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    New Hampshire Primaries: Slouching Toward the Brokered Convention

    It's still early, with only two-fifths of the returns in from New Hampshire tonight. But Sanders is comfortably ahead of Clinton and, on the Republican side, chaos is comfortably ahead of consensus.

    Recently, on one of Mike W's threads, I argued that:

    The most chaos-inducing result for the Republicans in New Hampshire probably goes 1. Trump 2. Kasich 3. Bush 4. Rubio 5. Cruz. In that situation, and in a few other permutations close to that, all five of them have enough reason not to drop out of the race.

    Currently, with 40% of the vote in, it's: 1. Trump 2. Kasich 3. Cruz 4. Bush 5. Rubio. (Cruz and Bush are less than half a percentage point apart, and have already flipped places once; they may flip again. Pretty close to the nightmare result, if you're looking for closure, or the dream result, if you're a civics geek/media nerd yearning for a brokered convention.

    Basically, what this means for the GOP is that only Chris Christie is dropping out tomorrow. (Maybe Carson and Fiorina, maybe not; they're so far behind it doesn't matter.)

    Rubio is very unlikely to drop out before South Carolina. Bush, with his deep warchest and stubborn pride, is going to call a third- or nearly-third place showing good enough to stay in. Kasich's second place is exactly what he hoped for to keep him in the race. So all three of the Bush/Kasich/Rubio troika are staying in; even if one dropped out, the party would not immediately coalesce behind one of the other two.

    This will keep the Republican vote divided for a while yet, and keep Trump, who can only manage to get one-third of the primary electorate's support on his good nights, in the lead. We're going to South Carolina and maybe Super Tuesday with four and probably five "top-tier" candidates.

    Meanwhile, on the Democratic side it's simpler: Hillary will fight a pitched battle to defeat Bernie in Nevada and South Carolina, and hope to finish him off on Super Tuesday.

    The day to look for is the Ides of March, March 15th, when Florida, Ohio, and Illinois vote. Any primary that isn't essentially wrapped up by that point is probably going the whole distance.

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    Good call on the GOP results-from-hell, Doc.

    As for the Ides of March, there's no way the GOP race will be decided by then. Trump is in. Cruz is almost certainly in. At least one of the establishment guys will be in. That means a minimum of 3 candidates, each getting a chunk of the vote but none able to win a majority in virtually any state.

    There is an opportunity for someone to close after March 15, however, because that's when the winner-take-all elections start. So if one of the candidates is able to win pluralities consistently, he'll start racking up delegates very quickly, even if he never gets a majority. That said, consistently is the operative word. If no one pulls off consistent wins, this goes the whole distance as you project. 


    Oh, I don't see the GOP race being over by March 15 either. But that is when the winner-take-all primaries start, and while they are supposed to produce a clear front-runner, they might do the reverse. As you say, inconsistency might prolong this.

    If Kasich can stay in for five more weeks, he can net all of Ohio's delegates, even if he squeaks out a mere 35% of that vote. You know he's planning on that. Meanwhile, Bush or Rubio has to be planning on pocketing all of Florida's delegates the same day. If the field is still fragmented in six weeks, the winner-take-all states may add to the chaos and fragmentation, rather than helping to mend it. Plurality winners in different winner-take-all-states might lead to a strange delegate count, no one with a majority of delegates, and possibly two different candidates having the most raw votes and the most delegates. Not pretty at all.

    On the other hand, by March 15, the Democratic primary will either be functionally over or slated for the full distance (but not to the convention; since there are only two, one has to get a majority).

     

     

     


    I expect Rubio's dead-man walking at this point. It's hard to weird-out the populace with a programming glitch and get past the obvious - he's dismal under pressure and has no experience either. I predict (grain of salt: I thought NH would tighten on the Dem side) he'll nose-dive in South Carolina and for all intensive purposes be baked by Super Tuesday - I don't see any states that can really help him between now and March 5.

    Fiorina may stay in as a vanity candidate - she's well funded by PACs and just gets to play the anti-Hillary whatever it means.   Oops, looks like I blew that possibility pretty quick.

    Carson I expect to do worse than awful in South Carolina, despite hoping for some southern and black and religious support - he's screwed it with his ethical issues & exaggerations, and at this stage he no longer serves a function for the party or undecided voters. Gone by March 1. PS - seriously doubt Carson is getting a VP position - has no remaining constituency or coattails.

    And then there's whats-his-name at the tail of the list who no one heard of.

    So from my view it's the upstarts Trump & Cruz vs establishment Jeb & Kasich, plus the oddity Fiorina. My guess is the anti-Trump contingency will focus on Kasich now, as Bush seems to be damaged uninteresting goods - they can sew a silk purse out of Kasich, but Jeb's wearing an anchor that even $100 million hasn't lifted up - even as his ship left the harbor. Cruz won't go out without a fight, and Texas and southern states will probably help him, but I presume his negatives will catch up with him in a narrowed fight.


    Peracles, I agree with your analysis. And I have been consistent in my throwing Kasich's hat into the ring  from the inception of these discussions about the Republican side.

    Not being learned in these matters, I have been touting Kasich not because I like him but because, even with Republicans, I have faith that sanity will prevail---that is, a Trump or Cruz Presidency would seriously endanger our country and coalescence around a person who could actually, in a pinch, govern, is essential. (let's say a meteor was heading to earth and a 2/3 majority of both houses was necessary to send a missile to intercept it to prevent earth from being destroyed). 

    The conventional wisdom has been that Kasich is not nominatable because of his liberal bent and it's curious to me why any Bush, now or in the past, is/was considered nominatable (getting the rabid on board)and Kasich isn't; so, if this bit of illogic about Kasich is overcome in the very near future by the R establishment folks, he can quickly be turned into a silk purse, as you point out.

    Of course, even if you buy, I do, that Jeb/Kasich is a duo seeking dominance over Trump & Cruz,(not a duo) the delegate divisions going into the convention are still a tossup.

    Did I say that I was the first one here to call Kasich in NH? 


    Actually, you weren't crazy to think that Fiorina might have stayed in. Staying in after losing New Hampshire was only marginally weirder than staying in the race as long as she has. And not understanding when she's failed is Carly's best thing.


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