Thursday, December 29, 2016

Where will Trump take the GOP?

Appointing Cabinet secretaries and advisers is critical to shaping a presidency. Every president paves the direction of policy between hiring yes men like Warren Harding or a team of rivals like Abraham Lincoln. Both types of administrations work, but both can also fail. The new administration, depending on who is in it and how competent they are, can also shape the ideology of a party for the next four years by influencing the president.

In addition to his appointments, Trump owes his core supporters what they wanted. Many blue-collar workers who voted for him did not find Hillary Clinton as someone who cared about them. They haven't benefitted from the Obama economy. These workers are asking for some policies that are ideologically different from conservative proposals.

Conservatives, including myself, have always been proponents of free trade. Many of the blue-collar workers who backed Trump, however, want him to enact a more nationalist trade policy, which means using the power of subsides and tariffs to defend American industries. Trump's influence within the Republican Party matters. Stephen Moore, an economist I've mentioned in earlier blog posts and one of Trump's campaign advisers, reportedly said that the GOP is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan at a meeting with Republican lawmakers.

In the case of the Carrier deal, Trump has a protectionist solution. He decided to offer the heating and air conditioning corporation a special incentive to keep one of their factories in the United States. This could benefit hundreds to thousands of people who are aided by the factory's presence in Indiana. It isn't only 800 workers who are being helped (which is more direct through wages), but also the families of those who don't love their jobs.

If deals like the one with Carrier become more common, then it is possible that the United States could move away from the more traditional form of free market capitalism we have enjoyed for decades. Lawrence H. Summers, economist at Harvard University and a former Treasury secretary, believes that Trump will deliver ad-hoc capitalism, which is similar to the kind of capitalism we see in Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation. It involves rewarding reward domestic companies and political supporters rather than using competition to balance global markets.

The problem with Trump's solution is that it does not many benefit a great number of consumers who benefit from Carrier's products, but won't enjoy a potentially lower price from the originally planned movement to Mexico where the costs of labor and doing business are cheaper. This is explained perfectly in a post by Adam Smith Institute fellow Tim Worstall on Forbes (he dubs Trump's policies folk economics).

There are many people who voted for Trump because he campaigned as a force for change against the establishment. The president-elect, however, seems to be faltering on his populist message to "drain the swamp." Trump's Cabinet appointments aren't bad, but many of them have been involved in politics for years and have routinely donated large sums of money to politicians they support. Newt Gingrich has also said that Trump doesn't plan to drain anything. From what he knows, the Republican nominee was only using it for rhetorical purposes to excite his base.

This could hint that Trump  wasn't planning on taking a sledgehammer to the establishment all along. If this is true, then he is neither a conservative or a nationalist, but merely a centrist (and possibly still leaning to the left, but that depends on his policies). Then there's the degree to how far he will go with lawmaking. If Trump's tariff and subsidy proposals are relatively minor or nonexistent in public policy, then they probably won't effect the economic platform of the Republicans significantly. The more nationalist his policies, the greater the influence assuming he will have the backing of the Republican Congress under Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

As of now, it is way too early to know where Trump will ideologically take the Republican Party. This is highly bent on how successful he will be as a president. If he goes down in flames and is ranked as one of America's worst, then chances are his influence will be minimal. If he proves to be one of the greatest, then he could change the GOP into one that fully embraces his views. The choice is his.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Now, Europe

Francois Fillon at a rally in Paris - Ian Langsdon/EPA
With the dust of the U.S. presidential election settled, Europe is about face transformative elections next year. The Netherlands, France, and Germany are set to have elections in 2017. A referendum in Italy on December 4 will also determine the future. These three elections and the referendum could be a make or break moment for the European Union. Wobbling from Brexit, the EU can't suffer anymore setbacks.

The biggest political news has come out of France. Francois Hollande, the very unpopular incumbent, has decided that he will not seek a second term. This means that the Socialist Party, France's mainstream left-wing political party, will be open to many candidates. Even with a new candidate, the Socialists aren't in a good position. Hollande was a socialist in every sense of the word, but ran into many hurdles as his policies had to be abandoned or became very unpopular when implemented. He infamously imposed a 75 percent income on the wealthy, but had to reverse course later in his presidency. Personal scandals hurt his image. An affair with another women put the first lady in a fit of rage, leading her to destroy several important historic artifacts at the president's office.

Things look good for the Republican Party in France. Francois Fillon, a former prime minister and a devout Catholic, has won the primary will be the center-right party's president nominee. As of now, I think Fillon is the best option for the French people. He could be to France what Ronald Reagan was to the United States or what Margaret Thatcher was to the United Kingdom. France is the epitome of democratic socialism, the economic theory that Bernie Sanders campaign on here in America. It is Fillon's intention to shrink the size of the bloated French government and get rid of the 35-hour work week. He is an opponent of multiculturalism and champion of traditional French values.

Fillon will have a difficult challenger Marine Le Pen of the National Front, who I've mentioned in previous posts. Le Pen is the Donald Trump of France. If elected, she will also be France's first female president. The platform of her National Front is similar to that of Trump's policy proposals, especially when it comes to immigration and national security. The oddest part of the French drama is that Le Pen is now running to the left on the economy assuming she and Fillon will be the two who advance to the second round. Le Pen is protectionist, like Trump, and opposes more globalization. Nevertheless, I wouldn't underestimate her. The National Front has enjoyed recent electoral successes.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at a November 18 press conference
The European Union has more pressing matters at the moment. On December 4, Italian voters will take part in a referendum that involves major structural reforms to their constitution. Matteo Renzi, the prime minister and leader of the center-left Democratic Party, has only been in power for slightly more than 1,000 days. He is finding it hard to govern his country. It's not just that governing a country in general is hard, but the Italy is uniquely hard to govern. Since the creation of the 1947 constitution after the fall of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and the end of the Second World War, Italy has had a grand total of 65 different governments over the last 70 years.

Renzi decided that the constitution needed major reforms in order to make governing the nation, which has Europe's fourth-largest economy, easier. The reforms are supposed to be make running Italy more efficient, but his opponents have said that it just gives him more power and doesn't balance the system. What Renzi wants to do is implement the reforms in order to inject new funds into his country's weakened banks. If the referendum fails, then there is a risk of financial contagion across Europe.

A "no" vote will rock the EU further, but considering the current global political climate it appears the investors have already prepared for their side losing. Unlike with Brexit and the 2016 presidential election, opinion polls actually show the anti-establishment side winning. Maybe their win will be bigger than expected since polls are usually off. Otherwise, maybe it will be Renzi and "yes" voters who surprise everyone on the night of the referendum. If the referendum fails, however, he said that he may resign. Resistance to the constitutional reforms appears to be strong. A crowd of 50,000 marched through Rome on November 27 carrying signs and throwing red smoke bombs.

His main opponent is the comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo. Stop me if you've heard this one before. Grillo is a populist who wants to take on the political establishment and embark on a protectionist economic policy. Defeat Renzi in the referendum would be a big victory for Grillo, who has his eye on the next general election in 2018.

Geert Wilders at an event in Texas in May 2015 - Mike Stone/Reuters
The Dutch are set to have their general election on March 15, 2017. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will continue to lead his VVD into that election. The two mainstream parties are the center-right People's Party for Freedom (VVD) with 41 seats and the center-left Labour Party (PvdA) with 36 seats. The governing VVD is in a coalition with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), another conservative party with 13 seats. There are 150 seats, so in order to win a party usually needs 76 seats in the Dutch House of Representatives.

As with many other countries, there is a populist on the rise. Geert Wilders leads the Party for Freedom (PVV) with his own nationalist and protectionist messages. Like other populists, Wilders has a problem with the refugee crisis and wants to stand up against radical Islam. His party currently has twelve seats, but it is polling ahead of the VVD, PvdA, and the CDA.

Even if Wilders doesn't governing the Netherlands, which is certainly possible since the establishment parties would likely govern together in a coalition, he has mobilized a large faction of Eurosceptic voters who are concerned over their national sovereignty. He has already won a big victory by having the House of Representatives pass a 2015 bill that allows the Dutch people to go to referendum on any issue as long as it has 300,000 signatures. This means that the nationalist movement in the Netherlands can get their referendum to leave the European Union even without Wilders as prime minister.

Merkel at a press conference following Trump's victory - Tobias Schwarz (AFP/File)
She has been a towering figure of European politics since first becoming the German chancellor in 2005, but she might be facing her toughest election yet. The good news for Merkel is that she is seen as an essential figure in German politics. No one in her own Christian Democratic Union or in the Social Democratic Party rivals her. Her greatest problem is that she is likely to lose many seats anyway to the right-wing Alternative for Germany. That means she will have to create a new coalition with even more parties than in her current government.

Merkel is the biggest symbol of the European Union on the continent, but her decision on the Syrian refugee crisis still plagues her popularity. She is starting to attack some parts of Muslim culture, saying that things like the burqa aren't compatible with German culture. She plans to increase the number of deportations on those who violate Germans laws, but it isn't clear if that will be enough.

Like the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Alternative for Germany probably won't govern France, but they are likely to get representation in the Bundestag, which would be very successful for a new political party. Depending on how big their victory is in the federal election, Merkel may be forced into a position that involves a referendum within her own country, but it is too early to guarantee such a possibility at the moment.

Trump has said in the past that he may be less involved around the world. If he does plan to increase domestic spending on infrastructure while simultaneously implementing a tax cut, then it is likely that military spending will have to be slowed or slashed. This means that Germany might have to be the country that leads the free world. That depends on Merkel's international ambitions, which don't exist right now. If Trump falls behind, we will see if it is the Germans who lead the charge.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Rightful Celebration

Cuban-Americans celebrate the death of Fidel Castro - The Associated Press
As a Cuban-American, I was very happy to hear about the death of communist dictator Fidel Castro on November 25, a man who turned his country into a miserable prison. It was quite an amazing moment to see Cuban-Americans in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida take to the streets and throw a large party. Many of them fled during Castro's time leading the island or are descendants of those who escaped. Castro's legacy is one of destruction.

First off, the administration before him was no better. Fulgencio Batista was brutal in his own way after he led a successful coup that ended democracy in Cuba. Batista, however, did keep many private industries like casinos and tourism open in places like the capital of Havana because he was smart enough to know their benefit. His problem was that he failed to believe in popular sovereignty. That cost him his power. Castro and his rebels defeated Batista in 1959.

It is at this moment that Castro could have given power back to the people and continued to embrace the prosperity of western investments, but that wasn't to be. He loved to say that Cuba was a puppet of the United States, but he made his country a puppet of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Cuba became increasingly dependent on foreign aid from the big brother of the communist nations.

Castro also put the world on the brink of nuclear destruction by allowing the Soviets to ship missiles that could strike as far as Washington D.C. in order to threaten the American government. President John F. Kennedy wasn't going to stand for this, so he successfully blockaded the island and forced the Soviets to take the missiles out in exchange for removal of American missiles in Turkey.

Castro enacted all the typical policies that communists believed would work, but they failed in Cuba like they failed anywhere else. Collectivization of farms left many poor people starving in the country and food rationing had be to implemented while imports from the Soviet Union were needed to survive.

The healthcare system in the country was very deceptive. It was famously showcased by Michael Moore in his documentary Sicko, which was supposed to criticize the American healthcare system. It showed Americans getting wonderful and efficient treatment under Cuba's universal healthcare. The problem with the documentary was that it only showed a small portion of healthcare in the country. Castro, his fellow elites, and international tourists are given priority in order to advertise the system. Interviews with Cubans have proved that the rest of the population receives horrible service. There have been many shortages of medical items like bandages, soap, lightbulbs, and sheets.

More pictures of celebration in Miami - The Associated Press
The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War broke the back of the stagnating Cuban economy. The USSR collapsed in 1991 and by 1993 the economy in Cuba had shrunk by 40 percent. Using data from the incomparable Maddison Project, I have found that in 1959 Cuban GDP per capita was $2,067 compared to $1,907 in Ecuador and $2,541 in Jamaica. By 1999, Cuban GDP per capita had grown slowly to $2,307. Ecuador's had risen $3,809 and Jamaica's to $3,670. Other Latin American counties saw similar improvements, but Castro's Cuba always lagged behind.

During this period of economic strife, Castro made sure that all his rivals were either forced into exile or jailed. It didn't matter if some of these were political allies who served with him. Like Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Castro had his own purges. He waged war on religion by banning the Catholic education system and replacing it with communist propaganda. The LGBT movement saw no growth under Castro as he forced many homosexuals into labor and conversion camps. The gay rights movement is now enjoying more growth, but they have been struggling against the political establishment there. Thankfully, they have a powerful advocate in Mariela Castro Espin, the niece of the late dictator.

Unfortunately, improvements now doesn't change the suffering of millions. Thousands of innocent Cubans were murdered by Castro's troops. Some executions were even televised. Other lost their lives fleeing on small boats and rafts to Florida, either from storms or the Cuban navy. An evacuation effort in the 1960s known as Operation Peter Pan saved 14,000 children, but many of them never saw their parents ever again.

Yes, the death of Fidel Castro is worth celebrating, but at same time there is some pain. This pain doesn't just come from the Cubans who never made it to freedom, but also from the very politicians running free countries. Several left-wing leaders have decided to give praise to Castro rather than slander him for the devil he is. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada called him a "remarkable leader" and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn of the United Kingdom mourned him as a "champion of social justice." In the United States, President Barack Obama posted that "history will record and judge the enormous impact" of Castro. It infuriates me to see that he doesn't recognize all of Castro's impact was devastating. Castro's leaves a bloody history in his country and it won't be healed anytime soon.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Happily Wrong

Donald Trump gives his victory speech - Associated Press
When I watched the beginning of the election results at College Republicans event on Tuesday, I was not expecting Donald Trump to win the presidency. He was down in the polls and had less campaign infrastructure. My mind started to change as I saw the returns for Florida. I thought Florida would go for Hillary Clinton because of the large portion of Hispanics. I didn't think anything of Trump's early lead in the Sunshine State early in the results.

The rural and suburban counties are usually counted faster than the more dense cities, but as the southeastern urban centers of Miami-Dade, Broward, and West Palm Beach came in Trump's lead continued. That's when I realized this election would be closer than expected.

I knew other swing states would go for Trump, but I wasn't expecting such a large margin in Ohio. Virginia, the state where Tim Kaine is a senator, only went for Clinton at the very end when the Washington D.C. suburbs in Fairfax and Prince William counties were counted. North Carolina soon went for Trump, then Iowa was also reported for him. That's when the media outlets turned to Wisconsin.

I knew Trump had won my state (the first time a Republican won it my lifetime) about 20 to 30 minutes before Fox News called it at 10:30 PM. In previous posts on this blog, I mentioned five imperative battleground counties within Wisconsin that any presidential or statewide candidate needs to win the state: Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago, Racine, and Kenosha. All five of them backed Trump. In addition, the southwest of the state that had so loyally backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 got behind the Republican nominee as well. It was going to be close, but I knew Milwaukee and Dane counties simply didn't have enough votes to eclipse Trump's lead.

Pennsylvania was called in the early hours of the morning for Trump, giving him the presidency. Last time I checked Michigan and New Hampshire are still too close to call. They're probably doing recounts at the moment, but Michigan will likely go for Trump and New Hampshire for Clinton.

I was wrong in my prediction with two factors. The first was that minority turnout, as with President Obama's two victories, would continue to be the same. This simply wasn't true, according to an exit poll from CNN, African-Americans voted 88 percent for Clinton, but that's down from 93 percent for Obama. With Latinos, support decreased from 71 percent to 65 percent. With young people, support decreased from 60 percent to 54 percent. Trump managed to hold the line with these groups or slightly improved. This came as a shock to many who thought he alienated so many minorities who would never vote for a Republican again.

The other party where I was wrong was with Trump's support among blue-collar white workers. Despite a slightly less white electorate, he excelled in counties and communities where working class voters are located. The election map is very revealing. In Michigan, for example, Macomb county was won by Obama with a margin of four percent in 2012. Trump won it by twelve percent this time. These are the voters who have suffered the most under Obama's presidency. They believed they had a voice with Trump, so that's who they voted for. These voters lived in the Rust Belt states, many of which had been part of the Democratic Party's "blue wall" that wasn't impenetrable until now.

I never thought campaign rallies matter, but I think they may have this time in the same way they worked in the 1948 presidential election. During that election, incumbent Harry Truman campaigned ferociously while his opponent Thomas Dewey did far less thinking he was going to be win the election easily. Indeed, polling data did show Dewey ahead. Truman went to bed thinking he lost. Obviously, we need never had a President Dewey.

I think this election will be one of the few that will be highly remembered in history. Most elections aren't ever recalled with some sort of detail by most people, except for historians. However, there are those elections that had major significance. The election of 1960 is one of those for having the first televised presidential debates. I think 2016 will join

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Prediction for the Presidential Election of 2016

Trump vs. Clinton at the third debate - CBS News
Had it not been for the FBI's reinvestigation, this election would've been easy to predict. Hillary Clinton would have been the clear winner and the election would have been uneventful. Director James Comey's decision to investigate again crushed Clinton's lead nationally and in numerous states. He has now confirmed that there's nothing in the emails to criminally charge her, but the damage has been done.

As of this writing, the RCP average gives Clinton a lead of 2.9 percent. She had a larger margin beforehand. States that were guaranteed tor her a couple weeks ago are now very competitive. Donald Trump's supporters are excited and his barnstorming the nation. That being said, I still think Clinton will win. Here's what I predict:


The reason I give Clinton the win all comes down to ground game. In most battleground states, Clinton blows Trump out of the water. By having more campaign offices, her campaign has more volunteers that can make phone calls, knock on doors, and get out her message to undecided voters. Trump never seemed to understand the important of campaign infrastructure. He has largely relied on local party offices to get out the vote, but they cannot concentrate their efforts on the presidential race with so many other elections going on.

Trump's failure to appeal to Hispanics and African-Americans will hurt him. Creating a "new deal" for black communities should have been proposed months ago in order to build on more support. Controversial statements on women and Muslims only worsened his position. All this can be combined into his lack of political maturity, whereas Clinton is more conventional.

The problem for Trump is this: his campaign heavily relies on turnout among white voters who lack college educations. These voters are worried about the political establishment in America and economic stagnation. Many of them have worked in industries that are economically struggling or declining in the country, like manufacturing. They usually reside in Midwest states.

It isn't impossible for Trump to win. Earlier in this election, I've noted research by analyst Sean Trende, who has pointed out that there was a decrease in the number of white voters back in 2012. Trump's only hope is that these voters come out in droves in key states to surprise everyone. Trump has surprised us before, so it is certainly possible that he could win. The biggest problem with this scenario is that few of these disenfranchised voters have registered. Meanwhile, Hispanics voters are surging.

As for the Senate, it is still very close, but I do think the GOP will perform better in these races than the national election. It is more likely that the Republicans keep the Senate than win the presidency. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has voted for Trump, has been working very hard to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives. I think the Republicans will keep it, but lose some seats.

As for Wisconsin, I'd recommend viewers watch five swing counties: Brown (Green Bay), Outagamie (Appleton), Winnebago (Oshkosh), Racine, and Kenosha. Whoever wins a majority of these will probably win the state. Trump needs to do very well in the WOW counties that I've mentioned before while Clinton needs good liberal turnout in Dane and Milwaukee counties. Additionally, she needs to hope the liberal leaning counties of Eau Claire and La Crosse go strongly for her. Trump needs to cancel those out with a good showing in Marathon county.

Earlier in this election, I mentioned a book I read by conservative columnist Ed Morrissey called Going Red. He pinpointed seven counties a Republican candidate needs to win to take the White House: Hillsborough (Florida), Hamilton (Ohio), Wake (North Carolina), Prince William (Virginia), Brown (Wisconsin, as I mentioned before), Jefferson (Colorado), and Hillsborough (New Hampshire). No matter who wins tomorrow, chances are they will win states by winning these counties.

Finally, due to the unpopularity of both candidates, I think the winner will receive less than a majority. Third parties will perform historically better because of the atrocious favorability numbers of the two parties. That's it for me until election day. I hope all of you vote in turn on your televisions to your favorite news channels when the polls close.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

To the Senate!

While Hillary Clinton is expected to defeat Donald Trump, the Senate races aren't all that clear. The Republicans are defending more seats than the Democrats. Many of these GOP incumbents are new and seeking second terms after the 2010 Tea Party year. Several candidates are only leading by slim margins and the polls remain volatile. Polls seem to change so suddenly. This post gives my take on the many narrow Senate elections this year.

Above all, I want readers to know that predicting these elections are very difficult considering the circumstances. Many Republicans are polling better than their presidential nominee, which indicates that voters would've preferred a different Republican running for the highest office. Nevertheless, these races largely remain in doubt because there is a chance that voters who back Clinton will back a Democrat in the Senate in order to help pass her policies. In for Democrats to control the Senate, they need four victories. This could prove difficult as there are some states they now control that are also in jeopardy.

Florida

I covered Florida before when Marco Rubio started to change his mind about not running for a second term. During the presidential election, he promised that he had no intention of running again because his campaign would take so much time away from the Senate. After many statewide Republicans urged him to enter, Rubio decided that he could jump into the race.

It was wise for Republicans to want Rubio back. His Democratic opponent, Representative Patrick Murphy, has never led against Rubio in the Senate polling average. The incumbent is simply too popular in the state, so Democrats are starting to pull out funds for commercials. This has frustrated others, like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (we will get to him later), for not going after a leading Republican. Rubio's defeat would be a crowning achievement for Democrats because he's a household name across the nation who could pose a threat in the 2020 presidential election if Clinton wins. Rubio currently has a comfortable lead in the polls, so I think he will retain his seat.

Indiana

Senator Dan Coats, a Republican, decided not to run for another term. This made the race more competitive. On the GOP side, Representative Todd Young won the primary against Representative Martin Stutzman. The Democratic candidate is Evan Bayh, a former senator who wants his job back. There hasn't been much fanfare for Bayh's return among independent, though he does have a lead at the moment. Part of this is due to the onslaught of attack ads coming from conservative groups.

Indiana, unlike Florida, will go to Trump thanks to Mike Pence. This means that Bayh could lose if voters who back Trump would also want a Republican in the Senate. However, his lead is as comfortable as Rubio's, so I think Bayh currently has an edge.

Missouri

Yet another state that the Republicans will need to hold. Part of the problem with incumbent Roy Blunt (also elected in 2010) is that he's part of the establishment and he's running in an anti-establishment year. His Democratic opponent has an impressive past with a military career and the position of Missouri secretary of state at a the age of thirty-five.

Missouri leans Republican, which could help Blunt because he has a narrow lead in the race. I think that Blunt has a good chance of remaining in office, but he should be very worried.

New Hampshire

Republican Kelly Ayotte, the incumbent, was the state attorney general and won her Senate election in 2010 with over 60 percent of the vote. She is now pitched against Governor Maggie Hassan, making this race very close. At the start of the polling average in July, Ayotte was leading, but then Hassan led in August. The race swung back to Ayotte in late September, but Hassan gained ground again in October. Now Ayotte is ahead, but only by 1.8 percent at the moment.

One of Ayotte's problems has been a gaffe declaring that Donald Trump is a good role model just before The Washington Post released the 2005 hot mic audio. She, along with other vulnerable colleagues, now has the chance to pounce with the FBI's new investigation into Clinton. Ayotte is far from being Trump and this will help her with independents that Trump can't get. I think she is ahead, but if Clinton wins it will be an uphill battle.

Nevada

This election is unique because the Democrats are at risk of losing this seat. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has decided to retire after a long career in politics. Reid has never been popular nationally and partly responsible for the bitter divisiveness and rhetoric in the Senate. Republicans have a good chance of winning the seat with Representative Joe Heck, a doctor and brigadier general in the Army Reserve. He is taking on the state's former attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, who was handpicked by Reid as his successor.

Reid's electoral success in Nevada can be attributed to a powerful Democratic political machine in Las Vegas (hotel and casino unions) and rising Latino immigration. Outside of Las Vegas in the south and Reno in the west, most of the state is rural and deeply conservative, leaving key suburbs like Washoe County as bellwethers. The election in the state is extremely tight, with Heck holding a lead of only 1.2 percent.

As of now, I think Masto is the favorite in the race because of the presidential election and Reid's political machine, but Trump has the opportunity to help Heck because Nevada has a higher amount of voters that lack college educations. This state is a must-win for him.

North Carolina

The Tar Heel State is known for being a critical battleground state that is needed for Republicans. The same is true for the Senate, where Republican incumbent Richard Burr, who is ahead by only 1 percent against Democratic challenger Deborah K. Ross, a former state representative.

The election in North Carolina hasn't been as closely watched as other races. The candidates have attacked each other personally, with Burr's personal wealth and Ross' views of a sex offender registry being important topics. Burr's hopes, along with those of other Republicans, may lie with conservative voters who won't back Trump but will back him in the Senate.

Pennsylvania

Once again, another Republican first elected in 2010 is vulnerable. Pat Toomey is that Republican senator and he's taking on Katie McGinty, a former chief of staff of Governor Tom Wolf. The race has been relatively close, but now McGinty is rising in the polls with a comfortable lead. I'm also 100 percent certain that Clinton will win the state, which I think will hand McGinty the win against Toomey, but both sides are currently under 50 percent.

Wisconsin

Republican Ron Johnson, also elected in 2010, is campaigning against Democrat Russ Feingold, who lost to Johnson six years ago. Feingold, a career politician, want his old job back. I support Johnson, but I also know this is a tough election for him. As of today, I think Clinton would win Wisconsin, which means Johnson is fighting an uphill battle. The RCP average does show Feingold comfortably ahead and he's the favorite to win according to political analysts. The one hope Johnson does have is that Republicans who are voting against Trump will rally in the Senate election. The best poll in Wisconsin, the one from Marquette University, indicates a tight race.

Johnson is also receiving additional funding from conservative activist groups after being heavily attacked by untrue attack ads from Feingold and his allies. New money could help Johnson win, but it isn't going to be easy. I think the election in Wisconsin will be closer than many political analysts argue.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The FBI Strikes Back

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Florida - Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald
Once again, Hillary Clinton is dealing with her notorious email server. The FBI has created a new October surprise by reopening the investigation on her email server. Director James Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, decided to reopen it after new emails were discovered on the devices of Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband Anthony Weiner, the disgraced New York politician, who is in trouble for sending sexually explicit photos to underage girls. The obtainment of a warrant opens new worries for her.

It's almost comical if it wasn't so disgusting. Here's Hillary Clinton, a career politician who believes that she can get away with so much, constantly having to deal with scandal after scandal. What's her answer? More dishonesty! I truly believe that the only thing keeping her afloat is that she's facing an even weaker candidate.

Her supporters are now peddling conspiracy theories like some of Trump's are. Paul Krugman is assuming that not immediately hearing anything from Comey equates to attempting to "swing" the election. Other Democrats have responded by attempting to downplay the investigation, simply saying that the election is exactly with regards to where it started on Clinton's credibility.

The investigation arrives after the release of emails from WikiLeaks, which have contradicted many of the talking points put forward by the Clinton campaign. For example, President Obama said that he only became aware of the email server through news reports. It has been proven that he does have emails from her server. Additional emails show what staffers think of Clinton. Some called her conduct at the State Department "crazy" when she was trying to "get away" with the private server.

With only a handful of days left before the election, the only real question to ask is what the damage will be to her candidacy. Some recent emails coming through WikiLeaks proven collusion between several media outlets and her campaign. For example, reports allowed members of her campaign to edit quotes and approve articles. Others, like MSNBC's John Harwood, had close communication with her and loved to shower praise.

It's safe to say that the media will continue to defend her, but that doesn't mean she will get no coverage. The new investigation has already led polls to show a tightening race, but she's still ahead. As of today, Clinton is leading in the RCP average by 3.1 percentage points in a two-way race. Her support has decreased, but not by enough to hand Donald Trump a win yet. The only poll showing him ahead is the LA Times/USC daily tracking poll, but it has always showed him with a leader. All the other polls show him behind.

One of the advantages Trump has now is that he can focus on Clinton with new attacks because she has been put in a precarious position. If he wants to win, then he needs to spend more of his own personal money on ads and campaign offices in order to get more voters on his side. The last week will be very important for Trump. He has a chance, albeit a slim one, to turns things around.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

America 2016 will be like Canada 2015

Stephen Harper's October 2015 concession speech - Canadian Press
As the end of the 2016 campaign approaches, I think that one of most interesting aspects of it were the key warning signs of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. I regularly posted that he was a weak candidate because of his lack of political experience, conservatism, and discipline. From my perspective, these three factors guaranteed a defeat in November, but other voters didn't see it that way. While Trump and his media allies regularly claim that the election will be like Brexit (the polls before the United Kingdom's referendum showed most voters wanting to remain), I think a more accurate comparison comes from our friends to the north.

In October of last year, the Canadians elected Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party to power for the first time in sixteen years. It wasn't even close. The Liberals went into the campaign as the third-largest party in the House of Commons with only 36 seats. They gained 148 seats coming out of it for a total of 184. Trudeau was successful on two fronts. He united left-wing voters, which were divided between his party and the New Democratic Party while also defeating the Conservatives.

On the surface, the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quite successful when it came to public policy. Harper was first elected prime minister in 2006 and won two more elections during his tenure. He presided over a surge in global oil prices and didn't heavily interfere in the market. A champion of free trade, he signed key agreements with other countries to further expand his nation's economy. Harper was also of the supply-side discipline, acknowledging that tax reductions provide incentives. During his time as prime minister, Canada was fiscally solvent.

Unlike other countries, Harper's party remained in power before and after the recession that began in late 2007 because he handled it perfectly. Here in the United States John McCain lost his election, which would have continued Republican governance. The same could be said for Gordon Brown and the Labour Party in Britain.

Canada's Conservatives led in the polls for most of September 2015 while the left was split between the Liberals and the New Democrats. However, Harper stumbled as the election got closer. Part of the problem was that his economic message had become less appealing because Trudeau was advocating for somewhat similar policies, including a tax cut. With the difference between economic proposals closing, Harper shifted to social issues.

I don't think engaging in social issues is a problem assuming it doesn't become the campaign's priority, but that's exactly what the Conservatives did. He attacked cultural Muslim garb, particularly the niqab worn by women. It was a political miscalculation as his poll numbers started to decline while the left embraced Trudeau. One of the virtues of western civilization is the lack of regulating religion. Harper's views didn't follow western principles, no matter what you think of Islam.

Additionally, Harper gave the media an odd treatment during his time in power. He isolated himself from interviews on media outlets, extensively restricted questioning at press conferences, and was hostile to debates hosted by major networks. No matter the media organization, a candidate should take every chance he gets to explain his or her message. Harper didn't do that in 2015 and it cost him.

Now let's look at the 2016 election. My first point about the Canadian election was a lack of diversity on economics, but that was because of the clear evidence that the Conservative supply-side strategy was working. Trudeau was smart enough to realize this, so he took a centrist approach and subscribed to some of Harper's principles. In our election, there are some surprising similarities between Trump and Hillary Clinton. Clinton has supported the continuation of President Barack Obama's policies, while Trump is known for having liberal economic views. When it comes to trade, both of them are campaigning on protectionism, no matter how wrong it is. On the minimum wage, both candidates are planning to raise it.

Since the economic debate doesn't have many differences, Trump has focused on many social issues to fire up his base. This has not helped him to gain support from key demographic groups like racial minorities and voters with college educations. He famously announced a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration, with would be unconstitutional. He didn't help himself with Hispanic voters when he lashed out at a judge's Mexican heritage after a ruling on Trump University. These are just two comments that have constrained his opportunity to form a coalition of voters.

Trump has treated the media in similar way Harper did. He has routinely walked away from reporters during interviews or has been unable to answer questions. He also narrows himself to conservative media personalities, like Sean Hannity. Megyn Kelly has noted Trump's preference for certain shows, which led to a feud between the two Fox News stars, even though she was trying to give the Republican nominee helpful advice. If Trump wanted to expand his support, he should have done more interviews with other networks.

There are less than two weeks left until the day of the election. Trump's campaign has dangerously paralleled Harper's campaign. Trump's disregard for minority voters and the media has tremendously hurt his campaign. I don't believe any defeat is impossible, but the window is closing on him. Republicans should have observed the federal election in Canada as a guide for their own election here. Unfortunately, too few even bothered.

Is the Sky Falling on Angela Merkel?

Angela Merkel - Bernd Von Jutrczenka / EPA
If there is one European leader who is dominating the continent, it's Angela Merkel. The German chancellor has been in power for over a decade and she has been celebrated as the most powerful woman in the world. I even remember one German on social media calling her the "Iron Frau." Indeed, there were times that I was a fan of Merkel. During the euro crisis, she wanted to install fiscal discipline on other countries like Greece. She generally holds a center-right view when it comes to economics.

On refugee crisis, however, she has badly miscalculated. Merkel has been iconic for her moderation on an issue, but when it came to the refugees everyone heard her stance loud and clear. She decided to take in as many as possible. That decision has torn apart Europe and it has put her position of power in jeopardy. In the local Berlin election, her Christian Democratic Union received only 17.6 percent of the vote. The CDU was in a coalition with the Social Democrats, but they also lost seats and now the coalition government that was functioning in the Berlin state is unable to govern. The benefactor was the new Alternative for Germany.

Merkel has taken personal responbility for the CDU's recent defeats, but she there's going to be more to come if her party and the Social Democrats continue to slump. The AfD, led by Frauke Petry, is basically Germany's UKIP. It probably has no chance of winning a majority in the Bundestag, but they are continuing to rise in the polls. A clear message would be sent if the grand coalition government of the CDU and SPD is defeated the same way it was in Berlin's state election.

Adding to the refugee pressure is economic uncertainty. Germany, like many other European nations, has a large welfare state. Like the United States, a large share of Germany's workforce is set to retire in the coming years. This will strain the social programs that exist and demand more of the remaining taxpayers. This may have been why Merkel was interested in opening the doors to 1 million refugees. The correct economic policy for the future of Germany has been debated between the nation's politicians and the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB believes the Germans should borrow more money and boost demand, but doing could end Merkel's budget surplus and raise the national debt.

The refugee crisis and economics are the two biggest issues of the upcoming 2017 federal election. With the CDU and the SPD on the decline, both parties will need to focus on a new message and halt the expansion of refugees. Merkel could focus more on her fiscal conservatism, but it isn't clear that an economic message will sway the voters anymore. Luck could help. If foreign policy events occur that go her way, then Merkel will need to take advantage of them if she wants to remain chancellor.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Clinton would lose 2016 if Trump wasn't Running

We're almost there folks. In less than three weeks, we will find out who will be the next president of the United States. According to the RealClearPolitics national poll average, Hillary Clinton has maintained a comfortable lead over Donald Trump. The Republican nominee lost in all three debates according to polls conducted by CNN. There is very little in the way of a Clinton victory. Her campaign can see the White House on the horizon.

It seems to me that Trump's campaign knows that November 8 isn't going to look good. He seems to have resigned himself to defeat without saying it. Instead he goes on and on about how the election might be rigged, which is practically impossible to do in the country. Voting is organized by all fifty states. A majority of these states are run by Republican governors and many have voter ID laws to avoid fraud. Although it might occur in other states, it is unlikely that there will be enough of it to decide to fate of the election. I argue that because this election doesn't seem to be getting close. It would be decided by less than 1 percent. Clinton holds a powerful lead.

This election is a dark moment for the Republican Party. The campaign season originally started out with so much promise, but when Trump was nominated I didn't think he was likely to win. This has proven true throughout the campaign. There have also been a few times where he was ahead of Clinton in the RCP average, but overall she has been leading during the election. This is a result of Trump simply being a weak candidate who doesn't understand politics and doesn't know how to win an election.

I didn't think Trump's defense of vulgar language towards women as "locker room talk" was going to work and it didn't. Then again, it is hard to defend boasts about groping women altogether. There isn't much that can be done to defend allegations of sexual assault with so little time left. On election day, women will make up the majority of voters and all of them will know what he's said. Part of his problem was that he didn't allow his own campaign managers to dig into his past in order to prepare for such attacks. Any decent candidate wouldn't have allowed their campaign to do a background check.

What's sad about this whole thing is that bad news continues to spill out about Hillary Clinton. WikiLeaks has continued to release emails from inside of her campaign. Her campaign manager, John Podesta, sent emails that revealed his contempt for people of the Catholic faith. These revelations say something about his character and Clinton's. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has requested an apology from her campaign. There's more from Podesta and aide Cheryl Mills relating to President Obama's knowledge of the emails, which they wanted to cover-up.

I'm 100 percent certain that if the GOP nominee was Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio (you know, people with experience and charisma), then this election would've been over by now. That's partly why it was so difficult for Trump to win the nomination in the first place. It also has also been revealed that Breitbart coordinated with liberal activists to tear down Trump's two main opponents by creating disruptions at the Cruz and Rubio campaign events. More than anything else, this strips Breitbart of being a conservative media organization. It also shows that many "Republicans" were so disillusioned in nominating Trump that they attempted to destroy more credible candidates. In the future, voters need to question the conservatism of some media outlets and that of the candidates, to ensure that a true Republican is nominated and not a phony.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Who won the Third Presidential Debate?

The third debate - HipHopDX
On Wednesday, both presidential candidates met for their third and final debate. Overall, I think Donald Trump debated more effectively this time than in his previous two debates. He seemed more on page compared to the last two debates. Hillary Clinton was still the more disciplined of the two, but she had problems with answering questions from moderator Chris Wallace (the best of all during this election in my opinion) about her speech transcripts to Wall Street firms and on the email scandal.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure this is enough to give Trump to win. He simply doesn't practice as much as Clinton and can't help himself. He was basically asking for negative coverage in the media when he called her a "nasty woman." Clinton was her conventional self, but I think independents will be more pleased with her than with Trump. I think he was good when he spoke in a way that would excite his Republican base, but debates are meant to expand support.

Trump defended pro-life and criticized Roe v. Wade, but it wasn't in a way that I think will get many women voters. I also think a defense of unborn children could've been made more passionately had a different Republican been running for president like Marco Rubio or Scott Walker. He did better on the Second Amendment while Clinton did a terrible job explaining the case that upheld the right own guns. Trump exposed that Clinton is a political hack when it comes to different issues.

My problem with Trump is that he can't help himself in these debates. My vote has already been decided (in fact I did vote early for him while in Milwaukee), yet Trump doesn't make others feel comfortable with voting for him. He didn't interrupt as badly as the first time, but he didn't stop. Saying the word "hombre" in an immigration debate won't convince Hispanic voters to get behind his campaign. Clinton was simply more professional than Trump and I think she is on path to become America's first female president. If Trump loses, I believe it is because he shot himself in the foot too many times. In a debate, candidates need stellar performances. Trump has never given that in my view.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lessons from No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky
I did not play the highly disappointing game No Man's Sky and I'm happy I never did. The game is exhibit A of what happens when hype is turned up to the highest degree. The game was first revealed in December 2013 at the VGX Awards. It was being developed by a little-known indie game developing company out of Britain called Hello Games. The trailer and vast advertising of the game caught the attention of Sony Interactive Entertainment, which wanted to distribute it on PlayStation 4.

During those three years of development, the media became very excited over the development of the game. Sean Murray, the director of Hello Games, was interviewed several times and he was able to immensely hype it up before release. No Man's Sky truly seemed amazing to those gamers who love science fiction. The game's four pillars are exploration, survival, combat, and trading. As a player, you are part of massive open universe that has eighteen quintillion planets. Most impressively, there was going to be multiplayer. Could you imagine being in a such a large universe with so many players? Many buyers thought it would be amazing, so there were many preorders for the highly anticipated game. People were so outrageously excited about the game, that there were even death threats when a delay was announced for the release.

At last, No Man's Sky was released in the United States on August 9, 2016 and in Europe a day later. What's the result? What has everyone been waiting for? Only one of the worst games of the year. Virtually everyone who bought the game did so for multiplayer, which was going to be in the game according to Murray. There's only one problem: the game has no multiplayer! In fact, there are photos of the back of the game case showing that stickers were placed to cover up multiplayer as an indicated feature.

There was immediate outrage from consumers. You can find it in the comments section of any article on the topic. You can find it in the reviews of many gamers like Angry Joe and Pyrocynical. Defenders of No Man's Sky will say that people should look at the game without the multiplayer. I understand that some people will enjoy the game, but I don't think their reviews do justice to those who bought the game expecting a different experience. In fact, there's more to it than just a lack of multiplayer. Other features that Murray said would be in the game are also apparently missing. For example, players were supposed to have the ability to land on asteroids. It has been reported by players that this feature is not in the game.

Some people who like the game might attack me for posting about a game that I didn't play, but they fail to understand that the hype behind No Man's Sky has had a big impact in the business world of gaming.  Hello Games isn't the only company to advertise so heavily and end up with disappointed consumers. Many buyers of Ubisoft's Watch Dogs were not pleased with the game. These companies haven't gone as far as Hello Games, but my hope is that they do not in the future. Hello Games is not being investigated in Britain by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading customers. This is warning for developers in the future. There's nothing wrong with advertising game, but they shouldn't go too far or else face retaliation from reviewers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mafia III Review

Mafia III
I loved the game Mafia II when it was released in 2010. Published by 2K Games, it's one my favorites. There was a great story, excellent graphics, and (above all) an amazing historical setting. Mafia II took place in late World War II and after. It explored the history of the mafia in fictional Empire Bay (basically New York City). I was excited when I heard that Mafia III was being developed. After buying the game, I can truly say that I believe it will be one of the best games of 2016.

In a previous post regarding the fury between Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1, I argued that one of the reasons the former was getting so much hate and latter was receiving so much praise is a result of the demand for more games with a historical setting. There's nothing wrong with science fiction, but I believe that consumers are eager for more games that take the past and create an interesting plot. Mafia III does just that.

The location for the game is New Bordeaux (New Orleans, Louisiana) in 1968. Just think of the history at the time. The country was more divided than now. The Vietnam War and the civil rights movement were tearing the nation apart. Political leaders like Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated that year. In a heated presidential election began between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. The election was also similar to 2016 in that there was a major third party effort led by the southern segregationist George Wallace.

The main character is Lincoln Clay, a biracial soldier who has returned from the Vietnam War. When his friends are killed and his local crime organization is destroyed by the white Italian mob, Clay seeks revenge against crime boss Sal Marcano. He doesn't just want Marcano dead, he wants to takeover New Bordeaux and create his own crime syndicate.

Clay's war of revenge against Marcano is highly creative. As you play the game, you will have several lieutenants under you that want a piece of the pie. Each lieutenant controls their own gang and you give them control of different districts once Marcano's men are defeated. Giving a different lieutenants certain districts allows you to receive unique benefits while playing the game. For example, maybe one will reward you with bulletproof tires while another will supply you with special explosives. Sometimes the answer will be obvious, but beware. If you keep giving one of them territory and the others gets none, then your mob will become greatly divided. I have heard that some people find the process repetitive and is can be true at times. However, historically mobs did go to war over slices of territory, so the game can be commended for accuracy.

The gameplay is terrific. You have a dynamic path to defeat your enemies. You can choose stealth or go in loudly armed to the teeth. If you want to fight, then you can even bring reinforcements from one of your lieutenants to help in an epic battle between the two mobs. The violence is spectacularly brutal. Driving is fun too because there are two modes the game. The normal mode makes it easier to drive, but the simulation mode is similar to Grand Theft Auto V and offers more realism. Additionally, the music choice is excellent and certainly fits the era.

It's very early, but I would say right now that I believe Mafia III is one of the frontrunners for game of the year. If not, then the argument could be made that it should at least get best narrative or best soundtrack. That game is amazing and it's really fun. If there's one game that you want to buy in 2016, make it this one.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The October Surprises and the Second Debate

CNN
The term "October surprise" is used in American politics for new controversial information released on a presidential candidate as the election gets closer. It is usually released by allies of a presidential candidate in order to smear the other. In 2012, the surprise favored the Democrats when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney apparently said he wasn't worried about "47 percent" of the nation. In truth, he was explaining political strategy on how there were 47 percent of voters who were guaranteed to support Barack Obama. Nevertheless, the news was considered damaging at the time.

With candidate so unpopular and the mudslinging on steroids, it looks like this October will be one of the ugliest as the two news reports have now come out. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assage promised to release damaging audio on Hillary Clinton. As I've pointed out before, she is seen as an elitist corrupt career politician. The released audio proves that point. Speeches with Wall Street firms that she didn't want released have now been posted by WikiLeaks.

Clinton's allies came out with information that I think is even more damaging on Trump. Trump made comments in 2005 that are even more disparaging and degrading of women. They were recorded after Trump was on an episode of Access Hollywood. It appeared that he was unaware of the hot mic. He bragged about how he could get whoever he wanted and grope them. He apologized and responded that it was simply "locker room language" before the debate. However, that defense can only help Trump with male voters. Females aren't pleased. Neither were several Republicans including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who disinvited the presidential candidate from a political event at the Walworth county fairgrounds in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

The latest Trump controversy was the headliner of the presidential debate, but there were also more discussions about public policy. After originally watching the debate, I wasn't sure of the result. At first I thought it was draw, but then I thought Trump won because he clearly improved from the first debate. After watching it again, I finally settled that the debate was a draw.

Indeed, Trump did improve at the debate. This was partly because he spent less time talking about himself and more on his opponent. He did a lot less interrupting, which I believe many voters disliked. That being said, there were times he screwed up. For most of the debate, Trump seemed odd and uncomfortable. He was standing up for most of the debate and often loomed next to Clinton as she was answering a question from a member of the audience. Saying that Clinton will be thrown in jail was throwing red meat to his base, but I don't think independents were fond of it. While the moderators were outrageous, Trump sounded like a complaining schoolboy rather than generously saying that he'd like time to respond.

Clinton's responses to Trump's attacks were bad. Then again, she is a weak candidate. Most of the time, she said his attacks weren't true, but she clearly didn't want to spend time on them. Clinton certainly played the audience better than Trump did, but there were times that she was confusing. In order to explain the process of creating a bill, Clinton went on about the movie Lincoln and the 13th amendment, but it was so brief that I think few understood it.

There were important issues discussed. Topics like healthcare, energy policy, and the crisis in Aleppo. Both candidates spoke as they have previously. Trump claims that he wants Obamacare replace with a free market system that has more competition while Clinton sees it as successful. Clinton talked about how she wants to save the environment, while Trump is concerned about the loss of traditional energy jobs like coal miners. Clinton is concerned that deploying ground troops to Syria will tangle the United States into another Iraq. Trump reminded the audience that she voted for the war in Iraq, but he wants to be more aggressive against ISIS.

Overall, this draw might tighten the polls, but I don't think it will be enough improvement for Trump. Some of the polls after the debate show Clinton slightly ahead. This means that the debate was not decisive and she can enjoy a continued lead to the third debate.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Who won the VP debate on October 4?

As I expected, this debate involved more policy discussion that the presidential one. The VP candidates did their best to defend their nominees. During the presidential debate, I said Donald Trump's biggest problem was that he appeared rude and repeatedly interrupted Hillary Clinton. This time Tim Kaine made the exact same mistake.

How candidates conduct themselves matters a great deal. It is helpful for voters to observe the style of both candidates. While Mike Pence mostly stayed on topic and discussed policy, Kaine's problem was that he seemed angry by interrupting the Indiana governor over and over. He wasn't helping his case by doing this. This even happened when moderator Elaine Quijano was more favorable to Kaine than to Pence at certain times. For her part, Quijano was better than Lester Holt. Unfortunately, there were times she lost control of the debate between the two arguing vice presidential candidates.

Overall, I don't think the VP debate will dramatically change the polls. Clinton is likely to maintain her lead because the vice presidential debate always gets fewer views. Nevertheless, the debate does show Trump how to properly act during the next two. The second of the three presidential debates will be on Sunday. It is a town hall format.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Vice Presidential Debate Tomorrow

I'm going to make a prediction. I believe that tomorrow's debate will be the most substantial in terms of policy as we approach the election. In my view, veteran politicians Mike Pence and Tim Kaine will offer a real debate between conservative and liberal principles. There are times, however, that I think both will be stuck defend their presidential nominees.

Both men have the advantage of not being famous. This debate will allow them to frame themselves and the messages they carry in a different light compared to the presidential nominees. Unfortunately, I think the VP debate will do little change current polling, which proves that Hillary Clinton won the first debate. Few people care about what the seconds-in-command think even though they are both passionate when it comes to American issues. There might be a slight adjustment in polling if Pence comes out on top, but I don't think it will be significant.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Who won the debate on September 27?

This debate was fascinating. Two candidates entered with two very different styles. Over 80 million people were watching the debate, so it is clear that it will be decisive. I was able to attend a debate watch party hosted by the College Republicans of UW-Madison. It was terrific event where I was able to meet many people who shared a common interest in politics. We were all glued to the televisions. Who do I think won? In the end, I think Hillary Clinton came out ahead, but Trump did better than in his primary debates.

Initially, Donald Trump approached this debate attempting to appear forceful and tough. This is a message that I believe many voters want to hear at a time when our national security is in danger. He also managed to point out some of Clinton's flaws early on, especially with trade issues like the TPP. Despite this, I think he had issues with effectively articulating his message and being rude. He interrupted Clinton multiple times. During these interruptions, he would give insane responses like saying that hoping for a housing recession was "business." I might seem small, but many Americans may vote based on the conduct of a presidential candidate. For example, many voters disliked George H.W. Bush's decision to repeatedly looked at his watch during a 1992 debate. I think his interrupting will be interpreted in a similar way.

Clinton's biggest flaw was her blandness. She does say what she wants to do and she can clearly explain some issues in the United States. I think her problem is that she lacks compassion and fails to personify herself. There are times where Clinton seemed strong during the debate, but it was usually through baiting Trump later in the night. I think she also scored some points with keeping minority voters on her side. African-Americans are favorable to Democrats and I don't think that will change in this election (particularly with the birther topic brought up). Hispanic voters, specifically females, will be happy when Clinton brought up a model who she claims was called racial slurs by the Republican nominee. The Clinton campaign knew that this topic would eat up some news during the next few days.

Overall, I thought that NBC anchor Lester Holt was biased towards Clinton. He had follow up questions on Trump at least six times during the debate, but never followed up with the former secretary of state even once. Holt never asked a single question regarding the Clinton Foundation and the potential conflict of interest at the State Department (foreign dignitaries gave the Clinton Foundation large donations while she was secretary of state), but he did go after Trump on the birther topic.

As for the reaction, it is obvious that most Trump supporters are going to say he won while most Clinton supporters are going to say she won. You can observe this through all the website and newspaper opinions being published today and later this week. A CNN poll showed that Clinton clobbered Trump in the debate. The poll was scientific, but there were slightly more Democrats polled than Republicans. Republicans will usually say that Trump succeeded in the debate by pointing to online polls. The problem is that supporters of any candidate are going to spam the online polls. I wouldn't trust any website polls. We will only know the true winner later this week when scientific national polls are released. I will be watching RCP closely.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Big Moment has Arrived

In less than 24 hours, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be debating. It's the political Super Bowl of 2016. Debates are imperative for both presidential candidates. For Clinton, it's a moment where she can improve on her image and personify herself. For Trump, it is a moment to show specifics and policy proposals and compassion towards minority voters. The debate will be moderated by CNN's Lester Holt in Hofstra, New York. There are two articles that I found very interesting before the debate tomorrow.

There have been many articles written about strategies for Donald Trump before the debate, but I think the best has been posted by Kimberley A. Strassel of The Wall Street Journal. She writes:
Word is that Mr. Trump isn’t doing a whole lot of debate prep. But his team ought to have at least readied him for what should be the easy response to all the nasty attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s own past is so malodorous, so rife with crooked deals and lies, that Mr. Trump shouldn’t have to do much more than calmly question her credibility and then move on to better subjects. 
Mr. Trump’s impulse no doubt will be to take it to her, to hit back, to dwell on Mrs. Clinton’s malfeasance. No doubt a few tough reminders to the audience of her ethical failings are necessary. But everyone already knows Mr. Trump is a scrapper. What he needs to show now is that he has his own optimistic and considered plans for change in America. This is one of his openings. In that same New York Times/CBS poll, 48% of voters felt Mr. Trump could bring about “real change.” Only 36% said that of Mrs. Clinton. 
By being positive, Mr. Trump would draw a stark contrast. Mrs. Clinton these days looks perpetually angry and seems to have only one volume setting: yell. The press keeps noting that she is a seasoned debater, but then again she has mostly debated fellow Democrats and been questioned by sympathetic press. Her style is fairly predictable.
Aaron Kall, director of debate at the University of Michigan, published this in USA Today:
Trump also would constantly tussle with debate moderators in order to curry favor from the audience. This started in Cleveland when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly confronted him with insulting remarks he had made about women, extended to the CNBC debate in Boulder, and culminated in Houston with his dressing-down of Salem Radio’s Hugh Hewitt, who had pressed him on his failure to release tax returns. Finally, Trump was a debate chameleon who receded from the spotlight at crucial moments for extended periods of time. He never participated in a debate with fewer than four candidates, and he never spoke longer than 30 minutes.
These tactics that worked so well for him in the primaries will be difficult to replicate in his trio of upcoming debates against Clinton. The race is neck-and-neck, so Trump won’t be able to brag about his major polling advantage. Nor is Trump self-funding. Although he has given more than $60 million to his campaign, he established a joint fundraising pact with the Republican National Committee in May. They collected a combined $90 million in August, and the campaign has about $100 million remaining in the bank. And despite his longstanding disdain for super PACs, Trump officially endorsed one in July. 
Trump will also find it difficult to repeat his attacks on moderators. The Commission on Presidential Debates chose NBC’s Lester Holt, ABC’s Martha Raddatz, CNN's Anderson Cooper and Fox News’ Chris Wallace, bypassing media personalities with a perceived bias against Trump or a history of tangling with him. Given the intense criticism of NBC's Matt Lauer after the Commander-in-Chief Forum, the moderators will likely over-correct and be even tougher on the candidates. The gravitas of the moderators combined with Trump’s implicit endorsement of their selection will make it difficult for Trump to attack them during the debates. He can’t credibly make fun of the NBC Nightly News ratings if Holt asks him about his tax returns.
Kall is very confident that Clinton will win the debate and Trump will continue the ways he debated during the primary. I think many expect Clinton to have the edge over Trump. This is obvious since Clinton is a career politician who has experience debating. Many wonder what Trump will do. He can surprise millions of people at home by being calm and cool, but is that in his nature? In the end, debate prep means nothing if a candidate isn't willing to follow the script. We will just have to see what kind of Donald Trump appears on the stage tomorrow.