The Pre-New Hampshire Post

Observations, questions, and some toastosity.

wleome_New_HampshireSo, the first primary in the nation is Tuesday which will provide more actual electoral data to examine as the actual nomination journey to nomination has finally gotten underway.  Let’s look at the two parties and their main storylines:

The Democrats

Of course, we have only two candidates to discuss here, and I do not think that the basic dynamics of the race have changed since my pre-Iowa write up insofar as I remain confident that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee.

Having said that, and to reiterate what I predicted about Bernie Sanders last week, New Hampshire will be Bernie’s zenith.  Polls indicate he is going to win big.  This is going to lead to several weeks of cable news and online stories about how competitive the race is, if not making the argument that Bernie is poised to be the nominee.  However, when assessing a win in NH for Bernie, one has to remember two salient variables:  geography and demographics.  The geography factor is the proximity of New Hampshire to Vermont and the tendency of NH primary voters to favor New Englanders over time.  But more significantly, New Hampshire is 92% white (the only whiter state in the union is Vermont).  This is important because Bernie polls best, as I noted earlier this week, with whites, and Hillary’s strengths are in the African-American and Latino voters that are far, far more significant in Democratic circles elsewhere in the country.  Along these lines it is worth noting that Hillary has a substantial lead in polling in South Carolina at the moment where the demographic breakdown of the state is 64% white, 27% African American, and 6% Latino (which means the Democratic Party electorate will be even higher in proportions of non-whites).  Likewise Nevada, which is between NH and SC on the calendar, is 50%-9%-28% on the same metrics.

It is further worth noting that Bernie is doing really well with young voters.   Young voters are notorious for not showing up in hoped for numbers when voting rolls around.  Hillary, by contrast, has the older voters, who do show up.  Now, yes, it can be stated that the present is just like the past up and until the point that it isn’t (not to mention that bromide:  anything can happen!), but the fact remains that (as I keep saying in various permutations to friends on Facebook and elsewhere):  the technical political science term for a candidate who needs massive, unprecedented shifts in voter behavior to win is “loser.”  Bernie Sanders needs massive shifts in African-American and Latino attitudes as well as a substantial change in behavior by the youth vote to have a shot at the nomination. From a dispassionate, political analyst point of view, these seems like rather unlikely occurrences (to put it mildly).

Now, it is fair to note that Bernie did come within two points nationally in this week’s Quinnipiac poll, but one poll is not enough for me to re-assess the basic demographic analysis.  I remain convinced that by the morning of March 2nd, it will be pretty clear that Hillary is going to be the nominee.

The Republicans 

The crowded field became slightly less crowed after Iowa with Paul, Santorum, and Huckabee bowing out, however I expect more significant winnowing to occur later this week.

Here are my questions going into NH:

Zombie Candidates?

There are a couple of candidates who are, quite clearly, the walking dead:  Bush, Carson, Christie, and Fiorina–the problem is, it would appear, the message of their metaphoric deaths has not hit their brains as yet.  I cannot see any of them being revived by New Hampshire as they are all polling in the single digits and only a strong third place finish could form the basis of an argument to go forward (even if such an argument would be a weak one).

Acknowledgement of their lack of viability is significant because their support is likely to go to the Not Trump and will, therefore, help reshape the race going into Nevada and South Carolina (and especially for March 1st).

Cruzin‘ for a Bruisin‘?

One suspects that Cruz has peaked.  Iowa had the appropriate mix of voters amendable to his positions, and I sincerely thank him for putting a bit of dent in Trump’s armor in Iowa.  Still, I continue to have a hard time seeing him win over the long term.  If anything, he is profoundly disliked within his own party and, really, if the GOP electorate really wants a belligerent jerk as the nominee, why not go the Full Trump?  And if they want someone who is conservative but has actual governing experience, there are plenty of others to choose from.  His currently lousy standing in the NH polls seem to underscore these facts.

A closing note in regards to some of Cruz’s tactics last week:  a colleague of mine who studies religion in American politics noted in a conversation:  it is problematic to try and be the Evangelical candidate and the Dirty Tricks candidate.   (People start to notice these things).

Did Rubio Blow it?

I did not watch the Republican debate last night, but even a brief perusal of Twitter afterward indicated that Rubio had a problematic outing and stories like The Atlantic’Did Marco Rubio Squander His Big Moment? were everywhere this morning.  On the one hand, debate performances can be overblown, on the other, this is a tight race and a lot of people are making up their minds at the last minute.  It is always a problem when a candidate self-illustrates his perceived biggest flaw.  In this case, Rubio did an excellent job of validating the idea that he is nothing but a series of memorized statements who will be unable to take down his Democratic rival if that opportunity arises.

Rubio v. Kasich:  Dawn of the Not Trump?

As I noted last week, Kasich has put all his chips on NH and has been doing better than I would have expected in the polls.  If he can come in second, he will have a legit chance at being the Not Trump (and I think third keeps him in the race, especially if doubts emerge about Rubio).

I will be honest, I have though for some time that Rubio is the likely nominee (I even said it for campus TV before the Iowa caucuses, so I am on the record).  I still figure this to be the case.  However, NH does seem to provide a pivotal moment in which Kasich could make a case to the donor class and to the voters who want to win in November that he may, in fact, be a viable candidate.  I am not sure where I want to put those odds at this point, but I think they are sufficiently significant to consider Kasich viable at the moment.

Toast-o-Meter Time

Given the underwhelming response to return of toastiness last week, it may be time to out the toaster away, but here is a truncated version:

Dems:  Hillary remains on track for the nominate, and hence is, in the parlance of the Toast-o-Meter, Wonder Bread.  Bernie does maintain an outside chance, so is not toast as yet, so I will keep him in the “plain ol’ white bread” category (which works on a number of levels).

Reps:  Trump will win this week and Rubio and Kasich as, to my mind, the best options for Not Trump.  Cruz, meanwhile, could still theoretically be in the running for the Jerky Nominee slot (along with Trump–but, really, I think he will be toasty after Tuesday).  As such, we will call these guys all in the white bread category (i.e., they have a shot still). No Wonder Breaders in the bunch as yet.

Bush, Carson, Christie, and Fiorina are all toast (and Carson is toast in fresh clothes).  Hopefully they will all drop out by the end of the week so that we can get to the inevitable narrowing of the field and the next level of this process where we are focused on people who could potentially be the nominee.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Cruz will remain a factor in the race for two reasons.

    First, he has a lot of cash on hand and the demonstrated ability to raise more money.

    Second, while his appeals to the evangelical and religious right communities largely fall on deaf ears in New Hampshire, they’ll likely to better in South Carolina and the SEC Primary states going forward.

    This is why I expect that, just as the pre-New Hampshire battle has been all about trying to knock out Marco Rubio, the pre-South Carolina battle that will begin in earnest on Wednesday will see the majority of whatever candidates remain focus their fire on Cruz. If they can prevent him from winning South Carolina then that could prove fatal for him.

  2. edmondo says:

    Rubio had a problematic outing …

    In the same way that the Titanic had a problematic maiden voyage. You need to watch a tape of the debate to see how badly Christie beat Rubio. If Rubio had been a dog Sarah McLaughlin would have been singing and asking for donations.

  3. @Doug Mataconis: Really, I think Cruz’s only hope is if, in fact, the GOP electorate wants a jerk as the nominee but can’t pull the trigger on Trump. Beyond that, I am not sure what his niche actually is: he isn’t the only staunch conservative in the race, he isn’t the only socon, he isn’t the only Latino. The only unique space he occupies is Jerk with government on his CV. I am not sure that is enough to sustain him.

    But will he be a factor until at least March 1, yes, I think that is the case.

  4. @edmondo: I think we can only say that for sure one way or another is after Tuesday’s voting is complete.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    @edmondo:

    If Rubio had been a dog Sarah McLaughlin would have been singing and asking for donations.

    That is the single best, most dead-on accurate assessment of Rubio’s performance I’ve seen yet.

  6. Kylopod says:

    it is problematic to try and be the Evangelical candidate and the Dirty Tricks candidate.

    Didn’t pose much of a problem for Bush in South Carolina in 2000.

  7. @Kylopod: The direct connectedness to the campaign is pretty brazen this go ’round.

    Plus: the crowded field makes all of these things amplified.

  8. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Like I said, it’s the tie to the religious right. With Huckabee and Santorum gone and Ben Carson off in search of clean clothes he’s really the only candidate left that has a direct appeal to that group. Also, he’s one of the few candidates who has been campaigning and organizing in the SEC Primary states. Unless his campaign implodes, I don’t see him going away.

  9. @edmondo:

    As I noted this morning, and as Nate Silver also notes, it’s not at all clear that the voters of New Hampshire will perceive Rubio the same way many of us are after last night’s debate. So, let’s wait to see what happens Tuesday. If he ends up finishing in at least 2nd place then the debate essentially did him no damage.

  10. charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Rubio is very close to the other SoCons on their issues. Whether Cruz has the Xtian lane to himself depends on Rubio’s viability.

    (My brother is very evangelical, and Rubio is, or was, his favorite.)

  11. edmondo says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Let me save you a miserable 48 hours, Doug.

    Rubio will be lucky to finish 4th. As for good old Nate, didn’t his expert analysis have Trump winning Iowa? Nate is OK when he’s playing with polls, he’s not too good on what they foretell.

  12. Kylopod says:

    @edmondo:

    As for good old Nate, didn’t his expert analysis have Trump winning Iowa?

    He gave Trump a 46% chance of winning. What that suggested was that there was a slightly better than even chance that Trump would not win. But because he got a higher percentage than any other individual candidate, some news outlets claimed 538 was projecting Trump as the “favorite” in Iowa. It just goes to show how much people misunderstand probability estimates.

  13. Dave Schuler says:

    Don’t underestimate how much the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party in your words “wants a jerk as the nominee”. They’d rather have Cruz but they’ll probably settle for Trump.

  14. edmondo says:

    @Kylopod:

    He gave Trump a 46% chance of winning. … some news outlets claimed 538 was projecting Trump as the “favorite” in Iowa. It just goes to show how much people misunderstand probability estimates.

    I hate to tell you this but if he gave Trump a 46% chance of winning, he WAS the favorite. You might want to bone up on those statistical concepts yourself.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    The only unique space he occupies is Jerk with government on his CV. I am not sure that is enough to sustain him.

    Oh really? It seems like plenty of Republicans and conservatives want exactly that in a president…

  16. C. Clavin says:

    The Broncos defense was so tough…Trump wants Mexico to pay for it.

  17. @An Interested Party:

    Oh really? It seems like plenty of Republicans and conservatives want exactly that in a president…

    Were it truly sufficient, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because Trump would be the odds on favorite to win.

    Even at his best in national polling he has not come close to 50% support. As such, we really can’t talk of the entire GOP electorate as a monolith. Indeed, as noted in this thread, he came in second in the first actual contest.

    As I have been trying to hammer home for months: the field is fragmented and that has to be taken into account.

  18. @charon:

    Rubio is very close to the other SoCons on their issues. Whether Cruz has the Xtian lane to himself depends on Rubio’s viability.

    (My brother is very evangelical, and Rubio is, or was, his favorite.)

    This.

    Cruz is not the only social conservative option in the race.

  19. Ben Wolf says:

    The geography factor is the proximity of New Hampshire to Vermont and the tendency of NH primary voters to favor New Englanders over time. But more significantly, New Hampshire is 92% white (the only whiter state in the union is Vermont).

    It appears you’re arguing that in New Hampshire, geography somehow insures Sanders support (I assume by name recognition unless you’re suggesting some genetic predisposition resulting from inbreeding) which overrides the strong right-libertarian strain we routinely see in New Hampshire politics and compelling a vote for the socialist, while in Iowa “whiteness” insures Sanders support; a result either of white people all thinking alike, being racist against potential latino Republican candidates or name recognition (which in itself is problematic as you’ve suggested name recognition is a product of geography in New Hampshire and a product of ethnicity in Iowa.)

    This would seem a tenuous line of reasoning.

  20. @charon:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yes, Rubio is a potential outlet for SoCons, but after Saturday night’s debate his star seems to be fading. If he performs badly in New Hampshire — a weak third or, worse, fourth place for example — then his campaign could be in trouble. Also, according to all available reports Cruz is far better organized in South Carolina and the SEC Primary states, Cruz is far better organized than Rubio is at this point as well.

    The point simply is this, don’t count Cruz out of the race based solely on what may happen in New Hampshire.

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @edmondo:

    Which means that he gave Trump a 54% chance of losing, no? In other words, he predicted that it was more likely that Trump would lose than win.

    Seems like he was accurate.

  22. @Ben Wolf:

    which overrides the strong right-libertarian strain we routinely see in New Hampshire politics

    But we are talking here of the Democratic primary, where the issue of right-libertarianism is not at issue.

    Whiteness is key not because all white people vote the same, but because that is the demographic with which Bernie does best within the Democratic party electorate. The mix of voters matters. It is hardly controversial to note from whence candidates are receiving support and then looking at the demographics of a given contest to understand voter behavior.

    And yes: geographic origins matters. Being from a neighboring state is helpful in these things.

    Regardless, if you find the reasoning problematic, we will soon have evidence of whether the analysis was sound or not.

  23. Jen says:

    @Ben Wolf: The “strong-right libertarian strain” isn’t voting for Sanders, they are considering the Republican candidates.

    The Sanders appeal in NH (I am in NH) is deep in the college graduate (and higher) educated, higher-income, socially liberal contingency. We have a lot of voters who fit this profile, particularly in Hanover (home to Dartmouth) and in the southern portion of the state that borders MA. I’d even wager that a not insignificant portion of them are MA transplants, which happens frequently because of housing costs in MA. Plus, there is the name recognition/familiarity with the candidate. NH isn’t just very white, it’s also very highly educated and has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the country. This is Sander’s sweet spot.

    Rubio’s events yesterday were packed–possibly because of the debate performance, people might have ventured out to see if he is really as scripted as he appeared onstage. Cruz had people out doing door to door in my (very rural) area, which surprised me.

  24. @Doug Mataconis:

    1) I didn’t count Cruz out of the race, but noted if he did poorly in NH it would be a problem for him. But, more specifically, I don’t think he is actually in the running to be the “establishment candidate” or what I keep calling the “Not Trump.”

    2) “if [Rubio] performs badly in New Hampshire — a weak third or, worse, fourth place for example — then his campaign could be in trouble”–well, yeah.

    You seem to be arguing that if Ctuz does well and Rubio does poorly, that will help Cruz and hurt Rubio. I certainly do not deny this.

    As you yourself noted above: ” it’s not at all clear that the voters of New Hampshire will perceive Rubio the same way many of us are after last night’s debate.” As such, I not so sure Rubio is about to fall off the map.

    Again: we shall see.

  25. @Jen:

    The Sanders appeal in NH (I am in NH) is deep in the college graduate (and higher) educated, higher-income, socially liberal contingency. We have a lot of voters who fit this profile, particularly in Hanover (home to Dartmouth) and in the southern portion of the state that borders MA. I’d even wager that a not insignificant portion of them are MA transplants, which happens frequently because of housing costs in MA. Plus, there is the name recognition/familiarity with the candidate. NH isn’t just very white, it’s also very highly educated and has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the country. This is Sander’s sweet spot.

    Exactly.

  26. @Doug Mataconis:

    Yes, Rubio is a potential outlet for SoCons

    And really, all I am pointing out here is that there is no reason to assume that Cruz is uniquely situated to be capture the socon vote.

  27. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Actually, my point is that a “poor” or fair to middling performance by Cruz in New Hampshire seem unlikely to impact his campaign if he can turn it around in South Carolina and the SEC states, and that he is well positioned to do that because of his ties to the evangelical community and his seemingly superior organization in those states.

  28. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But we are talking here of the Democratic primary, where the issue of right-libertarianism is not at issue.

    Logically you must then believe the libertarian tendency not only fails to express itself among Democrats but must also be counterbalanced by socialist tendencies, i.e. New Hampshire Democrats are more socialist than most by virtue of proximity to Vermont and this will result in white christian New Englanders voting for a white atheist jew over a white christian.

    It should be obvious such an argument provides no explanation as to why whiteness disproportionately favors Sanders over Clinton.

    Whiteness is key not because all white people vote the same, but because that is the demographic with which Bernie does best within the Democratic party electorate.

    Bernie is doing well among white voters therefore he did well in Iowa because voters are white is circular logic. This is, again, problematic because it fails to provide a useful explanation for the observations.

  29. Ben Wolf says:

    I’ve posted a response to Dr. Taylor but, as happens about 70% of the time, it was caught by the anti-spam filter.

  30. Ben Wolf says:

    Comments caught in spam filter.

  31. An Interested Party says:

    Were it truly sufficient, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because Trump would be the odds on favorite to win.

    I wasn’t referring to Trump but, rather, to the Jerk comment…certainly that would also fit Cruz and Christie, among others…

  32. C. Clavin says:

    Republicans are blithely un-tethered from reality.
    http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/factchecking-the-eighth-gop-debate/

  33. Scott says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’m with you. How Cruz does in NH is irrelevant. What I find interesting is that Rubio is getting pounded in NH and Cruz is being ignored. Which Cruz probably thinks is just fine. In the long run, however, Cruz is the one that has to be taken down. A little softening up seems to be in order before it get too late.

  34. charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Once a candidate becomes a joke, once he is the subject of widespread mockery, he is finished.

    That happened to Carson. There is a huge amount of Rubio mockery on the web today and yesterday – I say stick a fork in Rubio.

  35. @charon: But part of the question is: who is laughing? Snarky bloggers and the twitterati aren’t the issue here, it is whether marginal Rubio supporters and late deciders think he is a joke. If they do, then he is in trouble. The problem is, we really don’t know if this is the case at the moment.

  36. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It isn’t just that though, Rubio had a pre-existing reputation for being scripted and unable to perform ad hoc. Now, he will be the subject of widespread scrutiny, maybe he can withstand that, but I don’t think he can. He has a vulnerability that his opponents will be keen to exploit.

  37. @charon: I concur that it fits the narrative. As I said above:

    It is always a problem when a candidate self-illustrates his perceived biggest flaw. In this case, Rubio did an excellent job of validating the idea that he is nothing but a series of memorized statements

    My point it: it is impossible to know today if, in fact, he is being viewed as a joke by those who matter (i.e., undecided Republicans and only tentatively committed Rubio voters).

  38. Ron Beasley says:

    Stephen, I wouldn’t write Bush off yet especially if Rubio crashes and burns. We may have a better indication on Tuesday or early Wednesday.

  39. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Even if there isn’t time for it to have a decisive affect on NH tomorrow, Rubio repeating himself 4 times has been fit into a 30 second video clip. PAC’s do exist, as do campaign commercials, so this will dog Rubio going forward, will not go away any time soon..

    @Ron Beasley:

    Agreed. Kasich is out of money and has little organization, Christie is still Christie, so this makes an opening for JEB! as the last non-Crump standing.

  40. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    That’s a great analysis. I’d also put the Exeter and Durham areas in the same column as the Dartmouth/Hanover area; they have pretty much the same demographic.

    Trump still seems to be drawing crowds, but I’m wondering how many of the people are simply turning out to see a reality show “star.”

  41. Mikey says:

    Rubio’s collapse took a few minutes longer, but it was the functional equivalent of Howard Dean’s “HIYAAAAAAA!” moment. Both confirmed what had previously only been suspected.

    That being said, Rubio may still have a chance, if (and this would seem to be a rather significant “if”) he can, going forward, demonstrate a sufficient level of mental flexibility.

    But you can bet this coming Saturday he will be getting hammered from every possible angle.

  42. @charon: I am not saying that the debate performance does not matter. What I am saying is that a lot of folks, including in this thread, seem to have concluded that it was a decisive moment when we simply do not know if that is true or not. I am less certain than some that it was as pivotal moment in the campaign as some are asserting.

    Also, in re: The Dean Scream–that happened after he came in third in Iowa well behind expectations. In other words, the causality was loss–>scream, not scream–>loss.

  43. @Ron Beasley: I truly think Bush is done for all practical purposes. He may coast on money fumes for a while, but I would be truly shocked if he ends up the nominee.

  44. Scott F. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “For all practical purposes” is probably creating a blind spot for you, Steven. “Impractical” is written all over these GOP primaries.

    I’m with you that Kasich is a (the) viable general election candidate, but I don’t see how he can take a third place finish and turn it into the money he will need to move to the South and West. He put all his eggs in the NH basket, but what’s he do now – secure Ohio?

    Though Rubio COULD survive this past debate, the empty suit/robot label is the kind of thing that will stick. It will be like the wooden label that attached to Gore. For Rubio, the robot thing has the added benefit of being true. The young Senator has no inner workings, no experience to use, that will dispel this impression.

    Without Rubio and Kasich, everyone else is toast or toxic. There is NO pragmatic course for the GOP through the coming elections. It’s going to be something new, I think, and wildly impractical.

  45. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also, in re: The Dean Scream–that happened after he came in third in Iowa well behind expectations. In other words, the causality was loss–>scream, not scream–>loss.

    My assertion wasn’t that Rubio’s vapor-lock was destructive of his campaign the way Dean’s scream was of his, but that it served to confirm assertions he’s an “empty suit” who can’t think on his feet. Still, I agree with you, for Rubio it’s not necessarily so significant as Dean’s scream was–I think it’s entirely possible Rubio can recover, if he performs well from this point.

    If he goes brain-dead again Saturday night, though, it could be over.

  46. @Scott F.:

    It’s going to be something new, I think, and wildly impractical.

    This is a real possibility.

    I still maintain the once we get a winnowing we are going to get consolidated support for a more mainstream candidate. We shall see.

  47. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Do you think the really rabid Trump supporters–I have no idea how many there are, but they certainly are vocal–would go along with a “mainstream” candidate? These are people who hate Ted Cruz because he’s part of the establishment. Their loathing for Rubio, Bush, Christie, and Kasich knows no bounds.

  48. @CSK: The point I keep trying to make about Trump is that the is more support for candidates other than Trump than there are for Trump. Ergo the question becomes where does the Not Trump support go once candidates drop out. This is the pivotal question that should start to be answered by later this week. That will reshape the competition.

  49. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There are but 3 options for Social Conservatives: Cruz, Rubio, Carson. We disagree which of these have the potential to stay viable.

  50. humanoid.panda says:

    @CSK: But they could just not show up- and then the electoral arithmetic changes, in a directon that favorable for Rubio.

  51. John D'Geek says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Have you seen this Factor Analysis?

    It’s an old (read: Pre-Iowa) survey, but the results are interesting. The author identifies three factors through statistical analysis (I know, facts are illegal in this country but bear with me): Tea Party GOP, Evangelicals, and “regular republicans”. The analysis is done along two dimensions: establishment/anti-establishment; and Perceived Ideological Purity.

    So, Rubio is the consensus candidate; Trump is the candidate of those that are highly anti-establishment, but don’t worry so much about ideological purity; Cruz is the candidate for those who are Anti-Establishment, but do worry about ideological purity.

    My own thoughts: unless, Kasich can pull it together, Rubio will remain as “the Only Sane Choice Left(TM)” candidate, regardless of the debate. Looking at the above chart, though, the way Kasich appears to be perceived nationwide seems to prohibit that.

    FWIW: the author suspects that the same Factors exist in the Democratic Primaries, but with only two candidates it’s impossible to say for certain.

    I predict Kasich won’t do well, and Rubio will be the “sane choice left” candidate. At some point, however, either Cruz or Trump will be knocked out and then Rubio’s candidacy will gain steam.

    That’s the theory, anyway. Then again, I once subscribed to the theory that Donald Trump wouldn’t last past summer …

  52. dazedandconfused says:

    I wouldn’t be putting butter in JEB!’s pockets just yet. The others are so flawed he may be the last Twit standing in this Olympics*. Happened for Mitt so…

    There’s a touch of depth in John which the others lack. His plan for student loans wasn’t bat-poop crazy. I think Hillary would approve of it. Seems to believe fifty grand is a lot of money for college though, I suppose it was in his day. As it gets closer an normal people start paying some mind to this stuff the demographic usually changes.

    *see “Monty Python”

  53. @John D’Geek: This is largely the argument that I am making.

  54. @dazedandconfused: Mitt was never in a hole like the one Jeb! finds himself in.

  55. Lit3Bolt says:

    If the primary drags on through March, what is the possibility of disruptions and spoilers in open primaries (where Dems vote for Trump or Republicans pull the handle for Bernie)?

  56. @Lit3Bolt: Two thoughts:

    1) I wouldn’t call March a case of “drag[ging] on”–keep in mind the voting goes through June. I do expect to have the Dem race fully figured out in March. The GOP might go on beyond then.

    2) Every cycle the question of cross-over voters acting as spoilers comes up, but I do not think we have any significant evidence that such things ever actually matter.

  57. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    True, Mitt was never in such a hole but this is a new year and a new batch. Who really thinks Trump should be president may be a limited commodity, as may be the people who think he gives the R a good shot in the finals. If 60-odd percent of GOP primary voters won’t vote to nominate Trump under almost any condition the last non-Trump will win, barring an even more ridiculous person, such as a Ted Cruz.

    If it gets down to just Bush and Trump I think John has a pretty good chance. McCain was in an even bigger hole against Mitt in 08, IIRC.

  58. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jen: I would love to converse with you but 3/4 of my comments are censored like my previous attempts to respond to Dr. Taylor.

  59. @Ben Wolf: I think I have found and released your comments. Why they were filtered, I cannot say (the spam filter can be inscrutable at times).

  60. @Ben Wolf:

    Bernie is doing well among white voters therefore he did well in Iowa because voters are white is circular logic.

    To be more specific, he does well with very liberal, typically more educated white voters. He obviously doesn’t win all white voters or Hillary would not have won Iowa (or tied, depending on how you want to put it).

    Tell you what: let’s see what happens in SC and on Super Tuesday and we will have some serious data to discuss.