Thursday, March 03, 2016

Cruising the Web

We seem to be at the "Whistling past the graveyard" portion of the election right now as Republicans and other analysts try to figure out if there is a way to stop Trump from winning the nomination. There are a lot of scenarios involving somehow stopping him from getting an outright majority of the delegates at the convention so that some other candidate could win at a contested convention.

Nate Silver examines
the possibility and has some advice for the Republicans.
But the possibility of a contested convention is part of why the notion of a “mandate” is important. If (for instance) Trump has won 37 of 50 states and 49.9 percent of delegates going into the convention, then technically Republicans might be able to deny him the nomination. For that matter, technically they’d be able to deny Trump the nomination even if he had a delegate majority by changing the rules at the last minute. But the cure might be worse than the disease. It could look as though Republican elites were overriding their voters’ popular will (because, uh, that’s pretty much what they’d be doing). It might even be a casus belli for Trumpism. Even if some Republicans thought it was essential to prevent Trump from winning the presidency, there could be better means to accomplish that, especially by forming a conservative third-party ticket.1

By contrast, if Trump didn’t have that seeming mandate — if he were far short of a delegate majority, if he were still unable to secure more than 34 percent of the vote as we got deeper into the calendar, if he’d started to lose quite a few major states (even if not always to the same opponent) in April and beyond — it would be less risky to deny him the nomination.

All of this is speculative, and unavoidably so, because we haven’t had a contested convention since the modern primary era began in 1972. My point is simply that anti-Trump Republicans ought to look for ways to test their voters’ resolve to back Trump. They could develop better anti-Trump advertising campaigns, which have received shockingly little financial backing so far. Even if they can’t push Trump’s opponents out of the race, they can push back against a media-driven coronation of Trump or a premature consolidation around him. They ought to make Trump fight like hell for the nomination through all 50 states. But if he seems to have earned it, they probably shouldn’t count on taking it away from him.
Todd Zywicki points out an interesting phenomenon. Trump has won in states that are open primaries allowing independents and/or Democrats to vote while Ted Cruz has won in closed primaries where only registered Republicans can vote.

Meanwhile others try to downplay how well Trump did on Super Tuesday.
If true, why does this matter? Because so far the primary calendar has been heavily tilted toward open primaries. But there have been four closed elections: the Iowa caucus, the Nevada caucus, and Super Tuesday’s Oklahoma primary and Alaska caucus. Ted Cruz won three of those four closed elections.

So here’s where it potentially gets interesting. Although the media are looking forward to March 15, this Saturday (March 5) there are four Republican primaries/caucuses: Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine. All are closed.

Then, once the winner-takes-all states begin, a large number of those are closed primaries and caucuses as well (including Florida, for what it’s worth).
Zywicki argues that open primaries explain why Ted Cruz didn't do as well in South Carolina and the other Super Tuesday states as he had planned. And this Saturday's states will be interesting tests of his theory. Those states are Kansas, Kentucky, and Maine have caucuses in which Trump hasn't done well except for Nevada. And Louisiana also votes on Saturday. Puerto Rico also votes on Sunday.

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An essay at The Federalist points out that Trump did not get the majority of Super Tuesday's delegates.
You read that correctly: Cruz and Rubio, not Trump, walked away with a majority of Super Tuesday delegates.

That is a big deal. It’s a big deal because Super Tuesday erased Trump’s delegate majority. He headed into the evening with 65 percent of the delegates awarded thus far and walked out with 47 percent. It’s a big deal because it shows that the barrage of attacks on Trump from Rubio and Cruz did some significant damage despite the fact that the attacks were only launched a few days ago.
And there is some stern advice for Marco Rubio. Win Florida or drop out and support Cruz. The same for Kasich and Ohio. Trump will be focusing on denying Rubio a win in Florida. And Illinois votes on March 15 and is an open primary so that seems like a prime target for Trump.
The overarching goal for Rubio and Cruz right now is to prevent Trump from winning the 1,237 bound delegates he needs to win the first ballot at the GOP convention in Cleveland this July. Super Tuesday shows that Trump is vulnerable and that Trump can be beaten. The question now is whether Rubio and Cruz have enough time to fatally weaken Trump before he runs away with the nomination. The clock is counting. We’ll likely have an answer in two weeks.

Jonathan Last tries to give hope to demoralized anti-Trumpites by explaining why Trump's performance on Tuesday was not as strong as we might be thinking. According to Last's analysis, there are some auguries of Trump doing worse than expected.
What happened in Virginia? Trump looked to be 14 points up just a few days ago. Rubio closed very strongly.

And remember back when everyone said Trump had a ceiling of support around 35 percent? That was before he won three contests and got his first mainstream endorsements, from Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Jeff Sessions. There was that garbage poll from CNN on Monday claiming Trump was at 49 percent nationally. His total take of the popular vote on Super Tuesday was about . . . 36 percent. Which is enough to win, but shows that he hasn't grown his coalition, even with his frontrunner status having been "normalized."
He also points out, as I have, that voters just haven't heard about various stories about Trump's background and more controversial things he said recently.
The single most shocking number from Super Tuesday might have been this poll showing voter awareness about various aspects of Trump: Only 27 percent had heard about his reluctance to denounce David Duke and the KKK; 20 percent about Trump University and the fraud lawsuit; 13 percent about the failure of Trump Mortgage.

At some point, those numbers will all be at 90 percent because someone will spend a lot of money putting ads about them all over television in battleground states. The only question is whether it will be conservatives or Hillary Clinton who expose voters to this information. Either way, it suggests that Trump still has the potential for downward mobility if conservative donors are serious about stopping him.
Perhaps Cruz and Rubio will build on their approach in last week's debate in the debate tonight and tag-team the attacks on Trump.

And every day, we seem to learn something new about Trump. BuzzFeed found this quote from Donald Trump on his Trump U blog.
We hear terrible things about outsourcing jobs—how sending work outside of our companies is contributing to the demise of American businesses. But in this instance I have to take the unpopular stance that it is not always a terrible thing.
I understand that outsourcing means that employees lose jobs. Because work is often outsourced to other countries, it means Americans lose jobs. In other cases, nonunion employees get the work. Losing jobs is never a good thing, but we have to look at the bigger picture.

Last year, Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Lawrence R. Klein, the founder of Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, co-authored a study that showed how global outsourcing actually creates more jobs and increases wages, at least for IT workers. The study found that outsourcing helped companies be more competitive and more productive. That means they make more money, which means they funnel more into the economy, thereby, creating more jobs.

I know that doesn’t make it any easier for people whose jobs have been outsourced overseas, but if a company’s only means of survival is by farming jobs outside its walls, then sometimes it’s a necessary step. The other option might be to close its doors for good.
Pair that together with the stories of how his Florida resort imported foreign workers instead of hiring the Americans who had applied for work and that would be a powerful ad. We've seen that attacks on whether or not he's a conservative or has been inconsistent on his policy stances have not worked. But if it could be demonstrated that he's held positions and acted against the interests of the very people who have been voting for him, there might be an impact. And the Buzzfeed find is so sweet because it was posted on his blog for Trump U which brings back all the stories of the fraud allegations against him. And lost in other political news this week is that the New York state appeals court ruled that New York could proceed in its case against Trump.
In a unanimous ruling, a four-judge panel of the state Appellate Division said the state attorney general’s office is “authorized to bring a cause of action for fraud” — despite the bloviating billionaire’s claims to the contrary.

Lawyers for Trump and his now-defunct school — a signature issue in Republican primary race — have contended that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s suit should be tossed. They say the statute of limitations on the case had expired — but the appeals court disagreed....

Through “their deceptive and unlawful practices, (Trump and the school) intentionally misled over 5,000 individuals nationwide, including over 600 New Yorkers, into paying as much as $35,000 each to participate in live seminars and mentorship programs with the promise of learning Donald Trump’s real estate investing techniques,” the AG’s office said.
So when he is next asked about the case and tries to blow it off, there will be an obvious comeback that a unanimous court disagreed.

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Jason Riley has a plea
for black leaders on how they should use their power within the Democratic Party to achieve real help for black families. He builds on Chris Rock's monologue at the Oscars that it is silly for black leaders to somehow equate a lack of nominations for acting Oscars with the very real problems that blacks have faced in their history and are facing now. Most of the talk centers on B#lackLivesMatter and promising lots of spending for pet programs instead of truly attacking a major problem like the low-quality education that too many minority children receive.
Black leaders could leverage this black political clout and demand that the next Democratic president vow to expand educational options for low-income kids by allowing them to leave failing public schools and attend alternative institutions with a better record of success. But if you are Al Sharpton or the NAACP, the needs of poor black students take a back seat to the needs of Al Sharpton and the NAACP.

Teachers unions want to keep students in unionized schools, while civil rights groups and the Democratic Party want to continue receiving financial support from teachers unions. I’m sure black lives matter to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders and civil rights activists—just not as much as union support matters.

Blaming racial disparities today on slavery and discrimination may help elect Democrats and keep the civil-rights industry flush, but it does little to address those disparities. Chris Rock is right. Blacks used to have more important things to worry about than the lack of Hollywood diversity. They still do.

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Sometimes, it can really pay to clean out your attic.
Relatives looking through a loved one's dilapidated house found a treasure trove worth more than $1 million in a crumpled paper bag, in the form of super-rare Ty Cobb baseball cards.

The family, whose names have not been released, was searching through the home of their deceased great-grandfather when they stumbled upon the bag with seven of the collectibles printed between 1909 and 1911.

Authenticator Joe Orlando said in a statement that the “miraculous” find in an unnamed southern state was worth at least seven figures.

Before the baseball treasure, proclaiming Cobb “King of the Tobacco World,” was found, only 15 cards of the center fielder were thought to have survived from the much-prized early 20th century T206 lot.

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