July 30, 2015

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  

July 28, 2015

The Continuing Democrat Party Crack Up

The central question of the coming 2016 election isn’t whether Trump will be the Republican nominee. He won’t. There is more than enough opposition to that happening to prevent it. Real Republicans will coalesce behind a consensus candidate who will get the nomination. That will happen in the Primary, if not before.

No, the central question is how low Hillary can drop in her approval, which is now at 43%, and whether Obama’s base will bail her out. Obama’s approval has never dropped below 39% no matter what has happened. That’s the hard core of Obama support, consisting of blacks, most Hispanics, much of the young and naive, environmentalists, the gay lobby, most of what’s left of the union and feminist movements. most of the entertainment industry, socialists and communists, and…..have I left anyone out? Add them all together and you get about 39% of the electorate.

So, is the Obama 39% transferable to Hillary? Her numbers are approaching 39%, but if her rock bottom coalition is lower than 39%, and there are very good reasons to presuppose that it is, it will become intuitively obvious to Dems far and wide before their convention and someone else will get their nomination.

After Obama got elected in 2008 the Left was euphoric. Republicans were down to 22 Governors and control of just 14 state legislatures. The media hailed the triumph as ushering in political realignment and Democrat dominance as far as the eye could see, reminiscent of Nazis in the ’30s proclaiming that the 3rd Reich would last a thousand years.

Democrats in state governments raised taxes $29 Billion in 2009 alone and in Washington big plans were made to socialize health care and increase government spending so much that national budget deficits quickly eclipsed a trillion dollars a year.

Since then the GOP has gained 900 new members of state legislatures, 9 new Governors,  taken back control of the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and elected all kinds of statewide office holders.

How bad has it gotten for Dems? Republicans control 30 state legislatures to the Dem’s 11. Eight are split. These numbers guarantee that Dems are going to get massacred in the next round of redistricting.  About all that’s left for them to lose is the Presidency.

What Republicans need to realize is that we have a presidential system of government.  Forget about checks and balances for a minute.  The powers of the executive branch have gradually been expanded to create an Imperial Presidency.  Some Republicans are naive and unsophisticated enough to imagine that we can govern the country without it, and ascribe blame for the state of the nation to the opposition, an opposition who can only do just so much to check some of the President’s many excesses.  One thinks of Hannity, Limbaugh, Breitbart, and many others.

Unable to keep moving the country as far to the Left by means allowed by the Constitution, Obama, cheered on by his 39% base, exceeds his authority by doing whatever he wants to do by issuing executive orders and defying the political process to keep him from continuing to do so.  It’s no wonder so many people are furious and frustrated.

But what they fail to realize is how many great things will happen if we take back this one office in 2016.

  11:46 am
Democrats, Hillary Clinton  

July 25, 2015

Democratic Net Favorability

SteveT posted in the thread below about Hillary Clinton’s sagging favorability, which motivated me to do something I had intended for a couple weeks – graph the Dems as I have been doing with the Reps.

Herewith the results:

Dem Net Fav - July

For comparison, here is the most recent Republican graph, posted a couple weeks ago.

A few observations:

— The methodology is the same as used on the Republican graph. If it matters to you, please check that link.

— The ski slope called Clinton looks totally Bushian, doesn’t it? But she started higher (much higher), and finishes much higher (by about twelve points).

— Biden’s numbers I think run pretty much in line with Obama’s approval rating.

— All the Democrats are ahead of all the Republicans on this measure (Clinton is roughly equal with Marco Rubio, but ahead of the rest).

— The Sanders results are based on very few polls. Impressive as they are, I think they mostly reflect the allure of the new. We’ll see.

— I worry somewhat that Clinton will collapse too soon. At this point, I want her to be the Democrats’ nominee, since I think any of our major candidates other than Bush could beat her.

Please note: This is not an open thread, please keep your comments close to being about the topic. If there is an off-topic item you wish to post, please do so on the Miscellany post below. Sorry, this is a real pet peeve of mine. :)

 

July 24, 2015

Friday Open Thread (Catholic Edition)

I’ve been dilatory regarding Open Threads this week, but the gap has been well-covered.

Remember, if you’re tempted to drop an off-topic comment into another thread, bring it to this one instead.

As a conversation-starter:

 

2016 Is a Very Catholic Year

Historically, Catholics have leaned strongly to the Democratic Party, but that has been changing in recent decades. Nothing shows the change so clearly as this year’s Republican field, which features six (count ’em – 6) Catholics: Bush, Christie, Jindal, Pataki, Rubio, and Santorum.

Only three Roman Catholics have ever run for president on a major party ticket, and all were Democrats. But that may be about to change. So far six Catholics (including some early favorites) are running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

And that’s not all:

This bumper crop of Catholic presidential candidates comes at a time when the leadership of the Republican Party is, by many measures, becoming increasingly Catholic. For instance, the House of Representatives had 69 Catholic Republicans at the beginning of the current, 114th Congress – a group that has nearly doubled in size in the last six years and includes House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

In addition, a Roman Catholic, Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan, was the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2012. Ryan was only the second Catholic ever to run on the Republican ticket, the first being William Edward Miller (a New York representative who was Barry Goldwater’s running mate in 1964).

Martin O’Malley is the only Catholic in the Democrat’s race, though the first-ever Catholic VP, Joe Biden, is clearly thinking about jumping in.

I grew up in an era when the Democratic Party was the default home for Catholics. My Republican Catholic parents were viewed with bemusement by most of our fellow parishioners at St. Francis Xavier church.

 

July 23, 2015

Hillary’s Impending Demise

Charles Krauthammer: The more people see her, the lower her numbers go.

Chuck Todd: There’s really something quite not right about Hillary’s campaign.

The recent Quinnipiac polls in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia have sent shock waves throughout the Left. Jeb, Marco, and Scott all beat her handily in all 3 states, despite her winning the women’s vote in all 3. Besides the indication that there’s some underlying truth behind identity politics, the really telling truth is how badly she is losing the men’s vote in all three states…..none of which we’ve won recently.

It’s well known that people find her untrustworthy: it’s an established component of her political persona. A worse problem is that she does so badly on the issue of caring about people’s problems and lives. The best she did in this regard was that only 50% of those polled in Virginia thought that she cares “about people like you.” Her numbers in Iowa and Colorado were significantly worse.

Remember that she’s running as a Democrat, and that question is their bread and butter. If people think a Democrat doesn’t really care about people like them, they have no shot.

Now that there’s significant doubt as to her ability to win The General, the Left will return to its time-honored practice of eating its dead. Her fundraising will start to drop. Jeb is outraising her by a margin of 2 to 1 already, but how many large donors are going to continue to sink money into a campaign with declining prospects of success?

It’s not going to make it less likely that Joe Biden enters, and some of those close to him have indicated that it’s likely that he will. It’s not going to deflate Bernie’s surging campaign. They, and other rivals, will start to go more negative about her.

You might think I’m banking too much on these polls, that she will return to large leads in the future, but I see no signs of that in states that really matter to the outcome of the election. She has been faltering long before they came out and many Democrats have been worried about her campaign for months.

Now they’re a lot more than worried.

  1:05 pm
Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden  

July 22, 2015

Sanrio 2016 Candidates – Democrats

Since I posted the GOP field last week using Sanrio’s “Chanrio” web applet, I felt it only fair to also return the favor and create the Democratic field in their silly, cartoonish format. Enjoy them below the fold. Feel free to treat this as an open thread unless Bob makes a more serious looking one…

(more…)

July 11, 2015

Trump Or No Trump?

The current news/polling bubble for businessman Donald Trump is just that, a bubble that will burst.

On the other hand, some of what he is saying is serious, notwithstanding the liberal media allegations that he is politically “incorrect.”

Mr. Trump is a smart man, and a successful figure in business. He also, as is plain to see, a man of unquenchable ego with a desire for capacious media attention.

Until the Republican presidential debates begin, his bubble will continue to float in the hot summer air. No GOP rival, except for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, can match Mr. Trump for media-grabbing skills.

Mr. Trump is likely to make the cut-off for the first GOP debate in Cleveland. With fifteen announced or imminently to announce competitors, the conservative field is overlarge and currently confusing to most grass roots voters. Some more serious candidates, such as Governor John Kasich of Ohio, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, or Governor Christie might not make the cut-off (although they will be invited to a “second tier” debate in Cleveland that will precede the main debate).

Being a very rich man, Donald Trump can self-fund his campaign, and is evidently doing so. Most of his rivals are currently spending a great deal of their time fundraising.

Like his left wing Democratic equivalent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Trump has the temporary advantage of being much more interesting to the media than his opponents. Lacking truly serious rivals in the Democratic contest, Hillary Clinton continues to maintain a substantial, albeit shrinking, lead for her party’s nomination. Senator Sanders also is enjoying a bubble, but he will not be the Democratic nominee. It would take the entry of Vice President Joe Biden, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to actually change the chemistry of the Democratic contest, and so far, only Mr. Biden seems a likely entry.

But Senator Sanders’ current success is a genuine signal to Democratic strategists about how liberal grass roots voters feel, and so is the current bubble of Donald Trump a useful signal about how conservative grass roots voters
feel.

In Mr. Trump’s case, I think the energy he provokes comes less from his conservatism (he does not fit a conservative mold and has often supported Democratic candidates with cash), and more from his outspokenness. Some GOP party officials apparently think he is upsetting the proverbial apple cart, and want him to tone down his public comments. He has no intention of doing so.

The liberal media know a foil when they see one, and their attention is also fueled by Mr. Trump’s use to them for attacking the Republican Party.

Through his name I.D. and self-spending, Mr. Trump might even have some early successes when the voting begins and polling actually means something, but he is not going to be president, much less his party’s nominee.

As Governor Christie, now down in the polls but likely to rise dramatically when the campaign begins in earnest, knows, the voters in 2016 , be they left, right or center, thirst for a presidential candidate who speaks out honestly, plainly and lucidly about the vital and troubling issues facing the nation.

The man or woman who can do that, and also persuade voters he or she can perform well as president, will be the one who will succeed next November. No bubble will be enough.

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

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
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15 Walker
16 Kasich
  9:19 am
Ben Carson, Fundraising, Hillary Clinton  

June 30, 2015

Draft Biden?

Drudge (perhaps just trolling a bit) is headlining a story from RealClearPolitics about a movement to draft VP Joe Biden.

Most Republicans, of course, will laugh such a thing off, but I will laugh perhaps a shade less loudly. The history of incumbent VP candidates who seek the presidency has, in my lifetime, been not too bad.

1960: Richard Nixon tried to succeed the popular Eisenhower (despite Ike’s popularity, it should be noted that the Republicans had suffered an extremely bad defeat in 1958). Nixon lost in one of history’s closest elections.

1968: Hubert Humphrey, trying to succeed LBJ, was encumbered by a party fractured by the war in Vietnam, a disastrous convention, and a third-party movement that took the solid south and many blue-collar northern whites out of the Democrats’ decades-old FDR coalition. He started out way behind, but closed strongly and lost the popular vote by only 0.7%.

1988: Bush I, helped by a popular president, fairly easily won.

2000: Al Gore beat Bush II in the popular vote, and very nearly won the electoral vote.

Four data points over more than half a century are hardly conclusive, but they all do point in the same direction – a sitting VP will be a strong candidate, who will have a reasonable chance of winning in November. To the pols who will have to run down-ticket, this could look better than a weak Hillary Clinton, if she continues to stumble.

 

Note: This is not a open thread — there are several below.

 

  5:04 pm
Democrats, Joe Biden  

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