Friday, November 06, 2015

The time has come - the blogger said -
To talk of many things:
Of polls and pols and primaries
And candidates who cling.
And when the voters will get smart
And whether pigs have wings.

Through the Looking Glass with Hillary and Donald
The Donald and The Hillary - with apologies to Lewis Carroll
We've postponed this too long and can can no longer avoid the inevitable. The next presidential election is only one year away. The Dividist needs to stop procrastinating and post something about the frightening possibility that one among this herd of candidates will be elected President. Still, there are advantages to neglecting the blog and ignoring all the political permutations to date.

If the Dividist had gotten around to posting a prediction in the spring when the the campaigns were kicking off, he would have confidently stated that a Bush vs. Clinton dynastic rematch was a lock. He might have even suggested the matchup was a win-win for America. Yeah... that's not happening.
The Jeb was moping sulkily,
when Marco started to run.
He had no business to be there
After the debate was done -
"It's very rude of him," he said
"To spoil all my fun!"
By summer the Dividist would have dismissed Donald Trump as a "flash-in-the-pan" and without question would have confidently declared as obvious fact that the Trump bubble was bursting. Clearly Trump's inane McCain, Mexican, Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina comments would not be tolerated by the Republican rank and file. Surprise!
"I'll win for you," The Donald said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With snark and boasts he sorted out
Polls of the largest size,
And holding his bulging wallet,
Kept voters hypnotized.
In the early fall, it was obvious to the Dividist that Hillary Clinton's campaign was mortally wounded by her e-mail scandal, unfavorable ratings,  and other assorted Clintonesque baggage. A Joe Biden cavalry charge to rescue the Democratic Party was clearly in the works.  Silly me. Turns out that she is actually "inevitable." Again.
"Oh voters," said the Hillary,
"Shall the White House be our home again?"
But answer came there none -
And that was scarcely odd, because
She'd lied to every one.
Fortunately the Dividist got all of that wrong-headed analysis out of the way before embarrassing himself publicly. Time to wipe the slate clean, evaluate the candidates, reassess their prospects, rank our preferences, and endorse a divided government vote.

The last is the easiest. The divided government die was cast after the 2014 election. The Republicans increased their majority in the House of Representatives to historic levels. Given the crushing incumbency advantage in the House, there is virtually no possibility for the Democrats to retake the majority in less than two cycles, and it could easily take a decade or more.

Democrats have a structural advantage in the 2016 Senate races and a good chance of retaking the Senate majority, but that prospect is by no means certain. They dug themselves a little too deep a hole in the 2014 midterms.  If the 2014 polls and conventional political wisdom of a razor thin single digit GOP Senate majority had been realized, the Democrats would be a virtual lock to retake the Senate majority in 2016. Oops. That didn't happen. The Republican's enjoyed a clean sweep, netted nine new seats and a four seat majority in the Senate.  It is still likely the Democrats will net Senate gains in 2016, but the GOP could still easily maintain Senate control. That leaves the executive branch as the only and obvious divided government vote in 2016. Regardless of the candidates on either ticket, the divided government vote in 2016 is a vote for the Democratic Party nominee for President.

So, how do all of these candidates stack up? The Dividist is still not ready to sort this out. There are still too many candidates. More debates are on tap next week and we can wait. In the meantime, the New York Times developed this handy little spreadsheet analysis tool ranking key indicators of past nomination success.  It's a good place to start:
"The polls get most of the attention, but they’re not the most important part of the early stages of a presidential campaign. The better guide to who’s really winning is known as the “invisible primary,” in which candidates compete for support from their fellow politicians, from party leaders and from donors. 
A candidate who wins the invisible primary usually wins the party nomination. At the least, the eventual nominee tends to be a candidate who was a close runner-up. Why? The support of party leaders is both a sign of a candidate’s long-term strength and a source of future strength. 
As for the polls, they’re not irrelevant, even at this early stage. But the national polls matter less than the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote and the states where voters are paying more attention to the candidates."

The Republican graphic is looking fuzzy, but at this stage it appears either Donald Trump, Mario Rubio, or Jeb Bush will be Hillary Clinton's competition in the general election.  Perhaps the dreaded Clinton / Bush rematch will yet emerge.  However, if  (for reasons that pass all understanding or any semblance of rationality) Donald Trump does prevail and become the Republican nominee, there is a silver lining.

The prospect of a Donald Trump presidency will make it very easy indeed to vote for Hillary Clinton and four more years of happily divided government.
"It seems a shame," the Donald said,
"To play a huckster trick,
Give them simple platitudes,
And fool them with this shtick."
The Hillary said nothing but
"You pour it on so thick."
Divided and Balanced.
Now that is fair.

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