Archive for the ‘political science’ Category
Like most folks, I thought Donald Trump was similar to, say, Herman Cain or Michelle Bachmann, long shot candidates who were doomed to failure. But maybe I should have read one of my old posts about the damaging impact of the Tea Party on the Republican party. In a 2012 post called “The Upcoming Tea Party President,” I argued that the Tea Party had mortally wounded the Nixon/Bush establishment. By washing out so many older politicians, the Republican Party was now susceptible to take over by a Tea Party candidate sometime after 2012:
My prediction: This is the last presidential election cycle where establishment Republicans are in charge of the ship. The establishment’s “bench” has been decimated by defections and primary bump-offs. Those who remain are probably cowed by the Tea Party. In other words, if Romney loses, the successors will be Tea Party adherents. In a system where power see-saws between parties, that means were going to have a Tea Party president within the decade. Start preparing now.
I thought it was going to be Scott Walker or someone similar. Turns out Trump is that guy.
Long time readers know that I made an incorrect prediction in 2007 – I was convinced that Barack Obama would lose to Hillary Clinton. I made that prediction not out of spite, but merely based on the correct premise that those supported by party elite do well and the incorrect assumption that Hillary Clinton was prepared to fight off a challenger if she did poorly in a few of the early states.
If you want to know my mental model of presidential politics, it is the Democratic primary of 2016. A low turnout primary has resulted in two major wins for the insider candidate, including a 50% blow out, and one marginal win. As of today, Hillary Clinton will have a delegate lead in the race that I suspect will just grow and grow.
This is the way it is supposed to play out. If you look at the South Carolina primary wiki, you see that “insider” candidates usually win by huge margins. In contested primaries, the GOP insider has won 6 out of 8 elections. The Democratic insider candidate has won 3 out of 6 contests. Hillary Clinton’s win is only surpassed by Al Gore’s whumping of Bill Bradley in 2000 with over 92% of the vote.
This is not Sander’s “fault,” though the South Carolina result is definitely a sign of poor planning. This is the way the system is designed.
In game theory, the “chicken game” involves two people, a clock and a deadline. The first person to blink loses the game. But if the players reach deadline before anyone blinks, they both die. If they both blink, they get to tie. The GOP race has now entered the chicken game phase.
Currently, the major issue is that by consistently getting about 30%+ of the Republican vote, Trump wins states so long as the remaining two major contenders, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, keep splitting the anti-Trump vote. If either drops out, Trump wins. The first to drop allows the other to win second place and be the front runner in a future nomination contest.
Anecdotally, neither seems to be looking into dropping. Cruz is the sort of person who alienates people as he wins. Thus, if he drops out, he’s unlikely to be tapped by party leaders for a second run. Rubio is the remaining establishment choice. If he drops and lets Cruz surge to a strong second place, another person will be picked to be the establishment guy in the next cycle. So both want to stay in as long as possible.
Add your predictions in the comments.
The basic truth of politics is that incumbents have huge advantages and those favored by incumbents also have an advantage. Thus, the fundamentals favor a candidate like Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.It’s not an iron clad law, but it is a big factor that shapes most political races.
The presidential primary, in both parties, the process can be about four months long and it is very complex. Historically, the winners rarely knock out all opponents in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Usually, early states weed out weak candidates and leave only two or three serious competitors who “settle” the election on Super Tuesday. You have to go back about 40 years, to the 1960 election, to find a primary where candidates where struggling into the summer. Since the birth of the modern primary system in the 1970s, those who lead after Super Tuesday tend to win it all since it is hard to overcome the delegate lead at that point.
So that is where Nevada fits in. Previously an unimportant state, Nevada is now important. Sanders needs to keep a positive narrative going into Super Tuesday so that he can continue to fund raise and swamp the Clinton campaign in the media and on the ground in the Super Tuesday states. A tie or loss in Nevada would dampen things and make it harder to sway Black voters in South Carolina, who might only defect in sufficiently large numbers after a Sanders win. Also, a Nevada win could soften the blow of a close loss in South Carolina since Sanders could claim that he’s 2-2 againt HRC. In other words, Sanders needs a chain of wins to overcome the advantages that Clinton has in terms of name recognition and access to easy money. If Nevada #Berns this weekend, then I will see it as the first actively visible sign that the Democratic party is tipping away from the DLC/Clinton centrist faction of the 1990s. Until then, “advantage incumbent.”
The Obama strategy in 2008 had a plan A and a plan B. Plan A was to knock out Hillary with big victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. Didn’t work. Plan B was to pad the delegate lead by exploiting small state caucuses and minimizing the damage in Hillary friendly places like New York. That worked, especially since the Hillary campaign was simply incompetent.
Sanders has a similar plan. His Plan A, the early knock out, almost worked. I suspect that Bernie might have even won the popular vote in Iowa, given that the Iowa Democratic Party is refusing to release vote tallies as they did in previous years. So Bernie is on to Plan B. That means he has to accomplish two things:
- Max out caucus states.
- Minimize losses in large primary states.
This is the list of remaining states in February and Super Tuesday and delegate totals for Democrats according to US election central:
- Alabama 60
- American Samoa caucus 10
- Arkansas 37
- Colorado caucus 79
- Georgia 116
- Massachusetts 116
- Minnesota caucus 93
- Nevada 43
- Oklahoma 42
- South Carolina 59
- Tennessee 76
- Texas 252
- Vermont 26
- Virginia 110
You will notice that Bernie has at least three easy states: Vermont, Massachusetts, and probably Minnesota. Then, it gets really hard, really fast. This is not because Hillary will magically become a great campaigner, but the fundamentals favor Hillary.
There are two reasons. First, you win Southern states in the Democratic primary by doing well among Black voters. South Carolina (Feb 27) will be the first test of how well Bernie can move these voters. If he comes up short in South Carolina, it’s bad news because you have more Southern states coming up real fast such as Alabama and Georgia on Super Tuesday and other Southern states soon after that. Second, in March, you will see the types of big states that Hillary dominated in 2008 because of superior name recognition, such as Texas (51% for HRC in 2008), New York (57%), California (51%), Ohio (53%), and Pennsylvania (54%).
Is it impossible for Bernie to win the nomination? Of course not, but he needs to really dominate outside of the establishment friendly mega-states like Ohio and California. That means an immediate and massive turn around in the Black vote, a wipe out in the caucus states, and some strategy for containing the losses from the big states, which even challenged Obama. That sounds really hard to me.
A number of writers noticed that we overlooked an important bit of news last week during the Iowa caucus – two Latinos and a Black man took 60% of the Iowa GOP caucus. At the very least, this is newsworthy and merits explanation.
Here’s how we should understand the rise of Rubio and Cruz. The basic elements of minority party politics are as follows:
- African Americans started in the GOP but moved to the Democratic party.
- Groups that were forcibly assimilated into the US tend to go Democrat – Native Americans, Mexicans, Filipinos.
- Groups that benefited from Cold War politics tend to lean GOP more than others – Vietnamese, Cubans.
- Other voluntary migrants vary but if they are harassed or repressed they lean Democrat.
Using these rules of thumb, it is easy to see how Cruz and Rubio make a path to the top of the GOP. They are Cubans, who have influence in the GOP, especially in Florida. They are also from states with strong GOP parties – Florida and Texas. As many folks have noted, they downplay their ethnic background as well and kowtow to the anti-immigration crowd. Briefly, Rubio endorsed some sort of compromise on immigration but walked that back.
The rise of these two candidates does not represent a big swing of Latino voters to the GOP – that would only happen if large numbers of Mexicans defect from the GOP. It does however reflect an opening made possible by the complex history of US foreign relations. In the messy world of Cold War politics, the US chose to favor Cubans and, decades later, their children are steps away from the White House. And oddly, Castro might be alive to see it!
As of 10:45 pm, Hillary Clinton maintains a slim lead over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Iowa Caucus. In terms of absolute performance, Sanders fans should be happy. When all votes are tallied, Sanders will either win the caucus or lose by a very slim margin. That means that Sanders will continue. He’ll win New Hampshire and make it to Super Tuesday and probably win a few more states.
However, in terms of winning the nomination, this is tough for Sanders. The reason is that Clinton is the party’s candidate and about 45% of voters in the Democratic party are extremely comfortable with her. They will only defect in sufficiently large numbers if they see that she is indeed crumbling and they need an unambiguous signal. If 2008 is any guide, Hilary can reliably depend on 40% – no matter what happens. Even after it was abundantly clear in 2008 that Clinton did not have a reasonable chance at catching Obama in the delegate count, she still kept winning big states like California, Pennsylvania and Ohio – by large margins (but not enough to make up for earlier losses).
Adding to the problem for Sanders is that Obama’s strategy – maxing out caucus states – only works once. Clinton’s campaign simply wasn’t prepared for it and they weren’t prepared for a campaign that went beyond Super Tuesday. They are prepared this time, poorly perhaps, but prepared. The close race in Iowa shows it.
Here’s the bottom line. When you fight the party’s candidate, you need to seriously knock them down to break the view that they are invincible. Obama did that with a completely unexpected 8% victory. A near miss or narrow victory by Sanders does not do that, so it will be very, very hard to trigger a mass migration that needs to happen over the next month for a Sanders win.