Contributor Post Created with Sketch. It Ain’t Over Yet, Part Three

 

The week before this past one Hillsdale was on spring vacation, and I was on the road — first to DC to give short talks about my book The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge at a dinner sponsored by the Bradley Foundation and at another held at Hillsdale’s Kirby Center, then on to Claremont McKenna College on the outskirts of Los Angeles, to attend a Montesquieu conference sponsored by the Salvatori Center.

While in DC, I had breakfast with Michael Barone — who arrived armed with a map xeroxed from Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and proceeded to try out an idea on me — to wit, that Trump appeals powerfully to those who, so to speak, “bowl alone” and has little appeal for those who “bowl in leagues.” If true, he told me, this suggests that Trump will falter in Wisconsin and do poorly in North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Oregon. Ten of the 11 states, he explained, where people most emphatically tend to “bowl alone” have already voted. Trump won them all, but there are not all that many states of this sort left.

Michael has now laid out this hypothesis on the Washington Examiner website where you can read a more refined version than he excitedly presented to me.

The upshot is interesting. If Michael has it right, Ted Cruz has a real shot. For the road ahead is littered with primaries and caucuses in states where Republicans tend to be socially connected. There are, of course, still some states where he is apt to lose. But he may well win enough delegates in the next couple of months to endanger The Donald’s bid.

To this one can add that, at least in some quarters, Donald Fatigue is beginning to set in. Even Ann Coulter, who was an enthusiast, has remarked, “Do you realize our candidate is mental?” And she has complained that her attempts to defend the bizarre things he says are “like constantly having to bail out your 16-year-old son from prison.” As Peggy Noonan has observed, as Trump’s statements aggregate, remarks that once seemed refreshingly frank begin to seem not just strange, but daft.

It may all come down to California, which distributes most of its delegates in a winner-take-all fashion by Congressional district. What makes this possibility especially intriguing is that there is no one — or next to no one — who knows much about the composition of the Republican vote in Congressional districts where the Republicans are always or nearly always outvoted (i.e., in most of the Congressional districts of California). This primary would be a pundit’s nightmare.

But the bottom line is that this operatic melodrama is not apt to be over until the fat lady sings. Even if Trump has a plurality of the delegates going into the Convention, if he falls short of a majority, he will not win on the first ballot — and once his delegates have been released to vote individually as each sees fit (as will be the case after that ballot), he will almost certainly be toast. In such a situation only John Kasich could save The Donald (which — in return for, say, the vice-presidential nomination — he might well do).

In the meantime, Hillary seems to be losing ground in the battle with Bernie. This year we may have not one but two contested conventions. If the future of my country were not at stake, I would regard this whole business as a fascinating spectacle. Where is H. L. Mencken when we need him?

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  1. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Paul A. Rahe: If the future of my country were not at stake, I would regard this whole business as a fascinating spectacle.

    This is exactly my feelings on it, though expressed more brusquely in the PIT. Perhaps the nation won’t continue down this path to electing either a criminal, a conman, or a communist. Should we pull out of the nose dive we’ll have a smorgasbord of political science curiosities to examine.

    • #1
    • April 2, 2016, at 6:21 PM PDT
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  2. BrentB67 Inactive

    Ya know what they say. When you lose Ann Coulter, well, that is pretty much the beginning of the end.

    • #2
    • April 2, 2016, at 6:51 PM PDT
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  3. Tuck Inactive

    Paul A. Rahe: If the future of my country were not at stake, I would regard this whole business as a fascinating spectacle. Where is H. L. Mencken when we need him?

    Spinning in his grave?

    • #3
    • April 2, 2016, at 7:01 PM PDT
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  4. The Reticulator Member

    Paul A. Rahe:Ten of the 11 states, he explained, where people most emphatically tend to “bowl alone” have already voted. Trump won them all, but there are not all that many states of this sort left.

    Interesting, but how do we know which are the “bowling alone” states? Has Putnam or Barone tried to quantify this someplace that I missed? The Examiner article suggests that there might be some basis for doing it, but has it been done? Seems like a map of bowling-aloneness would be useful for a lot more than Cruz vs Trump predictions.

    And she has complained that her attempts to defend the bizarre things he says are “like constantly having to bail out your 16-year-old son from prison.”

    I imagine it’s not unlike having to defend the GOPe Congress.

    • #4
    • April 2, 2016, at 7:06 PM PDT
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  5. Guruforhire Member

    OK and then what?

    • #5
    • April 2, 2016, at 7:53 PM PDT
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  6. T-Fiks Member

    The Reticulator: Interesting, but how do we know which are the “bowling alone” states? Has Putnam or Barone tried to quantify this someplace that I missed?

    That’s my question exactly. I live in Washington state and it’s always seemed to me that it’s a prototypical “bowling alone” state.

    The point Paul Rahe made about the vote in liberal congressional districts in California is an interesting and relevant one. I’m very curious how the lonely Republicans in Baghdad Jim McDermott’s district, for instance, will vote.

    • #6
    • April 2, 2016, at 8:44 PM PDT
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  7. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    T-Fiks:

    The Reticulator: Interesting, but how do we know which are the “bowling alone” states? Has Putnam or Barone tried to quantify this someplace that I missed?

    That’s my question exactly. I live in Washington state and it’s always seemed to me that it’s a prototypical “bowling alone” state.

    The point Paul Rahe made about the vote in liberal congressional districts in California is an interesting and relevant one. I’m very curious how the lonely Republicans in Baghdad Jim McDermott’s district, for instance, will vote.

    You have to remember that there are a fair number of conservative districts in CA. The legislature, after all is only 2/3 Democratic. And if they are in places with a lot of Mexican farm workers, well, the conservatives may well vote for Trump.

    • #7
    • April 2, 2016, at 9:36 PM PDT
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  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Putnam reports that social connectedness is highest in states with large Scandinavian and German-American populations, and in Utah. It’s lowest in — no surprise — Nevada, one of Trump’s best states.

    See? I told you. It’s them Lutherans and all the coffee they drink – and the Mormons and all the coffee they don’t.

    • #8
    • April 2, 2016, at 9:40 PM PDT
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  9. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have tremendous respect for Michael Barone. His ability to drill down into individual counties across the nation amazes me. And he’s always struck me as a straight shooter in trying to get at and convey what’s actually going on rather than spin for a candidate.

    That said, I watched him do this in 2012, and he totally convinced me that the polls were wrong and Obama was going to lose. This was music to my ears and made the Obama victory sting even more for believing.

    I now wonder whether Barone didn’t (unintentionally) construct a theory to support the outcome he wanted to see, and whether he’s doing the same this time. I hope he’s right, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to believe him this time until I see it happen. I won’t set myself up for disappointment like that again.

    • #9
    • April 3, 2016, at 12:10 AM PDT
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  10. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    The Reticulator:

    Paul A. Rahe:Ten of the 11 states, he explained, where people most emphatically tend to “bowl alone” have already voted. Trump won them all, but there are not all that many states of this sort left.

    Interesting, but how do we know which are the “bowling alone” states? Has Putnam or Barone tried to quantify this someplace that I missed? The Examiner article suggests that there might be some basis for doing it, but has it been done? Seems like a map of bowling-aloneness would be useful for a lot more than Cruz vs Trump predictions.

    And she has complained that her attempts to defend the bizarre things he says are “like constantly having to bail out your 16-year-old son from prison.”

    I imagine it’s not unlike having to defend the GOPe Congress.

    I believe that Putnam does some of this in his book. Charles Murray does much more in Coming Apart. No one has mapped congressional districts in California in this fashion, however.

    • #10
    • April 3, 2016, at 4:56 AM PDT
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  11. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    Guruforhire:OK and then what?

    Cruz, I should think.

    • #11
    • April 3, 2016, at 4:57 AM PDT
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  12. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    T-Fiks:

    The Reticulator: Interesting, but how do we know which are the “bowling alone” states? Has Putnam or Barone tried to quantify this someplace that I missed?

    That’s my question exactly. I live in Washington state and it’s always seemed to me that it’s a prototypical “bowling alone” state.

    The point Paul Rahe made about the vote in liberal congressional districts in California is an interesting and relevant one. I’m very curious how the lonely Republicans in Baghdad Jim McDermott’s district, for instance, will vote.

    Do Republicans in Washington “bowl alone?” Or are they church-goers, boy scouts, chamber-of-commerce sorts?

    • #12
    • April 3, 2016, at 4:59 AM PDT
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  13. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    T-Fiks:

    The Reticulator: Interesting, but how do we know which are the “bowling alone” states? Has Putnam or Barone tried to quantify this someplace that I missed?

    That’s my question exactly. I live in Washington state and it’s always seemed to me that it’s a prototypical “bowling alone” state.

    The point Paul Rahe made about the vote in liberal congressional districts in California is an interesting and relevant one. I’m very curious how the lonely Republicans in Baghdad Jim McDermott’s district, for instance, will vote.

    You have to remember that there are a fair number of conservative districts in CA. The legislature, after all is only 2/3 Democratic. And if they are in places with a lot of Mexican farm workers, well, the conservatives may well vote for Trump.

    Yes, my guess is that there is a strong vote for Trump but that it is concentrated. I doubt, for example, that he is popular among the Republicans (and the conservatives) in Silicon Valley (the only place in California that I can claim to know at all). Out in Victor-Hanson land, however, . . .

    • #13
    • April 3, 2016, at 5:00 AM PDT
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  14. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    Percival:

    Putnam reports that social connectedness is highest in states with large Scandinavian and German-American populations, and in Utah. It’s lowest in — no surprise — Nevada, one of Trump’s best states.

    See? I told you. It’s them Lutherans and all the coffee they drink – and the Mormons and all the coffee they don’t.

    And Michael tells me, the Dutch Reformed up around Grand Rapids. The two population groups most likely to vote Republican are the Dutch Reformed and the Cubans.

    • #14
    • April 3, 2016, at 5:01 AM PDT
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  15. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    Freeven:I have tremendous respect for Michael Barone. His ability to drill down into individual counties across the nation amazes me. And he’s always struck me as a straight shooter in trying to get at and convey what’s actually going on rather than spin for a candidate.

    That said, I watched him do this in 2012, and he totally convinced me that the polls were wrong and Obama was going to lose. This was music to my ears and made the Obama victory sting even more for believing.

    I now wonder whether Barone didn’t (unintentionally) construct a theory to support the outcome he wanted to see, and whether he’s doing the same this time. I hope he’s right, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to believe him this time until I see it happen. I won’t set myself up for disappointment like that again.

    We are all guilty of wishful thinking at one time or another. Wisconsin will tell the tale.

    • #15
    • April 3, 2016, at 5:02 AM PDT
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  16. Old Whig Member
    Old Whig Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Barone is a keen observer of electoral politics, and his theory here is thought-provoking.

    I wonder, though, whether it is really just a new gloss on something that we have been observing for some time: namely, that Trump’s message is resonating most with low-income whites who feel ignored and alienated. Virtually by definition, these are folks who are more likely to exemplify the lack of “connectedness” that Putnam describes.

    I hope that the value of Barone’s theory is that it is predictive–that it shows a possible way for the Republicans to veer off Trump’s road to disaster, even if many other obstacles remain.

    • #16
    • April 3, 2016, at 6:37 AM PDT
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  17. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    Old Whig:Barone is a keen observer of electoral politics, and his theory here is thought-provoking.

    I wonder, though, whether it is really just a new gloss on something that we have been observing for some time: namely, that Trump’s message is resonating most with low-income whites who feel ignored and alienated. Virtually by definition, these are folks who are more likely to exemplify the lack of “connectedness” that Putnam describes.

    I hope that the value of Barone’s theory is that it is predictive–that it shows a possible way for the Republicans to veer off Trump’s road to disaster, even if many other obstacles remain.

    Me, too.

    • #17
    • April 3, 2016, at 7:44 AM PDT
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  18. James Madison Member

    Micheal Wolf over at the FT and Robert Kagan put together some pretty good observations of the Trump phenomenon.

    The three second summary per Wolf: The GOP donor class has been railing, intriquing, and shouting against institutions (government, media, justice, lefty think-tanks, feminists, social justice crowd, civil rights advocates) for years in order to stir the foot soldiers to vote for them. Suddenly a Frankenstein Trump has risen up and stolen their thunder – and tossed in some “beholden to no-one” and sprinkled in some income redistribution, score settling, isolationism, and nativism (even racism). And the foot soldiers love it. Won’t listen to anyone. And don’t care. They have nothing to lose.

    If there is one thing that runs through the Trump supporters is is a feeling they have been duped – they feel they are stupid for having gone along with this. His use of the word “stupid” to describe anyone and everyone correlates to his popularity with his base.

    Much of this is true. The lens can be opened and a similar line of thought can be applied to Sanders. Or even Cruz – who is tighter behind the scenes with the donor class than most realize.

    • #18
    • April 3, 2016, at 8:43 AM PDT
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  19. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    James Madison:Micheal Wolf over at the FT and Robert Kagan put together some pretty good observations of the Trump phenomenon.

    The three second summary per Wolf: The GOP donor class has been railing, intriquing, and shouting against institutions (government, media, justice, lefty think-tanks, feminists, social justice crowd, civil rights advocates) for years in order to stir the foot soldiers to vote for them. Suddenly a Frankenstein Trump has risen up and stolen their thunder – and tossed in some “beholden to no-one” and sprinkled in some income redistribution, score settling, isolationism, and nativism (even racism). And the foot soldiers love it. Won’t listen to anyone. And don’t care. They have nothing to lose.

    If there is one thing that runs through the Trump supporters is is a feeling they have been duped – they feel they are stupid for having gone along with this. His use of the word “stupid” to describe anyone and everyone correlates to his popularity with his base.

    Much of this is true. The lens can be opened and a similar line of thought can be applied to Sanders. Or even Cruz – who is tighter behind the scenes with the donor class than most realize.

    There is quite a bit to this analysis. Take a look at my piece The Power of the Purse. The truth, however, is that this has gone on for decades. Reagan promised that the quid-pro-quo for amnesty would be our re-establishing full control over our borders. Or consider abortion. The Republicans have been making false promises now for more than forty years. They tend to treat the party base as gulls who can be manipulated, then dispensed with. Sooner or later, when you treat people this way, they get angry and, yes, irrational.

    And, yes, the Democrats have done the same: Hope and Change. Think of all the lies that Obama has told in the period since 2007. Bernie pretends to be the real thing. Hillary, the darling of Goldman Sachs, cannot even pretend.

    • #19
    • April 3, 2016, at 9:34 AM PDT
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  20. Profile Photo Member

    None of this matters. The party is irreparably split no matter who wins the nomination. Short of a Hillary indictment the GOP nominee cannot win the election in November.

    • #20
    • April 3, 2016, at 10:01 AM PDT
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  21. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    John Wilson:None of this matters. The party is irreparably split no matter who wins the nomination. Short of a Hillary indictment the GOP nominee cannot win the election in November.

    You are probably right. My view is that Cruz stands the best chance of uniting the party. Trump cannot do so. The Washington establishment might embrace him on the supposition that they could manipulate him, but he is too vulgar, too coarse, too ignorant for many who customarily vote Republican to rally to. The Washington establishment hates Cruz more than Trump because they know that he means business. The folks out in the hinterland, including the Trump supporters, are not enraged at him.

    But even then . . . I fear the worst.

    • #21
    • April 3, 2016, at 10:09 AM PDT
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  22. David Williamson Inactive

    I have always thought that Ted Cruz is the best candidate that the Republicans have had since… for ever.

    The lack of enthusiasm for him here @Ricochet has always been a mystery, as is the number of members who prefer Hillary to Trump (#neverTrump = #8yearsofHillary).

    Not for nothing are the Republicans called the stupid party – circular firing squads exercising our 1st and 2nd amendment rights while we still have ’em. But at least we didn’t vote for Trump! Pity about the Liberal-dominated Supreme Court :-( But, hey, at least we stuck to our principles! What principles?

    Now if we could only find a rock solid Conservative, articulate, a brilliant debater, who promises to repeal Obamacare and abolish the IRS … oh, wait.

    I guess Ricochet is center-right, err, I mean, left – what difference, at this point, does it make?

    • #22
    • April 3, 2016, at 10:23 AM PDT
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  23. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    David Williamson:I have always thought that Ted Cruz is the best candidate that the Republicans have had since… for ever.

    The lack of enthusiasm for him here @Ricochet has always been a mystery, as is the number of members who prefer Hillary to Trump (#neverTrump = #8yearsofHillary).

    Not for nothing are the Republicans called the stupid party – circular firing squads exercising our 1st and 2nd amendment rights while we still have ’em. But at least we didn’t vote for Trump! Pity about the Liberal-dominated Supreme Court :-( But, hey, at least we stuck to our principles! What principles?

    Now if we could only find a rock solid Conservative, articulate, a brilliant debater, who promises to repeal Obamacare and abolish the IRS … oh, wait.

    I guess Ricochet is center-right, err, I mean, left – what difference, at this point, does it make?

    I share your positive opinion of Cruz. But I am mindful of the hatred he has inspired — not only among his colleagues in Congress but also in the conservative legal community. I have never heard anyone deny his keen intelligence but I have heard very intelligent, thoughtful people attack his character. He does not always play nicely with the other children.

    In a legislator, this quality makes a man ineffectual. In a President, however, it might turn out to be a valuable quality. Some men are born to schmooze and do deals. Others are best at command.

    • #23
    • April 3, 2016, at 11:44 AM PDT
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  24. BrentB67 Inactive

    Paul A. Rahe:

    David Williamson:I have always thought that Ted Cruz is the best candidate that the Republicans have had since… for ever.

    The lack of enthusiasm for him here @Ricochet has always been a mystery, as is the number of members who prefer Hillary to Trump (#neverTrump = #8yearsofHillary).

    Not for nothing are the Republicans called the stupid party – circular firing squads exercising our 1st and 2nd amendment rights while we still have ’em. But at least we didn’t vote for Trump! Pity about the Liberal-dominated Supreme Court :-( But, hey, at least we stuck to our principles! What principles?

    Now if we could only find a rock solid Conservative, articulate, a brilliant debater, who promises to repeal Obamacare and abolish the IRS … oh, wait.

    I guess Ricochet is center-right, err, I mean, left – what difference, at this point, does it make?

    I share your positive opinion of Cruz. But I am mindful of the hatred he has inspired — not only among his colleagues in Congress but also in the conservative legal community. I have never heard anyone deny his keen intelligence but I have heard very intelligent, thoughtful people attack his character. He does not always play nicely with the other children.

    I think this will work in his favor. We need less cooperation and more restraint however administered.

    • #24
    • April 3, 2016, at 11:52 AM PDT
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  25. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Paul A. Rahe:

    David Williamson:I have always thought that Ted Cruz is the best candidate that the Republicans have had since… for ever.

    The lack of enthusiasm for him here @Ricochet has always been a mystery…

    I share your positive opinion of Cruz. But I am mindful of the hatred he has inspired — not only among his colleagues in Congress but also in the conservative legal community. I have never heard anyone deny his keen intelligence but I have heard very intelligent, thoughtful people attack his character.

    Though it’s not always been clear to me what they’re attacking his character for. Yes,

    He does not always play nicely with the other children

    but, as you say, in politics that can be a feature as well as a bug.

    I don’t picture Cruz as “born to command” myself, but I do appreciate that the Machiavellian side to his personality – a side I believe most politicians have – strikes people as off-puttingly cold and calculating, rather than hotheaded and reactive. Unless a man is completely evil, in which case a calculating prudence would only be used to further evil, not restrain it, I would rather a man’s dark side be on the cold side and subject to calculating prudence than not.

    I would naturally be disappointed if – especially in light of his religiosity – certain rumors of sexual misconduct were confirmed. First, it’s always sad to have such rumors confirmed, and worse to have them confirmed of a co-religionist. It would also, in Cruz’s case, damage the relatively high esteem I hold of the “coldness” so many people apparently perceive in his demeanor.

    • #25
    • April 3, 2016, at 1:07 PM PDT
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  26. SEnkey Inactive

    Good and interesting analysis, I’ll believe it when I see it, Barone and Rove got me in 2012. I don’t begrudge them that, it was comforting at the time.

    An interesting note: diversity decreases community trust. Thus more diverse communities also tend to be more isolated ones. Isolated individuals tend to think in a more self centered fashion; what’s in it for me v. what is good for all. In the past I’ve always thought that translated into more Democratic votes, this year I think many of those are becoming Trump votes.

    • #26
    • April 3, 2016, at 1:09 PM PDT
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  27. SEnkey Inactive

    John Wilson:None of this matters. The party is irreparably split no matter who wins the nomination. Short of a Hillary indictment the GOP nominee cannot win the election in November.

    I don’t think the party is as doomed as it seems. It will take some work or luck, but I think this could easily be put back together. Look at the GOP around the time of Garfield or McKinley. Both were fractured times that led to open conventions, followed by unifying candidates who helped unite the party and led to GOP dominance.

    I’m not advocating for a draft-the-unity-candidate strategy. I think Cruz is a great choice, especially because he was so many voter’s second choice.

    • #27
    • April 3, 2016, at 1:14 PM PDT
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  28. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe

    For Cruz to pull this off. Everything has to go right for him. He has to win Wisconsin and build on that.

    The real crap-shoot is California.

    • #28
    • April 3, 2016, at 2:41 PM PDT
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  29. Mister Dog Coolidge

    Tuck:

    Paul A. Rahe: If the future of my country were not at stake, I would regard this whole business as a fascinating spectacle. Where is H. L. Mencken when we need him?

    Spinning in his grave?

    Or perhaps contemplating that we are indeed about to get what we want, good and hard.

    • #29
    • April 3, 2016, at 4:24 PM PDT
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  30. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    Paul A. Rahe:…Michael Barone … a map xeroxed from Robert Putnam’s … Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

    …Trump appeals powerfully to those who, so to speak, “bowl alone” and has little appeal for those who “bowl in leagues.” If true, he told me, this suggests that Trump will falter in Wisconsin and do poorly in North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Oregon. Ten of the 11 states, he explained, where people most emphatically tend to “bowl alone” have already voted.

    Using that map logic, Trump is going to win California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New Mexico, and West Virginia. That’s a lot a delegates!

    However, Trump also won social capital states like Massachusetts 49%, Arizona 47%, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

    After Wisconsin the map would seem to indicate that the largest states that Cruz has a shot at would be Washington and Indiana, and Indiana is completely surrounded by non-Cruz states.

    Someone better hope for Trump fatigue…

    I think Trump will come up short and lose the nomination, but there could be a lot of anger that could cause Cruz or anyone to lose in November.

    The book Bowling Alone is 16 year old. The data could be older. The map shows Vermont as being just about the most social capital state. However, Mark Steyn says that he drives through the entire state to do television interviews and has noticed that every town that is not a ski resort is dead.

    • #30
    • April 3, 2016, at 5:39 PM PDT
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