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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Trumpistas and Cyber-Bullying

Like antivax people, the Trumpistas are into cyberbullying.  Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman report at The New York Times:
With his enormous online platform, Mr. Trump has badgered and humiliated those who have dared to cross him during the presidential race. He has latched onto their vulnerabilities, mocking their physical characteristics, personality quirks and, sometimes, their professional setbacks. He has made statements, like his claims about Ms. Jacobus, that have later been exposed as false or deceptive — only after they have ricocheted across the Internet.
Many recipients of Mr. Trump’s hectoring are fellow politicians, with paid staff members to help them defend themselves. But for others, the experience of being targeted by Mr. Trump is nightmarish and a form of public degradation that they believe is intended to scare off adversaries by making an example of them.
And as more mainstream forces in the Republican Party try to unite to stop his march to the nomination, they are finding that the fear of taking on Mr. Trump is discouraging his would-be opponents from signing on to the fight.
“I’ve never encountered an American politician at this level that people are literally afraid of — donors are afraid of him,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, a magazine that has criticized Mr. Trump. He added, “If it was Hillary Clinton that was doing it, the entire right-wing world would erupt in outrage, understandably and correctly.”
It is not just that Mr. Trump has a skill for zeroing in on an individual’s soft spot and hammering at it. It is that he sets a tone of aggression against the person, and his supporters echo and amplify it.

...Even when Mr. Trump moves on to something or someone else on Twitter, his followers linger on the last fight.

[Rich] Lowry, who devoted an issue of his magazine to critiquing Mr. Trump and has welcomed the candidate’s scorn, said he received a flood of hostile Twitter attacks from Mr. Trump’s followers after the issue was published. Their posts, he said, regularly include “some really vile, neo-Nazi-issue white nationalist, heinous personal abuse, kind of racially tinged stuff.”

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sasse v. Trump

AN OPEN LETTER TO TRUMP SUPPORTERS
To my friends supporting Donald Trump:
The Trump coalition is broad and complicated, but I believe many Trump fans are well-meaning. I have spoken at length with many of you, both inside and outside Nebraska. You are rightly worried about our national direction. You ache about a crony-capitalist leadership class that is not urgent about tackling our crises. You are right to be angry.
I’m as frustrated and saddened as you are about what’s happening to our country. But I cannot support Donald Trump.
Please understand: I’m not an establishment Republican, and I will never support Hillary Clinton. I’m a movement conservative who was elected over the objections of the GOP establishment. My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.
Mr. Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation. Much like President Obama, he displays essentially no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances, with three separate but co-equal branches of government. And the task of public officials is to be public “servants.” The law is king, and the people are boss. But have you noticed how Mr. Trump uses the word “Reign” – like he thinks he’s running for King? It’s creepy, actually. Nebraskans are not looking for a king. We yearn instead for the recovery of a Constitutional Republic.
At this point in Nebraska discussions, many of you have immediately gotten practical: “Okay, fine, you think there are better choices than Trump. But you would certainly still vote for Trump over Clinton in a general election, right?”
Before I explain why my answer is “Neither of them,” let me correct some nonsense you might have heard on the internet of late.
WHY I RAN FOR SENATE
***No, I’m not a career politician. (I had never run for anything until being elected to the U.S. Senate fifteen months ago, and I ran precisely because I actually want to make America great again.)
***No, I’m not a lawyer who has never created a job. (I was a business guy before becoming a college president in my hometown.)
***No, I’m not part of the Establishment. (Sheesh, I had attack ads by the lobbyist class run against me while I was on a bus tour doing 16 months of townhalls across Nebraska. Why? Precisely because I was not the preferred candidate of Washington.)
***No, I’m not concerned about political job security. (The very first thing I did upon being sworn in in January 2015 was to introduce a constitutional amendment for term limits – this didn’t exactly endear me to my new colleagues.)
***No, I’m not for open borders. (The very first official trip I took in the Senate was to observe and condemn how laughably porous the Texas/Mexican border is. See 70 tweets from @bensasse in February 2015.)
***No, I’m not a “squishy,” feel-good, grow-government moderate. (I have the 4th most-conservative voting record in the Senate:https://www.conservativereview.com/members/benjamin-sasse/http://www.heritageactionscorecard.com/membe…/member/S001197 )
In my very first speech to the Senate, I told my colleagues that “The people despise us all.” This institution needs to get to work, not on the lobbyists’ priorities, but on the people’s: https://youtu.be/zQMoB4aUn04?t=3m8s
Now, to the question at hand: Will I pledge to vote for just any “Republican” nominee over Hillary Clinton?
Let’s begin by rejecting na├»ve purists: Politics has no angels. Politics is not about creating heaven on earth. Politics is simply about preserving a framework for ordered liberty – so that free people can find meaning and happiness not in politics but in their families, their neighborhoods, their work.
POLITICAL PARTIES
Now, let’s talk about political parties: parties are just tools to enact the things that we believe. Political parties are not families; they are not religions; they are not nations – they are often not even on the level of sports loyalties. They are just tools. I was not born Republican. I chose this party, for as long as it is useful.
If our Party is no longer working for the things we believe in – like defending the sanctity of life, stopping ObamaCare, protecting the Second Amendment, etc. – then people of good conscience should stop supporting that party until it is reformed.
VOTING
Now, let’s talk about voting: Voting is usually just about choosing the lesser evil of the most viable candidates.
“Usually…” But not always. Certain moments are larger. They cause us to explicitly ask: Who are we as a people? What does the way we vote here say about our shared identity? What is actually the president’s job?
THE PRESIDENT’S CORE CALLING
The president’s job is not about just mindlessly shouting the word “strong” – as if Vladimir Putin, who has been strongly bombing civilian populations in Syria the last month, is somehow a model for the American presidency. No, the president’s core calling is to “Preserve, Protect, and Defend the Constitution.”
Before we ever get into any technical policy fights – about pipelines, or marginal tax rates, or term limits, or Medicare reimbursement codes – America is first and fundamentally about a shared Constitutional creed. America is exceptional, because she is at her heart a big, bold truth claim about human dignity, natural rights, and self-control – and therefore necessarily about limited rather than limitless government.
THE MEANING OF AMERICA
America is the most exceptional nation in the history of the world because our Constitution is the best political document that’s ever been written. It said something different than almost any other government had said before: Most governments before said that might makes right, that government decides what our rights are and that the people are just dependent subjects. Our Founders said that God gives us rights by nature, and that government is not the author or source of our rights. Government is just our shared project to secure those rights.
Government exists only because the world is fallen, and some people want to take your property, your liberty, and your life. Government is tasked with securing a framework for ordered liberty where “we the people” can in our communities voluntarily build something great together for our kids and grandkids. That’s America. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of speech – the First Amendment is the heartbeat of the American Constitution, of the American idea itself.
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO MR. TRUMP?
So let me ask you: Do you believe the beating heart of Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been a defense of the Constitution? Do you believe it’s been an impassioned defense of the First Amendment – or an attack on it?
Which of the following quotes give you great comfort that he’s in love with the First Amendment, that he is committed to defending the Constitution, that he believes in executive restraint, that he understands servant leadership?
Statements from Trump:
***“We’re going to open up libel laws and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”
***“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak…”
***Putin, who has killed journalists and is pillaging Ukraine, is a great leader.
***The editor of National Review “should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him.”
***On whether he will use executive orders to end-run Congress, as President Obama has illegally done: "I won't refuse it. I'm going to do a lot of things." “I mean, he’s led the way, to be honest with you.”
***“Sixty-eight percent would not leave under any circumstance. I think that means murder. It think it means anything.”
***On the internet: “I would certainly be open to closing areas” of it.
***His lawyers to people selling anti-Trump t-shirts: “Mr. Trump considers this to be a very serious matter and has authorized our legal team to take all necessary and appropriate actions to bring an immediate halt...”
***Similar threatening legal letters to competing campaigns running ads about his record.
And on it goes…
IF MR. TRUMP BECOMES THE NOMINEE...
Given what we know about him today, here’s where I’m at: If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, my expectation is that I will look for some third candidate – a conservative option, a Constitutionalist.
I do not claim to speak for a movement, but I suspect I am far from alone. After listening to Nebraskans in recent weeks, and talking to a great many people who take oaths seriously, I think many are in the same place. I believe a sizable share of Christians – who regard threats against religious liberty as arguably the greatest crisis of our time – are unwilling to support any candidate who does not make a full-throated defense of the First Amendment a first commitment of their candidacy.
Conservatives understand that all men are created equal and made in the image of God, but also that government must be limited so that fallen men do not wield too much power. A presidential candidate who boasts about what he'll do during his "reign" and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America.
TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT
Thank you for listening. While I recognize that we disagree about how to make America great again, we agree that this should be our goal. We need more people engaged in the civic life of our country—not fewer. I genuinely appreciate how much many of you care about this country, and that you are demanding something different from Washington. I’m going to keep doing the same thing.
But I can’t support Donald Trump.
Humbly,
Ben Sasse
Nebraska

Trump Won't Disavow the Ku Klux Klan

In 2000, Donald Trump cited Duke as a reason not to seek the Reform Party nomination.  On February 14, 2000, Adam Nagourney reported:

Mr. Trump painted a fairly dark picture of the Reform Party in his statement, noting the role of Mr. Buchanan, along with the roles of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and Lenora Fulani, the former standard-bearer of the New Alliance Party and an advocate of Marxist-Leninist politics.

"The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani," he said in his statement. "This is not company I wish to keep."

Eric Bradner reports at CNN:

Donald Trump wouldn't disavow David Duke's support for his presidential bid, saying Sunday that he knows nothing about the white supremacist leader.

"Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?" Trump told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."

"I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists," he said. "So I don't know. I don't know -- did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists."

The Anti-Defamation League had called on Trump to repudiate the support of Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacist groups.

Asked if he'd broadly distance himself from those groups, Trump demurred, saying he knew nothing about their support for his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

"I have to look at the group. I mean, I don't know what group you're talking about," Trump said. "You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I'd have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. You may have groups in there that are totally fine -- it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I'll let you know."

Tapper responded: "OK. I'm just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but --"

And Trump said: "Honestly, I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I've ever met him. I'm pretty sure I didn't meet him. And I just don't know anything about him."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Army without Officers

In 1885, Woodrow Wilson said of American political parties: "They are like armies without officers, engaged on a campaign which has no great cause at its back.  Their names and traditions, not their hopes and policy, keep them together."

At The New York Times, Alexadner Burns, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Martin report on a February 19 luncheon of GOP goveror and contributors at which Karl Rove urged an effort to stop Trump.
At a meeting of Republican governors the next morning, Paul R. LePage of Maine called for action. Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter “to the people,” disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics.
The suggestion was not taken up. Since then, Mr. Trump has only gotten stronger, winning two more state contests and collecting the endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
...
Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump, the interviews show, the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Mr. Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist revolt. And Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar.
...

Fred Malek, the finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said the party’s mainstream had simply run up against the limits of its influence.

“There’s no single leader and no single institution that can bring a diverse group called the Republican Party together, behind a single candidate,” Mr. Malek said. “It just doesn’t exist.”

On Friday, a few hours after Mr. Christie endorsed him, Mr. Trump collected support from a second governor, who in a radio interview said Mr. Trump could be “one of the greatest presidents.”

That governor was Paul LePage.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Our Principles v. Trump

Fredreka Schouten reports at USA Today:
A super PAC opposed to Donald Trump plans to launch a new round of advertising this week ahead of Super Tuesday. The commercials by Our Principles PAC will run nationally on Fox News and CNN, said Katie Packer, who runs the political committee. She would not disclose the size of the buy, which will feature footage of the real-estate magnate praising Democrats and President Obama's 2009 stimulus package.
The advertising is the latest attempt by the group to dislodge the Republican front-runner and cast him as a "conservative of convenience." Our Principles PAC and the anti-tax Club for Growth are the only outside groups not closely aligned with candidates that have sought to confront Trump, who is widely distrusted by the GOP's establishment class.
In a memo released earlier this week, Packer implored fellow Republicans to at least try to tackle Trump. "No one has stopped him because no one has really tried," she wrote, noting that only about 9% of the $215 million spent on ads and voter contacts in the White House contest so far has targeted the New York billionaire.
Recently filed election reports show virtually all of the group's funding in January came from Marlene Ricketts, the wife of TD Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts, a longtime Republican donor and activist. The family owns the Chicago Cubs.

Trump U Victims

The American Future Fund is a Republican 501(c)(4).  It is now running ads featuring victims of Trump University:



Rubio v. Trump

PLAYBOOK FACTS OF LIFE – Rubio’s revenge: One of the wisest Republicans in the land told us two weeks ago the only way to beat Trump is to bully the bully, mock the mocker, punch the puncher. Rubio, the supposed robot who mechanically ducked any conflict with Trump, bullied, mocked and punched his way to a two-person race. And he did it with a smile, self-confidence and surprise.

Rubio advisers telegraphed he would play it safe. ’Twas a brilliant lie. Rubio doesn’t really improvise, as anyone who really knows him will tell you. He premeditates and he premeditated his finest debate performance, one that has the Trump-haters swooning. Cruz wanted to do what Rubio did, but looked like a scold instead of happy warrior.

BUT, BUT, BUT ... Acing one test doesn’t get you an “A” in delegate math. A well-wired Republican friend of Playbook emails: “D.C. is going to celebrate because the candidates finally started swinging at Trump, which is long overdue. But I think D.C. and the anti-Trump crowd are letting their emotions cloud better judgment on the net effect. Perhaps Marco helped himself in minimizing Cruz, but remember the same crowd said that Bush cleaned Trump’s clock a few weeks ago, too.”
TEAM RUBIO’s favorite debate pic, via @AlexConant http://bit.ly/1R6E2Tv
The Rubio Super PAC, Conservative Solutions, follows up:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

GOP Oppo's Pearl Harbor

Sam Stein reports at The Huffington Post:
Multiple Republican campaign sources and operatives have confided that none of the remaining candidates for president have completed a major anti-Trump opposition research effort. There are several such efforts being run by outside conservative organizations. But those efforts are still gathering intel on the businessman after having started late in the primary season, these sources told The Huffington Post. And they worry that it may come too late.
"It is one of the many ways we underestimated him, I suppose," conceded one top Republican campaign official whose candidate has since exited the race.
For those hoping to blunt Trump's momentum, the late start on opposition research is no small problem. One operative compared it to not having ammunition at the precise moment when there is a collective realization that a Trump candidacy needs to be shot down. Shauna Daly, the former research director for the Democratic National Committee and the opposition research firm American Bridge, called it "malpractice."
"Not taking Trump seriously as a candidate a year ago was a mistake we all made, so I don't blame his Republican opponents for that. But the lack of evidence that they have been doing thorough research on Trump more recently is malpractice," said Daly. "[I]f a Republican had committed six recent college grads to power through a Nexis dump in November and December, by January they'd have been able to compile a powerful narrative amplified by names and quotes that they could have put in ads by now."
...
Jeb Bush's campaign, for example, did put together a Trump dossier consisting of past newspaper articles, video clips, issue statements and publicly available legal filings. But they didn't have the resources to dig deep on material that wasn't publicly accessible -- the stuff only obtained through going to courthouses and sites of Trump's various properties

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kevin Hanley

Declaration of interest: Kevin is my daughter's godfather.

He is a Republican candidate in California's 6th Assembly District.  Here is his ballot statement:

Kevin Hanley Age: 57
Occupation: Chief Executive Officer, Auburn Chamber of Commerce


Education and Qualifications: California’s Legislature is waging war on hard-­‐ working families and retirees. As a former Surface Warfare Officer aboard aircraft carrier USS Midway, I learned to fight back with all guns blazing and use those leadership skills to reform government.

I’m endorsed by Conservative Congressman Tom McClintock.

I’m the only candidate with a proven record of enacting conservative, pro-­‐taxpayer and public safety reforms.

I’m the only candidate that enhanced residents’ safety. I created a fire safe council, challenged the negligent federal government and created the award-­‐winning “Project Canyon Safe” to save our town from catastrophic fire.

While Auburn’s Mayor and Councilman, I enacted 12 balanced budgets and cost-­‐ saving pension reforms; fought tax increases; banned corrupt use of eminent domain against small businesses and homeowners, and kicked out pot shops.

As CEO of a local chamber of commerce with over 500 small businesses, I will champion high-­‐wage jobs.

My experience as Governor Wilson’s Insurance Advisor and 24 years as Chief Legislative Advisor on health and insurance has prepared me to replace Obamacare mandates with reforms to lowerout-­‐of-­‐pocket expenses and expand choice of physicians and treatments.

At www.KevinHanley.org, see videos on how I will fight to fix the broken and corrupt legislature with transparency and accountability reforms, lower crime and illegal immigration, cut taxes and burdensome regulations, reduce college costs, protect our water rights, support veterans, reduce traffic congestion and end the Train to Nowhere boondoggle.

I would be honored by your vote to fight for hard-­‐working families and retirees of Placer County.

SCOTUS Not Yet a Voting Issue

At The Huffington Post, Ariel Edwards-Levy notes that the Supreme Court vacancy may not be the defining issue in the campaign.
Yet for all the political division inherent in the current nomination debate, it might be a little overblown to suggest that the issue will play a central role in the 2016 elections.

Americans theoretically consider the topic a serious one: 58 percent, including more than three-quarters of Republicans, said future appointments to the Supreme Court will be at least somewhat important to their vote in November.

But that doesn't mean it's at the top of everyone's minds. Asked to choose the two election issues that mattered most to them, just 6 percent of respondents said they were focused on which party gets to nominate Supreme Court justices -- and the issue ranked dead last in a list of nine topics.



That could change if the Supreme Court vacancy becomes a regular talking point on the campaign trail, but there's reason to suspect that its impact will remain limited.

"[R]esearch shows that the Supreme Court is a well-respected institution but not very important for most voters," political scientist Julia Azari wrote Wednesday. "[V]oting has become polarized and predictable -- leaving few voters to be swayed by a fight over the court."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Another Conservative Vows Never to Vote for Trump

Rick Wilson at the Independent Journal-Review:
I will never vote for Donald Trump because he’s a pro-gun control, pro-single-payer health care, pro-eminent domain, pro-abortion, and pro-statism liberal who will immediately revert to form when he’s finished selling his fauxservatism to people he patently views as rubes. I will never vote for Donald Trump, because absolutely nothing he can say or do will cover the fact he is obviously and blatantly lying every time his thin lips move and his freakishly tiny hands pound the podium.

I will never vote for Donald Trump because it’s utterly obvious that he lacks the temperament, judgment, and basic sanity to be placed as steward over 7,700 nuclear weapons and the rest of the awesome power of the United States military. I will never vote for Donald Trump because he’s a draft-dodging blowhard who was chasing strange in Midtown when John McCain was having his arms broken by the Vietnamese.

Conservatives Against Trump

Trump tweets:

I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $'s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Trump Lies About Opposing Iraq

Trump claims that he was a vigorous early opponent of Iraq.  He is lying, as Buzzfeed documents:
Some of Trump’s past statements, unearthed by BuzzFeed News, contradict his narrative that he was against the war before it began. Trump offered tepid support in September 2002, answering a question from Howard Stern on whether he would invade Iraq by saying “Yeah, I guess so.” And one day into the war, Trump still called the invasion a “tremendous success from a military standpoint.”
Trump did, however, express concerns about the invasion of Iraq by late March 2003 and repeatedly throughout the year. But many of his comments suggest he still supported aspects of the war, such as the toppling of Saddam Hussein. In April 2004 — again, in an interview on Howard Stern — Trump emerged as a staunch opponent of the war, and began to push the idea he was never a supporter, claiming, “I was never a fan.”

Learning the Right and Wrong Lessons

Reposted from Fox and Hounds:
Defeat can be a much better teacher than victory. Hillary Clinton entered the 2008 nomination as the odds-on favorite, but in a stunning upset, lost to a young senator from Illinois. Her loss was emotionally searing but politically educational. Specifically, she learned three lessons that she has been applying during the 2016 contest.
First, organize the caucus states. Assuming that primaries were the main event of 2008, the Clinton campaign failed to put enough money and labor into the caucuses (though she did win Nevada). In the end she actually edged out Obama among delegates from states with contested primaries, but Obama became the inevitable nominee by building an insurmountable lead in the caucus states. This time, she is not taking the caucuses for granted, and her superior organization enabled her to prevent a surging Sanders from winning Nevada.
Second, pay attention to the superdelegates. The Democratic Party provides a certain number of convention seats (712 in 2016) to elected officials and other party figures who are free to exercise their own judgment. In 2008, Obama worked the superdelegates much more skillfully than Clinton, even persuading some high-profile Clinton supporters (e.g., Rep. John Lewis of Georgia) to switch sides. This time, Clinton already has the support of more than 400 superdelegates. Expect her campaign to keep careful watch on them: there will be no poaching in this field of delegate dreams.
Third, hang on to the African American vote, which accounts for a huge chunk of the Democratic electorate. Surprising as it may seem today, Clinton started the 2008 campaign with a big advantage over Obama among African Americans. After Obama won Iowa, however, this constituency shifted in his direction. In 2016, Clinton does not have to worry about battling a charismatic African American senator. Still, she is taking no chances, and her campaign surrogates are constantly belittling the depth of Bernie Sanders’s commitment to civil rights. The Clinton line of attack has produced an odd side effect: the Sanders campaign is crowing at the discovery of 1963 photo showing Chicago police grabbing Sanders at a civil rights protest. It is quite rare for candidates to brag about their arrest records, but this novel approach is probably not enough to overcome Clinton’s long ties with civil rights leaders. In Nevada, Clinton won 76 percent of African American caucus-goers, compared with just 22 percent for Sanders.
If Hillary Clinton learned useful lessons from her earlier failure, Jeb Bush learned the wrong lessons from his family’s success. He planned to start the campaign with a huge warchest and list of endorsements, just as George W. Bush had done before the 2000 campaign. This “shock and awe” strategy aimed to intimidate other candidates so Bush could clinch the nomination early in the season.
Under certain circumstances, that strategy could make sense, but in this case, it underestimated the liabilities of the Bush name. Conservatives lament the expansion of government during the last Bush administration, and many other voters have bad memories of the Iraq War. The strategy also overlooked the demagogic appeal of a billionaire celebrity.
In 2000, George W. Bush essentially secured his nomination by defeating John McCain in the South Carolina primary. Sixteen years later, that same state put an end to his brother’s campaign.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trump and Jackson

Steve Inskeep writes at The New York Times:
A clue as to just which leadership model can be found on a map. While Trump fans are spread across the country, they are heavily concentrated in and near the Appalachian states — from Mississippi and Alabama all the way to western Pennsylvania and New York. The northwest corner of South Carolina is one of the most pro-Trump parts of the country.
Greater Appalachia has remained culturally distinct for centuries. Migrants from the northern British IslesScots, Scots-Irish and others — pushed into these mountains in large numbers from the 1700s onward and did much to create the nation as we know it. Their descendants weathered generations of hardship and calamity: washed-out hillside farms, coal-mining disasters and extreme poverty.
Though today’s Appalachia also features excellent roads, shining auto factories and fresh waves of migration, its electorate represents an older version of America, more rural, white and conservative than elsewhere. To live or work in Appalachia is to feel the tug of its past.
What could the voters of such a region possibly see in a loud and self-interested New York real estate tycoon? In some respects, he is a type of leader Appalachia has seen before. Students of history will recognize that Mr. Trump is a Jackson man.
Consciously or not, Mr. Trump’s campaign echoes the style of Andrew Jackson, and the states where Mr. Trump is strongest are the ones that most consistently favored Jackson during his three runs for the White House.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Early Voting in Primaries

Shane Goldmacher and Marc Caputo report at Politico:
Florida and Ohio, the two biggest winner-take-all prizes on the presidential primary calendar in March, aren’t waiting until next month to vote. They’re voting now — and with potentially profound consequences for the 2016 campaign.
Struggling to survive until their home states’ votes are tallied March 15, Ohio’s John Kasich and Floridians Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are racing to bank tens of thousands of early ballots that are increasingly being cast well before primary day.
... 
 In Florida, nearly 850,000 Republican absentee ballots have so far been requested. Almost 43,000 Floridians have already voted, roughly 25,000 of them Republicans.

...
As Bush and Rubio are busy working the absentee system to carve up Florida’s 99 delegates the main beneficiary of their in-state rivalry might be Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, who continue to outpoll the rest of the field.
But in Ohio, the dynamics could benefit Kasich. Polling stations there open for early in-person voting on Wednesday and Kasich appears to have the state all to himself to collect early ballots and get a jump on Ohio’s 66 delegates.
...
In Florida and beyond, Bush is getting on-the-ground help from Right to Rise, his super PAC, which is sending mailers to frequent absentee voters. "This is a long and expensive process and early voting makes it even harder for candidates with limited resources to compete,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the Bush super PAC. "Some candidates will have a hard time living hand to mouth with a condensed calendar and multiple states voting at the same time."
The Rubio-backing Conservative Solutions super PAC is doing no similar work.



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Trump Voters in SC

Public Policy Polling is a partisan Democratic firm, so take it with some grains of salt.  But still...
Trump's support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom religious and racial intolerance pervades. Among the beliefs of his supporters:

-70% think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital, to only 20% who agree with it being taken down. In fact 38% of Trump voters say they wish the South had won the Civil War to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren't sure. Overall just 36% of Republican primary voters in the state are glad the North emerged victorious to 30% for the South, but Trump's the only one whose supporters actually wish the South had won.
-By an 80/9 spread, Trump voters support his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. In fact 31% would support a ban on homosexuals entering the United States as well, something no more than 17% of anyone else's voters think is a good idea. There's also 62/23 support among Trump voters for creating a national database of Muslims and 40/36 support for shutting down all the mosques in the United States, something no one else's voters back. Only 44% of Trump voters think the practice of Islam should even be legal at all in the United States, to 33% who think it should be illegal. To put all the views toward Muslims in context though, 32% of Trump voters continue to believe the policy of Japanese internment during World War II was a good one, compared to only 33% who oppose it and 35% who have no opinion one way or another.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cruz v. Trump

Class Conflict and the Precariat

Joel Kotkin writes at The Daily Beast:
More Americans see themselves as belonging to the lower classes today than ever in recent times. In 2000 some 63 of Americans, according to Gallup, considered themselves middle class, while only 33 percent identified as working or lower class. In 2015, only 51 percent of Americans call themselves middle class while the percentage identifying with the lower classes rose to 48 percent.

The bulk of this population belongs to what some social scientists call the “precariat,” people who face diminished prospects of achieving middle class status—a good job, homeownership, some decent retirement. The precariat is made up of a broad variety of jobs that include adjunct professors, freelancers, substitute teachers—essentially any worker without long-term job stability. According to one estimate, at least one-third of the U.S. workforce falls into this category. By 2020, a separate study estimates, more than 40 percent of the Americans, or 60 million people, will be independent workers—freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.

This constituency—notably the white majority—is angry, and with good cause. Between 1998 and 2013, white Americans have seen declines in both their incomes and their life expectancy, with large spikes in suicide and fatalities related to alcohol and drug abuse. They have, as one writer notes, “lost the narrative of their lives,” while being widely regarded as a dying species by a media that views them with contempt and ridicule.

In this sense, the flocking by stressed working class whites to the Trump banner—the New York billionaire won 45 percent of New Hampshire Republican voters who did not attend college—represents a blowback from an increasingly stressed group that tends to attend church less and follow less conventional morality, which is perhaps one reason they prefer the looser Trump to the bible thumping Cruz, not to mention the failing Ben Carson.
Kotkin notes that  few groups (PDF) have seen their incomes drop more than people under 30.
In a decade, these millennials will dominate our electorate and as early as 2024 outnumber boomers at the polls. They may be liberal on many social issues, but their primary concerns, like most Americans, are economic, notably jobs and college debt . Fully half, notes a recent Harvard study (PDF), already believe “the American dream” is dead.

For many millennials, Clinton style incrementalism is less than enough. A recent yougov.com poll found some 36 percent of people 18 to 29 favor socialism compared to barely 39 percent for capitalism, making them a lot redder than earlier generations. No surprise that Sanders beat Clinton among younger voters. As one student, a Sanders backer, recently asked me, “Why should I support her. How is she going to make my life better?”

Below the precariat lie the traditional lower classes. Almost 15 percent of Americans live in poverty (PDF), and the trend over time has gotten worse. More than 10 million millennials are outside the system, neither in the labor force or education. This is just the cutting edge of a bigger problem: a labor participation rate which is among the lowest in modern history.

The low-income voters are helping both Trump and Sanders. The Vermont socialist won an astounding 70 percent of the votes among people making less than $30,000 a year. Trump’s largest margins were among both these voters and those making under $50,000 annually, who together accounted for 27 percent of GOP primary voters.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

American Crossroads Compares Clinton to Trump

A pretty neat twofer:  American Crossroads compares Clinton and Trump on immigration, which could hurt both of them.

The GOP is really feeling the Bern...




Jonathan Swan reports at The Hill:
The super-PAC founded by Republican operative Karl Rove is running a provocative new attack ad in Nevada designed to paint Hillary Clinton as anti-immigrant.
American Crossroads is launching a digital ad titled "Hillary's Wall" that attempts to tie some of Clinton's harsher past remarks about immigration to those of Donald Trump, the current Republican front-runner.
In one scene in the commercial, influential Univision anchor Jorge Ramos asks Clinton, "What's the difference between your idea and Donald Trump's idea on building a wall?"
Preceding that moment are clips - all subtitled in Spanish - that show Clinton making tough comments about immigration that could now alienate large sections of the Democratic base.
Near the beginning of the 30-second spot, which targets likely Nevada Democrat caucus goers and Latinos under a $42,000 buy, is footage of Clinton saying, "I have voted numerous times to build a barrier." Immediately following that clip is one of Trump saying, "We need to build a wall."

Rubio's Good Night

A week after a very bad debate night, Rubio had a good one.  CBS reports:
Immediately after Saturday night's Republican debate, CBS News interviewed a nationally representative sample of debate watchers assembled by GfK's Knowledge Panel who identified themselves as Republicans or independents.
Thirty-two percent of these debate watchers say Marco Rubio won the debate, beating out Donald Trump (24 percent) and John Kasich (19 percent), who are ranked second and third, respectively. Further down on the list are Ted Cruz (12 percent), Ben Carson (8 percent), and Jeb Bush (5 percent).
Marco Rubio is the clear favorite among Republicans, while independents are largely divided between Trump, Kasich, and Rubio.
Donald Trump has been leading national polls for months, and he is seen by Republican and independent debate watchers as the most likely -- with 42 percent -- of the six candidates to win in November should he get the nomination. But Marco Rubio comes in second (22 percent), beating out Ted Cruz (14 percent) by eight points.

Trump at the Debate

James Hohmann writes at The Washington Post:
The billionaire was flustered and cranky. Not only was he thrown off his game by sustained boos from the crowd and a pile-on by his rivals, but he often sounded more like a Democrat than a Republican.
He didn’t just call George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq a disaster – which he has done before – but he blamed him for 9/11 and said that the former president “lied” about the presence of weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for war. “Obviously the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake,” the frontrunner said at the Peace Center. “George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes, but that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.”
Trump again defended Planned Parenthood, as everyone else promised to defund it. “It does wonderful things, but not as it relates to abortion,” he said. “Wonderful things that have to do with women’s health.”
Keep in mind that he said this in the buckle of the Bible Belt, just down the road from Furman and Bob Jones universities.
Eli Stokols reports at Politico:
Holding a 20-point lead in the state over his nearest rival with a week to go, Trump blasted the former president for the national security record his brother’s campaign plans to tout, blaming him not just for the Iraq War but for the 9/11 terror attacks.

“The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that," Trump said to the former Florida governor, prompting a long, contentious back-and-forth.
In a state that’s home to a large number of military installations and veterans, the supercharged showdown between two candidates who’ve been sparring for months could play big, potentially reordering the race in the final week.
Our Principles PAC, launched last month with the purpose of attacking Trump, is preparing to blanket South Carolina's airwaves with a new ad featuring Trump's past statement that impeaching George W. Bush "would have been a good thing."
 


Politifact rebuts his claim to have been an early opponent of Iraq:
Trump often repeats this line, and we’ve rated a similar Trump claim Mostly False, because he didn’t appear to take any public position on the war until after the March 2003 invasion. In this more recent version of the statement, he also said he stated his opposition to the war "loud and clear." But the public record of his positions is thin.
Kevin Drum is more direct:
He's lying. He didn't oppose the Iraq War before it started. Long ago he promised us 25 clippings proving that he spoke up against the war, but he's never coughed them up. That's because he can't. It's pathetic.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Roots of Trumpism

At AEI and The Wall Street Journal, Charles Murray points to the economic and social problems of Fishtown as an explanation for Trumpism.  For one thing, the elites look down on the white working class.
In today’s average white working-class neighborhood, about one out of five men in the prime of life isn’t even looking for work; they are living off girlfriends, siblings or parents, on disability, or else subsisting on off-the-books or criminal income. Almost half aren’t married, with all the collateral social problems that go with large numbers of unattached males.
...
Consider how these trends have affected life in working-class communities for everyone, including those who are still playing by the old rules. They find themselves working and raising their families in neighborhoods where the old civic culture is gone—neighborhoods that are no longer friendly or pleasant or even safe.
...
By the beginning of the 1980s, Democratic elites overwhelmingly subscribed to an ideology in open conflict with liberty and individualism as traditionally understood. This consolidated the Democratic Party’s longtime popularity with ethnic minorities, single women and low-income women, but it alienated another key Democratic constituency: the white working class.
White working-class males were the archetypal “Reagan Democrats” in the early 1980s and are often described as the core of support for Mr. Trump. But the grievances of this group are often misunderstood. It is a mistake to suggest that they are lashing out irrationally against people who don’t look like themselves. There are certainly elements of racism and xenophobia in Trumpism, as I myself have discovered on Twitter and Facebook after writing critically about Mr. Trump.
But the central truth of Trumpism as a phenomenon is that the entire American working class has legitimate reasons to be angry at the ruling class. During the past half-century of economic growth, virtually none of the rewards have gone to the working class. The economists can supply caveats and refinements to that statement, but the bottom line is stark: The real family income of people in the bottom half of the income distribution hasn’t increased since the late 1960s.
At Slate, Reihan Salam adds:
Many have been struck by the overwhelming whiteness of Trump’s campaign, not least the small number of self-identified “white nationalists” who’ve rallied around his campaign. I would argue that the Trump coalition illustrates how whiteness as a category is so expansive as to be almost meaningless. The Scots-Irish or “American” whites who see Trump as their champion are profoundly different from the metropolitan whites who dominate the upper echelons of U.S. society—so much so that the convention of lumping them together as “white” detracts far more from our understanding of how they fit into our society than it adds to it. J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, a forthcoming book on the place of Appalachian whites in modern America, estimates that roughly one-quarter of whites belong to the Scots-Irish tribe that has embraced Trump. If we were to separate out these Americans as a race or ethnicity unto themselves, Vance writes, we would finds rates of poverty and substance abuse that would shock our national conscience. But we don’t generally collect detailed statistics on the Scots-Irish. We don’t have a clear sense of how their labor force participation or disability rates compare to those of other Americans, including other white Americans. And so their experiences and their collective traumas blend into whiteness, where they can be safely ignored. Whites are privileged, after all.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Right to Rise v. Trump (and Cruz and Rubio)

The New York Times reports on Right  to Rise:
The “super PAC” supporting Jeb Bush is running a brutal ad against Donald J. Trump in South Carolina, the latest in a string of negative spots to take on the Republican candidate who is leading the polls. ...
The ad is a companion to another spot, running on national cable networks, showing Mr. Trump as a huge ice sculpture melting as the narrator ticks off ways in which he has not been consistent on core conservative issues like abortion.


Club for Growth v. Trump

The Washington Examiner reports:
Months after running a million-dollar anti-Donald Trump ad blitz in Iowa, the conservative super PAC, Club for Growth, is at it again. This time in South Carolina.
The free-market advocacy group previously ran a series of negative TV ads against the Democratic billionaire-turned-Republican presidential hopeful in the earliest voting state, highlighting his close ties with the Clintons over the years. Trump is now fresh off a victory in New Hampshire and is heading into South Carolina, where the club hopes to diminish some of his momentum and prevent him from securing two consecutive victories.
Beginning Saturday, the group will air a 30-second ad against Trump in South Carolina on broadcast, cable and satellite television, and on various digital platforms. According to David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth Action, the total ad blitz is costing the PAC $1.5 million and will air until South Carolina's Feb. 20 primary. The ad seeks to highlight Trump's record of embracing big government policies and his own business failures over the years.