Friday, October 14, 2016

2016 election prediction, 24 days out

Barring some dramatic last-minute event, it looks like we can start making reasonable predictions of what Washington will look like after the election. Note: this is my guess, based on the data currently floating out there for free on the net. (Real Clear Politics, 538, etc.)

  • The House is going to stay in GOP control, although with a significantly reduced margin. They might lose up to twenty house seats, but will hold onto over a dozen more seats than the Democrats. Ryan will continue as the Speaker of the House.
  • The Senate is a coin toss, but neither party can dominate it. There is virtually no chance either party could achieve a fillibuster-proof majority. That means the Senate going to be split nearly evenly between both parties, meaning a single Senator (from either party) can filibuster and kill any legislation. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to who is going to be Majority Leader, but I'm leaning slightly towards both parties getting 50 seats, VP Kaine being the tie breaking vote, and the next Majority Leader will be a Democrat. Odds are it's either Chuck Schumer or Dick Durbin. It won't matter, because the Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren wings of both parties will make sure nothing is passed due to fillibustering.
  • Without divine intervention to help Trump, the Presidency is going to the Democrats. Trump really does need a miracle at this point. He has not only lost ground in virtually every single battleground state, he's actively losing more battleground states *and* he's spending all his time shoring up his support among the GOP rather that capturing the hearts and minds of the independent voters. Railing about twenty year old Clinton scandals and saying that the women accusing him of sexual assault are ugly really might be playing well in red states, but it does very little to win the support of undecided voters.

CONCLUSION: Situation normal, all fucked up. The end result appears that Congress and the White House will be largely the same as what it was before, with the exception of the grip of the GOP on congress will be weakened. That really doesn't mean anything, because they will still have the strength to block the White House, as well as standing a good chance of regaining ground in Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.

So, 2016 basically boils down to sound and fury, signifying nothing but stress for the average voters and increased ad revenues for the news channels. I guess there is 2018 to look forward to! ;)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Scott Walker for President?

A friend asked me about what I thought Scott Walker's chances were in the upcoming Presidential election and I ended up writing a huge response. After I was finished, I figured I should probably cut and paste the response here, where nobody would read it or care. Situation normal!

Question: "So do you still think Walker won't be president?"

I expect Walker to run, and he has a chance, but I think he is only a solid second tier candidate who will ultimately be a road bump for the more powerful GOP establishment candidates.

Full rant/opinion:
Walker's problem is that he comes across as far too ideological and not nearly as influential or charismatic as the first tier candidates: Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie. Speaking of which...

Rick Perry and Jeb Bush are *far* better positioned to be the standard bearers for the establishment, and Jeb has the rallying effect of pulling droves of Christian conservatives immediately into his corner. (Let's not forget, the whole Terry Schiavo thing happened because of Jeb Bush, not George W. Bush.)

I think Christie by far has the best shot in the General, but I don't see him surviving the ideological purge during the primary. He is always going to be described by the other candidates as the guy who worked with Obama after Hurricane Sandy. If by some miracle he ends up getting the nomination, I'll bet money that Christie will crush Clinton in the general. I seriously doubt he'll get that far, though.

IMO, Perry and Bush are the front runners.

Assuming that Perry and Bush drop the ball and become unelectable, the GOP has a second tier of not-as-good candidates to draw from: Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio. They are skilled politicians who have an appeal (such as ethnicity for Jindal and Rubio, union busting for Walker), but all of them are far too right leaning to survive the general election and have left a treasure trove of sound bites for Clinton to use to destroy them. IMO, these candidates are either don't have as much charisma and/or are far more polarizing to the general electorate than Perry, Bush or Christie.

While these guys could do well in the primaries, they will also be the primary target of the establishment wing of the GOP looking to avoid the destructive primary of 2012. Today, the Tea Party (which all of the second and third tier candidates depend on) has little influence on Washington and the money makers. Expect the Koch brothers to ultimately back the first tier candidates and help erase everyone else.

That said, Walker is probably the best Second tier candidate in the race. He was a governor of a blue state, and Americans typically choose governors for president. That said, compare the size of Wisconsin to Florida (Bush), Texas (Perry), and New Jersey (Christie). These are far more complex states, with a boatload of people and electoral votes. Bush really stands out here, because he could clinch Florida which could very well win the entire election due to that.

These are the guys running with a very small base of diehard followers, but ultimately will use the race as a PR stunt to either widen their small base (Rand Paul) or ultimately to secure another four years of talking head status on FOX or talk radio (Huckabee, Palin, Santorum, Cruz, etc.). All of these candidates can't even survive the GOP primary, but they can certainly damage the eventually primary winner in the eyes of the electorate.

Rand Paul is probably the best of the lot, but despite the small government rhetoric that Republicans like mouthing, they have never shown an ounce of support to libertarianism. If you run into one, just mention cutting back corporate welfare, military expenditures, and not invading countries due to "American Exceptionalism" and you'll see the GOP flock to big government. After all, they like big government when it pushes their agenda. Regardless, I expect Rand Paul to be a sideshow who won't gain any traction at all.

In summation, I think Walker has a shot, but it's a long shot. He's better positioned than most candidates to make a run for the office, but I don't see him overcoming the hurtle of the top tier candidates. They have far too much wealth, political clout, and influence for someone like Walker to derail their plans for the Oval Office. That said, if Christie flames out early and then Bush and Perry blow it in the debates, then Walker will have a great chance to position himself as the best "other" candidate. Everyone else, IMO, is just a sideshow distraction or one trick pony. He could pull it off, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Personally, I'm expecting Bush v. Clinton in 2016, and the lowest voter turnout for a presidential election ever seen, mainly because it's a battle between two royal families, rather than leaders that the American people give a shit about.

The song remains the same. :(

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hello, 2016!

2016 is closer than you think. Especially when mud on one of the top Presidential candidates for that cycle is in the news.
Emails emerged Wednesday tying New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s staff to the closing of lanes on a key bridge in September — shutdowns that caused massive traffic problems and sparked allegations that the closures were the result of political retribution. The likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate had denied his staff played a role in the lane closures and even mocked reporters for asking about the issue when it emerged months ago. However, the emails tell a different story, potentially undercutting Christie’s reputation as a truth-teller who doesn’t play political games. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie senior staffer Bridget Kelly wrote in an email to Port Authority official David Wildstein, a Christie ally, on Aug. 13, 2013, according to The Record newspaper.
Gov. Tom Kean, who was a longtime Christie mentor, was stunned when he learned of the emails. “That’s a big deal because they were saying there’s no connection to the governor’s office,” he told POLITICO. “That’s a connection.” Operatives who dislike Christie were gleeful, with one Republican strategist saying the emails read like a “Sopranos episode.”
Christie is clearly the GOP front runner for 2016 and is effectively playing the same "I'm a reasonable Republican that could get elected in a blue state" card that Romney went into the primaries with. This latest mud will tarnish his image, but Hillary (the Democratic front runner) has a mountain of scandals of her own. (Bengazi happened on her watch as Secretary of State, her voting record as a NY Senator, and you know she'll be linked to every single conspiracy theory and drama involving the Clinton Administration.) The real danger of this mud tarnishing the Christie-as-the-straight-shooter image comes from the primary circus he is going to have to participate in. We all know that the clown car brigade of Presidential candidates/self-aggrandizing media pundits will also toss their hats into the ring again, either to get more publicity (Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich) or as another hopeless Don Quixote-style ideological crusader (Santorum, Paul). Unfortunately for Christie, he has the same job Romney had: show that he is a reasonable Republican governor of a blue state who rose above politics and got things done, all while not being a RINO. They both fit that mold. Unfortunately, Romney destroyed that image trying to beat the clown car brigade at their own game. (Remember self-deportation or "I am severely conservative"?) This scandal of Christie's isn't major, but it's exactly what the clowns will use to put him on the defensive and hopefully drag him to their level. If that happens, we'll have a repeat of 2012 GOP primary all over again. Speaking as a Democrat, I couldn't be happier. Speaking as an American, I hope the clown candidates don't join the ring and thus we'll have an actual debate involving substance and not hysteria. Wait a second, I'm in America. I know which one of this is more likely. ;)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

This is criticism?

Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defence, has a memoir out and apparently it's scathing against President Obama.

President Barack Obama lost faith in US strategy in Afghanistan and his focus was "all about getting out" out of the unpopular war, according to a scathing critique by his former secretary of defence.

A new memoir by Robert Gates paints a damning picture of Mr Obama's management of the war, saying the president was "sceptical if not outright convinced" his generals' plans would end in failure.

Honestly, I'm trying to figure out how this is a bad thing. I mean, after Afghanistan went completely pear shaped, how many people honestly believed that the "Afghan surge" would work?

Frankly, hearing this makes me happy he was skeptical about getting the hell out of Afghanistan. Give the generals one last chance to help fix the problem, and if not, GTFO.

Although praising Mrs Clinton as "indefatigable, funny, [and] a very valuable colleague" he said she admitted that she opposed plans to send more troops to Iraq in 2007 for electoral reasons.

Thumbs up, IMO.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Clinton's approval drops among key demographics

It's two and a half years out from the 2016 Presidential primary, but that won't stop polling firms from tracking approval/disapproval ratings. This one caught my eye mainly due to the the key demographic that happen to be turning away from the heir-apparent/shoo-in for the Democratic candidate for President.
Hillary Clinton’s public image has slumped in recent months, with younger voters, Democrats and independents taking a less enthusiastic view of her, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows.

Overall, 46% registered a positive view of the ex-secretary of state, compared to 33% who expressed a negative opinion. As recently as April, 56% saw Mrs. Clinton in a positive light.

While this is extremely early in the process, I think it bodes well for the future. I want a primary where one can vote for the candidate you prefer, rather than just accepting an annointed leader because you have no choice in who gets the nod.

The candidate with the most support from party members should win, and not someone with a mantle of inevitability. If Hillary is the best of the lot, then she'll win the primary. If not, the party get someone that their members support.

As long as there is competition and a chance for party members to choose candidates, I'll be happy with the result.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why worry?

In 1992, the GOP lost seats due shutting down the government. Today, the majority of the GOP are more worried about losing primaries to even more extreme candidates. As the following quote from this Politico article sums up:
"Most of the Republicans digging in have no reason to fear voters will ever punish them for it.  
The vast majority of GOP lawmakers are safely ensconced in districts that, based on the voter rolls, would never think of electing a Democrat. Their bigger worry is that someone even more conservative than they are — bankrolled by a cadre of uncompromising conservative groups — might challenge them in a primary.  
So from the standpoint of pure political survival, there’s every incentive to keep the government closed in what looks like a futile protest over Obamacare."
Don't think the debt ceiling debate in two weeks will be any different. I expect that to fail as well, and have even more severe results to the economy than shutting down the government.

In short, situation normal in D.C.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Deficit talk usually has a deficit of facts

Republicans like saying that Obama tripled the deficit, and Obama likes saying that he cut it in half.

The reality is that he did both. The chart the GOP typically uses ends at 2012, and conveniently ignores the recession and 2013.

The sources are listed below, but here are the raw numbers:
  • The deficit in fiscal year 1992 was $0.290 trillion. (Clinton's first year)
  • The surplus in fiscal year 2000 was $0.236 trillion. (Clinton's last year)
  • The deficit in fiscal year 2008 was $0.458 trillion. (Bush's last year)
  • The deficit in fiscal year 2009 was $1.412 trillion. (Obama's first year)
  • The deficit in fiscal year 2012 was $1.087 trillion.
  • This May, the Congressional Budget office has projected that the fiscal year 2013 deficit would shrink to $0.642 trillion.

So, Clinton reduced the deficit by $0.526 trillion (and left a surplus) by the time he left office
Bush increased the deficit by $0.694 trillion (cause: Iraq) by the time he left office
Obama increased the deficit by $0.629 trillion by the end of his first term (cause: bailout/stimulus)

If the CBO is accurate, then Obama will have increased the deficit by "only" $0.184 trillion after his first five years.

That, and that while Obama definitely tripled the deficit, but you'd have to be crazy to think that McCain wouldn't have done the same. Remember, 2008/2009 was ground zero in the great recession, and the government was spening cash madly in order to prevent the economy from falling into a depression. Since that crisis was averted, and long since the crazy days of the recession, the deficit has been steadily dropping again. By the end of his first term, Obama had increased the deficit less than Bush did in two terms. If the Congressional Budget Office is accurate, then in 2013 Obama will have only increased the deficit by $0.183 trillion. Hope springs eternal that by the end of Obama's term, we'll be back in surplus territory again.