Oval Office Thunderdome: SOOOOPAAAHHHHHHH TOOOOOSSSDAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

It’s here! The biggest day of the primary season (only to be superseded, possibly, by a chaotic GOP convention in July — I may have to visit the old family in Ohio for that one).

Each party has 11 states up for grabs tonight, with a big chunk of delegates to boot. There won’t be much in the way of surprises tonight, but I’m going to live blog it anyway, because it gives me an excuse to watch Republican pundits go through the five stages of grief on live television.

The Republicans have brought Donald Trump on themselves. Up until recently, I had thought the ultra-right turn the GOP took after Obama’s election would auger in an age of Michele Bachmanns and Leo Gohmerts as perpetual frontrunners — people for whom conservatism is as much part of a rigid interpretation of Christian doctrine as it is a political philosophy. Instead, the populism that accompanied the tea party revolution within the GOP has blown back and created an opening for a demagogue with fluid political positions such as Trump.

Neither type of candidate — crazy tea partier or unhinged capitalist — is fit to lead the country. But, at least in creating a political atmosphere in which Trump can succeed, they’ve made a very depressing election season into riveting television. I guess that’s some compensation for the damage being done to the republic.

Hmm, maybe I’m going through a few of the stages of grief, myself.

The polls close in Vermont, Virginia, and Georgia at 7pm.

7:03PM

Georgia, Virginia, and Vermont have just closed, but that hasn’t stopped some news organizations from already calling them.

Hillary Clinton takes Georgia and Virginia, while Bernie Sanders takes Vermont. No surprises, there. It will be a while before enough results are in to know how these states’ delegates are apportioned.

7:19PM

I don’t know what types of voting machines each of the states is using tonight. But I do know that the pace of technology being what it is, most states, if not all, are not using the same machines they were in the 1990s.

This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure, our personal experiences with computers have been improving at an unstoppable pace since the 1970s, but the internet has added security wrinkles of which we have been woefully unprepared.

Hackers have demonstrated time and time again that internet security is only secure right up until the moment it gets hacked. There’s an even more ominous saying about internet security: There are two types of companies. Those that have been hacked, and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked. In this atmosphere of insecurity, why in the world would we consider using voting machines that hook up to the internet? The ability to compile a vote count immediately is not nearly as important as protecting against election fraud.

I’m not referring to the single-vote fraud that the GOP has used as a bugaboo to suppress minority voting. I’m referring to the threat of viruses and/or malicious users to manipulate large numbers of votes. Our computer technology is still in its infancy compared to where it will be in the future. Quite frankly, it’s not ready.

Also, would someone please tell me how decades after ATMs first came into use, and more than a century after the first cash registers began to appear in stores, no one can seem to make a modern voting machine that isn’t a piece of shit? If our banks and retail businesses had to rely on the same technology we allow in our polling locations, then our economy would be absolute chaos.

Trump is leading in Virginia.

7:52PM

On the Republican side, multiple news outlets are now calling Georgia for Trump. There’s still a whole pile of votes to be counted there, but so far he has his first majority of the primaries, building on showings of 35%, 33%, and 46% in previous contests.

Trump is such an unknown, or so known, that his success is creating more unease on both sides than I can remember in any election since I’ve been alive. That’s quite a feat for someone who was considered a joke candidate not that long ago.

The GOP has been against Trump for so long that it was truly shocking to me when he began to get endorsements from GOP officeholders after his victory in South Carolina. First there was Chris Christie, fresh off his own run for the nomination, and then there was Senator Jeff Sessions. When the people who actually hold prominent office started defecting to the Trump camp, that’s when I really reconciled myself with the fact that Trump will get the nomination. Especially when Christie came onboard.

That guy is a political opportunist extraordinaire. In order for him to endorse someone like Trump, he had to weigh the state of the race and decide that getting in on the ground floor with an endorsement would carry with it significant rewards, and a whole lot less risk than common wisdom would suggest. Christie went against the party with his endorsement, and there’s no way he would do so if he wasn’t convinced it would benefit him personally. He’s just not into being magnanimous or doing what he thinks is best for the country.

8:05PM

How unlikely was a Trump nomination before these past few weeks? FiveThirtyEight was the place I would go whenever I got the cold sweats about Trump. In the long months before the actual primaries and caucuses began, when Trump just kept leading poll after poll, it was 538 that kept saying, “don’t worry, calm down, breathe, he isn’t going to win.” Nate Silver and his people have built up such a reputation as poll readers that there is going to be some serious soul-searching there as they try and figure out where they went wrong in their predictions.

Sure, no one is right 100% of the time, but that shouldn’t stop them, and others, from looking to see if their prediction models were flawed, or if they were subject to personal bias. There’s nothing wrong with making examinations like that.

Some more states are down. On the Democratic side, Clinton can add Alabama and Tennessee to her toll, while over in the GOP, Trump is rolling, taking Alabama, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Tennessee.

8:14PM

ABC news said they would be back on the air as results came in. That was over an hour ago. Come on, fellas. You’re on publicly-owned spectrum. Show us a little fucking respect. Trump leading in Vermont and Virginia.

8:22PM

Fox News took a commercial break and cut to a spot for London Has Fallen, the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this movie. I watch a lot of movies, but I don’t go to the theater all that often. But I did make an exception for Olympus Has Fallen.

I knew it was going to be a piece of shit before I sat down in the theater. That’s what I wanted. From the laughter that was common in the theater that night, I wasn’t the only one.

I will go see this new piece of shit. Oh, yes. I will.

I wonder, if Trump wins the presidency, would he be willing to portray himself in the third installment in the series? Or will he get in a bidding war with the producers of White House Down?

These questions are what we as a nation need answered.

No new calls.

8:33PM

Oddly, Trump has scheduled a press conference tonight, rather than a victory speech. What does this mean? The more mischievous side of me is hoping this is when he drops out of the race — when he announces that it was all just a big joke, designed to make the Republican Party confront its flaws, but he had no idea it would go this far. So, for the good of the country, he’s dropping out of the race. It would go something like this:

“How could you people seriously consider making me president? You’re out of your minds. You’re stupid. I’m half-considering staying in the race because you people truly need help.”

That would be nice, right? Only, such a con-job feels half done at this point. This has to go to the convention, at least.

Some more polls are closed, but no new results are in yet.

8:38PM

Turd Blossom has returned to the Fox News election night panel. That makes me so happy. My favorite moment in broadcast politics was Rove losing his shit over Ohio in 2012. Conspiracy theorists thought that was because he had tried to have Ohio fixed for Mitt Romney, and was wondering why it hadn’t worked. Me, I think he was shitting himself over all the Super PAC money he raised, all for nothing, and how the rich people that cut those big checks were expecting results. Part of him had to be worried that his fund-raising days were numbered. Another part of him had to be worried that he’d be invited to a hunting trip from which he would never return.

Clinton now has 5 states to her name — AL, AR, GA, TN, and VA, with Sanders taking VT. On the GOP side, Trump has AL, GA, MA, and TN.

8:47PM

I’m still waiting for ABC News to break into programming and provide their viewers with election results, as they promised. I’ve got a rotating stream of cable news on the machine, but the TV is sitting on ABC on mute. Kermit the Frog is bitching out some poor muppet for something — I don’t know what, since it’s on mute. Maybe ABC should have just compromised and had the muppets co-host the night’s election coverage. I don’t see how George Stephanopoulos getting analysis from a muppet that’s just stuffed cloth with a hand up its ass is any different from the interviews he does with politicians. Maybe there could be a panel, where George Will returns triumphantly to the roundtable, and sparks fly between him and Miss Piggy. Because that is how stupid this television show is that is on ABC right now. It’s Super Tuesday, ya jerks! It’s only the future of the country that’s at stake.

8:58PM

Lest I pile on ABC, none of the broadcast networks are currently running coverage of Super Tuesday. I’ve complained about this in the past, but these networks operate on a resource (spectrum) that is owned by the people of the United States. The television networks make a shitload of money off of this spectrum, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that on a night such as this, part of the process that chooses our next president, they could dedicate an evening to election coverage. But no. Instead, we get muppets, a sitcom, a singing contest, and a procedural. If you can guess which network is which, I’ll send you a pizza roll.

The Washington Post has called Virginia for Trump. Clinton is making her victory speech right now. Meh. She’s a capable speaker, but she sounds as natural as a can of SPAM.

9:10PM

Is it time for John Kasich and Ben Carson to go? It sure is. Carson needs to drop out of the race because he seems hilariously uninterested in actually being president, and is more aware of his incapacity for the job than he lets on.

As for Kasich, I, and everyone else I know from back home, has been perplexed that Kasich has managed to grab the ‘moderate’ label in the primaries. What? How? Kasich is anything but a moderate. Moderates don’t bust unions. Moderates don’t defund Planned Parenthood. Moderates don’t slash funding to state universities. Moderates don’t privatize education and prisons. Before it was known as Obergefell v Hodges, it was called Obergefell v Kasich. Kasich isn’t a moderate. He’s just mild-mannered. He’s the kind of politician who doesn’t fuck people in the ass — he ‘you know’ in their ‘you know where.’ Just because he can’t say it doesn’t mean you aren’t getting reamed. He should drop out.

Rubio is giving a victory speech and I can’t figure out why. He’s getting absolutely ruined tonight. Losers don’t admit to losing in this election. It’s really weird.

Clinton can add Texas to her toll.

9:29PM

There’s another GOP debate on Thursday night. That’s going to be great. I hadn’t watched any of the GOP debates before last week’s, but what I saw was equally terrifying and entertaining. Trump has lowered the level of debate so far that Rubio ran out a small dick joke on him the other day. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the men who want to be leader of the free world.

There was no debate during the debate. There were accusations and name-calling. It was like an episode of Jerry Springer. The only things missing were thrown chairs, big bouncers, and profanity, the candidates all managing to keep their language aboveboard.

That’s one of the perplexing things about this election. How in the world has Trump managed to bring the other candidates down to his level? Does he really have an irresistible charisma? It certainly isn’t his charm — the guy’s an asshole. But his personality barged into the party to such an extent that he’s being imitated more than disowned by the other candidates. Amazing.

Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz both won Oklahoma. Sanders’ win was expected, but winning Oklahoma was huge for Ted Cruz. He’s going to come out of the night with at least a pair of wins, and it’s likely Rubio will have a string of third place finishes. Cruz now has numbers he can use to back an argument that Rubio should drop out so Cruz can take on Trump unhindered. That argument isn’t going to work this week, but Rubio is in deep shit.

9:53PM

Trump is giving his press conference. He’s not dropping out. He’s for real. Welp.

He just called someone a loser. I didn’t hear who. It all kind of blends together.

“It’s gonna be great.”

“Everyone’s gonna love it.”

“Loser.”

“Liar.”

“Immigrants.”

Rinse.

Repeat.

Trump is shifting his focus. He’s barely mentioned Cruz and Rubio in this press conference. He’s hammering Clinton. Cart before the horse? Not at all.

10:04PM

Chris Christie is standing behind Trump during his press conference. I would be furious if I were a New Jersey resident. Christie spent months as an absentee governor while he ran for president. He collected a salary. Now here he is, no longer running for president, but angling for a spot on the ticket with Trump, instead of being back in New Jersey fixing his fucked-up state.

Meanwhile, Trump is going on about his border wall policy. A two-thousand mile long wall that’s twenty feet high, and Mexico will pay for it all. It’s incredible how unrealistic this idea is, and how he’s sticking to it. Incredible.

I just, I feel all sense fading away as Trump hammers point after point after point. None of it stands up under any sort of scrutiny, but it’s like a drug — politics as narcotic.

10:21PM

Hey, it’s after 10pm. Do you know where our news networks are? They’re on the air! Finally, after three hours of returns coming in, the broadcast networks have decided to inform the populace of the important events of the evening. How gracious of them.

Here’s a transcript of a short IM exchange I just had with Daily Exhaust Mike:

 

DEM: Clay Shirky was talking smack about Nate Silver last week

DEM: dude doesn’t know how to bat against a Trump curve ball

DEM: maybe go back down to the minors, work on your swing, son.

ME: hahahaha

ME: dayum

 

Dayum, indeed. That’s some major league smack. I hope Daily Exhaust Mike and Nate Silver meet at a party someday and it’s super awkward. Won’t happen, you say? Well, think about this. Both Daily Exhaust Mike and myself have been running our respective websites for longer than Mr. Silver. Age before competence, Nate!

I bring this up because Silver and 538 are going to catch some shit over underestimating Trump. This isn’t completely fair.

The last few election cycles, voters and the media seemed to turn to Nate Silver to provide a sober analysis of a candidate’s chances, devoid of feelings or hunches or anything else that discounts facts. Silver became a default backup, a way to reboot once our own views became unreliable, which was all too often. That’s made 538 a crutch.

So they got Trump wrong? So what? Does it really matter? I would think the actual results would be more important. Still, 538 should do an internal audit, just to be sure.

No new calls.

10:31PM

Cruz is up to bat now and he’s not screwing around. He’s all over Trump. He knows that right now he’s the number two in the race, and he needs to make it look like he can beat Trump. He’s probably already been on the phone tonight making the case to the leadership that he’s the best shot the party has. He needs Rubio and Kasich to drop out as soon as possible, otherwise time is going to run out.

Trump, so far, has taken more delegates on the night than all the other candidates combined. Trump, in a weird twisting of the 2008 and 2012 primaries, which the GOP had thought they had prevented in 2016 with some creative scheduling, is going to win the nomination because the other candidates are eating each other alive.

After this week, Trump’s pluralities in popular vote are going to turn into majorities. This will be the week the GOP realizes they need a single standard-bearer to take down Trump. By next week they’ll realize they waited too long.

Trump takes Arkansas and Clinton takes Massachusetts. That’s a big loss for Sanders.

11:06PM

Clinton is starting to pull away from Sanders more quickly than Barack Obama pulled away from Clinton in 2008.

Sanders is a serious candidate, despite much of the disparagement his campaign has encountered. Whereas Trump has lowered the level of debate over in the GOP race, Sanders is the sole reason that any policies of substance have been discussed in the Democratic race.

It was Sanders that brought up college tuition, universal healthcare, income inequality, racial equality, global warming, and more, more than just platitudes that Clinton would let fall like rose petals on her way to the coronation. Sanders made sure they stayed issues and that the frontrunner was forced to take stands.

Sanders isn’t done yet, but combined with the superdelegate count, he’s starting to get creamed. He’ll stay in long past the time when the news media has moved on. His impact on the debate will continue to decrease, but he will remain an influence, and that’s a good thing.

Sanders’ campaign hasn’t been put into this trouble because his policies didn’t resonate. In fact, the more people research him, the more supporters he gets. Rather, he has just run into a massive party coalition that was solidified years before Bernie decided to run. 2016 was always supposed to be Clinton’s year, and she made sure that her support within the party above the voters was secure. The work that was done inside the party is paying dividends now.

Of course it was going to be that way. Clinton was blindsided by Obama in 2008. All the internal work she took for granted in 2008 was done over the course of the entire Obama presidency. The most tangible result of this is the overwhelming support she has from superdelegates.

The superdelegates were an open question in 2008. In 2016, they have never been in doubt, breaking for Clinton at a rate of over ten-to-one. That’s why Clinton is winning. She found a way to exploit a built-in advantage in the party that has nothing to do with popular vote. But it has been Sanders that made sure she had to actually run as a Democrat.

That’s four hours of this nonsense, and I haven’t been paid a dime, so I’m calling it a night. The night belongs to Clinton and Trump.

11:44PM

Oh, hey. One last thing. If there is anyone from the Washington Post who reads this site, I want you to know that I saw that period tonight at about 11:40 when your paper had Massachusetts for Sanders and then switched it.