PoliMosh: Dancing in the American Political Mosh Pit, Vol. 2

By Samir Shukla

Electioneering rolls on.

While the presidential candidates on both sides duke it out, the North Carolina state legislature has tossed a curve ball to the electorate.

Here's a nice recap of the congressional redistricting controversy in North Carolina. According to Charlotte NPR affiliate WFAE: “The U.S. Supreme Court on February 19 rejected North Carolina's request to put a new round of redistricting on hold. That means the state must follow a lower court order to use new maps in the upcoming election, which state lawmakers finalized earlier that day. A federal three-judge panel ruled Republican state lawmakers put too much emphasis on racial quotas when they redrew congressional boundaries in 2011. The judges ordered the legislature to quickly redraw the maps. Republican Rep. David Lewis says lawmakers did not take race into account this time. They did focus on keeping Republicans in power. 'We believe this map will produce an opportunity to elect 10 Republican members of Congress,' he says. 'But make no mistake, in that regard, this is a weaker map than the enacted plan.' Lawmakers also decided to push voting for North Carolina's U.S. congressional representatives back to June."
So what does that mean for the voter? The NC primaries for President and Senate will take place on March 15 as previously scheduled. The primaries for congressional seats will now take place on June 7.

As the election year continues to grind, here's my ongoing political diary. I call it, PoliMosh: Dancing in the American political mosh pit. These were written as the events were happening, so, obviously, the landscape, candidates, and situations changed. These are meant as time capsules. Throughout this election cycle, I will write about my thoughts on debates, primaries, and the general political maneuverings both in print and online at Saathee.com. Any political event I attend will be noted through analysis. You can find older diary posts on Saathee.com under my column, “Teatime in the City."

January 28, Republican Debate, Des Moines, Iowa
Donald Trump boycotted this debate. It seems he can't handle a female journalist tossing hard questions his way. His rather silly fight with Fox News and anchor Megyn Kelly seems to endear him further among his supporters. Jeb Bush did well tonight, Rand Paul added Libertarian curveballs, Ted Cruz was on the defensive most of the evening, while Marco Rubio gets louder as he speaks. At this juncture, the race seems like a three-way between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio, but don't count Jeb Bush out yet. Or Christie and Kasich. Bush had a strong night at the debate and even though it may feel like it's a bit late for this former frontrunner to catchup, this debate should give him a bit of a boost for the Iowa caucuses only 4 days away.

February 2, Iowa caucuses results
In the Republican race Ted Cruz won, Donald Trump came in second, and Marco Rubio surprised everyone with a strong third place finish. The rest of the cast are struggling, but moving forward. Among the Democrats Hillary Clinton is declared the winner by the narrowest of margins. Essentially she tied with Bernie Sanders. Martin O'Malley dropped his bid. He never got much traction among Democrats. The Republican field is still large and unwieldy. The Democrats now have a choice of either Clinton or Sanders. Let the gloves come off.

February 3, Sen. Rand Paul Suspends Campaign
The brightest light among Republican candidates called it quits this day. Paul's Libertarian and thoughtful conservative views added freshness to the usual conservative talking points spewed by the rest of the candidates and Trumpism spewed by Donald Trump. Paul decided he needs to concentrate on his Senate reelection campaign.

February 4, Democrats Debate, New Hampshire
Bernie Sanders attempted to paint Hillary Clinton as a wall street hack while Clinton tried to show that Sanders it too left-wing, and that his numbers about giving all Americans access to free college and universal health care don't add up. Oh, and she tried darn hard to show that his is unelectable in a general election. She is right about that. Sanders would have many obstacles in a general election as most Americans simply don't like the word socialist, even though they generally don't understand what that word truly means. Clinton was much stronger in this debate. She hammered Sanders on foreign policy while nudging herself a bit further left. Sanders cornered Clinton a bit on her incoming stream of money from Wall Street and her huge speaking fees at Wall Street gatherings.

February 6, Republican Debate, New Hampshire
The game got testier among the Republicans after Iowa and the debate took on a nastier spin. Marco Rubio got his clock cleaned by Chris Christie. Rubio is well spoken, but Christie clearly honed in on Rubio's robotic lines and had a brilliant “gotcha" moment when Rubio inexplicably repeated the same memorized lines after Christie chided him about it. It hurt to watch Rubio disintegrate and looking to curl up into a fetal position. The rest of the candidates came out fighting as well. Except Kasich, who has geared his campaign with a positive message and a more grown-up way of getting his points across. Bush needed to take Rubio down, but Christi did the dirty work for him. On to the primary in 3 days.

February 9, New Hampshire Primary Results
Well, Donald Trump won. Ted Cruz came in second with Bush, Rubio, and Kasich essentially tied for 3rd. Chris Christie's New Hampshire gamble didn't pan out. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina essentially tanked. Sanders beat Clinton, making her life much more difficult as she marches on toward the nomination.

February 10, the field narrows
Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina suspended their campaigns. Ben Carson is going on, though it's essentially over for him. The outsiders are winning, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the country hasn't voted yet.

February 11, Democrats Debate, Milwaukee, WI
The next battleground is South Carolina, but Clinton and Sanders debated in Milwaukee. Clinton came out stronger in this debate and further tried to show voters that Sanders cannot win a general election. Sanders continued to pound Clinton and had a zinger of the night when Clinton said when I'm president. Sanders coached her that she wasn't in the white house yet. South Carolina, what is your verdict?

February 13, Republican Debate, Greenville, SC and Death of Antonin Scalia
Whoa. This day the fight for the White House turned upside down and inside out. Shortly before the debate it was reported that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had passed away. Senate leaders immediately announced they would halt any nominee President Obama offers as replacement. Republican candidates jumped on the bandwagon to not even entertain an Obama nominee let alone bring the candidate up for a vote. The Republican race is already rather profane and unhinged. Now, the possible replacement for Scalia has become an election year issue. The Republicans are arguably messing with a dual-edged sword. They have done their calculations, but saying that Obama should pass on nominating someone and let the next president choose a nominee is preposterous. Obama has every right and is constitutionally required to nominate a candidate. The Senate has the full right to reject any candidate and wait to approve a nominee after the election. This is a more of a lose-lose proposition for the Republicans than Democrats. Republicans barely control the Senate and by stalling approving a justice they not only ensure judicial chaos for the next year but the potential wrath of voters. All this under the assumption that a Republican will win the White House in November. If Clinton or Sanders wins, all bets are off. And the voters may punish the Republicans by handing the majority of the Senate back to the Democrats. There are several competitive Senate seats up for reelection. If Democrats take the White House and take back the Senate, they can potentially nominate 2-3 more justices over the next four years. The ball is in GOP's court.

February 17, Nikki Haley Endorses Marco Rubio
The final coffin on Jeb Bush's candidacy? South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley endorsed Senator Marco Rubio today. She shoved aside all other candidates who were seeking her endorsement. As Bush fights for his candidacy, this was a huge blow. He is putting vast amounts of money in South Carolina and has brought in his brother and mother to help get votes. Haley's endorsement would have been a much needed boost. Bush has SC Senator Lindsey Graham's support, but that may not be enough. The primary is in three days.

February 20, South Carolina primary and Nevada caucuses
The Republicans held their primary today and the Democrats held their caucuses. Donald Trump won handily, while Rubio and Cruz essentially came in 2nd. It was a bad day for Jeb Bush. He suspended his campaign around 8:45 EST, before all the votes were counted. He came in 4th place while Kasich and Carson rounded out the rest of the crew. Apparently Kasich and Carson are moving forward. Clinton won by about five points over Sanders in Nevada caucuses. It was not a huge win and Sanders has the wind on his back, as he said in a speech. It's my guess the Clinton camp would like to hold all remaining primaries and caucuses tomorrow, on the same day, before Sanders continues to catch fire and tries to upend Clinton.

At press time, the Nevada Republican caucuses and the South Carolina Democratic primaries still loom in February. Then the real fun begins on Super Tuesday on March 1, and throughout March a bunch of other primaries and caucuses around the country will bring the nominee of each party closer to coronation.

Election 2016 Notes

Here are two essential websites to follow to fact check politicians, their handlers, ads and speeches.

Upcoming Debates
March 3: Detroit MI (Fox News)
March 10: Miami, FL (CNN)

March 6: Flint, MI
March 9: Miami, FL (Univision)

March 7: Raleigh, NC (9pm), Leading candidates for the Libertarian Party's nomination for President face off eight days before the North Carolina primary. Moderator: Barry Smith, Carolina Journal

Primaries and Caucuses
March 1: Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Alaska Republican caucus, American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont

March 5: Kansas, Kentucky Republican caucuses, Louisiana, Maine Republican caucus, and Nebraska Democratic caucus

March 6: Maine Democratic caucus and Puerto Rico Republican caucus

March 8: Hawaii Republican caucus, Idaho Republican caucus, Michigan, and Mississippi

March 12: D.C. Republican caucus and Northern Mariana Islands Democratic caucus

March 15: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Northern Mariana Islands Republican caucus, North Carolina, and Ohio

March 19: Virgin Islands Republican caucus

March 22: Arizona, Utah, and Idaho Democratic caucus

March 26: Alaska Democratic caucus, Hawaii Democratic caucus, and Washington Democratic caucus

April 5: Wisconsin

April 9: Wyoming

April 19: New York

Libertarian National Convention
May 27 – 30, Orlando (LP.org)

Republican National Convention
July 18 – 21, Cleveland Ohio (Gop.org)

Democratic National Convention
July 25 – 28, Philadelphia (Democrats.org)

Some Regional Voter Resources
North Carolina State Board of Elections: http://www.ncsbe.gov/ncsbe/
South Carolina State Election Commission: http://www.scvotes.org/
Georgia Secretary of State/Elections: http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/?section=elections
Virginia Dept. of Elections: http://elections.virginia.gov/