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Donald Trump knocks Ted Cruz out of the race

Mié, 04/05/2016 - 08:59

“TRUMP is scary,” says Jim Adkins, the manager of a branch of Olive Garden, a restaurant chain, as he is coming out of the banquet hall of the St Peter & Paul Macedonian Church, where he just cast his vote for Hillary Clinton. Mr Adkins usually votes for the Republican Party, but this time he overcame his dislike for Mrs Clinton, he says, because she is “the lesser evil". An election volunteer, who overhears the conversation, says numerous Republican voters are defecting to the other side, thanks to the seemingly unstoppable rise of Donald Trump.

These defections will play a role in the November elections, but in the primary election in Indiana on May 3rd only Republican votes counted for Mr Trump—and he won big. In spite of the local Republican establishment’s best efforts to halt his advance, he received 53% of the votes, compared with only 37% for Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who was the figurehead of a “Never Trump” alliance. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, had ceased to campaign in Indiana to improve Mr Cruz’s chances; he got a measly 8%. Most of Indiana’s 57 delegates are likely to go to Mr Trump. He is now...Continue reading

How will Bernie Sanders’s revolution end?

Mar, 03/05/2016 - 16:29

BERNIE Sanders is out of the running to be the Democratic nominee, but he is still running for president. The once-rising democratic socialist candidate has faltered badly in recent weeks—losing five of the last six states—yet he signalled over the weekend that he is not ready to dismantle his podium and head back to Vermont. Mr Sanders has his sights on the grand delegate prize of the California primary on June 7th (although he currently trails there by about 15 points) and plans to campaign in all of the remaining contests. “We intend to fight for every vote and delegate remaining” in the nomination battle, Jeff Weaver, Mr Sanders's campaign manager, wrote in an email to Sanders supporters this week. “For us to win the majority of pledged delegates, we need to win 654 out of the remaining 1,061. That is 64%. It is admittedly a tough hill to climb, but not an impossible one.”

Not impossible? Neither is climbing Everest in flip-flops during an avalanche. But the maths is brutal, and not in Mr Sanders's favour. In states that have already held primaries or caucuses, Continue reading

Ted Cruz stands at a crossroads in Indiana

Mar, 03/05/2016 - 03:18

AFTER its first clear success at the Republican primaries in Wisconsin on April 5th, the Never Trump alliance sought to replicate its triumph in Indiana, which goes to the polls on May 3rd.  Wisconsin’s Republican grandees, conservative talk-show hosts and the efficient campaign machine of Ted Cruz, the Texas senator spearheading the Never Trump brigade, managed to persuade Republican primary voters that Mr Cruz was the true conservative in the mould of Scott Walker, the governor still very popular among Wisconsin Republicans, and they voted in droves for Mr Cruz. In Indiana an equivalent coalition pushed even harder to portray Mr Cruz as the bearer of the conservative flame—and Donald Trump as a vulgar impostor. For a while, their efforts seemed to bear fruit. Yet after Mr Trump’s triumphs in five primary elections in the north-east on April 26th, his gravitational pull seems stronger than ever.  According to a poll by NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist, released on May 1st, Mr Trump holds a 15-point lead over Mr Cruz in Indiana with 49% of the votes compared with 34%.

For weeks Mr Cruz has sought to portray Indiana as the...Continue reading

Special Relationship, Episode 1

Sáb, 30/04/2016 - 20:02

This election cycle has been unpredicatable enough already. But what would happen if another terrorist attack, along the lines of those carried out in San Bernardino, Paris and Brussels were to happen in America before the general election? In this first episode of “Special Relationship”, a joint venture between The Economist and Mic, hosts John Prideaux and Celeste Katz try to work out what role terrorism, fear and national security are playing in the primaries, and look beyond America to examine how they have already reshaped politics elsewhere. You can subscribe to “Special Relationship” on iTunesGoogle Play or wherever you go to get your podcasts. A new episode will be published every two weeks.

Why freedom of speech might protect you when you aren’t speaking

Vie, 29/04/2016 - 15:47

“HARD cases”, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in 1904, “make bad law”. But a ruling this week by the Supreme Court shows that cases featuring a tricky set of facts can, when the majority gets a little creative, make good law. In Heffernan v City of Paterson, New Jersey, the justices ruled 6-2 that a police officer who did a good deed for his ailing mother had a First Amendment right not to be demoted for appearing to engage in political speech when in fact he wasn’t expressing himself at all.

A decade ago, Jeffrey Heffernan, a detective in Paterson’s police department, entertained a request from his bedridden mother to pick her up a yard sign supporting Lawrence Spagnola, her preferred candidate for mayor. (She had already been displaying a Spagnola sign in her front yard, but someone had stolen it.) Several of Mr Heffernan’s colleagues saw him procuring the sign at a Spagnola campaign site, and word quickly spread through the police department. Mr Heffernan’s boss and the chief of police were both supporting the incumbent mayor, Jose Torres, and looked askance on Mr Heffernan’s apparent support for his opponent. The...Continue reading

Will the restoration of felons’ voting rights in Virginia help the Democrats?

Jue, 28/04/2016 - 19:59

VIRGINIA's governor, Terry McAuliffe, has a problem similar to one faced by Barack Obama: a Republican-controlled legislature delights in killing his proposals, especially those popular with Democrats. So Mr McAuliffe is doing as Mr Obama has done: implementing some of them by executive fiat.

Mr McAuliffe’s latest is a doozy: a order made on April 22nd that restores the voting and civil rights of an estimated 206,000 non-violent and violent felons who have completed their penalties. Until Mr McAuliffe’s order, which came as a surprise, he had been considering the reinstatement of such rights as all Virginia governors have since the mid-1800s: on a case-by-case basis, making for an achingly slow and sometimes erratic process.

Republicans, who have generally opposed making it easier to re-enfranchise felons stripped of their voting rights upon conviction, were quick to complain that by flooding the polls with new voters Mr McAuliffe was simply trying to tip this presidential battleground state to his good friend, Hillary Clinton. But while there is little doubt that Mr McAuliffe’s executive order has become a talking...Continue reading

The mysterious power of Trump’s garish buildings

Jue, 28/04/2016 - 17:00

IT IS easy to laugh at the image of a Donald Trump-designed White House, if not at the idea of Mr Trump himself as an occupant. Emblazoned with the family name in two-foot-high bronze letters, fitted with gold fixtures and marble surfaces, the Trump House’s Lincoln bedroom would perhaps be renamed after a president who was not such a loser that he got himself assassinated (Sad!). People might pay not to stay there. Harper Lee, writer of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, would have been one of them. “The worst punishment God can devise for this sinner,” she once wrote to a friend, “is to make her spirit reside eternally at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.”

Yet the Trumpian aesthetic, like the man himself, does have mysterious power over some. “It’s sensational, it’s magnificent opulence,” one gawper told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1990 upon visiting the Taj when the casino opened, complete with bejeweled elephants, imported palm trees and far more minarets than its humble namesake. “You almost feel you should be charged for just walking in.” It is not just the unwashed masses. No less an authority than the...Continue reading

The Supreme Court seems inclined to loosen bribery rules for politicians

Jue, 28/04/2016 - 11:20

BOB MCDONNELL, the former Republican governor of Virginia, made headlines in 2014 when he was indicted and later convicted on federal corruption charges for accepting more than $175,000 in loans, cash and lavish gifts from an executive whose business he tried to buttress. Mr McDonnell had been a budding GOP favourite before his fall from grace: he gave the Republican response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2010 and was widely talked about as a possible vice-presidential candidate in 2012. After being slapped with a two-year prison sentence that was upheld last July by the Fourth Circuit court of appeals, Mr McDonnell earned some relief from the Supreme Court. No bars for the former governor, the justices said, before they had a chance to weigh in on his case. After the April 27th oral argument in McDonnell v United States, the last case on the Supreme Court's schedule before it takes up a new docket next fall, it seems the governor’s reprieve may stick.

It is hard to paint Mr McDonnell as a particularly upstanding public servant. He and his now-estranged wife, Maureen, entered the governor’s mansion in 2010...Continue reading

Donald Trump outlines his plan for foreign policy

Jue, 28/04/2016 - 03:38

BY THE lofty standards of Washington’s foreign-policy establishment, Donald Trump gave an awful speech on national security on April 27th—a blustery, error-strewn account of an “America First” philosophy that took little account of how the world actually looks from the Oval Office.

Throughout the address, which Mr Trump, unusually, read from a teleprompter, the property tycoon made foreign policy sound not much different from the business of buying and selling real estate. Whether discussing efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, his ambition to make allies pay their own defence costs, or explaining that he intends to “find out” whether America can improve relations with Russia (for instance by finding common ground in fighting Islamic terrorism), Mr Trump repeatedly cast himself as a man who will cut a “great deal for America” by being willing to walk away from the table. “When the other side knows you’re not going to walk, it becomes absolutely impossible to win,” he told his audience, brought together by a Washington think-tank, the Centre for the National Interest.

Alas this description of...Continue reading

Ted Cruz picks Carly Fiorina as his running-mate

Jue, 28/04/2016 - 01:25

TED CRUZ must have expected to lose in the five Republican presidential primaries in the north-eastern states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island on April 26th, but few had forecast quite such a resounding victory for Donald Trump. Badly in need of diversion from the anaemic state of the “Never Trump” campaign he is spearheading, Mr Cruz rushed the announcement of his vice-presidential pick. On April 27th he declared that Carly Fiorina, a former Republican candidate for the presidency, would be his running-mate.

At a hastily convened rally at The Pavilion at Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indianapolis, to chants of “Carly, Carly”, the senator from Texas presented Ms Fiorina as a woman of deep principle and character who doesn’t do things by half. “She was born in Texas, the very first thing I liked about her,” said Mr Cruz. He lauded her business career as the first female chief executive of a Fortune-20 company and as someone who has repeatedly shattered glass ceilings. He then went on to praise her credentials as a conservative and her respect of the constitution and the Bill of Rights. Perhaps...Continue reading

Trump towering in the north-east

Mié, 27/04/2016 - 08:07

“WHEN you crack 60 with three people, that is hard to do.” That was Donald Trump’s boast after sweeping all five of the Republican presidential primaries held on Tuesday night, against two opponents and in some cases by more than 60%. He had a point, even if the electoral terrain was always likely to be favourable to the New York-born businessman. True, the five primaries were held in the north-eastern states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware, where chin-jutting, tell-it-like-it-is voters angry about globalisation outnumber the evangelical Christians and stern social conservatives who have elsewhere favoured Mr Trump’s only serious rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

But the larger story of the night was the failure of the “Never Trump” alliance—an always-brittle coalition involving Mr Cruz, the third-placed contender Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Republican bigwigs who fear that Trumpian bigotry will lose them the general election in November (though they are not sure how to win without the tycoon’s bigotry-cheering voters). From blighted, post-industrial towns in Pennsylvania to leafy...Continue reading

Does freedom from big money help election campaigns?

Mar, 26/04/2016 - 16:57

IN JULY 1964, a divided Republican Party nominated Barry Goldwater as its presidential candidate. The nomination launched not only a new conservative political movement but a revolution in political fundraising. Abandoning the wealthy elites who had bankrolled previous presidential campaigns, the Arizona senator used direct mail and television to appeal to a broader group of ideological grassroots conservatives—the “true believers” as he put it. Goldwater would eventually amass some $5m in campaign contributions from hundreds of thousands of mostly small donors. 

Today, 50 years later, small donors are considered a key asset in a successful presidential campaign. “Hillary has a healthy mix of traditional bundlers and online, low-dollar donors”, Andy Spahn, a top Democratic fundraiser, told the New York Times in February. These low-dollar donors, he said, “will be necessary to win in November”. Enthusiasm for small donors is non-partisan. Chart Westcott, a Republican donor told the Washington Post in October that Republican candidate Ted Cruz’s ability to draw both large- and small-dollar donors make...Continue reading

Will the Cruz and Kasich stitch-up work?

Lun, 25/04/2016 - 21:07

AWFULLY late in the day, the Republicans are trying to unpick one of the collective action problems that are threatening to gift their nomination to Donald Trump. Thus, on April 24th, the non-aggression pact announced by Ted Cruz and John Kasich, his two surviving opponents, to cover three upcoming primaries.

Under its terms, Mr Kasich will cease campaigning in Indiana, where Mr Cruz has a decent chance of winning many of the 57 delegates on offer. The senator from Texas will do Mr Kasich the same service in New Mexico and Oregon, which have 52 delegates up for grabs between them and enough moderate voters to give the governor of Ohio a hope of adding to his puny total of 148 delegates—which is 696 fewer than Mr Trump has.

The arrangement is borne of two different sorts of exigency. Mr Kasich is running out of cash; recent accounts suggested he had less than a million dollars to spend. More important, the pact starts with a straightforward recognition that, because neither challenger can win the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination ahead of the Republican National Convention in July, the best they can hope for is to...Continue reading

Rahm Emanuel announces changes to Chicago's police force

Sáb, 23/04/2016 - 03:41

MEMBERS of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) have “no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of colour.” So says a report published on April 13th by the police accountability task force appointed by Rahm Emanuel, the city's mayor. “The community’s lack of trust in CPD is justified. There is substantial evidence that people of colour— particularly African-Americans—have had disproportionately negative experiences with the police over an extended period of time.”  The 190-page report is highly critical of what is describes as a code of silence among individual police officers and the police force as a whole. It also calls for the replacement of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), which investigates police shootings and serious misconduct and is widely seen as biased towards the police.

A week after this report was published, on April 21st, Mr Emanuel responded by announcing his reform plan for the CPD. To the disappointment of some, his proposed changes ignore about two-thirds of the 76 recommendations of his own task force. He called it a “down payment” on the road to reform, which will...Continue reading

Why Pennsylvania’s delegates could hold the key to the Republican nomination

Jue, 21/04/2016 - 15:27

FIVE northeastern states will hold primary elections on April 26th: Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland. Of these, Pennsylvania is the next big prize on the presidential primary calendar, but not, for Republicans, because of its state-wide vote. Pennsylvania’s unique GOP primary system, in which voters directly elect most of their delegates, who are not officially tied to any candidate, provides Donald Trump’s rivals with a rare opportunity.

Both Mr Trump, the party’s billionaire front-runner and Mr Kasich, the governor of Ohio, can claim ties to the Keystone State. Mr Trump studied at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and Mr Kasich grew up in a blue collar suburb of Pittsburgh. In RealClearPolitics poll averages, Mr Trump leads over Mr Kasich; the Texan senator Ted Cruz comes third.

But for GOP primary voters the key to winning in Pennsylvania is not the popular vote, which is something of a beauty contest. The real winner is the candidate who is able to successfully woo delegates.

The vast majority of Pennsylvania’s Republican delegates are technically...Continue reading

Donald Trump regains momentum, and Hillary Clinton becomes very nearly unbeatable, in New York

Mié, 20/04/2016 - 07:45

NEW YORKERS like to think of themselves as the centre of the universe, but in presidential primary elections they tend to be marginal protagonists as they often vote late in the electoral calendar. This election year was different. The Empire state’s primaries on April 19th mattered hugely for both Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, and Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee. Mr Trump was crushingly defeated in the recent Wisconsin and Wyoming primaries by Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, whereas Mrs Clinton lost seven of the eight last contests to Bernie Sanders, her only rival.

New York helped both front-runners to solidify their lead. Mr Trump won a commanding victory with 60% of the votes and scooped up most of his home state’s 95 delegates. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, came a distant second with 25% of the votes and Mr Cruz scored a measly 15%. “Thank you New York! I love you!”, Mr Trump tweeted shortly after polls closed. In his short victory speech at Trump tower, his gleaming palace in Manhattan, the real-estate mogul thanked his family and his team and then declared that “we don’t have...Continue reading

The Supreme Court appears divided on Barack Obama’s immigration orders

Lun, 18/04/2016 - 22:01

AMERICA’S framers designed separate institutions to make, enforce and interpret laws. But as this week's Supreme Court hearing in an immigration showdown makes clear, the increasing dysfunction of Congress has provoked testy turf battles and confounding questions about the nature and limits of presidential power.    

Comprehensive legislation to reckon with 11.3m undocumented immigrants has eluded America for years. In November 2014, after the bipartisan, gang-of-eight Senate bill was foiled by the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, Barack Obama picked up his pen and issued executive orders shielding about a third of the nation’s illegal immigrants from deportation and permitting them to work. On April 18th, the Supreme Court considered whether his actions were legal.

At issue in United States v Texas is Mr Obama’s move granting “deferred action” to undocumented aliens whose children are American citizens or lawful permanent residents. The policy, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), aims to grant relief to “hard-working...Continue reading

The fight over illegal immigrants goes to the Supreme Court

Lun, 18/04/2016 - 02:38

CALLS for comprehensive immigration reform have been circulating in the halls of Congress for decades. But lawmakers have accomplished little in the effort to reckon with America’s 11.3m undocumented residents. When, in 2013, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to consider a bipartisan Senate bill drafted by the so-called gang of eight (an oft-heard reference in debates among the Republican presidential candidates) Barack Obama opted to take matters into his own hands. In November 2014, he issued a series of executive orders to shield nearly half of the nation’s illegal immigrants from the threat of immediate deportation. While noting at the time that under his presidency “deportations of criminals are up 80%”, Mr Obama made a distinction between illegals who pose a threat to the nation and those who live and work peacefully within America’s borders. “[W]e’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on...Continue reading

A bruising debate highlights the differences between the Democratic candidates

Vie, 15/04/2016 - 05:54

MADISON SQUARE GARDEN was not the venue, but in New York the advance billing was for a brawl and a grudge match. The combatants were both on home turf, sort of—Hillary Clinton represented New York in the Senate for eight years; Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn, as his undiluted accent attests—and, while much less vituperative than that other New Yorker, Donald Trump, the pair have become increasingly disrespectful of each other. In the event, the ninth Democratic debate, ahead of the Empire state’s primary on April 19th, intermittently lived down to expectations. The velvet gloves are off.

The most piercing insult probably came when Mr Sanders labelled the word “superpredators”, a term used by Mrs Clinton in a speech on crime in 1996, “racist” (she recently said she ought not to have chosen it). Assailing her judgment, he again tried to tie her to the Iraq war, Wall Street, super PACS and the energy industry. Instead—and to a conspicuous extent compared with previous outings—Mrs Clinton tried to associate herself with Barack Obama, although she distanced herself from his recent comments regarding mistakes made over...Continue reading

A dramatic showdown looms for the Democrats in New York

Jue, 14/04/2016 - 21:33

THE STAKES are higher than they have been in nearly three decades for both the Democratic and Republican candidates in the New York presidential primaries, which will take place on April 19th. The campaign in the Big Apple features two native sons and an adopted daughter: Donald Trump, the property magnate whose name graces many of Manhattan’s taller buildings; Bernie Sanders, who has retained the thick Brooklyn accent of his childhood; and Hillary Clinton, the two-term US senator and former secretary of state who moved to Chappaqua, a New York City suburb, with her husband Bill in 1999.

Someone unfamiliar with the polls who wandered near Greenwich Village on April 13th might be excused for concluding that Mr Sanders is the runaway favourite on the Democratic side. A rally in Washington Square Park that evening drew a boisterous crowd of 30,000—a figure approaching the population of his hometown of Burlington,...Continue reading