The Phony Campaign

2019-05-12 Update

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Welcome to our regular Sunday featurette, in which we check out the presidential candidates who are judged by Betfair betters to have a non-negligible shot at winning the 2020 election. I should point out that at this point four years ago, Donald J. Trump did not meet that criterion. Instead, we were looking at Jeb!, Hillary, Rand Paul, Handsy Joe, Little Marco, Scott Walker, and Fauxcahontas. Bottom line: things can change. And, as William Goldman wisely noted: nobody knows anything.

Our Amazon Product du Jour speaks for itself. Literally.

Thanks to his polling strength, Joe Biden has pulled significantly ahead of his fellow Democrats at Betfair this week. But most savvy commenters on the horserace seem to think he's only one gaffe away from sinking his own ship. Bernie's fading a bit, and everyone else seems to be stuck in the single digits, or worse.

Phony-wise, Pete Buttigieg bounced up in the Google hits this week. Which seems to be due to a phony smear promulgated by stupid right-wingers. So ignore that.

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
5/5
Phony
Results
Change
Since
5/5
Pete Buttigieg 4.2% -0.9% 8,140,000 +3,640,000
Donald Trump 43.7% +1.1% 1,480,000 -260,000
Bernie Sanders 11.0% -0.2% 379,000 +72,000
Joe Biden 16.4% +3.0% 275,000 -27,000
Elizabeth Warren 4.0% +0.7% 197,000 +1,000
Kamala Harris 5.9% -1.8% 96,600 -5,400
Beto O'Rourke 3.3% unch 69,200 -10,400
Andrew Yang 3.6% -0.2% 23,300 +2,500

"WinProb" calculation described here. Google result counts are bogus.

  • At Reason, Matt Welch looks at Joe Biden, Rusty Weather Vane.

    Say what you will about the ethics of plagiarists—at least they have an ear for what audiences want to hear.

    When Joe Biden cratered in his first official run at the White House in 1987, it was because of a series of borrowed speech passages, hand gestures, and even biographical details (no, he didn't derive from a family of coal miners, as he once claimed, nor was he "the first" in his clan to ever attend college; he lifted those details from a speech by U.K. Labor politician Neil Kinnock). The deceptions nonetheless revealed a political truth: Ronald Reagan had peeled off blue-collar voters from the Democratic Party, and it would take a relatable, regular-sounding Joe to lure them back.

    Fortunately for Joe, he'd have to step up his game considerably in order to compete with Our Current President on the dishonesty score.

    Unfortunately for America, he's likely to attempt that.


  • Ella Nilsen, writing for the young-adult website Vox, was down the road at the University Near Here, and she thinks the New Hampshire primary will make or break Bernie Sanders. Fine, but here's a rare bit of honesty:

    There’s another problem that could eat into candidates’ support from young voters: a new state law passed by Republicans in 2018 that effectively prevents out-of-state college students from voting in New Hampshire elections.

    The law requires prospective voters to declare New Hampshire as their state of residency 60 days before they vote. That means they would be subject to other requirements, like getting a New Hampshire driver’s license and car registration before voting. Before the law was enacted, students had to prove they lived in the state by bringing their licenses and other proof of residency, like mail or records showing their on-campus address. Students and voting activists alike object to the new rules in the state, characterizing it as a “poll tax” that makes voting financially untenable for students who can’t afford the fees for a new license and registration.

    Emphasis added to the honest bit. Can you think of the slightest reason why out-of-state college students should be able to vote in local elections? Me neither.

    And the "poll tax" complaint is bogus, too. Simple workaround, college kids: get an absentee ballot from the locality in which you really live. You're in college, you're supposed to be smart. Figure it out.


  • Another MSM writer, Michael Kruse, belatedly notes Beto’s Long History of Failing Upward.

    O’Rourke, 46, campaigns with the wanderlust of the wannabe punk rocker he once was and the vigor of the regular runner, hiker and cyclist he still is. His hair is somehow simultaneously boyish and salt-and-pepper-streaked. He drives himself around in rented Dodge minivans, dressed almost always in plain brown shoes, Banana Republic chinos and blue oxford shirts with no tie and the sleeves rolled up just so. He often dons locally appropriate dad hats, from a maroon Iowa State cap at Iowa State to an orange Clemson cap at Clemson and so on. He holds microphones with his right hand kind of like a singer, and he extends his left arm into the air kind of like a preacher, and he punctuates his points with grins that flash perfectly imperfect teeth.

    Man, that brings back memories of 1992; went to see Jerry Brown at the University Near Here Memorial Union Building. He was wearing a checked flannel shirt and jeans, both looking like they'd been bought at Penney's earlier that day. He came in fifth in the NH Primary that year, behind Paul Tsongas, Bill Clinton, Bob Kerrey, and Tom Harkin.


  • One of our ignored-so-far candidates, Colorado ex-Governor John Hickenlooper, took to the op-ed page of the WSJ with the bold headline I’m Running to Save Capitalism.

    Click through if you need to, and if you do, you might be reminded of that famous (and perhaps bogus) quote from the Vietnam War, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

    But anyway, one of Hickenlooper's bits of evidence for Capitalism's imminent demise was: "Forty percent of Americans in 2017 didn’t have enough savings to cover a $400 medical emergency or car repair, according to the Federal Reserve."

    Causing Cato's Alan Reynolds to wonder: Is it True that 40% of Americans Can't Handle a $400 Emergency Expense?. Looking at the Fed link, Alan objects:

    But that is not the question that was asked, and it certainly is not the answer.

    The question was about how people would choose to pay a $400 “emergency expense” — not whether or not they could pay it out of savings (or checking) if they wanted to.  Respondents were also free to choose more than one way of paying the extra $400 (“please selects all that apply”), so the answers add up 143% rather than 100%.  Even if 100% said they could pay an extra $400 with cash, there could still be more than 40% who would choose a different method.

    Dear Governor Hickenlooper: I don't want to understate the travails of the financially insecure, but when you have to misrepresent one of your bits of evidence this badly… maybe American Capitalism isn't in quite as much need of saving as you're trying to suggest.


  • Senator Spartacus hasn't made our credible-candidate cut since mid-March, but he's out there trying to climb back into it. Which involved moving past the usual Democrat mealy-mouthed rhetoric on gun control. And the Washington Examiner has the honest take: Cory Booker wants a ban on 'assault weapons,' and yes, it means putting gun owners in jail. (Could have also added: "Or Shooting Them If They Don't Go Quietly")

    For all of [Booker's] tip-toeing around the question, he had to concede a central truth about law: after a "reasonable" grace period, any gun owner refusing to give up "assault weapons" by choice will be forced to do so under threat of prison time.

    Democrats have long positioned themselves as the party of criminal justice reform and restorative justice. Drug War-happy Republicans were once happy to split that narrative. But times have changed, and Democrats must reckon with the reality of what their stringent policies imply. Every new ban or law puts a state-sponsored gun to the head of all citizens. Fail to pay a massive tax hike? You could very well face prison time. Refuse to comply with the legal proceedings bringing you there? The police may use force, including deadly force, to incarcerate you.

    Something that needs to be pointed out over and over.