Politics and Impeachment Miscellany

I’ve been doing my usual reading, surfing Twitter and listening to podcasts, so I figure it’s time to throw some of my thoughts down here.

  • I was listening to David Plouffe’s podcast (you know, the one where Hillary called Tulsi Gabbard a Russian asset?) and he talked to an expert on how the delegates work in the Democratic primary.  It’s a pretty complicated process, but one I think I want to look into more.  Maybe even write about.  The delegates are handed out in various ways: state vote, congressional district vote.  And you need to clear 15% to earn any of these delegates.  In 2008, Obama played the delegate game better than Clinton (he was also a better candidate, but I digress).  In a close race, that mattered.  With 3 or 4 candidates capable of getting over 15% in some states or districts, a better delegate strategy might make the difference.  Could the higher number of viable candidates lead to a brokered convention because no one gets to a majority?  Super delegates are still a thing, but I understand they don’t get a vote in the first round of voting.  Are we looking at Kennedy v. Carter redux?
  • With those delegate questions in mind and assuming that Biden or Warren won’t end up just running away with the race, then organization and fundraising are going to matter.  From what I’m getting in reading and hearing, the best organized campaigns in Iowa (as a proxy for the national organization) are Warren, Buttigieg and Booker.  Perhaps not coincidentally the top three in my most current ranking of the candidates.  A dark horse to look out for?  Andrew Yang.  Yang is surprisingly well funded and has showed surprising resilience in his polling.  Also, just anecdotally, he seems to be paying attention to more than just the first four states.  I get contacted by Yang Gang supporters for meetups here in Tennessee (a Super Tuesday primary state).  This says to me he’s in for the long haul and is going to try and get some delegates to wield at the convention.  You heard it here first.
  • There was a poll out this morning of Iowa where the headline is Mayor Pete at 20% behind Warren at 28%.  I’m actually not surprised by this.  His only viable path is to exceed expectations in Iowa and use that momentum in New Hampshire.  He’s got the money and he’s spent the time in Iowa.  Still, it’s a sign of the race that he’s in second and others who’ve adopted the Iowa strategy are floundering (I’m looking at you, Kamala).  The other takeaway for me from this poll is how far back Biden is.  He’s at 12%.  From all indications, the Biden campaign has been downplaying expectations in Iowa and New Hampshire, so that he can get to South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states.  The problem with this strategy is that a 4th place finish in Iowa could sink his national numbers and affect the votes thereafter.  If he’s not seen to be a winner, I suspect his support in South Carolina will tank.
  • The other thing this poll highlights is how top heavy the race has gotten.  There are 4 candidates in double digits – Warren, Buttigieg, Sanders and Biden.  After that, the next highest number is Klobuchar at 4%.
  • Speaking of Klobuchar, I think I saw that she just qualified for the November debate, making her the ninth participant.  There are precedents of lower polling candidates making big comebacks in Iowa, so we’re probably stuck with many of the candidates outside the top 4 until after voting takes place in Iowa.  Still, Klobuchar’s whole strategy is based on the midwest path and she’s only at 4% in Iowa?  That’s not a recipe to move into New England, the South and the West with momentum.
  • I laid my marker on impeachment back in July.  I was ready then and am definitely in favor now.  I said back then that I thought the Dems should do the impeachment this Fall and get the Senators on the record, with the assumption that Republicans would vote to acquit.  It does the Dems’ duty and also helps take out some endangered Republican senators, while keeping the impeachment this side of the Democratic primary voting in 2020.  I think I’m coming around to this point of view now, though.  This is our one shot.  Unless things turn so suddenly to the idea that Trump will be removed by his Republican supporters in the Senate, the House should not just shut down the impeachment inquiry until they have explored all of the aspects of his abuse of power.  As Yglesias points out, there are potentially similar things to look into regarding Turkey and Saudi Arabia that are exactly in line with what Trump has done with Ukraine.  Nancy and Adam, don’t impose an artificial deadline to get this done.  Go everywhere the evidence takes you.

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