SocraticGadfly: What to watch for in the #NHPrimary

February 09, 2016

What to watch for in the #NHPrimary

First, the Democrats.

No. 1 with not just one bullet, but several? Mainstream media spinning against Sanders. Pseudo-data analysts Nate Silver Biggus Dickus and Sam Wang are already claiming Sanders "has to" win big to get momentum for Nevada and South Carolina. They ignore that his polling among African-Americans is already on the upswing, that he got the endorsement of former NAACP head Ben Jealous and that superdelegates aren't bound to anybody.

(Brains believes I'm too optimistic on Democratic superdelegates. I noted back to him that my angle is they "may" shift somewhat to Sanders. It's not a "will." No, I'm not that naive. I added that this is just part of another medium-small blogger's efforts at, to use a hoops analogy, working the refs. And there's two sets of refs here — the Democratic establishment where the supers are, and the MSM.)

Spinning against Sanders? Indeed, I Tweeted last night that #SpinningAgainstSanders needed to be a hashtag through Wednesday morning. Better yet, per this hard-hitting Jacobin piece, might be #WarAgainstSanders.

This hatchet job by Paul Starr of The American Prospect is the latest. It trots out the tired old "Sanders raised no money for other Dems last year," as one line. Well, considering he didn't even announce his presidential candidacy until mid year, that's irrelevant.

Another irrelevance is that Sanders' version of single-payer has zero co-pays or anything else.

Hey, Paul, this is one of the biggest complains I have against Dear Leader. On Obamacare, on the stimulus package for the Great Recession and many other things, he has negotiated away the compromise in public, in advance, on issue after issue.

If Sanders gets elected, I'm sure he'll negotiate compromises for getting true single-payer coverage as part of the political process.

That relates to No. 2, which is a carry-over from last Friday's Democratic debate. How hard will Sanders hit back against the Democratic Establishment and Clinton Empire? As I noted in my blogging about that debate, his calls for the Iowa Democratic Party to audit or recount raw vote numbers were less than full-throated, and his dander was less than fully up after Clinton accused him of an "artful smear."

The Jacobin piece raises some of these very issues. Friend Brains also raises the issue of whether Bernie isn't greasing the skids to have that happy dance at the Democratic National Convention, with an appropriate submission before that.

If he doesn't win by eleventy-seven points, seeing how Sanders fights the MSM spin is itself going to be a "tell."

Sanders needs to claim anything over 10-12 points as a "big win" and specifically cite the "War on Sanders," plus crossover voting if it hurt him, as part of that.

Finally, are rumors of a Clinton staff shake-up true? If so, how deep of a shake-up? Her performance in New Hampshire will tell. As for John Podesta's "zero truth" claim, ain't buying that one at all. Politico, meanwhile, has updated its original piece.


Second, the Republicans.

I'm still seeing Trump as winning, though I think the polls may be shooting high, as in Iowa, and he could well finish below 25 percent. If Cruz and Rubio both finish below 20, but Bush and Kasich both are above 10 percent, this race gets more interesting, as it keeps all of them on life support. If Christie comes in above 10 percent, then it really gets fun.

Looking at Real Clear Politics' latest polling aggregate, especially if The Donald is overpolling, this is all very possible.

Probably the GOP's worst nightmare wold be Trump winning, but not breaking 25 percent, with Cruz and Rubio functionally tied for second and both below 20 percent, followed by Bush and Kasich both above 10 percent. That said, some polling indicates one or both of them could finish ahead of both Cruz and Rubio.

Why do I say that?

Trump would be able to claim a win, and some sort of crossover popularity. Cruz would look weak anong non-RR Republicans. Rubio would look weak for not building on alleged Iowa momentum, and not setting himself apart as THE "establishment alternative" to Cruz and Trump. Bush would get enough of a boost to guarantee staying in until Super Tuesday, and probably past that (see below). And Kasich would get just enough boost to not be written off.

As for the likelihood of this? I still Trump's support is thin, though I don't think the P-bomb will severely hurt him.

I mean, per the video above, Trump's core audience actually eats it up.

More likely to hurt Trump? Per Charles Pierce, someday, more and more of his backers are going to realize that they're "them" and not "us" and never will be "us" in the money-fueled world of Trump.

Meanwhile, back to videoland

This 2013 video may be a portent of the future for "Robot Rubio."

 Robot Rubio malfunctioned again on Monday and Cruz is just not a good fit for New Hampshire.

That leaves the door open for Bush, Kasich and even Christie. (Which is why I don't get Squirrel Hair sticking it out, even given the time crunch of Kentucky's GOP caucus. And, is he so weak in his home state he couldn't get that pushed later?)

And, this door is open even if Trump does break 25 percent, because of Robot Rubio's malfunction.

Up next on the GOP primary calendar?

South Carolina is hard-core Religious Right and should favor Cruz. But, will his apology for the Ben Carson shenanigans stand? Or will he start looking slippery? And, is Rubio the fallback Religious Right candidate, or whom?

Nevada? The populist-to-libertarian portion could go strong for Trump. Hispanics might tilt Rubio, then Bush.

That leads to Super Tuesday. A number of GOP states have 15 percent vote cutoffs to get delegates. I expect that Christie's going to miss enough that, even if he's around until here, he's gone afterward. A few are winner-take-all past a certain threshold, including Texas, with a 50-percent threshold.

That's not happening. "Gang up on Cruz" will make sure he doesn't get favorite-son winnings here.

After that, March 15 becomes big. Florida is a Bush-Rubio death match. Well, it's a certain death match for Jeb, if he's still around. Midwestern Missouri and Illinois will be likely targets for Kasich, if he's still in (possible?) and Christie (very unlikely.) Trump will probably stir things up in Florida, but otherwise target those Midwestern states plus Ohio. Cruz will probably target Florida plus North Carolina.


Third, the crossovers.

Do Dems or Dem-leaners go over to vote for Republicans? If so, how big a tide and for whom? The same applies to GOP leaners. This could add to volatility. At the same time, we shouldn't read too much into the "independent voter" idea.

And, with Trump and Sanders, especially, I don't think polling can well address this.



1. Sanders and Kasich have won the legendary Dixville Notch

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