Wednesday, 9 March 2016

People, Get Ready



But There's a Warning Sign on the Road Ahead....
Another day, another round of primaries. Yesterday, the big prize was the post-industrial state of Michigan.

Donald Trump, the quixotic leading contender for the Republican Party easily took the Wolverine State. But the real interest was on the Democratic side, where upstart Bernie Sanders topped rival Hillary Clinton, who had lead in polls by upwards of 20% prior to the actual vote.

Mrs Clinton still has a large lead, the support of her party leadership, a huge number of 'super delegates," and, most importantly in Democratic primaries, the overwhelming support of black voters.

Without the support of blacks, it is impossible for a Democrat to win his party's nomination, let alone the general election. This fact and this fact alone point to an eventual victory for the Senator from New York.

But....

Hillary's failure to take Michigan has to be seen as a gathering storm for the Democratic Party. I'm reminded of the famous poem of Thomas Hardy about the sinking of the Titanic, entitled The Convergence of the Twain.


Well: while was fashioning 
This creature of cleaving wing, 
The imminent will that stirs and urges everything 
Prepared a sinister mate 
For her — so gaily great 
A shape of ice, for the time 
far and dissociate. 

And as the smart ship grew
 
In stature, grace, and hue 
In shadowy silent distance 
grew the Iceberg too. 
Alien they seemed to be; 
No mortal eye could see 
The intimate welding of their later history


Michigan - like Ohio and Pennsylvania, are former industrial states that have seen key industries more or less wiped out due to competition from abroad, crushing regulation, and corporate greed and incompetence. 

These are voters who are less likely to overlook Mrs Clinton's cozy, Wall Street relations, her flip-flopping on the trans-Pacific trade agreement, or her casual flexibility on the Keystone Pipeline.

Mrs Clinton won all three in 2008, but eventually, she lost the race to Barack Obama. President Obama won all three states.

The popular press, the Democratic Party, and even the Republicans themselves have gone from laughing about Donald Trump to a mixture of fear and hostility. Trump right now seems very likely to get the nomination.

There is a very real possibility that Donald Trump is Hillary Clinton's iceberg. 

Trump's messages are resonating with down-market, blue collar voters who used to be the core of the Democratic party. And therein lies the threat to the good ship Clinton.

Much has been made over the months of how Trump is insulting Latinos and turning of Muslims.  This may be true. Recently, a lot of noise was made when David Duke, the former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan "endorsed" Trump, and Trump fumbled in repudiating Duke with sufficient speed.

There has been a lot of ink spilt writing about the growth of Latino power at the ballot box, but the simple fact is, Latinos punch way below their weight in federal elections. For one, despite their numbers as the second largest ethnic group in the US, because many are immigrants, they are not eligible to vote.  Latinos make up nearly 20% of the population, but less than 10% of the electorate.

Second, and more important, Latinos are heavily concentrated in states like California, Texas, and New York.  These states are all "safe" states - California and New York solidly blue; Texas, reliably red.  In the states of Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania - the big "swing" states - they are not 5% of the voting population in any one.

The Democrats' maths count in their column Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Ohio is perhaps the swing state.  Latino voters are likely to make up less than two per cent of the vote in each.  Their vote is unlikely to have any significant impact.

Which brings us back to last night.  Hillary Clinton failed to connect with Michiganders. It was close, but her exposed weakness with blue collar white voters should scare Democrats, and Trump's appeal should not be treated as a punchline for elitist jokes about the uneducated.

This is not to say that Donald Trump is going to win the nomination of his party -or- the general election.  But the unsinkable Hillary Clinton is showing signs of leaks.
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