Stuart Rothenberg

Clinton Starts with a Decisive Advantage
Working-class whites aren't enough to carry Trump to victory

The warnings about jumping to conclusions about November are widespread.  

I’ve heard that it’s early in the presidential race and that we underestimated Donald Trump last time so we should be careful now. I’ve also heard that Trump’s strength with working-class whites could change the electoral map, giving him a path to an Electoral College win.  

Ryan Rides to the Rescue — But Not Until 2020
If GOP loses big in November, House speaker becomes de facto party leader

I recently asked a veteran Republican strategist how his party picks up the pieces after what now looks to be a very difficult 2016 election. His answer was quick and decisive: Paul Ryan.  

If November’s elections are as messy for the GOP as they now appear, with Republicans failing once again to win the White House and also losing their Senate majority, Ryan would almost certainly become his party’s de facto leader – and that would offer him both opportunities and challenges after the election.  

GOP's Troubles Just Beginning
Issues and demography favor Democrats

Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have glaring weaknesses as presidential nominees, but that’s only the beginning of the GOP's problems. Just as important, the current mix of top issues is simply terrible for Republicans in general and conservatives in particular.  

The country moved noticeably to the right starting in the early 1980s with Ronald Reagan and continuing through the presidency of Bill Clinton (“The era of big government is over”) and even the first years of the George W. Bush administration.  

How Many Might Defect from Trump or Cruz?
It isn't only about new voters

There has been plenty of talk from the two leading Republican presidential contenders about how they will attract voters who didn’t embrace recent GOP nominees.  

For Ted Cruz, his pool of new voters supposedly includes conservatives who didn’t bother to vote because they saw few differences between the parties. Donald Trump, on the other hand, promises to energize working-class voters who've been left behind.  

Democrats Are Headed off Their Own Cliff
Instead of trying to control the center, Sanders takes his party to the extreme

Political observers – yes, including myself – have argued for years that the Republican Party has moved too far right, allowing its most ideological elements to limit its legislative options, prevent it from addressing national problems, and damage its appeal to key swing and emerging voter groups.  

But instead of Democrats responding by positioning themselves in the political center where they could maximize their appeal, many Democrats are embracing their own version of ideological extremism.  

The Beginning of the End for Donald Trump
Convention deadlock increasingly likely for GOP

For months, Donald Trump has led in polls, eventually piling up enough delegates to become a serious threat to win the Republican nomination in Cleveland in July. But now it appears that the wealthy businessman and reality television star’s candidacy is in jeopardy, the result of months of crude and childish comments, narcissistic behavior and contradictory policy pronouncements — as well as a more concerted effort by adversaries to deny him delegates.  

No, Trump’s true believers certainly won’t desert him any more than he deserted Corey Lewandowski. They will continue to see Trump as the political messiah who has a clear-eyed view of the country’s problems and is uniquely prepared to solve them.  

Maybe It Really Is the Media’s Fault
For Donald Trump, the media has been a willing accomplice

Reporters like to snicker when members of the public — or even better, folks in the political class — blame the media for an unexpected development or unwelcome outcome. Don’t blame us, they respond, acting as if they are mere observers who have little or no responsibility for the political wars.  

Well, veteran Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen and analytics expert Luke Thompson don’t buy that, and they offer recent data to support their assessment.  

A Party Divided Is a Party Defeated -- Usually
History has bad news for Donald Trump and the fracturing GOP

The question is no longer whether the GOP will be torn apart by the 2016 nominating process but how badly hurt its presidential nominee will be and whether defeat in November will be inevitable.  

The answer depends on the nominee and on the ultimate extent of the divide. But there is little reason for Republican optimism at this point, in spite of the fact that history has produced some very different outcomes.  

John Kasich’s Utterly Strange, Bizarre Campaign
Can a political insider really run as a political outsider?

If you like John Kasich, it's time to celebrate! The Ohio governor finally won a primary – his home state’s. Of course, he flopped in last week's other contests, ending the evening with almost two dozen fewer delegates than Sen. Marco Rubio, who exited the GOP race.  

Kasich’s campaign has bordered on the bizarre. He has survived for two reasons: First, he has refused to get out, no matter how badly he has done. And second, he has been so irrelevant that nobody attacked him, leaving him generally unscathed in a race where there is plenty of blood on the floor.  

Trump's Electoral Math Doesn't Add Up
Trump must redraw landscape to win some states where he sees victory in November

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is asked repeatedly about polls showing him trailing Hillary Clinton badly in the general election. He always says the same thing: other polls show him winning, and Clinton will be very easy to defeat.  

Is Trump merely blowing smoke, or could he re-draw the partisan landscape and win in November? Could he carry Michigan, or even New York, as he has started to assert?  

Dem Senate Takeover Probable, If Cruz or Trump Nominee

With Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz seemingly positioned to fight it out for the Republican presidential nomination, Democrats are now poised to take over the Senate in November.  

The two Republicans still in the race who could help their party’s Senate prospects, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, continue to flounder. While a deadlocked GOP convention in Cleveland could, at least in theory, nominate a candidate with broad appeal and low enough negatives to revive the party’s Senate prospects, that development is both a long way in the future and a long shot.  

Cruz and Kasich Implausible Scenarios Keeping Trump on Top

The early primaries usually winnow presidential fields because each one tests aspects of a candidacy, and because only victories keep the money flowing.

But while this Republican field has winnowed, it hasn’t shrunk as much as some would like. Part of the answer involves the existence of super PAC money, which allows a handful of contributors to keep a candidacy alive. But maybe even more important this time is the shape of the field and the nature of the front-runner.  

Cruz and Kasich Implausible Scenarios Keeping Trump on Top

The early primaries usually winnow presidential fields because each one tests aspects of a candidacy, and because only victories keep the money flowing.

But while this Republican field has winnowed, it hasn’t shrunk as much as some would like. Part of the answer involves the existence of super PAC money, which allows a handful of contributors to keep a candidacy alive. But maybe even more important this time is the shape of the field and the nature of the front-runner.

Trump Is More Vulnerable Than You Think

Most in the national news media are talking about how Donald Trump is now the clear Republican frontrunner and will be nearly impossible to stop. They are only partially right.  

Trump, who won South Carolina (and all of its delegates) with a little under one-third of the vote, certainly is the front-runner. He has won two of the first three contests and has a clear lead in delegates. He should do well on March 1, when many Southern states hold their primaries and more than 600 delegates are at stake. By definition, that makes him the front-runner.  

Trump Is More Vulnerable Than You Think

Most in the national news media are talking about how Donald Trump is now the clear Republican frontrunner and will be nearly impossible to stop. They are only partially right.

Trump, who won South Carolina (and all of its delegates) with a little under one-third of the vote, certainly is the front-runner. He has won two of the first three contests and has a clear lead in delegates. He should do well on March 1, when many Southern states hold their primaries and more than 600 delegates are at stake. By definition, that makes him the front-runner.

Who Will Win S.C. Saturday? Just Look at the Voters

What will South Carolina Republican presidential primary voters do when they go to the polls on Saturday? The best way to approach that question is to compare the Palmetto State’s GOP primary voters to those who turned out this month for the first two Republican contests.  

By most measures, South Carolina Republican voters are likely to look much more like those who participated in Iowa than in New Hampshire.  

Who Will Win S.C. Saturday? Just Look at the Voters

What will South Carolina Republican presidential primary voters do when they go to the polls on Saturday? The best way to approach that question is to compare the Palmetto State’s GOP primary voters to those who turned out this month for the first two Republican contests.

By most measures, South Carolina Republican voters are likely to look much more like those who participated in Iowa than in New Hampshire.

Michael Bloomberg’s Road Map to the White House

You are the eighth-richest person in America with a net worth of more than $38 billion, according to Forbes magazine. You served three terms as mayor of New York. You’ve been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent. And you believe that the country has suffered from political polarization and needs a strong president who can get things done and bring the country together.  

You are Michael Bloomberg, and you want to be president. Can you make it happen, even assuming the “best case” scenario of Democrats nominating Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders and the GOP picking either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz?  

Michael Bloomberg’s Road Map to the White House

You are the eighth-richest person in America with a net worth of more than $38 billion, according to Forbes magazine. You served three terms as mayor of New York. You’ve been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent. And you believe that the country has suffered from political polarization and needs a strong president who can get things done and bring the country together.

You are Michael Bloomberg, and you want to be president. Can you make it happen, even assuming the “best case” scenario of Democrats nominating Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders and the GOP picking either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz?

Can Rubio Follow Romney’s Path to the Nomination?

Is Marco Rubio a conservative who wants to overthrow the GOP establishment or a potential standard-bearer for party pragmatists?  He’s trying to be both, of course.  

That strategy has been tried before – by Mitt Romney. And it worked, sort of. The question now, after Rubio's debate performance on Saturday night, is whether Rubio can pull it off.