Ready for Madame President? ‘It’s the Electoral College, stupid.’

Author’s note: This piece originally appeared on National Review, July 12, 2016. Some of the polling data has changed slightly but the general theme still holds.

hillary yes

It was during the 1992 presidential election that the famous phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” hit the airwaves. That simple message, displayed on the desk of James Carville, Bill Clinton’s campaign manager, helped Carville maintain the message discipline that subsequently delivered Bill Clinton to the White House.

Twenty-four years later, “It’s the Electoral College, stupid” is the operational message guiding Hillary Clinton’s historic quest to become Madame President. Although this math-based message is too politically crass for desktop display, the reality is that math trumps message, and math trumps Trump. Let’s do some electoral math for a dose of this reality.

According to the Real Clear Politics (RCP) electoral map, Mrs. Clinton is only 60 electoral votes shy of the magic 270 needed to win the White House. Currently, RCP awards her a whopping 210 votes compared with Trump’s 164.

Clinton’s 210 votes are derived from eight solid Clinton “dark blue” states totaling 119 votes. In addition, she’s predicted to win 35 votes from three royal blue “likely Clinton” states, and 56 votes derived from seven light-blue “leans Clinton” states.

Given that Clinton needs to win only 60 out of the 164 remaining electoral votes within 13 toss-up states, her internal campaign slogan must surely be “It’s the statistics, stupid,” reflecting the overwhelming statistical odds in her favor.

Worse for Republicans, Clinton could lose a major battleground state such as Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, and still reach 270. For example, she could cobble together 62 votes from the following five states where RCP poll averages show her in the lead; Michigan (16), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Colorado (9), and New Hampshire (4).

Alternatively, all she needs is 62 votes from Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), and Virginia (13), and she has made history. This three-state victory is entirely possible considering that Clinton is also leading in the RCP poll averages in Virginia by 4 percentage points, in Florida by 3.7 points, and in Pennsylvania by 2.3 points.

Proof that Republicans are following Trump off a cliff are two traditional red states that appear on RCP’s list of 13 toss-ups. Georgia, with 16 electoral votes, has consistently gone red for the last five presidential elections; and Arizona, with 11 electoral votes, has faithfully landed in the red column nine out of the last ten presidential elections, with 1996 the only exception.

To prove how precisely Team Clinton is playing the Electoral College math game, one need only look at the eight states where her campaign spent $26 million on the airwaves in June. Those states were Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.

All eight are included on RCP’s list of 13 toss-up states, and their electoral-vote total is a nice round 100. By the way, during June, the Trump campaign spent absolutely nothing — as in zero – so Team Clinton had the airwaves in battleground states all to themselves.

Most significant about Clinton’s June ad buy were two RCP toss-up states, Pennsylvania and Michigan, that Clinton bypassed. Those two electorally heavy Rust Belt states populated with disgruntled white male voters are part of Trump’s winning formula. But they are of no great concern to Clinton, and here is why. Historically, Michigan, with its 16 votes, and Pennsylvania, with 20, have been won by every Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. Internally, Team Clinton knows that they don’t have to waste precious June resources on old-faithful voters. However, if Clinton is spending heavily in either state in September, take that as a sign that Trump is making inroads.

Since Clinton needs to win only 60 out of a possible 164 toss-up votes, the following data explains why she is likely to win double that number and possibly even more: According to the respected Pew Research Center’s survey of registered voters, Clinton is winning women by a margin of 59 to 35 percent. By comparison, in 2012, Obama won women by 55 to 44 percent over Romney. In 2008, Obama won women by a margin of 56 to 43 percent over John McCain.

Now, here is some good news for Trump. He is winning men by six points, 49 to 43 percent. But Romney won men by seven points, 52 to 45 percent.

More good news for the brash businessman, the overall white vote is in Trump’s favor 51 to 42 percent, a comfortable nine-point margin. But Romney won whites by 20 points, 59 to 39 percent over Obama.

It is no surprise that Trump is losing Hispanic voters to Clinton by a margin of 66 to 24 percent. But what is surprising is that Romney actually did worse, losing Hispanic voters to Obama by 71 to 27 percent.

African-American voters are totally in lockstep for Clinton, 91 to 7 percent. Shockingly, Obama did only slightly better, winning this voter block 93 percent to Romney’s 6.

Younger voters ages 18 to 29 are choosing Clinton over Trump by 60 to 30 percent.

Voters ages 30 to 49 are also in the Clinton camp, 52 to 39 percent.

Older voters ages 50 to 64 are with Clinton, too, but by a smaller margin of 49 to 46 percent.

The 65+ crowd is the only group that Trump is winning, and by three points, 49 to 46 percent.

In part, all this demographic data help explain why the Electoral College is so slanted toward Clinton.

Sure, “It’s the economy stupid” will always have some relevance, but with national demographic shifts toward active younger voters, female power, and a more racially diverse population, “It’s the Electoral College, stupid” is the Clinton campaign’s favorite slogan and the mantra of every Democratic presidential candidate for decades to come.

Could George W. Bush be the last Republican president? Some of us have been asking that question in recent years. It’s a question that scares me now more than ever.


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Why Florida Shines as 2016’s Most Influential State


Re-posted from National Review  12/3/2015 

Pop quiz: Can you name this state?

  • In American history, the major political parties have never nominated a presidential or vice presidential candidate from this state.
  • Since 1976 every Republican presidential candidate who has won this state’s primary election has gone on to win his party’s nomination.
  • Starting with the 1996 presidential election, the candidate from the party that won the Electoral College votes from this state also won the White House.
  • According to the latest RealClearPolitics poll averages, four out of the top five Republican primary candidates vying to win the presidential nomination are either full-time or part-time residents of this state.
  • The leader of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the second in command at the Republican National Committee, Sharon Day, are both residents of this state.

As you may have guessed, Florida is the answer to every question, which means the Sunshine State’s impact on the 2016 election will be undeniable. A strong case can be made that as Florida votes, so votes the nation.

But politics is unpredictable, and historic trends do not hold forever, so let’s explore which of these Florida trends are most likely to stand in 2016.

The fact that no major-party presidential or vice presidential candidate has ever hailed from Florida is the trend least likely to hold when you consider the following:

Incumbent Florida senator Marco Rubio was born in Miami in 1971.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has lived in the state since 1980.

Dr. Ben Carson relocated to West Palm Beach in 2013 after retiring as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

Then there’s Donald Trump, officially a resident of New York City. Trump, however, has many strong business and personal ties to Florida. Back in 1985, Trump bought the historic Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and spends much time there, especially during the winter months.

Chances are high that one of these four candidates will win the March 15 Florida primary.

But it remains to be seen if the pattern, first established in 1976, that Florida’s Republican primary winner goes on to become the party’s presidential nominee will hold true in 2016. (1976 was when President Ford won the state and fended off Ronald Reagan’s primary challenge.)

The track records of the two most recent GOP presidential primaries are worth noting.

In 2008, John McCain emerged victorious after defeating both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. (Giuliani dropped out the very next day and Romney shortly thereafter.) Then, in 2012, Romney won a heavily contested Florida battle against Newt Gingrich.

This cycle, the pressure is on for Bush and Rubio to win their home state’s primary. Fail here, and either candidate could pull a “Rudy Giuliani” the next day.

Meanwhile, Trump too must win the Florida primary to prove that he is a mainstream candidate and potentially viable in a general election.

Here is what we know today: Florida’s primary will be brutal, expensive, and consequential. Furthermore, it will be a harbinger of Florida’s decisive role in determining who will become the next president of the United States.

With its 29 electoral votes, Florida ranks as the third biggest Electoral College prize, tied with New York. These two states are surpassed only by Texas with 38 votes and California with 55.

Unfortunately for Republicans — if “traditional” state presidential voting patterns, established since 1988 and 1992, hold true in 2016 — it is imperative that Florida’s 29 votes land in the “red” column in order for the GOP ticket to have any chance of reaching 270 electoral votes.

Democrats seem to have a bit more wiggle room: In the 2008 and 2012 elections, President Obama could have lost Florida’s electoral votes and still have easily reached the winning number of 270. But it is notable, with consequences for 2016, that in 2012 Obama won Florida by only 1 percent of the vote, and it’s possible that the next Democratic presidential nominee won’t have such a thick padding of electoral votes.

Historically, Florida’s influence on presidential elections looks like this:

Since 1996 every winning presidential candidate has won Florida’s electoral votes.

The last time a Republican presidential candidate won Florida but still lost the election was back in 1992. This was when Arkansas governor Bill Clinton defeated President George H. W. Bush in a quirky three-way race with Ross Perot.

Then came the 2000 election. If you were too young, Google “Florida 2000 election.” There you will learn about the epic Supreme Court battle that ensued over whether Texas governor George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore should have been awarded Florida’s electoral votes and the presidency.

Now as we edge closer to the 2016 primary season, there are two factors that could greatly impact which party wins Florida and, subsequently, the White House.

First is Florida’s fast growing Hispanic population. In 2012 Obama garnered 60 percent of Hispanic votes, which then made up 17 percent of all Florida voters. (Expect that number to be at least a few points higher in 2016.)

Second, and related, is an “exodus” of Puerto Rican residents fleeing to Florida from their economically challenged island. Most are already U.S. citizens who largely lean Democrat. (It should be no surprise that Hillary Clinton visited Puerto Rico in September and Jeb Bush did the same in April.)

Finally, when you consider Florida’s historic electoral and political trends, it becomes clear that what happens in Florida does not stay in Florida — like sunshine, it is felt everywhere.

— Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign’s creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign’s ad council. Her writing credits include National Review, WorldNetDaily, Washington Examiner, PJ Media, the Daily Beast, RedState, and the Daily Caller. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.  Contact:

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GOP Nominee Needs 64 percent of the White Vote and 30 percent of the Non-White Vote to Win in ’16

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



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.

Posted in 2012 Presidential Race, 2016 Presidential race, Barack Obama, Decline of America, Hillary Clinton 2016, Presidential Election 2012, Republican Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Five Reasons Why Kasich-Rubio Is the Right 2016 Ticket

Re-posted from National Review     August 14, 2015


Kasich good

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the annual conservative RedState Gathering, where nine Republican presidential candidates gave fiery speeches. Although all were very impressive speakers, I kept applying the “Buckley rule” — these days, generally thought of as “nominate the most conservative candidate who is electable” — and did not feel confident that any of them could actually win the White House in 2016.

Unfortunately, Ohio governor John Kasich, the candidate who I believe exemplifies this form of the Buckley rule better than the other 16 candidates on the GOP bench, was not even invited to speak at the Gathering. From what I could gather, Kasich was not considered “conservative enough.” (As opposed to Donald Trump, who was invited to speak but was disinvited by RedState editor Erick Erickson after Trump’s “bloody” comments about Megyn Kelly were deemed too offensive.)

Applying this rule to the 2016 Republican presidential ticket leads me to conclude that Governor Kasich paired with Florida senator Marco Rubio is the most conservative team that could be elected in our politically polarized nation.

Before I’m disinvited from the 2016 RedState Gathering, my fellow conservatives need to be reminded of a 1983 statement by President Ronald Reagan, “I have always figured that half a loaf is better than none, and I know that in the democratic process you’re not going to always get everything you want.”

So, inspired by the wisdom of Reagan and Buckley, here are five reasons why a Kasich-Rubio ticket deserves consideration by even the most conservative Republicans as an electable “half a loaf” (politically, I’d argue it adds up to a whole loaf).


Last November on National Review, I penned a piece about why the Electoral College is a big blue barrier to Republicans winning the White House in 2016 or perhaps ever again.

However, a Kasich-Rubio ticket could be the GOP’s best chance of breaking that barrier and acquiring the 270 votes needed to win the presidency.

For starters, Kasich is a twice-elected governor of Ohio, a “must win” state for Republicans. In 2014, he was reelected with 63.8 percent of the vote and he currently has a 60 percent approval rating. Shifting to the presidential scoreboard, in 2012, President Obama won Ohio by a margin of only 3 points. Therefore, the chances of Governor Kasich winning his home state are excellent. But adding Ohio’s 18 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 2012 Electoral College total of 206 only brings Republicans up to a pitiful 224 votes, miles away from 270.

Enter Marco Rubio, who has earned the support of 7.3 of Republican primary voters. Meanwhile, his Senate job approval rating among Florida voters stands at 50 percent positive and 38 negative. Not great, but this could significantly improve if Rubio makes history as the first Floridian ever to appear on a U.S. presidential ticket.

Considering that in 2012 President Obama won Florida by a razor-thin margin of just under one percentage point, let’s assume that Rubio could deliver his state’s 29 electoral votes — bringing the Republican tally to 253, only 17 votes shy of 270. (Of course, this equation optimistically assumes that all 206 Romney states remain red.)

To win those remaining 17 electoral votes, a Kasich-Rubio ticket would likely turn to the states that Obama won by less than six points in 2012.

One possibility is Pennsylvania — Ohio’s eastern neighbor and Kasich’s birth state. It offers 20 big electoral votes and Obama’s winning margin was only 5.4 points. (Not since 1988 has a Republican presidential nominee won Pennsylvania, so a Kasich win would be monumental.)

Next target is Virginia’s 13 electoral votes with Obama’s slim 3.9 point margin of victory. Then Colorado, with nine votes and another 5.4 point victory margin. Followed by Iowa, with six votes and a 5.8 point margin. There’s also New Hampshire, with its four votes and Obama’s 5.6 point margin of victory.

Since the Republican path to 270 is very narrow, voters in these five states (along with the two home states) can expect to become very well acquainted with John Kasich and Marco Rubio.


Almost all of those states, though, are either bluish or purple in many ways. Less-than-conservative voters are crucial to winning them, and Kasich looks right for the job.

Governor Kasich is touting his Ohio economic success story — jobs, lower taxes, and a budget surplus — which translates well into soundbites at debates and on the campaign trail. Furthermore, Kasich portrays himself as a compassionate-conservative type, pointing to his faith as the reason why in 2013 he expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, covering 275,000 Ohio residents. In his presidential announcement speech on July 21, he said, “The Lord wants our hearts to reach out to those who don’t have what we have.”

Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid and justify it on the grounds of his Christianity is a key reason why many conservative primary voters dismiss him, but it’s also among the reasons why it will be extremely challenging for Democrats to portray Kasich as a “war on women” right-wing nutjob.

In fact, as a popular, successful, incumbent, Midwestern governor with blue-collar roots, Kasich has the greatest potential to attract independents, moderates, and conservative Democrats from traditional blue states. That is the reason why Kasich is rumored to be the general election opponent most feared by Team Hillary. (And the Kasich campaign is not shy about fundraising off this rumor.)


Compared with then-senator Obama’s noticeably thin resume when he ran for president in 2008, Kasich’s resume is deep and full of exceptional experience. From 1983 until 2001, he represented Ohio’s 12th congressional district. Kasich served for 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee, earning him national-security credentials, but even more important, he became chairman of the House Budget Committee when Republicans took control of Congress in 1995.

Kasich can brag that he was the “chief architect” of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. President Bill Clinton signed it, and there has not been another federal balanced budget or a budget surplus since.

Then between Congress and the governorship, Kasich hosted his own show on the Fox News Channel. There’s no doubt that his extensive media, legislative, and executive experience positions Kasich as a formidable candidate if or when he is embraced by the Right.


Governor Kasich is the Baby Boomer son of a mailman, and in 2016 he will be age 64 — which qualifies him as “old” and “vanilla.” It’s Marco Rubio who brings a unique demographic balance to the ticket: Born in Miami in 1971 to Cuban immigrants, Rubio’s ethnicity offers a much-needed facelift to the sagging jowls of the Grand Old (White) Party electorate.

He was speaker of the Florida state house before riding a tea-party wave to the U.S. Senate in 2009. Quickly a rising star, Rubio’s developed expertise in foreign policy and immigration issues. The last issue, of course, meant Rubio has experienced a few Washington ups and downs.

Rubio speaks of his life as an American success story and proudly promotes it in either perfect English or Spanish. He is an inspirational speaker, full of passion and conviction about the promise and opportunity that America holds for sons and daughters of all immigrants, but especially Hispanic ones. Of course, this is the voter group that the GOP needs to convert in order to stay competitive: Obama won Hispanic voters easily in 2012, taking a whopping 71 percent of them. Rubio’s presence on the ticket has the greatest potential to deliver the 47 percent of Hispanic voters that could ensure Republicans win the White House.

Rubio, with his youthful appearance, could also help attract voters between the ages of 18 and 29, 60 percent of whom supported Obama in 2012.

Rubio word

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Then, if a Kasich/Rubio ticket could hold or even increase the white vote that Romney won in 2012 (he took 59 percent of white voters), this ticket has a real shot of breaking the Electoral College’s “blue barrier” and winning the White House.


The big question is whether the Republican party could unite behind a Kasich-Rubio ticket. It’s up to Kasich to persuade primary voters that he really is “conservative enough” — every Republican needs to win some purple and blue states. Still, the Ohio governor will likely have a tough slog ahead, and hasn’t made it any easier for himself recently: He’s come out in favor of a path to legal status for undocumented workers and stated during theFox News debate that he accepts gay marriage as the law of the land.

So now is a good time to remind my conservative comrades about Ronald Reagan’s “half a loaf.” And, here is my own warning, based on some old wisdom: “A party divided against itself will lose.”

In the mostly blue state of New Hampshire, Kasich is attracting support, including a key endorsement from a former George W. Bush adviser, dealing a real wound to Jeb Bush’s candidacy.

It’s not just New Hampshire where he looks viable, though: Kasich’s impressive Fox News debate performance successfully introduced him to millions of Americans.

Today, Kasich received a boost from respected political guru Larry Sabato and his Center for Politics, which ranked the Ohio governor in their group of five “First Tier: Real Contenders.”

Kasich is at the moment only supported by  4.3 percent of Republican primary voters, but he only entered the race on July 21, meaning he’s already making real headway.

Kasich and Rubio are two vastly different men from different generations who share humble roots and personify the American dream. Equally important, Kasich and Rubio are telegenic, excellent speakers, scandal-free, and, best of all, can be “trusted” — which will be a huge issue and a real advantage for Republicans should they be facing off against Hillary Clinton.

I reached out to Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House when Kasich served as budget chairman, and he likes the idea, too. “A Kasich/Rubio ticket would be very strong. So would a Rubio/Kasich ticket,” he told me.

But for the five reasons stated above, I think the choice is easy. And in 2024, after serving eight successful years as vice president, Marco Rubio could be elected president at the ripe old age of 53.

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‘Real’ Solutions to Hillary’s Brand Problem

Some recent corporate rebranding campaigns show how Clinton could market her image.

Re-posted from National Review on February 24, 2015

This past weekend the Washington Post ran a piece with the headline: “The making of Hillary 5.0: Marketing wizards help re-imagine Clinton brand.”

The title caught my eye because back in December, here at National Review, I penned a piece titled “Hillary Has a Brand.”

That headline, along with numerous bullet points detailing Hillary’s brand, was lifted (as the piece explains) from e-mails I had received from a Hillary supporter, whom I had egged on after his initial e-mail commenting on my piece about likely Hillary campaign manager John Podesta.

Aside from the headline, my favorite line offered by that rabid Hillary supporter was: “She is Hillary Clinton and everyone knows who she is.”

Having since developed an ongoing interest in Clinton’s brand, I was dismayed over the weekend to read that Hillary has yet to develop one and is now employing two corporate “marketing wizards” to help her with that formidable task.

According to the Post, the corporations where these marketing wizards have successfully launched rebranding campaigns include Coca-Cola, Southwest Airlines, and Walmart.

Could these massive corporate campaigns offer some clues about Mrs. Clinton’s branding strategy when her 2016 run for the White House is finally launched? Let’s take a look.

In September 2014 Entrepreneur had a report touting the success of Coke’s rebranding:

The company’s “Share a Coke” campaign — in which Coke bottle labels were personalized with 250 popular names, in addition to various terms of endearment, including “Bestie” and “Wingman” — has reversed a downward sales trend that has plagued the company for the past decade, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It’s obvious that Coke’s marketing strategy could easily be transferred to Clinton’s 2016 brand with a “Share a Scandal” campaign. Just imagine 250 old and new Clinton scandals and names associated with controversy appearing on personalized bumper stickers, yard signs, buttons, and dog collars, and across all social-media platforms.

What a clever way to reintroduce all the old favorites like Whitewater, Paula Jones, cattle futures, Lincoln Bedroom, Monica Lewinsky, Hillarycare, impeachment, Juanita Broaddrick, and Vince Foster to a new generation of young, hip voters, many of whom were not even born when the Clintons took office in 1993.

The next corporate rebranding that potentially transfers to Clinton’s campaign is Southwest Airlines’ “Massive Brand Refresh.” On September 8, 2014, a headline based on that phrase appeared in Advertising Age with a report stating: “The initial effort breaks today with a commercial unveiling the new plane design themed, ‘Without a heart, it’s just a machine.’”

Hillary’s campaign could easily adjust Southwest’s tagline to read: “Without a heart, Clinton is just a machine.” And as a throwback to former President Bill Clinton’s famous “feeling your pain,” the branding slogan “Hillary has a heart” offers a fresh, new, and sensitive vibe for 2016.

Speaking of hearts, Roy Spence, one of Hillary’s “marketing wizards,” was quoted on that subject during Hillary’s 2008 campaign:

“I’m more actively engaged on a daily basis for awhile to make sure that Hillary’s heart gets communicated,” said Mr. Spence, whose friendship with the Clintons goes back three decades.

Finally, perhaps the best branding example of all is Walmart’s 2013 campaign.

As reported by Forbes:

It must be a great time to be in advertising, as yet another retailer has launched a new image campaign. “The Real Walmart” is meant to school consumers on just what, or who, the real Walmart is.

Just imagine the possibilities for Clinton, as this Walmart-inspired “The Real Hillary” branding campaign practically writes itself!

Even the Washington Post’s 5.0 branding piece reports that this “real” concept is bouncing around the brains of the two marketing wizards, Wendy Clark and the aforementioned Roy Spence:

People familiar with Clinton’s preparations said Clark and ­Spence are focused on developing imaginative ways to “let Hillary be Hillary,” as one person said, and help her make emotional connections with voters.

Eureka! It’s Walmart!! And with it, Hillary’s branding problem is finally solved! Here are my recommendations to the marketing wizards:

The “real” Hillary sets up mini-campaign headquarters in all the battleground-state Walmart stores. Then, in regularly scheduled visits, Mrs. Clinton “emotionally connects” with voter/shoppers, showing her heart — literally — as she personalizes their Walmart purchases with her newly designed “H”-within-a-heart campaign logo in exchange for all their contact information.

Seriously now, to quote Hillary, “What difference, at this point, does it really make?”

The answer applied to branding is “not much.” For, as my reader’s e-mail back in December so simply and eloquently stated, “She is Hillary Clinton and everyone knows who she is.”

That heartfelt anti-branding statement could be interpreted as both good and bad news for both Republican and Democratic marketing wizards.

— Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign’s creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign’s ad council. Her writing credits include PJ Media, the Daily Beast, RedState, and the Daily Caller.

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Mitt vs. Hillary 2016: An Even Match and Why It Just Might Happen

Re-posted from National Review

Credit: National Review

Credit: National Review

Mitt Romney is keeping a very high profile this midterm-election season by campaigning coast to coast for Republicans, and two recent polls suggest why he might be encouraged to stay active in politics. Romney and his family say Mitt will not be running for president in 2016, but in August the two-time presidential candidate and 2012 GOP nominee made sure to add, “circumstances can change.”

GOP strategist Mark McKinnon describes what what those changing circumstances could look like. “If Jeb Bush or Chris Christie do not run,” McKinnon tells National Review Online, “then one could make an argument for Mitt Romney.”

A Romney three-peat would add another taste to an already spicy political stew that will start to heat up the day after the midterm elections. Could Romney be the key ingredient?

The RealClearPolitics (RCP) poll averages for the 2016 GOP nomination indicate that the top four contenders are virtually tied with primary voters. The leader is Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky with 11.8 percent, followed closely by former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 11.6 percent. In third place is former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at 11.3 percent, and trailing is New Jersey governor Chris Christie at 10.6 percent. Mitt Romney’s name is currently not included in RCP’s 2016 Republican nomination poll averages.

But Romney’s name was included in a mid-October ABC News/Washington Post poll of GOP hopefuls, and he earned a whopping 21 percent of primary-voter support. That number was more than double the 10 percent earned by Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, who tied at second place. The rest of the pack was in single digits. Those surprising results sparked talk of a Romney comeback.

With all that chatter in mind, McKinnon’s “argument for Romney” does indeed have validity if Jeb Bush and Chris Christie do not run — and even more if they do.

For within GOP circles, Bush and Christie are considered “establishment candidates,” and the conservative wing of the party is fed up with establishment candidates. This attitude is a direct result of three failed “moderate” establishment presidential nominees: Dole in 1996, McCain in 2008, and Romney in 2012.

Conservatives believe all three were sold to them as the GOP’s best chance of winning the general election. From those losses stem current conservative distrust and zero enthusiasm for another establishment presidential candidate.

Conversely, it is highly unlikely that the GOP leadership will allow a controversial conservative or inexperienced fringe candidate to head the national ticket. This conflict between the establishment and the conservatives could make the 2016 GOP nomination process long and very contentious.

Take Jeb Bush, whose last name is already a potential problem. The news that Jeb Bush is seriously thinking about running for the nomination elicits a collective “no way” from base voters. At conservative events, I often hear the phrase “shoved down our throats” whenever Bush’s or Christie’s name is mentioned for 2016.

If Bush and Christie fail to gain traction among a majority of primary voters and the same fate awaits Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Paul Ryan, to name a few of the eleven candidates listed in RCP’s nomination poll, the argument for Romney begins to take shape.

The former Massachusetts governor could be thought of as a safety net that a polarized GOP hopes never to use but is sure glad to have in reserve. He’s a potential compromise candidate all sides could live with though no one is thrilled about.

Romney becomes even more promising when he is matched against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic-party nominee.

Both Romney and Clinton have experience running national campaigns and were accused of running bad campaigns. In 2016, presumably each will have learned from past mistakes, and the level of campaign management and messaging would be evenly matched.

Romney and Clinton are both multi-millionaires, so the populist argument of “too rich to relate to me” would have no traction. (In fact, one can hardly wait to see the Clintons’ tax returns.)

The two are equally able to raise the sum of more than one billion dollars that will be needed to run a presidential campaign in 2016.

Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton are the same age. Born in 1947, they will both be 69 years old in 2016, so age is off the table as an issue.

In 2008 both Clinton and Romney were rejected by their parties, so they have learned and grown from that experience. Romney’s loss in 2012 was also a character-building exercise. Now he has fought his way back into the public arena with grace, humility, and class.  The same could be said of Clinton after her 2008 loss.

Clinton (and now Romney again) are rock stars in their respective parties. They have that intangible gravitas, and both are respected nationally and on the world stage.

Predictably, both Clinton and Romney would be decrying Obama’s policies, but here Romney – though he pioneered the Obamacare model of universal health care with an individual mandate in the Bay State in 2006 — might have an advantage. Hillary, as secretary of state, was part of Obama’s administration and is already having a tough time trying to separate herself from Obama and his policies.

Romney, on the other hand, is a Republican and an experienced businessman who represents the power of a free-market economy to lead the way in solving national problems. His message of better management, smaller government, fewer regulations, less entitlement, and more opportunity did not work in 2012, but it can only become more appealing after voters have had four more years of Obama.

On the other hand, the Obama administration has proven that big government’s inability to fix anything. Just by virtue of being Democrats, the Clintons can run only as champions of big government.

These potential contrasting messages of Romney and Clinton would have rung true even before Hillary’s “October surprise,” when Clinton said, “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”

Clinton made this unartful statement last week while campaigning in Massachusetts for Martha Coakley, who is running for Mitt Romney’s old job as governor.

Clinton has since tried to clarify her remarks, but the passionate video stands forever.

Hillary’s zinger, insulting to all American business owners, has the potential to match Mitt’s disastrous 47 percent comment from the 2012 campaign.

This October surprise, two years early, played into the Republican narrative that this kind of wrongheaded Democrat thinking is harmful to America’s future.

Romney the businessman is a strong spokesman to counter this anti-capitalist message. Will this new development keep Mitt salivating over that spicy 2016 political stew into which Hillary has just dumped an entire bottle of Tabasco?

Drink lots of water, folks, because the 2016 race is going to get very hot, very fast.

— Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign’s creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign’s ad council. Her writing credits include National Review,  PJ Media, the Daily Beast, RedState, BizPacReview and the Daily Caller.

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Can Rick Perry Get A Second Chance With GOP Voters In 2016?

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?
Perry 2
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.”


Posted in 2016 Presidential race, Politics, Republican Politics, Rick Perry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment