What are the chances—really—that Donald Trump will become the GOP nominee? If he falters, is Ted Cruz the likely beneficiary, or does Marco Rubio (or some other candidate) have the stuff to edge Cruz out? Can any of these Republican candidates, given the tough demographic and electoral math facing the GOP, really hope to beat Hillary Clinton—presuming she becomes the Democratic nominee (and how sure are we of that)? Even if a Democrat does win, can she (or he) hope to make any progress legislatively if, as seems likely, Republicans retain control of at least the House? And if a Republican does win the presidency—and in such a scenario, GOP control of both houses of Congress is virtually assured—have we given remotely enough thought to what that will mean, in terms of policy consequences, for the future of the country and the world?
These are just a few of the questions facing us as we officially enter the 2016 election year. Anyone reading this can probably think of dozens of others. I don’t know that it’s fair to say that this is the most consequential election in recent history (the 2000 race aguably takes that prize, though ironically nobody thought so at the time). But I do think it is the most perplexing and bizarre. Every election reveals new rules about American politics based on changes in the underlying realities of American society. But in this cycle, the speed with which the rules are changing, and the nature of those changes, is more dizzying and disconcerting that any in my adult lifetime.
There is just no way to predict, with any certainty, how this will all play out. Anyone who says they know is a fool. The best we can realistically do is assess the evidence as it presents itself—be that new polls, changing aggregate polling, debates performances, ground game estimates, self-reinforcing media narratives, the latest economic data, the candidates’ actual policy announcements, and “events, dear boy.”
There are plenty of media outlets that offer day-by-day, hour-by-hour political news. But there aren’t many that offer such a steady stream of shrewd analysis of both the tick-tock of politics and the underlying policies (and policy consequences) as you will find at the Washington Monthly. (And let’s face it, a lot of the other first rate analysis out there is by people who used to work here.)
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