Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cruising the Web

I'm so disappointed to see Marco Rubio forced to bow out, especially to lose to Trump whom I despise. Once he signed on to the Gang of Eight bill, which might have seemed like a smart move back then, if Rubio signed his own death warrant. I hope he continues to be active in politics and perhaps runs for governor in two years. He could get some of that governing experience that he has lacked and come back to win another day. Our history is rife with candidates who lost their first time running and then came back to win it all in a future year. Personally, I would much rather be a governor than a senator or president. It seems like governors actually are able to put together programs to really change things for the better in their states which seems to be a goal eluding many recent presidents.

In North Carolina, my home state, I am so very sorry that Trump won here. I feel a bit like Pauline Kael astounded that Nixon could win when no one she knew was voting for him. But all my friends are teachers and they're almost all Democrats so that doesn't surprise me. They aren't even voting in my primary and I suspect they all voted for Hillary. But I do know people who voted for Trump besides those who write me from my blog trying to persuade me that I'm all wrong not to see that Trump is the only one who can save this country. Please. There is nothing that you can say that can convince me that Trump is the savior who is going to "make America great again." No, the people I know who voted for Trump yesterday were several of my high school senior boys who voted for the first time yesterday. All my students who could vote were quite excited about it and it made my heart proud to see them so thrilled about participating. Most of them aren't voting the way I might like, but I do enjoy thinking that my class might have played a small role in sparking their political engagement.

We chose the Democrat who will oppose Richard Burr for his Senate seat. She is Deborah Ross and she used to represent the district where our school is located in the state assembly. She regularly would speak to our students and answer their questions about the state government. She was friendly and funny and related well to the kids. I always appreciated that she would take the time to talk to our students, especially since few of them actually live in our district. We're a charter school so our students come from all over the region. I expect she'll be a tough opponent, especially if Hillary is at the top of the ticket running a War on Women campaign to drive women to the polls.

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At least Kasich's win in Ohio may serve to ensure that the Republicans have a contested convention. Hillary won her states but Sanders came disturbingly close to her in Illinois, one of her home states and in Missouri. Maybe in Illinois they're not so thrilled with the close friend of Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel who is so very unpopular there.

Since Rubio suspended his campaign, his delegates are up for grabs. That doesn't necessarily mean that these were people who were Rubio supporters. I'm not sure if the delegates in most of these states have even been chosen. I can't see Puerto Rico's delegates going for Trump. I can see Iowa's delegates going for Cruz and Minnesota's going for Kasich who seems more of their Minnesota Nice type.

I wonder if those Florida Republicans who schemed to make Florida winner-take-all to help Jeb Bush are now happy with what they've wrought.

For those Trump supporters who deceive themselves into believing that Trump can take out Hillary, Jim Geraghty has some cold water to pour over those dreams. There are some who think that Trump can win in some blue states like New York and New Jersey, but there is no indication today that he's made any inroads there. He's losing to her by double digits in those states. And having Chris Christie's endorsement isn't going to help in New Jersey where Christie is increasingly unpopular. It's funny how Trump's love of citing his poll numbers doesn't ever include citing the polls showing him losing to Clinton over and over.
Trump loves to cite his poll numbers during the debates, but he never mentions the fact that Clinton has beaten him in 24 of the last 28 head-to-head national polls. And his numbers in those polls have worsened over time. In the December ABC News/Washington Post poll, Clinton led Trump 50 percent to 44 percent; she now leads him 50 percent to 41 percent in the same poll. In January, Trump trailed her in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll 51 percent to 41 percent; in that poll’s latest edition, last week, she led him 51 percent to 38 percent. In December, CNN showed Clinton ahead 49 percent to 47 percent; their late February poll showed her ahead 52 percent to 44 percent.

There are those who argue that head-to-head polling is meaningless this far from the general election. But note that Trump and Clinton have the lowest percentage of respondents who have no opinion of them — just about every potential voter already knows them, and just about every potential voter has a strong feeling about them one way or the other. The electorate dislikes and distrusts Trump much more than the average presidential contender. The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found 30 percent of adults think favorably of Trump, and 67 percent think unfavorably. An astonishing 56 percent of respondents had a strongly unfavorable opinion of the most likely Republican nominee.

In January, Gallup found Trump to be the most unpopular political candidate they had ever recorded. Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport noted that “he has a higher unfavorable rating than any nominated candidate from either of the two major parties going back to the 1992 election, when we began to track favorability using the current format.” More recently, Gallup concluded that Trump has an astounding 12 percent/77 percent favorable/unfavorable split among Hispanic voters.
The only thing that can help him is that Clinton is also has high unfavorable ratings. But she'll be able to depend on reliable Democratic voters just as she has to defeat Sanders. She'll still win union workers and women and minorities.
Is it absolutely impossible for Trump to overcome his current disapproval numbers, reverse his head-to-head polling deficit and win? No. Clinton could still get indicted by the Department of Justice and refuse to let go of the Democratic nomination. The country could suffer another San Bernardino– or Paris-style terrorist attack and Clinton could respond with another tone-deaf insistence that “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” The kind of leftist protestors seen in Chicago on Friday night could do something so heinous and reprehensible that it creates enormous sympathy for Trump.

But barring some sort of dramatic turn of events, it seems exceedingly likely that a general electorate of around 130 million will look at a Clinton it distrusts and a Trump it detests and choose the lesser evil.

The Republican party is speeding toward a canyon, and its primary voters still refuse to hit the brakes.
And then you can kiss the Supreme Court good-bye for at least a decade.

At least one group Hillary won't win over are coal miners. She seems to forget that you can't promise to do the things you intend to do when that includes destroying people's jobs.
Here’s a novelty: Hillary Clinton told the truth. Oops!

“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” Clinton said Sunday night while boasting about her clean energy program — and with a big smile on her face.

In fact, this is standard Democratic policy: President Obama’s been throwing coal miners out of work for seven years now, aiming to deliver on his 2008 pledge to “bankrupt” the coal industry.

But most Dems have the sense to pretend they’re just protecting the environment — and bashing business, ’natch.

Fine, Clinton quickly followed with a vow to dole out $30 billion for job retraining and to cover early-retirement costs for the workers she’ll get fired.

But retrain for what? Name a single working-class industry that the modern Democratic Party actually favors. (And, no, “green jobs” don’t count: They exist almost exclusively in liberal rhetoric.)

In fact, if Clinton keeps up with the honesty, she’ll tell the voters of other industries she means to destroy — oil, for sure, and probably natural gas, too. (Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s already led the way there with his ban on fracking.) And, hey, aren’t those evil Koch brothers big in (ick!) manufacturing?

No, coal’s not the perfect fuel — nothing is. But the industry has invested billions in getting cleaner — only to find Democrats (or their green masters) always raising the bar.

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If you're wondering how we came to this pass with Donald Trump winning such large support, look to the media for a large share of the blame. The New York Times has calculated how much money the candidates have spent on media advertising to this point contrasted with how much free media they got from their campaigns being covered by the media. The difference is yuuuge.

This is what the comparison looks like.
Donald Trump is the candidate that the media have brought us just as much as they helped bring us Barack Obama in 2008. And next time any journalist tries to pretend that they're just out there covering the news, laugh at their pretensions. They were showcasing Trump because he brought in higher ratings. Just like Dancing with the Stars or The Bachelor, they're all about the ratings and ad dollars. And the result is that they allowed Trump to run a bare-bones media campaign while bragging about how he didn't owe anything to anyone else because he was self-funding. Well, he surely owes the media a big wet kiss of a thanks for how they funded his campaign. And those media appearances are worth big bucks.
Add it all up, and the dollar value of Trump's free media coverage outweighs that of all the other major candidates, Democrat or Republican, combined. During the presidential campaign, Trump has earned $1.90 billion of free media. That same measure is $746 million for Hillary Clinton, and the only other candidates to exceed $300 million are Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz.

mediaQuant also gauges monthly media performance of all the candidates, producing a top-line "media rating" that captures the various measures of coverage. Trump was a 98 out of 100 in February, better than each of his competitors. And the "sentiment breakout", which the company uses to define what percentage of the rating was positive or negative, is heavily in his favor.

It was 91 percent positive and 9 percent negative, even better than Clinton.

As we start wrapping our heads around what a contested convention might look like, Jeremy Carl is looking at how the Republicans allocate delegates and finds that they have a "rotten borough" problem. Rotten boroughs were those district in British politics before the Great Reform Act of 1832 in which members of Parliament would represent districts that hadn't had their lines redrawn since the Middle Ages. Some districts would have only a few actual voters but they would have one or two MPs. And newer cities like Liverpool would few or none.
The Republican party’s delegate-allocation rules are notoriously opaque. Indeed, there are entire web sites dedicated to understanding its complex rules and regulations. This post won’t even attempt to be comprehensive in that regard.

But while the number of delegate allocation scenarios are mind-boggling, the overall contours of the process are clear, and it is one that it dramatically favors establishment candidates, liberal Republicans, and party insiders at the expense of GOP base voters.

Take the recent votes from U.S. territories that are allocated delegates. Of these, 59 can be earned from territories (Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Marianas Island, and American Samoa) which, by the Constitution, have residents whose votes don’t count in the general election. In many cases, only a few hundred people at most are involved in the voting, and the opaque process is completely controlled by insiders (excepting Puerto Rico, which actually had a real election with almost 40,000 voters, even if none will be casting a ballot for the GOP in the general election.) These are the rottenest of the GOP’s rotten boroughs.

In Guam’s “convention” the entire slate (save for the governor, who endorsed Ted Cruz) was won by “uncommitted,” likely acting on the behalf of party insiders. In the Virgin Islands, Republican political consultant John Yob (who had just moved to the Virgin Islands), former national political director for Rand Paul and author of a book about contested political conventions, won over the few hundred voters for an uncommitted slate of delegates that will be attached to the national convention. The Northern Marianas, which votes today, is already rumored to have a similar fix in. There’s a name for a process like this, but it certainly isn’t democracy.

From there it gets worse. The District of Columbia, in which only six percent of voters are registered Republicans, and which had just 3,000 voters, has 19 delegates (just a few delegates fewer than New Hampshire) despite the fact that this is the deepest blue presidential voting area in the entire country. In terms of the GOP winning the Electoral College, no group’s votes could possibly be less relevant than D.C. Republicans. They make San Francisco’s Republican party look like an electoral powerhouse. Yet D.C.’s 3,000 GOP voters will send almost as many delegates as New Hampshire, a swing state in which 280,000 GOP voters participated in the primary. (To be fair, New Hamphire’s delegate count is partially reduced because it occurs early in the primary schedule)
Solidly blue states like Illinois and California also are rotten boroughs when it comes to picking delegates.
While exact counts are difficult to estimate due to the bewildering variety of scenarios, I’d estimate that 750 or so delegates can be won through candidates winning decisive victories in the so-called “blue wall” states that have no recent history of supporting GOP nominees. A candidate winning these would need less than 500 of the remaining 1800+ delegates from states with any history of supporting the GOP candidates to win the GOP nomination on the first ballot. More realistically, only 300 or 400 delegates from actual GOP-voting states would probably put that candidate close enough to the nomination that he or she would eventually pull it out. This emphasis on blue-state Republicans disenfranchises the party’s base.

Furthermore some blue-wall states (including Illinois, which votes today, and California, the largest delegate prize of any state) have delegate rules that award winner-take-all delegates to the winner in each congressional district, a prospect that further penalizes candidates who represent the GOP’s core voters. California awards 159 of its 172 delegates by Congressional district (three per Congressional district) along with a small number of at large delegates. In 2012, Democratic candidates for Congress took more than 70 percent in 22 of California’s 53 Congressional Districts. Republicans who live in these heavily Democratic areas tend to be considerably more liberal than Republicans as a whole. There are also, by definition, not so many of them. Yet their votes collectively will account for 66 delegates. Not only is the GOP primary outcome thus biased toward more liberal or establishment-oriented Republicans, even within the more liberal states, the outcome is biased to favor more liberal candidates.
Imagine how the election scenario would have been different this year if California had voted before the Southern states. We really do have a screwed-up system. I'm not sure what the solution is. The Republicans already reward red states with more delegates to the convention for having voted Republican in past elections, but that doesn't mean that those blue-state, liberal-district voters won't have a big say in a year with a contested convention. Perhaps all the establishment money that was going to Rubio will now go to Kasich and he'll be able to compete in such areas. But he's got a tough road ahead when he hasn't raised all that much money or campaigned in those areas yet. But maybe they'll buy his "I'm the nice guy in the race" shtick that I find so irritating.

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