August 30, 2015

Poll Watch: Des Moines Register Democrats

  7:49 pm

Clinton 37 (57)
Sanders 30 (16)
Biden 14 (8)
O’Malley 3 (2)
Webb 2 (2)
Chafee 1 (-)

Previous poll (May) in parentheses. Sample 404 Registered Democrats. MoE: +/- 4.9.

From the Register write-up:

Liberal revolutionary Bernie Sanders, riding an updraft of insurgent passion in Iowa, has closed to within 7 points of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race.

She’s the first choice of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers; he’s the pick for 30 percent, according to a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.

But Clinton has lost a third of her supporters since May, a trajectory that if sustained puts her at risk of losing again in Iowa, the initial crucible in the presidential nominating contest.

Further, re emails:

Selzer said Clinton’s right about the unimportance of the email controversy at this point in the caucus race — 76 percent of her supporters and 61 percent of all likely Democratic caucusgoers say it’s not important to them. The emails are at least somewhat important to 28 percent of all likely caucusgoers, with an additional 10 percent saying the issue is very important.

Interesting: There seems to be a national epidemic of “I just don’t care.”

DMR polldmr fav


A Walk down Memory Lane: 1968

  5:15 pm

Commenter TT posted the following in the Open Thread, which stirred a memory for me:

Importantly, Liz Warren may not have a path with Bernie Sanders polling so well. Some Bernie supporters are becoming more and more committed to him and it is not likely that Liz Warren can just enter the field and take all Bernie’s support. That could have happened a few months ago, but Bernie’s supporters have hardened their support now. Warren and Bernie would split the vote of the same constituency. Warren cannot run without Bernie dropping out.

We may have a parallel here to the most fascinating political campaign of my life, which was in 1968. (This year is also fascinating, but mostly for it’s incredible oddness, and hasn’t gone far enough yet to match ’68).

For those less rich in years than I who don’t have first-hand memories of 1968, here is Wikipedia’s summary of that campaign.

The parallel is this: Throughout 1967, the growing anti-war movement was looking for a challenger to Lyndon Johnson. The first choice was quite obvious – Bobby Kennedy, who was both strongly anti-Vietnam and had the Kennedy name (it may be hard for anyone today to understand the incredible power that name held so soon after the assassination of JFK). Kennedy, however, declined to run, seeing no path to victory.

Enter Eugene McCarthy, a lesser-known but not insignificant Senator. After McCarthy’s near-victory in New Hampshire, Kennedy entered the race, but was viewed by McCarthy loyalists as an opportunist (parallel to TT’s comment about how Sanders’ loyalists might feel if Warren enters now or soon). Kennedy nonetheless overtook McCarthy in most of the primaries (most importantly, of course, California), which counters TT’s idea that there is room for only one challenger from Clinton’s left.

No historical parallel is exact, of course. The most important difference is that Warren does not bear the magical Kennedy name. Possibly off-setting that to some degree is that she is female, vitally important in both parties, but especially the Democrats in this era of identity-group politics.

I very strongly doubt that Warren is going to get in, but I post this because I think it would make for a fun, and possibly enlightening, discussion.

Not an open thread.


August 29, 2015

The “Furious Majority” of 2016

  5:55 pm

In 1968, it was said there was a “silent majority” of voters. In 1994, it was said there was an “angry majority” of voters. In 2015, the voters are not just angry, they are “furious.”

No more proof than the early success of the presidential campaigns of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders should be needed, but there’s more evidence. In at least one major poll, conservative physician Ben Carson is in second place. Neither Trump nor Carson have ever been elected to office. And there’s more. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina is doing well, and Vice President Joe Biden, hitherto not taken seriously as a 2016 presidential candidate, is being widely urged to run. Although she has said she won’t run, Senator Elizabeth Warren clearly has  notable support in the liberal grass roots.

Only Biden in this group would be classified as “establishment,” and he probably won’t run because the Democratic Party elites still prefer the “sinking” Hillary Clinton and are trying to push him out of the way.  Jeb Bush, the early GOP frontrunner, and clearly the establishment candidate, is fading in the polls despite his name recognition and huge amounts of money raised for his campaign.

Why is this all happening?

American voters are perennially unhappy with politicians, so why is the current “fury” to be taken more seriously than the “silence” or the “anger” in previous presidential elections?

The answer is the result of a number of circumstances, but most notably the chronic failure of current government to restore general economic well-being and confidence, the apparent “dishonesty” of most political rhetoric, the persistent and increasing lack of transparency in the conduct and management of government bureaucracy, and voters’ growing insecurity about the nation’s role in the world. These are taking place with elected and appointed officials of both parties, and there is very little evidence that much is being done about it.

It is being exacerbated by the Obama administration’s cavalier attitude to problems arising from undocumented immigration, its unilateral withdrawal from the U.S. role of leadership in the world, and by the uneven domestic economic recovery.

This has given Republicans a temporary advantage, but should they win in 2016 and fail to produce visible gains, the advantage will shift right back to the Democrats.

Not only are the left and the right “furious” with Washington, DC, so is the unheralded but vital political center, the key element in deciding who wins the White House in 2016. (Historically, populists in the U.S. came from the far right or the far left, but recently, “centrist populists” such as Jesse Ventura and Ross Perot have arisen to disrupt American elections.)

The establishments of both parties would like the Trump, Carson, Sanders and the Fiorina to go away, and almost certainly they will try to make this happen merely by discrediting the candidates. I think this could be a huge political miscalculation. I think it could infuriate voters even more.

The resolution of the political “disruption” can only happen if the “establishment” candidates begin paying attention to what is truly upsetting voters.

My high school motto (McDowell High School in Erie, PA) was Factum Non Verbum (“The Deed Not The Word”). I did not forget it. When a Latin phrase endures for so long, it would be only a matter of time when it made lots of sense on one more occasion.

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


August 23, 2015

Joe-Talk Heats up as He Meets with Warren

  6:13 pm

As things go from bad to worse to still worse than that to OMG! for Hillary Clinton, speculation about Joe Biden getting into the race is growing rapidly, fed yesterday by a meeting between Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

Re the Warren meeting, Bloomberg sets the table for us:

A private meeting Saturday in Washington between Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a hero of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, quickly became the talk of the town this weekend.

Speculation of a Biden presidential bid in 2016, which he is said to be considering, fueled the Sunday talk show circuit.

And Yahoo adds:

Speculation grew on Saturday that Biden may soon challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination as the vice president met with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a power broker among liberal Democrats.

Warren, who has strong support from liberal groups that would be critical to winning in early voting states, has said she will not run for president herself, but she has not endorsed Clinton or any other Democratic candidate.

Josh Alcorn, a senior adviser for Draft Biden 2016, a Super PAC group that is laying groundwork for a potential run, said the vice president was “sounding out people in early (primary election) states, activists and potential supporters.”

Meeting with Warren could help give Biden more ideas for making the U.S. economy work better for middle-class Americans, he told Fox News Sunday.

If Biden decides to run, Alcorn said it would be important for him to announce his candidacy in time take part in the first Democratic debates in October.

One of the things Biden has to be considering is this.

clinton biden
Clinton’s drop in favorables gives somebody quite an opportunity.

(The graph shows mid-month net favorables for each candidate, based on data from Pollster).

Note: This is not an open thread. Let’s keep the discussion limited to the Democratic race.


August 12, 2015

Here Comes Bernie, There Goes Hillary

  1:19 pm

Hillary Clinton has the endorsement of The American Federation of Teachers, and it was largely taken for granted by most pols that she would have solid union support throughout the campaign. But she hasn’t been endorsed by The AFL-CIO, and earlier this week the 185,000 member National Nurses United endorsed Bernie, shocking those on the Left who haven’t been paying attention. She’s always been a suck-up to union leaders, and they generally always supported Bill….she’s a woman, the nurses are women, so what’s the problem?

This, of course, is just a straw in the wind. One of many. The problem is that she doesn’t represent the zeitgeist of the party, much less lead it. There are those who have the political talent to prosper in a populist environment, but she doesn’t have the passion or charisma to do it.

Bernie Sanders, a 73-year-old self-identified socialist, originally from Brooklyn, who became radicalized as an anti-Vietnam War protester, is not a Democrat. It’s not against party rules for a non-Democrat to run for the party’s nomination to be President, but it’s unorthodox, to say the least.

Not only is he not a Democrat, he’s spent 40 years fighting against the Democratic Party in Vermont, and he’s spent most of those 40 years beating it. He ousted a centrist Democrat when he became the mayor of Burlington, the largest city in the state. He’s always had opposition from Democrats in winning his Senate seat from Vermont, but in recent elections, it’s been token opposition. They know they can’t beat him in the state and that resistance is futile.

Having beaten Democrats before,  he figured he might as well do it again. In The Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald New Hampshire Democratic Party Presidential Poll that came out today, he’s beating Hillary 44 to 37, with Joe Biden at 9%.  And he’s closing in on Iowa, a caucus state tailor made for Bernie.  I predict he will overtake her there long before caucus night.

“I am not now, nor have I ever been, a liberal Democrat.” You might think that someone who’s made that statement wouldn’t be doing this well in the race.  He’s never repudiated it, and he’s been asked about it  many times over the years.  He’s also said:  “My own feeling is that the Democratic Party is ideologically bankrupt.”  About the two major parties, he’s said “there’s essentially no difference between them.”  One thinks of Robert Redford’s statement some decades ago:  “both major parties are full of it.”  He and Bernie are of one mind on the subject.  He’s also said:  “One can argue that the 2-Party system is a sham.”

Until recently I thought that someone like Biden or someone else would have to enter the contest because there was good reason to believe that neither Hillary nor Bernie could win the nomination.  But, I now think I was wrong.

Bernie’s problem was always his very limited appeal among the rapidly growing percentage of ethnic minorities in Democrat politics.  There are only 7500 blacks, e.g., in the state of Vermont, and his appeal has always been to the liberal white gentry.  Put him in front of a group of environmentalists or give him a forum at almost any large University, and most of them will become supporters of him on the spot.

His problem with blacks seemed insuperable.  An example was when Black Lives Matter recently disrupted 2 major Sanders campaign events.  Before nearly 20,000 in Seattle, black activists stormed the podium, and Sanders had to walk away without even being heard.  The next night, before even more people who came out to see him in Portland, the audience was orchestrated to chant:  “We Stand Together” before the rally, so that they would know how to drown out BLM if they tried to do the same thing there.

Blacks don’t have a candidate they feel represents them in this race.  They want a campaign based around institutional racism in housing, education, and criminal justice.  Obama doesn’t seem to have satisfied them on any of these matters.  Democrat strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher lays out the problem:  “Because the truth is, if you can’t compete and win black votes in a Democratic primary, you are not going to be the Democratic nominee.”  Belcher went on to point out that blacks make up such a large percentage of primary votes in the South, e.g., it would be impossible to win much of any delegates in those states just through white votes.

Sanders bases his campaign largely on the issue of income inequality and it’s easy to see that that would have some appeal to ethnic minorities.  That’s a start.  But to win them over, he has essentially caved and given Black Lives Matter everything they’ve demanded:

1.  He now wants to demilitarize the police.  Basically, disarm them in black ghettos and Hispanic Barrios.

2.  He wants to make police forces more diverse.  Essentially, get rid of a lot of white cops and bring in a lot more black and Hispanic cops.

3.  He wants to stop giving police the benefit of the doubt and prosecute more of them.  That should help fight crime.

4.  He wants to re-enfranchise the more than 2 million blacks who can’t vote because of felony convictions.  Try getting that through this congress.  Executive order?

5.  He wants to make election day a federal holiday.  He hasn’t called for doing away with work altogether.

6.  He wants to automatically register every American on his or her 18th Birthday.  So much for the concept of citizenship.

Can he win a national general election with positions like this?  Can America become a People’s Republic in one election?  Any thoughts?



August 10, 2015

Net Favorability Rankings and Trends – Democrats August Update

  1:00 pm

This is one of an ongoing series of chart posts on net favorability ratings of leading presidential candidates. The August Republican update is here.
Dem Net Fav

I used data from this page of the Pollster site – using the first data point for each month and simply subtracting unfavorable from favorable. The Pollster pages show the trended averages of recent polls.

Bernie Sanders’ numbers, while impressive, are based on relatively few polls. In addition, just over 50% still have no opinion on him, while only 10% and 14% have no opinions on Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden respectively.

Clinton has until the past month had better net favorables than any of the Republicans. For the first time, two (Walker and Rubio) are ahead of her by several points. A small matter, but worth noting, I think.

The open thread is below. Please try to stay more or less on-topic.


August 5, 2015

BREAKING: Bill Clinton Called Trump Weeks Before Trump’s Announcement, Encouraged Him to Run

  2:55 pm


Well, this Washington Post story certainly adds a new wrinkle to things:

Former president Bill Clinton had a private telephone conversation in late spring with Donald Trump at the same time that the billionaire investor and reality-television star was nearing a decision to run for the White House, according to associates of both men.

Four Trump allies and one Clinton associate familiar with the exchange said that Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape.

Wait, so let me get this straight. In the weeks leading up to Trump’s announcement, Bill Clinton — the husband of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — called Trump and encouraged him to run?

Clinton and Trump aides have confirmed the story. One of the Clinton aides tried to spin the story, saying the 2016 race wasn’t specifically talked about on this phone call — just Trump’s efforts to be a leader in the GOP in general. Four Trump aides, however, say that Trump was very clear and direct to Bill Clinton about his desire to run in 2016, and Clinton encouraged him in return.

Suddenly, those conspiracy theories about the Clintons and Trump being in cahoots don’t sound so crazy…


The Planned Parenthood Advantage

  12:35 pm

We have the graphic images of Planned Parenthood executives pricing the cost of baby organs for sale, And we have feisty videos of Hillary defending Planned Parenthood. What we DON’T have much of is the ‘mainstream media’ making any kind of issue out of it.

If Planned Parenthood were to become a more prominent issue in the campaign, most Americans would side with defunding the organization. Poll after poll has shown that Americans have become increasingly anti-abortion since Roe came down in the 1970s.

But most Americans have been misinformed as to the extent of late-term abortions in the country. Then, along comes the videos of PP shopping the sale of baby organs that result from the practice. Some of our candidates are on record as opposing the practice and Congress has tried to defund PP in response to the videos. But almost every Democrat has voted to keep this from happening, and are backed by Obama’s willingness to override the will of Congress on the matter with vetoes.

Then along comes Jeb:

“You could take dollar for dollar–although I’m not sure we need half a billlion dollars for women’s health issues–but if you took , dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinary fine organizations, community health organizations, that exist, federally sponsored organizations, to provide quality care 4 women on a variety of health issues.”

Note that half a billion dollars is the amount of taxpayer money that the federal government ‘donates’ to Planned Parenthood. In essence, any attacks on Bush for opposing spending five hundred million dollars for “women’s health” can, and will, be translated into statements and ads attacking defenders of dismembering babies and selling their organs and tissue on the open market for profit.

Democrats have to defend the practice, and the organization that does it, or risk losing a lot of its own funding and necessary support from PP, Emily’s List, NOW, and the rest of what’s left of the feminist movement. Republicans in the campaign can point out that PP only really performs abortions. They refer women to community health centers, rural clinics, and other women’s health organizations for actual medical services.

All that is necessary in the general campaign to turn PP into an albatross around the neck of the Left is money and a professional ad making operation. That needn’t have to be any kind of a problem.  It works a lot better if the Democrat nominee first tries to make an issue of it by attacking Jeb’s statement.


August 4, 2015

July 30, 2015

The Democratic Party’s Plan B

  11:23 am

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.


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