August 1, 2015

Saturday Miscellany

Post what you like in the comments. No off-topic here.

 

The Disappointing Rand Paul Campaign

A lot of us thought Rand Paul might be one of the finalists this year, but that doesn’t seem likely now.

I saw him as Ron with the rough edges sanded off – the guy who might finally sell libertarianism to the public. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Politico has the story.

Rand Paul, once seen as a top-tier contender, finds his presidential hopes fading fast as he grapples with deep fundraising and organizational problems that have left his campaign badly hobbled.

Interviews with more than a dozen sources close to the Kentucky senator, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, painted a picture of an underfunded and understaffed campaign beaten down by low morale.

They described an operation that pitted a cerebral chief strategist against an intense campaign manager who once got into a physical altercation with the candidate’s bodyguard. And they portrayed an undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win — a man who obsessed over trivial matters like flight times, peppered aides with demands for more time off from campaigning and once chose to go on a spring-break jaunt rather than woo a powerful donor.

 

Just Another Clinton Foundation Scandal

From The Guardian:

Hillary Clinton’s overlap of private and political activities was once again in the spotlight on Thursday after a Wall Street Journal report that since Clinton helped broker a settlement in a legal tax case against UBS while she was secretary of state, the Swiss bank has increased its financial support and involvement in Clinton Foundation projects.

In February 2009, the IRS sued UBS and demanded that it disclose the names of 52,000 possible American tax evaders with secret Swiss bank accounts. In the months that followed – thanks to involvement of Clinton as secretary of state and Swiss lawmakers – a legal settlement was negotiated. On 19 August 2009, it was announced that UBS would pay no fine and would provide the IRS with information about 4,450 accounts within a year.

Since the deal was struck, disclosures by the foundation and the bank show the donations by UBS to the Clinton Foundation growing “from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The bank also teamed up with the foundation on the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative, creating a pilot entrepreneur program through which UBS offered $32m in loans to businesses, the newspaper reported. Other UBS donations to the Clinton Foundation include a $350,000 donation from June 2011 and a $100,000 donation for a charity golf tournament.

Additionally, UBS paid more than $1.5m in speaking fees to Bill Clinton between 2001 and 2014, the newspaper reported.

 

Dana Milbank Plays the McCarthy Card on Walker

From WaPo:

This is the essence of Walker’s appeal — and why he is so dangerous. He is not as outrageous as Donald Trump and Sen.­­ Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), but his technique of scapegoating unions for the nation’s ills is no less demagogic. Sixty-five years ago, another man from Wisconsin made himself a national reputation by frightening the country about the menace of communists, though the actual danger they represented was negligible.

 

Cecil the Lion? Whodat?

Answer honestly – had you ever heard of Cecil the Lion before this week? Had any of the people filling the internet with outrage ever heard of him? Don’t worry about it – neither had the folks in Zimbabwe, but at least they have the decency to be ignoring the whole thing.

As social media exploded with outrage this week at the killing of Cecil the lion, the untimely passing of the celebrated predator at the hands of an American dentist went largely unnoticed in the animal’s native Zimbabwe.

“What lion?” acting information minister Prisca Mupfumira asked in response to a request for comment about Cecil, who was at that moment topping global news bulletins and generating reams of abuse for his killer on websites in the United States and Europe.

The government has still given no formal response,

 

Shining Path Slaves Freed in Peru

The BBC tells us about a rescue operation in Peru.

The Peruvian army says it has rescued 39 people from a farm where the Shining Path (aka Sendero Luminoso) rebel group kept them as slaves.

Some of the captives said they had been kidnapped some 30 years ago. The defence ministry said 26 of them were children, some of whom were born in captivity.

The victims said they were also forced to work in fields.
Some 120 Peruvian soldiers took part in the operation. Four army helicopters airlifted the captives into safety.

The military says soldiers were led to the farm by a former captive, who lived there for many years and escaped about a month ago.

The women were expected to give birth to young rebels.

I thought Shining Path (they were the Maoist group that was very active in Peru in the ’80s and 90s) was long gone, but apparently vestiges remain.

 

SCOTUS Favorability Declining

From a Pew survey:

Following major, end-of-term rulings on the Affordable supreme courtCare Act and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the Supreme Court have reached a 30-year high. And opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided.

Currently, 48% of Americans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court, while 43% view the court unfavorably. Unfavorable opinions of the court, while up only modestly since March (39%), are the highest recorded since 1985.

While Pew attributes this to recent rulings, and certainly there is a partisan divide, this graph they present shows a long-term decline.

There are several other interesting graphs and data points at the link.

 

Briefly Noted
FIFA Is Museum-Worthy: A new exhibit is to open soon at the Mafia Museum in Las Vegas.

Trump and the Mafia: Today is Mafia Day, I guess, in the Briefly Noted Department. The Donald seems to have a lot of business dealings with dubious characters, but that may simply be a factor of having real estate/construction businesses in the NYC/NJ/Philly area.

  7:00 am
Misc.  

July 31, 2015

Poll Watch: Trump Skyrockets in Iowa, Rubio Plummets, Jindal in 4th

This may be the first poll I’ve seen where Bobby Jindal registers any kind of support whatsoever. Also, do you suppose there are conversations going on in Rubio headquarters about how their “lay low” strategy seems to be working a little too well?

Gravis Marketing (R) Iowa Republican Caucus

  • Trump – 31% (-)
  • Walker – 15% (17)
  • Bush – 10% (10)
  • Jindal – 7% (-)
  • Cruz – 6% (6)
  • Huckabee – 6% (8)
  • Carson – 5% (12)
  • Kasich – 5% (-)
  • Fiorina – 4% (5)
  • Rubio – 3% (13)
  • Santorum – 3% (6)
  • Perry – 2% (-)
  • Graham – 1% (-)
  • Christie – * (-)
  • Pataki – * (-)
  • Paul – * (4)
  • Undecided – 0% (15)

Survey of 277 likely caucus participants was conducted July 29 and has a margin of error of ±6.5%. Numbers in parentheses are from the June Gravis survey.

Plenty here to discount this poll if you’d like: zero undecided, tiny sample size and massive margin of error, and that Jindal placement sure does look fishy. So take it with a grain of salt — but the trendlines from the previous poll sure are interesting.

  2:08 pm
Poll Watch  

The Fix’s Latest Power Rankings

Chris Cillizza’s power rankings over at the Washington Post are a staple for armchair pundits. He’s released his latest update this morning, and they should provide some good fodder for discussion:

  1. Jeb Bush (2)
  2. Marco Rubio (1)
  3. Scott Walker (3)
  4. Donald Trump (-)
  5. John Kasich (5)
  6. Ted Cruz (4)
  7. Mike Huckabee (7)
  8. Rand Paul (6)
  9. Chris Christie (8)
  10. Ben Carson (-)

Dropping off the list: Perry and Jindal.

Check the link above to read his reasoning for each placement, then have at it in the comments.

  1:00 pm
Power Rankings  

The Frontrunners

“The two presidential candidates rated as least favorable, most untrustworthy, and least likely to care about the needs and problems of regular folks are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and they are leading their respective party primaries.”
Matthew Dowd

According to the most recent Quinnipiac Poll, the qualities voters most want a candidate for a president to have are:
1. Being Honest and Trustworthy
2. Caring about their needs
3. Being a strong leader.

Clinton and Trump both score on being a strong leader, but on the others, not so much.

What we have here is a situation in which the frontrunners in each major party are the worst candidates in their respective parties on the 2 qualities voters want more than any other. This doesn’t mean that almost all Democrats won’t vote for Democrats, or that virtually all Republicans won’t vote for Republicans. They will. What it means is that the presidential election will be decided by Independents who think differently than either Democrats OR Republicans.

Polling suggests, at the moment, that most Independents are more inclined to vote Republican than Democrat, but whether that happens depends on non-ideological factors, such as the 3 above-listed perceptions.

Among independents, according to Quinnipiac, Hillary has a net negative of -18 approval, and Donald has a net negative approval of -32. The percentage of independents who find Hillary to be untrustworthy is 62%. For Trump the number is 58%.

And 52% of them say that Hillary doesn’t care about the problems and needs of average people. For us, the bad news is that 63% of them say The Donald doesn’t.

So those are the values people care about. What about the issues? The number one issue people are concerned about is the economy and jobs. There is no current evidence that either frontrunner has a solid plan to deal with it.

Our serious candidates do. Maybe the debates will discuss a lot of that. Or, they might just be a circus. Megyn Kelly said that preparing for the Republican debate for most our candidates is like a NASCAR driver preparing for a race, knowing that one of the other drivers will be drunk.

Look for a car wreck.

  11:25 am
Uncategorized  

Poll Watch: Rubio, Paul Run Best Against Hillary; All GOP Candidates Closing the Gap

Note that these numbers are among adults, so they would look even better for the GOP among registered or likely voters… Of course, none of it matters if Trump goes third party:

McClatchy/Marist General Election Matchups

  • Clinton – 47% (54)
  • Rubio – 42% (38)
  • Clinton – 48% (51)
  • Paul – 43% (40)
  • Clinton – 49% (49)
  • Bush – 43% (42)
  • Clinton – 47% (51)
  • Perry – 40% (42)
  • Clinton – 48% (-)
  • Walker – 41% (-)
  • Clinton – 49% (53)
  • Cruz – 40% (39)
  • Clinton – 50% (53)
  • Huckabee – 41% (40)
  • Clinton – 49% (-)
  • Carson – 39% (-)
  • Clinton – 50% (53)
  • Christie – 40% (41)
  • Clinton – 49% (-)
  • Kasich – 39% (-)
  • Clinton – 51% (-)
  • Santorum – 39% (-)
  • Clinton – 50% (-)
  • Pataki – 37% (-)
  • Clinton – 52% (-)
  • Jindal – 36% (-)
  • Clinton – 54% (-)
  • Trump – 38% (-)
  • Clinton – 52% (-)
  • Graham – 35% (-)
  • Clinton – 53% (-)
  • Fiorina 35% (-)
  • Clinton – 53% (-)
  • Gilmore – 32% (-)
  • Clinton – 44% (-)
  • Bush – 29% (-)
  • Trump – 20% (-)

Survey of 1,249 adults was done July 22-28 and has a margin of error of ±2.8%. Numbers in parentheses are from the March or April McClatchy/Marist polls.

  11:10 am
Poll Watch  

Friday Open Thread (Clarifying the Debate Edition)

Open threads can be used for discussing any topic you choose (no such thing as off-topic). Please try to keep off-topic comments here rather than on other threads.

Conversation starter: Politico thinks they’ve figured out which polls will be used to determine the debate line-up.

A handful of national pollsters are preparing to release the survey results that will help determine which 10 candidates qualify for the Aug. 6 debate in Cleveland, according to the rules laid out by Fox News.

Quinnipiac University unveiled a new poll early Thursday morning, and new polls from NBC News/Wall Street Journal and Monmouth University will be released between now and next Tuesday — the cutoff date for inclusion in the national polling average that will determine who makes the stage.

It’s also likely that Fox News will have a new poll between now and the Tuesday afternoon cutoff. The network’s most recent poll was conducted in mid-July, and the expectation is that the polling average that Fox uses will include one of its own surveys. A representative for the network did not respond to questions about its schedule.

That would leave a CNN poll released last weekend as the fifth poll used to determine the top 10, barring the release of another major poll.

  7:00 am
Open Threads, Poll Watch  

July 30, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen Echoes Quinnipiac – Trump Leads, Bush Third, Kasich in Debate

Rasmussen is trying to get in on the debate poll action with their first survey in ten months:

Rasmussen Reports National Republican Primary

  • Trump – 26%
  • Walker – 14%
  • Bush – 10%
  • Cruz – 7%
  • Huckabee – 7%
  • Carson – 5%
  • Kasich – 5%
  • Rubio – 5%
  • Paul – 3%
  • Christie – 2%
  • ———

  • Jindal – 2%
  • Perry – 2%
  • Santorum – 2%
  • Fiorina – 1%
  • Graham – 1%
  • Pataki – 1%

Survey of 471 likely Republican primary voters was done July 26-27 and has a margin of error of ±5.0%.

Even though the percentages are a little different, this shows the same top 10 (depending how you divide up the four clocking in at 2%) as the Quinnipiac poll did earlier today. Barring any surprises, Pataki, Graham, Fiorina, and Santorum will miss the debate stage, with Christie having a slim edge over Jindal and Perry for the final slot.

  1:22 pm
Poll Watch  

Race 4 2016 Weekly Readers Poll (Re-Post)

We have been sitting firm at 99 responses to this week’s readers poll and I like to get a sampling of over 100 so I am going to re-post and we get a few more replies. Thanks again to everyone for participating.

—————————————————————————————-

Happy Monday everyone! Below is a link to this week’s Race readers poll. There are 11 questions this week and it is a somewhat different format from what we have done in the past, please respond to all the questions even if you feel as though you are having to pick the least-worst option. As always, you have to be logged in with Google to vote.

Last week we got 106 responses and Florida Senator Marco Rubio continues to lead the pack with 29.2% support. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee came in second with 18.9% while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker tied for third place with 10.4% each. This week, Governor Chris Christie was the only candidate to not receive a single vote; how far his star has fallen.

Of the candidates considered “on the bubble” to make the 10-candidate Fox News debate on August 6, Race readers would most prefer to see businesswoman Carly Fiorina (26.5%) make the cut for the debate. Mrs. Fiorina is closely followed by Ohio Governor John Kasich, who, despite his widely-panned announcement speech, received 24.5%. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (18.6%) and Christie (13.7%) are the only other candidates to receive double-digit support.

Of the upper-tier candidates, Race readers overwhelmingly (65.4%) would prefer not to see businessman egomaniac Donald Trump take his circus act to the first debate. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (10.6%) is only other candidate who a double-digit sampling of respondents would prefer not see at the debate.

Speaking of “The Donald,” Race readers strongly believe that his deplorable comments about John McCain’s status as a war hero would do either a lot (37.1%) or some (40%) damage to his prospects. Looking at the polls that have been published since the remarks, it appears the 22.8% who said the comments would do either a little (17.1%) or none at all (5.7%) are being proven correct.

Lastly, a plurality (39.2%) of respondents say that no one will give Hillary Clinton a serious contest in the Democrat Party’s primary but of those who do, exactly one-third believe that she will be seriously challenged by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Race 4 2016 Weekly Readers Poll

  11:50 am
2016, 2016 Candidates, Misc.  

The Democratic Party’s Plan B

Much ink is being spilled recently about Hillary Clinton’s downward trend — both in poll numbers and in the political world in general — and some pundits are asking the question at the logical end of the trail: what if Hillary loses?

Thus, a lot of attention is being poured on Joe Biden at the moment. We’ve seen Biden get his fair share of looks already this campaign season, simply because he is the sitting Vice President and, in any other year perhaps, the logical choice to carry the torch for the party in charge. But as Hillary falters, as the email server scandal grows larger and her poll numbers decline, new attention is being directed toward Crazy Uncle Joe.

The most recent publication to do so is National Journal, who says this might be Joe Biden’s Political Moment:

But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation. Throughout the summer, Clinton has been hammered over using a secret, personal email server as secretary of State—one that government officials believe may have compromised the country’s national security and allowed her to conceal (and delete) email correspondence. Meanwhile, as she faces energetic opposition from her party’s progressive base, she’s decided to tack to the left, offering little to disaffected swing voters dissatisfied with Obama. Her campaign operatives believe it’s worth mobilizing the Democratic Party’s ascendant constituencies without offering much to the (shrinking) number of voters in the middle.

In the process, however, her favorable ratings have hit all-time lows, with clear majorities of Americans saying they don’t like her and have trouble believing she’s trustworthy. In the critical swing states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, and Virginia, reputable new polls show her favorability ratings not much better than Donald Trump’s—with unfavorable ratings nearing 60 percent. Quinnipiac’s swing-state polling found her losing in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia to all three leading GOP candidates (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker), while NBC News/Marist polling found her favorability ratings to be just as dismal in Iowa and New Hampshire. National polling doesn’t put her in much better shape, with her favorability still upside-down in CNN/ORC’s new poll (45/48, among all adults). Gallup found her overall favorability at 43/46, her worst net showing since their November 2007 survey. Her numbers aren’t any better than Obama’s, and many polls are finding them in worse shape.

Suddenly, if you’re Joe Biden, running for president makes a lot more political sense.

Other articles have come out recently as well, including from CBS News and the Fiscal Times among others, all focused on Joe Biden. The narrative is always the same in these articles: Hillary Clinton is dropping, the Democrats need to enact Plan B, and Biden is the guy.

(On a side note, all of these articles are a huge slap in the face to Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb, all of whom are implicitly relegated to the “no way they’re good enough” pile with this clamor for Biden.)

But these sorts of analysis pieces make two massive assumptions, both of which are more than likely incorrect: first, that the Democrats need to enact Plan B, and secondly, that Joe Biden is the guy.

Hillary Clinton’s fall from grace may be quite overstated in these articles that pine for a Democratic savior. Her numbers in the Democratic primary have largely held steady, averaging between 55-65% and beating her closest opponent (Sanders, now) by 40%. There is no danger in Hillary losing the nomination. Instead of the clear path to the coronation it was supposed to be, it may now be a path littered with a handful of pebbles — but there’s certainly no impassable obstacle on the road. But what about the general election? Shouldn’t Democrats be concerned about finding a stronger candidate than Hillary to take on the eventual GOP nominee? While some recent polls have given a glimmer of hope to the GOP, the general election problems for Hillary are again largely overstated at this point in the game. The total number of national polls this year in which Rubio, Walker, Carson, Cruz, Christie, or Paul actually lead Hillary Clinton? Zero. Jeb Bush only leads her by one in the most recent Quinnipiac poll, giving the GOP their first general election lead of the entire campaign. Yes, Hillary’s numbers are dropping, but they started out so high (double digit leads over every GOP candidate) she still wins in 99% of the matchups.

So hitting the panic button and clamoring for Biden to enter the race to save the Democrats actually doesn’t really make sense at this point. And it makes even less sense when you consider what the Democrats would be giving up and getting in return: they would lose the chance to campaign on, and elect, the first female President, in exchange for a gaffe-prone 73 year old who has two failed runs and plagiarism charges to his name. Biden has essentially been running for president for 30 years. He’s an old, washed up white guy in the party of diversity. Why in the world would the Democratic Party turn to him?

That question takes us to the second faulty assumption: that Joe Biden is the guy. Even if the Democrats decide they need to pull the trigger on the nuclear option at some point in this race and introduce a new character to the cast, Joe Biden isn’t going to be it. Biden may well decide to run (we should find out next week, supposedly), but if Hillary is really as weak as the pundits seem to think she is, we’re going to see a different group jump in the race — and they will be much more difficult for the GOP to defeat than Hillary or Biden.

Let’s go back and remember how this campaign season started: Hillary and Jeb both attempted to clear the field for their respective nominations. Bush relied on free market strategy to do so and failed; Hillary strong armed her opponents out of the race using the Clinton capital built up in the Democratic Party and succeeded. No one dared face the Clintons, and opponents such as Howard Dean, Ed Rendell, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, Cory Booker, and Andrew Cuomo declined to run.

But make no mistake: they did not decline because they didn’t want to run. They declined because Clinton convinced them not to. Howard Dean told people throughout 2014 he was planning to run again this year… until the Clinton machine got to him. After being “persuaded”, Dean — an avowed opponent of Clinton and the DLC wing of the party — issued a public endorsement of Hillary. Ed Rendell, the former Governor of Pennsylvania, provided perhaps the clearest insight into this group of six non-candidates. When asked if he would run for president if Hillary was not in the race, he gave a long, meandering answer that ended with, “Well, why not?”

Why not indeed! Hillary Clinton running for President sidelined a half dozen potentially stronger candidates. People who say the Democratic Party bench is shallow often cite Sanders, Biden, O’Malley, and Webb as proof: this is the best the Democrats have to offer? But it’s not. The more solid bench for the Democrats were pushed out of the race because the Clinton machine felt it was their right to have the White House again.

So what happens if Hillary Clinton begins to truly appear weak or ineffective in this race? Ed Rendell looks in the mirror and asks, “Well, why not?” Mark Warner and Evan Bayh, both of whom, according to insiders, are angling to be Hillary’s VP (and will be sorely disappointed when she chooses Julian Castro), will seize the opportunity to run for the top spot on the ticket instead. Andrew Cuomo, who has made it known that he is planning a run in 2020 once Hillary is out of the way, will accelerate his timeline since she will be out of the way four years earlier than anticipated. Howard Dean will not fear the wrath of the Clinton machine and will run as the true liberal in the race (sorry, Biden and Sanders). And Cory Booker (or possibly Deval Patrick?) will enter the race to keep it from being an all-white scrum.

Those six are the true Plan B for the Democratic Party. And while the GOP is rejoicing over the scandals Hillary finds herself embroiled in, the GOP should hope, at this point, that Hillary Clinton remains just strong enough to keep the Plan B-ers out of the race. Because as formidable as Hillary will be in the general election, the real bench warmers for the Democrats would be even more so.

  11:23 am
Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden  

Poll Watch: Trump and Walker Lead Nationally, Bush to Third; Kasich in Top 10

Folks, we are just 7 days out from the first debate, which means starting sometime soon — and possibly now — the national polls we post are going to be the ones Fox uses to determine their top ten cutoff. Remember, Fox has said only that on Aug 4 at 5:00 pm, they will average the five most recent national polls (done by “major, nationally recognized” pollsters using “standard methodology”). It’s anybody’s guess how many polls are going to come out in the next five days as pollsters attempt to time their releases just right to be included in the five, but this Quinnipiac poll might end up being one of them.

Quinnipiac National Republican Primary

  • Trump – 20% (5)
  • Walker – 13% (10)
  • Bush – 10% (10)
  • Carson – 6% (10)
  • Huckabee – 6% (10)
  • Paul – 6% (7)
  • Rubio – 6% (10)
  • Cruz – 5% (6)
  • Kasich – 5% (2)
  • Christie – 3% (4)
  • ———

  • Jindal – 2% (1)
  • Perry – 2% (1)
  • Fiorina – 1% (2)
  • Graham – 1% (1)
  • Pataki – 1% (0)
  • Santorum – 1% (0)
  • Gilmore – 0% (-)
  • Undecided – 12% (20)

Survey of 710 Republicans and Republican leaners was conducted July 23-28 and has a margin of error of ±3.7%. Numbers in parentheses are from the May 28 Quinnipiac poll.

General Election Matchups

  • Bush – 42% (37)
  • Clinton – 41% (47)
  • Clinton – 44% (46)
  • Walker – 43% (38)
  • Clinton – 48% (50)
  • Trump – 36% (32)

Survey of 1,644 registered voters was done July 23-28 and has a margin of error of ±2.4%. Numbers in parentheses are from the May 28 Quinnipiac poll.

Some notes: Fantastic news on the general election front for the GOP… especially because it’s registered voters… Trump supposedly leads in every crosstab category – with conservatives, moderates, and liberals, with evangelicals and the tea party, with men and women… with this poll, Walker is now ahead of Bush in the RCP average for the first time… I really wish they would have asked a few more general election matchups… Kasich is making a mini-surge that could be strong enough to land him in the first debate…

  8:48 am
Poll Watch  

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