Monday, June 24, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Is Minnesota Really In Play?


Can traditionally deep blue Minnesota really be in

play in the presidential election as recent public 

opinion polls suggest it is?


Although polls are inexact, and only show us, at

best, a picture of the electorate in the present,

that picture can sometimes change dramatically

in a few months time. And when a race is very

close, polls don’t always predict the winner.


Nevertheless, there have been so many recent

polls by several pollsters, all showing the race 

to be a virtual tie, that it is fair to say that this

state is “in play.”


That much is a genuine surprise. Minnesota has

not voted for the Republican presidential 

nominee since 1972, and in 2020 voted 

decisively for the incumbent Joe Biden who is

running for a second term in 2024. In 2016,

the GOP nominee Donald Trump came close, but 

lost, as he did again in 2020.


Further, former President Trump was convicted

on several counts in a recent controversial New

York City trial. A number of voters in his own

party are also known to detest him, and he has

very few supporters among Democrats.


The phenomenon is not limited to Minnesota.

Mr. Trump leads by various margins in all of

the battleground states won by by Mr. Biden

in 2020, and is “in play” a few other deep blue 

states such as Virginia and New Mexico.


Since most first-term presidents win re-election,

how is this explained?


The answer can only be voter dissatisfaction,

especially among independent voters, with

the incumbent and his administration’s

policies. In recent years, this happened to

Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and  Mr.

Trump himself.


Joe Biden’s problems are well-known, and

many of them even conceded by his supporters

who generally support him and most of his

his policies.


The president’s primary problem is his age

and the frail condition he presents in his

various public appearances. Mr. Trump is only

five years younger, but appears much more 

robust in public.


Mr. Trump’s supporters seem more energized

in Minnesota, as they see m to be elsewhere, but 

even if it is conceded that the state is “in play,” 

he remains the underdog in the Gopher State 

where Mr. Biden’s party has a far superior voter 

I.D. and get-out-the-vote organization.


A Trump victory in this state would herald  an

electoral college landslide and popular vote win 

nationwide for the former president.


But there is a big difference between being 

“in play” and winning in this state, and the

Trump campaign will need a remarkable effort and 

turnout to transform their opportunity into a triumph.


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 Copyright (c) 2924 by Barry Casselman. Al rights reserved.



Thursday, May 23, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Boomerang Politics

tt has been a cycle of boomerang politics in which both

major parties have attempted to employ questionable

strategies that not only defied tradition (and good sense)

but brought net negative results.


What drove the parties to these self-destructive tactics

was an exceptional and bitter partisanship, especially

at the national level, that saw bipartisanship, civility

and compromise virtually vanish and see in their place

questionable pseudo-clever political gambits which led 

to unexpected and embarrassing consequences.


On the Republican side, a very small clique of members 

of the House of Representatives took advantage of an

ill-conceived rule made following the GOP narrow new

majority won in the 2022 mid-term elections. That rule 

enabled a tiny faction pf caucus members to make a

motion to vacate the position of speaker of the House,

and Kevin McCarthy agreed to it to gain the speakership

in 2023. If he thought the small number of dissident

members of his GOP caucus would not take advantage 

of the rule, he was very much mistaken, and when he

tried to compromise on pending legislation, he lost his

job when a small number of fellow Republicans used

the rule to oust him. After a bitter contest, Mike Johnson 

won the speakership, but left the rule in place, The 

result has been a dysfunctional session, and another

attempt to use the vacate rule. Maverick Republicans

ignored the fact that Democrats controlled the U.S.

Senate and the White House, and only hurt themselves

and their party in defeating their own House speaker.


On the Democrats’ side, a bitter obsession to prevent

a Donald Trump comeback has led to results opposite

to their intentions. First, employing an obscure and

ambiguous constitutional clause, several states with

Democrat secretaries of state attempted to remove Mr.

Trump from their state presidential ballots. When

appealed to the U.S. supreme court, it was disallowed

by a unanimous 9-0 decision. But it apparently provoked 

the GOP Ohio secretary of state to point out that  a

non-ambiguous line in that state’s constitution required

a political party to certify their presidential nominee

90 days before election day, and that the Democrat’s

nominating convention had been scheduled 80 days

before the election. If the  Democrats didn’t change 

their convention date, or the GOP-controlled legislature

didn’t hange the Ohio constitution, Mr. Biden could not

appear on the 2024 state ballot.This has so far not been

resolved,, but is an embarrassing boomerang .


An even bigger attempt to derail Mr. Trump has been a

massive so-called “lawfare” strategy to indict and

convict the former president in four trials for various 

alleged crimes. The intention was to ruin his standing 

with voters, but so far this has had the opposite effect.

Mr. Trump, unlike Mr. Biden, had several serious

rivals for the GOP nomination at the outset of the

2024 campaign. But the indictments had the effect of

reviving Mr, Trump not only with his voter base, but

with many Republicans who wanted a different

choice this November. The nakedly political nature of

the indictments not only produced sympathy for what 

seemed by many as persecution, but also gave the 

former president a free daily soapbox to air his views.

His GOP opponents could not, faced with this, ignite

their campaigns, and Trump easily won the primaries.


Despite polls which indicate a large number of voters

would not vote for Mr. Trump in November if he were

convicted of any charges, tt now seems such an

outcome might not happen. Putting him in jail would

more likely make him a political martyr, and might

guarantee his election in November.


The Democrats’ establishment also made it virtually

impossible for any serious figures in their party to

challenge Mr. Biden in the party’s primaries. One

member of Congress, Dean Phillips, who did run was

quickly isolated, did poorly, and ultimately had his

promising political career ruined. Mr. Biden has won 

enough delegates to win his party’s nomination in

August, but has continued to decline in the polls —

now alarming many down-ballot campaigns that his

possible landslide loss in November could doom their

races.


Both major parties have indulged in self-defeating

tactics which have produced unwelcome results. How

these will impact the final results in November is

unclear, but it has made predicting what voters will

decide even more difficult than ever,


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Copyright (c) 2024 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.