Your Much-Needed, All-Encompassing Caucus Preview! Now with a Small Debate Recap

**Updated With a Debate Recap**

 

To be the man, you have to beat the man.

-Pro Wrestling Proverb

 

 

The First GOP debate of 2016 affirmed my analysis of the race, see below. It is still a two-man contest between Mr. Cruz and Mr. Trump. Fox Business held the first laissez-faire debate of the season last night where candidates could come and go into conversations as they please, and answer only the questions they wanted. In terms of raw entertainment value, this was the best debate by far; each of the candidates is getting better with practice, some improving faster than others.1)Even Jeb!

Mr. Cruz showed last night that yes, indeed, he can win this thing. What you are about to see is the first candidate in the race actually stand up to Mr. Trump:

 

 

That “Constitution didn’t change since September” line was great. Mr. Cruz’s gab gift is such that Mr. Trump even smiled at a few of his quips! If you can’t stand up to Mr. Trump, how will you face Mr. Putin?

Shockingly, Mr. Cruz then found a way to make Mr. Trump sympathetic. Don’t believe me? Watch:

 

 

Five months ago, I would have never imagined Mr. Trump could do that. Unfortunately for Mr. Cruz, he had to burn many a bridge to get himself to his peculiar status as the “insider/outsider”2)Could someone not from Texas pull this off even??. Mr. Cruz may not have enough allies left in the establishment to muster a sufficient challenge to overcome the momentum of the Trump Train.

It’s clear after last night though; Cruz can win.

 

 

Welcome to our Iowa/Nevada caucus3)Yes, some New Hampshire too preview! In only4)haha, yeah only eleven months from now, all this jockeying will be over and the cable news will have to go back to talking about…What did they talk about before? Oh right! Airplanes lost at sea! Weird how no planes got lost over Bermuda during most of 2015; it is as if they know when to get lost to maximize news coverage, or something.

I know you see eleven months noted above and you’re thinking “Pshh, eleven?? Call me in October and I’ll see what these folks are up to.” Ah, my good friend, you do have a little time to head over to Kingman and burn your hard-earned money on an immoral national lottery that the Nevada Gaming Board would never permit5)because of the horrendous odds, but we will need your attention upon your return!

The Caucuses are coming; the caucuses are coming! Shockingly, our two-party political system has produced candidates from each party that differ to such an extent that these primaries will have a significant effect on the political process and the country as a whole. Not only should you be voting the celebrate the sacrifices of the countless others that died for your right of popular political participation, but because you can have a tangible effect on what it means to be an American for five, ten, maybe even twenty years from now.

So we best get this right, eh? This isn’t like those previous caucus seasons when you could pick any of the handful of politicians from one party and the policy result would not differ. You happen to be privileged enough to live in a country where you can actually participate in its future6)At the risk of being mercilessly mocked on the twitter, it is worth taking a moment and appreciating how lucky we are all to live here. You could have ended up in any of the nearly 200 countries in the world, and we are in the richest/most free. Yes, we have many an issue, but it is important not to lose perspective.

Time to get informed then? Insiders tip: don’t tell your coworkers you just noticed last night that we have a caucus in a months’ time. Play it like, “yeah, I’ve been following this stuff this whole time, I just didn’t want to talk about it too much to make y’all feel bad.” People seem to get defensive if you only recently made your 2016 caucus choice, as if your preference has less value than the bro who has been praying that Mr. Trump run for office since 2003.

Above, you see the most recent Nevada caucus polling. There is not much Nevada polling, and frankly, none of it would matter much anyway. We see the press (and Mr. Trump) playing a lot with national polls, yet there is no national caucus to decide the candidate for each party. No, the caucus or primary takes place in a pre-ordained sequence, meaning, in a Samuel Huntington7)Huntington wrote political theory about developing countries saying the the order in which institutions are established matters significantly to the outcome.-esq way, sequences matter! If New York voted first, followed by Texas then California, we would be looking at a completely different race!8)Shout-out to William Vollmann whose excessive use of exclamation points I am currently [poorly] emulating

My point being that the result of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will affect the caucus here, so taking snap-shots of the current Nevada polling doesn’t mean that much/have much value. In turn, to understand potential outcomes for the Nevada caucus, we need to glance at the state of the race in Iowa and New Hampshire.

After tossing the coin, the Republicans9)not surprisingly advised by Bill Belichick opted to defer to the 2nd half, so we will start with your friends, Hillary and Bernie.

 

The Democrats and Their Caucus

I haven’t written much about our Democratic friends, as there really wasn’t much news to report. Hillary was up by 20 points, nationally and in all the early states, and there was no reason to presume that Bernie would be able to rise above the 30% plateau attributed to his support in November. Then there was Christmas, New Year’s…and all of a sudden:

 

Whoa! #Bernmentum indeed. I always knew America would take to democratic socialism, it just needed the right, pretty spokesman to do the job10)On a related note, Bernie’s hair is combed in nearly half his television appearances now, much marked improvement. Trends/momentum are important for the caucus, and as you can see above, Hillary must be having nightmares of 2008 all over again (she was up by about the same amount in 2007 December over Obama and Edwards).

I have no insider Hillary knowledge11)I should disclose here that they offered my a job in 2008 but I declined, but my guess is that Team Hillary hoped to hire all the Obama operatives (I watched these folks work in 2008, they are very impressive), and then transfer his popular support directly to Hillary. The plan did not go as hoped. Hillary has been unable to form Hope and Change 2.0 and instead is dealing with all the same issues she had in 2008 with the base democrats, just with new topics. In 2008, the base dems saw Hillary as a war hawk, and her rival campaigns used the base’s hatred of Mr. Bush’s Iraq adventure to defeat Hillary.

Instead of foreign policy12)apparently all the politicians in Washington believe in war in perpetuity now that Mr. Obama has embraced the Bush doctrine, now Hillary is getting attacked for being too moderate on the income inequality, which happens to be Bernie’s pet issue/the issue he speaks best on. The difference eight years later is that as opposed to the 5 competing campaigns teaming up to defeat Hillary in Iowa13)She was that much of a sure-thing then, promise, Bernie is doing it all by himself14)well, along with his coalition of the willing. Unfortunately for Hillary, it looks like the old Edwards/Obama/Biden supporters did in fact come together in a big tent, just against her. Again.

Things are even worse in New Hampshire, Bernie’s next door neighbor:

 

https://twitter.com/RichardAngwin/status/685634979179593728

 

I don’t know about KABOOM, but yes, Bernie is doing well. Does it mean he has got this thing locked up? Not even close. Hillary is up big in South Carolina, and as you saw above, polled very well in Nevada in late December.

The state count could be 2-2 come Super Tuesday. Hillary is not going to go down easy, folks. Take a look at this ad they put out yesterday:

 

 

Pretty effective on the liberals and their hatred of all things gun. Hillary is at risk of the sky falling on her campaign if she does not win one of the first two states. The every-moment-of-the-day15)trademark pending media will just go crazy with their hot-takes and “I told you so’s”.

Yet if the worst occurs, and if she can get out of Nevada with the score 2-2, Hillary is still a -200 favorite to win the nomination, given her fundraising.

Like I said before, your Nevada caucus preference16)This is correct term for a caucus, not “vote,” talk like you’ve done this before really matters!

 

The Republicans and Their Caucus

 

“More than 1,000 words and no Trump talk yet?? I thought you said we were going to ‘Make Caucusing Great Again’?”

Ok ok ok, sorry. Yes, your friend Mr. Trump has turned out to be a much better politician than anyone (besides the Donald) gave him credit for. And yes, like I wrote a few weeks ago, he remains the front-runner.

..But there is a bit of overcast for Team Trump. Of course, though, we have to start with a national poll that Trump dominates:

 

Twenty-eight points! The republicans found lots of folks to run for President, yet none of them have any military or state experience. Imagine if Jim Webb didn’t promote organized labor and registered republican; no way Mr. Trump is up by this much. More than a dozen candidates for President, and the candidate with the most military experience was a JAG lawyer and already dropped out17)Come back Lindsey!. You have to think that if Gen, Petraeus didn’t ruin his career with the book lady, he would have been the nominee for the Republicans, and given all the worry over terrorism, he’d probably be polling pretty well.

But here we are, with a combination of first-term senators, governors, and private sector folks with a combined zero days of military experience. Thus, Trump.

 

But sequence matters with the republicans too! Let’s see what’s going on in Iowa:

 

Mr. Cruz is winning! (probably). Guy is working his tail off in Iowa; I have no doubt he will have visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties by caucus day on 1 February. Iowa voters take their responsibilities very seriously, as they say, they got to kick the tires of a candidate two or three times before an individual would even consider caucusing for him or her.

If Mr. Cruz can pull off the upset and defeat Trump, the sequencing effect likely takes hold (people want to vote for a winner after all). An Iowa win for Mr. Cruz could completely change the dynamics of the race (for him and Mr. Trump only, sorry kids). If Mr. Trump blows out his establishment opponents in the first two states, he potentially18)can’t believe I’m typing this could sweep the field. He’s up Yuge in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, and if he sweeps the first four states, I cannot imagine another candidate will be able to raise enough money to compete with him. Mind you, Mr. Trump has spent very little19)around 2 million dollars, compare with the 9-figure expenditures of the Jeb PACs, and will likely have sufficient funds available to get the vote out on Super Tuesday.

But if you think Mr. Trump will just allow Mr. Cruz to take away his nomination, think again. By early February, expect all the country to know that Mr. Cruz was born in Canada20)stay tuned for a more in depth discussion on the qualifications for the office of the President. “Natural born citizen” confuses many. What isn’t clear is how well-organized21)in this context it just means, he employs plenty of staff, has lots of volunteers/veterans of the process Mr. Trump is. Look at these articles, for example:

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/trump-builds-data-juggernaut-217391

 vs.

Both of these pieces can’t be accurate. Did The Times just find dull Trump supporter in Ottuma to make him look bad? Is The Politico just trying to get back in Mr. Trump’s good graces? We will find out in three weeks. As much as the press loves the “yeah well it’s neat that all them folks came out for the rally, but are they really going to vote” angle22)example , given how well Mr. Obama did in 2008, might be time to give the candidate the benefit of the doubt that if you can get that many folks to attended a political rally in freezing weather, a good number of these folks are likely to caucus.23)Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, he was never able to muster the same enthusiasm for the rest of his party

The future of the Party of Lincoln rests in Iowa. Will they go the way of the Whigs/No-nothings? Will the populist-right break off and form their own party if the nomination is taken away from Mr. Trump? Stay tuned!

If you have a little extra time, I suggest this Guardian piece written by Ms. Abdul pictured below (right), on why she brought her extra-large Koran to a Trump event in Reno. I am happy to report the Reno folks kept their disrespect to micro-aggressions. Yay Nevada.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/13/i-went-to-donald-trump-rally-in-my-hijab-supporters-arent-just-racist-caricatures

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Even Jeb!
2. Could someone not from Texas pull this off even??
3. Yes, some New Hampshire too
4. haha, yeah only
5. because of the horrendous odds
6. At the risk of being mercilessly mocked on the twitter, it is worth taking a moment and appreciating how lucky we are all to live here. You could have ended up in any of the nearly 200 countries in the world, and we are in the richest/most free. Yes, we have many an issue, but it is important not to lose perspective
7. Huntington wrote political theory about developing countries saying the the order in which institutions are established matters significantly to the outcome.
8. Shout-out to William Vollmann whose excessive use of exclamation points I am currently [poorly] emulating
9. not surprisingly advised by Bill Belichick
10. On a related note, Bernie’s hair is combed in nearly half his television appearances now, much marked improvement
11. I should disclose here that they offered my a job in 2008 but I declined
12. apparently all the politicians in Washington believe in war in perpetuity now that Mr. Obama has embraced the Bush doctrine
13. She was that much of a sure-thing then, promise
14. well, along with his coalition of the willing
15. trademark pending
16. This is correct term for a caucus, not “vote,” talk like you’ve done this before
17. Come back Lindsey!
18. can’t believe I’m typing this
19. around 2 million dollars, compare with the 9-figure expenditures of the Jeb PACs
20. stay tuned for a more in depth discussion on the qualifications for the office of the President. “Natural born citizen” confuses many
21. in this context it just means, he employs plenty of staff, has lots of volunteers/veterans of the process
22. example 
23. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, he was never able to muster the same enthusiasm for the rest of his party
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