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“Donald Trump And Chuck Grassley Look Doomed In Iowa”: No Republican Can Be A Legislator In This Day And Age

Looking at the internals of the Loras College Statewide Iowa Survey, it seems like it’s a pretty well put together poll. Comparing their sample to the latest Iowa registration numbers, it appears that Loras may have undersampled the NO Party/Independents, but they have about the right mix of Democrats and Republicans. And, in any case, an undersampling of independents probably skews the results towards Donald Trump and Chuck Grassley.

For example, Grassley has a net favorable/unfavorable rating of 48%/42% with independents, and is losing with them to Patty Judge by a 41.9%-48.0% margin. So, if you add more independents to the sample, he probably loses his overall 46% to 45% lead.

Likewise, Donald Trump is getting crushed 48%-34% (-14) in the poll, but among independents he’s losing by a mammoth 44.7%-23.5% (-21) margin.

The survey is made up of 35.0% Republicans, 33.0% Democrats, and 29.8% Independents, but according to the Secretary of State, there are now more independents (670,068) than Republicans (639,476) or Democrats (610,608) who are registered to vote in the Hawkeye State. Maybe the independents don’t turn out at the same rate as party members, so it’s possible that the sample is dead-on. What’s doubtful is that it is skewed toward the Democrats.

Either way, it shows that Donald Trump is not competitive and Chuck Grassley is in a dead-heat. It’d be tempting to blame Grassley’s woes on Trump’s unpopularity (54.7% of Iowans have a very unfavorable view of Trump, and 68.9% have an overall unfavorable view of him), but we know that Grassley has been in the news as the lead architect of the Senate’s refusal to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, the president’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It’s costing him because he’s historically been very popular but he now has a 41.4% unfavorable rating. That’s not terrible, but it’s far below where he’s been in the past. If he’s going to hold on, he’s going to need a lot of crossover votes, but less than a quarter of Democrats (24.8%) have a favorable view of him right now.

Now, Grassley has been in Congress since 1975 and a senator since 1981. He’ll be 83 years old on Election Day. I don’t know if this is really how he wants to go out. I am not even sure why he wants to continue in the job. He’s got to be frustrated. Just this week he had to announce that he almost definitely won’t be able to get his criminal justice reform bill through the Senate this year.

“I don’t see how it gets done before” July 15, Grassley said, referencing the day the senators depart from Washington and won’t return until after Labor Day. “It’s a real big disappointment to me because we’ve worked so hard to do what the leadership wanted to get out more Republican sponsors.”

The criminal justice reform bill was probably the best chance this Congress had to pass a meaningful bill and they can’t get it done. Unless Grassley just likes the prestige and lifestyle of being a senator, I see no reason for him to want to continue. He used to be a legislator, but no Republican can be a legislator in this day and age, and certainly not under a prospective President Hillary Clinton.

If I were him, I’d drop out before Patty Judge cleans his clock in November.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Donald Trump, Patty Judge | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dems With A Different Name”: Bernie’s Independent Voters Are Very Likely To Cast Ballots For HRC In The End

Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight has helped unravel one of the great mysteries of Campaign ’16: Who are the self-identified independent voters Bernie Sanders is carrying so heavily in primaries and caucuses? Are they swing voters who might well swing to Donald Trump in a general-election contest with Hillary Clinton, or stay home in large numbers?

According to the Gallup data Enten is looking at, no, they’re not.

Sanders’s real advantage over Clinton is among the 41 percent of independents who lean Democratic, with whom he has a 71 percent approval rating as opposed to HRC’s 51 percent. Among the 23 percent who do not lean in either party’s direction — the stone swing voters — Sanders’s approval rating is 35 percent, virtually the same as Clinton’s 34 percent (both are much better than Trump’s 16 percent).

But aren’t a lot of the leaners swing voters, too, particularly if their favored candidate does not win the nomination? Probably not:

In the last three presidential elections, the Democratic candidate received the support of no less than 88 percent of self-identified independents who leaned Democratic, according to the American National Elections Studies survey. These are, in effect, Democratic voters with a different name.

Yes, Clinton may need to work on this category of voters, but the idea that they are unreachable or likely to defect to Trump doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. These aren’t left-bent voters who have lurked in hiding for years, waiting for a Democrat free of Wall Street ties or militaristic tendencies, and they’re not truly unaffiliated voters who will enter the general election as likely to vote for a Republican as a Democrat. They’ve been around for a while, and in fact they are being affected by partisan polarization more than the self-identified partisans who have almost always put on the party yoke. So while a majority of these Democratic-leaning independents clearly prefer Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee, they represent a reservoir of votes that are ultimately Hillary Clinton’s to lose.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 25, 2016

May 27, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Hillary Clinton | , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Very Different Level Of Self-Confidence”: Democrats Consider Opening, While GOP Closing, Primaries To Independents

If you have been following the very public discussions of the Sandernistas about what to demand at and after the Democratic National Convention in exchange for enthusiastic support of the party nominee, you’ve probably noticed that “open primaries” are on most lists. In some respects that’s just a contemporaneous impulse based on Sanders’s unquestioned appeal to Democratic-leaning independents in this year’s primaries. To the magical thinker, some sort of party gesture in favor of banning closed primaries retroactively shows Bernie should have won after all. But the discussion also reflects a long-standing argument — which, ironically, party “centrists” used to regularly make — that encouraging independents to participate in Democratic primaries is a good way to grow the party base and to prepare Democratic candidates for general elections.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the talk at both the grassroots and elite levels about primary rules is very different:

Conservatives, still reeling over the looming nomination of Donald Trump, are pushing new Republican primary rules that might have prevented the mogul’s victory in the first place: shutting out independents and Democrats from helping to pick the GOP nominee

The advocates are finding a sympathetic ear at the very top of the party. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has long supported closed primaries, but has never had a constituency to back him on it.

Now you could say these opposite impulses have in common a “sore loser” motive. Still, they represent a very different level of self-confidence about the appeal of the two parties’ core ideologies: the Democratic Left, which used to call itself the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” thinks a broader party base would be more progressive, while the Republican Right wants as small a tent as possible.

Having said all that, it’s unlikely either party will immediately change the system. For one thing, primary access rules are generally set by state governments and (when allowed by state laws) state parties; only some cumbersome and politically perilous carrot-and-stick process is available to the national parties to influence these rules. It will be particularly troublesome for state governments to set up primaries that comply with both parties’ rules if they are tugging in opposite directions. Additionally, implementing a uniform closed-primary system like so many Republicans want would be problematic in states that do not and have never had party registration. Beyond that, there are other ways to skin the cat and make it easier or harder for independents to participate in primaries, such as manipulating re-registration deadlines (opportunities to easily change party affiliation at the polls or caucus-site make the open-closed distinction largely irrelevant).

But without question, if either or both parties want to send a big bold signal to independents by passing some sort of resolution or hortatory rules change at their conventions, they can do so. Among Democrats, more than enough Clinton Democrats from open-primary states would likely join Sanders delegates to create a comfortable majority for some “open the primaries” gesture in Philadelphia. And among Republicans, a close-the-primaries gesture is precisely the sort of measure that could provide an outlet for frustrated delegates bound to Donald Trump on the first ballot but free to disrespect the mogul on rules and platform votes. But Republicans should beware: All else being equal, closing doors is far less popular than opening them.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 13, 2016

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Democratic National Convention, Primaries, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Closed Primaries Did Not Stop Bernie Sanders”: Peddling Misleading Explanations To Supporters As To Why He Fell Short

Bernie Sanders is so convinced that his campaign was fatefully hamstrung by “closed” primaries in which independent voters could not participate that he is including the end of closed primaries in his list of convention demands.

There’s no reason to deem this demand self-serving; at 74 years of age, Sanders will not be running for president again and he apparently wants to create a process in which candidates who follow in his footsteps will have a better shot.

Although he has every right to pursue that goal, he’s wasting his time, and squandering his leverage, by focusing on closed primaries. Yes, he was swept in the closed states. But he also lost the open primaries by a 2-to-1 margin.

There have been 40 state contests so far, 27 primaries and 13 caucuses. Nineteen of those primaries  were accessible to independent voters. Yet Sanders only won six of them, and two were his home state of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton has only won six more states than Sanders, and she won all eight closed primary states. Would throwing all those contests open have made a big difference?

Probably not, because most of Clinton’s closed primary wins were not close. Connecticut was the narrowest at five points, but that contest was also the most “open” of the closed states since independents could switch their registration the day before election. Twenty percent of the Constitution State’s electorate was composed of self-described independents, not far behind the 27 percent share in the Sanders states of Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Four others, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana and Maryland, were completely out of reach for Sanders, as Clinton posted margins between 20 and 48 points. Only three closed states might have become competitive if independents could have participated: Arizona, Pennsylvania and New York, where Clinton’s spread was between 12 and 16 points.

The reality is that, in general, primaries were unfriendly terrain for Sanders. His wheelhouse was the caucus, pocketing 11 out of 13. The low-turnout meeting-style contests are known to favor liberal candidates, having buoyed George McGovern and Barack Obama to their nominations. Sanders recently said, “We want open primaries in 50 states in this country.” If he means that literally, and would end caucuses altogether, that would certainly increase voter turnout in those states. But it also would risk ceding what’s now populist turf to establishment forces.

These facts are important for Sanders’ his fans to know. Not to rob them of their comforting rationalizations and make them wallow in their misery, but so they can best strategize for the future.

They want the Democratic Party to change. They want a party that shuns big donors. They want a party that routinely goes big on progressive policy goals.

But if they believe that the nomination process is the obstacle preventing the will of the people from enacting that change, then they are letting gut feelings overwhelm hard facts.

The only explanation for the sudden obsession with closed primaries is that we’ve just had five of them in the last two weeks. The truth is the race was lost long before, when Clinton build an essentially insurmountable lead by sweeping the largely open primaries of the South and lower Midwest. Sanders’ recent defeats stung badly because his die-hard supporters wrongly believed his caucus streak meant he was gaining momentum. They should not let that sting cloud their vision.

One wouldn’t expect the average voter to pore over the intricacies of delegate math. Sanders has, and he should know better. Granted, the intense emotion a candidate suffers at the end of a losing presidential campaign is an excruciating feeling most of us can never fully grasp. Undoubtedly, it’s painful for the candidate to take a step back and make clinical assessments instead of excuses.

If he wants his revolution to keep moving forward, he can’t lead it in the wrong direction. He can’t get caught up in the raw emotion of electoral defeat. He can’t peddle misleading explanations to his supporters as to why he fell short.

Because if he does, he is going to waste their time, energy and precious political capital fighting a convention floor fight for nomination rules reform that is a complete distraction from what they really want: a party rooted in populist principles and funded by small donors.

 

By: Bill Scher, a Senior Writer at Campaign for America’s Future, Executive Editor of LiberalOasis; Contributor, RealClearPolitics; May 2, 2016

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Exercise In Projected Self-Righteousness”: Does Bernie Sanders Really Deserve Any Concessions From Hillary Clinton?

“What Bernie Sanders Wants” is the headline of a Politico article on the extensive concessions the presidential candidate expects from Hillary Clinton if he loses to her in Philadelphia. A similar Time article is slightly more precise: “Bernie Sanders Will Support Hillary Clinton But He’s Sticking to Some Key Demands.”

As it happens, I’ve written myself about how HRC would be wise to offer Team Sanders the fool’s gold of platform concessions and maybe the promise of a look at primary laws and procedures. And I’ve also talked about why Sanders, as the leader of an ideological initiative to move the Democratic Party to the left, can’t be expected to go quietly like Clinton did in 2008.

But none of these practical considerations can quite explain the expectation in Bernieland, and beyond it in the political commentariat, that of course Sanders has the high moral ground and he’s the one who should be dictating terms to his vanquisher.

Yes, there’s no question many Sanders supporters (and probably the candidate himself) believe they represent “true” progressivism and even (despite his decades-long reluctance to call himself a Democrat) the “real” soul of the “real” Democratic Party. This authenticity, moreover, is frequently contrasted with the hollow, compromised, and numb “centrism” that Hillary Clinton is supposed to represent, attributable to corruption or timidity. But isn’t the very purpose of party primaries to air such differences and find out what actual partisans (supplemented in some though not all places by independents leaning toward that party) think about them? And if so, why is it the (apparent) loser who is claiming the spoils, and the right to shape the party’s future? It doesn’t make a great deal of sense except as an exercise in projected self-righteousness.

There is a different and more calculated rationale for a Sanders platform challenge: that Hillary Clinton’s own supporters, who mainly prefer her on non-ideological grounds, agree more with Bernie on the issues that separate them than with their own candidate. That may even be true with respect to single-payer health care, though polling on the subject has been more than a bit suspect (the usual simplistic monniker of “Medicare for All” isn’t terribly descriptive of a system that might extract lifelong payroll taxes and premiums from some people and nothing from others for the same benefits).

If the Sanders campaign really does purport to speak for all Democrats on key issues, it would make far more sense for Sanders to call on Clinton to allow delegates a free and open vote on various platform planks than to demand that she abandon her own positions for his. She could then always rationalize any differences as a matter of delegates articulating ultimate progressive goals while she promotes feasible means for accomplishing them in the here and now.

What that approach would exclude, however, is the high dramatics of demands, concessions, surrender, and conquest that Sanders’s current trajectory suggests — not to mention the certainty of a divisive convention and the possibility of serious damage to the Democratic ticket.  If, however, the real goal of Sandernistas is to humiliate Hillary Clinton even as she assumes the official mantle of party leadership, then they should not be surprised if she fights back.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 29, 2016

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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