Saturday, July 11, 2015

If So-And-So Gets Nominated For Party X in 2016, We're All Doomed (In Varying Degrees)

So I saw this via Crooks and Liars on the Mike's Blog Round Up today: what If Bernie Sanders Is Nominated?

The site itself is Will Hillary Win (By a Landslide), so there's an expectation already for bias, but blogger Robert Cuthbert makes a plausible take that it would be good for the Far Left but bad for the Party.

Sanders as the Democratic nominee, as unlikely as it is, should be considered. The avowed democratic socialist will face the perceptions of American voters. According to a recent Gallup poll, voters are very unlikely to cast a ballot for a “socialist.” Voters were asked if they would vote for a woman, candidates of various religions and ethnicity, and so on. “Republicans and Democrats differ most in their willingness to vote for a socialist candidate,” wrote Gallup’s Justin McCarthy, “by 33 percentage points, but ‘socialist’ ranks last for both parties.” Voting for women ranked in the 90th percentile for both parties.

So there's evidence Hillary would succeed with general voters where Sanders wouldn't.  Sanders himself is not deterred by the name-calling over "Socialist" but there's still enough voters who are wary of that insult after all.

But it begs the question: just how well will each of the possible candidates for 2016 play out?

Going by David Graham's updated cheat sheet of victims uh candidates for 2016, let's take a look:


Jim Webb: former Senator, Virginia
Role as: The Conservative Democrat Whom Nobody Knew Was Running
If Webb Wins The Nomination: It would be a huge surprise. Either Hillary or Sanders were taken out by outside issues - scandal or illness - because those two are so far in the lead there's pretty much nothing else to the Dem horse race.  And only if the other minor names - O'Malley in particular - somehow flamed out.
In truth, outside of a decent-looking resume - Vietnam War, served as a bipartisan figure in the Reagan administration, centrist Senator from a major swing state - Webb has nothing else for him.  He's not a solid campaigner, his message doesn't stand out, and his only positive unique stand is having been opposed to the Iraqi invasion/occupation, which is less valued in 2016 now that Obama's been struggling with the Middle East demonstrating how much a mess that all remains.  If Webb does get the nom, there's something seriously bad happening in the Real World and it's going to be beyond this mere election.
Webb Can Win It All If: It won't get that far.

Hillary Clinton: She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, former Senator and Sec of State, Clintonland uh New York
Role as: The Juggernaut.  I'd say Queen of Westeros, but the fan base would be split between her being Cersei or Khaleesi.
If Clinton Wins the Nomination: There would be no surprise, for one.  The mainstream media will bemoan the inevitability of Hillary's win, the Far Right will gear up all the Conspiracy stuff from the Nineties as well as the getting-stale BENGHAZI fauxrage, and it will all come down to who gets the GOP nom before determining how severe a beating Hillary will deliver on them.  She's leading strong over Jeb as a possible opponent and is in double digits over most of the GOP field (Trump gets the worst beating by over 20 points).  Granted, the nature of the long campaign means those leads diminish quick after the conventions, but as long as Hillary stays above 5 points on the GOP candidate well into October 2016 - and it's likely, because the GOP candidate is going to be bloody from the primary in-fighting - it's pretty much done.
Hillary Can Win It All If: She avoids self-destruction while campaigning hard enough to motivate the Democratic base.  She's so far ahead of every Republican name than only Jeb or Walker should give her concern.  To be fair, Hillary *is* her own worst enemy.

Lincoln Chafee: former Governor, Rhode Island
Role as: Who?
If Chafee Wins the Nomination: Impossible to conceive.  He's so unpopular in his own home state he doesn't have a base of support to build upon.  Webb has a better chance, hell I do and I'm not even in the party.  He seemed to jump in as someone who can attack Hillary from the Left, but Bernie's already doing a better job of that.
Chafee Can Win It All If: It won't happen.

Martin O'Malley: former Governor, Maryland
Role as: the Technocrat
If O'Malley Wins the Nomination: Much like Webb, it'd be due to something bad happening to Hillary or Sanders.  Unlike Webb, O'Malley has better national recognition and a slightly better persona to bring to the Democratic primary voters.  He was primed to be the main opponent to Hillary, but Sanders beat him to the punch and to the momentum.  He's basically the Second Choice kind of candidate: the guy you'd go with if your Primary Choice - Hillary or Bernie - are off the ballot and you're not a fan of the other.
O'Malley Can Win It All If: Hillary falters, and O'Malley faces off against the second-third-crazy tier Republicans like Perry, Cruz, Trump, or Carson.  Against more serious reputable Republicans like Jeb, Walker or Rubio, O'Malley could have a hard fight.

Bernie Sanders: Senator, Vermont
Role as: The Left Wingnut
If Sanders Wins the Nomination: It would be due to impressing enough primary voters his anti-Wall Street, pro-Left agenda can win and that he - not Hillary - can best lead America on those issues.  However: The media would freak.  Concern trolls will come out of the woodwork complaining that the Democratic primary voters just killed the Party by going with an avowed Socialist.  Fox Not News would bring back calls to unleash Chiang Kai-Shek.
Problem is, and the Truth is: a far-leaning Liberal candidate hasn't done well for Democrats in ages, not since Johnson (who wasn't that liberal).  Guys like McGovern and Mondale were unpalatable to the general voters.  Much in the way an extremist Republican candidate like Cruz or Trump would be toxic, so too would be an extremist Democrat like Sanders.  Despite how I agree with a lot of the positions Sanders supports, I posit the absolutist position Sanders argues from hurts the possibility of winning over moderate or undecided voters.  Example: Sanders' position on single-payer universal health care just isn't going to appeal to general voters who are only now getting used to the more market-proven Obamacare.
Bernie Can Win It All If: He not only stirs up enough passions of the Far Left to beat Hillary, he stirs up enough passion for social and economic justice among Moderates to make "Socialist" a respectable label.  In this scenario he can well endure any slings and arrows shot at him by whichever Republican runs against him.

Joe Biden: Vice-President, Delaware
Role as: The Village Elder, or Consigliere.
If Biden Wins the Nomination: he's got to get into the race first.
Biden's advantage would be as the natural successor to the Obama administration, and as someone who has paid his dues within the party well enough to be a respected Elder.  Problem is, as a campaigner he can be sloppy - he's been the source of a series of well-meaning gaffes - and he just doesn't project well (I've noted him back in 2008 as being as flat as drywall, which isn't a true reflection of him but it's just how he's viewed down here in the front lines).
Biden Can Win It All If: He can successfully carry the banner as Obama's Successor.  Despite all the hate-on from the GOP, Obama remains popular with the nation.  Whichever Democrat gets Obama's approval automatically gets a huge boost.


Chris Christie: Governor, New Jersey
Role as: The Bully
If Christie Wins the Nomination: It would mean he beat the crap out of everybody and took their lunch money.
Seriously, Christie is so behind in the polls and so dogged by scandals - not just BridgeGate but now serious charges about Sandy relief and illicit ties to Wall Street - that even being on the list for Vice-President is unlikely.  There's better odds Christie will be on trial by November 2015 than on the ballot in November 2016.
Christie Can Win It All If: He avoids jail time.

Bobby Jindal: Governor, Louisiana
Role as: Renly (that is, a Pretender to the Iron Throne who crowned himself first before even proving he could win it all.  Whether or not a shadow-demon spawned of a Red Witch attacks him is moot).
If Jindal Wins the Nomination: It would mean he somehow got above 1 percent of the polls to get invited to a debate and swept the competition.
The field has gotten so crowded - and so overwhelmed by Far Right panderers - that Jindal has nothing unique to offer.  His performance as Governor has suffered, his fealty to Grover Norquist so blatant that general voters will believe Jindal will answer first to the Club for Greed instead of the nation's majority, and his fundamentalist religious stance co-opted by more serious fear-mongers than himself.  If he does get the nomination, it will be due to a massive flame-out by Jeb... and Rubio... and Walker... and Trump... and Huckabee... and Cruz... and...
Jindal Can Win It All If: It's next to impossible.  He's lost a lot of support even among Conservatives.  If he wins the nomination he still has to go up against a Democrat who - odds are - will be more popular and more reasonable to a moderate-based general election cycle.

Donald Trump: Narcissist, New York Trump Tower
Role as: Monster From the Id, The Rabble-Rouser
If Trump Wins the Nomination: The rioting in the streets will be from the GOP party leadership, because they'll be terrified that their Party has finally collapsed on itself like a black hole.
The scary thing isn't that Trump is currently leading in the polls, it's that the GOP primary voters want him leading in the polls.  Trump is appealing to the Far Right's most base, most fear-and-anger driven emotions of the moment, offering little in specifics yet offering bluster and insults - which the Far Right seems to lap up like sweet nectar - to those who question him.  He *is* the Id more than the Ego in that Trump aims for gratification and promotion of self-worth over rationalization and self-awareness.
While the campaign watchers all seem to be saying "oh, Trump can't possibly keep this up," they're overlooking the fact that Trump has nothing to lose.  Trump can justify the losses he's currently getting with his business deals drying up as short-term: he can easily ride the outrage into more business deals - at the least a big book deal - after the campaign ends.  Anyone who thinks that Trump can falter in the upcoming debates fail to realize that Trump won't care how he does: he'll claim success no matter what just by being there, and his crazed self-confidence will convince himself no matter what (look at how he handles himself in interviews: every question he blusters and bluffs and assumes and never apologizes or backs down).  Any setback will be blamed on outside forces: any rebuke more of a reason to prove his opponents wrong.  All he has to do is keep this up until the actual primaries and win enough of them to justify his actions and assure his future wealth.
Meanwhile, in the real world, a Trump primary victory would truly be an end of the Republican Party: it would ruin the leadership's control and disappoint the back-room financial backers hoping for a more serious candidate.  The problem past the nomination is how Trump will market himself to general voters, who trend more moderate, more pro-Immigrant, and less impressed with Trump or his self-obsession.  Even if Trump tries to flip-flop and sell himself as "hip" and "successful", trust me as a self-proclaimed Moderate there is no freaking way he could con himself outside of the Far Right crowd who are more willing to buy his gaudy fakery.
If there's any good news about the current polling, it's that for all his bluster Trump has ONLY gotten about 15 percent of the GOP base.  Blame it on the crowded field: there's 12 to 14 names out there and only a limited percentage to reach.  If Trump were truly winning over the base he'd be in the mid-30s much in the way Hillary is in the mid-50s among Democrats in a 5-person race.  Once the field narrows to 5-6 choices for Republicans, we'll get a better idea of how the GOP voters lean.
Trump Can Win It All If: He can hoodwink and con enough Americans into thinking he's a sane and rational choice.  Which is impossible.  There's honestly, seriously, completely, not enough suckers born every minute to cover those odds.  Even P.T. Barnum couldn't sucker enough people.  Trump's already burned so many bridges over his anti-Mexican rant that even if he wins the GOP nom, everyone outside of the GOP will automatically back whichever Democrat candidate opposes him.  It's that simple.

Jeb Bush: former Governor, Florida
Role as: Nepotistic Son/Brother
If Jeb Wins the Nomination: There would be little surprise.  Jeb is coming in as the deep-pocket Establishment candidate.  As much as Hillary is the expected banner-carrier for the Dems, Jeb is the expected banner-carrier for the GOP come 2016.
The media may decry the "predictability" of the nomination, and there will be open cries of dynasticism considering Jeb is the son of a former President and the brother of another President.  But the pro-Jeb media types - which number a lot of MSM talking heads and the Fox Not-News crowd - will proclaim a nomination victory as vindication for Dubya, and that voters are ready to let yet another Bush lead us into a THIRD invasion of Iraq.
If Jeb does win it will be over the objections of the Far Right factions who would fear Jeb as "soft" on immigration, even though on all other points - being Pro-Fetus, Pro-Tax Cut, Pro-Business Dereg, Pro-War, Anti-Education, Anti-Worker, Anti-Wages - Jeb is as Right as the whole GOP field.
Jeb Can Win It All If: He can outlast the crazy faction of the GOP primary, and if he can convince enough general voters he's not going to be the disaster his brother Dubya was.  Which is highly unlikely.

Rick Perry: former Governor, Texas
Role as: The Dumb One
If Perry Wins the Nomination: It will be due to him actually studying well before the debates and remembering his talking points.
To be fair to Perry, he has served a long time as governor of a major state, but on the national stage he's less impressive than he thinks he is.  In a crowded primary field, Perry has to go above and beyond to impress enough voters to even qualify for the debate appearances at this point, and so getting past that threshold requires a series of miracles that even Frank Capra couldn't sell in a movie plot.
Perry Can Win It All If: Texas doesn't secede from the Union first the entire GOP field falls into a mud pit and never returns.

Lindsey Graham: Senator, South Carolina
Role as: The War Drummer
If Graham Wins the Nomination: It will be due to a major international crisis that Graham not only predicted but also offered sage counsel on its resolution.  Foreign policy credentials are the only thing he brings to the table, and on any other points he's part of the same-old same-old with the rest of the GOP field.  I'm not even certain he's making the cut for the first debate.
Graham Can Win It All If: ...Nah.

George Pataki: former Governor, New York
Role as: Who?
If Pataki Wins the Nomination: I don't even see him making the first cut for the debate.
Among the GOP potentials, he's the most likely to be Moderate when push comes to shove... but in a primary system now dominated by Far Right extremists worshiping the likes of Trump, Pataki's better off sitting it out and leaving his name up for the Vice-President short-list.
Pataki Can Win It All If: It's just not gonna happen.

Rick Santorum: former Senator, Pennsylvania
Role as: The Out-Of-Date Joke
If Santorum Wins the Nomination: Oddly enough, this is possible.  Santorum did well in 2012 versus Romney.  Problem is this year, Santorum's role as the Religious Scold is shared between himself and Huckabee and Jindal.  And Huckabee polls better.  Santorum might make in-roads arguing against the victories of Gay Marriage in the Courts, but Jindal's already playing there with his "let's get rid of the Courts altogether."  Santorum is just.. old news.  He could win but only if the Establishment candidates - Jeb, Walker, maybe Rubio - fall, if Trump implodes, and if Cruz and Huckabee and Jindal disappear into the Bermuda Triangle.
Santorum Can Win It All If: He can sue successfully to have his name cleaned from the Google Search engine.

Mike Huckabee: former Governor, Arkansas
Role as: Religious Scold, Bible-Thumper, The Hypocrite
If Huckabee Wins the Nomination: It could happen if Huckabee can project his affable demeanor to convince the GOP voting base he's as Congenial as Reagan.  Huckabee does bring something - personal charm - that few of the candidates Republican or Democrat bring to 2016.  And there's enough of the primary voters who will accept him as a genuine religious figure to "bring Jesus back to America."  Whatever outrage the anti-tax crowd have for him has to have dissipated by now, as it's pretty much a given that the entire Republican platform will be tax-cuts galore no matter what.  But for this to happen, Huckabee has to outlast Jeb and Walker and has to outfox (literally and figuratively) Trump.
If Huckabee DOES win the nomination, he then has to face the challenges of the general election, where his "Put God Everywhere In Government" stance can well scare away more open-minded moderates.  The GOP leadership would worry about the potential that Huckabee's harsh Culture War position would affect all down-ticket campaigns, as it would likely inspire more Todd Akin-like outbursts about rape and women's roles in society.
Huckabee Can Win It All If: He can convince the GOP he's the Next Reagan, and he can convince the general election voters he'll respect the No Religious Test requirement of the Constitution.  In other words, Not A Chance.

Ben Carson: Surgeon, maybe Michigan or Maryland (I'm still not sure which state)
Role as; The Outsider, the Anti-Politico
If Carson Wins the Nomination: It will be due to the Culture Warrior candidates like Cruz and Huckabee falling apart, and due to the Establishment candidates like Jeb and Walker quitting and heading into the private sector for cushy CEO positions.
Carson's main reason being here was because Fox Not-News championed him as a viable Obamacare critic.  Outside of that issue, Carson is no different than the rest of the field.  His ethnicity is another reason as he helps sell the GOP as "diverse" - even as most African-American voters have no real reason to vote for Carson or trust a Republican Party that actively pursues minority voter suppression (among other sins).  His only other value to the Far Right is that he is the purest Outsider candidate the GOP can offer.  To a voting base that despises "professional" politicians - even their own - Carson appeals to their "let someone else untainted by politics" mind-set.
Thing is, if Carson does win, that anti-Government appeal won't go any farther than the GOP voters.  Democrats will have no reason to switch to Carson, and Moderates believe it or not vote for Competency in the candidates not Ideology.  I'm pretty sure the GOP leadership would dread a Carson candidacy as much as a Trump one.
Carson Can Win It All If: ...Seriously?

Carly Fiorina: CEO, California
Role as: The Token Candidate
If Fiorina Wins the Nomination: Incredibly unlikely to happen.  Her ONLY appeal would be as the "woman Republican" candidate in opposition to Hillary.  She has no other experience to speak of outside of her CEO duties, something Jeb and Trump cover already, and even there her record is shaky (if not an outright failure).  I don't even think she's making the cut for the first debate this August.
Fiorina Can Win It All If: Hewlett-Packard admits "it wasn't her fault" and she wows the debate c... oh, right.  Not Gonna Happen.

Marco Rubio: Senator, Florida
Role as: The Other Guy
If Rubio Wins the Nomination: it means Jeb and Walker failed, and maybe also Huckabee, leaving Rubio as the only reasonable choice left for the primary voters.
And by reasonable I mean "someone who can actually talk in a reasonable manner with normal people."  In a field of extremists and what-the-hell candidates, Rubio is almost refreshing as a run-of-the-mill politician who can be just as hypocritical and self-serving as the rest of them. At least he's aware of how he appears on-stage and willing to tone it down and think long-term.
Like I described O'Malley earlier, Rubio's success this primary season has been getting the nod as The Second Choice: as the candidate most likely to gain support when a voter's Primary Choice fails and drops out.  Whereas O'Malley hasn't turned it into a solid percentage of support, Rubio's been able to keep his head above water (the debate cut line, actually) and is the one most likely to avoid making the gaffes and miscues that Trump, Jeb and Huckabee are making as head-liners.  Winning the nomination means he garnered enough primary support from voters switching from drop-outs to him, and survived any collapse by the other top-tier names.
Problem is, he's not in a position to get any of the cast-off Second Choice votes if the likes of Trump or Cruz drop out.  THOSE voters are clearly anti-immigrant and anti-sane, and will avoid Rubio out of spite at the least. Rubio has to hope that their alternatives - Carson or possibly Huckabee - have already dropped out first.
I'd say that Rubio is soundly positioned to be a Veep candidate if anyone other than Jeb wins - the Vice President cannot come from the same state as the President candidate - except for the fact that Romney's background check on him in 2012 (and failure to tab him then) raises a few red flags about Rubio's personal finances...
Rubio Can Win It All If: Jeb and Walker falter, Trump and Cruz implode, he's running against O'Malley as the Democratic candidate, and nobody looks too hard at his credit card bills.

Rand Paul: Senator, Kentucky
Role as: That Cousin Who Shows Up at Family Reunions Talking Crazy As Usual
If Paul Wins the Nomination: it means he was able to win over a sizable Isolationist and Libertarian-leaning primary voting base.  Which means he won't win the nomination because there's really NOT MANY OF THOSE LEFT IN THE GOP.
Granted, Paul comes into this primary with a respectable support system thanks to his father's trolling efforts in 2008 and 2012.  Just remember, it wasn't enough for Ron Paul those election cycles either.
Paul Can Win It All If: The Gold Standard comes back.  Which isn't going to happen.

Ted Cruz: Senator, Texas
Role as: That Other Cousin Who Shows Up at Family Reunions Even Crazier Than That Guy, I Mean At Least With Rand Paul You Can Enjoy a Blunt, But THIS Guy, Whoa, Uh-Uh, No Way
If Cruz Wins the Nomination: it means Cruz was able to reach into Trump's chest, tear out his still-beating heart, consume it on live television during the August debate, and claim in all seriousness that he has eaten Trump's soul and can wield all his powers.
Before Trump went all-out on his anti-Mexican, anti-sanity ranting the past two weeks, Cruz had a stranglehold on the Crazy Wingnut base.  With Trump stealing his thunder, Cruz has basically gotten into a holding position, waiting to see if Trump remains serious about sticking to a long campaign or if Trump implodes as the experts think he will.  So far, Cruz has been complimenting Trump's attacks with faith but noticeable praise, trying to avoid the backlash Trump has received from the general public while retaining those political views in order to sweep in later and secure those Far Right voters cheering Trump on.
Cruz remains the Wild Card of this race, even with Trump pre-empting his message.  Cruz is showing every sign of wanting to stick it out, and is crazy and self-confident enough to think he can pull it off.  If he wins, it will be due to out-debating - he DOES have the skill for that - everyone else and reclaiming the wingnut mojo back from Trump.
Cruz Can Win It All If: Impossible. Cruz might impress the GOP voting base but there's no way he can beat the Democratic candidate, even if it's Bernie Sanders and Cruz is screaming "SOCIALISM" at the top of his lungs.

Scott Walker: Governor, Wisconsin
Role as: The Union Buster
If Walker Wins the Nomination: it means he was able to brush off Jeb and outlast the Culture Warrior types like Huckabee, Cruz and Trump.
Walker still hasn't formally announced but is expected to, and is expected to make the cut for the debate.  He will come into the primary with sizable advantages: he won election and re-election under tough conditions, even surviving a recall effort.  He has a public record of being pro-business and anti-tax, and especially anti-union, something the GOP base will admire.  He has the same deep-pocket backers as Jeb and the other major names, so if any of them falter Walker can easily pick up their support.  His best advantage is his name: he's not a Bush.  Jeb has to fight against the public image of a political dynasty, as well as the sins of his brother's horrific administration and miscues.  He's not openly a Culture Warrior but he's solidly anti-abortion and can easily campaign as anti-immigrant if need be during the Primaries.  Where Jeb is the Most Likely to Win, Walker is the Most Likely to Upset Jeb.  If Walker has any flaws, it's that like Christie he's under criminal investigation, and much like Jindal his actual record as Governor (faltering and under-performing) is lacking.
If Walker does win, the Republicans may find a way of campaigning in the general election as a "Change" candidate free of the Bush links, especially against Hillary who would then have to carry the "Dynastic" charges.  However, as noted earlier and what should be mentioned about all the Republican candidates, the GOP are running on a platform that skews further Right than ever before.
Walker Can Win It All If: He avoids the John Doe investigation, and Wisconsin stays afloat economically long enough for him to convince general voters he didn't destroy the state as Governor.

There's also John Kasich, but he's still a maybe in my books, as well as one of those under-one-percent guy who's not going to make the debates.  I mean, why bother.

So, what do you think, sirs?

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

I think Hillary will win, and I'm OK with that. I actually supported her in 2008, and still do. I mean, I like Bernie a whole lot, but I don't think he's enough of an asshole to be an effective president given the all out warfare guaranteed to come from the Republicans. And with all due respect, I think she's got that covered.

-Doug in Oakland