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June 16, 2015


Wayne Borean

Yeah, the Republican candidates seem destined to suicide by lip moving. Every time one of them speaks, something stupid comes out.

Thank god we dropped cable and went Netflix. We won't have to see billions of attack ads on TV.


The Republicans are fighting a demographic change that is rapidly eroding their voting base. Instead of fighting for the favor of women and hispanics, they are fighting to keep the new voters out of the polling station.

The question is indeed, have they viven up altogether. The line up really makes you believe they have given up.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Wayne and Winter

Wayne - haha good one, suicide by lip-moving. This Trump formal announcment I think truly turbo-charges the lunacy above what we may have had otherwise (as evolution from 2012, several Tea Party favorites, added billionaires and more than a dozen names trying to squeeze to 10 podiums on the TV debate stage). There was some chance that perhaps the field might be 'civil' with each other and try to focus attacks on Obama & Hillary, but with the way Trump knows this game IS played, first you have to crush the other rivals from your own party. I found it funny Romney was lecturing the GOP just a few days ago about Reagan's 11th Commandment (don't say bad things about fellow Republicans) as Romney himself used carpet-bombing negative ads to destroy his rivals in 2012. But Trump now makes the war nuclear. He right out of the gate attacks all on both sides (he was both a Democrat and Republican in the past, as well as an Independent so he's particularly uncommitted). That means the field HAS to defend themselves. And as the 'musical chairs' game for the 10th debate slot is already under way, several who have low poll ratings will be motivated to follow Trump's lead and start the nastyness right now, off the bat. That will definitely spread to at least the mid-field (Christie, Perry etc) who are not sure to be in the debates either.

As to nasty TV ads, yeah, I am so happy I don't live in the USA and don't get that bombardment. I was on a few business trips in 2011 and 2012 in states that happened to have a heated contest and gosh, the TV ads are toxic. Or were so, back in the 2012 cycle when there wasn't nearly as much money in the system as this cycle. And for that SuperPAC money, they have nowhere else to go except TV airwaves...

Winter - So true. I just saw a stat that in 2012 Obama lost the white women vote (he won the overall women's vote but that was because the non-white women vote was so far in his favor) but Hillary is up on the total GOP field already in the white women's vote. Of course she'll win the non-white women's vote by huge margins. That alone means she's already elected haha... before we start to allocate other demographics on the men's side (more women vote than men, which is why its game over if the 'Republican' women ie white women will go for Hillary).

There are two giant abnormalities in the US electoral system now, that both have recently been used by the Republicans to tilt the field in their favor. First is gerrymandering the Congressional districts so their seats are almost all safe in Congressional elections. The second is the huge amount of money that Citizens United brought, which in national elections won't really decide matters in the final race, but in local and regional elections is night-and-day with who wins (often decided by the Koch Brothers who fund any Republicans who are supportive of their various polluting industries). The third item, that you mention, keeping some voters out, is the least of these 3 effects. What Hillary has been clearly signalling already is that she's against Citizens United, and for maximum electoral participation. There is a less public focus by the Democratic party also to fight the gerrymandering (which comes up again latest after the 2020 national census that happens every 10 years).

I am expecting Hillary Clinton in any normal election situation to win by landslide. This clown circus may now be even more a spectacle and it might well go all the way to the Republican Convention without having found a winner. If so, their 2016 final candidate will be totally murdered in the actual election. But even without that, what Hillary needs for her first term, is to win back the Senate and try also to win the House. The Senate is almost 'easy' this cycle as so many Republicans elected in 2010 will be up for re-election and many of those were in 'Blue' states ie states that usually vote Democratic. Now in a Hillary Wave election, those Senators will be swept out of office. What Hillary hopes is also to get at least a razor-thin Democratic majority also in the House. A very difficult task but not impossible. If she gets those, her primary focus will not be education or the economy or national security. It will be that fourth of her big agenda items - to make the elections 'better'. She'll try to get Citizens United made illegal by legislation, and/or by Supreme Court appointments, and if not, will push for Constitutional Ammendment (but it won't go to that, she'll get enough Republican support of ending Citizens United after this year's fiasco with the Clown Circus).

Then she'll also push for the 'motor-voter' laws of automatic voter registration and the extended early voting etc to allow as many to vote as possible. All these will solidify the gains that she gets in 2016, to help in the mid-terms 2018 (when Republicans always do better than Democrats) and especially prepare for 2020 when the new Congressional Districts will be redrawn.

So currently, the Republicans face increasing systematic disadvantages (primarily due to shifting demographics). They have partially countered by 'cheating' ie Citizens United, gerrymandering and suppressing voter turnout. But as that 'cheating' is ended, their real catastrophic electoral situation is exposed, and - I hope - the Republicans will have to grow up and get rid of the nutty elements and become a grown-up party once again. Climate change, evolution, the woman's right to choose, gay rights, minority civil rights, all the nonsense they now do, will eventually end. How will Fox News react haha, will they grow up or become the chatter box for the lunatic fringe, remains to be seen.

Now after all that long tirade, haha, have the Republicans given up? I think this lineup shows there is plenty of relatively mainstream candidates among the field. George Pataki former Governor or New York for example, is not a firebrand Tea Partier. Chris Christie governed pretty close to the center too, as one has to if one is the Governor in a blue state and wishes to be re-elected. Jeb Bush has some very conservative views but also some quite liberal for a Republican like his past on education and immigration. Rand Paul obviously is a Libertarian not a Republican so there are areas he is far closer to the Democratic base but in other areas he's very conservative. If the Republicans were to have a 'serious' debate about the future of their party, recognizing that the Bush years were a disaster both in Iraq and the economy (some are partially on the way to admitting that, at least with Iraq) and that recently they have turned their backs on the Hispanics and women, I think there would be a good chance to make a strong showing, depending on exactly who will be the final nominee obviously. Jeb Bush should be able to win Florida and that would then make it a legitimate race. But now this Clown Circus will be just superficial attacks and who gets the best line and lots of 'raise your hand if' in the debates... style over substance. And with so many severe conservatives (Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum etc) plus now the Joker card, Trump, ridiculing all, the race will be to try to convince the room that you are the most conservative. That then destroys any chances in the general election.

Meanwhile Hillary has stakes out very populist areas that are now very well in the liberal mainstream from minimum wage to equal pay for women to taxing the millionaires to gay rights to amnesty for illegals. She can behave like the 'grown up' and while the primary season in the Democratic side does have a little bit of a challenge, she doesn't lose any sleep over Bernie Sanders.

Now for me, as a foreigner and just enjoing the quadrennial show, this will be the best ever.. 12 candidates on the Republican side and counting, and only 10 slots on Fox and CNN first debates, which start already now in August. I can't wait!

Tomi Ahonen :-)


How did your 2014 Senate predictions go, Tomi?

There are quite a few problems with your analysis, first and foremost is that Hillary Clinton's poll numbers are quite weak for a supposed "inevitable" candidate, and most recent polls (U.S. in 2014, Israel and Britain in 2015) have grossly understated support for center-right parties. And inexplicably, Hillary Clinton feels compelled to run further and further to the left, rather than occupy the center. The class warfare message didn't work for the Democrats in 2014, and it isn't going to work in 2016. The Democrats do have some structural advantages, as more low-information voters turn out in presidential years than in mid-cycle elections, but by actively courting them with scare tactics she is likely to lose support among independents. She won't bring out minority voters to the same extent as Obama, and the 18-24 year old crowd that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 will be 26-32 next year and their enthusiasm has waned. Also, if we are in a recession next year (a real possibility), running as Obama's 3rd term is a dangerous proposition.

Equal pay for women has been the law for over 40 years. The remaining gap is structural, not legal. "Taxing the millionaires" doesn't resonate very well considering that she and her husband get paid $250,000-$500,000 for every speech. As for playing grown up, note that it's the Democrats who are blocking Obama's trade bill, with the full support of Hillary.

On another note, Rand Paul is obviously NOT a libertarian. His views on abortion and most social policy are anti-libertarian. His father is barely a libertarian. Rand Paul is basically a pacifist conservative.

The fact that there are so many conservatives running actually improves the chances that Jeb Bush will get the nomination since it will split the vote. He won't make the same mistakes as Mitt Romney. Unfortunately for Bush, since he's from Florida, that effectively precludes him from selecting Marco Rubio as his running mate. On paper, they would otherwise be the strongest ticket.

Wayne Borean


To understand the Republicans you have to understand the Duggars. Seriously. There's a blog on Patheos called 'Love, Joy, Feminism' which is written by a woman who grew up in a family much like the Duggar family. She doesn't talk politics directly, her blog is mostly about Home Schooling, the Quiverfull Movement, and 'Conservative' Evangelicalism, but I've found it a good resource for understanding the irrational appearing politics coming from the Republican Party:


On Rand Paul, I agree. The man is no more a Libertarian than I am a Martian.

As to poll numbers, since you don't list the polls, I have no idea what you are talking about. But...

Polling tends to underestimate Center Left parties, at least in Canada. Since we are a bit like the United States (but we have an actual functioning Government), I believe that a similar underestimation might also happen in the USA, because opinion polls seem biased towards the center.

Let's take the recent Alberta election. Here's an evaluation of the last polls run in the province before the election:

The NDP was projected to win 55 seats (analogous to American electoral districts) by the 308 blog, and the final count was 53-54 (one seat had an actual honest to God tie at 7015 votes each for the NDP and Conservative candidates!)

But most of the polls showed the NDP (a Center-Left party) as getting far fewer seats.

Or take the 2011 Canadian Federal Election. To the best of my knowledge, I was the first person to state that the NDP would get over 100 seats in the election. Where I was wrong is in underestimating the vote drop for the Liberals. Here's my call:

Here's the Wikipedia report:,_2011

And here's the official results from Elections Canada:

Of course the American system is one of the most undemocratic electoral systems in existence, and that does skew things badly :)




What is missing in this post is the names of the billionaires backing each candidate. For us outsiders, this is not immediately evident. Except for Trump, that is.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Catriona, Wayne & Winter

Catriona - Isn't that hitting under the belt, as I have CLEARLY admitted I got that prediction wrong. I explained before what I felt was the missing piece and why I went against all major polls at the time in my wild prediction. I then came back immediately and said I was totally wrong. And I left that blog to stand, not removing it, to show where I was wrong. Its not like I am hiding from it nor that I didn't acknowledge being wrong in that case. That was a mid-term Election when turnout is down, Republicans do better and Democrats do worse.

But onto the points about today. So Hillary's poll numbers are weak? When she consistently beats all Republican rivals in head-to-head matchups. Wait, I haven't checked RCP's average today, let me go double-check. Bush Hillary up by 5%. Walker Hillary up by 7%. Rubio she is up only by 4% but Rubio won't be on top of the ticket in 2016, the Republicans won't elect a novice after the 8 years of Obama against seasoned Hillary Clinton. Rand Paul is best against Hillary, down only by 3% and he'll never get the GOP nomination. Huckabee is down 5%, Cruz loses by 8%, Christie by 12% and Carson also by 12%.

Where did you see a polling weakness? This is before the season has even started and the GOP field has not gone into their gauntlet of destroying each others' chances in this bloodiest primary season of modern times? And this is before we count in a massive female surge and an unprecedented Latino surge. If anything can get the Hispanic vote to show up, it is amnesty for millions of their friends. Hillary is now coasting to victory. In the Democratic nomination she is crushing Bernie Sanders with a MARGIN of 47% so she won't have to ruin her chances in the general election by pandering to the extreme wing.

As to Independents in the middle? Hillary's positions square up EXACTLY where those independents are, and the Tea Party positions on ALL OF THEM that most Republican nominees this cycle tend to favor, is where they are not. Gay right to marry, legalizing pot, minimum wage, early voting, motor-voter registration, amnesty to illegals, reasonable gun rights, education, child care, paid leave.. these are ALL areas where the nation's majority view has shifted and now the Democratic 'liberal' or 'progressive' view has become mainstream. So Hillary didn't have to move left, she was roughly there in the right place years ago, and waited for the nation to arrive to that liberal/progressive position. And yes, she's changed her mind on several of these - going more left as the nation did so too.

But consider the Independents and listen to the Republican field. They want more tax cuts. They want to cut regulation. Those are the same tired songs that Reagan sang in 1980. That trickle-down economics model has now been tested under Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2, and always lead to the same crisis. The rich got even richer, the nation did not get trickled upon, they got pissed upon. And it took a Democratic president to get the nation out of the economic mess that the Voodoo economics created. Some conservatives know this is utter sillyness and are trying to get the Republican Party to move beyond that trickle-down mantra but these candidates for 2016 are all embracing the economic nonsense. Obama did not elaborate this argument very well in 2012 even though he tried. But Hillary has every reason to point out it was her husband who proved this first, and now Obama as an independent second test - the Republican standard 'solution' creates economic crisis only and worsening wealth gaps. Look at how some candidates approach this cautiously - Rick Perry's almost socialist style launch speech. But thanks to Grover Norquist silly pledges - and now in this Clown Circus environment far more so - a GOP candidate will be crucified if they stray away from the mantra.

Its EXACTLY like Mondale in 1984. Tired and broken political slogans pushing a doomed message that the nation had evolved beyond. At some point the 'Bill Clinton' of the Republican Party will emerge, who is fresh and young and embraces reality and 'triangulates' with some core Conservative values - but aiming to the middle as the 'new Republican'. Who dares to say Iraq wars was a disaster. Trickle-down doesn't work. Some taxes have to be raised. Republicans have to care for Hispanics and embrace some solution. Climate change is caused by man and some solutions have to be done there. The answer to every foreign policy situation is not to launch a war. Its good to talk with our enemies too, not just our friends. That candidate will not have a prayer until the Republican party gets its nose bloodied by nominating a total fanatical extremist (like Mondale by the Democrats). If you wish for the best for the Republicans, you hope Ted Cruz manages to win this cycle to bring that inferno. If you wish for the worst for the Republicans, you hope they keep nominating moderates like Mitt Romney and John McCain and now likely, after all is said and done, Jeb Bush, who will lose in 'reasonable' levels that will not teach the Republicans that its time to change. They do have to have their Tea Party champion once, to try it that way, to see it is political suicide and only after that can the Republican party return to sensible ways of reaching for the middle.

As to recession, that is a very real possibility and that would impact Hillary's election win considerably. She'll still win but her margin would be less. Equal pay - come on Catriona you KNOW what I meant, was the legislation that allows a woman to pursue legally any discrimination. Republicans block that vote regularly. How stupid is that, especially going into 2016 when there is a woman on top of the ticket who has been fighting for women all her life. That is just very VERY bad politics by the Republicans (in Congress) but all the Senators running are directly vulnerable on that very issue with their public voting record on this matter time and again. Its also a draw on the ticket if that Senator is your VP like Marco Rubio is very likely headed to become.

Taxing the millionaires and her own wealth? Its exactly the opposite. It takes courage and guts to say, yes I pay too little taxes. Like Warren Buffett. No, you are listening to Fox talking heads not what resonates with the public. If they hear a Republican promise 'tax cuts' (or propose say a flat tax which is a tax cut to the rich and tax hike for the poorest) and then hear ANY Democrat say its time to make millionaires pay as much as their secretaries - this AGAIN is an issue where the Tea Party position is out-of-step with the USA mainstream. The VAST majority of Americans want to raise taxes on the richest, rather than the poorest. The Republicans are trying to demonize the Democrats that this is wage distribution - which it obviously is - but Americans WANT that now. The gap has grown too big. It will not hurt Hillary to have Bernie Sanders the socialist talking this point in the early Democratic debates and for populists like Elizabeth Warren echoing the same from outside the debate forum itself. Especially when all Republicans reliably align on the wrong side of history (again). Nobody will decide 'Hillary is not sincere on this because she asked for so much on a speaking tour' haha. But EVERYONE knows that the Republicans want tax cuts to their Billionaire-buddies like the Koch Brothers, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson etc, only now made worse by the loudmouth Billionaire Donald Trump bragging about how rich he is. Rich old white man's party (with one token Black old white man too). Carly Fiorina won't even make the Fox debate cut by today's polling and her numbers are falling not rising.

On Rand Paul - so you mean his stunt to wreck the Dick Cheney spying provisions of the NSA was not at its very core Libertarian vs Republican? That took guts and he actually achieved something (great). And you mean this is no Libertarian? Yes I agree with you that he's also quite the dove, pacifist by nature as is his dad. But while he is in some ways more conservative than his dad and in some areas doesn't hold the lunatic ultra-Liberatrian views like getting rid of the IRS and going back to the gold standard haha, he is clearly - at least the most Libertarian of the Republican field. I think we can agree on that? I am not really an expert on the EXACT postions of the USA Libertarian party which like in so many other areas, the US definitions of political affiliations differ from those in Europe.

As to Jeb yeah, he is the very slight front-runner and if it does not go to a brokered convention and one candidate manages to get the nomination through the primary process, then I'd give Jeb the nod. But I do think there is now a bigger chance it is not decided by the primaries and no candidate amasses an absolute majority of delegates. That means at the very least, back-room politics to get the top dogs to agree to a common ticket (Bush and Walker possibly) or even worse, an actual fight at the convention. As to political theater, I'd love to see that but in terms of the Republican party, it would be a nightmare in this age of 24 hour news, Twitter and social media, with so many candidates and as many as a dozen holding some delegates, it would be a leak-fest about who is now in bed with whom. And Jeb plus Marco that would have been a good ticket but perhaps more interesting is that Rubio is giving up his Senate seat, so he is really seriously angling for that VP slot (good move to have that visibility while the guy on the top of the ticket takes the fall against Hillary, preparing Marco for a strong run in 2020 or 2024). Marco has to hope its not Jeb who wins it haha.

Wayne - Duggars. Gosh yes. A totally alternate reality world. Here's the thing. That mindset, that person will never in a million years vote for Obama or Hillary or any mainstream Democrat. Why would the Republicans EVER pander one inch into that direction, those poor bastards have nowhere else to go. But every time you associate yourself with the Duggar world, you alienate the persuadable middle-ground sensible voters.

As to the Alberta election, wow, that was something truly weird and no doubt tons of Canadian political science professsors are digging deep to study it. The UK election was a similar major failure by the pollsters but into the opposite direction. I think there is a systematic error either built-in or creeping into the modern political polling methodology as these instances show. The US elections, however, have been very close to the final polls on the national level.

Winter -haha thanks. I was thinking of adding a paragraph about the 'sponsors of the Clown Circus' with the caring Koch Brothers, and the lot from Foster Friess to Sheldon Adelson, but I was struggling to make that part funny haha, so I just left it out (there were other parts too, you can see its a long 'joke' based on a couple of tweets I did a few weeks ago, about the characters are the same but the candidates have been recast.)

Ok, fun talking with you about the election season and the joke, please do keep the discussion going. Now I'll go back to more comments about mobile and tech..

Tomi Ahonen :-)


This is what I could find myself (not funny)

Walker: Koch Brothers?
Rubio: Sheldon Adelson
Trump: Himself
Cruz: Bob Mercer
Rubio: Norman Braman
Santorum: Foster Friess

Wayne Borean

Gotta love politics. The best of all the Blood Sports.

A big part of what will hurt the Republicans is the impact that the extreme religious groups are having on them. This is reflected by various laws, like the Ultrasound law which was recently found to be not Constitutionally valid (it interfered with the Free Speech rights of Doctors).

When you have over 80% of women using birth control of one sort or another during their lifetimes, any attempt to restrict access to birth control methods (or claims that women should just keep their legs crossed) is going to push a fair number of voters to go Democrat.

Gay Rights is another huge problem for Republicans. The extreme religious types want to keep Gays and Lesbians locked in a ghetto (or stoned to death) which is far outside of mainstream thinking.

Then there's Climate Change. Any Republican who advocates doing anything about it won't get nominated. Any Republican who says it's a myth won't get elected (unless they are in a safe district).

Pass the popcorn. This is going to be fun to watch.


Tomi, your post and your reply read like bad parodies of DNC talking points. You need to stop believing everything you read in the NY Times editorial page.

These are the poll numbers that worry the Clinton campaign:

The RCP hypothetical matchups are meaningless at this point. Apart from Jeb Bush, none of the other candidates has the name recognition of Hillary Clinton. She's been running for president or preparing to run for president for 15 years, and has been in the public eye for nearly a quarter century. That most of the electorate don't find her trustworthy suggests that she is more vulnerable than you want to admit. That's not to say she isn't still the favorite, but she is by no means inevitable. Her poll numbers reflect Democrats rallying around their presumptive nominee more than anything else. It's odd that the "Democratic" party is essentially coronating a nominee.

Bush's biggest problem is his last name. On balance, he's far more like his father than his brother. And George H. W. Bush governed much more like Bill Clinton than Reagan (he even raised taxes). Unlike Mitt Romney, he doesn't need to pretend to be conservative because he can point to actions he took as governor that are popular with conservatives, such as school vouchers. So he can take more reasonable positions on immigration. Rubio genuinely worries the Clinton campaign because he is charismatic and has decent favorability ratings. For all the candidates except Clinton, "Don't Know" has a plurality over Favorable or Unfavorable.

On social issues, the biggest weakness for the GOP is their position on abortion. It's impossible for a presidential nominee to take a pro-choice position. That's a real issue that they'll need to resolve. On same-sex marriage the GOP is evolving, albeit more slowly than the Democrats. Dick Cheney was for same-sex marriage before Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (ha ha). And the Supreme Court is about to make it a non-issue for 2016. The other issues are less important, partly because Democrats overplay their hands. Sure, most Americans are OK with a minimum wage increase, but most are smart enough to know that arbitrarily doubling it to $15 would be counterproductive. For all the Democrats' supposed concern about income inequality, it grows the fastest when they are in power (it's soared under Obama).

Hillary is running to the left of Barack Obama and significantly to the left of Bill Clinton. That makes no sense. Apart from civil rights, the nation is not moving as far to the left as quickly as you imagine. On economic issues, there is as much movement to the right as to the left. People are fed up with public sector unions because they are intransigent, create trouble such as starting teachers' strikes, and are perceived as more interested in protecting rich pensions than finding solutions. State and local government finances are in a terrible state. That's why Scott Walker won 3 elections in 4 years in a blue state. The more that the "progressives" mounted campaigns against him, the more that solidified his support.

As for the clowns, lately it's been the Democrats. Why else would they throw a hissy fit and block a trade bill that Barack Obama supports? Overall on trade, the Democrats are the ones who have gone off the deep end. It's not as if jobs are suddenly going to "return" to the U.S. if fast-track trade authority (which is normally routinely renewed every 5 years) is blocked. The GOP did their part to pass trade authority, even providing 84 votes for a worker retraining program that most of them oppose. The Democrats voted against their own bill just to spite the president. It is NOT a wise strategy for a party running next year to remain in power to render their incumbent a lame duck.

I see in the GOP a party who's establishment is working to take their party back from their extreme element and swing the pendulum back toward the center. That started in 2014, when they actively campaigned against Tea Party primary candidates to avoid nominating more Todd Akins. The Democrats, on the other hand, are just starting their leftward trajectory.


Remains the problem that the GOP seems to be unable to atract women, hispanics, and young voters in large enough numbers. They manage to alienate them at every opportunity.


@Winter, I'm not saying it isn't a problem for the GOP. However, I think it is dawning on them that it is a problem and they are making an attempt to address it. The Democrats seem to be drinking their own Kool-Aid and convincing themselves of the permanence of their majority. Usually when a party becomes convinced it has a permanent majority, it's a good sign that things are about to change. The GOP thought they had a "permanent" advantage after 2004.

Ironically, the GOP candidate who did the best job at wooing Hispanic voters was George W. Bush. If he didn't do such a good job getting nearly 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, John Kerry might have been blamed for the financial crisis and we'd be debating whether Hillary Clinton or this second term Senator Obama had the better chance of winning the Democratic nomination to be in a prime position to replace the outgoing President Romney.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi y'all

First, if you missed it (Catriona already not only read it but left a comment to it) - I just did a proper analysis update about the election cycle today, my latest blog. I discussed three major developments that I did not anticipate back in February which now make the primary season even more problematic to the GOP. Enjoy and we can move the factual discussion there. But to respond to the discussions here.

Winter - good detective work there haha... yeah Rand Paul had hoped to get a sugar-daddy but after he bombed in his auditions, he did his filibuster-stunt about the NSA spying that then got him big visibility and he fund-raised off that stunt. He seems headed to be fundraising the old-fashioned way. Huckabee seems to not pursue loudly money, that suggests to me he has secured some rich backer. If you remember last time he was always desperate to get any contributions, this time he's been very silent. And I recall Rick Perry had some Texas money behind him but don't remember any names. Kochs thought about Rand Paul but turned him down. They also like Marco Rubio and John Kasich but Walker seems to be their fave right now.

Wayne - haha yeah, and for someone like me who can't vote in these elections anyway, for me this is pure entertainment, and as such, the incredible length of the US system just ensures us more entertainment lasting more than a year every time. Fabulous for political junkies. But also very valid points, it does seem, especially after Romney's loss that the Republicans have gone out of their way to ensure they will do even worse with all those groups than last time, when they lost by (modest) landslide. Oh the climate part, I wrote about that in the serious blog today, I think you'll enjoy that analysis.

Catriona - seriously, I love having debates with people who do not share my views. I really really enjoy that, whether its about iPhones or about SMS or about the 2016 election cycle. Secondly, me and my reading. I thought you knew already, I am totally a moderate and align as Independent (if I was allowed to vote). In past Presidential elections my preference candidate has been split over the years exactly evenly R and D. Totally evenly. And not that I was one as a young man and switched to the other at some point. I flip sides quite regularly. With that, I read the WSJ just as much as the NYT or WaPo. I read the National Review just as thoroughly as I read the New Republic. I read your fave commentators constantly from Krauthammer to Karl Rove to Kristol (does every conservative have to have the letter K in their name by some Konservative Konvention?) as well as their liberal counterparts, the EJ Dionnes, Eugene Robinsons, etc. Now do you honestly Catriona read viewpoints that differ from your own, also regularly or is it perphaps that you only confine yourself to the sweet sounds of Papa Bear and the cuddly folks of Fox?

So lets go to the issues. You say Hillary's campaign fears that CNN poll that Hillary's unpopularity is high. Fine. I can GRANT you this argument and it does nothing to MY original argument, that Hillary beats EVERY rival from the Republican side. That is perhaps a valid worry, it doesn't change the REALITY that Hillary has consistently in EVERY polling average RCP has published, beaten the WHOLE field of rivals. She's not a god, she's not Jesus, she's not perfect, but in terms of domination, this is stronger than Obama vs McCain, stronger than Obama vs Romney, stronger than Bush 2 vs Kerry, stronger than Bush 2 vs Gore. How far back do you want me to go. Her polling lead is unprecedented. So you think that CNN poll somehow erases REALITY. That perhaps according to some gossip there are fears. Fine, I'll just grant you, Catriona you are totally right, the Clinton campaign has fears. Big deal. She beats the competition today as she was beating them six months ago. Every single one of them. Maybe she beats them while crying fearfully in bed at night. Or maybe those fears are not in reality that significant but she is trying to avoid any stories of being annointed the inevitable one (again).

But you do agree she is ahead. We do have some common ground. I say her lead is FAR stronger than what polls show now, because 1, she hadn't started to campaign until now. 2, she came out far stronger populist mainstream and liberal views than even many of her supporters expected. and 3, she knows she needs the House so she is pulling out all the stops to go for maximum landslide (hence the amnesty for Illegals etc). For several months she took the hits without responding. Now she's in the game. I would suggest her poll numbers versus the Republican field will tilt MORE in her favor now as her message is coming out, especially as the Republican field is running to the Tea Party corner of general election failure (in high turnout elections).

Agree that Bush's biggest problem is his name (hence its not on his campaign materials) but you overlook several other problems too. He's very rusty and quite wooden. In this strong field of rivals, more charismatic candidates can rather easily steal the spotlight thinking of Chris Chistie, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee all who are comfortable in large audience settings and make audiences feel like they are enjoying themselves. Jeb is yes, far more like his dad than his brother, also in this way, GHWB was VERY distant and wooden and formal. W Bush the former cheer-leader in college had picked up a lot of that 'nice guy' touch that his dad and brother can't portray in a crowd. Then for the nomination fight, Jeb has tons of credentials problems. The immediate response to his announcement speech (the interrupton by dreamers) by conservatives was - look, Jeb sounds legitimate when he reads off the teleprompter, but when he is spontaenous he immediately abandons conservative positions. Jeb is less conservative than Mitt Romney or John McCain and while the moderate wing is the largest of the four major Republican party groups, it is only a plurality meaning the other three groups (that are all more conservative) outnumber the moderates, when taken together. Jeb would have his work cut out for him even in normal times. This time there are many other candidates who also try to get the moderate vote, Christie, Walker, Rubio, Kasich, Pataki and now the spoiler, Trump. Jeb tried to scare Rubio out of the race so he'd have less competition for the moderate vote but failed. He is the front-runner but with such a slight lead that there has never been a front-runner of either party who was so 'weak' compared to his nearest rival. I do think Jeb eventually wins it but I do think this goes almost all the way even if things go well for Jeb. It may well not be decided when all delegates are allocated and we'll see back-room deals. I don't think it will be a brokered convention but boy would I love to see that once in my lifetime (by either party) and this year is the best chance there has ever been of that in modern times.

Rubio haha, ok, he worries the Hillary camp 'the most' in the same way that Windows Phone is the third ecosystem. She is not losing any sleep over him and neither is anyone in their camp. Besides, Rubio won't win it this time. He is the clear front-runner for VP in 2016 which would then put him into strong position to run for the top of the ticket in 2020 or 2024. This cycle its two things, an economy election as always and a foreign policy election. Hillary comes in as the most experienced seasoned achiever and Rubio would be the fresh-faced novice. The Democrats could fall for inexperience again some year soon, the Republicans will never nominate someone as green as Obama was just eight years ago, especially after all the vitriol that Fox and friends have dumped on what in reality was one of the better - and more centrist - presidents in recent history. Hillary will most definitely be far more liberal than Obama. That will be something when Fox commentators pine for the good old days when the nice Obama was president rather than the marxists evil witch Hillary. (It is conceivable that Rubio wins it - IF it goes to a brokered convention not otherwise. But that means the Republicas have already lost the election).

We agree that abortion is a conundrum for the GOP and they have to get past it sooner or later. The nasty hit in 2016 is that this is the biggest wave election (women) and Hillary already has the lead among white women (Obama lost white women, he won the overal female vote as his margin with minority women was so enormous). Hillary will definitely match Obama's minority women support, likely exceed that and if she also wins the white women vote, its already game-over because women are the majority voting block. Thats before the women's surge. And now ANY issue that further activates that female vote only pads her lead. Abortion is bad for Republicans but so is forced transvaginal ultrasounds, cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, voting against equal pay (and I know you know, I mean the vote to allow women to sue for that discrimination over a meaningful period of time) etc. But on 'pure' womens' issues the abortion debate is now totally silly by Republicans, the freedom party. (oh they also are obsessing about contraception.. its just one long-decided issue after another that just reinforces the stereotype that its an old white man's party).

Her positioning, we both agree, Hillary always was to the left of Bill and Obama is more centrist than Bill Clinton was. She's clearly the most liberal or progressive of the three, but still back in 2008 she passed herself off rather much as a centrist. I felt at the time that this was not the real Hillary (she's devious yes, like Bill, they put on an act, she's not sincere. She's a politician or worse, she's a politician's wife who knew she'd run for office one day. Why did she stand by Bill with Monica Lewinski etc. She's been putting on an act for decades). Now however, even many liberals were surprised at how progressive her position is and this I think is a clear calculation. She knows she'll get the women, the gays, the Hispanics (and Blacks of course have nowhere else to go anyway). Now she wants to wake up the sleeping giant similar to how Newt Gingrich woke up that conservative wing that now has transformed into the Tea Party. A lot of people - especially women, gays and Hispanics - will vote for the first time who were eligible before. She needs them to be energized to vote Democratic not just for her but her coat-tails. Hillary's seen Obama once the House was gone and how bad it got when the Senate was lost. She will bring the Senate back, she is now fighting to try to bring the House with her too. That is with the gerrymandering. That means she needs a Ronald Reagan-style landslide against Mondale. That kind of scale can do it, an Obama-size 2008 landslide - is not good enough! And Hillary is far more ambitious than Obama or Bill Clinton. She wants to achieve, so she needs the House. That is what this four-point strategy now is all about. And that will be a tough climb but not impossible.

On economic issues I agree there is movement in both directions. But the populist views she's adopted, taxing the rich, minimum wage, etc she is where the nation is and again the Republican position is in the minority corner. As to labor unions, that depends a bit by region. I was surprised how resilient Scott Walker was in his several recalls haha. And obviously the peak power of unions is long gone (peaked around Mondale's disasterous run of 1984). But again, Hillary is more the base Democrat and reached out to labor unions already in the 2008 nomintion fight against Obama. It matters a lot in Ohio for example where Obama struggled both times but Hillary has better chances going in.

On the trade bill, I agree that was an own goal by the Democrats, but ALL presidents struggle with some laws they try to pass that their own party doesn't support. Every President goes through this from time to time, W Bush, Bill Clinton, Poppy Bush, Reagan, Carter.. Thats not a sign of unusual behavior, its par for the course. The President is the nation's President and mostly does rule in ways his own party likes, at times goes against the majority view of his own party - in the nation's best interest. Clearly the trade deal is in the US best interests but its not supported by the Democratic base and many Senators and Housemembers fear the election of 2016 if they are on record for voting for legislation that their labor union support back home says kills jobs or outsources them. I am totally with you on this but as to 'clown' behavior no, this is normal for any President. Obama has had remarkably few of these which speaks to his incredible stamina in pursuing compromise and consensus (he might be Swedish by birth haha, thats what Swedes do, drives us Finns totally crazy they never ever ever stop discussing all conceivable options).

On the GOP trying to corrall the Tea Party. Ok, I see they have been trying. No more candidates like 'I am not a witch' haha. But Ted Cruz, there never was a Tea Party Senator before who can wreck havoc whenever it suits his personal agenda and then his protege Tim Cotton writing letters to Iran. The Tea Party is even more doing damage now and meanwhile both Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have been utterly unable to get any organized votes out that could get any governing done. They are constantly seeing their own troops revolting (driven by Tea Party). Yes, I agree the GOP has been trying but the Tea Party disease has gotten worse since the last election, not better. But as to Democrats, yes there is some movement now to a more liberal position, the Democrats were very timid about progressive issues and caved to most Republican demands for years, ever since Mondale's loss and Bill Clinton's 'triangulation'. Only after Nancy Pelosi lost her gavel, have the Democrats 'grown some balls' on their side to go back to their historic roots but this is now somewhat typical, after you lose power, you re-evaluate. That will happen also to the Republicans only after they lose.

(ok that was long stuff, will post this then more replies)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Winter and Catriona

Winter - good point totally agree. The silly part of it is, that the Republicans do know this and have had various pow-wows and election autopsies and expert views all saying the same thing of what they need to do. But then in the news we only see the actions, either nationally or in State governments, that go against those intentions. One after another, alienate the Hispanics, the women, the gays, the youth, the blacks.. If both sides were equally bad at this it wouldn't matter very much but the DEMs have simultaneously been doing things or at least attempting to pass legislation (and/or Obama executive orders) so there is a clear history one side is for them, one side is against them.

Catriona - I agree if a party thinks its invincible thats when the arrogance and rot and corruption all sets in. That is definitely a danger but, the Obama campaign was the first to energize the youth and the current Democratic leadership and the Hillary campaign is quite concerned can this be recreated. Definitely not taking it for granted. The Hispanic voters who turn out were well won to the Democratic side by 2012 but their turnout is pitifully low, so that is not 'in the bag' and thats why Hillary is pushing so hard right from the start, she needs that to her side. I hear your argument this is a danger, but they haven't yet won much of that 'Hillary coalition' they need, so they are really fighting for them, not taking them for granted with the possible exception of the Black vote which also Hillary is taking pains to pander to at least a little bit. She's no Obama haha but Bill Clinton was considered an honorary Black back in his Presidency, these are not candidates seen as anti-Black and again, it helps to have the rich white man's party on the other side.

As to W, yes, he is the recent high-mark for Hispanic support on the Republican side. Doubya was a good campaigner but horrible President. And he had a good campaign and message (and Al Gore ran a bad campaign against him). The message of a compassionate conservative went over well in those peaceful times and his promise of being the Education President fitted those times before 9/11. But then Dick Cheney got his excuse to turn the nation into his personal little police state and W goes down as one of the worst Presidents ever. He ran on a pretty moderate position in 2000 and only after the terrorist attack we got to see Cheney's power and how much he grabbed of it.

At some point a Republican Presidential candidate will run on very centrist views, ones that make Mitt Romney and John McCain and W Bush seem extreme. That is the next Republican president, possibly even as early as to replace Hillary after her second term in 2024. The current Tea Party flavored Republican cannot win the general election even in normal years and will be crushed in the wave election of women getting to vote for their first female President. The smart play I'm expecting from Hillary is to name Julian Castro as her VP. That secures Hillary's legacy in that 2024 will also be a wave election where Julian becomes first Hispanic President and Republicans' first chance is in 2028 to try to unseat a sitting President.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Nice article Tomi - I'm glad you can bring some humor to the situation. Living in the USA makes it a little harder to have that lightheartedness towards these things. Bottom line is these Clowns still have supporters and still get votes. It's a sad situation.

I agree with you that Rand is a libertarian. The problem is he's also a religious nut job. Or at least the core of his supporters are. I think for him religious values > libertarian logic.

I for one wish Bernie Sanders would be more in the running. Politics makes me depressed so I don't follow all that closely but he seems like the only one out the the entire bunch that might actually be a fundamentally honest person. All of the others, including Rand, are just playing the game and trying to make a bigger name for themselves. At least that's how I perceive it.


The Democratic race is getting interesting. Sanders is within 8 points of Clinton in New Hampshire and just drew a crowd of 10,000 in Madison. Jim Webb is also entering the race. Clinton will still get the nomination, but she doesn't seem so inevitable anymore. It will be interesting to see how far left she gets forced to move, but it will be difficult for her to play the populist card.


After the Greek vote yesterday, can we all agree that polling is unreliable? For a variety of reasons, polling has become less accurate since 2000. Although much maligned for "missing" the result in the U.S. back then, the main exit polls were actually more accurate back then (it's next to impossible to predict an election that was essentially a "tie" that came down to a few hundred disputed votes in a large state). There are multiple reasons for this. Here are my thoughts:

First is that pollsters haven't figured out how to incorporate mobile devices. Maybe Tomi could provide some advice on how to incorporate SMS. But directories are hard to come by, and in places like the U.S. the cell phone number can give misleading information about where a voter is located (people can move but keep the cell phone number from the area code where they initially signed up for service).

Second is that people have gotten wise to pollsters. It's entirely possible that people gave the pollsters the answers they wanted to hear rather than their true intentions.

Third is that we have more partisan polling organizations than before. Much of polling comes down not to the raw data gathering, but in the analysis. It's hard to predict who "likely" voters are, or whether the final sample drawn from the total pool reflects the demographics of the actual voting population. Two pollsters looking at the same raw results could come up with vastly different predictions. In a winner-take-all setting, even minor differences in vote totals can lead to drastically different results. In a proportional system, a few tenths of a percentage point could be the difference between a party getting in or not (witness the German elections last year, where two right-leaning parties got about 4.9% of the vote, just below the 5% needed to get in).

Nate Silver's analysis got it mostly right in 2008 and 2012, but were awful in 2010 and 2014. Theoretically, he should do better in 2016, since the actual voter demographic is likely to more closely mirror the registered voter pool than in off-cycle years, but we don't know how well Hillary Clinton will be able to replicate Obama's draw.

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