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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Trump vs. Hillary Polling: What the Headlines Don't Say

Polling data is just another kind of statistic that is routinely used to bolster or attack a candidate's campaign. We Americans are a fickle people. We reserve the right to change our minds. That said, while single polls (or even multiple polls taken around the same time) don't tell us much but the current mood, longitudinal trends in poll results say a lot.

If I say that Johnny got a C on the test and Eddie got a D, you might assume that Johnny is doing better in the class. However, if Johnny's grades were steadily declining from A's to B's to C's, while Eddie's grades were moving from low F's to the middle of the D range, the picture becomes clearer. If both students continue in their current paths, Eddie will soon be getting higher test scores than Johnny.

This is what is occurring with the election polls. Let's sum up the statistics with a bit more analysis:

Hillary Clinton's Favorability Rating -

May 17, 2016
Favorable - 41.1%, Unfavorable - 54.8% -- 13.7% Net Unfavorable Rating

April 3, 2016
Favorable - 41.6%, Unfavorable - 54.2% -- 12.6% Net Unfavorable Rating

Donald Trump's Favorability Rating -

May 17, 2016
Favorable - 38.6%, Unfavorable - 57.8% -- 19.2% Net Unfavorable Rating

April 3, 2016
Favorable -  31.6%, Unfavorable - 63.0% -- 31.4% Net Unfavorable Rating

What's the scoop?

When you analyze the data in context, Donald Trump's ratings have improved dramatically, improving the net favorable/unfavorable gap by 12.2%. We can also see that his favorability ratings are very malleable. He has more of an ability to change his pubic perception than does Hillary Clinton, whose trend lines are very stable.

Hillary Clinton's ratings have dropped steadily since March of 2015, when her favorable and unfavorable ratings were equal. Her favorables have dropped at almost the same rate at which her unfavorables have increased. From April 3 to May 17 of 2016, her ratings have worsened slightly but steadily, broadening the gap by 1.1%. Her numbers have trended very steadily in the same direction for over a year now, meaning that changing her public perception will be very difficult for her.

If the current trends continue, by November 2016 Donald Trump will have an overall favorable poll rating and Hillary Clinton will have a negative rating of almost 60%. Of course, anything could happen in the meantime.

The daily snapshots tell a very limited story. As they say, there are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics. Look at the direction in which poll results are heading. The wind is blowing in Trump's direction.

(All poll data derived from the Huffington Post Poll Chart for Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton. Data is accurate as of 3:00 pm Eastern time, May 17, 2016. Check the links to see if and how it has changed.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Random Thought About Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin as he appeared before his run-in with George Zimmerman
It occurred to me that nobody has reported whether or not Trayvon Martin was in fact the person who had been burglarizing property in George Zimmerman's neighborhood. I'm sure the police took fingerprints at the scene of each burglary. Has anyone compared Trayvon's fingerprints to those at the crime scenes? It's a little late to punish him, obviously, but it would be interesting to find out if George Zimmerman was, in fact, tailing the right person.

I know that a device used to jimmy car locks was found in the bushes next to the crime scene, which may or may not have belonged to Trayvon Martin. However, we have no definitive proof one way or the other, at least not that I've heard or seen.

I haven't heard anyone else ask this question, so I'm asking it now. A bit late in the game, I know, but I wonder about it. If you have any information on the matter, either clearing Martin (if no fingerprints matched) or indicating he was indeed the right suspect, please let me know in the comments section.

Monday, May 9, 2016

An Immigrant Exchange Program

I have known a large number of immigrants during my lifetime, especially those from Latin America. Every one I have known has been a hard-working citizen with strong family values and a devout religious background. (Granted, I've met a good many of them at church.) Latin America is an ideal place from which to select our immigrants. We share a common colonial past and polyglot ethnic makeup, ours mostly from Europe and Africa, but still diverse in culture. We share a religiosity that Europe lacks and that is capable of embracing religious tolerance and liberty. We have much in common.

Simón Bolívar and George Washington: Freedom Fighters

However, there are many people in both our country and Latin America who are lacking some of these qualities as well. When they immigrate, they cause societal problems with crime and costs to the welfare system. Those who are born here do the same. We need some way to select the best from other countries while simultaneously getting rid of the worst from ours.

I propose an immigrant exchange program with Latin American nations. We will agree to take immigrants from their countries who are able in body and mind to be productive citizens and who have no criminal record. In turn, for each immigrant we take in we will send to their countries someone who has been welfare-dependent for five years or more, excluding those with chronic disabilities such as multiple sclerosis and etc. Immigrants we take in will not be eligible for state benefits of any kind for a period of five years. If they become burdens to the state any time after that (i.e. living off government programs instead of working), they too will be exchanged for a better class of immigrants.

It won't be a burden to most Latin American nations because they do not provide the same welfare state largess that we do. In most of Latin America, you work or you starve. It will actually be good for those who emigrate to develop self-sufficiency and a work ethic. They will finally have the dignity of earning their own way through life.

Immigration is a key aspect of who we are as a nation. In the past, we typically welcomed immigrants because they fit our needs. We have deviated from that purpose and have suffered the natural consequences. Let us welcome with open arms immigrants who share our values and who will contribute to our culture and economy. They will make much better citizens than the many native-born individuals who simply leech off the productivity of others.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why Hoosiers Chose Trump and Sanders

Trump won. Regardless of your opinion on Donald J. Trump's candidacy, he will be the Republican nominee for president. Whatever else happens, this will be an interesting general election.

The Republican Party has a few difficulties that would be easily solved if something that seems impossible is done to heal the party. Put simply, Ted Cruz needs to be Donald Trump's running mate. I don't see this happening, but it would pacify the absolutists on both sides. Cruz supporters would vote to elect their guy as vice-president. Trump supporters will be out anyway. Drafting Cruz would make a Republican path to victory likely. Without such a reunification, I don't see it happening.

Donald Trump has attacked Ted Cruz (not to mention his wife) on such a personal level that being his running mate would be an act of abject humiliation, something akin to Hillary Clinton being Barack Obama's secretary of state. Yet, it remains possible, if implausible, that this might happen. Trump would have to make a personal apology and most likely also a public one in order to even begin to heal the wounds he inflicted. This isn't something Donald Trump would be comfortable doing.

Still, Trump could use Ted Cruz's experience and acumen in the White House. While many love his brash personal style, he doesn't know much of anything about how government works. He knows which wheels to grease, sure, but he has no idea what those people do to make that investment worthwhile. He needs an insider, someone who has been part of the system. While Ben Carson would also bring a lot to the table, he isn't experienced at getting things done within the gridlock that is Washington D.C. Granted, he's extremely intelligent and would certainly help to draft a replacement for the mess that is Obamacare. Obamacare reminds me of a verse in the New Testament, Revelation 3:16, "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue [spew] thee out of my mouth." It isn't a free-market system, nor is it a single-payer, government owned system. Instead, it is a makeshift hodgepodge containing the worst aspects of both systems.

As for the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton by a five percent margin. These results tell us something, both about Indiana and the candidates themselves. Hoosiers (what we folks in Indiana call ourselves) don't like to follow conventional wisdom. We like the underdogs, the people who overcome odds and achieve success despite the doubts of others. Donald Trump was a wild card in this race. He wasn't taken seriously and has been mocked relentlessly by the press. Sanders is considered a wild-eyed socialist in desperate need of a reality check. (That is actually a pretty accurate summary of Bernie Sanders, frankly.) Hoosiers don't care. We want to see a real difference between the people for whom we are voting. We want to choose between people who will honestly tell us what they are thinking. Trump and Sanders both lack verbal filters. That makes them ideal candidates to most Hoosiers.

Right now, the Democrat delegate totals are 1,683 for Clinton and 1,362 for Sanders. There are 1,159 remaining. There are also 561 superdelegate votes (party insiders whose votes count as much as do the democratically-elected delegates from the states). Most of these are assumed to be voting for Clinton. However, there is a problem with this math. Just as the Republican Party would be scourged for nominating anyone besides Trump now that he has a huge lead against the rest of the field, the Democrat Party would also face criticism if Sanders won most of the state delegates and the nomination was turned over to Clinton by the superdelegates. The Democrat Party has a much less democratic system of nomination, and if Sanders were to eclipse Clinton in state-elected delegates, this would definitely become an issue. The superdelegates might well be pressured into backing Bernie Sanders the same way that Republican delegates will likely back Trump during the second ballot.

We could very well see a Trump versus Sanders general election. A hardcore capitalist versus a hardcore socialist. Analyst Larry Kudlow predicts that in a Trump/Sanders race, Donald Trump would take 49 out of 50 states. How is this possible? The presumption that Hispanic voters are all pro-illegal-immigration is demonstrably false. More than a third of Hispanic voters voted for Republicans in Congress in 2014. My Mexican-American stepfather tried out for the Border Patrol--over half of all Border Patrol agents are Hispanic. The presumption is that Hispanics are more loyal to their nations of ancestry than to the United States. This is entirely false.

No more stark choice could be offered to America than a race between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The results would tell us exactly where this nation stands with regard to a market economy. Do we value liberty or security more? We'll find out. As Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." What do we deserve?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Indiana Primary Jitters

I was a Ben Carson guy until he dropped out of the race. Afterward, I was a reluctant Ted Cruz fan, although I'm worried that Hillary Clinton, whose supporters actually originated the "birther" argument against Barack Obama in 2008, would resurrect it to attack him. He is demonstrably a natural born citizen; I have proved that in another post. Still, in a campaign it is a weakness that he was born in Canada even though his mother was an American citizen.

Nevertheless, Ted Cruz would make a great president. I don't understand why he'd choose a running mate before being nominated, but he made a good pick anyway. Carly Fiorina is experienced in the world of business and would have been a great presidential nominee had things turned out differently.

Cruz spoke at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana last night to a lively crowd. With him were Glenn Beck, Mike Pence and local celebrity Pat Miller. For anyone listening, Cruz gave an amazing speech. It was intelligent, positive and heartfelt. Listening to it I couldn't help but think, "This man would make a great president!" It is too bad that the event likely made no impact whatsoever. You can view the entire rally and all of the speakers below:

According to polls this morning (election day in Indiana), Trump is ahead by a 15-point margin. Trump's supporters are die-hards who have likely already voted early in the weeks before the election, as Indiana allows folks to do. It is difficult to imagine Ted Cruz taking the state. If he loses, all of Indiana's fifty-seven delegates will be allocated to Donald Trump's total; Indiana is a winner-take-all state.

I am about to vote for Ted Cruz. If Trump wins, I won't be heartbroken. There is a lot to like about Donald J. Trump, although I think he'd be clobbered by the media right and left once he is nominated. Every scandal will be in the news 24/7. He will be mocked for his accent, his demeanor and his lack of political "sophistication" (a word that comes from sophism, meaning to make things so complicated they lose their meaning). I'll vote for Trump if he's the Republican nominee. I'd rather have Ben Carson, but that isn't going to happen. However, Dr. Carson endorsed Donald Trump, so he may well be chosen as a vice presidential nominee. He would add some much-needed gravitas to the ticket. (By the way, I absolutely loathe the word gravitas, but it fits in this case.) Trump would secure the borders and begin to level the trade imbalance by protecting native industry. For those who have read some of my earlier posts, I believe that protectionism is in fact the most conservative position; it is certainly the most similar to what the Founders practiced. I am not a Neo-Con, so I am only for free trade with other nations so long as it proves beneficial to ours.

We'll see how this goes. Either Republican would be vastly better than a Democrat. Trump might prove more liberal than he is campaigning, but both Hillary and Bernie would make him look like George Washington by comparison.