The Phony Campaign

2019-09-22 Update

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Just a small methodology change to announce: the "WinProb" calculations you see in the table are now scraped directly from the Election Betting Odds site provided by Maxim Lott and John Stossel. I was attempting to duplicate their calculation that derives winning probability from Betfair's posted odds but, oh heck, it's easier simply to trust that Lott and Stossel are doing that correctly.

So what's new, odds-wise? Elizabeth Warren is the biggest gainer, widening her lead on Wheezy Joe slightly. A couple of big >1% decreases for Bernie and Kamala; Kamala now seems to be in the "circling the drain" territory.

But that doesn't necessarily mean anything; back in mid-April, Warren's chances looked similarly bleak.

But I really suspect that a lot of people decided that they couldn't stomach a president whose main character trait is laughing uproariously at her own jokes. That's a deal-breaker.

In phony news, Trump's hit count came crashing back to earth, and an impressive increase for Mayor Pete results in the slimmest of differences between the two. As always, that means … nothing.

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 44.1% -0.5% 1,910,000 -5,290,000
Pete Buttigieg 2.4% +0.2% 1,900,000 +1,018,000
Bernie Sanders 5.5% -1.5% 858,000 -88,000
Joe Biden 12.3% +0.6% 409,000 -513,000
Elizabeth Warren 19.3% +0.9% 258,000 -136,000
Kamala Harris 2.1% -1.2% 136,000 +3,000
Andrew Yang 3.6% +0.1% 69,500 +17,100

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • At American Consequences, P. J. O'Rourke looks at Election 2020 so far…. You will, of course, want to Peruse It In Its Entirety. But a sample:

    The remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls are engaged in a free-for-all. Literally. Promising everything free for all of us.

    The Democrats are vying to see who can promise the most free stuff – college tuition, student-loan forgiveness, Medicare-For-All, Universal Basic Income – and throw in the kitchen sink of subsidized housing for the homeless who crowd the sidewalks of places where everybody votes Democratic like San Francisco and Portland.

    The Democrats say we can have a government that gives everything to everybody.

    And what that government will give us isn’t limited to material things like pre-paid PhDs, $0 doctor bills, and a paycheck for doing nothing.

    Government will also give us encouragement, approval, validation, and self-importance. Government will celebrate our identities and provide us with a good feeling about ourselves as people.

    This isn’t a “Move to the Left.” This is a “Move Back In With Mom.”

    Government as your mother. Think that over before you vote for it.

    Whether you’re 26 or 60… you’ll be living in the basement. She’ll bug you about who you’re dating. And she won’t let you borrow the car.

    Brutal. But largely true.

  • Cameron Cawthorne of the Free Beacon notes some Polk County phoniness: Dems Cook 10,500 Steaks While Lecturing Americans About Eating Less Meat.

    Several Democratic presidential candidates will be attending an annual steak fry event, despite lecturing Americans about the need to eat less meat because of climate change.

    The organizers of the Iowa Polk County Democratic Party's annual steak fry will be grilling 10,500 steaks and 1,000 vegan burgers on 10 grills, during Saturday's event. Some of the candidates will grill steaks themselves.

    Okay, now I'm hungry. Queen Kamala is quoted, among others:

    "As a nation, we actually have to have a real priority at the highest level of government around what we eat and in terms of healthy eating because we have a problem in America," Harris said. "But there has to be also what we do in terms of creating incentives that we will eat in a healthy way, that we will encourage moderation and that we will be educated about the effect of our eating habits on our environment."

    Sure thing, Mom. (See P. J. above.)

  • Bonnie Kristian identifies The worst oppo researcher in Washington. in the Week. Hint: it's President Bone Spurs. Bonnie issues a tutorial:

    Here is how a regular politician would do it:

    • Hire an opposition research firm to investigate an opponent.
    • Pay them above the table with campaign funds duly reported to the Federal Election Commission.
    • Review the information they gather.
    • Put it in television ads with scary voiceovers, feature it in direct mail and email campaigns designed to frighten elderly supporters' fixed incomes right out of their checkbooks, and mention it at every debate or interview possible.

    Here is what Trump seems to do instead:

    • Either personally or through one of his children or underlings (and the extent of Trump's own involvement isn't always clear) make contact with a foreign official or some other shady person with ties to a foreign state.
    • Have compromising communications with that person, whether by email ("If it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer"), by phone, or in person.
    • Attempt to strike a deal to get the desired information.
    • Get caught.
    • Deny everything.
    • Admit everything.
    • Deny there's anything wrong with everything admitted.
    • Get accused of treason.
    • Declare it's all a hoax, fake news, persecution of Your Favorite President, etc.
    • Deploy the TV sycophants to say the same.
    • Hold a rally to be comforted by the implacable support of thousands.
    • Make ads, mailings, emails, and talking points about the aforementioned persecution instead of actual wrongdoing by the targeted opponent.
    • End up without any demonstrably true and actionable oppo research.
    • Craft instead a barrage of vague and mercurial accusations to lob on Twitter whenever the news cycle isn't going your way.

    The funny thing is that in this case, he'd actually have a pretty good case, if not for his inept fumbling making the news instead.

  • But as always the field is getting plenty of fertilizer from Senator Liz. At a new blog set up by the editorializers at Investors Business Daily: Warren Says She Can End Corruption, But Her Policies Will Feed It.

    Despite Warren’s description of her plan as “far-reaching and aggressive,” it amounts to little more than a grab bag of reforms, many of which have been tried before in one way or another. She’d stop the revolving door between government service and lobbying. She’d ban lawmakers and their staff members from serving on corporate boards. She’d create a new Office of Public Integrity.

    Whatever the merits of Warren’s specific anti-corruption proposals, the simple truth is that the rest of her agenda would have the exact opposite effect.

    The problem with all these “anti-corruption” efforts is that they are trying to treat the symptom, not the disease.

    And that disease is, of course, big intrusive government.

    Warren has already co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to degrade the "free speech" part of the First Amendment; I imagine one to deny the right to "petition the government for a redress of grievances" wouldn't be far behind it in a Warren Administration.

  • At the Federalist, Christopher Jacobs notes Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan—For Avoiding Your Health Care Questions.

    She claims “I’ve got a plan for that” on just about every issue, but the proverbial cat got Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s tongue on health care. And you can bet that’s Warren’s plan.

    Rather than answering tough questions about the single-payer health care scheme she now endorses, Warren wants to keep the focus on 1) bashing insurance companies and 2) telling people they will receive great health care under socialized medicine. Telling people they will lose their current coverage, and figuring out how to pay for this $30 trillion-plus system? Warren doesn’t want to bother answering questions about those minor details.

    I wish that she'd say something like: "You may have heard that 'You get what you pay for.'. Well, we're gonna change that to: 'You'll pay what we tell you to; you'll get what we decide to give you.'"

    That would, at least be honest.

  • And Hannah Natanson indulges some hagiography about photography in the WaPo: Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Warren's selfies do the same?.

    They look nothing alike.

    Frederick Douglass — a black man campaigning for the abolition of slavery in the 1840s — appears alone in almost every photograph, staring down the camera in isolated, thoughtful splendor. Elizabeth Warren — a white woman campaigning for the presidency in 2019 — features today in countless iPhone photos and Instagram feeds, her arm around voter after voter, always bearing the same wide grin.

    The two are separated by race, gender and more than 100 years of history that forged an America that would probably be unrecognizable to Douglass. Still, experts say, their use of photography collapses the distance: Douglass sat for scores of pictures to normalize the idea of black excellence and equality, and Warren’s thousands of selfies with supporters could do the same for a female president.

    Uh, sure. What would we do without "experts" to tell us about collapsing distances?

    Frederick Douglass was a Republican, for what it's worth.

  • And my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, profiles Mark Sanford.

    Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford warns the exploding federal deficits and $22.5 trillion debt are the “greatest single threat facing our nation.”

    Sanford, who earlier this month launched a long-shot challenge against President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, said “we are at unprecedented numbers in terms of debt, in terms of projected deficits.”

    In a meeting with the Seacoast Media Group editorial board Friday, the fiscal conservative said “we’ve never ever in our country’s history been projected to run $1 trillion-plus deficits in the next 10 years, which is now the case, in a benign economic environment.”

    Sanford lays part of the blame for the fiscal emergency the country’s facing on Trump.

    And on from there. Observations:

    • Sanford is not wrong about the problem.
    • He's also correct that Trump is inept and rudderless on the issue.
    • He proposes nothing concrete himself, other than promisng to "lead on this issue" and to "go out and have hundreds of town hall meetings."

    And, yes, the Foster's reporter inserts a paragraph about Sanford's Appalachian Trail trek that somehow involved getting in the sack with an Argentinean floozy.

    But the article winds up with an LFOD reference, which is what brought it to my attention:

    “New Hampshire has a lot of things that fit with my candidacy, I believe,” he said. “I [sic] idea of ‘Live Free or Die’ fits with some of my liberty based political philosophy.”