Election

Iowadammerung: Where Will We Go From Here?

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Although it feels like it has been going on for nearly 250 million years, today officially kicks off the 2016 presidential primary. The first votes will be cast (but not really) in the Iowa caucuses this evening beginning at 7 pm Central. Voters will hear each candidate’s case from either the candidates themselves or their caucus chairs, then make their preference known.

Because of the personal nature of the caucus process, the results have been notoriously hard to predict by pollsters in the past. On the Republican side, all the polls have seen the recent Cruz bounce fade and return to a Trump lead, but the last few polls have the perpetual frontrunner up only +1.

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In fact, of the top few Republicans, only Rubio actually has an upward trajectory in Iowa polling. He’s risen from an average of 10% to almost 17% in the last week or so, a trend that is eerily familiar.

In 2012, Rick Santorum polled in the single digits nationally for all of 2011 right up until the week before the Iowa caucuses. He would come out of nowhere to win the state on a combination of endless local campaigning, evangelical support, and a few key endorsements. Santorum went on to be the only significant challenge to Mitt Romney for the nomination, winning several other states and amassing a small share of the national delegates.

Should Conservatives Support Hillary if Trump Wins? No…There is Another.

Along with most of the Republican party, I’ve become dismayed of late at Donald Trump’s continued (or resurgent?) polling success. Especially in light of most pollsters recent switch to likely caucus-goers and likely voters in early primary states, our collective wishcasting about Trump’s inevitable demise appears to have been just that.

With less than three weeks to the Iowa caucuses and the end of the republic (exaggeration?), many conservatives are already moving on to the truly apocalyptic general election scenario of Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton. Mainstream conservative activists and pundits like Ben Howe appear to have already lept from the bridge and decided to support Hillary in the increasingly inevitable scenario where Trump is the nominee.

What Happens When Two Historically Unpopular Candidates Face Off?

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The presidential election of 2016 is considered by many to be the most important election in our lifetimes. I consider that sentiment nothing more than a cliche. We literally hear it every 4 years, and sometimes in between. Technically every election is the most important one yet.

But this election is the rare open contest with no incumbent, either directly or by succession (VP running after serving 8 years). The last one was just 8 years ago, but before that you have to go all the way back to 1952 to find an election without a sitting president or vice president running.

In all that time there has not been an election that could come down to two equally unpopular candidates. We won’t know for at least a month or two when primary votes are officially cast who each party’s nominee will be, but both current frontrunners are historically disliked.

Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating right now is bad and getting worse. It started dropping the moment she left office as President Obama’s first Secretary of State, and it’s been underwater nearly a year.

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As pollster Adrian Gray has shown, such poor favorability ratings even this far out from the election are usually correlated with general election losses, at least since 1992.

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The Electability Argument: Romney 2012 vs Rubio 2016

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It might seem counterintuitive, but losing an election doesn’t mean you weren’t “electable”.

In 2012, one of the main arguments for Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee was that he was the most electable. This point is usually supported by favorability polls and subtle campaign factors like wide, not specific or tribalist, general election appeal.

Romney’s claim of electability in 2012 was based on this data. His favorability varied quite a bit, but was positive from early summer right up to election day. More people liked him than didn’t, in the end. Unfortunately Obama had a comparable favorability rating; he wasn’t the unpopular figure most Republicans assumed he was.

As we all know, Romney lost. He wasn’t as electable as he thought, but he was still the most electable of the Republican candidates at the time. Rick Santorum’s favorability rating was almost never in positive territory. Newt Gingrich was one of the least popular politicians in the country, two weeks after he won the South Carolina primary.

This year the electability argument has come back around again, primarily as a point in favor of Marco Rubio. As a young, well-spoken conservative with minority immigrant parents, a middle-class history, and solid grasp of current cultural trends, his appeal is broader than the Republican party has seen in ages.

GOP in Chaos? Have you seen the Democrats lately?

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One of the media and their Democratic allies’ favorite narratives is the ubiquitous GOP civil war. Every election, every intra-party disagreement, every primary, it’s all they can talk about.

Republicans are in chaos because there isn’t a consensus House Speaker choice. They’re in chaos because there isn’t a consensus presidential nominee. They’re in chaos because there are significant policy disagreements within the ranks. (So weird that “liberals” expect conformity and unanimity…) You’d think the leftist media’s ideological (and, really, partisan) survival would depend on painting the other side as dysfunctional. There are even entire sections devoted to it at PoliticoSalon, and Huffington Post. But every year of the “GOP civil war”, Republicans control more state legislatures and pickup more House and Senate seats. And have you seen the Democrats lately?

#DemDebate, or How They Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Being Democratic Socialists

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Democrats have been complaining for years that Republicans have moved so far right that they’re not compatible with American democracy anymore. Republicans were fine before, they say, but not anymore! Weak-kneed Republicans who lose primary elections then decide to become media stars by switching to Independents (and eventually Democrats) and claiming “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me”.

[cue thunderous lemming applause]

But no one ever asks how far the Democrats have moved left. In their first primary debate of the 2016 contest Tuesday night, we may finally have gotten the answer. They’re all Democratic Socialists now, and proud of it (with the possible exception of Jim Webb).

Kanye for President? At this point, why not?

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At Sunday’s Video Music Awards on MTV, rapper Kanye West accepted the Video Vanguard Award, the attention span-limited network’s version of a lifetime achievement award. Deserved or not, West took the opportunity, as he often does at award shows, to make more news for himself. This time he decided to announce his intention to run for president in 2020. Unclear if the Federal Election Commission will now begin monitoring his finances.

Most took the opportunity to laugh at the clown. Kanye is notoriously divisive when he engages politically. He’s also a gaffe-prone loose cannon unsuited to winning hearts and minds in our carefully choreographed campaign climate. And while a certain amount of narcissism is necessary to think you are capable of presiding over the world’s preeminent superpower, West’s level of self-worship may leave him overqualified.

Then again, I’m judging him on a normal election cycle. Given the Twilight Zone-like events of the 2016 cycle so far, Yeezy, as the kids call him, may well be the perfect presidential candidate for 2020.

Does This Mean Hillary’s Presidency Would Last Eight Seconds?

Via The Hill, here’s presumptive 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee, former U.S. Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton riffing on people who oppose the government’s many intrusions into private life, and on The Future of American Society™ (emphasis added):

“When people diss the government — we’re really dissing ourselves and dissing our democracy,” Clinton said. “This is my last rodeo, and I believe that we can leave not just the country in good shape for the future, but we can get a deep bench of young people to decide that they want to go into politics.”

United Liberty Owner Going Grassroots

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Concerned American Voters is making waves as the new Super PAC on the block. Beyond filling a need in the Rand Paul campaign, it’s also gathering talent from all around the liberty movement. United Liberty’s own Martin Avila is joining the team as their Senior Tech Strategist - a generally unsurprising move since Avila did work for the Ron Paul 2008 campaign.

Avila will be joining Matt Kibbe, who is leaving FreedomWorks to join the newly formed Super PAC as their Senior Advisor. “Politics is more decentralized today and that makes insurgent candidates like Rand Paul more competitive,” Kibbe stated. “This is a big test for the liberty movement and I think our moment to deliver is now.”

As for the United Liberty family of writers, while Avila will be working with Concerned American Voters PAC, the UL site will continue to offer free thoughts on free markets and smaller government, even if the writers don’t happen to agree with the PAC. “I think we deserve all fair scrutiny just like any other organization,” Kibbe explained.

While Avila is not leaving UL behind, he also isn’t starting work with strangers. He and Kibbe have both worked together before, and with the PAC’s president, Jeff Frazee. Kibbe comes from FreedomWorks, Frazee comes from Young Americans for Liberty, and Avila has worked with both organizations.

Matt Lewis Is Right: Rand Paul Is Wrong on Term Limits, Here’s Why

(Editor’s note: this post first appeared on George Scoville’s personal blog.)

The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis has a really important piece up this morning critiquing Rand Paul’s rhetoric on congressional term limits from Paul’s announcement of his 2016 presidential campaign yesterday. During his speech, Paul said, “We limit the president to two terms … It is about time we limit the terms of Congress.”

Here are the counterpoints Lewis offers (emphasis added):

 


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