Quote of the day

From Hans Noel on Facebook:

Republicans afraid of a Trump independent run are pretty much acknowledging that they were sort of counting on the xenophobe vote come November.

Chart of the day

Kevin Drum on cable TV’s “disturbing love affair with Donald Trump.”  Here’s the key chart:

Here’s the thing, though– I don’t blame them!  Donald Trump is absolutely fascinating.  Of course his success is, in significant part, driven by the media coverage.  But that alone can’t keep somebody atop the polls for months.  Especially somebody who keeps saying amazingly outrageous things which would have seemingly submarined pretty much any other candidate.  Yes, there are all sorts of fairly interesting historical analogies for Donald Trump, but let’s be honest, a blowhard, businessman/shameless self-promoter/reality TV star/extreme xenophobe/poll-leading candidate is entirely sui generis.  That’s fascinating.  I make no apologies for my fascination nor will I condemn CNN and friends for theirs.

Photo of the day

Another from Time’s year in photos:

A Jeb Bush supporter is seen at the “Growth and Opportunity Party” In Des Moines, Iowa. Nov. 7, 2015.

What does “one person, one vote” mean anyway?

Terrific column from Dahlia Lithwick outlining the issues in the Supreme Court case heard yesterday about determining Congressional districts based not on people, but on voters:

If the court sides with Evenwel and accepts the view that only voters or even registered voters are to be counted when drawing district lines, children, legal residents, and people who have committed felonies or the mentally ill—all of whom are certainly affected when legislators legislate—are not to be counted for apportionment purposes. In the words of the Obama administration, which sides with Texas in this case against the two plaintiffs, whole swaths of the population become “invisible or irrelevant to our system of representative democracy.” [emphases mine]

In a series of opinions that Justice Earl Warren touted as the most important achievement in his career, most notably in Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims, the court determined that legislative districts had to be roughly equal in population. This was a dramatic fix to the malapportionment that had led to shocking disparities in voting power and equal representation until the 1960s. But white voters in this case claim that, for instance, in Sue Evenwel’s rural district, 584,000 citizens are eligible to vote whereas in a neighboring urban district, only 372,000 citizens are eligible. This dilutes her vote based on where she lives, in violation of the “one person, one vote” rule. A three-judge panel rejected the argument—and as election law requires in such cases—it came straight to the high court.

As an even more practical matter, nobody really has any idea how voters are to be counted, given that the census—the best measure we have for who lives where—doesn’t track whether you’re a voter. An amicus brief submitted by a group of former directors of the census points out that “there is no actual count of the number of voting age citizens.” …

It’s not clear that there are five votes to accept the Evenwel argument, but it’s clear that the conservative justices are bothered by what Kennedy sees as a massive disparity in some areas. Whether there is a will to upend a constitutional idea that has been undisturbed for 50 years and a methodology that is used in every state on the guarantee that the states can work out the details later is another matter. But there just might be.

Okay, maybe this is my partisan bias, but it strikes me that finding for the plaintiff would be truly naked partisanship.  I find the arguments of the liberal justices, especially Kagan, to be wholly compelling:

Justice Elena Kagan points out that the Constitution requires using total population as the metric to apportion House seats. She asks why it would be the case that the “Constitution requires something with respect to one apportionment that it prohibits with respect to another.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg asks whether, in Consovoy’s view, it was wrong for the states to include women for the purposes of drawing districts, given, as she notes, that at least until they won the franchise, “they were not eligible voters.” And Justice Stephen Breyer amplifies Kagan’s point by noting that “if you look to other parts of the Constitution, what we actually want is the kind of democracy where people, whether they choose to vote or whether they don’t choose to vote, are going to receive a proportionate representation in Congress.”

Yeah, that.  Oddly enough, it appears we may have to depend upon Scalia to do the right thing.  Scary.  Damn this presidential election is important for the Supreme Court.

How do the Republicans defeat Trump?

Seth Masket with the simple answer– the primaries.  Nice post on the matter:

Trump’s candidacy does not seem to be flaming out as expected. With less than two months until voting and delegate selections begin, what is the party supposed to do?

Now, to be clear, this isn’t a new problem for either party. There have occasionally been candidates with some hold on public opinion and access to money who have nonetheless been unacceptable to party insiders, and those people have gone on to lose the primaries and caucuses. The 2012 cycle was full of such people. But Trump is different, and the lack of party support simply hasn’t hurt him (and may even be helping him)…

The key thing party insiders typically do to maintain control over the party’s nomination is to form a united front behind a broadly acceptable candidate. It wasn’t enough in 2012 for party elites to say, “We don’t like Newt Gingrich.” They had to say, “We like Mitt Romney.” This is all part of what’s broadly known as the invisible primary, an informal process to winnow the field of candidates long before the formal elections start taking place.

Thus far, however, party elites have been unable to coordinate on a candidate. Endorsements have been slowly trickling in and are largely divided among several candidates. An unfortunate consequence of having so many high-quality candidates in the field is that it’s harder for everyone to agree on a favorite…

The party’s inability to coordinate on an alternative to Trump is the reason this race remains so bizarre and volatile. There’s certainly still time to coordinate, but not much. The party seems to have abandoned the idea that it can form a united front prior to the primaries and caucuses, and will instead use those primaries and caucuses to find a champion.

This isn’t without precedent. Indeed, we’ve seen some hints in recent cycles of parties using the early primaries and caucuses to get some evidence about candidate strengths…

Judging from recent history, it seems likely that a number of candidates still in the race will drop out in mid- to late January, as it becomes clear that they have little chance of placing well in either Iowa or New Hampshire…

Let’s say one of the other three candidates (Cruz?) drops out, and Trump goes into New Hampshire again with 30 percent support. But this time, either Bush or Rubio could get more than that. That contest has proportional delegate allocation, so Trump still gets some delegates but is deprived of the victory he expected.

Short version– the “not Trump” vote is still very much divided.  Based on history, we have strong reason to suspect that the “not Trump” will be able to consolidate behind a single candidate after said candidate proves himself in early primaries.  Once that happens, Trump is toast.  Or so we’ll see :-).

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