February 13, 2016

Open Thread: Saturday, Feb 13

  9:40 am

This is the open thread for Saturday, February 13.

“Stella! Hey, Stella!”

This is a good place to post anything that would be off topic in other threads – articles of interest, polls, etc.


Poll Watch (ARG, SC House GOP, Augusta Chronicle): South Carolina Poll Dump

  11:28 pm

ARG South Carolina Republican Primary

  • Trump – 35%
  • Kasich – 15%
  • Rubio – 14%
  • Cruz – 12%
  • Bush – 10%
  • Carson – 2%

400 likely Republican voters / Feb 12-13 / MoE ±5.0%


SC House GOP South Carolina Republican Primary

  • Trump – 35%
  • Cruz – 16%
  • Bush – 13%
  • Rubio – 13%
  • Kasich – 9%
  • Carson – 5%

1200 likely Republican voters / Feb 11-12 / MoE ±3.0%


Augusta Chronicle South Carolina Republican Primary

  • Trump – 36% (32%)
  • Cruz – 20% (18%)
  • Rubio – 15% (11%)
  • Bush – 11% (13%)
  • Kasich – 9% (3%)
  • Carson – 5% (9%)

779 likely Republican voters / Feb 10-11 / MoE ±3.5% / Numbers in parentheses from the Jan 15 Augusta Chronicle South Carolina Republican Primary poll


CBS South Carolina Debate Open Thread

  8:00 pm

The debate in South Carolina starts at 9:00 pm eastern tonight, and you can watch on CBS or stream it live at cbsnews.com/live.

This promises to be the roughest debate yet, with candidates fighting for their lives and willing to risk it all to take one another down. Can Rubio regain his list momentum, or will this be his final debate? Will Jeb carry on the Bush family tradition of dirty politics in the Palmetto State? Will Kasich keep up his nice guy shtick, and will he stand any chance in South Carolina? And will the Trump/Cruz nuclear battle finally spill over into the stage for all to see?

It’s sure to be quite a rumble, so make sure you tune in and discuss it in the comments of this thread!


Mutiny In The Center

  3:45 pm

As a long-time champion of the preeminence of the political center in U.S. presidential elections, I am wondering aloud what is the mood of most voters in the 2016 election cycle.

In the recent past, we have had the “radical” center, the “moderate” center, the “silent” center, and even the “populist” center. None of these epithets seems to fit in the current cycle, although there are radical elements, moderate impulses, silent voters and populist trends visible in the campaign so far. These tendencies might exist, but they do not seem to be the primary quality of the majoritarian center of the American electorate today.

The term “angry” has already been applied to the more leftist and rightist elements of both parties, but I think that the so-called establishments of each major party have missed the essential reality that it is primarily the center of the American electorate which is most importantly “angry” about politics “as usual.”

What’s so critical about this observation is that it is usually the political center of the electorate, and of both parties, which normally counterbalances the “anger” of the left and the right, and eventually produces candidates with broader appeal than just the party bases — that is, candidates who have some appeal to the growing number of so-called independent voters — the voters who usually decide who wins the presidency.

The crisis for each party is that their major candidates so far do not seem to understand the true nature of voter “anger” in 2016. The Democratic establishment made the crucial mistake of conspiring to have only one major candidate for president this cycle. This arrogance deprived Democratic voters of their right to choose their own nominee. Not only that, the anointed candidate was a figure from the past, embroiled in constant controversies, unlikeable and not a skillful campaigner. No one is entitled to a presidential nomination, much less the presidency, without the consent of the voters, and the Democratic voters were not consulted. It was a few party leaders who decided this. Virtually every credible poll indicates that most voters do not trust or like Hillary Clinton.

The Republican establishment made a similar mistake. Many of them rallied behind a bright and competent former governor who, once the campaign began, did not fit the expectations of
Republican voters. In the recent past, this establishment support might have been enough, but it is becoming quite apparent it is not enough in 2016. Unlike the Democrats, there were a large number of Republican presidential candidates, most of them with serious credentials and political experience. But it is not resumes and past offices that the voters seem to be seeking this year.

The nomination contests in both parties are not over, but their cast of candidates has probably been finalized (unless Vice President Biden makes a late entry). Conventional wisdom has now asserted that Bernie Sanders cannot be nominated, and Donald Trump cannot be stopped.


But with a center in mutiny, an angry left and an angry right, anything is possible — even now.

Those leaders in the political center, both liberal and conservative, Democrats and Republicans, need to take a very deep breath, remain calm, and then make some useful sense out of what the majority of voters want today.

If they do not, the two party system, at least for this cycle, will not hold together. A mutinous political center, temporarily allied with the right and the left, is poised to replace the captains and officers of these two ships, and should this happen, no one knows what their destinations will be.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


February 12, 2016

Is Your Vision “2020”? (POLL)

  9:43 pm

With the very real prospect of Donald Trump, by all measures the least electable candidate we could possibly field in the general election, becoming our party’s nominee and handing the Oval Office to either President Bernie Sanders or President Hillary Clinton, it’s never too early to start thinking of whom we might be talking about on Race42020.com (and perhaps it would be a therapeutic escape from the nightmare that this primary contest has become).

Here are a handful of the most likely new faces we could see on the Republican presidential debate stage in 2019-2020:

  • Rep. Justin Amash (MI) – The new and improved libertarian Republican candidate, and the heir to the Ron Paul legacy, without the unlibertarian impurities that turned off Rand Paul’s base throughout 2015. Amash is young, Arab-American, and sharply intelligent. He never votes for legislation unless it’s specifically authorized by the Constitution, and earns kudos from voters of all persuasions for explaining his reasoning behind every single vote on his Facebook page.
  • Gov. Charlie Baker (MA) – With a 74% approval rating in blue Massachusetts, and a socially liberal streak, Baker would stand to be the inheritor of the John Kasich / Jon Huntsman crowd in New Hampshire and the old Rockefeller segment of the Republican Party. Baker, a proponent of marriage equality and abortion rights, may even do what another former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, did and move to the right on social issues before running for President, thereby making himself palatable to evangelicals.
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (AR) – Tom Cotton’s campaign for the 2020 nomination has basically already begun, as his surrogates have moved to have Arkansas transition from a Republican primary to a Republican caucus, because legally a candidate in Arkansas can’t appear on the same ballot for more than one office. His distinguished military career and his foreign policy hawkishness endear Cotton to the neoconservative wing of the party.
  • Rep. Pete King (NY) – Pete King has been making noise for years about running for president. If a serious hardliner like Lindsey Graham doesn’t run again in 2020, Pete King may feel the need to step in and be the one who beats the drums the loudest against Iran, ISIS, North Korea, and Russia.
  • Gov. Susana Martinez (NM) – Still yet a strong contender for Vice Presidential nominee this year, Martinez may also be a candidate for the top of the ticket in 2020. As an Hispanic female executive, Martinez would also strive to combine the aesthetic appeal of 2016’s Fiorina and Rubio. Her strong stance on immigration has made her a popular darling of anti-immigration activists in the party.
  • Gov. Brian Sandoval (NV) – Another rising Hispanic star in the GOP, as well as a governor, as well as being from a swing state? Sandoval may be 2020’s executive equivalent of 2016’s Rubio. Sandoval also enjoys a 66% approval rating. His conservative bona fides plus his popularity and experience could make Sandoval a good consensus candidate between the Cruz and Rubio factions of the party.
  • Fmr. Rep. Allen West (FL) – Allen West has somewhat fallen out of favor with the mainstream of the party due to an acquired reputation of being something of a loose cannon. West has a fervent and committed following, however, that would ensure this veteran, former congressman, and Fox News speaker remains a factor in the 2020 race.

Take our 2020 poll by clicking here!


Jim Gilmore Suspends Campaign

  4:53 pm

99% of America will react to this news by saying, “Who?” The rest of us political nerds will mourn the loss of Gilmorementum — after all, the guy rose from 17th place to 7th place through the course of this campaign. Who knows how high he could have gone?

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced he is suspending his campaign for president.

“My campaign was intended to offer the gubernatorial experience, with the track record of a true conservative, experienced in national security, to unite the party.” Gilmore said, “My goal was to focus on the importance of this election as a real turning point, and to emphasize the dangers of continuing on a road that will further undermine America’s economy and weaken our national security.”

“Nonetheless, I will continue to express my concerns about the dangers of electing someone who has pledged to continue Obama’s disastrous policies,” Gilmore said. “And, I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that our next president is a free-enterprise Republican who will restore our nation to greatness and keep our citizens safe.”


Race 4 2016 Essential Reads

  4:08 pm

Donald Trump

Ted Cruz

Marco Rubio

Jeb Bush

Ben Carson


Misc., South Carolina Primary



South Carolina Showdown

  1:09 pm

The real problem with the South Carolina Primary is that it’s open. Pretty much anyone can vote in it who wants to, as long as they meet normal voting participation requirements.  Is this important?  The fact is that John McCain, who won the Party’s 2008 nomination, didn’t win a single closed primary state before Super Tuesday.  It wasn’t Republicans who made him the Party’s standard bearer.

The most practical ramification of the the fact that this primary is open is that once again Republicans might not be able to choose their own nominee. Consider the New Hampshire debacle: The key fact is that only 55% of voters in that Primary were registered Republicans. So 45% weren’t. Think about this. How likely is it that a non-Republican would choose to vote in the Republican Primary, passing on the opportunity to vote in an admittedly unexciting Democrat Primary, unless there was someone in it that genuinely appeals to them?

Of course it happens.  Someone can have a change of mind, or be a Republican leaning independent who always seems to wind up voting in the GOP primary, and vote for Republicans in November.  But notice also that the turnout was a record.  There were a lot of people voting that don’t normally just wind up voting in a Republican Primary.  In fact, more people voted in the GOP primary than voted in the Democrat Primary.  Contrast that with very much the opposite result in a normal primary in the state.

For the most part, if people were excited about voting for real Republicans in a Republican Primary, wouldn’t they actually be a Republican already? So, 45% who turned out were non-Republicans and Donald Trump got 35% of the total vote. It’s clear that he would have not only lost his margin if only Republicans could vote, but might have been annihilated as well. This is an example of the GOP trying to help a Democrat who is trying to hijack the Republican nomination succeed.

While South Carolina is an unknown entity, the mere fact that it is open makes one fear the worst.  How unknown?  Before The Augusta Chronicle’s poll today, the Real Clear Politics last average of polling in the state was compiled on January 23rd.  That was a week before Iowa, and two weeks before New Hampshire, and light years ago in political terms.  The Chronicle poll is a likely voter poll of more than 700 participants and shows Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush each in double digits, but shows Trump with a 16 point lead.

Normally, the decisive block of voters would be Evangelicals.  For example, in 2012, Newt Gingrich, who won the state handily, received 44% of the group’s vote to Mitt Romney’s 22%;  game over.  In South Carolina the words Evangelical and Christian are interchangeable.  In the next week, look for ads focusing on Donald Trump’s three marriages, foul mouth, defense of partial birth abortion, and other notable sins.  And look for Ted Cruz to do his best Southern Baptist preacher imitation on the trail.  Since Jeb and Marco are both Catholics and there are only a couple hundred thousand Catholics in the state’s five million people, don’t look for either to bring up the subject.

The state’s senior Senator, Lindsey Graham, is going all out for Jeb, while the junior Senator, Tim Scott, has endorsed Marco Rubio, as has one of the state’s congressmen, Trey Gowdy.  It’s unknown as to whether any new endorsements will transpire in the coming few days, but there will be some.

With all of its flaws, the Primary will be enormously significant.  It’s the first of many Southern Primaries and will be the first signal of who will play in the region.  It may be the last chance for Marco and Jeb to win a February contest.  Assuming that John Kasich, who finished second in New Hampshire, but is in low single digits in South Carolina, has no second act, we’re down to four candidates who still have some semblance of a realistic path to the nomination.

If Ben Carson stays in the race, he will draw some Evangelical votes, but is not likely to really be a factor.  The real question is whether anyone can surpass Trump.  If the answer is yes, then things will get a lot brighter in March for the GOP.  Nevada is a caucus state and it’s closed; only Republicans need apply, and among them, active Republicans will dominate.

Between them, the winnowing process will proceed.  The other unresolved question is whether the last two February bouts will weed out one of the top four.  It will be interesting to see what happens.


Cruz TV Ad: It Feels Good to be a Clinton

  12:13 pm

Man, Cruz is rolling out a lot of ads lately…


Club for Growth SC Ad: There’s Nothing Conservative About Donald Trump

  8:27 am

The Club for Growth is dropping $1.5 million to air the above ad in South Carolina.


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