The excitement has gone out of the primary season now that I know how it will end five months from now. Come the end of July, we shall have a Clinton/Trump contest. I have written about this before, but let me bring up to date my reasons for this apparently precipitous judgment. Democrats first.
Bernie will fall short because he is unable to draw substantial support from the African-American and Latino voting blocs, despite his remarkable generational appeal to young voters. White people tend to mistake the historic courageous, sustained commitment to racial justice in the Black community with a progressive political orientation. In fact, taken as a whole, the African-American community is politically moderate, and on some issues [such as LGBT rights], genuinely conservative. There are of course dramatic exceptions, such as the great W. E. B. DuBois, whose transformational work, Black Reconstruction, is built on Marxist principles. But as I observed recently in this space, the Civil Rights, Women's and LGBT movements all sought the perfection, not the overthrow, of capitalism. Bernie really is unlike any serious candidate for the American presidency in many generations. Speaking objectively, the Clintons have been godawful for Black men and women, but their centrist politics fit perfectly with the mainstream of the African-American community. About the Latino community I cannot speak with confidence, from a lack of knowledge. In a two-person race, there is no room for complex bank shots and clever tactics. If you get fewer votes, you lose. Bernie will get fewer votes. He will lose.
The Republican race is rather more complex. My original calculations underestimated the number of delegates Trump would win because of my failure to notice that many of the so-called Super-delegates are committed by state regulations to vote on the first Convention ballot for the candidate who gets the most votes in their state primary. That is why Trump got 50 delegates in South Carolina, not 45. But Trump is pulling about 35% of the vote, and even though that will increase as one or two more candidates drop out, why can the Republican Establishment not coalesce around Rubio and put him above 50%? There are three reasons:
First, the rules are written so that even in the non-winner-take -all states [which is most of them], only the first and second place vote getters win many delegates. Rubio will win some of those second place delegates, Cruz will win others, Kasich may win a few. So no one non-Trump candidate will accumulate a significant pile of delegates during the multi-candidate phase.
Second, Cruz, as they used to say in pre-school, does not work and play well with others. He will not drop out in deference to Rubio. Even if he did, many of his voters would gravitate to Trump, but that is idle speculation, because he will not drop out. This will keep Rubio from overtaking Trump's vote totals.
Third, Kasich will stay in the race until March 15th, when Ohio's winner-take-all primary will earn him, he hopes, 69 delegates. By staying in that long, he pretty well sinks Rubio's hopes of forging a winning Establishment-backed coalition. Even if Kasich does in fact win Ohio, his delegate total will be too small to deny Trump a first-ballot win at the Convention.
Who will win the presidency? Early head-to-head match-ups between Clinton and Trump or Sanders and Trump show Clinton beating Trump by 3%, Sanders beating Trump by 6%. Considering what an appalling candidate Trump is, those numbers are not reassuring. Clinton should crush Trump with Latinos, African-Americans, and women, and should do reasonably well with white working class men, all of which ought to be reassuring.
If Trump wins the presidency, it will make no lasting difference to me because I will kill myself.