Thursday, July 30, 2015

Did the Iowa Straw Poll Matter Anyway?

GOP Candidates at the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll - Fox News
Every year before a presidential election (with no Republican incumbent) since 1979, the Republican Party of Iowa held a straw poll that almost all Republican candidates attended. The straw poll was a kind of political state fair that helped candidates raise their name appeal and helped the state party garner funds for the presidential campaign. That is no longer going to happen. The 2015 Iowa (or Ames) Straw Poll has been cancelled due to lack of interest from Republican presidential candidates. The simple reason why is because the Iowa Straw Poll is useless.

David Byler, an elections analyst at RealClearPolitics, posted an article on the topic in February. While the Iowa GOP collected cash for the war chest, presidential candidates hoped to get media attention and a bump in support if they won the straw poll. The winner could use that to help them win Iowa next year and get the nomination. The problem is that the Iowa straw poll usually didn't predict the winner of the Iowa caucus or the nomination. Here's a look at every Iowa Straw Poll:


Straw Poll Winner: George H.W. Bush
Iowa Caucus Winner: George H.W. Bush
Republican Nominee: Ronald Reagan


Straw Poll Winner: Pat Robertson
Iowa Caucus Winner: George H.W. Bush
Republican Nominee: George H.W. Bush


Straw Poll Winner: Bob Dole, Phil Gramm (tie)
Iowa Caucus Winner: Bob Dole
Republican Nominee: Bob Dole


Straw Poll Winner: George W. Bush
Iowa Caucus Winner: George W. Bush
Republican Nominee: George W. Bush


Straw Poll Winner: Mitt Romney
Iowa Caucus Winner: Mike Huckabee
Republican Nominee: John McCain


Straw Poll Winner: Michele Bachmann
Iowa Caucus Winner: Rick Santorum
Republican Nominee: Mitt Romney

If you look at the last two straw polls, you will see that they got it very wrong. Romney won it, but Huckabee won the caucus because of the increased name appeal from his second-place finish in the straw poll. The straw poll was worse when Bachmann won it because she almost immediately flaked in the polls after Rick Perry announced his candidacy. She went on for a terrible finish in the Iowa caucus and dropped out with her poor results. Santorum wasn't even close to winning the straw poll, but did win the caucus.

These two last results hurt the straw poll. It may have been wrong before, but accurately predicted the key players of the race. With the 2007 and 2011 straw polls, we had no clear understanding of the race that would come ahead. The results of the two caucuses shredded the results of the two straw polls and their lack of usefulness is why there will no longer be an Iowa straw poll.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Mistake of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement

Gary Varvel
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have a made a nuclear agreement with Iran. It's too bad this historic deal is riddled with the possibility of failure. The deal, which orders the reduction of Iran's installed enrichment centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,000, would appear at first to be a good deal. The problem is that Iran has proven to be a nation that the world cannot trust. It is important to remember that Iran wants sanctions lifted in order to help their devastated economy. Basically Iran will not be able to produce a nuclear weapon for the next fifteen years if the deal is followed, but problems remain without adequate inspections. There are inspections on nuclear facilities, but these will have to warn Iran in advance for a certain number of days.

I cannot guarantee that Iran will break the agreement. It is a good deal for them, but I am worried. Iran might feel that it has the ability to meddle in other Middle Eastern affairs if it gets more powerful. Iran would have been in a weaker position if the deal was more strict and that would have pleased Israel and other American allies. Worse for Israel, Kerry has said that our most reliable ally in the Middle East will be at fault if the nuclear agreement does not get through Congress.

There are many parts of the Iranian agreement that are concerning. Most recently, details have come out about side agreements that lift arms and missile embargoes. Even if Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon, the embargoes on more conventional weapons will make them a greater threat. This is one of the primary reasons Republicans and even some Democrats don't support the agreement with Iran. The last thing Congress wants is for Iran to have an advantage over the United States and our allies.

The deal with Iran does give the country several heavy benefits. The agreement does not get rid of Iran's nuclear program, but it simply kicks the can down the road for another generation to deal with. The agreement does not ban Iran from doing research on uranium enrichment while it receives $100 billion in energy assets. That money would skyrocket a country's economy with a gross domestic product of $400 billion. Think of what that can do for a state that sponsors terrorism such as the Houthis in Yemen. I wouldn't want to give that kind of dough to a nation where people shout, "Death to America!"

If Iran not being trustworthy a country doesn't worry you, think about the problem of the United States trying to stop a country from making nuclear weapons even if the agreement doesn't say it. Historically, the United States has had a difficulty with preventing other countries from creating nuclear weapons. Unlike with those other countries, America was in the best position to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but has dropped the ball on that mission. This deal is unlikely to change that and could put the world in a more dangerous place.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

John Kasich Announces Candidacy for President

John Kasich - Toledo Blade
John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, has announced his candidacy for president. Kasich is the sixteenth candidate to enter the race and seems to be a decent candidate for the GOP, even though he has low poll numbers. Overall, he is an authentic and is very liked in his state, but at the same time there are more appealing candidates to win the Republican nomination, so Kasich must make himself distinct and unique. Here's his announcement speech:

John Kasich has had many achievements during his career in politics and his life is impressive. He served in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 2001. He has the rare trophy of balancing both the federal budget (when he was chairman of the House Budget Committee) and the Ohio budget. After serving in Congress, Kasich was a political analyst on Fox News before running for governor in 2010. He won that election and won again in 2014 with a powerful landslide in what many consider the crown jewel of swing states. He has never lost an election. When looking from a distance, Kasich appears to be a conservative in both the fiscal and the social sense. Unfortunately, that isn't the case upon closer examination. 

John Kasich is leaning more towards Jeb Bush, so he actually is moderate, but that feeds into his bigger problem of being virtually unknown. This has led some political analysts to call him the Jon Huntsman of 2016. For those who have forgotten, Jon Huntsman was a former ambassador to China for President Obama when he ran for the GOP nomination in 2012. This isn't anything suspicious, he simply did the honor of serving his country when asked by his commander-in-chief. Huntsman was a moderate and actually decided to run to the left of Mitt Romney. Knowing that he would lose Iowa, Huntsman skipped to New Hampshire where he took third place and dropped out following his lack of support. 

Kasich isn't ideologically similar to Huntsman (who is politically closer to Chris Christie), but the problem for him is that the Republican center-right already has their candidate. Jeb Bush is a perfect moderate Republican for them and if he does flake then they could easily go to a more suitable candidate like Christie or George Pataki. Kasich often seems to talk down to people, such as when he decided to expand Medicare in Ohio over the concerns of many conservatives. He once told a concerned voter, "I don't know about you, lady, but when I get to the pearly gates, I'm going to have answer for what I've done for the poor." He gets point for being influenced by faith, but the bigger question is if it's a good idea to extend a program that might not be fiscally sustainable. 

His speech, overall, was disorganized and begs question if he should have used a teleprompter. The speech (45 minutes long) hit off on some key points, but wasn't consistent and I don't think his bounce in the polls will be as large. I hope, however, that he does get into the televised debates. If he does not, then he won't be able to attend the Fox News debate in his home state. 

Fortunately for Kasich, he isn't known. That offers the ability to paint the picture he wants, like how he cut taxes by $3 billion for Ohio while achieving that balanced budget. This also brings trouble, if he rises in the polls from his story as governor, opponents can brings up the negatives of Kasich that Republican voters don't know. This happened with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in 2012 when Mitt Romney attacked the at debates. Romney was already known because he ran in 2008, so his negatives weren't as fresh. Rick Perry's 2012 campaign should provide some guidance for Kasich's camapaign. When Perry put forward Texas as a success story, he had to the defend the problems with his policies as well and that is partially why he sunk.

For a strategy, Kasich must depend on New Hampshire where so many moderates need to win. Iowa is an option since Kasich is from the Midwest, but then he runs up against conservative Scott Walker and evangelical Mike Huckabee. If he wins New Hampshire, he can use that momentum to build his candidacy. It will help Kasich to own an issue (maybe balancing the budget because of his experience) in order to raise his name appeal. This recently worked for Donald Trump, who highlighted illegal immigration in his speech. When the murder of Kate Steinle happened, his poll numbers rose because the murderer was an illegal immigrant in the sanctuary city of San Francisco. If a budget or spending problem hits the country, then Kasich would benefit.

I think the Ohio governor is the last serious candidate to enter the race. He has opportunity, but right now he polls low. I'm still not convinced he will get quite a bump in the polls from his speech, but Kasich is someone who I think should be on that debate stage because of his knowledge on fiscal policy budgeting. Like other candidates who poll low, his chances are slim, but I think it would help him to attack Jeb Bush so the center-right moderates and the establishment see him as a good replacement for their faction.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Is Donald Trump Electable?

Trump - Newsweek
Donald Trump has rallied support from people who aren't satisfied with politicians. That's why he is at the top of the polls, he has always generated a lot of controversy. I don't even know if this post will be finished before Trump makes yet another shocking comment. The war of words with John McCain continues. Trump has said that McCain (a Vietnam veteran) "is a war hero because he was captured." Just yesterday, he released Republican candidate Senator Lindsey Graham's cell phone number after Graham called the Donald "a jackass." He also said Rick Perry only wears glasses to seem smart.

With Trump's statements getting increasingly outrageous, one must wonder how the polls will look after his statements, but one of the reasons I think Trump will lose is by asking the question of electability. You cannot win the Republican nomination without broad support. If you do not have broad support, then the party is fractured and the establishment candidate will win. Trump has gained support because of his rhetoric, but we don't have any polling data available following his attack on McCain. The establishment doesn't support Trump because he is unelectable. Currently, four polls have been conducted on a general election in which Trump is the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. Here's what they show:

USA Today/Suffolk (7/9-7/12): Clinton 51%, Trump 34% - Clinton +17
CNN/Opinion Research (6/26-6/28): Clinton 59%, Trump 35% - Clinton +24
Fox News (6/21-6/23): Clinton 51%, Trump 34% - Clinton +17
Quinnipiac University (5/19-5/26): Clinton 50%, Trump 32% - Clinton +18

It's obvious everybody. Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election with a resounding majority if Trump was the Republican nominee and this is proven through these polls, one of which is a likely voters poll while the three others are registered voters polls. The difference matters in a close election because registered voters polls overestimate Democrats (which is why most pollsters improve their methodology to make sure the voters are indeed likely to vote around that time). Even so, Trump still losses. The RealClearPolitics average for Trump vs. Clinton right now has Clinton with a majority of 52.8 percent while Trump has 33.8 percent.

I have heard some discussion over Trump running for a third party. That doesn't change anything. The Republicans will be split between two candidates and Clinton (or any other Democrat) would win. That's why the establishment does not want Trump to be the nominee. They aren't stupid, they look at these polls and see who has a shot at the White House. Naturally, they will want their establishment candidate to win, but they also want to make sure that the base is happy. Someone like Scott Walker has appeal to unite the base and he would get their support. As of now Walker is behind Clinton nationally, but she holds a lead over everyone. The difference is that the margin is much smaller between Walker and Clinton as it is with credible Republican candidates. Trump is not a credible candidate and has a very small chance to win as the nominee, so that's he is unlikely to take the nomination.

Many people say they don't want another politician elected president, but I'm convinced most of these people only go for an outsider candidate when it's time to get on the bandwagon. If voters from either political party wanted a candidate who has never been involved in politics, then the Republicans would have nominated businessman Herman Cain in 2012, the Democrats would have nominated retired General Wesley Clark in 2004, and the Republicans would have nominated financial journalist Steve Forbes in 2000. That isn't to say someone with no political background could win. Dwight D. Eisenhower proved it in 1952, but that's the only modern example we have.

At the moment, Trump will continue to gain media attention. Many of you might be sick of Trump as a candidate and want him to go away, but there's an important point to make about his candidacy. His presidential run is not only entertainment, but also a perfect study for political scientists on unconventional candidates, public policy, and the intentions of voters. Trump's candidacy is a case study on how voters feel about themselves and their political system. While he will not be the Republican nominee, his campaign should be remembered.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sanctuary Cities must be Crushed

The Daily Signal
It does not matter if you support amnesty or deportation, but the facts clearly show that sanctuary cities like San Francisco are a disaster for the United States. Around 9,000 illegal immigrants were set free last year and 63 percent of those had criminal histories. Around 1,900 of those released were arrested for more crimes during an eight-month period when they were released. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has introduced a bill that would stop federal law enforcement funds to cities that fail to follow federal immigration laws. There were 36,000 illegal immigrant criminals released in 2013 and 1,000 of them have already committed crimes again according to the Department of Homeland Security.

When cities and counties decide to give sanctuary to illegal immigrants they endanger their own communities and the whole country. When you have parts of the country rejecting federal law, you risk a situation of anarchy. City governments are supposed to follow the laws of those with higher authority. It never looks good when cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami Beach reject the authority of the rest of the country.

If President Obama does not handle the situation, then the next president immediately should. The Center for Immigration Studies released a report that shows how bad crime is in these sanctuary locations. Those 1,900 illegal immigrant criminals who were released in 2014 were arrested 4,298 times and were charged 7,491 times during that eight month period. Immigration policy must protect Americans and make sure that the country is safe from danger. If we cannot stop the flow of illegal immigrants, then this trend will continue.

When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) comes, it is the job of local law enforcement to cooperate with them in order to return illegal immigrants back to their home countries and then follow the legal route of immigration in order to fairly obtain citizenship. The Obama administration will not crack down on sanctuary cities, so someone else has to. I'm glad to see Senator Cotton responding to this situation and I hope the next president does as well. It would be a mistake to say that Obama and most Democrats aren't doing anything at the moment because they have others things to do. Hispanics are reliably Democratic voters and many politicians want to capitalize on illegal immigration and the lack of voter ID laws to garner as many votes as possible.

A 2010 study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform found that the costs of illegal immigration on federal, state, and local levels costs $113 billion. Most illegal immigrants are found to not be taxpayers and actually receive tax credits from the Treasury. An overwhelming majority of Americans view illegal immigration as a serious problem, it is important that borders are secured and that everyone enforces the law. This is the same with other countries. One of the best statements I ever heard on immigration policy was recently said by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told an immigrant girl from Palestine that they must continue their current policy of rejecting immigrants who illegally come to Germany:

Friday, July 17, 2015

What to do about Donald Trump?

Trump in Phoenix - Time
Donald J. Trump is rising in the polls following his speeches on illegal immigration. A large crowd gathered in Phoenix, Arizona to hear him speak about American relations with Mexico and the problem with illegal immigrants crossing the border. You can find the speech here:

The Donald is attracting many people. In the RealClearPolitics average Trump has second place and Jeb Bush has a narrow lead over him. The first debate is scheduled for August 6 in Cleveland, Ohio and the billionaire will most certainly be in it. Trump's rise in the polls is because of his style. He looks at an issue and does not sound like a politician when addressing it. As a perfect example, Senator John McCain of Arizona (the 2008 Republican nominee) said that Trump has "fired up the crazies." In perfect Trump style, the Donald's response was that McCain is a "dummy" who graduated last in his class at Annapolis. 

With the debates coming up, all the other nine candidates who will be on the Fox News stage with Trump are likely scrambling to figure out how to deal with this man. Trump is unpredictable, but he must be attacked since he sucks supports away from almost every other Republican candidate. There are two things I have noticed about him. The first is that when Trump attacks other candidates his arguments don't have many specifics. Those specifics will be needed for the televised debates. Secondly, the specifics Trump gives are often rated false by PolitiFact. Trump said that there were five sanctuary cities in Florida while Bush was governor. There is no data to back that up. Likewise, a statement that the Obamacare website costs $5 billion is also incorrect.

It would be wise for the other candidates to challenge Trump on his claims. It is also important for them to attack Trump's past and hope that the voters see him as a phony. He has changed his positions on abortion, single-payer healthcare, Social Security, taxes, and many more issues to satisfy the GOP base. What happens when Trumps past political positions are showed on ads in primaries and caucuses? Trump will also have to deal with the issues that many conservatives support like free trade. On that particular issue, Trump is more similar to Bernie Sanders. 

Even with all these criticisms of Trump from the other Republican candidates, no one knows how Trump will respond during the debate. I can see him attacking Jeb Bush for supporting Common Core and amnesty if the Florida governor attacks Trump for his past positions. There is another possible way for the candidates to beat Trump, but that matters to the debate audience. In Fox News and CNN debates, the audiences are often allowed to cheer and boo candidates if they agree or disagree with their arguments. If Trump appears too rude, then the audience will boo him which will be shown on television causing his poll numbers to fall. 

Lastly, I want everyone to remember that at this time in 2012, Michele Bachmann was the favorite of the conservative base. When better candidates were shown on television, she flaked out following a victory at the Iowa straw poll (which has been canceled for this election cycle). Trump is simply gaining massive support for his statements on illegal immigration, which have coincided with a debate over sanctuary cities following the death of a young San Francisco woman named Kate Steinle, who was shot by an illegal immigrant. I cannot guarantee that Trump's support will last, but I will not guarantee that he will flake soon either. Unlike Michele Bachmann, Trump has a net worth of $10 billion and he can use that money to finance his campaign.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Five Attacks on Scott Walker Refuted

Governor Walker - Forbes
As a Wisconsinite Republican who is very supportive of my governor, I often hear several attacks on Scott Walker that lack any context. I can see the liberals getting ready at the national level. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said, "Scott Walker is a national disgrace." For those of you who are not from Wisconsin and have not heard a lot about the new Republican presidential candidate, here are five attacks on him that are highly distorted.

Number 1: No College Degree

Yes, Governor Walker does not have a college degree, but that could also be said for 70 percent of Americans. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard University and he became very successful. President Harry Truman does not have a college degree. Time and time again, it has been proven that a good leader does not need a college degree. The fact that Democrats keep attacking him for lacking one is a critical strategic mistake.

Saying that those who have college degrees somehow make better leaders smells of elitism, which voters don't like. The Democrats should remember that the leaders are not measured by what school they went to, but for their knowledge of policy and understanding of the problems America faces.

Number 2: Only Helps the Rich

His tax policies, which have returned $2 billion to the Wisconsin taxpayers, have helped the great majority of Wisconsin residents. The reforms were highly beneficial. In September 2014, PolitiFact Wisconsin found that the average homeowner family would have an extra $322. This could have changed a bit higher or lower since then, but it doesn't change the fact that families have more money under Governor Walker's policies.

Number 3: Wisconsin is Broke

Occupy Democrats fired up their propaganda in preparation for Walker's presidential announcement. They said that under Governor Walker Wisconsin is "dead broke." When PolitiFact Wisconsin checked their statement, they found it completely false and ruled it "Pants on Fire" because of how ridiculous it was. The primary argument from Occupy Democrats was that Walker skipped $108 million in debt payments, but they forgot to mention that he intends to pay it off in a later budget. In fact, moving the debt payments is what put the current Walker budget into balance. It does not indicate bankruptcy and other governors have done it before.

In fact, PolitiFact Wisconsin also looked into Scott Walker's statement that a structural surplus of $499 million will occur in the next two years. It was ranked mostly true because the budget wasn't passed yet, but now the budget has. The Republican legislature did make Walker change many items in the budget, so we might not get that structural surplus, but even if it's a deficit we do have a rainy-day fund and since 2011 there has been $280 million deposited into it.

Number 4: Campus Sexual Assault Reporting

One of the biggest lies on Walker was launched by the far-left website Jezebel, which said that the governor wanted to stop reporting sexual assaults in the University of Wisconsin system. This was proven false when the University of Wisconsin came forward and said they requested that sexual assaults no longer be reported to the state because they were already reported to the federal government. Reporting sexual assaults twice would only duplicate the information. The website had to apologize following their false report. Several other websites circulated the story before the truth came out and had to correct themselves to meet the facts later.

Number 5: Minnesota is Better because of Policies

President Barack Obama tapped into this over two weeks ago by saying that Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who raised taxes and increased government spending, has had better results than Walker has had in Wisconsin with supply-side strategies. The problem is that the president and those who put forward Minnesota as a liberal success story fail to realize that the Minnesota economy has been doing better than the Wisconsin economy since the 1960s under governors of both parties. The trend is nothing new and is the result of one simple mantra real estate agents use: location, location, location.

For example, liberals like to take note that the unemployment rate is much lower in Minnesota compared to Wisconsin, but no one seems to remember that Minnesota has almost always had a lower unemployment rate than Wisconsin, especially since 1998. In June 2009, Minnesota hit it's unemployment rate peak at 8.1 percent. Wisconsin hit a peak of 9.2 percent in December 2009. When Walker took office, the unemployment rate in Minnesota was 6.8 percent and in Wisconsin it was 8 percent. In fact, one can tell that Walker's policies are doing better by looking at the unemployment rate difference now. When he took office in January 2011 the difference was that Wisconsin's unemployment rate was 1.2 percent higher than Minnesota's. As of the May numbers, it is 0.8 percent higher than Minnesota's.

Kurt R. Bauer, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, explains in the Journal Sentinel the economic history and trends of both states, which shows that they are quite different than most think. Wisconsin was a state that dominated with manufacturing, but the manufacturing industry started to get hit in the 1970s. Minnesota's Twin Cities were't majorly impacted by the Great Migration when people moved north to work in factories. Places in Wisconsin like Milwaukee, Beloit, and Racine were manufacturing centers. Minnesota (along with the Dakotas) is a Midwest state that benefits more from the technological advance. The manufacturing Midwest states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana suffered worse during the Great Recession.

Rather than simply compare Wisconsin to one state, we should compare Wisconsin to the whole country, which Gallup does through an annual job creation index and an economic confidence index. In 2014, Wisconsin was tied for second with Nebraska and Texas on the jobs index. In the economic confidence index, Wisconsin was tied for seventh with North Dakota. Sounds like a great economy to me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Scott Walker Announces Candidacy for President

Scott Walker's Presidential Announcement - Reuters
Yesterday, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin officially announced his candidacy for president. In his speech, he touted his reforms in Wisconsin, which he argues can be applied to the federal government. He wants to lower taxes and take the shackles off of businesses from regulations. Additionally, he proposed a stronger foreign policy than what the current administration has been advocating. The speech, which I attended from the outside and later the inside of the Waukesha Expo Center, was very impressive. I think it will rally a lot of Republicans to his support. Here's his speech:

Between all of the Republican presidential candidates, I think Walker has the broadest support. Walker is not a moderate like John McCain and Mitt Romney, but he also isn't an unelectable conservative like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. The average ideology score of Republicans is a 71 on a 0 to 100 scale for conservatism. According to FiveThiryEight's ideology score for Republican candidates, Walker is rated a 70. That means he's at an ideal spot to be favored by most Republicans.

Scott Walker has an excellent record as a Republican candidate. His policies spread through a wide range of conservative issues including tax cuts, spending reforms, unions, limiting abortion, and concealed carry. To show just how perfect he is for the GOP, here's a graph showing the ideological positions of several Republican candidates:

According to this graph from FiveThirtyEight, Walker has appeal from the Tea Party and the establishment. He is also close to Christian conservatives and libertarians, so support could be expected from them. Finally, his executive experience as a governor who turned a state in economic turmoil to a state with a satisfactory recovery gives him the advantage of being someone who has saved a state in a crisis situation. The only major concern would be a few changes in political positions with illegal immigration policy. Originally, Governor Walker did not advocate for right-to-work policy in Wisconsin, but once the state legislature voted for it he signed the bill. Overall, this change is not that large a concern because the point is that he did sign the bill.

Walker is also one of the most ordinary of presidential candidates. He was not born into wealth like Jeb Bush and comes directly from the middle class. Those roots are what helped him win the recall in 2012 and they will help him in 2016. Being so close to Iowa, he has a strong advantage and holds the lead in the Iowa RealClearPolitics Republican average. At the national level, he has second place, but that's before his announcement which will give him a bump in the polls. Walker, being a man just like most of the American people, is directly opposed to the elitism of Hillary Clinton.

For a strategy, he should focus on his record as governor and show what reforms are needed to be carried out in the federal government. If he can hit every point on the end and use his record to prove that he is a conservative, then he will have no major problems running for president. It is important for him to not just focus on his time as governor, but to tackle new issues that he may have never encountered. It is important for him to focus on Iowa. That is where he needs to win in order to pick up momentum.

Finally, I wanted to address the biggest mistake Democrats ever made when handling Walker: the recall. Think about it. The recall in Wisconsin gained national attention as Democrats tried to stop Act 10. Wisconsin, a state that hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, went for Walker in that historic election. Without it, Walker would not have gained the national headlines that led up to his presidential run.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Can Sanders win the Democratic Nomination?

Bernie Sanders in Madison, WI - MSNBC
The answer is yes, but even with his rise in the polls it's still slim. Hillary Clinton has already made some mistakes (as she did in the 2008 primaries) and that is giving Sanders a rise in the polls. In Madison, Wisconsin there was a major campaign event for Senator Sanders where 10,000 people were in attendance. This was followed by a speech in Maine where a crowd of 7,000 gathered to hear him speak. His populist left-wing message rallies the Democratic base, but it's important to remember that Sanders is the Ted Cruz of the Democratic Party. Both senators are very ideological and both of them are viewed as too polarizing because they would not attract independents.

Sanders has raised $15 million for his campaign so far, but Clinton can probably raise more and has a better organized campaign. Remember that Clinton's major mistakes in the 2008 Democratic primaries caused her to lose the nomination to a inexperienced U.S. senator from Illinois who hadn't served for a full term. While I do seem some parallels to 2008, Clinton isn't going to take her front-runner status for granted this time and her campaign has probably learned from their past mistakes. Clinton shouldn't too be worried about Sanders because he has a laborious task to win the nomination. As I have posted before, Sanders needs to gain more minority appeal if he wants to be one who accepts the Democratic nomination at the convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He also needs to win over older moderate Democrats who might support Jim Webb or Martin O'Malley.

Political scientist Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight posted an article about why Sanders' victory is very difficult to envision. Sanders might be able to build momentum through grassroots support to win the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, but that doesn't mean he can win everywhere else. The Democratic constituents in these two states are mostly white liberals according to Silver's calculations. Looking at the demographics, this is where Sanders is strong. The problem for Sanders is that he has so little minority appeal that it will be difficult for him to attract more liberals in diverse primaries and caucuses, According to a recent poll from CNN and Opinion Research shows that Sanders only 9 percent of non-white voters.

Now we are far away from the Iowa caucus, so the Vermont senator can make a push to attract minority voters. If Sanders does win Iowa and New Hampshire, then it is also possible that the media attention and momentum he would gain from those two wins could propel him to win in other states where Democrats will learn more about him. He will also need a surge in fundraising. If he does not, then the Clinton campaign can unleash attack ads that would bring Sanders' poll numbers back down since he won't have as much television time. Whatever the result and no matter what strategy the Sanders campaign is thinking, it is important for them to remember that diversity is key to Democratic presidential election victories. If they cannot replicate the Obama coalition (non-white voters, young people, single women, low income) that won in 2008 and 2012, then they are doomed to not win the Democratic nomination or the presidential election.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Greece's Default

Russian Insider
Greece has officially defaulted on a loan for the International Monetary Fund and the country is now bankrupt. While the Greek government pushed for more financial bailouts, European leaders refused and the die has been cast. The government had to pay $1.7 billion to the IMF, but did not have the money to do so. Now the world has to deal with the real ramifications of a contagion among the Eurozone and possibly the global economy.

It was unlikely that Greece could climb out of the hole it dug itself into. Greece was set to pay back loans to the IMF and other creditors for the next 42 years. The new left-wing government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the SYRIZA party gave inadequate socialist promises during the election and they decided to hold a referendum on July 5 where 61.31 percent of the Greeks voters voted "no" to European bailout terms against the 38.69 percent "yes" voters. The banks are running out of money. If you are in Greece, you can only take out the equivalent of $67 from an ATM daily.

In a desperate situation, people go crazy and society breaks down. That is made clear by a recent poll from Greece which shows that a stunning 85 percent of respondents think Jews hold too much power over global finance. This is a pivotal moment in the history of Europe. Greece could default further and possibly leave the European Union while especially hurting Eurozone nations. This would leave a dark stain on the global economy. The referendum effectively said that the Greeks are not interested in tightening their belts. They would rather keep spending their money even though they aren't fiscally solvent in any way.

Greece's default is one of the best examples of why socialism fails as an ideology. Now Greece isn't socialist in the eyes of Karl Marx, but the modified version that Greece and many other European countries use is democratic socialism, an ideology favored by the far left since socialism in the Marxist, Stalinist, or Maoist ideals is not workable. Greece is a nation that favors heavy intervention in the economy with generous pension and welfare programs. There is an enlarged public sector, powerful unions, and suspicion of the free market. The current crisis is because of the policies Greek leaders have passed for decades in order to maintain the status quo.

This cannot be allowed to continue, which is why I think at this point the Eurozone should kick out Greece. They lied about how bad their fiscal situation was to enter the country and it is primarily their fault that the Eurozone is at this difficult moment. According to a report from the IMF, Greece will need another bailout totaling $39.37 billion. The Greek government uses this report as a defense, but didn't notice the reasoning for a new bailout was because of its demands for less spending cuts, a resistance to privatization, and Greece's failure to create structural reforms that are badly needed to regain economic growth.

While the Greeks take whatever last chances they have at getting a bailout, I don't think they deserve it. It would be better for both Europe and Greece to part ways. Greece can then rebuild itself into a new economic model. The only other way Greece can get itself out of this dire situation is to do the right thing and carry out with that the IMF and the Eurozone wants. That means getting rid of the ridiculous retirement age at sixty. That means getting serious about the $350 billion Greek debt. If they cannot do that, then kicking them out is the right thing to do. Creating European moral hazard is not a good option. German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a tough choice, but cutting a failed state loose is the right thing to do unless the Greeks can submit to reforms.

Jim Webb's Candidacy for President

Jim Webb - NY Daily News
Former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has officially announced his candidacy for president as a Democrat. I'm going to be immediately honest here: Webb has little chance to win the Democratic nomination. Like any candidate, he has strengths and weaknesses. The big question for Webb is if he can pull enough support to break the Hillary Clinton political machine and the increasing far left base that supports Bernie Sanders with only moderates and the few conservative Democrats that are left.

This post is going to be quick because of how unlikely Webb is to win. In many ways, he has the same problems as Chris Christie, but he is significantly less known. Webb is one of the most conservative Democratic candidates. I do commend him for trying to represent older Democrats, but that group is dying out. His only chance of winning is for every other candidate to seem very unappealing and that remains unlikely. He won't be favored by the establishment, liberals, or democratic socialists.

Webb has complained that the Democratic Party has turned into "a party of interest groups" and it seems that he wants to run as a candidate that is anti-lobbying, but Bernie Sanders is already that kind of candidate. Aside from that, being a former Navy secretary to Ronald Reagan (of all presidents) isn't exactly good to have on your resume if you are trying to win the Democratic nomination. In my opinion, Webb is one of the Reagan Democrats who never left the Democratic Party. The reason that Webb has a difficult path to victory is because most Reagan Democrats have now joined the GOP.

Someone should have told Webb that the Democratic Party is no longer the kind of centrist political party that nominated Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the 1990s. That older style of Democrats is a fading group and Webb should know that. His only way to win is to raise his name appeal. He should try to own a particular issue. Foreign policy might be good since he was a naval secretary, but he still faces attacks on some of his conservative views and votes. It will be hard for Webb to deflect those attacks and win the nomination. As if knowing that his campaign won't get anywhere, the former senator announced his candidacy just before July 4, when press coverage is low.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Chris Christie is Running for President

Chris Christie - Yahoo
I went on an Independence Day vacation in northern Minnesota, so these posts that should have been recent are coming late. We are reaching the end of Republican presidential announcements. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is going to be one of the last GOP candidates to enter the race. He made his presidential announcement at Livingston High School in New Jersey on Tuesday. You can find his speech here:

Once high in the polls, the tough-talking governor is now very low on the RealClearPolitics average today. It is worth noting that Jeb Bush and Donald Trump received bumps in their polls after their presidential announcements. Christie should get one too and I think his poll numbers should be good enough to count him as one of the top ten to be in the Fox News presidential debate for Republican candidates.

Christie was once a very popular Republican governor for his handling of New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. He has since fallen in New Jersey polls and Republican nomination polls with the George Washington Bridge scandal, in which some of the governor's staff and appointees closed several bridge lanes to create traffic jams into Fort Lee, New Jersey as a form of political payback. The scandal occurred in September 2013, but it blossomed only after Christie won a landslide election for a second term in November of that year.

Like any candidate, Christie has strengths and weaknesses. Republican strategic voters will remember that he is from a deep blue state where he has won twice. This is very helpful for him because it shows that he can connect the GOP message to a state dominated by Democrats. He can point to a record of passing conservative goals with a Democratic legislature. The libertarian Cato Institute rated Christie's 2014 fiscal record as a B.  Now this probably won't be a huge benefit. Mitt Romney was from a very Democratic state and still lost the 2012 presidential election.

Everyone knows about Christie's rhetorical gifts, which are similar to Trump's in that he truly speaks his mind and sounds less like a politician. His landslide victory in 2013 shows that he could persuade voters from all political views. His speeches frequently go viral on YouTube. Christie's personality could win over many Republican voters in the televised debates who want politicians that don't sound too diplomatic or boring. He also doesn't have to worry about poor timing. If Christie ran for president in 2012, he would run into the problem if only serving as a governor for less than two years. In 2016, he now has more executive experience.

Fiscally, he can point to his record of fighting the unions, but he also has many problems. Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight goes into the New Jersey governor's weaknesses very well. Christie is too moderate and liberal on some stances. Only former Governor George Pataki of New York is ranked more liberal than him by their ideological score. In 2012, Christie could have rallied both the Tea Party and the center-right establishment to support him. Today that isn't the case. Gun control is one issue where the GOP base doesn't support Christie.

The George Washington Bridge Scandal ("Bridgegate") has tarnished Christie's national favorability ratings. His electability argument is gone because he trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in every recent poll on the RealClearPolitics general election average. Obviously he can repair that if he makes a good case to do so. Political scientist Chris Cillizza posted on The Washington Post that we should not count out Christie. His communication and persuasion with voters is outstanding and he can change the minds of many people. For a campaign strategy, he should hope that other candidates who have higher poll numbers blow out on the debate stages. When that happens voters and the establishment will search for a low polling candidate that can save the GOP. Christie should try to be that candidate.