Curbing the recent Cruz and Sanders enthusiasm
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In the post-Wisconsin/Colorado/Wyoming climate, we might need to push back against the notion that Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (Texas) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale On The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives MORE (Vt.), in their races for the Republican and Democratic nominations, respectively, are somehow catching all this fire. And before you get hype about Wyoming on April 9 — since Cruz will win that one, too — you should chill.


It's kind of like the excitement lots of folks — from conventional wisdom pundits to remote-button-punching casual watchers — get after primaries/caucuses like Iowa or New Hampshire. They might be the first. But that doesn't necessarily make them representative or, dare we say, important in a New and Demographically Reshaped America. Get back to me when a black man with a weird name wins one of those ... oh wait, that did happen! And, yeah, minus that, nothing really special's going on there.

Nothing really special about Wisconsin, Colorado or Wyoming other than we get another block of states, some more margins of victory for the winners to talk about. And despite all the misinformed "Saturday Night Live" antics about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump asks Biden to give Putin his 'warmest regards' Huma Abedin announces book deal Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records MORE losing the last seven Democratic primary states, it's all really just lots more copy for headlines. We knew the outcomes already, since it wasn't like they were polling in Michigan. Still, folks would like to think these were such "big wins" for either candidate and that has pushed premature "game-changer" and "momentum" narratives for both candidates.

In essence, we spent much of the past week over-killing analysis on the Wisconsin wins and we're kind of doing the same for Colorado and Wyoming. Of course we did, since we desperately needed something to talk about, anyway.

But there's no momentum and nothing unique when both Cruz and Sanders won in states with populations that are less than 10 percent African-American. Wisconsin is only 5 percent African-American, with the state's black populace primarily residing in population centers such as Milwaukee and Madison. Colorado is about 6 percent, centered mainly in the Denver metro area. And Wyoming? Your guess is as good as mine (OK, it's about 2 percent).

We should call it the Black Population Equation: State with Population over 10 percent Black + Primary = A Hillary Clinton or Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE Win. It's been like that since February (with the exception of perfectly good explanations in Michigan, Texas and Ohio): Clinton wins in states with black populations above 10 percent; Sanders wins in states with black populations below 10 percent. Insert Trump and Cruz into the same calculus. Want to make a friendly wager on an upcoming primary? Forget checking the polling averages; just check the black population. (More on that here.)

Trump didn't need Wisconsin, didn't need Colorado or Wyoming: He's got a bunch of black-population-heavy states coming up on April 19 and April 26. That's where it shifts back to him. That is why Paul Manafort, Trump's convention manager, confessed a pretty arrogant campaign-wide dismissiveness of Cruz's Colorado win: "I acknowledge that we weren't playing in Colorado."

It's also why Clinton is now confident, unafraid to re-embrace the inevitability narrative. "I feel good about the upcoming contests, and I expect to be the nominee," she said on CNN this past Sunday. Of course she does; look at the population composition of the states.

Not that they've ever been conclusive or totally reliable, but recent polls on the heels of the next primary contests show comfortable leads for Trump and Clinton. Trump has widened his national lead to 10 points in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, and Clinton is already showing signs of blowouts in New York and Pennsylvania.

And then there's that pesky delegate count. The Sanders camp is already cooking up a sour grapes story on that, with supporters gearing up to complain about how rigged the Democratic superdelegate process is (and maybe so: Democrats have superdelegates overriding voters and Republicans have voter ID and voter suppression, all parties being equally shady). Sanders is still going to find himself perpetually behind in the delegate count as the Democratic primary calendar is fresh out of winner-take-all delegate states. How he closes that gap is a mystery, as well as how he can go friendly and win over the addition 700 superdelegates Clinton has locked up.

It's equally daunting battle for Cruz when looking at the upcoming GOP primary calendar. More winner-take-all states (plus Trump's race-baiting black population formula) makes it pretty much impossible for Cruz to win. And that's probably one reason why Trump is having meetings with Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus and Cruz, well, is not.

Ellison is a veteran political strategist and principal of B|E Strategy. He is also contributing editor to The Root and Washington correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune, while a frequent contributor to The Hill and the Weekly Washington Insider for WDAS-FM (Philadelphia). He is executive producer and host of "The Ellison Report," a weekly public affairs magazine broadcast and podcast on WEAA 88.9 FM (Baltimore). He can be reached on Twitter @ellisonreport.