Hello from Nebraska.
Last night's Democratic debate showed that it is just the Republicans feeling the pressure to do well in next week's New York primary. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fought over Wall Street, tax return, Wall Street speeches, foreign policy and everything in between. The polls are all over the place: Nationally they are tied. In New York, Clinton still appears to be up by low double digits. In the expectation game, if Sanders keeps it close, or wins, the campaign will go on. New York is not a game changer, no matter what the pundits say. Even if Sanders wins, (that would be a big blow to her campaign going forward only if the superdelegates become less confident), the odds are high that Hillary will be the nominee.
But the debate is changing. Hillary had resisted supporting a $15 national minimum wage, changed her position last night. The Democratic candidates now are on record of supporting a very high minimum wage. That cannot be undone in the general election. In that regard, Sanders' campaign is defining the debate. On the other hand, Hillary appears the most competent candidate when talking about foreign affairs. But even there, Sanders has made his argument: do as I say, not as I did calls into question her judgment on Iraq and Libya.
Trump is riding a wave of New York home court advantage, but in this week's primary, it is how well Kasich and not Cruz does. If Kasich can move closer to Trump, possibly holding him under 50%, then even without a win, he slowly transforms himself into the loser that the Republican party might actually turn to in a convention contest,
Cruz is looking ahead to other primaries, including California. I think that it will be California that determines the most important question in this primary season: (no not who is the ultimate candidate), but instead, which direction will the two major parties head A Cruz win in California will push the Republicans farther to the right, and a Sanders win will push the Democrats to the left.
Watch for the issues that matter in California, Immigration, taxes, social policy, character. What will matter to the California voters? We all know that the issues across the nation play different in each state, with each state's voters deciding what matters to them. In that respect what we are seeing in this primary season is that while the election for president is national, we are really seeing 50 plus separate elections, local elections, play out.
This is going to remain very, very interesting.