Larsen “Super Saturday” Political Analysis

I’m glad to welcome Phill Larsen as a regular contributor at Kingdom in the Midst. He hails from Oklahoma (that’s somewhere across the Mississippi). He has a wonderful family, and a menagerie of illegal exotic animals.

Not really (on the animals, not the family). I just want to make sure you are paying attention.

Phill has become a friend who has demonstrated good political insights. During the remainder of the 2016 campaign (at least) he will be providing weekly commentary. Feel free to disagree with anything he writes. ;^)

First, I want to say thank you to Marty for trusting me with his platform.  Throughout this campaign season, I have provided similar analysis of each major event on my personal page.  I am honored that Marty would ask me to take this analysis to a larger stage than just my own.  It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, and one that I hope provides some context and enlightenment.

Now that the love fest is over, what I try to do with this analysis is to present the facts, present the context, and to provide a brief explanation on what I think it all means.  I feel like I do that without bias, but that, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Rest assured, I won’t have a rambling preamble every time.  As this is not my house, I wanted to wipe my feet before I just walked in and plopped myself down in the recliner.

Without further adieu, I present to you…

Larsen Super Saturday analysis.

GOP:

Winner: Cruz

Loser: Rubio

Push: Trump

 

Dems:

Winner: Bernie (I guess)

Loser: Hillary (but not really)

 

States:

GOP:

Kansas: Cruz

Kentucky: Trump

Lousiana: Trump

Maine: Cruz

 

Democrats:

Kansas: Sanders

Louisiana: Clinton

Maine (votes 3/6): Sanders is projected to do well

Nebraska: Sanders

 

Delegate Count:

GOP: (1,237 needed to win)*

Trump: 378

Cruz: 295

Rubio: 123

Kasich: 34

 

Democrats: (2,383 needed to win)*

Clinton: 1,121 (Delegates won: 651)

Sanders: 479 (Delegates won: 454)

Author’s note: I have made the decision to include Superdelegates that have committed to each candidate in this count, which is a point of contention and controversy.  The Superdelegates have almost exclusively supported Ms. Clinton.  Superdelegates are not bound.  They are free to change their mind at any time prior to balloting at the convention.

*Real Clear Politics count as of 10:45 PM CDT.

Democrats:

I find the states that Sanders is winning intriguing. Specifically his wins in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.  Oklahoma glows in the dark it is so red. There is one state in the union in which exactly zero counties went for Obama in either 2008 and 2012. That state is Oklahoma. Being an Oklahoma City resident, I can tell you that this is a point of pride amongst the more politically active of our state. Even our Democrats are fairly conservative as many of them are old Reagan Democrats.  Along comes Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist, and these states are wins for Bernie who is the most liberal candidate of significance to run for president in my lifetime.

Let’s speak plainly for a moment: Bernie has no business winning Oklahoma, Kansas, or Nebraska. In my opinion, this demonstrates that the trust gap with Hillary is a significant problem that she will need to overcome. This is a general election problem. When I say that Hillary is a flawed candidate this is what I am referring to and this is not something that will be easily or quickly cured. Given some of her baggage I don’t think it is a fatal flaw, but Hillary needs to have an “all quiet” on the controversy front, especially after the convention.

That said, Bernie will not be the nominee. Bernie has significant problems with a large part of the Democratic base. Bernie lost African Americans by a mind boggling margin in South Carolina and Louisiana. Bernie has run a phenomenal campaign, and his success will earn him and his following a significant voice at the convention. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Bernie Sanders day” one day that week, which should be considered a huge win.

Republicans:

I’ve told my friends to take notes about this cycle. This is an historic cycle on the same level of 1968, when LBJ refused the nomination, RKF was assassinated in California, and a riot broke out at the brokered Democratic convention in Chicago. Side note: Cleveland police (where the GOP convention is this year) has ordered 2,000 extra pieces of riot gear to be delivered before the Republicans come to town.

First, the elephant in the room is Mitt Romney’s speech earlier this week. Mitt Romney is the most recent “standard bearer” of the Republican party. Romney still has influence with the Republican leadership. His speech on Thursday might as well as started out with “Dear Reince Priebus and the RNC.” That speech was not about Trump nor was it directed at Trump. That speech is summed up in 5 words: “Get this to the convention.” Romney’s speech had less to do with 2016 and more to do with the future of the Republican Party. Romney is a proud Republican who doesn’t see Trump as the face of Republicanism. Romney is interested in making sure that the decorum of the GOP is maintained. Regardless of the message, delivery, style, or decorum of this speech, the fact that a previous nominee attacked a current front runner is like spotting a white rhino walking the streets of Salt Lake City.

Cruz wins in Kansas (not shocking) and Maine (shocking). Maine is somewhat of a weird duck in that they have gone blue both in 2008 and 2012 in the previous presidential elections, yet they have also elected Paul LePage as their (extremely conservative and extremely controversial) governor. Cruz winning Maine demonstrates that his appeal is more than just his home and neighboring states (Alaska notwithstanding).  I’m not convinced that this a launching point for Cruz though. The last polling that was done in Maine was sometime around November, and the LePage endorsement of Trump proved to be a net negative.

Florida is Rubio’s Waterloo and he should not leave the state. Going door to door shouldn’t be out of the question.

Ohio and Michigan are the same for Kasich.

The last several Republican debates have been embarrassing and juvenile. Lincoln v. Douglas, it was not.(I’d like to nominate the previous sentence as a candidate for understatement of the year).

The question has been asked: “why haven’t Kasich and Rubio dropped out by now?” There are things behind the curtain that we are not privy to, but I am thoroughly convinced that the non-Trump candidates are focused on making sure that Trump doesn’t reach the threshold to win.

I think we will see Rubio and Kasich drop out once the “winner take all states” come in to play, in hopes that Cruz and Trump can trade enough states to keep them both under the threshold. I think that they have not dropped out yet because they have been asked to wait until after Florida, Michigan, and Ohio.  You’ll know I’m wrong about this if Rubio or Kasich drop out before 3/15.

Most telling line from Trump’s victory speech: “I want Ted one on one.” Trump can do delegate math.  Trump knows that the goal for the candidates and the leadership is to make sure he doesn’t get to 1,237.  Trump wants one-on-one right now, because Trump knows that one-on-one gives him a better shot at getting to that number, especially if they drop out before 3/15.  Trump is many things–stupid is not one of those things. Trump still has the clearest path to victory, but it is not a clear path.

Most intriguing concept of the night: Trump talked about a 3rd party possibility giving the general election to Hillary. This is smart, because if there is one thing that Republicans are scared of more than a Trump nomination, is Hillary in the Oval.

Ben Carson dropped out. Ben Carson is a good man and a brilliant mind. Ben Carson brought some level of decorum and grace to the race. When people say that they don’t believe a good man can be elected president Ben Carson is the poster child for that concept.

Odds on a contested convention (sometimes known as a brokered convention).

GOP: 60% chance of a contested convention.

Democrats: 2% chance of a contested convention.

Next big night:

March 8th

-Michigan Primary is the big prize

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