I’ve noted many times that polls prior to primaries are of little predictive value. Polls in December 2007 showed that Clinton had a huge lead over Obama. In December 2003, Howard Dean was pulling away in the polls. Eventual winner John Kerry was in sixth place with only 4 percent, even trailing Al Sharpton. While Clinton is certainly in a strong position this year, her leads in the national polls do not guarantee victory. Similarly, while Donald Trump seems to have a significant lead in the Republican race, it is premature to assume he will win unless he actually performs well in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Alfred J. Tuchfarber has looked at the December polls and has also demonstrated how little predictive value they have. In polls from November 2007, taken two months before voting, Hillary Clinton was leading the Democratic race. Rudy Guiliani was leading the Republican race, with Fred Thompson also ahead of John McCain. In 2011 Herman Cain was leading the Republican race, and had left the race by the time of the Iowa caucuses.
One reason for the poor predictive value of national polls is that whoever wins in Iowa and/or New Hampshire generally gets a huge boost in subsequent states. That doesn’t mean that the polls in Iowa are all that more meaningful as voters there typically don’t make up their minds until the last minute. Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls in Iowa and came in third place in 2008. In late 2007 Mitt Romney was leading the polls in Iowa, and came in second to Mike Huckabee. Herman Cain was leading in Iowa as well as the national polls two months before the Iowa caucus.
Polls also have limited predictive value as the pollsters do not know who will actually turn out to vote. If the Democratic caucus in Iowa is dominated by long time Democratic voters, then the polls are showing the race as very close. If those who haven’t previously voted but are showing enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders turn out to vote, there could be a big victory for Sanders. The much stronger degree of support seen for Sanders in social media is very encouraging, but no guarantee of votes. It might also be helpful for Sanders that the Iowa caucuses are later this year than in the 2008 cycle, when many college students were off on vacation. Even more might turn out for Sanders in this year than had turned out for Obama.
Similarly we will not know whether Donald Trump will easily win the nomination, or if a party regular will challenge him, until we see how the voters act.
The Zygon Invasion picks up on the Zygon plot of The Day of The Doctor which was left hanging. The episode of Doctor Who included three doctors, and if we include the Zygon version, two Osgoods, allowing for her return after being killed by Missy in Death in Heaven. It was not so simple as a totally separate human and Zygon version, leading to yet another mention of a hybrid this season.
The two presented this message regarding the peace treaty between humans and Zygons:
“Every race is capable of the best and the worst.”
“Everyone is peaceful and warlike.”
“My race is no different.”
“And neither is mine.
Unfortunately the peace has fallen apart, leading to yet another threat of aliens taking over the earth. This led to the return of UNIT, and the Doctor to his role of president of the world:
Clara: I thought you didn’t like being president of the world The Doctor: No but I like poncing about in a big plane
I’m not so hot on continuing the idea of president of the world, and like the idea of “Doctor Disco” even less. Fortunately these moments did not harm an otherwise excellent episode.
The episode was better than the typical alien invasion show by the efforts to maintain peace and to understand the aliens. This included the message above, along with the Doctor trying to prevent further killing:
Kate: You left us with an impossible situation Doctor The Doctor: Yes I know its called peace
There were moments when characters did not act all that wisely. It is debatable whether the soldiers in Turmezistan were showing humanity or acting foolishly when deciding not to kill the Zygons who had taken on the form of members of their family, despite the evidence that they were fakes. It was even more questionable that Kate went to Truth or Consequences alone, without any backup, and failed to suspect that the other woman was actually a Zygon. It was not surprising that Clara had memorized Trivial Pursuits cards, and was therefore aware of this American city named after a television show.
This all led to the cliff hanger with a missile being shot towards the plane carrying the Doctor and the Doctor being told, “Clara Oswald is dead, Kate Stewart is dead.” Most likely they both can be rescued from the pods, but the knowledge that Jenna Coleman is leaving this season leaves just a tiny bit of doubt.
There are a couple of crossovers in genre shows last week and in the upcoming week. Sleepy Hollow has done their cross-over with Bones.If the purpose was to get fans of Sleepy Hollow to watch Bones, it did not impress me. While Sleepy Hollow remains weaker than its first season (but better than last year), the little I saw of Bones did not tempt me at all to watch any more. For that matter, for those who are holding out to determine if it is necessary to watch Bones to follow the plot on Sleepy Hollow, you don’t have to bother. Spoiler: The episode deals with the exhumation of General Howe’s corpse (which is more important on Sleepy Hollow) and basically keeps it in the background until Crane and Abbey are able to take the body at the end of the episode.
Bones showrunner Michael Peterson discussed the cross over with Assignment X. Here is a small portion:
AX: And how is the SLEEPY HOLLOW crossover going to work? There have been hints of ghosts and an afterlife on BONES, but no Headless Horsemen.
PETERSON: I’ve been saying that it’s like X-FILES – we’re the Scully hour, they’re the Mulder hour. We make sense of what seems to be supernatural, but there’s always logic behind it. Our people will not see ghosts, they will not see vampires, they will not see zombies. We’re not that show. We do science-based, but it’s going to be a handoff. There will be one mystery that leads to another, and we think it’s going to work pretty nicely. But it’s going to be very much a BONES show, with elements of SLEEPY HOLLOW.
AX: So the BONES characters are going to step into and out of the more exotic SLEEPY HOLLOW universe without realizing what they’ve been in and out of?
PETERSON: Exactly. And part of the fun is that we get to do it on Halloween. So that leaves it open to a lot of things that are going on. We have costumes, we have superstitions that are going on, but we’re going to handle it in the BONES way. It’s worked for over two hundred episodes, it’ll work for this one.
Meanwhile Arrow has recently had Sara Lance’s resurrection in the Lazarus Pit, but with rather unfavorable results. This leads to the crossover with Constantine next week (and ultimately leads into DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Following the series finale of Continuum, (which I discussed in greater detail here), Simon Barry both answered questions from fans (video above) and had an interview with Blastr. In the interview, Barry described the rules of time travel established for the series:
In Season 1, I addressed the writers’ room with a simple set of guidelines.
1. Time travel could not exist in a closed loop, because it would remove stakes from the show if everything was simply preordained to happen and our characters were fighting windmills.
2. We needed to preserve the stakes of guideline #1 for as long as possible to keep the characters and audience wondering what the consequences were of changing history.
3. Kiera was going to be able to change history and return to a better future as a result.
It became obvious once we dispensed with paradoxical time travel that anything was possible with multiple timelines. The only way to not get lost in this was to limit the number of time-travel events in the show. This way you couldn’t just hit reset with your characters to fix things. And even if you thought you could, as Alec did at the end of Season 2, there had to be unforeseen consequences to these choices that made you wish you hadn’t.
By making time travel as rare an event as possible, by making it difficult, we could minimize the impact of this technology. It’s also about perspective. Time travel is a purely relative process. It means nothing to those that aren’t themselves traveling, so we had to ensure that the only characters who would have access to the technology were characters whose perspectives were relevant in the show. Kiera and Alec are therefore the only perspectives we wanted to experience, because it’s really their journey.
I listened to the above Q&A in the above video on an audio podcast in the background soon after it came out and have to rely on notes I took after the fact, so there very well could be other things of interest which I’m leaving out. Regarding time travel, Barry discussed, as he made up his own rules, how incredibly difficult and unlikely actual time travel would be. He pointed out how rapidly the earth is moving around the sun, making it quite difficult to have the earth in the same location when you get back in time. (So, if the goal was to kill Kellogg off at the end, he could have wound up in empty space).
As we know would happen, once the series was canceled and Barry had only six episodes to wrap things up (which were definitely better than ending without even a rushed conclusion), many planned plot threads were left out. “Emily, Julian, the Traveler were all supposed to get larger stories. We had also discussed an entire season set in 2077 to really get to know each member of Liber8 and how they eventually got signed up with the cause.”
In both interviews, Barry talked about a desire to tell more about this universe in other medium. This was also raised in this Reddit AMA which took place before the final six episodes aired. In the podcast, he talked about how difficult this could be to get on television. Stories left to tell ranged from the Traveler to what happened to Kellogg after winding up in the past. Barry had wanted to send him even further back to be among dinosaurs, but the budget did not allow this.
During the podcast, Barry said he had worked on a scene which took place five years from now, which would include Emily, showing what the characters who remained in the present were doing. Unfortunately the scene was never filmed. The story of the Traveler might have done to religion what the show in general did to corporate greed. Barry described the Freelancers as being like religious fanatics, who thought they were following the Traveler, but got the message wrong.
It was necessary to tie up the story of how Alec sent people back into the past way too quickly. This could have included reasons for sending back Kiera beyond young Alec mentioning her name. Among ideas which might have been presented if time permitted was that Alec sent Kiera into the past because of the manner in which she investigated a murder at Sadtech. This both gave Alec reason to see her as an effective cop, along with giving him reason for wanting to get rid of her.
Sometimes the show was affected by the availability of actors. Escher was written out of the show earlier than planned for this reason. The original plan was still to ultimately kill him off, except Kellogg would have been the one to kill Escher. The actor who played Kiera’s husband was not available for the final season, which is why he did not appear. I still think it would have made more sense to have mentioned him. While it is obviously necessary to ignore some scientific implausibilities in a show such as this, I also find it hard to believe that, if Kiera had changed the future, her parents were in the same place at the same time to conceive her, and that the same happened to conceive her son. A more plausible version of the ending might have had Kiera return to her time and find that she had never been born, as opposed to having a duplicate there who never traveled back in time. Instead we will allow Barry to make up his own science, knowing that everything was implausible anyways.
It is unfortunate that such an excellent series could not have been completed as envisioned by Simon Barry. Under the circumstances, he did do an excellent job of tying up as much as possible in the final six episodes.
An extended trailer for the Victorian era episode of Sherlock, The Abominable Bride, has been released (video above). The episode will air in the US and the UK on January 1. They apparently don’t understand about college bowl games in the UK.
If you missed the excellent Supergirl pilot, or want to see it again, it remains widely available on line, as it has now been for several months. Plus you can stream it for free (and legally) from Vudu, iTunes and Amazon (Hat tip to ComicBook.com). These sources will charge for subsequent episodes, so it makes more sense to catch them as they air on CBS.
The recently announced new episodes of Gilmore Girls to be presented on Netflix will each deal with a different season. This leaves room for a lot of Stars Hollow seasonal festivals, and perhaps a June wedding for Lorelei.
Married was much better in its second season, but apparently did not bring in enough new viewers as FX has canceled the show. This is leading to speculation as to whether You’re The Worst might also be in trouble. Both comedies premiered at the same time on FX summer of 2014, with You’re The Worst moving to FXX and currently being shown in the fall. While also not doing well in the ratings. You’re The Worst has received far more critical attention and hopefully will survive because of this.
In joint political and entertainment news, former actor and Senator Fred Thompson has died. From The Tennessean:
Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator for Tennessee, GOP presidential candidate, Watergate attorney and longtime “Law and Order” star, died on Sunday. He was 73.
Mr. Thompson died after a recurrence of lymphoma, according to a prepared statement issued by the Thompson family.
“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family,” the statement reads.
“Fred once said that the experiences he had growing up in small-town Tennessee formed the prism through which he viewed the world and shaped the way he dealt with life. Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate. He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility. Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home.
“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith, and honesty of its people. He had an enduring belief in the exceptionalism of our country, and that America could provide the opportunity for any boy or girl, in any corner of our country, to succeed in life. “
On his acting career:
In 1977 Mr. Thompson found himself representing the whistle-blower in one of Tennessee’s biggest political scandals. In her role as a parole administrator, Marie Ragghianti refused to release inmates granted pardons after paying then-Gov. Ray Blanton. Mr. Thompson successfully represented Ragghianti in a wrongful termination case, helping her win a settlement and a return to her job in 1978.
That case eventually became the subject of a book and launched Mr. Thompson’s acting career. Mr. Thompson played himself in the 1985 version of the movie “Marie.” Critics praised his performance, and more roles soon followed.
Five years later, Mr. Thompson had roles in three of the biggest films of 1990: “Days of Thunder,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “Die Hard 2.” He also enjoyed a five-year run on NBC’s “Law and Order” as District Attorney Arthur Branch from 2002-2007.
Though he took a break to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, acting remained a constant in Mr. Thompson’s life.
He appeared in box office hits as recently as 2012, with a role in the horror film “Sinister,” and had a recurring role on NBC’s short-lived 2015 series “Allegiance.”
It took only a few moments with Google to demonstrate that David Letterman was hardly alone in making jokes about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. I didn’t even think of searching for jokes about the younger daughter, but it turns out there have been some by other comedians. As all of these jokes are in poor taste I didn’t really want to be the first to post such a collection, but Shannyn Moore has now posted such a compilation at Huffington Post:
Top 10 Reasons Sarah Palin’s “Outrage” is Misplaced and A Little Late…
10) Last September, a skit on Saturday Night Live suggested incest in the Palin family. “What about the husband?” asked a mock Times reporter. “You know he’s doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It’s Alaska!” No outrage. Sarah Palin appeared on the show one month later in late October.
9) Days after the announcement of Bristol’s pregnancy, Conan O’Brien joked, “It’s true, John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has revealed that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Palin said, ‘We should never have introduced her to John Edwards.'” Where was the outrage? Was Conan promoting infidelity with an underage girl?
8 ) From two different Tonight Shows: “Governor Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. Oh, boy, you thought John Edwards was in trouble before, now he’s really done it!” AND…”All the Republicans are heaping praise on Governor Palin. Fred Thompson said, as an actor, he could see them making a movie about Sarah Palin and her family. Didn’t they already make that movie? I think it was called ‘Knocked Up!'”–Jay Leno
6) “According to expense reports, Sarah Palin charged the state of Alaska over $21,000 for her children to travel with her on official business. In fairness to Gov. Palin, when she leaves them home alone they get pregnant.” –Seth Meyers (SNL). Sarah Palin was in a sketch with Meyers a week earlier.
5) On October 8, 2008, Sarah Palin walked out on the ice with six year old Piper and 13 year old Willow, before the game, Conan O’Brien said, “Saturday night, Sarah Palin is going to drop the first puck at the Philadelphia Flyers’ hockey game. Then Palin will spend the rest of the game trying to keep the hockey players out of her daughter’s penalty box.”
Oh, yes he did. You get the outrage…but not a peep then. According to the new “logic”, O’Brien was advocating for some really sick stuff.
4) Rush Limbaugh: “Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?” Limbaugh put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton. At the time, Chelsea Clinton was 13 years old. Rush also said, “In last year’s campaign, the most prominent, articulate voice for standard run-of-the-mill good old-fashioned American conservatism was Sarah Palin.” Calling a young teenager a “dog” can’t be helpful to her “self-esteem.” Where is the apology from the leader of the GOP?
3) “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”–John McCain, Sarah Palin’s running mate. Should McCain apologize to every young woman in America?
2) Palin’s friend, political defender and informer of the David Letterman comments, John Ziegler, was fired from his radio show for using the “n-word” online and on air in 1997. In 2000, he was fired for spelling the “n-word” on the air. How much does that word affect the psychological health of America’s youth, regardless of their race? Now he is pimping his film about how mean the “liberal media” was to Sarah Palin.
AND…The NUMBER 1 REASON Sarah Palin’s Outrage is Misplaced and A Little Late…
1) The “candidate who must be obeyed” was talking about Palin’s family when he said, “Kids are off limits.” Jake Tapper of ABC News interviewed then Candidate Obama, and asked, “Governor Palin and her husband issued a statement today saying their 17-year-old daughter Bristol, who is unmarried, is five months pregnant. Do you have any reaction?”
OBAMA: “I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off-limits. And people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know, my mother had me when she was 18. And, you know, how family deals with issues and — and, you know, teenaged children, that shouldn’t be the topic of — of our politics.”
The Palin children have been fodder for comedians since they were brought to the national stage. Incest isn’t funny. Ugly kid jokes aren’t funny. Many of the things said about public figures are just flat wrong. Being “knocked up” isn’t much fun. Racist comments hurt all of us. I exhausted the top 10 list before I ran out of outrageous instances ignored by the Palins.
The National Organization for Women named David Letterman to their Hall of Shame. Will Letterman be joining Jay Leno? Conan O’Brien? Craig Ferguson? Seth Myers? Rush Limbaugh? Or John McCain? Of course not! I guess N.O.W. didn’t bother checking Sarah Palin’s “feminist” credentials. All across America, right wing radio and television talk show hosts feigned outrage in perfect synchronicity. The same people who back up Palin’s high drama assertions against Letterman ignored the connections between Bill O’Reilly’s irresponsible incitement and the murder of Dr. George Tiller. David Letterman, a late night entertainer, apologized. Fox New’s Bill O’Reilly has not.
As a parent, I understand being defensive. I just wonder what took so long. Why now?
Why now? The answer is simple. The right wing “outrage” has nothing to do with feminism and certainly nothing to do with jokes about Palin’s children. The right wing blogs were attacking Letterman over a Sarah Palin joke after Monday’s show before they realized they could attract more attention by falsely claiming Letterman was joking about Palin’s minor daughter as opposed to Bristol Palin. While Letterman’s joke was clearly about Bristol, other jokes above were not. While Letterman’s latest joke was about Bristol Palin after turning 18, and after she has been appearing in public speaking about her pregnancy, it is also notable that the above jokes were at the time about Palin’s 17-year-old daughter.
While the jokes were in poor taste, as even David Letterman admitted, they hardly deserved the attention they received–unless the attackers have other motives for their attacks. This controversy is just another in a long string of examples of how the authoritarian right opposes freedom of speech and desires to silence anyone who disagrees with their reactionary agenda, and lying about what others have said is a frequent tactic which they employ.
The Republicans have repeatedly been making untrue statements during their convention, but this is to be expected. After all, the Republican convention is packed with Republicans, along with Joe Lieberman who might as well be a Republican. Factcheck.org corrects just a few of the incorrect statements made last night. From their summary:
Joe Lieberman and his former Senate colleague Fred Thompson both made misleading claims about Obama in their prime time GOP convention speeches on Tuesday. We’ve heard two of them before – many times.
Lieberman said Obama hadn’t “reached across party lines” to accomplish “anything significant,” though Obama has teamed with GOP Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Lugar to pass laws enhancing government transparency and curtailing the proliferation of nuclear and conventional weapons.
Thompson repeated misleading claims about Obama’s tax program, saying it would bring “one of the largest tax increases in American history.” But as increases go, Obama’s package is hardly a history-maker. It would raise taxes for families with incomes above $250,000. Most people would see a cut.
Lieberman also accused Obama of “voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the
battlefield.” But Obama’s only vote against a war-funding bill came after Bush vetoed a version of the bill Obama had supported – and McCain urged the veto.
Factcheck provides further detail in their full post. Unfortunately they missed the worst lie of the night when Fred Thompson said, “And we need a President who doesn’t think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.” This is quite a distortion of Obama’s actual words regarding how determining when life begins is above his pay grade. While Factcheck didn’t address this point in discussing the convention, they have a previous posting which debunks the right wing lies that Obama supports infanticide.
This is one reason why the Republicans have been doing poorly the last couple of years. They are still picking up votes from low-information voters who believe these lies, but as more voters realize what Democrats really believe the Republicans lose support. When Republicans concentrate on such straw men arguments they have no effect among those who realize such claims have little bearing on actual Democratic beliefs.
There should be plenty to Factcheck tonight also. Mitt Romney showed why many Democrats hoped he would be McCain’s pick (not suspecting McCain would pick someone as unqualified as Sarah Palin). Romney repeated all the standard claims of the right wing as to what Democrats believe. What is amusing is that a very large number of Republicans really do believe that Democrats believe what Romney claims. When the actual views on the issues are considered, most people will support the views of the Democrats over those of the Republicans. This is why the McCain campaign does not want the election to be decided over the issues.
Watching this convention I also cannot decide which is the biggest absurdity. We have the Republicans who have been in control of the government trying to run against Washington. We have the party responsible for tremendous increases in the size of government claiming to be the party of small government. We have the party which promotes authoritarianism claiming to be the party of freedom. We have the party of corporate welfare claiming to be the party of free enterprise. We have the party which ignored warnings, including those from Democrats, on the risk from al Qaeda leading to the 9/11 attacks occurring on their watch. Then they got us involved in a war against the wrong country based upon lies. Now they claim they are the party which can be trusted to keep us safe.
Update II: I almost forgot Mike Huckabee. He falsely claimed that Sarah Palin got more votes as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Sen. Joe Biden got running for president. Taegan Goddard notes that Biden received more votes in Florida alone than Palin received, and this was in a primary which officially did not count after Biden withdrew from the race.
The Republican primary in Florida is playing a major role in their nomination battle. After a period in which a different candidate appeared to be winning every week, the race now appears to be down to McCain vs. Romney. Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter have dropped out, with Hunter endorsing Huckabee. Huckabee appears to have a ceiling on his support which will keep him from winning the nomination. Rudy Giuliani’s strategy was to use a win in Florida to propel him to victories on Super Tuesday.
The problem with Rudy’s strategy is that candidates who do not win early are generally not taken seriously in the subsequent contests. Wesley Clark might have doomed his 2004 campaign from the start by not entering into the Iowa caucus. This year Giuliani’s support has gradually eroded, with the final polls showing him in a distant third place. He’s in a tight battle for third with Huckabee, but at least he appears to be on the way to a rare victory over Ron Paul.
Giuliani has predicted that the winner of today’s primary will win the Republican nomination and hinted he might drop out if he doesn’t wn. He might be right about the importance of Florida, especially if McCain or Romney is able to achieve a decisive victory over the other which provides a bounce for next week. Today’s primary, along with big states on Super Tuesday, are winner take all events. Even a string of narrow victories could give one candidate an insurmountable lead in delegates.
With the entire race possibly depending upon today’s results, the race between McCain and Romney became more heated. It even resembled the Democratic race in one respect. McCain pulled a Clinton in distorting Romney’s position, similar to the manner in which Clinton has been distorting many of Obama’s positions in her attacks. McCain distorted an answer from Romney in an interview from last April to claim that Romney supported a deadline to get out of Iraq.
Many conservatives have become upset with McCain for this tactic, similar to how many Democrats have protested the smear campaign launched by the Clintons. I wonder if this could be the start of a trend away from acceptance of this type of campaigning. The real test will be to see if this tactic can be kept out of the general election when there aren’t members of one’s own party who are as likely to be offended. In this case it was particularly strange for McCain to resort to this type of dishonesty. I wouldn’t think McCain would have much difficulty blowing out Romney in a debate over foreign policy. Sure, McCain is crazy to call for remaining in Iraq for one hundred years, but this is a debate before a Republican audience. If Giuliani is really knocked out after today, it is also possible McCain will benefit further from Republicans voters who are concentrating on their view of national security.
As I already noted, Mitt Romney won in Nevada. There is a race for second place with all far behind and, with some votes still left to count, it looks like Ron Paul will come in second place. Currently Romney has 51% of the vote, with Ron Paul at 14% and John McCain at 13%. How many times can Giuliani trail Paul and still be considered a serious candidate? How many Paul supporters will declare this a huge victory?
John McCain has won in South Carolina, helping him go into Super Tuesday as the front runner. Mike Huckabee came in a close second but if he couldn’t win in South Carolina it is getting hard to see enough states where he can win in order to win the nomination. This very well might turn into a race between McCain and Romney unless Rudy Giuliani can manage to start winning somewhere. Should McCain win the nomination, Democrats who have been taking a general election victory for granted might be in for a surprise, especially if Clinton is the nominee.
Duncan Hunter didn’t even wait for the polls to close in South Carolina to drop out. Without being able to do anything in South Carolina it is hard to see how Fred Thompson has a chance, but he says he is staying in. Apparently he enjoys playing the part of a presidential candidate.
Update: Ron Paul isn’t going anywhere despite beating Giuliani in South Carolina and coming in second in Nevada. Paul came in second in Nevada primarily because he was the only one besides Romney to spend money there, yet he still came in far behind. That said, there is one point where Paul’s results do have meaning. It is sure hard to justify having a debate which includes Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson but excludes Ron Paul.
The Republican race remains a wide open affair after Mitt Romney’s victory. Romney, Huckabee, and McCain now all have victories, and the race is becoming more a race for accumulating delegates than individual victories. We will know soon whether Fred Thompson can win in South Carolina to become a credible candidate, and whether Rudy Giuliani’s strategy of waiting for Florida and Super Tuesday. So far Giuliani and Thompson are doing more poorly than Ron Paul.
Romney’s victory might be written off as being due to being a favorite son as his father was once governor here. While that certainly helped, it is not enough to explain his victory, especially as the older voters, who would have remembered his father, went for McCain.
The most important factor in Romney’s victory, beyond the fortunes spent on advertising, was that he did the best at convincing voters that under him Washington could fix Michigan’s economic problems. That is hardly a traditional Republican message, as Ross Douthat has discussed. David Brooks wrote:
In Michigan, the full corporate Mitt was on display. His campaign was a reminder of how far corporate Republicans are from free market Republicans.
Hillary Clinton beat uncommitted, but not that impressively. I wonder how many additional anti-Clinton votes were not even counted as write in votes for Obama and Edwards were discarded. The big losers were the Michigan Democrats who were willing to break party rules to have an early event, and then have it become irrelevant. Now that the campaign appears like it could go on even beyond Super Tuesday, a later primary with participating candidates would have been far more significant.
It is difficult to evaluate the results of the Michigan primary as those who turned out might not be a representative sample. It might be a bad sign for Clinton that exit polls show blacks supported uncommitted over Clinton by a 70-26 percent margin. As was the case in earlier contests, Clinton did more poorly among younger voters, more educated voters, and more affluent voters.
Electoral Compass is yet another site which asks a series of questions and then matches them with the candidates. As with many of these sites, it is entertaining but has limitations which prevent it from actually making the decision for you. Many positions can be altered by a change in wording. There is no attempt to prioritize the issues. I might disagree with a candidate on some issues which wouldn’t affect my vote, but other issues might completely rule out a candidate.
After taking the test you see where you line up on a spectrum of both social and economic issues. Questions on Iraq and terrorism are included in the test, but it would be more revealing if they were along a third continuum. One notable finding is that the Democrats and Republicans are clumped into two very discrete groups. Among the Republicans, Ron Paul is less socially conservative, but remains much less conservative than any of the Democratic candidates. Of course if they included questions on legalization of all drugs and prostitution the results might be quite different. Paul also falls right in line with the other Republicans on economic issues, but a true test would show real distinctions here.
All the Democrats are significantly more liberal on social as well as economic issues than any of the Republicans. This helps shoot down the idea that Rudy Giuliani is a social liberal. He is the most socially liberal Republican after Ron Paul in this study, but not by very much. Fred Thompson comes in as the most conservative candidate, and the furthest from my views on this test.
I won’t knock the test very much as it did tell me to vote for Barack Obama. He is shown as being a little more socially liberal and economically to the right than the other Democrats who are lumped closer together. One useful feature is that after taking the test you can compare your answers to the answers of the candidates. For whatever it might mean, I once took a different test which advised me to vote for Gravel. As he’s not included on this test I could not determine if a different set of questions would provide the same result.
One of the peculiarities of the campaign recently has been that often I’ve found that David Brooks has been making more sense than Paul Krugman on the op-ed page of The New York Times. I’ve noted many times in the past that Brooks often does make sense as long as he can get past the obligatory pot shots at Democrats which characterize so many of his columns. As he avoided such attacks on Democrats, today’s column does raise many good points. On Obama’s victory he writes:
Obama has achieved something remarkable. At first blush, his speeches are abstract, secular sermons of personal uplift — filled with disquisitions on the nature of hope and the contours of change.
He talks about erasing old categories like red and blue (and implicitly, black and white) and replacing them with new categories, of which the most important are new and old. He seems at first more preoccupied with changing thinking than changing legislation.
Yet over the course of his speeches and over the course of this campaign, he has persuaded many Iowans that there is substance here as well. He built a great organization and produced a tangible victory.
He’s made Hillary Clinton, with her wonkish, pragmatic approach to politics, seem uninspired. He’s made John Edwards, with his angry cries that “corporate greed is killing your children’s future,” seem old-fashioned. Edwards’s political career is probably over.
Obama is changing the tone of American liberalism, and maybe American politics, too.
If Obama can receive such flattery from a columnist who is frequently hostile towards Democrats, imagine the coverage he will receive from the rest of the media. This is one of many reasons why I see Obama as an overwhelming favorite to go all the way. Certainly Iowa is only one contest, and Clinton has considerable resources to continue fighting. Brooks does write, “Iowa won’t settle the race, but the rest of the primary season is going to be colored by the glow of this result.”
The “glow of this result” will make it extremely difficult for Clinton to make a comeback in New Hampshire, where Obama was closing the gap even before the results out of Iowa. Should Obama win in New Hampshire and then South Carolina he will appear even more unbeatable. Edwards might hang around like he did in 2004 even after Kerry’s victory was inevitable, but if his populism couldn’t sell in Iowa he will have a tough job everywhere else. I expect an increasing number of his supporters to move to Obama, further making a Clinton comeback unlikely.
Brooks also writes about how Huckabee’s victory shows that the Republican Party has changed, but does not feel he can win the nomination:
Will Huckabee move on and lead this new conservatism? Highly doubtful. The past few weeks have exposed his serious flaws as a presidential candidate. His foreign policy knowledge is minimal. His lapses into amateurishness simply won’t fly in a national campaign.
So the race will move on to New Hampshire. Mitt Romney is now grievously wounded. Romney represents what’s left of Republicanism 1.0. Huckabee and McCain represent half-formed iterations of Republicanism 2.0. My guess is Republicans will now swing behind McCain in order to stop Mike.
Brooks makes the same predictions I have, but I’m much less confident about the predictions of the Republican outcome compared to the Democratic race. New Hampshire is important in the Democratic race as it might quickly answer the question of whether there is a possibility of a Clinton come back. New Hampshire will help clarify the Republican race but is unlikely to settle it. An impressive showing by Huckabee in a state without a large evangelical base would establish him as a legitimate national contender. A second loss by Mitt Romney will make it unlikely for him to come back. McCain could establish himself as a leader in the race by winning in New Hampshire, but he has too many negatives among many Republicans to win without a fight. Rudy Giuliani needs to hope that nobody is dominating to leave any room for his strategy of waiting for the larger states to vote. Fred Thompson also need to do something quickly or face becoming ignored. New Hampshire is one of the states where Ron Paul could do best, but if he fails as badly there as in Iowa he will quickly fade back into obscurity.
Peggy Noonan reviews the candidates from both parties based upon whether she finds the candidates “reasonable” as opposed to whether they share her ideology. As a result of looking beyond ideology, I must say that Noonan does a far more reasonable job of assessing the candidates than I would expect from a conservative columnist at The Wall Street Journal. She is also far more reasonable than some of the liberal bloggers who are distorting what she wrote.
Looking at the Democratic race, Noonan starts with Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, writing “They have been United States senators for a combined 62 years. They’ve read a raw threat file or two. They have experience, sophistication, the long view. They know how it works. No one will have to explain it to them.” She also briefly mentions Bill Richardson as being a reasonable choice. She finds Barack Obama to be reasonable, even if having some reservations which aren’t totally unreasonable:
He has earned the attention of the country with a classy campaign, with a disciplined and dignified staff, and with passionate supporters such as JFK hand Ted Sorensen, who has told me he sees in Obama’s mind and temperament the kind of gifts Kennedy displayed during the Cuban missile crisis. Mr. Obama is thoughtful, and it would be a pleasure to have a president who is highly literate and a writer of books.
Is he experienced enough? No. He’s not old enough either. Men in their 40s love drama too much. Young politicians on fire over this issue or that tend to see politics as a stage on which they can act out their greatness. And we don’t need more theatrics, more comedies or tragedies. But Mr. Obama doesn’t seem on fire. He seems like a calm liberal with a certain moderating ambivalence. The great plus of his candidacy: More than anyone else he turns the page. If he rises he is something new in history, good or bad, and a new era begins.
Noonan finds problems with Hillary Clinton which do make sense, although I can’t agree with her ranking of Clinton compared to Nixon:
Hillary Clinton? No, not reasonable. I concede her sturdy mind, deep sophistication, and seriousness of intent. I see her as a triangulator like her husband, not a radical but a maneuverer in the direction of a vague, half-forgotten but always remembered, leftism. It is also true that she has a command-and-control mentality, an urgent, insistent and grating sense of destiny, and she appears to believe that any act that benefits Clintons is a virtuous act, because Clintons are good and deserve to be benefited.
But this is not, actually, my central problem with her candidacy. My central problem is that the next American president will very likely face another big bad thing, a terrible day, or days, and in that time it will be crucial–crucial–that our nation be led by a man or woman who can be, at least for the moment and at least in general, trusted. Mrs. Clinton is the most dramatically polarizing, the most instinctively distrusted, political figure of my lifetime. Yes, I include Nixon. Would she be able to speak the nation through the trauma? I do not think so. And if I am right, that simple fact would do as much damage to America as the terrible thing itself.
I also agree with her assessment of John Edwards, writing, “All the Democrats would raise taxes as president, but Mr. Edwards’s populism is the worst of both worlds, both intemperate and insincere.” It would have been better if she went into further detail about how Edwards is not qualified to be president, and she is being kind in limiting her description of an opportunistic phony such as Edwards as merely being “insincere.” Joining Noonan in looking at character over ideology, with the exception of George Bush we have rarely seen a candidate so unfit to be president have such a real shot at the job. Bob Shrum elaborated more than Noonan in calling Edwards a “lightweight,” a “hyper-ambitious phony” and “a Clinton who hadn’t read the books.”
Unfortuantely Noonan couldn’t resist one trivial shot in writing, “Also we can’t have a president who spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair. Really, we just can’t.” This line, which does weaken the column, has been taken out of context by some bloggers suggesting that this one throw away line is characteristic of her entire column. James Joyner also notes that Glenn Greenwald is inaccurate in his criticism. The YouTube video is hardly the major reason why Edwards should not be president, and is not Noonan’s major objection. While out of place in a column of this nature, the video shouldn’t be totally ignored either. The video actually does capture the shallowness of John Edwards, which is the real issue as opposed to Edwards not being a “real man.” Sure it is possible that any candidate might look foolish if videotaped while combing their hair, but it is no coincidence that such a video has come to represent John Edwards specifically.
On the Republican side, Noonan considers John McCain, Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, and Fred Thompson to be reasonable. My view of Romney as reasonable has declined the more I see him campaign. While both Edwards and Romney have changed their views out of political expediency, and both appear “insincere” to me, Noonan is far more forgiving of Romney. She also considers Rudy Giuliani to be reasonable. While I disagree I’ll give her a pass on that one as she also writes, “He is reasonable but not desirable. If he wins somewhere, I’ll explain.” As long as she realizes that Giuliani is not desirable it is possible we agree on him.
Noonan doesn’t elaborate as to why she doesn’t consider Huckabee to be unreasonable in this column, but did express her views of him in a column I discussed a couple of weeks ago. Huckabee is also notable for being one of only two candidates left in the race who are foolish enough to admit they don’t believe in evolution. The other, Ron Paul, is not mentioned but few would expect Paul to be considered in any review of candidates based upon being reasonable, with some of the reasons noted in a post yesterday following his discussion of a possible third party candidacy. Not surprisingly, she also left out Alan Keyes, and on the Democratic side she left out Kucinich and Gravel.