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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Candidate Profile: #16. George Pataki

For background to this series, click here.

Let's get this Republican Party started...

#16. George Pataki, 70, former Governor of New York, 1995-2009

Campaign Website and Slogan--"People Over Politics"

PPFA Slogan--"Losing Over Winning" ideology on liberal-conservative spectrum (-10 is far left and +10 is far right. A center moderate is 0.): +3, including being pro-choice. (Individual rights: 0; Domestic: 0; Economic: +8; Foreign policy: +4)

Conservative Rank based on above: 14 of 16

Spin from the candidate's campaign--Grandson of immigrants, grew up on a family farm, worked to put himself through Yale, served in the New York House and Senate before becoming an accomplished three-term governor of a massive blue state. He helped guide it through its darkest hour after September 11. He's an outsider who has never held federal office. As the only candidate for New York Governor to ever win on the Conservative Party Line (going it three times no less), he'll boast his ability as an executive who can reach across the aisle to get things done. He created 750,000 private sector jobs while reducing taxes by $143 billion (slashing more than the other 49 states combined), cut the government's size by 15 percent, and he turned a $5 billion deficit into a surplus, increasing New York's credit rating three times in the process.

Spin from opponents--George Who?

How do the polls look?--The National Journal was pretty close with its headline, "George Pataki, Currently Polling at --, Is Running for President."  Not a typo. Just as sad, and perhaps sadder, is that the go to website for organizing all political polls, Real Clear Politics, is charting national polling for only 15 of the 16 candidates. The odd man out? Poor George Who. He's the only one of the 16 who isn't registering in national polls. (That link also tells you that he tied with Marco Rubio for the lead in a New York poll at 11 points apiece with Jeb Bush one back at 10. It's not a good sign when 89 percent of your own state doesn't prefer you as their presidential candidate.)

PPFA analysis--There's a reason I rank him at 16. The polling data reveals he's a candidate with no national name recognition. The way to fix that is by getting people to turn their heads when you walk by or listen when you open your mouth, but it's unclear what issue or driving passion voters should associate with him with. Moreover, he'd be 71 on his first day in office. No one has started the presidency older, not even that old guy who caught pneumonia and died a month later (he was 68). His personality matches his age, looks and ideology, which is to say that in every way he's as grey as Gandalf before that thing happened to him in one of those movies that made him white.

PPFA nomination rank--16 of 16 (Odds: 100:1)

PPFA general election rank--7 of 16. Remember, this category is assuming the candidate is nominated, where would he or she rank among the 16 Republican candidates in likelihood of delivering in November? As a center-right politician from a big blue state, Pataki would do quite well with moderates and any disillusioned Democrats. He doesn't alienate the center or moderate left with controversial, far right positions. In fact, the biggest hurdle in the general for this pro-choice Republican would be getting conservatives out to vote for him.

Number 15 in a couple days!  See you then.

Candidate Profiles Intro

This July at Presidential Politics for America, I'm going to give each of the 16 major Republican candidates for president their very own post. Thus, even after 15 of them fail at winning the nomination and one more falls to the machine that is Democratic electoral politics, they can at least look back and remember they had their one day in the lukewarm PPFA sun.

Here's how this will work. I hope to add to the series every other day throughout the month, starting with later today. If I did my math correctly, which is never a sure thing considering my sidebar odds care little for arithmetic, that means I should be able to fit in all 16 candidates by the end of the month. I will go in reverse order of likelihood to get the nomination, or, if you prefer, in regular order of likelihood to make Cersei Lannister's walk of "shame shame shame" off the national stage. On July 31, therefore, you'll have my favorite for the Republican nomination.

Each candidate will be broken down across similar categories. For example:

Campaign Website and Slogan--Straight from the horse's mouth

PPFA Slogan--Straight from my mouth ideology on left-right political spectrum: -10 is for extremely liberal and +10 is for extremely conservative. A center moderate is 0. Numbers are earned from

Conservative Rank: Each candidate will be ranked "X of 16" in order of most to least conservative based on the above statistic. When necessary, this number can be unpacked into social, economic, individual liberties, and foreign policy subsets.

Polling data--What do the polls say?

Spin from the candidate's campaign--How the candidate will sell him or herself.

Spin from opponents--What opponents, including Republicans and Democrats, might say about the candidate.

PPFA analysis--How I like their chances.

PPFA nomination rank (with odds)--Each candidate will be ranked "X of 16" in order of most to least likely to be the nominee.

PPFA general election rank--Each candidate will be ranked "X of 16" in order of chances to win the general assuming they win the nomination.

See you later today with #16!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Christie is Official; PPFA Announces July Plans

As expected, today New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination. As anyone who follows my odds on the left sidebar knows, I like his chances a lot more than the oddsmakers and most pundits.  I slot his rotundity at 7:1 for the nomination and 12:1 for the presidency. Why? You'll find out soon, because . . .

For the month of July, I'll be doing "candidate profiles" on the 16 Republicans running for president.  I'll follow them with the handful of Democrats in August, but I want to make sure to get the GOP done before their much anticipated FoxNews debate on August 6. I'll introduce the series tomorrow, July 1, then get to the candidates in short order. I hope to see you there, but I probably won't, because this blog gets like zero readers.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chris Christie on Deck

And what a bat he could swing!  Announcement expected Tuesday.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jindal is Indal!

Sorry about that.

We have a 13th official candidacy! Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has declared he is running for president. He's a far right social and fiscal conservative in a field full of them. It will be difficult to stand out, especially since he's competing for the tightly contested Cruz/Carson/Huckabee/Santorum voter. They're all hurting each other and won't be able to mount the run against the top tier that maybe one of them alone could do. He's a non factor.

Odds for nomination: 30:1

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Promotion, Relegation, and the Fox Debate

In most sports leagues across the world, the system of promotion and relegation is used. This concept is literally foreign to fans of American sports, where the same teams compete in the same leagues year after year. But in other leagues, most notably in European soccer, teams that finish near the bottom of their standings get "relegated" down a league and are replaced by the top teams from that lower league (teams who are said to be "promoted").  This process can happen for several lower tiers. (If this were to happen in, say, America's Major League Baseball, its worst few teams would become AAA minor league teams the following year, while the best AAA teams would be promoted to MLB. The worst AAA teams would be relegated to AA getting replaced by the top AA teams, and so on.)

We are about to see this system take place in politics.

On August 6, Fox News will host the first debate between the crowded field of the Republican Primary. Its criteria for entry requires that candidates "Must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by FOX News leading up to August 4th at 5 PM/ET. Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques."

In a field of 12 candidates that will almost become 16, that means a handful of candidate won't make the top 10 cut. Such high stakes have some at FoxNews calling the debate the "first primary."

Naturally, there were critics of this hierarchical set-up, most prominently the important New Hampshire newspaper the Union-Leader. Recently, Rick Santorum noted that Bill Clinton was out of the top 10 at this point before the 1992 election that ultimately crowned him president.

In response to these criticism, it seems a "second-tier" forum is developing for that same day.

In the weeks leading up to the August 6 debate, there could be furious jockeying (spending cash on hand, tireless campaigning to small venues, etc.) to qualify for it and avoid the ignominy of second-tier status. Just like in the last few weeks of European soccer leagues, where there is much more attention given to the bottom of the league than the middle, much more attention will be given toward candidates ranked 8 through 12 than the more competitive candidates chasing the frontunner, Jeb Bush.

I'm also eager to see if the FoxNews model becomes a precedent. The alternative would either be a cumbersome 16-candidate stage or two separate, full-length debates per venue, each with half the field. (But then how do you determine which candidates goes to which!) Both are more awkward, though also more democratic than the plan of the fair and balanced network.

Interestingly, we should consider whether a candidate on the cusp of the debate would actually rather be in the smaller forum. Why scream for attention with the likes of Bush, Walker, and Rubio stealing the spotlight when a more intimate five to six candidate group will allow more time to share one's ideas? Would the ratings for it be that much lower? And even if they were, news outlets would certainly replay anything of note that came from it. With fewer candidates, that's more of an opportunity for each one to generate something of note.

I suspect that candidates ranked 8 through 12 the week before the debate will privately hope to be in that second-tier forum.  They can use it to blast the establishment, have more time to get their message out, and they can save their direct attacks toward frontrunners for later in the primary when the potential ensuing bump will mean more.

In the meantime, let's watch those polls to see who qualifies!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Odds and Ends: Democratic Candidates

Yesterday I charted the Republican Primary and its numerous candidates. Time for the much smaller Democratic field.  It is (in order of their declaration) (with my odds on their nomination):

April 12: Hillary Clinton.  Odds: 1:4
April 30: Bernie Sanders.  Odds: 25:1
May 30: Martin O'Malley.  Odds: 15:1
June 3: Lincoln Chafee.  Odds: 30:1

Exploring a candidacy: Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb.  Odds: 15:1
Looming but unclear: Vice-President Joe Biden.  Odds: 10:1

This field will ultimately be only one-quarter to one-third the size of the Republican field. It's obvious why.  The nomination is almost certainly Clinton's. (Poor VP Biden never had a shot!) As a result, strong candidates like Webb, Mark Warner, and many others have been scared off of seeking it. If Clinton goes down in the general, however, we can expect a field in the double digits in 2020.
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