Sunday, February 07, 2016

Who Will Trump Trump?

So I finally figured out how to access my old Blogger account - whether I get back in the blogging game for an extended period of time is still in question, but while this presidential race is so fascinating (and seeing as I've got a few bets on the outcome), I can't see how I can keep from posting a thought from time to time. Funnily, upon logging in, the site summarily informed me that I have to notify visitors of cookies under EU law. So to the masses: consider this your notification!

Anyway, this is an email I sent to MacDuff earlier today so not exactly written in blog format, but it's my quasi-response to his earlier missive from The Granite State.

Jealous! Read the blog and agree on what an amazing race this is. Can't think of another like it, where even after IA and NH there could still conceivably be a min of three and as many as six viable candidates still in the running (or at least, candidates who regard themselves as viable). If Bush performs well and Rubio falters then Jeb will be very reluctant to pull out, which is a key dynamic given that he's got such a ridiculous war chest for such a poor candidate, and particularly if he gets the endorsement of Christie etc. Rubio looked very weak and unpresidential last night at a time that he really needed to make an impact, though to be fair, the debates can be over-rated as game changers.

Another random thought on Jeb and Rubio - as of mid-Jan they were miles behind Trump and underperforming Cruz in the Florida Republican primary. They'll be taking votes off each other too on the day. In fact, Florida is one of Trump's highest polling states. Can those guys lay claim to being able to win Florida in the general if they're so far behind an outsider? Maybe it'll change after Super Tuesday (FL's is two weeks later on March 15), and you don't always have to win your 'home state' to win the nomination, but looks bad. On that note, Texas is the biggest prize on Super Tuesday, and Cruz will win, but he's not blowing Trump out of the water.

The other big prizes on Super Tuesday are Massachusetts (Trump up 25%), Georgia (Trump up 17%), Tennessee (Trump up 16%), and Colorado, Minnesota and Virginia (not a lot of polling data but I suspect Trump is ahead or close to it). A lot of blue-collar white voters in the bunch, and Trump will win that demographic with at least 40% of the vote. His strategy has to be, win New Hampshire convincingly to show he can win a state, hope the field stays divided through South Carolina and Nevada to early March, and hope to absolutely clean up on Super Tuesday, or at least as much as one can given that it's not winner-take-all on delegates. It is at that point that the field probably breaks up, but what if Bush outperforms and Rubio is not a runaway second, and Cruz has a load of delegates from Texas? Well, if he can sustain momentum at that point, I can see Trump winning or coming close in Michigan on March 8 and the next four biggest primaries on March 15 - Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. If so he will have won several swing states and will have a lot of delegates. A lot of ifs and wherefores but I think the time to stop him is before the 15th. If it's still divided at that point then he could sleepwalk to a win before the opposition 

I know I keep banging the drum for Trump but it still seems amazing that he is still given only 7% odds of the presidency and 20% of the nomination, despite the fact that he's ahead in virtually all primary states this late in the game, and I think Hillary is more vulnerable than most expect. Where's the enthusiasm to vote for her? Combine that with a potential economic downturn and you've got the recipe for a Republican win. Interesting reaction to her stump speech - she's apparently trying out a new one so perhaps you were one of the first to hear it.

For good measure I've put some money on Kasich for the nomination at 200-1, as well as some on Bush for the presidency at 33-1. Not that I expect those outcomes ultimately, but I can cash in if / when the odds drop following relative performances in NH.

The Bern Your Enthusiasm episode was amazing...just watched. That is one of the most uncanny political impressions of our time. One to think about for the Sanders campaign: somebody suggested in 1992 that Ross Perot should campaign west of the Mississippi while Dana Carvey does the East.

I'm playing along via the betting markets and the large bet on Trump in NH is looking good. My thinking was that the rest of the field is too divided, and that the only candidates really spending resources and time there were the establishment candidates that never really had a chance of breaking out of the pack. Plus his polling lead is formidable of course. Market now pricing in 80% chance of a win for the Donald on Tuesday and that sounds about right. Re Trump's odds on a one-on-one situation, I think you're right, but the divided field makes it interesting. Even if his ceiling is 40%, his floor appears to be 25%, and he has no reason to drop out so long as the rest of the field is slaughtering each other. He loses a brokered convention though in many plausible scenarios, particularly against Republican insiders who will want to leave him in the cold, which I think is a big explanation for his low odds. 


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