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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Knowing what we don’t know on Super Tuesday

As we’ve finally reached Super Tuesday in the 2016 Republican presidential race calendar, I’m reminded of a saying a quirky old law professor of mine used to throw out quite liberally whenever a student pretended to know too much in his class:

“You know what you know, but you don’t know what you don’t know.”

Donald TrumpI’m not sure if that certain professor borrowed the wisdom from some ancient philosopher or just stole it from a drunk in a bar, but obviously the saying stuck with me and I think it’s a perfect way to approach today’s elections prior to going out to vote.

What we know already consists of the results from four states that have voted thus far, the first being Iowa a month ago today. The Hawkeye State delivered Ted Cruz a huge win and it certainly looked for a time as though Donald Trump’s “inevitable” march to the GOP nomination was thrown off track before it even started.

Then New Hampshire held its primary eight days later, giving Trump his poll predicted first win. South Carolina came eleven days after that with Cruz and Marco Rubio basically dividing the lion’s share of the “not Trump” vote, resulting in a 10-point victory for the bombastic billionaire reality TV star. The world turned upside-down in The Palmetto State, with Trump winning every demographic group and in all regions of the state, taking all 50 of its delegates.

A few days later Trump triumphed in Nevada with nearly 46% of the vote in its odd caucus format.

Naturally, the polls have gone along with Trump’s winning streak and are projecting more big victories for him today across the country.

Or are they?

Byron York of the Washington Examiner reports, “The Super Tuesday states are Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Alaska. In only two of them, Alabama and Massachusetts, do we have even one poll done even partially after last Thursday's debate. And in some states, the polling is much, much older…

“So the bottom line. It might be that Trump is in fact leading in all the Super Tuesday states except Texas. But we don't really know that.”

Here we’ve reached the “you don’t know what you don’t know” part of my professor’s saying. Pundits are forecasting a Trump wave today based on sketchy at best polling information and the momentum he carries from a three week long win streak.

But we don’t know how or if Trump’s poor showing at last Thursday’s debate will factor into people’s minds today or whether he’ll be hurt by his repeated failure over the weekend to denounce David Duke’s endorsement and other white supremacist groups that are supposedly supporting him.

Likewise, we don’t know if conservative stalwart Senator Jeff Sessions’ endorsement of Trump is going to convince some people that The Donald is legit when it comes to fixing America’s porous borders and broken immigration system.

The only thing we do know about the things we don’t know now is we’ll know a lot more tomorrow.

Make sense?

We’ll know by tomorrow whether Ted Cruz can maintain his status as the only possible not-Trump option. We already know Marco Rubio is basically out of serious contention, as are John Kasich and Ben Carson.

We also know conservatives must muster all their strength to turnout the vote in today’s states. It’s going to be an interesting day, for sure.

As Trump hopes to win big on Super Tuesday, #NeverTrump aims to stop him

Meanwhile, an organized effort to stop Trump was a bit late in getting started, but what it lacks in timeliness it’s making up for in enthusiasm. And even more curious, the people propelling the movement forward are conservatives, not the establishment.

Labeled #NeverTrump, the group has already picked up several high profile members.

Erick Erickson of The Resurgent writes on why he’s joined it: “Yes, Trump voters are right.  If Donald Trump gets the Republican nomination for President and conservatives sit it out, Hillary Clinton will get elected.

“That is the point of getting the disclosure out there in the primary that we won’t vote for Donald in the general.  Trump voters need to understand that a Hillary Presidency will be on them.  If they want to gamble that they can get Donald across the finish line without us, let them.  It is their choice.”

Folks like Erickson have been talking about something like #NeverTrump for months, but this is the first I’ve seen of an organized endeavor to tell Trump supporters they’re venturing out alone if they insist on shoving The Donald down conservatives’ throats.

It’s like a reverse electability argument on The Donald. Vote for Trump and he’s guaranteed to lose.

The movement is more than just conservative media figures, too. Nick Gass of Politico reports, “Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) will not vote for Donald Trump if he is the Republican presidential nominee, the Nebraska Republican declared in a Facebook post on Sunday night…

“Sasse, who has not shied away from speaking out against his party's frontrunner, wrote that he would most likely seek out ‘some third candidate – a conservative option, a Constitutionalist’ if Trump earns enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.”

Sasse’s referral to an ill-defined “third” option has been floating around for a while and acts as a counter to Trump’s constant threats to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent candidate if he’s not treated “fairly” by the GOP.

Many observers have interpreted Trump’s statements as a threat to throw the election to Hillary, but now the shoe is on the other foot.

The Democrats must be looking at all of this with barely contained amusement, watching conservatives bicker over Trump. They sure must be rooting on The Donald as well, who not only represents their best chance at retaining the White House in November, but also gives the surefire appearance of a way to permanently split apart the Republican Party.

Lastly on #NeverTrump, Iowa conservative Steve Deace has signed on too. Nolan D. McCaskill of Politico reports, “’[A]llowing Trump to redefine what is left of conservatism, to a country sorely in need of it, has a better chance of finishing us off than Trump as president has of pleasantly shocking us all (he won’t win the general election anyway),’ Deace wrote in an op-ed for the Conservative Review published Monday.

“Deace, a Ted Cruz surrogate, cited the Republican front-runner’s most recent act — a refusal to disavow the Ku Klux Klan’s support of his candidacy — as the latest addition to his list of reasons he can’t support Trump.”

Trump’s insurgent candidacy was divisive from the beginning, but this is extreme. Conservatives certainly weren’t happy when John McCain or Mitt Romney won the nomination the past two cycles, but few threatened to bolt the party entirely when they ended up heading the ticket.

It’s hard to tell whether Erickson, Sasse or Deace (or the growing numbers of #NeverTrump followers) would ever change their minds, but they definitely give the impression they won’t.

And now they’re on the record saying they’ll go for someone else. It’s yet another thing for Trump voters to consider on this Super Tuesday.

How TV ratings drove the Republican race in 2016

Years from now when political scientists are studying the data from the fascinating election of 2016, they’ll be hard pressed to explain how a first-time non-politician candidate managed to get as far as he did, breaking virtually every rule and tradition along the way to lead the race well into the primary process.

And if Donald Trump actually ends up winning, they’ll have even more to work with. Conventional wisdom has become very unconventional, indeed.

A good place to start the analysis would be the sheer amount of “earned media” TV coverage Trump’s received from the cable news shows as well as the major networks, all of which are more than willing to take whatever time he offers them, knowing full well that fans of the New Yorker as well as his detractors can’t get enough of what he has to say.

Trump is the master showman – but he’s had more than enough help getting his mug (or voice) on TV. And most of it has been positive coverage, too.

John Fund of National Review writes, “Until recently, Trump averaged about 75 percent of the cable-news coverage of the GOP race. Take last Thursday’s GOP debate. Two minutes after the debate ended, CNN gave Trump a softball eight-minute post-game interview and then another ten-minute interview a mere half hour later.

“’Nice of CNN to throw Trump an after party like that,’ tweeted David Folkenflik of NPR.  ‘Basically the debates are the opening acts for Trump to then go on cable TV and do interviews where he frames what happened,’ Jon Ralston, a veteran Nevada journalist, tweeted. ‘It’s Trump’s world. We’re all just enabling it.’”

Fund details the many and varied ways the national media has spurred on the Trump candidacy, ranging from allowing him to phone in interviews to the cable shows to covering 40-minute news conferences in their entirety. Whereas other candidates have had to buy airtime for ads to distribute their message, Trump’s getting gobs of exposure from ratings-hungry media outlets.

Americans know Trump. He’s a well-known marketable brand and has milked the symbiotic relationship with cable news to his full advantage.

One wonders whether because of Trump we’re going to see more “celebrity” amateur politicians running for president in the future, parroting the Trump model and tossing out any sensationalistic red meat that will engender airtime.

The world of politics is changing right before our eyes. We might be harkening back to the good old days before Trump very soon.

Even Mitt Romney is calling on Trump to release the NYT interview transcript

Finally today, Mitt Romney is injecting himself into the 2016 Republican race once again, this time demanding Donald Trump come clean on the mysterious New York Times audio tape that supposedly sheds light on his true views on illegal immigration.

Jesse Byrnes of The Hill reports, “Mitt Romney late Monday called on Donald Trump to push for the release of a transcript of his meeting with The New York Times editorial board, calling it a potential ‘bombshell.’…

“Romney joins Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in an effort to pressure Trump to call on the Times to release a transcript of his off-the-record remarks, speculating they show hypocrisy on illegal immigration.”

Romney also brought the Trump tax return issue to the forefront last week, suggesting they too might reveal something damaging about The Donald.

It’s doubtful Trump will listen to Romney or anyone else regarding revealing his true views on any issue. His campaign strategy all along has been to say as little as possible on what he really thinks, instead focusing his message on what people want to hear.

My guess is that if anything is to come of this matter, it won’t be revealed until well after Trump has hit the magic number of delegates to clinch the nomination.

It will be too late at that point…but it’s not too late to do something about it today.

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Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is a LOSER, who will cause a mass exodus of the supporters of Donald Trump in the general election, resulting in a victory for Hillary Clinton. IS HIS VENDETTA WORTH IT?