September 2, 2015

Wednesday Open Thread

  5:00 am

This is the Open Thread for Wednesday. This is where all comments should go if they would be off-topic on other threads. This is also a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.


September 1, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

  5:00 am

This is the Open Thread for Tuesday. This is where all comments should go if they would be off-topic on other threads. This is also a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.


CNN Amends Debate Rules, Fiorina Likely to Be Eleventh Person on Stage

  6:10 pm

We’ve pointed out before — along with the rest of the political world — the inherent unfairness in CNN’s original debate criteria. That criteria stipulated CNN would use an average of national polling from July 16-Sept 10 to determine who the top ten candidates on stage would be, leaving candidates who surged after the Cleveland debate, like Carly Fiorina, high and dry. This afternoon, though, after great pressure, CNN amended their debate criteria by adding Rule 7a.

Here’s the new criteria: the top ten will still be determined by an average of polls taken from July 16-Sept 10; however, in addition to that CNN will also look at the average of only the post-Cleveland debate polls. If anyone makes the top ten in the post-debate average who didn’t make the original top ten, they will be added to the stage.

In other words, welcome aboard, Carly.

Currently, the “original” top ten includes the following candidates:

  1. Trump – 22.8
  2. Bush – 12.0
  3. Walker – 10.3
  4. Carson – 7.3
  5. Cruz – 6.0
  6. Rubio – 6.0
  7. Huckabee – 5.8
  8. Paul – 5.1
  9. Kasich – 3.4
  10. Christie – 3.3

The top ten of only the post-debate polls looks a bit different:

  1. Trump – 25.7
  2. Carson – 11.0
  3. Bush – 9.7
  4. Cruz – 7.3
  5. Walker – 6.7
  6. Rubio – 6.3
  7. Fiorina – 5.0
  8. Kasich – 4.7
  9. Huckabee – 4.3
  10. Paul – 3.7

Carly and Christie both have something to be thankful for. If CNN had changed course and simply decided to exclude the pre-Cleveland polls, Christie would find himself off the stage (and, likely, out of the race). Instead, both candidates get to be on stage now (which would also, incidentally, seem to be a benefit to the Romney-led coalition as a whole).

The new rule does not redefine how the podiums will be arranged when an eleventh candidate is added to the stage. We don’t know whether or not Carly will get a podium towards the middle (as per her post-debate standing) or, more likely, if she will be relegated to the edge of the stage. As we’ve said before, the optics in these televised debates have the potential to send powerful subconscious messages.

The other piece of interesting news that came from CNN’s press release was sad for the poll nerds among us — CNN said this:

“We learned this week that there will likely be only two more polls by the deadline of September 10th.”

Reliable public polling has been a wasteland this year compared to years past. It makes sense – it’s more expensive and more difficult to do, especially given the necessity to make cell phone contacts. But only two more polls over the next ten days? Ouch. CNN notes there have historically been more than 15 national polls released during this time period in previous races.

(This would be a good time to remind folks that online surveys are not scientifically or statistically accurate, even though some companies are trying to work out ways to make them so. In other words, Morning Consult, Reuters/Ipsos, SurveyMonkey, YouGov, and Zogby surveys don’t count. Yet. There’s a reason CNN is excluding all of those, among others, from the debate averages.)

Having Fiorina and Christie both on stage will make for a potentially very interesting evening. There is no love lost between the two of them and Donald Trump, and Christie has already talked about the possibility of going “nuclear” during the September debate (taking one for the team while he takes Donald down, perhaps?). Fiorina has sharpened her teeth on the campaign trail by effectively and powerfully attacking Hillary Clinton, but coming off calm and likeable while she does it; if she attacks Trump it could cause damage — and he could be goaded into more inappropriately misogynistic comments. CNN may have just orchestrated an evening that could top even Fox’s Cleveland debate.


USA Today Power Rankings, Week One

  4:32 pm

USA Today is putting a unique spin on political power rankings for this primary: rather than assign it to their lead political writer or columnist like most publications, they are doing it college-football poll style. Thirty-one of their political editors, contributors, and analysts will rank the candidates, and the consolidated results will be the new USA Today Power Rankings each week. Week One results just came out — check them out (first place votes are in parentheses):

  1. Trump (25)
  2. Carson (2)
  3. Rubio (3)
  4. Bush (1)
  5. Cruz
  6. Fiorina
  7. Walker
  8. Kasich
  9. Huckabee
  10. Paul
  11. Christie
  12. Santorum
  13. Jindal
  14. Perry
  15. Graham
  16. Pataki
  17. Gilmore

Race 4 2016 Weekly Readers Poll (Re-Post)

  1:42 pm

Since it had dropped off the front page and I wanted to re-post the weekly readers poll for anyone who has not yet had a chance to vote.


Hello Race family. Below is a link to our weekly readers poll. There are 12 questions this week and you have to be logged in with Google to vote.

Last week we got a whopping 141 responses! Thanks to all who participated.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio continues to lead the pack among Race readers for their top choice for the Republican nomination for president. Mr. Rubio garnered 27% support, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul placed second with 21.3% and Ohio Governor John Kasich received 12.8%. Governor Jim Gilmore and Senator Rick Santorum were the only candidates to receive zero support in this week’s poll.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (40.4%) and businessman Democrat Party contributor and Planned Parenthood supporter Donald Trump (21.3%) were the top two vote-getters when respondents were asked whose campaign has been the biggest, positive surprise this cycle. Mr. Trump and Mr. Paul (18.4%) were listed as the biggest disappointments while Governors Jeb Bush (17.7%) and Scott Walker (14.2%) also reached double-digits on the “biggest disappointment” question.

Mr. Trump was the candidate who the most Race readers, 66.4% to be precise, said they could NEVER support. Mr. Santorum (52.2%) was the only other candidate who a majority could never support. Only 17.9% said they could never support Mr. Paul and 18.7% said likewise about Mr. Kasich.

Taxes/fiscal policy/government spending appears to be the most important issue to Race readers with 79.4% responding that such issues are “very important” to them and only 2.8% said the issue is “not very” or “not at all” important to them. 55.3% said foreign policy is very important, 26.2% said the same about social issues (though it is worth noting that the exact same number listed social issues as “not very” important) and 25.7% said illegal immigration was “very important” to them. Unsurprisingly, 73.3% of those who chose Mr. Trump as their first choice said illegal immigration was very important to them.

In a hypothetical general election match-up featuring Hillary Clinton (D), Rick Santorum (R), Bernie Sanders (G) and Donald Trump (I), Mr. Santorum won a small plurality (29.8%) while Mr. Trump was picked by 22.7% of respondents. 23.4% of us said that, when faced with such a putrid roster of candidates, we would pack our bags and move to Canada.

Race 4 2016 Weekly Readers Poll


Christie on Fallon – Ice Cream Run with Romney, Rubio

  10:40 am

Just a fun little story of Christie in NH with the Romney’s and Rubio’s from Christie’s appearance on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.


August 31, 2015

Dropout Watch: Rick Perry Loses Another Iowa Chair, Shrinks Iowa Staff to One

  4:08 pm

On August 11, it was leaked that Rick Perry was no longer paying his campaign staff. At first, we thought it was just South Carolina staff who weren’t getting paid, but eventually it came out that nobody on Perry’s campaign staff – including at Austin headquarters – was getting paid. That started the dropout watch for Governor Perry.

On August 24, the Perry camp released a small bit of good news: they were able to start paying a handful of select campaign staffers in Iowa again. That small measure of good news was dealt a serious blow the next day, when Sam Clovis, Perry’s Iowa Co-Chair, resigned, citing financial woes among other issues.

Today, we get news that Perry’s other Iowa Co-Chair, Karen Fesler, has also resigned. She has taken a position with Rick Santorum’s campaign, for whom she worked in 2012. But it gets even worse for Perry: the Des Moines Register is reporting Perry is scaling back his entire Iowa operation, keeping just one paid staffer, Jamie Johnson, in the state.

Turns out they couldn’t afford to pay anybody after all.

At this point, it would seem all that’s left is the official announcement from Perry that he’s throwing in the towel. Everybody seems to know it’s over except him.


Trump’s Tax Plan Based On Liberal Class Warfare

  2:30 pm

Donald Trump is getting ready to release his new tax plan, and all indications are that it will center around raising taxes for the rich. In fact, in Trump’s own words,

[S]ome people, they’re not doing their fair share.

This statement, straight out of the liberal playbook, is a cheap and deceptive appeal to populism. The problem is that it is also wildly anti-growth, patently false, and only serves to harm the country in the long run if such a policy is implemented.

Democrats have been harping on this notion of “fair share” for decades, and for decades they (and now Trump) have ignored the facts of our current tax situation. Consider:

  • The bottom half of income earners in America (somwhere around 45-47%) pay zero income taxes. This means the entirety of the tax burden in America falls on just half the population.
  • The top quintile of income earners in America accounts for roughly 50% of the total income per year — yet they are responsible for paying 84% of the taxes.
  • Going further, the top one percent of earners take in 17% of the total income, yet pay 46% of all taxes.

Let me repeat this, because it is vitally important to the economic health and future of the country: 84% of the taxes are paid by one-fifth of population. Nearly half of our total tax burden is laid upon one percent of Americans.

Liberal Democrats, along with Donald Trump now, would like nothing more than to see that burden increased even further. Why? Because it’s easy to demonize the rich. It is low-hanging fruit and cheap votes from a largely ignorant electorate. Populism is a lot easier to sell, because it sells itself: see that group over there? They’re the problem. Not you. If only they would do their fair share, things would be so much better.

And so we get public opinion polls that show most Americans think their taxes are too high — even though they don’t pay any! — and taxes on the rich are too low.

It’s class warfare, and it’s been expected from the other side of the aisle for years. Now Donald Trump is engaging in the same cheap deception, which matches his M.O. so far this primary campaign: ignore the facts and use rhetoric to divide rather than unite.

But, some will point out, Donald Trump is rich! He wants to raise taxes on himself!

If you believe for a second that Trump will end up paying a penny more in taxes under the new laws he created, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. I guarantee whatever tax plan he enacts will be full of loopholes that his lawyers will know how to take full advantage of.

America is already one of the only, if not the only industrialized nation on the planet that relies so heavily on the richest income earners to carry everybody else. The result of liberal class warfare plans like Trump’s and other liberal Democrats? Well, when France foolishly raised taxes on the rich as a way to increase revenue, the rich just moved out. Short of that extreme, these liberal tax plans make for a far less inviting business atmosphere, slowing hiring and business expansion, and thus hurting job growth overall. In a free market economy, the government’s role ought to be to incentivize job creation and job growth, not to sell out the country’s future for cheap votes based on divisive and deceptive rhetoric.


The Carson Phenomenon

  1:36 pm

Today’s Monmouth University Iowa Poll has Ben Carson and Donald Trump tied with 23% each. The Des Moines Register Poll that came out over the weekend had Carson surging to 18 in the state with , once again, Trump at 23.  Without campaigning in Pennsylvania, the last poll there had him 2nd with 13%.  The Gravis Arizona Poll has him 2nd with 16%.  He’s also 2nd in Wisconsin with 13%.  PPP has him 2nd with 14% in North Carolina.  He’s even 2nd at 15% in the third state in February, South Carolina.  It’s not just an Iowa thing.

While Donald has received mass quantities of free media throughout the nation, Carson hasn’t.  Donald  draws thousands of people at major events given lots of local and area media attention, Carson appears in small events in backwoods small towns in Iowa.  Everyone knows Trump is in the race, while most Republicans don’t know much, if anything, about Carson.

Trump bloviates and gesticulates like a  carny barker, and Ben speaks in a low monotone, sometimes closing his eyes as if forgetting what his topic was or what question was asked.  The Donald has either run for President or talked about running for President for more than 20 years.  Carson has said “I don’t want to be President.”  He doesn’t even want to be a politician.  The way he talks about politicians NO one would want to be one.  Fittingly, he says:  “I am not a politician and I never will be.”

Actually, his best applause lines are about politicians:  e.g., “now, the political elites in Washington say ‘you can’t give health savings accounts  to poor people!  They’re too stupid to use them!’  But that’s because the politicians think all people are like them.”

It may not be possible for someone to run for President with less desire to hold the office.  He speaks fondly, dreamily, of his plans to retire to his beautiful house in the Miami area with his wife.  That was before large numbers of his admirers drafted him to run.  If he wasn’t such a nice guy he would have blown them off.  Instead he reluctantly accommodated them.  “I thought it would start small and then die down, but it grew and grew.”  He doesn’t even have the excuse of being financially incapable of continuing it.  Without much of any contributions from the moneyed class, more than 200,000 people have donated; with most having given less than $200.  Now that he’s tied in the first state to come up he will attract more attention from the big money crowd, but they won’t be able to co-opt him.

Part of his appeal is his narrative.  He grew up poor in a bad neighborhood with a mother that was always pressing him to read, study, and never stop believing that he was meant for more important things.  He got a library card and went to church regularly, he’s a devout Seventh Day Adventist.  He credits God for his life.  “God was the surgeon, I was just the hands.”  One of his applause lines:  “I’ve never had sex with any woman except my wife.”  He thinks the demise of traditional marriage is one of our biggest problems.

The biggest problem of his campaign team is convincing Republicans that he’s electable.  For one thing, the sources of his fan base seem too obscure to propel someone to the presidency.  He’s never held or sought elective office, but bizarrely, that seems to be a plus in the current political environment.  He’s written 7 books that have sold well and a movie has been made of his accomplishments as one of the premier neurosurgeons in the world.  He came to wider public attention at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast.  Standing next to President Obama he passionately, by his low-key standards, railed against ObamaCare and political correctness.  You have to admit, it took courage.

So, what are his issues?

  • Obama is a “fiscal disaster.”
  • We have a $19 Trillion debt, and we have $200 Trillion in unfunded liabilities.
  • Bureaucracy is too big and “too partisan,” and “government agencies are too corrupt.”
  • Our military draw down has made us “more vulnerable than ever before to an attack on our electrical grid or to an attack by jihadists.”
  • “We’ve betrayed our allies” and fawned over our enemies.
  • As a result of the Obama/Hillary foreign policy we’re disrespected around the world.
  • Religious liberty and the institution of marriage are under attack and that can’t happen in America.

“We gotta once again provide quality of life for the American people and that’s going to require some difficult work…we can’t just tinker around the edges.”  He knows that doing what’s necessary will mean stepping on a lot of toes and has made it clear that he would probably be a one-term president.  Then he can finally, at long last, retire to that warm Miami sun.



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