01 March 2016

Super Tuesday Primary Results - Why the Fractured GOP so Misses Reagan

Donald and Hillary have emerged as the clear front-runners.

It's curious that the GOP establishment has had such a visceral reaction to Donald, the only Republican candidate voters refer to by first name. The GOP might actually split if he arrives at the convention just short of the delegate count he needs to outright claim the party's nomination. But give him credit for his: who else could make the GOP establishment actually feel relieved to see Hillary win in November?

Given the two are likely to face each other in the general, it is curious to compare how well they did in the same states.

In Super Tuesday's primary elections, Clinton consistently edged out Trump.  Each lost two states (Clinton lost Vermont and Oklahoma and Trump lost Texas and Oklahoma), but Clinton got more votes than Donald in 6 states and Donald got more votes than her in just 3. He barely edged out Hillary in Vermont even though in Vermont Bernie Sanders got about 6 votes for every 1 that Clinton got.

Clinton Trump Clinton edge
VA 504 356 148
Vermont 18 19 -2
Texas 931 757 174
Tennessee 245 333 -87
Oklahoma 139 130 9
Massachusetts 589 299 290
Georgia 536 501 36
Arkansas 143 130 13
Alabama 310 372 -62
total 3415 2897 518
Where Donald Won
573 724 -151
Where Hillary Won
2842 2173 669

If we're just looking at the ability to collect votes, Clinton seems to have a distinct edge. For all the talk of record turnouts on the Republican said, she got 18% more votes than Trump Tuesday night. In all, Clinton won half a million more votes than Trump on Super Tuesday.

As it now stands, Donald is likely to win the GOP nomination but lose the party's support. And that could make for a dream scenario for Hillary Clinton in the general election. Who wouldn't want to run against a candidate promising to bring the country together while breaking his own party apart?

But tonight is another reminder of why Ronald Reagan is so idolized in the party. Reagan was a celebrity and a professional politician. He'd been a famous actor and a popular governor of California. He was an ideological icon and pragmatist. He spoke out against communism and big government but he also raised taxes more than once and presided over the creation of more government jobs (1.4 million) in his second term than any president since.

Now, the GOP seems to be choosing between those identities. It can go with celebrities like Trump or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or it can go with professional politicians like George Bush or George Bush or even Jeb Bush. Or it can go with ideological purists like Ted Cruz or Paul (Rand or Ron). Or it can go with pragmatists like governors Kasich or Christie. The inability to find one candidate who deftly combines all of the impulses found in Reagan (and indeed, in the party) is either fracturing the party or making those fissures more obvious.

The GOP remains an odd assemblage of religious, fiscal, and social conservatives who will likely cobble together lots of successful candidates to win state elections and swaths of Congress for decades more. It's not obvious that they any longer have a clear enough sense of identity or complex enough candidates to be able to put forward a national candidate ever likely to win the White House.

[Having made this big claim, your blogger feels obliged to point out that he dismissed Donald's chances of winning the GOP primary. He seems to have been wrong about that. Just so you know.]

No comments: