Wednesday, April 27, 2016

5 Thoughts on Yesterday's Primaries

Ahh!  Too much news in one day where I somehow didn't have a before-work or lunch break (it was a particularly lengthy day at the office).  I know that you all are buzzing about Carly Fiorina and the Ted Cruz political gambit of the day, but first I would be foolish not to discuss yesterday's primaries, and what they mean as we continue a slow march into November.  Without further adieu, here are five thoughts I had on yesterday's primaries.

1. Hillary Clinton is About to Make History

It's lost quite frequently in all of the discussions of the 2016 race, perhaps because we've taken it for granted so long, but it bears repeating: never, in the 240 years that we have been a country has a woman been the presidential nominee of a major political party.  Never-not once.  That is about to change, likely in a matter of weeks.  Hillary Clinton didn't do quite as well as polls initially had led us to believe (she lost in Rhode Island and nearly lost in Connecticut), but she ended up with a net win of about 50 delegates thanks to rock-solid victories in Pennsylvania and Delaware, and put even more distance between herself and Sen. Bernie Sanders.  It's a sign of how much this race has been wrapped up that Sanders laid off dozens of workers today, workers that any candidate who was winning the nomination would be desperate to hang onto (because he'll need them in the general) and that he is now more about influencing the platform than landing a spot on the ticket.  It's worth noting that Clinton's speeches going forward will surely be about unity and almost entirely about attacking the Republicans-Bernie Sanders is not a threat, but alienating his voters, who will be vitally important for Clinton in November, is a potential headache and she wants to start mending any fences.  While I don't think Sanders will get out any time soon, I'm reluctant to believe he'll even make it to Cleveland-my gut is saying he'll stage one last stand in California trying to gain support, at which point he will drop out, likely when it becomes apparent that mathematically he has no shot at the nomination.

2. Donald Trump Just Got Closer

While Clinton may have missed expectations slightly (but not enough to matter), Donald Trump exceeded them.  Trump won nearly every single delegate on the table last night, scoring five decisive victories coming off of a must-win victory in New York.  While Trump's path to the nomination still has speed-bumps (it's likely he'll have to win Indiana, which it's worth noting he's looking solid to achieve), but it's time to start realizing that Trump could make that political wet dream of a contested convention look like a lot of wasted ink (or bytes)-Trump's quest to 1237 looks more and more realistic, and even if he falls short it could well be by a slim enough margin that the Republicans won't be able to deny him the nomination regardless.  Last night was probably the last stand of the #NeverTrump, quite frankly, as even if he gets walloped in Indiana (unlikely), it's going to be hard to deny the man who won the most delegates, contests, and votes, and who is polling at 50% of Republicans nationally, the nomination.  Polls that show Hillary Clinton with near double-digit leads over Trump have to be causing Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan insomnia, but they need to realize that the New York business magnate is almost certain to be running with them.

3. The General Election Has Begun

We got a preview of the general election battle yesterday, and it was ugly.  It's worth noting that Trump is behind by 8-points with white women (compared to Mitt Romney, who ended up winning white women by 14-points), a statistic that has to be staggering for a party that still lost the election (meaning they'd need to be doing better with women in 2016 to emerge victorious), to see Donald Trump up on stage disparaging Hillary Clinton's gender.  Having Carly Fiorina back on the trail for a time being (another victim of Trump's sexism) isn't going to keep that argument from coming back to haunt Trump.  If his handlers can't figure out a way to stop him from saying things like Hillary Clinton, a former senator and Secretary of State, would only be polling at 5% if she was a man and proclaim she's using the "woman card," they are in for a rude awakening in terms of female voters, which could surely have an effect down-ballot.

4. The Democratic Establishment Stands Strong

Speaking of down-ballot, it's worth noting that more than just the White House is up for grabs this cycle, as we'll see both houses of Congress in play.  Yesterday we saw proof that the DSCC's interventionist attitude toward the battle to take back the Senate worked, as both Chris van Hollen (MD) and Katie McGinty (PA) picked up major victories in their primaries.  McGinty had been endorsed by President Obama and Vice President Biden, as well as the DSCC, while van Hollen was a favorite of most of the political establishment and was endorsed by Harry Reid.  These wins don't necessarily make it easier for the Democrats in the general election (Maryland was safe blue anyway and one could argue that former Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania has a stronger track record than McGinty in terms of winning elections), but the DSCC is lining up exactly the slate that they want, and are pushing hard to have as many trained and ready Democrats at the lines if and when Donald Trump is the nominee.  While ticket-splitting is always a possibility, it's difficult to see Republicans like Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey being able to hold off a wave if Hillary Clinton is truly beating Trump by 8-10 points nationally.  I suspect that with the success of McGinty we'll see the DSCC step in in other contested primaries on behalf of the likes of Patrick Murphy (FL), Patty Judge (IA), and perhaps even Kamala Harris in California, hoping to run the board in November.

It's also worth noting that while the House fundraising arm wasn't nearly as aggressive as its Senate counterpart, I was personally very excited that Jamie Raskin won the House primary for van Hollen's seat.  Both his opponents David Trone and Kathleen Matthews had, in the recent past, given money to Republicans and it was nice to see someone who didn't simply try and buy a seat in Congress but instead had worked in the district for years actually take the nomination, and considering the political lean of the district, surely the seat.

5. And the First Congressman Sent Home Is...

Every year there's always the question over which member of Congress is the one that isn't going to be coming back for another term not of his or her own choice, but of the voters'.  This year, despite the fact that the Democrats are expected to do well in November, the person going home first is Rep. Chaka Fattah.  The twenty-year veteran of the US House faces multiple felony charges at the moment, so it's not like this was a particularly big loss, but it's always shocking to see an entrenched incumbent lose their primary, and makes me wonder if other congressmen embroiled in scandal like Frank Guinta will befall a similar fate.

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