A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination
Last night Ted Cruz addressed the Republican National Convention. You can find the full text of the speech here. You can watch the minute relevant to this post and to the current news cycle below. It should be noted that throughout the speech Cruz only said Trump’s name once and that was to congratulate him on winning the nomination. He even included complimentary things about the idea of building the wall. He never said a negative thing about Trump, but the absence of an endorsement was extremely loud.
You could call the reaction in the hall mixed. You could call it that if you managed to hear his words over the boos of the crowd. How bad was the reaction in the arena? Well Ted’s wife Heidi Cruz had to be escorted from the room by security because people were physically approaching her and being verbally abusive. Then when the Cruzs tried to get into the sweet of major GOP donor Sheldon Adelson they were turned away. I feel obligated to say Adelson is one of the biggest forces in this country behind keeping online poker illegal, so I have something of a personal grudge against the man.
First things first though, why would Cruz do this? There are three possibilities, and it could really be any combination of the three.
- Cruz is bitter he lost. Cruz, as a losing candidate, is bringing more delegates to the convention than anyone else in that spot has had in decades. That can be a tough pill to swallow especially for someone whose rise has been as rapid as Cruz’s has.
- The comments Trump has made about Cruz’s family. Ignoring Trump calling Cruz ‘Lyin’ Ted’ every day for six months, Trump insinuated Cruz’s father was in on the JFK assassination, and we also shouldn’t forget Trump’s tweets comparing the looks of their wives. It was clear at the time that Cruz found the attacks on his wife completely out of bounds and to ask Cruz to endorse the man who said such things about his family is quite the stretch.
- He’s setting himself up for 2020. This is the big gamble. It’s possible GOP voters won’t forget this in much the same way the several hour tour of storm destruction in New Jersey with President Obama is still held again Chris Christie. It’s also possible an endorsement of Trump is going to become similar to a vote for the Iraq War in the sense that if you did it, it will forever be a commentary on your judgement. (Unless you’re Trump picking a VP, but that’s a different post.)
Any one of those three could justify Cruz’s decision. I lean towards the third point being the biggest because of some of the content in the rest of Cruz’s speech because up until the ‘vote your conscience’ moment it really was a traditional stump speech. Lines from the speech like, “Freedom means religious freedom, whether you are Christian or Jew, Muslim or atheist. Gay or straight, the Bill of Rights protects the rights of all of us to live according to our conscience,” really sound like the words of a candidate getting ready to run and trying to reach out to different voting groups. This speech could be remembered along the lines of Reagan in ’76 if Cruz plays the next four years correctly.
I want to say two other brief things about the content of the speech before talking more about the lack of the endorsement since this is probably the only post I’ll have time to do about the convention as a whole. The line ‘vote your conscience’ getting booed is notable because of how much the GOP has been relying on the whole idea of people going with their conscience against the government and that being important. You hear that line about conscience when Republicans defend businesses discriminating against the LGBT community or refusing to include birth control on employee insurance plans. Now I know people were really booing the lack of unity behind Trump more than the idea of going with your conscience, but in the examples I gave they’re also attacks against the unity of us all being one people more than attacks of conscience.
Also in the speech were the lines, “Our party was founded to defeat slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. We passed the Civil Rights Act, and fought to eliminate Jim Crow laws,” Now that I live in Mississippi I find it extremely odd to hear Republican’s claiming Lincoln while at the same time demanding the Confederate flag continue flying as part of the flag of this state and while of the 2,472 national delegates at the convention, a grand total of 18 are black, the lowest percentage in over a century. That’s right, there were more black people invited to the convention when they had to drink out of separate fountains. Someone should also send the memo to Iowa Representative Steve King who gave an interview outside the convention hall insinuating only white people have contributed anything to civilization.
The other key question is did Trump know what Cruz was about to do. Most indicators say yes. Cruz has said that he told Trump to his face he wouldn’t endorse him several weeks ago and told him over the phone on Monday. Trump also claims he had seen the speech, but just that it was a couple hours before as can be seen in Trump’s only response so far to the speech.
Trump knowing ahead of time would also explain Trump entering the convention hall right as Cruz hit the spot that garnered all the boos. That also could have been a coincidence since at a Cruz event earlier in that day the Trump plane flew overhead at a key point in that speech too.
Even if Trump knew, he must not have shared it with the rest of the RNC or they didn’t anticipate the strength of the response. Newt Gingrich spoke immediately after Cruz and had several lines about Cruz’s speech trying to smooth things over, but those lines weren’t in the copy of Newt’s speech that was distributed to the press an hour before he took the stage Given all the issues with getting the RNC and the Trump campaign on the same page with the Melania Plagiarism this could be another case of Trump’s campaign knowing but not including other Republicans in on the process.
It’s tough to say who came out on top here. Did Cruz win because this looks like Trump has no control, can’t unite the party, and had his VP pick entirely overshadowed by his top rival from the primaries? Or does Trump win because this looks like he allows his opponents time to speak their mind, Cruz may have just massively angered 50% of the GOP electorate, and as Trump is fond of saying, “All press is good press?” I don’t think we’ll know for four months. If Trump wins in November then Cruz’s gamble was a failure, but if instead we see Cruz as the final speaker at the 2020 GOP convention then we’ll see many replays of this speech leading up to that moment.
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. I tend to demand too much of my posts. This leaves me in a state of posting not at all. Big goings on are going on though, so I’m going to be brief with my thoughts and not have three citations per line, but I’ll actually get a post done before the story is old news and I delete the draft.
Last night the Indiana primary went to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz withdrew from the race. This morning Kasich followed suit and also suspended his campaign. Even without the two other candidates dropping out, with a win in Indiana, Trump had a pretty clear path to the 1,237 delegates needed to assure him the GOP nomination. There will be plenty of time to dissect the Trump v Clinton race. In this post I want to address the idea of running as an anti-candidate, the pending SCOTUS nomination, and what we should look for in the down ballot races.
The bickering between the Cruz and Kasich campaign began months ago, each accusing the other one of needing to drop out then because both were splitting the anti-Trump vote. I think what we saw recently in Indiana and the North-East can put that theory to rest. Kasich and Cruz just didn’t have voting blocks that would show up for the other. This is an idea we have seen repeated in politics many times in just the last three election cycles, but it seems the lesson has not been learned.
Think of the Kerry/Edwards campaign in ’04, the Romney/Ryan ticket in ’12, and now the Cruz/Fiorina pairing. What did these campaigns have in common? They ran on the ‘I’m not the other guy’ platform and both lost. That doesn’t get people to vote for you whether ‘the other guy’ is Bush, Obama, or Trump. I thought Cruz might be an exception because he had the backing of so many people in the establishment, but as it turns out when your slogan is #Never’otherguy’ it doesn’t win.
I do want to note one more thing about Cruz’s failure as a candidate. He was by far the most religious of the remaining candidates, saying back in 2010, “I’m a Christain first and an American second.” This election year his family gave several quotes about God wanting him to run, and yet he lost. In 2012 the number of GOP candidates who claimed God told them to run became a joke, you had Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, and Cain among others. In 2008 you had Huckabee who was also the religious alternative to McCain, but lost. In the inevitable talks of Trump splitting the Republicans, I’ll be interested to see what comes from the Evangelical camp. Will they vote Trump or will they start to call for their own candidate since they no longer feel represented by the party as a whole?
It has been 81 days since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stayed true to his word that he would not even allow hearings for a replacement and give the decision to the next president. That despite the fact that Obama nominated Merrick Garland who many GOP senators, particularly Orin Hatch, had suggested as a nominee the president should put forward. McConnell is now presented with three possibilities:
- Trump wins the presidency. This becomes tricky for McConnell since he has no idea who Trump might nominate and whether it would be better than Garland, but it’s a near certainty that Trump won’t spend much time wondering whether McConnell will approve of the pick.
- Clinton wins the presidency. Now McConnell has to figure out how to toe the line of saying for months and months the American people should decide, while not approving Clinton’s appointee who could be much more liberal than Garland. Clinton also has the easy excuse to nominate someone more liberal by saying the senate had a year with Garland and they didn’t even hold a hearing.
- The Democrats win the Senate. It’s completely out of Mitch McConnell’s hands since he wouldn’t be Senate Majority Leader anymore.
One big impact Trump could have, assuming the #NeverTrump crowd sticks to their guns is the down ballot races. If a bunch of Republicans stay home this November, it won’t just make the race an easier win for Clinton, it could also impact Senate and local races around the country. There are ten senate seats up for reelection this year. Without those seats, the senate is currently 45-45, so control of the chamber is up for grabs. If the Democrats regain control of the senate because of apathy caused by Donald Trump it allows Clinton to nominate whomever she chooses knowing she’ll have the support of a friendly Senate.
This campaign season so far has been one of a kind, and we still have the VP picks to look forward to before the final battle really gets going. All I know is that there will be doctoral theses written for decades on how the 2016 GOP race started with 17 possibilities and Trump was the last man standing.
Yeah, I know I never did New Hampshire, but I’m going to pick it up with the Nevada Democratic results and the South Carolina Republican Results from yesterday.
Republican South Carolina Primary Results
1. Trump – 32.5%
2. Rubio – 22.5%
3. Cruz – 22.3%
4. Bush – 7.8%
5. Kasich – 7.6%
6. Carson – 7.2%
There are three important things that will be discussed stemming from this race: Bush dropping out, whether Rubio is rebounding, and is Trump inevitable now?
Bush dropping out is pretty amazing. He still had lots of money left to spend and he only placed 4th here. Now granted no one expects him to make a comeback which is remarkable in and of itself given how a year ago everyone had penciled him in as the Republican nominee. It’s tough to put a finger on what happened, but I know many graduate level theses will be written on it. The fact that one establishment candidate has dropped out likely means good things for the other establishment pick which brings us to…
Rubio did quite poorly in New Hampshire. You may remember this particular blog had Rubio picked to win New Hampshire, but then came in 5th with only 10.6% of the vote, so how did he do he double his numbers in just a couple weeks? The soundbite of him at the New Hampshire debate where Christie really hurt Rubio might have only been watched by New Hampshire or it could be the establishment is really starting to solidify behind Rubio. Between New Hampshire and South Carolina he’s the only one who had their percent of the vote rise and with Bush out, I expect Rubio to pick up the majority of his backers. I’m still predicting Rubio to be the Republican nominee which would be in direct opposition to…
Trump being inevitable. Every Republican candidate who has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina has gone on to be the nominee, so why do I think the Trump can be stumped? Trump has won, but without ever getting more than 35% of the vote. That might be a plurality, but it’s a long way off from a majority. For the first time in the campaign, Trump is about to have an actual rival. Now if Trump handles Rubio like Christie did, then it still might not be over. I maintain Trump may have a high floor, but a low ceiling in terms of his voters.
One example of this is how he does with late deciding voters. Donald Trump Only got 16% of them in South Carolina compared with Cruz’s 28% and Rubio’s 30% This also mirrors his Iowa performance with just 15% of voters who decided that day, 13% in the last few days, and 13% sometime last week. You can’t win the nomination with 35% of the vote and Trump isn’t adding anyone knew. He has to count on voters coming to him as other candidates drop out and I have a hard time seeing that happen from Bush, Carson, or Kasich.
Democratic Nevada Primary Results
1. Clinton – 52.7%
2. Sanders – 47.2%
There was a New York times piece this week that noted, “We’re living in an era when blacks have essentially played kingmaker in the most important elections in the nation,”  Quite the interesting line, and it really proved itself to be true in Nevada. I’ve mentioned in the past that Sanders has an issue when it comes to the minority vote. Let’s look at the exit poll breakdowns by sorted by race.
White(59% of vote) – Sanders 49% Clinton 47%
Hispanic(19% of vote) – Sanders 53% Clinton 45%
Black(13% of vote) – Clinton 76% Sanders 22%
It isn’t hard to figure out why Clinton won in Nevada. If Sanders can’t find a way to narrow that 54 point gap he is going to be absolutely crushed in South Carolina where in 2008 black voters made up 55% of primary goers. Now it’s possible that’s not a point in favor of Clinton because she lost with black voters 78%-19% to Obama, but she’s not being listed as an over 99% favorite to win South Carolina by some groups for nothing.
As always, questions, comments, and criticisms are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.
Final results from the Hawkeye State:
Clinton: 49.9% Sanders 49.6%
Cruz: 27.7% Trump: 24.3% Rubio: 23.1% 
It was the closest caucus in the history of Iowa, but in the end 22 delegates will go to Clinton and 21 will go to Sanders. After his 0.6% showing, Martin O’Malley has officially suspended his campaign. This virtual tie is a great showing for Sanders. As I wrote yesterday, the poll numbers had him losing by 3% and he outperformed that. It will absolutely cause a news cycle focusing on how close Sanders kept it, and he is still predicted to clean up in New Hampshire, but I’m still not convinced it’s enough.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll from Jan. 27th, Clinton is pretty much deadlocked with white voters (45-43) but is in firm control of the minority vote (67-28). If you look at the 2008 primaries, Iowa’s caucus was 93% white and New Hampshire’s was 95% white. This is as opposed to all primaries across the country which average 65% white.
CBS also had an interesting poll in Iowa.
If you look at that 68% chunk of liberal and somewhat liberal, Sanders wins, but that percent of the electorate shrinks to 47% combining all Democratic caucuses.
I don’t think it’s all bad news for Sanders. Iowa was indeed much closer than the polls predicted and it’s clear which demographics his campaign needs to convince which will allow for smart targeted use of funds. At this point I still consider him the underdog though, and I will stick with that conclusion even through his convincing win in New Hampshire. If he can make Nevada and South Carolina look like Iowa, then we’ll have a real race on our hands.
The Trump has officially been stumped, kind of. The Republican side also had its candidates within one delegate of each other: Cruz gets 8, Trump gets 7, and Rubio gets 7. For starters, I called Cruz’s win!
(Hey, two years ago didn’t you also predict Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) would be a central figure in this race after she gave the SOTU response?)
All I can say is thanks for following my hit and miss political predictions for so long, but I’m still more proud of the Cruz call since I put money on it.
Even though Cruz got the most votes, I don’t think he was the biggest winner last night. If we look at the poll from yesterday and compare it to the real results, Cruz overachieved by 4.7%, Trump underachieved by 3.7%, and Rubio overachieved by 8.1%. Iowa tends to like the Christian Conservative candidate more than the rest of the country as we can see with Santorum’s win in 2012 and Huckabee’s win in 2008. This year Huckabee received 1.8% of the vote and is the only Republican, so far, to drop out of the race after yesterday’s results.
We have Cruz who overachieved his poll numbers in the state most Christian candidates do just that, Trump underachieved despite caucus attendance being higher than it ever has been for the Republicans(180,000 compared to 2012’s 121,503), and that leaves Rubio as the big winner from Iowa. Considering that showing it is pretty clear Rubio will become the establishment’s pick against Cruz. I maintain Trump has no real shot and I think yesterday cemented that opinion. I’ll go so far as to say I think Rubio now has the best chance at the nomination for the Republicans.
I’ll happily take the 50$ I won on Cruz winning yesterday and put it on Rubio to win New Hampshire one week from today at 3-1, so a win would give us an additional 150$ in profit.
Overall an interesting start to the election year. I hope everyone is ready for 10 more months of this.
As always, questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.
Disclaimer: I am friends with people who work for the Clinton campaign in Nevada and people who have volunteered for Sanders in Iowa. Take that for what it’s worth.
Today all the major news outlets will be covering the first big event in the election year, the Iowa Caucus. I figured it would be a good point to actually start writing again, but before we start analyzing the possible results, let’s look at how the caucus actually works. With the rest of this post being fairly serious, let’s use Legos.
The odd thing that might influence all of this is that there is a somewhat severe storm moving into Iowa late tonight. Current forecasts show that snow isn’t supposed to start until 9 or 10 pm, but it could have an impact of lowering voter turnout. If that happens I think it will be good for the anti-establishment candidates because the people with more passion are more likely to show up, but it is possible this won’t change anything.
Before we get to some individual breakdowns I need to post the results of what historically is the best poll to predict the results of the Iowa Caucus. It’s average error per candidate per year is 3.3%. It does tend to error more with two things: a candidate with a late surge and a candidate strong with Christian Conservatives.
Republican: 1. Trump(28) 2. Cruz(23) 3. Rubio(15)
Democrat: 1. Clinton(45) 2. Sanders(42)
More Analysis of this later.
This race has been her race to lose from the start and she is still being shown with a lead, even though it is now within the margin of error for the poll. It is unlikely the latest news with her emails will impact anything, her favorability rating in Iowa has hardly budged even as Sanders’s has climbed.
Ignore the New Hampshire line. I’ll bring that up in a bit. I told you the poll at the start has her with a lead that is within the polls margin of error, but that the poll often misses low on candidates that are having a late surge. Despite his national numbers though, Sanders hasn’t been surging as much in Iowa.
|POLLSTER||MOST RECENT POLL||PREVIOUS POLL||CHANGE|
|American Research Group||Sanders +3||Sanders +3||—|
|Gravis Marketing||Clinton +11||Clinton +21||Sanders +10|
|Marist College||Clinton +3||Clinton +3||—|
|Public Policy Polling||Clinton +8||Clinton +6||Clinton +2|
|Quinnipiac University||Sanders +4||Sanders +5||Clinton +1|
|Des Moines Register||Clinton +3||Clinton +2||Clinton +1|
Sanders and Clinton have mostly been holding steady over the last month. Iowa is still Clinton’s to lose, and it will really come down to turnout. As it stands now though, Clinton has done enough to not lose Iowa.
Has Sanders done enough to win Iowa though? Again it’s turnout. Yes I know that’s a cop-out answer, but Sanders’s support is much younger than Clinton’s and there’s a big discrepancy in attendance at the polls between those groups. If the young and passionate show up tonight before the snow storm, then we’re talking about a whole new race.
You probably noticed Sanders lead widening in New Hampshire in the above chart? This is going to mean even if Sanders loses Iowa his supporters will have the hope of a strong rebound. Unfortunately I don’t think that would be enough. He needs to win both. Sanders polls best with white liberal voters and if you look at the percentage of the democrats in the state that are both of those things, Iowa and New Hampshire have the second and third most of them in the country, Vermont is first. That means Iowa and New Hampshire are the two states Sanders absolutely needs to win because they have his biggest voting blocks. It gets much harder once he gets to the south where he has to win minorities away from Clinton.
If Sanders can win both then he’ll have the momentum to possibly convince the rest of the country, and you’ll see two stats talked about ad nauseam.
- No candidate (Democrat or Republican) has lost the nomination after winning both Iowa and New Hampshire since Ed Muskie in 1972.
- No candidate has won the the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire since Bill Clinton in 1992.
On the Republican side I’m not certain who has more to lose, Donald Trump or the Republican Establishment. If Donald Trump loses then he’ll have to explain how he, who has built his entire campaign on the idea he’s a winner, will suddenly be cast in the role of the loser. If he wins, then Republican establishment is going to have to continue to worry about him either eventually getting the nomination, which I don’t think is going to happen, or him getting enough support that he decides he will run as a third party candidate which will guarantee a presidential win for the Democrats.
I remember watching an interview with John Kasich on This Week with George Stephanopoulos where Kasich was asked whether he’s out of touch with his party since they clearly approve of Trump. Those sorts of questions will plague the Republicans for as long as Trump can claim he speaks for them when it’s obvious the party heads don’t want him to.
The Republican Field
The person I do think will win Iowa is Ted Cruz. He’s within 5% of Trump in the poll I mentioned at the beginning, and he does fit the Christian Conservative model the poll tends to underestimate. Cruz is fascinating right now because it’s the only time I can find where a senator has made it the Iowa Caucus as a serious candidate without the endorsement of a single other senator in the party.
Rubio should put in a strong showing here in route to more favorable states for him ahead. Bush will cause us all to wonder how on Earth someone can fall so fast. Ideally the whole thing will go so badly for the remaining candidates that several will drop out over the next week so the race can focus in on Trump, Rubio, and Cruz because those are the only ones I see with a real chance at this. I do think Bush, Christie, and Carson will stick around until at least Super Tuesday though.
Although it isn’t as popular in America, Great Britain loves gambling on their politics. I particularly love looking at betting odds for elections, because unlike many polling agencies, casinos actually lose money when they’re wrong. So according to a sportsbook:
Clinton – If the caucus was held four times, Clinton would win three. 3-1 odds
Sanders – If the caucus was held thirteen times, Sanders would win four. 4-9 odds
Trump – If the caucus was held fifteen times, Trump would win eleven. 11-4 odds
Cruz – If the caucus was held three times, Cruz would win one. 1-2 odds
Rubio – If the caucus was held nine times, Rubio would win one. 1-8 odds
Carson – If the caucus was held 51 times, Carson would win one. 1-50 odds
Give me 25$ on Cruz which would win 50$.
Thirty minutes into the debate I knew I wouldn’t be able to recap it in the same way I did with the first Republican debate. There was just too much actual policy discussion. I don’t mean that as commentary on either party. Tuesday night did really drive home the point of why 11 people on a debate stage is just too many. You want to give everyone time but that means the debate can go 3.5 hours and you still weren’t able to actually get anything of substance out of every candidate. I’m hoping both parties will take note and have a more streamlined selection process for debates in the future.
If I’m not going to do that recap though, what will I talk about in this recap? I’m glad you asked. There are two things I’m going to try to touch on: how the debate affected each of the candidate’s chances at the nomination and a look at Trump’s live tweeting of the event.
Chafee and Webb are both out and done. No real surprise in either case. They were both polling extremely low going in. I believe Chafee had the worst showing of anyone in the debates, particularly him stumbling through excuses for not really knowing what he was voting for in the Senate. Webb was definitely the most conservative Democrat on the stage last night and that just doesn’t seem like it’s what the party wants right now.
O’Malley has been widely praised for his closing remarks are rightly so. Even so, he still has no real shot at the nomination. Currently Sanders is the ‘not Clinton’ choice and O’Malley didn’t do enough to really separate himself from either one. It is possible that was by design though. In the way he praised the party as a whole in his closing remarks he could easily be setting himself up for a VP nomination from the eventual winner.
There has been a lot of talk about whether Sanders or Clinton actually won the debate. I think they both won and I say that because I think they both had completely different goals going into the debate, let’s start with Sanders.
It was clear from the get go he was there to talk about his issues. In his opening statements he made no mention of his own resume or accomplishments, he focused purely on the subjects of income inequality and big bank/wall street misconduct. He wants those issues front and center and he achieved that.
The things hurting Sanders right now are name recognition and the minority vote. As far as name recognition goes he picked up more twitter followers than Clinton by a wide margin.(46,000 to 10,000) The minority vote won’t hurt him much until later. The first two primaries are in Iowa(93% white) and New Hampshire(95% white), but if Sanders wants to win the Democratic nomination he’s going to have to change this chart.
One of the places that Clinton did stumble last night was in her answering of the Black Lives Matter question. Sanders tackled it head on and gave a strong answer in support of the movement. Clinton did seem to sidestep the question a bit. Sanders also make certain to bring up minorities in many of his other answers. I haven’t seen any polls to show if his performance on Tuesday loosened Clinton’s strong grip on those demographics. If the goals of Sanders were to get his issues out there, get his name out there, and have the opportunity to try to influence his weakest poll area, I’d say he won the debate.
Clinton’s goals are a little easier to identify. She’s the leader and wants to keep it that way, that means no blatant mistakes. She also has had a long news cycle of negative headlines from various scandals of varying degrees of legitimacy, so she wants the headlines to be about not that.
The fact that the headlines out there right now even debate whether she won prove she achieved both of her goals. It’s her nomination to lose and she certainly didn’t lose it on Tuesday. She came across as the experienced debater that she is. Granted it wouldn’t take much to look like a pro when Chafee is providing a highlight real of don’ts for speech coaches across the country to use.
Not only have the headlines been about how she may have won, there’s even positive spin on the email scandal thanks to Sanders expressing the sentiment of most Democrats that he’s sick of hearing about it. The moment received a standing ovation during the debate and will likely be mentioned every time the emails come up for the next couple weeks.
I do think there is a slight media overreaction to how well Clinton did in the debates because there was also an overreaction to how much the scandals were hurting her. The truth is that despite all the negative press her poll numbers haven’t really changed much(3%) since August 1st. If you’d like a longer discussion on how the email scandal has and hasn’t impacted Clinton I’d recommend this article:
Many outlets were going with a ‘Clinton is in big trouble’ narrative and the debates have served to get everyone back to viewing her chances for the nomination accurately. Clinton didn’t do anything in the debates to lose front runner status and there are stories being run about her that don’t include the words ’email’ or ‘Benghazi’. To me, that counts as a win for Clinton as well.
Both had needs going into this debate and I think both achieved them. So I’m calling them both winners. Cop out? Maybe. Accurate? As far as I can tell.
I’m a big fan of looking at gambling odds on politics because sportsbooks have a vested interest in being accurate when a lot of news outlets really don’t. Taking the numbers from the site PredictWise the day after the debate, the current Democratic nomination picture looks like this:
I’m already at about as long as I ever like to force you to read at one time, so I’ll close this by saying thank you for reading and keep your eyes open for Part Trump coming before the end of the weekend.
As always, questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.
Tonight is the second Republican debate. The field has been narrowed to 16 with Rick Perry dropping out last week, but there is still a long road to go before there’s an official Republican nominee for president. The first debate was hosted by fox news, this one will be hosted by CNN. On their website earlier today, CNN posted the article Seven Things to Watch at the CNN Republican Debate. They are hosting it, so taking a look at what they think is important for tonight will be relevant once we’re looking back on whatever gets said tonight. With that in mind I’m going to take their seven bullet points and add my own thoughts.
What will Trump say this time?
Tough not to lead with this. Trump’s perpetual attention machine has continued going strong since the last debates and I’d be willing to bet that whatever headlines lead tomorrow will include his name. The fox news debate drew in an estimated 24 million people and a fair amount of that is people who can’t take their eyes away from what that man is doing to the American political process. For the record, that’s more viewers than game 7 of the world series last year, but I don’t know whether that says more about our current views of politics or our current views of baseball.
Plenty of people have speculated that Trump has hit his ceiling, but he continues to poll higher. Especially because of the attention he’s able to draw, I do expect other candidates to go on the offensive a little more with Trump. He can’t be brushed off as easily as last year’s flash in the pan candidates like Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich. I’ll touch on this a little more later.
Trump vs. Fiorina
The fox news debate included 10 candidates, this debate will add one more. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina is jumping to the main stage and there are several obvious places she might clash with Trump. The clash between moderator Megyn Kelly and Trump was one of the more memorable moments of the debate, especially because it sparked something that is continuing to today with tweets from Trump about how her show, “was much better without her,” “she is really off her game,” and retweeting a follower saying, “the bimbo is back in town.”
This of course all starting because Megyn Kelly pressed the issue with Trump about his well documented misogyny. Last time though Megyn Kelly was the only woman on the stage. This time Fiorina will be up there with Trump, so it will be interesting to see how either of them address gender this time. Trump hasn’t shied away from commenting on Fiorina before saying in a Rolling Stone article, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” and also calling her one of the worst CEOs ever. Will Fiorina fire back?
It should also be noted that these two are naturally going to be compared because they’re resumes are so similar. They’re both political outsiders who have never held elected and office and get all of their leadership experience from the business sector.
What Hand will Ben Carson Play?
Ben Carson was relatively quiet in the first debate, 6:28 of speaking time compared to Trump’s 10:30, but his latest poll numbers have him gaining on Trump. In New Hampshire he’s only four points behind. It will be interesting to see how he acts tonight given his much improved odds at the nomination. Carson did take a shot at Trump last week on religious grounds, but has since walked those comments back. Will he stay soft spoken or will he make a more forward play tonight?
The Bush Reboot
This gets more into the idea of how candidates are handling Trump. Several months ago when Bush was polling miles ahead of everyone else he didn’t respond to Trump’s attacks against him for being weak on immigration. Bush figured taking the higher road looked better, and if I were his campaign adviser I would have told him to do that exact thing.
Then Trump polled higher, people started taking him more seriously, and seeing Bush not respond started to appear as weakness rather than presidential. Now that Bush’s polling numbers have dropped to single digits he has started going after Trump a little harder. I’m quite certain that trend will continue tonight. His super PAC is already spending more money on attack ads in Iowa. Bush and Paul are the two candidates I expect to really come out swinging tonight.
Can Scott Walker Salvage his Campaign?
Walker’s national poll numbers have dropped from 11% down to 2%, meanwhile in Iowa he’s polling a shade higher at 3%. Once considered a Tea Party darling his supporters seem to have gone to either Trump or Cruz which will make tonight particularly hard for him. What can he say to separate himself from those two while gaining back his supporters and not alienating the rest of the party? That’s a tough line to…walk.(I’m sorry)
A Spotlight on Foreign Policy
Trump was in the spotlight earlier this week for some foreign policy flubs on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show. Foreign policy will undoubtedly be on the table because of the Syrian refugee crisis going on in Europe. With candidates looking for weaknesses in Trump’s armor, this is certainly a point you’ll see emphasized a lot. It should also be noted that Hugh Hewitt is going to be one of the moderators tonight, so it will be interesting to see what sort of questions he has for Trump this time around.
Do or Die for the Undercards
Just like before the fox debate, there will be a ‘JV’ debate for four of the candidates polling the lowest. Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki will all once again take the stage together. Seeing Fiorina jump from the undercard last time to the main event this time will give the candidates a little more to fight for during their debate, but I still doubt we’ll be talking about any of those names again between now and the election except to say which of the other 11 candidates they are supporting.
The action starts at 8pm eastern time tonight on CNN.