Sunday, August 14, 2016

Trump has a money problem!

For the 2016 presidential campaign including the primary, as of July 21, 2016, Republicans raised 237.1 million dollars more than democrats (840.1 million Vs 603.1 million).  Sure, some of the difference in fundraising is due to the sheer number of republican candidates during the primary season.  

But, when you breakdown the monies raised by each party between money raised by the PACS and the money raised by the candidates campaign, there is a startling difference between the democrats and republicans (see Figure below).


A few things are worth noting. 

     (1)  For every dollar raised by the PACs, democratic candidate campaigns brought in 4.6 dollars, and the republican candidate campaigns brought in an anemic 0.79 dollars.   In other words, until now in this campaign, Republicans have relied heavily on PAC money, and Democrats have relied heavily on Candidate fundraising. 

      (2)  Obviously, some of the glaring discrepancy between the parties is due to Bernie Sanders who had no PAC money. So, all of the PAC money on the democratic side went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  Even discounting the Bernie’s fundraising, Hillary Clinton’s campaign raised nearly 2.4 dollars for every dollar raised by PACs supporting her – a ratio that was better than most republican candidates who ran in the primary.  So, Democrats have been far more willing to put money down than republicans in this cycle.

      (3)  PACs that supported republican candidates during the primary, are NOT supporting Trump for the general election.  This might prove to be decisive.  In fact,  PACs supporting Clinton have outraised PACs supporting Trump by 10 to 1.  Without PAC money coming in, Trump has to rely mostly on money from campaign fundraising.  This might explain all the urgent fundraising emails sent all over the place including to foreign nationals (their contributions would be illegal). 

Without money from Super PACS  and without an established political network of donors who can be counted on to donate again and again, Trump has a significant fundraising problem.  Trump has to rely on generating saturation media coverage on a daily basis by making outrageous statements.  Unfortunately, such statements, while may help Trump to dominate the news cycle, also hurt him by turning off general-election voters.  That is a structural problem that Trump has, and there is no easy way out.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Trump Vs Trump

If you are a Trump supporter you have to see this video.

Clearly, Trump does not take his own words seriously.  Should you?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Democrats should run a different race

Compared to RNC, DNC was better run.  DNC was packed with well-known stars such as Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Barack Obama making impressive speeches that fired up the crowd,  as well as with lesser known, but equally powerful speakers such as Kizr Khan, Jennifer Lim, and Corey Booker. By the time DNC was over Trump was torn into pieces.However, Trump is such a flawed candidate that he is an irresistible, juicy, big target.  Taking down Trump is immensely satisfying.  Unfortunately, I am afraid that this is also a mistake.

Bashing Trump might win this election by appealing to 'moderates', and centrists.  While Mike Bloomberg made that pitch explicitly, Barack Obama with his phrase, "What we heard in Cleveland was not particularly Republican, surely not conservative", made the same appeal with less force, but with more finesse. Hillary Clinton went full bore with repeated appeals to "join us".  Appealing to conservatives may very well be a good strategy to win this particular election where Trump is your opponent, but is a short sighted one.

What if the republican candidate was not Trump?  Would Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Christie, be better candidates?  They all wanted to repeal Obamacare line and verse.  They all subscribe to trickle-down economics, with tax-cuts to the very wealthy.  They all screamed Islamic terrorism as loud as they could without offering any concrete alternative plan.  None of them believed that climate change is real.  None of them believed or accepted that evolution is a well proven scientific theory.  They all supported fossil fuel industry.  On issue after issue, they were all beholden to the freedom caucus, the extreme right wing of the republican party that threw Boehner out, and that routinely threatens to shut the government down if they do not have their way.

The reason why Trump was able to browbeat other republican candidates easily was because Trump understood the average republican voter better than any of them. 

By abandoning the traditional republican language that seeks to clothe xenophobia with concerns about border security, racism with language about 'states rights', and  support for the military industrial complex with slogans on patriotism, Trump was able to attract a large section of the republican electorate, which unfortunately gets its daily dose of misinformation via talk radio, and over the years has fully internalized the manufactured anxiety from the conservative entertainment complex. 

Cruz, who better than any other candidate appealed to evangelicals sincerely through his unabashed proclamations of 'God bless America', and promoting family values.  It is telling that evangelical leaders, so quickly jumped to the Trump bandwagon.  Evangelicals decided that winning was more important than anything else.

The republican party is ideologically bankrupt, and that is the main problem.  Having Trump as their nominee, can obscure this fact.  

It is not that Trump is an anomaly.  Trump is where the modern republican party is at, and has been for years. The democrats should use every opportunity to implore people to look at the current republican party, not just at Trump.  Speakers at the DNC looked very closely at Trump, but did not focus as much on the republican party.  That is where the real problem is. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bernie's Night ...

Democratic National Convention started off rocky.  Early in the evening, some Bernie supporters booed loudly.  Al Franken, disarmed the crowd with his trademark humor.  Sarah Silverman, called out the 'Bernie or Bust' crowd with a friendly but firm rebuke, "You are being ridiculous", that only a strong Bernie supporter could deliver.  Paul Simon serenaded the crowd.  This is the first time that I have seen Corey Booker speak.  He gave an impassioned speech with memorable lines such as "If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far you have to go together".  By the time he was finished, the mood in the stadium changed from petulant to forward looking.  Then Michelle Obama gave a fantastic, forward looking, uplifting speech that implicitly condemned the divisiveness of the Republican nominee.  Elizabeth Warren, needled Trump with characteristic precision, and passion.  Between all of them, they painted a vision for America that was not based on fear but based on optimism, that emphasized the need for level playing field for all Americans, and was full of specific policy prescriptions, from increasing the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, right to protect women's right to choose, enacting immigration reform, etc.  But for all the impressive rhetoric by these speakers, the night belonged to Bernie Sanders, at an emotional level.

I first heard Bernie Sanders, the candidate on a hot July Houston summer day in 2015.  Just a year ago, Bernie was relatively little known outside the progressive circles, and I did not have high hopes when I went to hear  him at the University of Houston.  I was surprised by two things.

First, UH stadium was filled with energetic young people.  Bernie's speech was not filled with rhetorical flourishes, was not delivered with a preacher's cadence.  He spoke simply, directly, and from his heart.  He quoted boring percentages, one tenth of one percent, twenty percent of this, thirty six percent of that, etc. and I was astounded that the young crowd went wild hearing those statistics.  I could not believe it.   He touched on subjects that were long considered impossible by the regular politicos.  He questioned with his characteristic finger waving, "Why can't college tuition be free as it is in so many other western industrialized nations? ".  He wondered out loud, "Why can't we have universal healthcare, when our next door neighbour, Canada, has one like many other industrialized nations?".  Young people believed him, because he was not only sincere, but they knew that he has spent a lifetime studying these issues, and the conviction of his words stems from the consistent commitment to a cohesive philosophy all his life.

The second thing that surprised me was this.  The next day, in the local TV and newspapers, there was hardly any mention of Bernie Sanders, except for a brief mention.  I had never seen a more energetic crowd.  I was one of the many who contributed to Bernie right after hearing him.

Bernie, energized one college town after another with an unabashed progressive vision.  He also set fund raising records via small donations, and nearly matched Clinton's fundraising dollar for dollar.  In the end, he fell short, not because of favoritism, but because he could not convince older liberals of his agenda.  Poll after poll showed that while Clinton was far behind Sanders when it came to young voters, she held her own with a broad coalition of older voters, blacks, and Latinos.  At the end of the day, by any objective measure, Hillary Clinton won more votes, won more states, won more pledged delegates, and became the nominee of the Democratic party for the office of the President.

Despite losing, Bernie, to his credit, pushed hard and succeeded in making Democratic party platform the most progressive in history.  It was Bernie's night.  He received a standing ovation and he was loved by everyone in the stadium.  Bernie's supporters had tears.  Hillary's team made sure that he had a rousing welcome, and gave him his due.  He gave a graceful, forceful, endorsement of Hillary Clinton.   These are two campaigns that any democrat can be proud of.  What a sharp contrast to what happened between Ted Cruz and Trump at the republican convention?

If Bernie creates a political institution to train at least some of the millions of young people that he inspired to organize locally in their communities, to contest local elections, to become advocates for social justice, then he truly would have accomplished his political revolution.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

If you are a foreign policy conservative ...

I live in Texas.  At work, around home, I have many friends who are life long republicans.  Except for a few, I find their support for Trump to be, tepid at best.  Even that lukewarm support for Trump appears to stems mostly from understandable reluctance to sever the lifelong identification with republican party.  Their discomfort with Trump's crude politics is real.

A three legged stool with legs of security or foreign policy conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and social conservatives, is often used as an analogue for the republican party.   If you are a foreign policy conservative, here are some things to consider in this cycle.

Republican candidates sound tough on ISIS, but have no credible plan:

After George W Bush's disastrous misadventure in Iraq, informed foreign policy conservatives are justifiably squeamish about vague but tough sounding calls for military action in Syria from current crop of republican presidential candidates, e.g., 'carpet bombing until the sand glows', or for putting ground troops in Syria.  If there is one thing that US has learned from the disastrous misadventure in Iraq, it is not to put US ground troops in that region.  Trump's plan to deal with ISIS is 'to bomb the s**t out of ISIS'.  That's it.  US is already doing that.  For example, US dropped over 3000 bombs in June and have been averaging more than 2500 bombs a month for the past 12 months.

Trump and his fascination with Russian strong man Putin:

Recent reports suggest a troubling and questionable financial connections between Trump, his campaign chief Paul Manafort, his various businesses and Russian oligarchs close to Russian strongman Putin.  Trump's comments that US commitment to NATO is contingent upon financial contribution by member states has angered NATO, and even some republicans have called it dangerous. 

Trump's Nuclear Policy is Dangerous:

Trump has no idea what a nuclear triad is, and he has said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, and has repeatedly refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons.

As a foreign policy conservative, why would you vote for Trump?