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The Week in 2016: What Mattered (And What Didn’t)

In today's rapid-fire political news cycle, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the different news out there. So here's a look back at the past week in the 2016 presidential contest, making sense of the developments and events that we think mattered – and those that didn't.

What Mattered

  1. The Deadly Church Shooting in South Carolina: This week's tragic violence in South Carolina – on top of the death of Walter Scott earlier this year – pretty much guarantees that the issues of race, guns, violence and even the Confederate flag will be front and center in the state's presidential primaries early next year. And that’s for both the Democratic and Republican fields.
  2. Jeb's Miami Launch: Yes, Jeb Bush has problems with conservative voters, electability concerns, and a relatively unpopular last name. But his successful campaign rollout – in addition to his flawless European trip last week – is a reminder that he has strengths in the GOP race that go beyond money.
  3. The Pope And Climate Change: The violence in South Carolina overshadowed Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change. But make no mistake: His call to action has the potential to put GOP presidential candidates on the spot, especially in the upcoming debates.
  4. Stayin' Alive, Stayin’ Alive: Trade Edition: That President Obama’s trade agenda is still alive – and maybe even likely to pass – is good news for the president. But it’s bad news for Hillary Clinton, who finds herself caught between a rock (her work on the trade deal as secretary of state) and a hard place (the Democratic base’s increasing opposition to the deal).

What Didn’t Matter As Much

  1. The Donald’s (Partial) Entry Into The 2016 Race: Sure, Donald Trump has the potential to shake up – or sully – the Republican presidential debates. But first, he still has to file his paperwork. And as of today, he hasn’t even submitted a simple “statement of candidacy” form to the Federal Election Commission.
  2. Bernie-mentum: We played up Bernie Sanders’ surprising poll numbers, according to two new surveys. But keep this mind: One, this rise is limited (so far) to New Hampshire, which is next door to Sanders’ home state of Vermont. And two, it appears to say more about Martin O’Malley/Jim Webb/Lincoln Chafee (who are all battling to pick up support from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party) than Hillary Clinton (whose numbers are still very strong with Democrats).
  3. That Sidney Blumenthal Deposition: When the bigger news was Darrell Issa crashing the deposition than the actual deposition itself, you know the Benghazi committee has jumped the shark.