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“It Ain’t Over, ‘til it’s Almost Over!” Sunday Political Brunch - March 15, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – It’s been quite a week in the world of politics as the coronavirus scare has now greatly overshadowed everything in the universe, including the presidential primary season. But we may be headed toward some sort of closure, so let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“A Fish Out of Water”- Let me apologize in advance for even broaching the idea of political strategy this week. We’re in a worldwide crisis - and suddenly - petty political differences seem small. On the other hand, we’re trying to pick the best people to lead when we get into an emergency such as this, so trying to vet who might handle it best is just human nature. There’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican coronavirus. What matters is that we get the solution right.

“The Voices of ‘Junior’ Tuesday” – It was a week of six primaries – certainly not the magnitude of last week’s Super Tuesday, but it is still consequential. I mean, you had Michigan, Missouri and Washington voting, three states of considerable influence. But Joe Biden carried all three states, plus Mississippi and Idaho. North Dakota was Sander’s lone win.

“Looking Forward” – This coming Tuesday could be the beginning of the end. You have four of the nation’s most populous states castings ballots: Illinois, Florida, Ohio and Arizona. If Biden makes a clean sweep, or even takes three of four, his nomination is inevitable. Sanders really must win two, to call it a draw and move on.

“Delegate Counts Matter” – Before we get to this coming Tuesday, here are the delegate numbers so far: Biden 887. Sanders 731, Elizabeth Warren 71, Michael Bloomberg 61. The magic number needed for the nomination is 1,991. If Sanders can at least keep pace on Tuesday, he stays in the race.

“What’s Trending?” – Here are the latest Real Clear Politics composite polls for Tuesday’s key states: Florida – Biden 65 percent to Sanders 23 percent; Arizona – Biden 48 percent to Sanders 26 percent; Ohio – Biden 57 percent to Sanders 35 percent; Illinois – Biden 60 percent to Sanders 32 percent. Look, it’s getting to be a tougher road for Sanders.

“Sealing the Deal?” – I have pondered this for months, how a frontrunner might seal the deal not just for the nomination, but for the general election in November. The traditional focus has been on naming the vice-presidential running mate, but what about naming the whole team? Biden, for example, could make a huge statement by naming Amy Klobuchar as his VP, but then going on naming Kamala Harris as his Attorney General designee, Pete Buttigieg as his HUD Secretary, Jay Inslee as Secretary of Energy, and John Hickenlooper as Interior Secretary. You can imagine all kinds of names. Why wait until November, when you could assemble a cabinet now?

“Coronavirus Implications” – Louisiana has already cancelled its upcoming primary due to coronavirus concerns. Who’s next? Suddenly, the primary season is taking a back seat to a real health crisis. You must wonder if it may affect – or cancel – this summer’s national political nominating conventions in Milwaukee and Charlotte.

“The Politics of Crisis” – Any politician can appear strong when the economy is humming, and the “trains are running on time.” But, the real measure of leadership is how you handle a crisis. Timing matters, too. Had Hurricane Katrina happened in September 2004, President George W. Bush might have been trounced at the ballot box. But the storm hit in 2005, and he was already secure in his second term. If President Trump appears to handle this emergency well, he’s on a possible glide path for reelection. If he falters, he’s toast. In politics, timing is critical and decisive.

Who are you supporting for the Democratic nomination for President? Has your choice changed in recent days? Click the comment button and let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for the White House Patch, at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

“A ‘Super Tuesday’ Finally Fulfills its Hype” – The Sunday Political Brunch - March 8, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – I’ve been covering elections since 1978 and every time we hit a presidential cycle, we get beat over the head with how BIG Super Tuesday will be. But it’s almost always been a bust! So often the momentum out of the first four contests creates a frontrunner that is hard to beat. Not so this year. Super Tuesday 2020 may be a seminal event in this race. Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“By the Numbers” – There was certainly a momentum shift in this race Tuesday, as former Vice President Joe Biden won 10 of the 15 primaries. Previous frontrunner Bernie Sanders won four states, and flash-in-the-pan candidate Michael Bloomberg won American Samoa, and then promptly dropped out of the race. But certainly, the party’s sudden and dramatic shift to what had been a lackluster Biden campaign was stark. Again, I’ve never seen this in terms of a momentum changer.

“By the Delegate Count.” – By no means am I suggesting a curtain call for Bernie Sanders. He’s still very much viable. As of today, the delegate count is: 627 for Biden, 551 for Sanders, 64 for Elizabeth Warren, 60 for Michael Bloomberg, 26 for Pete Buttigieg, 7 for Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard winning the “John Connelly Delegate Award” with just one. (Google it if you don’t get the joke!) She may have 2 delegates, but we’ll see, as the count goes on.

“Mayor’s Major Mistakes” – The rapid rise and fall of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was stunning, but not unprecedented. In 2008 his predecessor at Gracie Mansion, Rudi Giuliani, also ran for president. Like Bloomberg, Giuliani basically skipped the first four primaries, putting all his effort and money on the Florida primary. He was banking on all the New York and New Jersey retirees in the Sunshine State to send him to victory. Instead, he lost badly (finishing a weak third place), his campaign collapsed, and he was forced to drop out. Why Bloomberg stole a page from the failed Giuliani playbook is beyond me. It was the classic, “Same Song, Different Verse!” phenomenon. Wow!

“The Quid Pro Quo?” – In the impeachment of President Trump, we heard a lot about deals made with a “quid pro quo” attached. Basically, it’s a deal-making technique used often in politics. The premise is, “You give me something of value, and I will give you something of value in return.” It’s standard politics in Washington D.C., state capitols and city halls throughout the land, (and trust me I get people’s legal and ethical concerns). But, when Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg suddenly dropped out of the race Monday night and endorsed Joe Biden, don’t think for a moment that they were not promised something in return. I bet Klobuchar asked for Vice President or U.S. Attorney General. I bet Buttigieg asked for Secretary of Defense or Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Unseemly or not, that’s how deals get done!

“I’m Puzzled?” – I still believe a constituency to watch is young voters, who most often vote in low numbers, but sometimes surge to the polls when a candidate such as Barack Obama inspires them. This year, millennials were basically divided in two Democratic camps – backing Sanders or backing Buttigieg. But when Buttigieg dropped out, he endorsed Biden. Obviously, the youth vote is fractured and often in the past that lead to indifference and low voter turnout. It’s a trend to keep an eye on. We’ll see if young voters warm up to Biden.

“Warren’s Wane” – A lot of people have asked me, “What happened to Elizabeth Warren? She was supposed to be a big factor?” I am somewhat surprised, too, at her lackluster performance because she had consistently been one of the best debaters. Her first problem was that she and Bernie Sanders were “fishing in the same pond.” You had two New Englanders talking about student loan forgiveness and Medicare-for-all, and a lot of other issue positions in common. Second, Sanders was simply better known based on his national performance in 2016 almost prying the nomination away from Hillary Clinton. Third, Sanders supporters were rabidly loyal in 2016, and equally so in 2020. It explains, in part, why she came in third place in her home state Massachusetts Primary on Tuesday. Still, her endorsement of Biden or Sanders could matter.

“What’s Next?” – Six states will hold primaries on March 10, with the biggest prizes being Michigan, Missouri and Washington state. The following week on St. Patrick’s Day, the big states of Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Arizona vote. I predict on that day, we know who the nominee will be, even if they have yet to reach the requisite number of delegates. Look, it’s a Biden-Sanders race and these next 10 contests, in two weeks, will likely solidify the momentum.

Has Super Tuesday changed who you are supporting on the race for the White House? Just click the comment button and let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states, and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for “The White House Patch” at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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