Bottom line - Donald Trump is the nominee of a fractured Republican Party. Hillary Clinton will be the nominee of a contentious, but I believe eventually unified Democratic Party.
How did Trump do it?
Against all odds and most predictions, Trump is a political brand unto himself. He has successfully channeled voter anger at the GOP establishment, the Obama administration, immigrants, and Wall Street. Trump was also able to sell his brash, unconventional style and his constant tweaking of the media and GOP establishment - which play well with economically disenfranchised voters.
The way delegates are apportioned with a split field. Trump was able to turn consistent 30% vote totals into state wins and build momentum and the perception that he was unstoppable. The GOP was unable to unite behind an "anti Trump" as all of different factions were unable to come together.
A word on Marco Rubio: on paper he had the qualifications (young, Hispanic, from a swing state), but came across as stiff and woefully unprepared for the mud that was the GOP primary, His getting into the dirt as well (comments on Trump's hand size) sealed his fate. This shows that candidates have to perform and can't just have qualifications that have yet to be tested.
However, many in the GOP are not warming to a Trump candidacy. The repudiation of his nomination from figures such as Mitt Romney, both former President Bush's, and Speaker Paul Ryan. There is considerable concern that Trump will not only lose the presidency, but this will translate into massive GOP losses in the Senate and House.
Movement Conservatives who backed Cruz are concerned with Trumps liberal stances on some social issues. hose in the neo-conservative wing are concerned with his isolationism. And many are concerned with his brash and oftentimes incorrect statements that only serves as a goldmine for Democratic campaign ads. The GOP is clearly divided at this point and bringing the factions together with the hardline Trump supporters is going to be very difficult indeed.
How did Hillary do it?
Clinton was able to use the power of the Democratic establishment and the loyalty of the Superdelegates to cross the nomination threshold (likely to happen before the end of May). However, Senator Sanders has galvanized the youth and left wing of the party and has managed to throw a scare into both Hillary and the party establishment. But, unlike the GOP, it seems that the Democrats are more likely to coalesce by the party convention, as many in Sander's camp are pragmatic enough to support Hillary to prevent a Trump presidency.
And onto November...
As of today (May 9, 2016) Hillary is the presumptive favorite to win perhaps a landslide victory in November. This is based upon early polling and individual state voting histories. Additionally demographic shifts will favor the Democrats.
- Both Trump and Hillary have very high "very unfavorable" ratings (45% and 55%) respectively. These candidates are already known and defined, thus changing these perceptions is unlikely. The result is two candidates viewed negatively by a majority of the electorate. This increases the possibility of a relatively low turnout election. Low turnout will help Trump as groups who are less likely to vote appear to be supporting Clinton.
- VP picks - will have to do a Veepstakes post soon - the VP pick will not greatly help each candidate, but a poor pick can further depress already poor approval ratings.
- The economy over the next months, an economic downturn helps Trump. Clinton as the defacto incumbent benefits from a recovering economy.
- Expect a negative campaign from both sides - this will further depress turnout and gin up partisans of each candidate.
- Does Hillary get indited based on the email issue? I do not this she does, but on the off chance it happens this will have grave effects on her future Is Joe Biden waiting to parachute in?
In a future post I will take a closer look at the Electoral College map.