This has been the craziest, most bizarre election cycle in modern history. Hillary Clinton was supposed to have a coronation as the Democratic nominee, but a crazy socialist dragged the process until weeks before the convention. On the Republican side, it took nearly a year to go from 17 candidates to one. And the one was the probably the weakest general election candidate the Republicans could field.
After the crazy ups and downs it all comes down to a few predictable states to try to guess the outcome on November 8th.
Conventional wisdom has Hillary Clinton winning in a landslide. However, this year has been anything but an election following conventional wisdom. While our analysis would put Clinton at a clear advantage of winning, there is a still a narrow path for Trump to get to 270 Electoral College votes.
According to private polling that has not been released to the press, there is a less than one percentage point difference between Trump and Clinton in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Iowa. Trump leads Clinton by 4% in Ohio.
While the Democrats typically have better turnout operations than Republicans, if there is a sentiment shift with late-deciders, it is plausible that Trump could add Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Iowa to his column. If that happens, and Clinton wins the remainder of the traditional swing states the outcome is 270 Electoral College votes for Trump and 268 for Clinton.
Think about that: 270-268. Guess who would be screaming “rigged election!” at that point.
However, if Trump can’t tip it over in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Iowa, Clinton ends up with more than 320 Electoral College votes.
There is another crazy possibility. In Utah Trump leads Independent candidate Evan McMullin 32%-30%, with Clinton at 24%. If Trump does win those states as outlined above, but loses Utah to McMullin, that would put the Electoral college count at 268 Clinton, 264 Trump, and 6 McMullin. If no one has the required 270 votes, then the election is determined by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Now THAT would be some post-election drama!
The first week of 2016 brought something that I hadn’t expected: President Obama and I are in agreement. Last week, the president previewed his State of the Union Address from the Oval Office saying, “Since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I’ve ever been more optimistic abut the year ahead.” (odd for him to say considering in January of 2009 he had his vision of change and a Democrat Congress to achieve it, but I guess “yes, we can” was less convincing to him than his followers.) What’s more, we both agree on at least one cause of this optimism: that this is his last year as president.
My other reason for optimism, Paul Ryan’s speakership, is likely not shared by the president. Ryan’s ability to communicate the way in which conservative principles can improve Americans’ daily lives and his Midwestern, earnest and steadfast promise keeping will be refreshing for the Republican base and the House Freedom Caucus. If Speaker Ryan says he will do something, it’s going to happen.
2015 closed with a budget deal that had Rush Limbaugh shrieking the “GOP [sold] America down the river.” In a nutshell, the pundits and many in the Freedom Caucus were frustrated that Ryan didn’t threaten a government shutdown in order to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood—two things that won’t happen while Barack Obama is in the White House. Political punditry and showmanship are easy, governing is hard; it requires wisdom and patience, uncommon virtues in Washington. Thankfully for Republicans, Paul Ryan has both.
Upon assuming speakership, Ryan was handed a budget deal that was a fait accompli. He had two options: blow the deal up, shutdown the government, and start the 2016 Election Year in turmoil; or snatch a few important victories within the deal and start 2016 with a clean slate on which to write a clear, conservative vision for the country. Paul Ryan withstood pressure from the “politics-over-governance crew” and chose the latter.
The budget deal permanently removed the ban on oil exports, strengthening our position in dealing with the Middle East and Russia while boosting our economy at home; prevented the sequester from hitting the military so that our beleaguered forces get the resources they need in this dangerous world; and protected free speech by preventing the IRS from transforming abusive tactics into sanctioned policies. The IRS provision alone was worth the price, because we can undo spending in the future easier than re-instating First Amendment rights taken away. Not bad for an admittedly crappy bill.
Then, in the first week of the New Year, Paul Ryan did exactly what he promised, sending to Obama’s desk a bill that defunds Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Of course, the president vetoed it, but the public discussion will be about the issues presented in the bill, rather than inside-the-beltway gridlock and bickering. Moreover, passage of the bill shows the American people that Republicans are capable of governing.
As the year continues, with Speaker Paul Ryan’s help, Americans will realize that “a more prosperous, a more secure, and a more confident America is possible.”
Yes Mr. President, I’m very optimistic.
Sometimes you read a story in the newspaper (well, on a news website at least) and just shake your head at the profound stupidity of the reporter.
The New York Times first wrote a breathless story about how Senator Marco Rubio and his wife have had a serious problem with driving infractions – 17 total.
On it’s face, you might think, “that dude’s got a lead foot.” The problem is, of the 17 tickets cited in the story, only four of those tickets were given to Senator Rubio. The other 13 were his wife. That’s four in the last 15 years.
So, that’s a bit of a cheap shot by the New York Times.
Then, a couple days later, you had this story with this headline: Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled by Financial Struggles.
My first reaction was, this is good for Rubio, a contrast to millionaire Hillary Clinton. And, taken as a whole, the story is about a 44 year-old father of three who has had some ups and downs financially as he has tried to balance a life in politics and raising a family.
One of the more absurd parts of the story was the Times reporting that following him earning an $800,000 advance on his book, “he splurged on an extravagant purchase: $80,000 for a luxury speedboat, state records show. At the time, Mr. Rubio confided to a friend that it was a potentially inadvisable outlay that he could not resist. The 24-foot boat, he said, fulfilled a dream.”
OK, so I’m a kid from Show Low, AZ and not an expert in watercraft. But, I have had friends who owned boats (bass fishing boats, speed boats, deep sea fishing boats) and I’ve been on a couple “luxury” boats.
When I read “$80,000 luxury speedboat” I just chuckled. A 24-ft boat that costs $80,000 is far from “luxury.” You want a “luxury speedboat?” That’s going to put you out a few hundred thousand to start.
For example, this Tiara is used and is for sale for more than $300,000.
Turns out this is the “luxury speedboat” Marco bought:
It’s a standard deep sea fishing boat. As I commented to someone, “If a luxury speedboat was a Bentley, this is a Hyundai.”
So the New York Times is getting some criticism. Even Politico thinks they’ve crossed the line. Think about that, when even Politico thinks you’ve gone over the line, you can guarantee you have crossed the line a mile back.
Then last night, Jon Stewart jumped into the mix. It’s pretty amazing TV.
The New York Times has lost even more of what little credibility they have remaining. The Gray Lady weeps…
Townhall.com published my latest column. Here are some excerpts:
As the new Congress, now controlled by Republicans in both houses, settles in for work in Washington D.C., there will be huge expectations from those on the Right. It will be important for Republicans to balance the “do-something” chorus and President Obama, who believes he can rule by veto-threat.
In addition to rolling back disasters like ObamaCare, Republicans should look at the next two years as a public relations battle, not just a legislative battle. Some on the right have said nothing short of a repeal of ObamaCare is good enough. However, there is a case to be made for small victories.
Financial guru Dave Ramsey often talks about the “Debt Snowball” principle. Rather than using the traditional method of paying off personal debt starting with the card with the highest interest rate, Ramsey suggests that you ignore the interest rates and start with the smallest debt. Then pay off the next smallest card, adding the previous debt’s minimum payment. Ramsey writes:
“The point of the debt snowball is behavior modification. In our example, if you start paying on the student loan first because it’s the largest debt, you won’t see it leave for a while. You’ll see numbers going down on a page, but that’s it. Pretty soon, you’ll lose steam and stop paying extra, but you’ll still have all your debts hanging around.
But when you ditch the small debt first, you see progress.”
This is what the Republican Congress needs: a few small victories to build momentum and show the American people that they can make progress.
As free-market conservatives, we have a lot of big goals, like repealing ObamaCare. However, we can’t let that cloud our appreciation and support for small victories like the Save American Workers Act and other legislation in American Encore’s Blueprint for 2015. These small victories can give us much-needed momentum that shows the American people that Republicans are committed to reform, not just rhetoric.
Read the entire piece here.
If you follow Arizona politics, you probably know that Senator John McCain made an appearance at the State Meeting of the Arizona Republican Party last Saturday. It was newsworthy because this is the same state party that censured McCain last year.
It was not without its drama – there were a few folks who booed very loudly and a handful who really showed “who is boss” by keeping their backs turned to McCain throughout his speech. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t be seen from the stage because they were way, way in the back corner.
McCain gave a passionate speech about the dangers we face in the world (Russia, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc.) and why the current Obama policy is failing to keep us safe.
At one point, someone yelled, “You’re a war mongrel!” Now, I’m guessing he meant “warmonger,” but, alas, either the adrenaline got to him, or he actually didn’t know what he was yelling.
Think about it: in a Republican meeting of State Committeemen (the very definition of “base Republicans”) someone is so out of touch with Republican principles and policy that they accuse a U.S. Senator, who was tortured for five years as a prisoner of war, of being a warmonger. For a second, I thought I was at an Occupy Wall Street rally.
Thankfully, the vast majority of attendees were cheering and applauding Sen. McCain and his speech – thus demonstrating that the critics of McCain were a distinct minority.
To his credit, State Party Chairman, Robert Graham, got up after McCain’s speech and admonished those who had shown complete disrespect. It was a moment of leadership that has defined the kind of Chairman Graham has been: fair-minded, following the rules, and urging unity. It’s no wonder Graham won a landslide re-election as Chairman, garnering nearly 80% of the vote.
Graham’s landslide victory is also a testament to an Arizona Republican Party that is excelling. Graham raised significant money for the 2014 cycle and made the party relevant again. No one can say that Republicans didn’t elect a strong conservative slate of statewide officers and a conservative legislature.
But let’s get back to McCain.
Despite some national groups calling him their number one target, I don’t believe Senator McCain will face a serious challenge – either in the primary or the general election in 2016. Here’s why:
- Obama’s foreign policy will continue to be a complete failure. There will be more terrorist attacks (like what happened in France) and some American lives might even be lost. From his post as the Senate Armed Services Chairman, Senator McCain will have ample opportunity to try to hold the Obama administration accountable for their failed foreign policy.
- Anyone who is thinking about mounting a challenge to McCain remembers what happened to JD Hayworth. It wasn’t pretty.
- 2016 is likely to be framed in the context of a national security election. If there is one thing that unifies the base of the Republican Party it is that we believe the first (and almost only) function of government is to “provide for the common defense.” If McCain is leading that charge, it will be hard for someone to get traction against him.
There are probably other reasons, but for now, a real challenge doesn’t seem to be shaping up.
A week and a half ago, the Chicago Bears’ Lamarr Houston suffered a season-ending injury as a result of a post-play celebration. Mr. Houston sacked the Patriots’ backup quarterback…while the Bears were losing by 25 points…in the fourth quarter. Aside from looking like an idiot, Houston now cannot do the job for which he is paid millions. In the coming weeks and months, Republicans risk committing the same error: rendering themselves incapable due to unnecessary and unwarranted celebrations.
Yes, Republicans won big this midterm – once all the dust settles they will have picked up at least nine seats in the Senate, adding at least 15 seats to their majority in the House, and will occupy 32 Governor’s seats. It was a blowout – primarily because the nation’s problems are big and our president incompetent. So while we cheer for the wave of wins, the reasons for the wins are not necessarily cause for celebration.
Abroad America’s influence diminishes. We’re weak, we lack resolve; we waffle on issues where we once stood firm. Our foes move in to fill the power vacuum and instability reigns.
At home, “mistakes” in Washington turn to scandals, which result in crises of confidence, giving way to partisan squabbling; rinse and repeat. Solyndra, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS, the VA, the cycle seems endless. Meanwhile, too many Americans remain out of work, the economy remains feeble, the Affordable Care Act remains unaffordable and uncaring, and the American Dream slips farther out of reach.
Polling in the lead up to Election Day showed that a large majority of Americans think we’re headed in the wrong direction, an ABC/Washington Post poll showed 70% think our country is on the wrong track. And, more than half of Americans, 54% according to Gallup, disapprove of Obama. These voters hope, skeptically perhaps, that the GOP can fix it or at least stem the tide of failure.
In 2012, had voters known what they know today, they would have elected Mitt Romney and I firmly believe our nation would now be on the upswing. Thanks however to a media that seeks to create “a narrative” of the world it wants rather than reporting the facts, Americans went to the polls woefully under-informed about Obama’s true job performance.
In a free society, the truth eventually gets out. No matter what damage control sound bites liberal pundits spin our way— “the opposing party historically tends to win big in midterm elections, especially during a president’s second term,” seems to be the go-to line—Obama’s lies, cover-ups, mismanagement, and failures are the reason the GOP now controls both the House and Senate. Jovial or smug celebrations on our part would demonstrate to voters that Republicans aren’t up to the task of governing either.
So, before we start that victory dance, Republicans must recognize that Americans didn’t vote for us because they think we’re good, but because they think we cannot be worse. Let’s not prove them wrong. Skip the celebration. It’s time to govern.
Election Night 2014 ongoing updates.
(11:00 pm EST) – Networks have reversed their call for New Hampshire as Brown gains ground as votes continue to be counted.
Tillis is growing his lead over Sen. Hagan in North Carolina.
In Arizona – Ducey declared winner for Governor in Arizona. Republican Mark Brnovich, the cinderella story of Arizona politics this year, is leading Democrat Felicia Rotellini 53-47 in Attorney General race. Michelle Reagan leads Terry Goddard 52-48 for Secretary of State.
(10:00 pm EST) – Gardner has won the Senate race in Colorado. That is a HUGE win.
(9:30 pm EST) – South Dakota has been called for Mike Rounds – another pick up for the GOP march towards a Senate Majority. While the networks have called New Hampshire for Sen. Shaheen, it’s only a four point spread with 33% of precincts reporting. A little early.
Colorado has about 50% reporting and Gardner leads Sen. Udall by five.
Virginia continues to look very close – could be the story of the night.
Gov. Rick Scott appears to have overcome the challenge from Charlie Crist in Florida.
(8:30 pm EST) – Polls just closed in Arkansas and the race is already called for Tom Cotton – who defeated Sen. Mark Pryor. The wave continues.
(7:45 pm EST) – Polls have closed in Kentucky, Georgia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. McConnell has been declared the winner in Kentucky, Capito wins West Virginia, Perdue led in the exit polls in Georgia, and exit polls in North Carolina showed the race tied.
Exits showed leads for the GOP in IA, CO, AR, AK, and KS.
If all that holds, GOP Senate majority is a certainty.
November 4, 2014 will be remembered as the day that the GOP swept all statewide offices.
Here are the final predictions for the Arizona races:
Governor – Ducey 54.5%
SOS – Reagan 52.4%
AG – Brnovich 56.3%
CD 1 – Tobin 53.5%
CD 2 – McSally 54%
Corp Comm – Little and Forese 52%
The wild card is CD 9, where Krysten Sinema is in a dogfight with Wendy Rogers. If the tide turns, look for Rogers to squeak out a narrow win over Sinema.
Post Script: In the race for Superintendent of public instruction, Diane Douglas will win.
Political folks like me rely on a lot of different information when they try to prognosticate about elections. Money raised and spent, voter registration, historical turnout, polling, anecdotal stories from the campaign trail, data from voter ID calls, and door knocks – you get the picture.
And sometimes, it’s just a feeling. An instinct. A sense that there is something palpable happening.
I felt that way in 2010 with the House races. It seemed like every day there was new evidence that there was going to be a big, big wave.
Turns out, there was a huge wave.
Well, I’m feeling that way again. Granted, the wave seems smaller, or at least much later in breaking, and that might actually mean something. A late-breaking wave that hits closer to shore is more disruptive than one that breaks further out. So, this late breaking wave could be very disruptive.
Setting aside my gut instinct, here are some fundamental reasons Republicans are going to have a big win tomorrow night.
This is probably the most important indicator that Democrats are in trouble. The President is incredibly unpopular and voters will punish many Democrats on the ballot because of it.
Much better ground game on the right
There has been some serious investment by the RNC and GOP state parties as well as from conservative outside groups like Americans for Prosperity to staff field operations that are doing real outreach to low-propensity voters that will help off-set the built-in advantages of the Democrats.
Better use of technology
One of the things I harp on when people talk about using technology in politics is that all the technology in the world doesn’t do a bit of good unless you have the manpower to actually put it to use. Given that the conservative ground game is doing much better, there is some great use of technology that is helping the right close the gap with the left.
Early spending from outside groups
One of the things that most people have forgotten, since it feels like the campaign has gone on forever, is that there were some outside groups running issue ads against incumbent Democrat Senators in the spring… of last year!
This was meant to start to drive up the unfavorables of incumbents – and force the other side to spend money much earlier than they had planned. This strategy is paying off, because most of those incumbents are in grave danger of losing tomorrow.
So those are the fundamentals of what will happen tomorrow. Here is how I think it actually goes down in the Senate races.
Republicans will certainly win the following states:
Not as certain, but states I still think go Republican are:
We won’t know it tomorrow, because there will be a run-off, but the Republicans will win Louisiana in December.
Also, Republicans will hold their seats in Kentucky, Georgia and Kansas. We may have to wait until January for Republicans to win Georgia if it goes to a run-off. That means a net gain of 10 seats for the GOP.
And then there are the close, but not quite, seats – what I call the “what could have been” seats. The Republican candidates will finish much closer than expected in Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, and New Mexico. My guess is that Virginia could be as close as 2-3 points, with a very slim possibility that the Republican wins. The losses in Minnesota, Oregon and New Mexico will likely be by less than 6 points.
And, for the U.S. House, I am predicting a NET gain of 15-18 seats. Yes, bullish – but I think it’s that kind of year. It only takes a net of 9 seats for the Republicans to have their largest majority since 1946.
Now, we wait and see.
Republicans are going to have a good night next Tuesday, a very good night. And it will be, in large part, because President Obama is so unpopular. In the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, Obama’s fav/unfav among likely voters is at a dismal 36%-61%.
For the U.S. Senate, Republicans will win in West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota. Republicans will also win in North Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa and Colorado.
Mitch McConnell will win in Kentucky.
So without knowing what happens in either Louisiana or Georgia (both likely to go to run-offs), Republicans are a lock to retake the U.S. Senate.
In the U.S. House, Republicans will have a net gain of at least 10 seats – giving them the strongest majority since the 1940’s. Those will include wins by Andy Tobin in AZ-01 and Martha McSally in AZ-02.
In Arizona it will be a top-to-bottom sweep of statewide races. Doug Ducey will beat Fred DuVal by close to double digits, Michele Reagan will defeat Terry Goddard, Mark Brnovich will defeat Felicia Rotellini, Jeff DeWit is essentially already the next Treasurer, Diane Douglas will win as Superintendent of Public Instruction and Doug Little and Tom Forese will be the next Corporation Commissioners.
You doubt it’s a bad year for Democrats? Watch network news – and you will see no stories about how bad an election it will be for Democrats. Compare that to 2006, when Republicans were headed for a terrible night, and it was all over the networks for weeks on end. The silence is deafening.