The third Republican debate

October 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Well the big losers of the debate were the CNBC moderators.  This was meant to be their entry into the big time, but instead they got criticised by many journalists, booed by the audience and attacked by the candidates. They showed why so many conservatives in the US distrust most of the media.

The big winner was Marco Rubio and as I said a few weeks ago I think a Rubio/Fiorina ticket could beat Clinton. Rubio was calm and confident and absolutely slam dunked Jeb Bush when he tried to attack him for being absent from the Senate so much.

Bush is the big loser. There were grumblings before this debate. He might not quite be toast but unless he can survive to the 4th debate and perform well there, I think it may be over for him.

Carson was not that engaged. Trump for once wasn’t aggressive and just had a pretty standard performance – which was good for him. People tire of just personal attacks after a while.

Chris Christie had a great moment when the moderators were asking if fantasy football markets should be banned ore regulated and Christie said why when we have $19 trillion in debt, have people out of work, ISIS and al-Qaeda attacking us, are you aksing us questions about fantasy football?. Huge applause.

Ted Cruz also had a great night by pointing out how so many of the questions from the moderators were just attacks in the guise of questions, and such a contrast to the Democratic debate.

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Speaker Ryan?

October 12th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

In more bad news for Republicans:

The outsiders are still dominating the Republican presidential race, according to a new CBS News poll.

Donald Trump still leads in the new national poll with 27%, followed by Ben Carson at 21%, CBS News reports.

No other GOP candidate finished in double digits. Ted Cruz is third in the CBS poll at 9%, followed by Marco Rubio (8%), Jeb Bush (6%), and Carly Fiorina (6%). No other Republican candidate finished with more than 5%.

No surprise that Trump and Carson lead but Cruz coming third is a surprise.

I think a Rubio/Fiorina ticket could beat Clinton. Trump and Carson would implode during the campaign and Cruz is hated by most of his colleagues.

Meanwhile USA Today reports:

The head of the House Freedom Caucus that helped upend last week’s planned choice of a new speaker predicted Sunday members of the rebellious group would “look favorably” on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan for the top job.

Ryan also won praise from more centrist representatives and even from a congressman who has announced his own campaign for speaker. But the 45-year-old chairman of theWays and Means Committee, who spent the weekend with his family in Janesville, Wis., remained mum on whether he was willing to accept a role he had previously rejected.

Ryan is the only one who could unite the House Republicans but he really doesn’t want the job. Will he do it for the good of the party though?

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No one wants to be US House Speaker!

October 10th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Politico reports:

The doubts haunted Kevin McCarthy.

Publicly, he projected an air of confidence, the appearance of the man who would be the next speaker of the House. But in private, his allies told him the pursuit for power was changing him and he wasn’t himself. Some said that even if he won, he couldn’t govern.

“We need somebody to get us 247,” McCarthy said in an extensive interview with POLITICO Thursday, referring to the total number of House Republicans. “And I was never going to be able to get 247.”

The majority leader’s longtime allies — the people he recruited and helped get elected to Congress — told him they were getting hammered back home, and that it would be difficult to back him on the House floor.

Other friends said McCarthy’s pursuit of the speaker’s gavel had become a staggering weight on his shoulders and was already starting to change him.

Conservatives — namely members of the House Freedom Caucus — were making demands he believed he simply couldn’t deliver on.


The job of Speaker of the House is the second most powerful in the United States, after the President. They basically solely decide what bills and issues get voted on in the House. In the absence of a President, they are the de facto leader of their party.

Yet the Republican civil war has made the job an awful one. Some Republican representatives have demands so unreasonable, that no Speaker can meet them, and hence no Speaker can govern – unless they rely on Democrats.

So we have not only seen Boehner resign as Speaker, but his No 2 drop out of the race to replace him.

The Republicans have the House and Senate, and Clinton is looking beatable if she is the Democratic nominee. If they had unity, they could win the presidency next year, but if they don’t they will lose, and possibly lose the Senate also. That would be bad as a further Democratic administration could see major changes in the Supreme Court, which would give the liberal wing a majority.


The 10 Republicans in the first debate

August 7th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Fox News has announced the 10 top polling candidates who will make the first debate today. They are:

  1. Donald Trump 10.4%
  2. Governor Jeb Bush 43.5%
  3. Governor Scott Walker 18.4%
  4. Governor Mick Huckabee 4.0%
  5. Dr Ben Carson 1.7%
  6. Senator Ted Cruz 3.1%
  7. Senator Marco Rubio 7.7%
  8. Senator Rand Paul 3.9%
  9. Governor Chris Christie 3.3%
  10. Govenor John Kasich 4.1%

I’ve included the current probability to get the nomination each are at with Betfair. It will be interesting to see how this changes after the debate.


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Republican candidate favourability

August 3rd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


This graph is from 538’s Nate Silver who explains:

On Twitter yesterday, I likened Trump to the bandNickelback: disliked by most people but with a few very passionate admirers. The best contrast to Trump is Marco Rubio: like a “lite rock” radio station, he’s broadly acceptable but few people’s favorite. Rubio’s favorable ratings are much higher (56 percent) than The Donald’s, and his unfavorable ratings are much lower (16 percent). But only 6 percent of Republicans list Rubio as their first choice.

Note these are favourability ratings just from Republicans. To win you need to not just get 90% of Republicans voting for you, but the Independents also.

Anyone with only 20% unfavourability from their own party’s supporters would struggle to win an election. This means Bush may have problems also.

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Hehir on Republicans not being dumb

May 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes:

There’s a presidential election in the United States next year and that means you can look forward to many editorials, columns and opinion pieces by New Zealand writers about what dummies the Republican contenders are.

It won’t make any difference to point out that Senator Rand Paul and Ben Carson are highly trained surgeons. Senator Ted Cruz may have been regarded “off the charts brilliant” by liberal Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, but that won’t help him. Never mind that Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company and was responsible for one of the biggest tech mergers in history.

This is because all of these contenders will take policy stances at odds with what is considered wise or prudent by New Zealand opinion-makers – who will therefore inevitably declare a received wisdom that the Republican field consists mostly of airheads, numbskulls and know-nothings. 


In the 2000 election, there was a persistent narrative around Bush being intellectually inferior to Democratic nominee Al Gore. You might be surprised to learn, therefore, that a comparison of their respective university transcripts shows Bush to have the superior record. In fact, despite somehow having acquired the cachet of scientific expertise, Gore seems to have fared particularly badly in science courses.

The record also shows Bush was a slightly better student than 2004 opponent John Kerry. According to military testing undertaken by both when they were in their twenties, Bush probably had the higher IQ.  Again, however, the campaign press usually portrayed Kerry as the more cerebral of the two.

Bush actually passed all his courses while Gore failed a natural sciences course and was in the bottom fifth of his year.  John Kerry got Ds in history, geology and political science.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Bush was a better president than Gore or Kerry would have been. While people tend to fixate on intelligence, it is hardly the be all and end all of enlightened leadership. On the contrary, there are many other factors that go into making an effective leader, including humility, patience, decisiveness and human decency.

And in the absence of countervailing influences, intelligence often leads to hubris. Nemesis is rarely far behind.

Few people would doubt that Robert Muldoon or Richard Nixon were highly intelligent men. Their cleverness, however, led them to overestimate their ability to control a complex system like a developed economy. Both were arrogant enough to centrally regulate prices and wages and the result in both cases was economic damage that took years to mend. 

Herman Goring was highly intelligent (he had a measured IQ of 138).  He also signed off on the final solution. Clearly his brainpower did not give him moral clarity enough to oppose the murder of millions of innocent men, women and children.


You need politicians to be smart, but not super smart. So long as they are not actually stupid, then other factors such as character, and judgement come to the fore.

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Labour and the US republicans

June 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir at the Manawatu Standard compares NZ Labour to the US Republicans on four grounds:

  1. It is in thrall to party activists
  2.  It appears to be in denial about polling
  3. It is banking on turning out the base
  4. Its weakness is temporary

I could add a 5th one on. Both parties are leaderless!

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No 2 House Republican loses his primary

June 12th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has lost in his Republican primary election to a little-known economics professor, a stunning upset for the No. 2 Republican in the House and a major victory for the ultraconservative tea party movement.

Cantor, viewed as a possible successor to House Speaker John Boehner, was taken down by a political novice with little money named Dave Brat. His win marked the biggest triumph this year for tea party supporters who until a few years ago backed Cantor, a former state legislator who rose to Majority Leader in 2011.

This is a huge upset. Cantor lost, and lost decisively (12% margin) despite having the far larger budget ($5 million to $200,000).

Cantor was on the right wing of the Republicans. The American Conservative Union scored him 84/100 in the last session and 95/100 lifetime rating. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a B- which was about average for Republicans.


The US Government shut down

October 5th, 2013 at 9:21 am by David Farrar

The United States a a system of Government with a separation of powers. The executive wing does not need a majority in the legislative wing (like in NZ). This model has both strengths and weaknesses to it.

One aspect is that a budget needs to pass the House, the Senate and the President. Since the 1990s it has been hard to achieve this as if no party holds all three, they have different ideas on what the size of the state should be and appropriate levels of spending and taxation.

I’m all for the Republicans refusing to pass a budget that increases spending and taxation, especially as the USG has a deficit which is huge as a % of GDP. They absolutely need to have a realistic path back into surplus – which will at some stage mean entitlement reform. The across the board spending cuts that sequestration brought in have not had anywhere near the dire effect that Obama claimed. While they are a blunt tool, they have shown you can reduce spending (or even the growth in it) without a huge impact on services (as has been the case in NZ).

However I think they are on much weaker ground with their refusal to pass even a continuing resolution to roll over funding, unless Obama agrees to defund Obamacare. Like it or not he won that fight and got the law through a previous Congress. Refusing to pass a budget unless he abolishes it, or defers it, is unreasonable to me.

They won a good battle on the sequestration and that will increase the reductions in spending in the future. Obama hates the sequestration cuts and will be in a weaker negotiating position when the second round is about to hit. They may be able to get a deal at that point. But their demands for him to effectively abolish the signature law reform initiative of his first term is unreasonable to me. Their party is divided on it and may splinter. On the other hand, maybe Obama will blink and agree to a deferral as the law is still pretty unpopular.

Some Republicans think a US Government shutdown isn’t the end of the world, and they are right. While very embarrassing, and painful for affected employees, a couple of weeks or more of no museums and bureaucracy is not that big a deal. It has happened before.

What would be a big deal is a refusal to increase the debt ceiling, which would see the United States of America default on its sovereign debt. As they are the global reserve economy, this would be a massive deal. It could plunge the world into recession. The US Chamber of Commerce is against any games over the debt ceiling and I agree with them. The focus should be on cutting spending to reduce the deficit and eventually stop increasing the debt. But to refuse to increase the debt ceiling when you have already passed budgets that have deficits, is not reasonable.

So in summary the GOP should continue to hold firm on sequestration and not agree to end it unless they get a good deal on spending reductions. It is essential that spending be constrained as the US deficit is so massive. But they should not use the budget process as a way to effectively over-turn a law already passed. That sets a bad precedent for all future Congresses to do the same. And they also should not play games on the debt ceiling.


Republicans, rape and abortion

October 25th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Republicans are doing their best to allow the Democrats to hold onto the Senate. To follow up Todd Akin, we have:

Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock is standing by his statement that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape “that’s something God intended.”

Mourdock, who has been locked in one of the country’s most expensive and closely watched Senate races, was asked during the final minutes of a debate Tuesday night whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realise that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said.

Mourdock maintained at the news conference that he was misunderstood.

“I think that God can see beauty in every life,” Mourdock said. “Certainly, I did not intend to suggest that God wants rape, that God pushes people to rape, that God wants to support or condone evil in any way.”

How do such idiots become candidates for high office. Even if you agree with their viewpoint on not allowing abortion for rape victims, there are non-moronic ways to express that view. Here’s how they should answer the question:

  1. Don’t mention God at all. You’re standing for the Senate, not for Iman or Cardinal.
  2. Empathise with all women who have been raped and say it is a terrible crime, and some never recover from being violated. Get in a quick plug about how you support longer sentences for rapists.
  3. Say it is a terrible dilemma about what to do in such a situation, and how you don’t want rape victims re-victimised
  4. However say that two wrongs don’t make a right, and as much as your heart goes out to victims of rape, you don’t think killing an unborn child is ever justified, and you hope victims of rape will show the love and tolerance they did not receive, and allow the child to be born

Now I don’t agree with the above. I think it is appalling to not support exemptions for rape victims, and in fact I support abortion being a decision in all cases for the pregnant woman, not the state, so long as the fetus is not viable. However if a candidate said something along the lines of the above to justify their view, they at least wouldn’t come across as a lunatic who implies God condones rape. I know that isn’t what he meant, but his choice of words was so appalling, it was open to that interpretation.

A candidate for even a junior office, should have a prepared response on major issues memorised off by heart. To have Senate candidates shoot themselves in the foot so badly, is woeful amateur hour.

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A dinosaur Reublican

August 21st, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

There are times when I wonder that if I lived in the US, would I be able to be in the Republican Party, when they have candidates such as Todd Akin standing for the Senate.

I could never be a Democrat. The only left-wing party I think I could ever join would be the right faction of the NSW Labor Party :-)

I guess I could be a US Libertarian Party member, but I actually believe in achieving things. Anyway it is all academic, as I am happy here in NZ.

Fox News reports:Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin resisted calls to withdraw from the race Monday over his controversial comments on rape, despite mounting pressure from GOP leaders who roundly condemned his remarks and threatened to cut off funding. 

Up until this he was 9% ahead of the incumbent Democrat.

Akin, a six-term GOP congressman, is challenging Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill for her seat. His chances looked fairly sunny — up until he told an interviewer that a woman’s body can typically prevent pregnancy during a “legitimate rape,” as he argued against allowing abortions in cases of rape, claiming such pregnancies are uncommon in the first place. 

“It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 

How can an experienced politician, let alone a half decent human being, say something like that?

He basically just told every rape victim who got pregnant that their rape wasn’t real rape. Jesus Christ.

Sadly a fair proportion of rape victims do get pregnant to their rapist, and have the anguishing decision about what to then do.

One can have a legitimate debate on the legality of abortion, but you have to be a particular type of insensitive moron to make comments like Akin did.

Good to see the GOP dumping on him from a huge height. However the damage is done.

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The next stages for the Republicans

February 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Romney won Nevada easily with 48% of the vote. This is somewhat significant as conventional wisdom had been that he was having trouble getting out of the 30s, and hence when there is just one opponent left, they might beat him.

In the five primaries and caucuses to date Romney has averaged 41%, Gingrich 31%, Santorum 14% and Ron Paul 11%. Romney is estimated to have 97 delegates out of 131.  You need 1,144 to win.

The Maine caucuses are underway, but have only 24 delegates. Romney won then by 31% in 2008.

Colorado with 36 delegates is on the 7th. Romney won that by 42% in 2008 but the latest poll has him 14% ahead of Santorum. Minnesota with 37 delegates also on the 7th. Santorum is on 29%, Romney 27% and Gingrich 22% in latest polls there.

The third one on the 7th is Missouri. 36 delegates.

After that you have Arizona and Michigan on the 28th of February and Washington on 3rd of March. That is the last one before Super Tuesday on 6 March.

Arizona has Romney on 48% and Gingrich 24%. 29 delegates. Michigan has 30 delegates.Washington has 43.

Super Tuesday is not as big this year – down from 24 states to 10 states. However 437 delegates up for grabs. So you don’t need as much money as previously to stay in the race and buy advertising time.


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Republican Iowa Caucus

January 4th, 2012 at 2:27 pm by David Farrar

CNN report:

According to the second round of CNN entrance polling of caucus-goers: Paul and Romney are tied at 24% followed by Santorum at 18%, Gingrich at 13%, Perry at 11%, Bachmann at 7% and Huntsman at 1%

Huntsman is not contesting Iowa. If Ron Paul beats Romney, that is big news. Ron Paul is the latest choice of the large “Anyone but Romney” following. But this is just an entrance poll.


The GOP Field

February 7th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Five Thirty Eight have done this very useful graphical representation of the GOP potential candidates (none have yet formally declared).

The size of each bubble is related to their current chances to win on Intrade. The colours are what region they come from, and the two axises are labelled.

I’ve had the view for a while that Pawlenty could win the nomination, as other candidates get knocked out, and this graph shows he is positioned quite well. Being an insider helps in some regards but if you look like a total insider, then grassroots support may be harder to get.

Romney’s major problem is he is seen as not conservative enough.

Haley Barbour is in a pretty good position also, and could do quite well. Time will tell.


Who would have thought

October 15th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Yahoo News reports:

A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday immediately stopping enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, suspending the 17-year-old ban on openly gay U.S. troops.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ landmark ruling also ordered the government to suspend and discontinue all pending discharge proceedings and investigations under the policy. …

the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights organization that filed the lawsuit in 2004 to stop the ban’s enforcement.

So who would have thought that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would not be killed off by Obama (who had promised to do so), but instead by the Log Cabin Republicans.

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Republicans take the lead

November 12th, 2009 at 4:28 am by David Farrar

This is unusual – Gallup has the Republicans in the lead in their generic congressional ballot. For the first time, more people say Republican 48% to Democrat 44%.

Why? The Independents. They are now splitting 52% Republican to 30% Democrat. This is what happens when you veer towards your base, and not the centre.


This graph shows the movement amongst Independents in the last five months.

Now it is a year to go until the elections, and lots can happen. But this poll is unusual, as Gallup explains:

Since Gallup regularly began using the generic ballot to measure registered voters’ preferences for the House of Representatives in 1950, it has been rare for Republicans to have an advantage over Democrats. This is likely because more Americans usually identify as Democrats than as Republicans, but Republicans can offset this typical Democratic advantage in preferences with greater turnout on Election Day. Most of the prior Republican registered-voter leads on the generic ballot in Gallup polling occurred in 1994 and 2002, two strong years for the GOP.

Significantly more people do identify as Democrats. So again this makes a lead in the generic congressional ballot quite significant.

Of course too early to start saying how many seats may be lost, as it will depend on regional trends.

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Meghan McCain on Republican Challenges

April 22nd, 2009 at 5:04 am by David Farrar

Meghan McCain is the bloging daughter of John McCain. She gave a speech to the Log Cabin Republicans recently which I quite liked:

But the experience did reinforce what I learned on the campaign trail in some major ways. I’ll summarize them in three points:

1. Most of our nation wants our nation to succeed;
2. Most people are ready to move on to the future, not live in the past; and
3. Most of the old-school Republicans are scared shitless of that future.

Harsh but with a fair degree of truth.

I think we’re seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party. But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past. I believe most people are ready to move on to that future.

Republicans using Twitter and Facebook isn’t going to miraculously make people think we’re cool again. Breaking free from obsolete positions and providing real solutions that don’t divide our nation further WILL.

I know many Republicans. The vast majority of them are not highly religious and care far more about a balanced budget and lower taxes than stem cell research or civil unions. However a small segment of the Republican Party has got to set too much of the agenda.

So tonight, I am proud to join you in challenging the mold and the notions of what being a Republican means. I am concerned about the environment. I love to wear black. I think government is best when it stays out of people’s lives and business as much as possible. I love punk rock. I believe in a strong national defense. I have a tattoo. I believe government should always be efficient and accountable. I have lots of gay friends. And yes, I am a Republican.

Not a bad proclamation. For the Republicans to be able to win back the House, Senate and Presidency, more people under40 need to be able to say they are a Republican.

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Why Hurricane Gustav is good for McCain

September 1st, 2008 at 8:00 pm by David Farrar

Thanks to the hurricance, both Bush and Cheney miss the convention, and have an unassailable reason for doing so.

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Bobby Jindal

May 30th, 2008 at 4:02 pm by David Farrar

This is Bobby Jindal on the Tonight Show. Jindal is Governor of Louisiana, aged just 36, and is one of the possibilities to be McCain’s VP nominee.

Jindal’s parents were immigrants from India, and he started using the name Bobby after he watched the Brady Bunch when he was four!

Not sure if he will be VP, but I think he has a good future ahead of him.

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McCain now the effective nominee

March 5th, 2008 at 3:09 pm by David Farrar

John McCain is now the all but annointed Republican candidate for President. He has won in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island putting him over the 1,191 delegates needed.

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