drwex (drwex) wrote,
drwex
drwex

Paths to the Presidency

Some more clarity emerged after the last round of primaries and we'll see more tomorrow, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Sanders does not have a good likelihood of overcoming Clinton's delegate lead. The Democrats do not do winner-take-all primaries so in states where Sanders wins he can narrow her lead, but not dramatically. It will be academically interesting to see whether Sanders has appeal to non-Southern whites or whether his vote against the Detroit bailout(*) will hurt him.

But regardless, the only lesson here will be what kind and how much more work Ms Clinton needs to do as we head into the general election.

By the same token, Cruz's fortunes are looking brighter. Rubio's utter failure to connect with approximately anyone is helping Cruz, as is his performance in closed and winner-take-all primaries. The fact that Cruz is beating the machine's endorsed candidate also plays well. Cruz has started to make the case that he has more appeal to actual Republican voters than Trump. That is, Trump's numbers are coming from unregistered/independent/crossover voters. I do not see a way for Cruz to overtake Trump's lead and go into the convention with a majority (or even plurality) of delegates, but I think he stands a very good chance of keeping Trump from having an outright majority.

Listening to the RNC's carefully worded statements it becomes clear to me that this is what they're hoping for. They loudly declare that they'll support the candidate with the "majority" of delegates (well, duh, you'd have to change your rules to avoid that) but they're avoiding saying what they will do when NO candidate shows up with a majority. That's the definition of a brokered convention and I think it's where the Republicans are heading.

If I was a betting man (which I sometimes am) I would bet that Rubio refuses to endorse and frees his delegates. Cruz is just so violently disliked by his colleagues that I can't see Rubio backing him voluntarily and no way is he going to throw in with Trump _before_ Trump gets the nomination. Afterward I expect he'll fall into line.

I would further bet Kasich will do a deal with either Trump or Cruz, throwing his small but possibly valuable set of delegates to whoever gives him the best promise. I could definitely see a Cruz-Kasich ticket; a Trump-Kasich is less likely because of geography but might happen (outside odds). More likely Kasich gets a Cabinet post.

The one fly in this ointment is if Cruz makes up enough ground in these winner-take-all/closed primaries that Cruz's delegates plus Rubio's delegates give Cruz an edge. Rubio hasn't voluntarily dropped out but the voters may have just kicked him off the island. Then there will be tremendous pressure on Rubio to pledge for Cruz because the machine needs anything it can grasp to try and stop Trump. And since they've already said they'll support the person with the majority it would then be easy for the RNC to turn to Trump and say, "Sorry, but he's got the majority now."

I also think this scenario is Clinton's favorite wet dream because she will utterly destroy Cruz and the crossover voters (who used to be called "Blue dog Democrats") are much more likely to stay home in a Cruz-Clinton fight than in a Trump-Clinton fight.

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(*) My feelings on the bailout of the auto industry are complicated; let me try to sum up: If we hold that banks cannot be "too big to fail" (which I do) then the same principle applies to industries, even ones that employ lots of union workers. So on that ground, no to the bailout. However, I also do not buy "moral hazard" reasoning (the line of thought that doomed Lehman Brothers) and I do accept that there can be valid economic reasons for a government to bail out, nationalize, or prop up certain businesses. For example, at the time of its bailout, AIG held the insurance policies on over 70% of commercial airliners. The economic havoc caused by the sudden grounding of 70% of the US commercial air fleet (because NOBODY is going to fly a jet airliner without insurance) would have been devastating so I accept there was an economic argument for propping up AIG. I just don't think there was a good argument made in the case of the auto industry, at the time the bailout was crafted. I think events post facto have worked out well so the bailout looks like good deal in retrospect but I think that's circumstance that could have gone the other way.
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