Well, if you care about the American presidential process, this last week didn’t disappoint, or perhaps I should say, if you care about the American presidential process, it did.
First the Democrats, not as interesting as the Republicans, and not just because there are only two of them. As acerbic as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are toward each other, neither is a Trump.
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, fresh off his big win in New Hampshire, continued his attacks on Hillary Clinton and continued to complain about a rigged system. I predicted a few weeks ago, the undemocratic Democrats’ “superdelegate” part of the primary/caucus system would become an issue, and it has.
The liberal activist site, MoveOn.org is promoting a petition calling on superdelegates to pledge to follow the will of the voters and not simply act as hacks for Clinton. Ha! Not gonna happen. The Democratic party establishment is in Hillary’s pantsuit pocket so I suggest so I suggest you um, move on to other failures.
Bernie accused Hillary of pandering to black voters because of her newfound love affair with Barack Obama. Black Entertainment Television felt The Bern with Sanders in an interview, Sanders saying, “Hillary Clinton now is trying to embrace the President as closely as she possibly can. Everything the president does is wonderful. She loves the president, he loves her and all that stuff. And we know what that’s about. That’s trying to win support from the African-American community where the President is enormously popular.”
Duh. And it is so shocking for a politician to pander! The pundits keep saying black voters are Clinton’s firewall and they are and would be, even without the constant Hillary suck-up to Obama.
Even a picture just released out of the Chicago Tribune’s archives showing Sanders being arrested in 1963 while leading University of Chicago protests against racial inequality, will not do much to move African-Americans toward Sanders. Admirable, and very gutsy at the time, Bernie, but you will get little credit in the form of votes today. Sorry.
In an interview with CBS News, when asked by Scott Pelley if she had always told the truth, Clinton said, “I’ve always tried to. Always. Always.” When Pelly suggested she was giving herself wiggle room with that answer, she added, “You’re asking me to say, “Have I ever (lied)?” I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will.” Too bad for Hillary, she is the only person on the planet who believes that. One would think Clinton would have been better prepared to answer an obvious question for her. She should have said, “Yes, I have told the truth.” But even she believes she is a liar.
For some reason, the pope injected himself into the US presidential race by implying businessman Donald Trump was “not Christian” because of his views on illegal immigration and his desire to build a wall on the US southern border. Well, The Donald would have no part of that and implied the pope was disgraceful. Both backed down, but geez, as if things were not crazy enough, Donald Trump versus Pope Francis? Who’s next? God?
Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz continued their feud with Trump winning the battle on who can hurl the most insults and threats in a very short period of time. According to Donald, Cruz is “unstable,” “unhinged,” “a disgusting liar” and a “basket case.” And Trump again threatened to sue over Cruz presidential eligibility because of Cruz‘s being born in Canada.
For his part, Cruz exclaimed that Trump had been “threatening frivolous lawsuits” his entire adult life, and told the businessman to bring it on, that he would depose Trump himself. I would love to see that televised one day. Trump does make very good reality television.
Cruz and Florida senator Marco Rubio bashed each other over social issues, campaign tactics, trade, “amnesty,” and other stuff. The Cruz campaign created controversy again, this time by placing a doctored photo of Rubio shaking Obama’s hand about a trade deal, on a Cruz campaign website. Rubio and Trump also accused Cruz of using dishonest push poll (fake opinion poll calls used to sway voters with false or misleading questions) robocalls against them; Cruz denied it.
Trump did go after the Bush brothers as usual and Ohio governor John Kasich made nice. Sadly, nice doesn’t play well in South Carolina politics, or seemingly most anywhere else this year. Ben Carson, who cares.
OK, the votes. Nevada had its Democratic caucuses and South Carolina had its Republican primary on Saturday.
First, Nevada. Hillary Clinton won 53% to Bernie Sanders’ 47%. Clinton did a lot better of course than she did in New Hampshire but there are some worrisome signs as she heads towards the South Carolina primary this coming Saturday. Nevada exit polls showed that Hillary lost the 30 – 44 year-old vote, 62% to 35%, and lost the 17 – 29 year-old vote, 82% to 14%. Ouch. Many of these very disgruntled voters will go back to Hillary when she wins the nomination, but a good number may sit out the election, and some may even gulp, vote for the Republican.
Black voters did go for Clinton 76% to 22% (Bernie’s meeting with Al Sharpton last week didn’t help, big surprise), but Hispanic/Latino voters, expected to go for Clinton, went to Sanders instead 53% to 45%. That surprised me. If the numbers are right, that could be a problem in the general election.
Also, the 25% of the voters who listed honesty and trustworthiness as their most important quality went to Sanders over Clinton, 80% to 12%. Yikes. The 26% of voters that listed “Cares about people like me” as most important? Sanders 72%, Clinton 26. Ditto yikes. Independents were 18% of the vote, and they broke big time for Sanders 71% to 23%. I believe many of those voters who listed the above two qualities as most important were indeed Independents. Not good news for Hillary.
Finally, turnout was again lower than previous contended Democratic contests, possibly portending an enthusiasm gap for the Democratic nominee come November. Not good for the Democrats.
South Carolina’s Republican primary went to Donald Trump as he took 33% of the vote. Rubio received 23%, Cruz 22%, as Bush, Kasich and Carson came in at 8%, 8% and 7% respectively. I was hoping my personal first choice John Kasich would have done better, but I would be OK if my second choice, Rubio, wins the nomination. And I would be fine with a Rubio/Kasich ticket. South Carolina’s popular governor, Nikki Haley endorsed Rubio midweek. Haley a VP nomination pick? Jeb Bush, the favorite before Trump entered the race, withdrew.
South Carolina exit polls showed Trump doing well with younger voters, splitting them nearly evenly with Rubio and Cruz, and not just older voters who seemed to be his base. For those who have claimed Trump’s supporters were the “uneducated,” well, he not only won voters with a high school or less education (43%), but also those who have some college or an associate’s degree (38%) and college graduates (33%). Yes, yes, I know, South Carolina is a conservative state, but still. Trump also won the Independents, 22% of the electorate, by garnering 32% of them.
73% of South Carolina’s Republican voters are born-again or evangelical Christians and they gave most of their support to Trump (31%). Cruz whose base is evangelicals received 27%. He should have won those voters, so this is a hurt. Regardless of what Iowa did with the evangelical vote helping Cruz win there, most of the coming states are primaries and if Cruz could not win his base in South Carolina, he won’t in the next states.
So Donald Trump had a “huuuuuge” win, taking all of South Carolina’s 50 delegates. In his victory speech, The Donald complimented Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz on their campaigns. But he failed to even mention Jeb Bush. Classy. (I am being sarcastic.)
Kasich is staying in the race trying to hang on till voters in the more-friendly-for-him Midwest make their choices in mid-March, but it will be very tough. His winner-take-all delegates state of Ohio votes on March 15 and if Kasich can hang on and win there, he could be somewhat of a power broker with his delegates, if he doesn’t somehow get close to, or jump ahead of, Rubio. Carson is staying in as well.
So now what? The Democrats’ South Carolina primary is this coming Saturday, February 27, and the Republicans Nevada caucuses are this Tuesday, February 23. Clinton will win very big in South Carolina, assisted by the heavy black vote there, possibly beating Sanders by around 30 points. Trump should win easily in Nevada, but the real story will be how well Rubio does now that he appears to be the establishment/mainstream choice. In any event, as long as the Republican vote keeps splitting, we may very well see a Clinton/Trump general election battle.
Onward and well, onward.