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Presidential Horse Race 2016: This year, winning the debates isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing

In considering the almost daily zigzag in the polls, it’s sometimes difficult to see where the real state of the presidential race lies. With the Real Clear Politics average currently showing Crooked Hillary with an almost seven point margin over Donald Trump, it seems evident the Democrat has some sort of lead. The question is how big…or small.

It must make the numbers crunchers crazy with such uncertainty. It would drive them even crazier to hear debate stagesomeone say it really doesn’t matter at this point.

As I’ve argued numerous times, focusing in on the horse race at any given moment really won’t reveal who’s likely to win in the end. Much has yet to be determined. And there are those face-to-face debates to consider as well.

Some say winning them isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.

Historian Gary May writes in the Daily Beast, “If the history of presidential debates proves anything, it is that performance trumps issues. Time and again, Americans have elected the person who demonstrates not just intelligence but strength, stability, and some indefinable quality—empathy, perhaps, or simple humanity…

“It is thought that Trump’s unpredictability puts Clinton at a disadvantage. How does one prepare to face a man who has broken all the rules of American politics? In fact, however, Trump is very predictable. He has only one response—to insult. It is Hillary who should imitate Reagan, laugh at Trump’s attacks, and insist that her programs, not Trump’s empty promises, can improve the lives of Americans.”

I would say both candidates have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to debating. As an entertainer, Trump has his innate ability to… well, entertain. He’s also remarkably comfortable in front of the camera, is absolutely fearless and believes he can bend every argument in his favor no matter who the opponent in front of him happens to be or whatever the topic.

Crooked Hillary also has something in her favor, namely her extraordinary talent for lying. As she’s demonstrated on hundreds of occasions, Hillary can look you in the eye and out of her mouth comes something she thinks you want to hear, truth be damned. Perhaps she learned the skill from Bill…or maybe she taught him in the first place.

Remember, according to Hillary, Bill was only being raked over the coals back in 1998 because of a “vast right wing conspiracy.” Wow, what a whopper. She was sure right about that one, wasn’t she?

Unlike her husband though, Hillary isn’t a natural with the cameras, doesn’t seem to enjoy questions from an audience and appears to get easily rattled as demonstrated by her debates with Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders this year.

In an election such as this year’s when there’s such intense interest – and distrust – in the candidates, Americans will be placing a lot of emphasis on the presidential debates. During the debates, Trump must keep the attention focused on Hillary’s awful record, but he also can’t come across as abusive or mean.

Can he pull it off? We’ll find out starting in a little over a month.

#NeverTrumpers don’t have nearly the influence they claim to have and reconciliation after the election is still very much up in the air

I must admit, I sometimes wonder…do the good folks of #NeverTrump wakeup happy in the morning? Do they look in the mirror and say, “I’m going to have a great time today bashing on both major party candidates and trying to convince people that they’re a bunch of haters and should therefore write in Mickey Mouse for president?”

Or even worse, vote for Gary Johnson.

Or, is the #NeverTrump mood a little more somber…kind of like, “Oh no, it’s only mid-August and I have to endure over two more months of my former friends and colleagues questioning my judgment and loyalty.”

With that question in mind, imagine if you will, a collection of #NeverTrumpers getting together to commiserate in one location at the same time.

Such was the case this past weekend in Denver, Colorado for the annual RedState gathering.

Seeing as the entire editorial staff of RedState along with former publication leader Erick Erickson (now doing his own radio show and publishing The Resurgent) are decidedly in the #NeverTrump camp, 2016’s version of the “gathering” took on a different atmosphere from years past.

Whereas the RedState Gathering would usually be looked upon as a positive event that often showcased the Republican Party’s brightest stars, this year’s was lacking the big names and optimism of the past. I would speculate conservatives stayed away in droves fearing they’d be lumped in with the disgruntled #NeverTrumpers.

From the sound of media reports, the weekend in Denver was symbolic of the #NeverTrump movement in general -- isolated, depressed and left with little hope of any future relevance.

Tim Alberta of National Review was there and he reports on the atmosphere. “The mood was decidedly dour as attendees spoke — from the main stage, at their tables, and over adult beverages — in disbelieving tones about the state of the presidential race and the inadequacies of their party’s nominee, Donald Trump.

“The event offered a unique window into how conservative activists are coping with 2016, and how they might hope to pick up the pieces after November 8. There were telling moments. At one point, the hosts aired a video message from Speaker Paul Ryan in which he spoke about the future of conservatism. When it ended, only a handful of people in the ballroom applauded.”

Ryan’s lack of appreciation from the audience might have more to do with his own state of popularity with conservatives rather than the mood of the country as a whole, but you get the point. Be honest, would you applaud Paul Ryan?

Alberta further reported that the Gathering did contain some tension over Trump but didn’t devolve into two days of relentless Republican nominee bashing. The headlining names, Senators Ben Sasse and Corey Gardner along with former Trump rival Carly Fiorina apparently barely mentioned him by name when they spoke, instead pretending to ignore the big point of contention this year.

Somewhat surprisingly, there were also a fair number of Trump supporters there from what Alberta could discern. During an open forum the pro-Trump folks clashed with the #NeverTrumpers, but in general, the two days were fairly civil.

Radio host Glenn Beck also spoke at the Gathering and took some blame upon himself for the rise of Trump by admitting that he might have stoked too much anger in the grassroots. This is one heck of a claim considering Beck is but one voice in the conservative media and there are plenty of commentators who are still advocating for Trump. As if Glenn Beck could influence anything these days.

Simply put, Americans aren’t angry because of anything Glenn Beck said or the fact #NeverTrump doesn’t get what this election is all about. No, Republicans chose Trump because he best represented the message they wanted to send to Washington. And it’s more than the fact Trump isn’t politically correct; it’s due to Trump’s willingness to address the immigration issue in a way no other politician has thus far dared to do.

Billionaire Donald Trump became the champion of the common man who’s been ignored by the political elites and establishments of both parties. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” message flies in the face of all the economic and social engineering that rests at the heart of the ruling class today.

Unfortunately, the ruling class now seems to include #NeverTrump and people like Glenn Beck and Erick Erickson. By ignoring the will of the GOP primary voters and personally declaring Trump “unfit” to be president, they’re discounting the opinions of millions of people – the same “angry” folks who are fed up with the system in the first place.

The grassroots doesn’t believe the country’s issues can be solved by someone on the inside and it’s not up to #NeverTrump to be the arbiter of who is and isn’t “fit” to assume the office of the presidency.

#NeverTrumpers have become arrogant in their stubborn refusal to listen to reason.

At the same time, they shockingly still believe they represent the most optimistic outlook. RedState’s Leon H. Wolf wrote of the Gathering, “Doubtless, the wounds from this primary will run deep and some of them will never truly heal. And maybe that's a good thing. Certainly, the more odious elements of the Trump coalition (like the charmingly racist ‘alt-right’ movement in its entirety), but there remains a great bulk of Trump supporters with whom reconciliation will at least theoretically be possible. And if you care about any election beyond 2016, that's a good thing.”

Reconciliation with the #NeverTrumpers is indeed theoretically possible, though I think they grossly overestimate the influence they’ll have on the future of the conservative movement and the direction of the GOP, should they choose to continue to participate (Glenn Beck said the GOP no longer exists, for example).

They will still be invited to the Republican and conservative “gatherings,” but I sincerely doubt people will ever take them seriously again. This election has become much more than just a Trump vs. anti-Trump contest. It’s revealed the deep split in the Republican Party between the people at the grassroots level and the “leaders” in far off places. People who support Trump now see #NeverTrumpers as part of the establishment.

Senator Ben Sasse seems like a good man and he’ll probably make a good senator for Nebraska. But he’ll never win the Republican nomination because of his #NeverTrump status. Neither will Ted Cruz or John Kasich if they don’t change course.

These folks have exposed themselves for their unwillingness to sacrifice for the common good (such as keeping the Supreme Court out of the Democrats’ control). They’ve placed themselves above everyone else and will suffer because of it. Supporting no one for president of the United States isn’t a position. It’s set a marker for the future.

Trump receives support for his warning of potential voter fraud from unlikely source

I’m not sure if John Fund qualifies for #NeverTrump status at present, but the well-known conservative writer has been highly critical of Trump in the past and writes for National Review, a leading anti-Trump publication containing a number of fervent #NeverTrumpers.

Whatever his position on the election might be, Fund says Trump is right about one thing: the potential for voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

Fund writes in National Review, “[T]he media pile-on that Trump has experienced over his call for election observers to monitor the polls in Pennsylvania is unfair. The Los Angeles Times claimed that his remarks calling for poll monitors in Pennsylvania had ‘strong racial overtones,’ even though he never mentioned race. ‘The comments raised the specter of confrontations on Election Day in precincts with many minority voters,’ the Times reported. Other commentators rebutted Trump by repeating spurious claims that voter fraud is extremely rare.”

Fund notes that even MSNBC’s ultra-liberal host Chris Matthews admits there are voter fraud schemes in Philadelphia as did the late Senator Arlen Specter, certainly no champion of conservative causes.

It seems the only ones still claiming voter fraud isn’t an issue are Democrat politicians who stand to benefit from the fraud. There’s simply too much evidence to ignore – and the potential solutions too easy to disavow.

“The way to avoid disputed elections and political turmoil is to make sure as few problems as possible happen while votes are being cast. It’s almost impossible to detect fraud after secret ballots are thrown into a common pool. Sending properly trained election monitors — both governmental and private — where appropriate is one safeguard. Another is having prosecutors issue a warning right before Election Day that fraudsters will be prosecuted — a threat that the Obama administration has been singularly uninterested in. Giving federal grants to states to help them pay to upgrade and standardize their voting machines would also be a good step.”

If Democrats were okay with federalizing airport baggage inspectors under the TSA after 9/11, why would they object to hiring federal election monitors for ONE day every four years? The potential expense would be miniscule compared to the enormous bloat that is already the federal budget.

If such a move would result in fewer liberal politicians being elected, that would also save the treasury millions of dollars…but I doubt they’d consider such a fact.

Just the public relations boost alone would save Democrats the trouble of having to keep defending their ridiculous notion that voter ID laws are unfair and racist. Who could argue with a federally certified election observer to sign-off on results in a presidential election?

Trump is right about a lot of things, not just the potential for “rigged” elections. If the media would look past the bombast, there’s actually a lot of substance right below the surface.

NBC map puts Crooked Hillary over the top with 288 Electoral Votes

Finally today, if NBC News is to be believed, Crooked Hillary has already amassed the necessary electoral votes to be elected the next president.

Jesse Byrnes of The Hill reports, “Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has 288 electoral votes in the network's map, which estimates that Republican nominee Donald Trump then gets 174 votes, with another 76 considered toss-ups.

“The map is based on states leaning or likely to go for the Democratic and Republicans nominees based on recent polling.”

As indicated above, this type of thing is much ado about nothing. Not a single vote has been cast and already stupid media outlets are forecasting how many electoral votes the candidates will earn on Election Day.

True, NBC’s projections are based on actual polls, but the predictive value of surveys today of what’s going to happen in November is practically zero.

Far more damaging to Trump is the impression such things leave on the impressionable minds of a public that doesn’t pay much attention to particulars in the first place. If someone hears Hillary’s already got enough to win, there’s a potential bandwagon mentality for the most gullible amongst us.

It’s always more fun to join a winner, isn’t it?

Donald Trump is waging a two-front war – against Crooked Hillary and the Democrats and also against a media fighting desperately to preserve establishment power and the status quo in Washington. They will spin the lead-up to the election in any manner that favors Clinton.

If there’s such a groundswell of popularity for Crooked Hillary, I’d like to see some examples. Otherwise, we should just wait for the debates and see who’s looking strong going into November 8.

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