2016 Republicans, Debates, State of the Race

Lady in Waiting

October 31, 2015

What happens to a debate-dependent candidate who doesn’t win the debate?  Not very much, at least in the immediate term.  After temporarily surging to 10% after her undercard debut and 15% post-Trump Smackdown, odds are her team will settle for 5-7% polling this time.  It appears the numerical hierarchy is Trump/Carson at the top, followed by Rubio/Cruz, with Carly Fiorina ensconced in the third polling tier.  We need a couple/few days data for certainty, but that’s sure how it looks. Continue reading

2016 Republicans, Debates, Uncategorized

Alpha Ben

October 29, 2015

Marco Rubio is enjoying a great 24 hours.  Ted Cruz opened some eyes and has a new template for debate success.  Your correspondent wasn’t going out on a limb in saying they won last night.

Several candidates did pretty well.  Donald Trump didn’t lose himself any supporters.  He’s clearly improving as he gets more practice.  John Kasich is still spinning from Trump flipping his critique back on him.  The Donald is now capable of staying under control and applying the Full Trump in the same debate. Continue reading

2016 Republicans, Debates

Debate Recap: Marco & Ted’s Excellent Debate

October 28, 2015

GOP Candidates 10

CNBC Moderators 0

The contest between candidates and moderators was even more lopsided than the Royals 7-1 victory over the Mets this evening.  There’s nothing wrong with moderators asking strong or challenging questions, but when the line is crossed it’s obvious to everyone in the room and watching at home.

Unless the RNC paid off John Harwood and friends, the result is often the opposite of what was intended; the candidates rally around each other and those contestants who were queued up for more scrutiny slip off the hook. Continue reading

2016 Republicans, Debates

Debate Prep: The Question Rubio Can’t Skip

October 28, 2015

For months Marco Rubio succeeded in keeping himself out of any major trouble.  Part skill, larger part strategy, the campaign has remained mostly under the radar, relying on the candidate’s verbal gifts to make enough of an impression in debates and interviews to keep himself in the upper tier without risking overexposure and heightened expectations.

Great job guys.  Well done.  But you can only hide for so long, and when you are the predictive markets front runner (currently with an average estimate of 35% chance of nomination) and immediately in the way of multiple other candidates, arrows will fly.  There isn’t much to hit Rubio with.  He was a rising star in Florida state government and apparently managed to avoid making a ton of enemies. Continue reading

2016 Republicans, Debates, State of the Race

Debate Prep: Dr. Carson Goes Under the Knife

October 27, 2015

On Saturday, we started our look at the upcoming debate with a long glance at polling front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson.  At the time, my argument was the two should get considered together, rather than as The Donald, followed by his challenger.  Carson had moved ahead in two Iowa polls, both by solid margins.  National polls were close, with Trump still leading.  Meanwhile CBS/YouGov showed Trump way, way, way ahead in New Hampshire, way ahead in South Carolina and tied in Iowa.

So I thought I was a little ahead and patted myself on the back.  72 hours passed.  Carson took an even bigger lead in two more Iowa polls and leads Trump 26-22 in the latest CBS/NYT national poll.  At first quizzical how he could possibly trail Carson when Iowans are flocking to The Donald’s events, and suspecting pollster bias, Trump has now turned his fire on the Doctor, realizing evidence shows he has a real competitor. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, Iowa, Poll Watch

Forecasting Iowa: Update Two (Which Pollster Set is Dead Wrong?)

October 27, 2015

Polling has some variance, that whole margin of error thing.  It’s a snapshot in time, in this case months before anyone votes.  At this point the majority of voters say they haven’t made their final decision.  Even some who think they have might think differently later as events change.  Sampling methods vary.  Live phone interview is considered more credible, but many voters won’t answer calls from unrecognized numbers.

Still, with all those caveats, there’s still some overall consistency.  Donald Trump led everywhere until Ben Carson passed him in Iowa and now in one national poll.  You aren’t going to see a Huckabee Leads in Iowa headline tomorrow.  Speaking of the Hawkeye State, reading polls of their voters over the past few months was usually very straightforward, and remains so on the GOP side.

Though the margins may have differed slightly, they moved in the same direction.  Constructing a narrative was easy.  Ben Carson catching and passing Trump was visible weeks ago.  The underlying data showed him with more upside, higher approval rating, high amount of second-choice mentions, etc.  Eventually the inevitable happened.  Whether Carson can retain the lead is another matter, but he was going to have his moment in the sun.

Democratic voters are a bit harder to read.  The trend line is fairly consistent.  Between May and Labor Day, Bernie Sanders made up a lot of ground.  Polls from the spring showed him trailing by 40 to 50 points, with Hillary having quadruple his support (think 60% to 15% for example).  He spent part of September in a virtual tie with Clinton in the Real Clear Politics average for Iowa.

Buried within that time of September stasis was some inconsistency.  Within a week of each other, a CBS/YouGov poll put Bernie up 10, while a PPP survey had Hillary ahead by 21.  Huh?  The same thing happened in late August.  The Des Moines Register, via Ann Selzer had Clinton +7, sandwiched between three other polls with Hillary +25, +28 and +34.

By any standard Bernie was in better shape in September than August and has regressed a bit in October.  That much we know.  But he’s either still very much in contention (CBS/YouGov -3, Des Moines Register/Bloomberg -7) or in the process of being obliterated (Loras College -38, Monmouth -41).  It’s a huge difference. Continue reading

2016 Republicans, Debates, State of the Race

Debate Prep: Last Call for Governors

October 26, 2015

The late, great Yogi Berra once said “it gets late early around here.”  The same is true for the once formidable pack of GOP governors.  Scott Walker is gone.  Bobby Jindal hasn’t registered outside of Iowa, raised $11 last quarter and has an approval rating back home of -20%.  Chris Christie actually sounds pretty good right now, but nobody seems to care.  John Kasich is presently invisible and Jeb Bush is now an official synonym for train wreck.

What kind of odds were available four months ago if you told someone George Pataki would find himself within the margin of error of most of these guys, but Donald Trump and Ben Carson would each individually have more support than all of the governors combined? Continue reading