Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Is The GOP's 15 Ring Circus Going To Become A 4 Ring Circus By March?


Poorly educated whites are both voting for Republicans and killing themselves in increasing numbers-- rising suicides, overuse of opioids and alcohol-poisoned livers according to Paul Krugman. Writing for Salon this morning, Digby, ventured a guess that these people, particularly the Trump and Carson voters, would like to end their miserable existences with an apocalypse. Their hatred of everything-- including the GOP-- is because they "feel betrayed and disillusioned because they voted for a Republican Congress and that Congress has failed to deliver the agenda on which they ran. First of all, they failed to remove President Obama from office, either through impeachment or at the ballot box in 2012. They also failed to repeal Obamacare, 'close the borders,' ban abortion, stop gay marriage, or end political correctness, just for starters." Krugman ventures a somewhat similar guess about what has made these wretches so miserably wretched:
[M]iddle-aged whites have “lost the narrative of their lives.” That is, their economic setbacks have hit hard because they expected better. Or to put it a bit differently, we’re looking at people who were raised to believe in the American Dream, and are coping badly with its failure to come true.

That sounds like a plausible hypothesis to me, but the truth is that we don’t really know why despair appears to be spreading across Middle America. But it clearly is, with troubling consequences for our society as a whole.

In particular, I know I’m not the only observer who sees a link between the despair reflected in those mortality numbers and the volatility of right-wing politics. Some people who feel left behind by the American story turn self-destructive; others turn on the elites they feel have betrayed them. No, deporting immigrants and wearing baseball caps bearing slogans won’t solve their problems, but neither will cutting taxes on capital gains. So you can understand why some voters have rallied around politicians who at least seem to feel their pain.

At this point you probably expect me to offer a solution. But while universal health care, higher minimum wages, aid to education, and so on would do a lot to help Americans in trouble, I’m not sure whether they’re enough to cure existential despair.
I doubt any of the early losers of from the GOP clown car-- AKA, their Deep Bench-- will be moved to suicide. (Although some of the people watching tonight's debate probably did.) After dropping out, Scott Walker is using the time he has left to wreck whatever was left of Wisconsin's progressive traditions and Rick Perry... who cares? Were you moved to watch the kiddie table debate tonight because closet case Lindsey Graham was kicked out of even that, to make room for Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie, two losers banished by Fox from the main stage?

In the last few days there has been a lot of speculation about who would drop out next and when (already). Reporting for the AP, Julie Pace asserted that "months, Republican presidential candidates with dwindling bank accounts and negligible support in polls have been finding reasons to stay in the 2016 race." There're still 15 candidates and she suggests that Christie, Huckabee, Graham and Pataki need to doing some weighing.
Struggling candidates can see multiple reasons to keep their White House hopes alive. It’s relatively inexpensive to campaign in Iowa and they can use television appearances as a way to get free publicity. Running for president can be a stepping stone to high-profile television jobs and other lucrative opportunities. And given that the field remains unsettled, there’s always the possibility that an unlikely candidate can make a late surge in one of the early voting states.

Huckabee pulled off a surprise victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum did the same four years later, though neither ultimately secured his party’s nomination.

“Candidates never really run out of reasons to run,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who advised 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. “Many are staying in because the lesson learned from past campaigns is that it’s possible to go from 1 percent to winning the caucuses, or at least beat expectations.”

Yet some Republicans are concerned, believing that one of the reasons the race remains unsettled is because there are still so many candidates.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker openly worried about that when he abruptly ended his campaign in late September amid a cash shortage. He encouraged other candidates to follow his lead “so voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner.”

The front-runner Walker was referring to was Donald Trump. The billionaire real estate mogul is still atop the GOP field, causing heartburn for establishment Republicans who fear he couldn’t win in the general election-- or that his controversial statements on immigration and minorities could hurt the party even if he’s not the nominee. 
In his typical no-holds-barred style, Trump has been calling out rivals who are struggling and pointing them toward the exits.

“There are too many people,” Trump said this week. “If a person has been campaigning for four or five months and they’re at zero or 1 or 2 percent, they should get out.”

...The New York Times, in a biting editorial, has called for Christie to end his campaign and refocus on his duties as governor. “You are accountable for what happens in New Jersey,” the paper wrote last week.

And in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s pursuit of the presidency has led both Democrats and Republicans in the state to criticize him for being an absentee state executive. Jindal, whose term as governor ends in January, has spent most of the last several months campaigning across Iowa.

“I think spending time here, working here is paying off,” the low-polling Jindal said.

He is facing a major cash crunch, ending the last fundraising quarter with $261,000 on hand. But his financial disclosure forms show he’s finding ways to campaign cheaply, bunking at affordable hotel chains. Santorum, who is also low on cash, appears to be looking around for deals on online travel sites, with multiple payments to Expedia and Hotels.com.

Of course, for most candidates, there eventually comes a time where a lack of money and lack of votes becomes too great to overcome.

“They need to recognize that moment and make a move,” Madden said.

In the last few days both the Washington Post and the NY Times have published stories on how some of these pathetic candidates are putting all their eggs in the New Hampshire basket or the Iowa basket. Jindal hopes lightning will strike in Iowa, for example, and Christie is banking on New Hampshire. Both are likely to fail and drop out soon after. The Quinnipiac poll of New Jersey voters, released this morning, makes it clear Chris Christie can't put his eggs in a New Jersey basket. In fact, most voters think he should end the charade now and come back to the state and start doing his job again. Look how these 3 questions of registered voters polled, especially the last of the three:

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are campaigning aggressively in both Iowa and New Hampshire, a number of the 14 GOP candidates have by now decided to focus most of their time and resources on just one of the two earliest states. Each state has a distinct electorate and historically has given rise to different types of candidates.

New Hampshire Republicans tend to prioritize fiscal concerns over social issues and have been drawn to more-mainstream candidates, such as Mitt Romney in 2012 or John McCain in 2000 and 2008. Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are staking their hopes here, while former Florida governor Jeb Bush increasingly sees the state as the most fertile ground on which to wage a comeback.

By contrast, the Iowa Republican caucuses are heavily influenced by Christian conservatives. The past two winners rose on the religious right: former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Both men are running again and, like Jindal, focusing chiefly on Iowa.

...By going all-in on Iowa or New Hampshire, candidates are employing old-fashioned strategies of intense retail politicking as they try to catapult themselves into the primaries and caucuses that follow on the nominating calendar. It remains unclear whether the romantic notion of attempting to meet thousands of voters in one state may give way this cycle to the national dialogue steered by televised debates and poll-driven media coverage.

Some veteran strategists think it will not.

...Polls in New Hampshire show the top two candidates are the same as in Iowa and nationally: Trump and Carson. But beneath them, Kasich, Christie and Bush register more strength in New Hampshire. For instance, a WBUR poll last week showed Rubio in third at 11 percent, followed closely by Kasich at 10 percent, Christie at 8 percent and Bush at 7 percent.
Cruz and Rubio, the two non-Trump/Carson candidates, are counting on Jeb, Kasich, Christie, Graham and Pataki leaving the race after New Hampshire and on Santorum, Huckabee and Jindal bowing out after Iowa. If Rand Paul and Fiorina flop badly in both, they may drop out, although, depending on Cruz's strategy, since Fiorina is supposedly his choice for running mate, she may stay in for some kind of strategic reason. And if Trump doesn't come in first in one or both, he may decide to make it his swan song.

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