News from the Votemaster
Having had 48 hours to consider their responses, most of the GOP field has now weighed in on the Planned Parenthood shootings. The motives of the shooter are still unclear, though he did declare "no more baby parts" while being arrested. In any event, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee have all asserted that the attack was an example of "extremism" or "domestic terrorism." In addition, Trump, Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina have all insisted that there is no connection between their anti-abortion rhetoric and the incident, with Fiorina declaring that anyone who tries to make such a linkage is engaging in "typical left-wing tactics." Jeb Bush, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and Ted Cruz have all expressed sympathy for the victims. Cruz was the first Republican to do so, on Friday. On Saturday, he weighed in again, this time taking note that the shooter was apparently (for unknown reasons) once registered to vote as a woman, and declaring that he is therefore a "transgendered leftist activist." The executive summary, then: (1) We should have sympathy for the victims (definitely); (2) The shooter is crazy (probably); and (3) Liberals are at fault here (unlikely).
Last Thursday, we wondered what the GOP field's response would be if their anti-Muslim rhetoric helped lead to actual acts of violence against American Muslims. It would seem that we now have a pretty good answer. (Z)
Donald Trump was left with egg on his face this weekend, thanks to a failed effort to convince the press that he has the support of the black community. It appears that The Donald invited 100 black ministers to a presentation and discussion of his ideas, and then invited the press to a "public endorsement" of his campaign by 100 leaders in the black community. When the ministers got word of this, nearly all said they had in no way intended their attendance as an endorsement, with many canceling their appearance. Trump was then forced to cancel the entire event.
Meanwhile, Trump's competitors for the GOP nomination are slowly becoming less shy about challenging him. John Kasich has, for weeks, been the candidate most willing to attack Trump. The Kasich campaign has been airing an ad for the last week in which The Donald is compared to Adolf Hitler; on Sunday the candidate himself labeled Trump "divisive and insulting." Meanwhile, Jeb Bush joined the chorus—albeit in very tentative fashion—telling a crowd that pondering a Trump presidency is "kind of scary."
There are, ostensibly, two reasons that the GOP field has been unwilling to attack Trump. The first is the fear that he will break his promise and will run as a third-party candidate, effectively torpedoing the Republican candidate. This really should not be a concern—Trump has already given himself enough cover to do what he wants, and the people who like him are hardly likely to care that he went against his word. So, handling him with kid gloves is unlikely to forestall this possibility.
The second concern is the fear that Trump will turn his guns on whomever criticizes him, and will level them. This is a more significant risk, but if the whole GOP field begins to peck away at The Donald as the primaries get closer and closer, it will be much more difficult for him to do damage if he's having to point his laser at five or six targets instead of just one. As such, it is fair to expect many more potshots at the billionaire in the next few weeks and months. (Z)
New Hampshire's conservative and influential newspaper, the Union Leader, has just thrown a monkey wrench into the works by endorsing Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) for President. The paper's editorial said:
We don't need another fast-talking, well-meaning freshman U.S. senator trying to run the government. We are still seeing the disastrous effects of the last such choice. ... Gov. Christie is right for these dangerous times. He has prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters. But the one reason he may be best-suited to lead during these times is because he tells it like it is and isn't shy about it.
While Christie is no doubt overjoyed to have this key endorsement in a state where he must do well or die, RNC chairman Reince Priebus is going to be a lot less happy. What the Republican party desperately needs now is to winnow the field and have the establishment rally around a single candidate. And Christie isn't that candidate. Even if he wins New Hampshire, which is still unlikely, he is not going to win Nevada, South Carolina, or any of the states in the South that vote on Super Tuesday (March 1). The only candidates who have a good chance of getting the whole establishment behind them are Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), or (grudgingly) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Propping up Christie just prolongs the agony and keeps Donald Trump on top longer and increases the chances of a brokered convention. (V)
The polling industry is in deep trouble. Often 90% of the people called at random refuse to answer the questions and busy people with families refuse more often than elderly people with nothing else to do, introducing bias. Also, increasingly many people have only a cell phone and federal law prohibits automatically dialing cell-phone numbers, requiring costly human dialing. These factors are leading to an explosion of online polls, but there are serious questions about their methodology and accuracy.
To start with, there are many ways of doing online polling, none of which are as "random" as having a computer pick a four-digit number (xxxx) within an exchange and dialing it (e.g., 212-695-xxxx). Some organizations assemble a panel by telephone and then follow them over time. Google entices people to take a poll and collects email addresses that way. SurveyMonkey allows anyone to set up a poll on anything on a Website and harvests the email addresses that all the respondents supply. All of the pollsters then use statistical techniques to adjust the composition of the sample for gender, age, race, religion, income, partisanship, geographic distribution, and more. Live-interviewer polls have to do this as well, as a sample of 500 respondents might have too many men and not enough poor people. But with online polls, the corrections are larger and the importance of the pollster's underlying model of population is much more important.
One anomaly has already arisen. Donald Trump polls much better online than in live-interviewer polls, sometimes as much as 10% better. No one knows why and won't until there are both online and live-interviewer polls just before some primary. One possible explanation is that some people don't like to tell live interviewers something embarrassing, like supporting a racist, but they will tell a computer that. Another explanation is that they lie about their demographic information more or less with a human than with a computer. What makes this issue more complex is that similar gaps between computer and human pollsters don't exist for other candidates. Another area that needs investigation is the three-way comparison between live-interviewer polls, computerized robopolls that call random telephone numbers (even if human-dialed), and online polls. No one really understands online polling yet, but getting good polls is becoming a major problem. (V)
An expected, 600 deep-pocketed donors are expected to attend the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual meeting in D.C. this week. Many of them had supported Jeb Bush up to now, but most think he is dead in the water, so Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are going to be there working in earnest to capture as many donors as they can. The other candidates will also be present, but Rubio and Cruz are going to get the most attention.
A key topic will be the Middle East and how the candidates will deal with ISIS and Israel. In addition to speeches, the candidates will have to answer questions posed by a moderator. The answers could determine in whose camp Bush's Jewish donors, as well as previously uncommitted donors, end up. (V)
Demographic changes across the country could affect who wins some of the key swing states. The National Journal's Ronald Brownstein has produced a table that gives the percentage of voters who are white in some of the key swing states for 2008, 2012, and 2016. as well as the change from 2008 to 2016.
|State||2008||2012||2016||2016 - 2008|
While changes of a few percent may seem small, in a battleground state picking up or losing 3% may well be the difference between winning or losing. The only plausible Democratic nominees, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), are white, but their chances depend more on nonwhite voters than white ones. In contrast, the Republicans might nominate one of the two Cuban-American senators (Rubio or Cruz) or someone married to a Mexican American (Bush), but the party is very dependent on white voters. In general, a decrease in white voters is good for the Democrats and bad for the Republicans, no matter who the candidates are.
As an example of how small changes make a big difference, in 2000, Al Gore won 40% of the white vote in Florida and fought to a virtual tie with George Bush. In 2008, Obama won just 37% of the white vote in Florida but carried the state by 75,000 votes. If the Democratic candidate can get 37% of the white voters in Florida in 2016, he or she will have a comfortable margin of victory. The same dynamics are playing out in almost all the swing states. Not a single one has seen in increase in the percentage of voters who are white.
However, not all the demographic news is good for the Democrats. In the story cited above, another demographic change going on in most of the swing states is that the voters are getting older. In general, older voters tend to be Republican, except in the Rust Belt states, where they tend to vote for the Democrats. And as the boomers replace the silent generation, the effect could be even more pronounced since boomers are more Democratic than their parents. (V)
In past years, Republican primaries have had two lanes: one for conservative evangelical candidates and one for mainstream candidates. In 2008 it was Huckabee vs. McCain and in 2012 it was Santorum vs. Romney in the end. In 2016, changes in the Republican Party may lead to three lanes and a three-way race. Donald Trump is currently leading among blue-collar workers and according to Karl Rove and various surveys, is not likely to lose that group any time soon. Assuming that Ben Carson continues to fall, Ted Cruz may become the hero for evangelicals and movement conservatives. This leaves college-educated Republicans and the business wing of the party without an acceptable candidate. So there may be room for a third serious contender who will go down to the wire. It could be Bush, Rubio, Kasich, or even Christie. If the three candidates split the vote fairly evenly, the nomination may go on for quite a while.
If Cruz wins Iowa and Trump ekes out a plurality in a badly fragmented field in New Hampshire, the party leadership will go all out to pick a candidate acceptable to the business wing of the party and try very hard to drive out all the other contenders. (V)
On Sunday, Hillary Clinton unveiled her plan for rebuilding America's infrastructure—roads, bridges, airports, public transit, etc. The ambitious—and expensive—proposal calls for $250 billion in federal funds to be spent directly on infrastructure projects, plus $25 billion to establish a national infrastructure bank (an idea Clinton borrowed from President Obama). The infrastructure bank, in turn, would arrange $225 billion in loans, meaning that total spending would be $500 billion.
There can be little doubt that the United States' infrastructure is in poor shape, but it's not exactly a sexy political issue. So, what is going on here? Politico has a very nice analysis of Clinton's "pothole politics." In short, they argue that the project creates construction jobs, and at the same time helps cities. As such, it allows the candidate to score points with labor unions and with urban-dwellers. In particular, the plan builds bridges (no pun intended) between the Clinton campaign and urban mayors with blue-collar constituencies. It is not a coincidence that the announcement was made at Boston's Faneuil Hall (historically, a hotbed of working-class activism), nor that Clinton was accompanied by Mayor Marty Walsh, who won his office by appealing to working-class, white Catholic voters. The article quotes Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf: "Big city mayors where Democrats usually win, even if the solar system were to explode, don't matter. What matters is Catholic white ethnics in the Midwest, where the general election will be won or lost. Secretary Clinton needs the voters Walsh attracts. Quite clearly, Hillary Clinton believes the nomination is sewn up, and is thinking ahead to the next step in the process. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
Nov29 Karl Rove Helps Ben Carson
Nov29 Carson Visits Refugee Camp in Jordan
Nov29 Carson A Product of...ObamaCare?
Nov29 Rubio Releases His First TV Ad
Nov29 Ballot Access May Separate the Sheep from the Goats
Nov29 Cruz Makes Campaigning a Family Affair
Nov29 Cruz' Shaky Electoral Math
Nov28 Trump Drops in New Poll
Nov28 DAPA Could Affect over a Million Voters
Nov28 Sanders Has More Women Donors Than Clinton
Nov28 GOP Insiders: Cruz Will Win Iowa
Nov28 What Happened to Carly?
Nov28 Alan Grayson Will Challenge Ted Cruz' Eligibility in Court If He Is Nominated
Nov28 2016 Candidates Using Some Really Shitty Language
Nov28 A Panacea for Fixing Congress?
Nov27 Cruz and Rubio Gun for Each Other, not for Trump
Nov27 What Happened to Bush?
Nov27 Trump's Pants on Fire, Yet Again
Nov27 Carson Headed to Jordan
Nov27 McConnell Wants to Eliminate Caps of Party Spending
Nov27 Obama Equates Syrian Refugees to the Mayflower Pilgrims
Nov27 Some of the Ways Candidates Are Trying to Appeal to Millennials are Lame
Nov27 Thanksgiving-themed Political Cartoons are Rampant
Nov26 Thanksgiving is Upon Us
Nov26 Koch Brothers Give Free Turkeys to Latinos
Nov26 Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush Are Afraid to Take on Trump
Nov26 Cruz Moves Up to Second Place in National Poll
Nov26 Trump Don't Know Much About History
Nov26 Rubio: God's Law Trumps Federal Law
Nov26 Clinton Still Ahead of Sanders in Iowa
Nov26 Islamophobia Has Consequences
Nov25 Half the GOP Delegates Will Be Chosen by March 15
Nov25 Is Trump's Nomination Inevitable?
Nov25 81% of Americans Don't Trust the Government
Nov25 Sanders, Trump, and Cruz Make the New Hampshire Ballot
Nov25 Does Clinton Have a Wall Street Problem?
Nov25 Clinton Apologizes for Use of Term Illegal Immigrant
Nov25 Rubio-backed Provision Could Cripple the ACA
Nov25 Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights to Some Criminals
Nov24 Americans Trust Clinton More Than Republicans on Terrorism
Nov24 Republicans Plan for Super Tuesday
Nov24 White Christians No Longer a Majority in the U.S.
Nov24 Rubio Mostly Appeals to Old People
Nov24 Did Carson Also See Muslims Cheering on 9/11, or Maybe Not?
Nov24 Truth Gets Trumped This Election Season
Nov24 The Media Strike Back
Nov24 Four Candidates to Get Equal Time on NBC
Nov24 Veteran Democratic Operative Fears Kasich the Most
Nov23 Cruz Moves into Second Place in Iowa as Carson Tumbles