News from the Votemaster
Reuters/Ipsos has released its latest poll of the Republican field. Following a week in which Donald Trump has invited attention and criticism with his comments on Muslims, his mockery of a disabled reporter, and various sundry falsehoods, he has dropped 10 points. Trump still leads the field, enjoying the support of 31% of Republican voters, but that's quite a bit lower than the 42% he pulled in the same poll just a week ago. Here are the results.
What does it mean? As long as it's one poll, not much. But if The Donald's numbers continue to drop, it could create a narrative, and narratives can generate their own momentum—especially if the beneficiaries of the decline were to be the "establishment" candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeb Bush. Further, a continued decline could force Trump to make a tactical choice: Does he need to intensify his bombastic rhetoric to win those voters back? Or does he need to dial it down because he went too far? The wrong choice could hasten his decline, possibly past the point of no return. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the numbers in the next month, particularly once Christmas is in the rear-view mirror and voters have to start making serious choices about which lever they are going to pull in the primaries. (Z)
By executive order in 2014, President Obama made a decision not to deport the parents of U.S. citizen children even if the parents were undocumented immigrants. The order is called DAPA: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. He said that deporting parents but leaving their (citizen) children alone in the U.S. would require breaking up millions of families and leaving untold children as de facto orphans. The Republicans sued him over this action and the case is currently before the Supreme Court.
Studies have shown that Obama's executive orders would increase GDP by $124 billion over a decade and create 29,000 jobs per year, but that is not our interest here. There is a poliitical effect that has been largely overlooked. In 2016, about 1.5 million of the citizen children whose parents will or will not be deported, depending on what the Supreme Court says, will be 18 or older and can thus vote. It doesn't take the political skills of Karl Rove to figure out how they will all vote when one party is trying to keep their parents in the U.S. and the other wants to deport them. In 2020 the number of citizen children with undocumented parents who will be old enough to vote will be 2.3 million and in 2032 it will be 6.3 million. And these numbers count only the citizen children of the undocumented parents. Many of the parents have brothers and sisters and other relatives who are citizens and can thus vote It is likely that the Democrats will be pointing this all out in some detail on Univision and Telemundo next year. (V)
In the last Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton said she was proud that a majority of her donors are now women. The last campaign finance report filed shows that she has 400,000 donors, of which she says 60% are women, for a total of 240,000 women donors. Sen. Bernie Sanders now claims to have 301,154 women donors, 71,000 more than Clinton. (V)
Politico has been asking its panel of officials, operatives, and activists in the early states about the presidential election for months now. Up until now, the Republicans in the panel weren't even taking Donald Trump seriously, but now they are. Republican insiders now think that Cruz will win Iowa. However, in the other three states that vote in February, they think Trump is positioned to win. (V)
In September and October, Carly Fiorina seemed to be on the upswing thanks to her strong performances in the GOP debates. Now, as MSNBC's Jane C. Timm observes, she is close to flatlining. Not only are her polling numbers stagnant, but the frequency with which she is mentioned on television news programs has dropped by 50%.
So what went wrong? Timm offers two answers, both of them compelling. The first is that Fiorina simply does not have the resources necessary to build a proper campaign infrastructure. Yes, she is in the 1%, but she's not wealthy enough take out her checkbook and pay for everything herself (the way, say, Donald Trump can). Consequently, she has a grand total of two paid staffers managing her campaign in Iowa, and two in New Hampshire. That's not enough, especially in Iowa, where the caucus system demands engagement in every single community.
The second problem is that Fiorina's pitch for the presidency—outsider, willing to challenge the status quo, successful entrepreneur—is very similar to the pitches being made by Ben Carson and Donald Trump, except that they are selling themselves more effectively. Or, at least, they were. Carson had dropped in polls recently, and Trump may be following him (see above), but the problem for Fiorina is that the voters who are defecting seem to be deciding that they had better vote for a real politician, not that they should be finding a better outsider to support. Ergo, those voters are joining Team Cruz or Team Rubio or Team Bush, not Team Fiorina.
Because Fiorina's campaign team is fairly lean and fairly cheap, and because the next step in her career—Commentator on Fox? Author? Well-compensated member of corporate boards?—benefits from the exposure she is currently getting, she is likely to linger for a while. But the chance of a President Fiorina is essentially zero at this point, and even Carly probably knows that. (Z)
Firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has said that if the Republicans nominate Ted Cruz, he will formally challenge Cruz' eligibility in court. Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father but U.S. law says that he is an American citizen only if his mother, Eleanor Darragh, met certain residency tests before moving to Canada. The lawsuit would be about whether she could prove she had lived in the U.S. long enough to transmit U.S. citizenship to her son.
Legitimate issues of what the Constitution's "natural-born citizen" actually means have come up before. Sen. John McCain was not born in the United States. He is a Zonian. The 1964 Republican candidate for President, Barry Goldwater, was born in the Arizona territory before it became a state. The issue of citizenship comes up in a less dramatic form all the time because over 6 million Americans live overseas and many are married to people who are not U.S. citizens. If their children apply for a U.S. passport, the question immediately arises if the U.S. parent met the statutory residency requirements, just as it does in Cruz' case. If Cruz is the nominee and Grayson sues, ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court is going to go through Eleanor Darragh's utility bills and school records to determine if Cruz is eligible to run.
Meanwhile, Grayson's threat is the latest salvo in the Florida Senate Race, Democratic division. The establishment candidate is Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), who is more moderate and whom the DSCC sees as more electable. Grayson is a wealthy iconoclast who has earned many supporters and many enemies with his willingness to be outlandish. For example, he once compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan. Undoubtedly, Grayson's threats against Cruz are partly motivated by a desire to emphasize his maverick, semi-outsider image. In a time when "throw the bums out" seems to be a widely-held sentiment, Grayson may be doing just the right thing to get himself nominated (and elected). (V & Z)
New York Times bloggers Matt Flegenheimer and Maggie Haberman make an interesting observation about the 2016 campaign: For a group of people that aspire to the most important (and, hopefully, dignified) office in the land, this year's candidates are unusually pottymouthed. From Donald Trump's threat to "bomb the shit out of ISIS" to Bernie Sanders' frustration with Hillary Clinton's "damn emails" to Rand Paul's declaration that it's "bullshit" to give up liberty for more security, the campaign has witnessed the use of an extraordinarily large number of four-letter words.
Why is this happening? Flegenheimer and Haberman place the blame primarily at the feet of Trump, whom they say is inspiring imitators. They also note the need to stand out in a crowded GOP field, as well as America being in a "reality-TV era." These are good answers, though they overlook that swearing is not a new phenomenon in presidential politics. When a candidate wants to emphasize his blue-collar roots, and to connect with unhappy blue-collar voters, a four-letter word can do the trick nicely. The most famous practitioner of this strategy was Harry S. Truman, whose salty language earned him the nickname "Give 'em Hell Harry." To give but one example, over 60 years ago Truman explained the removal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur from command thusly:
I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail...I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the president."
Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard J. Daley, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan also had at least one or two famous incidents in which they used PG-13 language. So it could just be that Trump and Co. are simply channeling the preeminent politicians of past eras. Of course, it could also be that they are just dumb sons of bitches. (Z)
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) has put a bill before Congress meant to solve the gridlock that has become characteristic of that body. Already, 229 co-sponsors have signed on, the Obama Administration has signaled its tentative support, and the Huffington Post has described the idea as "so simple that it almost seems stupid." So what is this magical cure for all that ails us? Biennial budgeting—Congress would pass appropriations bills every two years instead of every year. Ribble argues that this would eliminate the time that is wasted every summer on budgetary posturing, while also allowing Congressional committees to spend every other year really overseeing how money is being spent.
While the proposal appears to be gaining traction, it is worth noting that the idea has been put forward before, and has gone nowhere. Some members of Congress fear, quite correctly, that it would limit their ability to adapt to changing financial circumstances. What if a two-year budget was adopted in August of 1929, for example (two months before the stock market crash) or August of 1941 (three months before Pearl Harbor)? Other members of Congress, even if they will not say so publicly, would not be pleased to lose 50% of their opportunities to use the budget as a political football (ahem, Freedom Caucus). And even if Ribble is able to overcome these various objections and to get his bill passed, we should be very wary of "simple" solutions to very complex problems. Biennial budgeting might make Congress more functional—after all, there's really nowhere to go but up—but one should not imagine that it's the panacea that Ribble says it is. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
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