Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Myth of the "Trump Slide" in Iowa; Carson Under Siege?

If you believe some polls and the news media, Donald Trump's campaign is on a downslide in Iowa, the first state to hold a Republican caucus where a convoluted process begins to select a grand total of up to 30 delegates, just over one percent of the total.

The impact of the Iowa caucus is negligible for a number of reasons, but, because it is the first such vote in the nation, the media believes it should set the agenda for all the rest of the states. That obviously is not the case, yet, two polls, neither of which can actually claim to know for sure exactly who they allegedly interviewed, have concluded that Dr. Ben Carson, whom I respect, has leaped ahead of Trump.

The genesis of this astounding turnaround in the current race for the GOP presidential nomination is in a poll from Quinnipiac University and another from the "highly respected" Des Moines Register newspaper. Actually, the polling method is so shallow in each instance that the number quoted by the media, that is salivating to drive a stake through Trump's heart, could actually be the reverse of what is reported.
In the Register's own words, "The Iowa Poll, conducted October 16-19 … is based on telephone interviews with 401 registered Iowa voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Republican caucuses … .

"Questions based on the subsamples of 401 likely Republican caucus attendees each have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the percentages shown here by more than plus or minus 4.9 percentage points." [1]

In other words, besides the fact that the sampling is pitifully small, these polls were conducted over the phone with people who may or may not have been who they say they are. Similarly, the poll from Quinnipiac University poll has some questionable conclusions.

Quinnipiac says that Carson leads Trump 28 - 20 percent among Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants. A news release on the poll also says, "This compares to the results of a September 11 survey showing Trump at 27 percent with Carson at 21 percent."

But again, check out the methodology. "This RDD telephone survey was conducted from October 14 - 20, 2015 throughout the state of Iowa. Responses are reported for 574 likely Iowa Republican Caucus participants …. This subset of likely Republican caucus -goers has a margin of sampling error of +/ - 4.1 percentage points."[2]

But here is the part I like best. The poll is done on phones and when someone answers a landline, "Interviewers ask to speak with the adult member of the household having the next birthday."

Well that is a foolproof method of determining voter identifications if I ever saw one. Suppose that an interviewer calls my house and asks to speak to the adult who has the next birthday. That would be my wife, but hell will freeze over before she ever answers a poll, so I would just say, "Oh, that's me. Fire away." See how that works?

Meanwhile, Dr. Carson did some Sunday media work, basking in the glow of "front-runner" status, and on Fox News Sunday had an extraordinarily difficult time explaining his proposed changes to Obamacare and Medicare. Carson has said he will repeal Obamacare, as have most Republicans, but adds that he will give wage earners a choice of having their own health insurance account as opposed to letting government bureaucrats determine their future health care.

FOX moderator Chris Wallace seemed unable to get his head around that concept and repeatedly asked Carson to explain how this proposal would work and how it is different from earlier incarnations of Carson's health plans. Carson tried very patiently to explain his plan but Wallace simply was having none of it.

I don't know whether Carson has suddenly lost his communication skills or if Wallace was just have a rough Sunday morning, but the interview went badly for Carson who seemed to be struggling through most of it. Remember when I wrote in my last column, that Carson is next to feel the full weight of negative media? Looks like it started Sunday.

Oddly, the Iowa caucuses are virtually irrelevant. The results of the caucus are reported to the media which then deserts Iowa usually without explaining that there then will be county, district and state conventions that actually select the Iowa delegates, and they aren't bound in the least to the results of the original caucuses!

Last time around Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucus, for instance, but the media declared Mitt Romney to be the winner, regardless of what the votes showed, and by the time the record was corrected, any momentum Santorum may have garnered dissipated.

As noted previously, the Register poll notes that if the same questions were asked of the same people 20 times, the answers would change by plus or minus 4.9 percent in 19 of those times. The 20th round of questioning apparently is a wild card.

So, does that mean that one time out of 20, people who may or may not plan on attending an Iowa GOP caucus, and may or may not be eligible to vote in said caucus, and may or may not actually vote, could declare by a wide margin, say 85 percent, that they are forever bound to Alfred E. Neuman? Plus or minus 4.9 percent of course. But their votes aren't binding.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sayonara Fiorina; Carson Next?

It is no secret that the establishment media wants Jeb Bush to be the Republican nominee for president, preferably matched against Hillary Clinton so the establishment wins, no matter who gets elected.

Standing in the way of that goal is Donald Trump who thus far has managed to deflect virtually every attack on his candidacy and still sits atop all the so-called 'polls' – including those published after contacting fewer people than the average attendance at a Clinton campaign event.
Donald Trump

The media was agog last month after Carly Fiorina proved herself to be a competent debater, especially after she is handed softball questions that a third-grader could have anticipated. Yet, despite a quick bump in the 'polls' she began a slow, steady decline into campaign trivia oblivion, right alongside Bush.

This should come as no surprise as it appears to be an intended result. Fiorina makes a good personal impression and has sufficient wit and intelligence to prevail for an hour or two. But the expected result of pushing one candidate to the top, or near it, is that people will start looking closely at this week's version of "The Chosen One."

When voters started taking a closer look at Fiorina they didn't like what they saw. Fiorina got an early boost because Trump made fun of her looks, a faux pas that she rode right into the GOP debate. That proved to be just enough to move the people who actually are contacted for the 'polls,' roughly 400 or so of those nebulous "leaning Republican" type people, to say Fiorina when asked for their first choice.

Fiorina also was touted as a business expert who had broken the glass ceiling and worked miracles that rivaled Trump's status as a giant of business acumen. Then voters discovered that Fiorina not only was a walking disaster in the business world, but that she also had mocked California Senator Barbara Boxer in Fiorina's wildly unsuccessful campaign to be US Senator, in a manner akin to Trump's mocking of Fiorina.
Carly Fiorina

The more people looked, the less they liked and down went Fiorina. Which was exactly what the media wanted. Why? Because her demise is just one step toward the eventual elevation of Bush, and is tied to the yet-to-be released campaign strategy of showing Bush as a fighter who is in for the long haul.

But Trump, against all establishment expectations, is still atop the 'polls,' even brushing back a vigorous surge by neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and the steady presence of Sen. Ted Cruz, who would be this season's anti-establishment favorite were it not for Trump. Carson was supposed to be knocked out of the race, right along with Fiorina after he made some supposedly politically fatal comments, including one that devout Muslims shouldn't be president unless they are willing to denounce Sharia law and really mean it when they swear an oath to uphold the US Constitution.

But instead of driving Carson down, his honesty and forthrightness rocketed him out of the pack to a place virtually on Trump's heels, if you believe the 'polls.' Remember, these supposedly scientific surveys have a margin of error of about 5 percent, which renders them meaningless. If, for instance, the poll says Trump has 25 percent and Carson has 24 percent, it really could mean that Trump has 30 percent and Carson has 19.

Or that Trump has 20 and Carson has 29, or any combination of numbers in between. Bush, who garners 6 or 7 percentage points, could actually be the favorite of as few as 1 or 2 percent of the "leaning Republican" respondents. In other words these 'polls' are irrelevant with the exception that Trump, Carson and Cruz consistently are at the top despite the flaws in the methodology. But that should soon change.
Ben Carson

Bush's campaign is starting to get really, really nervous. First you have Bush claiming that he has enough money to last out the primaries right through Super Tuesday – the date when enough states hold primaries to allow a clear front runner, or runners, to emerge – March 1 this year. That statement is intended to quell the big donors' butterflies.

Then you have the Bush campaign mocking Trump – the latest oh, so clever, bon mot, came from a Bush campaign official who referred to Trump as a Zombie. What wit, what a display of elitist intelligence over the crude, blue-collar worker dressed in a Sunday-go-to-meeting suit. Just the kind of comment to drive more voters to Trump.

In the Bush world, upstarts like Trump, Carson, Cruz and whomever may still be hanging around, should be knocked out of contention on March 1. (Cruz's stubborn refusal to fade away already has been noticed, with Jeb's brother, ex-President George, publicly opining that he doesn't like Cruz. More on that issue in another column.) Bush will then emerge as the knight in shining armor who shall sally forth and slay the Clinton dragon. Just like Mitt Romney did to Barack Obama. Or not.

But Trump keeps hanging in there and even though the media reported that he had slipped in their 'polls,' they now are reporting that he is again on the rise. The explanation is that Trump is rising because after looking over his competition the voters still like Trump better. Better than Carson, or even Cruz.
Ted Cruz

Meaning, Carson, who enjoys the 2nd place standing in the 'polls' is next to feel the full weight of negative media on top of his campaign. I mean, after all, we can't have a surgeon as President of the United States can we? He hasn't even held elective office!

So look for a series of "revelations" about Carson, or 'gotcha' questions in the next debate, that are intended to drive out yet another strong contender. Cruz is already on the hot seat, and once he and Carson are eliminated, Bush will then unleash $100 million in negative ads against Trump. The ultimate goal is to render Trump, Carson, and Cruz totally ineffective by March 2.

However, there is one flaw in this strategy. It is called the voters. They seem to be a bit restless this season, eh what! Oh, and Trump has more money than Bush. And he is a better street fighter, by a long shot. Just anticipating the political battles to come should keep us upbeat and engaged long after the Super Bowl this winter. Oh yeah!


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