Discussing issues that The United States face both foreign and domestic. A Non-partisan viewpoint where we believe in right and wrong not right and left, hopefully forming a more UNITED States of America.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How Each Presidential Candidate Can Win The Primaries

The first caucus in the United States takes place on February 1 in Iowa followed by the New Hampshire primary on February 9. After that, the parties make the system a little more confusing as Democrats have their Nevada caucus while Republicans host their South Carolina Caucus on February 20 while a few days later the parties do the reverse as the Republican Nevada Caucasus and the Democratic South Carolina primary takes place on February 27. The candidates win delegates based of a proportional system in the early states and the candidate with a majority of the pledged delegates officially becomes the party’s nominee for president at the party convention in the late summer.  

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada are the four states the system have allowed to go early in the primaries because of their geographical location, size in population (rather small compared to most states in an attempt to provide stronger voices than in highly populated states), and different demographics, values, and economies. Tuesday March 1 is regarded as “Super Tuesday” because it is the earliest day the Democrat and Republican parties allow other states to choose to host their primary/caucus and they do not have to proportionally align delegates meaning a candidate who wins a plurality of the vote within the state can take all of the delegates for the convention. Most of the time, the frontrunner of the party essentially secures the nomination on the evening of Super Tuesday by winning enough delegates.  Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008 essentially secured the Republican nomination for President because of Super Tuesday. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama went until the end of the primaries in June 2008 before Obama secured enough delegates to win the party’s nomination.

15 primaries/caucuses occur on Super Tuesday—meaning 19 states/territories will vote in the primaries by the end of March 1—with 11 more contests taking place by March 8. Because there are so many states in such a short period of time occurring all across the country, only the best-financed and well-polled candidates can win the nomination.

Hence for Republicans, while there are still over ten candidates running for President, only three appear to have a realistic chance of winning: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio because of their fundraising and polling. While Jeb Bush has raised over $133 million for his campaign and via Super Pacs, he can stay in the race until the end of the primaries, but his poll numbers suggest he will not do well.

For Democrats, three candidates remain in the race, however, it will come down to two individuals: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Now we will analyze who has the best chance to win the party’s nomination and how each legitimate contender can win it.


1) Donald Trump

Yes, the unthinkable one-year ago is most likely happening. Trump is dominating in the polls doing well in the early states of Iowa and South Carolina, while crushing in New Hampshire.  He has virtually spent no many on advertisements electing to let his mouth garner media attention for free advertising. Republican voters feel betrayed by their party for not challenging Obama’s policies domestically (such as healthcare and the national debt) and abroad from Iran and ISIL. There are still two realistic paths for Trump to lose the nomination, however, he is the clear front-runner.

The first way Trump loses the nomination is if the Republican Party presidential candidate field drops from 12 to 2 candidates. A majority of the party still supports candidates not named Donald Trump and they would most likely unify to vote for the Trump alternative candidate. If Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush remain in the race past the first four states and run on Super Tuesday, Trump will most likely be the nominee as the “Establishment vote” is split between the opposition candidates.

The second one is a theory I have stated for months. A significant portion of Trump’s base is blue-collar and union affiliated Democrat registered voters. Yes, much of his support comes outside of the Republican Party. The New York Times has an excellent summary on his supporter base here. At least 27 states/territories have a closed primary meaning voters can only vote in the primary they are registered with. So many Democrats may be shocked when they go to vote than they cannot actually support Donald Trump in the primary. So while poll numbers may be accurate, this won’t necessarily reflect his actual support in primaries. Of the first 19 primaries/caucuses, 7 are closed primaries.

2) Ted Cruz

The Texas Senator is now leading in polls in Iowa and will probably win the first contest. Recent history shows the Republican winner in Iowa does not usually win the nomination.  The anti-establishment Republican base that does not like Donald Trump is supporting Ted Cruz. His base is essentially the Evangelical and Tea Party vote the campaign has dubbed grassroots conservatism. As the establishment/more moderate wing of the party remains divided on Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, or John Kasich, this has allowed Ted Cruz to be comfortable in second place and lead in Iowa.

His best path to victory is winning Iowa, skipping New Hampshire, and then using momentum/same campaign style to win South Carolina. Since 1980 (with the exception of 2012), the winner of the South Carolina Republican primary has won the nomination of the party for president. If Cruz wins South Carolina, he is in great position on Super Tuesday because seven of the fourteen states on Super Tuesday take place in the South and southern states historically tend to vote for the candidate that represents on of their states.  It is possible for Ted Cruz to win 9 of the first 18 states, which would most likely help him secure the nomination, especially if there are at least three/four candidates still competing on Super Tuesday. The Cruz campaign is gaining momentum and is most likely the candidate that can win over a portion of Trump supporters that are not the most loyal to Trump because Cruz is also viewed as an outside to D.C. politics and is also anti-establishment. Should Dr. Ben Carson drop out of the race early, most likely much of his support will go over to Cruz.

3) Marco Rubio

Heavyweight donors, influential members of the Republican Party (the “establishment”) are shifting their support to Rubio. He is young, refreshing, and shares the story of the average American taking on student loans and coming from a middle class family. His background and support does show the stars aligning for a Rubio nomination, however, there are still significant obstacles in his way, mainly a plurality of candidates still in the race.

If the race were Rubio versus Trump or Rubio versus Cruz, Marco Rubio wins the nomination. The problem is his base of supporters is split amongst many candidates, including Jeb Bush who is also from Florida. Many Bush supporters and donors have Rubio has their second choice, however, they are loyal to the Bush family. They will most likely not switch their vote (which could provide Rubio a boost of 5 to 10 percent more in support, which would be critical in certain states) until Jeb Bush officially drops out. Thus the nomination could come down to how long Jeb Bush stays in the race even though Bush’s odds of winning are now slim to none.

Rubio’s other obstacle is performing well in early states. Nationally, he is considered in third or fourth place, but in the early states he is at least twenty points behind the frontrunner. Rubio must place at least third in Iowa and win New Hampshire or be in a close second in order to have a clear path for the nomination as that boost could help him do well in South Carolina and Nevada (where he does have family ties in that state) to place himself in a great position for Super Tuesday. Unless he pulls off a semi-miracle in New Hampshire or the field shirks to three or four candidates after Iowa, Rubio faces challenges for the nomination despite a well run and funded campaign with prominent supporters.

Jeb Bush

Not much should be said about Bush except that how poor his campaign has performed despite raising the most money. His last name is a liability, as voters do not want another political dynasty. His record in Florida qualifies him as a great candidate, but there is zero momentum behind Jeb! The two ways he can win are via a miracle in New Hampshire and then using his money for Super Tuesday or if there is a broken convention where delegates are split between Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush in a distant fourth where none have a majority. After the first ballot, delegates are no longer bound to their candidate and can vote for anyone. This would be the only slim chance Jeb has for the nomination. The last brokered convention for Republicans was in 1948 where it went three ballots before choosing the front-runner Governor Thomas Dewey who lost to FDR.


1) Virtual Tie Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

While this may come as a surprise, Bernie Sanders path toward the nomination is becoming more realistic by the day. The polls are tightening in Iowa and he will most likely win New Hampshire. If he wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, he will be the favored candidate to win the nomination.

Hillary’s national support is falling faster in 2016 than 2008 as shown in the graph.

The email scandal, her trustworthiness, plus the FBI criminal investigation into the emails is now turning into a public corruption investigation where it appears donations to her non-profit Clinton Foundation by authoritarian regimes were given preferential treatment by Secretary Clinton’s State Department.  This investigation is now very serious and Michael Bay’s 13 Hours movie about the Benghazi incident that was just released will not help her. Clinton’s campaign of simply stating, “vote for me because I’m a woman” is not resonating with all the voters, as they want more substance on the issues that are affecting Americans. Her “Mi Abuela” campaign effort to attract Hispanic voters has backfired when a massive social media movement occurred under the hashtags #NotMiAbuela and #NotMyAbuela.  Clinton has also failed to go on the offensive against Bernie Sanders such as his horrible “rape fantasies” essay he claimed women enjoy the thought/imagining they are being raped. Instead, she just chooses to adopt most of his positions after he states them in a debate. Meanwhile, Sanders is able to attack her with regards to Wall Street reform and speaking fees she has accepted from Goldman Sachs.

Bernie Sanders has run a clear message about his socialist policies and college students, the same base that gave Obama the nomination against Clinton in 2008, love his message. Millennials (including Women Millennials) support Sanders over Clinton. If other minority voters jump on to the #FeelTheBern bandwagon, 2008 may be déjà vu for Clinton in 2016. Clinton still has the lead for minority support though against Sanders. There are two main factors in the race that can still secure Clinton the nomination.

The first is Southern states are voting early and Clinton is much more likely to win those states on Super Tuesday because southerners do not like the appeal of socialism Bernie Sanders is campaigning on and the Clintons are from Arkansas.  The second reason is the likelihood of Sanders winning the nomination. Many Democrat voters I’ve talked to (especially Millennials) like the message and are more politically aligned with Sanders, however, they do not think he can win against the Republican nominee. If Democrats are more concerned about winning in November versus voting for who they like the most, then Clinton will win. If Sanders can convince voters he is a movement similar to Obama, then Bernie will have the edge. If Sanders wins Iowa, New Hampshire, and either Nevada or South Carolina, it is most likely over for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.