Thursday, March 19, 2015


Bloomberg Politics and Purple Strategies assembled two focus groups in New Hampshire this week (probably on St. Patrick's Day, judging from the amount of green the participants were wearing). The focus groups were small -- ten Republicans in one, ten Democrats in the other -- but, well, New Hampshire's a small state. The participants were questioned on camera by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, and the results are showing up in Halperin and Heilemann's webcast, so, of course, the hook of the story (written by H&H's colleague Margaret Talev) is Both front-runners are in deep, deep trouble!
Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the presumptive establishment frontrunners for the 2016 presidential nomination, may be facing real problems within their parties.
But, as we learn, some problems are worse than others. Hillary's problem is that the ten Democrats think she should have done a better job with her emails -- even though they all support her anyway.
Participants on the Democratic side contradicted claims by Clinton’s team that voters aren’t worrying about her e-mails. They indicated while they still intend to support Clinton, her handling of the matter has disappointed them and made her more vulnerable to lost support from others. They also said she should allow a third party to examine her private e-mail server so that the issue doesn’t give Republicans ammunition going forward.
(Emphasis added.)

Bloomberg's not allowing me to embed that video, but the emails come up after Heilemann asks, "So let's think about some of the negative things about Hillary Clinton, to the extent that there are some. What do you like least about her?"

By contrast, no one in the Republican focus group supports Jeb:

None said they’d back Bush if they were voting today.

Karen, 47, an interior designer said if Bush were the first in his family to run he might be elected. "After his faither and his brother, I don't think he'll have a chance," she said. Daphne, 23, a student, said that "if he was, you know, the only choice, then I'd vote for him" but otherwise there was "nothing" he could do to win her vote. "I don't know," she said. "I don't like him. I'm not for him." ...

“I know enough to know I don’t need to keep voting for a Bush over and over again or a Clinton over and over again,” said Matthew, a 35-year-old with some college education. He said Bush represents “the Republicans we’ve been trying to get rid of for the last eight or 10 years.”

Diana, a retiree, said while Bush sounded “pretty good” in a recent speech she heard, she may not be able to get past some of his ideological differences and a concern he isn’t conservative enough. “Does he have more good than bad, or does he have more bad than good?”
I know a lot of you don't love Hillary Clinton, and I understand that -- but if no other electable Democrat runs and she's what's standing between us and a Supreme Court with four new Federalist Society justices in early middle age, then I say Go, Hill. (And the broader public may feel the same way these New Hampshire Democrats do: a CNN poll released yesterday showed Clinton clocking seven Republicans, each by double digits, despite the email story.)

Jeb? I know a lot of you think he's a lock for the nomination, but as I keep saying, he's really testing the premise that GOP primary voters flirt with insurgents and then settle down with the Establishment's choice. Unlike war cheerleader McCain in '08 or Obamacare-basher Romney in '12, he's giving primary voters nothing to cheer for, and he expresses contempt for their passions every chance he gets. They actively dislike him.

Another thing that hurts Jeb: the GOP Congress's failure to crush Obama. If congressional Republicans were winning more battles with Obama, primary voters wouldn't be so desperate for a Democrat slayer. The longer Republicans bicker with one another and spin their wheels while Obama openly defies them, the less GOP voters are going to be willing to settle for Jeb. So, yeah, I continue to think the fat cats are going to have a hard time getting Jeb nominated.


Victor said...

Yeah, but Jeb's still trying to get wingnuttier - he came out against a Federal minimum wage the other day.

I think the loons really, really want red meat this election.

And Jeb looks like tofu to them.

mlbxxxxxx said...

The last time around, we saw every wacko candidate get a shot at the top. None could sustain it once they got the white-hot scrutiny that comes with it. Only Mitt could survive because he was the only, or even near, rational candidate(Jon Huntsman, notwithstanding) because that's what it takes, in the final analysis, to survive said white-hot scrutiny. That he was the only rational candidate was pretty clear from the beginning.

I think we will see a similar situation with 2016. Bush, in his meeting with Mitt, cleared the field of any other rational candidates. He will be there as all the rest, inevitably, meltdown. Those voters in New Hampshire will turn to him because he will, in fact, be the only option they've got left. Just like Mitt was.

Now, Mitt did a lot more pandering. Jeb seems to be trying to play it differently. It's going to be interesting to see how that works for him. But I think the system will pretty much deliver the nomination to him regardless. The wackos will flame out -- it's what they do. It's why they are called "hotheads". Time is on Jeb's side. And the hotheads are their own worst enemies.

sdhays said...

But then you look at the rest. Who can really win? Walker? I don't hear a lot about Kasich, so if he decides to run, there might be something there, but I'm thinking he's not going to since I haven't heard anything serious by now. Will Romney ride in on his white horse in early 2016 when the primaries are all over the place (we all know that's what he has written in his diary)? Which teahadi will survive?

The New York Crank said...

Bloomberg focus group? Speaking of Bloomberg, let us not forget that Michael Bloomberg has harbored presidential aspirations since the first term of his now-expired mayoralty. And he is politically ambidextrous. So don't be surprised if he is waiting in the wings for either Hillary to falter or the Republicans to implode, whichever comes first.

I imagine that if he were to make it to the White House, Bloomberg would be much more effective at getting what he wants than several previous presidents. However, don't expect him to do you any progressive favors. He's pretty much Right Wing Lite on economic issues, okay on social issues, and nobody knows where on the International stuff other than matters economic.

Where's Elizabeth Warren now that we need her?

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank