Editors' Blog

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— Joe Ragazzo

Caucuses Are Just Voter ID Laws on Steroids

You know that I've been saying over and over that to the extent that the Democratic nomination process is 'rigged', the rigging has been a huge advantage to Bernie Sanders. As I've noted, that's mainly because of caucuses. It drives me crazy, candidly, when Sanders claims on the stump that where voter turnout has been highest, he's done best. That's not remotely true. Indeed, where it's been lowest, he's done best. Almost entirely because of caucuses, which are really the most effective voter suppression method in politics today.

And now here's a good visualization of this fact.

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Readers on Sanders #2

TPM Reader MS is losing patience and taking a dark view of Sanders' resistance to shifting gears in the primary race ...

Sanders' behavior has two sources:

1. He is not a Democrat and he has no interest in the party’s or its likely nominee’s ultimate best interest or even in the party’s survival. He doesn't want the party to win — he wants to win the party. And may even believe, as some of his surrogates have implied, that a Trump win will be better for that ambition, in the sense of leading to a Sanders-style, or led, “revolution.”

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Readers on Sanders #1

TPM Reader SF says I'm discounting the many informal but still real ways in which the game really has been 'rigged' against Sanders. My response would be that these are simply another way of saying Clinton is well-known, connected, popular with Democrats, etc. Of course she that means she goes in with an advantage. This is why change is change. Even by the most sympathetic interpretation, the status quo always has inherent advantages. All that said, here's SF ...

campaign to turn to Super Delegates. At the same time, I think you consistently ignore a couple of very powerful dynamics here. I know you’re not in love with Hilary, I’ve read your site daily since you started and I know you have deep reservations about Hilary, so I’m not coming from a place of saying you’re in the tank for her. But I do think you ignore some huge factors. One is the degree to which all those super delegates picking Hilary early on and thereby making her the front runner in the media, polls, etc. served as a self fulfilling prophecy. As you well know people want to vote for a winner. The Super Delegates allowed Hilary to jump out to a huge early lead which in turn supported numerous media outlets calling the Sanders campaign “insurgent,” “long shot,” etc. So to a degree all of these Super Delegates lining up for Hilary created a self fulfilling prophecy.

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Sanders: We'll Try to Win With Super Delegates

Last week, the Sanders campaign announced that it was laying off almost half its staff. In addition to the reality of the situation, the nature of the announcement struck me as a somewhat subtle but intentional signal about the campaign's future. But now Sen. Sanders is confidently announcing that the Democrats will have a contested convention.

Now, 'contested convention' doesn't have any real technical meaning. But it certainly seems like Sanders is saying there will be no move to building party unity in advance of the convention (put that off to August, apparently) and his campaign will force genuine votes on the floor of the convention while pressing Super Delegates to back him.

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Trumponomics Explained -- Sort Of

Much of what Donald Trump says is bluster and demagoguery designed to win over a Republican primary audience. He often contradicts himself. And who knows what he would really do if he were elected president – I wouldn’t want to take the chance to find out. But there is sometimes a hint, or sometimes even the presence of, an arguable position in what he saying. And it's important to understand this because it means that in some cases, Trump's voters and the voters for Democrats share certain reasonable positions that have generally been taboo among Republicans.

That was the case with the underlying theme of restraint in his foreign policy speech last week and is also the case with the interview that Fortune did with him about his economic views.

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— John Judis

Putting America First

This afternoon I was reading one of Newt Gingrich's mass emails (I know), in which he argues the case for Donald Trump's recent foreign policy speech. Trump is neither a "dove" nor a "hawk", Gingrich explains, but an "owl" who wants vast American military superiority but with a hard-nosed emphasis on diplomacy rather than intervention, which - wait for it! - is what Newt has been arguing for all along. Whatever, that's standard Gingrich. But in arguing that Trumpist foreign policy is actually a species of Realism and a new emphasis on 'putting America first', Gingrich is part of a line of argument which a number non-ridiculous people are now pushing.

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Checkmate for Senate Repubs?

I never thought Democrats would be able to force Republicans to hold a vote on Judge Garland this year, at least not before the election. But from the beginning I suspected that their refusal to do so would likely cost them the Senate. Not that the public would or will necessarily rise up and toss out the Republicans over the Supreme Court, certainly not for Garland himself. But as I explained earlier, the refusal to do what really everyone understands is a basic job responsibility of Senators is potentially lethal politically for Republican senators in blue states who are only barely holding on in a presidential election year in any case. The key thing is that that this 'not doing your job' argument is most powerful with loosely politicized voters with minimal partisan attachments - precisely the people, the relatively few people, who are genuinely up for grabs in these kinds of elections.

But Trump's all but certain nomination adds an important new twist.

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A Brief Statement of the Obvious

There are numerous articles I've seen this morning talking about the emerging "gender war" in the 2016 general election, which now seems officially underway. 'Trump’s ‘woman’s card’ comment escalates the campaign’s gender wars', 'Trump escalates his gender war' are just a couple examples. There's plenty of misogyny in our society and our politics. Women face various campaign or perception hurdles men do not. Is this female candidate tough enough to be president? Is she too tough ("angry", "abrasive") and therefore not likable? Etc etc. But the simple fact is that if you are explicitly fighting a 'gender war' with a female candidate, you're already losing and probably losing badly, as Tierney Sneed's article this morning confirms in the polling numbers.

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Drowning in Woman Cards

Take a moment to read this piece by Tierney Sneed. It's a really good granular look at just where Trump starts with general election cycle with women voters. The topline numbers won't surprise you: Trump's doing terribly with women. But the internal breakdowns are more telling. He's being annihilated among single women who are always a mainstay of Democratic support. But he's also doing terribly with the groups of women Republicans rely on to win elections, especially white married women. Tierney has the details.

Trump's Foreign Policy Speech should be discussed not dismissed

I've tried to steer clear of the debate (if you call it that) over Donald Trump's foreign policy speech in Washington yesterday -- I have to get a book done -- but the torrents of dismissals that have rained down upon it has driven me to write something. If you don’t know what I am talking about, look at Clinton operative David Brock’s collection of these responses charging that Trump’s speech was “pathetic” and “not exactly coherent.”

I am not driven to write in defense of Trump, whom I am not supporting for President, nor of what he espouses, but of the sheer arguability and coherence of the principles underlying his speech. I won't say they're right, but I will say they are coherent and arguable and also preferable to those that govern, say, the views of people like Lindsey Graham or publications like the Washington Post that are still unrepentant and unthinking about their enthusiastic support for the Iraq War.

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— John Judis

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