Sunday, November 29, 2015

7 Wildcard Events That Can Completely Upend the 2016 Election Predictions

A wildcard in politics is a relatively unexpected event that can completely upend expected election results. Americans also call this an " October Surprise" since most elections (not primaries) take place the first Tuesday in November.

Here are 7 "wildcards" that can completely turn predictions made about the 2016 Presidential Elections on their heads. These can all potentially happen, although the probability is seen as low today:

1. Hillary Clinton's campaign can be fatally stopped by an indictment of Hillary herself, or members of her top staff, for improperly handling classified information on her email server. The FBI is investigating this now. The Clinton Foundation can also be charged with improper usage of funds and fund raising itself. The reasons why an indictment is not probable on a Federal Level is that the Obama Administration would have to concur (the Justice Department), and this is seen as not very likely.

2. Donald Trump can run for President as an independent third party candidate.  This could happen if Trump starts losing caucus and primary elections in 2016 and decides that the Republican Party establishment is conspiring against him. Trump has signed a pledge indicating he will not do this, but this would not apply if he decides he is being treated unfairly. Note that it is unlikely that Trump could get on the ballot in all 50 states as an independent candidate at this late date.

3. Health concerns.  Any candidate over 65 years old is subject to possible health concerns that could force an end to their candidacy. Hillary Clinton is 68 years old, Donald Trump is 69. and Bernie Sanders is 74.  If any of these candidates were to withdraw from the primary election, it would completely upend election predictions.

4. The Economy: A stock market crash or severe downturn in the economy would favor not only the Presidency, but one-party Republican rule after the 2016 elections.

5. A Security Issue:  For example, a hot war breaking out in the Middle East, or a hot war in Europe between Russia and Turkey, or a 9/11 type attack on U.S. soil are bound to favor both Hillary Clinton and security-minded and experiences Republican candidates.

6. Sex Scandals:  These are always possible. in 2012, Herman Cain, a tea party favorite was #1 in the polls until admission of a possible affair ran him out of the race. This is bound the impact the Republican race more than the Democratic race simply because there are so many more candidates involved.

 and finally,

7.  A completely unexpected wild card. Some event coming up, or news about a past event erupts and totally changes politics as we know it. How about a supervolcano eruption at Yellowstone National Park causing an environmental crisis?  It could happen, although it is unlikely.

This is why making election predictions is so difficult one year in advance!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Elections Heat Up -- The Iowa Caucuses are 9 Weeks Away. It's Do or Die for Bernie Sanders and Several Republicans

The 2016 Presidential Election is moving into a more serious stage. The first voters will be heard during caucuses in the heartland state of Iowa on Monday night, February 1, which is 9 weeks away from this Monday.

Although many voters are not paying attention to the elections, the caucus goers in Iowa are a unique bunch -- and take their first - in - the- nation status very seriously.

What is a caucus?   A caucus is not a primary -- in which voters show up at their local election site and vote for a Democratic or Republican Presidential candidate. The first primary will be on week later, in New Hampshire, on February 9. Caucuses are held in local Democratic or Republican members homes, or public gathering places. Caucus goers decide on who will be selected to a county, and then a state party convention based on their support of a Presidential candidate. If this all sounds complicated, it is meant to be -- simply because New Hampshire will not tolerate any state holding a presidential primary before they do. The first "modern" New Hampshire primary was held in 1952, has always been first in the nation, and is the little New England state's claim to fame - they are not going to give up its first in the nation status ever -- and even have a law enshrined to that effect.

The Iowa caucus, however, is the first indicator of how actual voters feel about candidates that is not simply based on a poll. This is why it's important.


Why is the Democratic caucus important?

From Real Clear Politics 11/26/15

A victory in Iowa is crucial for Bernie Sanders if he is to stay competitive against the presumed winner of the nomination, Hillary Clinton.  Bernie is picked to win the New Hampshire primary on February 9 -- primarily because he is from the neighboring state of Vermont, is well known there, and appeals to upscale liberal white voters which New Hampshire (and Iowa) are full of. If Hillary wins in Iowa, and then wins in South Carolina and the Southern States in which she is favored the following weeks, it will make her nomination inevitable. If Bernie Sanders can win in the first two states, Iowa and New Hampshire, it might refire momentum and make him a competitive candidate through the nomination.

Recent polls show Bernie gaining ground against Hillary in Iowa-- check out the average from Real Clear Politics above.

Why is the Republican Iowa caucus important?

From Real Clear Politics 11/27/15

The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows a very volatile situation for Republicans.

Donald Trump (in blue) is still favored to win Iowa. If he does not win, his "inevitable" media coverage will suffer, and his own volatile personality will cause major repercussions in coverage of his campaign.

Ted Cruz (in black) - arguably the most right wing Republican in the race, and the one that many Republican Party Congressional members feel is a maverick who who damaged the party with this "take no prisoners" rhetoric in the past, is on the rise and could win the caucuses. He may emerge as the leader in the Republican race if he does.

Dr. Ben Carson (in red) is on the decline. If he fails to to come in as a top tier candidate (the top 3), it may signal the end of the candidacy.

Marco Rubio (in purple) needs to come in as a top 3 candidate in order to stay competitive. Marco is positioning himself as the "establishment" candidate -- but establishment candidates need to win elections in order to become frontrunners.

Jeb Bush (in green) -- the former front runner -- needs to break through his dismal poll ratings in order to stay in the race. Poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire should mark the end of his candidacy.

Polls are subject to rapid change right now - but as things stand now, Iowa may offer surprises to both Democrats who assume Hillary will be the nominee, and Republicans banking on Trump and Carson -- we will see how all this works out in 9 weeks.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bernie Sanders for President? He Better Drop "Socialist" to Stand a Chance

Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who I actually thinks stands a chance (but not a good one)  of beating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination only if he can the first two states -- the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary in February 2016,  is giving a speech today on what it means to be a Democratic Socialist. Mr. Sanders is a self proclaimed Socialist / Independent Senator.

Time Magazine has run a poll for the past 70 years on what Americans will and will not tolerate in their picks for President. Generic "Socialist" has never done very well. In the latest poll this year. fully 50% of Americans have said they will not vote for a Socialist candidate for President. Mr. Sanders needs to separate himself from the term as deftly from this term is he is to be be seen as a serious candidate

One thing interesting is Mr. Sanders religion -- he is Jewish and admits being so, although he proclaims he is "not particularly religious". This is OK with American voters -- being Jewish is only opposed by 7% of voters who are not likely to vote Democratic anyway. Catholicism, Mainline Protestantism (not evangelical or Mormon), and Judaism are accepted by over 90% of American voters.

However, here is a warning to Mr. Sanders -- although it is possible to be a Jewish atheist (according to one recent poll fully half of American Jews have doubts about the existence of God), Mr. Sanders should not discuss religion if indeed this is his view -- 40% of Americans will not vote for an atheist for President. Unlike Republicans, Democrats do not like to discuss religion in primary debates -- so he is off the hook with this one until now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

There Is A 40% Chance Of One-Party Republican Government After The November 2016 Elections. Radical Change May Be Coming

One-party government is a rarity in modern American politics. There is a good chance that this will happen after the 2016 election.

What is one-party national government in the United States of America?

One party government occurs when Democrats or Republicans control both chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Presidency.

Why is one party government important?

Either party can usually pass whatever legislation it wants to during one-party rule.

The is an exception. The U.S. Senate does have a filibuster provision -- 41 out of 100 Senators can block legislation from coming to a vote.  However, I believe that the Republicans will eliminate the filibuster if they gain control of the government in 2016. All it would take it a majority vote to eliminate the filibuster which is now unpopular among the American public.

In addition, during one-party rule, Supreme Court (SCOTUS) nominations by either party are rarely challenged. Very conservative or liberal justices can result from these situation.

How often does one party rule occur?

One party rule has occurred 33% of the time in the past 60 years. .  There was one party government by the Democratic Party for 16 years since 1954:

1961 - 69 under Kennedy and Johnson
1977 - 81 under Carter
1993 - 95 under Clinton
2009 - 11 under Obama

Republican one-party government is more rare.  Only George Bush (#2) had a Republican House and Senate to work with from 2003 - 2007 for 4 years.

What are the odds of one party rule starting in January 2017, after the 2016 elections:

Republican rule: 40%

Democratic rule: 2%  (note: The House of Representatives is overwhelmingly Republican -- 247 - 188 Democrats. The odds of the Democrats swinging 30 seats to win control are highly unlikely in the 2016 election).

Split government:   47%

What could a Republican one-party government do:

Here are only some of the things Republican politicians have called for:

  • Eliminate Obamacare subsidies for working Americans and stop low-income Medicaid  Expansion
  • Cut Income Taxes for the wealthiest Americans 
  • Stop all environmental legislation -- since the position of most Republican politicians do not believe in manmade global warming. 
  • Stop any plans for employment protection and anti-discrimination legislation for LGBT Americans
  • Begin to privatize Social Security
  • Reintroduce American troops into the Middle East to fight Isis
  • Immigration reform proposals will end. 
  • Woman's reproductive rights will continue to be scaled back
  • Appoint radical conservative justices to the Supreme Court if opening occur -- which is almost a guarantee since 4 of the 9 justices will be past 80 after 2017
Get ready for right-wing change -- it is very possible after the next elections.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Possible Terrorist Attacks On American Soil Will Benefit Republican Candidates in 2016

Scene From Paris on November 13, 2015

This prediction may be scene as a "no-brainer" by many, and even unfair by many Democrats. However, I believe it it the reality.

The attacks in Paris on Friday, November 13 are the worst to hit any of the  NATO Allies (Western Europe, Canada, and the United States) since the Madrid train bombings in 2004 - when 191 people died, and before that, the September 11 2001 (death toll - close to 3,000).

I believe the American public will move national security and defense issues to the top of the list if any major attacks like the one in Paris were to hit the United States -- or Canada for that matter which is very close to home for Americans both physically and emotionally -- in 2016.

President Obama and his administration, perhaps unfairly, are not seen as strong on defense and security issues by the majority of the American public. Some may consider this unfair since the United States has not been hit with any major terrorist attacks in over 14 years -- since that fateful day on September 11, 2001. However, the Obama administration's perceived tolerance of certain fundamental religious groups who are tied to the Paris and other attacks - by Republicans and security minded independents and the right-wing media -- will be used as a huge "wedge" issue against any Democratic candidate.

Any argument that Hillary Clinton, the most likely Democratic nominee, is actually tough on security will be drowned out by her ties to President Obama as his Secretary of State. Hillary is currently tacking left on these issues -- almost definitely due to Bernie Sanders influence on the Democratic primary electorate. She could not easily become a hawk without damaging her credibility.

Assuming Hillary gets the nomination, perhaps a Vice President choice from the military - a sitting army general for example -- or a Senator with strong security credentials such as Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia could help. However, such a move may irritate a large portion of the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders would be an even weaker Democratic candidate for President if the election revolves around security issues. The American public will be clamoring for large defense spending increases and increased government surveillance, something that the liberal / Bernie Sanders wing is not readily identified with (this is understatement).  In addition,  support for "troops on the ground" in places like Syria -- and back into Iraq -- would likely become a campaign issue - something Bernie could not be seen as supporting.

If the Republicans nominate Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, or even a George Romney (who could become a late entrant) they will be highly favored to win the Presidency in the event of a large wave of domestic terrorism attacks in 2016. They would likely call for huge defense spending increases -- actually financial issues would not be as important.

It looks like 2016 is going to be a very unpredictable election -- that may not be as close as some people expect.

Hawkish Florida Senator Marco Rubio -- The Next President?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Only in America -- The Donald Trump Promo Clip for his Hosting of Saturday Night Live on November 7

This can only happen in the USA. Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate for President (his numbers are still higher on average then Ben Carson) will be hosting the #1 comedy show, Saturday Night Live, this Saturday November 7.

If this were to happen in most other nations, other candidates would be entitled to similar airtime. But not the USA!  But we are not talking about any typical candidate -- this is television celebrity Donald Trump-- whom many including the Huffington Post do not consider a serious candidate for President.

I for one plan to watch this  Knowing Trump, I am sure he will say outrageous things about other candidates and manage to get away with it. After all, Hillary Clinton dished Mr. Trump with a great imitation of him on October 4 on the same show.

Prediction: A Four Man Race is Emerging in the Republican Nomination for President

From Real Clear Politics - 11/3/2015

A four man race is emerging in the race for the Republican nomination for President in 2016 consisting of:

The leaders -- outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson who have never held political office.

The challengers -- Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and ultraconservative Ted Cruz of Texas.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the establishment favorite who was predicted to take the nomination earlier this year, is down to 4% support in a recent poll measured by Real Clear Politics average of major polls (shown above). will leave the race within 30 days unless he can see rising polls numbers. His next shot to break through is at the November 10 Fox News debate.

However, this is my main prediction -- most people, including Republican voters and caucus goers, re not going to make up their minds until after January 1.  Expect more fluctuations until them.