Don’t Buy the Hype: It’s Still Hillary’s to Lose

By Alex Knepper

My colleague Cinzia Croce argues that pundits downplaying Trump’s surprisingly strong recent polling numbers are falling into the same trap they did when they underestimated him in the primary season. This is a common argument, and in fact many pundits have been making it. Most of them are those who did not analyze Trump correctly before and now have falsely convinced themselves that Trump is an unpredictable and uniquely skilled nominee. But the bad predictions say more about the pundits than about Trump. Speaking as someone who did not underestimate Trump, I am still convinced he has no more than a 20% chance in the general election. Hillary remains the odds-on favorite not just to win, but to win comfortably. The general election dynamics are very different than the dynamics of the Republican primary, as Trump is about to learn the hard way.

Let’s look at the evidence:

1. Partisan ID Means More Than You Want It To – Even Among Independents

Although Cinzia is right to point out that both Hillary and Trump have started to max out their support among their respective partisans, Trump’s lead among independents is both not particularly meaningful — and precarious.

The RealClearPolitics average in 2008 shows John McCain leading a few national polls around this time by almost exactly the same margins as Trump. Not coincidentally, McCain had recently wrapped up his party’s nomination, while President Obama was still locked in a contentious primary battle with Hillary Clinton, whose resolve to fight on until the bitter end kept Obama from fully coalescing Democrats around his candidacy until the summer. Remember the ‘PUMA’ voters, who vowed to support the experienced and moderate John McCain against the naive and unprepared Barack Obama? Remember how half of Hillary’s voters said they’d never back Obama? Neither do I.

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The truth should not be so surprising:  few ‘independents’ are actually independents; the vast majority of them have a pronounced party tilt, and right now a disproportionate number of them are Republicans. Democrats outnumber Republicans partially because a disproportionate number of independents nowadays are Republicans embarrassed to call themselves Republicans. Mitt Romney won the independent vote in 2012, yet still lost by a decisive margin in both the popular vote and the electoral college.

More importantly, the RCP polling average shows 13% of voters are undecided. The real electorate will add up to 100%. Given that a disproportionate share of these undecided voters are independents, we can reasonably infer that they are Bernie holdouts, most of whom will recognize the stakes once the general election begins in earnest, Bernie endorses Hillary, President Obama campaigns for her, and the prospect of a Trump presidency becomes nauseatingly real to his voters. There will be a few crossover Trump/Sanders voters, yes — mostly white men under 40 — but those voters will not be decisive.

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It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

By Cinzia Croce

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” ― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

It appears that the Democrats are experiencing one of life’s great tragedies: they got what they wanted. Throughout the Republican primary season, Democrat elected officials, strategists and commentators all agreed that Donald Trump was the Republican they wanted to run against in the general election, while Marco Rubio, they claimed, was the candidate they feared. A young, dynamic speaker who is also Latino posed the greatest threat to Hillary – said the Democrats pretending not to know that, just like any other Republican, Cuban Republicans also struggle to attract Hispanic voters. Whether they were sincere or simply trying to deploy some kind of reverse psychology is irrelevant at this point: Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee.

In recent weeks, polls showing Hillary competitive in deep-red Utah have been replaced with polls showing Trump competitive in deep-blue Oregon. The double-digit lead Hillary enjoyed against Trump in national polls has been reduced to a statistical tie. As polls show a very competitive race between Hillary and Trump, the bravado and confident declarations of a Hillary landslide have been replaced with shock at the speed Trump is uniting the Republican Party behind his candidacy. However, the Democrats still find comfort in the fact that their primary is still ongoing. Once Sanders is finally dispensed with, they say, their party will unify and vault Hillary well ahead of Trump in the polls again.

Perhaps. But Democrats should not find too much comfort, since current polls show Hillary is already drawing strong support from Democrats but trailing Trump among independent voters – the very voters the Democrats were counting on to be so repelled by The Donald that they would run to Hillary, begging to be rescued from him.  Continue reading

The Libertarian Party Deals Another Blow to #NeverTrump

by Cinzia Croce

After the crushing defeat of her candidate Ted Cruz in Indiana, Mary Matalin discovered liberty, tore up her Republican membership card and registered as a Libertarian. Despite the timing of her decision, Matalin insisted that it had nothing to do with Donald Trump becoming the presumptive nominee of her former political party and left the door open for a possible return by describing herself as a “provisional Trumper”. She may have discovered liberty, but not enough liberty to abandon the GOP forever.

As a newly-minted warrior for libertarian values, Matalin published an impassioned editorial in the National Review – the tip of the spear of the #NeverTrump movement – endorsing Austin Petersen. She wrote:

“But why support Petersen over, say, Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian party nominee? Because Austin Petersen represents the best opportunity for a principle-based victory this November. Inasmuch as Petersen is a consistent advocate for constitutional government, the free-market economics of Friedman and Hayek, reverence for the dignity of universal human liberty (which necessarily includes unborn Americans), and a classical liberal understanding of the pursuit of happiness — not to mention his next-generation promise — he hits the political sweet spot for millions of fed-up Americans. “

In other words, the same coalition of libertarians and social conservatives that failed to deliver the GOP nomination to Ted Cruz will somehow move the Libertarian Party from the fringes of American politics to the main stage. Continue reading