Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Ten Favorite Historians and Economists

In this post I'd like to share the historians and economists I typically read from. This isn't in any order, it's just the people I like the most based on how they write and what they write on. Here's these historians and economists:

H. W. Brands

A professor at the University of Texas in Austin, H. W. Brands has written on a wide variety of topics in American history from presidents like Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt to economic histories like on the Gold Rush and the Gilded Age. His books have been selected as finalists for the Pulitzer Price twice. These were The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin and Traitor to his Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This year he will publish a book on Ronald Reagan in May that I hope to get.

Doris Kearns Goodwin

USA Today
Goodwin worked as an aide in the Lyndon Johnson administration and has taught at Harvard University. Like Brands, she has covered a wide variety of different topics in American history, but her most famous work is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which influenced the legendary movie Lincoln. She has also won the Pulitzer Price for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II. Other books by her include ones on Lyndon B. Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Kennedys. The way she writes is very good in telling a story.

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is a professor at Harvard University and is also a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Ferguson specifically specializes in economic history and western history. Some of his best work is on the British Empire, international history, and alternate history. Some of the books he has written are The Ascent of MoneyCivilization: The West and the Rest, and Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. His work is well researched and very persuasive.

Amity Shlaes

Women Around Town
If you are interested in more economic history, then I recommend Amity Shlaes, who chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation. She has written about President Coolidge, the economy of the 1920s, and the Great Depression. Two books by her are Coolidge and The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Her books aren't just focused on economics, but tell very good stories of the people living during certain historical periods and the problems they had to go through.

Paul Johnson

New Statesman
Paul Johnson has had a long life writing history and being a journalist. You can find many books written by him. These include A History of the American People, A History of the Jews, Socrates: A Man for our Times, Churchill, and George Washington: The Founding Father. His many accomplishments led him to receive the 2006 Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. You can find many books on a numerous historical topics from this historian.

Arthur B. Laffer

Al Jazzera
I think I've posted about Arthur Laffer so many times that it is clear he's my favorite economist. Laffer was President Ronald Reagan's chief economic adviser and deserves credit for influencing the president's policies that led the country out of the 1981-82 recession. He is considered the "Father of Supply-side Economics" and that does hold true for the modern age, but more importantly his economic ideas have been able to stick unlike previous eras of supply-side policies like the Roaring Twenties. Some of his books are An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States: How Taxes, Energy, and Worker Freedom Change Everything and The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy -- If We Let It Happen.

Max Hastings

The Guardian
My favorite historian on the world wars. Hastings has written many books on World War II from several perspectives and he is now writing on World War I. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Honorary Fellow of King's College in London. Some of his books are Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945, and Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945.

Larry Schweikart

Schweikart provides an alternative view in his A Patriot's History of the United States to Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. He has continuously updated this book, which is now on its tenth anniversary edition. It is a great book. He mainly focuses on updating it as the years go on, but also has some other works that are worth reading. He currently teaches at the University of Dayton.

Bill O'Reilly

LA Times
Bill O'Reilly, the host of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, is a great historian when you look at his books on several historical figures. He has so far written Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and Killing Patton with historian Martin Dugard. He does a great job of showing history from the views of many individuals. For example, his most recent book isn't just about General George Patton, but also about others involved with Patton on both sides of the war such as Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, and Erwin Rommel.

Steven F. Hayward

National Review
Hayward is a Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy and has had several fellowships with the American Enterprise Institute. Some of his best work is a two-part series centered on the Reagan Revolution. The first is The Age of Reagan, 1964-1980: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order and the second is The Age of Reagan, 1980-1989: The Conservative Counterrevolution. These are just two of many great books by him.

Stephen Moore

Daily Signal
Stephen Moore, who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and is currently the chief economist at the Heritage Foundation. He occasionally partners with Art Laffer on some books, but has written several of his own and publishes great research for the Heritage Foundation. He is a huge rival to Keynesian economist Paul Krugman. In fact, they will debate on July 9 this year at FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Right-to-Work is Right for Wisconsin

Walker - PolitiFact
The Wisconsin Senate has approved a right-to-work bill and is sending it to the Assembly. Governor Walker initially didn't want right-to-work to be a priority in Wisconsin for his second term, but he has said that he will sign it into law. Wisconsin's right-to-work law will be symbolic in that it will be the twenty-fifth state to adopt one. This is a right move for Wisconsin and will help the economy to continue to grow. It is also very favorable because it gives workers a right to leave a union and not pay union dues. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has reported that Wisconsinites support right-to-work legislation by a margin of 69 percent to 26 percent. Fifty-one percent of union households also support right-to-work.

I just want to briefly explain why right-to-work is a great idea from Wisconsin. It won't got into too much detail because I previously argued for right-to-work in a previous post. James Sherk and Andrew Kloster of the Heritage Foundation have found the results of RTW states with their research:
  • Capital. RTW laws have promoted more investment than non-RTW states. An RTW law in the state of Wisconsin will make the law more competitive.
  • Employment. RTW states have lower unemployment rates than non-RTW states. For example, in 2013 the RTW states had an average unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, but non-RTW states had an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.
  • Freedom. A free society is highly promoted by RTW laws. Workers will no longer have to be forced to pay union dues. By simply allowing workers to have a choice, Wisconsin moves closer to a free a society.
This is a general look at why RTW laws are beneficial, but the research clearly supports it. If you want more information on right-to-work, I recommend that you look at my more detailed previous post which includes other research and many metrics. Another study by Richard Vedder and Jonathan Rober of the Competitive Enterprise Institute finds how attractive right-to-work states are for businesses in comparison to those that do not have one. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Five Scenarios for the Republican Nomination

The 2012 Republican National Convention - The Sacramento Bee
As we get closer and closer to the straw poll in Ames, Iowa (although still months away), candidates will start officially running. There will be five and only five possible scenarios in the primaries:

1. United GOP - This is what the Republicans want to go for. There was no candidate who could have had this scenario in 2012, but 2016 offers a stronger bench. As of now there are several possible Republican candidates who can unite the GOP, but the current favorite is Scott Walker who has been able to attract both centrists and conservatives alike. A candidate who has a strong chance of winning in any of the first five primaries and caucus states would win the nomination.

2. Moderately Favored Candidate - A candidate who is favored with one part of the Republican Party, but is also acceptable to the other even if they didn't support him or her at first. Rick Perry would fit this mold because he is supported by conservatives, but he wouldn't be an immediate choice for centrists. Mike Huckabee is in a similar position. Nevertheless, if it came down to them, most would settle with the nomination. Depending on what wing of the party that the candidate is part of will decide what primaries he or she would have to win.

3. Consensus Candidate - Unlike the candidate that would unite the GOP, this candidate has his or her shortcomings and was not favored by either wing at first, but would be accepted by both wings of the party only if it came to a situation when many others were seriously vetted. This would be a scenario for someone like Marco Rubio. Like a candidate who is moderately favored, the primaries this candidate would have to win depends on the candidate.

4. Establishment Victory - This is the scenario Jeb Bush and Chris Christie want. It was also the scenario that won in 2012 and 2008 in the GOP primaries. This would be a scenario most in the Republican Party would like to avoid. Only the centrists would be happy with this scenario. Usually, an establishment candidate would want to ideally win in New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada out of the first five primaries. However, centrist candidates can win in Iowa and South Carolina even though it would be more difficult to do so.

5. Tea Party Victory - Someone like Ben Carson or Ted Cruz would win through this scenario. In this case, a candidate the establishment would not support wins with the backing of the Tea Party. The libertarian candidate Rand Paul is in a similar situation. A Tea Party candidate would want to win both Iowa and South Carolina, then hope to carry momentum into Florida where it is very expensive to campaign. If he or she wins those three primaries then they have a clear path to nomination victory.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Who and What is a RINO?

Fellowship of the Minds
A Republican candidate, no matter what office they are running for, while fear if they hear people call them out as a "RINO" (Republican in name only). What does the term mean and who is considered a RINO in the upcoming Republican nomination race? Back in the 1912 presidential election, incumbent William Howard Taft was taking on former President Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. Each candidate belonged to a different faction in the GOP and they denounced each other as "not really Republican." Today, voters (especially more conservative voters) in the Republican Party consider a RINO as someone who is too compromising with opponents or has very little in common with what the Republican Party supports.

There are many candidates who might fear the term RINO as the campaigning get mores active. Jeb Bush clearly supports Common Core, Chris Christie supports gun control, Mike Huckabee supported tax increases in Arkansas, and Rick Santorum has deserved blame for those big spending bills during the times in which the Republicans controlled Congress. Mitt Romney was obviously a concern for many conservatives because of the similarities of the healthcare law he implemented in Massachusetts to Obamacare. Depending on how libertarians are viewed, they can be considered RINOs at times as well because the GOP generally endorses heavy American intervention in the world to bring peace.

Both the elder Bush and the younger Bush have been criticized as RINOs at times, specifically on domestic issues. After the Reagan Revolution, George H.W. Bush tempered it by raising taxes domestically and his son largely expanded the federal government through No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part-D. Recent Republican candidates who were nominated and have lost are criticized for not being conservative enough. Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney all had several compromising and centrist views. In a political party that leans center-right and has a political umbrella that ranges from centrists to conservatives, a candidate that compromises too much can have a lot of trouble. In recent years, the Republican Party has been accustomed to nominating moderates at the presidential level, but most have lost. Midterms can be different depending on the state.

Conservative websites and activists are now on the hunt to find problems with possible Republican candidates in order to tell their supports to avoid voting for them. To be fair, there are a decent amount of centrists in the Republican Party who like nominating those kind of candidates. Most big donors and leaders in the establishment of Republican Party are centrists. However, that doesn't mean that are dangers to being a moderate Jon Huntsman, the former ambassador to China who ran for the Republican nomination in 2012, was seen as too moderate on a variety of issues and few Republicans supported him.

As I have posted before, the Republicans want to ideally pick someone who can appeal to a large amount of moderates and conservatives in order to have a united GOP. Ronald Reagan was a conservative and had an established record that made him electable. That is why many centrists and conservatives embraced him. Perceived electability is crucial in a nomination process because it matters to donors who want their candidates to win. For these reasons, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain were not favored by them, although that doesn't mean they weren't both looked to see if they could be strong candidates by GOP donors.

It is also important to know that branding someone a RINO can both ineffective and effective. Huntsman may have been too compromising for the Republican nomination in 2012, but other candidates might just be considered liberal or too centrist on only one view. When someone is called a RINO, the term should be taken very carefully because it might just mean that a candidate has compromises on abortion or stands for more environmental protection while holding a conservative view on everything else. When you are on the internet or television and hear "RINO" called out, make sure to do some research to confirm that the label is true.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thirteen U.S. Presidents who have no College Degree

President Harry Truman - History
Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont and possible Democratic presidential candidate, criticized Scott Walker on MSNBC yesterday for not having a college degree. I think these twelve men would have a strong response (interesting note: there's actually thirteen presidents here because one served as president for two non-consecutive terms, despite that most people think twelve presidents). Here they are:

George Washington, 1789-1797
James Monroe, 1817-1825
Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837
Martin Van Buren, 1831-1841
William Henry Harrison, 1841
Zachary Taylor, 1849-1850
Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853
Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865
Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869
Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889 and 1893-1897
William McKinley, 1897-1901
Harry S Truman, 1945-1953

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 74 percent said they wouldn't care if a presidential candidate attended a prestigious university or not.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Does Walker's Early Lead Help or Hurt Him?

Walker at the 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit - The Last Tradition
Scott Walker has recently gained massive popularity after his amazing speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit. If you didn't see the speech, here it is:

He has now skyrocketed in the polls. Here's the most recent polls from Iowa (I'm also going to give each candidate a different colored text for whoever is in the lead and by what margin):

DMR/Bloomberg (1/26-1/29): Walker 16%, Paul 15%, Huckabee 13%, Carson 10% - Walker +1
Loras College (1/21-1/26): Huckabee 14%, Carson 13%, Bush 13%, Walker 10% - Huckabee +1
Fox News (10/28-10/30): Huckabee 13%, Carson 12%, Bush 8%, Paul 8% - Huckabee +1

The biggest loser, as can be seen from the polls, is Jeb Bush. He isn't a major candidate in Iowa according to the most recent poll, where as before that he was in third place. Both Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson also suffer because Walker and Rand Paul have now taken first and second place from them, respectively. In New Hampshire, Walker has become more competitive and the race looks like it is between him and Bush. As of now, the RCP average has Walker at 17 percent, Bush with 15.8 percent, and Paul with 10.3 percent. In addition to the Iowa speech, Walker has recently gained support from the conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh. 

We know now that Walker is becoming more nationally known and people were really attracted to his speech in Iowa, where he touted his record as governor. Obviously his rise in the polls is good for his path to the Republican nomination, but can it be bad? I previously wrote that Walker's best strategy is to appear as a second choice for most voters under front-runners. The ideal plan would be for those front-runners to damage each other and appear less favorable to GOP voters, allowing Walker to fill the gap since he can appease both moderates and conservatives. 

This strategy is similar to that of Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2012 but wasted too much resources on the Ames Straw Poll (bad idea to waste time on a straw poll that doesn't give much help). If Walker goes into this race as the front-runner, he will have the advantage in that he can suck up a lot of air in the room for other Republican candidates, but at the same time he will be a greater target. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns of RealClearPolitics has posted that candidates who want to win the nomination shouldn't necessarily take the lead early on or else they risk countless attacks in debates, speeches, and ads from the other candidates. In 2012 there were some similarities. Romney was the front-runner during the entire nomination race and several candidates were placed against him to see if any could be acceptable to both the center-right establishment and the Tea Party (since Romney wasn't acceptable by the latter). These candidates were Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. All five of these failed and were attacked by each other after rising in the polls. Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman failed to broaden their appeal. 

Any candidate, including Walker, who runs for president will have to be cautious about rising in the polls so early because they will be targeted during a long campaign season. Jeb Bush has established himself as the favorite of center-right (unless Chris Christie enters), but as of now it looks like his main opposition is Walker as the year gets close to spring. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Another Win for Supply-Side Economics: States vs. States

Arthur Laffer - Vimeo
Previously when looking at supply-side economics, I've looked at whole bills that largely focused on income tax cuts and then specific capital gains tax cuts and increases. In both cases, the tax cuts largely spurred large economic growth and increased government revenue. Now I'm looking at research for states that have lower taxes and states that have higher taxes. For this, I return to An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States: How Taxes, Energy, and Worker Freedom Change Everything. I have used this book - written by economists Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, Rex A. Sinquefield, and Travis H. Brown - to examine right-to-work laws and will now use it primarily for state tax policy, but as well as energy policy and labor policy. 


It is a fact that taxpayers are moving out of states with higher tax rates to states with lower ones. It just makes sense for people, when moving to another state, to consider the economic policies that states have to see which state would benefit them the most. For example, let's take the nine states with no income tax and compare them to the nine states with the highest income tax rates by using the data Laffer, Moore, Sinquefield, and Brown provide:
The average 10-year population growth of the nine zero earned income tax states was 8.3 percentage points higher than the average of the nine highest earned income tax states, or 14.6 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. Not one single state in the group of nine highest earned income tax states had 10-year population growth as high as the average of the nine zero earned income tax states.
This ten-year growth was from numbers in 2002 to 2012 (except tax revenue, which for all data is from 2001 to 2011). If you're curious, the average top tax rate for the nine states with the highest personal income tax was 10.23 percent. California is the highest with 13.3 percent and the lowest is Kentucky with 8.2 percent. When looking at net domestic in-migration between the nine no income tax states and the nine highest income tax states, the average growth was 3.9 percent and -2.2 percent, respectively. The no income tax states had an average nonfarm payroll employment growth rate of 8.9 percent while the nine highest income tax states had 1.7 percent. This is also true with personal income growth, where the no income tax states beat the highest income tax states 58.7 percent to 46.4 percent. They also won the gross state product rate with an average of 62 percent growth to 46.4 percent. Finally, state and local tax revenue grew at a rate of 82 percent in no income tax states against 52.2 percent in the highest income tax states.

What about the corporate tax rate? For this, the economists picked eleven states because several states have identical corporate tax rates and eleven was the next lowest number. The average corporate tax rate for the eleven lowest states was 3.36 percent while the average for the highest corporate tax rate states was 11.05 percent. Here's the population growth:
Just looking at the population growth differences over the past decade, the highest corporate income tax states grew considerably more slowly than did those states with the lowest corporate tax rates - 5.9 percent versus 13.6 percent, respectively. The population growth differences were only slightly larger for the highest and lowest personal income tax rate states.
Once again, using ten-year average data, the states with lower corporate tax rates performed better economically than those with the highest rates. They had better net domestic in-migration with 3 percent to -2 percent.  The lowest corporate rate states had better nonfarm payroll employment with an average of 9.6 percent to 1.9 percent, personal income growth with an average of 63.6 percent to 45.1 percent, gross state product growth with 68.1 percent to 48.2 percent, and finally state and local state revenue with growth of 69.1 percent to 68.2 percent. From this data, we can see that states with less taxes perform better than states with higher taxes. Moore, who serves as the chief economist to the Heritage Foundation, has written:
Arthur Laffer and I have examined the data back to 1970. No matter what 10-, 20- or 30-year period we reviewed, we found that the nine states with no income tax — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming — outperform the nine highest income-tax states, including California, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York.
Job growth in no-income-tax states is typically double and sometimes triple the pace of the states with the highest taxes on work and small businesses. 
It could choose to post data for property taxes and other tax policies, but that would be repeating what I have already shown. It is clear that states with no or little taxes easily beat those with the highest taxes.


There are several states that are known for oil production in the United States. To simplify the debate, I will simply use Texas against California. Despite the recession of 2007 and 2008, the oil industry took off like a storm in Texas. On the west coast, California continues to limit oil drilling in their state, which has seriously hurt their economy. This competition of policies between the two largest states in the country clearly goes to Texas in oil production. Going back to the research written by Laffer, Moore, Sinquefield, and Brown:
While California has frowned upon new drilling innovations, Texas has fully embraced the new technological marvels of horizontal drilling and fracking. These breakthroughs have made old wells profitable to redeploy. The culture of drilling is so ingrained in the business ways of south and west Texas that almost no one in places like Midland ever questioned the wisdom of moving aggressively forward. Meanwhile in California, fracking is viewed as a sinister policy and is even banned in some places - even though fracking is far superior today technologically in cracking through shale rock formations to get at the heavy hydrocarbon gases and liquids stored there for millions of years.
California is not running out of oil. In fact, it has plenty of reserves that could bring a great deal of prosperity to the state. The reason one state loves oil production and the other doesn't has to do with political parties and ideologies. California is a highly liberal state where the Democrats have been guaranteed victories at the presidential level since 1992. Texas is the complete opposite in that it is has a strong conservative base that has voted for Republican presidents since 1980. California voters, especially those in coastal cities, strongly oppose fossil fuels and see them as damaging to the environment. This has led to increased costs for the state that just get worse even though Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has been able to balance the budget. If California opened more oil reserves, then it might be able to beat Texas.


Since I already made a post on right-to-work using the data from Laffer and his fellow economists, I won't post it here, but I will expand on a unionized workforce. For this data, Laffer compares nine states with the least unionized workforce to those with the most unionized workforce. The nine states with the least unionized workforce have an average of 4.13 percent for the employed with union memberships and the nine most unionized states have 18.79 percent. Population growth for the nine least unionized states is 14.2 percent with net domestic in-migration growth of 4 percent. The most unionized states have a population growth of 7 percent and net domestic in-migration of -2.7 percent.

For the least unionized states, nonfarm payroll employment grew by 4.8 percent, personal income grew by 53.3 percent, gross state product grew by 50 percent, and state and local tax revenue grew by 47.4 percent. With growth from the most unionized states, we see that nonfarm payroll employment is at 2.4 percent, personal income is at 46.5 percent, gross state product is at 48.8 percent, and state and local tax revenue is at 69.9 percent. The only metric the states with the most unionized employees win with is the tax revenue, but aside from that they lose at everything else. Again, this is a period from 2002 to 2012, but remember tax revenue data is from 2001 to 2011.

Finally, I want to address state minimum wage laws. In this case we will look at the thirty-one states who keep at the federal level of $7.25 an hour versus the nineteen who have raised the minimum wage with an average of $7.99 an hour from 2002 to 2012. With the data from federal minimum wage states against higher minimum wage states, we find that population growth is 9.6 percent versus 8.9 percent, net domestic in-migration is 1 percent versus 0.6 percent, nonfarm payroll employment is 5.3 percent versus 2.3 percent, personal income growth is 54 percent versus 46.2 percent, gross state product is 55.3 percent versus 45.9 percent, and state and local tax revenue is 55.7 percent versus 57.9 percent, respectively. With the exception of the tax revenue, the federal minimum wage states win on every other performance metric. Laffer, Moore, Sinquefield, and Brown write:
From a demagogically rhetorical vantage, however, you'll never stop the misleading statements and slogans coming from irresponsible politicians and community organizers. These people are the enables of a self-destructive dependency state. Just imagine what would happen to the U.S. economy if the minimum wage were, say, $100 per hour indexed to inflation. And to go one step further, imagine what would happen to a single state if it alone legislated a $100 per hour minimum wage indexed to inflation and no other state had a minimum wage over $8 an per hour. We think you get the picture.
As can be seen from this data, supply-side states easily beat demand-side states.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Brokered Republican Convention?

Lisa Benson
While the Democratic nomination race is likely going to have a few candidates running, there is almost a guarantee that the Republican nomination race will have at least ten candidates. My list for the GOP is growing:

Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey
Rand Paul, senator from Kentucky
Ben Carson, former director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital
Donald J. Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization
Rick Perry, former governor of Texas
Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas
Lindsey Graham, senator from South Carolina
Marco Rubio, senator from Florida
Ted Cruz, senator from Texas
John R. Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations
Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana
Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska
Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
John Kasich, governor of Ohio
Peter King, representative from New York
George Pataki, former governor of New York
Bob Ehrlich, former governor of Maryland

That's a grand total of twenty people who have publicly expressed interest in the presidency, a group that is larger than any other in modern history. While Mitt Romney is now officially not going to launch a third presidential bid in order to avoid a vast political battle between the establishment, the field has continued to grow. The list of possible candidates includes centrist establishment types, governors praising statewide reforms, Tea Party favorites passionately advocating for a smaller government, social conservatives rallying the Evangelical movement, a few leaders in business, a former U.N. ambassador, one representative focusing on national security issues, a libertarian who intends to reform the party's views on foreign and social affairs, and a retired brain surgeon.

This leads to a possible scenario Sean Trende brought up on RealClearPolitics:
I think the Republican Party really could wind up with a brokered convention – that is, a race where no candidate receives a majority of the delegates by the end of voting. In fact, it might well be the most likely outcome, if only because no particular outcome is particularly probable.
 A brokered convention would mean a battle between collecting delegates during the event that is supposed to promote a candidate and a party's ideals. When brokered conventions occur they show division rather than unity in a political party. It would be very bad if GOP ended up in a brokered convention, but the idea of it happening is more real than ever before.

To understand why a brokered convention is possible, we must examine why the Republican field is so crowded in the first place. Obama's approval ratings are still not good (despite improvement) and many people still don't feel the economic recovery that the president touts. At the same time, the Affordable Care Act is still unpopular as well as his indecisive foreign policy. For these reasons, many Republicans feel that they have a chance to win the presidency.

The primary system is designed so that the field of candidates lessens over time as states from different regions nominate candidates. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida can be decisive in picking a candidate, but with a huge Republican field many candidates might have other strategies. If they can't win the nomination, candidates might hunt for delegates in regions. If Scott Walker wins the Iowa Caucus that doesn't mean Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson will drop out. Huckabee could still lose in South Carolina yet remain in the race to capture other states in the south. Carson would do something similar and can also go for his native Maryland and some neighboring states. If Jeb Bush wins New Hampshire, Donald Trump wouldn't have to drop out because he could capture a serious amount of delegates if he wins his home states of New York and some New England primaries (being a billionaire, he also can self-fund a campaign). Tea Party candidates wouldn't even spend time in the northeast. Rand Paul would likely stay as long into the race as possible like his father. Ron Paul took second in Maine and Minnesota, so Rand Paul could focus his campaign in those states as well as Kentucky.

There are many candidates with both strengths and weaknesses, but in a such a wide field of candidates it is very likely that primaries can be won with only 20 percent or even less (depending on how many do run and go all the way to the primaries). This also makes endorsements even more critical from newspapers and older politicians who might only count for 3 percent in a primary. Whereas these types of endorsements would be dismissed, they could become very relevant in a big race. We will all just have to see if the primaries get that chaotic. They don't have to be if one candidate can win enough to prove himself. Historically, a Republican who wins in Iowa and South Carolina often wins the nomination, but if that doesn't happen the race can be much longer. I want everyone to keep in mind that no candidate has official announced their candidacy yet and a wide field at the start might dwindle if funds are few before the primaries, but if it does continue to stay crowded with many strong candidates, then we have a brokered convention.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Dilemma

Hillary Clinton - The New York Post
Just about everyone anticipates former Secretary of States Hillary Clinton to be the nominee of the Democratic Party, but that could be a huge mistake. Hillary Clinton has many weaknesses that could threaten her apparent "coronation" to the presidency. Tom Bevan, the executive editor of RealClearPolitics, gave five good reasons why Hillary may not run for president. I want to expand on some of them.

The first one is that she simply isn't that good a campaigner, which is true. Hillary doesn't have the political skill that Bill does (I'm going to be using first names to not confuse anyone). Remember that Hillary was the front-runner in the 2008 Democratic nomination race, but she blew it when the young and inexperienced Senator Barack Obama came out of nowhere to win the nomination. To be fair, Hillary's poll numbers are much higher than they were at the start of 2007. The reason they are higher is because many Democrats want to make-up for choosing Obama over her in 2008. Additionally it seems like a no-brainer to nominate a female candidate in order to get the fanfare over the possible first woman president. The problem with that argument is that Hillary Clinton isn't the only choice since there is a rising new face in the Democratic Party. Elizabeth Warren, a senator elected in 2012 who previously served as a financial professor at Harvard Law School, is receiving a good deal of support and popularity.

Warren is currently holding the torch of the liberal movement, whereas Hillary is from the center-left establishment camp. If the 2016 Democratic primaries turn into Hillary Clinton vs. Elizabeth Warren, then the Hillary Clinton campaign will have problems similar to that of 2008. For one, comedian Jay Leno said on the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher that Hillary looks "very slow" compared to Warren. Hillary is 67 while Warren is 65, yet Warren could be mistaken for looking much younger because of the energy she has. Hillary's departure from the State Department was also quite memorable, but not just for the "what difference does it make?" gaffe:
Clinton's finale could hardly have been more dramatic. After falling ill with a stomach virus in early December, she fainted, suffered a concussion and landed in a hospital with a blood clot between her brain and skull. Meanwhile, her detractors drummed up conspiracy theories about "Benghazi fever," and her supporters had a moment of genuine fear that Clinton might not be around to follow the script that so many have been writing for her over the last several years.
This brings us to another problem if Hillary Clinton runs for president: her age. Age has always been a factor when running for president and if Hillary is elected she will be the second-oldest person to get elected president. Ronald Reagan would be the only president older than her. Now personally I think if a candidate is around the age of seventy I have no problem with them being president, but it is the start of health problems. Reagan had to start wearing a hearing aid in 1983 and Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack during his presidency in 1955. Will the American people elect an older president who has started to have health problems? Yes, but they only do so a few times. Hillary Clinton has a really good retirement if she doesn't run. Rather than going through a rigorous schedule campaigning in primaries and then states if she is nominated, she could enjoy lucrative speaking engagements and the polishing of her record from the Clinton Global Foundation.

Finally, President Obama is leaving a mess and after the 2014 midterms it is clear the country is steering more Republican. Back in 2006, the Democrats gained a wave of new seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate which led to Obama's victory in 2008. Historically, the party that wins the midterm elections two years before the presidential race with a departing incumbent are the ones that win the presidency. Obama's approval rating has rebounded this month following his State of the Union address, but this doesn't change the expansion of ISIS nor the fact that the economy is still weak. It is these problems that will seriously confront Hillary if she runs for president.