Saturday, October 17, 2015

The horserace

On the Democrat side, Hillary's performance in the debate tightened her grip on the nomination. It's hard to see what can dislodge her.

There's the possibility of an FBI indictment. However:

i) DOJ might have to sign off on any indictment, which seems highly unlikely so long as that's in the hands of Democrats.

ii) Even if she is indicted, I doubt most Democrats care.

On the GOP side, Christie and Kasich have tanked at 1% in a new poll, teetering on the brink of asterisk oblivion. Carley has lost points. Jeb is sinking.

At this point I think Rubio, Cruz, and Carson are the most likely nominees.

iii) Carson's odds are hard to handicap. Like Trump, he's a protest candidate. But unlike Trump, he's not off-putting to the base. 

Many Trump supporters don't seem to be registered Republicans or social conservatives. So when it comes to Republican primaries, he doesn't appear to have a lot of actual voters in his corner. Rather, he draws his support from people who are disaffected with both parties. So his hot-air balloon may go the way of the Hindenburg the moment it comes into contact with real voters in real primaries. We'll see.

Carson is acceptable to the base in a way that Trump is not. And lately he's shown good political instincts in public comments that seize the moment.

However, it's hard to see him winning a debate with Hillary. Thus far, he is docile and uninformed. 

On the other hand, his bedside manner makes him hard to demonize. And the liberal establishment has to be careful about Borking a black presidential candidate. Sure, they tried that with Thomas, but only political junkies followed that debate. A national campaign would draw a different audience. 

iv) At the moment, I still think Rubio has the best shot at the nomination. And the best shot in the general election.

In a debate with Hillary, he could hold his own on substance. And his youth might compare well with her age. 

One potential problem is that he has no edge. So this would look like a debate between two reasonable candidates. That favors Hillary.

Rubio doesn't strike me as the kind of candidate who will try to make Hillary look bad. I doubt he'd draw attention to how dangerous she is to the Republic, given her lawlessness and dictatorial mindset. 

v) Cruz can also cash in on the protest candidate persona. And he's been courting the Trumpkins. Positioning himself so that if Trump loses flames out, Cruz can pick up his supporters. 

He's a good fundraiser. Has a strategy for forging a new winning coalition, by targeting neglected voting blocks. Whether he can translate that strategy into reality remains to be seen. 

And he's more likely to expose Hillary's liabilities in a debate. But that poses a dilemma. 

He lacks charm. And there's a feminist double standard, where she's allowed to say whatever she wants, however she wants, but if a male candidate takes her on, he's "mean." He's "disrespectful" to a woman. So I don't know how that would play out in terms of voter perceptions. 


  1. One of your best election posts. Great summary of the field regarding electable dynamics.

  2. One potential problem is that he has no edge. So this would look like a debate between two reasonable candidates. That favors Hillary.

    On Facebook I saw a link titled Hillary Reportedly on Verge of Psychiatric Collapse. I don't know if it's legitimate and reputable website.

    Even if it's not true, Rubio is fresh blood who can be perceived as representing the next generation. While Hillary is part the Old Guard, a bygone generation. A Clinton hasn't been in the White House in about 14 years. She's had 14 years to do something great and build her reputation. But rather than positive things, she's surrounded with scandal.

    Also, many voters are so superficial that subconsciously (or consciously) they'll tend to favor the more aesthetically pleasing of two candidates. Both "age" and "beauty" favor Rubio.

    Rubio doesn't strike me as the kind of candidate who will try to make Hillary look bad. I doubt he'd draw attention to how dangerous she is to the Republic, given her lawlessness and dictatorial mindset.

    Thats why it's SOOOOOO important that Rubio pick the right running mate. As we all know, Vice President candidates are traditionally the POTUS candidate's attack dog. As I said before, a wise candidate would pick Trump's hair for a running mate. That would be a proverbial "attack dog" that actually bites.

  3. It's pretty pathetic to think that the current field represents the best candidates for POTUS that this nation can muster.

    Say it ain't so.

  4. So Carson is uninformed eh? The majority of politicians have the IQs of a retard and more uninformed than him.

    1. Compared to Cruz, Jindal, and Rubio, Carson is uninformed about domestic and foreign policy. IQ is not the same thing as knowledge. Brilliant men can be quite ignorant outside their field of specialization.

  5. My sense is that Cruz is like Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin, in that he's acquired a bad reputation that he'll probably never recover from. He can do a lot of good as a Senator, governor, or Supreme Court justice, for example, but probably isn't a good presidential candidate. His facial expressions and voice are unusual in a bad way. I think he often comes across as arrogant or disingenuous, regardless of whether he actually is. He has good moments, but he's not as consistently good of a communicator as somebody like Rubio, Fiorina, or Huckabee. And he'd do more to motivate the Democrats to get out and vote, and provide them with a lot more to criticize, than somebody like Rubio would.

    Carson has improved as the campaign has gone on, but he's frequently shown himself to be uninformed and misinformed about the issues. He's more informed than Trump and seems to be trying to learn the issues more than Trump is trying to, but both men often come across as winging it. Neither should be running for president. The level of support they're getting is deeply shameful and reflects poorly on the Republican party. It's the same sort of nonsense we saw in the 2012 cycle, when Trump, Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum kept surging in the polls for no good reason. Talk radio is part of the problem, with Rush Limbaugh in particular showing disastrously poor judgment over and over again in how he covers these presidential campaigns.

    I suspect a lot of Republicans are making judgments at this point based on shallow factors like name recognition, emotions, following the crowd, likeability, who's most popular on talk radio, and a desire to register a protest. Tim Pawlenty should have been the nominee in 2012, but Republicans kept moving from one bad candidate to another before eventually settling on the second best candidate. I hope they'll come to their senses again and choose somebody better than Trump or Carson, hopefully Rubio.

    NBC's Chuck Todd was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt yesterday, and he said something to the effect that Rubio is the candidate feared most by the Clinton campaign (and other Democrats, I think). It shouldn't be taking the Republicans so long to figure that out. They keep wasting time on deeply flawed candidates like Trump and Carson while giving so little support to candidates who are much better.

    1. Jason wrote:

      NBC's Chuck Todd was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt yesterday, and he said something to the effect that Rubio is the candidate feared most by the Clinton campaign (and other Democrats, I think). It shouldn't be taking the Republicans so long to figure that out.

      The majority of Republicans seem to be just as uninformed and lacking judgment as the majority of Democrats (or nearly so). I watched the 9/16/15 Republican presidential debate last week and Rubio consistently got the audience to applaud after he spoke. No one else was able to do that. Huckabee was a distant second. It's frustrating to watch Republican's not yet catching on as to who their best bets would be.


      I suspect the large majority of the Republicans who participate in polling haven't watched any of the debates that have occurred so far. Even among those who have watched at least one of the debates, I suspect a lot of them were watching in a highly uninformed way and/or with some bad motives. It wouldn't surprise me if a double-digit percentage of the people who have been watching the debates have been doing so primarily or solely to watch Trump or to see how other candidates interact with Trump. For them, it's a Trump soap opera. They don't know much about the issues or electability or how to discern which candidate to support. Some of them probably won't even vote, in the primaries or in the general election. But they find Trump entertaining and like watching him for other shallow reasons.

      You mentioned the first debate. Trump and Carson's candidacies should have been over after the initial questions posed by Megyn Kelly. Anybody who isn't familiar with what happened during that debate ought to bring it up on YouTube and watch the opening questions posed to Trump and Carson. Go here and go to the 6:00 and 10:30 marks in the video. Watch Kelly ask the questions, which are devastating in themselves, and watch the poor responses from Carson and Trump and the ridiculous audience reactions. Trump's response to Kelly's question, which mirrors what Rush Limbaugh and other Trump supporters have been saying for months now, is unreasonable and evasive, yet it got loud cheers from the debate audience. Limbaugh and other Trump supporters keep commending him for not backing down when criticized. But refusing to back down is only a virtue if you haven't done anything wrong. What we're seeing with Trump, and with Carson to a lesser degree, is a refusal to back down when they have done something wrong. That's not a virtue. It's a vice. Yes, Trump and Carson are unusually resilient bumblers. But it would be better to have a nominee who doesn't bumble so much to begin with. You don't have to be a resilient bumbler if you aren't a bumbler in the first place. Megyn Kelly did the Republicans a favor. A lot of Republicans still don't realize it and have gotten upset with her rather than getting upset with the candidates she was rightly exposing.

      A good way to open some people's eyes to what's going on may be to ask them how they'd react if there were equivalents to Trump and Carson in the Democratic primaries. In Trump's case, you don't even need an equivalent. He's been a Democrat in the past, and it's easy to imagine him running as a Democrat this year, if the political winds had been favoring the Democrats rather than the Republicans. Imagine Trump running in the Democratic party, referring to how he's going to appoint "phenomenal" and "terrific" people in his administration, how he's going to be "tremendous" as president, how "you won't believe" what he's going to get done, etc. Imagine him frequently contradicting his previous positions on issues, coming across as somebody who's winging it in interviews and debates, repeatedly showing himself to be ignorant of the issues, regularly getting into prolonged, angry, inappropriate disputes with people for no good reason, etc. Or imagine a liberal equivalent to Ben Carson. He's an accomplished doctor with a lot of good qualities, but he's never held or even run for office before, commits a lot of gaffes, frequently shows himself to be ignorant of or misinformed about the issues, often speaks in a hesitant and stumbling way, often comes across as somebody who's winging it, and so on. What would Republicans make of such candidates if they were running as Democrats?

    3. It's true that many Republican and Democratic voters have overlapping qualities. There are some underlying problems in our society that cut across party lines (e.g., false priorities, poor time management, neglect of intellectual matters).

    4. Your points are so good I can't add to them.

      If anyone is interested, I've been following the republican debates using this webpage for about a month. If i understand correctly, there have actually been four Rep. debates. Each day having an earlier and later debate. The leading candidates participating in the later debate in the day.

      If anyone has a better website, please post it in comments.

  6. I'd add Carson, while brilliant, a reflective and deep thinker, doesn't seem able to think as quickly on his feet as some of the other Republican candidates. Not sure if it's deliberate like maybe he's trying to cultivate the public image of a more considered and considerate candidate, or if it's simply who he is as a person. I suspect it's more the latter.

    If so, I suppose part of this may be due to his decades operating as a neurosurgeon where one often has to take a slower and more cautious approach than say in trauma surgery where time is of the essence. Take performing micro brain surgery under a microscope for deep brain tumors. If one is off even by millimeters it could prove catastrophic for the patient (e.g. paralysis). So it pays for a neurosurgeon to have a calm personality under pressure.