Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Donald Trump isn't going to win Wisconsin, according to a Marquette poll that was posted prematurely:
Marquette is releasing a new Wisconsin poll out today that shows Ted Cruz with 40%, Trump with 30% and Kasich with 21%.

Here’s the image from their PDF which they’ve just taken down (it was leaked early):

The ‘Valid Percent’ column is the one that matters.
Here's Google's cached version of the poll. (UPDATE: It's now up officially.)

Four polls have been taken in Wisconsin this month. Ted Cruz has led in three of them. Trump was only 3 points ahead of John Kasich in the most recent Pennsylvania poll and he beats Cruz by only 1 in the latest poll of California. He's struggling. And he has to do well, especially in winner-take-all states (which include Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) to have enough delegates to win on the first ballot.

Trump will almost certainly have the most delegates going into the convention, but the party no longer seems to fear challenging him at the convention if he doesn't have a majority. Politico reports this:
All four early appointees to the rules committee for this year’s Republican National Convention told POLITICO they’re prepared to weaken or scrap a rule that could limit the convention’s alternatives to Donald Trump.

The four took issue with a rule, originally imposed by Mitt Romney forces in 2012 to keep rival Ron Paul off the convention stage, requiring a candidate to win a majority of delegates in eight states to be eligible for the party’s nomination -- a threshold only Trump has exceeded so far. If preserved, the rule could block John Kasich or Ted Cruz from competing with Trump at the convention, set for July in Cleveland.

If the committee scraps the requirement entirely, it could open the door to multiple candidates, possibly even some who never entered the primaries, competing for the party’s nomination at a brokered convention. And even a lower threshold would make it easier for Trump’s rivals to challenge him.
On Fox last night, Karl Rove strongly suggested that the rules might be used to block Trump at the convention. We also know that Marco Rubio is asking state Republican parties to let him keep his delegates, presumably so they can be used to block Trump. And Trump, of course, lost some delegates in Louisiana in post-primary maneuvering.

I've been skeptical about the GOP's ability to agree on an alternative to Trump. I still think that might be a problem, though I think the party could get down to a short list very quickly. My guess is that Ted Cruz (unlike Trump) will be skillful enough at working the levers that he'll remain in contention, and that it'll be between him and Paul Ryan.

But won't the Trumpites riot? I've certainly thought so, but I keep mulling this Keith Olbermann clip from an episode of The View last week:

Olbermann said, “... At this point, from what I’m hearing, I don’t even think he’s going to get the nomination. Because I think the Republican Party is going to say, everybody who is in the Republican Party goes if he wins, we all lose our jobs. If he loses, we all lose our jobs. He’s probably not going to win. Let’s make sure he doesn’t lose. We’re going to lose the party to him one way or another. Everybody in the Republican Party, in the establishment, has a self-interest in keeping him away because he could bring down congressional results.”

Keith Olbermann also shot down Trump threat of riots if he is denied the nomination, “To be fair, who are the people who are supporting him, generally speaking? What I’m saying is they’re mostly people who can’t really be trusted to find their own homes again once they leave them.”

The former ESPN/MSNBC anchor explained that Republicans are really good at preventing things that are supposed to happen from happening. Olbermann said, “This is their own house. This isn’t some governmental agency. They can do what they want. They can change the rules….Whatever rule they need to make to make sure that he doesn’t get the nomination.”
I don't know if the Trumpites are as hapless as he makes them out to be, and they're certainly willing to throw a punch or pepper-spray a teenager, but they really might not be willing to confront anyone with heavy weaponry (and we know that law enforcement in Cleveland is looking to stock up on riot gear). Besides, if the party wants to be completely cynical, it can point to the fact that even after the riots at the '68 Democratic convention in Chicago, Hubert Humphrey lost the popular vote to Richard Nixon by less than a full percentage point, after trailing Nixon by 15 points in the polls well into September. If there's unrest in Cleveland in July, it will be a dim memory by November. Attention spans are a lot shorter in 2016 than they were in 1968.

If I'm right about all this, the end result of this year's voter discontent will be ... establishment candidates winning the nomination in both parties.

And, quite possibly, a GOP victory in the general election.


Rand Careaga said...

I also incline to think that the GOP will find a way to diddle Trump out of the nomination, but in that event there will be "unrest" in Cleveland, and the only way that these will "be a dim memory by November" would involve The Donald being a good sport and telling his fans that they must respect the will of the people as embodied in the Rules Committee. "Hey, they invoked the 'Double Secret Probation' clause of Provision C, Article 22, Subsection 16, paragraph 14(d). What can you do?" I think the only people who think he'd respond that way are the same ones who are insisting that Trump is secretly terrified that he might win. Attention spans may be short, but there will be no shortage of tantrums to freshen the memories.

Steve, yours is one of the regular pages on my daily rounds, and of course none of us should face with an easy mind the prospect of any of the current crop of evil clowns snagging the Republican nomination, but I sense you working up to another panic attack from back in the weeks when Rubio was giving you the shakes. If Sullivan ever takes up blogging again, he's going to want the fainting couch back.

AllieG said...

Trump doesn't strike me as the sportsmanlike loser type. Also, if losing Ohio didn't slow him down, why should losing Wisconsin, assuming that happens? Also also, if they do stop Trump when he has the most delegates, who can they pick but Cruz, who'll have the second most?

Steve M. said...

Allie, on a second ballot they can pick anyone they want if they change the eight-state rule.

And Rand, I still think Rubio would have won the election if he could have won the nomination. Obviously, the difference between Rubio-in-theory and Rubio-in-real-life was much greater than I realized, but it's not as if the media would automatically let the emptiness of a frattish Republican's suit stand in the way of a mancrush, especially a Republican running against a despised Democrat (cough Dubya in 2000 cough).

Steve M. said...

My read on the race has been the same for a while:

* HRC vs. Trump: HRC wins.
* HRC vs. Cruz: tossup.
* HRC vs. anyone else: HRC loses.

I don't buy the "Obama's electoral map is etched in stone" nonsense.

Feud Turgidson said...

Good piece, but as usual you can't resist that closing tag line. Breathe, Steve, breathe.

AllieG said...

A runner-up running against a winner, which is what non-Trump vs. Democratic nominee would be, is at a disadvantage. The more it looks like Trump got beat by shenanigans, the greater that disadvantage. No electoral map is etched in stone, but to assume that any Republican dragged up by the convention to run against Clinton who was either third (Kasich), worse (Rubio, etc) or who didn't run at all (Ryan) is a sure winner seems like a stretch to me. Not as much of a stretch as the Bernie-wins scenarios, but a stretch nonetheless.

Steve M. said...

Kasich has beaten Clinton in nine consecutive polls.

AllieG said...

Steve, just as Bernie beats all the Republicans, Kasich does best among Republicans because he's the least known candidate. Whoever inherits the nomination will also inherit an urgent need to pacify Trump (and Cruz if it's Kasich supporters. That will require taking positions in the full glare of a general election campaign that aren't popular.
I still remember Mike Dukakis' 18 point June lead over G.H.W. Bush. Same deal. As an unknown, voters projected their wishes onto him. Then they met him, or met the Republican caricature of him.

Peter Janovsky said...

What Obama states could a creep like Cruz win? And what about a Trump 3p run?

Rand Careaga said...

I still think Rubio would have won the election if he could have won the nomination. And had the Germans taken Moscow and Stalingrad, invaded and occupied the UK and successfully tested and deployed an atomic bomb before the other combatants, they would have won WWII in a walk. And if Trump should choke on a cherrystone, Cruz be photographed in bed with one of Osama bin Laden's sisters, Kasich be revealed as a former Weather Underground member living under an assumed name and Paul Ryan revealed to be keeping a black male jihadist lover on the side, fallback nominee Rubio will still stagger through a wilderness of rakes, in Charles Pierce's memorable formulation, on his way to defeat in November, regardless of how much the press fellates him.

I'm not suggesting that this thing's in the bag. For one thing, I'm the guy who loudly proclaimed that Ronald Reagan was a spent force in 1976 when he failed to wrest the nomination away from Gerald Ford. But I don't see any way from here that Cleveland doesn't go down as one of the great postwar convention clusterfucks—maybe not on the scale of Chicago 1968, but it's going to make the Democratic convention in 1972 look like a model of efficiency, decorum and message discipline. The nominee who emerges from the smoldering ruins of the Quicken Loans Arena will be either The Donald (good times!) or some hand-picked spear catcher whom the trumpenproletariat, a not insignificant fraction of the GOP base, will loathe as a procedural usurper imposed upon them by a bunch of elite RINOs. Many of them will think that even if it's Cruz, and I don't see El Trumpo bestirring himself to calm those waters.

Clinton is not a gifted campaigner, but she's been taking broadsides from her enemies for a quarter of a century, and by god, the old battlewagon is still steaming forward. I think she can take on whoever remains in the Republican field after the Rules Committee has voted everyone else off their eroding island.

Steve M. said...

What Obama states could a creep like Cruz win?

Let's see: There are nasty Republican governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Florida, North Carolina (which Obama won in '08 and which was thought to be trending purple), and I suppose you could add Ohio and New Jersey. Some of those.

And what about a Trump 3p run?

Too late for him to start getting on ballots in a lot of states, and he hasn't even begun to lay the groundwork elsewhere.

AllieG said...

He could seek and perhaps obtain the nomination of one of those fringe parties like the Constitution Party that already have ballot spots in many states. But I think he'd believe that's beneath him. More likely he'd just spend hours a day telling the world how the Republican Party and its nominee are cheaters and losers.

Unknown said...

Oh man... your "We're doooooooomed" schtick is getting old.

Unknown said...

PredictWise still has Trump with a 70% chance of winning the nomination - although that's down 4 points since yesterday.

If the Wisconsin polling is borne out, he's not going to clinch. And if the recent reports are true, he'll never survive a second vote at the convention.

So we'll have a perfect opportunity to observe whether Trump really does know how to "close the deal".

Jim Snyder said...

The narrative of this election is "the Replicant base hates the Replicant elite with the heat of a thousand suns."

Why would that factor go away if Cruz is the nominee? Seems likely that Trump would stick it to the GOP, because he's Trump.

And "everyone hates Ted". Replicant elites are by some accounts positively drooling for Cruz to get the nomination and lose big-time ... without causing down-ballot damage... because Cruz is a threat to their control of the party. He is not Establishment.

If neither is the nominee, wouldn't there'd be a sense among the Tea Bagger base that the elite had stolen the nomination from their candidate(s)?

Kasich will come in with under 20% of the delegates. Romney and Ryan, none.

All three are members of the despised-by-the-base Replicant elite. Heck, the base blew off RMoney's preventive strike against Trump.

I'm not seeing how the nominee, whoever he or she might be, will unify the party after the convention. I keep reading that unity is critical in the general.

The arguments that Kasich would beat Hillary easily, and that Cruz would probably beat her ... I dunno ... they make no sense to me.

Not that my opinion is worth much, of course.

Peter Janovsky said...

The R governors were mostly or all elected in non-Presidential years.

I think the Libertarians would welcome Trump

Steve - you're one of the best analysts around, but the pessimism . . .

Btw. Kasich came out for social security cuts today.

fqmorris said...

It's looking like Paul Ryan is angling to be the dark horse, and that's my bet if they take it from Trump. But Trump will likely go 3rd party, if only for revenge, and not look like a loser. So GOP split & HRC wins.

CH said...

I wonder at what point, if ever, Sanders' "unknown-ness" will decrease such that his performance in national polls might be conceded to have meaning? He hasn't yet undergone a full-blown late-summer/autumn general-election R assault, true; but for all her dustups over the years, neither has HRC.

AllieG said...

I'm sorry CH, but were you alive from 1992-2001? She got accused of murder, for God's sake. For the record, I agree with Steve. It won't be the socialism that'd be hung around Bernie's neck, it'd be his tax increase proposals. People may give up on capitalism, but they'll never give up on the idea that they personally deserve to pay no tazes.

Steve M. said...

I'm not sure anymore that Sanders would crumple under a GOP opposition research assault -- it's such a weird year I can't tell. I think the attack against him that could succeed would be on taxes rather than the word "socialism," as I've said -- but I don't know.

Still, he's never going to have the numbers to win the nomination. So it's a moot point.

CH said...

Allie, my first vote was cast for McGovern, and I was still around in the 90's, yes. Maybe what HRC underwent then was as bad as, or worse than, what she should expect as a general-election candidate in 2016; maybe it's not. I don't know, nor does anyone yet.
Steve, granted, it certainly looks moot just now, and may well end up that way. But, as you said, it truly is a weird year, no?

jsrtheta said...

@Steve M (and I apologize if I've said this before), I think that all the Republicans would have to do is quote Sanders saying we should be more like Denmark, then show the average personal income tax rate for Denmark and shut up. I am not saying that tax rates are not generally dispositive, but the ease with which Sanders could be killed with that alone is notable. For one thing, "revolution" loses its panache when it costs you a fortune. (And I'm not necessarily against social democracy.) For another, the "average" voter (and I admit I have no more fix on that than anyone, but what the hell) is not desirous of revolution. Even in the abstract. But, following up on my example, one more ad hitting Bernie for a lack of any real accomplishment, and that might put it to bed.

That said, let me add that I unfortunately remember too well Chicago 1968. I doubt we'd see anything like that in Cleveland, but I think we can count on seeing violence of some sort. (And in 1968, things were already spiraling out of control so frequently that it was all of a piece.) And I have a perhaps childlike belief that once Trump steps out of his limited market, he'll lose, and lose big. I do think that there's some truth to the stories circulating that Trump never meant it to get this far. He clearly has never taken the time to prepare for the press, or the race, to the extent a moderately prudent third-grader would. He spouts nonsense everyday that betrays his utter lack of interest in learning the most basic realities. And this is because he has no interest in them. For whatever reason, he refuses to prep for anything. In the process, he demonstrates his indifference to actually doing the job. "I'll hire great, great people" is not a platform, and I think it's already wearing thin. Hillary would stomp him. Probably even Bernie, though I don't see Bernie accomplishing fuck-all and certainly never winning a second term. And that's his danger: He could poison the Democratic brand and return the WH to the Republicans quite easily in 2020.

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve, you're a great scenery chewer, one of my favorite political landscapers besides brother Pierce (tho, with all due respect, because it's Pierce WFT R U gonna do, Charlie's the best fking writer in politics today, and makes funnder Doom, I tells you, Doom sounds). So I got a present for you, no obligations and no bitter hardies if you ignore or reject it. Here it is:

I feel you may well have a point about Drumpf failing to have enough joose to get past the line before Cleveland, and if the fur she flys by the Cuyahoga, it's burn baby burn down by the river.

My question is, WTF does Trump do next? He will not go meekly, never has. He'll yap, he'll work the live phones, he'll tall his people, Tear out the GOP's fingernails, strip their skin from theri flesh and pouring boiling oil down the spaces, and some other more specfic and actually hurty things like was done to that dude Balthazar who assassinated William of Orange.

I don't chew with the masters on future scenery like that, steve M., buit you do. How do you see all that working out?

jsrtheta said...

@Feud Turgidson I disagree. ("So?") And the reason is that Trump has folded his tents and stolen away in the night many, many times. Read his litigation history. He settles a lot, he dismisses, he loses. But the headlines are over by then. And no matter the truth, he'll just lie anyway.

And ask yourself this: If he is such a "winner", why does no one in the actual entrepreneurial hierarchy think he's anything but a joke? He has been trying to get respect for years, but do you see a Warren Buffet or a Bill Gates taking him seriously? Even returning his calls?

Fuggedaboudit! He's a slimy little hustler who has never gotten the respect he so desperately craves, and never plays in the true arenas of power. This guy folds like the proverbial cheap suit all the time, and retreats to call his pet NYC columnists to explain how he really schneidered those stuff-shirts. He has never played in the real big leagues, and now that he's in danger of losing the biggest game of all, he'll find a way to blame everyone else when he bows out. The biggest lie Satan (I mean, Trump) has ever pulled off? Convincing the world he matters. He never has, and never will, and he knows it.

Feud Turgidson said...

JeffaR, U could B right! But I don't think so. This ain't slumping away from the mmaintenance obligations on a green space allocation in a development in the Browx or out on Lunguyland. This is national stage, humiliation like when Preznit O stuck it to him on the Meat Loaf Busey thing.

Grape mines can differ, but Drumpf looks where he's playing right now as Goombahs Or Pussies, and taking up the wazoo from them - in my H.O. - is something he'd figure is stick-it-back-into-em worthy.

But I been wrong before: I thought Cruz had this, then I thought he gave it away, and now the creep's back. Never underestimate the half life of the creepy crawlies in GOP-ville, I always need to remind myself.

jsrtheta said...

@Feud Turgidson (any relation to Buck?): Hey, we're trying to read the entrails of the chicken. I actually had a decent prognosticator success rate. Now I'm not even sure of my own name. And I have the added benefit that I think you hope I'm right.

IF I'm right (and if I got the right quick-picks in Lotto this week), I can't see the Grand Poobahs for the GOP going to all the trouble of eliminating Trump, only to hand it to Cruz (which is much more personal). I CAN see them writing off the presidential election to keep some semblance of power. Not saying it'd work. Just sayin'.

I have little doubt that there really are hard-liners who have added up the costs.

AllieG said...

One thing I remember besides 1988 was 2000 and Clinton's Senate campaign. Conventional wisdom had her in serious trouble until she won easily. Yeah, it was New York, and no Democrat should lose, let alone her, but the Beltway babble has her on the ropes from Labor Day until her victory speech.
She has one loss on her record -- to Obama. That's like saying some fighter only lost to Ali or to Sugar Ray Leonard.

Unknown said...

At the moment, the betting at Ladbrokes is

Clinton 4/9
Trump 3/1
Sanders 14/1
Cruz & Kasich 25/1

Democrats 4/11
Republicans 2/1

With odds like these, any liberal struggling with anxiety over the outcome of the election could place a bet on the outcome they most fear; winning a big pot of money can assuage a lot of disappointment.

jsrtheta said...

I'm not much of a betting man, but it seems to me that if I bet on the outcome I most fear, I would lose a lot of money.

Maybe I'm missing something...

ploeg said...

First off, first past the post in Wisconsin gets only 18 delegates. First past the post in each Wisconsin congressional district gets 3 delegates. So Trump can pick off some delegates even if Trump loses the state, and that's mainly what Trump needs to do in Wisconsin. And that's what winner take all means in most states: Trump can pick off all the delegates in the large urban states that remain, but there are opportunities even in states that should be in Cruz's column. Trump still has a shot at winning outright, though a lot of things need to bounce in his direction, and it won't be settled until CA and NJ.

But the main problem here is treating Trump vs. the Republican field like they're mortal enemies and that they won't broker a deal well in advance of the convention. The sides are presenting their leverage against each other right now. It's to their mutual benefit to get a settlement before the convention starts. Which is not to say that it'll get done, but there are solid reasons to make a deal.

As mentioned, the establishment's leverage is that they can deny Trump the nomination if Trump doesn't have a delegate majority on the first ballot. Trump's leverage is that he will almost certainly be the person with the greatest following by far by the time of the convention. And never mind starting a riot at the convention; if Trump doesn't get the nod, he'll get his airtime to comment on the race and on senators and congresspeople who went against him in the convention. And the top priority of the Republicans in this election is to keep Congress, especially the Senate. We don't know what sort of effect Trump would have if he were on the outside of the tent pissing in, but I'm sure that the Republicans don't want to find out.

Right now, it doesn't seem likely that Trump can be bought off with an ambassadorship, particularly if Trump doesn't like the chances of the eventual nominee, but you never know. More likely Trump will hold out for being the nominee, and to maximize the chance that the Republicans continue to hold Congress, the Republicans will take that deal. In exchange, at least for starters, they'll demand that Trump fire his entire staff and replace them with more reliable people. And Trump would agree to it without hesitation; what better way to get an Etch-A-Sketch for the general than to say that you were badly advised and that you would be much better going forward? As noted, it probably wouldn't work, but then again, anybody with a major party nomination has a pretty good chance of winning the election, regardless of who it is, and if the balls all bounce the right way, who knows? Most importantly, you have everybody on the same page with regards to Congress.

Philo Vaihinger said...


You take comfort in Oberman's remark Trump supporters can't find their way home?

That calms your worry about riots by Trump supporters?


Steve M. said...

These guys are Rambos in their own minds. In reality, maybe not so much. They're pretty tough when confronted by an unarmed 15-year-old girl. A riot squad with military-grade gear? We'll see what brave freedom fighters they are.

fqmorris said...

You: "And, quite possibly, a GOP victory in the general election."

Josh Disagrees with you:

"It is hard to imagine any scenario in which the substantive, expressed will of the GOP primary electorate was more thoroughly rejected at the convention meant to ratify it.

Under normal circumstances, I think any political professional, any close observer of politics would say that a candidate chosen in such a way is simply doomed. I see no reason to believe it's any different this year."