No matter what AP and Reuters are trying to tell you, primary season is not over. While aggregators and 24 hour news stations talk about Hillary and Trump “padding” their delegate counts in upcoming primaries, their opponents are gearing up for their charge. Hillary and Trump are certainly the frontrunners, but in both of their cases, actually reaching victory will require a Little Round Top-level defense of their positions during the final onslaght of the upcoming weeks.
For Mr. Trump: can anyone truly claim to be comfortable with debate moderators and news anchors having to call The Donald “Mr. Trump”—not Senator Trump, not Governor Trump, not Assemblyman or Alderman Trump, not even Community Organizer Trump?
These are the same people for whom Barack Obama’s comparatively extensive political résumé in 2008 was laughable, aren’t they? But I digress, winning means defeating a coalition of fellow republicans bent on his destruction.
For Hillary, it means bringing the momentum she built in the Deep South to the much less Clinton-friendly West Coast. Neither one is a sure thing yet, and if the media at large didn’t want an endless primary season, we shouldn’t have built one.
Let’s begin with Trump, whose once-comic candidacy has somehow snowballed into the largest-scale Godwin’s law experiment ever. As his antics get more and more aggressive on the stump and his habits of ignoring both the party line and his own previous statements seem to get worse every day, republicans are ready for the collective fog to raise from their eyes.
This week, The New York Times reported that more than half of republicans view the 2016 campaign so far as an embarrassment to their party. Meanwhile, The Donald has angrily told fellow party members—one can recognize anger on Trump’s face because his cheeks and forehead very quickly begin to clash with his American Hustle-level combover; The Donald can get away with white and orange, but magenta and orange is just tacky—that they’re bound to regret supporting a third party candidate.
Republicans panicking at the last minute and fielding a third party in a mirror image of Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 progressive Bull Moose ticket seems like it should be a dream scenario for the democrats. But according to the same New York Times article that reported republicans’ self-inflicted embarrassment, democrats are even more divided than their GOP counterparts.
After a strong showing in the South, where the Clinton name is gold in democratic circles, Hillary will need to rethink some of her rhetoric if she hopes to make a strong showing in less brand-loyal states. Nobody named Clinton ever “fixed” education in Oregon or Washington—Arkansas might remember their efforts, but many West Coast liberals jokingly recall Bill Clinton as the best republican president the country ever had.
Appearances on Broad City help Hillary’s cause, but as long as she’s touting her association with a proud war criminal like Henry Kissinger as a presidential advantage, she’s going to continue making a significant portion of the left uneasy.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders consistently performs better in simulated general elections against The Donald than Hillary does, which has led some to suggest that if given the choice between Trump and Clinton, some Bernie democrats might vote for Trump. This is almost certainly fear mongering, of which the left is just as capable as the right. One wonders what kind of person would truly feel Trump was the lesser of two evils in a Clinton election.
But with exactly half of the country describing themselves as scared at the prospect of a Trump Presidency™, and 35% saying the same about Hillary, one thing is certain. Two of the most unpopular candidates in recent history are already half-crowned by the 24-hour-news machine, but this primary season is only poised to get crazier as everyone waits for it to settle down.