It started as a virtual political zoo with every kind of politician that any voter could imagine. Republicans, fielding 17 candidates, expected a political free-for-all akin to a professional wrestling battle royal. Democrats with only four candidates expected little more than a coronation of their nominee in July on the way to the White House in November.
Out of the box, The Evans Report predicted that the compressed schedule, combined with the large number of candidates and an angry electorate, would produce unexpected results including, possibly, the first contested or brokered convention in modern times. Indeed, The Evans Report was so bold as to place the odds of a contested or brokered convention at one in three.
Consultants and insiders scoffed at such a prediction because the “money” always coalesces around a single candidate in the end, making it impossible for other candidates to sustain the fight all the way to the convention. Of course, they overlooked a self-funder like Donald Trump and a virtual campaign donation machine like the one created by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Make no mistake, this has been a rough and tumble presidential primary process. Contributing to this shakeup has been the dramatic change from the old schools of political power brokers and powerful incumbent politicians dictating to delegates (who have had little information and less connectivity), to primary-driven pledged delegates with instant access to copious amounts of data.
But an equally big part of this change has been general recognition by voters in both parties that Washington politicians and power brokers have become more of the problem than the solution. And voters have had enough! To show just how out of touch political prognosticators had become, no recognized pollster, pundit, political reporter, or politician predicted Trump would surge to lead the GOP pack or that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be unable to shake a socialist Democrat from Vermont. In fact, all predicted the opposite. Traditional thinkers had one of the well-funded Super Pac-backed Republicans emerging to seize the moment and Clinton putting the Democratic primary away early. Of course, neither materialized. Instead, the almost unthinkable happened.
Trump dominated the Republican field using social media and the newly RNC-sanctioned debates as conveniently scheduled forums to systematically swat out lesser candidates and narrow the field. And the Democratic National Committee’s strategy of fewer debates to protect the presumed nominee Clinton served only to fuel the flames of disgruntled Democratic voters who wanted to be heard. But by Super SEC Tuesday on March 1, 2016, nothing was going according to plan for the insiders or the political parties. Instead, voters were increasingly taking over the process and insiders who had survived and thrived under the traditional notions of how presidential candidates got picked suddenly found themselves sitting on the sidelines.
Admittedly, a few commentators (like The Evans Report) took some delight as those who had pooh-poohed a brokered or contested convention were suddenly studying ways to create one as a way to survive. But, of course, one out of three chances of a brokered or contested convention means that the more likely path — two out of three — presaged no brokered or contested convention. Indeed, when The Evans Report suggested that if Trump could get to 1,100 delegates he would easily move on to lock down the nomination with 1,237 delegates, the political world went crazy.
And, notwithstanding the ridicule equal to the prediction of a brokered convention, that is exactly what happened. Once New York, the Northeast regional primary, and Indiana came and went putting him within a stone’s throw of 1,100, Trump was on cruise control toward becoming the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party just as predicted.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ticket, Sanders continued to win as the FBI doggedly interviewed Clinton’s former aides. Sanders himself then embarked on a new mission — to challenge the structure of the Democratic Party itself, including the propriety of unelected super delegates and the party’s use of party funds in a contested Democratic primary.
Not to be outdone, Speaker Paul Ryan continued his increasingly tepid refusal to board the Trump Train by withholding his “support” for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus stepped in to start the melding process in an effort to bring the party back together as if the voice of Republican voters was not enough to do that.
Of course, all of these machinations just begged the question: “Who decides what a political party stands for — the voters or the leaders — and what happens when there is a disconnect between the two?” And yet the upheaval of the last few months is only the prelude. There is so much more to come. No one can seriously doubt that 2016 is indeed, as predicted over one year ago in The Evans Report, a transformative election year with all historical models cast aside by voters no longer willing to allow either political party or party insiders to stick to their business-as-usual schemes, dictating the outcome from on high.
Against that backdrop, can anyone even imagine what the fall election will be like? Try The Evans Report.