The 2016 presidential race is effectively over already in 40 states. In places such as New York and Texas, Republicans and Democrats respectively might as way stay home on election day because the chances of the voters in these states electing their party nominee are slim to none. But it is small group of ten swing states (and Minnesota is not one of them) that will decide the election. This is the conclusion and subject of my new book Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter. Whomever wins in these states wins the presidency. And if that is true then the Democratic and Republican frontrunners both are in trouble.
Both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are leading the polls in their party. According to a new Quinnipiac University Poll Donald Trump has huge negatives in three critical swing states–Iowa, Virginia and Colorado. The same poll has Clinton trailing Walker, Bush, and Rubio in these states, even though she still has a lead overall against Republican contenders according to other polls. For Clinton, this is a significant turnout around where just a couple of months ago she enjoyed strong leads over all Republicans, and even was far outdistancing Bernie Sanders
But because the presidential race (and even the primaries and conventions) are a 50 state (plus DC) contest due to the Electoral College, national polls mean little–it is about what happens in individual states. For Trump this suggests that he faces major problems should he get the nomination–he may be unelectable among swing voters in swing states, some of which, such as Colorado, have a significant Hispanic population. Of course his other problems–his disconnect between his brain and mouth and the fact that his first place is really only about 15% in the party polls, suggests major problems for Trump and for the Republicans. It is not clear which is worse–Trump as the party nominee who drags the entire party down across the country–or Trump as a third party candidate who drags the Republicans down and costs them a presidential race. Assume Clinton and Bush get the nominations, this might be a repeat of 1992 when another third party candidate by the name of Perot ran against a Bush and Clinton, leading to a Democratic victory.
But Hilary Clinton and the Democrats too face problems. Clinton’s problem in swing states also raises questions about her prospects of winning in a two way race. Her big negatives and high name recognition make it unlikely she can really change her image as she is trying to do. She is who she is. Yes much of her criticism is sexist and the product of a smear campaign, but that is the reality she must face and yelling foul does not change much. Should she get the nomination she faces problems winning the swing states not only because many swing voters will not vote for her but because the Republicans will use her to activate all types of misogynists and Hilary-haters. Karl rove penned a recent essay declaring Clinton has a likeability or relateability problem still and Republicans will exploit that. As a politically savvy friend of mine pointed out, Clinton will be a terrible draw at the top of the ticket. For example, Clinton nomination will probably hurt Democrat’s prospects to win back the Senate and in Minnesota she will not help in knocking off Congressman Kline.
Finally, the money is still on Clinton to win the nomination but she could be damaged. Weeks ago on Esme Murphy’ radio show I discussed how Clinton remains weak in caucus states just as she was in 2008. Image a scenario where Sanders wins the Iowa caucus (not impossible) and then does really well in New Hampshire (next to his home state of Vermont). Clinton is damaged much like McCarthy damaged Johnson in 1968. By the time we get to Minnesota I can see it too going for Sanders–he has the passion of the grassroots, Clinton does not.
Drugs and Sports
Two local stories deserve comment.
First, the roll out of medical marijuana so far is horrible. Beyond the stories of Leaf Line hiring three former or present states officials or representatives to work for them (raising tons of questions about ethics, perhaps illegal behavior, and whether the original bidding process for distribution rights was fair), there is the issue of so far only 340 individuals certified for usage for the medical marijuana. There are few doctors registered to prescribe, fearful both of their licenses (pot is still illegal under federal law) and because there is still no scientific evidence of the value of pot. While the State of Minnesota may not be interested in whether medical marijuana makes money, the private companies have to think about that. With such a restrictive program and too few customers one wonders about the economic viability of the program.
Also, Leaf Line appears to be selling medical marijuana for about $350 per ounce. Because it is an experimental drug I am not sure insurance will cover it. Because of this individuals may have to pay out of their own pockets to purchase it. It probably will be cheaper to buy a dime bag from your friendly neighborhood dope dealer instead.
Finally, the Vikings stadium deserves comment. One is the story points out that the Vikings stadium was one of the five worst sports deals negotiated with a government. Minnesota tax payers got fleeced–Dayton and the legislature did a horrible job in negotiating the deal and we still have no idea regarding all that was promised since so much was dealt behind closed doors. Second, the 12 person state legislative panel meant to oversee the Vikings project has not met in a year. Effectively, there is little oversight here. Finally, as Jay Kolls has pointed out in a channel 5 television segment I did with them, the development around the site in Minneapolis is a saga in back door deals. The Vikings already has exclusive rights for 80 days on the public park being built next to the new stadium and Minneapolis is looking for more corporate sponsors for it. One wonders what deals they will get on exclusive use and also I wonder whether I can show up to this public park and protest public funding for sports stadiums!