Thursday, February 11, 2016

Democracy in Action

New Hampshire played out as expected, but with some interesting side notes.  There was little chance anyone was going to make up Trump's sizable lead in the Republican half of the ballot box.  Marco Rubio appeared to have the best shot coming out of Iowa, but leave it to Chris Christie to body slam Rubio in the debate leading up to the primary.  After the election, who did Chris call?  You guessed it, Donald Trump, and they had a "long talk."

It seems that Governor Chris served as Donald's hatchet man in the Saturday debate, going after Rubio while Donald did his best to look "presidential."  No surprise really, as these two have gotten together on numerous occasions in the past to work out back room deals.  It wouldn't surprise me if some lucrative land deals await Trump now that the governor has essentially foreclosed on Atlantic City, taking it into receivership.    It's a symbiotic relationship that has served them both well over the years.

The RNC could have come to the aid of Rubio but chose to let its "establishment" candidates fight it out.  End result, Kasich, Bush and Rubio essentially split the "establishment" vote three ways, dividing 10 delegates, whereas Donald came away with 10 of his own.  Vote wise, the three establishment candidates combined for 37.4 per cent of the vote, two percentage points better than Trump.  The other loose cannon, Ted Cruz received 14 per cent of the vote and 3 delegates.  Governor Chris scored 7.4 percent, but failed to win any delegates.

Instead of having a clear establishment candidate to battle Trump and Cruz, the so-called moderate wing of the Republican Party finds its loyalties split among three candidates going into South Carolina.  It looks like it will be a replay of New Hampshire, unless Cruz finds some hidden support in the Carson camp, which is not likely this time around.  This will make it Anti-Establishsment 3, Establishment 0.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders ran away with the primary, walloping Hillary by 21 per cent, but that will not be reflected in the delegate count.  Superdelegates are not bound by the primary results, and can go whichever way the wind takes them and they appear to be blowing Hillary's direction.  This means she will come away from New Hampshire with the exact same number of delegates.

Bernie is understandably perplexed by this, but the DNC and RNC both like to keep superdelegates in the bag to pull out whenever they want to steer the nomination in a certain direction.  On the Democratic side there are 712 super delegates, and Hillary is going out of her way to lock these delegates down.  She currently has a staggering lead of 412 superdelegates to Bernie's 14, which means that even if he was to convince the remaining 286 superdelegates to support him, he would still be over 100 short of Hillary.  Democracy in action.

There is no such convenient list for the Republicans yet, but you have to figure they are split too.  There are 437 superdelegates on the Republican side, approximately 18 per cent of the total.  It could be that they all come around one establishment candidate in the end, assuming he is close enough to Trump and Cruz for it to make a difference, but then many of these superdelegates are not necessarily going to align themselves with the GOP establishment.

In the meantime, Trump is gloating in his victory, offering even more over-inflated figures, like a 42 per cent unemployment rate, to illustrate just how "bad" the current state of the economy is.  There seems to be no limit to the degree he will distort information to serve his purposes.  He is more performance artist than presidential candidate, as he has the base of the GOP eating up his every word.

What gets me is how Christie could sell out his own political party.   Four short years ago, he was everyone's favorite governor and considered the shining star in the GOP.  He gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in 2012, and even with his infamous embrace of Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, was still considered the man to beat in 2016.  His fall from grace began June 2014 when he fell out of his chair in a radio interview.  Dirty politics in New Jersey, notably the Washington Bridge scandal, all but doomed a presidential bid, but he persevered anyway, trying to build his campaign around an Aaron Neville song, Tell It Like It Is.  Of course, he didn't credit Neville, just like all the other Republicans who refuse to ask for permission to use popular songs on the campaign trail.

Looking at the delegates at hand, Trump currently leads with 17 to Cruz's 11 and Rubio's 10.  He should be able to add considerably to his total in South Carolina, which offers the biggest share of delegates to date.  The GOP establishment has to decide quickly who it is going to have represent it before this becomes a two-man race between Trump and Cruz, the nightmare scenario they were hoping to avoid.

Meanwhile, Bernie is trying to ally black support anywhere he can find it to make up some ground on Hillary in South Carolina, as it currently looks like he will take a big thumping in the Palmetto State.  But, the Democrats don't have the same problem the Republicans do.  Even if Bernie has to bow out sooner than expected, he will throw his support behind Hillary and give the Democratic nominee the full energy of his base of voters.

The Republicans face a major split.  Do they go the road of Goldwater in 1964 or do they look to cut deals with the Democrats in an effort to try to salvage control of Congress, governor seats and state legislatures.  Trump and Cruz are sure losers in a national election.  The GOP can only hope to stem the damage by trying to make Hillary's "coat tails" as short as possible.

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