Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category

Why Donald Trump Won’t Beat Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

clintontrumpAs Hillary Clinton made history Tuesday, let us recall that Calbuzz was first to report — in midsummer 2015 — that Donald Trump categorically manifests Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This was long before big thinkers, hotshot writers posing as online journalists and even Psychology Today jumped on The Donald clinical diagnosis bandwagon.

Back then, Actual Reporting led us to the authoritative Diagnosic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), where we verified that Trump – then still treated as a joke by most of the MSM – is dangerously and legitimately nuts.

You could look it up.

A cure for enuresis. Now that the bumptious, bullying and mob-linked developer has captured the Republican nomination, however, mental illness is only one of a series of towering obstacles he faces in the campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Sure, under fierce attack from his own party over his latest racist comments, a low-energy Trump managed to read a generic victory speech from a teleprompter on Tuesday night. And, sure, the Democratic presumptive nominee — the first woman to win a major party nomination for president — is a flawed candidate. And, as unlikely as it appears, legal action against her stemming from her stupid use of a private email server as Secretary of State, or a horrible domestic terrorist action, or any of a countless number of other unknowables in the next five months could suddenly change the political calculus.

But as it stands today, all the agonizing, brooding and bed-wetting about a potential triumph by the racist, demagogic misogynist among right-thinking people everywhere is gratuitous, for three key reasons.

Electoral CollegeElectoral arithmetic. Trump’s hair-on-fire act was just the thing for a wide-open Republican primary season packed with 16 rivals and a seething slice of the electorate dominated by choleric old white guys. But a general election is an entirely different production than a primary and The Donald has no second act.

Even if he were a generic Republican – minus the tissue-thin skin, the volcanic volatility, the massive disapproval among women and Latinos – it would be a Herculean uphill slog.

As every school child knows, Democrats have won 18 states and the District of Columbia in every one of the last six elections, giving them a base of 242 Electoral Votes in the race to 270; by contrast Republicans since 1992 have begun with a base of 13 states with a total of 102 EVs. And Trump’s mindless boasting about putting in play deep blue states like New York and California is pure fantasy.

The MSM is waking up. Major cable and broadcast news organizations let Trump stomp all over them during primary season (it must be said that the NYT, LAT and, especially, Washpost did a credible job of countering his madness aggressively with Actual Facts but they are still only, you know, newspapers).

In the last several weeks, however, the others appear finally to be standing up to his intimidation, as they did at the Trump Tower press conference when they pushed back against his lies about contributing to national veterans’  groups and, more importantly, in calling him to account for the sleazy Trump University scandal and his racist attacks against Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge in the case, whose judicial career began with appointment to the Superior Court of California by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzmuscle.

Big caveat: That said, the MSM before recent events was headed for the slippery slope of normalizing Trump, by creating a false equivalence between Clinton’s controversies, which actually exist on Planet Earth, and his multiple wing nut lunacies. Heather Digby Parton admirably makes the case on this point:

kkkBut the result of this “distortion toward the middle”…has the perverse effect of normalizing Trump and pathologizing Clinton in a way that equalizes them to Trump’s advantage.

There is no equivalence between them. He is an unqualified, unfit, unhinged authoritarian demagogue and she is a mainstream Democratic Party politician.  Let’s hope the press listens to some of these critics and does a serious gut check whenever they are tempted to “balance” the coverage in this election by going easy on Trump and hard on Clinton. It’s dangerous.

Here’s hoping the nation’s news hounds and hens keep behaving as they have in the past two weeks instead of before.

He truly is nuts. All kidding aside, Trump does exhibit every trait of serious personality disorder.

As terrifyingly entertaining as he can be to watch, sort of like thrillingly awaiting an inevitable fiery NASCAR crash, the affliction makes clear that the Republican ticket topper lacks even the slightest clue that a presidential election is supposed to be about the future of the nation’s people, not about him and his endless whining and insults about enemies real and imagined. It’s hard to believe a majority of voters, beyond his hard-core white nationalist base, will fail to notice this slight political defect.

Check it out, word for word from DSM-5:

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

–Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

–Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

–Exaggerating your achievements and talents

–Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate

–Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people

–Requiring constant admiration

–Having a sense of entitlement

–Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations.

–Taking advantage of others to get what you want

–Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs or feelings of others

–Being envious of others and believing others envy you

–Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner.

trumpchuckyBottom line. What this means in practical political terms was described best, and with characteristic moderation and understatement, by our old friend Dan Balz. Still the best MSM political reporter in the business, Balz examined what Trump has done in the month plus since clinching his party’s nomination:

He’s wasted time, proved to be a sore winner and veered sharply off message. He’s put a higher premium on settling scores than finding a script that will appeal to a wider, general-election audience…

For Trump, this could have been a time for magnanimity and for beginning to show that he wants to reach beyond the loyal and passionate base of supporters that sustained him through the primaries. The electorate in the general election will be different and decidedly more diverse than the one that made him the GOP standard-bearer. So far, he’s shown no willingness to acknowledge that.

No willingness, indeed. And no psychological capacity, faculty or potential, either.

Why the BS Line on Superdelegates is BS

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

hillarynewWe don’t know who’s going to win the Democratic presidential primary in California today, although polling suggests that Hillary Clinton should squeak by Bernie Sanders. But, as usual with the California primary it doesn’t really matter: more than 24 hours before New Jersey and four other states vote, and California’s delegates are apportioned, the AP’s survey Monday night confirmed her as the first woman nominee of a major party (let that sink in for a moment).

Hopefully, Sanders will now do the smart and decent thing and quickly endorse Clinton, who amassed more than 3 million more votes than him during the primary season, and decide to stop pushing the silly argument he’s been pushing, with increasing vehemence, for weeks: his demand that the superdelegates, who overwhelmingly support Clinton (who, with Bubba, has raised million$ for them over decades), should hold off voting until the roll call at the Democratic National Convention; then, on the theory that he would run better against Donald Trump, overturn the popular vote and Clinton’s delegate lead to make him the nominee.

Seriously? Three reasons that makes no sense:

1. Absurdism.  The argument itself is absurd. Not only is the contention that Sanders would run better based on never having faced a negative campaign, but imagine if their positions were reversed – if Sanders had more popular votes and delegates but the superdelegates overturned the will of the voters and installed Clinton as the nominee. The screaming and moaning from Sanders and his peeps would be riotous.

This is the most anti-democratic and cynical stance Sanders and his people could possibly take – that a guy who won fewer votes and delegates should be installed by the party elite, against whom he has railed for the better part of a year.

crybaby2. Perversity.  Although Sanders now would like to use superdelegates to his advantage if he could, his fundamental case for months has been to decry the role of superdelegates altogether.Which is even more wrong-headed.

Superdelegates are there for a reason: they’re elected officials and party leaders who have run for office and/or run the Democratic Party nationally or in their states. They’re the last vestige of party elders who have the best interest of their party at heart. They should have a say in who their party’s nominee is.

trumpangry3. Disunity. Which brings us to this point: Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat, has simply used the party opportunistically for a quarter century and doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether the Democratic Party’s chosen candidate is the nominee. He couldn’t care less about Democratic Party unity. Whether he cares enough to rally his troops for the party’s nominee and against Donald Trump remains an open question.

In the long run, it will benefit Sanders politically to be as graceful in defeat as Hillary Clinton was eight years ago after her bitter fight with Barack Obama when she conceded, urged her supporters and delegates to back Obama.

Delusional entitlement. At this point, Bernie’s bros and bots appear to have become so fanatic that they’re prepared to walk away rather than get behind  the only candidate standing between the nation and the nightmare of a Trump Administration. As Barrett Holmes Pitner wrote in an insightful piece at Daily Beast, Sanders’ “younger, predominantly white electorate” is struggling with its sense of entitlement:

bernie brosThe more I reflected on them, the more I realized the key point: They felt entitled to win, and a defeat meant that someone must have cheated or that their opinions did not matter, which of course couldn’t be true. They preferred to suspend reality and fabricate injustices rather than concede that Sanders has lost fair and square.

After Obama beat Clinton in one of the most bitter primary battles in recent history, she sucked it up and worked hard enough for his election to be asked, later, to be his Secretary of State.

It’s unclear whether Sanders has it in him to play that role.

USC/LA Times: Clinton 49%, Sanders 39% (Perhaps)

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

DEM 2016 DebateHillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 49-39% among likely voters in California’s Democratic presidential primary, according to the latest USC/Los Angeles Times Poll. Or, not. According to the same poll, it could be that Sanders and Clinton are essentially tied at 44-43%.

Confusing? You bet. It seems USC and the LA Times were not entirely comfortable relying on the 49-39% Clinton lead that their likely voter model yielded. So they hedged their bets, first reporting the race as a draw (44-43% for Sanders) among Democrats and independents eligible to vote in Tuesday’s primary, and then reporting Clinton’s 10-point lead among likely primary voters.

As the Times sees it, Clinton’s loss of 9 percentage points among eligible voters since their last poll is more predictive than her 10-point lead among likely voters in their final poll.

According to a release from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, who conducted the poll along with American Viewpoint, the survey includes 903 Democratic presidential primary voters who are registered Democrats, plus registered no party preference (NPP) voters “who report being almost certain to vote in the Democratic presidential primary contest.”

In addition, the survey includes 503 likely Democratic presidential primary voters who are registered Democrats and NPP voters, “who are considered likely to vote based on a combination of past vote history, self-reported vote likelihood, and voter registration status.”

voter-registrationThe Future Lies Ahead. Our esteemed and beloved colleague Cathy Decker of the Los Angeles Times, writing on the survey, explained that many of Sanders’ backers “come from a large pool of voters who have registered for the first time in the weeks before the election” and “Tuesday’s outcome remains difficult to predict, precisely because of the untested nature of Sanders’ following.”

OK, but we count on top-tier pollsters like USC/LATimes to make their best guess at who actually will vote. That’s why there’s a category called “likely voters.”

We couldn’t reach Dan Schnur, poll director and head of USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, on the phone to explain why they didn’t rely on their likely voters. But in an email he said, “Between the new registration numbers, the Sanders factor and the rules for NPP voters, there are a lot of moving parts. The trends (-9 for Clinton among registered voters) is more reliable.”

And we did chat with Ben Winston, senior associate at GQRR who said: “It’s a 10-point race among likely voters. If turnout is greater than it has been historically and there’s a surge of no party preference voters, then it’s a margin-of-error race.”

Which left us scratching our heads. In one set of crosstabs, based on eligible voters, Sanders leads among whites 46-42% and among Asians 55-35% but Clinton leads among blacks 58-25% and among Latinos they’re tied at 44%.

But among likely Democratic primary voters, Clinton leads 50-41% among whites and 47-39% among minorities (specific ethnicities are not reported).

hillary-rosieGender Gap Either Way. Among all eligible voters, Sanders leads 46-39% among men and Clinton leads 47-42% among women. But among likely voters Clinton leads 45-42% among men and 52-37% among women. Go figure.

Decker also reported that Clinton “leads convincingly among registered Democrats: 53% of likely Democratic voters supported her, to 37% for Sanders … As he has elsewhere, Sanders benefits here from party rules that allow registered nonpartisan voters — known in California as ‘no party preference’ voters — to take part in the Democratic primary. Among nonpartisans who were likely to vote, he led by 48%-35%.”

As he has everywhere, Sanders beats Clinton 55-34% among likely voters aged 18-49, while she kills him among likely voters aged 50 and over 60-28%.

Best we can tell, what the Dornsife/LA Times identified are a big batch of  independent voters, most of them young, who prefer Bernie over Hillary. But they’re not folks who have historically actually voted. If they do show up, request and get a Democratic presidential ballot and vote, Sanders could win. If they don’t, Clinton will crush him.

Among voters who have never voted in a primary, Sanders leads 51-37%. But among voters who voted in the 2014 primary only, Clinton leads 43-40% and among those who in the 2012 and 2014 primaries she crushes Sanders 62-27%, the survey reported.

We would be remiss not to mention that three other reputable survey outfits – PPIC, NBC/Wall Street Journal and the Field Poll – all have recently reported Clinton ahead by a mere two percentage points and within their margins of error. Clearly, if Dornsife/LA Times focused on its likelies, Clinton’s 10-point lead would be out of the mainstream.

loretta sanchez Kamala HarrisAnd speaking of the Field Poll, we speculated the other day that the undecideds in the U.S. Senate race could, if they ganged up, put one of the Republican contenders ahead of Democrat Loretta Sanchez in a runoff with Democrat Kamala Harris. But the latest Field Poll found otherwise – about a third of Republican voters appear poised to vote for no one, rather than vote for Harris, Sanchez or some GOP contender they don’t know.

Field Poll: Clinton v Sanders Down to the Wire in CA

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Bernie Sanders and Hillary ClintonWith overwhelming support among younger voters and independents, Bernie Sanders has drawn within two percentage points of Hillary Clinton in California’s Democratic presidential primary race, according to the Field Poll released today, which found sharp demographic differences in the potential electorate.

Given the Field Poll’s margin of error of ±4.1 percentage points, the race is a virtual dead heat, with Clinton at 45% and Sanders at 43% — a considerable tightening since April when the Field Poll had it Clinton 47% to Sanders 41%.

“It’s all about turnout,” said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo, noting the striking demographic differences between Clinton and Sanders backers. “Who votes really matters, It’s gonna be close.”

demographics1Age, Gender and Race. As has been true in other states, age is a huge factor. Sanders kills Clinton among younger voters, leading 75-15% among voters 18-29 and 60-33% among voters 30-39. But Clinton beats Sanders 49-40% among those 40-49, by 56-31% among voters 50-64 and by 56-38% among voters 65 or older. Sanders leads age brackets that comprise 31% of the vote while Clinton leads among voters who comprise 69% of the total vote.

Once again, gender is another powerful variable. Sanders leads among men 48-39% while Clinton is ahead among women 49-40% — almost mirror images. The good news for Clinton: women are expected to comprise 57% of the Democratic primary vote compared to 43% for men. Roughly speaking, women who remember when the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe vs Wade 43 years ago are overwhelmingly for Clinton, while those who grew up when abortion was legal, favor Sanders.

Race and ethnicity also matter. It’s a virtual tie among white voters, with Clinton at 44% and Sanders at 43%. Clinton holds a narrow 46-42% lead among Latinos but a huge 57-36% advantage among blacks, while Sanders leads 47-34% among Asians and others. Again, the demographics favor Clinton slightly: If the candidates split the 56% of voters who are white and Clinton carries Latinos and blacks, who comprise 35% of the vote, and Sanders takes Asians and others who make up 11% of the vote.

independentsWill Independents Vote? Moreover, it makes a big difference whether Sanders is able to get his independent voters to the polls; while Clinton stomps him 49-40% among the 79% of voters who are registered Democrats, Sanders has a killer lead of 54-27% among the 21% of voters who have no party preference but who are permitted to vote in the Democratic primary if they request a Democratic ballot.

The final polling results from Field (and also from Marist College for NBC and the Wall Street Journal) reflect findings released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California – which gave Clinton a two-point lead — but are at odds with an internet YouGov survey for Hoover Institution that showed Clinton with a 13-point advantage.

The Field Poll, by landline and cell phone among 1,002 actual registered voters who have already voted or are likely to vote on June 7, including 571 likely voters in the Democratic primary and 351 likely Republican voters.

As Sanders and the Republicans have continued to demonize Clinton, her favorability has suffered and now stands at 64% favorable among likely Democratic primary voters and 30% unfavorable. Sanders favorability has remained strong at 76-17% favorable-to-unfavorable.

Clinton leads in Los Angeles County, the Central Velley and Sierras, while Sanders leads in other Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast.

If the vote were limited to the 23% of voters who have already sent in ballots by mail, Clinton would have won 47-38%. But the race is a dead heat among the 77% of voters who had not yet voted when the survey was done – 45% Sanders.

Both Clinton and Sanders murder Trump in simulated general election match-ups: Clinton 53-34% and Sanders 60-31%

The Field Poll was conducted May 26-31 and entailed interviews with 581 voters on cell phones and 421 on landline or other types of telephones. This is critical because increasingly voters do not have landlines or cannot be reached on them. Respondents were selected at random from the California roster of registered voters.

How Undecideds Could Reshape U.S. Senate Race

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

loretta sanchez Kamala HarrisWe all assume that since surveys have found Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez as the candidates with the most support in the open primary race for U.S. Senate, that it’s almost a sure thing that the runoff election in November will pit the two Democrats against one another.

And certainly, if you just accept the most recent Public Policy Institute of Caliornia survey on the Senate race, that would be a logical conclusion. PPIC had Harris leading with 27% percent of likely voters, followed by Sanchez at 19 percent. Then came Tom Del Beccaro, former chairman of the state Republican Party, with 8%;  activist gadfly Ron Unz at 6%, and Duf Sundheim, another former chairman of the state GOP with 3%.

But 31% of likely voters remain undecided, including a whopping 46% — nearly half – of Republicans and 35% — more than a third – of independents.

Will all those undecided Republicans just skip the Senate race when they fill out their ballots? (Not likely) Or will they distribute them in about the same proportion as those Republicans who have already decided? (Probably) Or – and this is where it gets interesting – will some hefty portion of those Republican and independent voters settle on one of the GOP candidates?

dufsundheimClearly, those undecideds aren’t drawn to Harris or Sanchez. It may be too late now, what with permanent absentee ballots already in the mail, but if one of the Republicans makes a case in the last week, perhaps, just perhaps, there’s be a chance to sneak by Sanchez and make it into the top two for November.

We’ll know more this week when the Field Poll comes out in which we expect more attention will be paid to those Senate race undecideds. In the meantime, we’re rooting for Duf to flood the state with his final message.