Saturday, April 30, 2016

Trump's Support in the General Election

I must admit that I remain completely and totally stunned at the behavior of Donald Trump and Trump supporters. No, it's not his outrageous comments or his nasty rhetoric. I understand how that's worked for him. Donald Trump wants to be the Republican nominee and he wants to be President. I'm assuming these things are true since he's gone though a lot if they aren't. To win the Presidency he almost definitely needs to win more than half the votes. And his strategy for that is mystifying.

Trump yesterday called for everyone in the Republican party to support him because he'll be the nominee. That's not unusual. Every politician calls for everyone to line up behind them and he'll be the only Republican nominee. I think that a candidate should ask for people's support not tell them they have no choice to support him. While many politicians have done that, it's not Trump's style. He's a "I'm me. Vote for me." I prefer a candidate to win my vote, but Trump isn't interested in appealing to me. It's my problem, not his.

That's not the mystifying part. Trump again bashed the system the Republican party has, the party itself, and members of the party. This was in a speech at an official Republican convention. Many people say they don't have loyalty to a political party but these people do. Trump was insulting everyone in the room at the same time he was telling them to vote for him. He then told them to change what they believe about government to conform to him. Most politicians find out what you believe and appeal to your beliefs. If you've had conversations with any Trump supporters, you've probably been insulted and berated. Some are really really nasty. And then they expect you to vote for Trump.

While that's mystifying, that's not the part that has me stunned. The part that has me stunned is when Trump says, “I think I will win even if we’re not together.” Trump believes he doesn't need the support of Republicans who don't currently support him. This despite general election polls that show him losing in a landslide and despite the fact that hasn't even gotten 40% of the Republican vote in the primaries. He doesn't feel he needs the majority of Republicans supporting him, even though he's historically unpopular with people who aren't Republicans.

Trump and his supporters believe that despite not getting half the Republican vote most Republicans support him and that he'll win because he has won in the primaries. And they accept no counter argument to that.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Why is America Feeling the Bern?

Bernie Sanders doing better than Hillary Clinton in general election polls. I linked the Kasich polls because he's the Republican with the least baggage. Yet Sanders does 9 points better than she does. He does 7 points better than she does against Cruz and he does 6 points better than her against Trump. This is a big surprise to many analysts because Sanders is further from the center than Clinton and has been thought of as unelectable. Progressives might suggest that America really believes in Sanders’ progressivism and isn't in the center. I disagree. I think it’s a combination of things:

1. Sanders is largely unknown. What little is known is that he thinks the system is rigged and he’s standing up for the little guy. He wants to raise taxes on someone else and give more to everyone else. As we've seen with Donald Trump, populism is a very strong message right now. People really don't know more about his plans and programs and other ideology on foreign policy, but what little they is pretty attractive. He's selling a lot of what Trump’s selling, but without being offensive, demeaning, and nasty. Sanders seems like a nice genuine guy. Sanders has also benefitted from Hillary Clinton not going nearly as negative on him as the Republicans have gone on each other. The problem Sanders would have in a general election is that Republicans would go negative and America would learn a lot more about him. Some of the attacks would be misleading while others informative. Regardless, his popularity would decline.

2. Clinton is known and people don’t like her. Thus, some independents and even Republicans who don’t like Trump, Cruz, or even Kasich won’t vote Clinton. Clinton has the double edged sword of those that like her really like her and will stick with her, but those that don’t would never vote for her. Were Sanders competing against else he wouldn’t do as well. It's not like any other opponent would be under the threat of indictment.

3. Some of Sanders’ support comes from far left independents who’d probably sit out or vote Green rather than vote for Clinton. I think this is the smallest group of the three, as most on the far left would vote Clinton rather than see a Republican win.

By summer it won't matter that Sanders polled better. He's not getting the nomination, so we'll never know how his candidacy could've played out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Trump's Impact Down Ballot

I'm sure you've read people saying that Republicans nominating Trump would be a disaster down ticket. As evidence those people cite that voters won't split their tickets, which is erroneous, or that reliable Republican voters will stay home. They cite polls saying that GOP voters won't vote for Trump in November. One problem with those polls is they don't ask what people plan to do instead. Well, ABC finally asked the question of Wisconsin primary voters:

These results aren’t the disaster people were predicting. Only 9% of people say they wouldn't vote. This number will likely be lower for two reasons. First, people often feel this way about any rival if their preferred candidate isn’t the nominee but then they vote anyway. Clinton voters vowed not to vote for Barack Obama but they did anyway. Second, Republican senate and congressional candidates will mount get out the vote efforts with these voters encouraging them to go to the polls anyway. They'll encourage the voters to leave the Presidential line blank or vote third party.

We should also remember that the general election will include a lot of people who didn’t vote today. So there are replacements and the GOP will have to get them to the polls. I don't want to give the impression that's impossible that Donald Trump won't negatively impact Republican candidates. He likely will and he could cost the Republicans a few close contests. He just won't cause a landslide loss down ballot.

Friday, April 1, 2016

That Crazy Liberal Friend of Yours

We often like to quote that crazy liberal friend that we all have who insists that if people were better informed they'd all vote Democrat. If you're on the right you all have one. The rest of your Democratic friends insist this is a fringe caricature and not representative of the left. They tell that any intelligent person on the left understands why people vote Republican. Well, they might have a hard time saying that is a caricature because today that crazy liberal friend is Bernie Sanders.
I think, to be honest with you -- and I just don't, you know, say this rhetorically, this is a fringe party. It is a fringe party. Maybe they get 5, 10 percent of the vote.
This isn't taking Bernie out of context or him responding to a gotcha question. It's Rachel Maddow throwing him softballs.
Here's more:
What you really need in this country is a progressive party standing with the working class and the middle class of this country. And yes, a conservative party that, you know, has, you know, is more fiscally conservative. That is where we should be as a country.
I really would've pressed Sanders what that "fiscally conservative" party should stand for, because according to Sanders it's not one that gives: breaks for the top two tenths of 1 percent, cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, a party which with few exceptions, doesn't even acknowledge the reality of climate change, let alone do anything about it, a party which is not prepared to stand with women in the fight for pay equity, a party that is not prepared to do anything about a broken criminal justice system or a corrupt campaign finance system.
I think he wants a Republican party that agrees with the Democrats on everything except whatever he thinks "fiscally conservative" means.

What Sanders fails to understand is that the political parties settle into positions are largely the opposite of each other and attract roughly half the vote. Sure, one party can be more dominant for a period of time but eventually the other party makes adjustments and the balance comes together again.