December, 2015

The Money Network of Malaysian Politics

“Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was fighting for his political life this summer after revelations that almost $700 million from an undisclosed source had entered his personal bank accounts.”

“It still isn’t clear where the $700 million came from or where it went. But a six-month Wall Street Journal examination revealed that public entities spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a massive patronage machine to help ensure Mr. Najib’s United Malays National Organization stayed in power. The payments, while legal, represented a new milestone in Malaysia’s freewheeling electoral system, according to ruling-party officials.”

Trump Plans Big TV Ad Blitz

Donald Trump is planning an advertising blitz that could cost upwards of $2 million a week ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Fox News reports.

“The initial wave of ads will focus on Trump’s vision and his stance on key issues—no bio spots necessary for the celebrity candidate—but that could change if any GOP rivals target him with negative commercials… If Trump pours big bucks into an ad campaign—and no budget has been set—he could again confound the prognosticators.”

A Deep and Growing Ideological Divide

Gerald Seib: “This divide will be especially apparent early in the new year, when the most divided groups in America, the Republican and Democratic voters who show up for primary elections and caucuses, hold the keys to the presidential selection process. These folks disagree, deeply, on an array of social issues, on the nation’s top priorities, and on what kind of leader they are seeking in the next president.”

“Collectively, these voters are driving Republican candidates to the right and Democratic candidates to the left—and ensuring that the challenge of bringing the country together will be tougher after the election, regardless of who wins.”

Emanuel Faces Growing Pressure to Resign

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said he would “cut his family vacation in Cuba short to address the fatal shooting of two more black residents by a city police department already under federal investigation over its use of deadly force,” Reuters reports.

“The decision comes after activists stepped up calls for Emanuel’s resignation over his handling of policing in the nation’s third-largest city.”

Carson Pledges a More Aggressive Campaign

Ben Carson said his campaign plans “alterations” to respond more aggressively to challenges to his life story and foreign policy expertise that have created a negative impression of him with some voters, Bloomberg reports.

Said Carson: “We have kind of taken a nonchalant attitude. That’s the wrong thing to do, so you will see much more aggressiveness in that region.”

Super PACs are a Bust in Iowa

“Super PACs may not be the unrivaled political force many have predicted — at least in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.

“The groups, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates, have spent $26.6 million to benefit candidates’ Iowa campaigns through Dec. 12. But many of them have little to show for their investment.”

“More than a third of that money has gone to support candidates who have dropped out of the race, and another third has gone to support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican who is polling in single digits.”

Huckabee Bets on Trump in Clash with Clinton

“When it comes to Donald Trump’s threat to go after Bill Clinton as the former president ramps up campaigning for his wife’s bid, Mike Huckabee is all in on his Republican rival,” Politico reports.

Said Huckabee: “Look, nothing’s backfired on Donald Trump yet. I’d put my money on him. Frankly, he’s played the whole media game like a kid on Christmas morning with a toy drum. He’s beaten the heck out of them, and I honestly don’t think that this is going to hurt Donald Trump … and I think the Clintons have some vulnerability here.”

GOP Race Defies Conventional Wisdom

MSNBC: “While the Democratic race largely fell into line with early expectations – Hillary Clinton fending off a challenge from the left – the Republican primary has been chaos from its first moments. It feels like every time polls, fundraising, and news coverage start to point one direction, things swerve in another: Front-runners turn into underdogs and then disappear entirely; candidates branded as novelties turn into political powerhouses; and broad theories of how modern American politics work are tested to their limits.”

“We compiled a sampling of once-popular assumptions about the GOP race that have been overtaken by events in 2015. As you might expect, one candidate in particular tends to dominate the list.”

Voter Data Exposed on the Internet

Reuters: “An independent computer security researcher uncovered a database of information on 191 million voters that is exposed on the open Internet due to an incorrectly configured database… The database includes names, addresses, birth dates, party affiliations, phone numbers and emails of voters in all 50 U.S. states and Washington.”

A Visual History of Red and Blue

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball presents 48 maps electoral maps from 1824 to 2012.

“Throughout American history, electoral coalitions have been born with fanfare. Then they age and die just like their founders, replaced by some other temporary alignment. Some majorities are flash-in-the-pan but others, like the New Deal coalition, survive for decades, deteriorating only gradually. It will be interesting to see whether the newest in the long line, the Obama majority, continues, dies, or goes into hibernation next year.”

Trump Slams Virginia GOP Over Loyalty Pledge

Donald Trump slammed the Republican Party of Virginia for its plan to require that 2016 primary voters sign a statement confirming they are Republicans, the Washington Post reports.

“Trump and others say the requirement could discourage independent and first-time voters from casting primary ballots in Virginia, where primaries are open to all registered voters. According to some experts, the voter pledge has the potential to hurt Trump in particular, because his un­or­tho­dox candidacy has attracted voters disenchanted with traditional party politics.”