It has been a few weeks since there has been a “big night” in the 2016 race for president, but Tuesday qualified.
Donald Trump completed his comeback from taking a licking in Wisconsin and bludgeoned Ted Cruz and John Kasich in Indiana. By securing 53 percent of the electorate in a three-way race, it was bad enough a beating that Cruz had no choice but to suspend his ill-conceived campaign.
What delusional scenario Kasich has running around in his head needs to stop and the honorable governor of Ohio should say his good-byes and withdraw from the race.
On the Democratic side Bernie Sanders logged a H-U-G-E victory for his outside bid at the nomination, beating Hillary Clinton 53 to 47 percent. Sec. Clinton continues to hold a commanding lead in delegates, 2,189 to 1,406, but limping to the finish line is not the image she wants to project with the Trumpster waiting for her in the general election.
Seriously, who would have guessed that the Republican primary for president would be settled first, and it’s Hillary Clinton and the Democrats who are still in a protracted tussle settling their nominee selection?
If this were the Kentucky Derby and we were wagering on horses, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump would be the longest of long shots, and both have come up big to pay huge dividends.
It remains highly unlikely that Sanders can complete the deal, but several of the remaining states could go his way and it will prevent Clinton from pivoting to focus her efforts on the general election.
While the Hillary folks may think Trump is a gift delivered from heaven in terms of a candidate to run against. Don’t go out giving the crown and scepter to Clinton just yet. Trump is an anomaly. There is no playbook to run against the Trumpster.
He is unconventional and unpredictable. Those are two traits Hillary does not possess. It’s hard to find a candidate that paints inside the lines more than Hillary Clinton. She is highly qualified, knows all the issues cold and has a dump truck full of first hand knowledge, but she continues to have tepid groundswell behind her in terms of electorate enthusiasm. She has the necessary delegate lead to take the nomination, but it remains unsettled mathematically, and that is a bad sign.
Overt excitement from Democratic corners will likely exude once she becomes the eventual nominee and is pitted against Trump’s phobias for all things not white male dominated. But there still is the issue of why Hillary is running for president, aside from her just wanting to win this biggest of popularity contests.
Trump and Bernie Sanders have the ability to distill their message down to one phrase. Hillary can’t do that. It’s all this rhetoric and back and forth of why and what’s wrong, but she can’t catch its essence. Combine that with her stiff delivery and baggage from her husband’s years as president and it makes her vulnerable.
The statistics all trend in her favor. Donald Trump has horribly alienated women, African-Americans, Hispanics and people of the Muslim faith. It’s hard to win a general election for president with all those groups going heavy against a candidate.
The problem is the GOP establishment and its voters will coalesce behind its party’s nominee for the most part. That means that both Clinton and Trump will each have something like 45 percent of the voting population. Regardless of Trump’s misstatements and bent toward isolationism, this election will swing on 10 percent of the electorate.
I will add that Republican voters should be nervous, if only because Trump has the ability to say or tweet statements at any moment that could potentially cost him the election. That isn’t the case for Democrats. Hillary Clinton has much better discipline, judgment and self-control.
On paper this should be a slaughter by the Democrats. But what 2016 has illuminated is that the old rules do not apply. The electorate isn’t interested in hearing the media condemn remarks from candidates as “deal breakers.” Nor do editorial boards or newspaper endorsements matter either. The public is now empowered to make their own judgments. That puts this election into a new era where no one is sure what might happen.
In that scenario Donald Trump has an edge. As a longtime reality television star, rising to political prominence in the world of 24/7 media cycles and instant disbursement of reactions via social media – Trump knows how to get people’s attention, for better or for worse.
The media, political elites, the establishment, populations in other countries, even the lethargic portion of the U.S. electorate, they all pay attention to the garbage strewn by Donald Trump. He’s an attention getter. And with so much information flying around today that is a commodity money can’t buy.