Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
A boring contest

At this point in time all the even remotely likely scenarios end up with Hilary Clinton as the next president of the United States. And the Republican party is 100% responsible for that. It was their election to lose, and they completely lost it in a spectacular fashion.

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Fixed a somewhat confusing double negative into a positive.
That sucks. I'd love to see Donald Trump as the next USA president.
Now it comes down to choosing between a pro-corporate, pro-Wallstreet Democrat or an anti-establishment Republican.

Both have their faults and I'm not sure which is really going to be the lesser of the two evils.

Hillary proved that she was more than willing to expand aggressive US foreign policies under her tenure as Secretary of State. Just look at the drone killings that had 0 accountability; only now are they talking about releasing how many civilians are "accidentally" killed.

Trump is greedy and pushy, but he has not been responsible for the number of deaths that Clinton has.
I don't agree. Trump can win, the same way as Xenuria can get into the CSM of EVE. Many-many upset, bitter Americans will vote Trump, not because they like him, but to say "f... the power". He already proved to be bulletproof: every bucket of dirt thrown at him got him new voters. When there were fistfights on his rallies, he GAINED supporters. When he was photoshopped as a clown on a magazine, he started to give out autograms on the clown picture and now searching "trump clown" on Google give his own twitter as top hit. He even got support for being insulted to have small penis.

People aren't getting it: no one thinks he'll be a good president, but awful lot of people think they won't get a good president anyway, so why not have a funny one.

Also, his opponents insult his supporters, to the point of calling them brain dead. I learned the hard way in Arathi Basin that it won't make them follow your instructions:
I disagree; this was the election that the Republicans --these Republicans in a post Tea Party world-- never would let themselves have a chance in. Their best chance is Kasich's appeal to be the adult in the room, and he's only managed to win his home state.

They're boxing themselves into a corner by chasing their base, leaving the rest of the country to the Democratic Party. If anything, this election cycle is the Dems' to screw up, and although Bernie has appeal he'd likely be the McGovern of the 2016 election if he were nominated.
Given that US elections are basically a contest to see who can persuade the larger number of would-never-vote-for-anyone-else loyalists to get out of bed and vote, rather than a contest to see who can persuade the majority of the country that they are the better candidate, I would never say they were a foregone conclusion.
Of course Trump cannot get elected, normality will return and Hilary will win by a landslide. Having said that, Clinton has struggled to win the Democrat nomination against someone who isn't a Democrat, when she was supposed to be a shoe-in and there have been predictions of Trump's impending doom for the last year yet his popularity seems to be snowballing.

I would not be surprised to see third party candidates entering from both the left and right (Bloomberg if Clinton seems weak and a non-Trump candidate supported by the Republican establishment). If that happens then the result would be a complete toss-up.
Bloomberg has already announced he won't enter the fray.

I expect that if Bernie had won the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg would have entered as a centrist candidate, which would have had the likely result of splitting the Democratic vote with a few Republican crossovers.

He can easily win this, as long as he doesn't do something wildly scandalous at the end. Obviously quite a lot of people dislike the policies of the current administration (no idea why) so all those bitter vote will go to Trump, like Gevlon said. I saw the very same thing in the Greek elections of 2015 (both of them), where people voted on a "f--- the system" premise. Of course now we are also f---ed along with the system, but that's another story.
Only white people would be comfortable with Trump. Saying that the only mexican immigrants in the US are rapists, not disavowing the KKK, use vague threats, and saying that he'll open libel laws to allow anything, etc. made it an easy choice for me: person who would be comfortable with the idea of concentration camps, and whoever the democratic nominee will be (probably clinton at this point). I'm going to learn from the Martin NiemÖller quote and not vote for Trump.
I wouldn't be so sure about Clinton winning. Voter turnout 2012 was just 60% and from the white people voting 59% chose Romney over Obama. If turnout were 70% with the exact same demographic electoral behaviour Romney would have won the popular vote.

Same thing happened this weekend in regional elections here in Germany, a right wing party got a lot of votes from people who couldn't be bothered to show up in past elections.
Initially, I had assumed Trump would have no chance in the national election.

Now, I'm thinking he could even win. Not because he would be such an awesome president, but because of what he isn't: a political insider tuned to the power pulse of a corrupt system dedicated to never ending wars and bankrupting the county.

I like his managed trade and controlled immigration messages. I used to be all for "Free Trade" until I really started to look at human nature and saw how really naive the concept is.
..."country"... Certainly, the purview of the Presidency is more than a single county.

50 Quatloos for an editor!
I like his managed trade and controlled immigration messages.

But then you are white and male. Only 1 out of 3 women would vote for Trump, and only 1 out of 10 non-white Americans. That is basically the problem with the primary system, the people who turn up and vote there aren't in any way representative of the people who vote in the real election.
The primary system sure as hell is not perfect especially the "winner takes it all" states discarding the votes of everyone who didn't chose the winner. But still in a way better than the European system were the nominees are chosen by the parties themselves who have magnitudes fewer members than voters.
I'm waiting for Tobold's "I made a little experiment with my readers" post... ;-)
Trump cannot win the general election due to the Electoral College system, which already makes things very hard for a Republican to win:

A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win, and Democrats start with 247 (Republicans start with 206) because of how the states work out. Democrats have many paths to victory, while Republicans more or less need to run the entire table of swing states.

Trump specifically is HATED by Hispanics, who are a crucial demographic in Florida, with its 29 electoral votes. I don't see any scenario where Trump can win Florida, and that state alone seals the deal for Democrats at 276 electoral votes. With Trump as the nominee, he would need to win the national popular vote by 5% or more (current polls have Clinton ahead of Trump by around 5%), enough that he wins every other swing state and starts picking up some of the Democrat leaning states.

I would like to point out one more hitch in the Republican nomination. Rubio just dropped out, and 75% of his voters say they will go to Cruz, not Trump. It is probably too late for Cruz to overtake Trump (although possible), but it will probably deny Trump enough delegates to claim the nomination outright. This will mean a brokered convention, where the party has more influence to pick the nominee, and the party HATES Trump (mostly, they know he can't win). On the other hand, Trump has many times floated the idea of running as an independent (which only hands a landslide win to the Democrats), and denying him the nomination even though he won the most delegates is just the scenario where he might do that.
@Samus: you forget that Trump isn't a "real" republician (evangelic, pro-Israel, pro-large-business), he is often confronted with former liberal statements in the pre-eliminary. These helps him to win self-identifying Democrats who would never vote for a "true" republician.

Also, he seems to push isolationalist foreign politics and claimed to negotiate with Putin, while Clinton makes Cheney and Rumsfeld look doves. It will be pretty easy for him to get the "dove" votes. On the other hand there won't be a single Republician, not even the biggest Trump-hater who would ever in a million years vote for Clinton.

If that were true, it would already be reflected in polls. Instead:

Trump is pretty universally hated outside of his supporters. Democrats hate him, Independents hate him, minorities really hate him. In fact, a large number of Republicans are claiming they won't vote for Trump. Even the Bernie Sanders supporters who hate Hillary and claim they won't vote for her are saying they will just stay home, they won't vote at all.

As it stands, Trump has less than 1% chance of beating Hillary. For him to have a chance, something has to change. All current indicators show he has no chance.
Gevlon has it right - the GOP is in a world of hurt - they resounding hate Clinton more than they hate Trump. I expect, if he shames/scares the delegates at the convention to support him, he'll get all (well, ok, most) of the Republicans in the country to vote for him.

Generally that is enough to make it a tossup (cf. Bush/Gore) but with tempers running so hot, it'll be interesting to see how many of the anyone-but-Trumps vs. the anyone-but-Clintons (plus their current supporters) are going to hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils. (And it's not clear at all if anyone-but-either-of-them will stay home.)

It'd be a great time to Vote Green Party (or Libertarian or whatever) but everyone who wants to vote doesn't want to "throw it away" and let the other win esp. with the House (and possibly the Senate) being in the GOP's hands. Generally Dems feel Trump will just be a GOP shill legislatively (he'll never get much of his own agenda - beyond the standard GOP crony capitalism of his "white papers" and likely just go along with the GOP in Congress) as he jets from state to state and country to country being a HUUUUGE *sshole/ugly American.
On the other hand there won't be a single Republician, not even the biggest Trump-hater who would ever in a million years vote for Clinton.

@Gevlon, maybe you should try facts for once instead of making up statements like this. There are poll data available showing that more Republicans would vote for Clinton than there are Democrats who would vote for Trump. Also there are more Republicans who hate Trump and wouldn't vote for him even if he was their party's candidate than there are Democrats who hate Clinton.

The thing is, Trump split the Republican party nearly as bad as Theodore Roosevelt did back in 1912. There is no way at this point where the Republican primary convention can nominate a candidate who isn't hated by half of the party. And pledge or no pledge, if they don't nominate Trump he'll run as independent and totally split the Republican vote.
You know, for a "boring contest" this sure is a lively discussion, just sayin'.
I would say that tells you more about the power of denial than about the uncertainty of the contest. Who would bet $100 on a Republican becoming president in 2016?
@Samus: if that's true, than Trump is a moron who thrown away much of his own money for nothing (other candidates run from supporter money, they GET income while losing). I'm pretty sure that he has a game changer in his pocket, otherwise he wouldn't run at the first place.

My guess is his game changer will be the foreign policy. Clinton is a hardliner "liberalism or death" interventionalist who would clearly spend billions of dollars and thousands of American lives in places the average American never heard of. Now it's obvious that this doesn't work and none of the interventions made democracies, they made IS instead. Of course Trump will not give a complicated speech about the values of isolationalism, but do something that is either spectacular or spectacularly stupid, like visiting Putin and together promise that if Trump wins, they'll make peace and get rid of ISIS by splitting up the middle East between US and Russian zones of influence. The thing is that anything he (or you, or me or a monkey at a typewriter) could write a US foreign policy that has more chance to succeed than what Clinton will do.

@Tobold: I didn't say he'll surely win, and I won't bet without being sure I win. I said he has a chance. Also in his case the opinion surveys worth as much as the paper they were printed on for two reasons:
- hiding voter: "I vote for Trump" is not something you'd say loud. In Hungary the right-wing extremist Jobbik got 2x more votes in 2010 than predicted by surveys. Same for AfP in Germany now.
- dumb, uncertain voter: he doesn't know or even plan to vote. But if any candidate pulls some campaign stunt, he can make a last minute vote. Who is more likely to pull a crazy stunt, Clinton or Trump? Hungary 2006 city council elections, just 3 months after a complete socialist Parliament election win, all measurements showing socialist clear win. A month before a speech leaked from the PM that he was lying. Riots and landslide conservative win.
@Gevlon, I think you missed some of Trump's statements, for example the one where he said that he would re-invade Iraq and bomb the oil fields in the region. I don't think "being more dove-ish than the Democrat" is a winning proposition for a Republican candidate anyway, or has ever been.

Who would bet $100 on a Republican becoming president in 2016?

Actually I can answer my own question, you *can* bet on the next US President at various online betting sites. Paddypower pays you $44 if you bet $100 on Clinton and win. If you bet $100 on Trump and win, you get $250. You can make over $2000 on a $100 bet on Kasich, Sanders, or Cruz. This is the one occasion where I would trust the odds given by a bookie more than the odds given by politics pundits, which the possible exception of Nate Silver
Talarian brings up a good point here. There are (at least) two avenues for assessing if an election contest is boring. Tobold is using it to mean "the final outcome is a foregone conclusion, therefore it is boring", but you could also easily make the argument that it isn't boring because the path to getting there has been INCREDIBLY eventful and has defied predictions time and time again.

You could probably tie that back to MMOs if you wanted, between the pathians and the goalers.

I definitely don't see a likely path for Trump to win the nominations, but I suppose I have to accept people arguing otherwise on the basis that I would've bet money I was unwilling to lose on him not winning the nomination 6 months ago. This cycle has been throwing a lot of conventional wisdom out the window.

Even taking into account how much he was underestimated beforehand though, it STILL doesn't look very plausible. Even if you count on two major factors (Rallying those that otherwise wouldn't vote to vote for him as well as depressed democrat and left-leaning independent turnout because they don't care much for Clinton) its just realistically not enough. You have to also compensate for the republican voters who would rather stay home than vote for Trump and the Dem/Ind voters that will be rallied AGAINST him regardless of how they feel about Clinton.
@Tobold: maybe "dove" isn't a good word and any reasonable person (including Putin and Iran) would (or did) bomb or invade the IS as it's a mortal enemy of literally everyone except themselves.

The central US foreign issue on the other hand is not IS, but Russia. I don't see any conflict of interest between them, the anti-Russian politics of the current administration (and McCain and Cruz) is completely ideological: Russia is an illiberal, questionable democracy who pressurize journalists and murder opposition politicians. Clinton is a hardliner in this (maybe THE hardliner who pushed the whole Obama administration into a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine), while Trump can (and I believe will) say "f... Ukraine, f... Abhazia, I don't even know where these countries are [laughter and applause in the audience as they don't know either], there are no American interest there, I will make a good deal with Putin that will bring us trade and safety". What can Clinton respond? Something along the line of responsibility and freedom and human rights. The lower class Americans (who are the swinging voters) would take trade and safety any day over the freedom and human rights of people they never heard of. I guess many republicians will be pretty upset over that, but not upset enough to vote for Clinton.

Hell, Trump can make posters with him and Putin shaking hands in one side, Clinton and a mushroom cloud on the second.
If Trump wants to win over Putin, he'll have to do better.
I don't know if Trump has a 'game-changer' as such, but I'd expect him to moderate his message. The line might be "Okay, maybe it's not so simple as taking the oil from ISIS or building a big wall, but you have to throw out these basic ideas for openers and then see what's possible. That's what a businessman does! I'm the kind of guy who can handle the tough negotiations with guys around the world who right now are laughing at the US."

Of course, we'd expect him to pick good advisors. The thing that alarms me most about Trump right now is that he seems to propose offering a position in his administration to Ben Carson. But I guess Carson might do okay in something medical related.

By the way, with that video, how many thought Hilary's barking was photoshopped / dubbed? It was real.

Trump has spent about $17 million of his own money (technically it is a loan to his campaign) out of his personal worth of estimated $3-4 billion (he claims more). So at most, about 0.5% of his net worth is what he has spent.

And listen to the things he has said. He believes vaccines cause autism. He believes global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese. He STILL believes Obama's birth certificate is fake. Every time he speaks it is some new crazy. This is the person you are just sure has some brilliant plan, that has it all figured out in some way us lesser minds can't see?

No. He is an idiot, and either his ego won't let him see that he can't win, or he doesn't care that he will severely damage his party's chances. Probably both. He is a reality TV star, he only cares about celebrating himself in the spotlight.

"My guess is his game changer will be the foreign policy."

If there is one thing that never has a significant impact on American elections, it's foreign policy. The average American voter just doesn't care what happens outside the U.S. It is a sad statement, but true. I doubt either candidate will make a serious issue out of it. Hillary doesn't want to talk about her record, and Trump doesn't want to talk about his lack of one.

Come on Gevlon, where is the guy who brings loads of data to prove his point? The polls, the demographics, the odds-makers, the electoral map, all the objective data points to a Trump loss. Do you have some quantifiable indicator he can win, or just more of your personal opinions?
Gevlon has his personal experience of his country, where the people voted the right-wing nutter into office. It would make him feel better if the Americans were just as stupid.

Curiously enough I believe the Americans are smarter than that. Many would just feel ashamed to have the Donald as their president. So a good part of the Republicans will just stay home on voting day, while a lot independents and Democrats will go voting out of fear what would happen if they don't.
" where the people voted the right-wing nutter into office"

This is a thing that actually happens though, more often than you think. See the rise of right-wing extremists in pretty much all of Europe. In Greece people voted for left-wing nutters while simultainously giving Golden Dawn (essentially neo-nazis) record high %.

But we don't blame you, you live in Belgium, probably the most moderate country in the region.

"It would make him feel better if the Americans were just as stupid"

The voted for Bush twice. Doesn't this count?
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