Carly Fiorina Could Not Have Won California in 2010

isIt’s somewhat amusing that as Carly Fiorina has risen in the polls and proven to be the most viable outsider candidate that Trump supporters have turned on her with a rabidity not even matched by Trump himself. Not only do these voters think she’s a fake or unprepared but they also think that she could have won California in 2010. Well, it seems a little education is in order here on two fronts: she created more jobs than were lost during her time at HP and second, she could never have won California running on the platform she did.

First-off, Trump supporters and Trump himself can complain little about Fiorina’s record. An entire segment of the second GOP debate was about Trump costing hundreds their jobs when a group of casinos he owned went belly-up in New Jersey. More pertinent to Fiorina, HP had more employees when she left than when she started. How did she accomplish such a feat? She downsized and revamped the company. Unforunately, such a process is painful but ultimately beneficial to the company and future employees.

It’s not surprising to hear Trumpers (as I call them) attack Carly on this point. Obama’s attacks were particularly effective against Romney on that front in 2012. It’s more surprising to hear them say the issue lost Fiorina the 2010 California Senate race. Did I miss something? Are we speaking about the conservative California that exists in an alternate reality?

To be clear; Fiorina could never have won California in 2010. It’s a wonder she kept her loss down to the low double-digits. Consider several factors.

  • In September almost 45 percent (44.9) considered themselves Democrats. Barely 30 percent considered themselves Republicans and the rest were unaffiliated. Those registration numbers are atrocious for Republicans. According to Gallup that year California was the 10th most Democratic state in the country.
  • Gallup also polled the ideology of voters in CA and found that in 2010 24.1 percent identified as liberal. In 2014 27.5 percent identified as liberal, the 7th highest total in the nation. Good luck winning in a state with that kind of trend and Democratic voting base (before even moderates enter into the equation).
  • Fiorina ran as an unabashed conservative in 2010. She only shied away from the gay marriage debate but was more than happy to make it clear she was pro-life. She affiliated with the Tea Party and made little effort to reach out to minorities and it showed. While she won whites by 9 percent she lost every other racial group by double-digits. Keeping in mind California is a majority-minority state that is not a winning campaign formula.
  • Fiorina never led in the race. Sure, she polled strong early but that was when GOP candidates were surging nationally. As the election neared and voters became more engaged Boxer began to pull away in mid to late October.

This to some degree explains why Trump supporters argue she could have won in 2010. Hey, if she can be close with Boxer why can’t she close the deal? Must be the TV ads attacking her business tenure.

But that argument ignores the more relevant points above. It also ignores that polling in 2010 was biased nationally in the Republicans direction by a few points meaning the race was never as close as any poll ever showed.

Fiorina was a strong candidate in 2010 despite her flaws and she is an even stronger candidate nationally. Amid a more conservative electorate her views are resonating not just on style but also substance. It is not a sign of weakness she lost in 2010. It is a sign of just how liberal California is and points out the fact NO Republican could have won the state in 2010.




Idaho Republicans Need to Change to Win Urban Boise…..And They Won’t

thNo series of days better personified the political change that has occurred in Boise than the “Add the words” testimony at the Idaho Capitol in January.  GOP lawmakers, after much deliberation, decided to allow hearings on HB-1.  HB-1 would allow the words “sexual orientation and identity” to be protected under the Idaho Constitution’s Civil Rights section.  For three days, person after person spoke in favor of the legislation.  When the public testimony was over well over 300 had testified in favor and less than 50 against.  After said testimony the committee voted 13-4 to kill the bill.  All 13 Republicans voted no and all four Democrats voted in the affirmative.

In a decade (shorter even), Boise has gone from a battleground to a liberal haven rivaling Sun Valley.  Not a single GOP legislator hails from urban Boise and only the Western suburb based 14th LD remains in GOP possession.  This is a far cry from 2005 when the GOP controlled a majority of legislative seats in Boise.  But GOP control in the area rested on two factors.  First, moderate GOP lawmakers could carve out their own brand.  Second, the state party was not moving to far to the right.  In 2006 the state party started moving rightward by nominating libertarian Congresssman Butch Otter as its gubernatorial nominee.  Meanwhile, the legislature supported a series of unpopular measures including banning gay marriage.  The result was a complete and systemic defeat of every Republican in urban Boise. The 2008 election largely reaffirmed the new partisan nature of Boise.  Republicans gained a temporary reprieve when they won back two legislative seats in 2010 but those seats were subsequently lost in 2012.  The election returns from 2014 show not a Republican candidate in urban Boise eclipsed 40% of the vote.

Boise has changed much since 2000.  It has become wealthier, more diverse and of course more Democratic.  But the Democratic Party has also become much better at exploiting this factor.  In 2003, a turning point in city history, David Bieter, a legislator from the heavily liberal 19th LD, was elected Mayor.  He still resides in the office and is a heavy favorite to win a fourth term.

Boise was never going to be able to be dominated by Republicans.  Many conservative leaning voters have fled to the lower tax and a transient, college population has descended on the city.  These voters lean more left of center.  Worse for the GOP is the population of the North End has shrunk but it is merely because these voters have spread further out in Boise, maximizing their vote.  Republicans, in an effort to appeal to their suburban and rural base also largely abandoned the issues that urban voters care about.

In many ways Boise reflects the urban/suburban/rural divide reflective in American politics.  The issue set these voters value are entirely different.  Further, the dominant party often courts the larger voting bloc.  Boise and Ada County are large but their vote does not outweigh the rest of conservative Idaho unlike neighboring Washington State and Oregon.

The Idaho GOP still does have a chance to eventually recapture Boise though it will take time and a concerted effort.  More painfully for the party though is it will force the party to back off its socially conservative platform and embrace LBGT rights.  This might be to high a price to pay as it would ensure the party would lose many rural voters as well as some suburban backers.  But until the GOP does they will continue to have little power in Boise.


The Summer Of Crime

gty_baltimore_protest_tl_150428_16x9_992Between 1932 and 1968 Democrats had held the White House in seven of the last nine Presidential elections. They had capitalized on the public’s perception the GOP was not a competent manager of the economy. But in 1968 the party could not overcome an issue that devastated their nominee’s campaign: crime!

From New York to Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, and Houston, the scourge of crime has returned in spades. In the last week the public has witnessed Illinois police officer Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz be killed by three men and the execution style killing of Harris County, TX officer Darren Goforth.

Democrats appear helpless to stop heading towards their destiny. The party’s bread and butter issues have been a volatile mix of income and race, and with it has come the rise of crime. Democrats have few answers to alleviate the public’s growing concerns.

The response from the White House has been underwhelming. The best the President could muster was, “Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable.” Well, I’m glad the President could stand with the cops.

At the local level Democratic leadership has been unable to solve these problems. The response in Baltimore and Philadelphia has been to blame the police to the horror of suburban taxpayers. Only in Chicago does it seem the Democratic mayor (Rahm Emanuel) is standing by the police.

In an effort to stop a divisive movement within party ranks, the DNC has tried to court the Black Lives Matter movement much as they did with the Occupy Movement. To party elites distress the movement showed them the middle finger.

Unable to mollify the movement the summer of 2015 may be more remembered as the season of crime than the summer of Trump or Sanders. The Democratic Convention of 1968–when the party split on the Vietnam War–is raising its ugly head.

Republicans have taken notice. Ted Cruz excoriated the White House and the Democratic Party for their response and policies. Cruz stated, “From the president, from the top on down as we see . . . whether it’s in Ferguson or Baltimore, the response of senior officials of the president, of the attorney general, is to vilify law enforcement.”

Cruz is not the only Republican hammering the issue home though. Donald Trump has called the administration soft on crime and he attacked Bush for calling illegal immigration an “act of love.” Bush fired back a day later by reminding voters of Trump’s past support for Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats might be able to take joy in Republicans taking potshots at each other in another situation. But the real shots being fired are coming from their cities. Republicans have no power in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, or other major cities in the US. Totally run by Democrats for decades on end, the party’s politics have turned these cities into shooting galleries. Democrats response? Stick body cameras on cops.

Such a response is lacking and honestly forgets what initially won the party suburban converts. In 1992 Bill Clinton broke with party elites and promoted anti-crime laws and incarceration. In 1993 he worked with Republicans to sign anti-assault weapon legislation and put 100,000 new cops on the streets. Lastly, he even took Sister Souljah to task for advocating blacks kill whites.

A similar candidate has no chance of getting out of the Democratic primary. Hillary has largely repudiated her husband’s crime legacy and focused on recruiting the Black Lives Matter movement. While it’s clear that Sanders would like to focus more on income inequality, he has been driven to promote civil rights legislation catering to racial grievances. Webb, Chaffee, and O’Malley, well, they don’t even poll as a footnote.

Despite demographic and political shifts that favor Democrats, the issue of crime can serve as a strong political rallying cry. It’s not the political and economic elite that feel the effects of crime but rather the average Joe and Jane.

These are the quintessential swing voters of modern America and they have witnessed murder rates rise up to 76 percent in Milwaukee, 60 percent in St. Louis, 56 percent in Baltimore, and 44 percent in D.C.

This is having an impact on the campaign. Polls show Clinton is barely garnering one-third of the white vote, and she is continuing to lose ground in the pivotal suburbs. In strongly white swing states such as New Hampshire and Iowa, her standing has slipped in virtually every category.

A new NBC/Marist poll finds Clinton trailing Trump by five percent and Bush by a whopping 11 percent in Iowa. In New Hampshire, she holds a one-point lead over Trump but trails Bush by 5%. It’s not a stretch to say these voters have noted the Democratic nominee’s change in tone on crime of late.

Just as the party’s split in 1968 cost them the Presidency, the same could occur in 2016. Unless Democrats find a way to rectify the views of their upscale-downscale base with the rest of mainstream America they will lose next year. That is what the summer of 2015 has truly been about.

Democratic Brand of Identity Politics Sets Up Many Candidates to Fail

isPerhaps it is just not uttered because it is so obvious, or perhaps not, but Democrats have an identity politics problem. It partly explains why every non-female candidate in the Presidential field (short of Sanders) has struggled. It also explains why the party is so annoyed at their preferred choices being challenged in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

No better example of the Democrat addiction to identity politics stands out than the Nevada Senate seat being vacated by Harry Reid. Democrats did everything in their power to recruit former Attorney General Catherine Masto into the race. Reid and the Democratic elite basically pushed everybody else out of the contest.

But this is only the most recent example. Since 2008 and Barack Obama’s election, Democrats have pushed candidates that appeal to their voting bloc and potentially others. In 2010 the party did not struggle with the issue. Due to their victories in 2006 and 2008 Democrats were defending numerous incumbents. They also had a sizable Congressional conservative contingent hailing from the South.

Yet the party pursued identity politics through its agenda. Obamacare, sold as a benefit to the middle class by bringing down costs, was a massive wealth transfer from the middle class to lower income individuals. Dodd-Frank handed out billions to the big banks and destroyed numerous smaller banks in the process. The stimulus bill and Cash for Clunkers handed out power and money to Democratic constituencies (unions, Planned Parenthood, etc) while leaving the American public further in debt.

The result was 2010. Conservative Democrats, forced to pick between their values and party loyalty, were wiped out. The result was a newly configured Democratic Party more in line with identity politics than ever. And since that time Democrats have embraced it.

President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign was all about identity. The platform he offered and the promises he made were specific to different constituencies in a way Bill Clinton never attempted. Consider that virtually every decision made by the administration was based on how it would play with different constituencies. The perfect example of this was gay marriage. Reticent to embrace the issue in 2012, the President wholeheartedly supported it in 2012 because it would win him the LBGT and youth vote.

Democrats also ran several notable candidates that cycle including Tammy Baldwin, a gay Wisconsin Congresswoman, Shelley Berkley in Nevada, and Martin Heinrich in New Mexico. All three candidates played on key Democratic constituencies (women, minorities, LBGT community).

Just like 2008 benefited Democrats, so did 2012. Identity politics worked well. But it also had its downsides last year (just like 2010). Democrats, lacking strong identity-based candidates, were destroyed in 2014. Turnout dropped by significant margins in Hispanic-heavy states like Nevada, allowing a weakened GOP to sweep the ticket.

The 2016 election is not looking any kinder to the party. The GOP is defending numerous vulnerable Senate seats and demographics and turnout favor Democrats, but the party’s emphasis on identity-based politics and issues means they are stuck with a flawed Clinton as their Presidential nominee. Despite the former First Lady’s email scandal, lackadaisical campaign, and horrid attempts to appear genuine on the stump, the party faithful still overwhelmingly back her candidacy.

As one would expect from a party based on identity politics, her support comes solidly from women, minorities, and the young. Men, particularly college-educated white men, have thrown in their lot with Bernie Sanders as have the party’s urban base. But Sander’s candidacy is more like Trump’s, based on a movement’s beliefs and values and less on what the candidate represents.

It’s clear what Clinton represents. The empowerment of feminism, the wish list of goodies minorities crave like immigration reform, and yet another proponent of redistributing wealth. It’s little wonder why the other three white, heterosexual males in the race (Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee, and Martin O’Malley) cannot gain traction in the race. Their brand of politics and issues do not appeal to particular groups and unlike Sanders they have not been able to campaign on an issue that captivates a political movement’s attention.

Republicans are not immune to this trend, as Trump shows. The party has increasingly dominated statewide and down-ballot races in midterms because of the power of white, middle class men and non-college educated whites. These voters have their own brand of identity politics. Unlike other contingents of the GOP (fiscal conservatives, libertarians) who are true to the cause of limited government, these voters don’t mind a larger state as long as that state redistributes wealth to their benefit. Trump has tapped into these voters’ resentments against the establishment and media in a way few candidates have since Ross Perot in 1992.

Looking forward, identity politics is likely to be the flavor of the day in America. Democrats have invested too much in it to let it fail. Republicans, willingly or not, have allowed the party to be filled with identity politic supporting whites. Assuming it benefits them of course.

Kentucky Clerk Reignites Debate Over Gay Marriage

ap_220157184201Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’s decision to not issue marriage licenses to gay couple has to go down as one of the most politically tone deaf moves in history. A solid majority of the public supports marriage equality, it is her duty to do so as a County Clerk, and she is under siege from multiple sides.

On the other hand, her decision to fight the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June only adds to the debate over gay marriage–specifically, religious exemptions. Republicans and culturally conservative Democrats have largely ceded the fight over gay marriage to its proponents. The new front in the battle is religious freedom.

Before Davis there have been at least a dozen other skirmishes over the issue. Rulings in Colorado, Washington, New Mexico, and Oregon all have sided with the states anti-discrimination clauses over religious exemptions. A baker in Colorado was forced to pay fines and restitution for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple. A florist in Oregon was fined and ultimately forced to close his doors due to denial of service to gay couples. In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court ruled 5-2 against the religious objector. However, one astute judge noted the anti-discrimination laws forced individuals to choose between their faith and the law (and in some cases their livelihood).

There is a key distinction between these cases and Kentucky’s. Davis is an elected official, sworn to obey the law, while all the individuals involved involved businesses. Until Davis, we had never seen an elected official openly use religious objections as a reason for refusing to do their job.

The response to Davis’s actions have come at the state and federal level. Davis’s actions have roiled the Kentucky Governor’s race. Republican nominee Matt Bevin has defended religious exemptions and, due to the nature of the Kentucky electorate (more socially conservative than not), so has Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

Outside Kentucky the response has been much different. The Republican establishment has barely touched the issue. Some Republican Presidential contenders have weighed in on the issue while others have avoided it altogether. Democrats have been slow to respond, which is surprising considering the party is in lockstep on stepping on the First Amendment to promote marriage equality.

According to Davis (and Mike Huckabee), she is merely following the law. Unlike other states, Kentucky had not had its Constitutional ban on gay marriage overturned until the Supreme Court’s decision. Further, Davis argues she is merely following the will of the voters who put her into office; arguably they are far more culturally conservative than the average American.

But this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of our governmental system works. The Supremacy Clause, often abused, makes federal law paramount unless otherwise stated. Thus, if Congress passed a law legalizing gay marriage all states would have to recognize such a law. Similarly, unless Congress acts to repudiate a Supreme Court ruling, the ruling can have national implications (depends on the case).

Davis either refuses to accept this reality or is a martyr for her cause (more likely the latter). Unlike in prior events involving public or state officials, she is unlikely to back down.

Earlier this year, national politics was roiled when Indiana attempted to pass a RFRA (Religious Freedom and Restoration Act). Passed at the federal level in the 1990s as a response to attacks against traditional values, numerous states followed suit. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, Indiana attempted to protect religious freedoms with the new law. The result was a national uproar. Democrats piled on, several businesses refused to move to the state if the law passed, and protests occurred inside and outside the state. Eventually, the Governor and legislature backed down and did a fake watering down of the bill. Similar situations occurred in Arizona (at the beginning of 2015) and Arkansas.

None of this is to suggest Davis is right or wrong. She obviously believes she is furthering her cause–whatever it is–but that dismisses the larger point. The American public has largely passed the debate over whether gay marriage should be legalized or not.

The debate is now over just how far marriage equality can tread on one’s religious views. The oft-made comparison of marriage equality proponents is that the government did not allow business owners or individuals in the Civil Rights era to deny service to bi-racial couples or blacks. So why should the LBGT community be any different?

This is an inapt comparison. First, nobody had a religious reason to deny services to bi-racial or black couples. It was premised on cultural norms and values. Secondly, it has been well established for decades there are religious objections to LBGT couples and families whether it be for the lifestyle choice, sexual orientation, etc.

However, Davis’s actions appear more the views of a rogue determined to prove their point before one steps off the stage. Her actions don’t further the conversation between marriage equality and the First Amendment.