Saturday, September 19, 2015

Trump Triumphant

Donald Trump has survived his second Republican primary debate.

The image at the top of this post is a custom chart I created by making the following changes to the model:

1) I altered the time period to June 16, 2015 to the present.
2) I chose less smoothing.
3) I chose a percentage range of 0% to 45%.
4) I removed the individual poll plot points to produce cleaner trend lines.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Snapshot of the Democratic Race in Iowa

The Huffington Post's legacy site remains a fantastic resource for following political campaign polling, but sometimes their work requires a bit of tweaking in order to gain a more realistic idea of the situation in any given race. This morning let's look at how the Democratic race in Iowa is shaping up and make a few common sense adjustments to see if we can see what is going on.

The image at the top of this post is a custom chart I created by making the following changes to the model:

1) I altered the time period to January 1, 2015 to the present.
2) I chose less smoothing.
3) I chose a percentage range of 0% to 70%.
4) I removed the individual poll plot points to produce cleaner trend lines.

This chart suggests that Hillary Clinton is in a slow decline while Bernie Sanders is surging. Joe Biden's numbers are wishy-washy, as the Vice President does his best to impersonate Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, with his "to run or not to run" monologue. I predict Democratic primary voters will get tired of the Hamlet act sooner rather than later. The rest of the Democratic pack lags far behind.

The questions raised by this chart are two-fold:

1) Will Hillary Clinton's decline continue at a steady rate, or will she reach a steady floor of supporters who will not desert her in any case? Can Clinton halt the decline and regain support?

2) Likewise, can Sanders continue to gain on or even surpass Clinton in Iowa, or does Sanders have a built-in ceiling of support (say 40%) that he will struggle to exceed?

Bonus questions posed by this chart are:

3) Will Joe Biden get in in time to make a credible run, or is he there simply as a spoiler to divide the "not Hillary" vote? If Biden can draw enough support from Sanders, he can throw the contest to Clinton if she can maintain a strong base of support.

4) What will the Democratic pack do? Supporters of O'Malley, Webb, and Chafee could be game changers if they abandon their first choice in favor of Clinton or Sanders. Will any of these three candidates really continue in the race until the Iowa caucuses on February 1, 2016? In addition, there are about 10% undecided in a race where Sanders trails by about 9%.

Looking at these numbers and the surrounding circumstances, I conclude that Hillary Clinton still maintains an edge in this race, but the outcome is far from certain with nearly five months left until Iowans gather in caucuses.

Monday, September 07, 2015

"Burning Bush"

A sure sign that autumn is on its way: my mother's burning bushes begin to change color.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Snapshot of the GOP Primary September 6, 2015

The chart above was produced using Pollster's poll of polls at the Huffington Post. The following customizations were made:

1) Date range is June 16, 2015 to the present.
2) "Less Smoothing" is selected.
3) Individual poll plots are removed to create clearer trend lines.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that Donalad Trump is poised to consolidate his lead and walk away with GOP nomination. To me, perhaps the most perplexing thing about this situation is the GOP's complete lack of a plan for ridding itself of Trump. One actually hears GOP commentators saying things like "once Trump is out of the race" without their ever having said how or why Trump would leave the race as long as he holds such a commanding lead.

With the establishment Republicans' numbers steadily sinking it hard to see how the GOP avoids a situation where regular GOP primary voters simply accept the inevitable and jump on the Trump band wagon.

"The Blue Planter"

"In the Afternoon"

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Obenshain may be unexpected collateral damage of Herring decision

Ralph Northam (right) seen at an anti-Cuccinelli rally with a Sierra Club member wearing an ERA Yes button in 2013.
Yesterday, Virginia's current Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced that instead of pursuing the Democratic nomination for Governor of Virginia in 2017, he would instead stand for re-election to Attorney General. Herring's decision to forgo a gubernatorial run in 2017 runs counter to a trend of Attorneys General leap frogging over their party's Lieutenant General to seek the Commonwealth's highest executive office.

Herring's decision carries many knock-on effects with it--some obvious and some not quite so obvious. The most obvious consequence is that the path is cleared for Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (D) to claim the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2017 by acclamation, as it is unlikely any credible candidate will challenge him for the nomination.

The more surprising collateral damage from Herring's decision is located on the right side of Virginia's political spectrum. Senator Mark Obenshain (R) was seen by many (including myself) as the obvious favorite choice for the Republican Party of Virginia's nominee for governor in 2017. Obenshain narrowly missed defeating Herring for Attorney General in 2013 and was the only Republican statewide candidate who ran a campaign that was largely free of errors. Obenshain's running mates Ken Cuccinelli for governor and E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor almost certainly dragged Obenshain down and cost him the election.

Which makes it that much more puzzling that Ken Cuccinelli is apparently considering elbowing Obenshain aside in order to make another run for Virginia's Governor's mansion. Cuccinelli's reasoning apparently runs something like this: Cuccinelli, who received 1,013,354 votes in the 2013 governor's race believes that he would be a stronger candidate to take on Ralph Northam, who received 1,213,155 in the 2013 lieutenant governor's race, than Mark Obenshain, who received 1,103,612 votes in the 2013 attorney general's race.

It's an interesting window into the mind of Ken Cuccinelli if he thinks that he's a stronger candidate than two men who both received more votes than he did in 2013. It must be especially frustrating to Obenshain supporters who must realize that, if not for Cuccinelli's incompetence as a campaigner and involvement in the McDonnell scandal, Obenshain would have probably edged out Mark Herring for attorney general.

In the topsey-turvey world of the Republican Party of Virginia a candidate's performance in the general elections is much less important than his ability to control the party apparatus and engineer a nominating convention. If Cuccinelli's supporters can force a convention instead of a primary in 2017, they could almost certainly re-nominate Cuccinelli for governor, putting him up against Ralph Northam, a man who received almost 200,000 more votes than Cuccinelli in 2013.

And Cuccinelli isn't the only Virginia Republican considering challenging Obenshain presumed candidacy. There are a few who believe the following:
1) Ralph Northam is a vulnerable Democratic opponent (why they believe this isn't clear).
2) Anything can happen in an RPV convention (after all, an RPV convention nominated E.W. Jackson).
Weighing these factors, there are probably a few Virginia Republicans willing to buy a lottery ticket in hopes of winning the RPV nomination for governor in a convention in 2017 and beating Northam in the November general election.

Herring's decision to run for re-election may have the ironic result of both settling the 2017 likely Democratic statewide ticket while completely unsettling the 2017 Republican statewide ticket, leading to another daggers-out RPV nomination convention in May or June of 2017.