Quick Tuesday Night Recap, 3/23/16

Because apparently now I’ve made it a thing to write something about the Tuesday night primaries on Wednesday.

1. Hey, hey, Bernie Sanders fans! You had a good night last night, with Sanders thumping Clinton in Utah and Idaho by roughly 80/20 in both states and overall winning more pledged delegates than Hillary Clinton for the first time in a long time (62 to Clinton’s 55). That’s good stuff, and makes the argument that Sanders should stay in it for the long haul.

But is it enough? Fivethirtyeight’s delegate tracker suggested that in order for Sanders to be on track to win the nomination, he needed to win 74 delegates last night; he fell a dozen short of that, even with the comically lopsided caucus wins in Utah and Idaho. Clinton, on the other hand, needed to win 57 to hit her target; she got 55. Which is to say, apparently by fivethirtyeight’s calculus, both Clinton and Sanders failed to hit their marks last night — and Sanders failed more.

(Those are CNN’s current numbers, I should note. Associated Press’ numbers are better for Sanders: 67 to 51. Which means Sanders was seven delegates off his target, while Clinton was six off of hers. Smaller margin, same result.)

This doesn’t mean Sanders is overall in a worse position than he was yesterday, since two big wins can give him momentum in future contests. But it’s a reminder that Sanders at this point not only has to win, and win big, but he has to keep Clinton from hitting her numbers, or at least make sure she misses her numbers by wider margins than he does. He’s got a complicated job, he does.

Personally, I’m interested in seeing how the Washington state caucuses go this Saturday; I think they’ll give some indication on whether Clinton’s going to put this away fairly easy (even if Sanders stays in until June) or whether she’s going to have to scrape out the win one delegate at a time, 2008 Obama-style (or, you know, lose, which could happen, as unlikely as I think that is at this point).

2. Neither Sanders nor Clinton hit their Fivethirtyeight delegate numbers last night, but they can take heart in knowing that on the other side of the fence, neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz got close to their numbers either (and Kasich got a big fat goose egg, so there’s that). Trump, who won Arizona, was off his delegate number by a dozen; Cruz, who slammed Trump in Utah, was off by three times that number.

But then it’s pretty clear the plan now is not for Cruz to get enough delegates to win the nomination outright; it’s to deny Trump enough delegates to do the same. And it worked last night, but the question now is whether it’ll keep working. Utah is filled with LDS church members who for various reasons dislike Trump as a candidate, which made it easier for Cruz to rack up a lopsided victory over Trump (and Kasich, who actually looks to have finished ahead of Trump in Utah).

But Cruz can’t count on that same advantage in Wisconsin, the next GOP state to go to the polls, which is winner-take-all and where Trump holds the lead; he can’t count on it in New York, which is after that, where the most recent poll has Trump up over Cruz by a ridiculous 52 points. There’s not much on the map that looks friendly to Cruz until May, if you ask me, and most of the contests until May are winner-take-all or winner-take-most (Kasich is likely an also-ran in these contests too). Cruz can’t win, but it’s not clear he can make Trump lose, either.

(And then there’s the problem for the GOP that even if Cruz beats Trump, he’s still friggin’ Ted Cruz, who has even less of a chance in the general than Trump.)

Let me put it this way: My political crystal ball is notoriously cloudy, but even so, at this point I would give Bernie Sanders a better chance of winning the Democratic nomination than Trump not getting the GOP nomination outright. Both could happen; both seem to me unlikely.

3. Oh, and Jeb Bush has endorsed Ted Cruz. Yeah, that’ll help.

20 thoughts on “Quick Tuesday Night Recap, 3/23/16

  1. As one who lives in Washington state, in exceedingly blue King County (where the people are), I will be shocked if Bernie Sanders doesn’t win. I see people on a heavily trafficked corner in my suburb holding Sanders banners. I see people on freeway overpasses waving Bernie banners. I hear the buzz among people around me. And there is a socialist on the Seattle City Council. This is not wistful thinking on my part. I intend to caucus for the one and only democrat running, Hillary Clinton, even though I expect her to lose to the socialist-turned-democrat-for-this-election.

  2. I’m very glad to follow this Wednesday after Tuesday primary trend. If I read you first, I’m less likely to get all stabby reading other accounts. (A reasonable response makes for a mellower me in the mornings.)

    Maybe Jeb thinks his endorsement could be the kiss of death for the Cruz bid?

    (I’m entirely okay with either Hillary (pref.) or Bernie, and equally fearful of Trump or Cruz, although I’m starting to think Trump would do less damage. Cruz is seriously scary..is he envisioning internment camps for Muslim-American’s as we wrongfully did to the Japanese-Americans? That’s what he sounds like he’s saying (only they get to stay in their homes surrounded by guards. Nice.). Trump on the other hand, just sounds increasingly idiotic.

  3. (OT?): If the late, great NY writer Donald E. Westlake was still with us, I think this election would’ve been the seed for a great comic novel about a Donald Trump-ish figure running for the presidency. Like All the King’s Men, but with laughs. (And after this election season, I need all the laughter I can get.)

  4. typos….

    “2. Neither Sanders or Clinton his their Fivethirtyeight delegate numbers last night, but they can take heart in knowing…… ”

    “or” should be “nor” and I think “his” should be “hit”

  5. As a Washingtonian who generally votes liberal (really, really liberal), I’m also curious about how things will shake down here. King County is solidly blue, and even our conservatives (all other counties) are more liberal than say, oh, Mississippi (even MS liberals), but unlike Catfriend, my bubble is solidly for Hilary. The bar chatter is sympathetic to Bernie Sanders, but doubtful of his ability to achieve results, while Clinton has a strong track record and is generally respected, even by those who don’t get all warm and fuzzy over her.

    There’s a low key joke that WA Republicans are really Democrats, our Democrats are Socialists, our Socialists are Communists, our Communists are Anarchists, and our Anarchists are Republicans. It’s funny cuz it’s true. :-)

  6. Now when they have counted all the votes, it seems as Sanders indeed did get his 74 delegates (and Clinton got exactly 57). Not that it helps; Sanders need to exceed that target to catch up, and it will get harder and harder to do that as the number of states left keeps getting fewer.
    Personally, I do not see any scenario where he manage to bounce back from here unless Clinton drops out for some reason (as in, get hit by a bus or get caught on tape eating a kitten or something).

  7. So, the Church of the LDS think Trump is not extreme enough for them, but Cruz is? That right there is the case for Trump taking the Republican nomination. I’m not American, I admit that, but as a non-American the prospect of President Trump is a lot less terrifying than the thought of President Cruz is. I accept that Americans may feel different, Trump being embarrassing is probably internally worse than a President who is terrifying to others, but I’d rather America deal with the buffoon than the religious maniac. That said, I’d much rather you had the left wing socialist Jew instead of either.

  8. @crypticmirror: I could accept that if Trump were only a buffoon. Unfortunately, he’s not; he’s a demagogue who’s built a campaign around stirring up hatreds against ‘others’ (whether they’re female, immigrants, POC in general, people whose political views don’t agree with his… really, it doesn’t seem to matter much who you are, he’s willing to slander you if he thinks you’re against him). Worse, he’s translating that into inviting violence and battery at his campaign events, and people are starting to take him up on his invitations. I find that chilling, and something I’m afraid is going to have a long-term effect on American society; encouragement to ‘solve’ issues with people you don’t agree with by punching them in the face, instead of discussion and the democratic process, is the kind of thing that leads to lynch mobs and the KKK.

    Not that I think Cruz is any better, as you and others have rightly pointed out his theocratic leanings and support from ‘true conservatives’. And they’ve also pointed out that Cruz’ familiarity with the machinery of government means that he stands a greater chance of getting official policy enacted. I just think it’s extremely dangerous to think of Trump as somehow ‘better’ than Cruz – or worse, that he’s an ‘acceptable alternative’.

    Personally, I view the difference between Trump and Cruz as something like the difference between being shot and run over by a truck; one may hurt more or take longer, but in the end you’re still dead.

  9. I’m an athiest; Cruz scares me. My wife is Native American, she’s regularly misidentified as Hispanic or Arabic by the ignorant and racist. Trump terrifies me.

  10. @crypticmirror
    The impression I’m getting from the various news stories surrounding Utah is that Mormons are both strongly in favor of your church controlling your life *and* strongly in favor of the state not choosing which church controls your life. (The latter comes from a history of running from lynch mobs on their way west.) Oddly, this means they are probably the Republican Establishment’s only natural constituency, being in favor of private social programs and immigration. Said establishment is getting the boot hard, this year, of course.

  11. This election in a Westlake novel, sure. I dig Westlake.

    But Richard Condon… I so wish someone would attack the Trump/Cruz problem like he would have. One of my favorite writers, and one who is largely forgotten today.

    JS, I really enjoy your election commentaries. It was a minor disappointment that this week there were no “quotes of the day” to be gleaned. You know, like “Ted Cruz, an odious fistula”, or “The GOP has been a sloppy drunk for years”, or “an overripe pustule of hateful need.”

    Now THOSE were some great examples of wordsmithing. Keep ’em coming, please.

  12. @crypticmirror, the problem the LDS church has with Trump is that they generally more pro-immigration than other Republicans. The church leadership has lobbied for several years on a more “compassionate” immigration system, and the governor of Utah was the only Republican governor to say that his state would accept Syrian refugees. The LDS church leadership also spoke out against Islamophobia after Trump said he would ban Muslims from the country. Plus his clearly insincere religious pandering does not go over well to a group that places an importance on religion and church attendance; and his insults/vulgarity, misogynist attacks on women and his encouragement of violence all go against Mormon niceness. I’m from a Mormon family, and even the most conservative members are disgusted with Trump.

  13. One thing I don’t see mentioned here is that the FiveThirtyEight numbers do not include superdelegates, of which Clinton appears to have a massive lead. Sure, they COULD switch to Sanders… but Sanders NEEDS them to, in addition to needing to win big with pledged delegates.

    He has a long, long way to go.

  14. Ugh, I guess this means I have to caucus. I wanted to sleep in! In a lot of ways Washington is a weird place. Yes, our biggest city has a socialist on the city council ( I didn’t vote for her, I voted for the other WOC community organizer who actually understands ‘working together’), but you get out of the city and it’s not nearly so blue. But all of the people (proportionally) live in King county, so that’s how we vote.

    I’m for Hilary. I feel like Bernie’s done great things for the race and for forcing Clinton’s position, but he’s more likely to get the changes he wants as a legislator than as executive.

  15. Yet another Washingtonian weighing in: I’m in Kitsap County, and I’m seeing a LOT of Sanders stickers and yard signs. As an elections judge of some years, I’m not willing to discuss my personal vote in public, but given the turnout in other states I anticipate a busy day.

    And da Silva said what I was going to about members of the LDS Church and their dislike for Trump, but far more eloquently. I’m not LDS, but members of my family are and I lived in Utah for a number of years: say what you will about the church doctrine — and re: LGBT issues and attitudes toward women, there is plenty to say — their missionary program encourages a great number of people to live outside the US (at their own expense) for at least a couple of years and learn to speak more than one language, and that does have an impact on attitudes towards immigration.

    On down the road, though, more than a few Mormons realize that they’d be right up against the wall with Muslims, LGBT folks and anyone else who didn’t fit into Cruz’s Dominionist agenda. I expect a lot of people entering the booth with large clothespins for their noses and voting for whoever the Democrats put up — just not sharing that information around after.

  16. A few notes of my own:

    Because it apparently can’t be repeated often enough: the superdelegates will break for the candidate with the majority of pledged delegates. They might divvy them up to make it a close finish, but they’re not going to put in “the fix”.

    So, now Sanders has won big in two states whose electoral votes will certainly go to the Republican candidate in November. So there’s that.

    Meanwhile, Sanders continues to win in states with low diversity, while Clinton does well in highly diverse states. I’ve noticed a number of Sanders supporters who seem to be counting on California to save him, but that diversity thing is not working in his favor.

    Also, New York is still coming. And while there’s no indication Clinton will win there 80-20 (as Sanders did in his home turf of Vermont), 60-40 in favor of Clinton is likely, maybe even 70-30. But just a near 50-50 split, even one in Sanders’s favor, would be enough to keep Clinton on track.

    I really do feel for Sanders’s fans as they read results. It’s like a California weather report during a drought: “We got lots of rain today. Didn’t help the drought at all, though.”

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