The Phony Campaign

2019-03-24 Update

[Amazon Link]

This week, we bid farewell to Julian Castro, who only managed to stay above a 2% win probability at Betfair for a single week. Senator Spartacus, Cory Booker, also dropped below 2% this week.

And there's good news for the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg! The Betfair punters have elevated him into "credible candidate" territory, comparable with Elizabeth Warren and … yes, Andrew Yang.

I would have expected the no-further-indictments result of the Mueller investigation would have boosted Trump's winning probability more than it did. Probability-wise, the week's big winner was Beto!

Beto! (however) fell into second place in the only poll that really matters, the Google Phony Hit Count. But he and Kamala are still soundly beating Trump, phonywise.

Note that the Amazon Product du Jour is kind of out of date. The "very real" quote is apparently from two years old. From the WaPo, discussing Trump's switch from campaign bullshit rhetoric to incumbent bullshit rhetoric:

There was a moment that epitomized that switch. In March 2017, then-press secretary Sean Spicer was asked whether the newly released jobs numbers were still “phony” in the eyes of the president.

“They may have been phony in the past,” Spicer said, quoting Trump, “but it’s very real now.”

He and the reporters in the room laughed.

Ah, good times. The latest unemployment rate reported (February 2019) is 3.8%.

Candidate WinProb Change
Kamala Harris 11.2% -0.7% 8,050,000 +2,150,000
Beto O'Rourke 10.0% +1.7% 7,250,000 -5,750,000
Donald Trump 34.5% +1.4% 1,770,000 -340,000
Bernie Sanders 12.2% -0.3% 361,000 +4,000
Joe Biden 12.5% +0.1% 226,000 +21,000
Elizabeth Warren 2.1% -0.2% 207,000 -1,000
Pete Buttigieg 2.5% --- 183,000 ---
Andrew Yang 2.8% -0.8% 11,100 +2,040

"WinProb" calculation described here. Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • In last Friday's "Morning Jolt", Jim Geraghty objected to a recent bizarre assertion from "journalist" Charlotte Alter of Time magazine that people of her age "have never experienced American prosperity in our adult lives." Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, says Jim: Millennials Are Experiencing American Prosperity.

    But what I really wanted to excerpt was Geraghty's take on our Phony newcomer, Pete Buttigieg:

    The nicest things I can say about Pete Buttigieg, the latest subject in the “Twenty Things” series: Starting at a very early age — and some might argue that at 37, he’s still at a very early age — he set out to do everything the right way and steadily and methodically did so — Harvard, Oxford, consulting at McKinsey. He chose to wear his country’s uniform when he had plenty of other options. With his accomplishments and glowing resume, he could have gone anywhere and worked just about any place, but he chose to return to his hometown, determined he could bring better days for his community. His constituents seem to adore him.

    The least-nice things I can say about Buttigieg: He is the insufferably perfect valedictorian class president that your parents kept telling you to emulate. He’s the kid who started thinking about being elected to high office in high school and started making preparations then. His ambition was so transparent that it stood out at Harvard’s Institute for Politics, basically the Hogwarts for bright young people who want to be president someday. South Bend is the 299th-largest city in America and based upon five years of running that, Buttigieg thinks he’s ready to be president of the United States. Some presidential candidates falter because they don’t have “the fire in the belly.” Buttigieg’s got the Hindenberg in his intestines.

    How stupid is the American electorate? No, that's a serious question: how stupid is the American electorate?

  • Tim Miller of the Bulwark takes a brief timeout from that site's overall Trump-stinks theme, and takes a look at The Beto Woke Wars. He's already flunked the Social Justice Warriors' purity test. (And dares to run against Saint Bernie!)

    The grassroots enthusiasm that resulted from this national fame and an opponent the left found nothing short of vampiric jolted his campaigns well past what most political prognosticators thought possible in Texas. But of course didn’t get him enough votes to actually win. So as the calendar turned to 2019, without a Cruzian foil, the prog-cognoscenti began to turn on their toe-headed boy.

    As Jonathan Chait observed, if America was going to get its first socialist president, the Bernie bros were going to have to crush Beto.

    The aspirational socialists and the intersectional liberals suddenly found themselves in league against a common enemy: a white male capitalist who once took a road-trip with a . . . Republican. So when Beto formally announced his campaign last week, what he may not have realized is that he was firing the first presidential shot in the left’s internecine Woke Wars. And in this battle he is on the wrong side of some of the very people who were his base in 2018: center-left journalists and power twitter users.

    There's an impressive roster of folks, both inside and outside the media, who thought Beto was great when he was running against Ted Cruz and … now just noticed that he's awful.

  • At Hot Air, Allahpundit piles on: O'Rourke rocked by major scandal: He once supported basic fiscal responsibility. Specifically, CNN noticed that while running for Congress in 2012, Beto "said the US had an 'extravagant government' that needed 'significant' spending cuts."

    This made me think of that famous Edwin Edwards quote, “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy,” just because O’Rourke would have an easier time explaining either of those scenarios to the left than explaining why he used to support entitlement reform.

    He has two options now. One: Publish a hastily written statement pledging allegiance to Modern Monetary Theory or some similar progressive horsesh*t. Two: Switch to the GOP and primary Trump. He probably wouldn’t do worse than four or five percent of the vote in a Republican primary, as that’s roughly the share of righties who still believe in cutting spending.

    Beto must apologize for his dalliance with reality, ASAP!

  • Andrew Yang continues to hang in, with (according to Betfair) a better shot at the presidency than Elizabeth Warren, or any of the other announced candidates that have dropped off our list. At the Federalist, Madeline Osburn helpfully lists Democratic Candidate Andrew Yang's 8 Most Bizarre Policy Proposals. I think I could get behind this one (assuming "White House Staff" includes the boss too):

    4. Monitor the Mental Health of White House Staff

    “My brother is a psychology professor—I believe in the power and good that the discipline can do. We should be 100% confident that people in power don’t have severe psychological problems,” Yang writes.

    It’s unclear what his brother’s occupation has to do with the president’s mental health. Nevertheless, Yang is convinced that there should be a “White House Psychologist group” responsible for monitoring the mental health of employees in the executive branch.

    Unfortunately, doctor-patient confidentiality would preclude the public from learning anything interesting.

    I think, however, that candidates for higher office should be required to take standardized tests of intelligence, basic knowledge, and personality traits. And those results should be released to the public pre-election.

    Also maybe a Jeopardy!-style quiz show, although a format that doesn't depend on button-clicking. Presidential candidates should not be evaluated on how quickly they can hit a button!

  • Senator Gillibrand hasn't met our 2% inclusion threshold for a couple months now (and she's now at something like 0.9%). But Jacob Sullum's blog post at Reason was too good not to include here: Kirsten Gillibrand Says Her Limit on Opioid Prescriptions 'Is Not Intended to Interfere With These Decisions'.

    In response to a backlash against her bill imposing a nationwide seven-day limit on initial prescriptions of opioids for acute pain, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) suggests she is open to changes that would address the concerns raised by critics. Gillibrand's acknowledgment of the criticism is encouraging, but her response seems confused, wrongheaded, and disingenuous.

    "I want to get this right," the presidential contender writes on Medium, "and I believe that we can have legislation to help combat the opioid epidemic and the over-prescription of these powerful drugs without affecting treatment for those who need this medication. I fundamentally believe that all health care should be between doctors and patients, and this bill is not intended to interfere with these decisions but to ensure doctors prescribe opioids with a higher level of scrutiny, given their highly addictive and dangerous effects."

    I would have slightly more respect for an honest take: "I want to get this right. Please tell me what position I need to take in order to maximize the number of people who will vote for me."