August, 2015

Are We Headed for a Major Political Re-Alignment?

Wall Street Journal: “On this all can agree: Strange happenings are afoot in the 2016 presidential cycle, the kind that leave experts scratching their heads. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, talk of a third-party run—we’ve never seen anything quite like it, right?”

“Except that we have. It happened in 1968, and if you are seeking precedents for this cycle, that year’s momentous presidential election is a good place to look. Here’s something further to consider: The 1968 race so shook up the political system that we’re still feeling its aftershocks today, more than a generation later. There is at least a chance this year’s race could become a similarly realigning campaign.”

GOP Worried About Trump’s Plan to Raise Taxes

“For years, Republicans have run for office on promises of cutting taxes and bolstering business to stimulate economic growth, pledging allegiance to a Reaganesque model of conservatism that has largely become the party’s orthodoxy,” the New York Times reports.

“But this election cycle, the Republican presidential candidate who currently leads in most polls is taking a different approach, and it is jangling the nerves of some of the party’s most traditional supporters.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s surging campaign has pushed the party in a different direction, one that often clashes with free-market principles that have long underpinned GOP economic policy. Some establishment Republicans worry that the turn could damage the economy, and their party, for years to come.”

Carson Catches Trump in Iowa

A new Monmouth University poll in Iowa finds Ben Carson and Donald Trump tied for the lead with 23% each.

The next tier of candidates includes Carly Fiorina (10%) and Ted Cruz (9%), followed by Scott Walker (7%), Jeb Bush (5%), John Kasich (4%), Marco Rubio (4%), and Rand Paul (3%).  The last two Iowa caucus victors, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, each garner 2% of the vote.

Why Joe Biden Faces a Tough Decision

Molly Ball: “Biden’s calculation is threefold: emotional, political, and logistical. Amid the continuing toll of his son Beau’s untimely death, hurling himself into a campaign promises more trouble and hurt. But saying ‘no; would entail its own grieving process, as the lifelong pol closed the door for good on his political career, without having achieved his life’s goal.”

Is Ben Carson’s Moment Next?

Rick Klein: “The retired neurosurgeon has none of Donald Trump’s showmanship, and he isn’t even a middle-of-the-night attack-Tweeter. But he is in a strong second place in Iowa, just five points behind Trump in the new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, eclipsing the support of Ted Cruz and Scott Walker combined. A whopping 79 percent of likely GOP caucus-goers view Carson favorably, with only 8 percent (!) viewing him unfavorably.”

“That suggests tremendous upside for a man who is every bit the outsider Trump is, only with, arguably, a more compelling personal story and, inarguably, a less abrasive personal style. The anti-establishment fervor that’s driving Trump has more than enough left over for Carson, evidently. And he’s running stronger than Trump among women and evangelicals in the new poll, too.”

Early Leaders Don’t Usually Win in the End

First Read: “During the last three presidential cycles (2004, 2008, 2012), the winners of August didn’t go on to capture the presidential nomination. In 2004, the undisputed winner of the summer was Howard Dean, who ultimately finished third in Iowa and won only his home state of Vermont in the 2004 primaries. In 2008, Hillary Clinton was crushing Barack Obama in the August before the nominating contests, while John McCain was essentially given up for dead during that summer. And in 2012, the August winners were Michele Bachmann (who won the Iowa Straw Poll) and Rick Perry (who soared in the polls after his presidential launch).”

“Now if Trump/Carson/Sanders end winning in February and capture their party’s nomination, we’ll look back on this August as the turning points for them. But if they don’t, they’ll join Dean, Hillary, Romney, Rudy, Bachmann, and Perry.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Look, Jeb Bush was a very successful governor, he’s a thoughtful man, he was a good, conservative governor. But every day, Donald Trump is emasculating Jeb Bush, and Republican primary voters are not going to default to the establishment candidate who is being weakened by these attacks that go unresponded to.”

— GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, quoted by Politico.

American Voters are Very Unhappy

A new Quinnipiac poll finds a total of 71% of American voters are “dissatisfied” with the way things are going in the nation today, including 41% who are “very dissatisfied.”

“Voters disapprove 81% to 12% of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their job and give the Republican Party a negative 31% to 58% favorability. Disapproval of Democrats in Congress is 66% to 27% and the Democratic Party gets a negative 40% to 50% favorability.”

Trump Continues War Against GOP Establishment

Byron York: “First Donald Trump antagonized the Republican establishment with his proposals on immigration. Then he irritated some with his stands on trade and Social Security. Now Trump is preparing a tax proposal that will again set him far apart from the party’s powers-that-be.”

“The problem for the establishment is that Trump’s positions on all three issues are more in line with the majority of American voters than the establishment’s preferred policies. By using his popularity to force outside-the-GOP-box ideas into the Republican presidential debate, Trump is displaying an uncanny sense of the divisions between voters and the GOP power structure.”

Matthew Yglesias: “Donors don’t like these ideas, so candidates normally don’t express them. But this bloc of opinion has existed for a long time and represents a huge swath of the Republican Party rank and file. Trump is the egomaniacal opportunist who’s finally giving voice to those ideas. And much of the American establishment is in deep denial about their real appeal.”