Monday, February 29, 2016

Super Tuesday Prediction

Trump campaigns in Alabama - WireImage
The big night is tomorrow. There will be a number states voting for the Republican and Democratic candidates. This day gives many southerners their voice in the presidential election, but some other states in the country will vote too. Whoever wins on Super Tuesday is probably guaranteed the nomination of a party. After a landslide victory in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton is expected to dominate tomorrow. Likewise, Donald Trump has polled extremely well in the south, which is bad news for Texas native Ted Cruz. Many people are in agreement that Trump will be the nominee. With that said, here's a state-by-state prediction of what I think will go down.

Alabama

Donald Trump has a commanding double-digit lead in the few polls conducted there. He held his most recent rally in the speech. I say it goes to him. Marco Rubio takes second place.

Only one poll was published for the Democrats, but Hillary Clinton is expected to win big there. This isn't Bernie Sanders territory, so I think it goes to her.

Alaska Caucus (R)

Sarah Palin's endorsement probably makes the difference here. It goes to Trump.

American Samoa Caucus (D)

Goes to Clinton.

Arkansas

The Clintons started their political careers here. Need I say more? Clinton losing is as likely as me vacationing in North Korea.

Colorado Caucus (D)

Clinton, but I think it will be closer.

Georgia

It's one of the largest states in the south, with 76 Republican delegates and 116 Democratic delegates up for grabs. Trump holds another big lead here, so I expect him to win with Rubio taking second.

It's a southern state, so I'm expecting Clinton to win big.

Massachusetts

John Kasich is putting all his resources on Massachusetts tomorrow, but Trump still holds a big lead. The Donald claims victory in this state tomorrow, followed by Rubio, then Kasich.

As for the Democrats, this is one race that's actually competitive. I'm not 100 percent sure about who wins, but I actually think Clinton wins following momentum from South Carolina.

Minnesota Caucus

A close race between Trump and Rubio, but the Donald should prevail. It will also be close between Clinton and Sanders, but the former secretary will probably win.

North Dakota Caucus (R)

Trump.

Oklahoma

It looks like this primary will be a close one in the GOP heartland. Trump should win, but his victory will be closer than it is in other states. I think Cruz will take second place.

Clinton will win here, although by not as big a margin as she will in deep southern states.

Tennessee

Trump and Clinton.

Texas

This will be the largest state to vote yet, with 172 Republican delegates and 252 Democratic delegates. It's Ted Cruz's home state and I expect him to win here with Trump in second place.

Texas is yet another state where Clinton will win a landslide.

Vermont

Trump wins for the GOP and a landslide victory for Sanders (it's his home state after all).

Virginia

This state, in my view, is the most important to win on Super Tuesday. Sure, it doesn't have the most delegates, but it is a battleground state in a presidential election. Texas is expected to go Republican. Trump has a double-digit lead here and I think he will win tomorrow with Rubio in second place.

Clinton also has a double-digit lead, so I predict that she will win here decisively.

Wyoming Caucus (R)

Trump wins here.

Bear in mind that there really isn't sufficient polling data for Super Tuesday in many states. Also, Rubio and Cruz are probably more interested in capturing a large portion of delegates to stay in the race. As of now, the delegate math heavily favors Trump who only needs to win 246 of the 624 delegates on Super Tuesday to be on the path to win the 1,237 required for a majority at the Republican convention.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

I'm endorsing Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio - RedState
When Scott Walker dropped out, I searched for a candidate who could unite the Republican Party, provided strong policy solutions to America's many problems, and had a good chance of winning the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton. I've been leaning towards him for a month or two, but I was also looking at others. Now, I'm fully endorsing Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Let me explain how he fulfilled my three criteria.

A United GOP

An ideal candidate has to be able to draw support from a variety of factions within a political party. Rubio appeals to many factions from the establishment to the Tea Party. Ideologically, Rubio achieves broad support as shown by data from sociologist Michael Pollard at the Rand Corporation. Rubio scores a 3.8 on their left/right political scale and Republican voters average 3.8 on it. He's aligned with where most Republicans stand. Additionally, Rubio is liked by many Republicans from all sides of the spectrum. When he announced his candidacy for president, he had a high net favorability rating from voters within the GOP. He still has a high rating today.

What about Donald Trump? There's little evidence that he can unite the Republican Party based on what I've been reading. In my home state of Wisconsin, Representative Reid Ribble had said that he will not vote for Trump if he is the nominee. Ribble represents an important district in the state. The Green Bay area usually swings towards Republicans, but his decision to not vote for Trump even if he's the GOP nominee makes it more likely that the Donald will not win here. Conservative pundit and radio host Erick Erickson will also not vote for Trump, which shows signs that there are more Republican voters who are not satisfied.

Policies for America

James Pethokoukis, the DeWitt Wallace fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has written highly of Rubio's economic policy proposals. In an article for The Week magazine, Pethokoukis provided some examples of how Rubio is a perfect Republican candidate:
Think about it this way: What sorts of problems would a modern, forward-thinking Republican identify as America's big 21st century challenges? And what solutions would they propose? Such a person might see an economy where technology and globalization generate both opportunity and anxiety for the middle- and working-class. A slow rising tide doesn't seem to be lifting boats these days. While faster economic growth is necessary, it's not sufficient right now to provide broadly shared prosperity and security.
That would be a reasonable diagnosis, one more sophisticated than merely blaming "Obamanomics" for more than a decade of subpar income growth and continued high inequality. And that's pretty much what Rubio has been saying. And when it comes to solutions, a center-right policymaker accepting the above thesis might propose: 1. major tax relief for low-income Americans; 2. health care reform that covers more Americans with private insurance but at less cost than ObamaCare; 3. making higher-ed more affordable while providing more value; 4. updating Social Security to eliminate old-age poverty. and 5. supply-side tax and regulatory reform to promote innovation and economic dynamism. All of which Rubio is proposing.
Pethokoukis doesn't agree with everything Rubio proposes, but he does see the Florida senator has someone who provides a strong pathway forward for the Republican Party. What about foreign policy? Rubio also has a proposal for winning the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is in the line of what most veterans and military experts advocate for. Someone like Rubio, who has experience from the Committee on Foreign Relations, has received the best information for how to defeat ISIS.

Powerful Electaibility

The South Carolina primary victory provides an indication that Hillary Clinton is set to win the Democratic nomination. In an election match-up against her, Rubio has an easy advantage over her according to the RealClearPolitics average. Currently, he has 47.5 percent while she only has 42.8 percent. That's a margin of 4.7 percentage points. Rubio is charismatic and provides substantial information about his policy proposals, unlike Donald Trump. He clearly appeals to a large portion of GOP voters and independents. While visiting some of his events in New Hampshire, Vox reporter Andrew Prokop wrote:
I felt like I was getting a glimpse into how Rubio would campaign if he did end up winning the nomination, and it seemed that he truly could appeal to a broader range of voters than most Republicans. Far from being robotic, Rubio came off as quite personally appealing and adept at reaching people. He looked like an incredibly formidable candidate overall — like someone whom Republicans who want to win should seriously consider nominating, and whom Democrats should be very afraid of.  
In the 20-minute speech he delivered at Timberland, Rubio again and again tried to communicate one key point: that he cares about ordinary Americans' struggles because he doesn't come from privilege.
In the average of for a general election between Clinton and Trump, the former is still winning despite so much scandal and lack of trust. With so many Republicans vowing to not support his candidacy, Trump will have some seriously problems in the presidential election. There is little evidence that he somehow has some miraculous appeal to Democrats. Most would still vote for Clinton. If this happens, then all of Trump's wins in the Republican primaries would have been for nothing. The GOP needs a candidate who has good odds at winning the presidency. Rubio is that candidate.

Clinton wins landslide in South Carolina

Clinton celebrates her victory - Reuters
I expected to see landslide victory for Clinton last night, but I did not expect it to be so large. Here are the results:

Hillary Clinton - 73.5%
Bernie Sanders - 26%
Others - 0.5%

My prediction:

Hillary Clinton - 61.5%
Bernie Sanders - 38.4%

The results show significant support among black voters for her campaign. Bernie Sanders was destroyed in the African-American demographic group, which plays a pivotal role in the primary. The consensus of conventional wisdom, which I agree with, argues that Clinton is now on the path to easily win the Democratic Party's nomination. While Sanders should have a nice base of support in New England and the Midwest, there's no way he can win the nomination by only appealing to a few regions of the country. Clinton's Super Tuesday victory is on the horizon. This is her victory speech:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Prediction for the Democratic SC Primary

Hillary Clinton in South Carolina - Ethan Miller/Getty Images
For most of the campaign season, I've reminded all my readers that Bernie Sanders needed to improve his support among African-American Democrats. They are a large demographic group in the party and he needed to at least receive support among a good portion of them to actually have a real chance of winning nomination. With South Carolina tomorrow, it's clear that he has failed to expand his coalition. The results will look like a Hillary Clinton coronation. Here's the RealClearPolitics average:

Emerson College (2/22-2/24): Clinton 60%, Sanders 37% - Clinton+23
Clemson University (2/20-2/25): Clinton 64%, Sanders 14% - Clinton +50
American Research Group (2/17-2/18): Clinton 61%, Sanders 32% - Clinton +29
NBC/WSJ/Marist (2/15-2/17): Clinton 60%, Sanders 32% - Clinton +28
Fox News (2/15-2/17): Clinton 56%, Sanders 28% - Clinton +28
Bloomberg (2/13-2/17): Clinton 53%, Sanders 31% - Clinton +22
Monmouth University (2/14-2/16): Clinton 59%, Sanders 30% - Clinton +29
Public Policy Polling (2/14-2/15): Clinton 55%, Sanders 34% - Clinton +21
Gravis Marketing (2/11-2/13): Clinton 59%, Sanders 41% - Clinton +18
CNN/ORC (2/10-2/15): Clinton 56%, Sanders 38% - Clinton +18

One of Clinton's biggest endorsements has come from the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. It is the most influential African-American group in the Democratic Party and can rightfully be considered establishment. It has large fundraising and political power, which will help embolden black Democrats to stay with the former secretary of state. This is going to be a sweep. Here's my prediction:

Hillary Clinton - 61.5%
Bernie Sanders - 38.4%
Write-ins - 0.1%

Who won the CNN debate on February 25?

I expected this debate to be this most negative of the campaign and my expectations were easily filled. I thought that Marco Rubio won the debate. Not only was his performance better than any of his previous ones, but it was also (in my opinion) the best debate performance of 2016. I think Rubio has now become the chief anti-Trump candidate. He had numerous strong attacks during the debate. These were all attacks on Donald Trump that included his actions of importing immigrant workers, fraud with Trump University, his healthcare plan, and his decision to be "neutral" between Israel and Palestine. At every moment when Rubio was attacked by Trump, he fired back while remaining calm and cool.

Donald Trump was very bad last night. I he was the worst with interrupting people when it was their turn to speak. He said nothing of substance from his border wall plan to his healthcare plan. At times I thought the attacks from Rubio were embarrassing and mocking the Donald. The Florida senator was able turn around his weakness of repeating himself on Trump. I think Trump was hurt, but again, his supporters are likely to not move away from supporting him.

Ted Cruz's attacks on Trump were also effective, but there weren't as many attacks from him as there were from Rubio. I think his attacks about giving Democrats multiple donations have worked, but it seemed more like a two-man debate between Rubio and Trump. Cruz's arguments have been made before and I don't think made much difference last night. John Kasich and Ben Carson continued to remain irrelevant.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

CNN Texas Republican Debate Tonight

The last debate before Super Tuesday will be hosted by CNN and Telemundo tonight. All five remaining Republican presidential candidates will attend. This debate is critical because an overwhelming amount of states and delegates will be decided on March 1. I think this debate will be the most negative out of all of them.

Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz are the three to watch. Trump is the frontrunner and I think he will be on the defensive for most of the night. Cruz and Rubio know that they need to take him down if they want to him the Republican nomination. For Rubio, this will be his first time on the offensive. He has typically remained positive, but I think he knows that the Donald must be wounded if he wants to prevail. For Cruz, the debate is about showing a contrast for voters between his conservatism and Trump's alleged conservatism. Cruz's image of trust has been greatly damaged. Recently, he had to let go of his campaign spokesman for making false attacks on Rubio. That will be brought up tonight.

The two other candidates, Ben Carson and John Kasich, will probably stay positive during the night and not engage in any attacks. That's at their expenses, but both men have become highly irrelevant and should drop out from the Republican race. It will be very interesting to see what happens tonight.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Trump wins Nevada Caucus

Trump celebrates in Nevada - NBC
In an expected victory last night, Donald Trump easily won the Nevada caucus by a huge margin, crushing all his opponents. Here's the results:

Donald Trump - 45.9%
Marco Rubio - 23.9%
Ted Cruz - 21.4%
Ben Carson - 4.8%
John Kasich - 3.6%

My prediction:

Donald Trump - 40.2%
Marco Rubio - 23.5%
Ted Cruz - 21.6%
John Kasich - 8.4%
Ben Carson - 6.3%

My prediction was correct, although the percentages were slightly off. It was very accurate with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, but underestimated Trump and overestimated John Kasich and Ben Carson. This was based off the polling data that was available, which was a very small amount without an average. Something to remember: some political analysts have argued that Trump has a ceiling between 40 percent and 30 percent. His results here shatter the ceiling argument.

As with previous contests, this one had record turnout with voters who were angry with politics. Those voters overwhelmingly went for Trump. This victory reinforces his latest wins in two other states. With this large momentum, I think he's going to sweep Super Tuesday unless the last CNN debate before voting makes a difference. I don't think anyone can say Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz won a moral victory. Unless one of the two men drop out and endorses the other, the Donald should win the Republican nomination easily. Ben Carson and John Kasich have no reason to stay in this election, so they need to drop out as well if the GOP wants Trump to lose. Here's his victory speech:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Prediction for the Republican Nevada Caucus

Trump - Yahoo
The Republicans will be holding their Nevada caucus tomorrow. It's the last before Super Tuesday for their party. I wanted to make a quick prediction and I think Trump has it easily locked. Here's the RealClearPolitics website for the latest polls:

Gravis Marketing (2/14-2/15): Trump 39%, Cruz 23%, Rubio 19%, Kasich 9% - Trump +16
CNN/ORC (2/10-2/15): Trump 45%, Rubio 19%, Cruz 17%, Carson 7% - Trump +26
Gravis Marketing (12/23-12/27): Trump 33%, Cruz 20%, Rubio 11%, Carson 6% - Trump +13

Like with the Democrats, very few polls are conducted (no average has actually been calculate by RCP) in Nevada because the state can be very unpredictable, but Donald Trump's numbers are already so epic that he's a guaranteed winner. A victory here just builds more momentum for him going into Super Tuesday. This is my prediction:

Donald Trump - 40.2%
Marco Rubio - 23.5%
Ted Cruz - 21.6%
John Kasich - 8.4%
Ben Carson - 6.3%

Trump wins SC, Clinton wins NV

Clinton's victory speech in NV - Telegraph
The two victories for Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump reinforces the view that these two candidates are the front-runners of their political parties. It was important for both of them to win these contests because it proves that they are more likely to become the nominees who will face each other in November.

Republican South Carolina

It was to easy to see why Trump won the primary. Trump led in the polls by double-digits and was projected to be the victory early as results. His two main opponents, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, battled for second place. The rest of the candidates faded into the distance, no longer remaining viable. Here's the results:

Donald Trump - 32.5%
Marco Rubio - 22.5%
Ted Cruz - 22.3%
Jeb Bush - 7.8%
John Kasich - 7.6%
Ben Carson - 6.8%

This was my prediction:

Donald Trump - 30.2%
Marco Rubio - 23.1%
Ted Cruz - 19.3%
Jeb Bush - 11.2%
John Kasich - 9.8%
Ben Carson - 6.3%
Write-ins - 0.1%

It was right for most people to be skeptical of Trump's candidacy when he ran for president. He is a highly unconventional candidate who holds only a third of the Republican voters. South Carolina was has historically been an important test for a Republican candidate. Candidates who have won there usually win the GOP nomination. Trump could follow that historical trend or fall apart like Newt Gingrich did in 2012. Right now, the Donald's supporters are energized and ready for the Nevada caucus tomorrow. He looks very good going into Super Tuesday. Here's his victory speech:


While Marco Rubio didn't win the state, he is certainly a winner from Saturday night. He finished a strong third in Iowa, but was derailed to fifth place in New Hampshire. In South Carolina, he turned things around and took second. Rubio has proven to be a strong campaigner and a powerful debater. Most of the Republican establishment weren't quick to endorse him, but they are more likely to do so now no matter how conservative he is. Part of the reason Rubio made it to third place came from those big endorsements before voting. He won most of the popular Republicans and was able to use their campaign experience and networking to his advantage. His biggest challenge going forward will be to win his first state.

Ted Cruz proved that he was a major competitor in states with a heavy conservative base. He his great talents with campaign infrastructure and performed better than I expected. Yet Cruz comes off as somewhat a winner and somewhat a loser. Yes, he did prove that he can run an effective campaign, but we already knew that from his win in Iowa. Now he's running third behind Rubio. In order to defeat Trump, it's possible that one of these two needs to get out of the race. South Carolina showed that neither is liking to do so by Super Tuesday.

I knew that Jeb Bush's drop out was coming. His defeat in this president election is the result several problems from as late as a year ago. Harry Enten, who I often cite and is one of my favorite political analysts, provided those five problems in a recent article. The first is that while he was the establishment's initial favorite, most politicians decided not to endorse him, preferring to wait to see how the race turned out over several months. Bush's negatives became more clear, so they became more hesitant to waste their resources and endorsements on a losing candidate. The second is that John Kasich proved to be a more capable moderate and defeated Bush in New Hampshire. Kasich, not Bush, was the top moderate after those results. The third was his elitism. We all know that he comes from a wealthy and powerful political family. Most voters want something knew. The fourth problem was the Donald, who changed the whole dynamic of the race and quickly attacked Bush when he entered. The debates, especially at the start, showed that Bush wasn't a good candidate. Finally, Bush's weak debate performances led him to become almost as unpopular as Trump is. He had a very high net favorability rating at the start, but it's now low and has almost went negative. We know that America is angry with the political establishment of the country. That's why Bush failed, despite having spent $130 million on his campaign.

The final two Republicans, Kasich and Ben Carson, are entirely irrelevant at this point. All they do is steal votes away from the three other candidates. Maybe they want to stay in longer to make a point, but I think they already have. Carson has nowhere to go, so he needs to drop out. Kasich wants to focus on winning states in the Midwest and the northeast. The problem is he's become a candidate who only focuses on a region of the country. As I've explained with Bernie Sanders, that strategy is not a winning strategy. It's a factional strategy to receive delegates in order to have some power going into the convention even though he won't be the nominee.

Democratic Nevada

While the GOP anti-establishment forces stormed through South Carolina, the Democratic establishment did win a victory in the Nevada caucus. This was imperative because the polls showed Hillary Clinton with a narrow lead over Bernie Sanders. If Clinton lose here, then the establishment would have panicked. Instead, she won the state by a comfortable margin, but not by the big margin Trump did. Even so, there's new life in her campaign after a close victory in Iowa and an overwhelming defeat in New Hampshire. Here's the results:

Hillary Clinton - 52.7%
Bernie Sanders - 47.2%

My prediction was correct, although I thought it would be closer:

Hillary Clinton - 50.8%
Bernie Sanders - 49.2%

Clinton go into South Carolina knowing that she will win the state easily thanks to her strong support among black voters. Sanders improved with the Hispanic demographic, but it wasn't enough to give him a victory in Nevada. With defeat expected in the next primary, he and his campaign strategists have to go back to the drawing board if they want to win this thing. I posted several times that Sanders needed to improve among minorities, but now he's becoming a one-issue candidate too focused on income inequality. His window may have already closed. Here's Clinton's victory speech:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Prediction for GOP South Carolina and Democratic Nevada

Rubio and SC Governor Nikki Haley - Reuters
The Republican South Carolina primary and the Democratic Nevada caucus are held tomorrow. For both candidates on the left, it's the moment to test the strength of they're support among Hispanics in the party. For the many candidates on the right, it's important to have a strong showing going into the next states. Some GOP candidates will end their campaigns here rather than continue on with a hopeless campaign. The rest who do stay race will probably make it to Super Tuesday.

Nevada is important for Bernie Sanders. He needs to improve with Hispanic Democrats in order to win the state. Winning the state shows that Sanders has been able to expand his coalition in the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton was to win here in order to prove that Sanders does not have nationwide appeal and that she has the stronger campaign. Let's look at the RealClearPolitics average for Nevada:

Gravis Marketing (2/14-2/15): Clinton 53%, Sanders 47% - Clinton +6
CNN/ORC (2/10-2/15): Clinton 48%, Sanders 47% - Clinton +1
TargetPoint (2/8-2/10): Clinton 45%, Sanders 45% - Tie

Clinton has 48.7 percent and Sanders has 46.3 percent, so there's a margin of 2.4 percentage points in the former secretary of state's favor. The most annoying problem with the Nevada polling average is that there are only three polls that have been published to predict the caucus. The CNN poll is probably the most accurate of the three. TargetPoint is a polling firm affiliated with the Republicans while Gravis Marketing tends to overestimate Clinton.

It's clear that the race is down to the wire, so it is very hard to predict. Nevertheless, I believe Clinton is running a better campaign in the state. That means I think she'll win, but I do think it will be a close caucus. We know that Sanders has loyal supporters and they are a major factor in this election. I expect them to turnout like they did in Iowa and New Hampshire. Based on what I've been seeing, I predict that the caucus results will look something like this:

Hillary Clinton - 50.8%
Bernie Sanders - 49.2%

South Carolina is an important state to win the Republican race. You can find many different factions of the party in the state, so the winner there usually gets the nomination. That did not happen in 2012, but the historical trend gives the winner the advantage. The state's results will show us who are the viable candidates and who are not. There is a lot at stake. Here is the state's RCP GOP average:

Augusta Chronicle (2/18-2/19): Trump 27%, Rubio 24%, Cruz 19%, Bush 11% - Trump +3
SC House GOP (2/18-2/18): Trump 34%, Cruz 19%, Rubio 18%, Bush 12% - Trump +15
American Research Group (2/17-2/18): Trump 34%, Rubio 22%, Kasich 14% - Trump +12
Emerson College (2/16-2/18): Trump 36%, Rubio 19%, Cruz 18% - Trump +17
Harper Polling (2/16-2/17): Trump 29%, Cruz 17%, Rubio 15%, Bush 14% - Trump +12
NBC/WSJ/Marist (2/15-2/17): Trump 28%, Cruz 23%, Rubio 15%, Bush 13% - Trump +5

Choose your poll. Some show Donald Trump falling under 30 percent, meaning that the race will be close. Some put Marco Rubio in second place and some put Ted Cruz in second place. There is also a battle for fourth place between John Kasich and Jeb Bush. In the average Trump has 31.8 percent, Rubio has 18.8 percent, Cruz has 18.5 percent, Bush has 10.7 percent, Kasich has 9 percent, and Carson has 6.8 percent.

The Republican race in South Carolina is very negative and intense. There is a leading front-runner who has been able to capture the minds of many in the Republican base that are irritated from little progress being made in Congress. Trump decided to attack George W. Bush at the last debate, but I think it hurt him. He's slightly decreased in the polls, but it isn't enough to say that he's going to lose. If Trump wins there, then he's almost unstoppable.

Meanwhile, two young and eloquent conservative lawmakers are vying for second place. Ted Cruz has spent money on several attack ads against Trump in the state from eminent domain to appointing Supreme Court justices. Cruz needs voters from Trump and Ben Carson to take second. These are very conservative voters and are usually evangelicals. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, is trying to bridge the gap between moderates and conservatives. He has been able to win some key endorsements from Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott, and Representative Trey Gowdy. These endorsements give him more momentum than Cruz, but he's slightly behind the Texas senator in the polls.

Three candidates will be losers tomorrow. Jeb Bush, despite brining his president brother to help campaign, is probably going to drop out after the primary. There's no path forward for him. Even if he does beat Kasich by winning more center-right voters, that isn't enough to defeat Rubio. Bush was supposed to be the establishment candidate who would win easily. Now the establishment is gradually moving to Rubio as Bush continues to fail when the voters go to the polls. Kasich knows he is going to lose the primary, so he has moved to Massachusetts for Super Tuesday. Kasich is looking like the Jon Hunstman of 2016. There's little chance of him winning the presidency and Bush is a more substantial moderate. Carson needed this state to turn things around. I think Carson should have dropped out before the primary, but the results tomorrow will probably get him to do so. Here's my prediction:

Donald Trump - 30.2%
Marco Rubio - 23.1%
Ted Cruz - 19.3%
Jeb Bush - 11.2%
John Kasich - 9.8%
Ben Carson - 6.3%
Write-ins - 0.1%

I base these polls on several factors. Trump has declined slightly in the polls and I think that will continue into voting. He still wins big. Rubio might be in third place in the average, but I think his endorsements will carry him to second place. Cruz has good campaign ground game, but I don't think it's enough to get him to second place. Bush gets fourth because I think his spending and assistance from the former president will be helpful to defeat Kasich, who has little standing and awareness in the south. Finally, Carson in last place is consistent with the average. Can't wait for tomorrow folks!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Another Recession?

The word "recession" isn't what most people, especially my friends who are currently in college or entering the workforce, want to hear. However, it is becoming apparent that our economy is still weak and hasn't fully recovered from the impacts of the Great Recession of 2007-09. The financial markets across the globe are wobbling again off of bad economic news from the United States and the People's Republic of China. Both my homeland and our main trade partner aren't doing very well and it could potentially lead to another economic downturn.

Let's go back to the recession. A burst in the real estate bubble is the primary reason for the most recent recession. There are several policies to blame. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that was published in December 2012 found that the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) was one such policy that led to riskier lending by the banks. The CRA, which was advocated  by Democratic lawmakers and signed by President Jimmy Carter, was created to assist people with small incomes to be able to own homes. It was argued at the time that lending standards were a form of institutional racism because the people who weren't receiving credit also happened to be racial minorities. The CRA set new lending standards that banks had to comply with. In the study, it was found that during CRA exams banks elevated their lending on average by 5 percent. Those loans defaulted 15 percent more often.

It is typical for Democrats to use the recession as a way to swipe at George W. Bush. We all know that liberals often liked to blame Bush for the slow economic recovery after he left office. They often attack him for deregulating financial services during his time as president. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton use these criticms during speeches and at debates. The problem with their attacks is that they're false. Jared Meyer, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a Forbes contributor, found no deregulation during Bush's presidency:
In the years leading up to the financial crisis, the number of Code of Federal Regulation restrictions on the finance and insurance industry increased 11 percent, and this level increased 15 percent during George W. Bush’s presidency. In 1997, there were 23,422 restrictions on the industry, a level that increased to 26,235 by 2008. In other words, on the eve of the crash, there were over 26,000 words such as “must,” “cannot,” or “shall” that governed the conduct of finance and insurance companies.
Meyer also looked into more specific data that just the number of federal regulation codes. An independent analysis also found that federal regulations for financial and insurance services increased in the double-digits. In fact, many large firms are spending millions of dollars lobbying for more regulations in order to squeeze out more competition and protect themselves. Regulatory policies like the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act only benefit the big banks and make growth difficult for small firms. A Heritage Foundation report found that Dodd-Frank's laws only encourage more risky lending by giving firms support of the federal government to ensure that they never have to fail.

Barack Obama was elected in 2008 to provide a liberal response to the recession. He signed an $831 billion stimulus package called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It did a bad job. Even with low unemployment, there has been little GDP growth under Obama's presidency. The typical household is worth a third or less today than it was in 2003. China is also suffering from slower growth and that has led to record declines in their stock market. A number of economists think so and a recession in 2016 or 2017 would fit the historical trend. There are numerous signs of an impending recession from international crises in Europe and China to domestic problems like a smaller labor force and decreasing U.S. exports.

The problem with another recession is that the central banks of the world have little room for maneuvering. With fiscal policy exhausted and the U.S. reaching a $20 trillion debt, more spending would be foolish and make Obama look bad because he'd be asking for a repeat of what happened last time. In a research report I mentioned last year, economist Scott Sumner provided reasoning for the weak recovery. Sumner analyzed that Fed policy was not providing adequate monetary stimulus because fiscal stimulus was already inflationary. With economic concern building, the Fed needs to find a new strategy to prevent another collapse rather than to keep targeting inflation. I'll post about new strategies, both fiscal and monetary, in my next blog post on the economy.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Who won the CBS debate on February 13?

This debate was the most negative of the campaign trail so far. I think Donald Trump's opponents realized that time was running out to defeat him. That's why many of them went negative during this debate in order to make sure that voters move to their own campaigns. The Donald had a big lead going into this debate, so I will see if the constant attacks on him cause a reduction in his poll numbers once the first post-debate polls are released in a few days.

Donald Trump didn't have a good debate last night. He often attacked former President George W. Bush, who remains popular in Republican Party. This allowed Jeb Bush to respond strongly against the Donald. The billionaire went after the audience several times, but something tells me that won't have a big effect based on what happened in New Hampshire. He also had very little class during the debate, openly calling Ted Cruz a liar when Cruz questioned his conservatism on issues like defunding Planned Parenthood. I'm not sure Trump will lose a lot of supporters after last night, but maybe enough to benefit Cruz.

Ted Cruz had a better night than Trump did. He made sure the viewers knew that he was the most conservative candidate on the stage, not Trump. I think Cruz comes out of this debate happy that he could show his conservative credentials and knowing that he got the better of Trump when attacking him. Nevertheless, Trump attacked Cruz for the controversy over the Ben Carson campaign in Iowa. I think this will be in the minds of voters, but I'm not sure how many.

Marco Rubio had a very good night after that disastrous performance in the previous debate. He defended President Bush when Trump attack the former president. Rubio clearly shined the most during the night and was certainly less scripted. He was also the most compassionate of the candidates, talking about key issues like the child tax credit and poverty, which could have hurt him since many conservatives oppose tax credits. When attacked by Cruz on immigration, Rubio was able to respond by calling his opponent a flip-flopper and justifying his past on comprehensive immigration reform.

Jeb Bush had his best performance I've seen at a debate. His attacks against Trump were stronger than they've been in the past. Bush received big applauses from the audience when defending his family, but I'm not sure he topped Rubio during the debate. On issues like amnesty, Bush still struggled. John Kasich and Ben Carson remained positive throughout the debate and didn't have many questions. Kasich won an exchange against Bush about the economy in the state in Ohio. Carson gave a great vision for American, but his lack of excitement didn't fire up the crowds. He currently polls worst than Kasich. In my opinion, it's a race between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. Bush might shake things up, but it's still unlikely for him to win.

Crippling of a Continent

Paresh Nath
In November of last year, I made a post about the need to send U.S. forces into the Middle East to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. I also mentioned the Syrian refugee crisis in the post, declaring that I opposed allowing them to the United States because it diverted resources from citizens, increased the risk of terrorist attacks on our soil, and created confusion in our society because we would be bringing in people who do not fundamentally understand western values. Rather than bring them to our country, I still think it is a moral obligation to take the fight to the barbarians who are causing so many men, women, and children to abandon their homes. We should help them by creating stability where they live.

Since I published that post, there has unfortunately been no change to our fight against ISIS. While President Barack Obama does support bringing refugees to our country, I'm thankful that we're not in Europe's chaotic situation. I'm generally a fan of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, but I think she made horrible mistake by allowing so many refugees into her country and placing no limit on the number her country will acquire when responding to a question asked in September. Her actions are clearly moral, but I think she has miscalculated the scale of the problem she's dealing with.

There has been an increase in the number of rapes in Germany by male refugees on women and girls as reported by the Gatestone Institute. Rape victims include females in the refugee shelters and Germans themselves in cities and towns. Police have been trying to keep quiet about the nationwide dilemma, but it could only be kept secret for so long. When the public found out about the rape victims, many nationalists were outraged. The police chief in the city of Cologne has been fired over revelations about sex attacks and muggings being kept from media attention. The culture of political correctness is rearing its ugly head. Feminists in Europe have a tough position because most of them do support allowing Syrian refugees into their country, but they are struggling to respond to the latest attacks by Muslim men who are very supportive of a patriarchy. The mayor of Cologne, a female, simply stated that women should keep their distance from the Syrian refugees. Police raids have been launched to hunt for ISIS supporters in the refugee camps.

Merkel, a chancellor who embraces consensus and caution, came out of the 2013 federal election with her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) winning 41.5 percent of all voters and 311 seats. Her nearest opponent, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), won only 25.7 percent of the vote and 193 seats. Her popularity is starting to rapidly falter with the CDU's polling under 35 percent on average for the first time since 2012. State and local elections are coming and she has decided to go on the campaign trail to defend her actions. The Social Democrats haven't budged in the polls either. That's because the voters who oppose the Syrian refugees have changed their support exclusively to the new Alternative for Germany (AfD). The party was founded in 2013 and narrowly missed the 5 percent threshold needed to get represented in the Bundestag. Now they are surging to 12 percent in the polls. If the next federal election was held today it is likely that the AfD would be the third-largest party.

I've covered nationalist parties in the United Kingdom and France before. The AfD represents the rising tide of German nationalists who oppose the European Union and want stricter border controls to stop the waves of refugees. The right-wing political party is like most you would find in western countries. They support free markets, less government intervention in the economy, and are more conservative on social issues. It has been called the "party of professors" because it is was formed by many economists and academics during the euro crisis. The party isn't just made up of doctorates. There are also many middle class voters and businessmen who support the parties views. If the current refugee crisis gets worse, then the AfD could become one of the coalition members of the next German government.

Germany isn't the only country that is suffering from large internal divisions as a result of the migrant crisis. Sweden has taken more refugees per capita than any country in Europe. Like with Germany, order in Swedish society is straining. The Swedes, who were expecting to take 190,000 refugees into their country, now have said there's no longer an accommodation in their country. The Swedes have had a history of accepting anyone who is seeking asylum since World War II, but today they seem to be focusing uniquely on the historical argument with little regard for the modern circumstances. James Traub from the magazine Foreign Policy has written about the changing of Sweden's refugee policy:
At first the Swedish government made several very modest concessions to this ugly reality. In November, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven disclosed that migrants would no longer be granted permanent asylum, and thus no longer become eligible for the massive package of social benefits that comes with it. Applicants, if approved, would receive a three-year temporary residency permit with the possibility of renewal. Refugees could still bring in spouses and children under “family reunification” policy, but those relatives would not qualify for social benefits. In late December, Sweden finally threw in the towel. Henceforth, no one would be permitted to enter Sweden without proper identity documents. The new regulations, no longer described as temporary, violated the Schengen regimen; soon after, Austria imposed similar rules. The refugee crisis has, at least temporarily, ended free movement across borders, one of the signal achievements of the European Union. 
Since many refugees arrive without passports or other valid forms of identification, the new rules sharply curtailed the number of asylum-seekers arriving overland who would be permitted to enter the country. Cross-border immigration has, in fact, come to an almost complete stop. Sweden now accepts only those refugees arriving directly from Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, and cleared by the U.N. refugee agency. After taking 160,000 refugees — 30,000 less than the maximum it had projected — Sweden had finally run out of room, money, and patience. Even that wasn’t the final sign of Sweden’s reluctant regression to the European mean, for in January came the announcement that 80,000 refugees would face deportation.
Sweden's nationalist response is the Sweden Democrats, who (as you'd expect) is for stronger border controls and the end of allowing refugees into their nation. While the Swedes are a very compassionate people, the increase of refugees has led to rising economic problems. The refugees are slow to join the workforce and are unemployed longer than native Swedes are. A third of immigrants do not graduate high school compare to a fifth of the Swedes. There has also been a dramatic increase in welfare payments and now 60 percent of them go to immigrants.

With trouble continuing to mount, the European Union is moving to restrict passports-free travel across the borders of their countries. This ends a policy that has been in existence for decades and shows how dangerous the continent has become. Greece, which is suffering from terrible economic conditions, is getting slammed for weak border controls. EU officials in the capital of Brussels have claimed the Schengen open borders policy "is at serious risk" unless the Greek government implements further border security. The rise of border safety displays an end to the Schengen policy (which has been in place since 1995) and could lead to a collapse of the EU. It's a continental experiment that is trying promote integration and economic cooperation. The refugee crisis, the pressure from Russia's Vladimir Putin, and a weak economic recovery threaten to make the experiment fall apart at the seams.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Jilm Gilmore Suspends Presidential Campaign

It's okay to not know who Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, is. Yes, he was actually running for president on the Republican side. He never got into a primetime debate and his poll numbers were so low that he only qualified for two of the undercard debates. When I posted my first blog post about him, I mentioned that he wasn't going anywhere unless some odd events occurred that were in his favor. When I meant an event, I meant a major catastrophe that would hit almost all the other candidates. It was highly unlikely to happen and it never did. He has now dropped out.

On one hand it's sad to see Gilmore, who was a serious candidate that had a serious record, get so little support. He only received twelve votes in Iowa and 134 in New Hampshire. On the other hand, it shows a big problem with the GOP in this election. This Republican field was the largest in presidential history with seventeen candidates. Most of them could only appeal to factions within the party while a small few (Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, etc.) could broaden their support among many groups. The problem is that this GOP field is so crowded and divisive that any chance of unity has quickly extinguished.

At least, with the end of Gilmore, we are down to a field of major candidates (despite some no longer being viable). This Republican field had a strong bench, but it is possible that the GOP's election prospects have been greatly reduced from the divisiveness in the field.

Friday, February 12, 2016

CBS Republican Debate Tomorrow

The Republicans will gather for the last debate before the South Carolina primary hosted by CBS at the Peace Center in Greenville. The South Carolina race is starting to get very ugly on the Republican side. The upcoming primary is critical because, aside from the 2012 results, the GOP nominee has always won this state. Donald Trump holds a big lead here, so I expect other candidates to attack him during the debate.

The South Carolina primary is Trump's to lose. A stumble at this debate could mean the end of his double-digit lead. A good night for him means that he is likely to be unstoppable and will continue to build momentum. Trump needs to avoid arguing with his opponents, but he has been able to remain popular with his supporters even though I think his arguments are very weak.

Ted Cruz wants another victory similar to that of Iowa. Since Trump will be on the stage tonight, Cruz has to be aggressive with him. Both of them are launching attack ads at the moment. Cruz needs to dispatch Trump at this debate even though he generally likes to stay positive in his performances. The other major opponent to Trump is Marco Rubio, who does have third place according to the polls at the moment. Rubio will have to prove that he isn't relevant. That means taking on the Donald, but also be prepared for any attacks from Cruz and Jeb Bush.

The other three candidates need to be more aggressive if they want to stay relevant. Ben Carson continues to fall behind in the polls, but I don't believe he will revert to attacks. It's fair to say that his candidacy is over. Jeb Bush has money, but his attacks don't often help him. He is probably going to attack Trump and Rubio tonight, but he needs an outstanding performance to win. That's unlikely. John Kasich is polling the worst in the state after finishing second in New Hampshire. He's probably going to continue talking about his record. It won't help him in the south, but I think Kasich is betting on good showings in the Midwest and the northeast.

Who won the PBS debate on February 11?

Last night's debate was the final one before the Nevada caucus, the South Carolina primary, and Super Tuesday. This debate was the most important for the Democratic candidates because a large number of states and delegates will be decided in the next few weeks. There could be another debate, but it would be unsanctioned by the Democratic National Committee (the MSNBC debate was not sanctioned). From my perspective, most Democrats will go away thinking that Hillary Clinton was the victor.

The former secretary of state had a good performance throughout the entirety of the debate. The first hour focused on domestic issues, where she was able to point out several problems with Bernie Sanders' healthcare plan and spending programs. She was calm in her attacks and made a good argument saying that he would be unable to get most of his legislation passed through Congress (most political analysts are in agreement that the Republicans will keep the House of Representatives in 2016 at the moment, but the Senate is still up in the air). Clinton clearly placed herself as loyal to President Obama and attacked Sanders for several criticisms he made of her old boss. I expected both candidates to pander to the African-American base and Black Lives matter. I think she executed it better.

I've noticed that Clinton is more comfortable when it comes to foreign policy than Sanders is. That didn't change last night. Even though I disagree with her on everything, it was clear to me that she knew more than Sanders did on most topics across the globe. Clinton did have some stumbles with questions about her past donations from large banks and super PAC donors. Despite those two questions, I think she won the debate. She wasn't very aggressive and to me she acted as if the New Hampshire primary didn't matter.

Sanders needed a good night to be on the same level with Clinton. He didn't have it. When analyzing the last debate, I thought that Sanders was becoming a candidate who could be accused of only focusing on or two issues. That came back tonight. On domestic policy, he was continuously lacking in detail and I didn't think he was able to clearly explain why a huge expansion of the government is justified if it will cripple the economy and create higher deficits. Many economists and financial experts have attacked his plan. Clinton used that argument to her advantage in this debate. At times I thought Sanders was just going to attack millionaires and billionaires any time he got a question.

Sanders continued to bomb when it came to foreign policy. I was shocked at the historical arguments he made on everything from the Cold War in Iran to Henry Kissinger. Everything he said regarding those two argument were incorrect. It makes me think of him as someone who listen to political zealots like movie director Oliver Stone (he's one of those people who acts as if he's an authority on history, even though he should the last person to be talking about history). Clinton had a clear edge when it came to foreign policy questions and I think she leaves this debate very happy.

Five Years Since Act 10

Walker signed Act 10 in 2011 - Life News
February 11, 2016, marked the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill (also known as Act 10). It is amazing that it's already been so long since that iconic legislation, which saved the state of Wisconsin billions of dollars, is already that old. It shows how far we've come and how much Governor Scott Walker achieved in his first term. Remember that when he became the governor, the state was facing a destructive economic situation and a massive $3.6 billion projected deficit. Act 10 was implemented to reform Wisconsin's budget and reduce costs. Here were some of the key reforms from the law:

Pensions contributions were reformed by requiring public employees of the Wisconsin Retirement System employers to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries for annual pension payments.

Health insurance contributions were reformed by requiring public employees to pay at least 12.6 percent of the average cost of annual premiums.

Collective bargaining was reformed by be limited for most public employees to wages. New wage increases could not exceed the consumer price index unless approved by a referendum. No other issues (like benefits such as health insurance) would be subject to bargaining. School districts and local governments could move their insurance to the open market in order save millions.

Union membership was reformed by giving workers the choice of being a member. The state would no longer have to automatically collect $1,400 of union dues per year. It gave public employees the choice to save their money and leave the union if they wished.

What have the results been? According to Brett Healy of the John K. MacIver Institute has conducted research about the act and found that has saved $5.24 billion over the last five years. Healy writes:
$5.24 billion in savings works out to $910 in savings for every man, woman and child in Wisconsin, or $2,291 for every household in Wisconsin. The DOT could build 2,912 more roundabouts. The savings could fund over 68,000 four-year degrees at UW-Madison, or install 42 separate Milwaukee-style streetcar systems throughout the entire state. Thankfully, however, Walker and the legislature have used the Act 10 savings to provide more than $2 billion in direct tax relief for Wisconsinites. 
But what's even more significant than the total is the distribution of savings. Units of government that saved big in the wake of Act 10 range from the smallest villages and townships to the largest agencies in state government. On its own, the UW System saved $527 million in retirement costs alone.
The state has a budget surplus of $135.6 million today. The history is clear: Act 10 saved the state of Wisconsin from total collapse. It's important for Wisconsinites to celebrate it as one of the imperative actions ever taken.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Democratic PBS Debate Tonight

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are going to a debate tonight hosted by the Public Broadcasting Service. This debate puts the spotlight on my hometown because the candidates will be debating at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. It's great to see that my state continues to be of heavy importance for both parties. It is possible that whoever wins Wisconsin will win the presidency this year. This debate comes right off the heels of the New Hampshire primary, where Sanders decimated Clinton. Nevada is the next state for the Democrats and the caucus will be held on February 20.

This debate offers a golden opportunity for Sanders. His big win in New Hampshire provides momentum for campaigning in tough states. I've always maintained the view that Sanders needs a broader coalition. He can continue his rhetoric about income inequality and reforming the financial system, but he should also focus on immigration issues for Hispanics and racial relations for African-Americans. Highlighting those two subjects offers him a path to win in Nevada and later in South Carolina. He should also be prepared for attacks from Clinton, who's going to attack his record in the Senate for not being as liberal as he claims.

I'm expecting this debate to show contrast like the MSNBC debate did before New Hampshire. That means Hillary Clinton has to provide some clear distinctions on policy issues. She knows that she needs minority voters to win the next two states, so she could attack Sanders for not prioritizing that issue. At the same time, she better have a good defense for taking millions of dollars from financial companies for speaking events. Clinton needs to provide clear reasons why she has flipped from past political positions she held. If she comes out strong, then she should take Nevada easily.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trump and Sanders win New Hampshire

Trump celebrates NH victory - Washington Post
As everyone expected, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump triumphed in the New Hampshire primary yesterday. The biggest loser tonight was the establishment on both sides. Voters flocked to anti-establishment candidates en masse. The winning candidates will receive positive media coverage going into the next primaries and caucuses. The race now splits up: the Republicans will go to the South Carolina primary and the Democrats will go to the Nevada caucus.

I predicted correctly that Trump would win the New Hampshire primary, but the prediction was off when it came to how big margin of victory was. I was expecting Trump's percentage to be less than his polling average. Instead, he won more votes that the polls showed. This is an indication that Trump has impoved on his campaign infrastructure and had momentum following the debate. I was way off with most of the other candidates. Not only did Marco Rubio not take second, but he didn't even take third. The Florida senator, who had a lot of momentum coming out of the Iowa caucus, finished fifth place. John Kasich took second. I was correct, however, in predicting that five GOP candidates would be in double-digits. Here's the results:

Donald Trump - 35.1%
John Kasich - 15.9%
Ted Cruz - 11.6%
Jeb Bush - 11.1%
Marco Rubio - 10.6%
Chris Christie - 7.6%
Carly Fiorina - 4.2%
Ben Carson - 2.3%

My Prediction:

Donald Trump - 27.9%
Marco Rubio - 15.4%
John Kasich - 14.8%
Ted Cruz - 12.8%
Jeb Bush - 10.5%
Others - 18.5%
Write-ins - 0.1%

The biggest winner of tonight is (obviously) Trump. It's his first victory and it was big. Had someone defeated Trump in this primary, then the media narrative would have been that he blew it again and that he's not a formidable candidate. The Republican establishment has to understand that Trump is a front-runner and a major challenger for the nomination. He was able to recover and avoid a disaster after losing the Iowa caucus. He has a great momentum going in to the South Carolina primary and has the potential to end the Republican nomination there. Here's his victory speech:


Another big winner was Kasich. How did Kasich win last night if he only took second place? The answer is to not compare him to Trump. Compare Kasich's performance in Iowa (1.9%) to his performance here. It's a big improvement because he said he was going to drop out if he took anything less than second last night. Since he did take second place, he is encouraged to stay in the election. The biggest task for Kasich is similar to Sanders' struggle. His appeal doesn't trickle to South Carolina and Nevada. If he doesn't win or at least perform strongly in those two states, then he's lost momentum.

The biggest loser of the New Hampshire primary on the Republican side was Rubio. I was very surprised that he plunged as low as fifth place in the primary. In order to win the nomination, Rubio had a "3-2-1 strategy" where he was targeting for second place before taking first in South Carolina. Taking fifth doesn't just keep Kasich in the race (who could have endorsed Rubio if he dropped out), but it also keeps Bush from dropping out. He has been put in a very precarious position for the rest of the 2016 race and is going to have to put up a strong fight in later states. This defeat doesn't have to be the end of Rubio's campaign. He's been wounded, but not mortally. If he can recover and prove himself to be a stronger debater who isn't repetive, then he's back in the game.

It's comical that the man who dealt the biggest blow to Rubio at the Saturday debate, Chris Christie, actually finished behind him and has now dropped out. The New Jersey governor talked tough, but so did Trump. He peaked in New Hampshire too early to be a main contestant by the time the primary was held. Carly Fiorina has also dropped out. Like Christie, she peaked months ago and was unable to keep her momentum going. She was trying to play the role that Trump already held: someone from the private sector who never held a political office. Since Trump already held that position, her candidacy fell apart.

What about Ted Cruz and Ben Carson? Carson finished in last place, but New Hampshire isn't that conservative. He could stay in the race for South Carolina (where there's a large number of black voters), but I think the writing is on the wall. Cruz was hoping to get third place in New Hampshire. He succeeded and is looking forward to South Carolina. The Republican nomination race is set up for a brutal primary in the south.

As for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders had a wonderful night. It wasn't just that he won by a landslide, but also by his margin. Most political analysts expected him to get between 10 percentage points and 20 percentage points. Instead, the Vermont senator won by 22.4 percentage points. It was an epic night for his campaign. Here's the results:

Bernie Sanders - 60.4%
Hillary Clinton - 38%
Write-ins - 1.6%

Here's my prediction:

Bernie Sanders - 57.6%
Hillary Clinton - 42.3%
Write-ins - 0.1%

His victory will get days of positive media coverage, which he needs in order to win more minorities for the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina primary. Last night was a good start for him because he won every demographic group. The Democratic nomination race gets harder for Sanders now, as explained by FiveThirtyEight political analyst Harry Enten:
Polling has indicated that Sanders trails among nonwhite voters by nearly 40 percentage points nationally. Although no reliable recent polling is available in Nevada, Clinton leads by 30 percentage points in both of our South Carolina forecasts. In the latest Marist College poll, she’s buoyed by a 74 percent to 17 percent lead among black voters. Sanders must cut into that margin if he wants to have any chance in South Carolina or anywhere in the South. 
You could already see how Sanders might have problems in Nevada and South Carolina even as he was crushing Clinton in New Hampshire. Despite winning the state by more than 20 percentage points, the best Sanders could manage among registered Democrats was a tie. His large margin came from registered independents who voted in the Democratic primary. You must be a registered Democrat to vote in the Nevada caucuses, though you can register as one the day of the election. In 2008, 81 percent of Nevada caucus-goers self-identified as Democrats. Just 58 percent of New Hampshire voters on Tuesday thought of themselves as Democrats.
As of now (without any new polling data), I still think Clinton has a nice advantage. Nevada is different from Iowa and New Hampshire. It's important to note that Clinton did better among higher income Democrats than Sanders did in the primary, but that doesn't mean he does better with lower income voters. Iowa Democrats are poorer than New Hampshire Democrats, yet Clinton narrowly won the state. Unless Sanders can broaden his coalition tomorrow at the Milwaukee debate he's going to lose viability very quickly. His victory speech was a good start, which you can find here:


While Sanders does have struggles, it's still his moment. Clinton was crushed in a state she won in 2008. She can say that she was competing in her opponent's backyard, but there never has been a defeat this crushing in recent elections. She was badly wounded, but like with Rubio, it isn't necessarily mortal. Clinton is looking forward to the next two states, where she has the edge. If she sweeps in the next two states, then Sanders' New Hampshire win was just a brief interruption on her path to the nomination.

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Prediction for the 2016 New Hampshire Primary

Sanders speaks at the 100 Club - IBTimes
It's been a very contested primary in New Hampshire. On the left, Hillary Clinton is trying to avoid a mountainous defeat against Bernie Sanders. On the right, Donald Trump is set to easily win his first victory. The question is who will take second or third place the Republican field. Marco Rubio had momentum, but it has nearly come to halt following his bad debate performance. This gives John Kasich and Ted Cruz the opportunity to defeat him.

Like last time, I'm going to start with predicting the Democrats. In Iowa, I was correct with predicting a Hillary Clinton victory. This was because every one of the last polls showed her winning, although it was closer than I thought it would be. As for New Hampshire, everyone knows that it will go for Sanders tomorrow based on the RealClearPolitics average:

University of Massachusetts/7 News (2/5-2/7): Sanders 56%, Clinton 40% - Sanders +26
American Research Group (2/6-2/7): Sanders 53%, Clinton 41% - Sanders +12
Monmouth University (2/4-2/6): Sanders 52%, Clinton 42% - Sanders +10
CNN/WMUR (2/3-2/6): Sanders 58%, Clinton 35% - Sanders +23
Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce University (2/2-2/6): Sanders 51%, Clinton 44% - Sanders +7
Boston Globe/Suffolk University (2/2-2/4): Sanders 50%, Clinton 41% - Sanders +9

Sanders has 53.3 percent and Clinton has 40.5 percent. This is his backyard and he's campaigned vigorously in the state. Since a big victory is predicted by everyone, the only question is how big will the win be. It matters because the bigger the victory means the greater the positive media coverage. That will help his campaign in the next two states and potentially raise his popularity among blacks and Hispanics. Depending on the victory tomorrow and the media coverage afterword, I'll be willing to reconsider Sanders if it means he jumps in the polls. In order for Sanders to surprise everyone, he should have a margin of victory of at least 20 percentage points. Anything less than that was expected. A terrible scenario for his candidacy would be if he only receives a margin of less than 10 percentage points. If that happens, then the media narrative would be that it was closer than expected.

It's possible that Clinton has already dismissed the state as lost. She won it in 2008, but it was her backyard in that election. Vermont is closer and has more influence in New Hampshire than New York does. Some bad news for the Clinton campaign arrived just a few hours ago. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed that it will investigate her use of a private email server while she was leading the State Department. This news has just hit the presses, so there is no polling data to see if Clinton's numbers have changed nationally or in other states. It's possible that there will be little effect because most Democrats believe she did nothing wrong. At the same time, strategic Democrats might consider her unelectable and go for the Vermont senator. Nevertheless, that's in the future. Here's my prediction for tomorrow:

Bernie Sanders - 57.6%
Hillary Clinton - 42.3%
Write-ins - 0.1%

What about the Republicans? If anyone had the chance to defeat Trump, it was going to be Rubio. His poor debate performance changed all that and now a victory is guaranteed for the Donald. I'm a bit curious as to why Chris Christie wasn't more aggressive at the debate. Taking on Rubio is fine, but he should have attacked Trump and Ted Cruz if he really wanted a shot at winning the state. For many political analysts, the debate is no longer about who takes first in the primary, but who takes second. Here's the RealClearPolitics average:

CNN/WMUR (2/4-2/8): Trump 31%, Rubio 17%, Cruz 14%, Kasich 10% - Trump +14
Emerson College (2/4-2/7): Trump 31%, Bush 16%, Kasich 13%, Rubio 12% - Trump +15
University of Massachusetts/7 News (2/4-2/7): Trump 34%, Rubio 13%, Cruz 13% - Trump +21
Gravis Marketing (2/7): Trump 28%, Kasich 17%, Rubio 15%, Bush 14%, Cruz 11% - Trump +11
American Research Group (2/6-2/7): Trump 30%, Rubio 16%, Kasich 16% - Trump +14
Monmouth University (2/4-2/6): Trump 30%, Kasich 14%, Rubio 13%, Bush 13% - Trump +16
Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce U. (2/2-2/6): Trump 31%, Cruz 16%, Rubio 15% - Trump +15

Trump has 30.7 percent, Rubio has 14.4 percent, Kasich has 13 percent, Cruz has 12.4 percent, and Bush has 11.3 percent. Chris Cillizza, political analyst at The Washington Post, posted an article explaining that if the Republican establishment wanted to defeat Trump in New Hampshire, then they needed to reduce the number of their candidates. Sure, they aren't that crazy over Rubio because he's a compromise, but it was a mistake for them to not realize that more of their own candidates had to drop out. Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich are all in the race. If they dropped out, then I'd probably be predicting a Rubio victory tonight.

As for Rubio, he should be very worried about tomorrow. The polls are all over the place and it remains unclear as to who will take second place. Rubio knows he won't take first and wants to take second in order to get the other establishment candidates to drop out. If Kasich takes second place, then Rubio's candidacy is undermined. It will be better for him if Cruz takes second place rather than Kasich, but that doesn't change the fact that it would be a bad night overall. Despite his lower poll numbers, I do think Rubio has some momentum going into the primary. One bad debate performance will not sink a candidate (even if it did, in his case, for first place). It's also important to remember that there are many undecided voters, who could vote strategically for Rubio.

I want to briefly type about how I think Trump will do tomorrow. Even if he does win, the Iowa caucus shows that the polls really did overestimate him. I expected this, which is why I predicted a victory for Cruz. While Trump has a big lead going into the primary, I still expect him to underperform slightly. In a caucus, people can change their minds during a final debate within the voting locations. A primary is simply walking into a voting booth. It's more efficient and it means less changes from voters. The problem with Trump is that his campaign has little ground game. I think he will underperform, but not as bad as in Iowa. Here's my prediction:

Trump - 27.9%
Rubio - 15.4%
Kasich - 14.8%
Cruz - 12.8%
Bush - 10.5%
Others - 18.5%
Write-ins - 0.1%

Since the Republican field is very divided, I'm not going to predict all the candidates. Based on the poll numbers that have been published, it is clear that these five will be at the top and I am relatively confident of my prediction. Like with the Iowa prediction, I never expect my prediction to be 100 percent precise, but I do expect the candidates to end up in the area of where I predicted them.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Who won the ABC debate on February 7?

The Iowa caucus had a big impact on last night's debate. Donald J. Trump remained in first place in while Marco Rubio became his chief rival followed by Ted Cruz in New Hampshire. As for the three governors on the stage, they knew that this was going to be their last chance to make an impact and they needed to show the audience during the debate that they were strong candidates who could govern the country effectively and use their executive experience to prove it.

Donald Trump wasn't perfect, but he wasn't terrible. As a whole, I think he was one of the winners of the debate. He was never under any fire from other candidates and was almost competent with responding to questions from the moderators. Trump doesn't have any precise plans on his website for policies like healthcare and the military, but he did provide more information than he has in the past about what he will do. The only time he was attacked by Jeb Bush on eminent domain. The crowd booed Trump's response, but he decided to attack them. I'm not sure how this will play out, but I think many of his supporters believe that there are a lot of major donors and lobbysts in the audience that favor Bush.

Ted Cruz showed respect during the debate when he publicly apologized to Ben Carson about the controversy during the Iowa caucus. The other memorable debate moment from Cruz was when he talked about his half-sister's drug and alcohol addiction towards the end of the debate on a question about drug policy. Aside from those two moments, Cruz wasn't attacked during the debate. I think he will be remembered more than Trump, but he knows that New Hampshire isn't where many Tea Party conservatives are. I think he will be attacked as soon as everyone descends to the more conservative primary in South Carolina. Cruz had one stumble I remember when the question of torture came up. I think he wants to get the Rand Paul supporters on his side, who oppose torture, but I don't if there's enough to get him a victory.

Marco Rubio had a weak night. He was very repetitive when talking about President Obama and Chris Christie called him out on it. Rubio looked robotic at times and his momentum slowed to a halt in this debate. Christie knew that the Florida senator was a big threat in the upcoming primary and decided to pounce. After that exchange, Rubio got better throughout the night, but the most memorable moment was his big defeat at the start. As a whole, I think Rubio avoided disaster by performing better later on, but he should be worried that he might lose his place in the polls.

Chris Christie showed great vigor in this debate more than any other candidate. He is in last place when it comes to the three governors in the polls. He knew it and gave one of the best performances I've seen from him with all the Chris Christie style. Unfortunately for him, Christie needed many performances like this one if he wanted to win New Hampshire. It was good, but I think it's too late even if he does see an increase in the polls.

As for the other candidates, I don't think they had any memorable peformances. John Kasich was positive during the debate and I think it's working in New Hampshire where he's in the double-digits. I think Kasich knows his style works in the state, which is why he keeps doing it. Nevertheless, he could have been hurt by Christie who had better night. There was a moment where the Ohio governor had the opportunity to attack the New Jersey's governor's economic record. It would have helped Kasich, but he decided to stay positive. Jeb Bush will probably be remembered for attacking Trump last night, but that's it. Finally, Ben Carson had very little time during the debate. That means nothing will be changing for him after tonight. He's in last place in New Hampshire, but I think he's more interested in trying to win South Carolina.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

On Flint's Water Crisis

The contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan reached national headlines throughout January. Many people in the city of Flint have suffered from lead poisoning because of the decision from the city council to switch the water source from Lake Huron to the nearby river on April 25, 2014. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality made several mistakes at the time. These mistakes included lacking requirements for optimized corrosion control and taking limited samples from the areas that missed the key sources of lead. With the lack of oversight, water with lead was able to pass through protective films in the city's pipes. The lead couldn't be seen because it was colorless and odorless.

The decision to switch the water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River was made by city manager Darnell Earley. Earley was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to run the city in September 2013. For fifty years, Flint bought water from Detroit, but the city council decided to vote for joining a new pipeline to the lake in 2013. The city of Detroit responded by cancelling the water agreement. In response, Earley decided to direct Flint's water source to the river. It would be a temporary move because the city's residents would eventually receive water from the lake again once construction of the pipeline was finished. The state treasurer approved the move and it was cheered by Dayne Walling, who was the mayor of Flint until November 2015.

The problems in Flint are tragic and wouldn't have happened had the state's environmental agency been more effective when testing the water source. Even so, several liberals have decided to attack Governor Snyder (a Republican) for destroying Flint's water system. Film director and activist Michael Moore has been the loudest critic and has argued that Snyder should resign and be sent to prison. He believes that Snyder knew about the water crisis the whole time and he thinks that people need to do something more drastic than just sending bottled water to Flint.

I think Moore's latest actions to get political attention are completely absurd. Unfortunately, it is typical of him and many of his allies to attack Republicans and conservatives when something like this happens. If Snyder doesn't care about the people of Flint, then why is he recommending that the state legislature approve $28 million for emergency funding to help solve the issue? Why has he publicly declared an emergency and ordered the National Guard to distribute bottled water and new filters if he doesn't care about them? That didn't stop Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders from attacking him because they think he would have responded differently had a majority of the people in Flint not been African-Americans.

The truth (although most people on the left deny it) is that many Democrats are responsible for the water crisis as well. The editors of National Review published their own article explaining why:
Before the appointment of the (Democratic) emergency manager, Flint’s elected mayor and city council (Democrats) had decided to sever the city’s relationship with its drinking-water supplier, which was at the time the Detroit water authority. Flint intended to join a regional water authority that would pipe water in from Lake Huron, a project that was scheduled to take three years to come online. In a fit of pique, Detroit (a city under unitary Democratic control) immediately moved to terminate Flint’s water supply, leaving the city high and literally dry.
At this point, somebody — no one will quite admit to being the responsible party — decided to rely temporarily on the Flint River. The Democrats in the city government deny responsibility for this; so does Darnell Earley, the Democrat who served as emergency manager. Earley says that the decisions to terminate the Detroit deal and rely temporarily on the Flint River “were both a part of a long-term plan that was approved by Flint’s mayor, and confirmed by a City Council vote of 7–1 in March of 2013 — a full seven months before I began my term as emergency manager.”
No, Democrats didn't want to give people in Flint lead poisoning, but it is absolutely disgusting to see them use this as a political tool. It was a Democratic city council that approved the plan and it was signed by the city's mayor, who's from the same party. Earley wasn't the manager at the time, but he did implement the plan. You can blame Snyder for appointing him if you'd like, but you can also blame politicians in the city who put the preparations in place for the crisis before the appointment was made. Even if you do blame the Michigan governor, don't act as if he doesn't care. He's doing his hardest to resolve the water problem at the moment.