July 2, 2015

Webb Says: “I’m In”

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb has formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

Webb announced via a blog post (kinda old school, Jim) — see it here.

It looked early on like Hillary Clinton’s ‘shock and awe’ campaign might have scared off all possible opponents, but perhaps her recent troubles are changing some minds. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see a centrist like Webb gaining much traction in a party as extremist as today’s Democrats.

  3:58 pm Jim Webb  

Carson Raises $8.3 Million in Q2

The Carson campaign says they raised a total of $8.3 million in the second quarter from donations that averaged $50 per person.

That total is a highly impressive number for a second tier candidate who is not a well known political figure, and speaks to Carson’s grassroots appeal in this primary campaign. For comparison sake, $8.3 million is well over the total of every candidate not named Mitt Romney in Q2’11. Back then, Ron Paul had raised $4 million, Pawlenty brought in $3.7 million, and Gingrich ended the quarter with a $2.1 million haul. Romney landed $18.4 million.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign says she will report $45 million in donations for the second quarter, in a Democratic primary that has little to no real competition. That total sets a record for non-incumbent fundraising, but falls short of both George W Bush and Obama’s totals while they were running for re-election.

FEC fundraising reports must be filed by July 15. As more campaign numbers become known, we will break out a beloved feature and update the Race Fundraising Leaderboard so you can keep tabs on how the campaigns are faring.

2015 Q2 Fundraising Leaderboard
Rank Candidate Raised For Primaries Other Revenue Cash on Hand Debt
1 Carson $8.3 million
15 Walker
16 Kasich
  9:19 am Ben Carson, Fundraising, Hillary Clinton  

June 21, 2015

June 20, 2015

Only One Serious Candidate Away

Although there are clear signs in the polls that Hillary Clinton’s hitherto massive lead for the Democratic nomination is fading, she is still on a direct path for her party’s nod. But she is one serious Democratic candidate away from seeing that lead truly challenged and overtaken in the primaries and caucuses ahead.

In spite of her name recognition, fundraising and gender (all distinct advantages in 2016), most Republican strategists I know hope that she will be the Democratic nominee next year against the eventual Republican nominee.

Why is that?

It is because of the fact that she is a very poor campaigner, inherently secretive and journalist-avoiding, and tied to a unendingly controversial story about her own record and and that of her husband.

While the Republicans have a natural advantage in 2016 after eight years of President Obama and his left-turning policies, there is no guarantee that their nominee will win.

In 2014, conservatives swept to a landslide mid-term election by recruiting mostly talented fresh faces, especially for close senate races. The GOP gained 9 seats and control of the U.S. senate. While on paper the Democrats have a significant mathematical advantage for senate races in 2016, their failure to recruit new talent so far, but to depend on past losing candidates, has made their effort to take back control problematic.

Mrs. Clinton is obviously not wearing well on the campaign trail. Repeated political facelifts are providing only temporary boosts to her campaign.

There are at least three significant Democrats who could provide a fresh face, and a serious candidacy for the presidency in 2016. They are Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In addition, if he ran for the Democratic nomination, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could be formidable. There are also some less well-known liberals who might emerge as formidable in 2016 if they ran. All indications so far are that none of them is yet willing to enter the Democratic nomination contest, but this reluctance could evaporate if Mrs. Clinton continues to fade.

The Republicans will have a very visible and open contest for their nomination. Just as the left has its Bernie Sanders, the right has its Donald Trump.

But only the Republicans, so far, have a true “team of rivals.”

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

June 17, 2015

How to Pretend You Aren’t a Dynastic Candidate: Avoid Use of Your Family Name

It’s interesting that in this race, which features three dynastic candidates, all three are avoiding use of their last names to varying degrees – two almost completely, the third to a limited degree. Their approach to their names is an important part of their campaigns..

It can, of course, be argued that using only first names is intended to avoid confusion. If someone says, for example, “Clinton supports such-and-such,” the hearer might wonder which Clinton is being discussed.

That’s probably the main reason for two of the candidates’ use of first names. Hillary Clinton is hoping that positive memories of her hillary logohusband’s presidency (a booming economy) outweigh the negatives (serial sex scandals). She’s probably right, at least as far as her primary electorate is concerned. But still, nothing in her online store seems to bear the Clinton name (and her logo only uses her first initial).

Rand Paul, meanwhile, has a bit less of a problem – no family member ever having successfully run for president. Paul (if I may so designate him) is clearly expecting that his father’s supporters can carry himRandlogo most of the way to the nomination, and that he can supplement that base sufficiently to take him the rest of the way. This is a somewhat more questionable proposition. It should be noted that, while his website uses the logo shown here, as does most of the merchandise in his store, some campaign material use his last name as well.

The third dynast, though, is clearly running as hard as he can awayjeblogo from his name. We’ll see if he can succeed, but I doubt it (see his favorable/unfavorable ratings). Note: I couldn’t find a store on his website, but I’m sure there will be one soon.

  11:06 am Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul  

June 16, 2015

Poll Watch: Sanders Catching Hillary in New Hampshire

Suffolk University, one of the more well-respected pollsters when it comes to the state of New Hampshire, has released partial results of a new survey this morning — and they show some shocking news for the Clinton campaign:

Suffolk University New Hampshire Democratic Primary

  • Clinton – 41%
  • Sanders – 31%
  • Biden – 7%
  • O’Malley – 3%
  • Chaffee – 1%
  • Webb – 1%
  • Undecided – 15%

Among those who “know both candidates”:

  • Clinton – 38%
  • Sanders – 35%

Among Women:

  • Clinton – 47%
  • Sanders – 28%

Among Men:

  • Sanders – 35%
  • Clinton – 32%

Survey of 500 likely Democratic voters was conducted June 11-15 and has a margin of error of ±4.4%.

So among those who are paying attention to the campaign, Clinton’s lead is within the margin of error — and among men, she is actually losing to the socialist senator. Maybe, just maybe, this Democratic primary will get more interesting than we assumed.

  2:00 pm Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Poll Watch  

June 11, 2015

June 8, 2015

Media Wants an Actual Democratic Primary So Badly They are Dreaming of 1968

There’s going to be a brokered convention next summer, ladies and gentlemen — but not on the Republican side of things where 16 candidates are vying for the nomination. No, the Democrats will be the ones going to multiple ballots to select their candidate!

So go the latest wistful pinings of a bored media.

If politics abhors a vacuum, then political media abhors one even more — and all the Democratic primary has been thus far is one giant vacuum. Hillary Clinton is leading the race by 40 or 50 points, the largest lead in modern history for a “competitive” primary. She’s got reporters running around ignominiously trying to catch a Scooby Doo van and doing stories on her orders at fast food restaurants. In the midst of summer boredom, some journalists are beginning to indulge their fantasies: what if something huge and exciting happened in the Democratic primary? What if 2016 was like 1968?

The guilty parties range from The Daily Beast to TIME to the Dallas Morning News to The American Thinker. Chuck Todd poured fuel on the fire last week when he postulated that if Bernie Sanders could “flirt with 40%” in Iowa or New Hampshire, “all of a sudden it is Gene McCarthy territory,” referencing that 1968 race.

For our younger readers, a brief synopsis of the 1968 race is in order. Lyndon Johnson was President and was running for a second (full) term. As a sitting president, nobody else in the Democratic Party wanted to challenge him, and it was assumed he would coast to the nomination. Many big names chose to sit out the race rather than square off against Johnson, including Bobby Kennedy. The only challenger who stepped forward was Eugene McCarthy, an avowed anti-war Senator who ran to Johnson’s left. The Vietnam War was easily the largest single issue in the campaign and increasingly became a problem for Johnson, who was ramping up military action while many in the Democratic Party wanted him to end the war all together. The Tet Offensive, which occurred during the primary campaign, was a major blow to Johnson’s hopes.

McCarthy, who was expected to pull around 15-20% of the vote against Johnson in New Hampshire, instead surprised everyone with 42% when the votes were counted. Johnson still won the state with 49%, but the damage was done: Johnson was no longer perceived as inevitable. If McCarthy could come so close, what could a more serious candidate do? At this, Bobby Kennedy changed his mind and decided to run. Johnson, seeing the writing on the wall and not wanting to lose a primary as a sitting president, dropped out. His vice president, Hubert Humphrey, then jumped in the race, and it became a three man contest between McCarthy, Kennedy, and Humphrey.

Of course, Robert Kennedy was tragically assassinated after winning the California primary later that summer, leaving Humphrey and McCarthy to battle in Chicago for the party’s nomination. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago that year became famous for the violent police/protester riots and the corrupt politics of the Daley machine. In the end, Humphrey secured the nomination and lost to Richard Nixon in the general election.

So yes, 1968 was an exciting race for journalists to cover, and there are some parallels you could draw to 2016. Hillary Clinton is seen as inevitable. Nobody wants to jump in and challenge her, except for a far-left Senator who nobody expects to win. The media fawns over candidates who aren’t running, such as Elizabeth Warren, just like they did with Robert Kennedy. Maybe if Bernie Sanders exposes Hillary Clinton’s weakness, somebody like Warren (or Biden) might jump in the race and end up making a contest of this thing after all!

It’s incredible to me that the press would be yearning for a race so chock full of tragedy and ugliness. But even setting aside the assassination, the riots, and the corrupt Chicago politics for a moment, let’s just call this what it is: wishful thinking by a bored press. The race on the Democratic side is as exciting as it’s going to get. Members of the press have been relegated to the position of van chasers for the next eight months. Hillary Clinton is an incredibly weak candidate, but the Clintons own the Democratic Party in ways Johnson could only dream. That’s the reason stronger candidates like Ed Rendell, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, Andrew Cuomo, and Elizabeth Warren chose not to run. Hillary was able to put into practice what Jeb famously flopped at: clearing the field — because Jeb relied on free market tactics (shock and awe) while Hillary relied on political strong arm tactics. Any of those candidates listed above would have been much tougher for the Republicans to match up against, but because Hillary Clinton felt it was her turn and she deserved the White House, she was able to convince all of them to sit this one out. The one mainstream candidate who did choose to run, Martin O’Malley, already finds himself as the loneliest candidate in the race – shunned by the Democratic Party insiders for daring to challenge Hillary. It would take a lot more than a little scare from Bernie Sanders to make Warren (or anyone else Hillary “convinced” to stay on the sidelines) to pull a Bobby Kennedy and jump in the race. And along those lines, Bernie Sanders and his self-avowed extremism will never approach McCarthy-level results in Iowa or New Hampshire, and so that scare won’t even materialize.

What is fascinating in all of this is the changing roles the Republicans and Democrats are playing in the race for 2016. The Republicans have, for every primary in modern history, nominated the “next in line.” This year, it appears they are prepared to nominate a fresh, exciting face instead. Likewise, the Democrats have, for every primary in modern history, nominated the fresh, exciting insurgent — and look to be prepared to go with the boring, “next in line” frontrunner this time instead. It’s an interesting evolution for both parties, driven by the GOP’s desire to not lose and by the personal ambitions of a powerful Clinton family.

Or, who knows — maybe we will end up with a Jeb Bush vs Elizabeth Warren general election contest after all.

June 5, 2015


Since the big names in the Democratic party seem to be too timid to enter the 2016 contest for their party’s presidential nomination (even though frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s early campaign is fading fast), this circumstance might bring an unexpected political “heavyweight” into the race, namely former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Mr Bloomberg is a billionaire and could completely self-finance a serious presidential candidacy. As an enormously successful business executive, and later, an outstanding mayor of the U.S. largest city (no easy task), he has superb credentials. A social liberal, he is a defense and foreign policy hawk, and overall, a man with serious appeal to the very large number of American independent voters.

His record as mayor in New York, preceded by the one of Rudy Giuliani, transformed this megalopolis into a liveable city, and the dismal record so far of their current successor, Bill de Blasio, only illustrates the importance of skill in the job of any chief executive in the public sector

There are indications that Mr. Bloomberg, now out of public office, might be interested in the job. There are no recent poll numbers on how Democratic voters across the nation feel about him, but it is obvious he could rack up some very impressive numbers of Democratic delegates in northern and west coast primaries.

He doesn’t have to make a single phone call to raise money from special interests, yet he can’t be outspent by any opponent, including Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Bloomberg would be a controversial candidate for voters on the far right and the far left, but his potential appeal to the political center of both parties could be decisive.

Some speculations about 2016 scenarios are currently more  fantasy than anything else. Mike Bloomberg might not, after all, run for president, but there is no fantasy about his candidacy if he does choose to run. Just do the math.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

  10:35 am 2016, Democrats, Michael Bloomberg, Predictions  

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