July 31, 2015

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

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  

Thursday Open Tread (Trump Breastfeeding 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: This will not play well with female voters.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump called a lawyer and breastfeeding mother “disgusting” after she requested a break from a deposition in order to pump, according to a New York Times report on Tuesday.

According to the paper, lawyer Elizabeth Beck was questioning Trump in 2011 about a failed Florida real estate project. Beck, with her husband, represented clients who claimed to lose thousands of dollars in the deal. At one point, Beck, who had a 3-month-old daughter, requested a medical break which was contested by Trump and his lawyers, who wanted to continue, the Times says. That’s when Beck took out her breast pump to show that her request was urgent — she needed to pump for her infant. “You’re disgusting,” Trump told Beck before leaving the room.

The quote is not disputed by Trump’s camp.

  7:00 am
Donald Trump  

On Ted Cruz and Rorschach


New York Times magazine did an interview with Ted Cruz recently. It was very fluffy from Ana Marie Cox talking less about policy and more about what he was like growing up or his opinions on Star Trek. What caught the attention of some was a top 5 list from the print version of the magazine showing Cruz’s top 5 Super heroes. The list was:

  1. Spider-man
  2. Wolverine
  3. Batman
  4. Iron Man
  5. Rorschach

Now, some come as no surprise – who doesn’t like Batman? No really, tell me – I want to know so I can ask them why. That said, what stands out is number 5 – Rorschach. It’s already led to some angry discussion about it from Polygon (see previous link). But, I want to talk about it a little as well.

For those who do not know, Rorschach is one of the main characters in Alan Moore’s wonderfully crafted Cold War era comic book tale “The Watchmen.” The characters, while all original, have a basis in the existing comic book mythology from the mostly defunct characters from Charlton Comics; Alan Moore wanted to include them in his tale of murder and world altering acts of terror intended to unite the planet. In this we have Rorschach, who in many ways is the main character whom we follow through most of the graphic novel. There are spoilers throughout the remainder of this article, so if you plan to read “The Watchmen,” or watch the surprisingly true to the source material 2009 film, you can stop here if you’d like.

Rorschach was a masked vigilante who was brought into the field following a shocking murder and his realization that most people around the murder victim seemed to ignore the problem. By the start of The Watchmen, Rorschach is the only masked “hero” still out on the beat trying to fight criminals after the Keene Act made it illegal to do so. He’s solving crimes, seeking to solve the murder of a former hero called “The Comedian” who he seemed to respect. He believes there is a conspiracy against former heroes and thinks more will be murdered. That said, Rorschach is also mentally disturbed. He has routinely been willing to beat within an inch of their lives various criminals. He has also killed a few, beating to death. After one grisly crime involving the kidnapping and murder of a young girl, Rorschach tracks down the culprit He kills the man’s dogs (which were used in the murder), beats the man, chains him to a stove, douses the room in kerosene, then hands the man a hacksaw. He tells him to cut off his arm if he wants to live before setting the place on fire. This is one example. He was imprisoned at one point and during a prison riot, effectively murdered his way through criminals out of prison. Rorschach was insane.

Rorschach has some kind of moral code he appears to live by, but it’s not one I can understand or relate to. For the common good he is willing to brutalize his enemies and those who may not even be enemies to get information he seems to need. He never compromises for his sense of justice. In the end, when it’s clear that former super hero Ozymandias wants to destroy major cities for world peace – Rorschach stands firm in opposing, going down to die for his convictions.

He’s gritty, fascinating, and compelling in the graphic novel and the film version. He’s a well written and interesting character. Would I include him in my list of favorite characters in comic books? Yes. Is he a favorite “superhero?” I’d say no as the man is not really much of a hero. If real heroes were around Rorschach – like Batman or Superman, they would drag the man to prison and hope he stays there for life.

What I ask is – why did Cruz pick Rorschach? What draws Cruz to considering Rorschach as one of his favorite superheroes? Does he feel he’s the brutal truth teller on the outside who’s sick of seeing the world burn and willing to brutalize others to make it happen? Some politically might argue this is an accurate description of Cruz. He is a scrapper. He is willing to let the political consequences get tossed aside to do what he seems to think is right. He has his own moral code. But he’s not insane. He’s not going to go into the Senate chambers tomorrow under cover of night with a mask to beat Chuck Schumer with a cane to convince him of the evils of the Ex-Im Bank. Rorschach might. This is where comparisons end and it’s curious as to how a politician running for President would ever think Rorschach is a correct or reasonable answer when asked of what superhero is worthy to include in your top 5.


That said, as one who reads some comics and as I wrote this whole piece criticizing and analyzing Cruz’s picks, I feel it only fair I give my own list. In no particular order:

  • Batman – The man who can compete with all the super powered characters. Troubled past. Stands up for what he believes in. Never kills; and does not falter in this view. Frankly, he’s such an interesting stand alone character who I’ve loved for years. Favorite Story Involving the Character: Tie between Dark Knight Returns/JLA: Tower of Babel. Miller’s tale of an aged Batman coming out of retirement is awesome and Tower of Babel sees just how ruthless Batman can be if he fears the world is truly in danger.
  • Captain America – Who stands for America and justice more than Captain America? No really, he’s in many ways one of the greatest heroes of all time. Also, it helps that he looks like Hitler’s example of perfection and has on occasion, punched Hitler in the face. Favorite Story Involving the Character: Captain America: The First Avenger – I know it’s a cop out, but the movie is excellent and I’m one of the few who likes the origin as much, if not more than the Winter Soldier.
  • Superman – At times, he’s an overpowered hero who can do anything. But, beneath it all is a man who believes in heroism, pure goodness, at his core. There is no malice in Superman, only a good soft center. Favorite Story Involving the Character: Action Comics #775 entitled “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” – In this story, a team called “The Elite” are willing to kill in order to save the day. Superman thinks they’re wrong. It ends up in a confrontation and it’s a fascinating look into the mind of Superman and his goodness.
  • The Fantastic Four – Original group, I mean. What makes the Fantastic Four different and the first family of Marvel is just that – they are a family first and foremost. While this is also kind of a cop out, the FF are as a team a cohesive team and being a family makes them one combined unit of awesome. Favorite Story Involving the Characters: Fantastic Four #60(489) from October 2002 – A 9 cent issue which began Mark Waid’s awesome run of FF, this one reintroduces us to the team from the perspective of someone doing a documentary on their daily lives. In it, we really see the family dynamic in such a great way. I love it.
  • The Great Machine/Mitchell Hundred – The Great Machine isn’t actually a great superhero. He can talk to machines who sometimes help him, sometimes don’t as much. He’s a grittier character who, after protecting one of the Twin Towers on September 11, ends up running and becoming Mayor of New York. His tale in Ex Machina is fascinating both as Mayor and dealing with his former life as a superhero. Favorite Story Involving the Character: All. Of. Ex. Machina. Seriously, read it – excellent series with defined beginning, middle, and end.

Feel free to talk about your favorites as well as Cruz’s strange selection in the comments below.


-Matthew Newman is an engineer and blogger who also writes at Old Line Elephant and Red Maryland. Follow Newman on Twitter @mdmrn.

  4:00 am
2016, Ted Cruz  

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