27 October 2015

GOP Nomination Race Still Wacky

Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is the choice of 26 percent of Republican primary voters, the poll found, while Mr. Trump now wins support from 22 percent, although the difference lies within the margin of sampling error. . . . Senator Marco Rubio of Florida received 8 percent while former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, are each the choice of 7 percent of Republican primary voters. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio each received support from 4 percent of those surveyed.
Per the New York Times regarding the latest CBS/NYT poll. The no political experience caucus has 55% support from likely Republican voters.

UPDATE October 30, 2015:

Reactions to yesterday's debate in Boulder proves how much debate performance is in the eye of the beholder.  Consider these two differing takes on Marco Rubio's performance:
The big takeaway for us was the damage to Marco Rubio. The Florida Republican took a few shots from moderators and candidates, but he reacted like somebody shot his dog. The question about Rubio has always been about what he’ll do when push comes to shove; if tonight is any indication, Rubio will fall down. A lot.
- Colorado Pols
Marco Rubio has strong performance in GOP debate in Boulder.
- Front Page Headline in the Denver Post.

I more urgent priorities than watching inept pot stirring CNBC news personalities try to herd the cats that are the top ten GOP Presidential candidates (let alone the bottom four GOP Presidential candidates at the opening act "kid's table" table before hand), so I can't offer my first hand impression.  Even if I could, it would be pretty irrelevant. I am definitely not in the target audience of the event: Republican primary or caucus voters and potential GOP donors to the campaigns.

Colorado Pols is coming at the event from a politically liberal perspective - its pretense to be bipartisan went by the wayside long ago.  But, Colorado Pols, as an outsider pundit, does care about making accurate assessments of how events like the debate will impact the race and really have a dog in the fight only at the must subtle and indirect level through concern trolling.  So, I was pretty stunned to see the Denver Post and Colorado Pols reach diametrically opposite conclusions about the winners and losers in the event.

The live blog at Colorado Pols revealed another point with which I doubt the Denver Post analysts would disagree.  Candidates for elected office in debates (and most other media contexts for that matter) make no more than a token effort to observe any sort of rules of decorum usually present in a debate or group discussion context, and likewise insist on spouting their own canned lines rather than attempting in good faith to meaningfully engage with the questions they are asked.

The political tactics of speaking out of turn and ignoring the questions that you are asked in favor of your own message are pretty much ubiquitous and illustrate how deeply order and decorum have vanished a shared political values in our civic culture.

Apparently, this is necessary to succeed in the untamed world of American politics.  But, it doesn't reflect well on us as a political community.

Of course, that isn't the only disappointing political tactic that works in American politics.  A far more longstanding and more deeply troubling feature of American politics, and it is certainly not limited to American politics, even though I wouldn't say that it is universal either, is the tolerance that the voting public has for being fed lines that simply aren't accurate or are gross hyperbole or that demonstrate that a candidate is just plain crazy.

There is still some political price to be paid for being overtly racists or sexist in political rhetoric, although for every two or three people alienated by that, there seems to be at least one potential voter (almost always Republican or Republican leaning) who responds intensely and more positively as a result, which is why Donald Trump is polling so well in the GOP race despite the anti-immigrant slurs that he launched his race with.  But, several Republican candidates in recent election cycles have lost their races over abominable statements they have made about rape.

But, when it comes to science, economics, or other public policy questions, the public doesn't seem to care at all if candidates spout utter nonsense, so long as conclusion, if true, doesn't cause any cognitive dissonance with their pre-existing world view, or desires.

Democracy in America will continue to be fragile until we can develop a political culture where saying things like vaccines cause autism, or climate change isn't real, or deep tax cuts will balance the budget or the Civil War wasn't fought to preserve slavery, makes a candidate unelectable.

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