates, and Trump could get a good share of them putting him over the top even if he falls short of the 1,237 before the convention after all the state voting is done. Get all that?
Because of the nature and publicity of the two major party races this go-round, perhaps the next time around there will be more democracy and proportionality, and less nonsense and under the table delegate grabs. But for now, it is what it is.
The Republican race finally went into the toilet last week, well to put it more accurately, into the bathroom, after North Carolina’s Republican governor signed into law a bill that would bar transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender identified on their birth certificates, and Donald Trump weighed in saying transgenders should use whatever bathroom makes them feel most comfortable. Good for Trump.
The holier-than-thou Ted Cruz pounced of course, saying Trump, um, exposed himself as not the conservative he claims to be, and Cruz was able to use a wedge social issue to energize his social conservative supporters. Take that, you transgender people and all your transgender bathroom crimes! By the way, Politifact has backed the claim that there are no public safety risks in cities with transgender anti-discrimination rules.
For once, I wish the Republican Party would steer clear of the social issue agenda that does nothing but split the party and lose general election races.
Social conservatives are one, fooling themselves if they think there are enough of them to counter all those who will vote against Cruz in a general election not just because of his high negatives but also because of his far right views, views anathema to most of the country, and two, energizing everyone other than themselves, Republicans who do not embrace the rigid orthodoxy, and minorities and Independents and moderates who will help decide the election.
By the way, Trump will fare no better than Cruz. The Donald’s negatives are even higher than the Texas senator’s. And higher than Hillary’s negatives as well. I have said it before and I will again, Trump or Cruz will bring disaster to the Republicans should either of those two become the nominee.
Tuesday, the following states have their primaries for both parties: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
As of Monday morning, in the RCP average of polls, Clinton is 5.6 points up on Sanders in Connecticut, 7.0 over Sanders in Delaware, 21.7 points ahead of Sanders in Maryland, 14.0 points ahead of Sanders in Pennsylvania, and 2.5 up in Rhode Island.
Trump is 26.0 points ahead of Kasich and 36.0 ahead of Cruz in Connecticut, 37.0 and 40.0 points ahead of Kasich and Cruz in Delaware, 14.7 on top of Kasich and 16.5 on top of Cruz in Maryland, 19.4 over Cruz and 22.8 over Kasich in Pennsylvania, and 25.5 over Kasich and 36.0 over Cruz in Rhode Island.
For the Democrats it doesn’t matter who wins, the race is over. For the Republicans, it is easy to see.
* * *
Late Sunday, Cruz and Kasich announced they were joining forces to try and stop Trump from winning on the first ballot by dividing their efforts in three states, Cruz to focus on Indiana where the RCP average shows him only 6.3 points back in the May 3 primary and Kasich to focus on Oregon (May 17) and New Mexico (June 7) where the demographics and geography may favor his candidacy. (There is no recent polling for either state.) I worry Cruz won’t keep his end of the deal after Kasich delivers first, but we will see.
Right now, Trump has the upper hand. He may very well fall short when the primary/caucus season is over, making a first ballot win impossible, even with some unpledged delegates. Then all hell might break loose or better yet, common sense may rule the day. I pray for the latter.