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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Post-Caucus: How Close It Was!

The Iowa Caucus proved to be more of a thrill ride than anyone expected.  The Clinton-Sanders margin was almost negligible and the GOP had 3 candidates taking the majority of the Republican votes.  In yesterday’s prediction thread we stated that Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders would be Monday night’s victors.

Ted Cruz did in fact win with Donald Trump taking second place (also predicted) and Marco Rubio taking third place.  Rubio’s strong showing was not expected in Iowa as the Evangelical population pointed more to a strong Ben Carson showing (who finished forth with around 10% of the vote and was our predicted 3rd place finisher).  Rubio’s win was bolstered further by a key endorsement from Tom Scott.  This result for Rubio will likely lead to a major jump in the national polls.

The most disappointing performances within the GOP had to come from Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.  Rand’s father Ron finished in third place during the 2012 Iowa Caucus and there was some thought that he would capture a bit of that magic.  At fifth place with only 4.5% of the vote, the Paul campaign has to be frustrated by their candidates inability to grab real traction within the party.

For all of the disappointment felt by the Paul campaign, the Jeb Bush camp must be in outright panic.  With millions of dollars spent and coming off his strongest debate performance yet, the early GOP favorite had to expect better than 2.8% of the vote.  We may be seeing the last days of the Jeb! experience.

In all, don’t expect the GOP candidates to throw in the towel before next week’s Primary in NH.  NH tends to be more friendly to establishment / moderate Republicans, many of whom were at the bottom of this poll.  After NH, though, we expect several campaigns to close up shop.

For the Democrats, the story got interesting in Iowa.  Martin O’Malley – debt strapped and with little support – suspended his campaign.  O’Malley is often rumored to be interested in a VP nomination, but that may be in doubt now that the Democrat Party has seen what he would actually bring to the table.  Staying in this race through the Iowa Caucus may have hurt O’Malley’s political career more than it helped.

Clinton narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders in a state that she had a decent lead in before the votes were cast.  While this is a technical win for Hillary, it was also a spiritual win for Sanders, though it was not without controversy.  No other candidate has come from the fringe to the mainstream like he has and with a monster lead in New Hampshire, he is going to force Clinton to play major defense over the coming weeks.

One additional point of note about the Democrat voters shown during the CNN broadcast was the difference in voter profiles between those who chose Clinton and those who chose Sanders.  The voters that valued “experience” overwhelmingly chose Clinton, while those that wanted “someone who shares my values” overwhelmingly chose Sanders.  Look for this information to be used by both campaigns going forward.

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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 Senate Needs to Bring the Hammer Down on Sen. Corker

In a Wall Street Journal report this morning, it was revealed that Sen. Corker (R-TN) filed tax amendments going back to 2007 to report $7m of previously undisclosed income.  Sen. Corker sits on the powerful Senate Banking Committee and its jointly responsible for ethics and oversight of the financial sector.

While a thorough investigation still needs to be completed, it is only reasonable to demand that the Senate strip Sen. Corker of his role and press all available charges against him for these transgressions against the American people.  The integrity of the financial markets is paramount to a strong, fair economy.  What Sen. Corker has demonstrated is a blatant disregard for the principles that guide this country.

The Federal Government has long felt that mandatory minimum sentencing for minor drug crimes was “essential” for a strong America.  How many kids have had their lives ruined for having a little bit of weed on them?  Someone who has benefited from insider knowledge, cheated the American people by lying on his tax return, and done nothing to strengthen the public’s trust in one of the country’s most important industries should be locked up.

Sen. Corker has done far more damage to this country and should be punished accordingly.  It is encouraged that you take the time to contact your Senators and press them for a swift, thorough investigation.  You can do so by clicking here.

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Sen. Cruz Focuses on the Big Issues

The Republicans are well on their way to losing the 2016 Presidential Election.  With the candidates continuing to produce over-the-top slogans about issues that have already been decided, it is safe to assume most Americans will be abstaining from the election or voting blue.

Last week’s debate – the debacle that it was – did not advance the GOP cause.  Getting mad at the media for asking garbage questions (even if correct) did not communicate leadership, it communicated hostility.  Maybe messages like Sen. Cruz’s tweet above are more effective than we give them credit for, but at the end of the day, the people who get excited by this type of stuff already live in echo chambers.

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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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Boehner Resigns: Another Crack in the GOPs Base

Since Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election, the GOP has been in a state of duress. Mainstream Republicans lost important seats and positions to more extreme members of the Tea Party.  The base of power shifted left toward Gay Marriage and LGBT rights.  The GOP was, correctly, painted as “old,” “out of touch,” and “evil.”

Speaker John Boehner stood at the front of the Republican old guard.  As the leader of the GOP in the House, Rep. Boehner was uniquely positioned to control the order of events.  While the Office of the President gets more press, it is Congress that truly runs the country by building policy, laws, taxes, and regulations.  Setting the agenda of the country and the positioning of the Republican party is a power that few others will ever know.

This is a truly significant turn of events.

The Republican party must evolve in order to continue existing.  The party itself has remained steadfastly focused on minority pockets of the US population, chief among them, the highly religious south.  A mainstream party that is very Conservative is not what the United States needs.  The Republican party has sought to keep the status quo and to avoid coming to terms with the true issues of the age.  Change is far to rapid to ignore.

Hoping that “someone else” takes care of issues like Climate Change, Poverty, and Energy is a cowards way of handling the Republic’s affairs.  This country deserves better from the Republicans party and if the current crop of GOP leaders cannot deliver the ideas and programs that will move this country forward, they should be voted out of office.

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Gov. Scott Walker Ends His 2016 Bid

Running a national campaign is not cheap and for Gov. Scott Walker, the expenses finally caught up with him.  Choosing to end his bid now does highlight a smart financial decision on the part of the Governor.  Rather than hanging on to a lost cause and racking up mountains of debt, the Governor is taking a path that better positions him to be a Vice President.

Noting as much, Gov. Walker stated in his suspension speech:

I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner

While this is a direct attack towards Donald Trump, it can also be seen as a show of support for Gov. Jeb Bush.  Gov. Walker understands that positioning is everything and the GOP, rightly, understands that Gov. Walker has a very attractive “conservative” record (one that made him an early front-runner).  He also, correctly, recognizes that dollars sent to candidates at the bottom of the polls are being wasted if the candidate is just going to drop out in a few months.

A Bush-Walker ticket would look very good on paper to some members of the Republican party.  Trump, Fiorina, and Carson all lead the pack, but when push comes to shove, these individuals may not represent what the GOP is looking to present to the country.

Of the potential VPs currently in play, Gov. Walker has to be considered the leader of the pack.

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Sen. Cruz Goes all-in with Kim Davis

Kim Davis, the Kentucky Clerk held in contempt of court for denying orders to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has gained a new backer, Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  The Senator’s campaign team posted a show of support to his Twitter account that was clearly a play at ultra-conservative voters ahead of the CNN Debate (September 16th).

The Senator’s support will do little to free Ms. Davis from jail, but it does serve to galvanize the religious right who feel that Ms. Davis’ First Amendment rights are being violated.  Ms. Davis, a born again Christian, was defiant in her stand against the court’s orders proclaiming that she answers only to the ‘authority of God.’

While there are those who will see eye-to-eye with Ms. Davis, polls show that the country is becoming less religious and generally supports gay marriage.  Sen. Cruz risks damaging his campaign by placing his allegiance with such an unknown (Ms. Davis has a checkered past when it comes to marriage having been married four times).  But with polls showing support for Sen. Cruz shifting toward Ben Carson and Gov. Walker – both of whom are rising with religious conservatives – this may be risk worth taking.

Either way, the Republican Party continues to focus on social issues that could be left alone which seems to be pushing moderate voters out of the party.  This approach could spell doom for the GOP in the 2016 election.

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Gov. Jindal’s NOLA Problem

In a detailed look what has happened in New Orleans in the past decade, the Wall Street Journal reveals that while progress has been made, the city has not rebounded the way it could have.  Gov. Bobby Jindal has overseen Louisiana since 2008 and while he sits, formally, in Baton Rouge, it is the Greater New Orleans area that he should be focusing on.

In politics and, more specifically campaigns, it is all about the story you can tell.  What a candidate can show potential voters that will make them dream of a brighter future.  Gov. Jindal does not have a great story when it comes to NOLA.  In fact, the linked WSJ article shows that any positive momentum that the city has seen over the past 10 years has been due to Federal Disaster funds or individual entrepreneurs.  The Louisiana government had little to do with it.

Perhaps there is a reason why Gov. Jindal chose to focus on larger topics.  He has been linked to national campaigns since 2010 which surely would have required at least some of his attention.  Maybe there are also other issues, not as obvious to outsiders, that would have jumped the priority list.  Maybe, he just thought the local government would be better positioned to handle the restoration.

Whatever the reason, this was an opportunity missed.  New Orleans may not be the capital of Louisiana, but it is the regional capital of the north Gulf and a cultural center.  A victory here would have been an amazing story to tell.  A story of a Governor that neglected life and limb to ensure New Orleans came out of one of the worst disasters in history better and more robust.

Gov. Jindal does not get to tell that story and for that his campaign will suffer.

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