To state that this electoral cycle has been topsy-turvy would be an understatement. As we begin 2016 when people will actually cast ballots rather than answering a pollster on the telephone, it may be prudent to look back at some interesting tidbits as we go forward.
MONEY MEANS LITTLE…SO FAR
If dollar bills voted, then Jeb Bush would be the Republican nominee by far. According to the FEC website, Cruz has since surpassed Bush in the money race by about $1.6 million. Of course, this is direct contributions to the cause and does not count the outside money raised. Here, Bush absolutely crushes Cruz $103.2 million to $38.6 million according to Opensecrets.org. And what has this money bought Bush? He is currently tied with Chris Christie for 5th in the national polls according to the Realclearpolitics average of polls. Ben Carson is proving no slouch in the outside spender department, but at least his poll numbers are double that of Bush.
WHO NEEDS IOWA?
This writer always believed that Iowa is grossly overstated in terms of presidential politics. The cutesy “first in the nation” thing is just that- cutesy. But if winning Iowa is the be-all and end-all, then just ask President Huckabee and President Santorum how that worked out. Instead, look for momentum in Iowa, not the actual winner. For this, look at the discrepancy between the average of Iowa polls on January 31st versus their actual vote percentage after the caucuses. The candidate with the biggest positive discrepancy has the momentum. This writer believes that Cruz will likely win this state. Cruz has spent 32 days in Iowa while Trump has spent 24 days. That is roughly comparable to what Rick Perry spent and considerably less than what Bobby Jindal spent campaigning in Iowa and look where they are.
THE INVISIBLE PRIMARY
The invisible primary refers to the endorsements by politicians- representatives, Senators and Governors. Nate Silver at Fivethirtyeight devised a point system which illustrates that Jeb Bush has amassed the most endorsements to date. But as this site’s own Leon Wolf explained, endorsements mean less now more than ever in the digital age. They may make a difference in some states and Governors certainly hold greater sway than your local representative. Which brings me to the belly-aching about Gowdy’s endorsement of Rubio. According to the Heritage Action scorecard, Rubio ranks above 90%. As for endorsements, of course those for Cruz have a higher average conservative score than Rubio, but it is not that far off the mark and above 65% which is pretty decent.
MISSED VOTES AND FILIBUSTERS
Speaking of Rubio and Cruz, each has come under attack by fellow Republicans for different things. Let’s start with Cruz. There is his famous Green Eggs and Ham filibuster attempt…for a bill he voted for. I know he was making a point, but embarrassing was the fact that no more than 10 Senators remained on the floor to listen, unlike Paul’s earlier filibuster over drone warfare. The filibuster was an attempt to defund Obamacare as part of a continuing spending resolution in 2013. Jump to 2015 and compare this to Rubio’s actions regarding the ACA. In one swoop, he did more to sabotage the law than Green Eggs and Ham. http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-11-25/marco-rubio-didn-t-kill-obamacare-but-here-s-how-he-undermined-it
Now for those missed Rubio votes. Since announcing his candidacy, there were 203 roll call votes. Rubio missed 91 (or 44.8%) of the votes compared to 57 missed votes by Cruz (or 27.9%). However, the average vote gap in votes missed by Rubio was 46 votes meaning the measure passed by an average 46 meaning it made little difference whether Rubio voted or not. Yes…he missed an important vote at the end of the year- the omnibus spending bill. But Cruz missed a vote on the Loretta Lynch confirmation which may be equally egregious. The lesson is that sitting Senators running for another office usually miss votes. Rubio is no different than Cruz who is no different than Graham or Vitter who is no different than Obama in this area. So relax.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOVERNORS GONE?
This was the year the GOP was likely to nominate a Republican Governor for President. They had the executive experience and there was a large stable of candidates. Or so the story went. Instead, Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal were the first to go. Jeb Bush, a former Governor, is on life support leaving former Governor Huckabee whose chances are equal to that of Micky Mouse, Chris Christie and John “I’m From Ohio…Elect Me” Kasich. Let’s face reality- none of them will be the ultimate nominee unless the stage of the next debate collapses killing the others. So what happened? All three are light years ahead of Clinton.
TO TRAVEL OR NOT TO TRAVEL
In a previous section, I noted the time spent in Iowa. Among the GOP candidates, Bush has spent the most days traveling and campaigning- 227. That makes sense since he’s been in it longer than other candidates. But again, where has that gotten him? Tied for 5th in the polls and no apparent primary victory in sight. Christie has more potential in New Hampshire at this point.
Perhaps it isn’t how much you travel, but what you do with that travel time. Trump is the perfect example having traveled the fewest days of any GOP candidate (102) yet he leads in the national polls and sucks an incredible amount of air time. Who needs to travel when Trump’s voice is sought out by every Sunday morning talk show and every cable news outlet? It’s free advertisement without the hassle of jumping on a plane and heading to a barbecue in Iowa or a pancake house in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, Rubio is accused of missing votes in the Senate while simultaneously being criticized for his lack of campaign appearances. Ah, you say, but if Cruz can do it, why can’t Rubio? The reason is that Rubio has been on the road more than Cruz by 32 days and Cruz has been a candidate longer than Rubio. So unless either candidate can somehow bilocate or project their astral selves, chances are there will be missed votes in favor of campaigning. Also, this is it for Rubio; if Cruz loses, he goes back to the Senate for another two years.
SEE HILLARY RUN
Clinton’s official entry- something that unofficially began in 2000- was a thing of comedy with the press chasing after her taking pictures at your local Chipotle. Since, she has given a series of puff interviews. The entry of Sanders into the race presented a problem after the far Left could not recruit St. Warren. His popularity as gauged by polls and fundraising has caused Clinton to take notice and veer to the left. Once Sanders is dispatched, it will be interesting to see her policy proposals in a general election. Hopefully, someone at the RNC is doing opposition research. All in all, she’s a weak candidate and has many vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
Love him or hate him (and more people hate him than love him), Donald Trump has made the whole endeavor a whole lot more interesting and entertaining. John Gotti was the Teflon don; Trump is the Teflon insult comic candidate. Whether it is building his mythical wall on the border with its big beautiful door to registering Muslims to his embrace of Putin, his rhetoric cuts through a lot of baloney in crass terms. In a weird sense, it is like a breath of fresh air that waves aside silly staged lines. This writer seriously doubts Trump will be the nominee. But for better or worse, his comments have shined a light on the immigration debate and the open southern border, the very real threat of Islamic terrorism, the ineptness of Obama’s strategy against ISIS, and Hillary’s past and the enabling of her sexual predator husband, to name but a few issues. If Clinton wants to open the sexism game this early, it is nice to see someone firing back. Half of me wants Trump to fade into political history. But strangely, half of me wants him to hang in there just for the entertainment value. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment.
So 2016 looks to be interesting and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone here at Redstate a Happy and healthy and prosperous and a defeated Hillary Clinton New Year!!