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

Will Trump Destroy the Party of Reagan?

Ron­ald Re­agan is long gone, but for dec­ades Re­pub­lic­ans have con­tin­ued to revere his al­leg­or­ic­al three-legged stool: eco­nom­ic, so­cial, and for­eign policy con­ser­vat­ives, united as one to carry the party to vic­tory.

So what hap­pens when real­ity-TV star and self-styled “com­mon-sense con­ser­vat­ive” Don­ald Trump gets stew­ard­ship of the GOP? He in­sists that So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care should be left un­altered, de­fends the non-abor­tion re­lated work of Planned Par­ent­hood, and calls NATO ob­sol­ete—thereby of­fend­ing all three ele­ments of the Re­agan trin­ity.

“He shat­ters the stool when he sits on it,” said Ari Fleis­cher, a top aide to former Pres­id­ent George W. Bush. “It’s bizarre, be­cause he has no prin­cipled, co­her­ent ideo­logy that we’re used to…. It cer­tainly won’t re­semble the stool any­more.”

What last au­tumn might have been an idle in­tel­lec­tu­al ex­er...

Poll: Voters Are Backing Anti-Muslim Proposals

If Donald Trump needed another poll to reinforce his bluster, he might’ve just gotten it.

A new survey from Morning Consult, conducted in the wake of the Brussels bombings, details voter sentiment on national-security policies, including support for Trump’s prohibition on Muslims entering the United States. Trump—a poll obsessive—may tout the percentage of voters backing his idea as proof he knows what the country needs. 

He wouldn’t be alone in making that argument: A proposal from rival Ted Cruz to increase police presence in Muslim neighborhoods saw similarly high support, and Trump himself said just days ago he’d “100 percent” support Cruz’s plans. What neither candidate might care to dig into, though, is how sincere that support is—whether voters would back these plans in practice, or whether they were searching for something, anything, to prevent a Brussels-style attack in the United States.  

Brussels was certainly on the mind of the voters surveyed. Morning Consult’s poll—comprised of more than 2,000 registered voters and with a margin of error of 2 points—began just two days after the attacks. Eighty-one percent said they’d seen, heard, or read of the bombings...

The Game Theory Principles Behind a Political Endorsement Against Trump

In 1936, the economist John Maynard Keynes invented a beauty contest. In examining why stock prices fluctuate, he suggested the metaphor of a newspaper pageant, where readers select the six prettiest faces from 100 photographs. But only people who picked the most popular choices would win.

“It is not a case of choosing which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinion genuinely thinks are the prettiest,” he wrote. “We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.”

I doubt Keynes was on Jeb Bush’s mind Wednesday, when the former presidential candidate announced his support for Ted Cruz on Facebook. But you’d better believe the beauty pageant was in play. While it’s hard to gauge Bush’s actual feelings for Cruz—it appears he left most of the insults to his brother—he spent only one sentence in his statement praising the Texas senator before moving on. Cruz’s foremost qualification, it appears, was his ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.” 

And so Bush joins a slew of other prominent conservatives—Mitt...

The Statistical Models Vying to Define Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s success seems inexorable, inexplicable, and immune to punditry. Of course, that hasn’t stopped pundits from trying. By now, the marketplace of ideas is so crowded with why-Trump-is-winning theories that the line to return expired opinions stretches longer than the wait at an Arizona caucus site.

But as more states cast ballots, political analysts are getting actual data—not just opinion poll results—on what voters want. Granted, they don’t know whatindividual voters think; most states aggregate results at the county level and up. But by using publicly available demographic data and a bit of computer modeling, analysts can begin to link a county’s vote to the makeup of the people who live there. Predictions about what voters care about can be backed up with data, not theory.

Or at least that’s the idea. In practice, the results have been much weirder.

Earlier in March, The Washington Post’s Jeff Guo ran an analysis of Super Tuesday vote returns and found that Trump fared unusually well in counties where older white residents were more likely to die in middle age, a conclusion he couldn’t conclusively explain. A little over a week later...

Cruz and Kasich Are Playing Right Into Trump's Hands

Even as Don­ald Trump’s strong per­form­ance Tues­day night was a ser­i­ous set­back to the anti-Trump move­ment, the biggest obstacles to stop­ping Trump are his own Re­pub­lic­an rivals. In­stead of work­ing to­geth­er and deny­ing Trump del­eg­ates, both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have pur­sued self-de­struct­ive, self-in­ter­ested strategies that seemed de­signed more to one-up each oth­er than take on the front-run­ner in the race.

Ac­cord­ing to The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port’s del­eg­ate score­card, des­pite Trump’s suc­cess­ful night last Tues­day, he is now (slightly) off track to se­cur­ing the 1,237 del­eg­ates ne­ces­sary to clinch be­fore the con­ven­tion. And, ac­cord­ing to the del­eg­ate math, Cruz and Kasich have no path to win­ning a ma­jor­ity. If both Cruz and Kasich are look­ing to deny Trump his ne­ces­sary del­eg­ates (and press their luck with a con­tested con­ven­tion), they should be...