St. Louis gets its own Marilyn Mosby

Kim Gardner

Kim Gardner

Marilyn Mosby

Marilyn Mosby

Out of this past week’s politically correct celebration of the sweep of all three citywide offices by African American candidates in the Democratic primary in the City of St. Louis, there is a note of concern for adherents of law and order. Kim Gardner, the state representative who won the Democratic nomination for Circuit Attorney, appears to be a protege of Marilyn Mosby, the controversial cop-hating Baltimore state’s attorney.

Retiring Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has worked closely with St. Louis police to get criminals off the streets, a chore made more challenging since the social unrest following nationally publicized incidents in Ferguson. Joyce supported Chief Sam Dotson’s program of “broken windows” law enforcement, an efficient practice that was called into question after Ferguson.

Joyce’s policies are about to change. After being declared the winner of her primary, Gardner said her election was “about building trust. This is about doing things differently.” What would she do differently? In her campaign brochure Gardner had promised “to reduce over-incarceration of low level non-violent offenders.” She blamed the city’s crime problems on “decades of public mistrust in the criminal justice system (law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges alike).” She also said one of her goals would be to increase diversity in the office, in which African Americans currently comprise a little over 10% of the lawyers.

I see a huge problem with the lead prosecutor announcing her intention “to reduce over-incarceration of low level non-violent offenders.” Most burglaries are non-violent. So are car thefts, defrauding seniors and other victims with Ponzi schemes, election fraud,  identity theft and heroine sales. What about robberies where a weapon is claimed but not actually displayed, or where a gun is brandished but no shots are fired? Gardner just announced to criminals in our area that they probably won’t have to go to prison for those sorts of crimes. Sounds to me like open season on crime victims.

Gardner won her contest over the opposition of both police unions, the predominantly white St. Louis Police Officers Association and the predominantly black Ethical Society of Police. She owes her victory instead to the near unanimous backing of African American political leaders (including Congressman Lacy Clay), black newspapers, and certain prominent Black Lives Matter activists. Her campaign’s largest financial benefactor was a committee funded by left-wing billionaire activist George Soros, who has also funded militant protests by Black Lives Matter activists. Gardner piled up huge margins in predominantly black wards, topping 70% in seven of them. Her closest competitor, Joyce’s lead homicide prosecutor Mary Pat Carl, won most white wards by mere pluralities, topping 50% only in her home ward. Gardner owes her new office to the black community, and owes law enforcement nothing but payback.

How did this happen? Primarily, voters were kept in the dark about the danger of what a Gardner win would mean. I attended a neighborhood meeting where the only candidates who appeared were the two white candidates. They referred to each other as “my opponent,” in the singular, as though no other candidates had filed. They had to have seen Gardner’s campaign flyer containing the statements mentioned above. Did political correctness prevent them from criticizing, or even mentioning, these dangerous policies propounded by an African American candidate?

Gardner’s win cannot realistically be reversed in the November general election. No Republican or third party candidate filed for the office, and the deadline for filing an independent candidate has passed. Gardner will be the only candidate on the ballot. Write-in votes are still possible, but such campaigns are rarely successful.

When speaking in St. Louis after having been elected governor of California, Ronald Reagan reportedly took note Ramsey Clark, the civil libertarian who headed the Justice Department under President Lyndon Johnson. Reagan asked, “How do you win a war against crime when the attorney general is a dove?” That may turn out to be an apt description of the St. Louis crime scene with Gardner as Circuit Attorney.

Peter Kinder is most electable choice for MO governor

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

You wouldn’t know it from all the negative ads, but the Republican primary for Missouri governor offers four excellent, conservative choices to succeed lame duck Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon. Early on, I settled on Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder as my likely first choice, followed closely by former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway. Former Navy Seal (and former Democrat) Eric Greitens has the support of many conservatives whose opinions I respect. Businessman John Brunner rubs me the wrong way, but I would still happily support him in the general election if he wins the primary. All of them would be better than likely Democrat nominee, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, an insincere and opportunistic former Republican and Nixon protege.

I had leaned to Kinder because he was both a proven conservative and a proven winner. He repeatedly earned his conservative chops by having the Tea Party’s back when others shied away. That’s why St. Louis Tea Party Coalition co-founder Dana Loesch (now a television personality for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze) has endorsed Kinder and recorded radio ads for him. Rush Limbaugh’s endorsement is also a plus, but partially explained by his and Kinder’s childhood friendship in Cape Girardeau. Kinder (like Hanaway and Brunner but not Greitens) is endorsed by Missouri Right to Life. The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (click “Statewide” tab) endorsed no gubernatorial candidate, but rated Kinder highest at A+. (Hanaway’s record earned her an A (not the D rating claimed by one false negative ad), while Brunner and Greitens, who have no elective record, got the AQ rating based on their questionnaires.)

Some question Kinder’s character because of a well publicized photograph of him with an exotic dancer with whom he had a brief relationship, but Kinder was not married or otherwise in a committed relationship, so that shouldn’t matter. There were also some questionable hotel expenditures billed to the state early in his tenure as lieutenant governor, but he reimbursed the state completely and has not repeated the practice since. In 2012, both Republican primary challenger, State Sen. Brad Lager, and Democrat general election foe, former State Auditor Susan Montee, pounded Kinder with negative ads on both matters, but Kinder defeated both challengers. The general election win was especially impressive, because Kinder overcame not just the formidable Montee but also a third-party challenge on the right from former Missouri House Minority Whip Cynthia Davis. Kinder’s win was also notable because he won while every other statewide Republican candidate (except Presidential nominee Mitt Romney) lost. Kinder is a proven general election winner.

Today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch published the details of a professional Mason-Dixon poll taken July 23-24, which confirm my expectations of Kinder’s general election strength. The headline shows that Kinder, while running fourth, is nevertheless within the margin of error for the win, with 17% still undecided. Buried on the inside page, though, were important trial heats against Koster.While Koster led all four Republicans in a poll skewed Democratic (see below), he led Kinder by just a single point, while Brunner lost by 6, Hanaway by 16 and Greitens by an astounding 22 points. This has to be sobering for Greitens supporters like my friend Bill Hennessy, who have touted Greitens as the only Republican likely to beat Koster. It must also be sobering for Democrats who, in coordination with the Koster campaign, have just spent around a million dollars trashing Greitens with ads that mostly ran after the poll was taken.

The poll also sampled favorability ratings, with Kinder on top with net favorability (favorable minus unfavorable) of +20, followed by Brunner (+10), Hanaway (+5) and Greitens (-3). Kinder was the only one to top Koster (+17).

It should be noted that both the trial heats and favorability ratings were skewed against all Republicans, because the sample was evenly divided between likely Republican and Democrat primary voters, apparently with no true independents. Since 2000, the actual November electorate has been much more Republican.

The past four years have demonstrated the importance of electability. Republican majorities in both houses of the General Assembly have passed landmark conservative reforms which Democrat Nixon vetoed. While Republicans were able to override some vetoes, vetoes of other key legislation, like right-to-work, stood. Maintaining two-thirds majorities is difficult and unreliable; getting a like-minded governor to sign legislation passed with just a simple majority is easier and more reliable. But you don’t get a principled Republican governor unless he defeats Koster.

I endorse Peter Kinder for Missouri Governor.

Hillary dodges a bullet. So does Trump

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

FBI Director James Comey’s conclusion that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton should not be prosecuted, in spite of her careless disregard for the safety of confidential information entrusted to her, saves Clinton’s presidential campaign. If he had recommended prosecution, as he could have and should have, the same Democrats who rigged the nominating process to make her the party standard bearer would have intervened and forced her to step aside. Or, failing that, the very super delegates who put her over the top would have revolted against her, allowing Democratic convention delegates to pick someone else. Even deliberate inaction by the Department of Justice and a presidential pardon wouldn’t have saved Hillary.

But Hillary isn’t the only presidential candidate whose hopes were revived by Comey’s actions. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump also got a campaign lifeline from Comey. Trump has the worst unfavorable numbers  for any presidential candidate in polling history. The only reason Trump is even competitive in this contest is Clinton’s own unfavorable rating. If Democrats were able to substitute a less unpopular Democrat – say Vice-President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (or even Bernie Madoff or O. J. Simpson!), they could count on coasting to a 40+ state win, a Democratically controlled senate and maybe even a Democrat house.

But Comey changed all that. By laying out, in convincing detail, how Hillary broke the law and endangered national security in the process, but holding back on a recommendation to prosecute, Comey saved Trump’s hide too.

Democrats have noticed. With apologies to William Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of the mainstream media. The usual Democrat sycophants are suddenly turning on Hillary. The Washington Free Beacon compiled this video montage of Democrat media talking heads piling on Clinton in her time of supposed triumph. De facto Democrat press spokesmen like the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, and St. Louis Post Dispatch piled on. This is no sudden discovery of press fairness. They are loyal Democrats who want to shape the Democratic ticket with candidates who will win. They want Clinton out.

Stay tuned.

#NeverTrump could set a regrettable precedent

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

After having earlier supported Ben Carson (until his ignorance about foreign policy was exposed), then Scott Walker (until his campaign imploded and he withdrew) and Marco Rubio (until his campaign imploded and strategic voting required a different choice), I cast my vote in the Missouri Primary for Ted Cruz. He was the best chance to stop Donald Trump, and he would have made an excellent president. I don’t like Trump. I still haven’t resolved for whom I am voting in November.

However, the budding movement to change the convention rules after the fact in order to deny Trump the nomination he won with the votes of legitimate (albeit misguided) primary voters and caucus attendees is the wrong thing to do. Yes, I realize that younger generations believe that the ends justify the means, but they’re wrong.

There are two major reasons the convention’s #NeverTrump movement must fail. First, and most obviously, it would make the likely Democrat landslide this November even worse.The erstwhile reliably Republican voters who won’t vote Trump but who would return to fold for virtually any other nominee will be outnumbered by the millions of Trump supporters who would abandon the GOP. If you deny Trump’s supporters what they won fair and square, they’ll bolt. And while most #NeverTrumpers will nevertheless vote for the rest of the Republican ticket, most of the cheated Trumpkins will not. That would lead to a Democratic senate (perhaps even with a filibuster-proof majority) and a Democratic House. Such a scenario would empower the Democrats to pass their entire left-wing wish list into law, whether constitutional or not. A filibuster-proof senate would be primed to confirm the most leftist justices imaginable, who would immediately bless the new administration’s blatant overreach and be young enough to plague society for a generation. Such a court would regard the Constitution as an archaic, unbinding relic, replaced instead by a moving “living, breathing” standard of “public policy.” No overreaching action by either Congress or the president would be unlawful, as long as it was consistent with the public policy desired by the Democratic Party. It would not be beyond such a court to rule portions of the Constitution itself unconstitutional.

A Trump-led electoral bloodbath would not lose 14 senate seats to create the filibuster-proof senate. A “dump Trump” nominee would.

But the second reason risks even more dire consequences. Denying Trump the nomination he has already won (or even an unsuccessful coup attempt) would set a dangerous precedent, by Republicans no less, for Democrats to use as an excuse to impose their own will. There is a plausible theory (which I am not yet prepared to accept) that Trump will win in a landslide, powered by blue-collar former Democrats and foreshadowed by the unforeseen success of the Brexit referendum in Great Britain. Establishment Democrats, especially President Obama, are so obsessed with the perceived evil of Trump (or any Republican who would trespass on the presidency to which their nominee is “entitled”), that they will do anything – anything – to prevent it from happening. If the voting public goes off script and delivers an inconvenient Election Day surprise, cue the contrived violent protesters to provide the pretense for lame duck President Obama to declare martial law, and put the “proper” people in charge. If the Republicans can entertain the idea (even if unsuccessful) of reversing the results of their nominating process, reversing an election with martial law would be a piece of cake. So would end the American republic as we know it.

Cruz and Kasich need each other in race to beat Trump

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Conventional wisdom dictates that Republican presidential front runner Donald J. Trump can be beaten one-on-one, and that lower polling challenger Gov. John Kasich should drop out so that non-Trump support can coalesce around top challenger Sen. Ted Cruz. In every contest to date (including Trump’s big win yesterday in Arizona), more primary voters voted against Trump than for him, but Trump still won most of them. Analysis of future primaries, though, suggests that Cruz could actually benefit by Kasich staying in the race, if Cruz and Kasich play it smart. The best strategy varies depending on the state (and sometimes the congressional district).

Winner take all primaries (statewide). In purely winner-take-all primaries, such as Pennsylvania (17 statewide delegates only) and Delaware (April 26), Nebraska (May 10) and finally Montana, South Dakota and delegate-rich New Jersey (June 7), conventional wisdom is correct. But while it makes sense for there to be only one competitor to Trump, you still have to decide who that single competitor should be. This depends on two factors: (1) whether Cruz or Kasich polls best in that state and (2) for whom would the other candidate’s supporters vote if their candidate dropped out. There is very little polling on either question in the later-voting states, especially on the second question. In most states, we expect the strongest alternative to be Cruz, but not always (e.g., Ohio). One would expect Kasich to do better than Cruz in regions where Kasich has already done so, such as New England, but polling in Rhode Island and Connecticut is out of date. Cruz and Kasich could both stay in the race but campaign selectively only in the states where they have the best chance of winning and avoid playing the spoiler in the other states (like they both did to Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida). This option isn’t available if Kasich drops out. Keeping Trump from winning a state is now more important than winning the state.

Winner take all primaries (district). In states that award delegates by congressional district on a winner-take-all basis, the same strategy applies on a district level, and the strongest challenger may vary by district. Cruz and Kasich should campaign just in the districts where they are strongest. These states include Wisconsin (April 5), Maryland (April 26), Connecticut (April 26), Indiana (May 3), and finally California (June 7), the biggest delegate prize. With 83 different districts (53 in California alone), Cruz and Kasich should both have plenty of different opportunities to win, as long as they don’t work against each other in the same districts.

Cruz should concentrate on districts where evangelical Christians dominate. Michael Barone suggests that Dutch-American voters in Wisconsin’s Outgamie and Sheboygan Counties and Jasper County in Indiana might also be Cruz country. Cruz should also consider often overlooked black majority districts. In St. Louis last week, black Republicans voted heavily for Cruz (similar to Mike Huckabee’s success with evangelical appeal in those wards in 2008), but white working class voters in nearby areas voted just as strongly for Trump. Consequently, Trump edged Cruz in Missouri’s black plurality 1st District, 37.0% to 35.3%, to win its 5 delegates. Kasich should concentrate on particular suburbs and urban neighborhoods resembling those he won in St. Louis (e.g., Central West End, the Grove and Mid-Town), as well as academic communities and suburban areas where moderate candidates have succeeded and where evangelical Christians are sparse. Decisions about whom to back need to be made with the entire district in mind, precisely and cold-heartedly, since Cruz and Kasich may each have strong areas in the same district. Otherwise, a divided effort paves the way for a Trump win. In Missouri, for example, pockets of significant support for Kasich and Rubio diverted anti-Trump votes away from Cruz, allowing Trump to win both St. Louis area districts narrowly, with less than 40% of the vote.

Majority threshold. Conventional wisdom (i.e., a two-man race) is the wrong strategy in a state where the winner takes all only if he tops 50%. It’s harder for any one to reach 50% when there are more candidates in the race, but the winner of a two-candidate contest is virtually assured of topping 50%. In a strong Trump state, voters should vote for their favorite, even if that candidate (if still on the ballot) has withdrawn. Maximizing all the non-Trump votes increase the chances of depriving Trump of most of the state’s delegates. New York state and Washington state are in this category (see below).

Minimum threshold. Some states and districts require a candidate to win a certain share in order to win any delegates. New Mexico (June 7) has a 15% threshold. Strategic voting is important here. If Trump has a big lead and only one challenger has a realistic chance of meeting the threshold, the trailing candidate needs to stand down and urge his supporters to vote for the stronger challenger. Otherwise, delegate allocation among just the qualifiers gives both of those candidates (including Trump) more delegates than their proportionate share. For example, Rubio’s failure to meet the minimum thresholds in Texas and Michigan gave extra delegates to Trump.

Both the majority threshold and minimum threshold are in play in a big way in New York (95 delegates) on April 19. Trump has a huge lead there in his home state (64% in one recent poll), but quirky delegate allocation rules give Cruz and Kasich a chance to take about a third of the delegates away from Trump without actually beating him, so long as they can hold him below 50%. The statewide vote (for 14 delegates) and each congressional district (3 delegates each) are 28 separate contests. In each of them, a candidate who tops 50% wins all of that particular contest’s delegates. In contests where no one tops 50%, statewide and district rules are different. The 14 statewide delegates are divided proportionally, with a 20% minimum threshold. Congressional districts where no one tops 50% award two delegates to the winner and one delegate to whoever finishes second. There may be some districts where either Cruz or Kasich can beat Trump and win two delegates. In stronger Trump districts, vying against each other for a district’s second-place delegate improve Cruz and Kasich’s chances of keeping Trump from winning 50%. Since upstate areas usually vote differently from the New York City area, regional polling should dictate where best to expend resources. New York has four black-majority congressional districts where Cruz could do well. Michael Barone suggests that Dutch-American voters in Wayne and Schoharie Counties might be Cruz country. The Hudson River Valley and rural counties bordering Canada could be Kasich country.

The same strategy also applies to Washington state on May 24, where the same 50% and 20% thresholds are also in effect (congressional districts only, with slightly different rules).

Proportional allotment. In states where delegates are allotted purely in proportion to candidates’ votes, there is no need to unite behind the strongest challenger. But most of those states have already voted. The remaining proportional states are Rhode Island (April 26), Oregon (May 17), Washington state (May 24, statewide delegates only) and New Mexico (June 7, subject to 15% minimum threshold).

Advice for voters who don’t want Trump to be the Republican nominee: Use the guidelines outlined above and vote strategically! Except as noted above, casting your ballot for the candidate most likely to beat Trump (especially in winner-take-all jurisdictions) is more important to your goal than voting for the candidate you like best. Pay attention to public polls specifically devoted to your area, so you can make an intelligent voting decision. I documented my own decision to vote for Cruz in the Missouri primary even though I liked Rubio (who was still then an active candidate) the best. Many other Rubio backers did the same, but we fell short by less than one fifth of one percent statewide and by just 643 votes in my congressional district. Voters in later states need to wise up before it’s too late.

Advice for the Cruz and Kasich campaigns: Dividing the vote to conquer Trump requires tacit, if not overt, cooperation between Cruz and Kasich. Some winner-take-all states and districts will require one to stand down and give the other a realistic chance to beat Trump, like Rubio did for Kasich in Ohio. Where 50% is needed to give a candidate all the delegates in a state where Trump is ahead, maximize all the non-Trump votes, even die-hard supporters of withdrawn candidates. If your candidate is unlikely to meet a minimum threshold, support the other viable non-Trump candidate. Refrain from harming the other campaign when that campaign is undermining Trump, because denying delegates to Trump is now more important than winning delegates for yourself. Both campaigns need to make objective judgments about when the other campaign has a more realistic shot at topping Trump. Doing so requires more sophisticated polling, including on a district (or at least regional) basis, to enable informed decisions on strategy. Some of the millions being wasted on ineffective media advertising would be better diverted to obtain timely and reliable proprietary polling information.

Anti-Trump protests reminiscent of 2009 tactics

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Left-wing protesters succeeded in shutting down a Donald Trump rally in Chicago last week. Protest leaders admitted that their goal had been to shut down the event, not just protest it, and claimed victory. In fact, their admitted plans were to storm the stage when Trump appeared and overwhelm security by their numbers. Violence.

Democrats and the mainstream media (I know, that’s redundant) are hyperventilating. They are charging Republicans in general, and Trump in particular, with encouraging mob action at Trump rallies. Democrat front runner Hillary Clinton accused Trump of “political arson.” A Washington Post columnist blamed Trump for the “anger his divisive rhetoric has generated among the demonstrators,” accusing him of “reaping a whirlwind of his own creation.” Ezra Klein regaled in Trump’s alleged “ideology of violence.”

But, remember when the shoe was on the other foot, when Democrats in general, and the Obama Administration in particular, really did inspire actual violence against their political opponents? Let me refresh your memory.

It was 2009, the first year of the Obama Administration and the birth and rapid emergence of the Tea Party movement. Conservatives attended congressional town hall meetings in droves to question and challenge Democrat representatives over their support for Obamacare, “cap and trade,” and other left-wing initiatives. Protesters were vocal, but peaceful. They attended events they were entitled to attend, as members of the public. Embarrassed Democrats tried to rig the audiences by filling the seats with their own stooges before opening the doors to the public. In August of that year, the regime went on a counteroffensive, coordinating verbal attacks designed to demonize citizen dissent. The Democratic National Committee aired a television ad depicting town hall audiences as “angry mobs.” Democrat House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer wrote an op ed piece in USA Today (which has since been scrubbed from the newspaper’s web site), condemning the protesters and calling them “unAmerican.” Former Sen. Jean Carnahan penned a piece in the left-wing site Fired Up! Missouri in which she characterized Obamacare protesters as “hordes that take up pitchforks,” accusing them of “mob hysteria” and “remarks that border on treason.” Treason! And then things got physical. Channeling then-candidate Obama’s remark the year before , “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” the President’s deputy chief of staff Jim Messina encouraged supporters to “punch back twice as hard” against critics. Less than 24 hours later in south St. Louis County, SEIU members did just that, savagely beating Kenneth Gladney, an independent vendor of patriotic flags and anti-Obamacare buttons, outside a packed town hall meeting of Congressman Russ Carnahan. Another person there assaulted Kelly Owens, a woman with a video camera who was documenting the crimes, breaking the camera when smashing it against Ms. Owens’ face.

Whether or not Trump is the Republican nominee, expect things to get rougher as the campaign proceeds. When Democrats’ control is threatened, they get desperate. And violent.

Time to vote strategically, unite behind Cruz

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

I have favored Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for President ever since Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropped out. I still think Rubio would make an outstanding president. I still recommend Rubio to voters in Florida, where he is the strongest opponent to flawed front runner Donald J. Trump, and perhaps in North Carolina as well, where delegates will be awarded proportionally.

But here in Missouri and neighboring Illinois, Rubio lacks the support necessary to win either winner-take-all primary, or even a congressional district (whose winner also gets delegates). Rubio himself recently stated that he was concentrating his efforts on winning Florida, and not to expect favorable results in Tuesday’s other primaries. In other words, he was writing off the other four states (including Missouri and Illinois).

If you think (as I do) that it is important to keep the Republican nomination away from Trump, it’s time to vote strategically. It’s time to unite behind Ted Cruz.

Strategic voting requires solid polling information, and unfortunately, that is sorely lacking as we struggle to decide. For lots of reasons, polling in 2016 has been spotty at best, and polling for Missouri and Illinois is even worse. The only Missouri poll taken any time in the past six months is one by the Docking Institute at Fort Hays State University in western Kansas (hardly in the league of the Survey Research Center in Michigan, or even Quinnipiac or Marist). The poll was based on a tiny sample size of just 208 Republican voters, with a high 7% margin of error. The poll’s gender mix was an unrealistic 54%-46% male. But it’s all we have. The poll was commissioned jointly by several Missouri newspapers, including the St. Louis Post Dispatch. I give it some credence, though, because the results are about what I would expect. It shows Trump and Cruz well ahead of the others, with Trump leading Cruz, 36% to 29% (i.e., within the margin of error), with Rubio and Kasich in high single digits and 17% undecided. Also, the polls gender mix may overstate the Trump vote, because Trump generally polls better with men than women.

Four Illinois polls taken this month also show Trump ahead and Cruz in second, with margins varying from 13 points to just 4 points. Unlike Missouri, Kasich and Rubio polled in significant double digits. A We Ask America poll on March 7 polled over a thousand likely voters (margin of error 3.1%), a Chicago Tribune poll, March 2-6, polled 600 likely Republican voters (margin of error 4.1%), a CBS/YouGov poll, March 9-11, polled 656 likely Republican voters (margin of error 3.5%), and an NBC/Marist poll questioned 421 likely Republican voters (margin of error 4.8%). The Illinois polls are probably more reliable for that state, and two provide some area breakdown. The We Ask America and Chicago Tribune polls showed Trump ahead across the state, with Cruz most competitive downstate (including the St. Louis Metro East). The polls had contradictory results as to who is the strongest alternative to Trump in and around Chicago.

Unfortunately, the Missouri poll does not break down the results by district, or even by general areas of the state. In the early states, Rubio had been more successful in urban and suburban areas. The Illinois polls suggest that Kasich has recently leapfrogged Rubio in those areas. Rubio’s support nationally has plummeted as Kasich’s has risen over the past week or so. But Cruz has also consolidated support and leads both of the others. The polls that the Post Dispatch formerly commissioned with Survey USA gave separate results by areas of the state, like the two Illinois polls. That information would have been extremely helpful for strategic voters in contests awarded by district.

Many Republican voters have been concerned that Cruz, though more principled, would be just as weak a general election candidate as Trump. While early national polls supported that skepticism, Cruz has dramatically improved in more recent tests. The Missouri poll showed Cruz beating both Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders handily in this state, and better than Rubio (who also beat both Democrats) and Trump (who beat Clinton but lost to Sanders). The poll did not test Kasich against the Democrats. While the poll’s male bias may skew these results in favor of Republicans, its suggestion that Cruz would be the strongest Republican is probably not affected by that bias.

Finally, bottom line, I believe Cruz would make an excellent president. Of utmost importance, Cruz will appoint solid Supreme Court justices, and would be much more reliable than Trump. Cruz is just as tough as Trump on illegal immigration, but without Trump’s in-your-face bluster that turns off a majority of general election voters. A superb debater, Cruz will perform excellently against either Clinton or Sanders. While Rubio also scores well on those points (albeit a bit weak on immigration), he won’t be in a position to do that if he doesn’t get the Republican nomination. Frankly, the polls and the math are against Rubio now.

Trump has been winning with large pluralities, but not majorities, but pluralities are enough to win, even in winner-take-all primaries. Trump will ride 30% victories all the way to the convention if the other 70% remains splintered. It’s time to unite behind the strongest alternative to Trump. It’s time to united behind Ted Cruz.