Thursday, March 10, 2016

Staring Into The Abyss

Politicians are often hard to figure out.

What drives them?

Patriotism? Principles? Popularity? Passion? Profit?

This is particularly true for those that run for the office of President of the United States.

It is grueling. It can be glitzy. You are always trying to avoid the campaign-ending gaffe. Although I am sure it is also gratifying seeing those cities and crowds as you crisscross America.  It can also be especially gruesome if you are on a debate stage with Donald Trump.

When you put so much of yourself into it, I am sure it is not easy to say, "It's time to quit."

Most don't go voluntarily into the night. They only exit when the campaign contributors stop writing checks and the money runs out.

You can also be sure that the consultants and advisors of most candidates are not going to push a candidate to the sidelines as long as there is money in the bank. That candidate is more than the message and issues to them---he or she is their paycheck as well.

I am reflecting on all of this tonight as I survey the GOP Presidential race.

I am a numbers guy. And the numbers in this race do not lie.

As of today, these are the delegate counts looking to the 1,237 necessary to gain the nomination in Cleveland in July.

Trump  458

Cruz  359

Rubio 151

Kasich 54.

Let's put that in context.

Trump needs to win 54% of all of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination.

Cruz 61%.

Rubio needs an impossibly large 76%.

Kasich needs a completely insurmountable 82%.

However, you begin to see how ridiculous it is for Rubio and Kasich to still be in the race when you calculate where they will be if they both win their home states next Tuesday. In that event, Rubio would need 78% and Kasich would need 88%!

How can it actually be worse for them than it is now? Even though they each may win their home state they will clearly lose the other state to the other guy and get shut out on those delegates. That makes gaining the necessary delegates that much harder with fewer states in play on the day after next week's primary elections.

Talk about hopeless, Kasich did not even submit enough signatures to qualify for the upcoming Pennsylvania primary ballot. He also failed to submit enough qualifying signatures for the Illinois ballot but he is being allowed to keep his name of the ballot because no one has filed a formal challenge. I guess it shows what his opponents think of his chances in that state!

The train that might take Marco Rubio or John Kasich to the Republican nomination for President has left the station.

However, they are still trying to entice donors and voters to get on a train with them to nowhere. There they were on the debate stage tonight talking about what they were going to do as President! Who are they kidding besides themselves?

At the same time, their actions are standing in the way of letting Republican voters weigh in on a head to head match-up between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

A three or four way race is tailor made for Trump who seems to have difficulty in getting above 40% of the vote.

A good example is last week in Michigan. Trump got 37% of the final vote. Cruz got 25%, Kasich 24% and Rubio 9%. However, when voters were asked in exit polls how they would vote in a 2-way race between Trump and Cruz, Cruz beat Trump 46%-37%. That's right, Cruz effectively captured all of the anti-Trump vote. For many voters it is as much voting against Trump as voting for him.

You begin to see how important Florida and Ohio are in determining the GOP nominee when you look at the calculation with regard to Trump and Cruz.

If Trump wins both, he only needs 45% of the remaining delegates to capture the nomination. Cruz would then be placed in a position that he would need to win 69%. That would be very, very difficult unless Trump totally imploded along the way.

If Cruz could win both, he would need 56% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright. However, Trump would then need 61%. All of sudden Cruz would be in the driver's seat although a contested convention would still be a possibility.

A sure path to a contested convention is if Rubio and Kasich both win their home states. As shown above, it does little to help those two but Cruz would need 69% of the remaining delegates and Trump would need 61%. It would be highly unlikely anyone can gain the nomination short of a convention fight or brokered convention in this scenario.

You have to believe that this is why Rubio and Kasich have not dropped out. The Republican Establishment is funding and encouraging their kamikaze mission because the only hope for the Establishment to have any influence at this point is a brokered or contested convention.

Otherwise the choice is Trump or Cruz, the two worst nightmares that can be imagined for the Republican Establishment right now.

I can't help but think that the Republican elders are playing with fire with the political theatre they are trying to orchestrate behind the curtain.

Looking at the votes to this point, how can the Republican Party Establishment think that they can take the nomination away from either Trump or Cruz and have any party left when it is all over?

Politicians are hard to figure out.

However, the political parties this year may be even harder to figure out than the politicians.

The earth is shifting under their feet (the Democrats are no different with Bernie Sanders giving the Democrat Establishment and Hillary a run for their money) and they are not quite sure how to hang on without falling into the abyss.

They may both avoid the abyss but the political landscape will likely be very different going forward in the wake of this election year.

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