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February 20, 2015


Wayne Borean

Interesting scenario. The real winner would be the radio and television stations carrying the ads...

That said, a number of the candidates have serious weaknesses. Take Ted Cruz - his social position is a turn off for a lot of people. His personality is also a turn off. In the Blue and Purple states, Cruz could end up getting really low vote counts.

Huckabee has similar problems on his social position. But his personality is a winner with a lot of people.

It is going to be fascinating to watch unfold.

I do tend to agree that the Republican Primary is going to do a lot of damage to the candidates, even without the Swift Boat attacks from the Super Pacs.

This could also have a really negative impact on House campaigns. Say Bush wins the nomination. He's been exposed as a cheat, liar, thief, etc. So now the Republican running in a Purple state has Bush hanging over his/her shoulder like the Death Star, letting a Democrat win.

You know, I'm damned glad we dropped cable and went NetFlix. We get a lot of American TV channels on cable, and the American election ads are truly disgusting.

I'll predict ahead of time that when Obama hands over the Presidency to whomever is named Hillary, that those who have been screaming that Obama is a Marxist/Muslim/Kenyan will not apologize for being wrong. I suspect that some of the more rabid will be calling Hillary a Marxist/Muslim/Kenyan by Election Day!

On a final note, this election should also be a boon for popcorn sales.

Wayne Borean

Just had another thought. This campaign could end up being played like Survivor with candidates making promises of the VP slot to get similar candidates to drop out, with the hope that their support will migrate.

Of course a promise is only as good as its maker, so some interesting contacts might get drawn up...

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Wayne

Yeah its really gonna be an interesting show.. lotsa popcorn and staying up late hours for USA debate coverage here in Asia..

I was thinking similar thoughts about the end-game negotiations. So if it were a really widely spread field and the top three guys had say 25%, 22% and 20% of the delegates, obviously the top 2 could not collect an alliance just by the pair of them to be the ticket (only had 47% of delegates) and obviously if number 3 guy with 20% of his own, could convince all other candidates (who finished 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th maybe even 8th, 9th) who control the other 35% to join his coalition, then number 3 guy would be the nominee. Now, how far would the top guy (finished first, 25%) be willing to compromise his positions and make promises to get 2 others to join him? What about the number 2 guy (who got 22% of the votes). He would most definitely go far further, he had seen for weeks before the end that the number 1 guy was probably gonna finish ahead of him. Now, consider number 3 guy. He, first of all, is in the driver's seat for who gets to be the Presidential Nominee. Both of the top 2 guys will have made him the offer to be VP. Now, he had seen the scenario building the longest, but also knew as long as the two top guys didn't break 50%, then he, number 3 guy could still become the Presidential nominee. What would he do? He would SELL HIS SOUL to get that nomination ahead of the two top guys.

So if you're number 4 guy, and you know you can't become VP with the top 2 guys but number 3 guys offers you VP slot? You'd be very interested. What about number 5 guy? He could get Secretary of State (or if he's Lindsey Graham, he could prefer Secretary of Defense, or if Rand Paul, Secretary of the Treasury). Then imagine all the promises made to the 'owners' of those candidates ie their sponsor-Billionaires, to make this deal work. Yes, we will let you Sheldon Adelson have some Las Vegas gambling law changes so we put your casios into 20 states and on federal land in the rest.. Yes, Koch Brothers, we'll let you pollute the nation to your heart's desire. And so forth and so forth...

Now. The Number 1 and Number 2 guys will want the Number 3 guy to commit (to either) as most likely Number 1 and Number 2 will hate each other too much to do the deal between them, and in any case Number 2 guy won't accept VP, he wants to be on the top of the ticket. Meanwhile, Number 3 guy will know he can always be VP if he can't put his own Humpty-Dumpty coalition together but IF he is able to do it, he'll be the Republican nominee and potentially USA's next President..

So now, first, imagine if any of this starts to leak, at various points of the negotiations. What is being promised or asked for under the table, over the table, commitments and promises (and broken promises). Second, what happens if indeed Number 3 guy DOES get his coalition assembled with all the also-ran finalists. Now both Number 1 and Number 2 are out of it. Would they - and their Billionaire backers - and all the states where the Republican voters actually voted for these two top guys - accept that 'decision' or feel that they were stabbed in the back?

Its very likely either - or even both - perhaps even allied - would run as 'independents' against the 'official' Republican rival team led by Number 3 guy. Because Number 1 guy can't give anything to Number 2 guy that Number 2 guy can't do better without Number 1 (ie becoming the boss rather than slave in the President-Vice President pairing) I think if the top 2 guys don't pass 50%, that end game will be a nasty nasty NASTY mess - but again, most interesting to watch. That speculation is obviously too early now but lets see how the two first months go, starting in March we will see if my overall scenario is starting to happen, then we will also know if we have only 3 or 4 viable 'will stay till end' candidates or if there might be 6 or even 8 of them haha... But that 'gaming' theory will be a big pundit topic once the delegate math rules out a clear victory for the front-runner...

Bring out the popcorn indeed...

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Millard Filmore

"889 Billion dollars committed by the millionaire-friends"

would that be Million dollars instead?

Tomi T Ahonen


Yes... should be millions, I'll go fix that. Its a problem where we in mobile tech so often talk in billions so that slips rather easily. Should say 889 million, ie nearly 1 billion dollars, thanks Millard.

Tomi Ahonen :-)



The more rabid opponents have been calling Hillary a Marxist/murderer/witch since Bill's first term, and I don't think the intervening 20 years have softened their views.

Wayne Borean


And I'll bet that they add Kenyan Muslim to that. Logic is not their strong suit.


@Wayne, logic isn't the Democrats' strong suit, either. It isn't the Tea Partiers refusing to get immunized. It's the Jenny McCarthy crowd and west coast BMW-drivers. The party of science also would rather see oil shipped through rail cars rather than build a safer pipeline (which also uses less energy and carbon to operate than rail cars)

Anyway, Tomi, Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics brought up the possibility of a brokered convention almost a month ago.

I don't think it is going to happen since only a few candidates are going to be able to raise the massive sums of money necessary to fund a national campaign. The establishment will determine who between Christie, Bush, and Rubio is most likely to have a chance. Walker may just be the flavor of the month, or he could be the real deal. It's too soon to tell. Certainly the way the left is trying to pounce on everything he is saying makes me believe that they are genuinely worried about his chances, even if he is dull as a doorknob as a public speaker. It might actually backfire since he is getting some fundraising traction out of it now. After all, he didn't win 3 elections in 4 years in the birthplace of progressivism for nothing. He isn't trying to win over the voters on the left since he knows he won't get them. He won in a light blue state by solidifying his base and winning over independents. Remember, he won 3 times by about the same margin Obama did in 2012, so he can obviously attract independents while performing strong with the GOP base.

My guess is that once the debates get started we'll see the money shift to two, maybe three candidates. The establishment isn't that enthusiastic about another Bush/Clinton matchup, and Christie hasn't really recovered from the whole bridge flap, so Rubio might emerge as a dark horse, particularly since he has at least some foreign policy experience. If Walker is not a flash in the pan, then he could bridge the right and independent-leaning wings of the party. Otherwise, it opens the door for Paul.

Unlike the Democratic Party, most GOP primaries are virtually winner take all. Plus the GOP wants to get the nomination over with as soon as possible. Their performance in 2014 relative to 2012 and even 2010 shows that the establishment has learned a lot in the last 2 years. The Tea Party is mostly under control now (the own goal on Homeland Security funding notwithstanding), and I think both sides realize that Hillary's biggest enemy is a drawn out general election campaign. As 2008 showed, she just isn't as good a candidate in real life as she seems to be on paper. She's hoping to run as someone's third term, preferably Bill's but she'd gladly run as Obama's third term if the economy is still humming late next year. But if it isn't, or she gets dragged into a slugfest I think she is more vulnerable than you realize.


I think the other factor is what happens over the next 18 months or so. If all Obama does is wield his veto pen despite the House and Senate sending him bill after bill after bill, it will be harder for the Democrats to portray the GOP as the sole "party of no." After all, Keystone XL had fairly significant bipartisan support, and all sides like to talk the talk on reforming our wildly complicated and wildly unpopular tax code. There is a good chance that the Supreme Court rules against the administration on the health insurance subsidies in June since it isn't a constitutional issue and won't establish precedent. If that happens, it's both a threat and opportunity to both sides. The GOP won't get anywhere with a bid to repeal the whole thing, but at the same time, I don't think the Democrats can succeed by doing nothing and/or trying to force the states to cave in and build their own exchanges. It could be a real opportunity for horse trading, and I think someone like Bill Clinton would have used it as such (e.g. trading the subsidies in exchange for support for Keystone XL, or a corporate tax cut). I'm not sure Obama is interested, though. Bill Clinton faced a Congress at least as, if not more hostile than Obama (they had already impeached Clinton by this time), and he still got more done than when the Democrats controlled Congress. Obama's only legislative achievements were when his party controlled everything with supermajorities. If it stays that way, I think it hurts Hillary more.

On another note, SCOTUS is also highly likely to take same sex marriage off the table in June y making it nationwide. It's legal in 37 states now, and they aren't going to put the genie back in the bottle I think it's an issue with rapidly diminishing political relevance anyway, but unlike abortion, the debate won't be so much about trying to overturn SCOTUS' ruling, but more along the lines of how to balance religious rights, which is far less divisive. There really hasn't been that big an uproar in states where courts have forced the issue, Alabama perhaps being the closest (and that's more a few government officials than a massive popular uprising).


The Democratic establishment seems bent on protecting Hillary at all costs. The Clinton brand took a little bit of a hit today, as it seems Rahm Emanuel will be forced into a runoff by a challenger to his left in order to stay on as Mayor of Chicago. If Elizabeth Warren got into the race, she could force Hillary to tack left. The Democratic establishment definitely doesn't want that to happen, so they seem to be pressuring Warren not to run. If not in 2016, then perhaps in 2018 or 2020, but I think the Democrats will face a Tea Party situation of their own sooner than they think. I'd be curious if Tomi has any thoughts on that.


This is very interesting. PPP is a Democratic polling organization, so they have no real interest in promoting one GOP candidate vs. another.

Walker is clearly in the lead (not that it means anything a year before the first primary), but Ben Carson seems to be drawing support from Cruz and Paul. If we have this situation a year from now (a huge IF), in theory someone could walk to the nomination (no pun intended) with about 25% of the vote. It would be much better for Walker if this were February 2016. Both the Democrats and the rest of the GOP will be targeting him right now.

Tomi T Ahonen


Hey, nice comments thanks! Love the discussion on this hobby topic of mine...

First on that Real Clear Politics article by Sean Trende. I remember reading it when he wrote it and it was to me very perceptive. BUT. It does the 'usual' musings of early contests dreaming of a brokered convention. His analysis was based on the broad field of contestants (valid argument) and SuperPAC money (also valid argument) but he didn't discuss the MATH of delegates that makes it almost impossible for a winner to get majority, if these 5 candidates (or someone similar) takes those 30% of the delegates and splits them so evenly. That was my argument. How come nobody yet noticed this GLARING problem in the delegate math... So yeah, there are several good writers who talked of the possibility of a brokered convention already (on the GOP side in 2016) but nobody as far as I have read, has talked of the delegate math and how incredibly warped it makes this season.. that was my point of writing this blog blog and I'm sorry if I wasn't quite clear about that haha...

(PS haha, DEMs not known for logic either, very good)

On the money argument (your first comment) yeah, that 'should' weed out the weaklings but Rand Paul won't need the money, his grassroots organization ran dad Ron Paul to the convention last time. This time Rand Paul gets Koch millions on top of that. So Rand won't be out no matter what. If he quits in the middle of 2016, his career as a national Presidential candidate ends before it even started. He has to finish this time just to secure his dad's organization's transition. That s why he was so much traveling with his dad in 2012.

Ted Cruz? I don't buy your argument that the Tea Party is in control. But even if it was, as long as Ted Cruz (or another 'strong' Teapartier instead of him) is in the race, its a free election inside the GOP, the teapartiers WILL vote for Ted far more than they did for those courting Tea Party favor last time. They have never had a strong candidate yet, in the national Presidential election inside the GOP primary. As to Ted Cruz money? Koch brothers. He is going at least until Texas primary and except if Rick Perry somehow is still in it and learns to speak coherently, Ted will win Texas. After that he ain't quitting, he has too many delegates...

Mike Huckabee i think is the sleeper. I think he is DELIBERATELY playing possum and is off the spotlight so that the big ego stars can burn brightly and be burnt. I can't imagine someone as wily and long-term politico as Huckabee, to not have his finances SET for this run. He HAS to have one of the billionaries in his pocket already. If Huckabee - who clearly has planned this run for the past 6 years since his second place finish in 2008 - was in financial trouble now, he would be sreaming for the headlines on whatever silly topic is in the news now like is Obama a Christian or how much a dictator is Obama for vetoing the pipeline or that judge who ruled against the Obama deportation ban executive order etc. But Mike is really quiet. He could easily get into the spotlight if he needed to. Why isn't he? He HAS to have his budget well in control. So that means he runs at least till Arkansas votes and as long as he doesn't lose at home, he goes all the way.

Now why would anyone else quit, if that someone else has 5% or 10% in the early running and has enough money to run till the end? Jeb Bush has definitely a ton of cash, he ain't quitting (unless he loses Florida). Marco Rubio if he manages to beat Bush in Florida, he has Koch money and is the Koch group darling. He'll very likely have half of the total Koch millions just for himself. The Chris Christie, he has the New York money connection. He ain't gonna be poor and he will win easily the GOP primary of New York state in March, that makes him a frontrunner no matter how poorly he might have done in the first 4 states. So no, I don't see how the money this time weeds out the weaklings. BUT - it is what Jeb Bush is desperately trying, to squash as many of his rivals now with the 'shock and awe' money war.

(I'll respond more)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen


Now, on GOP leadership, yes they clearly reacted very well to the clown circus of 2012 and changed a lot of the rules in ways to prevent a prolonged and pointless fight in the nomination. they cut the number of debates and installed very severe punishments for breaking rules. And the winner-take-all rules are designed to prevent a tied race. That being said, it is still no guarantee. If we keep to only the 5 I mentioend, and say 30% is split to each, with nobody having 15%. Now the rest will need to play to ONE strong candidate else winner-take all won't matter. Now Ted Cruz the Texan and Mike Huckabee the Arkansas Gov will play well in the West, Colorado, Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico etc. They won't easily go for a Northeasterner like Chris Christie or a moderate like Jeb Bush. Jeb however would play well with the Hispanics so Arizona, New Mexico (and California). Meanwhile Chris Christie and Jeb Bush would play well in the corners, Washington State, Oregon, and the New England states where the Southerners Cruz and Huckabee would not play well. Huckabee would do well in the religious communities in the MidWest and Plains states (similar to his win in Iowa). What about the industrialized states around the great lakes, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania. Sounds promising for Christie but Jeb Bush would play well there too. California could tip it if it goes to whoever otherwise is leading but I see the regions going to different winners and that 70% could go 30-20-10-10. I think its very unlikely that the candidate who wins Arizona also wins Pennsylvania... These 5 (before Ohio Gov Kasich, Wisconsin Gov Walker and LA Gov Jindal) candidates I think would split the nation (And Rand Paul would at least replicate if not exceed his dad in the caucus states now that the Libertarian wing has a more realistic candidate so they won't think of Rand as a protest vote only).

Now on Hillary.. I made a deliberately bold prediction BEFORE the midterms last year, that Hillary's win in 2016 will be double-digits ie a modern landslide. You might want to read that analysis, it is here

Its a long article but I find that for the first time in any election cycle as far as I have studied it, one party holds all the cards. Demographics, issues, money, organization, candidate, campaign, nomination, convention, all... even surrogates haha. You may find it interesting.

That being said, your point that if its a strong economy Hillary wants to run on 'the Democrats always give good economies' ie both as the second Clinton and the Obama third term. But if the economy turns sour in the next 15 months, then she would suddenly be vulnerable yes. I still think the fundamentals are so much in her favor (it will be the biggest surge election participation in recent US history, because of women voters finally getting to vote for the first woman candidate) that even if the economy turns, she'd still win...

(more to come)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen


Now to your second comment. The last 2 years of Obama? I think that Obama's relatively low approval ratings (slightly below water) when compared to his record of delivering on most of his campaign promises, and no significant political or personal scandals (no drama Obama) is mostly due to the relentless conservative propaganda painting Obama as a communist Kenyan Muslim terrorist-hugger. Who doesn't love his country haha... Yeah. So in reality, the nation approves of Obama's policies by something like 60 o 40 and on some of his best achievements (ending Iraq war, killing Bin Laden after Bush said he wasn't even interested in chasing Bin Laden, the Detroit bailout, and now the amnesty to kids of illegal immigrants) its far more than 60%. When the reality sets in, ie the heavy propaganda against Obama subsides, the real approval rating will return to roughly what he had in the last election, to a say +5 rating rather than now a -5. When will that happen? Next 18 months.

The Republicans HAVE to understand that they HAVE to target Hillary now, and stop attacking the lame-duck President as he's essentially a spent force. I am CERTAIN that at some point, in their eagerness to paint Hillary as the most evil communist feminist dictator incompetent Putin-appeaser Libya betrayer CLINTON, the conservatives will switch the rhetoric to say - Hillary is even worse than Obama. And then that argument does almost automatically morph into 'Obama good, Hillary bad' and thus Obama STARTS to get even occasional mildly positive endorsements by Fox News and conservative pundits and media. This is the last item that helps Obama's actual approval ratings arise to roughly the 'balanced' opinion in line with how much the nation is aligned with Obama's policies. The one big problem that could ruin Obama's last months is foreign policy (ISIS, Putin, Iran, a domestic shopping mall terrorist attack etc)..

And if Obama can keep his administration from now fumbling the ball in the last 2 years with the almost inevitable big political scandal (Watergate, Iran Hostages, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinski, Weapons of Mass Destruction) and as long as the economy continues to grow, then Obama will be the rare animal who actually leaves office with a positive approval rating haha... That would be a change. But I do think that once the relentless anti-Obama hysteria (Is Obama a Christian, I don't know???) ends (shifting to Hillary) I think there will be a natural - even if mild - uptick to his popularity. And the GOP should not care, they have to now focus on winning 2016 not re-fighting 2008 or 2012 haha..

Meanwhile Obama? He wanted to be the post-partisan President who changed America. He truly tried and he clearly failed, mostly thanks to the GOP who decided to prevent this at all costs. Obama had to try that tactic up to 2014 midterms. He could not be the one who abandons that pursuit, it was his signature promise of the Hope campaign of 2008. Now, is Obama a good verbal fighter and strong political opponent? In the style of Bill Clinton when fighting the Republican Congress run by Newt Gingrich? I think now we've been seeing the 'real Obama' unleashed. He no longer has to attempt that futile hope of post-partisanship. Now he has to defend his legacy. Now he will fight and gosh, he is miles better than Boehner or Mitch McConnell or anyone who could represent Congress on the GOP side. I think the Veto wars in the next two years will be a massive political win for Obama, as the Republicans want to send him highly unpopular legislation and Obama will happily tell the nation why he vetoed it. But it makes the Republicans seem utterly incapable of governing. Obama did for 6 years beg the Repblicans to come and work with him (only to find Boehner would break his promises as he couldn't deliver on his party votes).

In the Clinton - Gingrich fight I think the two sides were more evenly matched, especially after Clinton got damaged in the sex scandal. Gingrich certainly was sharper and had his party in far better control back then than Boehner now. And Boehner has illustrated (as has McConnell) to be horribly inept at LEADING his party. Meanwhile Obama feels he was cheated out of the compromises he would have wanted to do, so he is even more eager now to use the bully pulpit to mock and ridicule the Repblicans. I do see this as similar to the 2012 Presidential election between totally outclassed Romney being mangled by an Obama who wasn't even trying very hard..

BUT it will be interesting to see. I don't see the GOP having any real strategy of what they could achieve in real conservative agenda. Obama will never gut ACA ie Obamacare. That is a nonstarter. Why would any GOP member entertain the thought its worth their political capital to waste on that futile fight that Obama always wins with the veto. How about immigration? The GOP 'autopsy' of the 2012 election loss had only one significant political recommendation - immigration reform. It HAS to be done or the Republicans alienate the Hispanic vote for a GENERATION (meaning they cannot win the Presidential election at least that long). What moronic thinking is there to not pursue a comprehensive immigration reform now, with Obama who has amde it patently clear he wants this. What political calculation is there to so dramatically shoot the GOP in the head by putting immigration as the top obstruction strategy now? NOW? Heading into the 2016 election cycle. They are mad! And the homeland department funding? For what? To block Obama on immigration? This is a double-loss. They simultaneously abandon the Republican's single strongest argument - we are the party of SECURITY and for what - to upset the Hispanic community - by what - a policy that CANNOT be passed because Obama would of course veto it and the DEMs wont' even let it pass to a vote in the Senate. So this is only a bad-worse-worst situation. What madman from the Democratic party hypnotized the GOP leaders to pursue this self-destructive agenda - to start their brief legislative control of both houses... This is total disfunction. I can't wait to see the 2016 campaign ads by the DEMs using the sound bites they now are collecting fron the GOP leadership... (and toss in the few haha 'sensible' voices - since when was Lindsay Graham the sensible wing of the party? Or his bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran-buddy McCain grumpy bitter old man)

If the GOP had a brilliant strategist, gosh, I don't remember one, Bob Dole maybe? then yeah, they could make a fight of it, to play clever conservative ideas and package them with somethings that Obama wants. But this silly fight? Come on. Obamacare has 11 million Americans already enrolled in it, who love it overwhelmingly. Let it go, that was a fight they lost in 2008. Immigration? Oh my gosh that is stupid. Even the GOP itself saw it was their biggest blunder in 2012. And now they only continue on that self-destructive path. And Homeland Security? Bush's legacy landmark achievement and the national response to 9/11. How can the GOP let Obama and the DEM's steal this issue to become the defenders of homeland security while the GOP sets it into jeopardy? Lunatic 'strategy' for the 'we want to show we can govern sensibly' party. This could be a big opportunity, Obama wants to make deals. Hillary will never be such a push-over. But the GOP still wants to relitigate the lost Obamacare war of 2008... idiots.

SCOTUS will be an issue no doubt and some of its rulings will serve one side, others the other side whether in actual effect and whether as rallying call for the next election. Gay rights however I think that time is past and it will be a non-issue by 2016.

(your third comment) yeah there is that hope by the liberals to get Elizabeth Warren to run (how did she suddenly become the new Kennedy haha, that was fast) but she's been very clear she won't. I think she's sharp enough to see Hillary will cruise to an easy win and her (Warren) best political path is to align early as Hillary's supporter - as she has - to ensure she gets a plumb job in Hillary's first administration. Secretary of Treasury sounds like a job made for her and Warren as first-ever woman in that post would also suit her future plans haha to one day become the second US female president (Warren, after Hillary)

The DEM's Tea Party was seen in living memory, it was Walter Mondale and the over-reach of the liberal wing. The biggest loss in I guess US history where he only won his home state and DC. So while yes, there is a liberal wing of the party, they are not anywhere near self-destructive and extreme in how the Tea Party has corrupted the GOP since 2010. There is yes, potential for that split to develop - BUT - Obama was the less liberal in domestic policy compared to Hillary in 2008 (Obamacare is the Republican private industry insurance version aka Romneycare, compared to Hillarycare which was the full national single-payer system that would cover everybody). But Hillary is the hawk in foreign policy. So for most liberals on domestic policy issues, gay rights, women's rights, labor union rights, etc, Hillary is closer to the center of the party (Bill is more centrist than Hillary) but on foreign policy she is the nearest thing to a Margaret Thatcher that the West has seen. Putin isn't worried about Obama but he is worried about Hillary. Hillary's first test as President will be Putin's last nasty trick in 2016 wherever he decides to send Russian troops next, at that time.

Oh, I got side-tracked. So yeah.. there is plenty of grumbings in the liberal wing of the Democratic party about Obama-the-appeaser who only serves conservative needs not liberal needs. They also obviously don't like that he didn't close Guantanamo and keeps using drone strikes and the NSA spying scandals etc. But, in Hillary, the liberal wing sees a fighter not appeaser, so they know she will not try to run for compromise first with the Republicans. And they see a loyal friend to many liberal causes, labor unions, gay rights, women's rights, minimum wage etc. But they will be conserned about her war-hawk nature. I think, however that ISIS and Putin will serve Hillary very well, especially as almost nobody in the GOP nomination is even nominally qualified in foreign policy (by nominal, in the way that Sarah Palin could see Russia from her porch haha). So as we can pretty well be sure that the ISIS war won't be over by November 2016 and Putin will still be on his rampage, then the contrast of Hillary the former Secretary of State vs some Republican local Governor or junior Senator, will be very strong indeed. And many on the Democratic liberal wing will feel its still the better balance, they will appreciate her strength in 2016 for the foreign policy election that it is shaping up to becoming.

So how's that for a few comments. What do you think?

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Oh, PS

The PPP polling. I do subscribe to the theory that all polls of the primaries before the debate season starts are almost meaningless, being name recognition polls more than real preference. But once the debates start and voters really start to get involved and compare the real candidates against each other, rather than who was recently in the news, then the polls will start to have meaning. And then its far more relevant to look at the states about to vote, not the national horse-race polls. I expect we'll see huge volatility in the polls now for many months to come, similar to how in 2012 we had a differnet montly polls-leader for something like 5 months in a row

Tomi Ahonen :-)


I'll have more to say later, but here are a few thoughts.

First, you also predicted that the Democrats would retain the Senate and pick up governorships in 2014. How did that work out? Sure, there are more low-information voters in a presidential election year, but I don't think women's enthusiasm for electing a woman as president will be as strong as those of African Americans for voting for Obama (African Americans voted at a higher rate than whites in 2012, which is almost unheard of, and they are much more solidly Democrat as a group than women). The under-30s who put Obama over the top in 2008 will be 8 years older and much less enthusiastic or idealistic about politics in 2016. And don't look now, but the GOP managed to do much better than expected among Latinos in 2014. They won't win the Latino vote in 2016, but they might not lose it in as big a number as Democrats need.

Second, I wouldn't discount the PPP poll. There's a Quinnipiac poll with similar findings, for the Iowa caucus, and a Texas Tribune poll showing Walker strong right now.

Yes, it's February 2015, not February 2016, but I don't think the criticism that early polls just capture name recognition really apply this time around. Who doesn't know who Jeb Bush is? And why is Ben Carson garnering 18%? Even I had to look up who he was (though I recalled it as soon as I did), and I follow these kinds of things. The point is that the poll results are more than just name recognition right now. Everyone knows who Jeb Bush is, but he isn't very popular. Maybe it's his last name, and the fact that he has to go around saying that he isn't his unpopular brother, or his father (who has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity recently). Or maybe it's just that "Bush vs. Clinton Part II" doesn't really excite anyone. The point is that the polls reflect more than name recognition right now.

With Walker, the left has themselves to blame for making him popular. They fought 2 high profile races to try to bring him down, as well as other races to bring down supporters in the state senate (and even politicized a state supreme court race), and fell flat on their faces every time. The fact that they are going after him trying to ask "gotcha" questions just reinforces the idea that he is someone to take seriously. He has a mixed record as governor that they could be focusing on (he's reduced taxes, made the state modestly more competitive, but job growth has lagged and his latest budget uses some trickery to "balance"), but they are focusing on petty things. They had the "perfect" candidate against him last year (a successful centrist businesswoman with no political baggage), lots of outside money, and still couldn't beat him. He has political accomplishments that have stuck. No one, not even his opponent for governor, has suggested repealing the union reform law that he pushed through in 2011. So he's been able to stay largely on message and the attacks on him have appeared shrill so far.

Third, where do you get that 11 million Americans "love Obamacare overwhelmingly"? The fact that they saw surges in sign-ups at year-end, again in February, and have extended the deadline to sign up until April makes it seem to me that people are signing up to avoid the penalties (sorry, the "tax" according to John Roberts), not because they are enthusiastic about it. It really hasn't stemmed the increase in healthcare costs in the U.S. (the insurers say as much in their amicus curiae imploring the Court not to overturn the subsidies), and most of the decrease in the rate of uninsured has been the result of the expansion of Medicaid (which basically is a sub-par welfare program for the poor that few doctors actually accept since it pays so little).

Obamacare still polls badly and has lower approval ratings than the president himself. It's a mess of a law. It will never be fully repealed (people like the part that says that insurers have to cover pre-existing conditions, etc. because the costs are hidden), but that doesn't mean it won't be gutted at some point, perhaps even by Democrats. For the most part the exchanges simply replaced the existing independent insurance market. Democrats don't like Obamacare because it isn't single payer or even a public option, and Republicans don't like it for myriad reasons. Parts of it, like the medical devices tax, are deeply unpopular on both sides of the aisle. And the "bronze" plans that are the lynchpin of the exchanges provide awful coverage. Single individuals pay $4,000 a year before subsidies for plans that have $6,000 annual deductibles and extremely narrow networks. Families pay about twice that much. If this had been passed by a Republican president and Congress (since Democrats like to point out that the GOP proposed something similar back in 1993), the media would likely be focusing on "horror stories" of middle class families earning $60,000 per year who still can't afford to go to the doctor because they haven't met the $12,000 deductible. So people have "coverage" but their situation really hasn't improved. There have also been boondoggles like the push toward electronic records that have increased costs for medical providers while achieving dubious benefits. Meanwhile the 85% of us who have employer-provided coverage (and who were and are mostly happy with what we have) haven't been affected by most provisions yet (many provisions don't kick in until 2017), so for us we really haven't seen much difference yet. It doesn't say much about the confidence that those who passed the bill had when they front-loaded all the popular provisions ("no more pre-existing conditions!") and back-loaded the less popular provisions (taxes on benefits that are "too generous"). There are TONS of fixes that just about anyone would make if not for the political impossibility of doing so right now. But if it is going to take one-party rule to make it happen, realistically the earliest is 2019 if a Republican wins next year and 2021 if a Democrat wins next year. The Senate will likely flip back to the Democrats after the 2016 election, but the House won't. The Senate may well flip back to the GOP after the 2018 election. 2020 is anyone's guess and a political eternity (and a presidential election year by which time we are almost certain to have had a recession of some kind if it hasn't happened by next year).

The problem is that people like you believe what you hear on the national media or read in the New York Times. Those stopped being independent sources of news a long time ago. Every media outlet is partisan, one way or the other, but it seems to me that the press has been far more protective of Obama than they ever were of Bill Clinton. That hasn't helped Obama. He lives in a bubble and is out of touch in a way that Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush were not, and it perpetuates the myth that Obama has had it worse than any other president. He really hasn't. Sure, some opposition is because of race, but I really don't think a President Kerry would have had a much easier time. Maybe Hillary would have had she won in 2008, but 2016 would be a different story. The biggest difference between the 1990s and now is that the Ford-era Independent Counsel act has thankfully lapsed, and so unlike during the Clinton administration we haven't had a Ken Starr out there with an untouchable budget and subpoena power investigating every potential scandal. Congress can hold hearings, but they don't have the time or the power that the independent counsels did. Without it, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky, and Valerie Plame, among others, are minor road bumps rather than major scandals.

I disagree strongly that Obama has been limited by trying to compromise. He's been limited because he is just not a good negotiator. He wanted to be the next FDR or LBJ, but unlike those presidents, he didn't have executive or leadership experience. Roosevelt was governor of New York. Johnson was Senate Majority Leader for 6 years, Minority leader for 2 years, and Minority whip for 2 years before that. Both knew how to navigate controversial legislation through a skeptical legislature. Similarly, Bill Clinton was a centrist Democrat and a deal-maker who was able to get significant legislation passed without having a majority in either house of Congress because he knew how to triangulate (a skill he undoubtedly honed as governor of a Republican-leaning state). By contrast, Obama had a hard enough time passing legislation when he had an 80+ seat majority in the House (with a very effective Nancy Pelosi as Speaker), and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Unlike those three very effective Democratic presidents, Obama never ran anything before running for president. He was a back bencher in the Illinois Senate. He wasn't in the U.S. Senate long enough to reach any kind of leadership position. The only thing he ran before being elected to the toughest executive position in the world was his own campaign, in which he had the final say and could overrule anyone. It's no surprise he lacks the ability to broker compromises. He never needed to. Sure Boehner has an unruly caucus, but Obama really didn't make much of an effort either to reach out, or to triangulate to box the opposition into a position where they had to make a deal (except for the 2011 budget deal, which I discuss next). After the GOP took control of the House in 2010, Harry Reid basically circled the wagons and shut off all debate in the Senate, using every parliamentary trick in the rulebook, including invoking the "nuclear option" that even Dick Cheney backed away from. His only significant legislative achievement after 2010 was the 2011 budget deal, in which he held the upper hand, since doing nothing would have resulted in massive unpopular tax increases that even he opposed, but for which he could pass the buck by publicly supporting 98% of the "irresponsible Bush tax cuts."

The point is that Obama never really could corral even his own party, since negotiating isn't really in his nature. Obamacare passed by a single vote in the Senate, and might never have become law if not for all the stars perfectly aligning in 2009 (Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate, Arlen Specter changing parties, Al Franken winning a disputed election, Massachusetts changing the law to allow the governor to appoint a temporary replacement to the Senate after Ted Kennedy died). Even without a single GOP senate vote (and at one point he did have Olympia Snowe's support, which might have dragged along Susan Collins), he shouldn't have struggled as much to get a bill past the Senate. The fact that he didn't even try to get an immigration bill through Congress in 2010 (after promising Latino leaders in the House that he would) shows me that either he didn't care, since the status quo benefits him politically, or that he lacked confidence he could gather the votes even in a friendly Congress.

Anyway, Obama is not on the ballot in 2016. I'll focus more on Hillary in my next post.


PS, Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her backyard. That was "Tina" Fey on Saturday Night Live. Proving once again that if you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Catriona

haha, today reading Carl Rove's piece in Wall Street Journal (from yesterday) I see he touches on the delegate math. He says its possible (roughly similar to my 5 candidate scenario, he has 2 strong rivals and some weaker) but he finds it still unlikely. So, now the delegate math has been introduced and probably others will ponder about that and we'll get more contributions...

Tomi Ahonen :-)


It is highly unlikely there will be a brokered convention. The GOP has fewer unelected "superdelegates" than the Democrats, but the electoral rules are meant to have the race decided in the latter half of March. They want to respect the 4 traditional "early" races while discouraging the ridiculous race that the Democrats had in 2008 to push the primaries ever earlier.

I'm also not convinced that the Democrats are doing Hillary any favors with a coronation. She still has not yet won a race in her life that was seriously contested. November 2016 is not the time for the Democrats to realize that Hillary isn't up to snuff. I don't think there is as much desire to elect Hillary just because she is a woman. The abortion issue could still drive some voters to her, but the idea of a woman president just isn't as novel in 2016 as the idea of an African American as president was in 2008. Unlike African Americans, women don't live in segregated neighborhoods, and aren't generally worse off socio-economically. The GOP definitely has a gender gap problem, but nothing like the gap they have with racial minorities.

CPAC is going on right now. Carly Fiorina seems to be making a push to be recognized. I wonder if a Walker/Fiorina ticket would be a good combination for the GOP. Fiorina was no Steve Jobs or even Tim Cook, but she was definitely no Stephen Elop, either. And she was better than some of the CEOs who followed her (I'm looking at you, Leo Apotheker).


Tomi, you are completely delusional if you think Americans love Obamacare. If you are making $60,000 a year, are you happy about paying $3000 a year for insurance that doesn't kick in until you've spent $12,000? It's polling worse than Obama. Obama was right when he ridiculed Hillary for claiming that an individual mandate was a good approach. Unfortunately, he adopted it as soon as she got elected.

And the self-destructive Occupy wing is indeed in charge of the Democrats. Chicago's credit rating just got downgraded. And the voters denied dyed-in-the-wool progressive Rahm Emanuel (who just signed a bill to raise the minimum wage $4.75 above the state minimum and $5.75 above the national) a majority, forcing him into a runoff with someone to his left who wants to spend the city's way to priority and increase pensions, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a city of 2.5 million and falling already has $20 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

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