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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tonight’s primary results could be among the most important for the Republican field so far. And the anti-Trump camp has made it clear that their best hope to prevent Donald Trump from winning the nomination is depriving him of delegates necessary to win it on the first ballot — all of that could change should Trump take the winner-take-all states of Florida and Ohio.

With 358 delegates up for grabs, including 165 between Florida and Ohio, tonight’s primaries are perhaps a last ditch effort by the establishment to stop Trump, since Texas Senator Ted Cruz has made himself friendless among Republicans. Unfortunately, the latest polls show Trump commanding a significant double digit lead versus Marco Rubio in his home state. Ohio’s Governor John Kasich is doing better in his home state, leading the pack by single digits. But even there its uncertain whether he will win, given that Trump has led polls in the state for months.

“The plan is to win Ohio, and some other states, and if that happens, nobody is going to have enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot,” said John Weaver, Kasich’s chief campaign strategist, to the Huffington Post. If Kasich were to lose Ohio, it would quickly scuttle any future campaign plans he may have had. As it is, Kasich is struggling to get onto the Pennsylvania ballot and is currently facing a court challenge in the state. But at least the polls have him ahead, even marginally, in his home state.

The same cannot be said of Rubio, who is far behind Trump in the polls. But his campaign still articulated a similar strategy shortly following his fifth place finish in the New Hampshire primary in February. “I don’t think it necessarily is negative,” Rubio said to the Associated Press, when asked about the possibility of a brokered convention. The hope is that slowing Trump’s momentum by depriving him of an outright victory would be enough to hold a brokered convention, allowing the Republican establishment to retake control of the nominatng campaign. During a brokered convention, delegates are no longer beholden to their voting district’s decision.

If a brokered convention were held, it would be the first time in a generation. That also explains the reluctance some in the party have expressed in reaction to the #NeverTrump plan. Dick Morris, once an advisor to Bill Clinton turned a Tea Party Republican, published a letter admonishing voters to support Cruz over Rubio and Kasich, not only because he has emerged as the only serious challenger to Trump, but because the party won’t settle a brokered convention quickly.

“The Republican Party does not have the superstructure to resolve a convention deadlock. There are no more bosses. The state party leaders are largely impotent. The party lacks elder statesmen,” he said in a piece published on Newsmax. He predicted that failing to resolve the leadership crisis on first ballot would condemn the Republican Party to total destruction and defeat at the hands of the Democrats in November. “The fissure would rip the party apart and its impact would be to create such bitterness that it couldn’t come together in time to beat Hillary.”

Meanwhile, top conservative strategists planned to meet in the capital on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a third-party run should Trump win the nomination. The planned meeting was only the latest among a series of meetings by the wealthy and powerful attempting to stop Trump.

How well voters responds to behind the scene machinations by establishment Republicans remains to be seen, but it’s likely that Trump will use it to prove that the establishment is out to stop him, which always plays well with his supporters.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]