Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Could Dean Phillips Help Trump?

It is hard to figure out what Rep. Dean Phillips (DFL-MN) wants to achieve by challenging Joe Biden. He gave up a safe (D+8) House seat on a pointless quest to make the point that Biden is old. Pro tip, Dean: Everyone already knows. Phillips is going to antagonize enough Democrats, farmers, and laborers that a future run at some statewide office is now almost out of the question. Being good at selling gelato doesn't necessarily make you a brilliant politician.

Most likely, Phillips will be beaten by write-in candidate Joe Biden in New Hampshire and that will be the last time we hear about ol' Dean. Nevertheless, this ego trip of his could have real consequences. In New Hampshire, a plurality of voters are registered as independents (39%) and an independent can walk into a polling place and request either a Democratic or a Republican primary ballot. Absent Phillips, nearly all independents would have requested a Republican ballot and many of the double haters would have voted for Chris Christie or Nikki Haley. Now they have another choice: Asking for a Democratic ballot and voting for Phillips as a placeholder for "none of the above." So it is possible, even likely, that Phillips will make it impossible for Haley to defeat Donald Trump in New Hampshire, which will seal her doom. Without Phillips, she would have had a far better chance to beat Trump in the Granite State, which would have given her momentum going into the South Carolina primary. If she could win New Hampshire and South Carolina, she would suddenly have at least a small chance of pulling off some upset victories on Super Tuesday. Phillips' pointless stunt greatly reduces the chances of that happening and increases the chances of Trump winning the White House, something Phillips doesn't really want. Does he have a brain full of ice cream?

Before Phillips' announcement, a Monmouth University poll had Christie pulling 35% of independents and Haley pulling 31%. But if the Democratic race heats up, some Trump-hating independents are going to ask for a Democratic ballot and write in Biden so as not to see him injured. Those votes will probably come out of Christie's or Haley's hide and thus will help Trump, something Phillips doesn't really want. Smart move, Dean. (V)

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