Tag Archives: american samoa

Super Tuesday II: everything’s coming up Trump

As promised, here’s the most important map in the US right now:

2016-03-16_1020(Counties sorted by winner: Trump in dark blue, Cruz in yellow, and Kasich in bright green. Candidates who have withdrawn or suspended their campaigns with a win include Carson in pale green and Rubio in red. Ties are in dark gray, counties that will hold contests later in the year are in light gray, and territories that elect strictly unbound delegates are in black.)

In a nutshell, it’s good news for Trump. Here’s a quick overview of what we can all learn from last night beyond that.

Region matters, but it’s only part of the story

A lot of commentary has focused on regional distinctions, in which Cruz is painted as successful in the West while Trump dominates the East and especially the South. That misses some nuances about where and how either of them dominate in various regions.

In the South, urban centers largely light up in contrast to the cold sea of largely rural, blue-coded, Trump-won counties. A large percentage of that were counties carried by Rubio, but Cruz’s showing in North Carolina maps surprisingly well to the more densely populated parts of the state too. Those voters in particularly may very well have been anyone-but-Trump votes, cast by somewhat more moderate and typically urban Southern Republicans. If North Carolina had voted earlier (like South Carolina), they may have gone with Rubio or a more moderate choice than Cruz, but this late in the process they were voting extremely strategically.

Missouri, hotly contested as a southern state, seems to have had a similar dynamic play out last night. Cruz won Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield, and Cape Girardeau, while Trump dominated the rural areas between each of those cities. Those who insist that Missouri has a distinctly un-southern feel to it might be right, as the second largest city, St. Louis, was narrowly carried by Trump. Bordering Illinois, those counties saw a dynamic more like those seen further north in the country.

Outside of the South, this urban-rural split is not only less dependable but also shockingly reverses, with Trump carrying Las Vegas, Detroit, Boston, and yesterday Chicago. As noted before, that oddity of him tending to win urban and suburban centers in blue states particularly speaks to his unique appeal to conservatives who feel “under siege” or similarly vulnerable. Where comparatively less populated parts of Illinois flip from Trump to Cruz might serve as an indicator of where a more southern cultural identity ends within the state. Trumps electoral success in Chicago – even though it’s with a small part of the total population there – was key in him pulling off that win.

Kasich wins, yet barely

If anyone pulled off a major victory in the Republican primaries last night outside of Trump, it was Kasich. While no one, Florida senator Rubio least of all, failed to step up and oppose Trump more or less steamrolling his way to victory in Florida, Ohio governor Kasich gave a surprisingly strong showing in Ohio. Cruz failed to capitalize on his appeal in certain rural parts of Kentucky bordering Ohio, but Trump’s wins along that border (and up along the boundary with Pennsylvania) were overshadowed by Kasich’s decisive if lean wins in virtually every other rural, suburban, or urban part of the state.

His win really was a bare minimum, however. Kasich, armed with electability, experience, and likability, only managed to win a plurality of Republican primary voters. To make matters worse he also had some pretty substantial conservative bona fides and benefited from a semi-organized campaign among Ohio democrats to crossover and vote for him. Even with all that, Trump trailed behind him only 9.1 percent – a meaningful loss, but not very much of one when Ted Cruz won 13.1 percent in the race in Ohio. The viability of Kasich outside of Ohio is dubious at best, and these fairly anemic returns under best case conditions may have a secured a key victory there but they mostly serve as a reminder of how limited his appeal has been.

The missing caucuses

Most coverage has sadly overlooked this, but the Northern Mariana Islands held their caucuses yesterday as well. Trump won decisively, with Cruz in a distant second. This is a bit of an upset of historical norms, actually, as they had previously cast their support even more overwhelmingly to Mitt Romney in 2012. In both cases, however, the territory saw wildly unrepresentative caucuses with fewer than scarcely a thousand participants representing its more than fifty thousand residents.

What next?

Within the immediate race, eyes will soon turn to Arizona, Utah, and American Samoa, which will all hold primary contests next Tuesday. That’s another 107 delegates – 58 of which will be awarded as a set by Arizonan primary voters. If Trump wins that primary, he would be more than halfway to a clear majority of delegates, suggesting that the Republican convention this summer will either be his to enjoy or a protracted mess of last minute deals to deny him the nomination.

Considering those exact possibilities, more than few Republicans are probably busily taking notes on this Bloomberg article which explores exactly how a brokered convention might be engineered. The key issue, particularly if Trump manages to win Arizona or similarly gain control over the majority of delegates is whether he can keep them completely loyal at a potentially rowdy convention. It’s unclear if this was tabulated with the aim to help Trump retain his delegates, Cruz target them for conversion, or for other reasons, but one list of who will appear at the convention as an unbound delegate (meaning, they can change their votes) has already popped up.

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Good governance is not a lack of governance

If you’ve been party to the on-going discussion in the US about the apparent “fiscal cliff”, you’re primarily aware of two separate takes on the issue. The expiration of numerous tax cuts either signifies an unparalleled shock the still fragile economy or a return to the Clinton era’s tax policies. If you hold to the former, you probably want an uncritical extension of the tax cuts, especially for those at the top out of some misguided faith in Reaganomics. If you hold to the latter, you actually don’t want the opposite of that – of very cautious and deliberate examination of what different plans would extend – but rather total government inaction. That is, those appear to be the options the that media is primarily presenting.

Much as it pains me to say it, but this is largely on the centrist segments of the media, although there’s plenty blame to find for the conservative factions as well. Yes, Fox News has been hyping this since the election and unapologetically demanding that we renew the tax cuts especially for the most wealthy Americans in spite of all the arguments about how now is precisely the time to return to Clinton era tax rates. In short, they’re not arguing anything based on facts. It’s about protecting their faith in inegalitarian wealth distributions as somehow being more efficient, even if that’s contrary to all the evidence.

Unfortunately, the rest of the media has gotten sucked into the vortex of debating those facts. That’s why the clear narrative has been about stressing how tax policy isn’t going to drastically change, and to the extent that it does, it’s not unambiguously negative. The problem is that fiscal cliff is about more than simply tax policy. The Reid Report has excellently covered the tensions going on within the Republican Party because of this issue, but only through coverage of the tax discussion. Charles P. Pierce’s opinion piece on the issue isn’t as factually challenged as much of the Republican analysis of the issue, but it’s still myopically attached to the issue of taxes. The Republican fixation on income taxes policy to the exclusion of all other issues has been unintentionally imported into the political mainstream, and because of it, we’re only looking at half the “fiscal cliff”.

The Congressional Research Service’s report on the “fiscal cliff” isn’t even all that concerned either, as they’ve left discussion of the numerous other expiring tax credits to a final, short section. It’s honestly a horror story of how disastrously mismanaged government in the US has been over the past decades. Education is so chronically underfunded, we simply provide deductions to grade school teachers who purchase supplies for their classes. Investment in cleaner energy sources is so devalued, we simply offer a few tax holidays to wind energy production. Community renewal in the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and other chronically impoverished areas is so politically toxic that the government has simply provided small incentives to private charities and community organizers to help sort out the myriad issues facing those communities. We are suffering from a maddening lack of governance on these and other issues, and now each of those tax credits are set to expire. Even what little good has been done through willful inaction is likely to be reneged.


(The real victims of the fiscal cliff? From here.)

Yes, the argument that we must do everything possible to avoid a return to Clinton-era income taxes is silly, and largely dependent on counterfactual beliefs. But almost every major voice in discussion on this issue is refusing to talk about the rest of tax policy, in spite of their being so much to say. Inaction on the questions those additionally expiring credits raise is precisely the problem that created them as “solutions”. Now, that same cavalier attitude towards governance is legitimizing ignoring them once again.

So far, Lucia Graves seems to be the lone voice in the wilderness on any part of those other expirations.

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