Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Events Happening Now DO Matter . . .

Anyone who thinks "what's happening in politics right now doesn't matter" (because it is so early) isn't paying attention. To whit:

  • Scott Walker, a primary contender on paper not just for the nomination--but for president crashed and burned.
  • Jeb Bush is having a donor revolt (panic level at 6 or 7) as Marco Rubio just passed Jeb in the PredictIt betting markets (note that Jeb leading was used as a Wisdom-Of-Crowds talking point to reassure donors).
  • Trump, who is the agent of much of this disruption, will move his dominance into October tomorrow. Yes, he may fade (PEC puts him hitting the floor at Oct 21--the equinox).
So, yes, what in happening now clearly matters. So let's look at what's happening now that'll pay off later.

Ted Cruz Made His Move

No--not getting slapped down for trying to disrupt the GOP leadership--he knew that was going to happen and it's part of his plan. This is about a 500k gift from one of Ted's SuperPACs to Carly Fiorina's superPAC. As notes, Ted Cruz's plan is to stalk other candidates so he can hoover up their support when they drop. To wit:
This is a long-game strategy that is unfolding now and will pay off as the field winnows.

Jeb Bush Is Maybe Done For

No, it's not his donor-panic (which may-or-may-not actually be happening). It's not his decline in the PredictIt betting market (he's still #1 across multiple markets--maybe Rubio guys bought up a big spike of PredictIt?). No, The Omnivore thinks Jeb has sealed his own fate . . . in the last debate.

The exchange that might prove fatal to Jeb--if something else doesn't get him first--was his exchange with Donald Trump over apologizing to Jeb's wife. David Frum dissects the psychology of it here:

Now we are viewing the biggest presidential field yet. Each debate to date has been a scramble for mastery. Who acts like a commander? Who submits to command?
Unfortunately things did not go all that well for Jeb. First, he hit Trump, correctly on blocking Trump's casino plans in Florida. Trump just flat out denied it. Then . . .
Bush was baffled again when he twice called on Trump to apologize to Bush’s wife. Trump not only refused, but changed the subject by offering a compliment to Bush’s wife. Bush accepted the compliment, seemingly oblivious that to compliment is just as much an act of dominance as to insult. Through the encounter, Trump interrupted Bush—and Bush allowed himself to be interrupted. Having interrupted, Trump—in an especially vicious masterstroke—then granted Bush permission to talk: “Go ahead.” Bush compliantly went ahead. 
Once Bush made the decision to fight Trump—probably a bad decision, and one wisely eschewed by Senator Marco Rubio and Governor John Kasich—but once he made that decision, he needed to win. He needed to hit as hard as Trump hit him. Trump has something to say about Bush’s immigrant wife? Say something about Trump’s two immigrant wives—one of whom accused Trump of violent physical abuse after he discarded her. Trump suggests he could have bought you? Don’t protest your innocence. Who gave him the right to judge you? Hit back with a fiercer allegation of your own. If you can’t think of one, buy a second-hand copy of Wayne Barrett’s book on Trump’s alleged Mafia connections—mine cost $20—and pluck one from those pages.

If you yield the floor, point out that you’ve said your piece. If granted permission to talk, don’t accept it. You’re applying for the job of boss. Act like the boss.
The Omnivore thinks this is cogent analysis: Trump is a much better alpha-dog than Jeb Bush--and that's a problem. The Omnivore thinks that if you play that clip over and over on TV (ad paid for by an anonymous superPAC, of course) and ask how Jeb will handle Putin, you could finish him.

The American people might elect a woman this time around--but it will be a hawkish Iron-Lady type from either the D or R side of the aisle. They will not elect someone who presents as weak.This has nothing specific to do with current affairs or geo-politics: it is about the national character. The taller candidate in presidential elections usually wins more of the popular vote and is more likely to be re-elected. Charisma, physicality, and most importantly, a sense of being in command is important.

Jeb ceded that with Trump on the most-watched debate in history. The Omnivore thinks that could be the end of him.

Rubio Maneuvers

The Omnivore saw someone on Twitter describe Marco Rubio's campaign as a "peloton campaign." The Omnivore had to look it up: it's the 'main pack' of riders in a bicycle race! This is a perfect description of what Rubio has been doing--staying under the radar but putting in strong performances. Unlike Carson or Trump, no one is writing "When will Rubio fade" stories. Instead, now, they're writing "When will Rubio rise."

The ground work for this, happening right now, is important: Rubio needs to beat Jeb Bush in Florida which is well into next year. Between now and then he doesn't need to spend money or make mistakes (apparently his campaign even has an app for big-money donors that will tell them what Rubio is doing at any given moment!).

This, like Ted Cruz's moves, is positioning for the battle around December. Presumably the Jindals and Patakis will be out by then. Probably Carson (not viable) will have decayed and perhaps Fiorina and even Trump will be languishing. That mass of support (over 50%) will have to go somewhere: Cruz, Rubio, and (to a lesser extent) Jeb are positioning themselves to fight over it.

This is happening now--and it's important.


Polls, right now, are meaningful: determining who got on the debate main-stage was probably hugely important (Fiorina managed to "win" her two debates, in part, because the first one was much smaller). While she may not be the candidate, her presence will shape things that will play out in February. Polling is important if people think it is--and they do. Seeing Trump top everyone for weeks on end raises questions about viability, the tennor of the electorate, and so on.

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