Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Questions Coming Out of South Carolina

South Carolina has, indeed, "winnowed the field:" It got rid of Bush. This was after handing a solid first-place victory to Trump and then a virtual tie (with the nose going to Rubio) for second in Ted/Marco-space. Under the rules of South Carolina / the Republican Primary, Trump got every last one of the delegates. Cruz and Rubio got what Carson did: Zip.

Over in Nevada, it was Victory for C--Clinton, that is. Where polling showed an even race, Clinton got a pretty solid 5% win. There are some spin-shenanigans with entry polling showing Sanders crushing it with Latinos--but there are likely reasons not to believe them.

What Now??

Here are the questions coming out of South Carolina

How Gracefully Do Sanders Supporters Lose?

Oh, Sanders is far from done. He probably won't win in South Carolina but he's likely to hang around well past Super Tuesday. The question will be for Sanders Supporters: how do they cope with the reality that Sanders really, truly, is an underdog in the race and his New Hampshire blow-out doesn't change that.

To quote Kill Bill:1
O-Ren Ishii: You didn't think it was gonna be that easy, did you?
The Bride: You know, for a second there, yeah, I kinda did.
It's not going to be that easy--and Sanders Supporters, who, for example, have set up their own dating site (with the not meant to be ironic tag-line " Meet Other People Who Understand The World") are going to have to come to terms with that. Allegedly they shouted down a Spanish translator (who happened to support Hillary) chanting "English Only" so early signs are not good.

The Omnivore holds that any voter who supports Sanders but would never vote for Hillary in the general election isn't really a Democrat (the same is true for someone who will only vote Trump in a GOP Trump nomination scenario). Sanders voters want a revolution--revolutions are hard. When it becomes clear that Sanders or not, they actually have to endure the system, what will they do? How, erm, adult, will they be about it?

How Will Cruz React To Losing Evangelicals?

Ted Cruz divvied up South Carolina's evangelical population with Rubio and Trump. Trump took the lion's share: 34% to Cruz's 26% (Rubio pulled 21%). As Rubio is still in the race, what does Ted Cruz do now? Does he change his game-plan? Does he get even dirtier? If Cruz decides he needs to wrest religious voters from Trump, he presumably runs an over-the-top social-conservative campaign--how's that play out for him?

What if he decides he just needs Rubio's evangelicals to make up the difference? You know Rubio used to be a . . . :: whispers :: Mormon?

How Does the GOP Establishment Deal With: Choice Rubio?

Rubio now owns the establishment battlespace--he's marginally acceptable to the GOP Establishment, he's performing . . . decently . . . and Jeb has quit. So what do they do? Presumably they all endorse Rubio tomorrow ahead of the Nevada vote--but what if they don't?

Rubio's whole theme this election has been "failure to close the deal." He's come in third and second--but not first. Does being the only establishment guy left put him into over-drive? Or does his karma continue to haunt him?

Why are Kasich and Carson Still Running?

You can say, with a sneer, that they aren't really still in the race. From the perspective of November, that's true. On the other hand, they are holding a combined share of about 15-16% of the national vote share and Kasich got 20% of "liberal/moderate" voters in South Carolina. That's not nothing.

The point is that by remaining in past Super Tuesday they degrade Rubio and Cruz (Kasich takes Rubio-share, Carson takes Cruz-votes) to a point where they could, really, make the difference. Kasich has signaled he intends to stay in since he gave up on South Carolina and went straight to Super Tuesday states.

Carson, last night, said he's giving a "just getting started" speech instead of concession (rumors are still out there that he'll drop after Nevada, though--so who knows).

The question The Omnivore has is this: Does Carson stay in the race out of spite for Cruz? WHAT DID CRUZ DO TO HIM IN THAT CLOSET? More seriously, Carson has a chance to really, actually, hit back at Cruz and despite his soft, friendly demeanor, The Omnivore thinks he might just be the kind of guy to do it.

The Net-Net

What we got out of last night is that Trump is for real--and time to stop him is running out. Clinton foes probably have better odds with the FBI rather than Sanders.


  1. Though there are many story lines yet to play out over the next 9 months, I am starting to think that Trump has an impact beyond the election (win or lose) on the entire political enterprise. Whether planned or accidental, Trump may be the first truly post-modern (or post-post modern, whatever) candidate, brilliantly tapping into the reality-show vibe that has come to dominate American pop culture. Whether good or bad, it is certainly a change to a long-standing way of doing things, and I think the smart candidates of the future will learn from and adapt to Trump's playbook. There will likely be a thousand meta-analyses on what this all means in the coming year, but this may be the beginning of the end of 'politics as we know it'.

  2. Can't help myself. Every time I hear someone (accurately or not) point to Trumps campaign as the new reality in American politics, I just see President Camacho.

  3. I like what Alex Pareene had to say this weekend:

    A lot of people are still pretty invested in the idea that Trump can’t win (the nomination, I mean). Especially conservatives, because Trump represents the total rejection of the tenets of movement conservatism by Republican voters, who, it turns out, have actually just been voting for nationalism and xenophobia this whole time.

    I've seen it claimed elsewhere that if Trump actually manages to snag the Republican nomination, there are several forseeable consequences. One, that he will indeed succeed in destroying the party. The other leaders at the dark heart of its hierarchy will never stand for Trump. In that case, they will form a breakaway rump GOP and throw their support to Michael Bloomberg, if he decides to jump in — and he might be enough of a true patriot to do that. The less appetizing alternative consequences involve the apparatus of the runaway Deep State (NSA and the military) either bumping off Trump, or staging a coup d’état against him in the event that he manages to get elected.

    Having Bloomberg step in to draw liberal votes away from Hillary would be a brilliant stratagem. Even more brilliant is Trump’s despicable praise of torture (albeit as punishment, not as information gathering), which sends a signal to the Deep State: whatever happens, guys, I am your man. He pre-empted the people who might bump him off with that, and by taking on George W. Bush over Iraq being a mistake and a lie, he has set a trap for Hillary, should she get the Democratic nomination: he can hang that Republican disaster on her shoulders, since she voted for it.

    You don’t need to like the guy to appreciate that he either knows advanced strategy, or knows enough to pay people who do. That skill is particularly valuable in a man leading a nation which will crack up under the pressure of 2008 redux.

    -- Ω