Rick Perry vs World
10 November 2018
A 2018 retrospective
A wall of text on 2018:
1. I've said consistently and repeatedly that I thought Ted Cruz was vulnerable to the right candidate in 2018. I also frequently said that Beto wasn't that candidate. I was right. Honestly, Beto never ran a strategy that could get a plurality of the vote in Texas.
Not even in a relatively good year for Dems. Sure he got close, but every single percentage point is quadratically harder.
2. But to be fair, given that Beto ran like he was a statewide candidate in California, I wouldn't have expected him to get within 3 points. He ran a strategy that normally tops out at 45% and then added a couple points from a favorable election year and good turnout.
So maybe Ted Cruz was even more vulnerable than I thought. There's no doubt that he's not popular after 4 years of changing his position to whatever will win the next election, plus attacking Republicans more than Democrats. Also using "tough as Texas" as his tagline almost seemed like Beto wrote it to remind voters about how Ted completely failed to stand up to Trump and defend his wife and father.
Yet Beto honestly did a terrible job of reminding voters of what they dislike about Ted. To a large degree, that probably doesn't matter but he definitely overcalibrated for "getting fawning media coverage from national outlets" versus "winning an election in Texas."
Huge missed opportunity for Democrats on both a state and national level. Cruz likely won't be as vulnerable in 6 years.
3. What if Beto had spent his money more wisely? All that money on yard signs and on poorly targeted online ads (Beto spent lots of money on impressions that I saw and it wasn't all remnant ads) wasn't cheap. If I recall correctly, Cruz actually spent more on TV in the final weeks, despite Beto raising multiples of Cruz's money. Odd.
4. Getting crazy amounts of money from people who dislike Ted Cruz was never going to be the hard part. Getting crazy good coverage from the media who all dislike Ted Cruz was never going to be hard part.
Getting those things and then not believing your own hype...well if you are effing Beto O'Rourke, then that is the hard part.
5. Beto is probably the reason that some Dems won their elections. But let's not forget that this is late in the redistricting cycle where districts are not demographically what they were when they were drawn nearly a decade ago.
How much Beto turning out extra liberal voters actually mattered is more complicated than it initially appears because of the next couple points:
6. First midterms are generally going to be favorable for the opposition party. Duh.
7. As a brand new Republican after decades as a New York Democrat, Trump re-aligns demographics even more than a new president normally does. The Republicans who lost were in normally GOP areas where Trump is far less popular than a normal Republican would be.
Trump is not popular in the suburbs of major cities. We saw this in 2016, and we saw it again in 2018. [By the way, these were also areas in which Ted Cruz underperformed in the 2016 Texas presidential primary].
Did I think Culberson would lose? Months ago, no, I absolutely didn't, but given his neglect of constituent services (I speak from experience) and his general lethargy on the campaign trail plus the fact that he went native and moved to Washington, DC....well, I ain't shocked. The real question is whether CD7 stays blue in 2020, and I highly doubt that.
The Houston metro has had so much Republican dead wood in our congresspeople and state reps that a nice wakeup call to do. their. jobs. is hardly the worst thing in the world.
Could the Dallas and Harris county parties have done better? Definitely maybe, but much of this was written in stone when you had Trump at the top of the ballot in his first mid-term where you had a vulnerable and polarizing Ted Cruz running against someone focused on ginning up liberal turnout instead of winning.
But hey, to quote Ted Cruz's daily intonation in 2015, "Donald Trump is terrific!"
07 April 2017
Droppin' F bombs, Beto O'Rourke style
It's not often that a politician decides to start cursing repeatedly during speeches and interviews. But that hasn't stopped Beto O'Rourke, who has been letting them fly as part of his Senate campaign announcement tour.
It's certainly not what any consultant would tell you to do, but I actually think it's a good idea. Would I prefer to live in a world where politicians talk like educated adults? Sure, but the last few years have shown that ain't a requirement for winning.
O'Rourke is likely to lose. Perhaps in the primary -- although the Castros seems very cautious, so maybe they pass -- but nearly certainly in the general. The only way to win is to catch lightning in a bottle. The best way to do that is by being yourself and not being cautious.
28 March 2017
Statewide primary rumors
It's that stage of the election cycle where politicians are trying to figure out if they should run for something else or stay put. Consultants are whispering in ears, as well as throwing up trial balloons.
I'm hearing that Christi Craddick is likely to challenge Ken Paxton for attorney general. The ongoing legal issues the AG is dealing with have always meant he'd be high on the list of statewides likely to see a challenge.
I'm also hearing that there are folks sitting down with Dave Carney that may challenge some of the non-Carney statewides.
Given that the Democrats are utterly incapable of putting out any candidates who reflect Texas values, it's good for Texas to see competitive races up and down the primary ballot.
UPDATE: Dave Carney tells me he has only discussed the Greg Abbott re-election campaign.
18 March 2017
Is Ted Cruz vulnerable?
Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Not really.
Sure, he's not liked, Texans think Ted puts Ted first, his approval rating is upside down, etc etc. But in a two party system, that doesn't mean much. The Statesman's Tilove quotes George W Bush advisor Matt Dowd on the subject:
Dowd, who lives in Austin, believes there is a potential path for victory in the Cruz race for a centrist independent — and he is contemplating becoming that candidate.
But, he said, “in my view, if it’s Beto O’Rourke against Cruz, Cruz wins and probably wins by double digits. If it’s Joaquín Castro vs. Ted Cruz, it’s basically the same thing, and instead of losing by 14 points, he might lose by 10 points.
“I mean, Texas is still a right-of-center state, broadly,” Dowd said. “If (voters) get a choice between a very left-of-center Democrat and Ted, they’re going to pick Ted.”
Dowd is right. None of the prospective D candidates are anywhere close to beating any Republican, even Ted Cruz. Joaquín Castro isn't even gonna get the margin down to 10 points.
Could Cruz get beat in a primary? He definitely could, but color me skeptical he gets a challenger savvy enough to beat him.
Could Dowd win as an independent? I'd say the possibility is there, but in practice this is quite hard to pull off. Dowd's profile isn't a great fit for it, and his writing doesn't lead me to believe he could thread that needle.
So unless Nolan Ryan decides he wants to go to the United States Senate at the age of 70, I'd say Ted Cruz is safe for re-election.
01 February 2017
Ted Cruz's first senate term in a nutshell
The National Review's Tim Alberta switched to Politico, and one of his opening pieces put Ted Cruz's first term in a nutshell
It was a sleepy Wednesday morning last June when Ted Cruz tipped his hand.
John McCain had sponsored an amendment to expand the FBI’s online surveillance capabilities, and it was a no-brainer for the many devout constitutionalists on Cruz’s Senate staff. Rand Paul and Mike Lee—two reliable Republican allies in the fight for civil liberties—were adamantly opposed, and it was presumed throughout the upper chamber that Cruz would be too. When the vote came, however, the Texas senator stunned his colleagues by siding with McCain and the GOP leadership. The amendment failed to advance, but Cruz’s vote sent tremors through his Senate office. The previous month he’d quit the 2016 race and returned to Congress, yet he was still in campaign mode, anatomizing daily decisions on calls with his political team. This particular vote—which was influenced, several sources recall, by data suggesting Cruz’s flirtation with libertarianism made him vulnerable on national security during the GOP primary
1. It's all about President Ted Cruz.
As soon as he was sworn into office in 2013, Ted Cruz was running for president. His first trip to Iowa was just a few months later, in the summer of 2013. Every vote, every strategic decision is guided by how this will put Ted Cruz in the Oval Office.
2. What do the polls say?
Every thing is calculated. Much like Bill Clinton, they try to calculate everything out with poll data. That's what drove the love affair with Donald Trump followed by the breakup followed by the makeup followed by the breakup, followed by the predictable endorsement. Even if they're using scientifically questionable psychobabble (Cruz 2016 stopped using Cambridge Analytica entirely after South Carolina)
3. "Stand for principle."
There's a psychological concept called "The Shadow." The idea is that the thing you like least about yourself (possibly unconsciously) is the thing you criticize in other people. You see where I'm going with this?
Ted Cruz repeated "Stand for principle" over and over again in his 2012 race. As a senator, Ted Cruz has never taken a single stand for principle if it would cost him politically.
In 2012, he talked about his zealotry in the fight for religious freedom. But during the presidential campaign, he was so afraid of Trump's tweets, that multiple times he voted against this:
It is the sense of the Senate that the United States must not bar individuals from entering into the United States based on their religion, as such action would be contrary to the fundamental principles on which this Nation was founded.
If that's what a fighter for religious freedom does, I think religious freedom would be better off with less fighters.
[Let's gloss over the fact that while ISIS was cleansing entire regions of Christians, Cruz never mentioned it -- in fact, he went out of his way to antagonize Middle East Christians as a political stunt -- because the campaign had decided that the religious freedom message was Democrat Kim Davis. Gotta stay on message.]
Crop insurance, when he realized his anti-subsidy vote was going to kill him in Iowa, so he went back to the Senate Clerk and flipped his vote. I guess it's ok if government picks winners and losers after all.
Or there's the free trade bill, where he was leading the fight in favor (his pro-trade stance led at least one of his senior staffers to quit), until his poll numbers stalled because Bannon's Breitbart and the talk radio show hosts were criticizing him. So Cruz went quiet for a few weeks, and then emerged with the exact same arguments that he'd debunked a few weeks earlier in his WSJ op-ed with Paul Ryan.
The list could go on and on - the VAT tax, the shifting sands of Ted Cruz's immigration positions over the years, etc etc.
Ted Cruz is world class at hitting the emotional buttons of activists. But during his six years in the Senate, the only principle Ted Cruz stands for is Ted Cruz.
24 January 2017
Democrats actually thought Wendy Davis was a serious candidate?
Hat tip to Willisms:
25 December 2016
02 November 2016
Solid school choice video by Will Franklin
01 October 2016
Has Ted Cruz even lost . . . Deace?
Iowa radio host Steve Deace fiercely defended Ted Cruz throughout his entire presidential run.
Deace -- along with other Cruz partisans like Amanda Carpenter and Erick Erickson -- was so hardcore for Cruz that he even spent early summer 2015 attacking conservative #NeverTrump as "establishment" because it was the Cruz party line.
Fascinating turnaround if even Deace's listeners are abandoning Cruz.
23 September 2016
Five reasons Ted Cruz will support Donald Trump sooner or later
It's been obvious since the convention that Ted Cruz will eventually support Donald Trump.
1. Ted Cruz is Nixon
In Ted Cruz is Nixon and Is Ted Cruz the new Nixon?, friendly conservative pundits Rich Lowry and Matt Lewis nailed it: Ted Cruz is Nixon. He's a hyper-ambitious politician who calculates the politics of every move and position.
The #CruzCrew twitterverse thinks that Cruz's current stand against Trump is principled. Maybe it is, but there's no way Cruz will maintain opposition to Trump.
Ted Cruz is a calculating politician, and his current position is untenable.
2. Hillary. Hillary. Hillary.
Ted Cruz's convention speech put him in a bad long-term position, though he didn't seem to realize just how bad. He went on national TV and said "vote your conscience" -- a phrase that has a very specific meaning in politics: it's okay to vote against your party.
Cruz and his advisors soon realized they'd miscalculated by the intensity and length of the backlash. They lost their biggest 2016 donor, probably permanently.
It's impossible to overestimate the level of antipathy that the average Republican voter has for Hillary Clinton. It's so strong that Republicans are willing to back a liberal New York Democrat like Donald Trump if it keeps Hillary out of the White House.
3. Jeff Roe's Rasputin-like hold on Ted Cruz.
It's hard to understand how 2012's Ted Cruz went from emotionally shouting at David Dewhurst "How dare you question my patriotism?" during a debate [because of a mail piece written by Jeff Roe for Dewhurst] to becoming 2016's Ted Cruz: the presidential candidate who deliberately chose the same tactics and reputation for dirty dealing.
Much of Jeff Roe's strategy has been awful for Cruz, but great for Jeff Roe. The Cruz 2016 strategy never had any chance of winning the nomination, but it was a great strategy to get second place.
Roe has always been against the "vote your conscience" line, and he seems to always eventually get Cruz to agree with him. He'll get it this time too, eventually.
4. "Vote your conscience" has already run its course.
Ted Cruz needed a big stand to make people forget how he was Trump's biggest supporter when it mattered. There was almost a year of this:
The whole convention speech was an attempt at getting voters to forget that Ted Cruz bragged about his campaign strategy of boosting Trump because he thought it would help his chances.
In fact, after the primaries Jeff Roe even accidentally admitted how Cruz's entire strategy was to boost Trump because Cruz couldn't beat anyone else one-on-one. "Our strategy required us to be head-to-head against [Trump]."
The whole "vote your conscience" kerfuffle has now served its calculated purpose.
5. Cruz is going to have to tell people he voted against Hillary Clinton if he wants to win re-election in 2018.
If Cruz doesn't flip, the ads against him write themselves in the 2018 GOP primary. You show some of the endless footage of Cruz and Trump as best friends forever, then you show Cruz refusing to support Trump.
"Can you trust a politician who can't even stand against Hillary Clinton?" That's a winning message against Ted Cruz for anyone if Hillary is president, because the right's intensity against Hillary will only intensify if she's in the Oval Office.
If Cruz is going to flip-flop on Trump (again!), he may as well do it now. Cruz has literally been all over the map on Trump. Surely his supporters can swallow one more change?
It's possible that he doesn't tell us until after November that he voted for Trump. But I'd bet he does it sooner rather than later.
Expect the pedantic argument.
I doubt Ted Cruz comes out with a full-throated backing of Trump. It's much more likely that he just decides to flip-flop by saying that "conscience dictates that I vote against Hillary."
If history serves, he'll then make the argument that his flip-flop is 100% consistent with what he's always said.
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