Presidential primaries set to begin with Iowa caucuses – January 30, 2016 10:53AM ET

The long and sometimes arcane ritual of electing the next U.S. president begins on Monday in more than 1,100 schools, churches and libraries across Iowa, a state that wields political influence far greater than its small size.Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at Jan 31, 2016 3.45

After more than a year of up-close and personal evaluation of the candidates, Iowans will gather with their neighbors on what promises to be a cold wintry night to kick off the state-by-state process of picking the Republican and Democratic nominees for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The starring opening-night role of the largely rural Midwestern state in the presidential drama, now four decades old, is a source of pride for Iowa voters, who spend months evaluating the candidates, looking them in the eye and asking questions.

“Iowans see it as a great privilege and a great gift. They take their role very seriously,” said Tom Henderson, chairman of the Democratic Party in Polk County, home to Iowa’s biggest city, Des Moines.

The caucuses will begin on Monday at 7 p.m. CST, and results are expected within two or three hours. Most gatherings will be in schools, community centers or other public locations, although at least two Republican caucuses will be in private homes and one Democratic caucus will be held at an equestrian center.

Turnout varies by community, with up to 1,000 people typically gathering in cities like Des Moines, while a few dozen or less may gather in more sparsely populated areas.

The state Republican and Democratic parties run their caucuses separately, although in some areas they hold them in different parts of the same building. Republicans will have more than 800 caucus sites, and Democrats will have about 1,100.

The two parties also have different rules. Iowa Democrats gather in groups by candidate preference in a public display of support, a tradition that can allow for shifts back and forth. If a candidate does not reach the threshold of support of 15 percent of voters in a caucus needed to be considered viable, that candidates’ supporters are released to back another contender, leading to another round of persuasion.

Republicans are more straightforward. They write their vote privately on a sheet of paper that is collected and counted at the site by caucus officials. A surrogate or volunteer from each campaign may speak to their neighbors in a last-ditch plea for support, adding to the uncertainty going into the process.

Neither party is offering voter turnout estimates this year, although many Iowans predict the Republicans will surpass the 121,503 who turned out in 2012. In the last contested Democratic caucus, in 2008, excitement over Barack Obama’s candidacy spurred a record turnout of 239,872.

Iowa, the 30th most populated state, and tiny New Hampshire, which holds the second nominating contest on Feb. 9, have traditionally served as early filters to winnow out the losers and elevate the top contenders for later contests.

But Iowa Republicans recently have had a spotty record at backing the ultimate presidential nominees. Neither the Republican winner in 2008, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, nor the winner in 2012, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, managed to win the party nomination.

Iowa Democrats did back the party’s last two nominees: John Kerry in 2004 and Obama in 2008, which ultimately launched Obama’s drive to the White House.


Republican Demographic Problems Aren’t Just For the Future Anymore – —By Kevin Drum | Wed Dec. 30, 2015 1:14 PM EST

Lightspring /Shutterstock

Here’s an interesting poll analysis from Reuters. It shows demographic shifts since the 2012 elections, and it turns out that most groups are pretty stable. There are three exceptions. On the plus side for conservatives, Jews have become slightly more Republican. But on the minus side, Hispanics and young whites have become significantly more Democratic.blog_reuters_poll_demographic_shift_12_2015

Hispanics are no surprise. Republicans have spent the past three years loudly opposing comprehensive immigration reform and playing “can you top this?” when it comes to border security. Then along came Donald Trump, with his murderers and rapists and his big, beautiful wall. The only surprise here is Hispanics haven’t moved further away from the Republican Party.

But it’s certainly odd that Republicans are losing both Hispanics and young whites. Or maybe not. Older whites are generally attracted to traditional conservative values and the vague racial dog whistles that Republicans specialize in. But younger whites are probably turned off by social troglodytism—especially anti-gay animus—and don’t respond to the dog whistles one way or another. So they’re leaving.

I guess it’s time for yet another Republican post mortem that they can then proceed to ignore. Why wait until after the election, after all?

Vulnerable Senators Wary of Trump – By Gabrielle Levy Dec. 15, 2015, at 12:01 a.m.

Donald Trump is taking a wrecking ball to the GOP’s strategy to keep the Senate majority.

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 3, 2015.

Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum on Dec. 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Simple math already said Republicans would have their hands full retaining control of the Senate in 2016.

Enter Donald Trump, whose ability to step right through the pitfalls that would destroy most candidates’ campaigns has not only disrupted the GOP presidential primary but also complicated the re-election efforts of incumbent lawmakers and the party’s plans to keep its Senate majority.

For more than four months, Trump has been the all-but-untouchable front-runner despite his vitriolic rhetoric aimed at Muslims and Mexicans, war heroes and women – none of which has dented his support.

Establishment Republicans, including many members of the Senate, have so far been wary of criticizing him, but have grown bolder in their condemnation after his call last week for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., which he has since said would exempt U.S. residents.

[READ: 5 Things to Know About Congress This Week: 12/11/2015]

For some, the criticism comes with risks.

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Stage set for final GOP debate of 2015 –

Watch CNN’s coverage of the fifth Republican presidential debate live from Las Vegas on Tuesday, December 15. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET.Washington (CNN)Nine candidates will appear in prime-time Tuesday night for the final Republican presidential primary debate of 2015, a critical event that will help shape the contest heading into the Iowa caucuses.Businessman Donald Trump, the front-runner for the nomination, will again be center stage flanked by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on his right and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on his left, CNN announced Sunday. The six remaining participants in the prime-time contest will be Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.Four candidates — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki — will appear in the first debate on Tuesday evening.

Source: Stage set for final GOP debate of 2015 –

Ted Cruz’s Shameful Anti-Muslim Rhetoric – By William Saletan DEC. 11 2015 2:55 PM

Sen. Ted Cruz, speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Oct. 31, 2015. Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz, speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Oct. 31, 2015.
Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images

The Republican Party has taken another step in its ongoing campaign against American Muslims.

Five years ago, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and other GOP luminaries led a movement to block construction of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Earlier this year, Republican leaders accused President Obama of apologizing for the Crusades. More recently, some of the party’s presidential candidates have declared that Muslim refugees—many of whom are victims of religious persecution by Islamic extremists—should be categorically barred from the United States.

Initially, to avoid the appearance of bigotry, the 2016 candidates drew distinctions. Donald Trump said there were good Muslims in addition to “the bad ones.” Sen. Marco Rubio said the problem was “radical” Islam, not Islam per se. Sen. Ted Cruz said the enemy was “radical Islamic terrorism.”

These distinctions are now collapsing as the party slides toward bigotry against Muslims writ large. In the wake of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, public anxiety is running high, and polls of Republican primary voters show a strong appetite for anti-Muslim policies. So the leading Republican candidates are now attacking President Obama not just for weakness against Islamic terrorism, but for opposing anti-Muslim prejudice.

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The CNN Republican Debate in 90 Seconds – By Anne Marie Lindemann and A.J. McCarthy


Everything you missed, for better or worse.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at Sep 17, 2015 1.17

Tune out Wednesday’s Republican debate? We have you covered. In the video above, we whittled the near-three-hours’ worth of GOP banter down to one easily digestible 90-second serving. From Carly Fiorina taking home another w, this time on the main stage, to a (slightly) more subdued Donald Trump and a pot toking Jeb Bush, it was a, uh, big night for the Republican Party at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

And if you’re concerned with whether or not the real issues entered the discussion, have no fear—we found out who Jeb would put on the new $10 bill. Hint: She’s not American. A curveball, we know.

White Fright – By Reihan Salam Sept 4 2015

Does Donald Trump represent the ascendancy of white nationalism on the American right?

Is this the face of white nationalism? Donald Trump in New York, Sept. 3, 2015. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Fear of “white nationalism” is very much in vogue. To Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, the rise of Donald Trump is a predictable consequence of the fact that the Republican Party is “the home of an often angry and resentful white constituency,” which fears that discrimination against whites is a growing problem. Evan Osnos of the New Yorker, in a similar vein, seeks to explain the Trump phenomenon by viewing it through the lens of radical white nationalists, who warn that white Americans face cultural genocide as their numerical majority shrinks. Ben Domenech, publisher of the Federalistargues that Republicans face a choice: They can build their coalition around a more inclusive libertarian vision, the path that he prefers, or they can follow Trump and redefine themselves as the defenders of white interests in a bitterly divided multiracial society.

Does Donald Trump represent the ascendancy of white nationalism on the American right? I’m skeptical, for a number of reasons. While anti-immigration rhetoric is certainly a big part of Trump’s appeal, it is also true that he fares particularly well among the minority of Republican voters who identify themselves as moderate or liberal. As a general rule, moderate and liberal Republicans are more favorably inclined toward amnesty and affirmative action than their conservative counterparts. Moreover, as Jason Willick of the American Interest has observed, the leading second-choice candidates are Ben Carson, the black neurosurgeon, and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of whom are senators of Cuban descent, the latter of whom played a leading role in crafting immigration reform legislation. Granted, it could still be true that Trump is benefiting from white racial resentment. It’s just not clear to me that Trump is anything more than Herman Cain with an extra billion or so dollars in the bank and over a decade’s worth of experience as host of one of network television’s most popular reality shows.

Nevertheless, I believe that white identity politics is indeed going to become a more potent force in the years to come, for the simple reason that non-Hispanic whites are increasingly aware of the fact that they are destined to become a minority of all Americans. According to current projections, that day will come in 2044. Non-Hispanic whites will become a minority of eligible voters a few years later, in 2052. According to States of Change, a report by Ruy Teixeira, William H. Frey, and Robert Griffin, California and Texas are set to join Hawaii and New Mexico in having majority-minority electorates in the next few years, and several other states will follow in the 2030s.

Why does it matter that in the near future, non-Hispanic whites will become a minority in one state after another? The most obvious reason is that non-Hispanic whites might lose their sense of security. They will be outnumbered and outvoted. If they remain wealthier than average, as seems likely, they might fear that majority-minority constituencies will vote to redistribute their wealth. Over time, they might resent seeing their cultural symbols give way to those of minority communities—which is to say the cultural symbols of other minority communities.

In a 1916 essay in the Atlantic, Randolph Bourne, at the time one of America’s leading left-wing intellectuals, attacked the melting-pot ideal, in which immigrants to the United States and their descendants were expected to assimilate into a common culture. He saw instead America evolving into “a cosmopolitan federation of national colonies, of foreign cultures, from whom the sting of devastating competition has been removed.” Instead of forging a common American identity, the country he envisioned would be one where members of minority ethnic groups preserved their cultural separateness.

To fully realize this ideal, however, it was vitally important that Anglo-Saxon Americans not assert themselves in the same way as the members of other ethnic groups. Why? Because if Anglo-Saxon Americans were to celebrate their identity as a people with longstanding ties to their American homeland, it would implicitly discount the American-ness of those from minority ethnic backgrounds. For Bourne, and for those who’ve advocated for his brand of cultural pluralism since, it is the obligation of Anglo-Saxon Americans, and other white Americans with no strong ties to a non-American homeland, to be post-ethnic cosmopolitans. But what if being a post-ethnic cosmopolitan is not actually that satisfying?

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Clerk’s gay marriage protest divides the Republican field – By Jesse Byrnes September 02, 2015, 04:38 pm

Republican presidential candidates are split on whether a Kentucky county clerk should be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who has cited religious objections in refusing to issue the licenses, has pushed gay marriage toward the center of political debate at a time when the Republican Party is grappling with its stance on the issue.

The clerk’s crusade has become the first major legal flare-up over gay marriage since the Supreme Court’s decision in late June that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Most of the Republican presidential candidates denounced the high court’s ruling, calling it judicial overreach that threatens the religious liberty of faith-based organizations and business owners.

Democrats mostly cheered the court while dismissing the warnings about religious freedom as overblown.

Rowan is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning after defying a judge’s order to issue the licenses, a ruling that the Supreme Court itself refused to block.

With attention on the case growing, presidential contenders are beginning to stake out their positions on whether Rowan should be compelled to issue the licenses.

Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, on Wednesday gave Rowan a full-throated endorsement after speaking to her on the phone.

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The GOP has become the party of infantile rage – SATURDAY, AUG 22, 2015 06:30 AM PDT

While Democrats, for all their problems, still mostly seem like adults, the GOP has completely lost the thread

The GOP has become the party of infantile rage

The Democratic Party is quite often infuriating. The activist left even more so. It’d be disingenuous to suggest that your side isn’t flawed — that it doesn’t get caught in lies or is completely gaffe-free. It does, and it is not.

Likewise, sure, it’s entirely possible that Hillary Clinton is fibbing about her private email account. She’s certainly been dodging questions about the issue. But it’s also just more of the same. It’s another press-driven story that’s resonating very little with anyone outside the beltway or beyond the reach of cranky Fox News viewers. It might turn into something awful, or it might just go away.

Elsewhere, the Obama administration has frustratingly stumbled over itself, mainly in the messaging and communications department. The plan to allow Shell to drill off the Alaskan shore in the Arctic ocean is a huge step in a potentially harrowing direction, given the potential for another BP-style catastrophe. Meanwhile, no, the Democrats haven’t been entirely on-message in reaction to #BlackLivesMatter activists, sometimes even responding with the tone-deaf “All Lives Matter” slogan.

Yes, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the Iran deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are all Democratic creations, and it’s absolutely fair to debate and bicker about the merits of each. It’s all fair game, and it all fits perfectly within the wheelhouse of normal political argle-bargle.

On the other hand, the Republican Party and the modern conservative movement are so utterly at the mercy of their most extreme elements — on everything from Benghazi, to racism, to reproductive health, and now even the contents of key sections of the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, while the left can suffer its own unhinged moments, there’s simply no comparison when it comes to what’s happening on the far-right. Especially now. While Clinton and Sanders are talking about the middle class, the minimum wage, foreign policy and voting rights, here’s a sampling of what the Republican presidential candidates are discussing:

• The Republicans are talking about eliminating the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment in order to deport the children of undocumented immigrations. (Children should only be protected before they’re born, after all.) Incidentally, almost all of the top GOP candidates have joined Donald Trump in supporting this ludicrous and completely unattainable idea.

• Likewise, all of the GOP candidates are weighing in on the virtue of the phrase “anchor babies,” which is, in fact, a racist term for the children of immigrants — and, specifically, American citizens of Latino descent. It boggles the mind, not to mention common sense and enlightened self interest. Does the GOP ever want to win a presidential election again? (Incidentally take a quick glance at what Donald Trump said on Friday on the subject: “Oh, you want me to say that instead, OK? No, I’ll use the word ‘anchor baby.’ Excuse me — I’ll use the word ‘anchor baby.’” Far be it from me to nitpick the presumptive GOP nominee, but “anchor baby” is two words, not one.)

• Meanwhile, two not insignificant conservatives have stepped forward in the last week in support of enslaving deported workers. Fox News Channel’s Jesse Watters floated the idea on “The Five,” and suggested that illegal immigrants be forced to build the border wall. Meanwhile, talk-radio host Jan Mickelson proposed making illegal immigrants property of the state and forcing them into compulsory labor. Mickelson went on to ask, “What’s wrong with slavery?”

The GOP civil war has quietly exploded back into the open — and it could get nastier than ever – BRETT LOGIURATO Aug. 2, 2015, 3:26 PM

John BoehnerAP

For a 56th birthday present to himself, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) took perhaps the most aggressive step yet against the Republican Party’s establishment.

It marked perhaps the most bombastic challenge to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) leadership, and another point at which long-simmering tensions within the Republican caucus have exploded out into the open.

Meadows introduced a resolution on Tuesday that aims to force Boehner from his post. The resolution will now be referred to a powerful House committee full of members loyal to Boehner, and has no chance of succeeding. But the message he had attempted to send was clear.

“The House of Representatives, to function effectively, in the service of all citizens of this country, requires the service of a Speaker who will endeavor to follow an orderly and inclusive process without imposing his or her will upon any Member thereof,” Meadows wrote in the resolution.

When Republicans took back control of the Senate and gained a bigger majority in the House of Representatives last year, their leaders promised an era of more responsible governance. But as Congress lurches toward a jam-packed legislative schedule this fall, infighting in both the House of Representatives and the Senate threatens that vow.

Republicans will come back to Washington in September with just 10 days to figure out how to avoid a second potential government shutdown in three years, as the right flank of the party is beginning to push to attach conservative priorities to the bill that keeps the government funded. The ramifications could extend all the way to the presidential campaign trail.

“The tension isn’t new and will continue until someone on the right has a ‘Sister [Souljah]’ moment,” one veteran Republican strategist told Business Insider, referring to the famous moment in American politics when then presidential candidate Bill Clinton repudiated the activist’s comments about race.


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