News from the Votemaster
The conventional wisdom is that the public trusts the Republicans on national security issues and the Democrats on domestic issues, but a new ABC/WaPo Poll conducted by Langer Research Associates contradicts this. Among all adults, Hillary Clinton is more trusted to handle terrorism than any Republican, with margins from 3% to 9%, depending on her potential opponent. Among registered voters, she still leads every Republican except Jeb Bush, but the margins are smaller. But even Bush leads Clinton among registered voters by only 1%. Among Americans who think an attack is very likely, all the Republicans lead Clinton but among those who think it is not so likely, Clinton has huge leads. It is important to note here that Republicans are much more likely to think an attack is imminent than Democrats, so asking people who think an attack is likely is almost the same as asking Republicans what they think about Clinton. (V)
While most of the media are focused on Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, some of the candidates are planning for Super Tuesday (March 1), when a dozen states have primaries or caucuses, including most of the South. Since the South has become the GOP heartland, any Republican candidate who has hopes of winning the nomination has to do tolerably well there, or at least not get wiped out. If one candidate can sweep the seven Southern states voting that day, he or she will be hard to stop.
All states voting before March 15 must award their delegates proportionally to candidates that meet a threshold that varies from state to state, usually 5% to 20%. As a consequence, even candidates with no chance of coming in first are eyeing Texas, Georgia, and some of the other states because they could come in 3rd or 4th and still pick up delegates. In some cases, candidates are targeting very specific areas, like a few congressional districts, where they hope to do well. The Bush campaign is spending lots of money in the South, Ted Cruz has visited the Super Tuesday states often, and even Donald Trump and Ben Carson are going to places like Alabama to hustle votes. (V)
The Pew Research Center published a report yesterday that shows white Christians as just 46% of the population, down from 55% in 2007. Seventy percent of them are Republicans, the same as when Ronald Reagan was President, but 70% of 46% is only 32% of the country. You can't win elections with 32%. After the 2012 election, RNC chairman Reince Priebus commissioned an autopsy report that basically said that the Republican Party had to stop being so dependent on older white Christians and go look for voters elsewhere. However there is very little evidence so far this year that the message sunk in. In fact, candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz are doubling down on appealing to white Christians, often offending racial minorities and non-Christian voters in the process. (V)
Contrary to what one might expect, Marco Rubio is not terribly popular with younger voters, according to a new Ipsos poll. Among Republicans under 50, he polls at 6 or 7%. It is the over-65 crowd that really likes him, some of whom compare him to their teenage crush, John F. Kennedy. Rubio seems to understand this and in contrast to some Republicans who want to privatize or otherwise get rid of Social Security and Medicare, he is very careful not to antagonize older voters on these issues. (V)
When Donald Trump said he saw New Jersey Muslims cheering when the World Trade Center Towers came down, just about everyone went after him for it because there is no evidence at all that this happened and a great deal of evidence that it didn't. On Monday morning, Ben Carson said the same thing. He claimed to have seen a film of this, but could offer no other details. If such a film exists, it would surely have come out by now. So, was Carson just calculating that if he mimics all the outrageous things Trump says, then he will be as popular as Trump? It's hard to tell. What we do know is that later in the day yesterday, Carson changed his mind and said the footage he saw was actually shot in the Middle East. Exactly how he confused these two very different parts of the world, and exactly what happened between 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. to clarify his memory, has not been explained. (V & Z)
Back on the Trump front, yesterday The Donald reiterated his claim that thousands of Muslims cheered the 9/11 attacks and "proved" it by pointing out that he has the world's best memory and lots of people on Twitter agree with him. He then asked for an apology from everyone who has challenged him. So far, no apologies have been forthcoming. (V & Z)
During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump has shown no particular interest in facts, evidence, accuracy, or truth. Endowed with an abundance of self-confidence, he issues forth with whatever comes into his head, apparently believing that if he says something forcefully enough, it will become true. So it should not surprise us that he would follow up what is being called "the most racist tweet on Twitter" by asserting that he is the "least racist person on Earth." Nor that he should defend an obviously false memory about the 9/11 attacks by claiming to have the "world's greatest memory." After all, such assessments are just as grounded in reality as his ideas about Mexican immigrants or Barack Obama's birth certificate.
How is Trump getting away with playing so fast and loose with the truth? After all, if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio issued forth with falsehood after falsehood, they would surely be called on it. Ben Carson certainly has been. The Washington Post's Amber Phillips offers four theories:
- His supporters actually believe him
- His supporters don't literally believe him, but believe that having the "correct sentiment" is "close enough"
- Skepticism about the media outweighs skepticism about Trump's claims
- People aren't really paying attention
Whatever the case may be (well, with the possible exception of #4), Trump's falsehoods have potentially serious repercussions. For the GOP, the longer he lasts, and the more he blathers, the greater the extent to which they are stuck with his ideas and rhetoric (even if he ultimately exits the campaign). Ted Cruz, who previously cozied up to The Donald, seems to have realized this and has begun to back off of his past support. Trump's actions could also impact the larger political process; as the Post's Chris Cillizza points out, the fourth estate plays an important role in a democracy, keeping the candidates honest and on their toes. If Trump undermines the media, successfully marginalizing them as scandal-mongering partisan hacks, there is nobody else—person or institution—to perform the function. (Z)
Part of the Trump campaign's attempts to dictate the narrative have been a positively Nixonian effort to intimidate and control the press corps. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has imposed particularly strict rules on when and where the press is allowed to stand during Trump events, has threatened to blacklist reporters that did not abide by his dictates, and has denied credentials to "unfriendly" media outlets, among them BuzzFeed, the Des Moines Register, the Huffington Post, and Univision.
Now, representatives of the five largest news outlets—ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox and NBC News—are coming together to demand an end to these practices. Trump may not like the media, per se, but he also knows that he needs attention—otherwise, how will he propagate his outrageous statement of the day? Twitter and Facebook are nice, but not a great way to reach the 40-and-over set. Ergo, expect The Donald and Co. to back down in this particular game of chicken. (Z)
Donald Trump's appearance on Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks ago triggered FEC "equal time" laws, requiring NBC to offer 12 minutes and 5 seconds of screen time to Trump rivals who could prove they were "viable candidates." This is equal to the amount of time that Trump was visible on screen during his SNL hosting stint. Four candidates [Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Mike Huckabee, Jim Gilmore and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] have requested the time and have met the network's requirements. As such, they will each be given the equivalent of several hundred thousand dollars of free advertising in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. None of the four is polling at more than 3% in any of those three states. They will not appear on SNL, however. The placement and timing of their 12 minutes hasn't been decided yet. Interestingly, none of the candidates invoked the Warhol Dictum ("In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes") and settled for just 12 minutes and 5 seconds. (Z & V)
The Hill has a very good video in which long-time Democratic campaign consultant Doug Thornell discusses which opponent the Democrats would prefer in 2016. He would love to go up against Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Ted Cruz. He sees Marco Rubio as much tougher and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), a moderate from a key swing state, as the toughest of all. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
Nov23 Nationally, Little Has Changed Since Before the Paris Attacks
Nov23 Six Different Republicans Would Beat Hillary Clinton?
Nov23 Trump Doing a Thriving Trade in Bigotry
Nov23 Trump Refuses To Rule Out a Third-Party Run
Nov23 Is the United States #1?
Nov23 Will 2016 Shatter the Republican Party?
Nov22 David Vitter's Political Career Ends
Nov22 Clinton and Sanders Duel on Health Care
Nov22 Clinton is Trying to Lock Up the Nomination Quickly
Nov22 Kamala Harris' Senate Campaign is in Disarray
Nov22 Is the Bloom Off Ben Carson's Rose?
Nov22 Republican Voters Are Scared
Nov22 Why Do Poor People Vote Republican?
Nov22 ACA Enrollment for 2017 Begins Oct. 1, 2016
Nov21 Republican Operative Plans to Destroy Trump
Nov21 CNN Announces Polling Thresholds for the Dec. 15 Debate
Nov21 Runoff Election in Louisiana is Today
Nov21 How Do the Paris Attacks Affect Individual Candidates
Nov21 What to Do About Islamophobia?
Nov21 Refugees are Not the Problem
Nov21 The Media is to Blame for the Media Circus
Nov20 Nationally, Trump Still Ahead By a Wide Margin
Nov20 Trump Would Require All Muslims to Register with the Government
Nov20 Can Trump Survive the Establishment Onslaught?
Nov20 Rubio Gets Another Big Donor, at Jeb Bush's Expense
Nov20 Both Parties Pretend to Write Laws Addressing Terrorism
Nov20 Cruz and Rubio Begin Attacking Each Other on Terrorism
Nov20 Carson Unveils His ISIS Plan
Nov20 Carson Compares Syrian Refugees to Mad Dogs
Nov20 Mayors Fight Governors on Refugees
Nov19 Rubio Skips Intelligence Briefing for Fundraiser
Nov19 Catholic Bishops Declare Same-sex Marriage To Be an Intrinsic Evil
Nov19 Obama Says Republicans Are Helping ISIS Recruit New Terrorists
Nov19 Republicans All Striking a Pose
Nov19 Democrats Can Also Be Jingoistic
Nov19 Paris Terrorists Communicated Using Unencrypted Text Messages
Nov19 Democrats Release Autopsy of the 2014 Elections
Nov19 Republicans Have a New Hampshire Problem
Nov19 Seattle Adopts Voucher System for Political Contributions
Nov18 Jindal Calls It Quits
Nov18 Latinos Don't Like Republicans
Nov18 Carson's Advisers Say He Doesn't Understand Foreign Policy
Nov18 Clinton Picks Up Major Union Endorsement
Nov18 Vitter Trailing in Louisiana Gubernatorial Race
Nov18 Salt Lake City Elects an Openly Lesbian Mayor
Nov18 Words Matter, Part II: Terrorism
Nov17 Steve King Endorses Ted Cruz
Nov17 Will the Paris Attacks Really Be a Game Changer?
Nov17 Words Matter, Part I: Declaring War