Commentary on New Hampshire

New Hampshire Quarter

There’s two things I wish I had blogged more about ahead of the start of the primary season, because if I had, maybe I could score a gig as a talking head, or some slick political consultant. I don’t know if there’s enough whiskey in the world to get me through a job like that, but I’ll bet it pays well.

The first thing I kept telling Bitter was that if the GOP donor class and political class don’t get their crap together and understand how pissed off and angry everyone is, and adjust their preferred candidate’s firmware accordingly, they are going to be very sorry. Over the past two administrations, the dry tinder of populism has been building up, layer upon layer. I said at the time that if the GOPe refuses to start doing controlled burns, someone is going to come along who has the guts to light the match, and set the populist fires raging. When that person comes, none of us are going to like who he is. Now if you had told me that person would be Donald J. Trump, I would have told you that you were nuts. But I predicted the rise of a Trump-like figure a few years ago.

The second thing I’ve been saying is that Hillary is not going to be the nominee. Hillary starts out as inevitable because Democrats like Hillary in theory. But it’s been a pretty persistent pattern that when Hillary starts opening her mouth, her numbers go down. She’s a robotic, dishonest, and unlikable candidate without a breath of political talent. Before the polls opened, you saw her setting her dogs on women voters who are abandoning her. Then she sent Bill out to mansplain to women why they need to vote Hillary. She’s just not a likable person.

None of this is to say that this whole thing is wrapped up. Hillary still has a decent chance at winning the nomination, and Donald Trump still has a decent chance at losing it. But the New Hampshire race has shown that Trump’s numbers are real. He faltered in Iowa because their caucus system requires a ground game, but that doesn’t appear to be the case for New Hampshire’s mostly open primary.

South Carolina is in a few weeks, so we’ll see what happens there. If Trump is strong in a southern state, it’ll be telling. I expected him to be strong in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. By Super Tuesday on March 1st, we should know who has staying power and who doesn’t. At that point it’ll become a question of whether there enough of a not-Trump vote to derail him.

I’m sincerely hoping Kasich’s performance was an anomaly, because I dislike him more than I do Jeb! I think Rubio might have blown it with that debate gaffe, just like Rick Perry blew his chances with an awful debate performance in 2012. I think Rubio’s got a lot of raw talent, but because every candidate these days is so afraid to gaffe, everything gets scripted and focused grouped by armies of campaign consultants and what you see on stage are essentially programmed robots repeating talking points. Trump took that playbook out and pissed on it. I think Rubio’s collapse is going to mean an end to scripted candidates and will require aspiring politicians to be better at thinking on their feet. There was a time when this was a necessary talent for public office seekers!

My problem with Ted Cruz is that he doesn’t fundamentally change the electoral map. Understand that with the current map, the GOP starts out the election in a hole it has to climb out of, because the Dems have more electors locked up out of the gate than the Republicans do. You get a race where you have to take all the deep red states, and then win a bunch of iffy swing states to actually win. In the last eight years, Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada have gotten more blue. Things aren’t looking good without rejiggering the map, and only Trump has the potential to do that. The big question is, will he rejigger it in a way that I like, or will I go from being in a coalition with a bunch of yahoos I don’t really like, to another bunch of yahoos I really don’t like. Probably. This is politics.


12 thoughts on “Commentary on New Hampshire”

  1. I don’t think Ted Cruz’s chances are nearly as dire in the generally, as both Clinton and Sanders will find it impossible to replicate Obama’s turnout among black voters.

    And there’s no question that policy-wise that gun owners should prefer Cruz to Trump.

    1. Once Hillary trots out the faux Southern accent again it’s all over for Bernie.

    2. Given elevated GOP turnout in two states now, and depressed Dem turnout, I would agree if there’s a chance somebody like Cruz could get elected, this would be the cycle.

  2. I’ve been saying this since Pat Buchanan was on the ticket, the last GOP populist to run for president. “They” would let him run on the party label for only so long, then he would be reduced to irrelevance and slandered in 2000. It’s only gotten worse since, and Trump is pretty much a middle finger to that sort of system, for better or worse.

    If Trump wins the primaries and manages to get enough populist Democrats and would-be third party voters on board in a general, that is probably his best path to success. If Bloomberg throws his hat in then it’s even more to Trump’s advantage.

  3. Living in AL and originating in MS with lots of family still there, I can tell you flat out Trump is at the top of the list down here.

    My father, who’s a political junky with libertarianish leanings similar to mine, got free VIP tickets to the Trump rally that was held on the MS Gulf Coast some weeks back because he’s tied in with a couple state Senators. He came away with a much better impression of the man than he had to start.

    Discussing it with him he’s got the impression that most of the populist crazy talk is just to get and keep people interested and listening. He said live, he’d say something kinda nutty, next go to something reasonable, then go back to nutty.

    I still don’t like him but I think he’s less likely to be an unmitigated disaster than I did before…

    1. Trump has the same cult of personality that Obama had.

      Its sad to see our side falling to the same thing.

  4. My problem with Ted Cruz is that he has the same personality as the people I went to law school with who I most wanted to see eaten by fire ants. We called these unctuous opportunists, these greasy Eddie Haskells, “gunners.”

    I’ll grudgingly pull the lever for Cruz if he’s the nominee, but, ugh.

  5. WOW! So if things CHANGE, they won’t stay the same! Maybe you can start a movement. Or likely follow one. Too bad RINO’s like CHristi and Jeb! bit the dust, but hey, RINO’S! They were designed to put the Hildabeast in office and continue the uniparty gravy train. We either get Trump, a wild card, Cruz, a pretty sure conservative, or Bernie, a “democratic socialist” that has NO IDEA what he is doing. And we have 9 months of machinations that would impress Machiavelli. We’ll see.

  6. “Trump took that playbook out and pissed on it.”

    That’s the key. I keep telling people this, and nobody believes me (or they think I’m a Trump supporter and just shut down) but the establishment’s biggest problem is that it’s turned election campaigns into a kind of dog show/beauty pageant where each candidate tries to look their best in an evening gown and make it through their speeches without sounding like a total dits.

    Some people actually like the pageant, most who have an interest in politics power through it because it’s part of the game, and then the rest of the public rolls their eyes and tries to ignore it if they can. Trump and Sanders are both grabbing the eye-rollers, and the eye-rollers are legion. It’s been amazing this season to watch the beltway crowd just outright not get that. The heads exploding on election night will be epic.

  7. I’m curious to know why you don’t like Kasich. John Kasich has a strong conservative voting record and has done well as a governor. I haven’t decided which way ill vote myself but I do lean toward him. I keep hearing people call him a part of “The Establishment” but I cant really see it. I am a multi-issue voter and he seems to have voted for and/or supported the many of the same beliefs and issues I do (not all, but what candidate ever does?), but you seem to have a bit more knowledge on this than I do so please enlighten me. Thank you.

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