Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Groundhog Toons

Let's do it all over again next Tuesday, shall we?

"We might never be this close again ..."

Kissing your sister

Or in Ted Cruz's case... like kissing your daughter.  With coin flips awarding split delegations in six precincts to Hillary, the "inevitable" candidate's campaign might finally be able to declare actual victory sometime this morning.  If they find that missing 5% of the vote, that is.  I'm sure it's amongst all those scraps of paper in a postal bin or a plastic bucket, in a half-dozen or so high school gyms scattered across BF Iowa.  In the middle of a blizzard at the moment.

This is the most even-handed account, but that doesn't mean someone isn't spinning...

The Democratic battle in Iowa was so close that both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — the 74-year-old socialist with no major endorsements — and Hillary Clinton left the state without a clear-cut victory.

The race was too close to call when the candidates headed to the airport to escape an impending blizzard, bound for New Hampshire and its primary just over a week away. 

How about that?  Old and socialist in the first sentence.

 Aboard a charter jet bound for New Hampshire, Clinton Press Secretary Brian Fallon told reporters that "we believe strongly that we won."

"It's not clear post-Iowa what Senator Sanders' path to victory is," Fallon added.

He means "post-new Hampshire", but whatever.  He was probably exhausted after being up so late, maybe a little drunk from all that champagne.

(Fallon's) claim got a boost at around 4:00 a.m. ET, based on a statement from the Iowa Democratic Party which NBC News reported showed Clinton was the apparent winner.

Oh, so they did find those missing votes.  Good.

With just one precinct yet to declare, NBC News has declared Clinton the apparent winner based on a report from the Iowa Democratic Party showing her narrowly ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

"Tonight we saw an historically close Iowa Democratic Caucus," the party said in a statement shortly before 4 a.m. ET.

NBC News has allocated 21 of the 52 available national delegates to Clinton and 20 to Sanders as of 2:37 a.m. EST.

The Iowa Democratic Party said Clinton has been awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents while Sanders has been awarded 695.49. 

A five-delegate margin because they went for six-for six in coin flips.  VICTORY!

The narrow victory in Iowa could offer a whiff of vindication for Clinton, who in 2008 lost Iowa in humiliating fashion to Barack Obama when her third place finish set in motion the destruction of her first presidential bid. 
But for Clinton this time to barely edge out Sanders, who was dismissed as a gadfly just months ago, showed continued weaknesses for the former secretary of state among significant portions of the Democratic coalition — particularly younger voters and those seeking a more progressive vision. 
And it demonstrated the limits of a state-of-the-art political operation to make up for lingering doubts with the candidate herself, who on paper seemed build a campaign that did everything right this time around in Iowa.

I missed Clinton's win by six percentage points on the high side but did a little better with Cruz, Trump and Rubio.  I called it 26-23-20 Carnival, Clown, Cubanito and it came out ...

The Texas senator garnered the support of 28 percent of caucus goers, a significant win in a field of a dozen candidates splitting the vote. Trump finished a disappointing second place, four points behind Cruz.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had a surprisingly strong showing, coming in a close third place with 23 percent and performing better than polls had suggested. 

With Martin O'Malley and Mike Huckabee turning in their resignations early in the evening, the field clarifies somewhat.  Jeb Bush at 5% and sixth place is a dead man walking, has been for some time.  Chris Christie needs to make something happen in New Hampshire.  John Kasich's NYT endorsement didn't help at all, and the rest of the stragglers need to go on and go home for fresh clothes, or maybe forever.

So a woman, an old Socialist Jew, and two Cubans, one born in Canada, will be duking it out in the headlines for the next week, until the media can get Trump back on his feet in the Granite State. That stands a better chance of happening than Clinton making a comeback there (JMHO).

In other breaking news...

Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw no shadow when he emerged from his Pennsylvania home this morning, meaning early springlike weather, according to tradition.


Monday, February 01, 2016

The big political week ahead

-- With the capitulation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's embargo on Democratic debates, there are now two events scheduled post-Iowa and pre-New Hampshire: a town hall on Wednesday evening hosted by CNN and the debate that almost wasn't on Thursday night, moderated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd.  These events will take place with whatever spin the campaigns will be generating from the Hawkeye State's caucus results, which I have predicted will be a Clinton win of some proportion larger than the last and most historically accurate poll conducted.  With a sizable lead in New Hampshire, Sanders must still improve his standing with not-so-white electorates in Nevada (he's not close) and South Carolina (he's not close) in order to make it a contest to Super Tuesday, where the biggest prize is Texas (and he's not close here either, though the polling is dated).

Should Bernie pull off the upset tonight -- after all, his 2-point deficit is within the Register's MoE of 4% -- and with NH all but in the can for him, history would be Feeling the Bern.  That would scramble the race tremendously.  I'd like to see it happen but I just don't think it will.

Update: Quinnipiac's poll released today shows Sanders with a 3-point lead over Clinton -- precisely at the MoE -- and Trump pulling away from Cruz, for whatever these last-minute results are worth. Q's polling gets a good report card from Nate Silver, if that also means anything.  I'd say it means "nailbiter" for both parties late into tonight.

-- As for the Republicans, Trump is favored to win tonight also in the polling, but my stated belief is that he gets upset by Ted Cruz, whose ground game in Iowa is unmatched and his followers are as fervent as The Donald's.

So watch the turnout for the GOP tonight, because that will produce higher (or lower) expectations for Trump, Cruz, and Marco Rubio, who's finally showing some signs of life.  Update: And may win the crown awarded by the media if he finishes a close third.

Pollsters have noted differences in their results when they change their assumptions about voter turnout. Trump's success in particular depends on first-time voters registering and showing up to caucus. A recent Monmouth University poll found that when likely Iowa caucus-goers are polled, Trump leads Cruz 30 percent to 23 percent. However, when the pollster narrows the sample size to registered Republicans who have a history of voting, the odds shift in Cruz's favor and he leads Trump 28 percent to 23 percent.

Monmouth's poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers is based on an estimate of 170,000 voters coming out, which surpasses Iowa's 122,000 record turnout in 2012. Increasing the turnout estimate to 200,000 gives Trump an 11-point lead, while decreasing it to 130,000 ties the two opponents at 26 percent.

There's also this from Cong. Steve King, R-Cantaloupe Calves, a demonstrated moron on immigration but probably not as dumb about his state's politics.

"If there is a turnout that goes well above 135,000, then that looks well (sic) for Trump," said U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a national co-chair of Cruz's campaign. "If there's a turnout that's down in that area, still a record turnout — something 135,000 or less — then that looks really good for Ted Cruz, and it's a more legitimate measure — the loyal caucus goers that are paying attention and evaluating on the issues."

King's been taking lessons from the Sarah Palin School of English, but we can still divine the point: turnout around 130-135K makes Ted Cruz look genuinely happy instead of his usual fake and creepy.

I wasted an hour of my life watching the second episode of "The Circus", with the four guys running for third place in the GOP primary, on Showtime over the weekend.  Don't bother with it.  It's terrible, they're terrible, the reporters -- Mark Halperin, John Heileman, Mark McKinnon -- are terrible.  Maybe the first episode with the front-runners was better, but I'm not giving the series any more chances.  Just watching McKinnon, in that short brim Stetson that looks too big on him, who's so scrawny he looks like a cancer victim, pick at -- but not taste -- any of a beautiful pastrami sandwich from Katz' Deli in New York was enough to put me off, but then they started in with Jeb and Fat Bastard, who's allegedly had a lap band for over three years and still looks morbidly obese. I had to take my nausea meds before they even got to Rubio.  What does that tell you?

But do read this on the four roads out of Iowa, with the bias of mine being on Road Number Four.

-- Voting in New Hampshire a week from tomorrow, more spin for a couple of weeks, and then Nevada and South Carolina close out February.

The "Yes We Can/No We Can't" Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is quite ready to go back to ignoring Iowa as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff highlighted how the tables got turned on the video fraudsters who tried to sting Planned Parenthood.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is quite pleased to learn that in Texas justice can trump politics, in the most ironic way. The Texas Blues: A Stunning Royal Backfire.

South Texas Chisme knows Texas Republicans love business owners way more than citizens. Why else do they allow dangerous companies to operate next to schools?

John Coby at Bay Area Houston asks: Can the Democratic Party carry Bernie Sanders' socialist message and win?

Ted at jobsanger also went the full 'socialist' on Sanders.

While those two Clinton-supporting bloggers played the "soshulist" card, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is at least glad to see that some Democrats know how to find -- and push -- the panic button.

With less inflammatory words like "pragmatism" on the table, SocraticGadfly looks at who the more "can-do" Democratic presidential candidate is, and shows that it's Bernie Sanders.

Egberto Willies shares the video of Pastor Robert Jeffress calmly explaining the hypocrisy of evangelicals' support of Donald Trump.

TXsharon at Bluedaze has to explain changing paradigms to confused Denton city officials who misused research on fracked natural gas.

Neil at All People Have Value considered both everyday life and the full picture at the intersection of Main & Cosmos in Houston. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Some Texas legislators want to keep affordable housing out of their districts, and they've given themselves the power to do it. The Texas Observer reminds us that The House Always Wins.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub reveals democratic socialism's darkest secret: it's more democracy than socialism.

A second case of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Harris County, according to the Houston Press.

Grits for Breakfast posts the chart drawn by Black Live Matters that assesses the police department's use of force policies in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and other cities around the country.

Harold Cook reviews Jay Newton-Small's book Broad influence; How Women Are Changing the Way America Works.

Keep Austin Wonky interviews Travis County Commissioner candidate James Nortey.

Raise Your Hand Texas quantifies Texas school enrollment.

Raj Mankad rides along on a driverless car test drive.

Rainey Knudsen pens an open letter to the other 49 states.

Francisca Ortega reports that many child brides are still being forced to marry in the United States.

Rick Campbell tells of a quest to help Houston preserve its music history.

Katharine Shilcutt sets the record straight on Texas food.

The Makeshift Academic explores ways to limit the potential damage of the Friedrichs decision.

Not of It has the details on the American (Urban) Planning Association's biennial conference in Austin in March.

And The Rag Blog posted a moving eulogy of Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee.