I confess I follow American presidential elections as closely as some people follow sports. In many ways, modern American politics is covered like a sporting event, or season. Like I have many times in the past, I’ve created a spreadsheet to keep track of the delegate count, including super delegates. Don’t judge.
The short-fingered vulgarian didn’t win, despite leading in polls. I would say it is pretty safe to be suspicious of polling data in our modern mobile phone era. However, the actual delegate count is pretty minuscule: Cruz has 8, Trump and Rubio have 7. No wonder Trump’s concession speech wasn’t that fiery. How many millions did John Ellis Bush! Bush spend to get that one delegate? Yikes.
A few random snippets in response to last night’s Iowa Caucus results…
Charles Pierce warns us of Rubio-mentum:
I got back from Haysville in time to listen to Marco Rubio declare his magnificent victory as the show horse in the Republican field. I will grant you that he surpassed everyone’s expectations—including my own—by clearing the 20 percent mark on Monday night. I even will grant you that he is probably the choice now of every Republican terrified of He, Trump and utterly skeeved out by Tailgunner Ted Cruz. Some of the others might get some run in New Hampshire. (Not Jeb-!-, please god. That would be cruel.) But this looks like a three-man race now, and the Rubio campaign did a masterful job pitching that notion over the last four days before the caucuses, and much of the elite political press bit for it. Now, Rubio was up there, defining himself as The Alternative in a political environment already primed by his campaign to believe it.
We’re going to hear a lot of it going into New Hampshire and going forward. I suspect we might hear a bit less about Rubio’s having turtled on immigration and his enthusiastic embrace of every euphemism for “torture” that can be found in the thesaurus. If the Republican “establishment” is going to groom him, those are the topics that are going to be limited to the inside voice, at least until we all get to South Carolina, where Rubio once again can run as the fanged chameleon that he is. But, give him credit. The man’s got a campaign that knows its business.
(click here to continue reading Media Crowns Marco Rubio the Real Winner in Iowa.)
continuing with the sports metaphors:
In a handful of Democratic caucus precincts Monday, a delegate was awarded with a coin toss.
It happened in precinct 2-4 in Ames, where supporters of candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton disputed the results after 60 caucus participants apparently disappeared from the proceedings.
As a result of the coin toss, Clinton was awarded an additional delegate, meaning she took five of the precinct’s eight, while Sanders received three.
Similar situations played out at various precincts across the state, but had an extremely small effect on the overall outcome, in which Clinton won 49.9 percent of statewide delegate equivalents, while Sanders won 49.5 percent. The delegates that were decided by coin flips were delegates to the party’s county conventions, of which there are thousands selected across the state from 1,681 separate precincts. They were not the statewide delegate equivalents that are reported in the final results.
The statewide delegate equivalents that determine the outcome on caucus night are derived from the county-level delegates, but are aggregated across the state and weighted in a manner that makes individual county delegate selections at a handful of precincts count for a tiny fraction of the ultimate result.
(click here to continue reading Sometimes, Iowa Democrats award caucus delegates with a coin flip.)
more on Democratic confusion:
There was still confusion on Tuesday morning over the razor-close results of Iowa’s Democratic caucuses, with Bernie Sanders’s campaign planning an internal conference call to decide whether to ask for a recount.
Mr. Sanders said on his flight to New Hampshire late Monday night, after a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton, that he would ask the Iowa Democratic Party to reveal the raw vote count underlying the percentages it reported showing Mrs. Clinton defeating Mr. Sanders, 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent.
Asked by an MSNBC reporter if he would contest the vote count, Mr. Sanders said, “Honestly, we just got off the plane and I — we don’t know enough to say anything about it.”
Overnight, the Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement that the count from a single precinct was still outstanding, though it appears that even if all its votes go for Mr. Sanders, it would not change the overall results.
The state party does not report raw votes. Caucus attendees at each of 1,681 precincts elect delegates to a county convention, who in turn will elect delegates to a state convention. The results from caucus night are reported as “state delegate equivalents,’’ expressed as a fraction. After 171,109 Iowans turned out, larger than almost all projections, the party said Mrs. Clinton won 699.57 delegate equivalents and Mr. Sanders had 695.49. A single precinct, Des Moines 42, worth 2.28 delegate equivalents, had not been counted.
Also unclear was the fate of the 7.68 state delegate equivalents won by Martin O’Malley, who suspended his campaign on Monday after his dismal showing — the former Maryland governor received less than 1 percent of the Iowa vote..
(click here to continue reading Confusion Over Final Tally in Iowa Democratic Caucuses – The New York Times.)
Steve Johnson of the Trib notes that the short-fingered vulgarian isn’t that much of a reality show star, more of a middle-of-the-pack guy:
Donald Trump is many things, but “reality star genius” is not one of them.
One of the oft-spoken assumptions of this oddball campaign season — the one that gets its first real results with Monday’s Iowa caucuses — has been that Trump was a TV reality star and therefore canny about manipulating media. This, supposedly, has given him an edge over the rest of the candidates in the Republican presidential field, who are merely politicians and a brain surgeon.
But the ratings history over the 12 years of his two reality shows, “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” tells a different story. Reality participant, perhaps. Reality middle-of-the-packer. Person on TV.
But NBC put it into its Thursday night prime time lineup, once revered as “must-see TV,” and the long slow decline for that network was underway. “The Apprentice” didn’t help: Its ratings declined steadily each year after that, to 11th place overall in its second season, then 15th, then 38th. When, after its sixth season in 2007, it finished as the 75th-most-watched show (with 7.5 million viewers on average), NBC decided to scrap real people as contestants and bring on celebrities close enough to rock bottom to appear on a reality show where success depended on ingratiating themselves to Trump.
The celebrity show did better, but it has been middle of the pack all the way, with finishes ranking from 46th to 84th before Trump announced his candidacy and NBC replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
(click here to continue reading Donald Trump a ‘reality star genius’? TV ratings tell different story – Chicago Tribune.)
one explanation of Trump’s second place showing…
Iowans clearly took Trump being AWOL as a snapshot of how erratic a Trump Presidency could be. At a time as perilous as this (with a possible Recession on the horizon, low wages, broken borders, a ballooning deficit, ISIS and urban crime), Iowa’s GOP voters gave a strong vote of confidence to the comparatively more emotionally stable Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Televised Fox News and CNN exit polls showed that 45% of Iowa GOP caucus voters made up their minds in the last three days. And, of these voters, most broke for Rubio and Cruz. Because Trump skipped the debate – proving Cruz’s claim about his “New York values” – he did not get a chance to make a direct pitch to these late-breaking voters, far more of whom watched the Fox News Des Moines debate than Trump’s hastily assembled and concurrent Des Moines fundraiser for vets.
(click here to continue reading How Trump Lost Iowa.)
Oh, here’s Bush’s dollar count: 1 delegate at a cost of over $14,000,000. The real winners are political consultants, television, radio stations, and other media outlets.
Jeb Bush and his allies spent more than $14 million on ads in Iowa but failed to break 3 percent of the vote total on Monday night — a setback for a campaign already struggling with diminished expectations and anemic support.
“In hindsight, it was probably a lot of money wasted,” said Matthew Dickinson, a political science professor at Middlebury College, in an interview.
(click here to continue reading Jeb Bush spent $2,800 for every vote he got in Iowa – Vox.)
In the new math, coming in third place is a victory:
First up was the perpetual load billed as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who emerged at his headquarters to announce, “So this is the moment they said would never happen.” Well, no. He was polling in third place, and that’s where he finished. Apparently that’s enough for victory.
He went on:
“For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance…. But tonight, tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message.”
Once again, he came in third, which is where the Real Clear Politics average has had him ever since Ben Carson’s numbers started nosediving around mid-December.
What Rubio was really saying — through the perpetual vocal quaver of alternately traumatized patriotic horror or beatific patriotic awe he has sported during every public speech since 2010 — was that he needed to repudiate the Cruz/Trump argument that this was a two-man race and prove that a third person was involved. But, “I showed ’em all by coming in third!” isn’t much of a sales pitch.
(click here to continue reading The Electability Spin Machine | Rolling Stone.)
Rick Santorum isn’t running to win, just to get a talk show:
Monday night’s Iowa caucuses were especially rough for former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), who polled at less than one percent four years after winning the contest.
But adding insult to injury, MSNBC managed to find a Santorum precinct captain who didn’t even vote for the long-shot candidate – because his pen ran out of ink.
As the unnamed chair pulled up a photo of the precinct’s vote tally sheet on his phone, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes noted there was an “X” by Santorum’s name.
“What, you didn’t vote for him?” Hayes asked.
“As I was writing down, my pen ran out of ink,” the man answered, turning red in the face. “I was like, I can’t just ask somebody for a new pen while I’m doing this.”
(click here to continue reading Santorum Precinct Chair Didn’t Even Vote For Him: My Pen Ran Out Of Ink! (VIDEO).)
Clinton’s narrow victory doesn’t really mean that much:
Clinton still has a problem with liberals and progressives.
But what Sanders did do was bring in more liberal voters to buoy him. Twenty-eight percent of voters described themselves as very liberal — a 10-point jump from 2008. Sanders won those voters by 19 points. Clinton had a 6-point edge with the 40 percent of voters who described themselves as somewhat liberal.
Her real strength was with middle-of-the-road Democrats — but unfortunately for her, that share had significantly dropped. This year, just 28 percent of voters identified themselves as moderates, down 12 points from 2008. She had a 23-point edge over Sanders with that bloc, though.
(click here to continue reading Iowa Caucus Results: 6 Things That Explain How It Happened : It’s All Politics : NPR.)
even though Clinton has structural advantages, including a compliant national media:
But if you want maximal spin, just raw, thick tar spin, look to the Democratic Party and a legion of electability-policing flunkies.
What Bernie Sanders did Monday night was incredible. Until very recently, even a good showing would have sufficed to confirm his candidacy’s seriousness, and any characterization of his loss as critical merely demonstrates how rapidly the goalposts can be moved when narratives need to be upheld.
At the start of last May, he was 54 points behind in Iowa to Hillary Clinton, a frontrunner with the most open path to the eventual nomination in primary history. Sanders is a cranky old Jewish man from a tiny state and proudly considers himself a socialist, which in the rarified air of Beltway Centrism and in the swamp-gas of an America that still thinks the Cold War can be lost at any moment is somehow a more revolting word than “pederast.”
With the exception of a few pro-Biden holdouts, almost the entirety of the Democratic Party establishment and the big money lined up behind his opponent, including veteran organizers and advisors. The Democratic Party chair scheduled a tiny number of debates on broadcast evenings so hostile to reaching a mass audience that their only purpose must have been minimizing exposing the electorate to any names that aren’t Hillary Clinton’s. Against this apparatus, Sanders decided to refuse to use super PAC money.
Meanwhile, every dead-eyed hack angling for a gig taking “Socks II” for walkies in the new Clinton administration has responded to Sanders’ rising popularity with the Clinton-endorsement equivalent of Marge Simpson holding up her excised frontal lobe in a jar and groaning, “It’s bliiiiiiiiiiiissssss.”
You have Ezra Klein really taking it to some bozo named Ezra Klein over Sanders’ health care plan. Along with assists from The Atlantic and The New Republic, Salon has gone balls-to-the-wall stupid peddling a mythic creature named the Bernie Bro whose existence is about as well documented as Prester John’s.
The most substantial claim is that Bernie Sanders has some fans on the Internet who are assholes. Which puts him in exclusive company with literally everything. The same thinkfluencers who argue that Bernie Sanders needs to take personal responsibility for people he’s never met being rude to journalists on the Internet (who are already berated and ridiculed by fans of everything else) are also filling column inches by doing the human-dignity equivalent of reaching a whole arm through a buzzing garbage disposal to latch onto yet another slime-slicked take festering in the U-bend and explaining why Hillary Clinton does not need to explain anything further. She doesn’t need to justify that Iraq War vote again, or the destabilization of Libya, or that desire to go hog wild in Syria, or that 1990s support for welfare reform that hit women hardest, or those 1990s tough-on-crime policies she endorsed along with private prisons, or those speaking fees at Goldman Sachs or that opposition to reinstating Glass-Steagall.
Against this habitual sycophancy, you have a 24-hour news and legacy media structure that has consistently pushed the “conventional wisdom says that a socialist like Bernie Sanders can’t win” line to hammer home the message that Bernie Sanders can’t win underneath a veneer of objectivity. It’s not advocacy, after all, if you’re only saying what everybody thinks. Even if your job is literally to help shape how everybody thinks.
Against all that, Bernie Sanders fighting Clinton to an essential draw in a state in which his opponent held a huge advantage in terms of local political operators and influencers is nothing short of extraordinary. Which, combined with Sanders’ 18-point lead in New Hampshire, means it’s time to crank up the RPMs on the spin cycle fast enough to rip apart space-time.
(click here to continue reading The Electability Spin Machine | Rolling Stone.)