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U.S. Politics: Primary Election Mess

This year’s U.S. presidential primaries are not selecting candidates that can win the office.

April 5, 2016

This year's U.S. presidential primaries are not selecting candidates that can win the office.

Given the polling numbers available, it seems that none of the possible candidates in either party can win the 2016 Presidential election!

Over the past week, the Republican “establishment” has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Donald Trump. Trump aided the effort by being, well, Trump.

The media piled on, having given him a pass for so long. Speculation is rife whether Trump will be able to recover. Some already see him as a virtual “zombie” candidate.

A weak hand for the GOP

The GOP has been dealt a weak hand in having Trump, Cruz and Kasich as the last candidates standing.

After his comments on abortion, Trump has worsened his problem among women voters.

Recent polls indicate a favorability rating in the low twenties. Polls also indicate that Trump would lose African-American and Latin-American voters by roughly 60% each.

It’s clear to many that Trump cannot win the Presidency with numbers like that.

The mantle of Republican establishment leadership has now fallen upon Ted Cruz, after having been passed earlier from Jeb Bush to Marco Rubio.

But doubts about Cruz’ electability are also significant. A recent CNN poll that showed him with a “net favorable” rating of negative 20.

And then there’s John Kasich. Kasich’s main pitch to voters so far has been his electability. And he might very well be able to attract the moderate vote.

He leads Hillary in a number of general election match-up polls. But Kasich gets a lukewarm reception from the Republican base and has so far failed to garner voter enthusiasm.

Bleak for Democrats too

This all looks bleak for Republicans, until you put them in context by comparing them with the Democratic candidates.

Hillary has proven in this and the 2008 Presidential election that she is not an appealing candidate.

She continues on her self-ordained path toward the Democratic coronation, taking what may be the most unusual political tack yet seen in U.S. politics.

Hillary’s campaign has actually “forbidden” her opponent from pointing out anything remotely negative about her – whether donations from the oil and gas industry or the intensifying FBI investigation into her e-mails.

This attempt at censorship merely hardens perceptions of her trustworthiness or lack thereof. Based on a recent CNN poll, a mere 23% of voters said they trust her. The same poll had her net favorability rating at negative 20 percent!

With numbers like those, she is hardly the shoo-in her campaign makes her out to be in the general. In fact, she would be considered a long shot to win the Presidency if she were to run against anyone but Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

Worse, her campaign seems to alienate voters daily, as evidenced by narrowing poll margins. Bernie has pulled ahead in Wisconsin and is expected to win.

Importantly, he is rapidly closing the gap in Hillary’s home state of New York, calling into question her own electability.

Hillary’s advantage: She’s not a “socialist”

But the Clinton campaign is playing the electability card aggressively. It seems to be her only clear advantage over Bernie Sanders among Democratic voters. Why? Because unlike Sanders, Hillary is not a socialist!

And there’s some truth in Bernie being vulnerable on that point.

In spite of the love Bernie is getting from young and progressive voters, it remains to be seen whether a self-avowed “socialist” can be elected President of the United States.

Nuance is not a strong point in U.S. politics. For many older voters, a socialist is a communist! Rumors about a 90% marginal tax rate are already flying!

Of course, this fear fails to acknowledge Sanders’ relatively moderate Democratic voting record over the course of 10 years in the U.S. Senate and 16 years in the House of Representatives.

It also negates the fact that Bernie is liked and respected by his Congressional colleagues, many Republicans included.

Lots of open questions

Handicapping a U.S. Presidential election under these circumstances is a dangerous game.

There are big questions whether the “usual” (more or less orderly) game — once candidates are nominated, party support coalesces, campaign contributions flow and messaging becomes sleeker and more sophisticated – will play out this time.

In the meantime, it is becoming increasingly clear that the main issue that will be considered on either side of the political divide is electability.

That makes the upcoming two party conventions more intriguing than in a long time. In a stark departure from the usual, totally scripted fare, no coronations are on the horizon.


This year’s U.S. presidential primaries are not selecting candidates that can win the office.

Hillary’s campaign has “forbidden” opponents from pointing out anything remotely negative about her.

It would be hard to win the Presidency if Hilary were to run against anyone but Trump or Cruz.