The Phony Campaign

2023-03-12 Update

In our phony tallies this week, Ron DeSantis holds on to his yuge lead even after (somehow) losing nearly three million hits.

Yes, reader. They were probably never there in the first place. See the warning at the bottom of our table if you haven't already.

In fact all contenders lost hit counts except for the phony governor of California, who got bumped up a little.

The oddsmakers seem to be growing more pessimistic about Governor Gavin as well. He's just at our 2.0% inclusion threshold. In fact, everyone looks like a very long shot, save for Ron, Don, and Joe:

Candidate EBO Win
Hit Count
Ron DeSantis 21.6% -0.5% 5,650,000 -2,980,000
Pete Buttigieg 2.6% +0.3% 1,650,000 -320,000
Donald Trump 22.6% -0.9% 1,030,000 -130,000
Joe Biden 29.8% +2.3% 319,000 -731,000
Nikki Haley 2.1% -0.1% 116,000 -3,000
Kamala Harris 2.9% -0.1% 88,600 -661,400
Gavin Newsom 2.0% -0.5% 35,700 +900

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

As I continue to point out, "Other" is a very popular choice among the punters, currently with a 10.9% win probability at EBO. If you want to see an impressive list of long-shot "Other" candidates, including my state's Governor "Christopher" Sununu, check out Betfair.

But now on to this week's phony news:

  • Speaking of long-shot candidates, Chris Stirewalt has advice for them: Fail Fast. And points to the sooner-than-you-think schedule:

    It doesn’t matter how many Republicans get into the presidential race. What matters is how many get out.

    A year from today, depending on the final jockeying of state nominating contests, it will be five days after the delegate bonanza on Super Tuesday when 13 states including the two biggest, California (169 delegates) and Texas (162 delegates), cast their ballots. 

    It will be two days before the March 12 primaries, when Republicans will go past the halfway mark on delegates allocated—1,354 awarded, 1,113 remaining. There will still be eight contests left in the month of March, including the big prizes Florida (125 delegates), Ohio (78 delegates), and Illinois (64 delegates). 

    But in most scenarios, by March 10, 2024, the race will be, as they say, all over but the shouting. In the 44 years of the modern primary system, no Republican who was ahead after Super Tuesday has ever been denied the nomination. By the time a majority of the delegates have been allocated, the race has always been effectively over. Donald Trump  may have had a raggedy run to the finish line in 2016, but he was the frontrunner going into March and came out of it the presumptive nominee.

    Stirewalt also draws attention to…

  • … what he refers to as Donald Trump's "cuckoo-bananas speech at CPAC", linking to this Atlantic article from John Hendrickson: Trump Begins His ‘Final Battle’.

    Former President Donald Trump gripped the CPAC lectern as he workshopped a new sales pitch: “I stand here today, and I’m the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent—and very easily—World War III.” (Wild applause.) “And you’re gonna have World War III, by the way.” (Confused applause.)

    It was just one in a string of ominous sentences that the 45th president offered tonight during his nearly two-hour headlining speech at the annual conservative conference, which for years prided itself on its ties to Ronald Reagan but is now wholly intertwined with Trumpism, if little else. Yet even amid cultish devotion, Trump seemed bored, listless, and unanimated as he spoke to a sprawling hotel ballroom that was only three-quarters full.

    The Donald previously claimed that “Trade wars are good and easy to win” so I'd say his chances of "easily" preventing WW3 invite skepticism. (But then he said we're gonna have it anyway, so whatever.)

  • Charles C. W. Cooke reviews Donald Trump’s Recipe for Electoral Failure, also revealed in his CPAC appearance:

    Despite his preferred approach to politics having been responsible for grievous Republican losses in the last three national elections, Donald Trump is once again seeking to cast himself as the savior of the American Right. During his chaotic speech at CPAC on Saturday, Trump boasted to the crowd that, until he came along, “the Republican Party was ruled by freaks, neocons, open-border zealots, and fools,” before reassuring attendees that, under his continued leadership, the GOP is not at risk of “going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.”

    This was not an offhand comment. Increasingly, Trump likes to point to Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, and even Ronald Reagan as examples of what has historically been wrong with the GOP — as well as a warning of what the party will become again if any of the other candidates for the Republican nomination prevail in 2024. In recent months, Trump has begun to fuse these critiques with his attacks on Ron DeSantis, having complained variously that DeSantis is being pushed by “Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Paul Ryan,” that Fox News’s coverage of DeSantis “reminds me of 2016 when they were pushing ‘JEB!’,” and that DeSantis is suspect because “he used to be a Reagan Republican.”

    As CCWC points out, those guys actually won a lot of elections. Trump managed to win one squeaker, against a thoroughly unlikeable harridan.

  • Of all the candidates listed in our table, Pun Salad likes Nikki Haley the best. (Admittedly, that might just be because Pun Salad finds her to be kind of hot.) You'd expect her fellow women might be enthusiastic about having her as the First Woman President, but sadly, NYT opinion columnist Pamela Paul isn't buying it, writing on The Serene Hypocrisy of Nikki Haley.

    Astonishingly, some people still see Nikki Haley as one of the “good” Trump cabinet members, the future of a more tolerant and accepting Republican Party. Like those anti-Trumpers who willfully interpreted each casual flick of Melania’s wrist as a prospect of rebellion, Haley hopefuls want to believe that a conscience might yet emerge from Trump’s Team of Liars, that the G.O.P’s latest showcasing of a Can-Do Immigrant Success Story can somehow undo years of xenophobia.

    This requires listening to only half of what Haley says.

    But if you listen to the full spectrum of her rhetoric, Haley clearly wants to capture the base that yearns for Trumpism — and to occupy the moral high ground of the post-Trump era. She wants to tout the credential of having served in a presidential cabinet (she was Trump’s U.N. ambassador) — and bask in recognition for having left of her own accord. She wants to criticize Americans’ obsession with identity politics — and highlight her own identity as a significant qualification.

    Gee, it's almost as if (a) she doesn't agree with Trump on everything and (b) she doesn't want to alienate his voters. That's … normal tactics for a politician?

  • Reason's Eric Boehm kind of overdoes it with the baseball metaphors: Ron DeSantis Is on Deck.

    Polls suggest that many Republicans are looking for, essentially, a relief pitcher—someone who can take over for Trump, the tiring starting pitcher of the MAGA movement—while others believe the starter has another inning in him, at least. If the GOP decides to make a call to the bullpen, DeSantis figures to be first in line.

    The qualities that make an effective chief executive and a useful relief pitcher are surprisingly similar. Both get called upon in the middle of ongoing action. Sometimes they have to step in with the bases loaded and the game tied. Other times, their job is to maintain a steady course and protect a comfortable lead. It's a job that requires a cool head, a consistent delivery, and trusting the other guys on the field with you.

    That's the argument for DeSantis. More than that, it's also the role that polls suggest many Republican voters are hoping their next presidential nominee will fill—and that has implications in the realms of both politics and policy.

    But the governor doesn't seem to be content with the important, but often overlooked, role of reliever. When DeSantis' campaign auctioned off 500 replica baseball cards as a fundraiser for the governor's 2022 reelection effort, the photo on the front was of a college-aged DeSantis holding a bat over his head, arms flexed, waiting on a pitch to smash. DeSantis is "going to bat" for Florida, promised one campaign ad hawking the cards.

    If you manage to ignore the baseball gimmick, Boehm's article is a useful guide for liberty-minded folkss about the pluses and minuses of would-be President DeSantis.

  • Ryan Ellis notes Joe's never-enough mentality, as exemplified this week: President Biden's Budget Proposes Record-High Taxation.

    President Biden released his FY 2024 budget yesterday, and as is said almost every year no matter the president or party, it’s pretty much dead on arrival. Still, these budgets are policy documents, almost like party platforms. They tell us what direction the president’s party would go if he were to control all the levers of power.

    For the American taxpayer, that direction would not be a good one. The president’s budget contains a hodgepodge of tax increases on ordinary families (including every taxpaying American making less than $400,000 per year) and every small and big business in the country. The IRS would become super-sized, and audit rates would skyrocket. We’d have the largest tax collection in our history.

    Amusingly, the White House's "fact sheet" that claims The President’s Budget Cuts Wasteful Spending… doesn't mention much about cutting government spending. There are a lot of tax increases, though.

  • Briefly noted, from American Greatness: Joe Biden Tells Fire fighter Union: After Brain Aneurysm, Docs ‘Had to Take the Top of My Head off a Couple Times to See if I Had a Brain’.

    Joe Biden appeared to suffer a mental lapse Monday while addressing the 2023 International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference in Washington D.C.  His cognitive difficulties began when he went off-script to describe the emergency response to his two life-threatening brain aneurysms in February of 1988.

    “My fire company at home saved my life,” Biden said. “I came back from a trip after being away for a couple of days and I had these terrible headaches, and diagnosed with having a—well anyway,” he continued,  seeming to momentarily forget the name of the medical condition that almost killed him.

    The IAFF audience sat in stunned silence as Biden added that doctors “had to take the top of my head off a couple times to see if I had a brain.”  Chuckling, Biden then told the fire fighters “all kidding aside, what happened was, I was a snowstorm and I had a cranial aneurysm and had to be operated on immediately.”

    We wish the President an eventual recovery.

  • Christian Britschgi digs out The Decent Idea Buried in Donald Trump's Goofy 'Freedom Cities' Plan.

    First, the goofiness: the idea that Uncle Stupid can, via "incentives, subsidies, and industrial policy" create entire new cities "from scratch".


    The slightly less utopian but much more practical version of Trump's "freedom cities" is a 2022 bill from Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah), the Helping Open Underutilized Space to Ensure Shelter (HOUSES) Act. (I know.)

    Lee's proposal would allow state and local governments to purchase federally owned lands at below-market rates for the purposes of building new residential communities. Jurisdictions buying the federal lands would have to agree to a minimum density of one home per quarter acre. They also wouldn't be allowed to purchase land located in national parks, monuments, wilderness preserves, or other protected areas. The U.S. Department of Interior would be approve the sales, with the revenue going to the maintenance of national parks, forest fire prevention, and public water infrastructure.

    In other words, mostly get Uncle Stupid out of the way.

Last Modified 2023-03-12 10:47 AM EDT