2016 Presidential race


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Re-posted from National Review Oct. 18, 2016

As a long-time loyal Republican, my chronic fear is that George W. Bush will be the last Republican president. (A fear expressed earlier this year by Bush himself.)

This fear predates Donald J. Trump’s rise to the GOP nomination. It is a concern that I’ve expressed more than once over the last four years. But Trump’s inevitable Election Day loss coupled with a raging Republican civil war has strengthened the odds of a White House under permanent Democratic control.

At this writing, no one knows if Trump will disengage from active Republican politics after November. But it doesn’t really matter because his short-term legacy will be what we’ll call the “Trump Test”:

Did you support Donald Trump?

Did you campaign with or for Trump?

Did you denounce any of Trump’s statements or policy stances? Which ones? How and when?

Did you vote for Trump?

If you’re a candidate for the 2020 GOP nomination, you’re going to have to address these toxic questions. And your answers will inevitably enrage at least one sizable group of voters. Some of the 2020 contenders will have better answers than others. But all will be tainted by their responses to Trump, because of the passion he stirs in both his supporters and his detractors.

On one side are Trump loyalists infuriated that party leaders (see: Paul Ryan) are not fully funding, campaigning with, or standing by their man. After Trump’s inevitable loss in November, these loyalists, many of them grassroots activists who helped Trump win the nomination, are poised to blame the GOP high command, accusing Republican leaders of disloyalty and threatening to leave the party.

On the other side are the Never Trumpers, who will join with the squishy middle to shout, “I told you so” when Trump loses. Expect these folks to be armed with plans to reform the primary system that allowed Trump to “hijack” the party. (“Super delegates” anyone?)

All indications are that the war between these two factions for control of the GOP will only get bloodier between now and 2020. It almost makes you pine for those polite pre-Trump days when the “only” intra-party conflict was between the “conservative” and “establishment” wings of the GOP. But then you remember it was that conflict that spawned this one, by giving rise to a fractured primary field. Competing against 17 other candidates, Trump seized the party by the throat through a combination of bombastic showmanship and voter frustration, gaining momentum after attracting relatively small percentages of fed-up primary voters desperate to try something radically outside the box.

History will note that Trump’s movement eventually demolished all the conservative and establishment candidates and blurred the lines between the party’s two traditional factions. But not forever! When Trump finishes with the party, the traditional factions will reemerge even more divided by the fallout from his loss, the ensuing arguments over his legacy, and fights arising from the 2020 presidential candidates’ answers to the Trump Test.

Democrats, on the other hand, won’t be divided in their opinion of Trump’s historical meaning. They’re already licking their lips in anticipation of the opportunity to replace Bush with Trump as the Republican bogeyman of choice in voters’ minds. Instead of the tired mantra about how Bush wrecked the economy, they’ll be able to hang Trump around the necks of GOP candidates nationwide.

So yes, there is reason to fear that we’ve seen the last Republican president. But going forward, we should keep the faith that a leader will eventually emerge to follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps. After all, we know “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

— Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on creative team of the 2004 Bush campaign and on the ad council of the 2008 McCain campaign. E-mail her at MyraAdams01@gmail.com.

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Does Presidential Racial Group Voting Data Since 1976 Spell Doom for Republicans?

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It is well-established among pollsters that for either party’s presidential nominee to win in 2016 they must attract the correct balance of what is now commonly referred to as the white vs. the non-white vote.

This development has spawned numerous articles and demographic math games whereby one can plug-in the estimated turn-out for Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian voters and thus predict a party’s margin of victory or defeat.

For example, a recent Real Clear Politics interactive turn-out calculator shows that for the Republican nominee to win the White House, he or she must capture at least 64 percent of the white vote. (This assumes the white and non-white voter turn-out numbers remain historically consistent.)

The need to achieve 64 percent of the white vote should be extremely disconcerting for the GOP because since 1976 there have only been two presidential elections where the Republican nominees won over 60 percent of the white vote and that was in 1984 and 1988.

On the non-white vote side of the equation, respected Republican pollster Whit Ayres predicts that the Republican nominee must win at least 30 percent of the total non-white vote in order to win the White House.

Republicans must not sugarcoat these numbers because the party is swimming against strong tides of presidential election voting data dating back to 1976.

First, as you will clearly see in the data displayed further down, the growing non-white population has consistently voted for Democratic Party presidential candidates by wide margins going back almost five decades.

Second, the white vote that splits between the two major parties by varying degrees in every presidential election is shrinking as a percentage of the total electorate.

Can Republicans overcome these two problems? Sure, in politics anything is possible – but here is a behavioral science explanation as to why the white and non-white vote is unlikely to make a large swing towards Republicans in 2016.

After the disastrous results of the 2012 election, I tried to understand how our nation could have reelected President Obama with his dismal record of achievement.

While doing some research I found what I believed was the answer — a phenomenon called ‘tribal voting” and wrote about it in a piece on November 14, 2012.

“Tribal voting” simply means you vote for a Republican or a Democrat because of your tribal allegiance. My piece quoted Richard A. Friedman M.D. who, in his November 12, 2012  New York Times piece,“Primal Emotions Come to Fore in Politics” wrote:

“Once you’ve selected your party, you are likely to retrofit your beliefs and philosophy to align with it. In this sense, political parties are like tribes; membership in the tribe shapes your values and powerfully influences your allegiance to the group.

So strong is the social and emotional bond among members of a political tribe that they are likely to remain loyal to their party even when they give it low marks for performance. Yankees fans don’t jump ship when their team loses any more than Republicans switch parties when they lose an election.”

Then I mentioned how I tested Dr. Friedman’s theory on my own mother and wrote: “Recently I asked my 86-year-old mother (now 89) why she voted Democrat her entire life and her explanation was rather simple, ‘Everyone I knew voted Democrat and I was always one who went along with the crowd.’”

(Obviously, her daughter broke with the crowd and has been a Republican tribeswoman since 1975.)

However, I recognize that my own anti-tribal behavior is not the norm, whereas political tribal behavior among non-white voters and white Democrat-loyal demographic groups has been remarkably consistent in presidential elections going back decades.

Let’s look at some facts gleaned from the Roper Center’s “How Groups Voted”, an on-going study that has examined presidential election exit poll data starting in 1976.

When you look over this data, note that the numbers to the right in parenthesis are the White, Hispanic and African-American share of the total electorate. Watch over the decades how this number shrinks for whites and grows for non-whites. Then ask yourself, “How has the Republican Party consistently managed to repel non-white voters?

1976:  White vote, Jimmy Carter 48% vs. Gerald Ford 52%   (89% White vote)

Hispanic vote: Carter 82% vs. Ford 18%   (1% Hispanic vote)

African-American vote: Carter 83% vs. Ford 17% (9% African-American vote)

1980:  White vote, Jimmy Carter 36% vs. Ronald Reagan 56%   (88% White vote)

Hispanic: Carter 56% vs. Reagan 37% (2% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Carter 83% vs. Reagan 14% (10% African-American vote)

1984:  White vote, Walter Mondale 34% vs. Ronald Reagan 66%   (86% White vote)

Hispanic: Mondale 66% vs. Reagan 34% (3% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Mondale 91% vs. Reagan 9% (10% African-American vote)

1988: White vote, Michael Dukakis 40% vs. George H.W. Bush 60%   (85% White vote)

Hispanic: Dukakis 70% vs. Bush 30% (3% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Dukakis 89% vs. Bush 11% (10% African-American vote)

1992:  White vote, Bill Clinton 39% vs. G.H.W. Bush 41% vs. Ross Perot 21%  (87% White)

Hispanic: Clinton 61% vs. Bush 25% vs. Perot 14% (2% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Clinton 83% vs. Bush 10% vs. Perot 7% (8% African-American vote)

1996: White vote, Bill Clinton 44% vs. Bob Dole 46% vs. Ross Perot 9%   (83% White vote)

Hispanic: Clinton 73% vs. Dole 21% vs. Perot 6%   (5% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Clinton 84% vs. Dole 12% vs. Perot 4% (10% African-American vote)

2000: White vote, Al Gore 42% vs. George W. Bush 55%   (81% White vote)

Hispanic: Gore 62% vs. Bush 35% (7% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Gore 90% vs. Bush 9% (10% African-American vote)

2004:  White vote, John Kerry 41% vs. George W. Bush 58%   (77% White vote)

Hispanic: Kerry 53% vs. Bush 44% (8% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Kerry 88% vs. Bush 11% (11% African-American vote)

2008: White vote, Barack Obama 43% vs. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)  55%   (74% White vote)

Hispanic: Obama 67% vs. McCain 31% (9% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Obama 95% vs. McCain 4% (13% African-American vote)

2012: White vote, Barack Obama 39% vs. Mitt Romney 59% (72% White vote)

Hispanic: Obama 71% vs. Romney 27% (10% Hispanic vote)

African-American: Obama 93% vs. Romney 6% (13% African-American vote)

Asian: Obama 73% vs. Romney 26% (3% Asian vote)

So how will these numbers change in 2016?

Latino Decisions, a premier Latino research group contracted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to conduct polling, estimates that the White vote will decrease to 70.5 percent, the African American voter share will decrease to 12.5 percent, the Hispanic share will increase to 10.4 percent and the Asian share will increase to 3.5 percent.

Republicans cannot change these demographic numbers, but how about boldly challenging blindly loyal Democrat voters to leave their current tribe?

For example, may I suggest a Republican marketing campaign that asks questions like, “Why am I a Democrat?” Is it because everyone I know is a Democrat? Is it because I was born a Democrat? Why do I vote for the same party year after year, yet see no changes in my economic circumstances? Maybe it’s time to break my voting habit?

There is no doubt that such a marketing campaign would be controversial and widely mocked, but do Republicans really have a choice? Perhaps it is time for a behavioral approach that questions Democratic Party tribal allegiance? At the very least, the concept should be tested in focus groups.

Meanwhile, the 2016 Republican presidential nominee is tasked with needing to win at least 64 percent of the white vote and 30 percent of total non-white vote. That my friends is either a total fantasy or it would be a historic election and one for the record books.


Author’s Note: On March 29, 2014  this piece was posted on  The Daily Beast
After a disastrous presidential campaign in 2012, can Texas Governor Rick Perry mount a credible bid for the White House in 2016?
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Texas Governor Rick Perry is currently on a media tour touting the theme that America is a great place for second chances, specifically second chances for Texas governors with national ambitions.

Perry is trying to erase the memory of his disastrous 2012 GOP presidential campaign which included “brain-farts” and “oops” debate moments with his folksy, charming, and uniquely American manner.

Curious about Perry’s comeback strategy, I asked Texan and GOP presidential media guru, Mark McKinnon and he said, “His second act is looking really good. He just needed a little humbling.”

Let’s explore this concept a little further.

Up until his ill-fated Republican presidential primary run, Perry had never lost an election in his entire life.

Perry, who succeeded George W. Bush as the Lone Star State’s governor in 2000 after Bush’s election to the presidency, has won three gubernatorial elections in a row and a grand total of six statewide races in Texas.

In fact, Perry, who is not seeking re-election this year, will be the longest serving governor in Texas history when he leaves office in 2015.

He is poised for 2016 as a politically battle-hardened governor of a powerful state who, on paper is eminently qualified to be President of the United States.

Of all the governors with presidential ambitions, Perry is among the most active and vocal proponents of the Republican philosophy of smaller government and less regulation.

Perry claims his governing philosophy has resulted in Texas leading the way in economic growth and job creation. The Lone Star State is currently the fastest-growing large state in the United States and Austin, Dallas and Houston are three of the nation’s top five fastest-growing cities.

Texas is booming and Perry takes much personal credit for that, but he still has two major problems. First, the Texas governor will have to explain away the manifold gaffes and failures from his last presidential campaign.

Perry’s explanation is a good one. It has been well-documented that Perry was recovering from experimental back surgery involving his own adult stem cells only six-weeks before making his official presidential announcement at the conservative RedState Gathering on August 14, 2011. Then, throughout his campaign, he was taking painkillers, not sleeping and having trouble standing due to chronic pain.

Second, Perry has to cope with the lingering shadow of his predecessor in the Texas governor’s mansion, George W. Bush. The comparison to the still unpopular 43rd president reinforces Perry’s poor 2011 primary performance. As a result, it is almost too easy for Democrats and some unfriendly media outlets to brand Perry as another dumb Texas good-ole-boy and for Americans to believe it. All that is needed is a re-play of Perry’s most painful debate moments and “mission accomplished.”

But if there is any way American voters could disregard these factors, here is why Perry deserves a second chance as illustrated in this often asked Gallup poll question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” Among the top three answers were unemployment/jobs and the economy in general, both areas where Perry has built a strong record in Texas and makes very compelling arguments about his ability to nationalize them in his stump speech.

If Perry does decide to run again, are Americans willing to give Rick Perry his second chance after he was so thoroughly humbled in 2011? Don’t forget, being knocked down and then forging ahead are strong personality traits that most Americans admire. But on the flip side, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

 


Screen grab from Hillary Clinton's new web site.

Screen grab from Hillary Clinton’s new web site.

There were two great national social movements of the 20th century, Civil Rights and the Women’s Movement. (Also known as the Feminist Movement, Women’s Liberation and Women’s Lib.) As these movements gained momentum they contributed to the social upheaval that helped define the decade of the 1960s.

Now, in the 21st century both movements are still evolving and their cultural and societal effects are part of our daily life, but the success of the Civil Rights movement shines slightly brighter, as witnessed by the second inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States

Through Barack Obama, one of these two great social movements has reached the pinnacle of power twice. But in next few years, will the Women’s Movement, led by its representative-in-chief Hillary Clinton, make an all out attempt to achieve that same goal?  And will the “dominant media” be 1000% behind Clinton as the leader of the movement to help elect the first female President of the United States?

The answer to both questions is “yes” and “yes, definitely.”

For the record I am not, nor have I never been, a Hillary supporter, but as a baby-boomer Republican woman having come of age during the peak of “woman’s liberation,” I can not ignore what I foresee as an extremely ripe political movement on the horizon, even though its leader will not receive my vote.

All my political sensibilities point to a majority of American women of all ages, races, education levels and from all parts of this nation banding together to fuel a “Hillary in 2016” super-sized rocket on a trajectory straight to the White House.

However, the rocket ship stays on the launch pad if Hillary decides not to run in 2016 due to declining health or other unknown factors. But if launch is a go, than woe to any Republican male whether he is white, Hispanic, plus-sized or lean, who dares to be her opponent in 2016.

Having this opinion puts me in direct disagreement with writer Matt Lewis, who concludes in a piece which appeared in The Week  entitled, In Four Years We’ll Be Inaugurating Marco Rubio; “Watch out, Hillary. Come January 2017, America won’t be inaugurating its first female president. We’ll be inaugurating our first Latino commander-in-chief. “

But my contrary belief is that the movement to elect the first female president of the United States already has tons of industrial strength momentum and its own sense of historic urgency now seen almost daily on display throughout the mainstream media. Whereas, the movement to elect a Latino commander-in-chief will not be nearly as strong in 2016 as it will be say a decade or two from now.

For the remainder of 2013 and probably well into 2014, the major theme of all the Hillary coverage will be focused on the question, “Will she run?” But once that is answered in the affirmative, and deals are made to eliminate any Democratic primary opposition, you can expect blatant mainstream media bias on par with what occurred during the 2008 presidential campaign fueling the historic movement that elected the first African-American president.

Let us not forget how much the dominant media loves the triumph of a social movement whose members were formerly discriminated against. Certainly electing the first woman president in 2016 totally fits that bill. (And now, unlike in 2008, they really like her Bill again too!)

Another advantage Hillary will have in 2016, that first played out in the 2008 presidential election (and only to a slightly lesser extent in 2012), was the notion that if you dared not to support Obama, first as a candidate and then as an incumbent, you risked being labeled a “racist.”

This means heading towards 2016, do not be surprised when an eerily familiar mantra starts to unfold, labeling anyone not supporting Hillary for President a chauvinist, sexist or “anti-woman.”

Just watch how Hillary’s candidacy will ignite a whole new “War on Women”… but with a unique twist. For once the movement is totally underway a battle of name calling will be waged against any man (especially) or woman (most likely) who is not a foot soldier in Hillary’s army, marching in lock step towards conquering the Oval Office in the name of “Girl Power.”

As one prominent Republican campaign strategist told me during the 2008 McCain campaign, it is nearly impossible for any presidential candidate to be victorious if he or she is running against a social movement and Hillary in 2016 will most definitely be a social movement.

Ironically in 2008, Hillary was burned when she ran up against an even stronger social movement (at the time) with its goal to nominate the first African-American Democrat candidate.

But in 2016 all the stars will be aligned in her favor. This is because for great movements to be successful they must be perfectly timed and fueled by a desire to achieve something once almost unachievable or to compensate for past treatment now considered to be unjust. And the movement of Hillary in 2016 has all of the above.

Additionally, successful movements like Obama’s quest for the presidency in 2008 must first have the full faith and backing of the dominant media and once that is achieved, all the “plain folks” usually just fall in line.

(See gay marriage and gay rights as the most recent example of such a movement).

Furthermore, Hillary Clinton in 2016 will have even more of an advantage than did Senator Obama at the beginning of his movement.

Her favorability is already extremely high at 67% and she does not have to be introduced to the American people, as was the case in 2008 with a little known newly minted Senator from Illinois.

Even if Hillary’s popularity somewhat diminishes (which it will), Republicans with an eye for 2016 must not be in denial that they will be up against a historic movement with the largest, most powerful voting block that abandoned them by a margin of more than 10% in 2012.  (Exit polls indicate 55% of women voted for Obama and 44% for Romney, with women comprising 53% of the entire electorate.)

However, the dominant media, in concert with the growing power of American women will form a tour de force that, in my opinion, no male Republican presidential candidates currently on the 2016 horizon can expect to overcome.

It is my sincere hope that the 2016 GOP candidate will find a way to win the White House anyway. But if Hillary is the Democrat nominee she will be more than a presidential candidate. Hillary Rodham Clinton will represent a “triumph” of the women’s movement similar to the “triumph” of the Civil Rights movement which twice helped elect Barack Obama.

And, as we have just seen in 2008 and 2012, running against a social movement is made even more difficult when the dominant media is totally supportive of the movement and will do everything in its power to forge a “happy ending.”

Re-posted from RedState.com