The Phony Campaign

2019-03-03 Update

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We bid farewell (at least for this week) to Mike Pence, whose Betfair-derived odds dipped below 2% this week. My guess: this reflects the growing realization that Donald Trump will probably not be impeached, let alone convicted.

Big mover: the currently-unemployed Beto! O'Rourke, who's indicated (as I type) that he's made up his mind whether he's going to run, but he's keeping us in suspense for now! After a significant gain this week, he's now at a solid 9.5% win probability. (Which is … um … where he was back in late January.)

Who needs coffee to stay awake? I'm just going to keep hitting the refresh button on my Beto! newsfeed to find out what his decision was!

Oh, but Jay Inslee announced his candidacy this week! He's the governor of … Oregon or Washington, I forget which. Anyway, he failed to get any interest at Betfair.

It's semi-interesting that the punters have sorted the Democratic candidates into three groups:

  1. The front-runners: Harris, Bernie, Beto!, Biden.
  2. The stragglers: Warren, Brown, Bloomberg, Spartacus, Klobuchar.
  3. The long shots (who don't make our cut): Gillibrand, Gabbard, Castro, Yang, Inslee, … and everyone else.

Slightly amazing result: Kamala Harris lost nearly half of her Google Phony Hit Counts over the week, and she still maintains her huge phony lead over Donald Trump. (But see disclaimer at the bottom of the table.)

Candidate WinProb Change
Kamala Harris 12.8% -0.9% 7,280,000 -7,520,000
Donald Trump 32.0% unch 2,880,000 +410,000
Beto O'Rourke 9.5% +3.6% 954,000 -76,000
Nikki Haley 2.0% -0.3% 916,000 +258,000
Michael Bloomberg 2.8% -1.0% 508,000 +87,000
Bernie Sanders 10.2% unch 420,000 +42,000
Amy Klobuchar 2.4% -1.2% 398,000 -44,000
Joe Biden 9.1% -1.1% 240,000 +43,000
Elizabeth Warren 2.6% -1.0% 205,000 +19,000
Sherrod Brown 3.1% +0.2% 180,000 +35,000
Cory Booker 2.4% -0.2% 84,900 +8,100

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • I didn't watch Trump's CPAC speech, but Reason's Nick Gillespie did, and I'm sort of shocked by his take: Trump Just Might Have Won the 2020 Election Today.

    It's way too early to be thinking this, much less saying it, but what the hell: If Donald Trump is able to deliver the sort of performance he gave today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual meeting of right-wingers held near Washington, D.C., his reelection is a foregone conclusion.

    There is simply no potential candidate in the Democratic Party who wouldn't be absolutely blown off the stage by him. I say this as someone who is neither a Trump fanboy nor a Never Trumper. But he was not simply good, he was Prince-at-the-Super-Bowl great, deftly flinging juvenile taunts at everyone who has ever crossed him, tossing red meat to the Republican faithful, and going sotto voce serious to talk about justice being done for working-class Americans screwed over by global corporations.

    Trump's speech lasted over two hours. That's pretty impressive for a 72-year-old. I'm (slightly) younger, and I'm pretty sure I'd have to take one or two nap breaks.

  • Before I gave up reading WaPo pundit Jennifer Rubin, I noticed how personal her feelings were about the pols she talked about: she fawned and swooned over her favorites (Mitt Romney); she was nasty, unfair, and bitter toward those who rubbed her the wrong way (Trump, of course). It seems, for now, that she's taken a shine to our phony leader: How Kamala Harris is breaking out. And it's not her complexion!

    It is that ability to weave one’s personal story (in her case, a woman raised mostly by her mother after a divorce, a multi-ethnic American and a prosecutor wanting to do good from the inside) that allows voters, whether in person or through a screen, to connect in some emotional way with the candidate. Voters fall in love with candidates, not proposals; if they don’t know you, they cannot fall in love.

    Finally, let’s face it, she has some of that “it” — the smile, the joyous laugh, the ability to intersperse inspiration with policy responses. (We are an aspirational people, she declares, trying to live up to our founding creed.) She doesn’t get lost in airy platitudes or in the weeds of policy; she paces her appearances with some of each. She can read a room. Call it connectivity or empathy, but the best politicians have it, and those who don’t cannot fake it.

    Uh huh. Jen's in love, folks. Otherwise, that "joyous laugh" would have been cast as grating and inappropriate. Her "personal story" would include her career boost from sleeping with a powerful, married politician.

  • In the Mercury News, Ruben Navarrette Jr. offers: 10 reasons why ‘Beto’ O’Rourke bugs me. (Ruben uses the phrase "as a Mexican-American", referring to himself twice in the column.) Here's a couple of Ruben's reasons:

    — When the Post asked about immigration and what to do about visa overstayers, O’Rourke said: “I don’t know.” He lives in El Paso, not Des Moines. He can’t say: “I don’t know.” An actual Mexican-American would be toast if he said that.

    — O’Rourke doesn’t do homework. He is the Democratic Party’s version of Sarah Palin, telegenic and charismatic but afraid to open a book because he thinks it might explode in his face.

    I'm not a fan of "gotcha" questions, but I wonder what a candid response would be to "What book have you read lately?"

  • Politico reports on Bernie Sanders' updated campaign strategy: Bernie gets personal.

    When the New Yorker profiled Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign, he sighed when he was asked about his earlier life.

    “I understand,” he said. “I really do. For people to elect a president, you’ve got to know that person — you’ve got to trust them.”

    But, the magazine wrote, “he couldn’t resist sermonizing first,” joking, “I know those issues are not quite as important as my personal life.”

    More than three years later, Sanders’ advisers acknowledge that approach won't cut it in 2020, and Sanders and his team are now trying to present a warmer and fuzzier version of Bernie.

    [This is a good place for an eye-roll emoji: 🙄]

    So Bernie announced his candidacy in Brooklyn, not Vermont. And he's playing up his past. Drawbacks?

    But the strategy comes with risks: It could draw more attention to parts of Sanders’ life that could prove damaging, such as when he said more than 30 years ago that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro “totally transformed the society.” And there's a chance it will be viewed by some of his fans as phony.

    I have no insight into what might trigger a Bernie fan into a such a realization. It would seem that suspension of sharp observational skills is a sine qua non of Bernie fanhood.

  • Michael Graham wonders at the Bulwark: Is Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign Already Over?.

    Forget the “Native American” stuff—Is Liz Warren a fake presidential candidate?

    While the political press covering the 2020 Democratic presidential primary are focused on who’s getting in—“Joe Biden, Will He or Won’t He?”— Elizabeth Warren, the one-time front-runner and progressive rock star, is fading away.

    The polls aren't good. Especially bad is the recent poll done by the UNH Survey Center that asked Democratic primary voters which candidate they wouldn't vote for "under any circumstances". Leading the pack: Elizabeth, with 13%. On the poll's "most likeable" question, she came in sixth, after Biden, Beto!, Bernie, Kamala, and Spartacus.

    I also liked this observation, about Liz's overuse of a (probably) focus-tested rhetorical gimmick that rubs me the wrong way:

    For Liz Warren, everything is a “fight.”

    Her’s [sic] isn’t a presidential campaign, it’s “the fight of our lives.” Her mission is a “fight that began in the streets,” a “fight for big structural change” and, she repeatedly assures us, “I’m in that fight all the way!” She dropped the progressive’s “F-bomb” a total of 26 times in her announcement speech.

    And I'm not the only one: Viking Pundit.

    OMG, yes, she's always fighting and fighting the fight against those who need to be fought. The other joke I make that she alternates between "the rich and the powerful" and "the wealthy and well-connected" depending on what day it is.

    Indeed. I, for one, am a lover, not a fighter.

Last Modified 2019-03-03 7:22 AM EST