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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Should conservatives remember who #NeverTrump voted for?

It’s safe to say years from now when we look back on the incredible political culture-changing election of 2016, one of the major themes historians will reexamine is the grand battle between those conservatives and Republicans who supported Donald Trump versus those who didn’t. The latter group has commonly become known as #NeverTrump.

There’s no need to revisit the differences between the two sides today but the divide still runs deep and in many cases has gotten personal.

John KasichTwo of #NeverTrump’s leading figures revealed this week that they didn’t vote for Trump in early absentee balloting. Up until now it’s been mere speculation as to whether the naysayers would actually go through with their pledges to ignore the names at the top of the ticket. Now that it’s true (that they didn’t support the party nominee), the question becomes, where do we go from here?

CNN reported that John Kasich’s spokesman Chris Schrimpf said the Ohio governor penciled in John McCain’s name at the top of his absentee ballot.

And on Wednesday morning leading #NeverTrumper Erick Erickson spilled the beans on his final choice. Writing in The Resurgent, Erickson said, “In addition to voting Johnny Isakson for the United States Senate, I voted Republican for President.

“Evan McMullin is the Republican in this race. He put his life at risk for his country in the CIA. He learned finance at Goldman Sachs. Then he worked for Republicans in the House of Representatives. Unlike either Hillary Clinton or her donor, Donald Trump, Evan McMullin is a real Republican and far more conservative than either of the others.”

We don’t really know anything about McMullin, of course, mostly because he didn’t bother running in the party primaries where he would have been laughed off stage for his thin resume.

In the next section of his post Erickson once again labeled Trump an “immoral cretin.” The man just can’t stop insulting Trump even though Erickson has admitted many times that he doesn’t know the Republican nominee personally.

Erickson’s made an awful lot of value judgments in the past six months that have been significantly off, often justifying them by bringing God into the conversation. I don’t know whether it’s sad or just strange. In any case, Erickson was wrong one more time in throwing away his vote on McMullin.

Not to toot my own horn but I’ve been right in my elections forecasts a lot more than Erickson and the #NeverTrumpers this campaign season. While they said conservatives would reject Trump en masse after he won the nomination I predicted most Republicans and conservatives would eventually get onboard with him out of practical necessity if for nothing else.

It’s never made sense to not support Trump because that would mean the truly awful Hillary Clinton was one step closer to the White House and once there she’d do permanent damage that couldn’t be undone even if Republicans managed to win in four years.

I also have been predicting for months that the polls would narrow as the election drew nearer and that late deciders, to the extent there are any, will go in favor of Trump.

That doesn’t mean I’m forecasting a Trump victory next Tuesday. I’m now fairly confident the popular vote will go to Trump but the stubborn realities surrounding the Electoral College prevent me from guaranteeing he will prevail where it counts.

Perhaps for this reason many of Trump’s supporters are already declaring they’ve got long memories and will remember who was with us – and who wasn’t.

Laura Ingraham wrote in Lifezette, “The Republican effort may or may not succeed. The good guys don't always win. Sometimes the odds are too great to overcome. But win or lose, everyone who has been a part of this cause — everyone who has spread the truth about the Clintons on social media, defended Trump against the attacks that were hideously unfair, knocked on doors, posted signs, prayed for the country, or even just checked their favorite links day after day for the latest news — will remember who fought with them. Just as importantly, they'll remember who wanted them to lose.

“This experience, these battle scars, these ‘war-time’ memories, will have a major impact on the future of the Republican Party, and the history of the United States.”

Yes indeed, these scars will have a major impact on the future. And people will remember influential Republicans like Kasich and Erickson wanting our side to lose. I’m guessing both of them would vehemently deny that a Trump “loss” is what they were hoping for but the end result is the same.

When the rubber hit the road in 2016, these guys were off to the side somewhere complaining that the nominee chosen by Republican voters wasn’t “fit” to lead the party. In Kasich’s case, to do a write-in vote for amnesty-loving John McCain is just one more insult added to the pile.

All along Kasich disguised himself as the one who was “above the fray,” the sane voice in a room filled with young Turks such as Marco Rubio and “wacko birds” (John McCain’s term) like Ted Cruz. But now Kasich has been exposed as just another establishment hack who took his football and went home after the rest of the boys and girls wanted to play by different rules.

And that’s exactly how Kasich will be remembered. Even if Trump loses next week, there’s no way Kasich would ever gain any traction in the 2020 Republican primary race. Too many people will remember his behavior from 2016. He’s done. History. By voting for the 2008 Republican nominee, Kasich just cemented his name in the loser walk of fame – probably right next to McCain’s boot prints.

As for Erickson, it’s harder to tell what his future will look like. He’s just a commentator and media personality so he’s entitled to his opinions even if they’re misguided. A lot will depend on how the #NeverTrumpers behave should Trump become president.

On the same day Erickson announced his vote for McMullin fellow Resurgent writer Steve Berman provided a clue as to what #NeverTrump will do if Trump prevails. Berman wrote, “If Trump wins, we have a much larger opportunity for healing and unity within our party. It’s better to have Trump in the White House with his wild-eyed, frothing cult members having to observe the decorum of the office than Clinton in the White House and Trump on the outside whipping up discontent in the media. How much better, we don’t know, but it has to be better in some degree, nuclear war being the great equalizer (let’s not go there)…

“I think it’s clear we have to move past that question and support him in office. If he wins, it was without us, but if he’ll accept us, we should accept him as president.”

It’s probably the most reasonable thing I’ve ever seen Berman write. #NeverTrump will have to accept Trump as president – they don’t really have a choice, after all. But people will still remember all the same.

Let’s just hope the healing begins with Trump as president-elect on November 9. The rest will come in due course.

Don’t give in to the temptation of dwelling on early voting reports

It’s a little ironic that Kasich and Erickson just revealed their absentee ballot preferences because the subject of early voting is getting quite a bit of media attention in the lead up to next week’s election.

Take for example a Florida poll that showed a high percentage of those Republicans responding to the question indicated they voted for Crooked Hillary. Evelyn Rupert of The Hill reports, “More than a quarter of Republicans who have already voted in Florida cast their ballots for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a new poll.

“A TargetSmart/William & Mary poll released Tuesday showed 28 percent of early Florida voters picked Clinton over GOP nominee Donald Trump. The poll, which will be released in full Wednesday, was shared early with MSNBC.”

Assuming this poll’s results are accurate, which I’m guessing they’re not, there could be any number of reasons why such a large chunk of supposed Republicans have gone for Hillary thus far. Maybe it’s because the #NeverTrump/establishment faction is more motivated. Maybe they’re secret Democrats. Maybe they lied to the pollsters. Who knows?

But it also doesn’t really matter since early voting tallies aren’t always good indicators of who will ultimately win the race. In fact, their past track record has been lukewarm at best.

Real Clear Politics polling analyst Sean Trende wrote on Wednesday, “As we wind down this election, we begin to hear the familiar chime: The election is over and/or can be predicted because of what we see in the early vote. Don’t buy it. While we might be able to make some broad projections based upon early voting – maybe – we’re more likely to substitute our own judgments and arbitrary intuitions for actual results.”

I’d be lying like Crooked Hillary if I didn’t admit that I’ve been religiously reading the early voting reports and drawing my own conclusions based on whether some group or constituency is – or is not -- going to the polls early. But even the most intense of election watchers needs to realize that the outcomes on Election Day are often different.

For example, how many times during the primaries did we hear that Donald Trump carried a huge lead into primary day only to have the final tally end up much closer? Face it, the most motivated people tend to go first because they want to make sure they register their opinions but also because they’re impatient.

Trende seems to agree with this hypothesis. “I have read a lot about how early voters are locked in, or banked, and so they are unable to respond to late-breaking news in the election by deciding not to vote or by changing their mind. There is some truth here, and that is clearly part of campaign strategy. The problem is that, as we noted above, early voters tend to be people who have made up their minds already. It is true that both campaigns have large numbers of voters banked, but the remaining persuadable voters and voters who haven’t decided whether to vote are most likely disproportionately in the Election Day pool already.”

In other words, the Election Day pool could expand or contract based on “marginal” voters who still can’t decide on a candidate or even whether they’ll vote at all.

Erickson and Kasich’s early voting experience tends to support Trende’s proposition. Just because John McCain and Evan McMullin received early votes doesn’t mean either is going to be anywhere near the total of the winner and similarly, even though Crooked Hillary or Donald Trump have leads in certain states at this point really doesn’t provide much conclusive evidence on who will end up with more votes on Election Day.

Trende concludes his article by saying we’ll all know soon enough who will win next Tuesday. For now, ignore the early vote reports.

Early vote cancellation available in states crucial to Trump’s chances of success

Speaking of early voting, the past few days Donald Trump has made it a point in his stump speech to include a plea for folks who may have voted early in several states and changed their mind to return to the polls and for lack of a better way to put it, re-vote.

Louis Nelson of Politico reports, “Donald Trump has a message for voters in certain states who already cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton and are beginning to feel buyer’s remorse: it’s not too late.

“’You can change your vote in six states,’ Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. ‘So, now that you see that Hillary was a big mistake, change your vote to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’”

Since I’m sure you’re dying to know which states offer such an option – there are actually seven -- they are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Mississippi.

Aside from the fact that it never hurts to ask, why would Trump suggest people cancel out their old preferences and vote again?

The most obvious answer is three of those jurisdictions where early vote cancellation is available just happen to be states that Trump hopes to steer away from their traditional blue alignment. Trump gave an important issues-packed speech in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and also is spending a lot of time in Michigan and Wisconsin in the lead-up to the election.

Whether hitting those states hard will actually pay off is a mystery to be solved next Tuesday. In the meantime, some people think Trump’s is a smart strategy. Daniel Chaitin of the Washington Examiner reports, “Michigan hasn't voted for a Republican since 1988; in Wisconsin it was 1984.

“But at least one polling analyst sees ‘justifiable’ evidence that the GOP nominee's gamble is a good one.

“In a post on his election prediction website on Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight, polling guru Nate Silver said Michigan and Wisconsin have a good shot at swinging the election in the GOP nominee's favor, if the election is tight. He explained that if the popular vote is within 2 percentage points, the probability of Trump taking Wisconsin is 38 percent, and 37 percent in Michigan.”

Well, the Real Clear Politics average now has Clinton’s lead at under two points, so if what Silver said is true, Trump has a reasonable chance to take at least one of those states. Needless to say, if Trump pulled off a big upset in either Michigan or Wisconsin that his chances improve dramatically in the Electoral College, assuming the other battleground states fall in line.

Should even a small percentage of the early voters in those states return to the polls and cast a “new” ballot for Trump, it could make a significant difference next Tuesday.

I personally believe states that offer early voting for convenience only should allow for people to change their minds. Intervening events happen in every election and it isn’t fair for those who’ve already voted to be barred from the possibility that they cast their vote in error. If we’re going to have early voting at all, a “re-vote” option should be mandatory.

I doubt it will make much difference in Trump’s case, but you never know. This is one scenario where the old saying “vote early, vote often” can (and should) be done -- legally.

Donald Trump still courting non-traditional Republican voters

Finally today, with early voting ongoing in many crucial battleground states, Donald Trump is continuing to ask for the votes of people who have traditionally rejected Republicans for high office.

Jonathan Swan of The Hill reports, “Donald Trump began his rally in Miami on Wednesday by trumpeting minority and female support for his campaign.

“Pointing at the crowd, the GOP presidential nominee said, ‘I love that sign, 'Blacks for Trump' ... there are a lot of those signs.’

“Trump, who typically receives single-digit support among black voters, has been trying to convince them they’ve got nothing to lose by supporting his candidacy.”

At the rally, Trump apparently went on to talk about Hispanic and women voters as well. The media mocks him for doing so but it’s important to remember that turning only a small percentage of these blocs’ votes will harm the Democrats immeasurably since the party is solely dependent on minority votes for their electoral success.

Meanwhile, Crooked Hillary has become so desperate to maintain her lead among women that she’s all but ditched talking about the issues in favor of bashing on Trump full-time.

Why not? It’s basically all Hillary has left to offer, namely the notion that Trump is worse than her. Hillary can’t win by talking about substantive things and she’s so revolting to most people that she can’t discuss “vision” either, so it’s probably wise on her part to try and keep the focus on Trump.

I doubt the voters will go along with it next week – at least I hope not. We need a president who intends to do something meaningful in office and whose selling point is something other than “I’m a Clinton and I deserve to be president.”

Five more days to go, folks.

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John Kasich has ruined his brand. Perhaps he intended to retire when his governorship is over. I don't know. But it will be awfully hard not to support any primary opponent if Kasich chooses to run for Sherrod Brown's senate seat, a natural next step if he had not gone off chasing the goblins of his own imagination.