“The Green Bay Packers never lost a game. They just ran out of time.” (Vince Lombardi)

Three nights ago, the Cleveland Indians were up 3 games to 1 on the Chicago Cubs and I pretty much counted them out. As a Twins/Nationals/Rockies fan, I really don’t have a dog in the fight. But, I love baseball so I’m still interested and will watch the game tonight.

Yes, the Cubs had two better pitchers scheduled in games #5 & #6 but not so much better it was a slam-dunk they’d win these two must-win games. And, for the 7th game, the Indians have the better pitcher scheduled on the mound. Three nights ago, Vegas oddsmakers gave the Cubs about a 15% chance of winning the World Series. Now, after winning two games in a row (25% chance they would win both games), the oddsmakers have the Cubs at a 45% chance of being the World Champions. It’s game on!!

Three weeks ago, the Billy Bush/Donald Trump tape came out and I begged for Trump to drop out and let us take our chances with Mike Pence. When the tape came out, Nate Silver handicapped Trumps chances at less than 15% (roughly equivalent to the Cubs odds three nights ago). Personally, I thought it was high. I reacted as I did with the Cubs and said “game over.” I almost entitled this thread “To win, you’ve got to stay in the game” (Claude Bristol). NOT!

Five things have happened in the last week which I didn’t expect (could have also entitled this “Skip, what are we gonna do about those numbers? They suck.” from the movie Perfect Storm):

1) The Wikileaks released emails provide a smoking gun on how the Clintons parlayed the Office of the Secretary of State to enrich the Clinton personally to the tune of what could be over $50 million. This is what I think is most significant because it goes beyond being a political fibber (the public seems to expect or at least tolerate political fibbing) who spins everything or says anything to curry favor with the voters. Personal graft and enrichment is beyond acceptable to a very large segment of the voting public.

2) This is what I think should have been the most insignificant. The FBI informed Congress they were re-opening the investigation into Hillary’s use of a private server. Comey said he’d keep Congress informed if he got new information. He got new information. And, he was clear he didn’t know if the information was significant and would report back. Should have been the end of the story.

3) Hillary totally badly muffed her reaction. She should have said, “Director Comey has a job to do and is accountable to both the President and Congress. I’m confident when they get through the new information the conclusion of a few months ago will be confirmed. Director Comey is an honorable public servant.” This response would have given the impression she was truly confident there is “nothing new” and would have matched her words “there is nothing there.” Additionally, it would have reinforced her earlier praise of Director Comey. Instead, the disconnects were palpable. She basically violated the Cardinal Rule of corporate crisis management. Twice. And reinforced she might not be trustworthy, her biggest weakness.

4) The Press went bonkers on the letter which belied how much they are in the tank for Hillary and it reinforced Trump’s message the system is rigged.

5) After watching great points and positions get lost in too many shallow bromides or distracting ramblings, Trump got on message AND presented it concisely and cogently. On Monday, Trump and Pence laid out a powerful case for a Trump Presidency, in particular replacing Obamacare and how his economic plan serves the interests of ALL Americans in ALL walks of life. It was so moving, I almost drove to Canton to vote just in case I got hit by a bus between then and Election Day. Frankly, I think this might in the end be more significant than even #1 above.

Today, Nate Silver updated his handicapping of the President race Trump a 30% chance of winning (assumed Hillary leading in the polls by 4%). He also did an analysis which assumes Hillary is leading by 2%. While he didn’t complete the math, I did and and a 2% Hillary leads changes the odds of Trump winning to slightly above 40%. Nate Silver’s latest analysis can be read here

Personally, I think Silver’s methodology masks a slight hidden disadvantage for Trump. Before the polls started to move last week, 20% of the votes were cast via early voting and Hillary was ahead by roughly 5%. Assuming early votes reflected the national position, Hillary has banked what translates into a 1% advantage. Trump has to move the population past even and make-up this 1% disadvantage.

Well folks, the current realclearpolitics.com race has Trump behind less than 2% and he clearly has the momentum. A few weeks ago, he was down 7%, narrowed it to 5.4%, and it is now under 2%.

Whether he can continue to move the voting public or there is enough people open to being moved, I don’t know. But, it appears Hillary doesn’t have the game to stop the momentum. Her recent acts of desperation, including bringing back Alicia Machado to the forefront, aren’t gonna get the job done.

The Cubs know they have at least 9 innings and maybe more.

Donald Trump is behind and has six more days and nothing more. I hope its enough time and Trump/Pence uses the time well.

There is a chance and its no longer a long-shot.

UPDATE: Cubs win. Trump do the “impossible” too? Well, Hillary seems intent on muffing again.

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” (Mark Twain)

Before voting, I decided at a young age to consider the following:

1) Does the candidate pass the “good neighbor test.” Would I want want my kids to observe this person and would they see an example of a life well-lived? Would I give them code to enter my house? Would I enjoy an evening with this person on the deck with an adult beverage?

2) Do I think they have the skills to be effective at the office they are pursuing?

3) Do I agree sufficiently with their views on the issues most important to me?

In the 36 years I’ve been voting, in general, whether they be Republican or Democrat, in most elections I have thought both candidates would be good neighbors and had the skills to be effective. In the few times a Republican couldn’t pass #1 or #2, in a general election state-wide race, I am sure I skipped the race because I don’t recall finding enough issue agreement with the Democrat to give them my vote. I think maybe I’ve voted for a Democrat or two in legislative or local races.

About when Donald Trump announced for President, here on SDWC, Pat asked the question “Have you selected a candidate yet” and I responded I was sufficiently comfortable with all the candidates on the issues. “I’m still watching to see who demonstrates the breadth of skills to be good candidates. . . . For me it is going to be a process of elimination as the campaign goes along. So far, I have only eliminated Trump.”

My rationale was Trump didn’t pass the “good neighbor test” and I doubted he had the skills to work with Congress, be Commander in Chief, and discern international matters.

When it became clear our choices were to be Trump and Clinton, I decided for the first time to set aside #1 (one is a bullying cad and the other is a lying crook) and #2 (one has no experience and the other has learned all the wrong lessons from her experience).

In short, I found Trump better on the issues despite him being the most politically and personally moderate (concurrently holding a disproportionate number of conservative and liberal positions) Presidential candidate the GOP has nominated in my voting lifetime.

When the infamous Billy Bush video broke, I admit being shaken to my knees. Not because I never heard or couldn’t handle crap in that vein. I’ve been in plenty of locker rooms. But, never before has such a person asked to be my President, someone my grandchildren will be expected to respect. And, most importantly, even in the most private of “locker rooms,” I don’t recall anyone ever saying crap like that with the proviso “because I’m rich and famous, I get to do it without permission.”

My first reaction was Trump has to drop out of the race. Besides my personal revulsion to the video, there is the practical matter it could be the difference between having Clinton as President or not.

Since the conventions and prior to the first debate, Trump had the momentum and had crept up to being virtually tied with Clinton. But, since then, the race is worse that it was after the two conventions. Currently, Clinton is up 5% or more in enough states to win the Electoral College.

To win the Electoral College, Trump essentially needs to attract over 90% of the undecided to have a chance to squeak out a razor thin victory. If I was behind in the final minutes of a football game, I’d rather put on the field my second string quarterback than my first string quarterback who just broke both his legs.

Contrary to popular perception, we don’t vote for President but select Electors of the Electoral College. If either Clinton or Trump died today, we wouldn’t just give the Presidency to the other. We’d have the election with the voters choosing between the Clinton/Kaine Electors and Trump/Pence Electors. So it could/would be if Trump dropped out.

Because Trump is that quarterback with two broken legs, we need a substitute who is at least healthy. Somebody had to stand up and call for a new quarterback and I’m proud and grateful Senator Thune and Governor Daugaard were among those who tried to induce Trump to drop out.

When Trump announced he would stay in the race no matter what, my second reaction was I’m just going to skip this race. The thought of voting for Trump makes me feel dirty, he obviously only cares for himself and not the country or down-ballot Republicans (right now both the RNC and DNC believe not only is it likely we will lose control of the Senate but the House is even in play), and voting for Gary Johnson felt like the easy way out to make myself feel good. Frankly and ironically, while I have confidence Hillary will pursue most of the harmful policies she has promised, I don’t have much confidence Trump will follow through on his promises because I don’t know if I know what he really believes.

But, over the last five days, the latest leaked emails bring me back to the discernment table as we learn:

1) Despite Hillary’s call for “getting money out of politics,” her campaign violated election law by coordinating with Super Pacs.
2) Hillary’s campaign induced/cooperated with DNC senior executives willing to violate their own neutrality rules.
3) Hillary’s campaign considered the State Department and Justice Department arms of her campaign as they coordinated how to obfuscate and/or minimize public disclosure of her conduct at the State Department.
4) The deepening melding of Clinton Foundation interests with State Department business.
5) The depth of the covert cooperation and support from the mainstream media to enhance Clinton’s persona and failure to report news because it was unflattering to Hillary.
6) And now we find out the career FBI and DOJ attorneys all wanted her to be charged and have her security clearance yanked. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/10/12/fbi-doj-roiled-by-comey-lynch-decision-to-let-clinton-slide-by-on-emails-says-insider.html

While probably so remote to be unrealistic, I still hope Trump just says “I’m fired” if for no other reason than it will take away any Clinton claim to a mandate. Only 25% of the electorate say they support Clinton for who she is. The rest either oppose her or say they only dislike her less than they dislike Trump. As more and more of the recent Wikileaks information gets processed, I just can’t believe the voters will give to Hillary both the Senate and House to pursue her agenda unfettered by a Republican Congress. In fact, the greater her chances of the winning the White House might diminish the chances of Democrats winning the close Senate and House races.

If he drops out, we can then rally around Governor Pence, put him on stage for the last debate, and urge voters to vote for the Trump/Pence electors.

If the Trump/Pence electors get a majority of the Electoral College (270 Electoral Votes), the Constitution and Supreme Court will be tested to figure out what isn’t specifically provided for in the Constitution or Law.

Will the Supreme Court allow the Electors to select Pence as President? If not, Hillary doesn’t have a majority of the Electoral College, the House of Representatives selects the President.

In short, even if I wanted Trump to be my President, his only chance is a “Hail Mary” pass and we know how often they work out.

Personal Message to Donald J. Trump: If you really care about our country and don’t want Hillary to be President, drop out and let us take our chances. Whatever modicum of reputation as a man you want to retain, it is only possible if you put country before yourself and drop out. While I will still vote for you if you stay in the race, I beg you to take that cup from me.

Sidenote: Over the past few weeks, President Obama’s job approval numbers have been creeping up. Does anyone really think in the context of what is going on domestically and internationally people are saying he is doing a better job? Or could they just be saying he looks good compared to Clinton and Trump?

“You just can’t make this stuff up.” (US Sen. Elizabeth Warren yesterday in an interview)

Preface:  For many years, everytime George Brett came to bat (whether the Royals were playing the Twins or not), in the moment, I cringed and expressed how I didn’t “like him.”  But, when I looked at the box score and his stats over the course of the season, I had to always admit the guy could hit and was a heck of a baseball player.  No matter the pitcher’s strength (fastball, curve, slider, etc.), Brett had a strategy to take that strength away and augment the pitcher’s weakness.

So it is with Trump.   Hyperbolically, it seems 9 out of 10 times Trump opens his mouth, I cringe and often times disagree with him.  But, when I look at the “boxscore,” I have to admit the guy knows how to play to HIS strength and make the other side play to their weakness.  Like Brett, sometimes I just have to grudgingly give Trump the respect he earns by the results.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.  A FEW DAYS AGO, TRUMP TOOK A BIG SWING AND MISSED, DARING THE DEMOCRATS TO RESPOND IN A PARTICULAR WAY.  AND, DANG IF THEY DIDN’T THROW A FASTBALL DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE PLATE AND TRUMP HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK.  Yesterday on my drive home, I had on MSBC radio on to hear what they were saying about the Democratic Convention.  Rachel Maddow was having a conversation with Senator Warren (wasn’t really an interview).  Anyway, Maddow throws what she intended to be a softball to Warren about Trump’s call for Russia to release (if they have them) the 30,000 personal (not turned over to the government) emails from Clinton’s personal email server.

A)  Warren goes off on it is treasonous to for Trump to ask a foreign country to hack a high ranking government officials computer because of the risk to national security.  

  1. The server is in the hands of the FBI and can’t be hacked any more.  If they have the emails, Russia already committed the crime and wouldn’t it be better off knowing they have the information?
  2. I thought the emails were only about Clinton’s appointment with her hair stylists, emails to her daughter about her grandchild, and to her husband.  According to Hillary, there is nothing on those emails which are a risk to national security.  But, to Senator Warren they are a risk to national security.  What does she know that we don’t know?

B)  Warren goes off on the illegality to ask Russia to directly influence our sovereign election.  Ummmmm, It is against both US and Israeli law for the US government to influence an Israeli election.  Where was Senator Warren’s outrage when both Obama campaign funds and State Department funds were used to try to defeat Netanyahu in last year’s Israeli election?

However, I admit it is the nature of politics for one side to tactically respond to the tactics of one’s opponent.  And, in a vacuum, Warren’s response could be characterized as “par for the course” and not surprising.

But, the standard tactical response must contemplate the larger strategy, which for the Democrats is to address Hillary Clinton’s high unfavorable rating with the public (which at its core is Hillary is not considered trustworthy).  And the two biggest factors working against Clinton is her lack of forthrightness on her own personal email problem and most recently the revelation from emails that the Democratic National Committee didn’t follow its own rules of neutrality in the Clinton-Sanders primary (resulting in Hillary lapdog leaving her “neutral” position as head of the DNC directly to the Clinton campaign).

Strategically, ANY discussion of emails, foreign hacking, etc. feeds the Trump narrative.  The Democrats took Trump’s bait “hook, line and sinker.”  In addition to Warren, nearly every speaker yesterday RESPONDED to Trump which had the effect of reminding people about the emails, enhancing Trump’s gravitas, and making Hillary look small.

What is the major news story in the major papers and on the news channels?  Not a narrative from the Convention on how Clinton presidency would be good for Americans but emails and treason.  I’m not sure Trump could have gotten a better result if he had written the script himself.  Warren is right.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  

Bonus News Item #1:  President Obama’s speech was essentially a plea for Democrats to come together to preserve the work and legacy of his Presidency even if Democrats don’t want to do it for Hillary.  It was a glaring admission of how small Hillary is on her own.  Contrary to Hillary who openly admits she NEEDS Obama, Sanders, et. al., Trump has made it clear he doesn’t need the endorsement of Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, or anyone else to win this election.  He is willing to stand on his own. Warren is right.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  

Bonus News Item #2:  When the ink isn’t even dry on his endorsement of Hillary at the Democratic Convention, Bernie Sanders announced he is leaving the Democratic Party and returning to his historical Independent Socialist (caucusing with the Senate Democrats).  Bernie’s decision/announcement before the Convention even closes will be seen by many of his supporters as a signal Hillary and the Democratic Party didn’t move enough and their home is not here.  Warren is right.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  

“Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” (Sean Connery in “The Untouchables”)

For a supposedly a smart guy, Ted Cruz can do some really dumb things and last night we saw it.  Donald Trump isn’t a person who lets by-gones be by-gones.

For a supposedly man of high personal morals, Ted Cruz can do some really ill-mannered things and last night we saw it.  Whether the Convention is “Donald Trump’s House” or the “Party’s House,” the Convention wasn’t “Ted Cruz’s House.”  He lost the primary in decisive fashion and was only given the right to speak by invitation.  I don’t recall ever getting my face slapped by my mom but if I went to another’s house and did what he did, I am pretty sure I’d have gotten the proverbial slap across the face.

The Washington Times is reporting three days ago Donald Trump was told direct by Ted Cruz that he wasn’t going give an endorsement.  My gut is Cruz was expecting Trump would respond by rescinding Cruz’ speaking slot and Cruz would be made a martyr upon which Cruz would launch his 2020 Presidential Race.

Trump instead didn’t respond as expected-  Gave Ted his moment in the spotlight.

And, in the end, Trump came across as the bigger man and Ted Cruz slithered off the stage.

Sidenote:  Cruz said this morning the reason he didn’t endorse admitting it is personal, referring to Trump’s attack on Cruz’ wife and father during the primary.   Ted’s decision to make a national convention the battlefield for a personal matter.  Ted can expect the same from those who have grudges against him.  Death by a thousand nicks is a painful death.

A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea. (Honore de Balzac)

Heidi Cruz:  “We are at a cultural crossroads in our country, and if we can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve — this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country, our country was built on Judeo-Christian values, we are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.”

Mrs. Ted Cruz before St. Valentine’s Day.

I want to make it clear that I believe Heidi Cruz’ quote about “the face of God” has been misinterpreted and actually accurately reflects the universal call of all Christians to image or mirror God the Father and God the Son to the world.  I do think it is a bit awkward though.

Secondly, a spouse who doesn’t see in the other the face of God likely has married the wrong person or isn’t looking at the other with the eyes one is called to do.

Third, a couple should see their marriage/family as an outward expression of the Trinity, united in Love.

Personally, as we close in on St. Valentine’s Day, I found her statement read in context is quite beautiful.

That said and to just add some levity (not intended to be at Mrs. Cruz’ expense but at the expense of the misinterpretation), when I first saw the headline and way it was presented in the first article I saw which put her husband, his campaign and the face of God in the same sentence, my reaction was:

“Hmmmm.  Didn’t God show up to Moses as a (B)ush?  Aren’t we to aspire to have His face “Trump” our face?”

Have a great weekend.

PS:  The Clinton Campaign has to be in “puke mode” as the recently released Nevada poll shows a dead heat (She was up 23% in the last poll).  AT&T might crash with all the calls to the Vice President.  

In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high. (Henry David Thoreau)

A lot gets decided in New Hampshire. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio punched a ticket to go on in Iowa. It is said two tickets are available in New Hampshire.  Tickets will go to those who aimed high and then hit it.  Some are going to miss their target.

The following are my thoughts on Saturday night’s debate.

Trump: Winner because he did exactly what a poll leader needs to do- do no harm.

Cruz:   Winner because he had his best debate of the year and seemed the least rehearsed/reliant on stump speech talking points. His only “downer” was not stopping with an apology to Carson and going on to defend the indefensible.

Rubio: Loser not because of the dust-up with Christie and not because he snatched Cruz’ body and sounded rehearsed/reliant on stump speech talking points. I think Rubio lost because Kasich and Bush did so well and he failed to deliver a knock-out punch.

Kasich: Winner because he hit on all notes and basically asked the people of New Hampshire to keep him alive. They tend to pick someone to propel to the next series of primaries and he might be who they pick.

Bush: Winner as it was by far his best debate performance and did so in a way to reinvigorate his supporters and keep his donors on board.

Christie: Loser because anything he draws from Rubio will go to Trump, Cruz, Kasich or Bush.

Carson: Loser because he was missed at the debate. The RNC/Fox digitally making a hologram of Carson to accept the Cruz apology was a nice gesture but who votes for a hologram?

Fiorina: Winner because I think there will be a certain group of voters who think she should have been on stage and will vote for her as a sign of support.

I think we have three questions that will be answered tonight:

Question #1: Will Trump win New Hampshire? While he will underperform his current poll support because of a lack of a strong organization/ground game, he will lodge a strong victory (more than 12%).

Question #2: Will Kasich or Bush get 2nd place and punch a ticket out of New Hampshire? Biggest question of the night.     If anyone does, I think it will be Kasich because he has the best ground game (like Cruz had in Iowa). However, I think a 3rd or 4th place finish by Bush will be enough to keep him in the race.

Question #3: Who will finish higher between Cruz and Rubio? I think it will be Rubio because he has a better ground game and New Hampshire has a tradition of not rewarding the Iowa winner. In fact, if Cruz beats Rubio, it might be terminal.

EXPECTATION THRESHOLDS: (__%) following each candidate is the current poll average at realpolitics.com.  Making predictions is much harder than Iowa because not only are 50% of the voters still considering their final decision, 65% of the Independents aren’t even sure whether they will vote in the Democratic or Republican Primary.  Thus, the measure is who lives up to expectations and who does not.

If Rubio, Kasich, Bush or Cruz exceed my “high” threshold, they will be declared THE winner by the media. If they don’t hit my “low” threshold, they will be declared the big losers. Note: Although these do reflect to large degree my expectations, these are less “predictions” than they are thresholds by which to measure success or failure AND to grasp insight into the future.

  1. Trump (31.2%): I assume an adequate ground game. Because he has none that is evident, I discount his performance against the polls. Threshold: 28%-31%
  2. Kasich (13.5%): Getting 2nd is critical to Kasich. It doesn’t matter how much he loses to the 2nd place finisher, 3rd place will not be enough for him to go onto South Carolina. Threshold: 15%-18%
  3. Rubio (14%): The dust-up with Christie negates his momentum in Iowa. Most importantly it is likely to prevent him from stopping someone from punching a ticket. Threshold: 14%-16%
  4. Bush (11.5%): I have the least confidence in this prediction. One moment I think his support will go to Kasich, the next moment to Rubio, and the next he will take support from Kasich. His New Hampshire organization is a close 2nd to Kasich. I think it as likely he finishes above or below this threshold than inside it. Threshold: 12%-15%
  5. Cruz (11.8%): New Hampshire is not Iowa, polls don’t show him voter’s 2nd or 3rd choice of those not named Trump or Rubio, and I think winning Iowa is a slight detriment in New Hampshire. Only if he finishes in single digits will New Hampshire affect him going into South Carolina. Threshold: 11%-13%
  6. Fiorina (4.8%): My gut tells me she will get a bump because she was left off the debate stage. In the end, I think she will narrowly beat Christie and compete in South Carolina. Threshold: 5%-7%.
  7. Christie (5.8%): He is the weakest of the Governors still in the race and voters will choose to boost Kasich or Bush vs. him.   Besides my Bush prediction, I feel least confident as he could beat this threshold.   Threshold: 4%-6%
  8. Carson (3%): Holograms don’t win primaries. Threshold: 2%-4%

BONUS PREDICTION: Sanders beats Clinton by more than 15% (currently up by 13%).


  1. There has been talk about “lanes.” I’ve never bought the discussion because I don’t think there is ideologically that much difference between the candidates. I think the “lanes” that might come into play are:
    1. Outsider: Combined, Trump, Fiorina, & Carson have 39% support.  Outsiders are attractive to those who want to disrupt the status quo beyond normal.  New faces.
    2. Governor: Combined, Kasich, Bush, & Christie have 27% support.  Governors are attractive to what i call “governance conservatives” who want things to get done vs. gridlock.
    3. Senator: Combined, Rubio & Cruz have 26% support.  Senators are attractive to those who have agenda priorities and want to hear the read meat and “that vision thing.”

If there is a very strong performance by one of the Governors, we could see the race come down to an Outsider, Senator and a Governor vs. the current expectations of an Outsider and two Senators. I can see a scenario where a very strong performance by either (especially both) Kasich or Bush potentially being most damaging to Cruz/Rubio. Surprisingly to me, both pick up the most 2nd place votes from the other. They might need one to drop out to be viable if they get 4th and 5th place.

  1. Rubio is the most nervous candidate in the field while Cruz is the least nervous. A 4th place finish hurts Rubio worse than a 5th place finish for Cruz. If Cruz gets 5th, he can just say “On to South Carolina.”  If Cruz finishes 4th or better, he can claim victory ala Rubio in Iowa. But, if Rubio finishes 5th (and maybe 4th), he will have lost the expectation game, lost his momentum, and created one or two competitors he should have knocked out tonight.
  2. Bush has the most upside. If he finishes 2nd, he is a major player (and may knock-down Rubio) going forward. If he finishes 3rd (especially to Kasich), he can claim victory. If he finishes 4th (currently in 5th), he goes onto South Carolina. Anything worse, he is finished.
  3. Trump has to start developing a traditional organization going forward or he will consistently under-perform poll support. One of his strengths is the band-wagon effect. He can’t afford to get dinged too many times like he did in Iowa.
  4. Endorsements will matter going into South Carolina.   If they drop out, Kasich, Bush and Christie will endorse a fellow Governor (whoever finishes as “Top Governor” in New Hampshire) but Fiorina and Carson will have more impact than their vote support indicates. I think they could even pull soft supporters away from candidates above them.
  5. In 2008, only the top two leaders in the polls exceeded their final poll numbers.   This hints maybe Trump and Kasich will get an unforeseen bump.
  6. In 2012, only the top three poll leaders exceeded their final poll numbers. This hints maybe Rubio will get an unforeseen bump.
  7. Iowa winners dropped both years. Not a good trend for Cruz.

There is no object so large but that at a great distance from the eye it does not appear smaller than a smaller object near. (Leonardo da Vinci)

The GOP race is deadlocked nationally between Trump, Rubio & Cruz but things may change significantly after New Hampshire and when the field narrows.  And, because we sometimes look only at the “present” as reality, we lose track of the “future” realities.  Because there are high expectations the field will narrow to three candidates after New Hampshire (maybe four if Kasich, Bush or Christie exceed expectations), I thought I’d give some analysis of what it might look like when the field is smaller.

Most of the information below came from the most recent PPD poll. The reason I’m using the PPD poll is it provides information heretofore not available (second choice by candidate). I know it is a firm principally used by Democrats. However, when I tested this analysis against some other polls, the results were reinforced.

Horse Race: Trump (25%), Rubio (21%), Cruz (21%), Carson (11%) and everyone else is 5% or lower.

Computation Methodology:  Basically, I added to candidate’s support totals specific second choice votes as a candidate “dropped out.”  For instance, of the 5% of voters who support Bush, 15% of them picked Carson as their second choice.  Thus, I added .75% more to Carson from Bush.  This is referred to below as the “first allocation.”

Then, when Carson dropped out, of the 11% of voters who support Carson (plus the 2% he picked up as second choice which is referred to below as the “second allocation”) was allocated ultimately to a remaining candidate in the proportion that his supporters had other candidates as second choice.  For instance, 25% of Carson’s supporters had Cruz as a second choice so I added 3.25% to Cruz with the dropping out of Carson (FYI:  Cruz picks up support mostly from Carson supporters which maybe explains why the Cruz campaign floated the rumor Carson was dropping out).

Presuming this is a three person race (Trump, Rubio, Cruz), the race looks this way after the first allocation of the second choice votes: Rubio (26.21%), and Cruz (25.67%), Trump (25.31%).

Then, after the second allocation of second place votes (which is really making an assumption of 3rd choice votes), the race looks like this: Rubio (31.42%), Cruz (31.25%), Trump (28.56) with undecided at 8.77%

However, when the voters were asked the question direct in the poll, it is Rubio (34%), Trump (33%), and Cruz (25%) with 8% undecided.  Conclusion: While Rubio is the second choice of 22%, Cruz 20% and Trump only 7%, what you see is that 13% go to Rubio (vs. 10% in my computation), 8% to Trump (vs. 3.56%) and 4% to Cruz (vs. 10.25%).  What this tells us is Cruz is the third choice of very few voters.

Doing the same methodology, in a two person race between Trump and Cruz translates as follows: Cruz (33.23%) and Trump (28.41%) before the second allocation. Because Cruz mathematically picks up votes 4:1 to Trump, the race is Cruz (54.55%) beats Trump (33.87%) with 11.5% undecided.

However, when voters are asked this question, Cruz (47%) is ahead of Trump (41%), 14% go to Cruz (vs. 21% in my computation) and 13% (vs. 5%) to Trump. What this tells us is that while Trump is the 2nd choice of very few voters, he is the third choice vs Cruz of most of the voters when Rubio and the others are gone. Again, Cruz is showing little appeal beyond those who already support him.

As above, Rubio vs. Trump translates very close to Cruz/Trump: Rubio (32.51%) and Trump (29.67%. Because Rubio picks up votes at less than a 3:1 ratio, the race is Rubio (52.4%) and Trump (37.89%) with 11.71% undecided.

While my computation captures the movement to Rubio when voter’s are asked the head-to-head question, Rubio (52%) leads Trump (40%) a bit less. From the current large field when it drops down to a two person race, Rubio picks up 31% vs. 15% for Trump. What this tells us is Cruz’ supporters go almost 3:1 to Rubio vs. Trump. Like Cruz is showing us, Trump too has a ceiling but not as low as that of Cruz. And, Trump is showing himself to be a third choice at a higher level than he is a second choice.

And finally, the race between Rubio and Cruz: Cruz (32.92%) and Rubio (29.71%) before the second allocation. After that allocation, it is Cruz (46.07%), Rubio 39.91% with 14.02% undecided.

However, when the voters are asked this question the results are virtually switched with Rubio (46%) leading Cruz (40%). This again confirms that Cruz has his 21%, is second choice 20% of the remaining 79% but is the third choice of very few not matter what.  What is surprising about this is that while he has a good Favorable/Unfavorable ratio, it doesn’t translate into secondary and tertiary support.  It might be a combination of his fealty to the “very conservative lane” and a personality problem that doesn’t connect with people who don’t agree with him on everything.  I just know that by the end of his 33 minute “Iowa victory speech” I was having trouble listening to the specifics of his words because his nasally voice came across as a long whine.

So, why did I do the math when I just had to look at the poll?

  1. Better discern where the heads of the 33% of the party currently not supporting the top three. They prefer Rubio over both Cruz and Trump by a large margin. And, they prefer Cruz over Trump by a significant margin. But that is today. There is still a lot of campaign for things to change.
  2. Assuming the campaigns are seeing the same thing, I wanted insight in what to expect strategically going forward. Rubio and Cruz gain more by driving the other out vs. concentrating on Trump while Trump needs Rubio and Cruz to eat each other but not so much one drops out. I expect the gunfight to be between Rubio and Cruz and Trump becomes an observer (hard for him to do, I’m sure).
  3. And, #2 also helps Trumps biggest problem: He does worst in head-to-heads with either Democrat. He has no chance to be President unless his Favorable/Unfavorable ratio changes and he becomes more acceptable to Independents and Democrats.

A couple of comments:

  1. This is math. Voters don’t move this way and the margin of error increases as we go down the line in allocations. The direct question asked in the poll is more reliable with regard to where people are today but my math (by missing the answer in the direct question) gives a lot of insight in what might happen when the field narrows and the why.
  2. This is as of now and it is just one poll.
  3. 50% of the respondents said they were open to changing their mind.
  4. It appears that Trump’s core supporters are the highest, Cruz’ second and Rubio’s third.


  1. Unless Cruz starts to expand his base, he needs EVERYONE to stay in the race to get the nomination.  Cruz’ campaign strategy has been centered on two basic principles:  He needs to win the “conservative lane” and either attract some of Trump’s “anti-establishment lane” or knock Trump out.  What this might be telling us is by focusing on a “lane” Cruz has created a hard ceiling for himself as the field narrows.
  2. Trump is best served by a three person race.  This makes sense as Trump’s strategy appears to very “populist” in tone which transcends strict policy ideologies (very conservative, conservative or moderate) in the party.  But it too has a ceiling.
  3. Rubio is best served by a two person race.  I guess that conforms to conventional wisdom that except for Cruz and Trump, all of the other candidates (except for Libertarian Rand Paul) were perceived as not that very different with regard to tone or policy- traditional conservative Republicans.  I never really bought into the conventional wisdom but maybe should have.  I originally thought the race was going to come down to a two or three person race with someone coming out of the “Governor lane” (Walker, Bush, Kasich, Perry, Christie, Huckabee, Jindal), “Senator lane” (Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Santorum, Graham) and “Outsider lane” (Trump, Fiorina, Carson).

P.S.  I do have a draft of a post on New Hampshire predictions but I’m waiting to see the last polls and developments.  While reserving the right to change my mind, I am predicting NH will finish in this order:  Trump, Rubio, Cruz and someone in distant fourth (maybe a surprise).

Never make predictions, especially about the future. (Casey Stengel)

Introduction/Explanation: Anytime you see a (–%) in parenthesis, it is the most recent realclearpolitics.com average. The first section is Iowa averages. The second section is New Hampshire averages.

I’ve been watching the movement and polls and tried to discern what is going on in the GOP Presidential Primary.   Nationally, since there has been so little movement, I can’t even discern a guess.   However, I think I’m ready to make some Iowa predictions. It is noon on Caucus day when I started writing this.

TOP THREE: While there are a few examples of people coming outside the top three in the polls and getting into the top three finishers, the Santorum phenomenon is a one-off (but even then, you saw surging at the end to tell you it was possible). And, the Thompson knocking McCain out of the top three happens on occasion but it was close before Caucus night so the movement wasn’t really that surprising (plus Thompson showed late momentum).

TOP THREE COMBINED (69.4%): This has always been surprisingly stable with maybe a few point uptick if the leader gets a bump (e.g. Huckabee in 2008). Historically, it appears that if people change horses late, unlike a lot of “bandwagon” examples, Iowans don’t jump to the leaders. I predict the total for the top three candidates will be 70%-72%.

TRUMP (28.6%):   While currently leading by 4.7%, the impact of not being in the final debate and having an Iowa organization that rivals Fiorina & Christie’s, I predict that Trump will finish around 20%-23%.

CRUZ (23.9%): As opposed to Trump, Cruz has the best Iowa organization and I predict Cruz will beat his current poll numbers and finish around 24%-28% (if turnout is low, he might even do better)

RUBIO (16.9%): His recent movement in the late polls shows real momentum, similar to Santorum, Huckabee, Thompson, and Ron Paul (2008 not 2012). Because of this, I predict that Rubio will also beat his current poll numbers and finish around 19%-23%.

EVERYONE ELSE: Carson (7.7%) is most likely to get a very distant 4th. However, it is possible that Bush, Huckabee, or Kasich could get a mini-bump and get 4th but I predict nobody but the top three will have double digits.

IMPACT ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: More than percentages, I think New Hampshire will be affected by order of finish.

MOST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Cruz, Trump, Rubio): I think then Trump will maintain his lead and New Hampshire will be a race for second between Cruz (11.5%), Kasich (11.5%), Bush (10.3%), Rubio (9.5%) and maybe Christie (6.5%).

2nd MOST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Trump, Cruz, Rubio): I think this will be bad for Cruz. It is a state made for him demographically (50-60% of caucus goers are evangelicals) and he had the best organization. He will never find a better environment except maybe in South. It could cause him to fall to as low as 5th in New Hampshire and give the perception he isn’t viable as the nominee because it will expose him as weak in the NE and Midwest which can be extended potentially to the Great Plains, and West. Finishing 2nd will force Cruz to finish in the top three in New Hampshire lest all the air goes out of his balloon..

3rd MOST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Cruz, Rubio, Trump): I think this will be bad to Trump but not debilitating. Much of his support is based on “new voters” or formerly “low motivated” voters and the caucus is more intimidating/hard to navigate as compared to normal primary or general election voting. However, getting third will confirm the worst for him- his base isn’t reliable at the polls. Even so, he will still likely be able to win New Hampshire (26% lead) and he has the money to very quickly mobilize a traditional organization in South Carolina and beyond. One thing about Donald Trump is he has shown a great capacity to act and react.

LEAST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Rubio, Cruz, Trump): The chances of this happening are so remote that it is hardly worth listing except it is possible (5% chance?) Rubio could narrowly beat Cruz 24%-23% and Trump falls to lower than that. If this were to occur, this hurts probably Cruz the most. Trump will still win New Hampshire and say Iowa was in the past. Cruz however has no place to look for a victory until Super Tuesday.

P.S. If the order is Rubio, Trump, Cruz, Cruz will be devastated and possibly be finished as he could then fall down as far as 6th in New Hampshire.

PEAKING TO EARLY/NEGATIVE MOMENTUM:  Finally, if either Trump or Cruz finish with less than 20% or Rubio less than 11%, they will be in big trouble as they will have lost over a third of their support from the poll averages and the narrative will be Cruz can’t perform in a state perfectly teed-up for him, Trump isn’t invincible and his supporters don’t vote, and Rubio looks good on paper and debates good but doesn’t connect.

Just to be clear, I don’t think the odds are very high that anything but Cruz winning Iowa, Trump getting 2nd, and Rubio 3rd. If this occurs, New Hampshire will be about who if anyone will join Trump, Cruz and Rubio as viable candidates.

But, if any of the other scenarios come to pass tonight, the week between now and New Hampshire will be wild with new life breathed into Kasich, Bush, & Christie as the air is sucked out of Trump, Cruz and/or Rubio.

Sidenote: My guess is Ted Cruz is the second most nervous candidate today. Hillary Clinton has to be first.   A guy at lunch said the other day, “Clinton loses Iowa and New Hampshire, she gets indicted the next day and Joe Biden announces.” I don’t know how true that is but the stakes are almost that high for her- No Democrat has ever gotten the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire and she isn’t going to win New Hampshire.

There’s a fine line between a stream of consciousness and a babbling brook to nowhere. (Dan Harmon)

Several months ago, I said the state of the horse race in the polls doesn’t tell us anything definitive about the end result. Candidates still need to go out and make something happen.

So what has happened? Not much. Trump has vacillated up and down 5% from 30% and is roughly at his peak.  Cruz has risen roughly 13% concurrent with a 17% drop of Carson.  Except for a short-lived bump by Fiorina, everyone else has basically vacillated just a few points up or down.

Some facts (or meaningless trivia?) since 1972 when Iowa and New Hampshire became the “official” starts of the regular season:

  1. There is a maxim three tickets get punched in Iowa.  (ticket=have a chance to get the nomination)
  2. Similarly, there is a maxim two tickets get punched in New Hampshire.
  3. In the last cycles in Iowa, the top three candidates cumulative poll support is quite close to their cumulative realized voter support. To large degree, the volatility was with the candidates below the top three when on occasion someone jumps into the top three.
  4. Also in the last two cycles, winning Iowa often results in underperforming pre-primary support in the polls. However, being #2 or #3 in Iowa seems to provide a New Hampshire bump.
  5. In Iowa, in both 2008 and 2012, the undecided were about 10%. This year they are less than 3%.
  6. In New Hampshire, in both 2008 and 2012, the undecided were also about 10%. This year they are less than 5%.

So, where are we?


Unless Trump’s debate decision or his weak Iowa caucus ground-game significantly impacts his performance, Trump will punch an Iowa ticket.

Cruz appears to have the most formidable Iowa ground game and will punch a ticket in Iowa (likely finishing either 1st or 2nd). While 2nd in NH, his ground game is considered not top tier and his lead is very small over Kasich, Rubio & Bush who all seem to have better NH organizations.

Rubio’s 3rd place standing in Iowa is a strong 6% lead over Carson and very strong 10% lead over Paul. He is likely to punch his ticket in Iowa but far from assured as I discuss below.

Carson, Paul and Bush are on the bubble looking in. In 2008, Thompson surged (+4.4%) and squeaked into 3rd. And, in 2012, Santorum really surged (+16.9%) to go from 5th to 1st. There is room for only one of these three to stop Rubio from punching his ticket. For Carson and Paul, this is do or die. Carson is the most likely to benefit from a Trump fall-out in Iowa if it occurs.   Bush can hold on because he has already invested in organization infrastructure even beyond South Carolina and Nevada.

New Hampshire

If Trump doesn’t punch an Iowa ticket, he is virtually assured of doing so in New Hampshire where he has a 19% lead over everyone in the field. I doubt the history of New Hampshire knocking down Iowa winners will be able to prevail over this large lead.

Cruz (12.6%), Kasich (12.1%), Rubio (10.6%), Bush (9.7%) and maybe Christie (6.7%) are fighting for the second ticket. Kasich has been recognized as having the best NH organization and is in a virtual tie with Cruz and Rubio for 2nd place. NH also historically lifts someone who didn’t do well in Iowa. And, Kasich has been collecting New Hampshire endorsements like baseball cards, even from former Senator Gordon Humphrey who proudly said he was to the right of Ronald Reagan.

Wildcard: South Carolina

Because this is a primary unlike others (or at least people are saying it is), a case can be made that South Carolina could be a place to punch a ticket to go onto Super Tuesday. Normally, South Carolina’s role is cancel tickets. But because of Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott are rumored to be helping Rubio behind the scenes and may endorse him, Rubio is the only one likely to punch a new ticket in South Carolina. Otherwise, all the SC tickets will likely go to someone who already has punched a ticket.

Super Tuesday and beyond: If we aren’t down to three candidates before, I think we will be after Super Tuesday. Trump and Cruz are most likely to be two of those candidates and currently have roughly 55% of the GOP primary voters supporting them. Whoever the third candidate is, that candidate will need help (Trump or Cruz fade) to get the nomination. Otherwise, by the time the primary gets to South Dakota, we will be choosing between Trump or Cruz.

So what does this mean? John McCain is the only candidate since 1972 not to punch a ticket in both Iowa and New Hampshire and go on to get the nomination.   If history repeats itself, right now it looks like Trump will likely punch a ticket in both states and only one of Cruz or Rubio can.

And, if Cruz or Rubio don’t, does that mean the nomination is essentially over?  Or, because this election where there is nothing that resembles history, does one only need to punch a ticket in Iowa OR New Hampshire to move on or could the nominee could come from someone who doesn’t punch a ticket in either state?  How many candidates will be viable on Super Tuesday? Who will they be? Did Trump’s absence in the final Iowa debate help or hurt him? Did Trump’s absence help or hurt anyone else? Did Cruz and Rubio both flub their responses to the video clips on illegal immigration?

Sidenote on Democrats:  They have never nominated a candidate who didn’t punch a ticket in either Iowa or New Hampshire.  Wonder what that means ifSanders wins Iowa.

“You can lead a bureaucrat to water, but you can’t make him think.” (Ric Keller)

Unless the world moves to total anarchy, there will always be a government upon which the people depend. And day-in-and-day-out, there will be bureaucrats who make that government run. They labor in bland offices, they are the subject of jokes and called dumb and lazy (e.g. the title of this post), they seldom get a thank you from those they serve and do so at wages less than they could get in the private sector, especially those who rise up in the ranks, never to move on to greener pastures because they are called to serve the public.

Paul Kinsman was a bureaucrat for almost 30 years and he didn’t need anyone to lead him to think.  He thought, did and served.

When I was in Pierre, I don’t remember his title nor his official duties. You always found him at his desk in the Bureau of Administration. If you needed advice, Paul was always generous with his time and expertise. But, if you needed something that was going to cost money, Paul’s first inclination was it was a “want” and he treated every dollar of taxpayer money as if it was his own last dollar. But, if you came to him with a real problem or opportunity, he could figure out how to solve it and then he would make sure you had the resources to do so.

In the late ‘80’s, state government was getting new desktops, beginning to use email, getting wired, replacing secretarial pools with technology. It was a time when it looked like technology increased inefficiency, not decreased it. Somebody needed to understand the “big picture” lest money was wasted. Paul was that guy making him the “oil” for the bureaucratic machine that is state government. He messed up and things screeched to a halt. He did good and things moved forward at lower cost.

If I were to detail one simple solution, you’d all say “duh” but back then it was innovative. Our Division budget was getting killed with travel back and forth while separation was also killing our ability to get things done at the office. I had an idea my boss wasn’t buying (rightly so it turned out) so I was sent to Paul for a reason I didn’t understand at the time. After I detailed the issues, he authorized giving our Division a laptop (which was a luxury needing the signature of his boss and his boss’s boss). That first laptop was “free” in that it didn’t come out of my budget but was loaned from the BofA. Shortly thereafter, the value of laptops was clear and I was re-configuring my budget for more laptops.

The point is Paul knew travel was slowing the comprehensive move to reliance on technology. He knew laptops were a necessity and not a luxury but he needed a “test case” to prove his theory to his superiors and figured our division staff of people in our 20’s would embrace laptop use.  To this day, I credit Paul Kinsman as the person most responsible for the State of South Dakota being known as a national leader in adopting technology to increase efficiency and reducing costs.

This all said, I would be remiss if I reduced Paul to just a public servant. Paul was at his core a personally kind human being. When his friend Labor Secretary Peter deHueck was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I’m sure Paul was suffering and in need of consolation but he was the one giving everyone else consolation.  When the plane crashed in Iowa and everything seemed turned upside down, Paul stayed right side up.  Too often kindness is seen as weakness. Paul Kinsman showed it is actually strength.  Somehow, I’m pretty sure him watching Peter fade from life prepared him for his own journey to Eternity.

As a former colleague, I’m not sure I really expressed my appreciation for all his help beyond a short “thanks.” I’m not sure I ever really expressed my affection or gratitude for his kindness, especially when I lost people most dear to me in the plane crash (as did Paul). As a “bureaucrat” who served our state with integrity, a selfless spirit, and competence, I know I never thanked him. It is a shame I am doing so upon hearing of his death. But, as much as Paul deserved to hear gratitude for what he did and who he was, he knew he was doing good work and making a difference in the lives of the people of South Dakota and I suspect that was enough for him.

Paul Kinsman, you are the epitome of a public servant and give bureaucrats a good name. We were blessed by your service. Thank you.

Paul Kinsman, Bureaucrat. Rest In Peace.

Incline, O Lord, Your ear to my prayer, in which I humbly beseech Your mercy, that You would place the soul of Your servant, Paul Kinsman, which You have allowed to depart from this world, into the region of peace and light; and unite in the fellowship of Your Saints. Through Christ our Lord,