Think you know all the ways the GOP can stop Trump? Ya don’t…

With everyone’s favorite about to be contested convention right around the corner, the mob of political pundits has already started opining on the different ways the Republicans could still stop Donald Trump from becoming their candidate.

But only here will you find BOTH ways they can pull this off. It ain’t pretty, it ain’t right, but hey..it’s politics!

Part One: So, there are these weird little critters called Delegates

 

Part Two: So, there are these weird little critters called The Rules Committee

CBS Segment – Sanders Narrows Race With Clinton

Aired 3/28/16

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Intro: With big wins for Bernie Sanders over the weekend, the Democratic race for president narrowed a bit. With more on what this means for the race and for California is KPIX political analyst Melissa Caen.

Melissa: You know who had a better weekend than Batman AND Superman, Bernie Sanders! He won huge margins in all three elections on Saturday. And this momentum is going to be very, very good for his fundraising. To be clear, he has not closed the gap with Hillary Clinton. She is still 268 elected delegates ahead ahead of him, so he is going to need big victories basically from here on out to win the nomination. That, of course, includes California! For Democrats, California has 475 delegates. That means our election in June could be the decider if this race keeps getting tighter.

Question: If that were to happen, how is California leaning?

Melissa: Well, we do have a poll. The Public Policy Institute of California – the PPIC – released findings last week that showed Hillary Clinton with the support of 48 percent of likely Democratic voters and Bernie Sanders with 41 percent. But while Clinton is the lead, 48 percent is surprisingly low. In 2008, she actually won California, beating Barack Obama with 51 percent of the vote. This new poll suggests a bit of a decline in support for her here and a close race with Sanders. It could be a real nail biter on the Democratic side come June.

Question: What about the Republican side? What did the poll say about who California Republicans like?

Melissa: While California could be crucial for Democrats, and I’m here to tell you that California WILL be decisive for Republicans. I’ve been saying this since September and it is coming true. Trump’s support is at about 39 percent overall. If he wins every single primary from here on out with that 39 percent support, he will not have the delegates to win without California. He going to have to win some here.

And it looks like he will. We have two recent polls on Republicans in California. That PPIC poll I just mentioned has Trump at 38 and Cruz at 27 percent. Another poll by the LA Times shows Trump with a smaller lead with 37 percent to Cruz at 30 percent. Either way Trump has the most Republican support so far.

Question: It seems like this election continue to get more and more attention in other countries. What are you seeing?

Melissa: There has been so much international attention on this election. Folks in other countries are watching what our candidates are saying about immigration, about the Brussels bombing and about Muslims in general. Just this weekend, some people in Mexico burned the likeness of Donald Trump. There is an Easter tradition in Mexico called “the burning of Judas” where replicas of despised politicians are burned. This year, the target of choice was Donald Trump. So, lots of international attention. But the most important country in this election is likely to be the People’s Republic of California.

CBS Segment – GOP Plots Against Trump

Aired 3/21/16

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Intro: Another round of presidential elections is set for tomorrow and forces are lining up to oppose Donald Trump. With what to expect and how the House of Representatives could choose our next President is KPIX Political Analyst Melissa Caen.

Melissa: So much to talk about this morning! Let’s start with the elections tomorrow. Utah and Arizona are holding their elections for both parties and Democrats in Idaho are voting for their nominee.

For Republicans, Arizona is a winner take all state. Trump is expected to win there and get all 58 Arizona delegates. In Utah, polls show Ted Cruz winning. Utah has 40 delegates and will award them proportionally unless someone wins more than 50 percent of hte vote.  So, we’ll see how that one goes.

After tomorrow – so starting Wednesday – we get a sort of break from all this. The next primary election is on April 5. So are we all just gonna chill it out? Of course not. During that little break there is reportedly going to be a lot of anti-Trump maneuvering. The New York Times is reporting that Trump opponents have been holding what they call “war councils” to figure out how to stop Trump. Opponents say they plan to run ads in the remaining states. If that fails, they are also considering a third party challenge to Trump.

Question: Wouldn’t a second Republican in the race just split up Republicans and make the Democrat the winner?

Answer: Maybe. But a non-Trump Republican could also be the winner. Here’s how: to be the President, you have to win a majority of the electoral college votes. You can’t just do better than anyone else, you need a majority of electoral votes. Let’s assume Clinton is the Democratic nominee, that Trump is the Republican nominee, and that Mitt Romney is a third party candidate. If these three candidates split the vote and none of them get that majority, then  the House of Representatives decides who is President. That’s right. The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans – gets to elect the President. And if you’re Mitt Romney in this scenario, you have a very good chance of being elected. And that is how a Republican establishment candidate could become President even if Trump is the party nominee. Congress.

Question: Could the House of Representatives pick anyone? Could they pick someone who didn’t run for President?

Answer: No. The House could only pick one of 3 candidates who got the most electoral college votes. So, they couldn’t pick a random person. They have to pick one of the actual candidates who is a top 3 finisher.

Question: Who are some of the Republicans who could be that third party candidate?

Answer:  It’s early, but the New York Times reports that former candidate Rick Perry could be the one. Also, former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn is being discussed. Other names like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and even John Kasich are bound to be in the mix as well.

So, we are about to have a break between elections, but the bombs will keep dropping, the rallies will keep happening and the chess pieces will keep moving. And we will keep you informed.

CBS Segment – Violence At Trump Rallies

Aired 3/14/16

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Intro: Recent skirmishes at rallies for presidential candidate Donald
Trump have added another dimension to an already historic campaign
season. With more on what this means for the race for the presidency
is KPIX political analyst Melissa Caen.

Melissa: It’s hard to believe, but this race is getting even more
bananas. We often use aggressive words to talk about politics –
candidates beating each other or fighting over an issue, but recently
Donald Trump’s events have involved actual fighting. Just this past
weekend, a Trump event in Chicago, Illinois had to be canceled and in
Ohio a protester rushed the stage where Trump was speaking, causing
the secret service to jump into action. Trump is now blaming Bernie
Sanders for this, saying that Sanders is sending supporters to the
Trump rallies. Sanders denies this, but the finger pointing goes round
and round. The big question is: does it matter to voters? Will Trump
gain or lose popularity as a result? The answer might be yes and yes.

We haven’t seen any polls conducted after the big Friday night fight
at at Trump rally in Chicago, but over the weekend we did have a
couple of small elections and Trump came in third. He finished behind
Cruz and Rubio in Wyoming and behind Rubio and Kasich in Washington,
D.C. These could signal that people are turning away from Trump,
although to be fair, Trump was never going to win in Washington, D.C.

In any event, we’ll find out tomorrow whether Trump will continue to
march on as the frontrunner. He’s less than 100 delegates ahead of
Cruz, but tomorrow is when we first see those winner take all
elections where the candidate with the most votes gets all the
delegates. That’s where Trump can pull way ahead, or if he loses,
could really be slowed down.

Question: Up to now, the elections have awarded delegates
proportionally. Why all of a sudden are we seeing these winner take
all elections?

Answer: Democrats award all delegates proportionally, so there will be
no winner take all elections for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Winner take all is strictly a Republican thing. According to
Republican party rules, there could not be winner take all elections
before March 15. So tomorrow is the first day that a winner take all
election is even possible.

Tomorrow, the two winner take all states are Ohio and Florida. Now,
Ohio and Florida didn’t used to be winner take all. Republicans in
both states actually changed their rules to be winner take all for
this election because they each wanted to be able to give all their
delegates to the hometown candidates. Which in Ohio is Governor John
Kasich and in Florida, we had Jeb Bush and still have Marco Rubio. The
idea was to give your guy all the delegates. Now that Trump is polling
well in both states, Republicans may regret making that rules change.

Question: What does it look like for tomorrow’s elections? Who is
projected to win?

Answer: Clinton is polling way ahead of Sanders in North Carolina and
Florida, and is a bit ahead the other three midwestern states – Ohio,
Illinois and Missouri. A Sanders upset is certainly possible in those
three states. Remember that Sanders pulled out a surprise win in
Michigan last week, he’s hoping to do that again in another nearby
state. On the Republican side, polls show Trump winning Florida,
Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. He may lose Ohio to John Kasich
– recent polls show the two are very close. But Ohio appears to be the
only state really in play. This is based on polls taken prior to the
recent violence at his rallies so we’ll see whether they will change
the tide of this election.

CBS Segment – Kansas and Maine Primaries

Aired 4/7/16

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Intro: There were several presidential primary elections over the
weekend and more are scheduled for tomorrow. With more on what
happened and what will happen is political analyst Melissa Caen.

Melissa: It’s good to be Ted Cruz this morning. I’m trying to picture
him dancing. He had an amazing weekend. He surprised a lot of people
by winning in Kansas and Maine. And he didn’t just win, he won BIG.
States are still awarding delegates on a proportional basis right now
so the more distance you can put between yourself and your closest
challenger, the better. This weekend, Cruz beat Trump by 13 points in
Maine and by 25 points in Kansas. And, while Cruz lost to Trump in
Kentucky and Louisiana, he kept it close, Cruz only lost to Trump by
about 4 points in each state. The net effect is that Cruz is only
behind Trump by 88 delegate votes.

Question: Where are Marco Rubio in all this?

Answer: Marco Rubio has a tough weekend. He came in third behind Cruz
and Trump in every state except for Maine, where he came in fourth
place behind John Kasich. In fact, Rubio did so poorly in Maine that
he didn’t get any delegates. In light of Cruz’ victories, both Cruz
and Trump are loudly calling on Rubio to get out of the race. The one
bright spot for Rubio was a big win for him in Puerto Rico on Sunday
where he trounced Trump and Cruz by more than 50 points and took all
23 of Puerto Rico’s delegates. Still, Puerto Rico and Minnesota are
his only two wins so far.

Question: What happened with the Democrats?

Answer: Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in Kansas, Nebraska and
Maine. This was somewhat expected because these are less diverse
states. The Clinton team focused on Louisiana where she beat Sanders
by more than 40 points. All in all, for Democrats, the elections went
as anticipated, and I’m sure Sanders is thrilled and looking forward
to the fundraising that comes with a cluster of wins. So, good weekend
for him, too.

Question: We’ve got some more action happening this week.

Answer: Tomorrow we’ve got 4 Republican elections – Hawaii, Idaho,
Michigan and Mississippi. The ones to watch are Idaho and Michigan. In
each of those states, if a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the
vote, they get all the delegates. So, it’s not winner take all – it’s
a super winner take all. Cruz, Rubio and Kasich are going to be
fighting to make sure Trump doesn’t cross that 50 percent mark and get
all those delegates. In general, polls show Trump leading in Michigan
and Mississippi. We don’t have public polls for Hawaii and Idaho, so
we’ll all have to wait and see.

For Democrats, Tuesday’s elections are in Michigan and Mississippi.
Hillary Clinton is expected to win in both states, which should get
some momentum back into her campaign after those losses to Sanders
over the weekend.

So that’s Tuesday, also, this Thursday, March 10 is a Republican
debate. As you know, they have been getting increasingly combative so
this one promises to be a doosie.

CBS Segment – South Carolina and Nevada

Aired 2/22/16

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Intro: Over the weekend, South Carolina Republicans and Nevada
Democrats weighed in on the presidential nominations with Donald Trump
and Hillary Clinton coming out on top. With more on what to make of
the elections is KPIX political analyst Melissa Caen. Melissa, let’s
start with the Democrats. How important was this won for Clinton?

Melissa: You better believe that on Saturday night, Hillary Clinton
was celebrating – with a sensible beverage I’m sure. And while she
would have preferred to beat Sanders by more than 5 percent, a win is
a win and she needed it. Her campaign had consistently said that Iowa
and New Hampshire would be dicey for her but hang on everybody because
starting with Nevada, she would pull ahead. Having made that promise,
Clinton really needed that win in Nevada.

One big reason Clinton won in Nevada is because she does well among
black and hispanic voters. Sanders has struggled to appeal to those
minority voters and it is one of the reasons he is predicted to lose
in South Carolina. The Democratic party primary in South Carolina is
this coming Saturday and Clinton is predicted to beat Sanders by more
than 20 points, so when all is said and done, she’s going to have a
very good week.

Question: Big weekend on the Republican side, Trump won in South
Carolina and Jeb Bush dropped out. What does that mean for the race?

Answer: Polls had predicted a Tump win, but there was still some hope
that a silent majority would show up and prevent it. Clearly that did
not happen. There is no block of mystery voters who are going to stop
Trump. He could actually be the Republican nominee. This created a lot
of pressure for lower performing candidates like Jeb Bush, Ben Carson
and John Kasich to get out of the race. That’s one reason Bush got out
so quickly. Also, you got the feeling he wanted to get out of the
race. I watched his speech and I swear he was smiling.

Carson and Kasich have both said they are in it for the long haul, but
if they don’t do well in Nevada, it’s going to be much harder for them
to justify continuing to run.

Question: What’s next for the candidates?

Melissa: For the Democrats, this coming Saturday is the democratic
party primary in South Carolina. For Republicans, tomorrow is the
Nevada caucuses – Trump is expected to win that –  but I’ll tell you
that Nevada Republicans do not have a history of running a tight ship.
There is serious potential of a fiasco on Tuesday, which we’ll be
watching. Then on Thursday there is a Republican debate, which we will
also be watching. Never a dull moment in primary season!

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CBS Segment – Scalia Death

Aired 2/15/16

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Intro: The recent death of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has
sent shockwaves through the political world. With more on how this
will impact the election and where the court goes from here is KPIX
political analyst Melissa Caen.

Melissa: Scalia was really one of a kind. For example, he liked to use
these really vivid insults in his opinions – he’d call opposing
arguments things like: ”tutti-frutti” “argle-bargle” and
“jiggery-pokery.” Love him or hate him, his rulings were fascinating.

When he died this past weekend, he was 79 and seemed healthy so his
death was really a surprise. There is no replacement waiting.
President Obama has said that he is going to nominate someone and
whomever he picks has to be approved by the Senate, which is
controlled by Republicans. Republicans leaders are already saying they
are not going to approve anyone nominated by Obama. So, the President
is going to pick someone and Senate Republicans will say no – and we
get to watch this dance until there is a new President, or a new
Senate or both.

Question: How does this impact the Presidential race?

Answer: If you can believe it, it’s going to get even crazier. In a
presidential election, the prospect of appointing a Supreme Court
justice is always out there in the abstract, but now it’s a real
thing. Candidates will have to name names and say would they would
appoint and why. So, while President Obama’s actual nominee is being
vetted in the Senate, the public will also be checking out the
candidate’s nominees. This is a whole huge new issue to fight about.

Look for Obama to nominate someone that voters will like – maybe a
woman or minority, maybe someone from an important swing state – so
that when Republicans in the Senate block that person, Hillary Clinton
and Bernie Sanders can really use that as a bludgeon against the
Republican candidates.

Question:  What happens at the Supreme Court in the meantime?

Answer: The first thing to know is: 8 is enough! (I’m sorry, I
couldn’t resist) But it is. With 4 or 5 months left in this Supreme
Court session the 8 justices who are still on the court can decide all
the remaining cases. *OR* they could put aside some case and once
there’s that ninth justice, re-do the whole thing. In the coming
weeks, we will find out what the 8 justices plan to do with all those
cases.

Question: What are some of the cases that need to be decided?

Answer: Right now, the Court is sitting on some big cases about topics
such as abortion rights, immigration and one from California that
could negatively impact public employee unions. These cases look like
good candidates for that punt until we get a new justice – probably
next year. Stay tuned. If you didn’t think the election was important
before, the stakes just got much higher.

How To Beat Trump? Everyone Stay In!

Carson, Cruz, Kasich and Rubio Should All Stay In The Race.

Honestly, some days I think no one has faith in our undemocratic institutions anymore. All this pearl-clutching over a possible Trump nomination severely underestimates the tyranny of our political parties. Since the early 1800’s, political parties have controlled the presidential nominating process, giving us two options like a parent giving a kid the “choice” between spinach or brussel sprouts. The fact that we even get to vote in the primaries at all is a gift so graciously bestowed upon us by Mom and Dad so we won’t throw a fit. (See the 1968 Democratic Convention.) Want proof? This year Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming aren’t even having an election – neither a primary nor a caucus – because the state parties decided against it. “Aren’t they disenfranchising people?,” asked my husband. He’s adorable.The party giveth and the party taketh away.

Bernie Sanders supporters, many of whom are getting their first whiff of primary politics, are also learning that it smells like Team Spirit. Team Democratic Party Spirit, that is – with the extra scent of 717 superdelegates to guard against Sanders. But the Republican presidential primary process has it’s own baked in way of keeping things under control when voters get out of hand. You just wait till your Father gets home.

Because far away from all the lights and cameras of primary or caucus day, an army is forming and it is stronger than voters, stronger than Trump, stronger than democracy. It is the army of delegates. GOP All That You Can GOP!

You may be thinking that the hearts and minds of delegates don’t matter because they are simply flesh envelopes who contain the votes mandated by primary or caucus election results to the convention. It is true that drinking, backslapping and voting (in that order) are often the extent of delegates’ official duties. But this year, Trump threatens to drain the party patience pond, revealing on the muddy floor a weapon that has heretofore been unused.

Here is how it works: if no single candidate gets a majority of the delegate votes in the first round of voting, about a thousand delegates are unbound and free start voting however they want. After two rounds of fruitless voting, another 500 delegates are unbound. Remember that only 1237 delegates are needed to win.

Yes, all the delegates that voters thought they were sending to vote for Donald Trump are now eating steak with Ted Cruz and flirting with Marco Rubio because after a single juggernaut, delegates are running the asylum. What happens then? Anything. Including an anyone-but-Trump block that coalesces around another person like Marco Rubio. Or Paul Ryan. Or Beyonce. “Okay delegates, let’s get in formation!” (The nominee need not have been on any primary ballot.)

So listen up all candidates not named Donald Trump! To win, you gotta do two things: first, keep Trump from getting a majority of delegates before the convention so the first round of voting is a bust. It won’t be easy. He’s killing y’all in pretty much every state. Sad. The best way to do that right now is to keep splitting up the votes. If Carson drops out, some of his votes will go to Rubio and Cruz, but some could go to Trump, too. Same with any other candidate. Let’s be honest, neither Cruz or Rubio is going to drop out, Carson is doubling down and even Kasich has said he ain’t leaving before he gets a bag of Ohio delegates on March 15. The dream of a majority coalescing around one non-Trump candidate is over for now – it has moved to the convention.

Right now Trump has a 30%-35% ceiling, giving him more voters can push him past 50% in some places. In 17 states (plus Puerto Rico) the delegates are distributed proportionally unless one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. In these elections, if one candidate gets a majority, they get the whole enchildelegates.  Trump has 82 delegate votes now, and needs 1155 to win in the first round at the convention. About 790 delegates are left to be awarded to candidates with a majority of the vote, so keeping him under that 50% threshold is key (and about as good as it gets since winning outright is proving elusive).

Second, you have to make sure that your supporters are the delegates so that when they are finally free from the shackles of representation, they can vote for you. In some states, the Republican presidential candidates themselves get to pick or approve delegates, but those loyalists number less than 600. The rest are not. About 200 delegates are party officials or picked by party officials. The other 1700 or so delegates are elected at local or state conventions. Who are these convention electeds? Usually, they are party officers, people who volunteer for the party and people who donate money to the party.(Generally speaking: Trump’s despised “establishment.”) Barring a quirk of local law, delegates are not elected at conventions to “match” the candidate they will be voting for. Conventions are popularity contests. For example, in 2012, Mitt Romney won the Massachusetts primary but then 16 Ron Paul supporters got themselves elected to be delegates. Much like Clint Eastwood’s speech, it was weird and  embarrassing for Romney, but it illustrates the potential for disconnect between the candidate chosen by voters and personal desires of the delegates.

Trump’s troops are rumored to be less than strategically organized to mobilize delegates. For the other candidates, then, there is a perfect opportunity to show your preparedness to be Commander in Chief by deploying your campaign boots (or sensible walking shoes) on the ground in every district, county, local and state convention in the 44 states that elect all or some of their delegates at conventions.

Trump talks a lot about building a wall on the border with Mexico. But, with a little elbow grease by the candidates, GOP delegates can create the Great Wall of Cleveland.  

CBS Segment – Democratic Debate

Aired 1/18/16

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Intro: Last night the democratic candidates for president faced on in
a debate in South Carolina. Political analyst Melissa Caen is here to
walk us through what happened.

Melissa: My husband missed the debate and came home after it was over
and his first question was, “Did anything amazing happen?” And I think
that’s a question a lot of people have. And the answer is, “No.
Nothing amazing happened.” Nothing earth-shattering or game-changing
happened. Which isn’t to say the debate was bad; it was quite good. In
fact it might have been Bernie Sanders’ best performance so far, he
spoke for the most amount of time and a lot of the conversation among
all the candidates was about Sanders and his policies. So, it was a
good night for Bernie Sanders. But Hillary Clinton, as usual, was also
very strong debater and Martin O’Malley gave one of his best debate
performances as well. So, overall, I doubt that the landscape of this
race is going to change. You’ve still got Clinton and Sanders both
duking it out for first place and O’Malley in a distant third.

One of the reasons the debate will not have much impact is because,
let’s face it, not many people watched. It was on Sunday night of a
holiday weekend. Also, Rambo part 3 was on channel 49 at the same
time. It was a hard choice for a lot of people.

And it’s too bad, because this was the LAST DEBATE before the Iowa
caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. So many undecided hearts and
minds really needed to see this.

Question: In the weeks before the debate, Sanders and Clinton were
really going after each other. Did they do that on the stage last
night?

Melissa: No, they did not. There were some sharp exchanges, but they
were pretty cordial to each other on stage. As a seventh grader might
say, neither candidate could “say it to my face.”

In fact, at one point Sanders was asked about Bill Clinton’s dicey
personal history and Sanders got annoyed with the moderator and said
he wants to debate Hillary Clinton on the issues and not on Bill
Clinton’s personal behavior. So, not as combative as some people
expected.

Question: What were the main issues they debated?

Melissa: The three main issues were: guns, Wall Street and healthcare.
And it was really a debate over degrees. How much should we regulate
guns, how much should we regulate Wall Street and how far should we go
in providing healthcare. So it wasn’t whether to do these things, it
was how. On these and other issues, Clinton portrayed herself as
Obama’s friend and successor. As a realist who can get things done. In
contrast, Sanders said he wants a revolution – he repeatedly used that
word revolution – in American politics. So, to some degree, voters
have a pretty clear choice.

Before we go – word on Martin O’Malley. Bless his heart. He tried so
hard to get a word in last night. He got less than half the speaking
time that Clinton and Sanders got. They got about 28 minutes and he
got 13. he did well with the time the he had, and some folks on
Twitter felt like the moderators were not being fair to him. We will
see whether he does well enough in Iowa and New Hampshire to be on
debate stage again on February 11. Mark your calendars!