Dark Horses

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

The Republican National Convention is probably going to pick Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or (much less likely) John Kasich. Since 1972, every major-party presidential nominee has come out of the primaries and caucuses, and GOP voters seem to have little appetite for breaking with that practice. Moreover, it is not even certain that the convention […]

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Will the GOP Come Apart?

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

Donald Trump scored major victories on Tuesday night, but failed to sweep all the five primaries.  In exit polls of the five states, about one-fourth of GOP primary voters said that they would not vote for him in the general election. Many pundits are saying that the GOP is on the brink of coming apart. Will it happen?  As Bill Clinton […]

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Primary Performance Does Not Predict General Election Outcomes

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

When candidates win primaries or caucuses, they often try to spin the outcome as a portent of the general election. So what do the nomination contests to date tell us about what will happen in the fall? Not much. The primary and caucus electorates are different from the general electorate. For one thing, turnout is […]

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Republicans: Even More Divided Than Usual

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

Even as Donald Trump was racking up big wins on Super Tuesday,exit polls showed a deeply divided party.  Most Cruz and Rubio voters said that they would be dissatisfied if Trump were the nominee, and most Trump voters said the same of Cruz and Rubio. The current state of Republican politics has surprised many observers. A common […]

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Trump and California

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

Now that Donald Trump has won the Nevada caucuses by a convincing margin, it’s time to ponder what will happen in neighboring California. Out-of-state pundits often misjudge our political climate. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the most recent Republican to hold statewide office, they reason, so the state GOP will tend to favor more mainstream candidates. They […]

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After Nevada and South Carolina

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

Defeat can be a much better teacher than victory. Hillary Clinton entered the 2008 nomination as the odds-on favorite, but in a stunning upset, lost to a young senator from Illinois. Her loss was emotionally searing but politically educational. Specifically, she learned three lessons that she has been applying during the 2016 contest. First, organize […]

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The Presidential Race: But Seriously…

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

When George Wallace ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, his slogan was “Send Them a Message!”   Last night’s winners might as well have used the same catchphrase. The New Hampshire primary was a political Festivus, in which Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders performed feats of strength while the electorate undertook the airing of […]

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Iowa, Psychology, and Arithmetic

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

The Iowa story is about psychology, not arithmetic. Iowa sends 44 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, 30 to the Republican National Convention.  In each case, the state accounts for only about one percent of the total number of delegates. About 171,000 Democrats and 180,000 Republicans took part in the caucuses.  Although news stories are talking about high […]

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A Sleeper Senate Race in California

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

The race to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of California could very well produce the upset of 2016. The prohibitive favorite would seem to be Kamala Harris. As the state’s two-term attorney general, she has good name recognition and an established political network. As a woman with both African and Asian heritage, she has a […]

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California’s Balanced Budget? Hold the Applause

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

“California did the impossible,” said Gov. Jerry Brown in his recent State of the State address. He was referring to a surge of revenue, stemming from a tax hike and modest economic growth, which enabled the state to avoid harsh new rounds of budget cuts. “Two years ago, they were writing our obituary,” he concluded. […]

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