Weekly Musing 7-19-15
Days until the 2015 election: 114. Days until the 2016 election: 485.
Ted Cruz makes New York Times’ list
Five days after accusing The New York Times of bias, secrecy and foul play, Ted Cruz is finally getting what he wanted: a highly coveted spot on the paper’s bestseller list.
Cruz’s memoir, “A Time For Truth,” will appear at No. 7 on the Times’ list for hardcover nonfiction, reflecting its second-week sales, a Times spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday. The Texas senator’s book had not been included on the list for its first week, on the grounds that its sales had been driven by “strategic bulk purchases.”
Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy said that the newspaper made no changes to its selection process, and so the fact that Cruz’s book is being included now suggests a rise in individual purchases, spurred by his public battle with the paper.
“This week’s NYT best seller list was arrived at using the same process as last week’s – and the week before that,” Murphy wrote. “That process involves a careful analysis of data, and is not influenced in any way by the content of a book, or by pressure from publishers or book sellers.”
The End of the 2016 Election Is Closer Than You Think In every game there are decisive moments that determine the ultimate outcome. We like to think that presidential elections are dramatic fall campaigns pitting party against party, but the truth is that the most decisive moments often occur long before the general election kicks off. If history is any guide, the outcome of next year’s presidential campaign will likely be determined before the Republican Party has even selected their nominee. That uncomfortable fact means that the longer and more divisive the Republican primary, the less likely the party will be to win back the White House in 2016.
In eight out of the last nine presidential elections these decisive periods of time can all be traced back to the run up to the general election—not the fall campaign. With the exception of the 2000 election—which was an outlier on every front—voters locked in their attitudes about the direction of the country, the state of their own well-being and the presidential candidates—and their political party—prior to the start of the general election. Once voters’ views solidified, subsequent campaign events or activities simply served to reinforce their initial perceptions about the candidate and party best prepared to lead the country.
In general, the job approval ratings of the incumbent president, regardless of whether they are running for reelection, serve as a proxy for the electorate’s mood and have historically been the most accurate predictor of election outcomes. And the public’s view of the state of the economy and its expectations for the future are the strongest drivers of the job approval ratings of the sitting president. Since 1980 there have been five presidential elections where the incumbent had a job approval rating near or above 50 percent prior to the start of the general election. In each of these elections, the incumbent’s party won the election. In the three instances when the incumbent president’s job approval fell below 40 percent prior to the start of the general election, their party lost each time.
…If these challenges aren’t enough, there are a series of factors—when taken together—during this critical period that that will further complicate Republicans’ attempts to take back the White House.
First, and foremost, the battle for the Republican nomination for president is really an existential fight about the future direction of the party rather than merely a race to collect a majority of delegates. At its core this is an ideological fight with the ascendant tea party-inspired populist and libertarian wing of the party poised to take over the GOP. This Koch brothers-backed effort is being built, funded and operated outside the national political party structure.
Hillary Clinton’s White Male Voter Problem
Democrats fear that their party’s declining appeal with white voters, particularly white men, will bite them in 2016 despite strong performance with growing demographics.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire—Karl Savage is the kind of guy that makes top Democrats nervous.
He lives in a working-class neighborhood, with a cigar-store Indian perched on his front stoop and a carved Harley-Davidson sign on his garage. He’s voted in Democratic primaries, he’s older, he’s white—and he does not care for Hillary Clinton. Not one little bit.
He made this very clear, in fact, to a Clinton campaign volunteer who rang his doorbell recently only to watch the front door close on him just seconds into his pitch. A short while later, his wife, Pamela, offered this explanation before similarly shutting the door: “We’re not interested. We don’t like her.”
So while Republicans fret about their party’s outreach to Latinos and other minorities, this one Saturday morning door-knock encapsulates the fear among leading Democrats: Their party no longer speaks to white people, particularly white men, and they could lose the White House because of it.
Is Donald Trump the New Ross Perot? Or the Next Pat Buchanan?
We all know what Donald Trump is saying and the issues he’s emphasizing. Many have noted the strong reactions of the media, pundits, and his business associates, some of whom have cut ties. Now the most recent surveys show Trump in the double digits among Republicans nationally. Two new polls have even found Trump ahead of Jeb Bush, the nominal frontrunner: Economist/YouGov’s survey placed Trump at 15% and USA Today/Suffolk University’s poll showed him at 17%.
Who are these Trump backers? As the accompanying table (derived from all respondents to the Economist/YouGov opt-in Internet panel poll) shows, they are disproportionately white. Favorable views of Trump among African Americans are minimal, and Hispanic boosters are at a higher level than blacks but well below that of whites. Older voters (those age 65 and over) undoubtedly form his core; in fact, the 65+ group is the only age cohort to view him favorably, 59% to 39%, virtually the opposite view of all other age groups. Trump has particularly little appeal among younger, more diverse voters: 20% of those under 30 rate Trump favorably (versus 60% unfavorably). Trump also fares somewhat better with men than women, and those with lower incomes ($40,000 and less). While the regional differences are not enormous, Trump does worst in the South and best in the Northeast.
In Mexico, Crime Is Bigger Than a Crime Boss
The July 11 escape of the notorious Sinaloa crime boss, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, from a maximum-security prison in Mexico has drawn considerable Mexican and international media attention. While the brazen and elaborate nature of the escape will add to the lore already surrounding Guzman, the escape itself carries little significance for organized crime in Mexico — though it will place a momentary strain on coordination between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement. The forces that drive the evolution of organized crime and their impact on society in Mexico are simply greater than any single crime boss.
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