Sunday, February 21, 2016

Steady As She Goes

For those of you following the primaries, circle March 15. That’s the date that matters for the outcome of the GOP primary. Everything before then will only be about determining who matters on March 15. March 15 will tell us who will win in the end. Here’s what you need to know.

I predicted some time ago that Trump can’t win the nomination. I stand by that. The only thing that has given me pause in that is Trump’s win in New Hampshire. The thing about New Hampshire is that it normally goes to the party’s moderate wing. In this case, the moderate/establishment wing got 49% of the vote whereas Trump/Cruz combined for 48% of the vote. I would have expected something closer to 60/40 pro-moderate outcome, so the 49/48 pro-moderate result was a little startling.

BUT, this could be explained in several ways. First, Trump apparently has strong ties throughout the state which were causing people to say Trump had home field advantage. If that’s the case, then it’s easy to explain an 8% surge. Secondly, the fight between Trump and Cruz for the fringe vote likely brought out more fringers. That too could explain an 8% surge. Third, Trump could be more popular than I thought. South Carolina suggests that’s not true, however.

Carolina was the first of the Southern states to vote. Like the other Southern states, it is about 60/40 pro-fringe. So while the big story is that Trump won and that Bush dropped out, the real story is that Trump+Cruz scored only 54% of the vote. Combine with Carson, they did hit 61%, but together in their death struggle for the fringe, they got only 54%. I’m not sure what this means yet. Does this mean Caron’s voters are resistant to Trump/Cruz, or is this only temporary while Carson remains in the race? If they are resistant, then Trump/Cruz are in serious trouble. The evidence for this is the growth in the Carson vote since New Hampshire. The extra 5% he got in Carolina are not people who love him, they are most likely people who don’t want to vote for Trump or Cruz.

On the other hand, if they just like Carson better, then things are exactly where I expected with the fringe accounting for 60%. Either result though tells us that New Hampshire’s 8% surge was an anomaly rather than a shift of moderates into the Trump camp. If moderates were indeed going for Trump now, the fringe would have scored higher in Carolina than the 60% it typically gives those candidates.

We will find out for sure on March 15.

March 15 is when Ohio and Florida vote. Both states reflect America at large and have much more establishment friendly GOP primaries. The votes in these states should reflect the vote in almost all of the states outside the South (and some small plains states), which states easily decide the primary no matter what the South does. Hence, March 15 will tell us who will win the primary.

Right now, it looks like we are headed either for a Trump v. Rubio March 15th, or a Trump v. Cruz V. Rubio March 15. (Kasich may hang in as well, but he won’t be relevant outside of Ohio). I suspect the result will be a 60/40 establishment win over the fringe. If that is the case, then Rubio will win the nomination. If the result is closer to 50/50 (like New Hampshire), then Trump wins the nomination. It should be that simple.

In the meantime, watch for despair to set in as Trump and Cruz win primary after primary as we next go through the theological states in the South with the SEC and Texas primaries coming March 1. These states gave Santorum 60% to 39% wins in 2012 and they should go for Trump or Cruz again in the same margin. Unfortunately, the short-term-thinking, always-sensationalizing media will assume that each of these victories will mean that Trump/Cruz has made some surprising victory that represents the views of the nation rather than realizing that this is just the Trump/Cruz stronghold in the electorate.

Anyways, ignore these states as bellwethers. Where these states matter will be in deciding whether Cruz or Trump ultimately gets to be the fringe’s champion. These states should decide it, but I’m betting they don’t. I’m betting that Trump will win most, but Cruz will win just enough (especially with Texas in the mix) that he will stay in the race.

All told, I stand by my prediction of an establishment (Rubio... formerly Bush) victory.



AndrewPrice said...

I've gotten several emails asking for my thoughts on last night, so I thought I would publish this now.

My thoughts on Hillary are that she bought herself some time, but she didn't do enough to take command again. It's interesting too that she won blacks but lost Hispanics. That's another omen for the general election for her.

ArgentGale said...

As always when it comes to these posts, I hope you're right. We really, really can't afford to have the fringe win the nomination and send Hillary or Sanders to the White House with so much at stake.

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I like to think I'm right! :) Plus, the way things are going seems consistent with what I expected. The only two exceptions so far are New Hampshire, which I think can be attributed to it being a special case, and Rubio being the establishment candidate instead of Bush -- but in that regard, Bush's flameout was epic and far beyond anything I would have expected based on his prior runs for governor. He was so bad and indifferent as a candidate that you almost have to think he threw the election. (Good thing it happened now instead of November.)

All told, I agree with you entirely. Either Hillary or Sanders would be disasters for this country. But remember, America is much stronger than the ability of our political to damage.

Hang in there, my friend.

ArgentGale said...

I'm trying to, but the way the primaries are unfolding isn't making it easy. New Hampshire definitely threw me off, too, and my concern at the moment is that Rubio is still going to look weak, the herd instinct will kick in for Trump, and an electoral disaster will follow. I'm still stunned he ever made it past the joke stage, much less got this far. Another concern is the optics with the public at large... Even if he does eventually go down in favor of Rubio I feel like the fact that he got so far in the first place will turn off voters who might otherwise vote Republican this time, a sentiment I saw to an extent with Santorum in 2012 as well. But hopefully you're right.

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...


It's definitely difficult too stay calm. These elections are so vital and, yet, there are so many idiots looking to make suicidal choices and screaming that they won't support anyone who can win. And with Trump, you get so many people screaming that he's going to win and can't be stopped, that it wears you down.

But one thing I've learned over the years of watching conservative heart-throb candidates implode is that the structure of our elections are misleading. They are front-loaded to let the crazies and the more-fringe candidates appear to make it into a horse race. But once the bigger states start voting, the establishment candidate always wins. So it makes everything seem much more insane than it ultimately will be. (As an aside, the establishment candidate is most often the conservative champion from the prior election (e.g. Reagan 80, Romney 12) who the fringe now considered too liberal).

In terms of making it past the joke phase, the more I've considered this, the more I understand it. I think Trump's appeal is based on two things First, he's a giant middle finger to everything that has been annoying his supporters. They are sick of being ignored by politicians, lectured by the media and talked down to by elitists. Trump has been over the top mocking and rude to them, and that makes them happy.

The second thing is that I suspect his supporters see his behavior as an act. I think they assume that if he wins, then he will actually be a good President because they think he'll act like a CEO and delegate the job to people who know what they are doing. So ironically, they like him because he attacks the experts but they think he'll hand over the government to experts.

In terms of Trump people not supporting Rubio, it's hard to say. His supporters aren't really serious in the first place, and once the adrenaline thrill ends, I suspect they will leave politics again.

Kit said...

I think Trump will remain. His core support seems impenetrable.

Cruz's, however, is nowhere as fanatical.

AndrewPrice said...


My guess is that:

1. Cruz stays until May because he comes close to winning in several Southern states and might even win Texas. He decides to wait to see if Trump collapses.

2. Trump stays to the end and pulls 40% (less Cruz) in the moderate states and 60% (less Cruz) in the fringier states. He cannot win, but he will stick around anyways.

3. Over the next two weeks, especially after the SEC primary, the media will declare Rubio dead.

4. Unless Rubio stumbles, he will win a "surprise" in Ohio and Florida. He will then sweep the bigger states (California, New York, Illinois), the Northeastern states and the secondary big states -- Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, Michigan. He will slowly pull away from Trump until he wins the nomination with a handful of states left.

5. Possible hiccups...

a. Rubio makes a huge gaffe. Then Kasich may become the establishment candidate.

b. Cruz's support is weaker than expected and he drops out after a blowout in Texas. Changes nothing.

Anthony said...

Convincing analysis. Hope you are right.

Patriot said...

Andrew.....I think perhaps it's more of the libertarian, if you will, feelings of the American populace coming to the fore. As the internet has brought the corruption and cronyism of the political process, and most politicians, to the majority of the people, they have decided to say screw it to the "establishment" politicians of both parties and want to get back to a more transparent government.

I think the only good thing Obama has done as President is to show the dim-witted Dems that even "The One" wasn't the one, and if he can't bring kisses and hugs to every disaffected hyphenated American, then maybe no one can. The insanity affecting this country with people split into "groups" instead of being Americans, might have finally reached its nadir, and perhaps, we might be in for a monumental change.

I don't know, and I'm in SC with a lot of older veterans and retired. The sentiment I overhear and see in talking with people is that they are tired of the usual crap and want something different. They recognize Trump for what he is, but really want to send a message to the Reps, and "Washington" in general that they are sick and tired of it and won't just sit there and take it anymore.

Maybe the "Silent Majority" is finally speaking up?

Critch said...

The media is making it sound like Hillary had some huge victory in Nevada, I don't see was a virtual tie...

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, It fits with what I've seen over the years and, except for New Hampshire, it seems to be following the same course it always does. I guess we'll see though how it plays out.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, The media is packed with former Clinton Administration people who are all "unbiased" reporters now. I think they are hoping to right the ship by simply declaring Hillary saved. It won't be that simple, however. If anything, they are likely to upset the Sanders people by trying to dismiss him - especially with her having a massive lead in Nevada before Sanders won New Hampshire and then only squeaking out a victory. And with around 80% of Democrats thinking Sanders is electable, this one will get uglier before it settles.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I don't think Trump's support can be classified as ideological in the sense of being conservative or libertarian or moderate or anything like that. For one thing, he's none of that. He's an act. His politics is bi-political cronyism, supporting anyone who can give him favors. For another, his supporters don't yet seem focused on anything he actually believes.

Instead, he represents a giant middle finger to everyone that has had any sort of power/influence over the past few decades -- politicians, the media, holier-than-thou celebrities, the army of victims and the aggrieved, the protected ranks of the politically correct, and elitists. He's basically telling all of them the exact opposite of their standard talking points and telling them to shove it in the process, and his supporters are loving it.

I definitely see the appeal in this, and I can see a path for him winning. I just don't see him there yet. At this point, he remains a protest candidate. If he can win Ohio or Florida though, then I think he does win, and I think he would win a landslide general election.

The problem is what then? The supporters of his I've spoken too all seem to think that once he gets elected, he'll change and act like a business man rather than a clown, but I'm not sure they will like that, nor does it make me comfortable to vote for someone hoping they are only pretending to be who they are during the primaries. We'll see though.

The smartest thing Trump could do right now would be to latch onto some instances where private enterprise has done things like run schools and tell the public that his plan is to recreate these things at the federal level -- so the "on the fence" public starts to believe that he is actually planning how to run the country and that he plans to harness private enterprise to do it. That would strength him as a candidate immensely and draw in new support beyond the protest vote.

tryanmax said...

This is only a half-comment, but I think Trump absolutely must be regarded in the context of an alleged right-wing media that has held the Republican party responsible for Democrat doings for around a decade prior to now.

AndrewPrice said...

OT: Ladies and Gentlemen, With my fuel points for the month from my local grocery store, I just paid $0.79 for gas. Yes. That happened! :) :) :)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, You mean he is a creation of talk radio, conservative magazines, and Fox News? I can see that. Their big target has been the GOP and they've been selling outrage. Trump has made himself a salesman of that quite nicely. In fact, most of his campaign prior to Iowa was simply about going down the enemies list of Big Hollywood and making verbal attacks on those --- right down to ling-since-irrelevant Rosie O'Donnell.

He was basically what would happen if you took three years of Hot Air and Big Hollywood and presented them as performance art.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, you said what I was specifically avoiding, but I won't refute it. I'd personally put Trump in the same "unintended consequences" category that Democrats usually claim for their failed policies; predictable by everyone but the people involved.

ScottDS said...

He was basically what would happen if you took three years of Hot Air and Big Hollywood and presented them as performance art.

Andrew, you and me... two-man show... we raise the money on GoFundMe, write a script, workshop with local actors, and put on a show in a small theater. Critics will love it since many of them lean left already, so we'll have marketing on our side. I can design the poster and while I don't have a title yet, the tagline can be "Be careful what you wish for."

Watch out, Hamilton! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It would make for a heck of a "Bob Roberts" type story wouldn't it? LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Trump is interesting in that he's more of an exploiter than a by-product. A by-product would be someone who truly believes the anger and outrage and runs with it. Trump doesn't believe any of it. He's putting on an act. He has diagnosed what has become of the people who followed this drumbeat of manufactured outrage and he's learned to play them.

I wonder as to his motives though. What is he really after? Just ego? Money? More fame? Is he playing some billionaire game and he wants to top the other billionaires who have dabbled? Not sure.

Kit said...

Trump is now raising questions about Rubio's eligibility, a month after he said there were no issues regarding it. I saw this coming, you saw this coming, the blind homeless beggar who sits on the 85th Street Transverse in Central Park and rants about how "them pigeons are plottin' to take over the world!" saw this coming.


BevfromNYC said...

The title "Trumped - Be Careful What You Wish For."

Uh, and 79cent gas? That's crazy...and bad for Texas. Though I am counting on things getting s bad that Texas will finally secede and become an OPEC nation.

BevfromNYC said...

Kit - Wait, now, Trump said he just retweeted something that someone else tweetedw ho is has coincidentally filed a lawsuit all on his own to challenge Rubio's citizenship. Just like in Texas with Cruz. Hmmm, wonder how they are getting the $$$ to fund those lawsuits.

With all of the accused "Manchurian Candidates" Trump's got going, there'll be no one left in the field.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That was with a unexpectedly massive fuel credit. I must have bought a magic donut or something from their bakery. The full price would have been $1.29... which is still awesome.

I like your title! :)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

The way you put it, Trump is the exploiter while Cruz sounds like the by-product.

You really think Trump could win the general election in a landslide? I don't doubt you, but part of me thinks that's when the "normals" would wake up and say, "Wait a sec, what are we about to do?!?!"

And if Trump were to lose, you know he'd sue and we'd have that shitstorm to deal with. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I'm not surprised. Trump lives in the moment because he knows his supporters don't care about things like consistency, just so long as he puts on a good show.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I do. And I think what would happen would be this.

First, it's important to realize how bad the Democratic candidates are. You have Hillary who bring out fatigue, anger and contempt from the public. Even her supporters only mildly like her and no one trusts or respects her. She is only competitive against a true Republican dud. On the other hand, you have Sanders who is a socialist. And while a sizable number of HuffPo types have sold each other on the idea that America is ready for a socialist, that's ultimately delusional. So the Democrats are offering pure crap as candidates go.

Then you have Trump. Trump the candidate is a jackass. His campaign is a giant "yo' mama so fat" campaign. He thrives on saying things that angry people want to hear said and his popularity is based on him utterly disrupting the establishment. The more chaos, the better.

This works because Americans love people who twist up the establishment and expose them as impotent. It is a form of revenge for feeling looked-down upon. Think about the fact that our film heroes have all morphed into this over the past few decades. That is the American ideal. So Trump is playing into a very popular American stereotype. What's more, he's bipartisan in his smears. He smears left and right alike, so both sides can like him without fear of supporting the enemy.

BUT... and this is the key... he's also perceived to be a genius businessman without any ideological foundation. He's seen as a brilliant negotiator, a brilliant organizer, a man who knows how to hire great people, and a man who can work inside the system and bend the system to his will when needed.

I can easily see the public at large looking at Trump and saying, "He's smacking a lot of people who really need it, but that's not what he'll be like as President. As President, I expect him to hire the best, to bring a business sense to the government, to re-organize the bloated bureaucracy and to bend the system to make it work. What will he do? I would bet he'll make the government more effective and more efficient. And if he's a disaster, well, the Congress will keep him in check. You know what? I'm willing to give it a shot. How much worse can he be than the politicians who got us to this state?"

He's basically the nation's first "why the heck not" candidate.

Then you add the herd factor and you will see a massive wave of support appearing once the herd leaders start to support him.

BevfromNYC said...

But what happens if Bloomberg jumps into the fray? Who will he draw away? Hillary/Sanders or Trump? I don't think that Bloomberg would jump in, if the Repub was any other candidate, but Trump.

I DO predict that this election cycle will have two brokered conventions rather than the pep rallies they have always had in my lifetime.

Off point, but - I keep thinking is Trump the President we want when the aliens finally make contact? will be more like "Mars Attacks" and less like "Independence Day" for sure...

ScottDS said...

Off point, but - I keep thinking is Trump the President we want when the aliens finally make contact? will be more like "Mars Attacks" and less like "Independence Day" for sure...

What's funny is Jack Nicholson played BOTH the president AND a real estate developer in that movie!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Forget the brokered conventions. The primaries are set up so that once the more populated states start voting, a clear winner emerges.

Bloomberg would draw away from the left, unless Trump is the candidate on the right. Then you would have Bloomberg getting establishment support and Trump getting anti-establishment support. In that scenario, I think Trump wins.

Trump would be ideal in the event aliens land because he would try to get them drunk and laid and then they would leave happy. Could you imagine if dour, offensive, boring Hillary was our President? They would exterminate us.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Yes, Cruz is the by-product of talk radio, Trump is an exploiter.

BevfromNYC said...

Fun Fact: March 15 is the ancient Roman Holiday called The Ides Of March. Also known as the day in 44 B.C. in which Julius Caesar was assassinated by his own Senators.

I do not know why I find it fitting that Super Tuesday will also be March 15.

Tennessee Jed said...

Wouldn't mind seeing one national primary day for both parties. Wow what would cable news and talk radio do?

tryanmax said...

Bev, Oh good grief! Just what I needed. I mean, I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.

tryanmax said...

I'm with Jed for the sole fact that Nebraska votes late, rendering it stupid. There have been past attempts to join Super Tuesday but rural Neb. is automatically against whatever urban Neb. is for, which make doing stuff impossible.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, We should reintroduce stabbing in the Senate. That would liven things up. :)

tryanmax, LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That would be utter chaos. How could the media invent a horse race that isn't there? Have you no compassion man? LOL!

I like the idea a lot. Or even a handful of regional primaries. But this state by state stuff is ridiculous!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It sounds like a state organized to take full advantage of inertia.

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry, Tryanmax, just stating the ironic ply historical facts...don't be stitious! LOL!

Andrew, maybe not stabbings, but Wouldn't it be fun if our Congress acted more like the British or Japanese Parliments where they actually throw punches! The WWC, THE World Wrestling Congress...;-)

AndrewPrice said...

This, by the way, is the perfect example of how Trump gets the legitimacy he needs to start attracting more average people.

Giuliani Comments

Kit said...

Et tu, Rudy?

Kit said...

"smarter than he looks"

That is part of what scares me, honestly.

BevfromNYC said...

It will be in the bag if Trump taps Guiliani as his VP running mate...I just scared myself again. Not that I don't like Rudy. He was a stellar Mayor...BUT!

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