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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- March 6, 2016


(Ashland, Kentucky) – We are on the Presidential campaign trail again this weekend in Kentucky. The Bluegrass State is one of five holding weekend primaries or caucuses. The others are Kansas, Louisiana, Maine and Nebraska. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

BREAKING NEWS at 10:45 p.m., EST: Donald Trump wins the Kentucky Caucuses with 36% of the vote over Ted Cruz at 32%; Marco Rubio with 16%; and John Kasich at 14%.

“The Final Four” – Dr. Ben Carson dropped out, so it’s now down to the final four: Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Governor John Kasich (R-OH).

“Minnesota for Marco” – Rubio finally won a primary, capturing the contest in Minnesota on Super Tuesday. He was probably as surprised as anyone, as he had focused his efforts and hopes on Virginia, where he finished a competitive second place. Still, his win in Minnesota made me chuckle as I recalled the movie “Fargo,” which was filmed there. It made me wonder If they made a sequel, “Fargo 2,” would Rubio be stuffing Donald Trump in the wood chipper at the end? (Rent the movie, if you missed the joke!) Anyway, if Rubio loses Florida on March 15, his campaign is over.

“Trump vs. Romney” – The weird event of the week was Mitt Romney's delivering a blistering attack on Donald Trump, and then Trump's returning the remarks in kind. Are average voters really interested in two extremely rich white guys carping at each other? My guess is that they aren’t. And, as with all seemingly bad news regarding the Trump campaign, his poll numbers will probably rise on the Romney attacks. Trump – for now – continues to defy gravity. The whole Romney vs. Trump feud is an odd waste of time.

“Cruz Still Alive” – Cruz won Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, so he is still very much alive. The problem for him is that few leaders in his own party like him. In the end, the Republican establishment is now asking itself, “Whom do we like less?” The answer – to one of the oddest political questions I’ve ever heard – is "Cruz." If Rubio drops out, will he toss his support to Cruz? Maybe, perhaps because of the nasty Trump-Rubio feud. Rubio, while no fan of Cruz either, would love to torpedo Trump.

“Kasich Kentucky” – Kasich must do well in Kentucky and in Michigan on March 8, and he must win in his home state of Ohio on March 15; otherwise, he’s toast. But he is still viable as the Vice Presidential running mate - whether he’ll be paired with Trump, Cruz, or Rubio - and any of the three would likely welcome him. Again, the Republican Party only wins the White House when it carries Ohio. Right now in Kentucky, though, Kasich is polling in last place, with just six percent of the vote in his neighboring state.

“Cross-Eyed Christie” – The other odd event this week was Chris Christie's introducing Trump’s victory press conference in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump’s people made a smart move, putting him on stage with all of those flags behind him. Honestly, he looked Presidential. But Christie stood in the background the whole time, fidgeting, with his eyes alternately twitching or staring glaringly at Trump. Christie's demeanor made me - as a viewer - uncomfortable at times and amused me at others. Why didn’t he just sit down? Look for this as a "Saturday Night Live" skit soon!

“Sanders Sails” – Bernie Sanders made a good run for it, but is about to fade. Sadly for him, he missed by just one state. For weeks, I said he must win Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota, and Massachusetts on Super Tuesday. He nailed the first three, but missed on the big prize in the Bay State. He needed Massachusetts as a viable route to take out Clinton, and he missed.

“Clinton” – Hillary Clinton had a strong Super Tuesday and is on a glide path to the nomination. The five crucial states on March 15 – Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri and Ohio - should all be strong for Clinton. She still won’t have the requisite delegate total for the nomination; but she’ll be so far ahead that only scandal could stop her. Still, I think Biden is looking for a wedge to get into the race.

“Why All of This Matters” – Right now, it’s all about momentum, viability and inevitability. That’s why this past week Ben Carson said he saw “no path forward” for his campaign. The time is nearing for all candidates to “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” For most, the magic date is March 15.

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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- February 28, 2016


(Charleston, West Virginia) – In sports you often hear talk about the “home field advantage,” meaning that when you play in your own backyard, you have a better chance of winning. Sometimes that proves true; sometimes not. But some upcoming primaries feature the home states of candidates, and the possible "home court advantage" bears investigation. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Cruz/Texas” – Senator Ted Cruz (R) Texas needs a win badly. Yes, he won Iowa; but subpar finishes in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada put his prospects in doubt. His home state of Texas offers the biggest delegate prize this coming Super Tuesday, March 1, with 155 delegates being awarded. A Monmouth University poll out this week has it: Cruz, 38 percent; Trump, 23 percent; and, Rubio, 21 percent; with Kasich and Carson "in the weeds." Texas is a “must win” for Cruz, or his campaign is over.

“Rubio/Florida” – Senator Marco Rubio (R) Florida, is also in desperate need of a win. Like Cruz, whenever Rubio finishes second or third, he oddly claims some semblance of victory. That claim might have had some validity in the first few states, but not anymore. In the latest Quinnipiac Poll from February 25, it was: Trump, 44 percent; Rubio, 28 percent; and Cruz, 12 percent. Former Governor Jeb Bush (R) Florida polled at 4 percent, but even if he successfully threw all of his support to Rubio, the home state senator is still 12 points behind. A devastating loss in Florida on March 15 may end Rubio’s campaign.

“Kasich/Ohio” – The prospects are much brighter for Governor John Kasich (R) Ohio. He could even lose the Ohio primary on March 15, and still remain in the race. In the latest Quinnipiac Poll, it is: Trump, 31 percent; Kasich, 26 percent; Cruz, 21 percent; and Rubio, 13 percent. Here’s why Kasich is still viable even if he loses. The same Quinnipiac Poll pondered potential GOP match-ups against Hillary Clinton in November, and all Republicans won - Kasich by 17 points; Rubio by 5; Cruz by 3; and Trump by 2. To me, this signals that Kasich has a lock on the Vice Presidential nomination. The GOP never wins the White House unless it carries Ohio!

“Paul/Kentucky” – Yes, I know Senator Rand Paul (R) Kentucky dropped out of the race, but his home state still holds a caucus next Saturday, March 4, which I will be covering. In fact, the early primary was held just so Paul could run in the Presidential primary in March and also in the U.S. Senate primary in May. Paul is an “outsider” in the Republican Party; and you would think that would appeal to the Trump crowd, since Trump is an outsider, too. The truth is that the two men can’t stand one another – as witnessed by the early debates. Paul led all home state polls in 2015, but is now out of the race. It will be fascinating to see where his supporters go.

“Sanders/Vermont” – Super Tuesday will provide a slam dunk win for Bernie Sanders in his home state. Vermont is one of the most liberal states in the nation. The thing to watch is whether that helps carry Sanders to victory in the neighboring, liberal state of Massachusetts, which would be a huge blow to former Bay State resident Hillary Clinton. Sanders is likely to do well in liberal bastions such as Colorado and Minnesota on Super Tuesday, as well.

“Clinton/Illinois, Arkansas, et al.” – The Clintons have seemingly lived everywhere, but Hillary is an Illinois native. Right now, the Simon-SIU poll has her leading Bernie Sanders there, 51 to 32 percent. The Public Policy Poll in her adopted home state of Arkansas has her leading Sanders 57 to 32 percent. But Clinton is in trouble in Massachusetts, where she attended college and is in a statistical dead-heat with Sanders. It’s not a nomination-breaker; but - given her history - Clinton should be polling much better in the Bay State.

“Why All of This Matters” – If you want to win the White House, you really must win your home state. The last President who won the job without winning his home state was James K. Polk, of Tennessee, way back in 1844. There must be a “Tennessee Curse” because Al Gore lost Tennessee in 2000, and had he not, that one single state would have made him President. Yes, we are only in the primary season right now, but whether it’s in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, the home field advantage is critical in politics.

Who are you supporting this primary season, and why? Just click the comment button at

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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