There is a dizzying effect being produced by the 2016
presidential nomination contests in both parties that is
more intense and more extreme than I remember from the
previous cycles I have observed. Perhaps that is only caused
by special trick of memory, the trick of forgetting what the
past was like, even the past we ourselves have lived through.
We are now about a week from a pivotal moment in the
Republican race, and about a week after the Democratic
race, once thought concluded, was reignited.
Of the latter, it still seems unlikely that Bernie Sanders can
overtake Hillary Clinton in the vital delegate totals, but
Michigan was a dark omen for her campaign and for polling.
Objectively speaking, there is really no positive explanation for
Mrs. Clinton to lose a very large industrial northern state with
a substantial minority population. Nor is there a satisfactory
explanation for all polls taken hours before voting to show
Mrs. Clinton winning by double digits.
The Republicans, on the other hand, have equally troubling
circumstances to confront. March 15 could be the de facto
end of the nomination contest if Donald Trump sweeps most
of the five major state primaries, four of which could be
winner-take-all. So far, Mr. Trump is leading in four of them.
The exception is Ohio where one of his last credible rivals
has gone into the lead in his home state. But even if John
Kasich wins Ohio, he must follow through with several strong
performances, and some outright victories, afterwards if he is
to have a chance to be nominated.
Unless Mr. Trump’s campaign suddenly collapses (which is
highly unlikely), the only reasonable path for victory for Mr.
Kasich would be, in combination with Ted Cruz, to prevent
Mr, Trump from getting a majority of delegates, or even close
to a majority of delegates, before the GOP convention in
Cleveland, and then to prevail at a “brokered” convention.
Marco Rubio is now likely to lose Florida next week, and there
will be pressure for him, if that happens, to withdraw.
Although Mrs. Clinton still remains a strong favorite to win her
party’s nomination, she faces the possibility of unusually serious
defections of Sanders voters to the Green Party in November,
or even more likely, unusually low Democrat turnout in the
general election.. The latter has been given reinforcement by
noticeably decreased Democratic Party turnout in the primaries
(compared with dramatically increased Republican Party primary
The anger of many Republican grass roots voters has found a
temporary sanctuary in Mr Trump. Faced with a Trump victory,
other Republican grass roots voters are now angrily threatening
to bolt their own party in November if Mr. Trump is nominated,
voting for Mrs. Clinton or staying home. Everyone is angry.
Political oxygen is very scarce.
It is time for every American voter --- left, right and center --- to
take some deep breaths. This is not the World Series or the Super
Bowl when, if your team loses, you have a few beers, a good night’s
sleep, and wake up thinking about next year’s season. It is about
the direction of the nation, its domestic well-being and its place
in the world. The most important contest is in November.
I want to remind the reader that whoever wins the presidential
nomination of each party, they will have won it in an open and
fair contest. Unlike in many other nations in the world, it is an
important American tradition that we respect the winner in a fair
contest, be it in sports or politics.
The primary season is not yet over in either party because we
really do not yet know who will be on the November ballot. But
as we approach the pivotal moments in the nomination contests,
I think it is important to remember that living and breathing
always requires plenty of oxygen.
Deep breaths, my countrymen and countrywomen. Deep breaths.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.