Monday, February 08, 2016

Thoughts Political on the Race so Far

The first contest finally happened. Not that I’m a huge fan of caucuses but at least the voting has started.

So here are my thoughts on the race. (I would have gotten to this a little sooner but my cold was still an issue last week. I think and hope that this is finally over. Still have a little bit of a cough but that’s going away too.)

The Republicans
Only in politics would coming in third be viewed as some sort of a win. But that was the coverage that Marco Rubio got for his third place finish in Iowa. In his “victory” speech he talked about how no one expected that his campaign would get this sort of results. Except for the fact that just about every tracking poll showed that he was in third place. He did come very close to Trump but in the end Rubio was still in third place.

But you wouldn’t have know that from the press coverage. Then again Rubio seems to be the press’ darling. Over and over I’ve read these glowing pieces on Rubio. How smart he is. How he can appeal to a broader group of votes than the other GOP candidates. All I see is an empty suit. His one major proposal immigration reform he ran away from as fast as he could when there was push back on it. I just don’t see the appeal. I don’t see how he appeals to Hispanic voters when he back tracked on immigration.

Then came the debate on Saturday. I will say this I did not watch the debate in part because I really don’t think debates are very helpful or informative. And also it was the Republicans and well it was the Republicans. But Rubio ran into problems with his canned speech about Obama which he used four times even after he’d been called out about it by Chris Christie. From the Post:
Rubio tried to get personal by accusing Christie of not wanting to return to New Jersey during a recent snowstorm. The crowd saw what Rubio was doing and booed.

As the two bickered back and forth, Rubio seemed stuck in one gear: Repeat his stump speech. And every time, Christie called him out on it.

“There it is,” Christie said, turning toward the audience. “The 25-second memorized speech.”

Another article from the Post best sums up how badly Rubio did in the debate:
Rubio has been such a strong debater so far — and a steady hand on the campaign trail in general. And then he ran into Christie. The New Jersey governor hit Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for not having much to show for his time in the Senate. He seemed to knock Rubio off his game so much that Rubio wound up repeating a stock answer about President Obama — that Obama knows exactly what he’s doing in driving the country to the left — three times. It was conspicuous and very not-smooth.

Then Christie smelled blood and pounced, hitting Rubio for not being able to venture beyond his talking points — or his “25-second speech,” as Christie called it. It became hard to watch. Rubio finished in third place in Iowa, but he was seen as the momentum candidate coming into New Hampshire. He got the front-runner’s treatment, and it wasn’t good. We’ll see if it hurts his poll numbers.

I think the debate performance hurt Rubio. In all likelihood slowed his momentum to be the establishment candidate for the Republicans. He was surging in the polls but he got a ton of negative press from the debate. It was the major topic of conversation on the political shows on Sunday and not in a good way.

I think this will stay with Rubio for the rest of the contest in New Hampshire and most likely beyond. Rubio is going to have to show he can think on his feet. And come up with something original to say. The thing was his dig on Obama was practically word for word the same all four times he said it. Even after he’d been called out about it by Christie. And each time he said it Christie pointed it out.

The Democrats
A tie in Iowa between Sanders and Clinton. I’ll add again that I dislike the caucus process. But how the Democrats run theirs is terrible. No raw vote totals just something called (I think I got this right) state delegate equivalents. Whatever the hell that is. In several precincts the winner was decided by a coin toss.

Oh democracy at its best.

On to New Hampshire. It looks like a certain win for Sanders. I don’t think that comes as a big surprise considering Sanders is from Vermont. It too is a state more suited to Sanders like Iowa was. The demographics work in his favor.

Nevada is next on Feb. 20 (another caucus state but at least it’s on a Saturday). After that is South Carolina. I think both of these states favor Clinton.

I think Sanders is going to have problems attracting minority voters. I think breaking up big banks might not be all that of a central issue to them. One thing surprised about is why more questions aren’t raised about Sanders stances on foreign policy. I would have thought the Clinton campaign would have gone after him on that.

As for Clinton, she continues to have problems with e-mails and the speaking fees she got from Wall Street. I think these are going to follow her as long as she’s in the race. I’m a little puzzled why they aren’t more out in front on both of these.

Since both are going to able to raise money, this will be decided later rather than sooner. I think that’s a good thing for whomever is the nominee. I also think it makes the later primaries actually matter.

The Polls
I’m beginning to think polls are less and less reliable. They also seem to be something the news media trots out repeatedly. I’ve also noticed that the reporting of the margin of error in these polls is hardly is ever mentioned. So when candidates are two or three points separated from each other, they are essentially in a tie. But that makes the who’s in first narrative a little harder to sell by the media.

Even more bogus are the so called national match ups. How well does Clinton do against all the Republicans. The same for Sanders. The same for all the Republicans against the two Democrats. As I said these seem to me just bogus. After Iowa suddenly Rubio was doing really well against the Democrats. Now is that really a reflection of who people are going to vote for. Or is it a more realistic snap shot of which candidate has suddenly gotten a great deal of press. I’m going to guess the second one.

New Hampshire
So what are the portents for New Hampshire?

For the Democrats: Sanders will win over Clinton. It will be interesting to see what the margin will be.

For the Republicans: I think Trump wins. Again the margin will be interesting. Also who comes in second, third and fourth. And probably most important how close those other candidates are to each other. I have a feeling this time around New Hampshire will not be the campaign ender as it has been in the past. In large part because of Rubio’s bad performance in the debate.

Let the votes be counted.

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