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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Trump: The 1933 Movie

The Washington Post reports:
Sharpening his pitch to what he calls “the silent majority,” Donald Trump presented himself Saturday as the “law and order” candidate in the 2016 presidential race, pledging to “get rid” of gangs and give more power to police officers.
...
“We’re going to get rid of those gang members so fast your head will spin,” he said, not elaborating on specifics. “One of the first things I’m going to do is get rid of those gang members.”
In the 1933 movie Gabriel Over the White House -- which William Randolph Hearst helped financed and partially wrote -- the Angel Gabriel transforms a crooked president into a champion of the people. The president dismisses Congress, proclaims martial law, and uses military tribunals against gangsters, including an immigrant named Nick Diamond.

 

See my essay on the movie here.

Ridiculing Trump

Mark Hensch reports at The Hill:
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel spoofed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s vague policy positions on Thursday with a parody ad.
“Donald Trump has a plan for making the country great again,” the ad said on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," riffing on Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan

 


From The Fix at The Washington Post:
A hashtag has taken over political Twitter of the last few days. It's called #TrumpBible.
The hashtag/meme was launched to poke fun at Trump's failure to name his favorite Bible verse -- even as he says it's his favorite book -- along with his penchant for hyperbole and judging everyone based on his or her business acumen and negotiating skills.
Here are mine:

Thou shalt not steal. Instead, thou shalt use eminent domain.

"You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, `Who touched Me? I'm a germophobe -- don't do that!"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Outsider Show

Matthew Dallek writes at Yahoo:
In fact, Trump’s rise to prominence is rooted in a legacy of political outsiders promising to break up the concentration of political power in the capital and destroy the corrupt stranglehold of political insiders. Trump’s ascendance, for all its showy in-your-face appeal, is actually less surprising in the context of our post-Watergate, post-Vietnam political culture than Republicans, Democrats and much of the media have acknowledged.
Jack Torry writes at The Columbus Dispatch:
You have a Trump and Sanders, both appealing to people who are angry and frustrated, although in different ways,” said Merle Black, a professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta.
The tough-talking, egotistical, anti-establishment candidate is a staple not only of American politics but literature and films.

“It’s an interesting story in American movies, which means it’s an interesting story in American politics in that we like the dark-horse candidate,” said Jeanine Basinger, a film historian at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. “And if the dark-horse candidate is a bit of an outlaw and says what nobody else wants to say and dares to say ... we figure this guy must be honest with us.”

Trump seems a comfortable fit for the dark-horse candidate role. He complained to CNN that “we have people that are incompetent” in public office, adding: “our country's going to hell. We have a problem. I want to make America great again.”

Americans tend to flirt with such candidates, but as the election draws closer voters have second thoughts. President Harry Truman seemed doom to lose to Republican Thomas E. Dewey in 1948 because of the presence of two anti-establishment candidates:— South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond and former Vice President Henry Wallace.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

HRC's Bummer Summer Continues

Patrick Healy, Jonathan Martin, and Maggie Haberman write at The New York Times:
Interviews with more than 75 Democratic governors, lawmakers, candidates and party members have laid bare a widespread bewilderment that Mrs. Clinton has allowed a cloud to settle over her candidacy — by using a private email server in the first place, since it was likely to raise questions about her judgment, and by not defusing those questions once and for all when the issue first emerged in March.

With Americans registering their mistrust of Mrs. Clinton in opinion polls, anxious supporters are starting to speak bluntly of fears that she has inadvertently opened the door to a possible challenge for the party’s nomination from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and handed Republicans new ammunition for attacks on her character should she become the nominee.
Hillary Clinton took a new tack this week when answering questions about her use of a private email account as secretary of state: She took responsibility and admitted she was at fault.
“It clearly wasn’t the best choice,” Clinton said flatly on Wednesday, as she campaigned in Iowa.

On Thursday, the reason for the change in tone came into sharper focus with a stunning new poll illustrating the extent to which voters don’t trust Clinton to tell the truth.
While Republicans have been test-driving attacks against Clinton for a year and a half, no other line of attack has broken through to this degree. The numbers in a new Quinnipiac University poll are striking: More than 3-in-5 voters, 61 percent, think Clinton isn’t honest and trustworthy. Overall, Clinton’s favorability ratings slipped to 39 percent — her lowest rating since Quinnipiac began polling on Clinton after she and her husband left the White House.
When voters were asked the first word that came to their mind about Clinton, the top three replies were indictments of her trustworthiness. The No. 1 response was “liar,” followed by “dishonest” and “untrustworthy.” Overall, more than a third of poll respondents said their first thought about Clinton was some version of: She’s a liar.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Demographics and the Vote: A Calculator

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende and David Byler have a vote calculator:“Demographics and the 2016 Election Scenarios."
The key to operating the tool is the dashboard on top. It defaults to 2012 levels of turnout and support, by racial/ethnic group. Note that we’ve combined “Asian” and “Other,” which was necessitated by the different datasets we’ve used. You’ll also notice that the Democratic lead using the default numbers is about six-tenths of a point larger than the actual result was in 2012; this is demographic change at work.
The left column allows you to adjust the vote share that Republicans win of the various groups, while the right column allows you to adjust turnout by group. For reference, we’ve included a chart after the map that provides turnout and vote shares for the various racial/ethnic groups over time.
...
First, note the limited electoral impact of Hispanic voters. All other things being equal, Republicans would have to fall to 8 percent of the Hispanic vote before another state flips to the Democrats (they would lose the popular vote by almost 10 points in this scenario). For all the talk of Texas potentially voting Democrat, that doesn’t happen until Republicans drop to 5 percent of the Hispanic vote.
...
Second, note the impact of a potential reversion to mean in vote share and turnout among African-American voters. While Republicans won only 4 percent of the black vote in 2008 and 6 percent in 2012, the typical Republican vote share is between 9 and 11 percent. Note also that, historically, African-American participation has lagged white participation by about six percentage points: Black participation lagged white participation by five points in 2000 and 2010, by six points in 1998, 2002, and 2014, and seven points in 2004. The gap was 11 points in 2006.
...
Third, we note that Republicans don’t have to put up a historically good performance among minority groups to win the election. Take the 2014 exit polls. If Republicans win demographic groups at the rates they did in that election, they would win the popular vote by around three points, and carry the Electoral College, 295-243. In this scenario, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin vote for the Democratic candidate by three points or less, while Colorado and Pennsylvania for the Republican candidate by three points or less.
...
Finally, this model does illustrate the importance of demographic change. If you take 2012 levels of turnout, and insert Barack Obama’s vote shares among different groups from 2008, his seven-point victory increases to nine points. Of course, just as it isn’t clear that Republicans can easily return to 10 percent of the vote among African-Americans, it likewise isn’t clear that Democrats can easily win 44 percent of the non-Hispanic white vote anytime soon. But it is nevertheless a nice illustration of the changes that really are occurring in this country, even if the rapidity with which those changes are occurring is often exaggerated.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Trump, Perry, a Turncoat, and The Wild Bunch

Jennifer Jacobs reports at The Des Moines Register:
Leaked emails show that the Iowan who is Donald Trump’s new national co-chairman was throwing bombs at him as recently as last month, expressing grave misgivings about the authenticity of Trump's religious faith and his conservatism.
“(Trump) left me with questions about his moral center and his foundational beliefs. ... His comments reveal no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal,” evangelical conservative activist Sam Clovis said in an email just 35 days before he quit his job as Republican Rick Perry’s Iowa chairman and signed on with Trump’s campaign.
In the emails, shared by Perry backers Wednesday with The Des Moines Register, Clovis castigated Trump for his past liberal positions and admission that he has never asked for God’s forgiveness for any wrongdoing.
In The Wild Bunch, William Holden said:
When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished!

The Trump Ceiling

At NRO, Henry Olsen explains why Trump will have a hard time building on his support as the campaign rolls on:
Trump’s favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is the lowest of the major candidates’. His positive rating always ranges between 52 and 44 percent, whether the poll is of national or state voters. His negative rating always ranges between 33 and 46 percent, and is usually in the 38–43 range. Most major Republican candidates are getting positive ratings in the 60s and low 70s, with negative ratings well below 20 percent. Even Jeb Bush has significantly higher positives and lower negatives than Trump. Christie, Graham, and Pataki are typically the only candidates thought of less highly than Trump.
Moreover, Trump receives the highest “would never vote for” ratings among the major candidates. A Quinnipiac national poll taken before the debate, for example, found that 30 percent of Republican-primary voters would never support Trump, the highest number among all the candidates. A late-July Fox national poll similarly found that 33 percent of GOP voters would never support Trump in the primary, a share that only Christie, Pataki, and Graham exceeded.
These data are even more troubling for Trump when we dig deeper. Sharp ideological differences are apparent in Trump’s favorable–unfavorable ratios, in contrast with the voter-preference question. His favorable rating exceeds his unfavorable one by roughly a 3–1 margin among tea partiers and a 2–1 margin among “very conservative” voters. “Somewhat conservatives” tend to split evenly, and moderates dislike him by a 55–40 percent margin.
\Why is this problematic for Trump? Tea partiers and “very conservative” voters are a large minority, but a minority nonetheless. In primary states, exit polls show that moderates tend to constitute 30–40 percent of the total vote outside the Deep South, rising to 40–50 percent in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. “Somewhat conservatives” tend to constitute 33–40 percent of Republican-primary voters in most states. Trump’s poor showing among these groups bodes ill for his ability to win outside the South and in midwestern caucus states once the early primaries have winnowed the candidates.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What a Jerk! Continued

Trump's buffonery continues.

The Hill reports:
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump impersonated Asian negotiators using broken English during a campaign speech in Iowa on Tuesday night.

The controversial moment occurred the same day Trump ripped fellow 2016 candidate Jeb Bush for referring to Asian "anchor babies."
"Negotiating with Japan, negotiating with China, when these people walk into the room, they don't say, 'Oh hello, how's the weather, so beautiful outside, isn't it lovely? How are the Yankees doing? Oh they are doing wonderful, great,' " Trump told supporters in Dubuque, Iowa.
"They say, 'We want deal.'"

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How HRC Will Handle Biden

Biden seems ready to run for president.  What will HRC do?  It will happen this way:

In the days ahead, Team Clinton will plant negative stories about Biden:  for instance, the stories could involve friends and family members who have gained from his influence.

The message:  if you run, we will hurt you.  The goal:  to deter him from running.

Biden and Clinton both ran for the nomination in 2008, so we know that the Team Clinton already has an oppo file on him.  (They did not have to use it then, since he never was a serious threat.)  We also know that the Clintons do not hesitate to smack down opponents.


Hispanics' Views of the GOP Candidate: Modestly Pro-Bush, Vehemently Anti-Trump

Gallup reports:
U.S. Hispanics are still getting to know most of the Republican contenders for president. At this point in the campaign, less than half have formed an opinion of any Republican candidate except Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. Partly because of this, Hispanics' views of most GOP candidates range from mildly positive to mildly negative. The sole exception is Trump, whose favorable rating with Hispanics is deeply negative.

Gallup began tracking the images of all the major announced candidates for president nightly in early July. Since then, 14% of the roughly 650 Hispanics interviewed have said they view Trump favorably, while 65% have viewed him unfavorably, yielding a net favorable score of -51. This separates Trump from the next-most-unpopular Republicans among Hispanics -- Rick Perry (-7), Ted Cruz (-7) and Jim Gilmore (-6), who are viewed far less negatively.
Bush presents the greatest contrast to Trump. Bush's average 34% favorable and 23% unfavorable ratings among Hispanics since July give him a +11 net favorable score -- the highest of any GOP candidate. The net favorable scores of Marco Rubio (+5), Carly Fiorina (+3), George Pataki (+3), Scott Walker (+2) and Ben Carson (+2) all tilt slightly positive, although none of these candidates is nearly as well-known among Hispanics as Trump and Bush.
In terms of familiarity, only Trump and Bush are recognized by a majority of Hispanics. Eight in 10 have formed an opinion of Trump and about six in 10 of Bush. Familiarity dwindles to roughly 40% for Rubio and Cruz, both Cuban-Americans, as well as for Perry and Chris Christie, but drops well below that for all the others.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Billionaire Surges in Polls!

For some perspective on billionaire presidential candidates surging in the polls, consider The New York Times on June 11, 1992:
In a three-way general election matchup, Ross Perot has moved to a clear lead over both President Bush and Gov. Bill Clinton in the latest Gallup Poll.
In the telephone poll of 815 registered voters nationwide, conducted June 4 to 8, Mr. Perot was supported by 39 percent, Mr. Bush by 31 percent, and Mr. Clinton by 25 percent. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
In a previous Gallup matchup in late May, Mr. Bush and Mr. Perot were tied at 35 percent each, while Mr. Clinton was supported by 25 percent.
No previous independent or third party candidate has ever placed second, much less first, in nearly six decades of Gallup's nationwide polling for President.
Another poll found a double-digit Perot lead,  37 percent to 24 percent each for Clinton and Bush.

On May 28 of the same year, USA Today reported:
Anyone doubting Ross Perot is for real can look at the polls, where he is showing electoral strength impossible to ignore. The evidence is in 25 statewide polls, representing more than 60% of the Electoral College votes:
- Perot leads in nine states having 128 electoral votes.
- President Bush leads in 15 states (190 votes). But much of that came in early polls, before Perot ran first in a Texas poll April 18. Since then he's won seven state polls to Bush's 10.
- Democrat Bill Clinton has led only at home in Arkansas, worth six electoral votes. It takes 270 to win.
Perot ended with 18.9 percent of the popular vote and zero electoral votes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jerry Brown Twists the Knife, or the Stake

California Governor Jerry Brown really, has really hated the Clintons for decades, and he just twisted the knife...or the stake.  Politico reports:
In a pre-recorded interview with Chuck Todd to air Sunday, Brown compared the controversy surrounding Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s email server to a vampire plot.
“It has some kind of dark energy that gets everybody excited,” he said. “It’s almost like a vampire, she’s going to have to find a stake and put it right through the heart of these emails.”
Some examples:


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Both Your Houses

A plague o' both
your houses! 'Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to
scratch a man to death! a braggart, a rogue, a villain,
that fights by the book of arithmetic! Why the devil
came you between us?

-- Romeo and Juliet

Pew reports:
The rise of “outsider” presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders has focused attention on the level of political frustration in the United States. By one measure – the share of Americans who express unfavorable opinions of both political parties – that frustration has grown.
In our July survey, 24% of the public has an unfavorable opinion of both the Republican and Democratic parties. That is up from 19% in January, though little changed from yearly averages in polls conducted in 2014 and 2013 (22% each).
The share expressing negative views of both parties has been higher in recent years than in the 2000s or 1990s. In the 2008 presidential election year, 12% viewed both parties unfavorably. In 2004, 10% did so, and in 2000, just 7% expressed unfavorable opinions of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
 Double Negatives: More People Express Unfavorable Views of Both Parties

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wasting Money on TV

John Myers reports at KQED:
The modern history of political campaigns really begins with the advent of the 30-second television ad and its ability to blast out messages to a wide audience. But a new report suggests it’s missing the mark, and flags two 2014 California contests as among the worst when it comes to wasting cash.
The premise of “50 States of Waste,” a report from a partnership of Google and digital tech company Targeted Victory, is simple: What happens when viewers in one of the nation’s 2010 television markets get bombarded with campaign ads for a race in which they can’t vote? Their answer: It’s wasted political cash.
Congressional districts, drawn in California by an independent commission and in other states by legislators, rarely align nicely with the broadcast footprint of television stations. And it presents candidates and their supporters with a quandary: How do you get the eyeballs we need for those 30-second ads?
The answer, say the analysts behind the report, is to overspend. In fact, their report concludes that a whopping 75 percent of the money spent on the typical congressional campaign in the U.S. is wasted by reaching out to voters who don’t even live in the district.
“You’d never buy a tool that only works 25 percent of the time,” said Targeted Victory’s Michael Beach in a news release. “The waste in the average broadcast television buy should make any campaign think long and hard about how and where to apply their media budget.”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sanders Leads Clinton Among Whites

A little noted detail in a Fox News poll:  Sanders actually leads Clinton among white Democratic primary voters, 43-37 percent.  Clinton leads overall because of her overwhelming support among non-white Democrats, 65-15 percent.

Among those with a college degree, Clinton has a modest 44-37 percent advantage, while among those without a degree, she has a 2-1 lead: 52-26 percent.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hybrid PACs

Alex Lazar reports at Open Secrets:
The 2012 election cycle saw the birth of little-known hybrid PACs, also known as Carey committees, which can maintain two separate accounts; one for contributions to federal candidates and parties, and the other for independent expenditures, to which unlimited contributions can be made. The committees, which emerged as a result of the case Carey v. FEC, collectively raised over $1.55 million in the first six months of 2011, a number that jumped to more than $9.75 million for the same period in 2013 (these numbers do not include ActBlue, which technically identifies as a Carey committee). The funds raised through Carey committees are not getting any smaller and totaled nearly $11.3 million for the first six months of 2015. Approximately two-thirds of this funding came via unrestricted contributions that can only be used for independent expenditures.
Prior to 2010, PACs could only raise funds under existing federal limits – individuals could give no more than $5,000 per year and corporations or unions couldn’t contribute at all. A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in SpeechNow v. FEC changed those rules, allowing new groups that declared they would only make independent expenditures to raise unlimited contributions from virtually any source. This decision is known mostly for creating super PACs, but it also declared that existing federal PACs could create separate organizations to raise unlimited funds to pay for independent expenditures. The District Court Judge in Carey extended this ruling to say that existing groups could simply create different bank accounts (rather than different organizations) to hold these unrestricted donations.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trump and the Media

At The Washington Post, Michael Cornfield writes of Trump:
The PEORIA Project relies on a Zignal Labs data platform to track presidential campaign conversations across news and social media, including all tweets; publicly available Facebook user posts; comments on YouTube videos, Vimeo and MediaBistro; about 35 million blogs; news stories from more than 100,000 online outlets; all Lexis/Nexis print media content; and television closed-caption content from 900 channels in every U.S. media market.
... 
He received 61 media mentions on June 14, 3,853 on June 15 and 635,824 on June 16. In the following month, he attracted more than 7.1 million mentions, a 32.5 percent of all the chatter about all the announced candidates of both parties, and a 46.6 percent share among Republicans. Between June 16 and July 19, every other candidate’s share fell except that of Bernie Sanders, which held steady at 10.9 percent. Hillary Clinton received 17.7 percent and Jeb Bush 7.5 percent.

Dynasts

At The Weekly Standard, Noemie Emery has some observations on dynasty candidates:
By the time that he or she faces the voters, a dynast may inherit as many as three generations of aides and retainers, 30 years or more removed from each other, and with different, sometimes clashing views. Ted Kennedy in 1980 had Jack people from 1952-60, Bobby people from 1964-68, and his personal aides from the Senate; Jeb Bush has Bush 41 and Bush 43 people, as well as his own people from Florida; Hillary has her staff from the State Department, her staff from the Senate, the people she worked with when she was first lady, as well as what remains of Bill’s original Arkansas mafia. Light-years apart, they often have different issue agendas and fail to merge smoothly. Time may be lost in dealing with their arguments. And then, there are problems with famous relations, both dead and living. If they look too big, they can make you look smaller; if all too human-sized, then there are things to explain.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bush: Well-Funded Indifference

Seema Mehta writes at The Los Angeles Times:
On paper, Jeb Bush is the perfect establishment candidate for the Republican presidential nomination:
A two-term governor of a crucial swing state who oversaw economic expansion and spearheaded education reform.
A conservative, but with a cerebral, optimistic tone that probably won't enrage moderate voters, unlike the unabashed social-issue warriors in the GOP field.
A prolific fundraiser whose advantage stems from the powerful donor networks of his brother, former President George W. Bush, and his father, former President George H.W. Bush.
Yet the former Florida governor — for all his might on paper — has failed to catch on with Republican voters.

In recent weeks, his strongest showing was in the low double digits in polls both nationally and in the states that hold the first contests in the 2016 race for the White House. A CNN/ORC poll taken in Iowa and released Wednesday showed Bush with 5% support compared with front-runner Donald Trump's 22%.
AP reports:
The heavily funded super PAC backing Republican Jeb Bush will spend at least $10 million on television time in the earliest voting presidential primary states, the first salvo in a massive TV ad campaign to support the former Florida governor's bid for the Republican nomination.

Officials with Right to Rise USA say they will buy time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina TV markets and on cable television in the three states. Ads are scheduled to begin in Iowa and New Hampshire on Sept. 15, in South Carolina a week later and then run continuously through the end of the year.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Not Paying Attention

At The Huffington Post, Ryan Grim and Natalie Jackson explain why we shouldn't put too much faith in polls this summer.
The reality is that most people won’t pay close attention to the election until the primaries next year or even right before ballots are cast next November. Almost half will never pay close attention.

Since 1987, Pew Research has asked this survey question: “As I read a list of some stories covered by news organizations this past week, please tell me if you happened to follow each news story very closely, fairly closely, not too closely, or not at all closely. News about candidates for the [relevant year's] presidential election. .
This chart, originally published in early May, shows the share of Americans who said they were following news about presidential candidates "very closely" in election cycles from 1988 through 2016. Since then, Pew Research has put out an estimate of what proportion of Americans are paying close attention to the 2016 race. That number? Sixteen percent. That means a whole lot of the people getting polled aren't following election news.
When HuffPost surveyed people who care a great deal about politics and the upcoming presidential election, the results were quite different from polls that weren't so selective.
 

HRC's Bummer Summer

Anne Gearan, Karen Tumulty, and Dan Balz write at The Washington Post that HRC was hoping for a fresh start this year.
But two dynamics have crystallized this month, suggesting the New Hillary is hobbled by old weaknesses. Once again, worried supporters see signs of a bunker mentality in response to bad news about her e-mail server and other controversies, and they see a candidate who can seem strangely blinkered to the threat posed by a lesser-known challenger.

“A lot of the people who were hired by the campaign were new to the Clintons,” said a prominent Democrat who counts both Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton as friends. “I kind of assumed it would be different. But it hasn’t changed.”

That Democrat and other supporters requested anonymity in order to discuss the shortcomings of a candidate whom they still overwhelmingly support and think can win the White House. Several supporters said that while no one is pulling the fire alarm, they see worrisome patterns emerging.

Among them: insularity, rigidity and a sense that the operation is tone-deaf to changes happening around it.
Alexis Simendinger writes at RCP:
Her communications patterns were years in the making: As a New York senator, she conducted official Senate work using a private email, transferred that address to the State Department, set up a personal server with a new clintonemail.com address and steered clear of federal records rules that applied to the employees she supervised. When this was uncovered as part of GOP-led probes of the Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, Clinton, her aides and her legal advisers attempted to control the communications in her possession, declined to relinquish one server (and there may be more than one involved), while assuring the State Department, congressional investigators, and the public that no classified information was sent or received through her system, the complete details of which she has not described. Thus far, Clinton has been pushed to release 30,000 work-related emails, having acted with aides’ assistance to destroy 31,000 self-described personal communications. And this week she capitulated to the FBI and turned over at least one server, which she said in March contained “personal communications from my husband and me.” The server is blank, according to a lawyer representing the company that turned it over to the FBI. The intelligence community’s inspector general informed lawmakers that highly classified references and communications not marked as classified improperly slipped through Clinton’s server system and still pose a security risk. 
Political scientist Charles Lipson writes at RCP:
I assume the Department of Justice will be lethargic. Under Eric Holder, the Obama Justice Department was the most politicized since John Mitchell cleaned the Augean Stables for Richard Nixon. The department is still packed with political appointees, but Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch, has a good reputation from her days as a prosecutor. She may well play this straight. If so, then she would start with the IT guy and Clinton’s assistants and try to roll them up, as you would in a normal criminal probe. My guess is she will do that only if she gets a wink and a nod from a White House ready to sink Hillary.

Politicized or not, the DOJ will be increasingly boxed in by the FBI and intelligence community investigations. Normally, when the intelligence community finds classified materials in unauthorized locations, it seeks felony prosecutions. Gen. David Petraeus was sunk for keeping his own personal calendars in an unlocked drawer at home. The calendars were deemed classified, even if they lacked an official stamp. President Clinton’s CIA Director, John Deutsch, lost his job and security clearance for using his portable computer at home. It had classified material on it. Those violations are trifling compared to Hillary Clinton’s exposure.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

More on Outsiderism

Kathleen Hennessey reports at The Los Angeles Times:
“On the one hand, I find the comparison preposterous,” said Tad Devine, a longtime Democratic strategist and Sanders advisor. Aside from some similar-sounding populist rhetoric on trade and on campaign finance, the two men’s views are “diametrically opposed.”

“On the other hand, I understand why people are looking for some commonality to what’s going on. I think they’re both candidates who are cutting through the typical back-and-forth of politics. … There’s this recognition on the part of voters that this is a guy who says exactly what he’s thinking at the moment.

“I think with Trump, too, people believe that they’re hearing what he’s thinking. For voters who are used to canned responses, teleprompter speeches and things that are much more packaged, I think that’s refreshing.”

Trump, speaking this week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” also noted the similarities.

“He’s struck a nerve on the other side and I’ve struck, I think, an even bigger nerve on the Republican side, the conservative side. It’s amazing,” he said.
Caitlin Huey-Burns writes at RealClearPolitics:
“There’s always been an appetite, especially in Iowa, for outsider candidates, for a non-political solution in terms of presidential politics,” says Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican, ticking off names like Pat Buchanan, Malcolm Forbes, Pat Robertson, and Herman Cain. “What’s fascinating this time is you actually see these outsiders polling near the top of the heap, and candidates like Bush, Rubio and Paul as almost second-tier candidates.”

Early-state observers say the momentum of outsider candidates has brought new potential voters into the fold and that this could help propel the party. And the phenomenon is not exclusive to Republicans. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running as a Democrat in the presidential primary, is also surging in the polls and showing himself to be a worthy competitor for Clinton, at least in New Hampshire. Sanders has been in the U.S. Senate for decades, but has positioned himself as an outsider of the institution. Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a freshman, is also running as a Washington outsider.
The challenge for the surging outsider candidates, however, is to avoid becoming just a summer headline, or a punch line of past polls, like Cain turned out to be. At this time in the last cycle, Michele Bachmann was winning the Iowa straw poll and sitting atop most of the surveys.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Donald Trump Version of Washington's Farewell Address

Wow. Whoa. That is some group of people. Thousands.  Good, you'll get your checks at the end of the day.

I won two presidential elections -- unanimously. Nobody else's victory will ever be that huge.

It's a time for gratitude.  You owe me, America. I've gotten older in the service of this country, but don't believe the haters. This hair and these teeth -- they're mine! These past two terms have been a huge sacrifice.  I'm really rich, and I could have spent all this time getting even richer.

But money isn't about money.  It's about keeping score. And America's score is amazing: we're bigger and better and stronger than ever before. That's why you all love me.

So let's look back on what I've done for you. First, there was the Revolutionary War,   Things didn't go well at first.  There was that Nathan Hale guy.  He was  no hero; he was a lightweight who got caught spying. I like people that don't get captured.  And our ragged, dirty soldiers disappointed me. Those morons looked like they couldn't even buy a pair of pants.

But then we won at Saratoga.  Huge, huge victory.  Someday, it will be a great place to put a casino and a racetrack.

And then we won the whole thing, mostly because of me.  King George -- what a zero!  I hear that when he pees, it comes out blue!  These Brits can't win at golf, and they can't win at war. We ought to put a wall at the Canadian border -- and make the Brits pay for it!

When the war was over, I went back to Mount Vernon -- beautiful place, great view.  But then the dummies in the government messed everything up, and I had to come in and run the Constitutional Convention. I went in and punched and punched and beat the hell out of people, and I ended up getting it done.

Then they made me president.  Of course.  And I was great.  I fixed problems, like the losers who wouldn't pay taxes on whiskey.  Bunch of drunks should go up to Canada, where the cold weather will sober them up.

Let me say a couple of words about foreign affairs -- and I've had a lot of them.  Just kidding.  Hey, can't take a joke?  Don't be so PC.  Anyway, a foreign alliance is just like a marriage:  it never lasts, so get a prenup.

Then there's religion.  When you go to church to eat your little cracker and drink your little wine, say a prayer.  Thank God that I'm president.  He'll be happy to hear that.  He's grateful for me, too.

Okay, so this is billed as my Farewell Address, right?  Well, farewell to that!  I'm not going anywhere!   Adams, you fat, bald moron, you will just have to sit in your little vice presidential chair and wait longer.

Okay that's about it. Remember: I cannot tell a lie, and if you say that I do, I'll sue your ass off.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Picking Your Opponent

In an excerpt from her memoirs, Senator Claire McCaskill gleefully admits that she sought to help Todd Akin win the GOP primary to run against her in 2012:
My consultants put together a $1.7 million plan. Four weeks out we would begin with a television ad boosting Akin, which my campaign consultant Mike Muir dubbed “A Cup of Tea.” The production costs were pretty low, about $20,000, because we didn’t have to film anything. We just used pictures and voice-overs. We would spend $750,000 at first and run it for eight or nine days. Then we’d go back into the field and test to see if it was working. If it was, we’d dump in more “McCaskill for Senate” money, and we’d add radio and more TV in St. Louis and Kansas City. The second TV buy would approach $900,000. We hoped that some of our friends watching the TV ads would catch on and some of the outside groups would augment the last week with mail and radio. Sure enough, a radio ad calling Akin “too conservative” that went on the air in the closing days of the primary was paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. We would later find out that their rural radio buy was $250,000.
As it turned out, we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent on his whole primary campaign.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Outsiders and the Ruling Class

Glenn Reynolds writes at USA Today:
But Trump and Sanders are just symptoms. The real disease is in the ruling class that takes such important subjects out of political play, in its own interest. As Angelo Codevilla wrote in an influential essay in 2010, today’s ruling class is a monoculture [see also Charles Murray on this topic] that has little in common with the rest of the nation:
“Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time, America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. TheBoston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another.
Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the ‘in’ language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector.”
To this ruling class, the rest of the country is sometimes an annoyance or obstacle, sometimes a source of necessary funds or votes, but always the “other” — not our kind, dear. Too ignorant, too unpolished, too unconnected to the right institutions and pieties to really count. With ruling-class Republicans having more in common with ruling-class Democrats than with the people they rule, it’s unsurprising that, as Codevilla predicted in a later essay, millions of voters feel orphaned. Democracy doesn’t do much for technocratically set policy that always seems to reflect ruling-class preferences, and people feel they’ve lost control of their own fates.
Greg Robb reports at MarketWatch:
Donald Trump said Monday that he agrees with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' opposition to President Barack Obama's trade policy. Sanders "has struck a nerve. He knows the problem at least," Trump said in an interview on MSNBC. The difference between them is that Sanders is "is not going to do anything about it" while Trump said he could negotiate good trade agreements with the Chinese. Asked about three ideas to restore the economy's health, Trump said he would trim the fat of the federal government, simplify the tax code and give incentives to spur investment in depressed inner cities. He said he would like to simplify taxes to the point where H&R Block Inc. HRB, -1.13% would be out of business.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sanders and Trump Spurn Their Own Parties

At Politico, Michael Kruse and Manu Raju write:
The most surprising thing about the independent Vermont senator’s surprisingly successful campaign so far is not that he’s doing it as a self-described democratic socialist. It’s that he’s seeking the nomination of a party he caucuses with in the Senate but is not a part of, isn’t a registered member of and has never been a registered member of—a party he’s spent his 40-year career beating at the polls and battering in the press.
He started as a politician in the 1970s as a perennial protest candidate with the anti-Vietnam War Liberty Union Party, offering voters an alternative to the two major parties, which he considered ineffective and equally beholden to corporate lords.
To become mayor of Burlington in 1981, he ousted a veteran centrist Democrat. To build power, his progressive allies in subsequent elections wrested away city council seats, relegating local Democrats to diminished, third-party status. In a series of statewide races in the late ’80s and into the early ’90s, he outdid even that—getting Democrats to all but wave a white flag when he ran.
He has never before chosen to run in a Democratic primary, but here he is, challenging Hillary Clinton—and doing it as an independent, technically permissible but highly unusual. How he’s trying to do this is how he always has—a calculated alchemy of outsider edge and insider smarts, provocation plus pragmatism, all learned and honed over what’s become a unique career in modern American politics.
As Timothy Noah pointed out in Politico a couple of weeks ago, Trump's connection to the GOP is almost as tenuous:

In 1999, Trump quit the Republican Party, saying “I just believe the Republicans are just too crazy right.” Trump was then conferring with political consultant Roger Stone about a possible presidential run as a candidate of the Reform Party, the political organization founded by his fellow billionaire Ross Perot.
In 2001, Trump quit the Reform Party to register as a Democrat. “It just seems that the economy does better under Democrats,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2004. The Clintons attended Trump’s Palm Beach wedding to former model Melania Knaus in 2005. The following year Trump gave $26,000 to the House and Senate campaign committees.
By the late aughts, though, Trump’s political giving had started shifting back to the GOP, and in 2009 Trump registered again as a Republican. Two years later he registered as an independent while contemplating a third-party bid.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fiorina Would Not Be a Good Nominee

Carly Fiorina has gotten good reviews for her performance in the undercard debate this past week. As a result, her fundraising is picking up.

But there are two reasons why she still would make a poor nominee for president or vice president.

The first is her complete lack of government experience. Every president from Washington through Obama has had experience in elected office, appointed office, or the military. Fiorina does not. Yes, many people say that they want somebody from outside the Washington establishment, but at some point in the fall of 2016, they will start focusing on issues of basic qualification.  In 2014, Pew reported on survey results: "And despite a decline in regard for extensive Washington experience, a presidential candidate who has never held any elected office would have little appeal: 52% say this would make them less likely to vote for a candidate compared with just 9% who say this would increase their likelihood of supporting a candidate."

The second is her business record. As Mitt Romney learned four years ago, candidates who've been corporate executives have to answer for unpopular layoffs.  In Fiorina's case, we know exactly how Democrats would attack her on this point, because they've done it before.  In her 2010 Senate race, Barbara Boxer ran these ads:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

If Trump Has Lost RedState...

Erick Erickson has disinvited Donald Trump from the RedState gathering. He explains:
As much as I do personally like Donald Trump, his comment about Megyn Kelly on CNN is a bridge too far for me.
In a CNN interview, Mr. Trump said of Megyn Kelly, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
It was not the “blood coming out of her eyes” part that was the problem.
I think there is no way to otherwise interpret Mr. Trump’s comment. In an attempted clarification, Mr. Trump’s team tells me he meant “whatever”, not “where ever.”
... I’ve been very sympathetic to Donald Trump because so many of the people who have led the party astray refuse to even treat him as a legitimate candidate.
But I also think that while Mr. Trump resonates with a lot of people with his bluntness, including me to a degree, there are just real lines of decency a person running for President should not cross.
His comment was inappropriate. It is unfortunate to have to disinvite him. But I just don’t want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal. It just was wrong.
I have invited Megyn Kelly to attend in Donald Trump’s place tomorrow night.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Rand Paul, Libertarians, and Republicans

Libertarians have a highly consistent political philosophy, favoring less active government across the board:  in economics, social policy, and international affairs.

Carl Cannon writes of last night's GOP debate:
Kentucky’s junior senator pounced on Trump’s answer on party unity, but he later tangled heatedly with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over civil liberties. “I’m a different kind of Republican,” Paul said near the end of the two-hour debate. He may be understating the problem. Paul is actually a Libertarian, and a principled one, be he’s stuck in a binary political system. He did get off one of the best lines of the night, though, while turning a gay marriage question into a question about religious freedom and the Second Amendment: “I don’t want my religion, or my guns, registered in Washington.”
Paul's basic problem is simple:  he is a libertarian in a party that does not have a significant libertarian wing. His father, Ron Paul, ran twice for president but never won a single primary.  In 2014, Pew reported that only about 12 percent of Republicans identified as libertarians, and many of them did not have consistently libertarian issue positions:
Libertarianism is associated with limited government involvement in the social sphere. In this regard, self-described libertarians are somewhat more supportive of legalizing marijuana than the public overall (65% vs. 54%).

But there are only slight differences between libertarians and the public in views of the acceptability of homosexuality. And they are about as likely as others to favor allowing the police “to stop and search anyone who fits the general description of a crime suspect” (42% of libertarians, 41% of the public).

Similarly, self-described libertarians do not differ a great deal from the public in opinions about foreign policy. Libertarianism is generally associated with a less activist foreign policy, yet a greater share of self-described libertarians (43%) than the public (35%) think “it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.”
...
An alternative way to identify libertarians is the process used to create the Pew Research Center’s political typology, released in June (for more on how the political typology was created, read our explainer in Fact Tank). That study used a statistical technique called “cluster analysis” to sort people into homogeneous groups, based on their responses to 23 questions about a variety of social and political values.
None of the seven groups identified by the 2014 political typology closely resembled libertarians, and, in fact, self-described libertarians can be found in all seven. Their largest representation is among the group we call Business Conservatives; 27% of this group says the term libertarian describes them well. Business Conservatives generally support limited government, have positive views of business and the U.S. economic system, and are more moderate than other conservative groups on the issue of homosexuality. However, they are also supportive of an activist foreign policy and do not have a libertarian profile on issues of civil liberties.
(A slightly different version of this post is at the Besssette-Pitney textbook blog.)