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Friday, July 03, 2015

Candidate Profile: #15. Lindsey Graham

For background to this series, click here.

It's time to get to the candidate you thought was an actress until like two weeks ago. The 15th most likely nominee of the Republican Party is . . .

Lindsey Graham, 59, Senator from South Carolina, 2003-present

Campaign Website and Slogan--www.lindseygraham.com/--"Security Through Strength"

PPFA Slogan--"We Need to Hunt Down Terrorists and Kill Them and I Will Personally Pull the Trigger"

Ideology on liberal-conservative spectrum (-10 is far left and +10 is far right. A center moderate is 0.): +6.25. A huge hawk and social conservative, but not too conservative beyond that. His economic ideology scores a moderate "0" on the -10/+10 scale, and he favors a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Moreover, he openly opposes the Tea Party and thinks it has dragged the Republican Party too far to the right.

Conservative Rank based on above: 7 of 16. His military and social conservatism bonafides are so strong that he still averages out to the top half of the field, conservatively speaking. But good luck to anyone trying to crack the top 6 in this group! Everest is more of an uphill climb.

Spin from the candidate's campaign--Graham grew up poor in central South Carolina, served in the Air Force, became a lawyer, a four-time member of the US House of Representatives and finally a U.S. Senator who has been re-elected twice. The United States needs to take the fight to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and any state sponsor of terrorism before the terrorists bring the fight to us. No one knows this strategy better than Lindsey Graham, who, along with Best Friends Forever John McCain, has been out front on this issue for the last decade. Plastered all over Graham's website are quotes like: "I lay down every night and wake up every morning determined to protect this country. We must fight them over there to keep them from coming here." That is an American leader.

Spin from opponents--He talks a good game on interventionism, but look at his record here at home. He works with Democrats on climate change and immigration reform, and he refuses to consider political ideology for judicial nominees. He even reached out to Democrats in his presidential announcement speech. Members of his own state even censured him last year for working with Democrats. We need a real Republican who stands up for real Republican values.

How do the polls look?--At least he's registering in national polls, unlike SOME people. That's the good news. The bad news is that, at just 1.2 points, he's dead last of the 15 who are registering. In the 11 major national polls taken with the whole field, Graham ranges between zero and two points. He is not registering at all in Iowa polls, and he averages just 0.7 in New Hampshire. His only saving grace is that the third primary--South Carolina--is his home state. There he has double digit poll numbers, sits in third place in the RCP average, and he actually won the latest poll. If he shows any life whatsoever in the first two primaries, he might be able to ride that to a South Carolina win and get something going (before being blown out by Super Tuesday).

PPFA analysis--Actual quote from Senator Graham: "If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL, I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you." With my #16 entry on George Pataki, I noted how voters don't know what the former New York governor stands for; there is no big issue or two that he effectively hammers home. Graham doesn't have that problem. If he is known for nothing else, he at least stands for the U.S. being active leaders on the world stage. But beyond that, he does not connect with the conservative base. For the fact that he works with Democrats on some big issues, he's been branded a "moderate Republican," which, in a Republican Primary, is as insulting as making fun of your mother's weight, odor, or socioeconomic status. It's especially hurtful because he's actually pretty socially conservative. If you have the money and establishment support of a McCain or Romney, you can weather the charge of moderation. If you're Lindsey Graham, you can't.

PPFA nomination rank--15 of 16 (Odds: 50:1)

PPFA general election rank--12 of 16. Those below him are too far right for the electorate, but Graham's fire-breathing hawkishness will worry too many Americans that a Graham Administration means another undesirable war in west Asia is inevitable.


Number 14 on deck. Who will it be? Check back here to find out.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Jim Webb Is In

We now have a fifth candidate in the relatively small Democratic field. Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, long rumored to run, is officially running for president. He's the final candidate we were rather certain would run. The only other potential candidate is Vice-President Biden, though Hillary Clinton's entry has likely kept him out of finishing his political career with a blowout loss.

Webb would have been an extremely viable candidate were Clinton not running, but, unfortunately for him, she is, and she's raising enormous amounts of money while polling absolutely dominant numbers. His biggest impact is marginalizing Martin O'Malley as the Clinton alternative. (Sanders's dominance of the far left is as safe as it will be fruitless.)

I'll take a closer look at each of the candidates next August when I do my "Candidate Profiles" for the Democrats. For this month, however, my series on the gargantuan Republican field continues tomorrow with #15. Who will follow poor George Pataki and be the next least likely Republican to win the nomination? Tomorrow you'll find out.

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--http://www.georgepataki.com/--"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

OnTheIssues.com 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 OnTheIssues.com.

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.
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