George W. Bush and Trump Are A Lot Alike and the GOP Should Take Notice

US President Bush speaks to US military personnel at the Thunder Dome at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks
U.S. President George W. Bush speaks to U.S. military personnel during a refuel stop at the Thunder Dome at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, before continuing on for a three-nation tour of Asia, August 4, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES) – RTR20MJP

Sean Trende over at RCP has a thoughtful piece on the Trump phenomenon (in fact, it’s part of a three-piece column).  Trump connects culturally to his supporters in a way that transcends ideology and that matters.  Trump is not a rock-ribbed conservative and neither are his voters.

But none of this is surprising.  What is surprising at first glance (not so much later) is the comparison made between Trump and Bush.  Bush was a doctrinaire conservative on many issues (abortion, gay marriage, defense) and a life-long partisan in direct comparison to Trump.  But get beyond those differences and you see their similarities begin to emerge.

Both Bush and Trump grew up to pretty silver spoons.  Yes, Bush’s parents were richer but Trump went to private schools and elite colleges just like Bush.  Both were incredibly wealthy when they ran for the Presidency.  Yet, both had a cultural connection to rural America that transcends the current divide.

Almost all political analysis today divides things into worlds of black and white; pro/anti abortion, pro/anti legalization, etc.  In reality there is a significant segment of the public that simply does not care about these issues.  What they care more about is the cultural divide that is increasingly growing in our nation.

You can call this the rural/suburban/urban divide, the cultural divide but I think I tend to lean more towards Trende’s traditionalist vs. cosmopolitan view (full disclosure, I am a religious conservative with cosmopolitan views on gay marriage).

What connects Bush and Trump is their ability to discard their cosmopolitan views (on some issues) and connect directly with the traditional crowd.  Bush and Trump might have been born with silver spoons but their language and actions don’t suggest they did.

Think about the response to the Iraq War in the run-up to the 2004 election.Bush’s blunt, outspoken support for the War and the threat we faced connected with traditionalists in a way not seen since Perot.  All the silly attacks on Bush on his vocabulary, his accent, etc. did nothing to dent his support.  The same is true of Trump.  Why the hell can we not call illegals, well, illegals?  What’s wrong with saying radical Muslims want to kill us and moderate Muslims are weak for not doing about it?

This is why Bush’s support never faded until after he was reelected and why Trump continues to sit at 30 percent in many state surveys and nationally.  There is a base of voters, traditionalists, who connect to Trump at a visceral level.  We can call them downscale whites, blue-collar voters, etc. but at the end of the day they will always relate to Trump (let’s not forget Bush).

There are many reasons why this is important to the modern GOP.  First-off, it tells the GOP they have to navigate not just an ideological divide in their party but also a deeply cultural one.  Secondly, and most importantly, it means the party will have to rethink its ideological priorities to make its message more appealing just to its base.

Think about it this way.  Who runs GOP campaigns?  The cultural elite, aka cosmopolitans.  Who inhabits the offices of power in Congress and the RNC?  Cosmopolitans.  I can’t tell you how many articles I have read echoing this theme but it is very true.

All this creates a political minefield for the GOP.  Either they acquiesce to Trump and let him win the nomination, winning whites by significant margins but losing suburban and minority voters or they go towards a more cosmopolitan candidate like Rubio who would never garner Trump’s numbers among the politically ignored.

There is a third option.  Find another Bush.  In the current field the closest candidate the GOP has to fitting this description is Rubio and it has far more to do with his rhetoric than his style.  Yes, Rubio won’t win traditionalists the way Trump can but the difference is Rubio probably could take these losses while still adding to the party’s numbers among Millennials and minorities.  Trump is more of a win/lose scenario for while he is drawing in new voters he is driving others out of the party.



What Trump Means for the Future of the GOP

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters before speaking at a rally and picnic, Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Oskaloosa, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Donald Trump’s rise has shaken the very foundations of the GOP.  The 2016 election was supposed to be about a clash of ideas.  Instead, it has turned it a clash over personality and grievance based politics.

It is important to note that Trump’s rise in the GOP is not unprecedented.  He certainly represents a sizable wing of the party and one that has been growing in recent years.  But, unlike in years past, this wing of the party is now almost so large it can nominate a Presidential candidate.

The larger story about Trump has ignored the fact that Trump is the candidate of the “base.”  Trump is getting some base voters (as are all the candidates) but not in the traditional sense.  By traditional I mean voters that vote often and vote Republican.

Some history is worth discussing here.  In 1960 the GOP was largely a middle manager, businessman party with strong support in the suburbs and West.  Nixon’s 1968 appeal and strategy to peel off “blue-collar” and “Southern” voters worked but it cost the party an erosion of support in the suburbs.

Poor Gerald Ford could never keep these voters in the GOP camp and after Nixon they went back to the Democratic Party until Jimmy Carter’s fiasco in foreign policy and the intensifying Cold War drove them into Reagan’s arms.  Circumstances at the time were fortuitous to the GOP.  So much so in fact the GOP coalition not only grew with an influx of blue-collar voters but also suburban voters (The New Right), and social conservatives while the mainstream Republicans from the Midwest and moderate Northeastern wing also thrived.

What’s worth noting in this time is the rise of populists and very ideological conservatives.  Both were small groups at the time but by 1992 they were integral to GOP success.  While many conservatives stuck with H.W it was the populists who split between Clinton, Perot and Bush.

Ideologically these voters often chaffed under the GOP banner.  Many were union members and against free trade.  They also did not mind debt to finance supporting the middle class.  But they stuck with Reagan largely because they saw him as willing to stand up to the Soviet Union (the great Jacksonian American threat) and willing to try to make America great “again.”

To a degree George Bush’s 2004 election was contingent on his appeal to these voters.  However, considering many of these voters have not voted in several elections many may not have voted for Bush during his reelection campaign.  Rather, they probably rooted for it but did not vote.

Considering it sells to talk about ideological purity and gridlock it is little wonder the pundits have focused on the search for “purity.”  After the 2010 and 2012 elections the notion was reinforced with upstart primary challenges upsetting the GOP establishment’s favored candidates.

Except, many of these Tea Party voters were the kind of voters Trump appeals to but even then they were not base voters.  Rather, they showed up to vote to send a message against the status quo.  The true fiscal hawks and pro-free traders who make up the Tea Party’s ranks have gone to Cruz.

In truth, the “base” voters of the GOP have found their candidate in Cruz.  He fits the typical “true conservative” candidate mold on virtually every issue (pro free trade, anti-union, against gay marriage and abortion, etc.).  His pitch is specific to their desires and needs (we can win if we just give them a reason to vote).

Trump’s voters are much more driven by the candidate himself.  Much as Reagan had a force of personality to attract such a large coalition Trump does as well.  But Trump’s appeal is much more Buchaninistic (to create a word) than anything else.  The rich and powerful have sold out the middle class, the parties are in cahoots with big business, etc.  While modern day liberalism shares some of these views they, like many conservatives, also focus on social issues Trump backers just really don’t care about.

You could argue that we’ve seems recent forms of Trump in Huckabee and Santorum.  Yet, even these candidates incessant focus on social issues makes them unique from Trump.  Rather, Trump is very much in the mold of Buchanan who tended to ditch social issues and focus on the power structure of the US economy and democracy.

Sean Trende, over at RCP, uses a great example. “Think of it this way: Club for Growth, which Huckabee routinely railed against, would likely love Cruz, but I find it hard to believe that they would be excited about a more protectionist candidate like Trump.”

So, Trump is actually drawing in new, lower educated, politically diseffected whites into the process.  On the flip side though he is likely hastening the flight of upscale, suburban whites to the Democratic Party who now see higher taxes as worth the cost.

Trump’s campaign has been smart and fed the mindset that he is winning over base voters.  It allows Trump to talk about the issues he wants to talk about and avoid standard points on abortion and gay marriage.  Apparently, voters are smarter than the pundits and DC political class because Trump’s support has come from almost all wings of the party evenly.  But his biggest support is among less educated self identified moderates and liberals.  In other words the voters with loose affiliation to the party he is connecting with.

How long Trump can keep this game up is unclear.  Trump is not drawing enough support from within or outside the party to win a majority but only maintain a lead in a crowded field.  It cannot be kept up indefinitely.  If a true alternative like Rubio or Cruz rally support they could end Trump’s run.

Long-term the GOP’s issues go beyond Trump.  They need candidates who have his force of personality who can bridge the ideological/partisan gap.  Maybe a Rubio could if Trump was not in the race.  Perhaps a better message or micro-targeting is the answer.  But the GOP’s ideological cleavages are becoming even more pronounced than Democrats and if not fixed it could tear the party apart (considering almost a 3rd of Republicans in any given survey disapprove of their party maybe it already has).





Hillary’s Worst Traits Are Showing

isHillary Clinton had the nomination all to herself.  After surviving a horrific Summer where virtually every story about her was negative she weathered an 11 hour Congressional hearing on Benghazi, scared Joe Biden away from running and bumped up in the polls.

Clinton genuinely appeared to have calmed down.  Until the Sanders campaign picked up steam.  The two are now virtually tied in Iowa and Sanders lead in New Hampshire, after shrinking in December, has begun to grow again.  In short, Clinton could lose both Iowa and New Hampshire, a nightmare scenario for her campaign.

Clinton does not have a lot of attacks to unload on the veteran Senator.  She’s tried with limited success to paint Sanders as pro-gun (Vermont may be blue but they like guns).  She’s also attacked his record on Wall-Street regulation (as if she is Wall-Street’s biggest enemy).  It has not worked.

But perhaps her biggest mistake was attacking the Senator on a liberal’s dream; Universal Healthcare.  Specifically, the former Secretary of State went on the attack by arguing Sanders truly does not support UHC (ahem, what) and would never be able to achieve it.

Certainly the second part is true.  Sanders is not a policy expert despite decades in the Senate and let’s be honest, a self described Socialist Senator from Vermont really would not do well in divided government.

But Hillary’s attack is also certainly wrong.  Sanders is a significant proponent of UHC.  In fact, he lobbied his home state Governor, Democrat Peter Shumlin, to implement its own version of UHC.

One problem, the plan would have been prohibitively expensive.  To implement the single-payer plan, the cost would have been $4.3 billion.  Vermont taxpayers would foot $2.6 billion and the Fed the rest.  For comparison the entire 2015 Vermont budget was $4.9 billion.

The Governor’s office estimated the state would need to impose new personal income taxes of up to 9.5 percent, on top of current rates that range from 3.55 to 8.95 percent. Businesses would be hit with an 11.5 percent payroll tax, on top of 7.65 percent payroll taxes employer pay for Social Security and Medicare.  No wonder lawmakers backed off.

So Clinton is right he would not know how to govern.  But she is also wrong he does not support UHC and it showcases her worst quality.  She is not a good candidate.  Not only is she not charismatic, she’s power-hungry and just not trustworthy.

Clinton certainly is a smart woman.  She has held so many high profile gigs it is hard to count them.  She can quote the ins and outs of policies lightning quick.  But none of that is honestly that useful to campaigning before a primary electorate that wants to hear more platitudes and hopes of liberal dreams being fulfilled.

In this the Clinton campaign fails because their candidate is simply not equipped to run an election that way.  She does not trust voters to behave rationally.  So, she pretends to be something she is not.

The examples of this backfiring are legion and they have been multiplying of late.  First, there was her campaign’s focus on making Clinton relatable to working, college educated women.  Except that failed because Clinton linked herself to a man who was as power-hungry as she was and easily made more than most women earn in a lifetime.

Then there was her “abuela” comment.  It was a relatively harmless attempt by the campaign to make Clinton’s new status as a Grandmother mean something to Latino voters.  Except it didn’t.  Instead, it surprised the campaign when thousands of Latinos, many Democrats, took to social media and in some cases the airwaves to argue Clinton, a privileged white women, had no idea what it was like to be an “abuela.”  Grievance culture sure is grand. Then came her disingenuous attack on Sanders stance on UHC.

Even worse, the Clinton campaign is being dogged by accusations of Bill Clinton’s past indiscretions (the author believes the man should be in jail).  In a recent interview Clinton was actually asked if she “enabled” her husband’s actions.  This was not on Fox News by the way.

At a time when the Sanders campaign is surging it would make sense for the campaign to want to debate ideas and values more.  Except, yet again, the Clinton’s penchant for secrecy and not trusting voters won out.  Only six Democratic debates have been scheduled and they have all been at times when viewership is low (Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays).  Indeed, the latest debate took place last night when it was competing with a divisional football playoff game.

Clinton has arguably won every debate she has been in.  Her command of history and the facts are impressive.  Her policy acumen shines through.  But when you hide that from the voters because you don’t trust them it makes it more likely these voters will act with their hearts in the ballot box.  Not their brains.

Perhaps Clinton’s saving grace is her opposition.  Martin O’Malley is a data driven technocrat who excites only actuaries and number crunchers.  Sanders, for all his strengthens, seems to behave as if he cannot win.

Indeed, Sanders has said he is leading a movement more than a campaign.  Despite his campaign’s gradual increase in infrastructure, funding and resources, Sanders still behaves as if he is merely representing the ideas of a movement.  As Brian Beutler at the New Republic writes, “Sanders, as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has noted, often renders his criticisms of Clinton in the most positive possible light, prefacing his answers to debate questions with compliments and qualifiers.  If he took it to her and attacked her on her credibility and beliefs she would likely prove easy pray.

But he has not and Clinton remains the front-runner.  It is hard to imagine that changing in the near-term.  But what about the general?  If Clinton cannot even appear genuine to Democrats how can she be to a more skeptical electorate?

Clinton might school Trump on the issues but Trump would come off as at least honest.  Against a Ted Cruz she could go toe to toe but again, Cruz at least believe what he says whereas Clinton is questionable.  Finally, against a Rubio not only would he appear genuine but he could offer a generational contrast Cruz cannot (due to ideology).

Clinton cannot change who she his.  She’s a weak “beer” candidate.  She instead should focus solely on the issues.  Except she has broken with the base on Iran (wants new sanctions) and already criticized the liberal dream of UHC.  Further, due to modern campaigns being as much about culture as the issues she has to behave as somebody she is not.  Unfortunately, she is no better at that then she was in 2008.


Bernie Can Beat Clinton: Here’s How

16702549983_39be228dc7_nHillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.  How can she not be?  She has a financial jaurguranaut behind her, the establishment supports her and she has crossover appeal with Independents and Moderates.  Enter Bernie Sanders.

The eccentric Senator from Vermont has largely turned conventional wisdom on its head.  Since he entered the race last year he has led in New Hampshire consistently.  Most analysts simply chalk this up to his geographic proximity to the state and the more liberal electorate in the state compared to Iowa.  Except a spate of recent polls out of Iowa now show the Senator either statistically tied or ahead of the First Lady.

This inevitably leads to the question of whether Sanders can actually compete with Hillary?  I unequivocally say yes.  I’m skeptical Bernie can win Iowa but recent polls are saying he can and if true it opens up a path to the nomination for the 75 year old.

Sanders has been plagued by the same problem that has hindered Trump’s support; electability.  It has taken time but many Republicans now believe Trump is electable (a sign of his strength among even GOP voters who won’t support him).  Sanders has not led consistently in national polls like Trump.  This has meant he has yet to convince the party he is electable.

But assume for a moment that Bernie does win Iowa.  He goes onto New Hampshire and wins there.  He hits Nevada and South Carolina at full steam.  It has long been assumed that Hillary’s lock on the party’s diverse base of young, single women and minorities is unbreakable.  But that assumption would be put to the test after two straight losses.

Indeed, in Iowa, the assumption was that Hillary’s lock on women would ensure her a solid victory in the state.  Yet, in the latest DMR survey the poll finds not just the two statistically tied but Sanders actually winning women under 45.  You know, Hillary’s bread and butter voters who favor abortion, gay marriage and are driven by issues of gender equality.

Flashback to 2008 and Hillary led in almost every poll out of the state up to the Caucus.  But then Obama won and Edwards surprised her.  That started the Clinton campaign’s death spiral.  Suddenly Obama became an electable alternative to Clinton and key parts of her coalition started to peel off to Obama (single women and men, urbanites, blacks and asians).  Combined with a superior ground game the Obama machine utterly destroyed Clinton.

In 2008 it seemed blacks, Asians and women needed a reason to abandon Clinton and Obama’s victory in Iowa gave them that.  A Sanders win in Iowa and New Hampshire could have the same impact.  Suddenly, Clinton’s support among minorities might dissipate just like 2008 and give Sanders an in in Nevada, South Carolina and future states.

Sanders would likely need this to happen.  Many Democratic states up after Nevada and South Carolina are in the heavily black Democratic South.  This supposedly means that Clinton has a firewall to fall back on except it assumes voters will not have gotten a green light from earlier votes to vote for Sanders.

The messages both candidates use matters.  Sanders focus on class is not the same message based on shared grievances that unites the Obama coalition.  But, it does unite the largely white Iowa and New Hampshire electorates.  Indeed, Nate Silver sees Sanders strength in Iowa and New Hampshire largely as a result of the white electorates that dominate both states.

This probably has a lot to do with it.  But, again, remember that Obama did not break out until after his Iowa win (in the states or nationally).  That could be the case for Sanders.  He will need it though.

Sanders path to the nomination runs through the heavily black South and the diverse West and East Coast.  Sure, he can bring out the crowds in big cities like Portland and Seattle (mostly white) but he needs to expand that coalition.  He’s done so in Iowa but until polls show he is doing it among non-white Democrats he still is a long shot for the nomination.

To be fair though, not many polls have been taken outside of the first four states.  So the only thing to go off beyond the first voting states is national polls.  They may be a good barometer of the race right now but if all these voters need is for Sanders to rack up two W’s to start to seriously consider Sanders it could spell trouble for Clinton.


Why I’m Skeptical Iowa and New Hampshire are Toss-ups in the Democratic Primary

clinton_sandersUnless you have been living under a rock for the past month the formerly sleepy Democratic Primary has begun to heat up.  Clinton’s commanding lead in Iowa has evaporated according to several polls and Sander’s advantage in New Hampshire has begun to diminish.  Yet, I find myself skeptical of both claims.  Hear me out.

For months Clinton has been able to maintain a large edge in Iowa.  Her lead has been built on massive margins among moderates and a slight lead among liberals.  The new NBC/WSJ poll finding out of Iowa shows her only with a 47-44 percent edge over the Vermont Senator.  Even when all caucus goers are included her lead is only six points.

One could point out that Sanders has seen a surge of support if individual donations and fundraising are any indication.  But, even when Clinton was being dogged by allegations of mishandling classified information (and she still is), her lead in Iowa remained formidable.  Only now her lead is shrinking?  That is hard to believe.

It is also hard to believe that Sanders edge in New Hampshire has shrunk to a mere 4 points and six points when the pool of likely voters is expanded.  New Hampshire has a more active liberal base than Iowa and is home to many voters familiar with the next-door Senator.

The NBC/WSJ survey is not the only poll to find these results. A poll by American Research Group (ARG) found Sanders ahead by 3 percent, 47-44, in Iowa.  In addition, it found Sanders with an identical, small lead in New Hampshire.  More ominously for the Clinton camp, a national survey conducted by IBD found Clinton with a small 43-39 lead nationally.  Things sure are tightening nationally aren’t they?

I would argue not so fast.  First, the polls usually tighten as voting nears.  This occurs because candidates tend to consolidate their bases.  Unlike the GOP contest, the Democratic primary really only has two candidates (functioning much like a general election contest).  Clinton’s lead in Iowa could never remain at the commanding 20 percent level she previously held but for her to lose it this suddenly in essentially a two-way race would be even more surprising than 2008.

Secondly, this casts doubts on polls, but polls have shown a remark tendency to cluster around each other.  This is not to say they purposely obscure their numbers but their results tend to mirror each other.  This phenomena was on full display in the 2014 midterms.  In numerous contests ranging from Wisconsin to Iowa to big leads for incumbents the polls tended to mirror each other.  Short of local polls in Wisconsin and Iowa they were also badly off.

Further complicating polling accuracy this go-around is the fact that on the GOP side Trump’s lead is built on attracting non-Caucus goers in Iowa and primary voters in New Hampshire.  Sander’s numbers in Iowa are built on the same except he has a stronger following among Independents.  General elections get higher turnout meaning likely voter screens are more accurate than in intra-party contests.

Lastly, polling in the last week is not a good long-term snapshot of where the race stands.  It was inevitable the polls would tighten but by so much is questionable.  In the end I still expect a single digit victory for Clinton in Iowa and a similar victory for Sanders in New Hampshire.  After that the map just does not favor Sanders.  Short of a Clinton indictment or the bottom dropping out of her campaign she is likely to be the flawed, Democratic nominee for President.


The Establishment Needs to Rally to Rubio: Now!

marco-rubioIf the establishment is serious about stopping Trump and Cruz they need to rally around somebody.  Now!  Today, the establishment is divided between Kasich, Bush, Christie and Rubio.  Where their support should go should be a no-brainer; Rubio!

It is true Trump is fading to 2nd/3rd in Iowa and he has about a 30 percent ceiling in New Hampshire.  But in South Carolina and Nevada he still leads.  Worse, Cruz’s campaign is gaining steam at exactly the right time and he now leads in a California Field poll.  It’s only a matter of time before national polls reflect this.

One has to wonder why the establishment is waiting to make up its mind.  They should know who is most palatable to the base while having the best general electorate appeal.  Yes, Rubio has his flaws, but compared to the alternatives he is light years better.

Rubio probably would have already taken off if not for Bush and Christie in New Hampshire.  In the latest poll of the state taken by PPP, a Democratic polling firm, Trump leads with 29 percent and Cruz sits at 10 percent.  But among establishment candidates Rubio has 15 percent, Christie and Kasich sit at 11 percent and Bush at 10 percent.  That means there are 47 percent of voters who back a more establishment orientated candidate to a Trump/Cruz type candidate.  Indeed, the PPP poll finds Rubio barely behind Trump in a three-way race with Bush involved and well ahead in a head to head match-up.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Super PACs and 3rd Party Groups allow campaigns to get almost unlimited cash.  Along with this comes the ability to pay 6 figure salaries to the cream of the crop consultants.  Indeed, Bush has arguably some of the best consultants on his team.  So do Rubio and Christie but if they left their candidates where would they be?  Up a certain creek without a paddle.

Another issue is the party and voters refuse to see the obvious.  Rubio is the candidate for a party looking to appeal to a younger, more diverse nation. He is young, telegenic, articulate, smart, sharp, relatable, likable, from the swing state of Florida, and Hispanic. He would rather talk football than politics, but can give you remarkable depth on crises around the world if you need it. He has young kids, a wonderfully kind wife, and can go either way — bro or nerd.

Most importantly, he is relatable to Millennials. The GOP often misses this fact but Democrats largely turn out their base only if they can demonize their opposition.  How do you do that with a Rubio.  For goodness sakes, he is still paying off his student loans.  Talk about something that appeals to the largest bloc of voters around.

In 2004, it is often said Bush won because he was the candidate you want to have a beer with.  Duh.  Neither Bush, Kasich or Christie have that ability.  All are good, honest men but none of them have the charisma and presence Rubio can project all while appearing humble enough to be “average.”

Even if Rubio does not open new doors for the GOP with minorities he can appeal to suburban families in places the GOP has lost ground in (Denver, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Philly, DC).  Can you see a Bush, Christie or Kasich doing that?

Now, just think about this for a moment.  The establishment has a candidate they all like and he can win.  He can throw the 1992 playbook against Hillary (like her husband did against H.W.).  He can let the media do the tarnishing due to Bill’s untold indiscretions.

But the establishment won’t support Rubio (at least not today).  They are too old, too rich, and cozy with the Christie’s and Bush’s of the world.  They don’t seem to want to win as much as just make money over the campaign and then wait for Trump/Cruz to lose in the general election and tell the base, “see, we told you so.”  No wonder the grassroots is so alienated from their party.

Rubio’s campaign has been smart in anticipating the primary would be a long slog.  They’ve know the establishment would not rally around them until at least New Hampshire.  But even with low burn rates and candidates rising and fade, Rubio will still need to spend a lot of money to fend off Christie and Bush (who have no future beyond New Hampshire).  A limping Rubio campaign heading into South Carolina and Nevada would likely be unable to win either state and then it would be a battle of attrition.  Meanwhile, Clinton sits pretty (assuming no surprise Sanders wins after New Hampshire).

The biggest shock out of this entire campaign has been Bush, a good and honest man who is an intellectual conservative and loyal Republican still thinks he can win.  He is wooden on the stump and holds views on education and immigration anathema to the base.  Kasich, a good Governor, keeps talking about nothing but what he did in Congress and a “decent” stewardship of Ohio.  Like Paul, he seems to enjoy ripping his party and its voters.  Lastly, how Chris Christie, a common core supporting Governor who supports gun control legislation and hugged Barack Obama on live television, thinks he is the guy is beyond even me.

The establishment, Ryan, McConnell, Karl Rove and others needs to have a come to Jesus moment and make it clear to donors and voters they need to get behind Rubio.  Now!  Not after Iowa, not after New Hampshire.  Now!  If they don’t, the train-wreck that the GOP presidential primary has become will become a disaster when Clinton ascends the Presidency.  But then again, they love money and power more than winning so it will only be a disaster to the base.




Clinton Forging A New Democratic Path to the White House

2014-06-11t155415z1813105711gm1ea6b1uc101rtrmadp3usa-politics-clintonBarack Obama campaigned in 2008 on changing America.  It helped a economic crisis had erupted under a Republican President.  But Obama’s policy ideas and oratory helped create the idea that he would change things in DC.

By contrast, Obama’s primary challenger, Hillary Clinton, campaigned on being a steady hand to right the economy and tough enough to confront terrorism.  So did Republican John McCain. Of course Clinton lost.  Minorities and liberal, single women and Millennials flocked to Obama.

This go-round, Clinton initially changed her strategy.  Fearing a liberal insurgency, she tacked to the Left to steal the thunder of Bernie Sanders.  By and large it has worked and in turn her campaign has returned to their 2008 theme; slow and steady.

This strategy would mark a significant departure from Obama.  Clinton is not promising to shake things up or being a transformational President.  It’s true she has shifted to the left on certain issues (Immigration Reform, Cuba, Climate Change, TPP, etc.) but this was always expected.

What is more notable is the Clinton campaign seems resigned to the fact they are unlikely to assemble the electoral coalitions of Obama circa 2008 and 2012.  This reflects a reality of a post-Obama Presidency.

The largest generation in America, Millennials, are unlikely to fall in love with another candidate like they did Obama.  They have become just as disillusioned with the system as every other voting cohort.  The Clinton camp knows they can target certain segments of this voting bloc, college educated women and minorities, but they are unlikely to come out in force for a 70 year old political woman.

Such a fact can  be gleaned from watching the Democratic debate the Saturday before Christmas in New Hampshire.  During an exchange over providing paid maternal leave for all employees (minus men of course), Clinton attacked Sanders plan to pay for it by creating a new payroll tax.  Clinton’s plan was to tax the rich or make employers pay for it.  Bernies plan was for equal in everybody paying for it.

Clinton’s argument against the idea was based on protecting the middle class.  She must have looked at electoral results from the past three elections.  In the last 2 midterms and in 2012 Democrats lost every income group except those earning less than $50,000.  More notably, turnout among low income groups dropped significantly among the midterm electorates.

Clinton’s campaign has cash and a data targeting operation that rivals Obama.  But, unlike Obama, they do not have a candidate that their base can rally around.  Clinton’s background is the definition of privilege and does not fit well with the narrative of grievance based politics.

Thus, the Clinton campaign knows it has to do better with middle and upper income voters.  To this end, promoting a steady and smooth agenda that promotes stability and change over time is a way to appeal to these voters.  Unlike voters in the lower income strata, middle and upper income voters have things to protect and they tend to not support candidates they consider radical or fringe.

Ultimately, the Clinton campaign is trying to forge their own electoral coalition.  It’s a coalition that reflects the political realities of a post-Obama Democratic Party and attempts to meld the party’s grievance base voting blocs with the more moderate, businesscentric wing of the party together