Trump on a roll

Yes, Trump was expected to do well on Tuesday, but not only did he do even better than expected, it’s how he did better than expected.  Sure, things can change, but he really does seem like he might very well roll to 1237.  First, Nate Cohn:

After Tuesday night, Mr. Trump has never had a wider path to a majority of pledged delegates.

He swept the Northeastern corridor by a huge margin, smashing any and all expectations based on primaries to date. He won a majority of the vote nearly everywhere, and even carried many of the places where he was expected to be weak — like Montgomery County, Md., or Greenwich, Conn., or Lancaster, Pa…

He was expected to fare well, but he beat the pre-election polls everywhere. He was at 48 percent in the final Pennsylvania polls; he won 57 percent. He was at 49 percent in the Maryland polls (43 percent excluding the generally dubious polls from A.R.G.); he won 54 percent…

His best state, as expected, was Rhode Island. But he won 64 percent of the vote, not the 57 percent that the model anticipated. Mr. Trump was favored to win big, at 50 and 51 percent, in Delaware and Connecticut; he won 61 and 58 percent.

Maryland and Pennsylvania seemed more challenging for Mr. Trump. The model had him at 41 and 45 percent. He easily outperformed those tallies, winning 54 and 57 percent of the vote.

Mr. Trump’s overperformance was broad — spanning nearly every kind of county across all of the states in play…

That leaves two key states: Indiana and California.

Mr. Trump would easily win if he carried both states. He might not even need Indiana if he maintains the loyalty of the unbound delegates who said they would vote for the winner of their district in Pennsylvania, or simply if he wins big in California.

And after Tuesday night, a big win in California looks quite possible.

And the Post’s Jamie Downey:

Tuesday’s results were a disaster for the “Never Trump” movement that hoped to at least stop him from winning the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican convention. Demographic groups that had slowed the Trump express hopped aboard on Tuesday. He won a majority of women voters in every state; he won evangelical Christians, voters with college degrees, voters of all incomes and so on. [emphasis mine] Even in the event Trump stumbles badly in Indiana next Tuesday — unlikely, given that recent polls show him leading — two recent polls out of California give him 49 percent of the vote, and Trump has gone from consistently underperforming polls to outperforming them. Combined with expected wins in West Virginia and New Jersey, Trump’s path to a delegate majority is easier than ever.

Sure, he might still far short, but #NeverTrump currently appears more tenuous than ever.

Photo of the day

In Focus with a look back at 1986.  Hey, I remember that!  So much awesomeness here, but as I pity the fool that doesn’t love the A Team:

The singer Boy George poses with Mr. T. during the filming of an episode of the television show “The A-Team” on January 8, 1986.

Michael Tweed / AP


Stronger Political Parties needed

Really enjoyed this from Seth Masket:

I’d like to suggest that this year, more than any other in recent memory, is the time to make an affirmative case for undemocratic political parties. This is because this year, more than any other in recent memory, is demonstrating the downside of letting the people decide…

Some political observers like to spin out dramatic scenarios in which under-appreciated elites essentially get to save the people from themselves. Jeff Greenfield famously wrote a novel about a faithless elector saving the country from a bad president-elect. Others have pined extensively for things like brokered conventions, in which the masses’ input is simply no longer relevant, and party leaders have to hash out solutions in smoke-filled rooms.

Guess what? We’re there. The Republican Party is actually facing one of those crises that almost never happen in real life. It is on the verge of nominating a candidate who appears hostile to many of the party’s longstanding beliefs and to many of the country’s basic principles, and who demonstrates no serious understanding of government or politics. This would make a great trashy novel if it weren’t actually happening. Why is the party doing this? Because it has thus far failed to do its job this year.

The parties have long histories of quietly saving the republic. In any given election, there’s often some half-crazed demagogue who thinks he’d make a good president and who makes populist appeals to gin up support. The parties are usually quite skilled at keeping that person off the ballot, even if they think they could win with him. They use their control of party machinery, money, endorsements, campaign expertise, and other key resources to steer voters away from such candidates and toward people whom they view as good for the party and the country. This mostly occurs behind the scenes; by the time voters notice what’s going on, the election has boiled down to just a handful of candidates.

The Republican Party very much failed this task in 2016. By being unwilling or unable to concentrate its support behind a champion, it allowed a wealthy populist with little fealty to party principles to put together a winning campaign. The party has remained divided in its opposition to Trump, essentially allowing a factional candidate to cruise to victory.

Why fight global warming when the weather is so nice?

Really enjoyed this Op-Ed from Political Scientists Patrick Egan and Megan Mullin.  Good (and disturbing) stuff:

In a poll taken in January, after the country’s warmest December on record, the Pew Research Center found that climate change ranked close to last on a list of the public’s policy priorities. Why?

In a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, we provide one possible explanation: For a vast majority of Americans, the weather is simply becoming more pleasant. Over the past four decades, winter temperatures have risen substantially throughout the United States, but summers have not become markedly more uncomfortable… [emphases mine]

Our findings are striking: 80 percent of Americans now find themselves living in counties where the weather is more pleasant than it was four decades ago. Although warming during this period has been considerable, it has not been evenly distributed across seasons. Virtually all Americans have experienced a rise in January maximum daily temperatures — an increase of 1.04 degrees Fahrenheit per decade on average — while changes in daily maximum temperatures in July have been much more variable across counties, rising by an average of just 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit per decade over all. Moreover, summer humidity has declined during this period.

As a result, most people’s experiences with daily weather since the time that they first heard about climate change have generally been positive…

To those of us who believe climate change is the most profound challenge of our age, our discovery is both illuminating and disheartening. In previous work, we’ve shown that Americans make sense of climate change in part through their personal experience of the weather. Our new findings suggest that the weather changes caused by global warming cannot be relied on to spur the public to demand policies that address the problem. By the time the weather changes for the worse later in this century, it may be too late.

And it will change for the worse. Under all likely scenarios, seasonal trends are projected to eventually reverse: Future warming in the United States will be more severe in summer than in winter. Should greenhouse gas emissions proceed unabated, we estimate that 88 percent of Americans will be exposed to less pleasant weather at the end of this century than they are today.

Fascinating combination of science and social science.  Also, damn, that sucks!  I love pleasant weather!  I know, hedonic adaption and all that, and various research suggests I’m no happier with good weather.  But I’m pretty sure I am.  For example, I just cannot get enough of this late April weather– warm, no humidity yet, and no mosquitoes yet.  I really feel like I actually enjoy my days more.  And damn it, I guess by the time I’m an old man I’ll be hating April.  Carbon tax?

My Russian take on last night

Was not actually planning on writing a post, but since I was asked for my comments by the Russian news agency, TASS, I figured I might as well share them here as well:

1) Democrats.  It’s over.  It may take Hillary Clinton through the end of voting to actually have enough delegates to clinch, but barring anything truly surprising and unforeseen, the nomination is hers.  Tonight was a string of strong victories that push her delegate lead ever further ahead.  Again, there really is no plausible way for Sanders to catch her now.  I fully expect Sanders to keep running.  He clearly is giving voice to an important part of the Democratic electorate and presumably sees little reason to stop doing so as he is still drawing huge crowds and impressive numbers of voters for a candidate who now seems destined to lose.  I expect that HRC will increasingly turn her attention to Trump and the Fall campaign.

2) Very good night for Donald Trump.  Yes, it was essentially expected, but that doesn’t change the fact that he picked up a lot of delegates and avoided showing any weaknesses which might give the “neverTrump” folks some hope.  Furthermore, even if does fall short of the magical 1237, this string of victories (added to NY) where he winning substantial majorities (as opposed to his earlier plurality wins) suggest a candidate gaining strength who can no longer be written off as simply the beneficiary of a crowded field who cannot actually achieve Republican majorities.  There is still very much a non-trivial chance that the Republicans have a contested convention, but I would say that chance definitely looks smaller now than it did before tonight.

And while I’m at it, credit to Bernie for striking just the right note and, I think, taking a very sensible approach.  Here’s Yglesias with the summary:

Bernie Sanders campaign put out a statement tonight that, for the first time, implicitly admits what delegate-counters have been saying for a few weeks now — he’s not going to be the nominee.

He’s not going to drop out of the race, but the opening paragraph of his statement he speaks of looking forward “to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come” — an indication that he’ll be ratcheting-down the anti-Clinton rhetoric not ratcheting it up. But the real bombshell comes later in the statement where he describes the goal of amassing delegates primarily in terms of influencing the party platform rather than determining the nominee.

Read the whole thing (with emphasis added):

I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and Ilook forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come.

I am proud that we were able to win a resounding victory tonight in Rhode Island, the one state with an open primary where independents had a say in the outcome. Democrats should recognize that the ticket with the best chance of winning this November must attract support from independents as well as Democrats. I am proud of my campaign’s record in that regard.

The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.

This amounts to a savvy, classy way to begin winding down a campaign that was much more successful than anyone expected it to be but still quite far from actually winning. Sanders is staying in the race and giving his supporters something to vote for, thus giving his operation something to continue organizing around.

Yep.  I’m truly glad Bernie ran (and will keep running).  Maybe now, just maybe, his supporters can admit this isn’t happening and get behind Hillary.  Unless, that is, they truly want President Trump.

Photo of the day

Recent National Geographic photo of the day:

Picture of a hiker in the Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam

A Jungle Down There

Photograph by Matthias Hauser, National Geographic Your Shot

A hiker is dwarfed by the massive proportions of Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam. It is more than two miles long and, at some places, more than 600 feet high. Where the ceiling has collapsed, allowing sunlight to spill in, vegetation grows heartily.


Bernie and the short and long range future of the Democratic party

First, Matt Yglesias (who has generally been quite positive about Bernie) makes a compelling case for why he is substantially less electable than Hillary Clinton:

But what worries the Democratic Party professionals who’ve rallied to Clinton’s side — not just her inner circle, but the vast majority of the party’s elected officials and interest group leaders, including people who are more ideologically in-sync with Bernie — isn’t Sanders’ personal standing.

 It’s his ideas and, especially, his approach to politics.

Sanders’ appeal in the primary is based largely on the idea that he, unlike Hillary Clinton, full-throatedly embraces the liberal agenda and always had…

But it’s no great mystery why Clinton’s record is different from Sanders’ in this regard. She’s a careful, opportunistic politician who is more likely to follow public opinion and lead it. That’s what makes her a less-inspiring candidate. Someone who’s less likely to attract a vast crowd to her rallies, and less likely to inspire an ordinary person to take $15 or $50 out of her wallet and hand it over to Clinton. But it’s also, in the view of most professionals, what makes her the more electable candidate. Careful opportunists win and the establishment worries that Sanders won’t be careful or opportunistic enough… [emphases mine]

An exchange in the most recent Democratic debate illustrates, beyond polling, exactly what has professional political operatives worries about Sanders. Things that he brings to the table as his primary virtue in a nominating contest — primarily a willingness to take tough stances regardless of the political consequences — are likely to be weaknesses as a nominee…

If it were just carbon taxes, Sander’s issue positions probably wouldn’t be enough to outweigh his poll numbers in the eyes of most political insiders.

But Sanders — quite proudly and openly — takes these kind of stances on a wide range of issues. He markets himself in the primary, accurately, as the bolder, more politically courageous candidate.

Yep.  And plenty more good stuff in this article.  Even if Bernie is better for the long-term future of the Democratic party, short-term, he is more likely to lose them the 2016 election (personally, that’s a risk I’m unwilling to take).

As for Bernie and the long term, Yglesias had another good post on that:

The votes of old people count just as much, of course, but any young and ambitious Democrat looking at the demographics of the party and the demographics of Sanders supporters has to conclude that his brand of politics is extremely promising for the future. There are racial and demographic gaps between Clinton and Sanders supporters, but the overwhelming reality is that for all groups, the young people are feeling the Bern…

Hillary Clinton’s campaign — and, frankly, many DC journalists — has been repeatedly taken by surprise by the potency of some of Sanders’s attacks, because they apply to such a broad swath of the party. But this is precisely the point. Sanders and his youthful supporters want the Democrats to be a different kind of party: a more ideological, more left-wing one…

But though Democrats are certainly the more left-wing of the two parties — the party of labor unions and environment groups and feminist organizations and the civil rights movement — they’re not an ideologically left-wing party in the same way that Republicans are an ideological conservative one. Instead, they behave more like a centrist, interest group brokerage party that seeks to mediate between the claims and concerns of left-wing activists groups and those of important members of the business community — especially industries like finance, Hollywood, and tech that are based in liberal coastal states and whose executives generally espouse a progressive outlook on cultural change.

Sanders’s core proposition, separate from the details of the political revolution, is that for progressives to win they need to first organize and dominate an ideologically left-wing political party that is counterpoised to the ideological right-wing Republican Party.

I’m not sure of Sanders is right or wrong on this.  He may be right.  But I hope he’s not, because it’s bad enough having one ideologically-driven party that is largely impervious to facts.  I’d hate for their to be two in a two-party system.


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