“The Sunday Political Brunch”—January 24, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
“Shifting Polls” – According to the Real Clear Politics composite poll, Donald Trump leads in Iowa with 29 percent of the vote, to 26 percent for Ted Cruz. No one else in the GOP is even close. On the Democratic side, it is much closer with Hillary Clinton at 48 percent to 42 percent for Bernie Sanders. Can you become President without winning Iowa? Yes, just ask Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton (who only received 3 percent of the vote in 1992). But placing well in Iowa can bring “The 4 ‘M’s of Politics” - momentum, money, manpower and media buzz.
“Don’t Take Granite State for Granted” – Just eight days after Iowa, comes the New Hampshire Primary. Right now on the GOP side, Donald Trump is at 32 percent, with Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) suddenly sliding into the number-two position at 13 percent. Trump has held a steady lead, but the runner-up spot has changed often, from Bush, to Rubio, to Carson, to Cruz, and now, to Kasich. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has pulled out to a huge lead over Hillary Clinton, 52 to 40 percent. New Hampshire really revitalized Clinton’s campaign in 2008, so a loss there would be tough.
“Third State is the Charm” – Both parties have debated recently in the third state to vote - South Carolina – but polling there has not changed much. Trump and Clinton hold substantial leads. If no one takes them out by the third contest, are their nominations inevitable? We’ll see.
“Nastiness Sets In” – When the vote gets close; the gloves come off. Former First Lady Barbara Bush appeared in her son Jeb’s latest TV ad saying he “has real solutions rather than talking about how popular they are or how great they are” - an obvious slap at Donald Trump. Trump fired back on Twitter saying, “Just watched Jeb’s ad where he desperately needed mommy to help him. Jeb – mom can’t help you with ISIS, the Chinese, or with Putin.” Ouch! How low will they go?
“Nastiness, Part II” – Hillary Clinton hit hard on Bernie Sanders and his socialist viewpoint saying, "Theory isn't enough. A President has to deliver in reality." Clinton went on to say, "I am not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world." Then there’s more. "He [Sanders] has suggested that we invite Iranian troops into Syria," Clinton said. "That is like asking the arsonist to be the firefighter.” Sanders, in turn, continues to attack Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, and the millions in campaign contributions she receives from there.
“Why All of this Matters” – One wonders if either party will survive these blistering attacks. It’s hard to imagine George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George W. Bush, or even Jeb Bush endorsing Donald Trump after the nasty things he’s said about the Bush family. Yes, Bob Dole and Sarah Palin both endorsed Trump this week, but their voices are miniscule compared to the vast Bush political empire (and the money that comes with it). Hillary Clinton will need the far, far left of her party in November – many of whom now back Sanders. Will they warmly jump aboard the Clinton train?
“The Politics of Anger” – Well now we are seeing nasty ads and even more angry rhetoric, but that’s nothing new to politics. Campaigns always get aggressive when a vote nears. What makes this year different is that the anger started at the very beginning of the campaign. Trump and Sanders built their campaign on voter anger and frustration from the very start, and that has fueled their surging popularity. I’ve often said Trump and Sanders are two sides of the same coin. They are bookends of the political spectrum, appealing to the same sense of disenfranchisement (and disengagement) on each end of the political conversation. It’s very powerful.
“Back to the Polls” – Say what you want about Donald Trump, but he may be able to do something no one else can. A Florida Atlantic University poll now shows him beating Hillary Clinton in Florida, by a close 47 to 44 percent margin. Republicans have their best shot at the White House, if they can win back Florida. A candidate who can do that is very appealing. Yes, the same poll also shows Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio also beating Mrs. Clinton in Florida, but it’s their home state. Neither man has the broad appeal of Trump nationally.
“Mending Fences” – In 1980 George H.W. Bush excoriated Ronald Reagan’s plan for job growth and taxes by calling it, “voodoo economics.” Yet, even after that blistering attack the two men joined forces and collectively held the White House for twelve years. If they can “kiss and make-up,” all of the above mentioned people can, too. The only question is whether they are willing.
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