Everyone is as Smart as the Polls. And That’s Pretty Dumb.

I get a kick out of so-called experts calling the U.S. presidential election while we are still in August, nearly a month away from the first debate, with an already unprecedented, topsy-turvy primary season behind us.

I heard someone say basically this yesterday: “Oh, look at the polls! Clinton is going to win. It’s over.”

I suppose that same person would also predict a Cubs World Series victory if they looked at the current MLB standings. But people who understand that nothing is taken for granted when talking about the Cubs will also understand that we have no idea who will win the presidential election. At least not yet.

It was just a month ago that Trump’s campaign was riding high in the polls with a post-convention bounce which vaulted him ahead of the Democratic challenger. Clinton got her bounce, then Trump’s mouth seemed to self-implode again, causing leaks in his shoddy-planned campaign wall.

But does anyone really think they know what’s going to happen next? Really, in this year? You can’t predict this stuff. Not any year, and especially not this year. The odds-makers still have to settle on a number, and they currently give Clinton nearly a 4-1 chance to be president, but my goodness, let’s wait and see. Here’s a few things which need to be settled first.

  1. In my mind, the debates will be begin to tell the tale and start to settle the field a little. It’s one thing hearing daily sound bites from the campaign trail, but it’s a completely different beast when you see the candidates stand next to each other, go at each other, and see who can punch out a little momentum. I’ll start checking the polls after this. I think it will mean much more.
  2. Will Trump’s “softer” approach make a difference to voters? He’s been consciously reaching out to black voters. I read an interesting article yesterday written by a Latino as to why Latinos should vote for Trump. This might all be too little too late to overcome the bombastic mistakes he’s made because of his inability to censor himself. But we shall see.
  3. Clinton is not having an easy go of it. She is continually dogged with questions about her past, most recently about the Clinton foundation and whether influence was being peddled.  The Republicans really must be kicking themselves because Clinton feels like the most inept Democratic presidential candidate in decades. She seems very beatable if there wasn’t a Republican challenger beating himself.
  4. Wikileaks. More threats from Jullian Assange regarding Clinton-related documents to be released before the election. Who knows what’s in the documents and if he will actually do what he says. But he no doubt is causing a lot of consternation inside the Democratic campaign machine.
  5. The economy. It continues to struggle – the most recent quarter at an anemic 1% GDP growth.
  6. People are not happy. I can’t think of anyone on either side of the political spectrum who is happy right now. And there may be a ground-swell of “sweep out the existing regime” which might yet catch Clinton in its crossfire.
  7. A major event. I certainly hope this one doesn’t happen, but a major terrorist attack, whether in the US or one of the US allies, could affect perceptions of voters before the election.
  8. Trump himself. He remains predictably unpredictable. He was a clear underdog in the Republican primary and it still remains unclear how he will finish this thing out. He’s proved before that he shouldn’t be underestimated.

There are 8 reasons why I think it’s much too early to be calling the election for Clinton. There is so much time which remains and way to many things can happen. It will be, I believe, one of the most entertaining and gripping presidential campaigns in history. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

A Bump for Trump

The post-convention bump has lofted Trump into his first lead over Hillary Clinton for the race to the presidency according to Real Clear Politics poll averages compiled July 25.

Here’s the chart:

bumpfortrump

It must be a little jarring for the Clinton camp to see these numbers. I’m sure they’ll put a good spin on them, especially with the Democratic Convention this week. Will Clinton see her own bump in the polls come next Monday? With all the turmoil going on with the DNC chair resigning over the Wikileaks email release, it will be interesting to see how the Democrats stay on message and the attack mode. I’m sure Trump is bracing for it.

In the meantime, I don’t put much stock in July polls of a presidential election year. I believe you’ll start to see some stable and possibly more reliable numbers after the first debate in September. That’s when the American people will see them side-by-side and will be able to judge whether they are sure about their decisions.

But I do think that the above chart gives us some interesting insight. A year ago, nobody gave him a chance to emerge as a primary contender. Now he’s leading in the poll averages in the general election! Quite the accomplishment that NO ONE saw coming.

Secondly, Trumps numbers are trending upward. Many pundits showed how trump had trouble getting over the 40% range in the polls. Only one of the eight polls has him under forty percent. Four have him at 45% or higher and the Gravis poll was the high water mark of 51%.

It is beginning to seem that a Trump presidency is certainly likely. Of course, at this point, anything can happen, both good and bad for either candidate. But Trump has shown time and time again that he can put his foot in his mouth and it doesn’t affect his polling, except for possibly an upward trend. It’s remarkable, actually.

If you watched his acceptance speech, it was classic trump, but presented in a much more presidential way. He phased out the insults (which I’m sure will return shortly) and focused on what he intends to do as president. Of course, his speech was a broad road map which couldn’t ever be all accomplished. But it was the first time, to my knowledge, that the nation began to see how he would govern. So far, it seems like the American public has responded positively to his message. How will Clinton fair this week?

This is going to be an up and down election cycle, but Trump is certainly enjoying his early bump.

Trump did it. Everybody was wrong.

I, like nearly everyone else, did not think Trump would be in this for the long haul. Surely, he would fade. Surely, his ridiculous statements would be his downfall. Surely, a more standard politician would rise to the top. Surely, surely, surely … it just can’t be.

But it is. Trump has secured enough nomination votes to be the Republican nominee.

Wow! He did it.

So anyone who thinks they know what is going to happen in November is simply full of it. This is the most unpredictable election year ever. All bets are off. I’m not a gambling man, and it’s a good thing.

This Trump vs. Clinton election cycle will be one of the wildest ever. Really, can’t you wait to see the debates between these two? It’s going to be hysterical or really, really sad. But still hysterical.

Whatever conventional wisdom remains concerning Trump should be thrown out the window. The democrats should be shaking in their boots right now, because Hillary is looking like a very beatable candidate, and the Donald isn’t going to let up on her.

Sure there are MANY Donald detractors, and they aren’t going to be won over. And Trump still could burn and crash and come back to earth at some point. Hillary could beat him, possibly even by a big margin. But if I had to predict today, I think Donald will win – probably by a large margin. I keep hearing things like: “I don’t like what Trump says, but I decided to vote for him anyways, just to stick it to those politicians in Washington!” That’s a powerful incentive for large swaths of the country – stick it those who have betrayed them. (or something like that)

But there I am, making foolish predictions on the most unpredictable race ever. Anything can and probably will happen.

And that could include Sanders sticking around forever to see if anything seriously harmful will happen to Clinton. (aka FBI & Inspector General report) Much has been said of the crazy Republican primary, but the Democratic side has been equally chaotic. Sanders must be driving the Democratic establishment bonkers!

As a political junkie, this is a race made in heaven. It’s been fun already, and honestly, it’s just getting started.

Trump vs. Clinton. Who would have thought? Basically, nobody.

Is Rubio the One to Watch?

A number of pundits and journalists have declared Marco Rubio the official winner in the Iowa Caucus – not because he came in first, but because he came in third, only one point off of Trump.

I tend to agree with this analysis. This was a major step forward for the Rubio campaign and he is, in my estimation, in a good position to do well moving forward.

Here are the facts so far. Cruz obviously won Iowa and pulled in 8 delegates compared to 7 each for Trump and Rubio according to RealClearPolitics. Iowa is not, however, about winning delegates. It’s about momentum.

Rubio’s best news of the night was that he won 30% of the undecided voters, according to a Fox News report, compared with 25% for Cruz with Trump far behind that. It means that Rubio’s message is resonating in a state he didn’t expect to do so well in. The Iowan Republican Caucus is known for their Christian conservative bent. This can easily be seen in 2008 when Mike Huckabee won Iowa and in 2012 when Rick Santorum won it. Cruz’s large ground game and conservative message ultimately won in Iowa, which completely makes sense.

New Hampshire and beyond will be a different story. Rubio’s articulate, more moderate message might just be his calling card to reach large numbers of voters who could sour on Trump or at least see in Rubio an alternative which could be a formidable challenger to whoever receives the Democratic nomination.

Cruz, of course, has strong momentum and not to mention bragging rights, but it will be interesting to see how his message will play out in less conservative strongholds.

I’m very curious to see where Rubio will end up in New Hampshire. Trump currently commands a huge 22 point lead in the polls in the Granite State, but will Cruz rise from his Iowan victory or will Rubio make an impression?  Fun times lay ahead. From here on out, it looks to be a three man race.

On the Democratic side, Sanders did well in Iowa and figures to win New Hampshire easily. However, that could end his run as the southern states and the Super Tuesday primary coming early next month will see Clinton’s base in full form and, barring any unseen circumstances, will likely overrun Sander’s camp by that time.

But stranger things have happened.

20 Years of Losing – in Political Terms

As you may have gathered, I’m a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan. I don’t typically write about sports on my blog, but I couldn’t let the momentous passing of the worst losing streak in the history of North American sports pass without some sort of commemoration. On Monday night, the Pirates beat the Rangers and clinched their 82 victory of the year, ensuring themselves their first winning season since 1992. So not to bore you non-baseball fans out there, I thought I’d put it in political perspective to see just how long their losing streak was. (Come to think of it, I might bore more people talking about politics. Oh, well.)

Their losing streak started in October of 1992 when they lost the National League Championship Series in a heart-breaking fashion in game seven.

At that time, billionaire Ross Perot was campaigning to be president.

A month later, Bill Clinton was elected, but Monica Lewinsky wouldn’t become a household name for another six years.

The World Trade Center in NYC would be attacked for the first time about a year later.

1994 – The Republicans took over Congress in overwhelming fashion.

1996 – Clinton was re-elected for his second term.

By the end of the 1990s, the Federal Government was running a yearly budget SURPLUS! Now doesn’t that seem like forever ago!

2000 – We all broadened our vocabulary by learning what a “hanging chad” was. Thanks Florida. And the presidency was decided by the Supreme Court. And why not? CNN couldn’t make up its mind on its own about who won.

2001 – 9/11

Then came Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Iraq some more, then Bush’s re-election in 2004. Then the surge two years later.

The bubble burst. Housing foreclosures and economic downturn. Don’t forget stimulus. I was in Malaysia and got a check from the government. ??? I thought that was bizarre.

2008 brought our first African-American president.

Record deficits. More record deficits.

Obamacare.

Iraq withdrawal. More with Afghanistan.

John Roberts ticks off conservatives.

The never-ending election of 2012.

Then 2013. The end of 20 losing seasons. Politics can once again be pushed aside, allowing American’s bloodiest sport (politics) to finally once again (for me) take second fiddle to America’s purest sport.

Their losing streak lasted 6 election cycles – 4 presidents – two censuses – the deaths of three presidents (Ford, Nixon, Reagan). (And don’t forget the Internet explosion – Thanks, Al Gore.)

Finally put to rest. 2013.

What a year!