My last full election update was in November, so I think it is a good idea to check in before the Iowa Caucus tomorrow. Though there has been a lot of drama in the election coverage, I don’t think much has changed with respect to the candidates. This will be a good exercise to check that.
For those that didn’t pay attention, there was a Republican Debate last Thursday which went forward without Donald Trump, who didn’t participate (by choice). I didn’t watch it, but the coverage mostly agrees that Trump dominated the debate even though he wasn’t there. There was also a Democratic Party Debate earlier in the month and I didn’t watch that one either.
The Least You Need to Know
The Iowa Caucus kicks off tomorrow. The in-fighting among candidates has gotten harsher, with the poll leaders fighting to distinguish themselves. Cruz has gained the most in the Republican polls, largely at the expense of Carson. Sanders has made some solid gains, but so has Clinton. She polled +15 back in October and is still about +15 – though there have been periods where the difference has fluctuated up to 20 and down to 8.6. Personally, I am very interested in the actual voting this year, because the political news pundits seem so out of touch with the “why” of the people. The final state Caucuses take place in June (including California) and the Democrat and Republican Party Conventions take place in July.
News and Research
I’ve been talking to quite a few people about the election issues and the consensus seems to be that all of the candidates continue to demonstrate how out of touch they are with what people would like from them. Take Obamacare, for example. In talking with people I know living and working in the MidWest, they are angry at both parties over Obamacare. They resent having their choice taken away. They are angry that candidates from both parties felt empowered to pass a law that mandates how 20-25% of their take home pay is spent, while at the same time having to pay an additional 20-25% of their take home pay in deductibles before they could ever benefit from the “health coverage.” It is not a “tax,” but think about those numbers.
I spoke to one friend who runs his own business and has about 8 hourly employees. He has raised three children over the past 30 years and it is now just his wife and him at home. He brings home about $650/week after taxes and his healthcare premiums are about $700/month (over 25% of take home pay) However, both he and his wife have a $6000 deductible they must meet before insurance pays anything. Even if one of them is completely healthy, they’ll have to pay over 40% of all take home pay before the insurance contributes anything. Is this better for them than not having health insurance? It is not for me to say. His main point to me was that it also isn’t for the government to say. He plans to opt out next year and pay the tax penalty instead. In terms of voting, my friend is pretty much only considering candidates who are outsiders and were not part of the government already – which means Trump or Carson.
Some of the other things that have happened over the past couple of months related to the election:
- Bush lost some key financial supporters to Rubio
- The Paris attacks in November significantly changed the election dialog. Candidates viewed as “strong” benefitted and candidates appearing “weak” or lacking international experience suffered
- Trump and a few others stirred debate when they suggested that Syrian refugees should be denied access to the US as a protective measure against terrorist infiltration.
- In December, a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, killed 22 people. The attackers were a couple who had been “inspired” and radicalized by foreign terrorist groups.
- A Bernie Sanders staffer is caught accessing private campaign data from the Clinton campaign team.
- Cruz takes a lead on Trump in the Iowa Caucus polls, though Trump continues to lead nationally
- NYC Mayor Bloomberg is reported to be considering an independent run for President
If I Had to Vote Today
This is the section that I wanted to document for myself when I started the series of election posts. How much is my opinion swayed as a voter as the campaign moves along?
|Republican vs Democrat||Recent Poll says …||I would vote for …|
|Trump vs Clinton||Clinton||Trump (change for me)|
|Trump vs Sanders||Sanders||Trump|
|Carson vs Clinton||Carson||Clinton|
|Carson vs Sanders||Sanders (change since Nov)||Carson|
|Rubio vs Clinton||Rubio (change since Nov)||Rubio|
|Rubio vs Sanders||Rubio||Rubio|
|Cruz vs Clinton||Cruz||? I’m really not sure|
|Cruz vs Sanders||Sanders||Cruz|
I said at the start of the post that I didn’t think much had changed for me since November. When it came down to individual decisions, though, I was wrong. My thinking has changed. I seem to be more favorable on Trump and would vote for him over Clinton. At the same time, I’m a bit less favorable towards Clinton. Her comments about the email this week really annoy me. She is extra careful to say she didn’t send any email that were labeled as classified – which has nothing to do with whether they contained classified data or not.