Days of Change

The Ad Game

February 13, 2016
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I’ve been missing some good political advertisements. These are from the Cruz campaign.

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Not Their Cup of Tea

February 12, 2016
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What we consider the Republican establishment has a view of the Party’s place in American and what they need to make those plans a reality. It’s pretty clear that one candidate worries them the most. It’s Ted Cruz. I understand if you thought it was Donald Trump. As a contrast to Cruz, Trump has said he can make deals with Congress. The Republican establishment figures they can make deals with Trump, too.

2006 was truly a rebuilding year for Republicans. Democrats had an increasingly effective anti-war message that made Bush unpopular on foreign policy. Hurricane Katrina and high gas prices made Bush unpopular domestically. By 2006, the Contract with America had essentially expired. Senators from 1994 were asking for a third term to give them two decades in Congress when they ran in 1994 on term limits, even if they were self-imposed. The RNC didn’t want to rock the boat in a tough election year, but that establishment thinking lost them the majority. 2008 lost them the presidency, too.

The absence of an opposing GOP presence was felt quickly. In less that 100 days, people who worked hard and struggled to pay their obligations saw moves by the administration to bail out banks and pay off mortgages of people who overextended themselves on low interest rates. Having any sympathy for this new Tea Party could get almost any Republican elected. One election won back the House of Representatives for the GOP.

The Democrats fought back with their fiercest weapon, government regulation. Although claiming the movement was a false grass-roots effort, they went after the grass roots funding when each small group tried to get a tax classification to raise money. A bunch of front groups would find a way to avoid that. The Democrats’ actions proved the Tea Party was a populist movement.

The Republican Party used the lack of organization and money from the Tea Party to get Mitt Romney nominated. He mentioned his “47%” remark among wealthy donors. His campaign was issue-based and avoided speaking directly to people. Obama won. The GOP blamed the large group of Tea Party candidates and a protracted primary process for the loss. They decided in 2016 to have fewer debates and more winner-take-all primaries.

Ironically, the Republicans gained the Senate in 2014, but the Congress did little to back up the tough talk from 2009 about being dedicated to stopping Obama.  The only Republicans in the Senate who put up much of a fight at all were Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Both of them threw their hats into the 2016 contest.

The GOP has a plan to get a candidate early with as little collateral damage as possible. Jeb Bush would run as the governor with a strong record. Marco Rubio would run as a Tea Party candidate who established himself as a good Republican. Jeb would be the nominee, and Rubio would be the vice president. Ted Cruz would be destroyed.

Then Donald Trump happened. He polls at 30-40% among Republicans and has the potential to win many contests with a plurality of the vote. In any other year, this would be a long slog ending in defeat at a convention where a majority of delegates were needed to win. Now, Trump has the potential to clean up in later primaries if he has at least 2 opponents.

As I wrote above, the GOP Establishment still thinks Jeb has a good chance to become the nominee and donors are bankrolling the primary contest with hundreds of millions of dollars. They’ll also take Rubio, but likely won’t need to. Trump is a fallback. Paired with an acceptable VP, (probably Rubio) the establishment thinks they can work with Trump. However, they want to defeat the Tea Party guy, Cruz, at all costs.

I would expect an actual Tea Party political party by 2020 at this rate.


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Social Democracy

February 11, 2016
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The margin of victory for Hillary Clinton is currently measured by her delegate count. Many Hillary supporters from 2008 are very aware that the Democrats have hundreds of unpledged, or super delegates who are leaders in the party and can personally pick any candidate they want at the convention. In 2008, they switched announced support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama around this time of the year. That and some other tricks gave the nomination to Obama.

The super delegate system was created by the Democrats to ensure that a popular, but undesirable candidate could not win the nomination with a simple majority of delegates. Bernie Sanders supporters, who didn’t really understand this until New Hampshire, are livid. They have gone to social media to demand that super delegates give proportional support to the real winner of New Hampshire.

In 2008, Barack Obama did not want to wait his turn or be the first Black Vice President. His campaign went hard after a rope line comment from Bill Clinton about the “fantasy” of Obama winning the election. Instead of a rhetorical battle, Hillary chose to run a campaign about her superior qualifications. Or, she decided the DNC wasn’t going to support her and she chose to keep her powder dry.

2016 was supposed to be her time, again. Unfortunately, her opponent this year is a 73 year old Democratic Socialist who has no more time. He wants the Democratic Party to be more like him and he doesn’t care if his campaign rhetoric loses the general election to the Republicans. Sanders speaks in absolutes. If something is expensive, the government should provide it. If someone has a billion dollars, the government should have $750 million of it. Not only did you not build that, you owe the USA rent for using that. His base is made up of kids with no other obligations and poorly defined morals. Since no one has heard of him, Sanders has less media baggage than Clinton as well.

Bernie Sanders came along in a year where people found the choice of an anointed candidate was not a real choice. He also managed to blow through the early electorate and catch fire when no other viable opponent chose to run. The Democrats have nothing but their flawed system to blame.


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New Hampshire Guesses

February 10, 2016
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The numbers are in for New Hampshire. I think I can now offer my slightly more informed opinions. One factor to consider is that 12.4% of the voter was split among candidates who had either dropped out after Iowa or dropped out today. That alone beats everyone lower than second place. John Kasich was second with 16% but was below 2% in Iowa. It’s a common tactic for contenders to skip Iowa if they think they can win, place or show in New Hampshire. There are now 6 candidates who have at least gotten at least 9% in one primary who are still in it. Jim Gilmore has no chance, but I guess he has nothing better to do.

Let’s get to Donald Trump. First, if you look at the demographics that some used to praise Trump, he was even between Republicans in Independents. This is slightly worse than the Republican field at large in the state. We can probably assume that if anyone chose not to vote in the Democratic primary because Bernie Snders already had a huge lead, that it hurt Trump rather than helped him. Trump also out-performed among people with no college and people with less than full high school education.

Trump has yet to disprove the theory that he has a support ceiling of about 40%. As more candidates suspend their campaigns, any wins more than single digits could be a thing of the past. He also has about 1/3 of the delegates, which will not be enough if other candidates officially support Trump’s eventual single opponent.

Right now, the only other serious competition is Ted Cruz, who places 1st in Iowa and 3rd in New Hampshire. The third player will either be Jeb or Rubio, but Rubio over-performed in Iowa and under-performed in NH. That bad performance kept Jeb from losing his donors and he’ll have plenty of money to burn off trying to win other contests.

Ben Carson got 3 delegates in Iowa and it looks like his high point. He may have truly felt cheated by the dropping out rumors, but focusing on it only highlighted that he went home for suits on the day of the caucuses. He also left New Hampshire on the night of the primary and skipped his own party. He barely spends any money, so he can stay in the race for a while, but it’s over.

John Kasich is another matter. He is now just ahead of Bush in the delegate count. He’s also the only one besides Trump and Cruz to place first or second in a contest so far. He has the potential to be the last establishment candidate if Jeb or Marco Rubio’s fundamental flaws take them down. He’s actually poised to get more big donor money.

As for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is beating Sanders in the delegate count, relying on the same super delegate scheme that got Barack Obama the nomination over her in 2008.


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Happy Brithday

February 9, 2016
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For years, the owner of the rights to “Good Morning to You” has been demanding royalties to anyone who publicly performs “Happy Birthday”. The melody is the same, and historically rights are attached to note progression over song lyrics. A court has overturned that action and moved “Happy Birthday” into the public domain.

If you suddenly hear that birthday song on TV in the future, you’ll know why.


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Democracy in Action

February 8, 2016
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I’ve decided to stop being horrified by Donald Trump’s persistence and focus more on his daily foibles rather than a litany of reasons why it will be the end of the Republic to vote for him.

Trump lost Iowa. He may not have expected to win in the end, but he tried to win it and failed. He has a much better chance in New Hampshire, as his meager 30% beats the rest of the field which is effectively split 4-5 ways. Rubio has to beat Jeb. Cruz needs Carson out of the race and Trump needs to break 30% within a few more primaries.

In other words, the people are speaking. Trump has no magical powers, but has simply cornered the market on the most outrageous talking points. Every election season, there’s going to be one of those guys. Newt Gingrich seemed to fill that role in 2012. I may have my preferences in the contest, but at least all of them seem to be getting a shot.


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Any Port in a (Snow) Storm

February 7, 2016
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This election year is the year of the insider outsider. In 1992, there was a true outsider in H. Ross Perot. He was outside either party, outside the political campaign system and possibly outside of his mind. He won 19% of the popular vote and 0 Electors. John Edwards actually got more Electors when someone wrote his name instead of John Kerry’s in 2004. This time, both parties have at least one outsider running for a party nomination.

It seems like the Democrats are a party of socialists, but Bernie Sanders has never actually joined. He has been an Independent for years, but votes with the Democrats except in extreme cases. It may also be why he isn’t afraid for his future as a Democrats, like so many others are who chose not to fight against Hillary Clinton. Such a binary choice has left Democrats who don’t like Clinton to only have Sanders as an option.

The Republicans are a different story. When this race began, there were a number of “Tea Party” Republicans who didn’t always mesh with the party on economic or policy issues. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were the most outspoken Senators when it came to Obama’s budgets. Paul is out, and former outsider candidates like Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are considered RINOs. Bush and Kasich were always in the Republican mainstream.

That leaves Carly Fiorina, whose political experience was working for John McCain and running for the Senate in 2010. Ben Carson, who rose to fame when he criticized Barack Obama to his face at the National Prayer Breakfast. Then there’s Donald Trump, who not only hasn’t run for political office, he has eschewed most of the traditional actions of other politicians. He has certainly given the 11th Commandment a thrashing.

The problem with Trump as an outsider is that he can’t win without using the same tools as other politicians. Ted Cruz ate his lunch in Iowa because he had consultants and a ground campaign. I suspect that New Hampshire will put an end to any realistic aspirations of Ben Carson and most Christian support will go to Cruz. That could very well win him South Carolina.

I’ve made no secret that I don’t like Donald Trump. Everything he’s done during his campaign have only confirmed my opinions. He’s insulted candidates who get to close to him in the polls. He’s attacked Iowans who didn’t support him enough, he called a room full of New Hampshire residents biased campaign donors. He blames Ted Cruz for cheating and lowering his vote count when the polls say otherwise. This is all bad news for the general election.

Trump’s lousy attitude makes me much more likely to choose any other port in a storm from the GOP field. Of the 3 governors left, I’d pick Jeb. At least he talks a good game. I could vote for Cruz and hold my nose and vote for Rubio. I could also stay home while Trump runs against Hillary.

In 2012, Mitt Romney got 1 million fewer votes than George W. Bush got 8 years earlier. Creating a schism helps when you want to win a primary, but Republican and Democrat votes aren’t fungible. The great majority of Hillary Clinton supporters in 2008 still pulled the lever for Barack Obama rather than going to the Republican side. Trump is not going to back fill his ranks with Democrats if he loses the Republicans (as evil and establishment they may be) who he seems to be running to destroy.

I still expect him to be the next Ross Perot, except he doesn’t have to buy the air time.


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Mano a Manos

February 6, 2016
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Most of the Republican debates have been Trump vs. everyone else. Even though Ted Cruz was the winner in Iowa, tonight was very much everyone else vs. Marco Rubio. The biggest fight of the night was actually Christie at Rubio.

The Democrats had Hillary vs. Bernie in a state where Bernie has a good chance of winning. They are now facing off directly, with no O’Malley buzzing around. Hillary got just under 50% in Iowa. Can she break 50% in South Carolina?

I suspect that regardless of what happens in New Hampshire, Cruz has a good chance of winning SC. Even though Carson is more evangelical, the religious right in that state likes to win and Cruz is their non-Trump choice.


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Buying Your Vote

February 5, 2016
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When over a billion dollars are poured into an election where just over 100 million people vote, there is certainly some money being spent to sway those voting decisions. Now consider the fact that 2/3 of those voters won’t switch from one party to another in a matter of weeks, a lot of money is going into changing a relatively small number of votes.

Fox Business’ John Stossel had a segment about the use of analytics to target the individuals who are most likely to get you elected. It should be no surprise that Ted Cruz used this data collection to get a win in Iowa this week. There were ham-handed tactics like voter reports where you (and others) see how often you actually voted instead of staying home. At the same time, there were people on the ground who knocked on doors, but only the ones a phone app told them were good prospects to vote for Cruz.

2012 was a big year for analytics. It was how the Obama campaign knew who didn’t early vote and therefore who to call and contact incessantly until they did. The Romney campaign purchased products and data based on analytics, then chose either not to use them or use them badly. The ORCA scandal was not a fluke, it was the culmination of a campaign that spent money on technology and tactics they didn’t trust and never bothered to understand.

I’ve written extensively about the logistical advantages the Democrats have. Population density is the top indicator of party preference. They can literally drive a bus through an urban area and fill it in 10 minutes with voters en route to a polling place. Republicans have to work with larger ground to cover. Some guy with his own jet isn’t going to fix that.


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Dirty Enough

February 4, 2016
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The GOP presidential field has narrowed to a group of serious candidates and a few who have no chance but haven’t dropped out yet. Cruz, Trump, Rubio and Carson had some showing in Iowa. Bush will still have access to money, John Kasich and Chris Christie may do well in New Hampshire. Jim Gilmore and Carly Fiorina have no chance, even though Carly is fighting to get in the next debate.

Donald Trump is the perpetual motion machine of campaigning. His burn rate is low and he could cut himself a check any time he needs to. Either Rubio or Bush will make it in the next month, they basically fill the same slot. Carson can do well with Christians, but he has little else going for him. There’s only one slot that Kasich, Christie, and Fiorina have to fight to win. Then there’s Ted Cruz.

With Rand Paul out of the race, Ted Cruz is the last veteran Tea Party politician with credibility left. Rubio has morphed into an establishment candidate and Donald Trump is more representative of a Tea Party rally speaker from 2009. Cruz has tried to fight for limited government in the Senate, which is a weak position for a single individual against a large majority who like the deal making as is. Cruz is also a social conservative.

Back when I looked at the field, I liked Scott Walker the best. He’s a Tea Party governor who used his office to break the public union stranglehold over city and state budgets. He also stood up for social values in office. I like governors for president, and he was the most effective of the bunch. It seems the people who answer polls did not agree. Walker dropped out, urged the party to fight against the Trump surge and ended up over $1 million in campaign debt.

I’m not sure I count myself as a Cruz supporter, but he seems to be the Senate version of a Scott Walker. The most negative thing about him right now is that his campaign might have been too aggressive in winning the Iowa caucuses. First of all, let’s look at the polling before the caucus.

Business executive Trump leads with 31% while Cruz has 24%, giving Trump a larger margin over the Texas senator than he had a week ago. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has 17% and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has 8%.

The day before the caucus, Cruz was at 24% and was at 28% after. However, Carson was actually lower before the caucus. The more interesting numbers are Trump falling 7% below expectations and Rubio rising 6%. Given that data, the Microsoft conspiracy, where the Rubio donor and caucus app creator fudged the results, is more plausible.

I’d rather see underhanded tactics behind the scenes than Donald Trump on stage eviscerating someone who may be the nominee and end up getting that repeated in a DNC campaign ad. From what I’ve seen, if the Cruz campaign is dirty, it is just dirty enough to win. Clean campaigns (see John McCain) lose, especially against dirty Democrats. We’re not talking about ballot box stuffing or the South Carolina incident from 2000. If floating a rumor about a candidate who has no chance is as bad as it gets, I have no problem.


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