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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- May 29, 2016

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(Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) – We’re on the road again this weekend in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania. A number of polls out this week show it could be a dead-even Presidential race in November between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But all kinds of factors can evolve between now and then to influence the outcome. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“October Surprise” – This gets talked about every election cycle, but - in my recollection - has never happened. There is always supposed to be some lurid detail about a candidate that is expected to come out at the last minute and torpedo his or her chance to win the White House. About the closest we ever got was the revelation the Sunday before Election Day in 2000, that George W. Bush got a DUI in Maine many years earlier. It’s unlikely it was a factor in the election’s outcome.

“Running Mate Choice” – I don’t believe it has ever been shown empirically that a vice presidential running mate swung the ticket for any candidate to win the White House. Still, some VP choices have hurt the ticket, e.g. Tom Eagleton, Dan Quayle (though Quayle won), and Sarah Palin. However, this year it’s a more delicate dance. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have historically high unfavorable ratings. Plus Trump will be 70 in June, Clinton will be 69 in October, and Bernie Sanders will be 75 in September. We’ve never had a field this old! A healthy substitute may be an important consideration for voters!

“Financial Market Meltdown” – No one can predict the ebb and flow of financial markets, or else we would all be millionaires! The collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent financial market meltdown in September 2008 caused John McCain to lose the election to Barack Obama. Until that day, McCain had been ahead in the polls, and the next day they flip-flopped, never to return to McCain’s favor. A lot can happen between May and November; and, remember, most people are prone to vote their pocketbooks.

“Debate Performance” – Debates matter. Just ask former President Jimmy Carter. He won in 1976 – in part - on the strength of his debating against President Ford. Carter scored points by coming across as an “honest outsider” with no ties to Washington in the wake of the Watergate era. Ford also had a bad debate gaffe about communist domination of Eastern Europe that hurt him. Fast forward to 1980, and Carter was crushed in the debates by an aggressive, confident Ronald Reagan. In fact, Carter was well ahead before their debates began; but once the debates were over, Carter was finished.

“Unforeseen Events” – Things can happen on the national and international stage that can suddenly swing the public mood. The Iranian hostage crisis, which began one year before his reelection bid, badly crippled President Carter in 1980. The degree to which the anti-war movement attacked President Johnson in the mid-to-late 1960s, prompting opposition from within his own party, ended his reelection bid in 1968. There has been critical news recently about former Secretary Clinton’s private email server. Will that cause her further political grief? Stay tuned.

“The Public Mood” – We know the public mood is unsettling on both sides of the aisle this year. Usually, one party or the other is mad about something, and is in a foul mood. Never have I seen both parties in such an internal uproar at the very same time, which explains the Trump-Sanders phenomenon. After the West Virginia primary, the CBS News exit polling showed that 44 percent of Sanders’s supporters said they would vote for Trump in November if Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination. That is stunning and unprecedented in U.S. Presidential politics. Whether they hold to that pledge in November remains to be seen.

“The Bottom Line” – This is anyone’s race to win. People in the Clinton campaign who think it’s in the bag are dangerously overconfident. And Trump’s backers think he can steamroll Clinton, as he did the 16 other Republican candidates he faced in the primaries. Overconfidence can be political suicide. I have a friend in public office who once told me, “No matter what, I always run as if the polls have me six points behind!” She is one of the best retail politicians I have ever met, and she hasn’t lost an election yet. Wise words!

Who will win this year’s Presidential election? Tell me who and why by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: opposingviews.com

“The Sunday Political Brunch” – May 22, 2016

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(Hagerstown, Maryland) – We are on the road again this week, at a crossroads of three states that may be interesting in Campaign 2016 – Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Let’s “brunch” on that and some other nuggets this week:

“When a Win Is a Loss” – Hillary Clinton declared herself the winner of Tuesday’s Kentucky primary by a margin of 1,924 votes. The breakdown was 46.7 percent for Clinton to 46.3 percent for Bernie Sanders. For the third straight week, Clinton had no rally anywhere. Four hours after polls closed in Kentucky, they closed in Oregon, with Sanders a big winner. He held a raucous rally in California, site of the crucial June 7 primary. Sanders seized the night, and the spotlight, and the media coverage. It was if he won both primaries!

“Coal Matters” – Clinton barely eased past Sanders in the coal state of Kentucky, but was swamped by Sanders last week in the coal state of West Virginia. Why two very different results? Well, West Virginia had an open primary, in which voters who are registered non-partisan or independent can request a Democrat or Republican ballot. In Kentucky, it was a closed primary, where only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary. Independents are a huge source of Sanders’s support, and they were simply shut out of the process in Kentucky. Trust me, coal will be a major issue between Trump and Clinton in November, especially in these two states, as well as Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

“What’s Left?” – Mark June 7 on your calendar, as that is the date of six primaries, including New Jersey and California. It could be an early night because - if she wins enough delegates on the East Coast - Clinton may have enough delegates for the nomination; and then what happens on the West Coast will be moot.

“Math Matters” – Okay, this is crazy, but it’s possible Bernie Sanders will actually wind up winning the Kentucky Primary anyway. A re-canvass of votes could put him ahead; but even if it doesn’t, he may still win. Here is why: The race was so close that Clinton and Sanders have each been awarded 27 convention delegates, with one uncommitted. Of the state’s five super delegates, two have committed to Clinton, and three have not announced their allegiance. Yes, it is possible that if four of these unattached delegates pick Sanders, he wins the primary with 31 to 30 delegates!

“The Final Super Tuesday” – There have been several Tuesdays this year with multiple primaries. June 7 will be the last, with six states casting ballots: New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, and California. It’s not unprecedented that a primary this late crowns a winner. I was in Montana and South Dakota on the final primary day in 2008. Hillary Clinton won South Dakota, but Barack Obama won Montana, giving him enough delegates for the nomination.

“Trump Reigns Supreme” – I found it fascinating that Donald Trump announced his “short list” of potential Supreme Court nominees if he is elected. It’s a dicey strategy. It certainly gives the other party plenty of time to do opposition research, but it also gives Trump a chance to show how he might reshape the bench in a term that could include three court nominees. I have met one of the possible nominees, Federal Appeals Court Judge Diane Sykes, who was a fellow student at Marquette University. She succeeded my dad’s college roommate and longtime family friend, Court of Appeals Judge John Coffey, on the federal bench. It’s a small world.

“Strange Bedfellows” – I was intrigued by the ABC News report this week that former Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) is not interested in being Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate. Patrick – whom I have interviewed many times – is now working in business development for Bain Capital. Yes, that’s the same Bain Capital founded by former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA). Patrick has also often been touted as a potential Supreme Court nominee. He says he’s not interested in VP, but keep him on your short list for either job.

Do you have any thoughts on VP or Supreme Court, from either party? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© MarkCurtisMedia, LLC

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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