This Supreme Court Case Was a Big Deal

Conservatives sure missed this guy yesterday. By Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court decided to not destroy public sector unions in a 4-4 decision yesterday. A split decision affirms the lower court’s ruling, which in this case was the Ninth Circuit’s decision to affirm a yet lower court’s ruling that compelling public sector workers to pay fees used to support their union’s negotiation and legal representation shops doesn’t violate those workers’ First Amendment rights. This had been settled law for decades but conservatives have been using the courts to reopen cases they can’t win through legislation, hoping to get the Supreme Court to deliver them victories.

Unfortunately, this strategy had been working. In a series of 5-4 decisions in recent years, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of conservative interests again and again. In 2010, the five conservative Supreme Court justices unleashed unlimited corporate money into our elections in the infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision. In 2012, the conservative faction on the Court weakened an important part – Medicaid expansion – of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while four conservative justices were ready to destroy the law completely. In 2013, they stripped the Voting Rights Act of one of its most important rules that protected voters in states with a history of disenfranchisement. These are just three of the most high profile cases.

So why did the Supreme Court just decide against rewriting law in order to achieve conservatives’ goals? Scott Lemieux, an expert on the Supreme Court and constitutional law, explains the obvious: due to the death of Antonin Scalia in February, the conservative faction on the Court is now one justice shy of a majority. Since many cases in recent years were 5-4 decisions in favor of conservative interests, we’re likely to see 4-4 splits over contentious cases until the vacancy is filled. Scalia would have joined with the conservatives in the public sector union case, and in the alternate reality in which he hadn’t died, public sector unions would have been crushed yesterday.

With the four remaining conservative justices all nominated by Republican presidents, and the four liberal justices all nominated by Democratic presidents, Scalia’s passing brought to the forefront an aspect of presidential elections that is always there but never stressed enough: the president appoints the lifelong members of the Supreme Court. While some Republican senators are wavering on the total obstruction strategy, it’s still unlikely that the Senate will vote on President Obama’s nominee for Scalia’s seat, Merrick Garland. The next president is going to fill that seat, and possibly one or two more. The appointment on the table, and the hypothetical appointments, will determine the course of the Supreme Court for a generation.

It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court vacancy plays in the general election. There are real and important differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and the type of justice their presidential candidates would appoint are among the starkest. Supreme Court cases are confusing even to politics junkies like myself, so how do candidates leverage the situation to motivate voters? Can the Democratic nominee boil it down to easily understood real life impacts, such as: do you want your health insurance policy to cover reproductive health? do you think corporations shouldn’t be able to spend as much money as they want on elections? do you think everyone should be able to vote with as little hassle as possible? do you think women should be able to decide what to do with their own bodies? do you think LGBT citizens should be able to marry whomever they want? do you think people who get benefits from union representation should help fund those unions?

These are just a few of the issues that are going to be contested in the future. If you answered “yes” to the above questions, whether the nominee is Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party’s candidate will appoint justices that side with you.



Weekend Links

rainbow farm
My colleague and I on the roof of a house owned by a Chinese couple who have a small plot of land between Dali Old Town and Erhai (the lake).

With the weather so nice here during spring, though it gets very windy in the afternoons, we’ve decided to hold at least one outdoor event for the students at our school this semester. A Chinese couple has been kind enough to offer us the use of their space, and it’s about as good as we’re going to find. There’s a patch of flat land covered in grass that should be big enough for games and a picnic. It’s actually a challenge to find such places in urban China sometimes. Unless you have access to a school, there are few sports fields that are open to the public. Many parks just aren’t big and open enough, and the few that are suitable tend to be covered in signs telling you not to step on the grass.

Crazy week in politics, though they’re probably all going to be crazy going forward.

  • Find my election numbers crunching of the Republican race here and the Democratic race here.
  • So, this is literally true: Donald Trump retweeted an image juxtaposing an unflattering image of Ted Cruz’s wife with a flattering image of Trump’s own wife, the latter one taken a long time ago. When you read the text overlaying the images, it’s clear that the only conceivable purpose of this is to insult a woman’s looks. The Party of Lincoln, everyone!
  • Josh Marshall reminds us that Trump’s women bashing doesn’t play well outside of his base, and links to a good article by Franklin Foer about Trump’s misogyny. I’m not kidding here, if Trump and Hillary Clinton are the nominees, what’s the over/under on number of days it takes after the general election begins on July 29th before Trump calls Clinton a b-word or c-word or something similarly awful? A week? A month? If anyone wants to bet that it takes more than a month, I’ll send you my bank account information now so you can just go ahead and wire me the money.
  • As if the Republican race weren’t already in the gutter, the National Enquirer – published by a friend of Trump – has a story suggesting Cruz has had five mistresses. Gary Legum, author of the linked piece, after providing relevant details about the situation, goes on to make a good point: the Republican Establishment still has no idea how to play gutterball with Trump.
  • If not moderate John Kasich insists on staying in the race even though he’s mathematically eliminated from winning a majority of delegates before the convention starts, a Cruz-Kasich two front war to deny Trump a majority would have to look like this.
  • Bernie Sanders could win big in the state of Washington today, which awards 101 delegates. If he doesn’t win at least 70% of them, while also doing well in Hawaii (25 delegates) and Alaska (16 delegates) which also go today, he’ll be in worse position than he was going into the weekend.
  • Ending on a no politics but sad note: Garry Shandling passed away at the age of 66. Go here to see Conan O’Brien’s touching opening monologue tribute to the late comedian. The Larry Sanders Show, Shandling’s masterpiece, is AWESOME. If you haven’t watched it and have the money and the time, buy the DVDs.

Election Numbers Crunching: Democratic Edition

Sometimes it’s hard to say whether the Democratic Party is run by actual donkeys or not. Though to be fair to donkeys, they probably wouldn’t defend the superdelegate system. By Raul654 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday we saw that Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate left with a realistic chance of achieving a majority of delegates before the convention. As complicated as figuring that out was, the Democratic Party’s nomination contest is even more of a mess. Let’s deal with the most confusing aspect right at the top: superdelegates.

First, let’s be clear that superdelegates are an abomination and an affront to democracy. The Democratic Party should be embarrassed that this undemocratic relic still exists. The Democratic National Committee should have disposed of the superdelegate system after 2008, when the Barack Obama – Hillary Clinton contest involved way too much time and energy arguing over what was the proper role of superdelegates. There’s a simple way to end this nonsense and that’s just get rid of it. It is not a good look for a political party claiming to be against plutocracy to be giving plutocrats an opportunity to override the will of the voters. I swear, it seems like DNC officials sit around trying to think of ways to lose elections sometimes.

The superdelegate system, which allows 712 Democratic Party insiders to vote for whomever they want at the convention, accounts for 15% of the 4,763 total delegates. Since a candidate needs 2,382 delegates to win an outright majority, superdelegates could provide as much as 30% of the votes needed to push a preferred candidate over the top.

While it’s unlikely that superdelegates are willing to risk breaking the Democratic Party in two in order to get their preferred candidate on the ballot, their votes would be required to form a majority if a candidate finishes with less than 58.8% of elected delegates. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight wrote a great piece about this in February. Flipping things around, there’s 41.2% – that’s the percentage of elected delegates a candidate could win the nomination with if 100% of superdelegates voted for him or her.

Silver reminded us that superdelegates, wary of going against the will of the voters, are likely to see which way the wind is blowing and support the candidate with a majority of elected delegates. This is exactly what happened in 2008, when Clinton again started the nomination process with a large superdelegate lead only to see that shrink and vanish as Obama won more and more elected delegates.

The nightmare scenario is something like this: Clinton wins 49.9% of elected delegates, Bernie Sanders wins 50.1%, and superdelegates hand the nomination to Clinton. If we thought trying to convince staunch Sanders supporters that the Democratic Party is their natural home was difficult before, wait until the Party Establishment steals the nomination from him!

This all stinks. Now we’re treated to the spectacle of Sanders suggesting he may try to overtake Clinton through superdelegates if he can’t do it with elected delegates. Of course, it was Sanders and his supporters complaining about the superdelegates back in the fall of 2015 when Clinton enjoyed a huge superdelegate lead before a single vote had been cast. Now they may try to use superdelegates to steal the nomination from Clinton! A system that encourages your members to look like a bunch of hypocrites is really not an ideal system.

All that said, it is unlikely that superdelegates will go against the majority of elected delegates. Though it’s clear they overwhelmingly support Clinton, it looks like voters are going to save them from having to boost her from behind Sanders. The race is definitely not over, but Clinton is in good position to achieve a substantial majority of elected delegates. Here’s the math (thanks to FiveThirtyEight):

  • Hillary Clinton has won 1,233 elected delegates, which is 57% of delegates awarded so far. That leaves her 793 shy of a majority of elected delegates and 1,149 shy of a majority of all delegates (elected and superdelegates). To win a majority of elected delegates and claim the will of the Party’s electorate she needs to win 42% of the remaining elected delegates. To win a majority of all delegates without needing a single superdelegate, she needs to win 61% of remaining elected delegates.
  • Bernie Sanders has won 929 elected delegates, which is 43% of delegates awarded so far. That leaves him 1,097 shy of a majority of elected delegates and 1,453 shy of a majority of all delegates. To win a majority of elected delegates and claim the will of the Party’s electorate he needs to win 58% of the remaining elected delegates. To win a majority of all delegates without needing a single superdelegate, he needs to win 77% of remaining elected delegates.

Clinton is not far off the pace she needs to take the superdelegate question off the table entirely, and she is in a commanding position to win a majority of elected delegates. Sanders is way off the pace needed to win the nomination without substantial help from superdelegates, and he’s in a tough but not impossible spot with respect to a majority of elected delegates.

Sanders could still overtake Clinton in elected delegates, but it will be a difficult task. Since the Democratic Party’s nomination process awards delegates proportionally, he’ll have to win 58% of remaining delegates to reach a majority of elected delegates. Clinton has big polling leads in delegate-rich states like New York, California, and Pennsylvania. Even ties in those states would hurt Sanders. Blowing Clinton out like he did in Utah and Idaho helps, but he needs to be more competitive than he’s been so far in populous, diverse states.

Who knows? It could happen, like when Sanders surprised everyone by winning in Michigan. There’s time now for people in the remaining states to digest information and think more critically about how the candidates might match up against a probable Trump candidacy. At the very least, Sanders supporters are making sure he will stay in the race and be in position to demand concessions at the convention in July.

Election Numbers Crunching: Republican Edition

The ghost of Marco Rubio could haunt the campaign trail all the way to the Republican Convention in Cleveland this July. By DonkeyHotey (Marco Rubio – Caricature) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The process through which we Americans nominate candidates for president is extraordinarily complicated, as 2016’s election is making excruciatingly clear. Comprehensive, readable results can be found at Real Clear Politics“Election Central: 2016” page. I’ve put their delegate tables into an Excel spreadsheet in order to analyze the current state of both parties’ contests. Following are the results, which include Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses.

On the Republican side, a candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win an outright majority on the first ballot at the convention. There are 2,472 delegates available; 1,633 delegates have been awarded in contests so far, though one of the millions of reasons this is so complicated is that not all of those are bound to a particular candidate. There are 839 delegates remaining for allocation, which is 34% of the total number of delegates. Now, let’s break down each candidate with significant delegate totals:

  • Donald Trump has won 739 delegates and needs 498 more for a majority, which is 59% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Trump has won 45% of delegates awarded, so he’s actually pretty far off the pace needed to win a majority.
  • Ted Cruz has won 465 delegates and needs 772 more for a majority, which is 92% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Cruz has won 28% of delegates awarded, so he’s way off the pace.
  • John Kasich has won 143 delegates and needs 1,094 more for a majority, which is 130% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Kasich has won 9% of delegates awarded, and he literally cannot achieve a majority on the first ballot at the convention.
  • Marco Rubio has won 166 delegates, which is 10% of the total delegates awarded. He dropped out of the race, but many of his delegates can become unbound depending on the rules of each state. This could be very important, and you can read the details here.

If we assume that Rubio supporters in remaining states will mostly go to Cruz or Kasich, members of the Republican Establishment who want to deny Trump the nomination can spin the above numbers as good news. Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio delegates amount to 47% of the total awarded. If this pace continues, that would be enough to deny Trump a majority. And if that happens, you can talk me into anything happening at the convention: unbound Rubio delegates voting for Trump to push him over the top in order to stop a potential Republican civil war, Cruz and Kasich making a deal to win on the second ballot with Cruz at the top of the ticket, Trump’s campaign manager assaulting and sexually harassing delegates on the convention floor – really, anything.

Now, to rain on the Republican Establishment’s parade for a moment, many of the remaining contests are winner-take-all, which means Trump can get on pace for a majority by taking delegate-rich, winner-take-all states like Wisconsin (42 delegates), Pennsylvania (71 delegates), and California (172 delegates). Trump leads in the most recent polls conducted in each state, but those polls include Rubio and some even include Ben Carson. So, they’re outdated, and the whole thing is such a mess I won’t even hazard a guess about which way those electorates are leaning right now.

Just for fun though, let’s add New York to the mix, which awards 95 delegates proportionally. If Cruz and Kasich don’t break the 20% vote threshold there, they will not win any delegates, meaning Trump could grab all 95 and he’s currently way ahead in the New York polls. If we give Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, and New York to Trump, that’s 380 delegates. That would leave him 118 delegates shy of the majority threshold, which is only 26% of delegates in the other remaining states!

Trump still has a viable path to an outright majority. It may be time for the Republican Party to repay its “nonsense debt” – a phrase coined by Josh Marshall in this piece that explains what’s happening to the Republican Party. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Stay tuned tomorrow for crunching the Democratic Party’s nomination contest numbers.

Is Moderate John Kasich a Moderate if His Proposals are Indistinguishable from Those of Trump and Cruz? An Investigation

If you rearrange the letters in “moderate” you can get “moat deer” and “dream toe.” By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s hear from the man himself. Speaking last month at my alma mater, the University of Virginia, and as noted by The New Yorker‘s Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Ohio Governor John Kasich and candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for president had this to say: “…of course I’m not a moderate, I’ve been a conservative all my life…”

Surely a man who has fewer delegates at the moment than Marco Rubio has got is not worth writing about, one could argue. This is a fair point. Rubio’s campaign perished in the Florida swamps last week, yet he still has the same mathematical chance of achieving a majority of delegates as does Kasich: zero percent, goose egg, nada, the ol’ donut. Hell, you and I have the same chance as Kasich, unless you happen to be Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

Kasich is the last establishment man standing, and as such, his “plan” is to go to the Republican Party’s convention in Cleveland this July and hope that the party decides to self-immolate and hand its nomination to a guy who finished a distant third in delegates. This “plan” can only work if Cruz and Kasich succeed in denying Trump a majority, and it’s far from clear they can do any such thing. If they somehow manage it, AND one of them proceeds to capture the nomination, what are the chances of Trumpolini telling his blackshirts to stand down? The man has already passively aggressively threatened riots if this happens. Since he would need Trump’s voters to win the general election, Kasich almost certainly has no path to the presidency if he acquires the nomination through a brokered convention.

Kasich is worth thinking about, though, because he appeals to voters in a way that would make him a formidable candidate in a general election – again, if he were able to get there without precipitating a Republican civil war. He talks about civility and pragmatism, and claims to be running a campaign on behalf of all Americans. This works in American politics, and it’s scary because it masks an agenda that is indistinguishable from those of his rivals. If we blindfolded a voter, and Trump, Cruz, and Kasich’s platforms were soft drinks poured into three different cups, the voter would be unlikely to tell the difference after tasting each one.

In fairness, Kasich doesn’t want to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, so a Trump voter might spit his soft drink out. And to be fairer still, Kasich seems to support some kind of limited amnesty program for undocumented immigrants, though I cannot find a detailed proposal anywhere. On the candidate’s own website, for example, immigration is not even one of his issues. That seems like a strange oversight for a man seeking the nomination of a party that represents voters incensed over undocumented immigrants. Certainly a man of high character wouldn’t be hiding his views on the very issue his party’s base is most passionate about, would he?

Kasich is at best not terrible on immigration. The same can’t be said of his other policies. In Ohio, he has made life miserable for thousands of women seeking reproductive healthcare services. He wants to do the same for women on a national level if he becomes president.

His federal tax plan, like the one he’s enacted in Ohio, severely cuts taxes for top earners. In Ohio, he shifted the tax burden to the working class through higher sales taxes. He wants to eliminate the estate tax, just like Trump and Cruz.

On climate change, Kasich displays all the courage of his immigration convictions where he acknowledges a human component in climate change but refuses to do anything about it. In fact, he suspended a renewable energy program in Ohio that had saved Ohio consumers $230 million in six years.

On education, Kasich favors giving money to unaccountable, underperforming charter schools at public schools’ expense.

Finally, Kasich’s budget proposal would pay for his tax cuts for the rich and higher defense spending by drastically cutting just about every federal program in existence and devolving their responsibilities to the states through unaccountable block grants that effectively reduce funding available for welfare programs.

As always, it doesn’t matter what’s in a candidate’s heart. Look at his or her policies and his or her record. Due diligence on Kasich proves we should take his word for one thing, at least: he’s no moderate. Let the man wear his religion on his sleeve if he wants to, but make no mistake, he’s another radical conservative whose policies are designed to prove government doesn’t work by destroying it.

An Open Letter to Sanders Supporters

I’d be super happy to vote for this guy, but he’s probably not going to be the nominee. Nick Solari [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Bernie Sanders Supporters,

There are many good reasons to prefer Sanders to Hillary Clinton. He critiques the current system in a way that proves he understands the economic security issues that so frustrate many Americans. A system in which a person can work a forty-hour work week and not get paid anywhere near enough to pay rent (forget about buying a home), buy health insurance, make car and car insurance payments, purchase a cable and internet package for the home, maintain a healthy diet, or save for his or her children’s education without going into perpetual debt is a rotten system indeed. It isn’t fair and it’s terrible and the Democratic nominee for president is almost certainly going to be a person who raked in 10 times the yearly salary of the average person in the bottom 50% of the United States’ income distribution just for delivering a single speech.

The progressive Democrat’s case against Clinton is compelling. She’s never been a trusted friend of labor, her healthcare policy is not nearly as ambitious or as just as Sanders’, same goes for her education policy, and on foreign policy, she still buys into the consensus that brought us the Iraq War and in which Henry f’ing Kissinger is considered a wise elder statesman. She exhibits the same instincts that drove the Left nuts about her husband’s presidency: always looking to appeal to the Reagan Democrat, like she did recently when she inexplicably praised Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s HIV/AIDS epidemic record despite the fact that the Reagan administration’s response to the emerging crisis was to ignore it and make disgusting jokes about gay people. Like going after the vote of some goober in Alabama is her path to the presidency rather than mobilizing the Obama coalition. Let’s not dance around it: Clinton makes it hard sometimes to support and trust her.

The delegate math is what it is; members of the Democratic Party are showing a strong preference for Clinton, although Sanders has made this race much more competitive than most people thought possible just three months ago. Sanders shouldn’t and probably won’t drop out before the convention. He could still win but it’s now extremely unlikely; the fact that he didn’t repeat his Michigan performance in Ohio or Illinois all but closes off his path to the nomination.

Sanders and his supporters should proudly make their voices heard at the convention in Philadelphia this July. Clinton and her supporters cannot ignore the 40% of the Democratic Party’s electorate that prefer the vision of a democratic socialist. And they shouldn’t ignore it. The Clinton campaign needs to combine her message of preserving and strengthening the accomplishments of the Obama era with the more galvanizing appeal for a more just society represented by Sanders. Fairly and sometimes not so fairly, Clinton is viewed as a status quo figure. And in 2016, it’s clear that about half the general electorate is sick and tired of the status quo. Clinton needs the Sanders wing if she wants to transcend the politics-as-usual label.

Make Clinton earn your support, and then vote for her in November. There are huge, fundamental differences between how the Democratic Party would govern and how the Republican Party would govern. If you don’t believe me, take it from Noam Chomsky.

There have been reports that 10% or maybe 30% or who really knows at this point how many Sanders supporters there are who claim they will not support Clinton in the general election under any circumstances. We won’t have a good grasp on this question until if and when Clinton secures the nomination. Some say they want to wage a write-in campaign for Sanders, or sit out the election, or vote for Donald Trump. Any of these options – and especially voting for Trump over the Democratic candidate – is cutting off one’s nose (and ears, and arms, and legs) to spite one’s face.

Many Sanders supporters, and many libertarian types on the Republican side, complain about only having two major parties from which to choose. There is an entire academic literature I’ll get into in a future post about why the American system produces two major parties, with each party comprised of competing but somewhat compatible factions. The short explanation is that we don’t have four or five competitive parties like proportional representation parliamentary systems do because we do not have a proportional representation parliamentary system. Brilliant insight, I know, but it is what it is. This is really the only point over which I lose my patience with Sanders supporters and libertarians. They talk about the need for more competitive parties but they are ignorant of which they speak.

Unfortunately, I’m well aware that “vote for the lesser of two evils” is not an inspiring message. But if you stop for a minute and think about the differences between the Democratic and Republican parties rather than your (justified!) grievances against Clinton, you will see that the choice between them is no choice at all. Maybe there are some voters out there that want to criminalize all abortions but also want strict environmental regulations, or think the federal government should have no role in providing universal education but should maintain Social Security, or think that single-payer healthcare is a good idea but we should have extremely low or no income taxes, or think that LGBT people should have the right to marry whomever they want but we should ban Muslims from entering the country. If these voters exist then they definitely don’t have a party that reflects their positions.

I’ll wager free subscriptions to this blog that Sanders supporters hold all or most of the following positions: equal access to reproductive health services across the country for women and their families, effective environmental regulations that take climate change seriously, universal education, strong Social Security, truly universal healthcare, appropriate income tax levels to maintain the government services demanded, a universal right to marry whomever they want, and a just immigration policy. That would make them Democrats.

As explained previously, I know what I’m talking about here because I was that special voter whose vote was as pure as the driven snow back in 2000. Since I was living in Virginia, my Ralph Nader vote didn’t cost Al Gore the election. But if I’d been living in Florida I would have been one of the 97,488 voters there that essentially handed the election to George W. Bush. I regret that vote to this day, and I guarantee you that if you sit out the election, or write in a candidate not on the ballot, or God forbid, vote for the Republican, and the Republican wins, you will regret your vote, too.


Steve Frediani

Requiem for a Rubiobot

Turns out Rubio’s candidacy was the joke. Sad! By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Give Jeb Bush credit for something. He saw the writing on the wall and got the hell out before his home state of Florida could make a fool of him. Another Florida man, Marco Rubio, was not so wise. He and his media enablers blundered on in the vain hope that Rubio’s “accomplishments” and “moderation” might prevail, at least in his home state. Winning in Florida would give Rubio his rationale for staying in the race until the convention where he could try to steal the nomination if Donald Trump hadn’t secured an outright majority of delegates.

Instead, Rubio finished a distant second to Trump. The latter won all of Florida’s delegates with a plurality of the vote since the state’s Republican Party had decided to make it a winner-take-all contest. Now, Rubio has decided to drop out of the race. His campaign will go down as a textbook case of how not to win a major party’s nomination.

Rubio is the second emptiest suit in American politics (Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has a lock on the emptiest suit title). Some have tried to compare him to Barack Obama, another person who ran for president while a first-term senator, claiming that Democrats can’t have it both ways when they point to Rubio’s lack of experience and accomplishments. Maybe that’s fair, but then it’s fair to point out that Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review and Rubio had a 2.1 GPA in high school. I wasn’t the greatest high school student either, but I’m not a big enough idiot to think I’m qualified to be president of the United States.

Rubio’s demise is good news for Democrats and the people whom were burned by Rubio’s rising star. While barely different from any of the other Republicans running for president in policy terms, and worse on some like a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body and foreign policy, Rubio scared Democrats. He seemed poised to take advantage of the same playbook that Karl Rove used to run George W. Bush into the White House. Americans have a vague, not altogether unreasonable sense that the two major parties ought to alternate running the executive branch. Rubio’s empty suit was ready to be filled with the same compassionate conservative, uniter-not-divider nonsense that sold Americans on Bush, who proved to be a budget-destroying warmonger and generally incompetent president. Handing over the keys to Republicans in 2016 would be the same mistake the country made back in 2000.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s elections couldn’t have gone better for Trump. The Los Angeles Times has a readable compilation of the results. Trump won in Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina. Missouri is too close to call at the moment but he’s leading there. Though Trump lost in Ohio, John Kasich’s win there is actually a strategic victory for Trump, as election numbers crunching guru Sam Wang explains at The American Prospect. In fact, as matters stand now, Trump winning three and probably four out of the five contests, Kasich winning the one in Ohio, and Rubio dropping out is the best possible outcome for Trump. The vote-splitting strategy that Mitt Romney and other GOP establishment types have advocated in order to deny Trump an outright majority of delegates suffers greatly from an unviable Rubio candidacy.

It is certainly Trump’s nomination to lose now. Perhaps the only line of attack left to Republicans is to point out that Trump likes his steaks well done.