Monday, February 29, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: Tomorrow isn't just Tuesday, it's Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday, the day that can make or break a campaign, is tomorrow. Candidates from both parties stand to win big and lose badly.

There is no doubt that after Super Tuesday the Republican field will be winnowed down again, probably very significantly. Eleven states consisting of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia will all be holding primaries or caucuses to award their delegates. A total of 595 delegates are up for grabs.

Trump is 536 delegates away from being half way to the total he needs to become the Republican nominee. If Trump sweeps all of the Super Tuesday states he could ensure that no other candidate gets enough delegates to win the nomination. Then again, subsequently other candidates could win enough to ensure Trump doesn't either.

Donald Trump is currently riding high. Last week he got his third straight win and locked down the high profile endorsement of former opponent Gov. Chris Christie. Can he keep this winning streak up? Will he dominate the board and all but assure he gets the Republican nomination? Will moderate Christie's endorsement bring over voters from Rubio and Kasich?  Or will Trump's refusal to initially disavow the endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke hurt him?

How the last Republican debate will effect the voters is unclear. Trump, Rubio, and Cruz looked for a while like they were going to break out in a street fight during the campaign with the moderator, Wolf Blitzer, losing complete control of the three. How this might effect the supporters of the leading three is unknown.

What Gov. John Kasich or Ben Carson hope to accomplish at this point is completely unknown but as of yet neither one has suspended their campaigns. All that is clear is that any candidate that wants to stay in this race needs to win at least four of the states up for grabs. Anyone who can't manage to secure that many wins is all but finished in this race.

The state of Colorado will also be having Republican caucuses but they are not binding their delegates to any preferential vote by the voters.

On the Democratic side, the stakes are just as high. Former Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders will be butting heads in eleven states and one territory tomorrow. Eligible voters in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia will all be casting their vote to award their states' delegates tomorrow. Eligible voters in the territory of American Samoa will be caucusing tomorrow as well. A total of 875 delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday both candidates desperately need every one of those delegates.

For obvious reasons, Clinton is likely to easily take Arkansas and Sanders is likely to take Vermont but who wins each of the states tomorrow is up to the voters. So far, as far as delegates awarded by the voters are concerned, Clinton and Sanders are almost tied. Neither one is out of the race yet by any means but if either Clinton or Sanders can manage to sweep the Super Tuesday states, they can use the momentum gained to likely become the Democratic nominee. If they manage to split the delegates, as they have been doing so far, this will end up being a long and hard fight for both candidates.

Clinton is trying to use her first landslide victory last week to propel her to victory. Sanders is hoping to bring out enough of his supporters to thwart Clinton's current momentum.

Tomorrow also starts the in-person voting for Democrats abroad. Democrats abroad are Democrats who live in foreign countries and have met the criteria for voting as a Democrat abroad. The Democratic party recognizes them as the equivalent of one state as far as nomination purposes go. Democrats abroad can cast their vote via mail, fax, and email from January 11th through March 8th. For those who want to vote in person, the Democratic party opens 121 official voting centers in more than 40 countries from March 1st through March 8th.

For the next coverage of the 2016 campaign trail for both the Democratic and Republican parties, return after the results from Super Tuesday have been finalized.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: The Democrats in South Carolina

And now South Carolina, and the first four contests of the Democratic presidential nomination process, is over. The Palmetto State has spoken and former Senator Hillary Clinton is the victor. Not only is she the victor but she is the victor in a landslide. Clinton desperately needed this landslide going into Super Tuesday.

Senator Bernie Sanders has now had his first major loss of the Democratic primary cycle only gaining 26 percent of the vote. This loss isn't the end of the road for Sanders but he has to have a far better showing on Super Tuesday or his campaign may wither and die. Sanders did not need a loss this bad going into Super Tuesday.

Sanders didn't manage to even win any singular county within South Carolina. While one major loss doesn't kill a campaign – Clinton rebounded after her heavy loss in New Hampshire – South Carolina has given Sanders some important information going forward. He is having trouble resonating with black voters. If Sanders can't find a way to remedy this issue fast, his chances of becoming the Democratic nominee become slim.

Willie Wilson, appearing on his first ballot of the Democratic presidential nomination cycle, received under 0.7 percent of the vote. As of the time of writing, Wilson is appearing on a total of eleven ballots in the Democratic primaries, including Illinois and Mississippi. “

“Dr. Wilson is only on 11 ballots so far because he didn't provide enough signatures for certain states to qualify,” Anneliese Peper, public relations and social media manager for Wilson's campaign, said.

The eleven ballots, if Wilson won all eleven states, wouldn't be enough to gain the Democratic nomination and South Carolina was a bad state for Wilson's first appearance. Wilson's platform is closest to that of Sanders and where Sanders was not expected to do well at all – and didn't do well at all – it would be very unlikely for the far lesser heard of Wilson to gain any significant percentage of the vote in the state.

Return on February 29th for the pre-Super Tuesday coverage for both parties.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: The Return to South Carolina

A week after the Republican party had their battle royal in South Carolina, the Democrats will be clashing in The Palmetto State. This will be former Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders' last chance to impress voters by showing they are the front running choice of the Democratic party before the all important Super Tuesday. Their next debate isn't until after Super Tuesday, so outside of an extremely short chance to campaign, South Carolina is important for swaying Democrats who are still on the fence.

Clinton and Sanders have been butting heads throughout the primary so far with each of them earning 50 delegates through the actual voters. When superdelegates are added in, Clinton is way ahead of Sanders at this point – Clinton having collected 455 superdelegates to Sanders' 21 – but that doesn't make the nomination a lock for her. Anything can happen between now and July 25th.

From how the voters have spoken there is no clear favorite between the two yet. In their first challenge, the Iowa Caucuses, Clinton very narrowly beat Sanders by gaining 0.3% more votes than Sanders. In the follow-up round, the New Hampshire primaries, Sanders had a decisive victory over Clinton. The third, and most recent, battle, the Nevada Caucuses, went to Clinton in a not quite as narrow as Iowa victory.

All that can be discerned from the Democratic primary cycle so far is that voters seem to be split down the middle on who they think is a better candidate, Sanders or Clinton. No clear favorite, or even hints of one, can be seen yet. After the South Carolina primary, the next step for the Democrats is Super Tuesday, where eleven states, and one territory, will cast their votes in the Democratic primary.

According to current polling Clinton is poised to take South Carolina in a decisive victory and Sanders is playing down the importance of the state. What does South Carolina actually mean to the two candidates?

For Clinton, she needs a decisive victory in South Carolina. Not just because the polls state she should get one. Sanders has one, she doesn't. She needs one. Plain and simple. Clinton needs a landslide victory especially just before Super Tuesday to show she can get one. If she can't pull off the landslide victory she needs to win; losing to Sanders, even by a close margin, could be disastrous to her campaign.

For Sanders, he can't just write off South Carolina. While unlikely, another decisive victory would be a major win for him. With two decisive victories he might be able to steamroll through Super Tuesday. Even a close victory would be a major win for him; but if he can't get a win, he needs to come in with a close margin to Clinton like he did in Nevada and Iowa. If he falls too far behind, his momentum could crumble, the last thing Sanders wants just before Super Tuesday.

No matter what the results will end up being, South Carolina is ultimately an important state for both campaigns in what is shaping up to be a brutal bare knuckles fight all the way to Washington D.C.

For the next coverage of the Republican primaries return on February 29th for the pre-Super Tuesday coverage for both parties. For the next coverage of the Democratic primaries return after the South Carolina primaries are over.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: The Republicans in Nevada

The Republicans had their showdown in Nevada last night, which was an important night for everyone still in the race. The rumble in The Silver State was the final battle before the all important Super Tuesday where roughly half the necessary delegates for the Republican presidential nomination are up for grabs. Eleven states will be picking their Republican presidential delegates on March 1st.

The big winner in Nevada was the big winner of the night Donald Trump who, for the third time in a row, has decimated his opponents in his landslide victory. The big loser? Everyone else in the race. Nevada was the last chance for a candidate to show they could win against Trump before Super Tuesday. No one did this last night.

The second place winner in Nevada was Senator Marco Rubio. His second place win brought in roughly half the number of votes that Trump did over the course of the night. In the first four critical battles for the Republican nomination despite having come in second twice he hasn't had a single first place win.

The third place winner was Senator Ted Cruz. Outside of his first place win in Iowa, Cruz has consistently come in third. He usually ends up with almost the same amount as the second place finisher, but neither is even close to that coveted and all important first slot.

The fourth place winner was Ben Carson. Nevada ties with Iowa for his best performance in the presidential primaries so far, which isn't saying much. Especially since Carson would have needed more than four times the amount of votes than he received to have taken third from Cruz. Carson should have dropped out after New Hampshire and not a single performance since then has changed this.

And in last place is the last of the governors that is still in the race John Kasich. Despite his second place finish in New Hampshire, Kasich has performed poorly in every other contest so far and should now follow the other governors and suspend his campaign. The only challenger that Kasich appears to have in this election at this point is Carson where both are fighting each other to stay out of last place.

Trump needs to keep his momentum going into Super Tuesday. If he can take all eleven states the odds will be in his favor that he will be the Republican nominee for president. Rubio and Cruz need to somehow invigorate voters if they want to stay in this election. To stay relevant at this point, both need to secure a first place finish in at least four states each on Super Tuesday, if not more.

Tomorrow Trump will either have to take a huge misstep in the only Republican debate before Super Tuesday or Rubio and Cruz will have to somehow massively change viewer perception of them. The debate will be held on CNN and Telemundo starting at 8:30 EST.

Then one week from Nevada's vote yesterday, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and the Commonwealth of Virginia will all be holding Republican primaries or caucuses.

Also on March 1st, Colorado has opted to rescind their Republican caucus vote from being tied to the delegates that Colorado awards at the Republican National Convention meaning that the Colorado delegates will remain unpledged to any candidate until decided at the convention.

Wyoming and North Dakota will also have caucuses on Super Tuesday where their delegates remain unbound to any candidate.

For the next coverage of the Republican primaries return on February 29th for the pre-Super Tuesday coverage for both parties. For the next coverage of the Democratic primaries return on the 26th.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: The Return to Nevada

Since the Republican primary hopefuls had their last showdown in South Carolina the field has shrunk yet again, but not as much as it should have. Former Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the race before the South Carolina results were even final yet Ben Carson is still keeping his life support running refusing to drop out of the primaries.

Nevada is a key state for everyone left in the race. After his decisive South Carolina win, Donald Trump is leading the delegate count by a large margin and one week after Nevada speaks is Super Tuesday, where roughly half the necessary delegates for winning the Republican primary nomination are at stake.

As it stands right now, the front runner Trump way under performed in Iowa and followed up with two crushing wins in New Hampshire and South Carolina. He will obviously be eyeing that top spot to keep adding to his delegate pile. Senator Ted Cruz won Iowa, did well with his third place win in New Hampshire and under performed with his third place win in South Carolina. He needs that top spot to stay viable in this race. Senator Marco Rubio did better than expected in Iowa with his third place win, way under performed in New Hampshire with his fifth place slaughter in New Hampshire, and well with his second place win in South Carolina. He will want that first place finish to show he is the moderate conservative in this race to vote for. Gov. John Kasich was decimated in Iowa with his eighth place finish, did well in New Hampshire with his second place win, and decimated in South Carolina with his fifth place finish. He has to get a first place win to stay alive in this race allowing him to continue on and prove that he is the moderate conservative of choice. Carson did poorly in Iowa with his fourth place finish, horrifically poor with eighth place finish in New Hampshire losing only to former Gov. Jim Gilmore and was brutally decimated in South Carolina with his sixth place dead last finish. Outside of a landslide victory in Nevada Carson has nothing to hope for.

Before Super Tuesday the Republican field needs to narrow down to Trump, Cruz as the social conservative, and either Rubio or Kasich as the moderate conservative for the rest of the Republican primary cycle. Two of the remaining candidates will need to drop out after Nevada depending on the results.

As for what to expect? Trump, as normal, is polling high. Cruz and Rubio are polling in the middle. And Kasich and Carson are polling at the bottom. However it is how the people go out and actually vote that matters and polls have been very inaccurate in Nevada before.

For the next coverage of the Republican primaries return after the Republican Nevada Caucuses are over and for the next coverage of the Democratic primaries return on the 26th.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: South Carolina and Nevada

The Republican presidential candidates faced off in South Carolina today and the Democratic presidential candidates had a showdown in Nevada.

In Nevada, former Senator Hillary Clinton went head-to-head with Senator Bernie Sanders. Hillary won the caucuses, but like Iowa, by a very narrow margin. While this fits in perfectly with the polls – which showed the two in an almost dead heat – it is not the large margin win that Clinton needs to invigorate her campaign. Before pledged superdelegates, as of now this puts Sanders and Clinton dead even on delegates in this race – with 50 each – making South Carolina and its 53 delegates a necessity for both candidates to take by a wide margin. If the Democratic nomination race continues like this Sanders and Clinton will be fighting each other all the way through the primaries. The next stop for the two will be South Carolina on February 27th.

Republican front runner Donald Trump repeated his success in New Hampshire in South Carolina and proved his poll numbers to be accurate again taking the number one slot, and a massive amount of delegates, with a massive margin. Senator Marco Rubio fought with Senator Ted Cruz all night for the number two slot eventually securing it for himself. Former Governor Jeb Bush, Governor John Kasich, and Ben Carson took the final slots trailing by a wide margin. The big winners of the night are Trump for his second landslide victory and Rubio who has shown he can pick himself up from New Hampshire. The big losers? Everyone who didn't make the top three slots.

Before the official results were in Bush wisely suspended his campaign. An act that Carson would be wise to follow. Kasich did well in New Hampshire, so he isn't out yet. But to keep himself in the race he will have to place in the top three slots in Nevada three days from now, which at the current time polls show him unlikely to do. Then again, the polls in Nevada can be very different than the actual election results as history has shown us. Next up for the Republicans are the Nevada caucuses on the 23rd, not leaving much room for campaigning.

For the next coverage of the Republican primaries return on the 22nd and for the next coverage of the Democratic primaries return on the 26th.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: A Fork in the Road -- Nevada and South Carolina

The Republican and Democratic campaigns for president find themselves splitting for the first time in the 2016 presidential elections. The Democrats have a caucus in Nevada and Republicans have a primary in South Carolina tomorrow.

Tomorrow Senator Bernie Sanders and former Senator Hillary Clinton square off in Nevada where the stakes are high in their third round. In the first round Clinton received a technical victory in Iowa, although Sanders strong performance was a definite win for him almost beating Clinton. In New Hampshire Sanders knocked down Clinton with massive knock out. Sanders needs a win in Nevada but not as much as Clinton does.

Tomorrow the winnowing Republican field of candidates go head to head in South Carolina. Since New Hampshire's first in the nation primary Carly Fiorina, Gov. Chris Christie, and former Gov. Jim “Did anyone know I was really running” Gilmore have all dropped out.

Current front runner Donald Trump is polling high, which means he needs to come in with another landslide like in New Hampshire. Will he or will South Carolina be like Iowa. Will his attacks on the 43rd President George W. Bush during the last debate hurt him? Or his renewed comments indicating he might leave the Republican Party and run as an independent hurt him? Or will his fan base come out en masse? Former Gov. Jeb Bush has to finish within the top three or South Carolina is likely to be his last stop. Will his brother George W. Bush campaigning with him in South Carolina help?

Senator Marco Rubio did unexpectedly well in Iowa but stumbled hard in New Hampshire. He needs to be eyeing that top three spot. In second place, Senator Ted Cruz and fourth place Gov. John Kasich don't have to worry as much in this one. But if either one sinks they will have to correct quickly in Nevada.

Unless Ben Carson can pull a rabbit out of a hat in South Carolina he will quickly be joining his fallen comrades, which realistically he should have done already.

The state of Washington Republican caucuses will also occur tomorrow, which will be followed up by the primary on May 24th. This year, unlike previous years, only the primary will decide the delegates the state of Washington awards.

For the Libertarian party front runner former Gov. Gary Johnson, who ran the most successful presidential campaign in Libertarian history in 2012, may face a challenge in getting his own party's nomination. Libertarian candidate John McAfee, a cybersecurity expert and former owner of McAfee Anti Viral software, is making news with his offer to decrypt Syed Farook's phone for the government for free. The publicity from this may not be enough to knock Johnson from his front running spot though since the last poll I could find for Libertarian candidates from January 28th shows Johnson getting sixty eight percent of support and McAfee getting three percent of support from Libertarian party members.

Come back on the 21st for a look at what happened in South Carolina and Nevada.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: The New Hampshire Primary

New Hampshire brought some new surprises into the race, on the Republican ticket what a difference eight days made. Marco Rubio was riding high from his higher than expected third place finish and Donald Trump barely finished ahead of Rubio for his second place finish that all polls showed was going to be a definitive first place finish. But that was Iowa and this is New Hampshire. The big winners of the night were Trump and John Kasich. Trump showed in New Hampshire his supporters can make it to the poll with his astounding first place finish in The Granite State blowing away all the other Republican candidates. Kasich also came out fighting for his second place finish beating out his other moderate rivals Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio. The big loser of the night, Rubio with his fifth place finish that was all but assured to be an easy second place finish after Iowa. Bush spent the night flip flopping with Cruz for the third place finish ultimately taking the fourth place slot. After the results of the night is has become rather obvious that Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina should drop out of the election. Chris Christie also failed to register among voters and should also probably throw in the towel at this point. Based off of the complete results of Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump, Rubio, Kasich, Cruz, and Bush should continue battling it out in South Carolina on February 20th. As to who will ultimately get the Republican nomination, all bets are off at this point.

On the Democratic ticket Bernie Sanders blew away Hillary Clinton for the first place finish with almost 60% of the vote making him the big winner of the night. Clinton barely took Iowa and took a distant second place in New Hampshire showing that this will probably be a long and tough fight between Sanders and Clinton to determine who gets the Democratic Nomination. All eyes will now turn to the Nevada caucuses on the 20th to see if Sanders or Clinton will take top prize there.

Check back on the 19th for the next Campaign Trail 2016 report.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: Sliding Into New Hampshire

New Hampshire is on the cusp of the first in the nation primary and the second stop in the Presidential election process. The herds have thinned on both sides. On the Democratic ticket only Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders still remain. Well out of the candidates that will be appearing nationally, the ballot actually contains 25 additional candidates, most of which only appear on New Hampshire's ballots. Martin “Who?” O'Malley dropped out after the Iowa caucuses. Clinton and Sanders squared off for the first time as just the two of them at a debate held at my alma mater The University of New Hampshire's Johnson Theater. For excellent coverage of the debate, please check out the coverage by tomorrow's journalistic stars at The New Hampshire ("Democrats showdown on campaign finances, foreign policy"). What waits to be seen is if Sanders can use his momentum to continue to offer Clinton a major challenge in this election or whether he stumbles in the Granite State or whether Sanders being in the backyard of Vermont will bolster his performance or whether Clinton will win out.

The Republican ticket has thinned far more than the Democratic one with Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul all having suspended their campaigns. Santorum and Huckabee I understand, they both were in their element in Iowa and did horribly. Paul pulled the pin too early in my opinion since his Republican/Libertarian blend was unlikely to do well in Iowa, he should have waited for a more Libertarian minded voting pool to see how he would have done. The Republicans also had a New Hampshire debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. What waits to be seen is if Marco Rubio can use his better than expected third place spot in Iowa to take the Granite State or whether his poor performance at the New Hampshire debate will hurt him. Will the voters will go for Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, or John Kasich – all three of which along with Rubio are in their political environment with New Hampshire Republicans. Donald Trump currently leads in the polls, but Iowa has already proven once that his high poll numbers don't actually equate to a high number of voters. The U.S. will have to wait and see if his throwing a temper tantrum tactic over loosing Iowa will bring out more of his fans or cause his numbers to shrink even more or whether his subdued persona at the debate will help him.

Of course the most important part of February 9th is that the voters of New Hampshire go out and vote, regardless of which ticket you vote on or which candidate you vote for. And vote for whomever you like, on both tickets the playing field is wide open. Your vote could be the decisive one for your candidate.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Campaign Trail 2016: Iowa Caucuses

Last night the citizens of Iowa came out for the first actual night of voting in the 2016 Presidential Campaign and while there were big winners and losers, who actually won and lost may not be as obvious as it initially seems.

On the Republican ticket, Ted Cruz took the state by a decent margin making him the official winner of Iowa. While at first appearances that would make him the big winner of the night, in actuality it was Marco Rubio who was the big winner. Rubio, with his third place final standing, massively exceeded expectations for him showing voters that he has a definite chance of getting the Republican nomination. The big loser of the night was Donald Trump. After leading poll after poll, Trump under performed in the caucus showing his great poll numbers and huge rally crowds don't actually translate to his belivers actually going out to vote.

Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich aren't leaving Iowa with great momentum, but none of them should throw in the towel yet. New Hampshire, the next stop on February 9th, has a Republican voting base that is more likely to vote for them. While their collective future in the 2016 campaign is uncertain at the moment, nothing yet is written in stone for them.

Rick Santorum should take a hint from Mike Huckabee and announce a suspension of his campaign. He finished the race in Iowa, a state where the voting base is likely to vote for him – he won the 2012 Iowa Caucuses – with just one percent of the vote.

On the Democratic ticket, as of the time of writing no winner has been officially declared yet. However the actual winner and loser have emerged. Bernie Sanders is the big winner of the night. He is currently just behind Hillary Clinton in the final tally but Iowa shows that Sanders can bring out the voters and bring in the numbers and Clinton will have a long hard fight in the race for the Democratic nomination. The loser, Clinton. Her insistence on having to declare herself the winner, despite Iowa not yet declaring an actual winner, can be seen as egotistical and fear and will definitely backfire on her if Iowa ultimately goes with Sanders as the winner. Even if she keeps the win, several precincts are being decided by coin tosses, which can in no way be called a clear and decisive victory. Clinton would have done much better to have just continued to campaign in New Hampshire and let Iowa announce the results on their own.

As should have happened ages ago, Martin O'Malley has officially suspended his campaign.

The Libertarian Party didn't have caucuses in Iowa last night but Gary Johnson is likely to get the nomination for the party. While last night's performances doesn't give him a view of who he will be taking on for the Democratic nomination, if Rubio uses his momentum right he can take the Republican nomination. If Johnson is smart, he will start his campaign working on combating Rubio now before Rubio gets stronger.

As for New Hampshire, the remaining candidates are there. Voters should go out and get to meet them all as they decide who they will vote for on February 9th.