That is a possible end result of this odd presidential campaign. Bill Gates could also win, but Melinda may be the better candidate.
Shoveling snow is a contemplative activity and I come up with some interesting ideas during those times. This morning I was shoveling the driveway and a few things were rolling around in my brain.
1. The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia,
2. The angry electorate which supports outsiders rather than establishment candidates,
3. Michael Bloomberg’s potential independent run for president if the political middle is left open (i.e., Sanders vs. either Trump or Cruz),
4. Political scientist Scott Huffmon’s comments on npr’s Weekend Edition Saturday about the voting power of southern states (see below),
5. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statements which indicate the senate will not hold confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court justice appointed by President Obama.
And what came out of this news stew – Melinda Gates.
First of all, I would like to express my condolences to the Scalia family. A sudden death is difficult on those left behind because you don’t have a clue it’s coming. You first need to get over your shock enough to take care of the details, and then when things slow down a little, you realize you’re still in shock. My thoughts are with the family during this difficult time.
Very quickly after the announcement of the associate justice’s death, reporters and senators were talking about a potential replacement on the high court and whether confirmation hearings would or would not be held this year. This will undoubtably be a major topic during the rest of the presidential campaign. I am certain there will be negative ads about the type of judge that this candidate or that would put on the Supreme Court, and the dire and long lasting effects on your quality of life and that of your kids and grandkids. It’s already getting ugly. Here’s a Ted Cruz quote from Sunday’s Meet the Press on NBC:
“…If liberals are so confident that the American people want unlimited abortion on demand, want religious liberty torn down, want the Second Amendment taken away, want veterans’ memorials torn down, want the crosses and stars of David sandblasted off the tombstones of our fallen veterans, then go and make the case to the people.”
Just writing down the quote makes me feel soiled somehow. I am really dreading the onslaught of attack ads that will be saturating our airwaves, computers, phones, and I suspect, nightmares. They will come so fast that fact checking will be a full-time job, and getting the truth out to the voters will be nearly impossible.
Let’s look at Scott Huffmon’s remarks. Professor Huffmon is a political scientist at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.
1. “… The entire 11-state South makes up 59% of all the Electoral College votes you need to win the presidency in the general election.”
2. “… If a Republican candidate in the modern era can sweep the South, they become president.”
“… If a Democratic candidate can crack the South with two states, they become president.”
Most of those eleven states that Professor Huffmon noted are safe Republican states. When you add in the other safe states, Republicans start off with 142 electoral votes. “Likely” Republican states include Georgia, Indiana, Arizona and the last proportionally assigned electoral vote from Nebraska. This brings the likely and safe Republican electoral votes to 181 of the 270 needed to win the election.
On the Democratic side, safe and likely states, plus Washington D.C., yield 192 electoral votes. Of the remaining fourteen states, some lean Republican, some lean Democratic and some are toss-ups. In the toss-up category are Florida (29), Ohio (18) and Virginia (13), plus some smaller states with fewer votes. So, as in past years, the race may end up in these three states which have all picked the winner in the last four presidential elections.
Which of the eleven southern block states are potential wins for the Democrats – Florida and less likely, North Carolina.
Now let’s look at each candidate’s negatives. At least hundreds of millions of dollars – most of it raised secretly thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – has been pledged to spread the negative information on the candidates. On the Democratic side, the attack ads targeting Sanders will focus on socialism, his plan to raise taxes and expand the welfare state, and perhaps his age and religion. For Clinton, the attacks will be on her character, Benghazi, untrustworthiness as indicated by the email server in her house, her husband’s behavior while in office, perceived influence by Wall Street firms and foreign governments through speaking fees and donations to the Clinton Foundation.
On the Republican side, Trump has provided many quotes and actions upon which attack ads can be based, but so far he seems untouchable. Other than flip-flopping on ethanol mandates in unleaded gasoline in order to win the Iowa Caucus, Cruz is consistent in his Constitutional freedoms message, but his 10% flat tax plan will likely get him into trouble. The other candidates are also subject to attack, but you get the point.
The fray will be messy and likely turn off younger voters and those who are not regular participants in the electoral process. The less committed voters are more likely to support Democrats, so that could lead to a Republican win.
But what if there’s an independent campaign? What if Bloomberg or someone else who could self-finance their campaign entered the race in a month or so?
The attacks on Bloomberg would likely focus on his attempt to limit the size of soft drinks while he was Mayor of New York. It seems a small thing, but it would be exaggerated into the federal government would try to control all aspects of your life under a Bloomberg administration. He may also me attacked – less directly – for his religion and height.
If only there was a candidate whose public record is impeccable. Someone who was born and grew up in the South and graduated from one of the South’s most prestigious universities. Someone who has degrees in computer science, economics and business. Someone who has been a successful manager at a large, multi-national corporation, plus served on the boards of companies and a well respected university. A caring person who has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the less fortunate, while sponsoring forward-looking programs to improve education systems that will help this and other countries address the concerns of tomorrow. A generous person and a loving parent.
Melinda Gates, would you like to run for president?
There are a couple problems with this proposal. First, she may not want to run for president – it can be a nasty affair. And then if she wins, it still can be a nasty affair – just ask our current President. It seems as if he’s been under attack before he was even sworn into office. The Obama children have even been attacked by conservative pundits, and Bill and Melinda Gates have three children to consider.
Second, she would have to resign from the board of the Washington Post and probably leave the foundation that bears her and her husband’s names. That may be too much to ask – they do fantastic work.
Third, if she is okay with points 1 & 2, there’s the election. If a candidate does not receive 270 electoral votes, the presidency is determined by the House of Representatives in which a Representative from each state cast his or her vote for one of the top three contenders (one vote per state). Eventually, one candidate emerges with a majority of the votes and is named as President-elect. The Vice President is chosen in a similar manner by the Senate.
So, if the President is chosen by the House with each state having equal voting power, the conservatives have a distinct advantage. Many states that voted for President Obama in 2012 also voted for Republican Representatives, partly due to gerrymandered congressional districts.
Unless a third party candidate obtains 270 or more votes outright, the president chosen by the House will likely be the Republican candidate. So is it possible for Melinda Gates to get 270 electoral votes?
I don’t know Ms. Gates’ political views, how religious she is, or what her federal budgetary policies would be. Things that would help her win some of those traditionally red states include that she was born in Texas and graduated from Duke University. She has been successful in business and has worked hard to help give people and children the skills they need to become productive members of society. To win some of the blue states, her success in the high tech field plus the foundation’s charitable work are both pluses. To help in all states, she has an excellent reputation and no past positions that may come up in attack ads. I think the public would react badly to personal attacks on her and she would only gain support.
So the 270 votes could come from Hawaii (4), Washington (12), Oregon (7), California (55), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), Colorado (9), Texas (38), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Illinois (20), Michigan (16), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), New York (29), Massachusetts (11), Connecticut (7), New Jersey (14), Maryland (10), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), and Florida (29), with 88 electoral votes left over. These states are traditionally Democratic states to which the Gates Foundation’s social policies would be appealing, swing states, or traditionally Republican states in which Ms. Gates has a connection.
So, would you like to become President Gates?
One last thing. For those of you who have made the connection that I spent much of Valentine’s Day thinking of another woman, I’m doing it for the good of the country. Also, I made wild rice crab cakes and broiled asparagus and mushrooms for dinner, and cleaned up afterward, so my wife is happy.