Mark, Howard, and Blake discuss the results of the California primary.

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Call Transcript:

Blake:

Thank you very much, and thanks again to everyone who's joined us in what is our ninth call. I'm here with Mark Alderman and Howard Schweitzer. Mark, Howard, great to be with you.

Howard:

Good to be back.

Blake:

Here we are. We began this endeavor right after the New Hampshire primary, and it is now June 8th. Aside from one more contest in the District of Columbia, where we all sit today, the Presidential primary season is over, in terms of elections. The dynamics are, I think, far from settled. Mark, I want to start with last night's contests, particularly in California and New Jersey. We have at least, by the delegate count, determined that for the first time in 240 years, a female will be a major political party's nominee for president. It looks like Hillary Clinton is headed to Philadelphia with a lot of momentum, after a big win in California. I thought we might just begin. What's your reaction to the races from last night? What are your takeaways?

Mark:

I think it's very hard to overstate how important Secretary Clinton's win in California was. It was a double digit win, in a state in which one out of every six Democrats in the country reside. It put an end, I think, and I hope, to the fantasy that Sanders could somehow yet prevail, and snatch this nomination from her. Had she lost, she was still going to be the nominee, but she was going to limp into the convention, and she was going to have to deal with Senator Sanders, for a longer period, and I'm sure a less pleasant period. I think winning in California last night, as she did, is going to enable us to put this party together in shorter order. I don't think it happens overnight. I think that it is on to November. We've known for a long time that she was eventually going to get there. It's a very good thing that she got there the way she did last night.

Blake:

Well, it was a big win. Looks like if the reporting stays the way that it is, she's going to end up winning California by thirteen, fourteen points, when it's all said and done, polling. You and I had talked about this just yesterday, suggested this was a race within the margin of error. A bad night for the pollsters in California. It was a resounding victory there, and a resounding victory in New Jersey, the other big contest.

Mark:

As expected, though. New Jersey was never going to be close, I didn't think. The pollsters got that one more or less right. They've gotten a lot wrong, on both sides, throughout this season. Sure, New Jersey was important, and California even more so, because look what she now takes to the convention, and look what she now takes to the table when she sits down with Senator Sanders. Let me just interrupt myself to praise Senator Sanders, and the phenomenon that his campaign was. We have to honor the man for what he accomplished. We have to respect the agenda that he so triumphantly pushed through these primaries, but he lost. She got three and a half million more votes than he did. She got 400 more pledged delegates than he did. She won a majority of the pledged delegates. She won more states than he did. The only metric by which Senator Sanders prevailed was in the crowd size, and if that's going to be how we pick a nominee, then I am nominating Bruce Springsteen to run for President, which is not the worst idea I've ever had.

Howard:

Mark, I agree with almost everything you said.

Mark:

You don't like the Springsteen part?

Howard:

Well, I'm from Jersey, so of course I like the Springsteen part, but I'm not sure Bernie's all that excited about your congratulations. I think he also succeeded in running a campaign that people gravitated to more. That's not just 27,000 people showing up in a park in Manhattan. His negatives were much lower than hers. There's a metric where he succeeded in doing better. Look, she won. She won two months ago. There was never any doubt about this, but I think he exposed through the campaign some things about her weaknesses that are really going to hurt her going into the general.

Blake:

Is that right, Mark, or is it that Bernie's success is ... Because, look, he still lost by a wide margin, in the context of how you measure Democratic Presidential primaries. Losing by nearly 400 pledged delegates doesn't seem like a lot. That's a lot. His success, however, and this is as he looks to whatever his next chapter is, and he's got an important meeting coming up with President Obama, which I want to get your thoughts and perspective on. It seems to me that his next chapter is issue centric. One thing that, to your point, Howard, he succeeded very well, not just in drawing large crowds, but he succeeded in framing issues that are now central to the Democratic party's platform in 2016. I'm talking about reforming Wall Street. I'm talking about anti-free trade, and I'm talking about income inequality.

Mark:

Electoral reform within the party, the super delegates.

Blake:

The notion of super delegates.

Mark:

Senator Sanders has to get home to Burlington. He and everyone involved on both sides has to get some rest. Then he's got to decide how he wants to be remembered. It is legacy time for Bernie Sanders. He has had a distinguished five decade career. It has peaked with this performance in these primaries. It doesn't get any better than this. Now, he has to decide whether he wants to be remembered as the man who gave America President Trump, and I don't think he does, or to your point, Blake, the man who set the post-Obama agenda for the Democratic party. That is his to claim if he chooses to, and I believe that's exactly where this goes. I think he stops running for President, but he doesn't stop running for these issues to be recognized and included and incorporated in the party rules, and the party platform, and in Secretary Clinton's campaign.

Howard:

Can I just comment on that?

Blake:

Please.

Howard:

I guess I just don't see it that way. I know, Mark, you have this view that she's got to skew to the left, and she's got to run to the left in the general, but he wasn't a Democrat a year and a half ago. Why does the Democratic Party have to kowtow to a guy that frankly ... I mean, he did well. He ran a great campaign, but he did much better in the open primaries than he did in the Democratic primaries. He succeeded in getting the independent voter to vote for him, not the Democratic voter. He ran a great campaign, but why should the Democratic Party bow to Bernie? I don't see any legacy.

Blake:

Is it bowing to Bernie, or is it to ... To build upon your point, and I want to get added reaction to you, Mark, just a shifting landscape? The Democratic Party is deciding in the age of Bernie to adhere to a new framework for public policy discussion, and it is prioritizing itself, or so it would seem, around some big issues that are central to his political life, less so than they were hers, when she began this campaign. You both have been a part of a lot of these. These things evolve. The issues that define you 14 months ago, when she got into this race, are not necessarily the issues that are driving the debate leading into a general election.

Mark:

I think, to Howard's question why the Democratic Party needs to kowtow to Bernie, the short and simple answer is it doesn't, but that's not what it's going to do. It's not what I'm talking about. Two things about that. One is, and this is what you said, Howard, Senator Sanders succeeded in bringing into the Democratic primary process a great number of independents, in the open elections, who supported Senator Sanders' agenda. Those are the people who pick the President. The President gets picked by 15% of the voters in ten states, and Senator Sanders was a more attractive candidate than Secretary Clinton to those people, and for simple electoral reasons, the party, and the Clinton campaign, need to recognize and acknowledge that.

Beyond that, there isn't that much daylight between Senator Sanders on his central issues, and Secretary Clinton. This is not a matter of capitulating on principles for  Bernie Sanders. He wants a $15 minimum wage, so does she. He wants Wall Street reform, so does she. He wants a repeal of Citizens United, so does she. Citizens United, we all remember, is a case about Hillary Clinton. She lost that case. She's all for having that repealed. I don't see it as a surrender at all. I see it as an inclusion of those ideas in this party.

Howard:

I couldn't disagree more. Look at the platform committee. Look at who he put on the platform committee, on an issue like policy in the Middle East, which is obviously something she's going to have to confront if she's elected.

Mark:

It's a big tent, and they're going to have to, we are going to have to confront that in Philadelphia. Just as X of Donald Trump ... We can get started on him anytime you're ready, Blake, but X of Donald Trump, the Republican Party has had to, within its tent, contend at the platform level with the issue of abortion, and many others. This is democracy. This is including people inside the tent, instead of pushing them out. I just think you're dramatically overstating the daylight between him and her, but we'll find out.

Howard:

I actually had to walk into his office and negotiate with him. I think there's more daylight than you think there is.

Mark:

I know, but he's not the most pleasant person running for office.

Blake:

There's something with that, and I don't want the narrative of her victory to get lost in our discussion, because for all the talk about the challenges of that campaign, the success metric is pretty simple. Did you win, or did you lose? She won ...

Mark:

By a lot.

Blake:

By a lot.

Howard:

By a lot.

Mark:

In a system ... I need to say this. That despite Donald Trump's attempt to court Sanders supporters by calling the process rigged, it wasn't rigged. There were attempts with the debates to do a little rigging, but she didn't win because it was rigged, because the super delegates are irrelevant to her victory. In fact, the caucuses, which are arguably a rigged dimension of this, favored Senator Sanders. She won by a lot, according to fair and square rules. We shouldn't lose that in this debate.

Howard:

I hate ... Actually, I don't hate to keep disagreeing with you. I enjoy ...

Mark:

Go for it.

Howard:

To keep disagreeing with you, but look. The super delegates absolutely had ... They had a narrative impact on her campaign, if nothing else. Because we were sitting here saying three months ago, or two months ago, "The cake is baked." I think it's wrong that they had no impact on her campaign, from that point of view. In terms of the super delegates, and the system being rigged, it seems to me that the electoral reform that may be coming in the Democratic party, you may get rid of the super delegates, but you also perhaps think about the open primaries. Because without the open primaries, he's not even in the conversation ... He's not even in this conversation.

Mark:

I think we will move towards, not away from, open primaries, because I think Senator Sanders has demonstrated that it is a way to open up the party ... I'm repeating myself. To the 15% in ten states who pick the President.

Howard:

I think the one other data point that I'll mention here, Blake, to your point about the strength of her victory, is she won in very important states. If you look ahead to the general, and I know we're going to get there later on, but you look ahead to the general, and the battleground states in the general, she dominated at the primary level, in the states that are the battleground states for the general. Which, to me, is a real point of strength for her, as she looks ahead to the next five months.

Mark:

She lost Michigan.

Howard:

Michigan and Colorado.

Mark:

She lost Colorado. She lost New Hampshire. She lost Iowa ...

Howard:

Yeah, but New Hampshire ... Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia. Nevada.

Mark:

She won where the election's decided.

Howard:

Yeah.

Blake:

Mark, if you're sitting in Bernie Sanders' home in Vermont today, and you're charting out what the next ten days for your campaign look like, what kind of advice are you giving him?

Mark:

Well, if I am actually sitting there?

Blake:

Yes. If you are sitting there.

Mark:

I'm not sure the people sitting there are giving him the same advice that I would, but I would say to him a couple of things, and I fundamentally said it a minute ago. First, I would say to him, run right through DC. Absolutely. Run right through the end of this primary season. You started it. You've said every vote counts, and it does run right through DC. Then sit down with Secretary Clinton, and figure this thing out. The issues that you have brought to this primary season should be included and incorporated in the Democratic platforming rules at the convention. Sit down and figure it out, and get behind her, and let your legacy be ... I keep using that word, but for a 74 year old guy, who a year ago, like the other nominee, who a year ago was at 1%. This is his moment. This is his moment to move the needle, and I would tell him to sit down and do it before it gets away.

Blake:

There is some talk, Mark, about whether Sanders will push forward with some not only structural changes to the way Democrats nominate their leader, but also what the role of Debbie Wasserman Schultz is going to be moving forward. What do you make of that dynamic? Is that a fight Bernie Sanders needs to wage at this point?

Mark:

Whether he needs to wage it or not, I suspect he will. We've said in these calls before, usual stipulations. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a friend, and a colleague, and I admire and respect her. She has a very short time left as chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is going to be a casualty of this primary season.

Blake:

What do we make of this meeting between Bernie Sanders and the President coming up? Is this just the beginning of this process, or do you expect there to be some real substance?

Mark:

I think it's the beginning of the process, more than the end. Maybe it's the end of the beginning of the process. It is certainly not the end, because among other things, and I take this very seriously, there's one more election, right here in the district, next Tuesday. I think is the beginning of a dialogue in which Secretary Clinton and the President, and Senator Sanders, are going to figure this thing out. The President is obviously intending to endorse Secretary Clinton. He is obviously intending to mix it up on the trail this fall, if not sooner. He needs to sit down, as he is doing with Senator Sanders, and get that squared away, not necessarily on Thursday, before he can do all of that.

Blake:

You were there in 2008. It took Hillary Clinton three days, four, before the meeting at Senator Dianne Feinstein's house, where she and then Senator Obama worked it all out, and began to move towards harmony and party unity.

Mark:

Harmony in New Hampshire.

Blake:

Harmony in New Hampshire, and party unification. Based on that perspective, and what you're seeing right now, you've explained what you would advise Bernie to do if you were there. Let's flip this around a little bit. If you were predicting, do you anticipate a peaceful Democratic convention in Philadelphia, or are we going to have some sparring taking place between Sanders delegates and Clinton delegates?

Mark:

Oh, I anticipate both. I don't think those are mutually exclusive categories. We are going to leave Philadelphia a party united in its determination to deny Donald Trump the Presidency. Between now and then, it's going to take a little longer for Senator Sanders than it did for Secretary Clinton, then Senator Clinton, for all sorts of reasons. Again, it's not even over yet. Yeah, there'll be some sparring on some platform issues, and on some party rules, but I don't think we're going to see the kind of discord that we did in 1980. I don't expect Senator Sanders to get up and give a speech in which he condemns the party's nominee, as Ted Kennedy did with Jimmy Carter in 1980. That's not what this is going to look like.

Howard:

I would argue it matters a lot less now than it did eight years ago.

Blake:

What do you mean?

Howard:

Eight years ago, you were talking about the loser being the wife of a former President, who was inarguably the most popular figure in the Democratic party in the United States of America. Next to Barack Obama, I guess, at that point. I think the dynamics were very different. You were talking about somebody who was an adult lifelong Democrat. Again, back to my point about Sanders not really being a Democrat. She needs to win in November. That's all this is about for her. She doesn't want him to be part of her administration. Maybe they'll cut some sort of a deal, and she will be. She doesn't want his acerbic approach to Washington to be part of her administration. She doesn't want ... Yes, Mark, she may agree with him on some core, basic, philosophical issues, but she doesn't want ... She's not going to go out and campaign on free college for everybody, because…

Mark:

No. She's not. You're right. She ...

Howard:

She wants nothing to do with him, other than to get his voters to come along.

Mark:

I think that's a little extreme. This ... Two things. The first imperative of a campaign is to win. Yes, she needs to do what she needs to do to get elected in November, and that includes Senator Sanders. Secondly, I just think you're overstating the animosity between these two people, and the two sides of the party. This is not Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and they managed to get themselves elected. I think it's going to be a little bit smoother than that, but I'm not suggesting for a moment that if Senator Sanders were irrelevant to her election ... I'm not suggesting for a moment that she would be looking to Senator Feinstein, to put them together at her house.

Blake:

Well, it'll be interesting. I think that as the world turns in this race, every day will offer perhaps a new dynamic, and when we have a story just published in Politico today, about the Sanders, in some way, struggle, for how to come ... To really come down from a loss, Mark. You were on the winning side in '08, but I think you would agree that ...

Mark:

Not '04.

Blake:

Right, but not '04, and when you are close, it is very difficult to let go.

Mark:

Very hard to let go. It is very hard to let go. He had 27,000 people in Prospect Park, telling him that he should be President, and everywhere he went, the same. It's going to take a little while for him to let go of all that. I think that it may even take a little longer than it would take others, because we have to remember, this wasn't plan A. When he began running, plan A was somehow survive Iowa and New Hampshire, and see what happens. There was no plan B to this plan A, because this was never what they planned. You know, Blake, from having been involved, nothing moves faster in politics than a Presidential campaign. He hasn't had a minute to sit and down and think. When he does, I think this is going to become clear.

Howard:

Just to offer one more though, he ... I don't like him, but I admire the fact ... He won the authenticity battle in this election. It's impressive that he did so, basically stringing his campaign together, day by day by day.

Mark:

Well, what he did, and you've pointed this out, Howard. I'm going to use your point back with you. The most impressive thing he did was raise all that money. That is why this was never plan A. He never thought he would have the money to do this, and he did, and that was, to me, the most impressive achievement of the Sanders campaign.

Howard:

Yeah, the second most. The most impressive was ... Well, it's not his campaign, but Larry David's impersonation of Bernie Sanders, I think, is the most impressive thing.

Blake:

We'll circle back, because I do want to get some of your thoughts on defining moments of the primary season, but I want to pivot to the Republicans. Before we do that, as always, questions, please e-mail us, presidentialanalysis@cozen.com. We've got a couple in that I'll get to here in a minute.

Howard, I want to come to you. Donald Trump has been the presumptive nominee of the Republican party for almost five weeks now, and I don't want to overstate it in terms of offering a loaded question to you, but I think it's rather clear that he didn't have a good week this past week. He has created some serious tension, at least among the leadership of his party. I'm obviously talking about the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and others, over his comments about the judge in the Trump University case. What do you make of this latest Donald Trump dilemma? We have talked time and again on these calls about dilemmas for him, and then it goes away. This one seems much more problematic, though, but I want to get your reactions to what's happening on the Republican side.

Howard:

I keep going back to the notion that if you're Paul Ryan, if you're Mitch McConnell, you're thinking about how to preserve your majorities in Congress. They could care less whether Donald Trump is elected President of the United States. In fact, I think if you could have an honest conversation with both of them, especially Paul Ryan, because of 2020, he might prefer that Hillary wins, rather than just not caring. I don't think any of them care about Donald Trump winning. I think they care about preserving their majorities, and their political calculus is all around that. I don't think there's anything surprising to Paul Ryan about the fact that this day would come. I don't think he expected it to come a week or two after saying he would vote for him, but I think that the line that the Republican party is trying to walk, they're trying to ...

They can't win these seats without the people that are absolutely, definitively voting for Trump. They can't run away from Trump politically. At the same time, they can't win without pulling in some of the people who are rightfully and appropriately turned off by the nature of his remarks. They're trying to have their cake and eat it too, which is a very, very bad place to be politically, but I think that's what's going on.

Blake:

Yeah. Here's what McConnell said. He said, "We have plenty of issues, and my advice to our nominee," speaking of Trump, "would be to start talking about the issues that the American people care about, and to start doing it now. In addition to that, it's time to quit attacking various people that you competed with, or with various minority groups in the country, and get on message. This election is eminently winnable." Mark, what's your reaction to that?

Mark:

Well, two things. This election is eminently winnable. I was saying to you earlier that last night, all sorts of friends on the Democratic side were e-mailing and texting, "It's over. We won. She can't lose." All I sent back to everybody was three words, "Dewey beats Truman." This isn't over until November 8th, when the votes are counted, and it's a long time until then. Anything can happen. Donald Trump can still get elected President.

However, having said that, I think that leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, are trying to do the impossible. They are trying to square the circle. They're trying to unring the bell. Donald Trump is a racist. Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims, based on their religious belief. Donald Trump lied to the American people, and said he didn't know who David Duke was, and he wasn't familiar with the Ku Klux Klan. Donald Trump said that Judge Curiel is prejudiced against him, because his parents, not Trump's the judge's, were Mexican. Donald Trump is a racist, and Ryan and McConnell, and too many other Republicans, are trying to have it both ways, by talking about message, and discipline, and issues, and that isn't the issue at all. The issue is whether these men are going to support an un-American candidate for President, or whether, as Howard says, to preserve what is rightfully theirs. They went out and won it, the majority of the Senate, and the majority of the House. They gotta cut this guy loose.

Howard:

I think the dialogue around this is wrong altogether, and it goes to what Mark was just saying. If you watch the news programs over the last couple of days, even the media keeps peppering public figures with questions about whether his remarks were racist. Whether they were racial remarks. That's a different question than asking whether he's a racist, and I think that question needs to be asked, and it's fair game.

Mark:

You don't think it's been answered?

Howard:

I don't think that, to your point ...

Mark:

He has answered it?

Howard:

I think he has, for me. I think, to your point, that conversation is not taking place. It's different than categorizing the particular remarks. I will say, look, we've seen ... I mean, he called Mexicans rapists and murderers, too, and that's an instinct to him. I think the distinction here is this is about the Trump University case. This isn't about building a wall to keep rapists and murderers ...

Mark:

It's not immigration policy.

Howard:

Away from Americans. This is about him, and maybe this sticks to him a little bit more as a result, but I think the narrative here ... I don't think the people that voted for him in the primary care. I think to them, the narrative is still the guy who's willing to defy convention, and question any institution, including United States federal judges.

Mark:

I have to make my usual caveat that I am not that familiar with the people who voted for Donald Trump in the primary, but the very few of them whom I know are horrified.

Howard:

Yeah. It's horrifying.

Mark:

They're horrified, and are wondering what they can do now. Maybe he's Teflon again. Maybe this is the tipping point, but I think that it is cumulative, and it is race. Race is the American dilemma, as a famous book of that name is titled. He has three or more times now crossed the line on race. I don't know that he gets to unring this bell.

Howard:

On a personal level, I couldn't agree with you more. On a political level, we'll see.

Mark:

Dewey beats Truman.

Blake:

Well, and we're starting to see ... Mark, your declaration that Republicans ought to cut Trump loose, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, who's in a very tough race this fall, has already abandoned his support for Donald Trump. Arguably the biggest Republican to do so. You did have, to the distinction that you made, Howard, you had a stern comment from Paul Ryan, that said the textbook definition of a racist comment, is what Donald Trump said.

Blake:

That's where I'm going with this, which is you still only have Mark Kirk stepping out and saying, "I'm done with this guy." You have Republicans trying to thread this needle of denouncing the comment, but not the man. I wonder, Howard, as we look at the demographics towards a general election, we have talked about a lot on this call the need for Republicans, at least in their own mind, because I'm referring back to the memo that the Republican National Committee put together after the 2012 election, talking about how they had to grow their support among Latinos. Trump is seeming to defy everything about a Republican playbook to win, and he seems to be making this a whole lot about white voters in the fall. You think that's a path that Trump can carve, and actually get across the victory line?

Howard:

Probably not. I think the smart money is absolutely on Hillary, but there's a lot of time between now and November. Probably one of the stupidest aspects of what he's done is he's had the strategy throughout the primary of controlling the news cycle. He did that again here, but that was a ... If there in fact was a calculation there, which I kind of doubt, it was a miscalculation, because he completely overtook the news about the state department inspector general report on Hillary Clinton, and Hillary Clinton's e-mail. I think it was a big miscalculation from that perspective, but look, there's a long time between now and November 8th. Things can happen. What's the October surprise going to be? God forbid there's some sort of terrorist incident, or something. You know, that could really ... Something bad happening could change the dynamic here. It could give him an opportunity. People turn on a dime, in terms of their sentiment, and so I think it's certainly not over.

Blake:

It is not Trump's nature, at least from what I gather about his persona, to recognize a mistake, and then correct the mistake. He often times either doubles down on it, or he somehow attempts to talk his way out of it. Here, he says that his comment about the judge was taken out of context, and thus misconstrued. He does have a convention, himself, coming up, that is four nights of a national television audience to, in many ways, set the stage for what the general election ought to be about, from a Republican perspective. How, if you're Trump, do you use that opportunity to, in my words, redeem yourself? Redemption is something we love in American life. We love it in politics. We love it in Hollywood. We love those kinds of stories. My own sentiment is Trump is not capable of that kind of about face, but he does have a convention. I thought I'd get your thoughts about how do you use the convention to your advantage, if you're Donald Trump?

Howard:

To put out a damn good television production.

Mark:

Maybe a Miss Universe contest.

Howard:

Something.

Mark:

That's his foreign policy credential.

Howard:

It's not going to be about policy, that's for sure. I think it's going to be about production. Usually we talk about policy, politics, and process as being the three P's that drive things here in DC, and the things we think about when we're representing clients, in front of the administration, and on the Hill. Well, I think ... Look, there's always an element of production quality, certainly to a convention, and obviously more broadly in a Presidential campaign. I think here, we're going to see that taken to a whole different level, and that may have some impact.

Blake:

Mark, thoughts about the Republican National Convention?

Mark:

Set aside for just purposes of this answer morality, and the other dimensions of this situation. As a strictly political matter, he's got a real challenge, because he got here by saying these things. That's how he got elected. These are not new or different. These are the remarks that got him nominated. To show up in Cleveland as the guy who gave that speech last night is a real problem for him. Last night, he was reading poorly from a teleprompter. The very few times he improvised, he was right back in the soup with our African-Americans. I don't think the people who came out and stood in line for his rallies were very happy with the guy they saw last night. I don't have much advice for Donald Trump.

Blake:

Well, before we pivot to the general, I do want to take a little bit of a step back, and get your reactions to the defining moments of this primary season, because I think there were several, but we can talk about ... We'll start with the Democrats, Mark. What were those real defining moments that stood out to you?

Mark:

Well, I think the defining moment of the Democratic primary season, for me, was actually last night. It was Secretary Clinton winning decisively in California. Because the story throughout, as we said earlier, was she can't put him away. They don't like her. They don't want her. Meanwhile, she just kept winning and winning and winning and winning some more. The defining moment, I think, was last night, when finally, when she had to ... Not to win the nomination. She did that, as far as I'm concerned, in Nevada, months ago, but to change the narrative. She needed that, and she got it, and that, to me, was the turning point for her in this primary season.

Blake:

Howard, any defining moments on the Democratic side for you?

Howard:

Bernie's incredible turnout. It's not one specific moment, but just the ... Well, actually, I do have a moment. I think the comment, and I think it was the first debate, or the second debate, everybody's sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails, was a very important moment in the Sanders campaign. I think if he ...

Mark:

And the Clinton campaign.

Howard:

And the Clinton campaign, right. I think he made a miscalculation very early on not, to use Trump's word, not to hit back. Not to hit her. I think that was a mistake. That was a political mistake, and if he had that to do over again, he'd probably do it differently. Look, his crowds were amazing. I think given ... This is an authenticity election. That was the conversation, and I think he did really, really well, as far as that's concerned.

Blake:

You know, it's interesting. I think in a way, the Democrat structure, their primary through the proportional system, and Mark, you know this very well, once you build a lead, it is hard to relinquish that lead. I think for me, I don't think ... You talk about the way she ended the race. I don't think we can discount how important that Iowa win was, considering what happened in New Hampshire, losing as bad as she did, and then being able to come back and win Nevada. I think that was the moment, and we talked about this, of if Iowa, two points the other way, Nevada, a couple of points the other way, and all of a sudden, she's 0 for 3, 1 for 4, very early on, and what that would suggest.

Mark:

Four months ago to the day, you and I sat in a bar in Manchester, New Hampshire, watched her lose, and lose badly, and we said it's her moment of truth. If she tears her campaign apart now, she's in trouble. If she stands up and stands tall in Nevada, and can win that, she's won the nomination. Turns out for a change, we were right.

Blake:

I think her campaign manager, Robby Mook, put a statement out. He was asked roughly a similar question, and he said, "We stuck together." I think that if you look back to the challenges of her infrastructure in 2008, versus where this campaign is, not only did they stick together, they stayed with their game plan, and respected that it was going to be a long and expensive process. That winning Iowa was just as essential as winning California at the end, and understanding that there were going to be some ebbs and flows. Panicking in politics is a really easy thing to do, and they didn't do it. I think that, to me, is probably the true defining moment of that campaign, was not hitting the panic button early, and then even after Michigan. Where I think for arguably the first time, Bernie Sanders thought, "Wow, I might actually have a shot at this."

Mark:

"I can win this thing."

Blake:

I think that's interesting. Howard, let's pivot to the Republicans. Defining moments on the Republican side?

Howard:

I have a few. Low energy Jeb, lyin' Ted, and little Marco. I mean, I really think, if you look back on this election season, those names are going to be one, if not the thing, that people most remember. They stuck. I think the Christie takedown of Marco Rubio in New Hampshire, huge. Trump bouncing back after Wisconsin, getting pummeled there, huge. The money aspect of this. Jeb Bush raising over $100 million, and disappearing, while Donald Trump spends very little money, and dominates free media, and I think the money thing is going to stick on both sides of the aisle. What Bernie did, raising money in small dollar donations, I think is revolutionary. What Trump did manipulating free media, I think revolutionary. I think these are some of the things that are going to stick.

Blake:

Mark?

Mark:

For me, just as the defining moment of the Democratic primaries was the last X of Washington, the last day, for me, the defining moment was the first day, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy. What is absolutely clear and unarguable and still stunning to me is that he stood up there at Trump Tower and said, "This is who I am. Mexicans are murderers and drug dealers and rapists, and I'm going to build a wall, and I'm going to make Mexico pay for it." Four months later, he's the nominee of the Republican party. Every day in between, that's who he was. That's who he is today. That's who he will be every day between now and the election. The defining moment for me was that he defined himself in a way that nobody in this or any other room thought was every going to work, and it did, and that's why this isn't over. That's why you've got to wait until November 8.

Blake:

I think the thing that continues to stick with me in this race, on the Republican side, is the what if. What if there weren't sixteen other candidates? What if there were two in opposition to Donald Trump, and if those two were Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio?

Mark:

What if there weren't winner take all?

Blake:

Right. What if there weren't winner take all primaries? What if the media obsession with Trump was spread, again, among a few, as opposed to having to be a portion among so many others? I think that that, to me, stands out. This large field actually very much ... We talk about it in the sense of Trump bested 16 other people, and that is, of course, right, but that large field really worked to his advantage. It was very, very difficult for anyone to really force the electorate into a choice, until it was too late. I think, to me, that's the defining moment.

Well, I want to shift to the general election, because by all accounts, in a couple of weeks, we're going to have major party nominees, and we're going to be looking at what the general election really means, as both Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump present their case and their narrative at their conventions. You all will be in Cleveland. You will obviously be in Philadelphia, as well. We'll certainly be back with a preview of both conventions, but I do want to throw some numbers out at you, in terms of where we start today. If we look at this race demographically, Hillary Clinton has an advantage among African-Americans, 86 to 9. She has an advantage among Latinos, 68 to 20. She has an advantage among young people, 55 to 32. The only demographic where she is behind Donald Trump is among whites. She's 16 points behind. Among college educated whites, they're tied, 44 to 44.

The electoral map, Mark and Howard, we have both talked about, it generally comes down to ten or eleven states. The states where I have it, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin. President Obama won all eleven of those states in 2008. He won ten of eleven in 2012. It seems like, from an electoral college perspective, and a demographic perspective today, Howard, an uphill climb for Donald Trump.

Howard:

Oh, it certainly does, if you're taking a historical view of the electoral map. This could easily turn into a momentum election, which is why I think Trump is very much in it. I discount the history at this point. I think we need to get through the conventions, see how things settle out, and see what happens with Hillary's e-mails. I know you guys don't like talking about that, but it's still very much out there. See if she can ... Look, she had a great last week, or five days. Whatever it is. She's gotten her voice. Can she keep that up? Can she be thrown off message? They're going to throw a lot at her. How does she run? Can she convince people that she can be the President of the United States? Not the divided states? I think that's huge. Her answer in the first debate about who her enemies are, and saying that they're Republicans, was a horrible moment for her. She's got to reverse that narrative. She's got to convince people that she can lead the country as a whole, because, gosh, do we need it.

Blake:

Mark, thoughts on the general election?

Mark:

I agree with just about everything that Howard said. It is a long time until November 8, and as Howard eloquently said, a lot can happen. Hillary Clinton cannot rely simply on Donald Trump to lose it. She has to go out and win it, which I know, Howard, is the point you were just making. I do want to close with two facts from the demographics, Blake, that you were just talking about. There is all this speculation that Trump can put New Jersey and other states in play, because he is going to convert white Democrats to Republicans. The Reagan Democrats are going to come back to the Republican party.

Today, and it's only today. It is only today, and it's a long time until election day. Today, according to all the reliable polling, Donald Trump is getting a lower percentage of the white vote than Mitt Romney got, and Mitt Romney lost by 4 million votes in the popular vote, and he lost 332 to 206 in the electoral college. Not only is Donald Trump not likely to get enough Latino votes to win, to get enough African-American votes, Asian-American votes, Muslim-American votes, young people, forget all of that. Today, he's running behind Mitt Romney with white voters. That fact, as much as any other statistic, is one that is really hard to overcome.

Blake:

Well, we will be back pre-conventions, to talk about what we expect in Cleveland and in Philadelphia. We got two big weeks coming up in July. Lots of dynamics that I suspect will evolve in the time between now and then. I certainly want to thank everyone who listened to our call today. We appreciate it. You can go to our website, and check out all of our content on the Presidential election season, Mark and Howard's media appearances, as well, and the archives of all of these calls. Mark, Howard, great to be with you guys again. Thanks to everyone for listening, and we'll talk to you next time.

Mark:

Thank you, Blake.