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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Donald Trump Could Ride Momentum to the Republican Nomination

How do you stop a boulder once it’s rolling down­hill?

For a Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment ter­ri­fied of the dam­age that a Don­ald Trump nom­in­a­tion could wreak, that’s the phys­ics prob­lem it could face if the celebrity busi­ness­man wins both Iowa and New Hamp­shire in the first nine days of Feb­ru­ary.

Those states ac­count for only 53 del­eg­ates of the 2,472 total in play, but a Trump vic­tory in both could make wins more likely in South Car­o­lina and Nevada later that month, which, un­der the laws of pres­id­en­tial-primary “mo­mentum,” could make his nom­in­a­tion all but in­ev­it­able.

“The party can’t do any­thing,” said Ari Fleis­cher, a seni­or aide to former pres­id­ent George W. Bush. “He could be the nom­in­ee.”

In past pres­id­en­tial elec­tion cycles, front-run­ner mo­mentum was usu­ally seen as a good thing by Re­pub­lic­ans Party lead­ers, al­low­ing can­did...

The Next President’s Power Play

Already in this young year, Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates have de­cried Pres­id­ent Obama’s use of ex­ec­ut­ive power—this time for his plan to uni­lat­er­ally tight­en gun back­ground checks.

But many of the GOP hope­fuls have also made clear they would be will­ing to wield the pres­id­en­tial pen them­selves if elec­ted—wheth­er to go around Con­gress and make new policy, or simply to roll back the Obama ac­tions they most des­pise.

This week­end, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie said on Fox that the pres­id­ent is be­hav­ing like “a petu­lant child” who wants to act like a “king” or “dic­tat­or,” be­fore char­ging that the ex­pec­ted ac­tions were il­leg­al. At a Mis­sis­sippi rally, Don­ald Trump said, “There’s an as­sault on the Second Amend­ment.” And Sen. Marco Ru­bio told a New Hamp­shire crowd that Obama has “waged war on the Con­sti­tu­tion.” They all pledged to re­verse...

Democrats’ Biggest Vulnerability In 2016: National Security

The dis­con­nect between Pres­id­ent Obama and the Amer­ic­an pub­lic on the ur­gency of the IS­IS threat is a prob­lem for his party in 2016, es­pe­cially for Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Demo­crats are at risk of polit­ic­ally mar­gin­al­iz­ing them­selves on na­tion­al se­cur­ity in the run-up to the 2016 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, ca­ter­ing to a base that seems dis­con­nec­ted from the grow­ing anxi­ety that the pub­lic feels over the threat from Is­lam­ic ter­ror­ism. Dur­ing a month when a hor­rif­ic ter­ror­ist at­tack killed 130 in Par­is and a homegrown, IS­IS-in­spired at­tack killed 14 in San Bern­ardino, Cali­for­nia, the Demo­crat­ic Party’s ma­jor fo­cus has been on cli­mate change and gun con­trol.

The signs of a pres­id­ent in deni­al over the threat of ter­ror­ism keep pil­ing up. Obama be­latedly ad­dressed the pub­lic’s fears in his Oval...

The President Again Tries to Right the Ship

With the coun­try shaken by the blood­shed in Par­is, nervous about at­tacks at home, and con­cerned about an in­flux of refugees from the Middle East, many pres­id­ents would take to the air­waves for a prime-time ad­dress to re­as­sure an anxious na­tion. But that is not Pres­id­ent Obama’s pre­ferred way to use the bully pul­pit.

In­stead, after a week out of the coun­try and out of sight for most Amer­ic­ans, Obama on Tues­day used his third press con­fer­ence in eight days to per­suade Amer­ic­ans it is safe to fol­low their daily routines and to re­as­sert his com­mand of the war against ter­ror­ism.

Bask­ing in praise from vis­it­ing French Pres­id­ent Fran­cois Hol­lande, who stood at an ad­join­ing lectern in the East Room, the Amer­ic­an pres­id­ent found him­self play­ing catch-up in the wake of the mul­tiple as­saults in Par­is and the rising in­tens­ity of the polit­ic­al cri...

Forget the 2016 Polls: Nobody Knows Anything Yet

Ima­gine in­ter­view­ing for a top-level job where the hir­ing com­mit­tee hasn’t got­ten around to read­ing your re­sume, but HR keeps polling its mem­bers any­way to see if you should be brought back for the next round of in­ter­views—and all the while, you’re sink­ing to­ward bank­ruptcy.

Even worse, ima­gine that the hir­ing com­mit­tee is in­stead lean­ing to­ward a TV game show host and a mo­tiv­a­tion­al speak­er, neither of whom has any ob­vi­ous rel­ev­ant ex­per­i­ence for the job.

A dozen Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates don’t need to ima­gine any of this. They’ve been liv­ing it most of this year—the po­ten­tial vic­tims of sur­veys that shouldn’t ac­tu­ally mat­ter yet.

“The polls are not pre­dict­ive of where we’re go­ing to be in three months,” said Lee Mirin­goff, dir­ect­or of the Mar­ist In­sti­tute for Pub­lic...