It has been over a month since I kicked off my series on the 2016 Presidential election and we’ve been through two Republican debates and one Democratic debate. From my original uninformed position, I’ve definitely learned more about the candidates, their personalities and their stance on the issues and started to refine how I think about the election.
Coming out of the recent Republican debate, news media have asked “GOP Debate: Is Tide Turning Against Outsiders?” Certainly, some of the establishment candidates have incorporated strategies against Trump and Carson aimed at challenging their lack of political experience and ability to get anything done. Today, the story that Ben Carson lied about West Point Acceptance is trending in news and social media. A work colleague commented that Carson will be out of the race because of this, but we’ll have to wait and see. Is it really worse than some of things Trump has said about Mexico or Hillary Clinton keeping confidential information on a private email server?
The Least You Need to Know
The election is starting to get real, with some candidates dropping out, other candidates starting to make traction and all of the candidates starting to pick and promote their key platform messages. Trump and Carson’s position in the polls is sending a clear message that voters don’t trust politicians and are tired of being pandered to instead of listened to. Peel back the drama of the campaign though and I think we are starting to see a pretty traditional “Less Taxes, Less Government Spending” versus “Increase Programs, Tax as Necessary” race shaping up.
News and Research
So far, I have not done a lot of research and have mainly been influenced by the debates and the media coverage around the candidates. I have read through the issues section of the election web sites for Bush, Carson, Clinton, Rubio, and Sanders. Also, for election polls I’ve been looking at realclearpolitics.com, which aggregates many different polls.
Here are some of the recent things that have gotten coverage and are at least tangentially related to the election
- The story that Ben Carson lied about West Point Acceptance is trending in news and social media.
- Hillary Clinton was a hit on Saturday Night Live and now Donald Trump will be on the show tomorrow
- There was a second Republican Debate and the first Democratic Debate, both of which resulted in some candidates dropping out
- Carly Fiorina faded after her strong showing in the first debate
- Several more mass shootings occurred in October
- Voters shot down the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance
- Joe Biden confirmed he would not be running
- Hillary Clinton seems to have gotten past both the email scandal and Benghazi
- Sanders supporters are super engaged in twitter and other digital and social media #FeelTheBern
- Bush pushed Rubio on his voting record and Rubio seemed to come out on top. Similarly, Rubio was questioned about personal finances and the publicity actually seemed to help him in the polls. A Bush fundraiser defected to Rubio
- Bush rebooted his campaign. Few noticed, nobody cared.
- The Democratic Kentucky governor, a strong supporter of Obamacare, was voted out of office
- The stock market recovered from August lows
Each candidate has a different set of “issues” they want to prioritize, but there are a few thematic ones which are currently affecting the election dialog.
- Government / Congress / Politicians. You certainly don’t hear the candidates talking about it directly, but the fact that two political outsiders lead the Republican pack speaks volumes. People are not necessarily happy with some of the decisions that have been made on their behalf by politicians. Note the recent gallup study that found that 60% of Americans think government has too much power. Campaign reform is a related issue, but doesn’t really capture the sense of distrust that most people have for politicians. Single biggest issue affecting the election so far, but the candidates don’t seem to see it. The problem I have with “campaign reform” as a proxy topic is that it allows politicians to avoid taking responsibility for their choices and place the blame on “lobbyists”. Last time I checked, lobbyists weren’t casting votes in congress.
- Income and Taxes. Clinton talks about “raising income for hardworking Americans,” Rubio rails against national debt and irresponsible government spending, Carson pushes for a Balanced Budget Amendment, Donald Trump is promoting tax reform and Sanders talks about “fixing income inequality.”
- Obamacare. I’d like to say Healthcare, but the candidates seem to be making it about Obamacare specifically. Clinton has been a long-time supporter of universal healthcare (she lead the drive for it in the early 90s when her husband was President) and will defend Obamacare. Sanders says Obamacare isn’t enough and wants to go further to provide a “medicare for all,” single-payer government run system. Trump, Bush and Rubio want to repeal Obamacare and replace it with an alternative.
- Gun Violence and Gun Control. Tied closely to many state constitutions and codified in the 2nd Amendment, many citizens see this issue as black and white. At the same time, everyone would like to see less gun violence and end mass shootings. Carson says gun control comes in second to defending the 2nd amendment. Rubio says that ‘gun control’ laws don’t stem violence, so the debate is a false debate and people should work on the symptoms of violence and not chip away at one of Americans’ fundamental rights. Donald Trump is a moderate here, wanting to protect the 2nd amendment while supporting restrictions on assault weapons. Bernie Sanders has 17 issues on his election site, but this isn’t one of them, which distinguishes him from Hillary (and President Obama), who want to make Gun Control an election issue.
Democratic Party Candidates
- Jim Webb quit the campaign on October 20th after a weak showing in the debate.
- Vice President Joe Biden confirmed he would not be running.
- Lincoln Chafee dropped out a few days later.
- Sanders wants to give away a lot of “free” stuff to Americans. He and his election team are promoting the idea of significantly expanding entitlements (e.g. “free” college, “free” healthcare, “free” daycare), vastly increasing government spending, and taxing billionaires and corporations (which are apparently all “evil,” though the Fortune 500 employees 26.8 million people) to pay for it all. Read about the growing appeal of “free” stuff here.
- Hillary Clinton seems to have gotten past the email scandal thanks to Bernie Sanders and testifying to a hostile House Benghazi committee helped her standing with the public.
Republican Party Candidates
- Scott Walker dropped out of the race at the end of September to help “clear the field.”
- After a strong showing in the first debate, Carly Fiorina failed to capitalize on it and didn’t show up as much in the second debate.
- The Donald has become (relatively) less provocative and hasn’t insulted any ethnicities lately, thought he did retweet an image of Bush with a swastika, is negotiating directly with TV networks about the next GOP debate, and is appearing on Saturday Night Live.
- Rubio came out strong from the most recent debate, but has come under attack about his use of a Republican Party credit card 10 years ago. The Donald attacked him about it too. The spotlight seems to be working to his benefit, though, since he has risen in the polls.
- Bush, lagging even further in the polls, has decided to reboot his campaign by kicking off a “Jeb Can Fix It” tour – a slogan meant to highlight his successful record in government.
- Ted Cruz has moved up a bit in the polls, with most of them putting him neck and neck with Rubio.
If I Had to Vote Today
Given that I am middle-of-the-road and could potentially vote for either party, I thought it would be fun to look at different scenarios to illustrate how my voting would change depending on the outcome of the primaries.
|Republican vs Democrat||Recent Poll says …||I would vote for …|
|Trump vs Clinton||Clinton||Clinton|
|Trump vs Sanders||Sanders||Trump|
|Carson vs Clinton||Carson||Clinton|
|Carson vs Sanders||Carson||Carson|
|Rubio vs Clinton||Clinton||Rubio|
|Rubio vs Sanders||Rubio||Rubio|
|Bush vs Clinton||Bush||Clinton|
|Bush vs Sanders||Bush||Bush|
To summarize this in a simple algorithm:
- I would vote against Bernie Sanders, no matter the candidate
- I would vote against Donald Trump, unless the Democratic Party candidate is Sanders
- I would vote for Rubio if he wins the Republican primary
- Otherwise I would vote for Clinton
Best regards ~ Jeff / @securityjones
All of the posts in this series:
|September 16, 2015||Picking the POTUS #1–A Voter’s View on Election 2016|
|September 17, 2015||Picking the POTUS #1.1–Republican Debate No. 2|
|October 14, 2015||Picking the POTUS #1.2–CNN Democratic Party Debate|
|November 6, 2015||
Picking the POTUS #2–November 2015