Friday, 8 July 2016

Election Update #8: The Race Right Now

Republicans

After all of his opponents dropped out, Donald Trump cruised through the primaries. Most Republicans unified behind him, though not enthusiastically. Still, many notable Republicans like George Bush (former pres.), Lindsey Graham, and Mitt Romney (2012 Rep. nominee) still do not support him. This has not affected Republican voters much. As these voters fell into line supporting Trump, his poll numbers surged, tying him with (almost definite) Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. 

However, Trump damaged this himself when he made comments about a judge. In a case, students of Trump University (not an actual school) are using Mr.Trump for fraud. They paid thousands of dollars, and only received a short seminar that was not taught by Trump. Come on! It's in the name! In the case, judge Gonzalo Curiel did not throw out the case, and Trump lashed out saying the the judge's Mexican heritage makes him biased against Trump. For maybe the first time, the controversial attack stuck to Trump, maybe because he was directly insulting an American citizen on race. The Republican speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, called Trump's comments "textbook racism" even though Mr.Ryan himself continues to endorse Trump. This drew strong criticism and eroded his support.

Later, Trump came under strong criticism for...a tweet. Again. He published a meme of Hillary Clinton calling her the most corrupt candidate ever over the background of dollar bills, with a five-pointed Holocaust star. His campaign quickly deleted the tweet and replaced the star with a circle, but it was too late. Media outlets discovered the image came from a neo-nazi message board. And no, this isn't even the first time Trump has retweeted neo-nazis. Trump brushed off the comments as nonsense saying that he only retweeted it and that it was only a sheriff's star.

This further decreased Trump's supported, and Hillary went from being tied him to being (in a RealClearPolitics poll average) almost five points ahead of him.

Democrats

Hillary Clinton swept the northeast, dealing a blow to Bernie's campaign. He had a very small chance of winning, if he won the largest state in the country, California by a landslide. However, Hillary Clinton won California by around 12%, and the race became effectively over. With her superdelegates, Hillary Clinton had the necessary number of delegates to be the nominee. Despite it being mathematically impossible for Bernie to win normally, there was still one thing hanging over the entire race: Hillary Clinton's email investigation. Hillary Clinton had used a relatively unsecured private email server and mishandled classified email while Hillary was the secretary of state. If the FBI did their investigation and concluded that Hillary would need to have a trial, as directed by the Department of Justice, Hillary would be part of a criminal investigation in the middle of the election, which would be a sure disaster for the Democrats. The superdelegates would almost surely decide to support Bernie, as Hillary would be a very risky candidate to send into the election against Trump.

This issue came to a head this week. An closed-door meeting between Loretta Lynch, the attorney general who may have to investigate Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton took place in Pheonix. This sparked a flurry of suspicion for obvious reasons. Loretta Lynch and Bill said that they were just talking about their grandchildren and other personal things, but personally it seemed odd that Bill and Lynch were on such friendly terms, and that they didn't allow anyone to record their conversation. Both admitted that even though the meeting was innocuous, it was a mistake just because of the appearance it created. 

Only day before yesterday, the FBI director James Comey shocked the political world by unexpectedly announcing the outcome of his department's investigation - cleared. He recommended to the Justice Department not to prosecute because there was no intent shown. He said that Hillary had been extremely careless with classified information and clearly broke rules, but did not mean to. However, in other similar cases government officials were punished simply for being careless - they did not necessarily have to show intent. 

The next day, the head of the Justice Department Loretta Lynch announced that she would follow James Comey's recommendation, finally slamming the door on the investigation. The Hillary Clinton campaign must be relieved to move past the issue. However, Donald Trump took to Twitter, saying that Hillary clearly broke the rules and that the system is rigged. He hopes to not let the issue be forgotten by the public. The Republicans hope to keep the issue in the public eye as well. They called a hearing the day after the final results to interrogate James Comey and determine if he and the investigation was fair. The Democrats speaking pointed out that the Republicans probably wouldn't have called the hearing if the investigation got the result they wanted. This hearing reminded political observers that while the investigation is over for good, the Comey's conclusions about Hillary's recklessness will undoubtedly be used in attack ads. In one particularly cringe-worthy moment for the Democrats, James Comey admitted that the email server Hillary set up containing very important government secrets was less secure than a Gmail account, and much less secure than a corporate email server.

This result essentially ended Bernie's chances. However, he will not endorse Hillary Clinton until some of his demands are met. These demands include making the Democratic Party platform (a document that describes what policies it will fight for) more progressive. On clear effect of this is Hillary's announcement that she now supports tutition-free state college for families that make less than $125,000. This is closer to Bernie's plan, which was tuition-free college for everyone.

The Conventions

In less than two weeks, both the Democratic National Party and the Republican National Party will hold their conventions. In each one, the most important party members will meet, give speeches, and decide for sure who their nominees will be

In the Republican convention in Cleveland, there is likely to be unrest. Many party members still oppose Trump. Some delegates (people who decide the nominee) attending the convention are planning a "coup" where they stop Donald Trump from becoming the nominee. The city is bracing for possibly violent protests. After all, these have accompanied Trump rallies across the country and this is where Trump is about to officially become the
nominee for president. As for Trump himself, he had promised to make this convention more exciting. Trump is know to be a showman who is good at attracting attention, so people are expecting something big. He is looking into hiring sports stars to speak, and will announce the list of speakers soon.

In the Democratic convention in Philidelphia, things are not likely to be much better. Hillary is nowhere near as controversial as Donald Trump, and her rallies are rarely accompanied by protests. However, Bernie supporters and progressive groups have been preparing massive protests in Philadelphia. They saw the primaries as being unfairly tilted towards Hillary, the establishment's preferred candidate, and at least want to see her embrace some of Bernie's policies. The housesharing app used by people attending the convention, BernieBNB, has been overwhelmed with demand. 

The party conventions are important for two main reasons. First, a peaceful convention shows that the party is united behind their presidential candidates. Violent conventions have led to the party failing in the general elections, which is why both parties try to project unity. Second, the speakers at the conventions often gain prominence. In 2004, a little-known state senator (local official from Illinois) gave a speech about hope, optimism, and unity. His name was Barack Obama, and the speech catapulted him to fame and he ran for president in 2008 despite being a first-term senator. 

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