Tuesday’s Elections: Not a Conventional Analysis

Primary ElectionsFour states on Tuesday held either a caucus or a primary. As with last Saturday’s results, one can again go with the conventional analysis and give the night to Donald Trump or one can look a little deeper. I choose the latter.

Now, there’s no denying that Trump won three of those four states and that it moved him closer to the nomination. But it didn’t get him as far as one might want to think. Neither are the trends going in his direction.

Let’s look at each state individually.

Mississippi

This was a two-man race only. Kasich and Rubio were so far behind as to be nearly nonexistent. As with Louisiana, according to reports, more than 40% of the voters had already turned in ballots early, meaning they had made up their minds prior to witnessing the last two debates, both of which were problematic for Trump. In Louisiana, those who voted on primary day went for Cruz over Trump. I have to wonder if the same scenario played out in Mississippi. How many early Trump voters regretted their haste afterward?

Michigan

This one was quite interesting in that Cruz didn’t put any effort into the state. According to one report, his campaign spent about $1100 overall. In election terms, that’s like spending nothing. Yet he came in second, overtaking Kasich, who had labored to make Michigan his lead-in to Ohio next week. It’s amazing to hear some talking heads remark about Kasich’s “strong” showing in Michigan while seeming to miss the fact that he came in third out of four candidates. Comments about Cruz’s surprise finish, when he had pretty much written off the state, were few and far between.

I know it has become fashionable to blame the media for how much time they give Trump over Cruz, and I don’t want to jump on a bandwagon just for the sake of jumping on, but . . . the accusation is all too true.

Rubio, by the way, took last place by a convincing margin.

Ted Cruz 3Idaho

This was a runaway victory for Cruz, pulling in more than 45% of the vote; Trump was under 30%. Yet somehow it gets lost in the shuffle. Cruz spent more time here, giving an indication that when he concentrates on a state, he can make significant gains. Again, neither Kasich nor Rubio were major factors.

Hawaii

No one knew what to expect here. Trump won over Cruz by about 42% to 32% in a state known to be one of the most liberal in the nation. Cruz won liberal Maine, so that 32% in Hawaii may indicate more strength than some are willing to admit.

Delegates

As I noted in an earlier post, the number of states won, at this point, means less than the delegate total. While Trump won more delegates on Tuesday, it wasn’t a massive take. In fact, Trump, despite winning three states to Cruz’s one, earned only 12 delegates more than Cruz on the night.  Overall, he now has either a 458-359 or 459-364 lead over Cruz (depending on which network is doing the calculation), still within striking distance.

The Media

Okay, I have another comment to make about the media’s role. After Trump won Mississippi and Michigan, he staged (I use that word advisedly) a so-called press conference that turned into an infomercial for his business “successes.” Yes, I put that word in quotes. He had steaks on the stage, but his steak business went bust; he had water and wines, but he doesn’t really manage those anymore. The water bottles on stage were just the typical kind you get at the nearest grocery store.

Donald TrumpHe then boasted that his defunct and fraudulent Trump University would rise from the ashes of the current lawsuits and be “great.” Have you noticed how often he uses certain words—great, tremendous, wonderful, etc.? Have you noticed that instead of substance, he simply keeps repeating the same words and sentences over and over?

Yet the media never broke away from his ramblings. They gave full coverage to this lovefest for himself. He truly is a media creation. And a juvenile one at that.

What Next?

The big states next week are Florida and Ohio. I really don’t mind Kasich staying in the race right now if there is any possibility he could take Ohio away from Trump. It won’t be the start of Kasichmentum no matter how often he says it will be.

In Florida, I sincerely doubt that Rubio can win. I live here. I have access to a lot of disgruntled people who believe he betrayed them on immigration, and they are not very forgiving, even a few years later. Rubio won’t step down before Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, so he risks his entire political future if he ever decides to run for governor. Losing a presidential primary in one’s own state is a badge of dishonor that will stay with a candidate for a long time.

Cruz’s decision to make a stronger play for Florida might be too little too late, but he is on an upswing while Rubio is heading in the other direction. Trends do matter. Even if Cruz cannot win Florida, if he puts in a surprisingly strong showing, that could help propel him into victories elsewhere.

If Rubio should lose Florida, his run is over, and he will need to acknowledge it, sooner rather than later. That will be the only hope for Cruz to overtake Trump. Despite some of the bad blood between the two campaigns, I find it hard to believe that the majority of Rubio supporters would migrate to Trump.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing has been decided for sure yet, no matter what you may hear in the media.

Fascinating–and Unbelievable–Polls

Fascinating. Truly fascinating. And totally unbelievable. To what am I referring? Polls released yesterday indicate that Obama is ten points ahead of Romney in Ohio and nine points ahead in Florida. Why don’t I believe them? I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, are we really supposed to believe that a president who consistently shows weakness in polls about policy is that far ahead in these critical swing states? I mean, there’s an awful lot of baggage to consider:

But the media is fighting diligently for his reelection. Last week, when an audio tape surfaced of Obama in 1998 declaring his belief in redistribution, there was no pile-on by media elites. To them, this was not in the same league as Romney’s 47% remark. Romney was excoriated over that one, while Obama got his usual pass:

It is possible, of course, that the electorate is deaf, dumb, and blind to what has occurred over the last four years. In that case, these polls might be accurate. There are videos going viral right now showing Obama voters displaying their ignorance over the basic facts of American government, current policies, and even the identification of the candidates. So, yes, there is the possibility those polls are revealing this abysmal lack of knowledge and astounding ideological rigidity.

But there are solid reasons to question the accuracy of the latest round of polls. A look at the breakdown of those being polled reveals a stupefying oversampling of Democrats and undersampling of Republicans and independents. Most of the pollsters—not all, thankfully—and the ones who are receiving all the publicity, are using the 2008 election turnout as their basis for whom to poll. Well, 2008 was the high water mark for Democrat turnout. Is it even reasonable to assume the turnout will be the same for 2012? Not only is the energy level of Obama voters ebbing, but independents who went for him in 2008 are having a lot of second thoughts. Nearly every poll indicates they are disillusioned with the results of 2008.

What are the pollsters missing? How about the 2010 congressional elections? Remember those? That’s when the House turned Republican and Republicans increased their numbers in the Senate. It’s when Tea Party-backed candidates such as Marco Rubio stunned the political establishment. Florida voters put Rubio in office even as he ran not only against a Democrat, but also against turncoat Charlie Crist. Rubio, in that three-way race, still broke the 50% mark. Is that same electorate going to go strongly for Obama? Hardly likely. It seems to me that 2010 is a better marker for following the voting trend.

Think a minute. Has Obama done anything since the congressional elections to increase his popularity? The economic news remains dismal. His Obamacare mandates are forcing religious organizations to go against their beliefs, putting freedom of religion in jeopardy. He is currently being caught in a boldfaced lie about the real cause of the Libyan uprising.

It is manifestly dishonest to conduct skewed polling. It is a violation of sound journalistic practice to become a cheerleading squad for the president. I’ll be very interested to see what the true voice of the people is when the one poll that counts is tallied on November 6.

The Most Important Insight from Super Tuesday

Let’s start with a summary of what happened in the Super Tuesday contests, then move on to some specifics. Romney won six states, Santorum three, and Gingrich one. The only one that was close was Ohio, which took until the wee hours to be called for Romney. Santorum had been leading there most of the evening. The [almost] final tally is 38%-37%.

Key thoughts: except for Ohio, Romney’s wins were easy. One was his real home state of Massachusetts, as opposed to his other quasi-home states of New Hampshire and Michigan. I’ve never seen a candidate with so many home states. Another of those wins was Virginia, where only he and Paul were on the ballot. That was a simple task for him, not having to face Santorum in a state where Santorum could have done well if not for having the toughest rules for getting on the ballot. Virginia may be changing those rules after this experience where its voters didn’t have a real choice.

Santorum’s win in Oklahoma was expected. In Tennessee, the polls seemed to indicate Romney was coming on strong. They were wrong. No one knew what to expect from the North Dakota caucuses; Santorum’s easy win there was somewhat surprising to the pundits. If he had captured Ohio, the story might be different this morning.

That leads me to the most important insight from the night: Newt Gingrich is the ultimate spoiler; he’s the Ross Perot of the Republican campaign. He won his home state of Georgia and claimed that was significant enough to carry on his quest. Never mind that he didn’t come in second anywhere else. Sometimes, he was woefully behind Paul as an unimpressive fourth-place finisher. The only thing keeping him going, I suspect, is ego.

As I’ve noted before, polls show that when Gingrich supporters are asked for their second choice in the race, most pick Santorum. Without Gingrich, Santorum probably would have won Ohio comfortably. The problem is, he never gets to take on Romney one-on-one. Gingrich keeps muddying the waters. It’s past time for him to go, but he doesn’t get the message.

Commentators, even after last night, continue to speak of Romney as one of the weakest frontrunners imaginable. If Gingrich were to face the inevitable, Romney wouldn’t be inevitable. If indeed Romney captures this nomination, he enters the race against Obama as a weak candidate. The mantra is that this drawn-out campaign is what is weakening him. I disagree. His weakness comes from within. His baggage will go with him.

Santorum’s Rapid Rise

It’s turning into a tidal wave, particularly in the Midwest. What am I talking about? The rapid rise of Rick Santorum in the polls. All you have to do is watch the faces and hear the incredulity in the voices of cable news hosts to know that something is happening that was more than a little unexpected.

A series of new polls coming out of Michigan show Santorum leading Romney anywhere from four points to fifteen. Not a single one favors Romney at this time. Then there is the shocker out of Ohio, a Rasmussen poll showing Santorum with a 42-24 advantage. Even Arizona, where the Santorum forces decided not to waste money because it is a winner-take-all primary like Florida’s, and polls showed Romney with a big lead, now sits at Romney 38%, Santorum 31%. It appears GOP voters continue to have a hard time coming to grips with a Romney candidacy.

Commentators have begun searching for weaknesses in Santorum. They think they’ve found them on social issues. They believe voters will eventually be turned off by his lack of support for contraception and his opposition to gay marriage. First, if we’ve come to the point where opposition to homosexuals demanding marriage is a losing proposition, we’re beyond the pale as a country anyway. I appreciate Santorum standing firm on that one. If that’s a losing position, it’s also a principled and honorable one. Second, Santorum has no plans to make Americans accept his views on contraception. Even those of us who don’t agree with his stance completely on that one know what his aim is—to reduce sexual immorality and enhance the status of marriage and family. As long as he frames these positions carefully and positively, he can win with them.

The biggest problem remaining for Santorum appears to be Newt Gingrich. He hasn’t yet come to the realization that his opportunity has passed him by. He’s even less desirable for Republican voters than Romney.

He used to lecture Santorum to drop out of the race so as not to split the conservative vote. It’s time for Newt to take his own advice.