- - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nevada has already sent a strong signal on the Democratic side.

Barring a major scandal (an indictment, for example) the odds are now good that Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee.

Bernie Sanders had to win Nevada to sustain his momentum and the simple fact that he couldn’t do it is a severe blow to his campaign.

Sanders had spent much more than Hillary on advertising in Nevada and despite his efforts and her weaknesses, she won by a significant margin (albeit one much narrower than anyone would have believed a year ago).

Sanders will have to dramatically sharpen his attacks on Hillary to get back into the race.

If he can’t win the nomination, however, he may yet win the war of ideas within his own party. He is in this to the convention because he can raise money from small donors and he is the voice of those who want a socialist “revolution”( to use the word Sanders uses).

There are two big dangers in this for the Democrats.

First, Sanders is pulling Clinton further and further left. For example, to sustain her vast majority among African Americans, Clinton is using more and more radical language. None of that will be sustainable in a general election.

Second, Sanders is highlighting embarrassing weaknesses in the Clinton record. For example, the whole question of releasing her speech transcripts to Wall Street companies would not have come up without a Sanders candidacy.

For Clinton, the path is clear.

Deny every allegation, keep growing the Clinton machine based on past and future favors, shift far enough to the left and to radicalism to blur Sanders’ appeal.

The Republican Race

After Nevada can we stipulate that Donald Trump is the frontrunner?

As importantly, can we also acknowledge that the Trump-Cruz-Carson outsider vote is in the 62 percent to 70 percent range?

The old elites have to come to grips with the fact that their “mainstream” champion of last resort was in 2010 a Tea Party insurgent fighting the Washington establishment to win a Senate seat.

Marco Rubio is the most conservative candidate the political and donor classes have ever supported. He is also much more independent. (There is a sound reason so much of the old order donated to Jeb Bush and not to Marco Rubio.)

The anti-Trump advocates keep hoping that as the field narrows, all the votes will go to the anti-Trump candidate. There is no reason to believe that is true. With each candidate who drops out, Trump gains some of their support. If Cruz and Carson dropped out he would gain more of their supporters than Rubio would.

There is an additional challenge coming for Rubio: Can he beat Trump in Florida?

If Rubio loses Florida, he will lose any rationale for his candidacy.

Cruz seems better positioned to win Texas, a victory that would boost his overall delegate count.

Three Big Points

In every state we know about, the GOP turnout is up and the Democrat turnout is down. That is a bad sign for the Democrats.

The Republican old order still hasn’t come to grips with the fact that two out of three of their own voters are repudiating them. This isn’t about Trump the personality. It is about Trump, Cruz, Carson and the genuine grass-roots revulsion against a political class that has failed to solve America’s problems.

A Stop-Trump movement will be self-defeating because Trump isn’t going away. When Andrew Jackson was blocked by the old-order from becoming president in 1824, he spent four years assailing them and creating the Jacksonian movement which transformed the Democratic Party. The idea that Trump could win almost everywhere (he is currently behind only in Utah and Texas — and even in Texas he’s close) and then be denied the nomination is hopeless. Either Trump will be stopped in the primaries or he will be the nominee.

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