Category Archives: GOP

The Week in Review

There is an old saying that a week is a lifetime in politics.  In most weeks, there is a lot happening either behind the scenes or at lower levels (e.g., committee hearings and markups on bills that nobody is watching).  It is the rare week, however, that so much is taking place front and center competing for the attention of the American public.

The big story of the week was the non-vote on and the collapse of the Republican effort at major health care reform — the so-called Affordable Health Care Act (a name that in itself was an attack on the bill that it was trying to “repeal and replace,” the Affordable Care Act.   There are several significant aspects to this non-event.

First, despite their efforts, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan could not get the sizable Republican majority in the House to pass a bill (forget the exact details of the last version of the bill, they could not get a majority behind any version) on one of the top Republican priorities of the past seven years.  While Trump may have been a great negotiator, it is very easy to reach a two-sided deal.  (Of course, it’s possible that Trump’s belief in his negotiating skill may be one of his great delusions.  He may have just been offering the right deal at the right time and actually have been taken to the cleaners in his business negotiations.)When you have three or more sides to a deal, however, it becomes very difficult to keep everybody on board.  This problem is particularly true in politics — when one faction thinks that a bill is too conservative and the other faction thinks that the bill is too liberal, there really isn’t any change that could make both sides happy.  At that point, it’s not really about negotiating but selling.

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Easier Said than Done

While November was disappointing, the Democrats did gain seats in the Senate.  As a result, the Republicans only hold a 52-48 majority.  If three Republican Senators vote no on any confirmation or bill, it fails.  We are already seeing signs that the next two years could get very interesting — even if the Democrats are more responsible in using the filibuster than Republicans were.

Right now, the Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  The Republicans have never been able to exactly what they don’t like about the Affordable Care Act other than that it was passed by a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress.   For seven years, the Republicans have been asserting the need to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  While the Republicans have been relatively unified on their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have never been able to reach a consensus on how to replace it.

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The Republican Leaning Voter

VotingBoothImage_0In theory, this election should pose a significant dilemma for the Republican or the Republican-leaning voter.  A plurality of the Republican party has foisted on the voters of America someone who is unfit for any office.  If voters voted for the candidate who was closest to their position, Trump would be struggling to break 25% and would be potentially looking at losing every state.  Instead he is looking at getting around 75-80% of the vote from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (those who identify as independents but vote Republican in most races).  There are multiple reasons for Trump’s ability to hold onto most Republican voters (which explain why the Republican Party is not yet at the point of splitting).

The first and most significant is party loyalty.  Especially among those who opt to vote in the primaries, there is an investment in the party and its future.  Participating in a primary is an implicit agreement with other members of your party that, as a group, you will put together a ticket — top to bottom — that will represent the party in the elections.  The exact platform that the party will pursue in office will depend on the mix of candidates.  If other factions do well in the primaries, that platform may not suit your faction’s wishes perfectly, but you will live with that and try to do better in the next cycle of primaries.  It takes a dramatic change in the types of candidates who get elected (and typically several cycles) for a person to came to the conclusion that their party is no longer the party that they originally joined and that, on the issues that matter most to them, their policy preferences have no place in that party.

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What If (the Republicans Try to Dump Trump)?

Heading into tonight’s debate, the Republican Party is very uneasy.  Even before Friday, things were not going well in Trump land — a poor debate performance, his taxes, his connections to Russia, his record of disgraceful behavior towards women, minorities, and the disabled.  Then came Friday’s latest revelation that Trump is an even bigger cad than we thought.  As Donald Trump continues to implode, the question is what options exist for the Republican establishment to salvage the election.  The problem for the Republican establishment comes in two forms — the political and the legal.

The political problem is the fourteen million people who voted for Trump in the primary (and some additional like-minded people who did not vote in the primary).  While some of these voters might now think that Trump has finally stepped over the line, many of them still support Trump or would be upset if the Republican leadership tried some form of coup to replace Trump.  If eight or nine million Trump supporters declined to support the rest of the Republican ticket (about 5% of the vote nationally), that could make a difference in several races.  On the other hand, Trump — like Todd Akin in 2012 — could become a lead weight pulling down the rest of the party.  From the point of view of the Republican establishment, the best strategy may be quietly shifting resources to states with key Senate, House, and Governor’s races (particularly as Trump lacks a coherent strategy to begin with) and pretending that Trump does not exist.

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The Republican Ticket

Given who was willing to accept a spot on the Republican ticket, Donald Trump (after much back and forth) did the somewhat mature thing and named Governor Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate.  This pick pretty much ends the chance that Trump will face any type of substantial open rebellion at the convention as the Republicans decide to take whatever lumps they will get in the fall.  However, there are several significant problems with this ticket.

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Vice-Presidential Selection — Republicans

In the old days, the presidential nomination was often unsettled until balloting began at the convention.  Under those rules, the winning candidate typically announced his preferred running mate on the morning of the last day of the convention.  Since 1984, with each party having a presumptive nominee heading into convention, the norm has been to name the preferred running mate before the convention, most often in the week before the convention.  Based on that history, Trump should name his VP pick sometime next week.

Right now, Trump’s pick may come down to who is willing to accept the nomination that is a viable pick.  Every time the press speculates on a candidate who might actually improve Trump’s chances, that candidate withdraws their name from consideration (most recently Bob Corker and Jodi Ernst).

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GOP convention preparations to finally start tomorrow after 2 week delay

We’ve discussed in the past the issues with holding a convention in an arena with a successful basketball team. Well, with the Cleveland Cavaliers getting the NBA finals to a 6th game, being held tonight in Cleveland, the RNC will not get the keys to the Quicken Loans Arena until tomorrow morning, leaving just 4 weeks to prepare the arena before the GOP convention starts on July 18. Of course, the RNC has known about this possibility ever since Cleveland made the bid, but it wasn’t until Monday night’s upset win by the Cavaliers over the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 that the worst case scenario had come to past. (Actually 2nd worst – if the Cavs had had home-court advantage, the RNC might not have had access until Monday).

Basketball fans, of course, know that the Democrats faced no such concerns in Philadelphia.

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Preparing for 2020

While there is still plenty of time left in the 2016 election, discussion has already started about the rules for the 2020 election.  Changes to the delegate selection process tends to be driven by “fixing” what the party sees as the problem in the last election cycle.  For example, a lot of the changes on the Republican side (e.g., the binding rules, penalties for states violating the rules) were driven by what the party leadership thought went wrong in 2012 — Ron Paul doing better at state conventions than he did on caucus nights, states violating the timing and proportionality rules.

The two parties are at different stages of the process for modifying the procedures for 2020.  For the Republicans, the process for convening the next convention is part of the party rules .  Normally, the rules can only be amended at the convention.  In 2012, the convention granted limited “one time only” authority to the Republican National Committee to change the process.  Given the difficulty of making changes on the fly during a convention, it is likely that the Republicans might give the RNC this power again.  For the Democrats, the actual drafting of the rules for the next convention is done by the Democratic National Committee after the convention.  Typically, the most that has happened during the nomination process is an agreement to have a study commission to look at revisions to the rules.

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Trump’s GOP heads to Cleveland

With John Kasich suspending his campaign today, even NBC News will now have to call Donald Trump the presumptive nominee.

We’ll keep the sidebar GOP numbers updated, but will no longer be updating the state-by-state results for the GOP.

Of course, Clinton has been the presumptive nominee for the Democrats for 2 months, but no one is allowed to call her that yet,,,

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Primary End Game — Republicans

As April begins to turn into May, delegate counts become key.  This site has typically used the count at www.thegreenpapers.com as a good count — mostly because the Green Papers shows its work — exactly how it calculates the delegate counts.  Actually, the Green Papers has four separate counts.  What those different counts mean for the next two months is the main focus of this post.  To explain the terminology that the Green Papers uses, the Green Papers distinguishes between hard counts and soft counts.  The hard count is the actual number of delegates actually won to date.  The soft count has three components — the soft pledged count, the soft unpledged  count, and the soft total.  These components have slightly different meanings for the two parties given the difference in the rules of the two parties.  This post looks in a general sense at what these counts mean — primarily looking at the delegates from the states that have already voted — for the Republicans.

For the Republican Party, because delegates are bound by either the initial presidential preference vote or the delegate’s pledge when they ran for delegate (in certain caucus states, Illinois, and West Virginia), the hard count and the soft pledged count is, for the most part, the same for all of the candidates and differs only for uncommitted.   Soft unpledged (for the most part) represents officially uncommitted delegates who have announced their non-binding support for a candidate.  Additionally, for Colorado and Wyoming, the Green Papers treats the automatic delegates as “available” but for American Samoa, Guam, North Dakota, and the Virgin Islands, the Green Papers treat these delegates as uncommitted.  The actual status appears to be the same for both sets of automatic delegates — because there was no preference vote, these delegates are not bound to support any of the candidates.

For the Republican Party, all that truly matters for now is the hard count.   Including the automatic delegates from Colorado and Wyoming and the 54 district-level delegates from Pennsylvania, there will be 124 unbound delegates available on June 8 (128 if the original delegation from the Virgin Islands is seated by the Convention).  Of those 124 delegates, 18 will be the party leaders (party chair and RNC members) from the three states and three territories that did not hold a preference vote.  The other 106 or 110 will be the individual elected as uncommitted delegates in Colorado (4), American Samoa (6), Guam (6), North Dakota (25), Virgin Islands (2 or 6), Wyoming (1),  Louisiana (5), Oklahoma (3),  and Pennsylvania (54).  In addition to the uncommitted delegates, there are the delegates won by the other candidates.  As discussed last month, as best as can be determined, sixty-nine of these delegates are effectively unbound and another 44 could be released by the candidate to whom they are bound.  Presumably Ben Carson will release his nine delegates, but the other 35 might be kept bound if the remaining candidates are firmly opposed to Trump.  (Given the binding rules, it is hard to see how any candidate other than Trump could win on the first ballot.  If it gets to the second ballot, everything is up in the air.)  The key for unbound delegates is that tentative pledges by these delegates (including guesses as to which way these delegates are believed to be leaning) are not binding or set in stone.  Depending upon how the rest of the campaign goes, they are free to change their mind.

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