Results, Betrayed, Angst & Discontent
Bernie Sanders stunned the pundits and proved the pollsters wrong yesterday. The last poll before the Michigan primary gave Hillary Clinton a whopping 27-point lead. But Sanders' voters ignored the polls and gave him a 50% to 48% victory over Hillary. One commentator said the Michigan polling was "among the greatest polling errors in primary history."
But Mrs. Clinton had some good news, too. She won the Mississippi primary by a lopsided margin of 83% to 17%.
The Results: Republicans
Donald Trump carried three of four states last night -- Hawaii, Michigan and Mississippi. Sen. Ted Cruz won Idaho and finished second in the other contests.
Clearly, Mr. Trump is still in the driver's seat, and Cruz is still the only viable alternative to the front-runner. That is the bottom line from a purely objective political analysis. In fact, Michigan voters were asked in one exit poll how they would have voted if their only choices were Trump and Cruz. The results: 46% Cruz, 37% Trump.
Of course, the bigger story is the revolt of Blue Collar America. Not only is the Republican Party feeling the sting, but Hillary Clinton got whacked, too.
There is increasing speculation about whether Donald Trump's appeal to blue collar voters could alter the political landscape. For example, if Democrats carry Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin this year, as they have in recent elections, they will own the White House for another four years.
If Republicans carry just Ohio there is a chance they could eke out a narrow victory, as George W. Bush did, and regain the White House. But if the Republican nominee carries Ohio as well as Michigan or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, the GOP would most likely win the White House in an earthshattering political realignment.
If a good friend or family member cheats you or sells you out to an enemy, that betrayal generates powerful raw emotions and anger. When your friend turns his back on you, it stings and you want to do something about it. I mention this psychological point because, once again, there is exit poll data that should shake the governing and donor class of the Republican Party to its very core.
According to CNN 58% of Republican primary voters in Michigan said they felt "betrayed" by the Republican Party. That's astonishing! And the result has been high in every state where the question has been asked.
Everyone is celebrating the higher turnout in the primaries this year. Voting in Michigan broke a 40-year record. Some precincts ran out of ballots. But is the high turnout evidence of excitement in the GOP? Or is it evidence of the grassroots trying to teach the establishment a lesson?
The results speak volumes: Donald Trump is first and Ted Cruz is second. Just look at their combined totals from last night. Together, Trump and Cruz took:
62% of the vote in Michigan,
73% of the vote in Idaho,
75% of the vote in Hawaii and
83% of the vote in Mississippi.
The voters who feel betrayed include a significant percentage of evangelicals, who don't think the party seriously fought to defend their values, from life to marriage and now religious liberty.
There are Tea Party movement advocates too, who thought the party was serious about limiting the size and scope of government.
And, most notably, blue collar families whose angst and discontent rest on two pillars -- one is culture and the other economic.
Angst & Discontent
If you live in the elegant neighborhoods of our nation's capital, have a penthouse in Manhattan or shop along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, life is good. You may have eaten recently at a Moroccan restaurant and you're struggling to decide whether to take in Indian or Thai Friday night.
But if you're living in the downscale precincts of many Rust Belt states, going out to eat on Friday night means pulling into a Wendy's drive-thru.
When these folks hear politicians talking about immigrant success stories, it is like rubbing salt in an open wound. They are worried about whether their native-born sons and daughters will be able even to go to college.
For years, lots of these people voted for conventional Republicans because on issues of national security, patriotism and respect for traditional values, they were no longer at home in a left-wing, UN-loving Democrat party.
But their personal fortunes have sunk lower and lower. And while they are reading headlines about the current economic recovery, they are nowhere close to being back to where they were in 2008.
The Democrats offer them socialism and class warfare. By and large these are decent men and women and they don't like either. But they search in vain for a Republican economic agenda that can give them hope for the future.
The great majority of them are not going to be entrepreneurs. They are going to work for someone else. And the GOP all too often sounds like the party of their bosses, not their co-workers.
Whatever happens this year, the Republican Party has to rethink its kneejerk support for whatever trade deal comes down the pike. Republican candidates could add more stops at factories instead of just the local Chamber of Commerce.
Speaker Ryan could help a lot by including an item or two on his economic agenda that might have some resonance with voters Republicans might get, instead of ones they likely cannot.
Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families
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