Hillary Clinton won the New York primary, but contrary to what seems to be universal mass media spin, really didn’t increase her delegate margin substantially. The trouble, of course, is that Bernie Sanders needs to be substantially cutting into that margin; he didn’t, and it seems like the only remaining question is when what has been from the beginning a very steep hill he has had to climb becomes an unscalable cliff. At this point, he probably needs to hope that Clinton’s “damn emails” catch up with her.
On the Republican side; Donald Trump won handily, improving his chances of 1) avoiding a contested convention, 2) prevailing even at a contested convention. Upcoming primaries may also be Trump-friendly. On April 9, having seen a little too much negative coverage, I said “I now think what I was reluctant to conclude before, that Trump has done himself enough damage and perhaps has attracted enough of the wrong kind of attention that he has let the nomination slip away.” I probably should have held on to that reluctance a bit longer. Trump now once again appears to be the most likely nominee, but with a huge caveat that the Republican Party establishment now seems a bit more determined and a bit more convincing in its efforts to shut him down. To be certain of prevailing, he really needs to avoid a contested convention and it’s clearly too early to say he can do that.
What does all this mean for the general election, when all leading candidates except Sanders are despised? I would caution against reading too much into that Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey result—a mistake that a CBS News account seems to have made in declaring that respondents “said they couldn’t see themselves voting” for these candidates, a claim I don’t see in the Wall Street Journal story. I haven’t actually checked the survey results themselves to see if the question that CBS News claims was answered was even asked; even if it was, voters will surely choose whomever they think is the lesser of evils, a situation that isn’t really all that different from previous elections.
The question here, really, is whether perceptions of Trump as misogynist, racist, “fascist,” or “proto-fascist” or of Ted Cruz as even scarier will substantially increase voters’ willingness to turn out and vote for Clinton. In my bubble, that’s a really hard question to answer right now.
It appears that doubts about Republicans’ ‘governability’ in the House of Representatives that swirled around the succession drama last year may have been vindicated. I can’t help but suspect that this is helping to motivate the party establishment to shut Donald Trump down, even at the risk of alienating the authoritarian populist base.
In that, even though I also see Ted Cruz as authoritarian populist, his appeal to social conservatives is greater. Social conservatives aren’t causing the problems in the House that authoritarian populists are and functionalist conservatives might now just be willing to sacrifice a portion of the authoritarian populist vote, particularly if it helps to constrain authoritarian populist influence, if they can hold on to the social conservative vote.
John Bresnahan, “Paul Ryan’s House of woes,” Politico, April 20, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/paul-ryan-house-speaker-republicans-222098
Sam Stanton and Diana Lambert, “UC Davis spent thousands to scrub pepper-spray references from Internet,” Sacramento Bee, April 13, 2016, http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article71659992.html
Ellen Wexler, “How (Not) to Hide a Scandal,” Inside Higher Ed, April 20, 2016, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/04/20/why-uc-daviss-campaign-manipulate-search-results-backfired
So maybe you thought the National Review was relatively sane for vociferously opposing Donald Trump. Guess again. (And, by the way, judging from a headline—the article itself is actually a little better—they’re still in denial.)
Michelle Malkin, “Yes, We Need a Canadian Border Wall,” National Review, April 20, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/434263/canadian-border-wall-why-we-need-one
Jeremy Carl, “Nothing Changed Yesterday—And Trump Is Still Not on the Path to Nomination,” National Review, April 20, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/434267/donald-trump-new-york-primary-win-changes-nothing
Tara Golshan, “Some New Yorkers feel disenfranchised by the primary. They are taking the fight to court,” Vox, April 20, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/4/20/11466578/new-york-primary-voter-lawsuit