Boy, it isn't every day you get to write a headline like that! But those are the kinds of feelings Ted Cruz seems to bring out in everyone -- left, right, and center.
Archive of Articles for April, 2016
Having devoted yesterday's column to a look backwards at presidential races, today I'm going for a personal best in the "ridiculously early speculation" category, and examine what might happen to the Republicans and the Democrats in the next presidential race. Hey, it's been that kind of week, what can I say?
To tell you the truth, I never thought I'd have to write this article. I fully expected someone else to dig this stuff out, if the calls for Bernie Sanders to drop out of the race (or "say nice things about Hillary Clinton") began. Now that they have, I still haven't seen any detailed reminders of how the 2008 Democratic primary race ended yet. So I went ahead and dug them out on my own.
I thought I'd write the ultimate elections "process story" today -- a story about the process of the process, as it were. Mostly this is because, once again, it's hard to concentrate on anything else in the lead-up to another election night, where millions (well, at least thousands) of political wonks breathlessly wait to hear from Outer Podunk County to see who they voted for.
It's time once again to play another installment of our ongoing game of "pick the primary winners." Now, whenever multiple states hold their primaries on the same day, it has become de rigueur for the pundits to slap some cutesy name on it. This started with the granddaddy of all cute primary names, "Super Tuesday" (which was also, confusingly, known as "SEC Tuesday" this year). However, because a lot of states seem to shift around their primary dates each election cycle, new names are constantly being thought up for the new primary groupings. For tomorrow night's primary, the punditocracy seems to have settled on "Acela Tuesday," but for some reason this irks my sensibilities. Maybe it's because I never thought "Acela" was all that cool a name to begin with. It sounds like something a drug company dreamed up to hawk their newest laxative, or something.
You have to have at least a little bit of pity these days for the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. He seems like one of those guys in a horror flick who keeps trying to convince everyone that the monster isn't real, and that everything can be explained by rational means... right up until the monster unexpectedly (for maximum shock value) rips his head clean off, in graphic 3D. The guy who has persevered in keeping his little group of teenyboppers together and somewhat sane ("If we can just get out to the barn and fire up that Model T/snowmobile/hot air balloon/mine cart/tractor... we can make it out of here to safety!"), who eventually sacrifices himself (in some horrific way) so that the rest of the group of worthless highschoolers can have a chance at survival. You know the guy, right?
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was supposed to be the only person capable of unifying the Republican party (especially the fractious House Republicans), and was portrayed as some sort of savior who had the power to fix the inherent problems and get things done, by showing the world a new Republican agenda for the future. "Regular order" would return to the House, all members would be listened to, and Republicans would unify around a budget rather than incessantly gumming up the works. Ryan was committed to showing Republicans could be the "party of ideas," which they would then turn into legislation and vote on before the election, as a shining centerpiece of Republicanism. Sure, all these bills would likely be vetoed (if they even stood a chance in the Senate), but that was immaterial, because the public would be able to see what Republicans would do if they ever managed to take the White House. The Republican candidate would have a ready-made platform on his (or her) first day in office, all tied up in a nice bow.
Seeing as how it is 4/20, I thought today would be a good day to take a look at how all the remaining presidential candidates stand on the issue of marijuana policy. While mostly ignored by the media (and almost completely ignored in the debates), the issue is going to become a lot more important in the general election, as many states will have recreational legalization ballot initiatives to vote on. The issue is at least addressed by both Democrats on their campaign websites, but none of the Republicans have a single word about marijuana policy on theirs. This is likely a mistake on their part, since pro-marijuana voters are not as partisan as you might think -- the issue cuts across party lines in a way that few other contentious issues do.
What is Donald Trump's real threshold for gaining the Republican nomination on the first vote at the convention? We've all (well, the wonkier among us, to be accurate) had the number 1,237 burned into our brains from all the punditry obsession with the subject (indeed, I didn't even feel the necessity of fact-checking that number, because it has become so prevalent). But because we're so deep into the minutiae of Republican nomination practices, there's an open secret that few have yet noticed: Republicans also have "unbound" delegates at their convention. They aren't "super" (like the Democrats), since nobody gets one of these seats just for being a current member of Congress, but they are just as free to select whichever candidate they feel like. I've seen numbers from the low 100s up to about 200 for how many of these there are (again, too lazy to fact-check that one), meaning they are an extra reserve of possible votes that could be drawn upon if a candidate is close enough to the outright majority of 1,237.
Tomorrow's New York primary will be the decisive one, the pundits tell us. It will join a long list of other primaries and caucuses which were also deemed to be the crucial one which would decide the whole race: Iowa, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and (of course) all the Super Tuesday states. All of these, in turn, were the decisive ones to watch, we were told. The fact that no decisive winner has emerged on either side is deemed irrelevant afterwards, of course, because by then we'll all be focused on the next big, definitive primary on the calendar. This will likely continue right up to California's (decisive) vote, in June.