The Democrats May Have a Voter Problem

Lost in the talk about Trump crushing Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida is any discussion surrounding the number of people who actually turned out to vote in the Republican Primary.  This may come as a shock to some given the general excitement around candidates like Bernie Sanders on college campuses, but Donald Trump received 1,077,221 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 1,097,400.

So what, he would have lost, right?

Not so fast.  Total votes for the Democrats came out to be 1,702,878 broken down as follows:

Clinton: 1,097,400
Sanders: 566, 603
O’Malley: 38,875

Whereas the Republicans had approximately 2,355,183 votes cast for GOP candidates, broken out as:

Trump: 1,077,221
Rubio: 636,653
Cruz: 403,640
Kasich: 159,412
Bush: 43,452
Carson: 21,163
Others: ~12,000

There is an old saying in politics that is going to be very important for this election:

Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line

This saying points to the Democrat’s issue, what will Bernie Sanders voters do?  The majority of his voters right now are young and idealistic.  They view the establishment in much the same way that Trump supporters view – with extreme frustration – so there exists a very real scenario where a significant number of his supports either write Sanders in or don’t vote at all.

That could absolutely sink the Democrats in critical states like Florida (Remember, President Obama only defeated Mitt Romney in Florida by about 0.9% of the vote).  Trump being able to match Hillary when competing against far more opponents is incredibly important.  If the above saying holds true, a lot of these voters will “fall in line” and vote for Trump in the general election regardless of who their current choice is.

Combine that with half the country’s feelings toward Hillary Clinton and there is a very real possibility that Donald Trump takes the White House.

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Prediction – Iowa Winners Will Be: Cruz and Sanders

The big day is finally here.

Iowa again marks the beginning of a new beginning (as President Obama cannot run for office again) and with that, Americans will be subjected to an exhaustive gauntlet of campaign ads, calls, and donation requests.  Iowa also marks the point when we, as Americans, start to get some real data about who the next leader of our country will be.

Prior to actually voting for someone, all we have had to go on are the polls conducted by research groups and media organizations.  While these polls give some insight into the general state of mind of American voters, we have also seen that one debate performance can launch a candidate into a leading position for a time being.

This is especially true with the leaderless Republican party.  Through the summer and fall, Republican voters have acted like middle-school children trying to figure out who they wanted to date.  First it was Bush, then Fiorina, then Carson, and now Cruz (all while maintaining a huge crush on Donald Trump).  None of these “picks” lasted longer than a a few months as the spotlight tends to reveal the truth and subsequently forcing those candidates back down the charts.

So who will win in Iowa?

For the Republicans, the winner with be Senator Ted Cruz.  Looking at maps of previous caucuses in the state, it becomes obvious that Iowans love both Evangelical and Libertarian leaning candidates.  Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, being the best examples.  Cruz represents both to some extent and is also currently tied with Donald Trump in the national polls, lending to votes by name recognition.  Second place will go to Donald Trump and third place will go to Ben Carson, who remains very popular with the very religious.

For the Democrats the race is less a race and more a head-to-head competition.  Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders going into today’s caucus (though the difference is close to margin of error).  Sanders, though, has a message that has been building quite dramatically over the past 6 months and strong support from millennial voters.  If (and here we are assuming they will) those millennial voters turn out, Sanders will narrowly win Iowa.

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The Dems Debate – What did we learn?

October 13th, 2015, the Democrats have finally started their race for the White House.  After seemingly hundreds of Republican debates, speeches, and interviews, it was nice to hear from the “other side of the aisle” for a change.  In contrast to what, at times, has felt like a GOP circus, the debate between Democrat candidates felt more relaxed and balanced.

That, however, does not mean that the night was without issue.  CNN’s debate format was confusing and poorly enforced.  Anderson Cooper did not have any control over the forum and was consistently run over by the candidates.  In many responses, the Democrat hopefuls were able to get to full Speech on the Washington Lawn mode while Cooper meagerly uttered “thank you” in the background.  It was not a good look for CNN, but it was also not the organization’s worst look.

Being clever is an artform.  Throwing reporters on stage that identify with a particular racial group (African American, Hispanic) to ask the hard questions related to their races came off as tone deaf.  It smelled of an organization that was attempting to pander to certain groups rather than actually challenge the candidates.  It was both poorly conceived and poorly executed.

The Rapid Reaction

Clinton and Sanders both landed exactly where they were predicted to land.  There are many, many outlets praising these two candidates as the obvious victors so there is no need to parrot those statements.  Sanders brought his fiery conviction and dedication to his cause; his supporters would be proud of his performance.  Clinton showed that despite being involved in almost every scandal that could be brought to the table, she is still a polished debater and a talented politician.

Martin O’Malley wins the award for Best Performance by an Unknown Politician.  As the Governor of Maryland, O’Malley was able to lean on his implementation of a number of the planks that the Democrat Party has set as a national agenda.  He was excited and had clear talking points (specifically on green energy and infrastructure).  O’Malley isn’t going to replace Sanders or Clinton any time soon, but may have put himself firmly in the race for the Vice President position – likely of Clinton – with his performance.

A VP with Executive experience and a clear pet project would be a very good running mate for Clinton.  O’Malley’s VP chances will ultimately be hindered by being from a state (Maryland) that is somewhat inconsequential with regard to the Electoral College and, additionally, the fact that Maryland is also on the east coast.

The Time to Stop

As with the GOP debates, there were candidates that were overmatched and clearly not prepared for prime-time (see Perry, Rick).  Senator Webb and Governor Chafee were unnecessary additions to the debate and when each reviews his performance, should be embarrassed enough to hang up the gloves.

Senator Webb spent a significant amount of his limited time complaining about not getting enough time to speak.  When he did speak, his points landed somewhere between forgettable and baffling.  Specifically when asked “What enemy is he most proud of?”  Senator Webb replied “the soldier in Vietnam that threw a grenade at him, but he isn’t around anymore to say it.”

Viewers can, rightly, take this from that response:  Senator Webb is most proud of killing a stranger, who was likely a farmer or some other peasant, in a foreign country, fighting for reasons that he did not fully understand.  This was a disgusting response by the Senator.

Governor Chafee was equally as bad in his performance.  While he spent the majority of the time doing a terrible Senator Palpatine before he reveals that he is a Sith Lord impression, it was his final statement that was sure to cause an issue with the residents of one particular state.  Noting that he “turned around Rhode Island” was one of the most laughable statements that any politician has made, Republican or Democrat.

Rhode Island continues to recover in spite of the terrible leadership it has received over the past 10 years.  Governor Chafee’s four years in office left no significant policies or accomplishments in his wake.  In fact, his approval ratings were so low at the end of his first term, he didn’t consider running for office again.  It is disingenuous to state that Rhode Island has been turned around when it is still very much trying to recover.

Biggest Winner

The real winner tonight was the Democratic Party itself.  CNN moderation and murderous Senator Webb aside, the party came across as very much sane.  As the Republican Party continues to waffle around petty social issues that have already been resolved, the Democrats laid out clear paths to move the country forward.  Sure, Senator Sanders’ plan would require significant tax increases, but at a minimum he gave voters something tangible to think about.

Republicans at this stage are still indicating that they need to “tap into America’s greatness and break the Washington machine.”  What the GOP fails to realize is that the Washington machine has already been broken and that, in itself, is the issue.

Image: CNN

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Hillary’s “New” Personality on Ellen

Hillary 2.0 (or 3.0?) joined Ellen DeGeneres to launch her new personality polished with “humor” and “being more approachable.”  It is a sad state of affairs when, mid-campaign, a candidate realizes they need to be anyone but themselves.  Unfortunately for Hillary, her true personality is far more similar to Mitt Romney’s robotic appearance than it is to 2008’s campaigning Barack Obama.

There is nothing more out of character than Hillary Clinton – at 67 years old – saying “Pantsuit up!” on Twitter.  Did she write that? No.  Did she think of that? No.  Is this going to win over undecided voters? No. Hillary’s image problem is not that she is not approachable or isn’t funny, it’s that she has not maintained a position in years nor has she really revealed who she truly is.  Hiding behind a plastic image only works for so long.

Everything is smoke and mirrors with Hillary.  Her reaction to the issues with her email server started with a level of defiance and disinterest that felt reflective of an individual that was more bothered that anyone had the audacity to question how she worked than anything else.  Now that the “play nice” media has realized there is way more fire than smoke with the server, Hillary is in apology mode.  It may be too little too late.

If Hillary is going to win this election, something that felt like an absolute certainty just a few months ago, she needs to be herself.  There is a distinct lack of authenticity in everything she does.  She isn’t the likable lady you call on Sunday morning to girl chat about your weekend.  She doesn’t have that card to play and should stop wasting everyone’s time attempting to do so.

What Hillary does have is a far more interesting story.  She has been in Bill’s shadow for years.  Bill messes up and gets more popular, Hillary exists and the public hates her more.  That must really bother her.

What can she do?

Own who she is.  “I’m paving the way for more women to rise up in a world dominated by men.  I had to take the gloves off.  I had to do things I am not proud of.  I’m paying the price so that others may enjoy the purchased goods.”

That is who she actually is.  Come out and say it.  Own it and her positions.  The country is ready for that – just look at how the public is embracing Donald Trump.

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Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Nearing Defcon 1

With the latest information regarding Hillary Clinton’s private email server showing that there was indeed classified materials in the contents, one has to wonder how much longer merely “damage control” will work for the Clinton campaign.  Noted in the New York Times, two of the emails amongst the tens of thousands were even flagged as “Top Secret” by Federal investigators.  While there are still questions about how these classifications were derived, the story is not following the path that Clinton’s team laid out at the beginning of the year.

Not to be outdone, however, Clinton has remained defiant in her defense of the use of the private email server.  While this public show of confidence may play towards many of Clinton’s supporters, there are now many whispers among the Democratic Party worried about crumbling foundation.

What was called, just three months ago, a coronation, is now beginning to be a search for another candidate.  Bernie Sanders may not appeal to mainstream, moderate voters yet so perhaps the field is clearing for someone such as Vice President Joe Biden or former Vice President Al Gore.

If either one of these individuals tossed their hat in the ring, it could spell the end of Hillary’s run.  That has to have Clinton’s people in a panic internally.

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Back Door Gore?

Life, they say, is all about timing.  Just a few months ago the pundits had all but completed paving the road to the White House for Hillary Rodham Clinton.  What was once called a “coronation” is now a campaign in damage control.  Email server controversy, likability falling like a stone in the ocean, and the meteoric rise of Bernie Sanders all have Democrat leaders scrambling.

In contrast to the Republican Party’s never-ending list of Presidential candidates, the Democratic field is wide open.  Only Clinton and Sanders, at this point, have looked like legitimate contenders for the nomination (Lincoln Chafee is not the horse to hitch the party wagon to).  This has created an opportunity for a well-established, well-connected, and well-financed individual to swoop in and take the nomination, along with the White House itself.

So enter Al Gore.  Since losing the 2000 coco_gorePresidential Election to George W. Bush, the former Vice President has stayed, for the most part, out of politics.  What he has done over the past 15 years is write books, produce movies, and give numerous speeches about saving the environment, all while building a folk-like hero status among his supporters.  A strong Democrat, yet moderate on more mainstream issues, may be viewed as a better nominee than Bernie Sanders if the Clinton campaign goes down in flames.

Whispers of a potential entry by Al Gore may just be the wishful thinking of some Democrats who have soured on Clinton and find Sanders too extreme.  A spokesperson for Gore downplayed the rumors say that they were “groundless,” but as we have seen time and time again, where there is smoke, there tends to be fire.

Gore, now 67, would need to move quickly to build a campaign team and find donors to his cause.  It is not too late yet, but this window of opportunity will close faster than in previous elections.  Top-tier candidates are expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars and getting a late start will put any candidate at a significant disadvantage.

For some Democrats, Al Gore may be the party’s only hope.  The extent to which  this former political titan shifts the balance of power in the Democratic Party will be one of the main stories of the election.  It is certainly one that we will be watching.

Image: Team Coco

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Trump, Sanders Lead in New Hampshire Polls

Knowing that this election is a marathon, not a sprint, it is still important to check into the early primary states to see how candidates from both parties are polling among potential voters.  For the Republicans, the story hasn’t changed: Donald Trump (18%).  For the Democrats, strong showings across the country by Bernie Sanders (44%) have propelled him in front of projected favorite Hillary Clinton.

Here is a full look at the Republican field:

GOP_NH_Graphic_2015_08_12_2

These polls tend to be reflective of headline grabbers which both Trump and Sanders have dominated over the past few weeks so readers should calibrate appropriately.  There are some conclusions that we can begin to draw:

  • Gov. John Kasich benefited the most from the GOP Debate (we are calling it the Trump-Bump)
  • Democrat voters are showing themselves to be far more progressive on key issues than in previous elections
  • Hillary’s coronation may not play out the way she has wanted it too, but she also hasn’t gotten started

 

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Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Issue

Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, has a bit of an issue when it comes to foreign policy.  What should be a strength for her campaign is anything but and American voters will need to decided how much weight to place on this portion of her candidacy.

Republican Officials and candidates will undoubtedly focus on the issues with her private email server, but the real game plan may be to attack her lack of accomplishments while serving as the U.S. Secretary of State. Clinton, who is typically a darling with the mainstream media, finds very few who are willing to stand up for her time in office.

Paul Richter, writing for the LA Times in 2013 noted:

But scholars and diplomatic insiders say she has never dominated issues of war and peace in the manner of predecessors Dean Acheson or Henry Kissinger, or laid down an enduring diplomatic doctrine.

We agree with Richter’s assessment.  Reviewing the four years that Clinton served as the U.S. Secretary of State, we find no policy or accomplishment that has served to “move the needle” for the United States.

Hillary has focused her campaign, to date, on women’s rights and the economy.  These are both good topics to focus on, but the incompleteness of her current strategy reminds us more of a U.S. Senator – strong on 2 or 3 issues, but not the full package.

The bottomline is this: To be an effective candidate for President, Hillary Clinton will need to own her time as U.S. Secretary of State and outline a clear Foreign Policy that she would work to implement (whatever it may be).

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Bernie Sanders Speech Stopped by Protesters

In Seattle, a planned speech by Bernie Sanders was disrupted by protesters from the #BlackLivesMatter organization.  Fortunately for all parties involved there was no violence initiated by either side, but for the Sanders campaign, this disruption must be extremely frustrating.

Senator Sanders has regularly positioned himself as a champion of social issues and reform – even organizing a sit-in as a student in college to protest segregation in campus housing.

sanders_sitin

Not all was lost for Sen. Sanders’ west coast trip.  Later in the day, the Senator spoke to a crowd of 12,000 at the University of Washington where he addressed the earlier rally issues:

No president will fight harder to end institutional racism and reform [the] criminal justice system.  Too many lives have been destroyed by war on drugs, by incarceration; we need to educate people. We need to put people to work.

The Senator from Vermont has shown an incredible level of consistency throughout his campaign with clear, direct messaging detailing his vision for America.  The progressive-liberal agenda has resonated with millennial voters at a similar level to the support enjoyed by Libertarian-Republican Ron Paul in the 2012 and 2008 elections.

Even if this support is not sufficient enough to secure the Democratic nomination, Sen. Sanders has already shown that a Clinton campaign will not merely be a coronation.

Sen. Sanders will be speaking in Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA to round out his west coast trip.

 

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Bernie Sanders Speaks About Voter Suppression

On the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Democrat Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders speaks out against voter suppression at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Candidate Sanders used strong language during his 6 minute speech to highlight his views on those who attempt to suppress voting in the United States of America.

We must oppose, ruthlessly, and as hard as we can, any effort to suppress the vote.

Being unafraid to take a direct position on topics, it is no wonder that his grassroots campaigns have been so successful to date.  Much like former candidate and Congressman Ron Paul, candidate Sanders’ avoidance of “side speak” appears to resonate with younger and more idealistic voters.

 

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