May 29, 2015

What if Iowa Holds a Straw Poll and No One Comes?

When Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee announced they would not compete at the (new and improved?) Iowa Straw Poll this August, all eyes turned to the other candidates to see what they would do. After all, Iowa’s own Republican governor publicly said the straw poll has outlived its usefulness and should be allowed to die, but the Iowa GOP voted to continue the circus for at least one more go round. Would anybody show up? Or would the conventional wisdom — a candidate has almost nothing to gain and everything to lose by competing — prevail, meaning the straw poll would be playing to an empty room?

The body blows continued: Shortly after he announced he was running for president, Lindsey Graham announced he would not be competing. Then Marco Rubio’s campaign said it would be “highly unlikely” the Senator would compete, either. And now, we might be able to write the pre-mortem for the Iowa Straw Poll everybody is itching to write.

The Iowa GOP held an informational meeting for campaigns who are interested in the August event, and only seven campaigns (out of a potential 18) showed up:

  • Ben Carson
  • Chris Christie
  • Ted Cruz
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Rick Perry
  • Donald Trump

Making it worse, one of those seven campaigns was Lindsey Graham’s, who made it clear they weren’t joining the straw poll but were just attending out of respect for the Iowa Republican Party. So in reality, only six campaigns are even interested in competing this year. Six out of eighteen — let that sink in for a moment.

Noticeably absent: Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker. Rand’s father used to make a political career out of gaming straw polls; it looks like Paul the Younger has no desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. Santorum’s lack of interest in the straw poll matches Huckabee’s in terms of seriousness: both have won the Iowa caucuses, but now face the reality of weakened support and severely negative press should they compete and lose here in August.

Scott Walker’s absence may be the most startling, however. With Bush and Rubio both bowing out, one would think this would be a prime opportunity for Governor Walker to score an early and easy victory. Plus, the Iowa caucuses are an absolute must-win for him come February, being a neighboring conservative governor, so the Straw Poll would give him a chance to put a slew of organizational pieces into place early. He must have decided the risk wasn’t worth it, though — and who could blame him?

So who is planning to compete? Donald Trump and Ben Carson. That’s it. Those are the only two candidates who have committed to attend the 2015 straw poll. Even if Christie, Cruz, Fiorina, and Perry all decide to get in (remember, Perry famously skipped the straw poll last time to announce his candidacy at the Red State event), that’s not much of a lineup to attract voters. While it might be a few minutes of fun to watch Christie bloviate all over a roomful of Iowans, nobody would mistake this for a serious event in any way, shape, or form. (Which is why I think Fiorina will ultimately skip it as well – she is desperately trying to be seen as a serious candidate, and running around at an event where Donald Trump could be the main headliner certainly doesn’t play into that.)

And so it is that the straw poll fizzles out and finally dies, with little fanfare or recognition. RIP, Ames Straw Poll, 1979-2015. It was fun while it lasted.


1.  Jeb Bush  former Governor of Florida

Gov. Bush clings to the top spot only by the grace of his financial support. Aside from fundraising, every other aspect of his early candidacy has flopped. His lack of preparation for the most obvious of questions reeks of an entitled candidate unprepared for the war of attrition he’s now facing.

2.  Marco Rubio  U.S. Senator from Florida

Sen. Rubio continues to gain more positive traction than anyone in the race, continuing to be the most well-liked candidate and never lower than first or second choice. Even Florida insiders, long the province of Bush, are moving heavily in Rubio’s direction. The top spot is easily within his reach.

3.  Scott Walker  Governor of Wisconsin

Walker has cooled off a bit, but remains the frontrunner in Iowa. His strength in the state is already scaring Bush into possibly passing on the caucuses, and he could further win over activists by swooping in and saving the straw poll.

4.  Rand Paul  U.S. Senator from Kentucky

Foreign policy, once the key to Paul’s popularity with young libertarians, is fast becoming a liability in the age of ISIS. Paul, like his father, is taking hits from all sides.

5.  Ted Cruz  U.S. Senator from Texas

The boost from his campaign launch has faded, but he is well positioned for the debates and for Iowa. Gov. Huckabee’s self-inflicted wounds will help him more than anyone else.

6.  Chris Christie  Governor of New Jersey

With the worst of Bridgegate seemingly behind him, an ever confident Christie is trying to use his raw talent for the townhall format to launch a comeback in New Hampshire. With Bush’s struggles, Christie could be in position for a rebound.

7.  John Kasich  Governor of Ohio

Kasich has moved closer to a run, and is visiting the early primary states with more frequency. With a late summer launch, Kasich risks missing the early debates, which could undermine his credibility.

8.  Mike Huckabee  former Governor of Arkansas

After a mediocre launch, the former governor has begun barnstorming the early states. However, his hopes of attracting support beyond his evangelical base are likely over with his bizarre support for Josh Duggar. His name ID keeps him higher in the polls than his financial or grassroots support would indicate.

9.  Carly Fiorina  former CEO of Hewlett-Packard

The former business executive is making up for a lack of political experience with excellent performances on the stump and in interviews. Buzz for her long-shot bid, and her contrast with Clinton, is growing.

10.  Bobby Jindal  Governor of Louisiana

Gov. Jindal has been building for a campaign for a long time, but is on the outside looking in for the early debates. His attacks on Rand Paul are clearly a sign of how important getting on those stages will be.

Honorable Mention:  Rick Perry,  Ben Carson

No Chance: Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump



by @ 10:55 am. Filed under 2016

The Pollsters to Believe… and to Dismiss

Not all pollsters are created equal.

Some are high quality outfits with proven methodology and tons of money backing them in order to get the most reliable and accurate results. Others are, well, not. Some folks see polling as a quick and easy way to make headlines, get website traffic, and influence the news cycle. So how can we know which pollsters to trust?

You get a general sense just by hanging around the political scene for awhile: SurveyUSA is good. Zogby is awful. The Des Moines Register poll in Iowa is the industry gold standard and then some. Research 2000 is the worst of the worst. But beyond this kind of general idea, is there an objective way to know?

Many organizations rate pollsters solely based off of their final polls prior to an election. While this is a decent start, it can oftentimes be misleading as well — some firms will pump out lousy polls during the campaign and then put a lot of time and money into their final poll to make it better, knowing it will be the only one being judged. This is why I like Nate Silver’s approach over at FiveThirtyEight.

In 2014, FiveThirtyEight put together a handy reference chart where they ranked hundreds of pollsters based on literally thousands of polls. Looking through that much information can be far from wieldy, so for a handy reference guide here at Race, I’ve compiled a list of the best and worst based on those rankings. I’ve only included the most prolific or well-known groups in this list — bookmark this page (and the full list linked above) for whenever you have a question about the reliability of a new poll that comes out.

The Best
SurveyUSA – A
Selzer & Co. – A+
Field Poll – A+
Grove Insight – A
National Journal – A
CNN/Opinion Research – A-
ABC News/Washington Post – A-
Siena College – A-
NBC News/Wall Street Journal – A-
AP/Ipsos – A-
Farleigh/Dickinson – A-
Mason-Dixon – B+
Quinnipiac – B+
Marist – B+

The Worst
Zogby (JZ Analytics) – F
TCJ Research – F
Strategic Analytics – F
Research 2000 – F
InsiderAdvantage – D
Harris Interactive – D
A number of University polls (Brown, MN State, Alabama, Ohio, Loyola) – D

Somewhere in the Middle
Suffolk – B
YouGov – C+
Gallup – C+
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics – C+
Rasmussen Reports – C
We Ask America – C-
American Research Group – C-
Franklin Pierce – C-
Critical Insights – C-

A couple closing thoughts: some pollsters are much better at polling individual states than polling nationally (Mason-Dixon). Others are better at polling nationally than on a state level (the big news outlet polls, generally speaking). And some were highly respected in the polling industry prior to 2012, when they missed by quite a bit (Rasmussen, Gallup). Here’s to being informed polling consumers.

by @ 10:54 am. Filed under Poll Analysis, Polling 101

The Clinton Connection to the FIFA Mess

According to The Daily Beast, among the Clinton Foundation’s generous donors are FIFA, the Qatar 2022 Committee (the group that won the bribefest for the 2022 World Cup, and that runs the slave labor camps building the stadiums and other facilities), and the government of Qatar.

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, partnering with the State of Qatar, “committed to utilizing its research and development for sustainable infrastructure at the 2022 FIFA World Cup to improve food security in Qatar, the Middle East, and other arid and water-stressed regions throughout the world,” according to the Clinton Foundation website.

The cost of the two-year project is not listed on the Clinton Foundation website, but the Qatar 2022 committee gave the foundation between $250,000 and $500,000 in 2014 and the State of Qatar gave between $1 million and $5 million in previous, unspecified years.

Of course, it’s no surprise at this point to find the Clintons mixed up anywhere sleazy money is to be made.

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Misc., Uncategorized

May 28, 2015

Trump to Announce Presidential Run June 16

It’s actually happening… The bullet that the GOP has dodged for numerous campaigns — that of a Trump candidacy — will hit the party square in the forehead on June 16: has learned that the business executive and reality television personality will make an announcement at the Trump Tower in Manhattan on June 16, and he plans to return [to New Hampshire] the following day… All signs point to a Trump declaration of candidacy… Trump has set up a pre-campaign organization, headed by conservative strategist Corey Lewandowski of Windham, and has hired staffers in New Hampshire and first-caucus state Iowa, as well as in South Carolina, where the first primary in the South will be held. Last week, Trump unveiled a 17-member leadership team in New Hampshire.

While Trump will certainly add a certain level of entertainment to primary campaign, he also raises the “clown car” factor of this process to unprecedented heights (and given the 2012 primaries, that’s saying something).

by @ 4:11 pm. Filed under Donald Trump

Poll Watch: Quinnipiac Shows 5-Way Tie in GOP Primary

Quinnipiac University National Primary & General Election Matchups

Republican Primary

  • Bush – 10% (13)
  • Carson – 10% (3)
  • Huckabee – 10% (7)
  • Rubio – 10% (15)
  • Walker – 10% (11)
  • Paul – 7% (8)
  • Cruz – 6% (9)
  • Trump – 5% (-)
  • Christie – 4% (7)
  • Fiorina – 2% (1)
  • Kasich – 2% (2)
  • Graham – 1% (2)
  • Jindal – 1% (1)
  • Perry – 1% (3)
  • Pataki – 0% (-)
  • Santorum – 0% (2)
  • Undecided – 20% (14)

Second Choice

  • Rubio – 12%
  • Bush – 11%
  • Paul – 11%
  • Walker – 10%
  • Carson – 9%
  • Huckabee – 7%
  • Christie – 6%
  • Cruz – 6%
  • All Others – less than 5%

General Election

  • Clinton – 45% (45)
  • Rubio – 41% (43)
  • Clinton – 46% (46)
  • Paul – 42% (42)
  • Clinton – 46% (46)
  • Walker – 38% (41)
  • Clinton – 47% (47)
  • Huckabee – 40% (42)
  • Clinton – 47% (46)
  • Bush – 37% (39)
  • Clinton – 48% (48)
  • Cruz – 37% (41)
  • Clinton – 46% (45)
  • Christie – 37% (40)
  • Clinton – 50% (-)
  • Trump – 32% (-)

Survey of 679 Republican primary voters and 1,711 registered voters was conducted May 19-26 and has margins of error of ±3.8% (GOP) and ±2.4% (General). Numbers in parentheses are results from the April 23 survey.

by @ 9:36 am. Filed under Poll Watch

Poll Watch: Gravis Shows Washington in Reach for GOP

Gravis Marketing Washington State Caucus & General Election Matchups

Republican Caucus

  • Paul – 13.2%
  • Walker – 12.4%
  • Bush – 11.5%
  • Rubio – 11.3%
  • Carson – 7.6%
  • Christie – 6%
  • Cruz – 5%
  • Huckabee – 5%
  • Fiorina – 3%
  • Santorum – 2%
  • Undecided – 23%

Democrat Caucus

  • Clinton – 45%
  • Sanders – 36%
  • Chafee – 2%
  • De Blasio – 2%
  • O’Malley – 2%
  • Webb – 1%
  • Undecided – 12%

General Election

  • Clinton – 45%
  • Rubio – 42%
  • Clinton – 47%
  • Paul – 42%
  • Clinton – 46%
  • Walker – 40%
  • Clinton – 47%
  • Huckabee – 40%
  • Clinton – 45%
  • Bush – 37%
  • Clinton – 48%
  • Cruz – 40%
  • Clinton – 46%
  • Christie – 37%

Survey of 523 Republican caucus voters, 256 Democratic caucus voters, and 1,032 registered voters was conducted May 18-19 and has margins of error of ±4% (GOP), ±6% (Dem), and ±3% (General).

by @ 9:09 am. Filed under Poll Watch

Pataki Announcement Video

by @ 6:39 am. Filed under 2016, George Pataki

May 27, 2015

The End of the Next-in-Line

Rick Santorum will officially enter the race for the Republican nomination later today, and if 2016 followed the pattern of past primary campaigns, he would be the prohibitive frontrunner. But 2016 isn’t, and Santorum isn’t.

It’s a well-worn axiom that the GOP always nominates its “next-in-line,” or, put another way, whoever’s “turn it is” will get the nomination. It started when Reagan came in second to Ford in 1976, then won in 1980. In 1988, George H.W. Bush, who came in second to Reagan in 1980, assumed the nomination. In 1996, Bob Dole, who came in second to Bush in 1988, became the party’s standard bearer. George W. Bush became the first to technically break the mold in 2000, never having run a national campaign before, but his status as the son of a former President helped him fit nicely into the “next-in-line” mantra nicely anyway. In 2008, John McCain, who came in second to Bush in 2000, became the nominee. And in 2012, Mitt Romney, who came in second to McCain, won the nomination.

So it’s all there, more or less in black-and-white: whoever comes in second during a competitive Republican primary becomes the party’s nominee the next time around.

But rules were made to be broken – especially rules regarding politics. Rick Santorum placed second to Mitt Romney in 2012, and yet he will not come anywhere close to the nomination this time around. Why? What has transpired to break this decades-old tradition? It boils down to just three things, really: the past, the present, and the future. (That is to say, everything.)

The Past
The 2012 primary campaign was unlike any campaign in recent memory: only one candidate (Governor Romney) was a truly viable candidate, but he left so many GOP voters dissatisfied that the nonviable candidates kept getting propped up, one after the other. It was Mitt and the Munchkins, with the Munchkins filling the role of protest votes. And so we must understand that the eventual votes in Santorum’s column weren’t as much votes for Santorum as they were against Romney. The same cannot be said of Reagan in ’76, Bush in ’80, Dole in ’88, or McCain in ’00. Each of those candidates had something specific that recommended them to the voters; Santorum only had the same thing Gingrich, Cain, Bachmann, and Perry had: he wasn’t Mitt Romney. In other words, there wasn’t a second-place (or third- or fourth-place) candidate in the 2012 primary who was viable on a national level. Santorum placed second by default, not because he was a strong and believable candidate. And so the past is where this tradition begins to fall apart.

The Present
Which brings us to the present: 2016 is promising to be a much different election, but Santorum is much the same (inherently flawed) candidate. In 2016, the polls have all shown that the Republican voters are deeply satisfied with their choices this year. Part of that is due to the large field, but part of it is because frontrunners like Senator Rubio and Governor Walker appeal to a broad spectrum of the party. There is very little room in the 2016 campaign for a protest vote or an “anti-frontrunner” candidate. Meanwhile, although he makes valiant efforts to downplay his positions on social issues, Santorum is still very much The Man With the Google Problem. He appeals to a very narrow subsection of the American electorate, and even a subsection of the Republican party that is rapidly narrowing as well. Even among that narrow slice of voters, he is facing competition from the likes of Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and other fresh faces in this campaign.

The Future
Which brings us to the future. It used to be that a Republican nomination was built on trust. Go with the candidate you know, the one you’re familiar with from the last go ’round, who won’t surprise you. In fact, Santorum himself makes this argument in his stump speech: “I just think it’s important to nominate somebody that you know and that you trust, because trust is the most important thing,” he says, over and over again. But this election, something different is in the air. After getting mauled by the Obama machine and the Democrats in two straight presidential elections, and seeing the intangible inspiration Obama brought to the American electorate, Republican voters are clamoring the try something new. Something, dare I say… exciting. “He had his shot” has now officially replaced “It’s his turn” in the GOP primary voter lexicon. Finishing second place used to be almost a guarantee of frontrunner status. Now, not only is it not an asset, it has completely transformed into a liability. “Experienced” and “vetted” has become “also-ran” and “has-been”.

Of course, none of this would really matter if it were just about Rick Santorum, but it’s about something larger: a party evolving, learning to embrace the future and the excitement of the unknown, and bucking decades of tradition. That tradition was strong enough to bring John McCain back from the dead in 2008, but it is not powerful enough any longer to make the Sweater Vest relevant in 2016.

by @ 1:28 pm. Filed under Marco Rubio, Presidential History, Republican Party, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker

Poll Watch: Vox Populi/Daily Caller Early State Snapshot

Vox Populi, in conjunction with the Daily Caller, asked GOP primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina last weekend whether or not they would consider voting for a bunch of different Republican candidates. Across all three states combined, here were the totals (would consider/would not consider, with the remainder being neutral or don’t know):

  • Rubio – 56/19
  • Walker – 52/16
  • Carson – 48/20
  • Huckabee – 46/32
  • Cruz – 43/29
  • Perry – 40/31
  • Paul – 41/33
  • Bush – 42/36
  • Fiorina – 29/24
  • Jindal – 30/27
  • Santorum – 34/37
  • Kasich – 16/28
  • Christie – 30/46
  • Graham – 28/45

A few notes before we move on to the individual states: first, this is obviously great news for fans of Senator Rubio and Governor Walker. I am surprised at how high Ben Carson is on this list, though — at +28, he beats everybody except the two frontrunners. At +14, Huckabee has now sunk to match Ted Cruz, both of whom have little to no chance of winning the nomination at this point. Bush continues to poll poorly in these sorts of surveys, with a full 36% of GOP voters saying they would not consider voting for him. That’s the highest of anyone except Santorum, Christie, and Graham — indicating he will have the tiniest margin for error once this campaign starts in earnest. And finally, if you are Rick Santorum, Chris Christie, or Lindsey Graham, why even bother? At least Bush has the establishment money and campaign infrastructure. Those other three have nothing.

In the three earliest states, here are the percentage of voters who would consider voting for a candidate:


  • Walker – 64%
  • Rubio – 57%
  • Huckabee – 57%
  • Carson – 54%
  • Cruz – 48%

New Hampshire

  • Rubio – 52%
  • Walker – 47%
  • Bush – 45%
  • Paul – 42%
  • Carson – 42%

South Carolina

  • Rubio – 57%
  • Walker – 49%
  • Carson – 48%
  • Huckabee – 47%
  • Cruz – 42%

Some parting thoughts: Graham doesn’t even register in the top five in his home state. Jeb Bush isn’t in the top five in Iowa or South Carolina, and he only gets considered by 45% of folks in New Hampshire. Those numbers are going to be huge problems for him if he can’t move them before the votes start being cast. Surveys like this make it evident why niche candidates such as Paul and Cruz are’t going to be the nominee (and, to a lesser extent, you can throw Huckabee in that group as well). Finally, Walker and Rubio have the highest ceilings in every state. This thing could easily come down to a contest between the two of them, and I suspect that would be a scenario most Republican primary voters would be okay with. Rubio is the only candidate with a ceiling above 50% in all three states.

May 26, 2015

McCain and Redistricting (There Is a Connection)

As has been noted in comments on both the threads below, Ann Kirkpatrick, the Democratic representative from AZ-1, has announced she will run for the Senate against John McCain.

A PPP poll shows a relatively close race for Kirkpatrick against McCain, but I don’t think that’s likely and apparently neither does PPP.

A recent poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed a potentially close race, with McCain leading Kirkpatrick 42 percent to 36 percent and 23 percent not sure of who to support. The automated telephone and Internet poll of 600 Arizona voters was conducted May 1 to 3. The margin of error was 4 percentage points. McCain was similarly close with other potential Democratic rivals.

“Those numbers may be misleadingly close though — the undecideds in each of those (McCain vs. Democrats) matchups are strongly Republican leaning,” PPP said in its analysis of the results.

Kirkpatrick likely entered the race because she’s afraid of being redistricted. A decision is expected very soon from the Supreme Court on a case that seems likely to overturn Arizona’s (and five other states’) method of drawing congressional boundaries. A bill has already been entered in the House to overturn the expected Court ruling.

Fearing defeat at the Supreme Court, more than a dozen members of Congress from California and Arizona introduced legislation Friday to preserve congressional boundaries set by independent redistricting commissions.

HR 2501 bars the legislatures in six states, including Arizona, from redrawing the lines ahead of the 2020 decennial census. That preserves the current political balance of power of each state’s congressional delegation.

The high court could rule as early as Tuesday on a challenge to the authority of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to craft congressional districts.

Further down that linked article gets to our issue:

At the very least, that likely would mean putting more Republicans into the Southeastern Arizona congressional district to firm up support for Martha McSally. She ousted Democrat Ron Barber last year by just 161 votes out of more than 219,000 cast.

But it also would provide an opportunity for the Legislature to tinker with other districts to undermine support for incumbent Democrats, particularly Ann Kirkpatrick.

The only Republican currently expected to challenge McCain is a state senator, Kelli Ward. Ward is not considered very credible, however, because of her low name recognition if nothing else. Major national conservative groups are hoping to get Representative Matt Salmon into the race.

Outside conservative groups have been calling, texting and emailing the Arizona Republican on a weekly basis, trying to lure him into a primary against the state’s senior senator, John McCain. Fellow conservative House colleagues are also privately nudging Salmon to run.

For Tea Party groups, he is seen as perhaps the last, best hope to launch a serious challenge against the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, powerful Armed Services Committee chairman and embodiment of the GOP establishment.

“Salmon’s a dream candidate for us and McCain’s worst electoral nightmare,” said Adam Brandon, CEO of the Tea Party group FreedomWorks.  “I think Salmon has the best shot at it.”

by @ 4:44 pm. Filed under Misc.

Santorum, Pataki, Graham, Perry to Announce Over Next Ten Days

Over the next ten days, four Republican candidates are expected to announce their campaigns for President: Rick Santorum (May 27 in Pennsylvania), George Pataki (May 28 in New Hampshire), Lindsey Graham (June 1 in South Carolina), and Rick Perry (June 4 in Texas). None of the four are expected to have a realistic opportunity at the nomination, but each will influence the debates and discussion in a unique way. Rick Santorum, of course, will draw attention to social conservative issues, Pataki has promised to focus on infrastructure and economic issues, Graham will lead the charge for defense hawks, and Perry will focus on attempting to rehabilitate his damaged public image from his failed 2012 run. Lindsey Graham also potentially throws the meaningfulness of the South Carolina primary into question, depending on whether his poll numbers take off in his home state or not.

So with those four announcements penciled in, and with other candidates narrowing down their plans, we update our Candidacy Tracker:

March 22 Ted Cruz
April 7 Rand Paul
April 13 Marco Rubio
May 4 Ben Carson
Carly Fiorina
May 5 Mike Huckabee
May 27 Rick Santorum
May 28 George Pataki
June 1 Lindsey Graham
June 4 Rick Perry
June Chris Christie
June Donald Trump
After June 11 (after legislative session) Bobby Jindal
June or July (after legislative session) Scott Walker
Sometime this summer Bob Ehrlich
Before the August 6 debate John Kasich
Unknown Jeb Bush
Unknown Peter King

Not running: Bolton, Martinez, Pence, Portman, Romney, Ryan, Snyder, Thune

Dark green indicates an official candidate. Light green indicates a candidate who has indicated they will announce but has yet to officially do so. Yellow indicates a potential candidate who has formed an exploratory committee.

by @ 3:34 pm. Filed under George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum

Tuesday Headlines and Open Thread

Welcome back from Memorial Day Weekend! Here are the latest R4’16 headlines for discussion fodder:

Jeb Bush

Scott Walker

  • Gov. Walker: Federal Government ‘Too Big to Fail,’ President Must Shrink it so it’s ‘Small Enough to Succeed’ (Breitbart)
    “I’d like to take huge chunks of the federal government and send it back to the states… I’d take major social service programs, I’d take transportation and infrastructure, workforce and development, environmental protection, and heck I’d take education… why not keep those dollars back in the states?”
  • Scott Walker Faulted for Failure of Wisconsin State Agency (New York Times)
    Democrats are also seizing on a Wisconsin State Journal investigation that found that under Mr. Walker’s watch in 2011, the development agency lent $500,000 of taxpayer money to Building Committee Inc, which had failed to pay taxes the previous year. The company, whose owner was a donor to Mr. Walker, later went out of business.
  • UW Colleges Shrink Administration to Deal With $6.7 Million Cut (Wisconsin State Journal)
    The University of Wisconsin’s network of two-year colleges plans to slash its administrative ranks — in the process cutting nearly 10 percent of its overall workforce — in response to Gov. Scott Walker’s historic $300 million proposed cut to the University of Wisconsin System.

Marco Rubio

  • Marco Rubio the hawk turned dovish on Syria in 2013 (Politico)
    At the heart of Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign rollout has been the message that, on foreign policy, he is the toughest hawk in the Republican primary field… But at one of the most hawkish moments of Obama’s presidency, Rubio was a dove.
  • Marco Rubio Feared by Hillary Clinton and Democrat Party (Breitbart)
    “[A] bunch of Democrat politicos, including some on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s team, chimed in on how much they feared that Rubio would be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016.
  • Does Rubio Have a Spending Problem? (Washington Post)
    As Rubio runs for president, newly disclosed personal finance details have drawn fresh attention to a long-running problem during his political career: his struggles with money.

Mike Huckabee

  • Mike Huckabee and his tax plan got slammed on Fox (Business Insider)
    A few months after he left his gig as a Fox News television host to pursue the Republican nomination for president in 2016, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was back on Fox News Sunday, and to put it mildly, things did not go well.
  • Mike Huckabee: Creating Cynicism (Washington Post)
    Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee complains that trust in government is at an all-time low. Perhaps he is a cause not a solution.
  • Huckabee: SCOTUS cannot overrule God (The Hill)
    “For God’s sake, it isn’t the supreme being, it is the Supreme Court.”
  • What is the Huckabee Plan for Social Security? (National Review Online)
    There’s nothing in Huckabee’s attack that should be particularly appealing to working-class voters. Governor Huckabee claims to be representing average Americans against the rich and powerful. But his stances on Social Security should be understood as having the opposite effect.


Have at it in the comments — and remember, no personal attacks and no abusive language.

May 25, 2015

A Thought for Memorial Day

I don’t want to get too heavy today, but it’s worth noting, on the day when we honor those who died protecting our freedoms, that there are a great number of our fellow citizens who would be perfectly happy to give away one of our core freedoms – freedom of speech.

free speech

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Poll Watch

May 24, 2015

Sunday Open Thread / Poll Watch

Sorry, a bit short of material today.

This poll was mentioned in yesterday’s post. I went to the Gallup site and got further data, and this write-up:

Gallup first asked Americans to describe their views on social issues in 1999, and has repeated the question at least annually since 2001. The broad trend has been toward a shrinking conservative advantage, although that was temporarily interrupted during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Since then, the conservative advantage continued to diminish until it was wiped out this year.


Gallup asked a similar question on economic issues.

In contrast to the way Americans describe their views on social issues, they still by a wide margin, 39% to 19%, describe their views on economic issues as conservative rather than liberal. However, as on social ideology, the gap between conservatives and liberals has been shrinking and is lower today than at any point since 1999, with the 39% saying they are economically conservative the lowest to date.



Standard open thread rules apply, including no personal attacks.

by @ 2:19 pm. Filed under Open Threads, Poll Watch

May 23, 2015

A Cold-Hearted Look at the Politics of the Duggar Case

Looking a the Huckabee/Duggars saga entirely from a political viewpoint, Governor Huckabee will be seriously harming the socon cause if he does not withdraw.

If he had any chance of winning (I always thought he was quite a longshot, but others could reasonably disagree, and did so), that chance is now gone. He will be ‘the guy who supports child molesters’ in the public mind (whether that depiction is fair or not) and he will have absolutely no chance to expand his support beyond his current base, which he needed to do to be able to win.

He will however still have hardcore supporters (as demonstrated on comment threads here and, no doubt, elsewhere across the country), and this hard core will vote for him regardless of his likelihood of winning. And every vote cast for Mike Huckabee will be a vote that could have gone to another strongly-committed social conservative candidate who might actually win (e.g., Walker, Rubio, Cruz, or several others).

I am not foolish enough to think that my socon friends will listen to advice from me – they would probably rather slit their wrists. And slitting their wrists, metaphorically speaking, is exactly what they will be doing if they continue to support Mike Huckabee.

by @ 4:08 pm. Filed under Mike Huckabee

Weekend Miscellany

Add your own miscellany in the comments.


Addendum: Ireland Votes for Gay Marriage

As mentioned in the ‘Briefly Noted’ items below, Ireland voted yesterday on whether to legalize gay marriage. The results were announced today, and ‘Yes’ won by a landslide.

Irish voters backed legalizing gay marriage by a landslide, according to electoral figures announced Saturday — a stunning result that illustrates the rapid social change taking place in this traditionally Catholic nation.

Figures from Friday’s referendum announced at Dublin Castle showed that 62.1 percent of Irish voters said “yes.” Outside, watching the results announcement live in the castle’s cobblestoned courtyard, thousands of gay rights activists cheered, hugged and cried.

The unexpectedly strong percentage of approval surprised both sides. Analysts and campaigners credited the “yes” side with adeptly using social media to mobilize first-time young voters and for a series of searing personal stories from Irish gay people to convince voters to back equal marriage rights.

Ireland is the first country to approve gay marriage in a popular national vote. Nineteen other countries have legalized the practice.


How Will Debate Rules Change How Candidates Campaign?

National Journal speculates that candidates who are looking like they will be locked out (and those who are on the bubble) may have to undertake early advertising and/or step up the pace of TV appearances in order to bump up their national numbers – thus deviating from the common strategy of marginal candidates of depending on the debates to help them do well enough in Iowa and New Hampshire that maybe lightning will strike.

For Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and others who wouldn’t make the cut if the debate were held today—plus those on the edges of the margin—the news will likely be the catalyst for a redirection in how they campaign.

In election cycles past, candidates like these—who barely register in most polls—used the guaranteed limelight of the debate stage to boost their profiles. Throughout the sundry 2012 debates, unlikely candidate Newt Gingrich capitalized on his primetime megaphone to belligerent, outrageous effect, grabbing the nation’s attention and staying afloat in the race. With that luxury no longer assured, the fight for name recognition and national attention will define the campaign theater much earlier on.

Rick Wilson, a longtime GOP strategist, says the debate qualifications will put “a premium on enhancing and expanding the reputation earlier.”


More Clinton Foundation Dirt

They keep finding more money that they forgot to report.

The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.

The disclosure came as the foundation faced questions over whether it fully complied with a 2008 ethics agreement to reveal its donors and whether any of its funding sources present conflicts of interest for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins her presidential campaign.


How Segregated Public Housing Came to Be

A historian argues that inner-city ghettos are the result of conscious public policy begun under FDR.

Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has spent years studying the history of residential segregation in America.

“We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls ‘de-facto’ — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight,” Rothstein tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.

“It was not the unintended effect of benign policies,” he says. “It was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that’s the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies.”

Rothstein cites primarily two federal policies; one in regard to public housing:

… policy was that public housing could be used only to house people of the same race as the neighborhood in which it was located, but, in fact, most of the public housing that was built in the early years was built in integrated neighborhoods, which they razed and then built segregated public housing in those neighborhoods. So public housing created racial segregation where none existed before.

The second policy he cites involves FHA financing:

 … the Federal Housing Administration gave builders like Levitt concessionary loans through banks because they guaranteed loans at lower interest rates for banks that the developers could use to build these subdivisions on the condition that no homes in those subdivisions be sold to African-Americans.


Baseball Has a Demographics Problem
This article, and its accompanying stats, confirms my own observations. I attended two games last season – a Diamondbacks game in Phoenix and the Cubs at Wrigley Field. There were few kids in evidence in Phoenix; I saw none in Chicago (Wrigley didn’t even have soft drink vendors in the stands, beer was the only beverage available — why bother to sell something for which there are no customers?).youth baseball

The ball fields at Delano-Hitch Park were covered in snow when Jim Wilson launched a campaign to keep them in use. As president of the City of Newburgh Little League, he had seen participation numbers plummet to the point where the league was in danger of folding. Now, he and the league’s board of directors were calling parents one by one, asking if their children would play this spring.

To the extent that kids don’t play the sport anymore, its future is in jeopardy.

Oh, and I should mention that the two games I went to last year, I left early, because they were so slow and long and boring.


The UK, Scotland, and the EU

That wild election victory may have been the easy part.

Whatever Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to achieve over the next five years, his second term is going to be tormented by the threat of one referendum and the virtual certainty of another.

Following the Scottish National Party’s strong electoral showing its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has refused to rule out a second independence referendum if the government in London skimps on its proposed devolution package for Scotland. Devolution is British speak for autonomy.

At the same time, Cameron is locked in to the other referendum, in which the British will, before the end of 2017, choose whether they wish to remain in the European Union or to leave it.

Consider this scenario, which I don’t argue is probable, but I do assert that it is plausible: The rest of the UK votes narrowly but clearly to leave the EU, but Scotland votes overwhelmingly to stay in; overall vote = stay in. Then Scotland votes to leave the UK, or demands devolution terms that amount to leaving the UK. What then?

More turmoil, that’s for sure.


Briefly Noted
Ireland Votes on Gay Marriage: Ireland, of all places seems likely to become the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by referendum. Polls show ‘Yes’ is way ahead. Results Saturday.
Oldest Tools Ever Found: Stone tools discovered near Lake Turkana in Kenya are said to be 3.3 million years old.
Some Male Members of Congress Won’t Be Alone with Female Staff
Social Liberals Now as Numerous as SoCons: Gallup says that the big edge socons had a few years ago has disappeared.

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Misc.

May 22, 2015

OPINION: The End of Mike Huckabee

Josh Duggar, the reality TV star and social conservative activist, was investigated for multiple sex offenses, including forcible fondling, against five minor children. Some of the offenses in question are felonies. Four of the molestation victims were other members of the Duggar family. Josh was accused by several minors of touching their genitals, often when they were asleep, but also when they were awake.

As horrifying as Josh Duggar’s crimes are, what may be even more disgusting are the actions of his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Despite Josh’s confession of his crimes, his parents waited more than a year to alert police to the offenses. During the months after Josh’s initial confession, another act of molestation occurred against another minor. The Duggars chose instead to seek religious remedies rather than alert the proper authorities about the crimes they were privy to.

Now, many people of differing political views can still easily see how wrong and criminal the actions of both Josh Duggar and his parents were. TLC, the network that broadcasts “19 Kids and Counting”, has pulled the show off the air. Most politicians who had been affiliated with the Duggars in some fashion were quick to distance themselves.  But not Gov. Mike Huckabee.  When he discovered his close friends and supporters were involved in a crime of molestation and cover-up, Gov. Huckabee had this to say:

“Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable,’ ” Huckabee said in a statement posted on Facebook Friday. “He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

There are so many things wrong with his response I hardly know where to begin. First, he refers to Josh’s “actions” rather than referring to them as “crimes”, minimizing what Duggar did right from the start. He also bizarrely claims that the family was “honest and open”, when in fact they concealed the crimes for over a year, a time period during which their son molested another child. Even more absurd, he claims the family “dealt with it”. Families are not allowed to police felony offenses, nor are local churches or family friends.

Gov. Huckabee claims the molestation of minor children is not “unforgivable”. This is a matter of perception and personal belief, but I would say the governor is in the extreme minority in this instance. The governor went on to say “good people make mistakes”. Yes, they do. But good people do not molest children, and they do not participate in a cover-up of such crimes. For the governor to minimize them, treating them as youthful indiscretions like experimentation with marijuana that can just be counseled on by the local pastor, is unconscionable.  His claims that Josh’s actions are “long-ago sins” is another absurdity. These are felony sex offenses, not coveting your neighbor’s flat-screen TV.

After making his defense of the crimes and the cover-up, Gov. Huckabee went on the offense against those who exposed this horrifying story. “No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story,” he claimed. Child molestation doesn’t need to be sensationalized, it is an abhorrent crime that even other hardened criminals have no stomach for. As far as what purpose the story serves, there are many. First, the Duggars are activists who frequently moralize on issues such as gay marriage or gay adoption, claiming gays are a danger to children. This incident exposes the incredible hypocrisy of those positions. Second, Josh Duggar was only “treated” by a family friend with no certification or formal training and has never been treated by psychiatric professionals, meaning he could still be a danger to minor children. Third, getting the word out about this type of crime and encouraging other victims to come forward and not be intimidated into silence is widely beneficial to help seek justice for the crimes themselves and in the recovery of the victims.

Gov. Mike Huckabee has shown poor judgement in the past, from his controversial pardons to his support of the disgraced Rep. Todd Akin, but this defense of a child molester is a disgrace. He is finished as a candidate for political office, and deservedly so.

by @ 3:04 pm. Filed under Endorsements, Mike Huckabee

2016 Primary Calendar: Roll With the Punches Edition

The only constant is change — and there is nowhere that is more true than in the primary calendar in American politics. Since our last update, a whole slew of things have been moving around, including the following:

  • The first debate in Cleveland, OH was announced for August 15. It has since been moved back to August 6, presumably to be before the Iowa Straw Poll. In our last update we noted the difficulty lesser-known candidates would have getting noticed without any debates prior to the Straw Poll. Now they’ll at least have one shot to make an impression on a national stage (that is, if anyone even ends up participating in the straw poll this year).
  • The date has been set for the final debate before Super Tuesday, and the location has, of course, been changed. Originally set to be held somewhere in Florida, the GOP moved the debate to Houston, Texas. Given the way the primary calendar is playing out — specifically, the fact there are roughly 20 primaries in between Nevada and Florida this year — this move just makes sense. Additionally, National Review will join NBC and Telemundo as a debate sponsor.
  • Speaking of Nevada, South Carolina and Nevada are coming closer to setting their primary and caucus dates. For the moment, the South Carolina GOP has announced their primary will be held on February 20, with the corresponding South Carolina debate exactly one week prior. Nevada is working through a slew of issues with their caucus date, including a proposal to switch to a primary system which may or may not eliminate the caucus… but for now, their GOP caucus is set for three days after South Carolina on February 23.
  • The Governor of Arkansas is looking to deliver a gift to Mike Huckabee by adding their state to the Super Tuesday lineup. Recall in our last update that legislation to move the Arkansas primary died in the legislature, and then the legislative session ended. Well, Governor Hutchinson has called the legislature back into special session with one intent being to get the primary moved up after all. It remains to be seen if the legislature will support the Governor, but if they do, Arkansas will be moving from May 24 to March 1.
  • Other random notes: Maryland has moved its primary back two weeks, leaving Wisconsin all alone on April 5. Louisiana found money for their primary and will hold in March 5. Primary dates for the three territories (Guam, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico) have been added. New York politicians are still arguing about when to hold their primary — some rumors say it will end up in April, some say March. Our calendar leaves it on March 1 for the time being, since that is when most of the NY GOP is fighting for.

As things continue to evolve and change, we’ll keep updating them here at Race. Don’t forget, you can always find the most updated version of this calendar by clicking the “2016 Primary/Caucus and Debate Calendar” tab at the top of the Race homepage.

August 6, 2015 Fox News/Ohio GOP Debate Cleveland, OH
August 8 Iowa Straw Poll Boone, IA
September 16 CNN/Ronald Reagan Library Debate Simi Valley, CA
October CNBC Debate CO
November Fox Business Debate WI
December CNN Debate NV
January 2016 Fox News Debate IA
February 1 Iowa Caucuses
February ABC News Debate NH
February 9 New Hampshire Primary
February 13 CBS News/South Carolina GOP Debate SC
February 20 South Carolina Primary
February 23 Nevada Caucus
February 26 NBC/Telemundo/National Review Debate Houston, TX
March 1 Super Tuesday: AL, CO, GA, MA, MN, NY, TN, TX, VT, VA
March 5 Louisiana Primary
March 8 Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina Primaries; Hawaii Caucuses
March 12 Guam, Virgin Islands Primaries
March 13 Puerto Rico Primary
March 15 Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio Primaries
March 22 Arizona, Oklahoma Primaries; Utah Caucuses
March Fox News Debate TBD
March CNN Debate TBD
April 5 Wisconsin Primaries
April 26 Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Primaries
May 3 Indiana Primary
May 17 Oregon Primary
May 24 Arkansas Primary
June 7 California, New Jersey, South Dakota Primaries
by @ 8:30 am. Filed under 2016 Primary Calendar, Presidential Debates, Primary & Caucus Dates

Friday Essential Reads / Open Thread


Old Bush Family Friends Are Keeping Their Distance in NH
Boston Globe

If presidential hopeful Jeb Bush was counting on his famous family’s legacy in New Hampshire to help him, he has to be disappointed.

Some influential Granite State Republicans who in the past enthusiastically backed Bush family candidates — such as Jeb Bush’s father in 1988 and brother in 2000 — so far are not offering that same support to the newest Bush on the political scene.

Spanish Elections This Weekend Could Be a Four-Way Split

Nearly a decade ago, Albert Rivera caused a stir in Spanish local politics by posing nude in campaign posters. These days, he sports Hugo Boss suits but his campaign on the national stage is no less eye-catching: His upstart Ciudadanos Party is cutting into support for the ruling conservatives, threatening to bust open Spain’s traditional two-party system.

Painful austerity has dented Spanish living standards, generating disillusionment with both Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party and its rival Socialists, which have alternated power since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s. Voters are gravitating to renegades such as Rivera’s business-friendly Ciudadanos, or Citizens, as well as the hard-left Podemos (We Can) Party, putting them virtually level in opinion polls with the traditional political heavyweights.

Vax Populi


This article is specific to Arizona (I found it in a Phoenix magazine in my doctor’s office), but the issue is of course national. It’s good, in my view, to see a backlash against Jenny McCarthy and her crowd.

For many years, Dr. Larissa Romero respectfully reserved judgment, and held her tongue, when friends and neighbors opined on the topic of vaccination refusal. After all, her prosperous Central Phoenix neighborhood is precisely the kind of place that tends to breed anti-vax sentiment – i.e. younger, college-educated parents, higher tax brackets, smaller families – so why stir up bad feelings?

But that was before the Disneyland measles outbreak in January, and an estimated 1,000 exposures to the virus in Arizona alone. Romero, the mother of a 2-year-old girl and an infant son, wasn’t prepared to take chances. Having dispatched an Evite for her daughter’s birthday party in early February, Romero – an obstetrician based in Phoenix – amended the invitation, asking families with unvaccinated children not to attend.

Growing Dissatisfaction with Obama among Leftist Pundits

From Instapundit:

Jeffrey Toobin has a piece in The New Yorker today called “Obama’s Game of Chicken with the Supreme Court.” […]

Toobin’s overall sentiment–that a ruling for the plaintiffs in King will be a political loss for President Obama (as it should be, since it was his decision to disregard the plain language of his own signature legislation)–is likely correct.  But what’s even more noteworthy is that it evinces that the Teflon President’s non-stick coating is finally wearing a little  thin with (at least some in) the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the criticism is mostly limited to foreign policy. Evidence of such Teflon thinning includes the Washington Post’s editorial board’s skepticism about the Iran nuclear deal (including his failure to respond to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s arguments before Congress), longtime Democratic pollster Pat Caddell’s recent statement that the Obama Administration is more corrupt than Nixon’s, Chris Matthews’ thrill dissipating to the point where he has called Obama “intellectually lazy,” Kirsten Powers’ criticism of Obama on the ISIS persecution of Christians, and Jon Stewart’s “je suis to be kidding me” quip about Obama’s failure to attend the unity rally in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo terrorism–something veteran liberal foreign affairs expert Leslie Gelb labeled a “horrendous gaffe” that “demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years.”

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

May 21, 2015

Is Jeb Bush Following in Rudy Giuliani’s Footsteps?

In the 2008 race for the Republican nomination, Rudy Giuliani banked on a unique, never-before-attempted strategy: ignore the early states and focus on large states like Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. The thinking was clear: for the first time, the new front-loaded calendar potentially offered the chance for a well-funded national candidate to get the necessary delegates. Theoretically, the calendar was so packed at the front end of the campaign that a candidate could absorb losses in the early contests without much damage, and Mayor Giuliani wasn’t a natural fit (to say the least) for Iowa and South Carolina, anyway.

So Florida became Rudy’s de facto firewall. Sure, in the winter of 2007 he said he wasn’t giving up on Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, but as time went on and those contests drew closer it became obvious to any armchair pundit what his strategy really was. The only early state he even put up any modicum of a fight in was New Hampshire, and even there he eventually gave up and withdrew.

Of course, reality came crashing down around the Giuliani campaign as Romney, McCain, and Huckabee — the three candidates who finished first, second, and third in the early states (give or take a sputtering Fred Thompson campaign) — sucked up all the press, all the momentum, and all the votes. Giuliani would eventually place a distant third in Florida, sending his Great Experiment to the trash heap of modern political history.

But those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and it seems this election cycle may well feature a candidate who is unwittingly following in Mayor Giuliani’s footsteps: Jeb Bush.

Campaign sources in the Bush camp have indicated that not only will Governor Bush skip the Iowa Straw Poll, he will also not contest the Iowa caucuses:

According to three sources with knowledge of Bush’s campaign strategy, the likely Republican presidential candidate does not plan to seriously contest the first-in-the-nation caucuses — and may ultimately skip the state altogether.

While some politicos are applauding this decision, or saying it was the obvious one for Governor Bush to make, in reality it wouldn’t be too dramatic to say this early decision could mark the beginning of the end for the Bush campaign. Before he has even officially announced his candidacy, Jeb Bush has essentially doomed it.

There’s an old political axiom that there are only three tickets out of Iowa. That axiom has held true for both parties in every election going back 44 years to the beginning of the caucuses, with the exception of John McCain in 2008. (But even then, McCain finished essentially tied for third just a couple hundred votes behind Fred Thompson — and the momentum of his campaign coming back from the dead was the headline coming out of the caucuses afterward.)

History tells us to win your party’s nomination you must contest and place in the top three in the Iowa caucuses. Governor Bush’s gamble to the contrary looks an awful lot like Mayor Giuliani’s gamble in 2008. In 2008, the calendar was supposed to make things different. It didn’t. This time around, the large and supposedly fractured field is supposed to make things different. It won’t. And none of this takes into consideration the general election, either. Should Bush somehow manage to buck decades of history and reality and become the Republican nominee, Hillary Clinton will begin the general election lightyears ahead of him as far as organizing in the Hawkeye State. In a swing state that will likely have outsized importance in the 2016 presidential election, Republicans are going to need every advantage they can get. Passing on an opportunity to build campaign structure in Iowa is a losing proposition.

By skipping Iowa, Jeb is essentially placing all his primary eggs in the New Hampshire basket — an even riskier move for someone with the last name Bush, given the state’s primary voting history. The New Hampshire primaries are still eight and a half months away, but the latest poll out of the Granite State has Bush in third place and his average in the state has been dropping steadily for two months now. Come February, he may find himself locked in a battle royale with Walker, Rubio, and Paul, all of whom could easily finish higher than him in New Hampshire — and one or more of whom will be riding momentum out of Iowa. All it will take is for one of them to beat Bush in New Hampshire, and his campaign will be over. He will not win South Carolina, and if he fails to win any of the first three states, Rubio will KO a weakened Jeb a couple weeks later in Florida (if he even stays in that long).

Could Jeb Bush win Iowa? Not a chance. Everybody knows that — but this is where Bush is missing his greatest opportunity: those low expectations are already baked into his Iowa results. Jeb placing third in Iowa would be the equivalent of Governor Walker or Governor Huckabee placing first: meeting expectations.

Instead, unless the Bush campaign changes their mind and contests Iowa, we could very well have another Giuliani-like postmortem to deliver come February.

by @ 9:17 am. Filed under Iowa Caucuses, Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani

Essential Reads / Thursday Open Thread

Mr. Walker Goes to Washington

First, a note and a promise. Since I’m the only person posting on the front page at present (hopefully, we’ll get that corrected soon), I need to make it clear that I will not try to batter everybody with a ton of pro-Walker posts.

Besides wanting to be fair and not wanting to ruin the site, I’m really only a fairly tepid Walker supporter for now – we’ll see what happens as time goes on.

With that out of the way, Walker made a visit to Washington a couple days ago, and it appears things went quite well, though Breitbart’s headline — ‘Republican Lawmakers: Scott Walker Dazzles on Capitol Hill‘ – seems just a bit over-the-top, and not quite supported by the actual quotes within the article. Still, there were some very, very positive things said:

“I was very impressed with his seriousness with respect to the growing threats around the world and the need to demonstrate clarity with respect to American foreign policy,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), who has endorsed Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) … said

Steve King of Iowa: “What I’m hearing from members is that Scott Walker is a conservative that has a broad base …”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), an immigration hardliner like King, said Walker “is very impressive,” according to The Hill.

“It’s hard to be down-home and sophisticated at the same time, but clearly that’s what he is,” Rohrabacher said. “I’ll wait and see what the deal is, but I’m certainly inclined to lean in his direction now.”

Tom Cole of Oklahoma: “He just knocked it out of the park. I think he [changed some minds]. I think people were awfully impressed with his record… so there were a lot of people predisposed to being supportive, but he certainly didn’t do anything other than strengthen himself.”

Sounds pretty good. Then there’s this, from RCP:

Sen. Mike Lee “went in a little doubtful and came away impressed” when he met Tuesday morning with likely presidential candidate Scott Walker, said an aide to Lee who was briefed by the Utah senator on the meeting.



The Clinton Emails – It Just Keeps Getting Better

Wall Street Journal

When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her staff scrutinized politically sensitive documents requested under public-records law and sometimes blocked their release, according to people with direct knowledge of the activities.

In one instance, her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, told State Department records specialists she wanted to see all documents requested on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and later demanded that some be held back.

In another case, Ms. Mills’s staff negotiated with the records specialists over the release of documents about former President Bill Clinton’s speaking engagements—also holding some back.

The records requests came under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, the public’s main tool to get information from the government. Decisions on what to release belong with each agency’s FOIA staff, say experts on the law, to guard against the withholding of documents for political or other inappropriate reasons.


LA Adopts $15 Minimum Wage

The Los Angeles Tmes

Los Angeles has approved a $15/hr minimum wage (to be achieved in increments between now and 2020). The city council took under advisement an additional proposal to give twelve personal-leave days per year.
Quick – go out and buy robotics stock.


GOP Is in the Best Shape in Decades – Revisited

The New Yorker

Earlier this week, we linked to an article by Sean Trende and David Byler of RCP on this subject. Shortly afterward, Sean posted a message on Facebook to send the paramedics – because he had been cited positively in The New Yorker. Naturally, The New Yorker thinks it is horrifying that they may be right.

… take a peek at a new analysis of the American political firmament by Sean Trende and David Byler, of the Web site Real Clear Politics. It’s a data-driven article that examines what’s happening not only in Washington but in legislatures and statehouses around the country, which also have a significant impact on people’s lives. Trende and Byler conclude that the Republican Party is already stronger than it has been for many decades. With a good result in 2016, including a takeover of the White House, it could virtually sweep the board. Indeed, Trende and Byler say, the Republicans could end up in their strongest position since 1920, the year women got the vote.

If the spectre of today’s Republican Party monopolizing most of the levers of power at the federal, congressional, and state levels isn’t enough to get people exercised about 2016, I don’t know what is. From tax and spending policy to health insurance, foreign policy, and social issues like gun control and gay marriage, the country would be subjected to a concerted effort to roll back time.




by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

May 20, 2015

Poll Watch: California Senate, Open Primary, Field Poll

From the Field Poll write-up: 

California voters appear not to be giving much attention to next year’s election to fill the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Barbara Boxer. When likely voters in next year’s June open primary are asked who they would support from a list of announced or potential candidates, a majority (58%) does not offer a preference.

Leading the pack among voters expressing a preference is Democratic state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who receives 19% of the first choice votes.

Three other announced candidates, Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, and former state Republican Party chair Tom Del Beccaro trail. Sanchez, who announced her candidacy only last Thursday, receives 8% of likely voter preferences, while Chavez and Del Beccaro were the first choice of 6% and 5%, respectively. Smaller proportions are supporting two others included in the poll who are considering Senate bids, Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra (3%) and former state Republican Party chair Duf Sundheim (1%).

The poll also asked likely voters for their second choice preferences in the Senate race. When combining each potential candidate’s first and second choice preferences, support for Harris increases to 22%. Support for Sanchez increases to 14% of likely voters in this setting.


Cal Senate

The poll was conducted April 23 – May 16, among 801 Likely Voters; the margin of error is +/-3.5. Additional demographic/geographic info and party/ideology breakdowns are at the Field website linked above.

Note that the polling does not include anything after Sanchez’s wacko impersonation of a kid playing cowboys and Indians (I don’t suppose kids are allowed to do that anymore). Perhaps that might mean there’s an outside chance of a Republican getting into the General, although my own guess would be that it more likely means Harris gets 50%+1. Time will tell.

Open thread.

by @ 7:43 pm. Filed under Poll Analysis, Poll Watch

Essential Reads / Wednesday Open Thread

Hillary Takes Questions after 40,150 Minutes
Washington Post
The clock has now been re-set.

Free Trade Is Not the Enemy
New York Times
Op-Ed by William M. Daley

When barriers disappear, we prosper. In the 17 trade deals the United States has concluded since 2000, our balance of trade in the blue-collar-goods sector went from minus $3 billion to plus $31 billion, according to an analysis of government data by the centrist policy institute Third Way, on whose board I sit. According to the International Trade Administration, export-related jobs pay 18 percent more than similar jobs in the same sector.

Mike Huckabee Hasn’t Changed, but the Calendar Has
National Journal
NJ suggests that the primary calendar (and especially the SEC primary) may give Mike Huckabee an advantage he didn’t have in ’08. However, the question is also raised whether that will matter if he doesn’t win at least one of the First Four, and if he can’t expand his base to be seen as more than ‘the Christian candidate’.

The Long, Weird History of the Flying Car
Popular Mechanics
Since flying cars came up in the recent discussion of driverless cars (not that I want to resurrect that one), this seems worth a mention.

Flying car

Addendum: Link to Rand Paul’s filibuster on the Patriot Act (H/T Hoosier Drew).

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Misc.

May 19, 2015

Poll Watch: Georgia Republican Primary

georgia poll2

Poll of 500 Republican primary voters, conducted by Landmark Communications/Rosetta Stone, May 11-12, 2015, margin of error 4.4

It is not clear whether this poll is of Likely or Registered voters, so it seems safe to assume it is Registered. The link has breakdowns by gender, age, and race.

Open thread rules apply.

H/T Huckafan and GS.

by @ 3:20 pm. Filed under Poll Watch

Essential Reads (and a Video) / Tuesday Open Thread

Here’s a Clock That Counts the Minutes Since Hillary Clinton Answered a Press Question
Washington Post
The Fix at WaPo has a little fun with Hillary. I understand the NYT is listing questions they would ask, if they could.

The GOP Is the Strongest It’s Been in Decades
Analytics by Sean Trende & David Byler

Republican Bobby Jindal Forms Committee to Explore Presidential Run
The Guardian

The Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, announced on Monday that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee. This step makes it even more likely that the two-term governor will be yet another candidate in the growing Republican presidential field for 2016.


How Not to Start a Campaign
You’ve probably heard about Loretta Sanchez’s strange behavior over the weekend. I certainly had, but I hadn’t actually seen it until yesterday.


by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Bobby Jindal, Hillary Clinton, Misc.

May 18, 2015

Head-to-Head Comparison


Here are the RCP averages for several of the leading Republicans vs. Hillary Clinton. What I find remarkable is … nothing. There’s practically no difference, and no one jumps out as a ‘frontrunner’.

Marco Rubio does very slightly the best, but only by half a point over Jeb Bush and Rand Paul.

The three C’s – Cruz, Christie, and Carson – are trailing the pack a bit, but not by amounts it would be tough to make up, if one of them should catch fire (which I don’t expect).

Note that these averages include polls going back several months.

Update: Edited to note omission of Rand Paul in original version (see second paragraph. Also, this is an open thread.

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Poll Analysis

May 17, 2015

Kasich: ‘Virtually Certain’

It looks like Kasich is in:

John Kasich is “virtually certain” to jump into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, sources close to the Ohio governor tell ABC News.

Kasich has said his wife and daughters have given him a green light to run and in recent days Kasich has told his political advisors to begin preparing for a likely campaign. Kasich travels to New Hampshire in early June and recently did a fundraising trip to California. If he makes the final decision to run, he will make the announcement in late June or July.

As a Republican elected twice as governor of the critical battleground state of Ohio, Kasich is a potentially formidable candidate. But he has also angered conservative Republicans with his decision to accept an expansion of the Medicaid program under Obamacare. He has also supported the Common Core educational standards, something derided by some conservatives as “Obamacore.”

This would not be Kasich’s first presidential campaign. He ran for the 2000 republican presidential nomination but his campaign quickly fizzled out. At the time he was a republican Congressman from Ohio and chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Kasich would be a formidable candidate, I think; he would appeal to multiple sectors of the party. I know I could support him, although I don’t agree with him on everything.

In any case, it’s good to have more serious candidates in.

H/T: Huckaboom

by @ 9:36 pm. Filed under John Kasich

May 16, 2015

Weekend Miscellany

Feel free to add your own miscellany in the comments. Open thread rules apply.


Whither HuffPo?

If this article in Advertising Age is correct, Verizon’s $4.4bil buy of AOL (which shocked me, frankly) was all about buying AOL’s ‘programmatic ad buying’ capabilities (those ads you see before the video that you actually want to watch).

In 2013, AOL purchased, a video-advertising start-up that specializes in automating the connections between advertisers and media companies, a process known as programmatic ad buying. Publishers provide videos they want to have advertising on, marketers hand over ads that they’d like people to see before watching whatever it is they actually want to watch, and AOL’s computers play matchmaker. This year, 28% of all video ads will be purchased through a system like this, according to eMarketer. By next year it will be 40%.

Verizon needs something like this. “The principal interest was around the ad tech platform that [AOL has] done a really terrific job building. We really like the technology a lot,” said John Stratton, Verizon’s exec VP-operations, at an investor conference Tuesday. “We’ve talked a lot about our over-the-top video ambitions, and this is, for us, a very important cornerstone enabler as part of that broader strategy.”

So that leaves us wondering what will happen to the piece of AOL with which most of us are familiar – the popular lefty content provider Huffington Post (the 30th most popular site on the web)?

But there’s a fair deal of skepticism that Verizon actually wants to run a network of online publications. James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester, immediately speculated that Verizon would sell off the Huffington Post.

Shall we pass the hat and see about buying it? I’m good for upwards of twenty bucks, if pressed.


John Quincey Adams and the Journey to the Center of the Earth

JQA believed that inside the crust that we’re standing on, there are several concentric spheres (or something like that). He tried to get Congress to fund an exploratory expedition, but they wanted no part of it.


More Like Europe – Part II

Many in the US (mostly on the left, politically) think this would be a much better country if only we would act more like Europe. With that in mind, I am enjoying watching Europe’s response to their current immigration crisis.

Libya has criticised EU proposals to authorise the use of force against people smugglers taking migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.
The Libyan ambassador to the UN told the BBC that the EU’s intentions were unclear and “very worrying”.
The EU is seeking a UN mandate to allow military action to destroy or halt smugglers’ boats in Libyan waters.

I guess air strikes against coyotes in the Sonoran Desert and strafing the Rio Grande might make us more like Europe. How do you think that would go over? (I am definitely not advocating anything of the kind).

The EU is also considering a cap on the number of amnesty-seekers they will accept each year, as well as rules requiring each country to accept a portion of the continent’s immigrants based on population and GDP. Britain has said, “No way, Jose,” or something like that.

Note: If you’re interested, Part I is here.


Ayelet Shaked

Never heard of her? Neither had I, before last week – she is the new shaked4Justice Minister for Israel, and I  herewith nominate her as the world’s best-looking far-right Justice Minister (not a category in which there is a lot of competition, I admit).

This is from an article in Foreign Policy titled ‘The New Face of Israel’s Hard Right“:

Her rapid ascent to the highest reaches of the Israeli political system hit a new peak Wednesday … when the 39-year-old computer engineer and mother of two was given control of Israel’s Justice Ministry. Shaked got the post as part of a desperate last-minute deal that saved Netanyahu from a looming deadline …

She has apparently made some strong (perhaps too strong) statements regarding Pshaked2alestinians in the past, which leads to some people holding contrarian opinions about her fitness for high office.

Fair enough, but they’ll have a hard time selling the ‘monster’ label, I think.


Self-Driving Cars (Mid-50s Version)

Great video (if you enjoy outrageously cheesy stuff, as I do) by General Motors from 1956, showing the self-driving cars of 1976.

That it all happens to crowds of similarly choreographed cars threading through cloverleaf interchanges in the middle of a desert, complete with rocky prominences straight [out] of a Roadrunner cartoon, is icing on the cake.


Why I’m White

A recent study details how Europeans evolved to have white skins. Apparently it happened relatively recently in evolutionary terms — e.g., within the last 8000 years or so.

The modern humans who came out of Africa to originally settle Europe about 40,000 years are presumed to have had dark skin, which is advantageous in sunny latitudes. And the new data confirm that about 8500 years ago, early hunter-gatherers in Spain, Luxembourg, and Hungary also had darker skin: They lacked versions of two genes—SLC24A5 and SLC45A2—that lead to depigmentation and, therefore, pale skin in Europeans today.

But in the far north—where low light levels would favor pale skin—the team found a different picture in hunter-gatherers: Seven people from the 7700-year-old Motala archaeological site in southern Sweden had both light skin gene variants, SLC24A5 and SLC45A2. They also had a third gene, HERC2/OCA2, which causes blue eyes and may also contribute to light skin and blond hair. Thus ancient hunter-gatherers of the far north were already pale and blue-eyed, but those of central and southern Europe had darker skin.

Then, the first farmers from the Near East arrived in Europe; they carried both genes for light skin. As they interbred with the indigenous hunter-gatherers, one of their light-skin genes swept through Europe, so that central and southern Europeans also began to have lighter skin. The other gene variant, SLC45A2, was at low levels until about 5800 years ago when it swept up to high frequency.

Europeans being relatively tall happened about the same time.

The team also tracked complex traits, such as height, which are the result of the interaction of many genes. They found that selection strongly favored several gene variants for tallness in northern and central Europeans, starting 8000 years ago, with a boost coming from the Yamnaya migration, starting 4800 years ago. The Yamnaya have the greatest genetic potential for being tall of any of the populations, which is consistent with measurements of their ancient skeletons. In contrast, selection favored shorter people in Italy and Spain starting 8000 years ago, according to the paper now posted on the bioRxiv preprint server. Spaniards, in particular, shrank in stature 6000 years ago, perhaps as a result of adapting to colder temperatures and a poor diet.

Even for a non-science guy like me, this is interesting stuff.


Briefly Noted

US-Saudi Relations Are Getting Pretty Bad: The new king skips Obama’s ‘summit’.

First Football Game?: I had always heard Princeton-Rutgers played the first ‘American football’ game, but this argues that it was Harvard-McGill.

Russ Feingold Running for Senate in WI: He’ll be a very strong candidate for the Dems.

Loretta Sanchez Also Running, in CA: She’ll be an underdog against Harris, though.

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

May 15, 2015

Rick Perry: June 4th

The Wall Street Journal version:

Former Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry will announce whether he intends to run for president for a second time on June 4 at an event in Dallas, a spokesman said Friday.

The confirmation followed a Twitter message posted by Mr. Perry’s wife Anita on Friday morning, which stated that “Governor Perry and I have been discussing the future of this great country and how our family can play a role.”

The tweet links to a registration page for a June 4 event in Downtown Dallas, and asks supporters to join them there for a “special announcement.” Mr. Perry’s campaign had previously indicated he would likely declare whether he would run for president in May or June.

NBC News


Houston Chronicle

Dallas Morning News

Note — this is an Open Thread.

by @ 1:04 pm. Filed under Rick Perry

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