Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fox News Polls More Rs Than Ds...and Jeb Still Loses

First of all, some cruel irony.

Right around the time that Mitt Romney made the decision not to run for president again, Fox News released a poll placing him firmly at the top of the Republican primary pack and (more surprisingly) in a general election tie with Hillary Clinton...a whopping 15-point swing from the ABC/WP poll from just a week earlier!

But since Romney is out, I won't try to make sense of all this.

So let's talk Jeb instead.

This poll has him down only 5 points against Hillary at this early stage. While it's not really a good result for him, it is when compared with the previous two over at 270 To Win. An obvious question arises: does this represent a big shift in the race within the past week or is it merely Fox News' special brand of methodology?

The pdf offers some clues.

Hillary has 6% more of her base supporting her than Jeb does (87%-81%) as well as an impressive 12-point edge with independents (46%-34%). This explains her lead somewhat, but it does not explain why it's only 5%, much lower than two previous (highly reputable) national polls. For some insight into this, check out the sampling error percentages for each subgroup.

One thing immediately jumps out: The higher the sample, the lower the error rate...which means they sampled a bit more Republicans than Democrats. Why is this important? Because in the last presidential election, Democrats had a 6-point demographic advantage over Republicans, and despite being a closer election, this was only a 1-point drop from 2008. The closer result last time was mostly due to independents preferring Romney over McCain.

With that in mind, here's a quick thought experiment for entertainment purposes only. Based on the sampling error rate, this Fox News poll might be about +2 R. If the sample was adjusted to what we saw in 2012, that would mean an 8-point shift to +6 D. This would turn Jeb's reasonable 5-point deficit into a much more distressing 13-point that is exactly in line with the previous two national polls!

Unless there is an absolutely seismic change in the mood of the country over the next two years, there is simply no reason to expect that Republicans will outnumber Democrats on Election Day 2016. If the demographics are at least somewhat comparable to 2012, and if she retains at least some of her current edge with the independents...Hillary will win and it might not even be close.

Finally, please note that none of this is meant to be more of that hilarious "unskewing" of the polls that was so popular among desperate Republicans in 2012. Rather, it should be considered merely a helpful asterisk on a poll released by Fox News, who will certainly do everything they can to keep their audience awake and hopeful until Election Day.

There will be more.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

It's no longer 'will she?' but 'when will she?'...and your guess is as good as mine.

The chatter continues:
Hillary Clinton, expecting no major challenge for the Democratic nomination, is strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July, three months later than originally planned, top Democrats tell POLITICO.
The delay from the original April target will give her more time to develop her message, policy and organization, without the chaos and spotlight of a public campaign. 
A Democrat familiar with Clinton’s thinking said: “She doesn’t feel under any pressure, and they see no primary challenge on the horizon. If you have the luxury of time, you take it.”
Advisers said the biggest reason for the delay is simple: She feels no rush.
There's been so much talk of "early April" lately that it was in danger of becoming an unnecessary deadline that might sap any remaining degree of surprise out her announcement. There is now a three-month window and that's a smart move. But I still have a sneaking guess that Hillary might just pull a Beyoncé and drop her big announcement when no one is expecting it.

If so, remember: you heard it here first.

One key reason to do it earlier than April? She already has a target square on her back from the dozen-plus potential Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney just yesterday. Their timetable is not the same as hers, and a robust attack-and-response campaign team might just come in handy sooner rather than later.

Granted, there are also plenty of good reasons to hold out for as long as possible, especially with the huge lead she currently enjoys.

But for her biggest longtime supporters, as Tom Petty would say...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Will Hillary's Country Inroads Take Us Home?

Although no Democrat will likely win the majority of rural votes in a presidential election anytime soon, a new poll suggests that Hillary Clinton continues to show more strength outside of metropolitan areas than one might expect. Luckily, it's not an either/or proposition... because she's about as popular as President Obama in the urban areas as well.

These numbers might also help to explain her incredibly good overall poll results against prospective Republican candidates at this very early stage.

To clarify, these rural numbers are only "good" in a relative sense. For any Republican, they would be beyond horrendous, but for a Democrat running for president, they about as good as it gets.
In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 62% Big City counties said they had positive feelings about Obama versus 61% for Clinton. And in Urban Suburb counties, Obama also does a little better 50% positive for him versus 48% for Clinton. 
But out of those core urban areas, Ms. Clinton's advantage is her negatives are much lower as you can see on these charts... 
In rural conservative areas...64% have negative views of Obama, but only 48% have negative views of Clinton. And in the huge swath of counties known as Rural Middle America...53% have negative view of Mr. Obama, but only 40% have negative views of Clinton.
As of now, Clinton essentially retains Obama's positive numbers in the cities while throwing in the added bonus of noticeably lighter negative rural counterweights. And since Obama won do the math.

While we can't expect every bit of Hillary's current modest rural goodwill to last until Election Day, consider this: Republicans have been throwing everything at her for more than two decades and she's only become stronger and more popular in the process. The vast majority of her supporters...and dissenters...have got to be pretty baked-in with the electorate by now.

But even if a tough, close election only leaves her with a 5-10% gain in support from rural areas (as compared to Obama's 2012 showing), such an improvement could still easily tip the balance in a crucial swing state like Ohio or Florida to the Democrats. And if the election ends up being not-so-close, it might just help to bring over a nice surprise like Missouri or Kentucky...just to name a couple of states that the Clintons already won in back-to-back electoral landslides not so long ago.

Additionally, these rural numbers might also help to explain...this:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Five Key Takeaways From Politico's Hillary 2016 Update

1. First and if there was any lingering is happening:
Campaign advisers say the likelihood of a campaign, long at 98 percent (she never really hesitated, according to one person close to her), went to 100 percent right after Christmas, when Clinton approved a preliminary budget and several key hires.
2. And there is no serious competition brewing:
Clinton will enter the Democratic race with a bang — and virtually no opposition to speak of. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who could mount a serious campaign from the left, has said she won’t run, and is making no behind-the-scenes preparations. Vice President Joe Biden says he might very well run — but mainly wants his name in the mix in case Clinton implodes.
In my view, the only real question is how and when Warren and Biden announce their support. And would it not instantly and dramatically unite the party if they both made their Hillary endorsements at her announcement ceremony? Just asking.

3. For better or worse, running mate talk is already percolating, and the top two names at this time are aimed at shoring up Colorado or Virginia:

Some advisers are already privately talking up potential running mates, with Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tim Kaine of Virginia dominating the early speculation.
Some advisers expect a push for diversity on the ticket. So the shortlist also is expected to include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and perhaps California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate.
His name is not mentioned here, but unless he has made his intentions clear already, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio could be also a powerful choice, both for his working class populism and twice-elected popularity in his crucial home state.

4. Jeb is considered the biggest threat:

Bill Clinton is already deeply engaged in the campaign, warning that Jeb Bush is a real threat, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is probably just a sideshow. The former president got a heads-up from the camp of President George H.W. Bush a few days before former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made his surprise Facebook announcement in December that he would “actively explore” a campaign.
Unless...yet another Bush is actually the candidate the Clintons do want to face, which is why they are casually and repeatedly saying the opposite. Beware, Republican primary could be a trap from confirmed political mastermind Bill Clinton!

5. As suggested before, the official announcement is still more than a couple of months away:

Hillary Clinton is in the final stages of planning a presidential campaign that will most likely be launched in early April and has made decisions on most top posts, according to numerous Democrats in close contact with the Clintons and their aides.
Offhand out-of-the-loop prediction: there is so little surprise left that they may end up springing the announcement on America a bit earlier than that.

Check out today's full article at Politico for much more.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Are You Ready for the Legendary Clinton/Palin Debates?

Could the long-unawaited announcement from another historic candidate be close at hand?

Will the Republicans finally get their big payback for the 2008 landslide in the most ridiculous way possible?

Will she at last be able to refudiate the growing chorus of naysayers within her own party?

You betcha! Err...Maybe.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin told The Washington Post in an interview Friday that she is “seriously interested” in running for the White House in 2016. 
“You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested,” Palin said, when asked to clarify her thinking about a possible presidential bid. 
Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee, said she stood by comments she made Thursday in Las Vegas to ABC News, where she first expressed enthusiasm about potentially competing for the Republican presidential nomination. 
“I am. As I said yesterday, I’m really interested in the opportunity to serve at some point,” Palin said Friday, as former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, a potential 2016 rival, looked on.
I think they forgot to add " horror" there at the end.

For the record, as much as we'd love it to be true, I'd be willing to bet that this is just another money-making carrot on a stick, just as it was in 2012. But you never know.

So for now...take a moment, close your eyes, and imagine what a debate between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin would look like in October 2016. Wow...

And if that dream doesn't become a reality...she's not their only hope. There is another.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Clinton Thrashes All GOP Candidates by Double Digits in New WP/ABC Poll

Do you notice a trend emerging?

Hillary Clinton is currently besting Christie, Paul and Bush by 13%, with Romney fairing even worse at 15% down, and Huck rounding out the sad showing with a 17% deficit.

And what about the historic nature of her potential candidacy?
Two-thirds of the public say that the potential for Clinton to be the first female president makes no difference in their decision to support her. Those who do put weight on this see it as a positive factor, by more than 2 to 1.
Will Bill be a drag, though?
Among all voting-age adults, more than 6 in 10 say the fact that Bill Clinton served as president has no bearing on whether they would support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. And among those who say her spouse’s presidency will matter, 23 percent say it will make them more likely to support her, while 14 percent say less likely.
What about Jeb? Does the Bush family connection help or hurt him?
Jeb Bush’s family connections are less benign. A 55 percent majority says the fact that Bush’s father and brother served as president would not make them more or less likely to support him. But among those for which this will be a factor, it runs in a negative direction by 3 to 1.
Will Romney's previous run at the presidency affect him?
Romney's 2012 bid for the presidency as the Republican nominee makes no difference for just over 6 in 10 Americans. But among those for whom it does matter, about twice as many say it makes them less likely to support him.
And that's not all. There's lots of encouraging info in this awesome poll.

There's may be long, tough fight ahead...but is it a good week to be a Democrat or what?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In Winnipeg, Hillary Delivers Impressive Pre-Campaign Speech

With echoes of President Obama's State of the Union still ringing from last night, Hillary Clinton delivered what sure sounded like a pre-campaign speech today in Winnipeg.

Tackling topics ranging from immigration to the recent terror attack in Paris, it may have lacked the fiery rhetoric and rah-rah applause lines that we'll probably hear later this year, but it brought back enough memories of 2008 to suggest that she's ready to jump back into the fight without skipping a beat.

Eloquent progressivism, unparalleled grasp of the issues, and most of all, staggering's all there and ready to fully reemerge.

And no offense to any other politician, because all of them (Hillary included) sometimes need a script...but she did it all without the use of notes, teleprompters or a podium! Impressive.

Discussing wealth inequality, she suggested that last night's speech by the president was merely the opening Democratic salvo in a debate that will be front-and-center until Election Day:
A new report by the global charity, Oxfam, found that the eighty richest people in the world...not possess as much wealth as the poorest 3 1/2 billion people combined, and they predict that by next year, the top 1% of the wealthiest globally will own more than half of all the wealth on the planet.  
Now, in many countries, people are asking: How can we reverse this trend? How can we share prosperity more broadly and fairly? How can we relearn how to work together and to grow together? How do we make sure that new waves of immigrants enrich rather than embitter our communities? What will it take to give our young people the opportunities they need and deserve? 
I think that democracy, and the free market economy that goes hand-in-hand with democracy, has to take seriously these questions. And as we answer them, there's a lot we can learn from each other.
Here in Canada, for example, you've shown that the economic inequality that we see in the United States and many other countries it's not inevitable. Despite facing similar long-term challenges from globalization and automation, you've invested in your middle class and it's made a real difference. 
Last night, President Obama offered a vision for helping the middle class in the United States reclaim its seat at the table, and the proposals he offered are an important start for a critical debate. There is so much more to do to bring security and possibility to families struggling with stagnant wages and sinking hopes...
Of course, these words have gotten little notice compared to an unexpected solo comedy bit featuring her casual impersonation of Vladimir Putin. But she didn't need to go full Yakov Smirnoff to get a genuine laugh from the crowd.


Before leaving Winnipeg, she set aside some time for one more stop.
Clinton visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, leaving a message on a card in the "Inspiring Change" gallery on the museum's seventh level.  
"I imagine a future where human rights will be secure for everyone because all people stood up and spoke out for the freedom and dignity of each of us. We all must work toward that time together. HR Clinton. USA," she wrote on a card.
Watch the full speech and interview here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We're Ready...and She's Getting There

Eight years ago today, Hillary Clinton entered the race for the White House for the first time, promising that she was "in to win". She went on to dominate the race for the bulk of 2007 only to lose the opening Iowa contest to Barack Obama, setting up a contentious, historic and inspirational six-month fight to reclaim the nomination. Though by some counts she did win slightly more raw votes (close to 18 million), the delegate lead by her opponent was simply too great to overcome in the end. 

So the big question is, will she avoid the mistakes that contributed to her defeat last time? And as the silent weeks tick by in 2015, this might be followed by a more practical "Where is she?".

It appears we are getting answers to both questions:
Clinton is developing a smarter, more relevant campaign message focused on economic opportunity and her lifelong work to better women’s lives. The former secretary of state is also trying to play down any sense of inevitability and aims to adopt many of the same data-focused strategies that Barack Obama used to snatch the race from her in 2008.
Holed up mostly out of sight in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home, Clinton is presiding over daily strategy sessions aimed at understanding voter dynamics and the changes wrought by the rise of super PACs and ubiquitous social media, people familiar with her efforts said. 
She is also holding policy discussions focused on the economic setbacks facing the middle class and working women and on how to shape solutions that are digestible in a campaign speech. 
Clinton appears to be embracing what some Democrats call the “glass-ceiling moment” from 2008, when she poignantly addressed her own failure to break through the gender barrier in her concession speech to Obama.
Avoiding the media spotlight to preside over daily strategy sessions and policy discussions. Crafting a message which resembles the one that emerged in the final months of her previous campaign. Making a point to properly assess the mistakes of the past so that they won't happen in the future. Assembling a very impressive support team. Hopefully also getting plenty of rest and quality time with her family at home?

It sounds like someone is getting ready for something important.

Take your time, Hillary. We're ready when you are.

Mitt vs Hillary? Give the People What They Want!

See the full CBS News poll results here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Run, Huck, Run!

There's a new ABC News/Washington Post poll out today. In addition to rising approval numbers for President Obama (quite relevant for 2016), they also polled several potential GOP candidates against Hillary Clinton. Curiously, however, they have only released one result so far. 

Among registered voters nationwide: 

The pollster notes that the rest of the matchup numbers will be released later this week and also makes a fascinating comparison:
It’s their first test in an ABC/Post poll in this cycle, and much better for Clinton than a hypothetical matchup in late 2007, when she and Huckabee ran essentially evenly among registered voters, 48-45 percent. 
Perhaps these results were released first out of a possible expectation of a similarly close result? Who knows, but this is a striking shift which hints that Hillary is in an even stronger position for the general election now than she was about 8 years ago.

Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses, has remained in the public eye with his own show on Fox News since 2008. He's not as establishment as Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush nor as controversial as Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, making him a potentially safe fallback candidate for conservatives over the course of the next year or so. Plus, the idea of an 'Arkansas Showdown' sounds kind of fun too. Whatever the reason, he's someone that the Republicans could feel good about as their nominee in 2016.

Conveniently, Democrats would probably feel pretty chipper about that too.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hillary Crushes the GOP...but CNN Buries Her Lead

Stopping by RealClearPolitics today, I noticed just one 2016 general election poll in the last month: A CNN/ORC poll from Dec 28th that matches up Clinton against several potential GOP candidates. It is rather staggering in chart form:

Holy moly! As of late last month, Jeb Bush is apparently the only candidate who comes even remotely close to making this a race, and that's being generous. (Note: Paul Ryan was close behind, but he recently announced his non-candidacy).  

I wanted to find out more, and a quick search located the relevant article: CNN/ORC Poll: Bush surges to 2016 GOP frontrunner. Ahh, the headline leaves out some important info, but this is nothing too surprising. News organizations will almost always hype the horse race to make things seem as close as possible for the sake of ratings and readership. But when I read almost the entire article to get some more info on the general election numbers, here's what I found: Nothing.

Huh? I began to doubt that I was in the right place until I reached the brief next-to-last paragraph, but that didn't tell me very much. So I opened up the PDF and scrolled down a few pages. And there, finally, are the numbers... the only numbers that really lay the cards on the table for the general election at this stage of the game: Bush may have been surging last month, but he's only surging into a chance to lose in a landslide to Hillary Clinton.

CNN doesn't just bury the lede, but almost completely buries her lead.

"But wait!", you might say. "That was then and this is now...because there's a dashing new kid in town by the name of Mitt who might just change everything!". Well, it turns out that CNN also matched him up against Hillary last July and...

Anything can happen from now until election day, obviously, and this piece is not meant to gloat, cause complacency, or demoralize the Republicans (okay, maybe the latter just a bit). However, make no mistake about it, the media will undoubtedly filter the race over the next two years in accordance with their own needs. Luckily, it's incredibly easy to dig a little deeper if you want to know the real story.

Same as it ever was...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

'I consider myself a proud modern American progressive'

During the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate on July 23rd, 2007, one of the more memorable moments featured an online questioner asking Senator Clinton to define the word "liberal" and if she would use the word to describe herself. Her response:
You know, it is a word that originally meant that you were for freedom, that you were for the freedom to achieve, that you were willing to stand against big power and on behalf of the individual.  
Unfortunately, in the last 30, 40 years, it has been turned up on its head and it's been made to seem as though it is a word that describes big government, totally contrary to what its meaning was in the 19th and early 20th century.  
 I prefer the word "progressive," which has a real American meaning, going back to the progressive era at the beginning of the 20th century. I consider myself a modern progressive, someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we're working together and when we find ways to help those who may not have all the advantages in life get the tools they need to lead a more productive life for themselves and their family.  
So I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I think that's the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring back to American politics.
Just words? Hardly. Though sometimes lost in the back-and-forth of the historic 2007-2008 primary battle, Clinton ran a campaign that was in some respects more progressive than Obama's, particularly in domestic areas such as health care. Had the question gone to Obama instead, I can almost guarantee that the answer would have been along the lines of "we need to get away from labels" and consistent with his "not blue or red states, but the United States" consensus-building message...which was fine and admirable in its own way.

But give credit where it's due: the last time she ran for president, Hillary ran as a progressive and was refreshingly proud to tell you why. I wouldn't expect anything different this time around.

The clip below contains both the question and response, but also continues into a testy exchange between Senator Obama and the semi-lovable crank Mike Gravel (now there's a name I haven't heard in a long time).