Wednesday, April 6, 2016
By Reed Galen
Quote by a Smart Person: “Life is a journey no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” Oliver Goldsmith
Welcome to the American Singularity.
Senator Ted Cruz won Wisconsin’s GOP Primary Election tonight, surprising almost no one. Between his campaign’s organizational strength, Governor Scott Walker’s endorsement, and Donald Trump’s unwillingness or inability to just stop talking, Cruz trounced the putative Republican frontrunner, further scrambling an already unprecedented race. “Tonight is a turning point,” Cruz told his supporters during his victory speech. A choice between Cruz’s rock-ribbed conservatism and Donald Trump’s chaotic miasma of celebrity and populist nativism. And we may see Wisconsin as a turning point: Cruz nearly got to 50%, a rare occurrence this year.
On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders swept another state into his column, perhaps not edging him any closer to the nomination, but once again preventing Hillary Clinton from claiming the mantle for herself. Indeed, in the long run, it is unlikely that Sanders can beat Clinton state to state. But what he can do is keep her engaged and occupied while the Republicans complete their race to the electoral bottom. Young voters in towns like Madison carried Sanders to victory; a victory he hopes can create an unlikely upset in New York next week.
The Long and Winding Road
The road to their respective nominations grew longer for both parties tonight. As noted above, Sanders still has an uphill climb to knock Clinton off her path to being the party standard-bearer. But the longer the race goes, and the more delegates Sanders accrues, the larger role he will likely play in the Democratic Convention this summer and the further left Clinton must remain in her policy positions to protect her left flank.
While still not a sure-thing, Cleveland, Ohio is increasingly likely to be the site of an epic reckoning for the Republican Party. While Trump is likely to win his home state of New York next week, he has to win an inordinately high number of delegates, much higher than he has to date, to achieve the 1237 delegates needed to be nominated outright. Wisconsin showed us that Trump needs contests on which to focus. He lacks the discipline to stay out of trouble when not flying around to multiple states over the course of a week, invoking his dominance of the earned media airwaves. The whole idea that you needed Trump one on one to beat him may be incorrect. You just need to leave him to his own devices and he’ll say and do monumentally stupid things politically and sow his own seeds of failure.
The Rule of 15%
Governor John Kasich is hanging around. By all accounts, his own and those of his strategists, he’s not going anywhere before he gets back to his home state for the GOP Convention this summer. But in tonight’s Wisconsin contest, a solid, hard-working Midwestern state like his own Ohio, Kasich tallied only 15% of the vote. As the other candidates who appealed to the “Establishment” have gone by the wayside, Kasich has been unable to consolidate more support, even among those who should flock to him as a potential savior for the Party. Cruz and Trump combined for 85% of the vote tonight and that does not bode well for business as usual in Washington. While the #NeverTrump army can take cold comfort in The Donald’s defeat tonight, they cannot and must not overlook the fact that Republican primary voters want massive, tectonic change in both their own party and in Washington, DC.
On the Steele & Ungar radio show earlier tonight, we discussed whether Kasich’s failure to climb has to do with his lone victory or relative lack of media coverage. But if you’re voting in a primary election, you know who these candidates are. If you are taking the time out of your day in April to make your voice heard, you’ve collected the information you need to make an informed decision. And Kasich’s week showing tonight continues to support my theory of the GOP in 2016: There just aren’t enough Establishment voters to go around anymore. When offered a perfectly acceptable choice, they declined to pull the level for Kasich, or maybe it’s that they weren’t ever there in there first place.
(Un)civil Discourse or Singing the Delegate Blues
Trump aide and all around good guy Roger Stone managed to have himself banned from his second cable news channel of the election cycle. In comments earlier today, he intimated that Donald Trump’s supporters would be searching out the hotel rooms of Republican delegates during this summer’s Convention. Being a delegate is normally a fun experience. You fly in with your friends. Buses carry you all over the host city to different parties and fetes. You get to be on the floor of the convention hall and wave signs, flags and other patriotic paraphernalia.
But in 2016 being a delegate may be fraught with challenges and worries never before seen. If Trump doesn’t get to 1237 before Cleveland, it’s entirely possible that his supporters, thousands of them, could descend on the city and the convention, wreaking havoc and keeping the GOP’s implosion front and center as tens of millions of American voters tune in to see what Republicans have to offer. They’ll like hear less and see more than they care to. Every day we march closer to a convention that will lose positive control of itself, in which chaos will reign and from which the nominee will emerge battered by a process no one could have ever imagined, only to look up and see both barrels of the Clinton machine staring them in the face.