I’m a glutton for punishment, which is why I’ve poured over some of the political pundit reactions over last night’s New Hampshire Primary victories for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Let’s begin with John Avalon:
The frustration that many folks feel with Washington stems from its current division and dysfunction, the sense that special interests are ignoring the national interest. They’re right. But the populist protest candidacies of Trump and Sanders will only deepen Washington’s division and dysfunction because they don’t offer any practical bipartisan solutions as a matter of pride. Banning Muslim immigration or single-payer health care may have their constituencies but they aren’t going to pass Congress. Insults and ideological purity are only a recipe for further polarization, creating a feedback loop of frustration and alienation. Their prescriptions double-down on the disease.
Some hard-core partisan supporters no doubt love the idea of a Trump-Sanders general election, effectively forcing America to choose between two extreme visions. But despite their current popularity with the partisan base, neither man represents the vast majority of Americans. And here’s a proof-point to keep the moderate majority from fearing the future: Less than 0.3 percent of Americans have voted so far in the 2016 primaries. We’ve still got some time for sanity to catch up with all the crazy talk.
Guys like Avalon have our best interests at heart, you see. He believes we should stick with the same tiresome establishment-based thinking, which has caused trillions of dollars to be wasted on misguided Middle Eastern wars and Wall Street bailouts. Let’s also stick with a political class bent on doing little to help the poor and middle classes while they sign-off of destructive and demoralizing trade deals. Brilliant! Let’s stick with the corporatism of our political system. Certainly, everything will work-out in the end. Now, that’s crazy thinking, John.
John Marshall explains how Bernie’s disciplined message is causing Clinton trouble:
I cannot imagine that the national Democratic Party will nominate Bernie Sanders. But Hillary Clinton has her work cut out for her. Listening to Hillary, her message seems to be “I’ll fix everything. Whatever you come up with, I’ll fix it.” Working on everything is a decent brief for a President focused on domestic policy. But it’s not a terribly coherent message. And Sanders is nothing but coherence.
The National Review thinks Trump wins if no one challenges him:
Republicans have had only two contests in the presidential race so far. In Iowa, Ted Cruz took on Donald Trump — pointing out that he has always been willing to use government power to help himself at the little guy’s expense — and won. In New Hampshire, the other candidates were busier fighting one another than challenging him, and he won big. The New Hampshire results do not make us think that Trump is the inevitable nominee. They do make us think that he will be the nominee if he remains effectively unopposed.
Picking-up on that thought, W. James Antle III tries to answer why there’s been no big opposition to Trump thus far:
One reason may be that establishment donors didn’t want to heavily fund an anti-Trump campaign if the primary beneficiary was going to be Cruz. To the extent that this is true, it shows more hostility to conservatives than an ideological hodgepodge like Trump — which itself fuels the conservative anger helping Trump.
Trump has proved to have greater political skills than most anticipated when he took that fateful ride down the escalator over the summer. But it took a village to build the rationale for his candidacy — a village run by the establishment.
Phillip Bump points-out Sanders’ wide acceptance among both Democratic and Independent voters:
[T]he state of New Hampshire was Bernie Country. The deep splits we saw in Iowa were still there, but the split wasn’t between voting for Sanders and voting for Clinton, it was between voting for Sanders by a little and voting for Sanders by Kim Jong Un-style margins.
Sanders won two out of every three men, and notably slightly more women than Clinton, according to the most recent exit polls. Sanders won young voters — those under 30 — by about 70 percentage points. He won those aged 45 to 64 with a slight majority. He won two-thirds of non-college graduates and a little over half of those with degrees. Sanders won six in 10 voters with household incomes of less than $100,000, and a bare majority of those earning $100,000 or more.
The one part that grabbed my attention was how much Clinton was echoing Sanders’ basic talking points in her concession speech. More notably, Trump lauded Bernie’s stances against money in politics and trade in a speech just before the primary. The Occupy Wall Street narrative is alive and kicking. People on both sides are voting for candidates who don’t answer to the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington.
Let’s see what changes as the race switches to states where the white vote doesn’t dominate.