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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The Romney Effect (aka When Nothing Happens)

When former GOP Nominee / Next Guy Up Mitt Romney came out guns blazing against Donald Trump’s candidacy last week, many saw it as a sign that the Republican establishment was moving to block the future Republican nominee from his chance at the Oval Office.  The speech, delivered as the text format of paint drying, did little to accomplish the GOP’s grand plans.  In fact, a poll conducted by Morning Consult found that nearly half of Republican voters (48%) wouldn’t let Romney’s warnings impact their vote.

Perhaps Mitt put it best in his Netflix Documentary “Mitt” (Side note: this is worth a watch regardless of your general feelings toward Mitt) when he declared “when you lose the election, you are forever a loser.”  Trump’s campaign has been all about how much of a “winner” he is and how all that stand in front of him are “losers, dummies, jokes.”  With that in mind, is it really that shocking that Mitt’s speech didn’t sway Trump’s supporters?

Trump destroying Rubio in Florida last night despite it being Rubio’s home turf and having the backing of both Jeb! and Mitt Romney is nothing short of embarrassing for the GOP establishment.  Kasich was popular enough in Ohio to put him over the top there, but let’s not undersell what is happening:  In 2012, Mitt Romney lost a very winnable election to President Obama.  Top to bottom, voters saw how badly the establishment messed up the campaign. This failure caused an open revolt from the “next guy up” playbook that the Republicans have relied on for so long.

McCain failed.  Romney failed.  Jeb! failed.

Working class Americans are pissed and have taken a “guilty by association” view of the establishment.  The reality is this: Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for a lot of reasons good and bad.

Trump has run a very good campaign while spending very little money – something no one in the Political press would have predicted a year ago.  He has also tugged on the very heart strings that working class Republicans have been upset about for a long time: people who are working aren’t getting ahead and no one in the Federal government seems to care.  You can argue the merits of this point of view, but it is how they feel.

As it also looks more and more likely that the Democrats won’t have to use the power of their super-delegates and other backroom deals to put Hillary up as the blue candidate, we can begin to think about future debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Trump is a master at counter attacking and seems to hit back harder the more challengers press against him.  If you think these debates will be about policy or detailed plans, you are going to be very wrong.  This is going to be a gutter war and Hillary does not have the clean slate to win a gutter war.  Trump will attack – without hesitation – Hillary’s character and record with a relentlessness that will bother a lot of people.

Hillary should focus on policy and what she is going to do once in the White House, but her campaign staff seems inept so she is likely going to fall into Trump’s mousetrap.  This will be her downfall – she must avoid it at all costs.

For those, like this author, looking for sanity in our elections, one can only hope that it is this showdown that finally puts the status quo to bed.  We need better candidates, real discussions, and common sense in governing.



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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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When Do the Emails Become an Issue?

With the latest reports out of Washington, DC indicating that the FBI is running a far more thorough and rigid investigation than is being publicly reported, when does the DNC start to panic?  The Clinton’s are powerful and have survived a litany of scandals over the years, but formal charges against HRC may be insurmountable.  There has to be a backup plan.

Is it Bernie Sanders?  Is it Michael Bloomberg?  Al Gore?  Nothing would serve to put Donald Trump into the White House faster than NOT having a very legitimate backup plan.  And right now it seems the coronation that the DNC had planned out back in May could very well be blowing up in the organization’s face.

HRC and the DNC need both a strong showing this week and to they need to assure the base that all is well going forward.  If Trump is right about one thing (only) it is that America hates losers.

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Ahead of Tonight’s GOP Debate – A New Budget Deal

The breaking news Tuesday out of Washington was that Congressional Leaders reached a Federal budget deal that would prevent a shutdown of the Government for the next two years.  The budget allows for minor increases in public spending for both 2016 and 2017 (approximately 1.5% each year) and removes the cap on the debt ceiling through 2017.

Members of the GOP Freedom Caucus – predictably – were upset at the deal, calling it a “backroom deal.”  While the Freedom Caucus is quick to lament any spending whatsoever by the Federal Government, the individual members appear to not understand that starving the Federal government and forcing it into shutdown is not going to benefit the US in any way.  Yes, there absolutely needs to be control around the budget process, but the US cannot continue to tempt fate every six months.

The implications of this budget deal are an interesting turn of events within Congress.  Speaker John Boehner, who just a few months ago appeared to be very publically defeated by the extremists in his own party, used his resignation to fuel the deal.  Agree or disagree with the deal, it is still truly amazing what politicians can get done when they are no longer campaigning for reelection.  Speaker Boehner’s deal also makes life significantly easier for Rep. Paul Ryan who will likely be the next Speaker of the House.  Though Rep. Ryan will be unable to support the deal, taking the issue off the table gives him a lot more time.

The budget deal will be a topic of great interest in tonight’s third GOP debate.  Sen. Ted Cruz has already been very vocal about “hating” the deal, so expect him as well as the others, to continue that rhetoric.  The GOP hopefuls are currently 100% focused on pandering to ultra-Conservative voters from a select number of states so the assumption is that they will continue to serve these groups huge helpings of red meat (even though this may now cause cancer).

Who will win this debate is anyone’s guess.  Trump will continue to have outrageous soundbites, Carson will continue to speak in his ‘not entirely sure what I am saying as I say it’ manner, Jeb will continue to avoid his last name.  Undoubtedly, this debate will continue the GOP circus that we have seen for the past few months.

What can we hope for?  Well, several GOP candidates should go the way of the dodo after this debate.  If the Democrats were able to eliminate Sen. Jim Webb and Gov. Lincoln Chaffee after just one debate, the GOP should see more than just Gov. Perry and Gov. Walker out of the field.

For the sake of the GOP the following candidates should suspend their campaigns tonight:

  • Jim Gilmore (0%)
  • George Pataki (0.4%)
  • Rick Santorum (0.7%)
  • Bobby Jindal (0.7%)
  • Lindsey Graham (1.2%)
  • Chris Christie (2.4%)

None of these individuals have a shot at being President of the United States.  All they are doing is further embarrassing the GOP and distracting voters.  There is no reason to continue running.


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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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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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Why do Gov. Bush and Sen. Paul keep attacking Donald Trump?

Picture an old 1800s victorian house, set at the end of a winding road and overgrown with vines.  Inside this house, the dust has caked-up to cover the furniture and the fixtures, hiding the history of the owners.  On the shelves of the library, though, sits an old book.  Titled How to Defeat Your Opponent and Win an Election, this book was the premier guide to get into a political office, in 1845.

Now this book doesn’t actually exist, but it if it did, would it be shocking to find out that both Senator Rand Paul and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush were reading it?  Both campaigns have been employing a strategy predicated on attacking Donald Trump and both campaigns have suffered for it.  Gov. Bush has appeared confused and inconsistent when praising Mr. Trump one minute only to denounce him the next.

His comments at the RedState Gathering stood moved him far away from his comments at the GOP Debate which was just the night before.  Perhaps this is the double-speak that voters have shown they are tired of.

Sen. Paul has taken just as a proactive approach towards the Trump campaign which has not yielded the benefits that his strategists would have hoped for.  Most recently, Donald Trump wrote to the Washington Post about the Kentucky Senator with an indirect response to an attack posed by the Senator that tired to bring the focus on to Mr. Trump’s evolving positions as a candidate.

Mr. Trump addressed the shifts, noting:

Unless you are a piece of unyielding granite, over the years positions evolve as they have in my case.

This move by Donald Trump’s team is brilliant.  Not only does he deflect Sen. Paul’s attacks, but he also illustrates that he is not claiming to be some infallible being here to save the day.  Mr. Trump is showing that it is okay to change your mind.  To learn something new.  To be different in 2015 than you were in 2000.  This freshness is resonating with voters in the polls.

What started as an attack against Donald Trump flipped around on Sen. Paul.  Donald Trump does not let problems drag him down.  He speaks through them.  He has always done this which makes him appear different than the other candidates.

So different, in fact, that if you were reading How to Defeat Your Opponent and Win an Election and hoping that it will provide the guidance necessary to out maneuver Mr. Trump, you would lose.

Image: It’s About Time

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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:


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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