Thursday, June 25th, 2015

by Reed Galen

Days Until Iowa Caucus: 222

Officially Declared Candidates:

·      Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)

·      Donald Trump (R? – NY)

·      Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL)

·      Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

·      Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)

·      Sen. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI)

·      Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

·      Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD)

·      Gov. George Pataki (R-NY)

·      Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR)

·      Dr. Ben Carson (R-MD)

·      Carly Fiorina (R-VA)

·      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

·      Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

·      Sec. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

·      Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

·      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

·      Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)

Quote by a Smart Person: "A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." John Steinbeck

Thought of the Week: Before anyone gets to excited about the Bernie Boomlet, let's remember it was 12 years ago that everyone thought another politician from Vermont was the liberal icon who could win the White House. Don't remember how it turned out? Let's reminisce.

Welcome to the American Singularity.

Why the Singularity?

·      The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.

·      There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.

·      The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.

Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.

Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me – reed@jedburghs.com

Week 15: Mid-Term Reviews

A Note About Charleston

Yesterday I got an email from a friend of mine in Democratic political circles asking me if I believed many Republicans had come out against the Confederate battle flag to deflect an argument about the 2nd Amendment. I told him, no. Aside from being the wrong thing to do, no one is that organized.

Here’s what else I told him: There was always underlying tension about it (the flag) - it took a horrific and precipitating tragedy to force action. Now other southern states will have to make their move. This isn't like flying a Texas Longhorn flag in an Aggie neighborhood. Significant parts of the population see it as a highly offensive symbol of a system that subjugated their forebears for hundreds of years. It belongs in a museum to be viewed and understood. Not celebrated. 

Thousands of residents in Charleston, South Carolina march in unity across the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. Courtesy CNN

Thousands of residents in Charleston, South Carolina march in unity across the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. Courtesy CNN

My friend’s question does highlight the nature of the over-saturated media and content world in which we’re living. We had people on the right blaming the victims for not being armed. We had people on the left diving headlong into the Confederates-as-Nazis argument. The only people that showed true dignity throughout this God-awful bloody mess were the families of those slain and the people of Charleston (all of them). Maybe we should take a cue from their strength and unity and put Twitter down for a while.

That said, I’ll move on.

The Field by the Numbers

It’s arguable that we never seen a race this wide open and crowded for one party’s presidential nomination. Besides the sheer numbers, there are at least a dozen candidates who can make a legitimate claim on being qualified to occupy the Oval Office. Here’s what they look like by the numbers (including those unannounced but expected to join the fray:

4 Sitting Governors:                 (Jindal, Walker, Kasich, Christie)

6 Former Governors:                (Bush, Perry, Pataki, O’Malley, Huckabee, Chaffee)

5 Sitting Senators:                    (Cruz, Paul, Sanders, Graham, Rubio)

4 Former Senators:                   (Clinton, Webb, Santorum, Chaffee)

1 Pediatric Neurosurgeons:      (Carson)

2 Relations of Past Presidents: (Bush, Clinton)

1 Donald Trumps:                      (Trump)

1 Former Fortune 500 CEOs:   (Fiorina)

3 Veterans:                                (Perry, Webb, Graham)

Only three candidates in the field represent a state West of the Mississippi and two of them are Texans, the other from Louisiana. Florida, Texas, Maryland and Virginia each have two candidates. New York has three. California, Pacific Northwest, Mountain West and Southwest fielded no one.

There is a dearth of military experience among the current field – reflecting, among other things that many of the candidates were born too late to have been drafted (or were exempt.) Despite having been at war for 15 years in two separate countries, no prominent former member of the armed forces has decided to turn to politics at the national level.

Ups and Downs

If we count Jeb Bush’s quasi-announcement of last December as the official start of the 2016 presidential campaign, we’ve seen only modest changes in how the Republican field polls. Scott Walker got an early boost from his performances in Iowa warm-up events and has stayed near the top despite virtually hiding from the national press corps since March. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal showed a Walker placing fourth behind Mike Huckabee. The same survey showed Sen. Rand Paul dropping  – not surprising given his quixotic and puzzling behavior this spring.

GOP Survey Compilation Courtesy RealClearPolitics

GOP Survey Compilation Courtesy RealClearPolitics

Because New Hampshire is truly who they are, recent surveys shows boost for both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Whether they are actually threats to win remains to be seen but New Hampshire is not afraid to play spoiler to the winner of the Iowa Caucuses.

In Iowa, Rick Perry, following his announcement speech and tour, coupled with advertising by his super PAC has pushed ahead of Ted Cruz. Perry has a solid record on which to run and is excellent at retail politics.

Debate Stage Chess

While national polling and early state polling test vastly different audiences, they both matter when it comes to the debates this year. With the RNC sanctioning only nine (as of now) official get-togethers, chances for Republican candidates to show their chops on the stage are limited. Add to that a field nearly twice as large as anyone expected, the next eight weeks will be fun to watch as we approach the first Fox News debate in Cleveland this August.

The Bush, Walker and Rubio campaigns can continue to live by the “first do no harm” ethos as they’re far enough ahead to guarantee their spots in the Cleveland and Reagan Library (September) debates. The distance between fourth place and thirteenth place is only a few points. While virtually guaranteed a podium, the likes of Cruz and Paul have to bolster their numbers over the summer and plan for attacks from those below the line.

Photo Courtesy Dvande/Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy Dvande/Shutterstock

Those candidates sitting in 11th and 12th place have to make their moves or be forced to the kids’ table while the grownups suck up free media for 90 minutes on the go-to network for activist Republican voters.

What will be most fascinating to watch will be how much play there is in the places from 7-16. Many of them are bunched together within tenths of percentage points of one another. Over the course of the fall we may not have the same slate of candidates twice. It’s just that sort of change that creates the chaos that so signifies America’s presidential process.

Surprises

Biggest Surprise (Good): Carly Fiorina - She's fired up on the stump and has crowds and the press suitably impressed.

Biggest Surprise (Bad): Rand Paul - He's morphing into his father much earlier than expected.

As I wrote back in March, the first phase of the presidential campaign is a lot like Spring Training in baseball. It’s a good thing the candidates had this time – most, if not all of the trouble any of the campaigns have faced has been self-inflicted. From Hillary Clinton’s shocking myopia on both her email scandal and the dubious finances surrounding the Clinton Foundation to Jeb Bush’s trouble answering a question about Iraq, it could prompt one to ask, what were y’all doing last year?

Despite knowing how trying a presidential campaign can be, too often the campaigns have either been slow on the uptake or unprepared for the comparatively calm pace at which the campaign travels today. If Mitt Romney’s two campaigns should have taught future efforts anything, it’s that you must have solid answers to your thorniest questions.

These problems compound themselves as velocity increases, attacks come up range and candidates get tired. Each campaign probably has the Big Question Mark they have to account for. If they haven’t yet done so, they need to spend the 4th of July weekend figuring it out.

The Calendar

Between now and the Iowa Caucuses, the calendar will break into several pieces.

·      July 4th – Labor Day

·      Labor Day – Thanksgiving

·      Thanksgiving – Christmas

·      New Year’s Day – Caucus Day

Until the first August debate, the coverage will likely find a steady rhythm as Americans go on vacation and tune out nationally. The early states, however, won’t have a moment’s rest. The campaigns will trip over each other trying to rent the American Legion Hall in Dubuque. For Iowans, any given Saturday will likely offer a half-dozen town hall meetings within driving distance of their houses.

In case you need the address of the Dubuque, Iowa Legion Hall. Courtesy Google Maps

In case you need the address of the Dubuque, Iowa Legion Hall. Courtesy Google Maps

Come Labor Day, the sprint is on. If a candidate hasn’t made a significant move by Thanksgiving, 11 weeks later, they’re unlikely to do so. The debates during this period will also have much greater impact as pretenders being flaming out with on-stage gaffes and poor performances.

Reader Survey - You're Not Done Yet!

Now that we’re heading into the second half of the year, I’m asking you, dear readers, to take five minutes to give me your opinion on where the race stands as of now. This is an unscientific survey, but as many of you are more in touch with the race on a regular basis, I think it’s interesting to see how you believe the contest is shaking out. Your personal information and responses will be kept confidential and displayed only as larger statistical results. Thanks, Reed!

Take the Survey here! American Singularity Readers Survey