Clear Intent

While the news media seized on an outlier poll the signals from the political pros are clear. Read on and I’ll make all this as clear and scary as the signals.

The vast majority of polling to date has shown remarkably little movement in public opinion in the aftermath of FBI Director James Comey’s letter to congressional Republicans. One poll suddenly showed Donald Trump taking a one point lead and the news media made it the story. Why not? It was sexy in comparison and stoked the story. People might well tune into something else if they perceive the presidential race to be over. How much attention do you pay to the weather reports if there is no threat of a storm?

Anyone who is paying much attention to the national polls at this point is simply illustrating their ignorance of the American electoral system. There is no national race; our presidential election system is 51 concurrent elections (the fifty states and DC).

The real signal is coming from Republican Senators. In this order John McCain of Arizona, Ted Cruz of Texas and Richard Burr of North Carolina telegraphed their analysis of the race for the top job and the strategy they intend to employ in its wake. While they all utilized different verbiage they made it clear they expect Hillary Clinton to be elected and that they will obstruct any appointment to the Supreme Court for her entire first term hoping that will make her a one-term President.

McCain and Burr are currently running for reelection. McCain while not quite a lock looks to be safe while Burr’s seat is very much in jeopardy. I would not be surprised if we are waiting until very late into the evening on November 8th or the morning of November 9th to find out who wins the Burr-Deborah Ross race as well as who takes North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes. I’ve already voted and not surprisingly for Ross. That was one of the easiest decisions on the ballot. Why would I vote for someone who has refused to do his job for nearly a year now and is running on the promise of refusing to do it for at least another four years? McCain and Burr are effectively telling their electorates: Elect me and I promise not to follow the Constitution or do my job.

The Cruz story is one of the most politically intriguing undercurrents of the 2016 race with the potential of being the most interesting story of 2018. Cruz was first elected to the Senate by defying the Texas GOP establishment and winning in 2012. That means his seat is up for reelection in 2018. Cruz is the most hated member of the Senate; and that very much includes his fellow Republicans. It is rumored that former Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry is already recruiting a Republican candidate to primary Cruz. Don’t expect a lot of support for Cruz from the Republican establishment in Washington or Austin!

Texas is a red state that will be turning blue in the next few cycles. The Democrats have not had much success in years in the Lone Star state so they don’t have much of a bench ready for a high profile race. However they have one person with a national reputation and the ability to raise big money within and beyond Texas’ borders; her name is Wendy Davis. Trump will win Texas on Tuesday but I’m really interested in seeing numbers on margin, demographics and turnout. Texas is a big and expensive state to run a huge political ground and air game in but this could be interesting. If the Republican Party effectively splits after November Cruz will be the golden boy of the alt-right segment. Importantly that does not include the deep pocketed unless the Koch brothers decide to put their money down on that side of the Republican divide.

I often suggest voters envision themselves as hiring mangers when they vote. Ask yourself if you would hire an applicant who promised not to do their job for at least the first four years of a six year contract.

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