Saturday, October 31, 2015

Who Won the Republican Debate on October 28?

First off, the biggest losers of the debate were the CNBC moderators. While there were questions about economic policy, others were clear attempts to attack the candidates. CNBC, MSNBC, and NBC are no friends of the Republican Party, but they usually host some debates so viewers can watch the candidates. If I was the chairman of the Republican National Committee, I would no longer have any debates on those three networks. Hopefully the next GOP debate in Milwaukee will provide more economic information for viewers.

Using my Fox News Election Headquarters app, I rated Marco Rubio a +10 in the debate. He is the candidate I have decided to support now since Scott Walker dropped out. His performance at the debate was amazing. He called out the moderators for getting his tax plan wrong and told the truth about Hillary Clinton and the mainstream media. He was on point every time. I can easily see him getting a bump in the polls after this performance. I'm not certain this performance will take him all the way to first place, but it is a possibility.

Donald Trump (+6) and Ben Carson (+4) were not the spotlights of the night, but I don't know if this will hurt them. Aside from an argument with John Kasich, Trump didn't gather all the attention. Part of it might be that no other candidate attacked him. He wasn't specific, but part of that can be blamed on the moderators. Overall, there wasn't anything memorable from him. Ben Carson continued in the same style he has always been. I think people generally like how calm he is, but at the same time other candidates got roaring applause from terrific statements. Since his style is working, I'm also skeptical that his poll numbers will fall.

Carly Fiorina had a good performance during this debate and I got a +7 with her. While she didn't have a moment from the last debate where she propelled from criticizing Planned Parenthood, she still made some good points with details. I don't think her poll numbers will surge, but they might go up. Ted Cruz got a +6 from me. Cruz's performance comes right behind Rubio's. The Texas senator was the first candidate to attack the moderators and he was clearly very popular throughout the night. Chris Christie's performance was pretty good (+7). His comment on fantasy football was especially popular.

Mike Huckabee (+4) and Rand Paul (+2) seemed to fade for most of the debate. Both of them provided generally positive rhetoric, but they did not stand out. I thought that John Kasich (+4) and Jeb Bush (+2) did even worse. Kasich seemed to be the "mad as hell" candidate, but that somewhat backfired. I don't remember any big moments from him, except for engaging Trump at the beginning. Bush is, without a doubt, the losing candidate of this debate. Like Huckabee and Paul, he seemed to fade for most of the debate. His most memorable performance was a lousy attack on Rubio in which he criticized the Florida senator for a bad attendance record. Rubio's strong response was to point out the historical norm for senators who run for president. He also made note of Bush's endorsement to Senator John McCain in 2008, who also had low Senate appearances during his presidential run.

Concluding, I think Bush, Huckabee, Paul, and Kasich are in deep trouble. Bush's support continues to decrease and it isn't hard to believe that donors are getting concerned. The other three were never high in the polls, but the next debate in Milwaukee requires a 2.5 percent showing. That should concern them. I think Trump and Carson will continue to have the highest support, but they probably will decrease with rising numbers from Cruz and Rubio.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CNBC Republican Debate Tomorrow

Denver Post
The next Republican debate is tomorrow on CNBC that will focus on the economy. It will take place at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Since the last debate, the 2016 Republican nomination race has become more competitive. The latest from the Iowa caucus GOP RealClearPolitics average shows that support for Ben Carson has spiked. He now leads in Iowa by a comfortable margin. Donald Trump's response has been to call the polls inaccurate, but his support has clearly waned. The Donald still leads nationally, but the race is still tighter from where it was before the last Republican debate.

Everyone will be focusing on Carson and Trump in the next presidential debate. The two candidates have two different styles. The Donald usually attacks others who attack him. Carson never attacks anyone. If neither of them is hurt during this debate and they do not attack each other, then the polls will probably remain the same. If they clash, then the polls could change dramatically. It is best for both candidates to keep their style and rhetoric. I only wish Trump would be more specific.

Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio are all in another tier with their own groups of supporters. Fiorina has been on a roller coaster. She was once over 10 percent in the polls, but now her support is shrinking to nearly 5 percent. I think this is because many conservatives have reviewed her background and didn't like what they saw. Nevertheless, Fiorina still has the chance to recover in the polls if she stands strong in this debate. Rubio has been able to hover around 10 percent since the last debate. If he is specific and articulate, then he has a real chance to vault in the polls again. Bush is in a desperate situation. His polls have been continuing to fall and he really needs to shine during this debate. If that doesn't happen, then he will fall like Scott Walker did.

I think some Tea Party conservatives who peeled away from Trump went to Ted Cruz. Cruz should continue to stay positive and provide a conservative vision for America. Since he doesn't want to attack Trump, it is best for him to be in a position where he can benefit from a collapse of support for Trump. Rand Paul can continue to give his libertarian views, but he needs to stop going negative and attacking Trump. I think Paul should provide more of a positive vision for the future rather than continue to go negative.

Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, and Chris Christie all need a moment to light up the debate. They have all been lagging badly since the last debate. They can wait patiently for more support to move towards them, but Donald Trump is holding like Rudy Giuliani did in 2008 before his fall. This isn't 2012, when many Republican candidates got their chance to be front-runners. If they continue to give their same old rhetoric, then the only hope for those three candidates to win the nomination is to hope that Republicans surge to them after being disappointed by the others polling higher.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Why Joe Biden Did Not Run for President

Biden declines to run for president - The Blaze
The announcement many political analysts were waiting has been given. Vice President Joe Biden will not be running for president. He said that he intends to be active in the 2016 presidential election and has also called for an end to partisan politics. His announcement ends many months of speculation over a candidacy that could have given Hillary Clinton a true run for her money. I think Biden's decision is likely to help Clinton. 

While I think Biden could have won the Democratic nomination, there are multiple reasons as to why he did not run for president. If he did run for president, then the Democratic Party would have been torn apart. I think Biden is someone who does prefer more unity in the party and he knows that his views are similar to Clinton's. There wouldn't be any big difference in terms of policy between the two. His candidacy would have probably led to mud-slinging in the race for the Democratic nomination and could have put Bernie Sanders in a better position to win the presidency. 

Aside from his similarities with Clinton, most politicians in the Democratic Party have already picked Clinton for the nomination. There are still many who haven't made endorsements, but not enough to give Biden the advantage. He was going to enter the 2016 race very late, which has never helped any presidential candidate and means that there would have been whole months of time spent on organizing and fundraising a new national campaign. Rick Perry announced his 2012 candidacy very late and wasn't prepared for the heat of the election as soon as he declared. The same is true with Wesley Clark, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004.

There are many reasons why Biden's decision helps Clinton. Most polls show that the majority of Biden supporters will vote for Clinton in their primaries and caucuses. Any doubt that was left in the Democratic establishment will now be thrown behind Clinton. Biden donors will mostly become Clinton donors. All this helps Clinton at the expense of Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and Lawrence Lessig. The argument that the Democratic nomination is going to be coronation is becoming more likely.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jim Webb Drops Out

Webb - PBS
Jim Webb has become the first Democratic candidate to drop out of the 2016 presidential election. This comes after a lackluster debate performance that didn't get him any boost of support. Webb, like some other candidates, needed that debate to leap in the polls. That leap did not happen. Now he is considering a possible presidential run as an independent candidate.

Webb's candidacy could have went two ways. In order to be successful, he needed to show that he could win many moderates and conservatives to provide a case of electability. He wasn't going to get any help from the liberal base. His candidacy didn't go down that road. Instead, Webb's moderation hurt him badly. Webb couldn't even get 5 percent in the polls during his candidacy. He represented a Democratic Party that no longer exists.

The legacy of Webb's short presidential bid is that it provides an example of the move to the left in the Democratic Party. If Webb ran as a Democrat with the same experience and competency in an election post-1945 and pre-2000, then I think he could have been a great candidate. The start of the 21st century has seen Democrats reject moderates like him. Bernie Sanders has received a lot of support and is proposing a big shift to the left in the United States. Hillary Clinton has changed positions on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to appease liberals. Webb was left out of this shift and he didn't want to change views that he held for so long. That's why he lost the 2016 presidential election.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The 2015 Canadian General Election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper - CBC News
The next big election is just north of the United States. On October 19, the Canadian electorate will vote for which party they would like to rule the nation for the next four years. Currently, the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper has ruled since winning in 2006 following a vote of no confidence against the Liberal government. Harper and the Conservatives won another election in 2008 and another in 2011. The Canadian election system is like the United Kingdom's. Canada has a House of Commons and whatever party wins a majority of seats will be able to legislate their agenda. There are 338 seats in the Canadian House of Commons, so a party needs 170 for a majority.

The current House of Commons looks like this:
  • Conservative Party (Stephen Harper) - 159 seats
  • New Democratic Party (Thomas Mulcair) - 95 seats
  • Liberal Party (Justin Trudeau) - 36 seats
  • Bloc Québécois (Gilles Duceppe) - 2 seats
  • Green Party (Elizabeth May) - 2 seats
  • Strength in Democracy (Jean-François Fortin) - 2 seats
The Conservatives are the center-right political party of Canada. Under Harper, Canada has enjoyed the benefits of supply-side tax reductions and budget surpluses thanks to spending cuts. Policies like these support economic freedom and growth. Harper's tax record isn't that unique in historical context over the last few decades, but it is one of his greatest assets. Taxes have been reduced on personal income rates and corporate rates. There are new tax credits that have created incentives for children's fitness, home renovations, public transit, and first time home buyers. When the recession hit, these tax cuts were needed to help the economy thrive again. With more capital in the economy, everyone has an incentive. Consumers have more money that they can use to spend or save while businesses have the capital needed to fuel production and reduce unemployment. Has unemployment dropped? It has indeed:

A typical observer would believe that a policy that places a heavy emphasis on tax cuts would widen the deficit, but that misses the point of the Laffer curve. Deficits would occur in a recession anyway, but tax reduction returns the incentive of consumption, investment, and production. When that happens, the state will get more tax revenue. That's why Canada now sits with a $1.9 billion surplus. This was primarily because federal programs spent $1.6 billion less in 2014. These fiscally conservative policies are exactly what Canada needs. That's why the Conservatives should win another term.

According to the latest polls, the Liberals do have an edge as the general election approaches. The polls in this election remind me of the polls in the UK general election earlier this year. Although the polls for the British election were embarrassingly off, we don't know how accurate Canadian polls will be. They can miss mark or be right on it. Harper won in 2011 with 39.6 percent of the votes, but he's polling anywhere from 31 percent to 34 percent right now. It might not be enough to win him a majority, so it is more possible that he will need a coalition partner. Even so, it is important that Canada continues the right policies. The election will probably be close, so let's hope the Conservatives win a historic fourth term.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Iron Lady who Saved Britain

Margaret Thatcher - The Huffington Post
"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher

In the 1970s, the United States was suffering from a difficult economic situation, but in many ways the United Kingdom was in a worse condition. Thanks to socialism, the UK seemed to be in an inevitable decline. Inflation was too high and economic growth was too low. Labor unions had powerful influence in political affairs. Conservative and Labour governments had to go along with their demands or risk destruction at the next election, but conventional economic wisdom was failing. In 1979 that all changed with the election of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister. The country's first female head of government, Thatcher would save the nation from decline and make Britain a titan of the world once again. Since the anniversary of Thatcher's birth four days ago, I thought it would be nice to publish a post about her.

After years of rule under failed leadership from both parties, the Conservatives made Margaret Thatcher their leader in 1975. This came after a bad defeat in which the last Conservative government under Prime Minister Edward Heath was thrown out in the general election. Thatcher, who worked as an education minister for Heath, decided that there needed to be a change. With her as the new Conservative Party leader, the British people finally had a strong alternative after years of suffering from a bad economy. Prime Minister James Callaghan, the leader of the Labour government, was next on the list of people she wanted to take down. In the 1979 general election, the Conservatives won 339 seats in the House of Commons, followed by Labour with 269 seats, and the Liberals with 11 seats. The British people had swung to the right. The Conservatives gained sixty-two new seats in that election with their "Iron Lady" (as the Soviet press called her) leading the way.

Thatcher's bold economic policies would be strong medicine for the economy. The central program of her policies was the privatization of many nationalized industries in order to make them more efficient to compete globally. This policy meant that old and inefficient industries would collapse and lead to more unemployment, but the problem was that these very expensive sectors of the economy were the primary reason Britain was declining. Thatcher also wanted to conquer inflation, which was over 10 percent when she became prime minister. This meant controlling the supply of money, an economic school called monetarism. Finally, a supply-side policy on taxes and government regulation would create incentives for more investment in the economy.

At first it looked like Thatcher's policies would destroy the British economy. In March 1981, 364 economists published a letter requesting that she halt her policies. Unemployment rose to over 10 percent, but soon her policies came into effect. Inflation rapidly decreased under the Thatcher government. In 1983 it was 4 percent and stayed that way for most of her time as prime minister. Even though unemployment was high, prices were significantly less distorted. Since they were lower, it was easier to afford things.

She waged an important war against mining unions, which controlled British energy. Her Employment Act of 1982 and Trade Union Act of 1984 reformed a system that aligned too much political and economic power to the unions. Arthur Scargill, who led the union, called for a strike that lasted from October 1984 to March 1985. Luckily, the lights did not go out as they did during previous disputes with past prime ministers. Thatcher had large coal reserves ready when the strike began. When the unions were defeated, the government was no longer anchored to doing their bidding.

Privatization was a widely successful economic policy. Associated British Ports, British Telecom, British Airways, British Steel, British Gas, British Petroleum, Harland and Wolff, and Rolls-Royce were among the companies that became privatized during the Thatcher years. Some industries that were privatized, such as British Coal, collapsed because of how inefficient they were. The coal industry had already been in a decline before Thatcher, but previous governments wasted resources to keep it afloat. Now the government would not that have to subsidize an industry that wasn't making profits.

In 1986, she and her Chancellor of Exchequer Nigel Lawson decided to deregulate the City of London, which was the financial center of the UK. This action was known as the "Big Bang" because it led to a surge of investment in the British financial sector. Deregulation and privatization led to new work opportunities for children, writes economist Vuk Vukovic:
The transition on the labour market was initially painful as a lot of workers got redundant and lost their jobs. But after a while they changed occupations and careers, even though they probably never got over the fact that their industries were destroyed. Think of how this affected their children in the long run. Instead of working in a shipyard, the children had an opportunity to get a good education and move to new buoyant industries. Think of the significant increase of personal wealth this brought to the average family. And think of the significant impact on newly created wealth for the UK as a whole. Closing inefficient industries (or more correctly, stopping support provided to them), opened up room for a range of other better, higher-paying industries. No one can predict where the patterns of new specialisation will end up, but provided that they are left without external interference they are very likely to produce a much more efficient and sustainable outcome. 
Tax cuts also helped the booming British economy. The top income tax rate in 1979 was 83 percent, but it was 40 percent when she left office in 1990. The standard income tax rate (the rate most Britons pay) was reduced from 33 percent in 1979 to 25 percent in 1990. The corporate tax rate went from 52 percent in 1979 to 35 percent in 1990 and the inheritance tax went from 75 percent to 40 percent during that same time frame as well. Only the values added tax increased from 8 percent to 15 percent. Thanks to her policies, Britain was very wealthy when she left office:

GDP per capita - Adam Smith Institute
When Thatcher left office, there was no way Labour governments could reverse her great policies. Both parties have not returned to socialism and have decided to keep Britain a free market nation. Their actions to keep (rather than change) her policies truly show the success and legacy of the Iron Lady who saved Britain.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Who Won the Democratic Debate on October 13?

USA Today
Last night's Democratic debate was the first time in this election that Democrats were be able to see their five main presidential candidates engage on political issues. I watched the debate closely on CNN to see how the candidates would present themselves to their own political parties. I felt they all did well, but I do not think this debate had a major impact on the election.

I think Hillary Clinton won the debate last night, which is very important for her campaign. There were some points where she wasn't specific enough (like on healthcare for children of illegal immigrants), but I think she played well to the liberal base. She got time to defend herself on the email controversy and she handled the question on the war in Iraq well (controversial because she voted for it as a senator).

Bernie Sanders also had a good performance. He naturally threw a lot of red meat to the base, especially his statement on Clinton's emails. I think he attracted more minority voters to support (or at least consider) him when dealing with the question of black lives. Some Democrats don't know Sanders that well, so I think the debate helped him. There is one caveat: Sanders' record on gun control isn't that popular with the liberal base. I think he was hurt there, but otherwise there was no damage.

The last three Democrats were the ones who needed the most attention, but they failed at almost every moment. I think Jim Webb did better than others, but he says he is standing for the traditional views of the Democratic Party. If he means a party from twenty or thirty years ago, then he isn't going anywhere. Nothing he did received much attention. Martin O'Malley is a more acceptable Democrat than Webb, but he didn't get too much attention either. I think there were moments where the crowd loved O'Malley, but he still did not stand out because he didn't spend more time attacking Clinton. Lincoln Chafee was awful. His defense for voting for the PATRIOT Act was that "everyone voted for it" and he said his vote on Glass-Steagall was a mistake because his father died and that everyone deserves a "takeover." Those have to be some of the worst answers I have ever heard.

As a whole, it was a good night for Clinton and Sanders. An even bigger loser than the other three is Joe Biden. If he was looking for an opening after the debate, he didn't get it. In the next few weeks I think it is more likely for him to not run for president. I honestly think the poll numbers will stay where they are or boost for Clinton and Sanders at the expense of Biden. This debate was generally positive and about public policy. There weren't too many negatives. The next debate will be hosted by CBS News and the Des Monies Register at Drake University in Iowa. It will be on November 14.

Monday, October 12, 2015

First Democratic Debate Tomorrow

Wynn hotel - The Telegraph
The Democratic Party will be hosting their first debate at the luxurious Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is sponsored by the Democratic Party of Nevada and CNN. The five major presidential candidates will be participating in it. These candidates are Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O'Malley, and Lincoln Chafee. Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessing, who has recently announced his candidacy for president, did not meet polling requirements. With Clinton's numbers falling, the four other candidates have a lot of opportunity, but I think they should be very careful.

Clinton needs a breakout moment like all the other candidates do. She has fallen in the polls, but she is losing her front-runner status. She can attract more Democrats to her by standing out on key issues. I think it is best for her if these issues are women's issues. That's where she can naturally excel. She can also take time to defend herself regarding the email scandal, where she will get applause from people in the audience. Clinton can be at her best if she claims Republicans are going after her to only score political points. She, unlike the other candidates, has more credibility with the Democrats on foreign policy issues because she was a secretary of state. Democrats in the audience will probably believe her more than other candidates.

Bernie Sanders has a lot to gain from this debate. I think his campaign has been getting better and his standing has increased. He now has the money to be competitive, but if he really wants to have a good shot then he needs a debate performance that the left wants. I think Sanders does an excellent job at throwing red meat to the base, which is one of the reasons he has maintained support in the polls. He should touch on some of his own issues like income inequality to get more support. It is better for him to not attack Clinton on the email scandal because Democrats still support her on it. Sanders should also try to attract minority voters, who he needs desperately.

As for the last three Democrats, they need a breakout moment more than Clinton or Sanders. O'Malley has complained about there being a limited number of televised debates. I actually think that's okay. It's not like the Republican competition, where there are over ten candidates. In this debate, each candidate will have more time to address issues and more issues to address. O'Malley, Webb, and Chafee all need to excite people (something all three of the have been unable to do). Since there are fewer debates in the Democratic nomination, I think it is more likely that these three will attack Sanders and Clinton. I think this would be a mistake, since Clinton and Sanders have few negatives on the Democratic side. They will have to be very picky.

Overall, this debate could be like any other first debate where candidates will play nice, but I think it has the chance to derail if the three candidates who are polling badly are really desperate. Keep in mind that there are three more debates before the Iowa caucus. This debate has heavy potential to change the whole situation in the Democratic Party.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Email Scandal Can Sink Clinton

Andy Marlette
Hillary Clinton wouldn't have had falling poll numbers if it was not for the email scandal that currently plagues her campaign. Depending on how bad the scandal gets in continuing months will determine if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination or not. Bernie Sanders is starting to fill his own war chest, which will make him more formidable against Clinton when Iowa and New Hampshire roll around. The latest news for both Democratic candidates is fundraising, where she raised $28 million and Sanders raised $26 million. Having money significantly improves his chances, but he does not have any super PACs for support like Clinton does.

Clinton's record as secretary of state is very weak. From the boondoggle of the "Russian reset" strategy to the fatal mistakes of the Benghazi terrorist attack, it is easy to see why Clinton is difficult to defend. The email scandal takes the cake, but Democrats are still standing with her. Republicans and independents are naturally worried about Clinton's conduct, but they won't decide the Democratic nominee. Only rank and file Democrats can do that and right now they still support her. Many Democrats still hold positive views toward the former secretary of state. More Democrats could see themselves voting for her rather than Sanders in a national election.

These numbers show that Clinton isn't in a tough position. Sanders now has some money to provide competition, but the party still overwhelmingly supports her. She has 342 endorsement points while Sanders has none. Some Democratic voters feel comfortable when state Democrats like a governor or senator endorse a candidate. They are then more likely to support the candidate that was endorsed. Sanders needs to overcome that huge deficit of endorsements. If he can't do that, then Clinton's position is still easy. The only thing that could buck them from supporting her is if the email scandal does get worse.

The email scandal, which will continue to damage Clinton, will need to get rough in order for her campaign to end. The only way to move Democrats to other candidates is to the make them believe that he has done something wrong. If she's convicted, then she will naturally no longer be running for president (this could make Joe Biden become a candidate). That's what I think could get her to drop out. Right now the constant dripping of information is what's hurting her support. Most Democrats still think the investigation is very partisan. Something really bad will have to smack the news in order for her campaign to suddenly collapse.