Indecision 2016
December 18, 2016

The 538 members of the Electoral College will convene in their respective states Monday to vote for the United States' next president, a process that is usually little more than a legal formality following the popular vote tally on Election Day. This year, however, last-ditch efforts are ongoing to convince at least 37 Republicans to become "faithless electors" who vote for someone other than President-elect Donald Trump, who lost the popular contest to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes.

Attempts to oust Trump in this manner are not expected to succeed. "I suspect literally no one voted for electors in November with the goal of empowering them as people to exercise independent judgment," explains Rob Richie of FairVote. "People voting for Trump wanted his associated electors to vote for him. Same with people voting for Clinton. So [I] think expecting them to act against that mandate now is a highly questionable position."

But whatever happens, don't expect to find out before the end of this year: The Electoral College votes will not be counted until Jan. 6 in a joint congressional session, at which point members of Congress may choose to challenge individual electors or statewide results. Bonnie Kristian

March 3, 2016

Donald Trump's candidacy has Americans switching party allegiances in lots of ways for lots of reasons.

There are Democrats voting in Republican primaries for Trump because they believe his victory will give their own party an advantage in the general election:

[M]any liberals and Democrats are pro-Trump because they think he's a weaker candidate in the general election than, say, Marco Rubio, and therefore his nomination makes it more likely that Hillary Clinton (or even Bernie Sanders) will be the 45th president of the United States. [Vox]

And there are Democrats voting against Trump because they believe the risk of him running — and maybe winning — in the general is just too great:

[I]f I lived in any of the nine Super Tuesday states that allow non-Republicans to vote in their GOP presidential primary, I would cross over — forfeiting my chance to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders — and vote for Rubio. Other liberals should do the same. Those who can should write him checks. Whatever it takes to stop the nomination of Donald Trump. [The Atlantic]

Meanwhile, some Democrats (and independents) are crossing over to vote for Trump because they actually support him. In fact, one poll found his strongest support within the GOP came from registered Democrats who identify as Republicans.

Then there are neo-conservative Republicans who are ready to bolt for Clinton if Trump is their party's nominee:

In interviews with POLITICO, leading neocons — people who promoted the Iraq War, detest Putin, and consider Israel's security non-negotiable — said Trump would be a disaster for U.S. foreign policy and vowed never to support him. So deep is their revulsion that several even say they could vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump in November. [Politico]

And finally, there are other anti-Trump Republicans who are looking for a third-party option in the event of a Trump nomination, because they are not willing to support either Democratic candidate. Bonnie Kristian

February 24, 2016

Coming off his decisive win in Nevada, Donald Trump will likely enjoy a special advantage in regards to winner-take-all Republican races going forward. The handful of states with pure winner-take-all allocation rules all hold their primaries relatively late in the lineup, too late for Trump's challengers to use them to play catch-up in the delegates game.


Some states use a hybrid system to allocate Republican delegates, and if Trump's momentum holds, those systems are likely to benefit him, too. For instance, in Arkansas, a Super Tuesday state, a candidate must win at least 15 percent of the vote to receive any delegates, but if he or she tops 50 percent, it shifts to winner-take-all. Based on performances in South Carolina and Nevada, Ben Carson and John Kasich would receive no Arkansas delegates, and Trump would be in striking distance to take all 40 available. Bonnie Kristian

February 19, 2016

Over the next decade, Sen. Ted Cruz's tax plan could cost $8.6 trillion—or just $768 billion. Both estimates come from respected, non-partisan tax think tanks. So why are they wildly different?

Considering this question Friday at FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman notes that the Cruz estimates are perhaps an extreme disparity, but varying estimates are not uncommon:


Most of the variety stems from "the broader economic impact of the various plans," he says, because "[c]hanges in tax policy have far-reaching ripple effects on the economy," which in turn affect revenues. That explains the difference between the static and dynamic estimates in the above chart — only the dynamic ones attempt to forecast how the candidates' plan will change the economy. That forecasting involves a greater degree of opinion and uncertainty than simply running the numbers for a static model, so economists' differing views can more significantly influence predictions. Bonnie Kristian

February 10, 2016

Following their candidate's trouncing in the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton supporters are worried that the Bernie Sanders campaign is winning the messaging game.

"I love her but I still don't understand what her campaign is about," a Clinton voter told The Hill. "If I had to take stock, I'd say [lack of clear messaging is] a big, if not the biggest problem facing the campaign," said another. Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist who worked for Al Gore in the 2000 election, agreed, arguing that Clinton "has not laid out a compelling vision for where she wants to take the country," failing to weave varying policy priorities into a coherent theme.

In the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries, Clinton performed remarkably poorly among millennial voters, some of whom cite Clinton's lack of a consistent message as a reason why they're feeling the Bern. "I feel like Clinton lies a lot," said one college-age voter in New Hampshire. "She changes her views for every group she speaks to." Bonnie Kristian

January 14, 2016

In 1992, independent candidate Ross Perot became the only third-party contender to ever make it on stage in the general election presidential debates — but that could change in 2016. A forthcoming interview with the co-chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) reveals that the organization anticipates a potential third-party debater this cycle.

"The dynamic in the electorate right now and the dissatisfaction with the two major political parties could very conceivably allow an independent or a third-party candidate to emerge," said co-chair Michael McCurry, "and we are very clear that they would be welcome in these debates." His fellow co-chair, Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., agreed, noting that such a candidate would have to hit 15 percent support nationally to be included, an almost impossible goal for independent candidates before having the exposure of the debates.

The CPD was founded by the Republican and Democratic National Committees. Before 1988, the debates were run by the League of Women Voters, which withdrew participation that year, arguing that the major parties "aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions." Bonnie Kristian

January 13, 2016

Likely Republican primary voters are more attracted to Donald Trump's perceived strength than Ted Cruz's conservatism, finds a new national YouGov poll released Tuesday night.

Participants were asked to apply descriptions like "bold," "honest," and "partisan" to GOP presidential frontrunners Cruz, Trump, and Marco Rubio. Trump scored the highest on terms relating to power; Cruz typically won top marks for principle; and Rubio was mostly linked to the Washington establishment.


The same poll also saw Trump maintaining a 16-point lead over Cruz, who holds second place with 20 percent. Trump takes first even though a plurality agreed he is not a "true conservative." Bonnie Kristian

January 7, 2016

The ideal outcome for the Republican Party in 2016 is winning the White House while hanging onto its bicameral majority in Congress — but those two goals may prove impossible to reconcile.

Several of the GOP's top options for vice presidential candidates are serving in the Senate, and tapping them for the national race could destroy the Republican majority there. Two possible contenders in particular, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), will be running for re-election in 2016 in key swing states that could turn blue without an incumbent advantage.

But hey, there is one easy way out of this dilemma: If Donald Trump snags the nomination, any Republican senator offered the veep slot may well turn it down. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads