I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. I tend to demand too much of my posts. This leaves me in a state of posting not at all. Big goings on are going on though, so I’m going to be brief with my thoughts and not have three citations per line, but I’ll actually get a post done before the story is old news and I delete the draft.
Last night the Indiana primary went to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz withdrew from the race. This morning Kasich followed suit and also suspended his campaign. Even without the two other candidates dropping out, with a win in Indiana, Trump had a pretty clear path to the 1,237 delegates needed to assure him the GOP nomination. There will be plenty of time to dissect the Trump v Clinton race. In this post I want to address the idea of running as an anti-candidate, the pending SCOTUS nomination, and what we should look for in the down ballot races.
The bickering between the Cruz and Kasich campaign began months ago, each accusing the other one of needing to drop out then because both were splitting the anti-Trump vote. I think what we saw recently in Indiana and the North-East can put that theory to rest. Kasich and Cruz just didn’t have voting blocks that would show up for the other. This is an idea we have seen repeated in politics many times in just the last three election cycles, but it seems the lesson has not been learned.
Think of the Kerry/Edwards campaign in ’04, the Romney/Ryan ticket in ’12, and now the Cruz/Fiorina pairing. What did these campaigns have in common? They ran on the ‘I’m not the other guy’ platform and both lost. That doesn’t get people to vote for you whether ‘the other guy’ is Bush, Obama, or Trump. I thought Cruz might be an exception because he had the backing of so many people in the establishment, but as it turns out when your slogan is #Never’otherguy’ it doesn’t win.
I do want to note one more thing about Cruz’s failure as a candidate. He was by far the most religious of the remaining candidates, saying back in 2010, “I’m a Christain first and an American second.” This election year his family gave several quotes about God wanting him to run, and yet he lost. In 2012 the number of GOP candidates who claimed God told them to run became a joke, you had Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, and Cain among others. In 2008 you had Huckabee who was also the religious alternative to McCain, but lost. In the inevitable talks of Trump splitting the Republicans, I’ll be interested to see what comes from the Evangelical camp. Will they vote Trump or will they start to call for their own candidate since they no longer feel represented by the party as a whole?
It has been 81 days since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stayed true to his word that he would not even allow hearings for a replacement and give the decision to the next president. That despite the fact that Obama nominated Merrick Garland who many GOP senators, particularly Orin Hatch, had suggested as a nominee the president should put forward. McConnell is now presented with three possibilities:
- Trump wins the presidency. This becomes tricky for McConnell since he has no idea who Trump might nominate and whether it would be better than Garland, but it’s a near certainty that Trump won’t spend much time wondering whether McConnell will approve of the pick.
- Clinton wins the presidency. Now McConnell has to figure out how to toe the line of saying for months and months the American people should decide, while not approving Clinton’s appointee who could be much more liberal than Garland. Clinton also has the easy excuse to nominate someone more liberal by saying the senate had a year with Garland and they didn’t even hold a hearing.
- The Democrats win the Senate. It’s completely out of Mitch McConnell’s hands since he wouldn’t be Senate Majority Leader anymore.
One big impact Trump could have, assuming the #NeverTrump crowd sticks to their guns is the down ballot races. If a bunch of Republicans stay home this November, it won’t just make the race an easier win for Clinton, it could also impact Senate and local races around the country. There are ten senate seats up for reelection this year. Without those seats, the senate is currently 45-45, so control of the chamber is up for grabs. If the Democrats regain control of the senate because of apathy caused by Donald Trump it allows Clinton to nominate whomever she chooses knowing she’ll have the support of a friendly Senate.
This campaign season so far has been one of a kind, and we still have the VP picks to look forward to before the final battle really gets going. All I know is that there will be doctoral theses written for decades on how the 2016 GOP race started with 17 possibilities and Trump was the last man standing.