Weekly Musing 12-11-15
The GOP’s major 2016 problem — in 3 maps
Republicans have two major problems when it comes to winning presidential elections: demographics and the Electoral College. And as the 2016 election gets off the ground, both of these problems are getting worse.
On the Electoral College front, Democrats quite simply have more electoral votes “in the bank” (i.e. safe blue states) and need to win fewer swing states than Republicans do. And demographically, the Democrats’ gains among Hispanic voters in particular pose a real long-term problem for Republicans, given this population is growing extremely fast and the white population is, well, not.
We say “long-term” because population can only grow so fast — i.e. it’s not necessarily an imminent problem for the GOP in 2016.
Or maybe it is, according to a new study from the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
The New World Order – The Republican White House field is scrambled earlier than expected
First prize for early maneuvering goes to Jeb Bush. His unexpected, all-but-in announcement on Dec. 16 stunned his competitors and the political community. Bush didn’t just accelerate the entire process, including forthcoming announcements by rivals, but he also gained a leg up in conventional wisdom’s positioning.
So for the first time in a while, we elevate a candidate to the First Tier of the Crystal Ball‘s GOP rankings for president. Jeb Bush fills a long-established vacuum. Our decision is tentative; his poll ratings are still underwhelming, and Bush is a shaky frontrunner. Yet Bush is No. 1 on a giant roster as we begin the long roller-coaster process of picking the party nominees over the next year and a half.
We are amazed that Republicans could nominate their third Bush for a fifth run at the White House since 1988. Such family dominance of either major party is unprecedented in American history, unless you want to link Republican Teddy Roosevelt’s one nomination (1904) with Democrat Franklin Roosevelt’s four nominations (1932-1944). The Roosevelt presidencies were separated by party labels and 24 years. The Bush presidencies, should Jeb win it all, will have been separated by just eight-year intervals.
By no means is Bush a sure thing — far from it. The path to the nomination will likely be tougher for this Bush than it was for his father in 1988 and brother in 2000. The party establishment is still a force to be reckoned with, but nowhere near as dominant in the GOP of 2015 as it was in those earlier times.
Currently, more than three-quarters of Republicans want someone other than Bush. The frontrunner depends on a split in conservative ranks — which appears to be happening — as well as a concerted push by the party’s establishment leaders and donors to freeze out Bush alternatives (including Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and John Kasich). We’ve always doubted Romney would run unless the pragmatists in the leadership and donor class deemed a rescue mission essential; right now, they do not. The remaining Bush alternatives are still in the game, though.
The other major development is in Tier Six (Wild Cards), with Mike Huckabee’s dramatic move. Most observers had severe doubts Huck would run, given his six years away from elective politics and his lucrative Fox News Channel gig. Now the former governor has walked away from a large TV paycheck and started assembling a campaign team. We’re moving him to Tier Three, where he joins other “Outsiders” Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, has deep, genuine appeal to social conservatives, as do Cruz, Carson, and Rick Santorum.
The 1 chart that explains everything you need to know about partisanship in America
The chart, which comes from Pew’s amazing political polarization project, shows how partisans of both parties have grown both increasingly unified amongst themselves and increasingly far apart from their partisan others over just the last 20 years. As recently as 1994, seven in 10 Democrats were more consistently liberal than the median Republican. As of 2014, it’s a whopping 94 percent. Same goes for Republicans; 64 percent of GOPers were more consistently conservative than the median Democrat in 1994 while 92 percent are today. In addition, “the overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10 percent to 21 percent,”according to Pew.
To me, this chart is so important — particularly in a week where a new Congress arrives in Washington — because it reveals that the polarization of our elected officials isn’t some sort of “only in Washington” thing. The increasing partisanship of Congress is a direct reflection of the increasing partisanship of the country. After all, that’s who elects these people to Congress, right?
So, when you hear people decry the partisanship of their elected officials in Washington, don’t believe it. We have the Congress we want — even if we aren’t totally honest with ourselves all the time about what that is. And, we get the results — not many — from our elected officials that you have to expect when you have a country as polarized as ours
Long-shot Republican candidates weigh spicing up 2016 race
The 2016 Republican presidential field could be bigger than any in recent memory – thanks to a growing second tier of potential contenders.
While several prominent politicians already have insinuated themselves into the mix, from Ted Cruz to Rand Paul to Chris Christie to Jeb Bush, a number of under-the-radar names are now flirting with a 2016 candidacy.
They may be the long shots, but could shake things up — by playing the spoiler in key primaries, positioning themselves as a potential running mate for the eventual nominee or even becoming a dark horse competitor in the final stage.
“It is definitely a new phenomenon,” Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley said of the increasingly crowded fields. (The 2008 and 2012 GOP contests were a political demolition derby.) “I don’t think this has anything to do with the growth of the United States, you just have more people who are convinced they are qualified to run for president.”
Some potential candidates are hardly new to the game, including Rick Santorum and others.
Longtime Republican pollster Glen Bolger said the lure is especially strong for pols who have inhabited that spotlight. “They figure, Barack Obama can come out of nowhere,” he said, referring to the president’s leap from one-term senator to president. “They think, ‘I can be different, I can break the mold and get the nomination’.”
He added: “[But] it’s like catching lightning in a bottle. I won’t say it can’t be done, but that’s what a lot of these candidates are relying on.”
Here’s a look at a few of them:
A good read… The Prisoner of Capitol Hill
His first four years in the office are more notable for survival than accomplishment. Liberals call Boehner the weakest speaker ever to hold the office, or, as author Michael Tomasky wrote, “easily the worst House speaker in modern history.” Some conservatives, especially those in talk radio, agree, blaming him for not standing up sufficiently to the liberal Democratic president they loathe. “This guy’s a joke,” says syndicated host Mark Levin, who has long agitated for Boehner’s ouster. And the public, disgusted by the gridlock, has given Congress the lowest approval ratings ever recorded, bottom-dwelling around 10 percent. When all was said and done, the 113th Congress enacted just 296 laws, the second least of any Congress in the past half-century.
Through it all, Boehner has been in charge, but never entirely in control, and he muddled along with a depressing cycle of legislative crises and shoestring salvations. A bargainer by nature saddled with members who didn’t want to bargain, he would negotiate and negotiate—only to have a big bloc of his conference emphatically reject almost any deal. Each time, Boehner would end up being bailed out by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell or House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who would cobble together enough votes to salvage a deal with Obama.
Still, Boehner survived, battered but intact. And today there is no other political leader in the country who owes so much of his success to sheer resilience and the capacity to endure repeated public humiliation with a shrug.
House conservatives spent almost a year pondering a challenge to John Boehner but couldn’t deliver
A group of House conservatives spent almost a year dreaming big about toppling Speaker John Boehner, but less than a day before the vote they still hadn’t found someone to replace him.
One promising candidate finally jumped in — but only at the last minute, not even telling his closest friend in Congress he was running.
The result was a vote Tuesday that ultimately yielded an ugly, controversial win for Boehner, with the most defections from his own party that any speaker had seen in decades. The Ohio Republican’s allies were left howling for revenge, and hopes of a big tea party victory once again went unfulfilled.
The contest also made a conservative hero out of Florida GOP Rep. Daniel Webster, who drew 12 of the 25 dissenting votes. But mainly, the disorganized attempt to oust Boehner was a reminder of how hard it is to unseat a speaker.
Interviews with members involved in the coup attempt show that a small band of conservatives had been actively discussing the prospect of challenging Boehner since early 2014, and had spent months slowly trying to build support. Some of them were deeply impressed with Webster, who has heard from conservatives ever since he came to Congress in 2011 that he would make an ideal speaker.
Why Ted Cruz
Here is my letter of why I think Ted Cruz would be the best candidate to win the 2016 elections…and is the right candidate to be President.
Here is my op-ed published on NewsMax:
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