Election year


GOP’s plight; the Democrats are alright


In my previous article on the US elections I summarised the position of both parties and the three frontrunners just before the Iowa caucuses. Since then, there have been some unfortunate developments and it is becoming increasingly clear who will be winning the presidential nomination from their respective parties.

The GOP is in a tizzy with the success Trump is enjoying in the various primaries and caucuses in the past four weeks. Trump lost Iowa by just 3.3% of the vote and just one delegate to Ted Cruz, hardly a triumph. Many wishfully thought this was the unbecoming of Trump, start of the end. It was hardly the case.

Following Iowa, the New Hampshire primary results saw the exit of majority of the candidates. Hopefuls such as Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina bowed out of the race with zero delegates. Trump won New Hampshire with 35.3% of the votes with 11 delegates. A distant second was John Kasich with just 15.8% of votes with just four delegates.

The Governor of Ohio is among the other two candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who are being supported by the GOP and feel that one of them will fare far better against Hillary or Sanders than Trump, giving them a fighting chance to have a Republican President. The chance of that happening, however, slips with each successive primary and caucus where Trump secures majority of delegates.

In South Carolina Trump won all 50 delegates with 32.5% of the votes. Rubio and Cruz came in at a joint second of sorts, with roughly the same percentage of votes but no delegates. Jeb Bush came fourth, ironically after his mother, while campaigning for him, said he was her fourth favourite child. He too called it quits, probably realising he doesn’t have the same sway as brother George over the Republicans, and there seemed no improvement in sight.

The Nevada caucus was the latest spanking Trump administered to GOP favourites by winning it with 45.9% of the votes and securing 14 delegates, followed again by Rubio and Cruz who only managed around 23.9% and 21.4% of the votes with seven and six delegates respectively.

So that leaves Trump with a commanding lead of 82 delegates, Cruz with 17 and Rubio with 16. Out of the total available 2,340 delegates, 1,237 are required by a candidate to secure the GOP nomination. Trump’s strategy of incessant demagoguery combined with outlandish ideas originating from his rear end is working.

His success comes as a wake-up call to the Republican Party. It highlights an increasing disconnect between the GOP and the white American middle class. Historically the biggest vote bank for the Republican Party, they feel abandoned by their party and have now found solace in a guy who at least on paper doesn’t ignore them and feeds them what they need to hear in the short term.

The latest Republican debate offered nothing new in that respect either. Trump used the same old tricks, arrogantly answering easy questions while giving vague cryptic responses to the difficult ones, especially when it came to policy matters. When any of his opponents, especially Cruz and Rubio, pointed out his tactics, he would resort to hurling insults.

The Democratic primaries and caucuses have also resulted in one candidate leading by a big margin with the tail wind of momentum on their back. Clinton currently leads with 505 delegates while Sanders is a far-flung second with just 71 delegates. 2,383 are required for the nomination out of a pool of 4,189.

Iowa was a very tough contest and Hillary won through the skin of her teeth. Sanders then crushed her in the New Hampshire with 60.4% of the votes and 15 delegates. This success however was short lived. In the last contest in Nevada, Sanders took a beating where Hillary won with 52.6% of the votes while securing 20 delegates out of 35.

It is very important to note that in the Democratic Party the composition of the total number of delegates consists of pledged delegates and super delegates. Pledged delegates are chosen in caucuses and primaries and pledged to candidates on basis of proportional allocation.

Super delegates are automatic delegates by virtue of their position. They are existing or ex-party members, governors, and members of congress. They are not bound by results of primaries or caucuses, rather they can choose any candidate they want and make changes to their initial choice before the Democratic convention in July.

So, the super delegates could potentially tip the balance in favour of one candidate before the national convention. But that would only be the case if the contest between the two candidates was close. Right now, however, Hillary is in a commanding lead but most of that is made up of support from super delegates.

So, like in 2008, if Sanders starts to win the upcoming primaries and caucuses, there is a chance super delegates side with him. That remains a long shot right now though, as the momentum is with Hillary. Next week will be Super Tuesday. When the greatest numbers of states hold primaries simultaneously. It will be a very good indication of each candidate’s standing in the primary race for both parties’ nominations.

Right now it seems it is going towards a Hillary versus Trump presidential race. That might not be good news for the GOP or Socialists. But it is pretty good news for foreign countries. People may have started to believe that Trump has a good chance at winning the election but in reality, as I said in my previous article, be it Hillary or Sanders against Trump, he will not fare well against either.

And that is a comforting notion. Trump’s divisive ideas on foreign policy are dangerous. He is serious about increasing the intensity and number of wars America is currently involved in. As it is, America is unhappy with Pakistan’s commitment to the war on terror with regular orders from Washington to do more.

Given Trump’s views about Muslims, the fact that he thinks too much aid is being given to third world allies and just his general recklessness towards foreign policy, it would be a complete disaster. Currently, cooler and sensible heads are calling the shots when it comes to Pakistan. A Trump victory would definitely change that all too soon. And knowing our current diplomacy chops, I fear the worse.

With Hillary it will be business as usual. She was Secretary of State before John Kerry and understands that the current war we are embroiled with at home is partly a creation of her own country and respects our geographical significance in the grand scheme of things.

It’s still too soon to call. In the coming years the global terrorism war will only intensify. Recently ISIS has managed to get a foothold in Libya. Syria remains a wildcard with temporary ceasefires and swathes of territories under ISIS control.

Internally, America is facing a huge gun problem with more incidents in the beginning of this year. The economy has just started to pick up and needs more doing to maintain the momentum. The country needs a levelheaded experienced chieftain, not an orange haired clown.