Republican debate tonight

The Republican presidential candidates will be debating tonight, just before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.  I’m on the road, so I can’t live blog it.  But you can live blog it yourself by commenting on the debate right here.

Details about the event after the jump.

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Rand Paul quits–what happened to libertarianism?

Rand Paul is dropping out of the presidential race.  I’m disappointed.  To me, he represented a true anti-establishment voice, one based in his libertarian ideas and not just in being obnoxious.  Not that I fully buy into libertarianism, though I appreciate its concern for civil liberties.  But let me ask this:  What happened to libertarianism?  Supposedly the millennials, the internet subculture, the new entrepreneurs, and the zeitgeist in general are libertarian, wanting personal liberty, a free economy, and minimal government.  So why hasn’t libertarianism gotten more political traction?

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Rick Santorum quits–why Rubio benefits & not Cruz

Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses last time in 2012, has dropped out of the Republican presidency race.  Prediction:  As candidates drop out, they will endorse Rubio.  UPDATE:  I was right!  Santorum endorsed Rubio.  As there are fewer and fewer candidates vying for the mainstream Republican vote, they will coalesce around Rubio, and Trump’s 40% will become a minority.

Why won’t Cruz pick up some of these endorsements?  He is apparently just unlikable.  In the Senate, he can’t even get a member of his own party to second his motions.  When asked about this at the last debate, he framed it as, “see, I’m not some politician.”  But you have to be able to work with people if you want to be president and get anything done.  Interestingly, evangelicals are reportedly becoming down on him for what seems to be a dirty trick he played against Ben Carson, putting out the rumor just before the Iowa caucus that he was dropping out of the race and that his supporters should go with Cruz instead.  Carson is rightfully complaining (saying “by their fruit you shall know them”) and Trump, who thinks a shift from Carson to Cruz cost him the victory, is threatening a lawsuit.


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Iowa results

Three Republican candidates rose to the top in Iowa, with a surprisingly close number of votes:  Cruz won with 28% of the vote (8 delegates); then Trump with 24% (7 delegates); then Rubio with 23% (6 delegates).  UPDATE:  Rubio ended up with 7, the same as Trump.

The Democratic race, as of late Monday evening, is a virtual tie between Sanders and Clinton.  UPDATE:  Clinton won by only one delegate.  UPDATE:  When the dust settled, she earned 5 more delegates than he did.

Huckabee and O’Malley are reportedly suspending their campaigns.

Takeaways:  Trump is not a juggernaut.  Evangelicals, as a whole, are not behind Trump.  Rubio is in the mix, with only one percent fewer votes than Trump, (and, in my opinion, will become the rallying point for Republicans who do not like Trump or Cruz).  The Democrats are in for a bitter fight, though Clinton will probably prevail in the end.

Go here for complete and up-to-date results.  An analysis of the race after the jump.  But what is your analysis? [Read more...]

Iowa caucuses tonight

Tonight the presidential campaign, that has seemingly been going on for so long, gets started in earnest with the Iowa caucuses.  Then things will happen fast, with the New Hampshire primary on February 9 and the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina primary both on February 20.  The others will come right after another.

As of today, polls show Trump and Clinton with narrow leads, but polls don’t mean that much in Iowa.   This is a caucus, in which people go to other people’s homes, try to persuade each other, and then choose delegates.  It all depends on who shows up.  And often, not many do.  (Only 6% of eligible Republican voters showed up in 2012).   So the results are pretty much up in the air.

While it’s true that the number of delegates will be small, the stakes are large:  Lots of Republicans are waiting to see from these early caucuses and primaries who emerges as the best alternative to Trump, whereupon they will rally around him.  And a Saunders victory–or even a very good showing–will send more money his way, making Democrats think Hillary Clinton isn’t inevitable after all.

Do you live in Iowa?  If so, please tell us what these things are like.  Also, what do you think will happen?  Make your predictions here.  (After the jump, Politico gives 6 reasons why the Iowa polls don’t necessarily tell us much.) [Read more...]

Bernie Sanders is a “none”

Bernie Sanders finally said where he stood on religion.  He is Jewish by birth, but, more precisely, he is a “none,” claiming no involvement with organized religion.  He told an interviewer that he believes in God in the sense that “all of us are connected.” [Read more...]