Friday, August 28, 2015

Cruising the Web

Sean Trende and David Byler have given political junkies a big gift by providing a tool to try to figure out how shifts in the percentage of the GOP share of the 2016 vote of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups and then plugged in their estimates of turnout of those groups to see how this would change the Electoral College vote. It's fascinating to see what effect a shift from 2008 or 2012 splits could have an impact on the election. There are some surprises in their results. What is clear is that, for the GOP to win, they need to increase their share of the non-Hispanic white vote. That would make a difference while changes in the Hispanic vote, unless there is a cataclysmic shift, would not make much of a difference in the Electoral College.
First, note the limited electoral impact of Hispanic voters. All other things being equal, Republicans would have to fall to 8 percent of the Hispanic vote before another state flips to the Democrats (they would lose the popular vote by almost 10 points in this scenario). For all the talk of Texas potentially voting Democrat, that doesn’t happen until Republicans drop to 5 percent of the Hispanic vote.

On the other hand, Republicans would have to win 49 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the popular vote (with other vote shares and turnout rates being equal to 2012), but they would still lose the Electoral College, 289-249. Republicans would have to improve to 63 percent of the Hispanic vote before they would win the Electoral College. This is, incidentally, similar to findings from FiveThirtyEight in 2013.

Second, note the impact of a potential reversion to mean in vote share and turnout among African-American voters. While Republicans won only 4 percent of the black vote in 2008 and 6 percent in 2012, the typical Republican vote share is between 9 and 11 percent. Note also that, historically, African-American participation has lagged white participation by about six percentage points: Black participation lagged white participation by five points in 2000 and 2010, by six points in 1998, 2002, and 2014, and seven points in 2004. The gap was 11 points in 2006.

So the question is: Is the mid-single-digit vote share Republicans received in 2008 and 2012 the rule now? Likewise, is African-American participation going to be equal (or slightly ahead of) white participation going forward? Perhaps the best argument for a reversion to mean is that African-American voting patterns and participation rates in 2010 and 2014 looked an awful lot like those of 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004. This suggests that President Obama’s popularity among African-Americans may not be transferrable....

Third, we note that Republicans don’t have to put up a historically good performance among minority groups to win the election. Take the 2014 exit polls. If Republicans win demographic groups at the rates they did in that election, they would win the popular vote by around three points, and carry the Electoral College, 295-243. In this scenario, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin vote for the Democratic candidate by three points or less, while Colorado and Pennsylvania for the Republican candidate by three points or less.
I have given up on the pipe dream of the GOP winning Pennsylvania. I would think Colorado would be more of a possibility of being in reach. Anyway, this is a very fun tool to play around with. And it's fascinating to see how increasing their percentage among minority groups is not the magic bullet that so many analysts think it is. However, I would hate to see the country divided more and more into two parties divided by race even more than they are today.

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Here is a reminder of the involvement of Iran in killing Americans.
Saudi Arabia has arrested the mastermind of the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex in which 19 U.S. service members were killed and 372 injured, a Saudi-owned newspaper said Wednesday.

Ahmed al-Mughassil was arrested in Beirut and handed over to Saudi custody, the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat daily said. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the capture to the Associated Press.

The announcement of his arrest is a convenient reminder for opponents of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran that Tehran has been a major supporter of terrorist attacks that have killed U.S. service members. One prominent national security expert called the timing of the arrest "suspicious."

The June 25, 1996, attack has long been blamed on Iran, and a U.S. court in 2006 ordered Tehran to pay $254 million to the families of 17 of those who died. The Supreme Court is now considering whether nearly $2 billion in frozen assets belonging to Iran's Central Bank can be used to pay the judgment.
Yu. Those are our partners in peace whose word we're supposed to trust.

Meanwhile, the State Department doesn't care that almost 200 retired admirals and generals oppose the Iran deal.
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday laughed off a letter from 195 retired admirals and generals opposing the Iran nuclear agreement, and dodged questions about why letters of support for the deal being touted by the government should be believed when they have far fewer signatures on them than the letters opposing it.

The Obama administration had hyped a letter from three dozen retired admirals and generals in support of the deal, only to be trumped by a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday in which 195 retired admirals and generals rejected the deal. The administration also put out a letter from rabbis in favor of the deal, but opponents of the deal immediately followed suit with more than twice as many signatures against it.

"It's getting to be kind of a weekly exercise ... [F]irst the administration comes out and promotes a letter by a certain number of former or current officials, and then the opponents of the Iran deal come out with a larger number," said Associated Press reporter Matt Lee.

Kirby laughed and seemed to reject the question by saying, "It's not about the numbers, Matt."

...."It's not about the numbers of who supports it," Kirby said after being pressed by Lee again. "And to pick a hundred of this type of person versus 50 of this person — it doesn't — that's not the relevant metric here. So let me just —"

If that's not the relevant metric, why promote it in the first place, questioned Lee. Kirby said the Obama administration is merely trying to "point to those who are in favor of the deal" and "their expertise."

"So the people that you got to sign your letter are more expert and are better qualified to comment on this than the much larger number that the opponents have gotten?" asked Lee.

Here is a scary report about how Iranian hackers have figured out how to get around GMail's security to hack accounts and change passwords.

Iran isn't the only country playing Obama for a fool. Putin has been doing it throughout Obama's presidency. Charles Krauthammer looks back at the failed reset policy that Obama and Hillary have trumpeted.
On September 5, 2014, two days after President Obama visited Estonia to symbolize America’s commitment to its security, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years.

The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reports the Wall Street Journal) said it was too early to discuss any possible action.
The timing of this brazen violation of NATO territory — immediately after Obama’s visit — is testimony to Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the American president. He knows Obama would do nothing. Why should he think otherwise?

● Putin breaks the arms embargo to Iran by lifting the hold on selling it S-300 missiles. Obama responds by excusing him, saying it wasn’t technically illegal and adding, with a tip of the hat to Putin’s patience: “I’m frankly surprised that it held this long.”

● Russia mousetraps Obama at the eleventh hour of the Iran negotiations, joining Iran in demanding that the conventional-weapons and ballistic-missile embargoes be dropped. Obama caves.

● Putin invades Ukraine, annexes Crimea, breaks two Minsk cease-fire agreements and erases the Russia-Ukraine border — effectively tearing up the post-Cold War settlement of 1994. Obama’s response? Pinprick sanctions, empty threats and a continuing refusal to supply Ukraine with defensive weaponry, lest he provoke Putin....

It began with the reset button, ostentatiously offered less than two months after Obama’s swearing-in. Followed six months later by the unilateral American cancellation of the missile shield the Poles and the Czechs had agreed to install on their territory. Again, lest Putin be upset.

By 2012, a still clueless Obama mocked Mitt Romney for saying that Russia is “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” quipping oh so cleverly: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” After all, he explained, “the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Turned out it was 2015 calling. Obama’s own top officials have been retroactively vindicating Romney. Last month, Obama’s choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” Two weeks ago, the retiring Army chief of staff, Raymond Odierno, called Russia our “most dangerous” military threat. Obama’s own secretary of defense has gone one better: “Russia poses an existential threat to the United States.”

Turns out the Cold War is not over either. Putin is intent on reviving it. Helped immensely by Obama’s epic misjudgment of Russian intentions, the balance of power has shifted — and America’s allies feel it.

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Jim Geraghty warns that running against Biden instead of Clinton should be a concern for Republicans.
Picture the day Vice President Joe Biden wins the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

Suddenly, the classified information Hillary Clinton stored on a private, insecure e-mail server is just grist for a juicy FBI investigation — not a defining issue in the presidential race. Suddenly, Clinton’s problematic record at the State Department is downgraded to a minor sub-section of the Republican argument against President Obama’s foreign-policy performance as a whole. Suddenly her pledge to Charles Woods, the father of a Navy SEAL killed in Benghazi, that she’d “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted” is a historical footnote, not a key revelation into the character of the Democratic nominee.

With Biden as the nominee, the Clinton Foundation and its shady, favor-seeking foreign and domestic donors vanish as a campaign issue. So do the thorny questions of quid pro quo impropriety, real or apparent, created by those donors’ favor-seeking while Clinton sat atop the State Department.

Democrats would shift from a candidate with terrible retail politics skills to one who was born to schmooze — although perhaps Biden’s style is a bit “hands-on.” Their standard-bearer would no longer be a woman widely known as a “congenital liar,” but a man whose struggles with message discipline are the stuff of legend — a man seen as too verbally reckless to knowingly lie to people.

They would go from a nominee who has abysmally hostile relations with the press to one who is seen as wacky and entertaining. For reporters, the supreme challenge is getting access to Clinton and, on those rare occasions when she takes their questions, getting her to spout anything other than focus-grouped pabulum. The supreme challenge with Joe Biden is getting him to stop.
I agree with Geraghty's point. At this point Hillary is such a damaged candidate that opposing her might be a lot easier than anyone thought it would be six months ago. I can well imagine that the media would cover Biden in a fond manner downplaying any gaffes as just funny ol' Joe being himself.

Michael Barone examines the dangers to the Clinton campaign from Joe Biden. She's may have already lost what Barone calls the Birkenstock Belt, a large part of the Democratic coalition. Right now she's winning the black vote, but what could happen if it shifted to Biden as Obama's heir. That's why the Clinton campaign is doing all they can behind the scenes to discourage Biden from voting even as she says suitably friendly things in public that no one believes she really means. She's lining up endorsements and making public all her organization in place in key states while she going to be fundraising constantly after Labor Day.

Barone then goes on to contemplate what could happen if those Trump supporters who have not voted previously in GOP primaries come out to cast their votes for him.

Hillary has flipped her position on ethanol now that she needs the vote of Iowans.
During the 2002 debate over an energy bill that included an ethanol mandate, Clinton took to the Senate floor to say that while she believed ethanol had potential, she couldn't support "an astonishing new anti-consumer government mandate — that every US refiner must use an ever-increasing volume of ethanol."

Earlier this year, Clinton wrote in a local Iowa paper that Iowans "deserve to be able to get ahead and stay ahead. To make that possible," she supports the ethanol mandate.
The ethanol mandate is a prime example of the government surrendering to pressure from Iowans manipulating their early caucuses to get politicians to endorse a policy that does nothing but negatively distort markets.
Ethanol mandates drive up gasoline prices for drivers, food prices for shoppers and feed prices for ranchers. They deplete water supplies, waste cropland and corrupt our politics. Hillary Clinton knows this. But she also knows how important the Iowa caucuses are.

Some commentators frame this tawdry story as one state's avaricious self-interest at the expense of the public interest. This is true. Iowans should be ashamed that they use their privileged position in American politics to enrich themselves. It is cronyism, distilled.

Free and enlightened societies are built on the opposite idea: That those who are given a privilege are thereby bound to pursue the broader good. Republics and economies are ruined when the insiders use their inside post to enrich themselves and their friends.

Iowans are, in a sense, trustees of the Republican and Democratic primary voters in 49 other states. Through the ethanol boondoggle, they break that trust.

But Iowans and the corn lobbyists don't get all the blame. The politicians who sell out to them bear the ultimate culpability. And selling out is not inevitable.

Rich Lowry writes that Trump's success is a mark of the failures of the other GOP candidates particularly Bush and Walker.
The weakness starts at the top, or what was supposed to be the top. In the normal course of things, the establishment front-runner provides coherence to the field. Hence, the expectation that the field would have Jeb Bush and a not-Bush, or maybe two. For the moment, this assumption has collapsed, as the current shape of the field is Trump and everyone else.

This is quite the comedown for Bush. His “shock and awe” has turned into getting sand kicked on him at the beach by a loudmouth and bully. It’s not just that Bush is trailing Trump badly in the polls; he has acceded to the terms of the debate being set by the mogul. It wasn’t long ago that Bush swore off talking about Trump, as basically beneath him. Now, he is sniping with him daily.

Before he got in the race, Bush spoke of only wanting to do it if he could run joyfully. Little did he know that he would be joyously grappling with an ill-informed blowhard who takes it as his daily obligation to insult Bush and trample on the pieties he holds dear.

In the argument with Trump over mass deportation, clearly Bush is right. But the split screen with Trump doesn’t necessarily do him any favors. Trump is such a forceful communicator that he comes off as some sort of throwback alpha male, whereas Bush is such an earnest wonk he looks and sounds like a sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom. It’s like watching a WWE wrestler get a stern talking to from Ned Flanders.

How stupid is the Jeb Bush campaign to tout the endorsement of Eric Cantor? Whom do they think that will impress? How hard did they have to search to find a way to underline how out of touch Bush is with conservative voters?

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The FEC is getting overburdened having to process all the jokey candidates running for president.

And here's what Obama has done for his own party.
Since President Obama took office, 85 of 98 state legislative bodies got more Republican....

Overall, of the 98 state senates and houses/assemblies, the Republicans saw gains in 40 upper chambers and 45 lower ones. Meaning far fewer elected Democrats, and a smaller bench. Many of those Democrats are necessarily from swing districts, as our Aaron Blake pointed out last year -- the sort of districts from which parties like to recruit.

How many Democrats are we talking about? According to the NCSL data, there were 4,082 Democrats in state senates and state houses in 2009. In 2015, there were 3,163 -- a decrease of 22.5 percent.

That's 900-plus fewer Democrats to move up the ladder.
That's why the Democratic bench is so weak and they're looking towards septuagenarians as their most promising presidential candidates. And it's going to cause them recruitment problems as they search for Democrats to run for governor, senator, and representative.

Here are some suggestions on how to resist the "Left's culture control" machine.

William Sousa defends Broken Windows policing.

Josiah Peterson refutes Elizabeth Warren point by point on Planned Parenthood. She was dishonest and repeatedly misstated Republican positions.

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The PUblic Interest Legal Foundation has determined that 141 counties in the United States have more registered voters than people alive.

Oh, geez. Vox doesn't know the difference between the National Rifle Association and the National Recovery Administration.

So which superhero does each GOP candidate remind you of?

Take a break from depressing news and discouraging political analyses and listen to this interesting podcast about Deflategate.
AEI economist, Stan Veuger deflates the erroneous and infamous Wells Report fueling the prosecution. After examining all evidence, he has concluded that there’s “no direct evidence that the Patriot’s balls were deflated.”

Later, Houston Chronicle writer and lawyer, Stephanie Stradley sorts through the legalese of the Tom Brady suspension. Yahoo Sports Reporter, Andy Behrens, gauges how the case could impact Fantasy Football rosters this season. And the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins weighs the potential legacy fall out from the case.
I found it very interesting, especially the consensus among the reporters that the NFL really overreached and misled the public about their investigation.