The Clinton Veep Shuffle

May 26th, 2016 No comments
Elizabeth Warren

Could she be the one?

It looks increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will wrap up the nomination in about two weeks when New Jersey and California vote. I guess something crazy could still happen, and all the superdelegates could suddenly overturn the popular vote and back Sanders. It’s been that kind of a year. But barring that, Hillary Clinton and her team have a huge question looming, and that is who to pick as a running mate.

Clinton has two salient examples she’ll no doubt be referencing: Al Gore and Joe Biden. At the time, Al Gore was a bold pick for Bill Clinton: young, southern, and a rising star, just like Bill. Hillary encouraged this “double down” strategy over the more traditional balancing of the ticket. It worked – they won a decisive victory. However, Gore later created friction when his own ambitions set him at odds with his president. Joe Biden was the opposite in many ways. He complemented Obama’s strengths and weaknesses, and was someone that Obama knew he could work with.

I believe Hillary’s search for a VP will ultimately hinge on six major factors. To illustrate, I have made the beautiful Venn diagram below. By the way, if anyone from the Clinton campaign is reading this, you should probably pay me. I spent approximately forever on this:

Clinton Veep Venn












The names on here are almost all ones I’ve heard floated, plus a couple I found myself. Sadly for Hillary, nobody fits all six categories. Also, these are obviously my own subjective conclusions based on my own research. Others may disagree, for example, about whether Tim Kaine would be an effective attack dog, or whether I should count Wisconsin as a swing state. That being said, I think it reveals some interesting things!

For starters, Elizabeth Warren has probably gotten the most press as a potential VP pick, and you can see that is for good reason. She hits three major circles: Appeals to Liberals, Key Demographic, and Good Attack Dog. In fact, all of the most-speculated-about people are at the intersection of three or four categories. Although Sherrod Brown (Senator of Ohio), Tim Kaine (Senator of Virginia), and Tom Perez (former Labor Secretary) are not as well known nationally, they have received a lot of buzz recently. Cory Booker (Senator of New Jersey) is another strong pick occupying a similar space to Warren.

Tim Kaine

Citizen Kaine?

Sherrod Brown and Tim Kaine are the only names hitting four circles that I’ve also heard “sources” confirm are on the short list. So those are good bets! Interestingly, I’ve not read many articles suggesting Deval Patrick (former Massachusetts Governor), even though he is a well-known Clinton supporter and hits just as many categories. Could be a surprise pick?

But let us not be too hasty to assume all circles are equal. It’s very possible that Team Clinton may value the energy and symbolism the first all-female ticket would bring, or the first major ticket with a Latino. That would increase the weight of the yellow circle and tilt things away from all the white guys to the bottom right of the diagram.

Although… let’s talk about those white guys. If Hillary decides that she really just wants to nail down a big swing state, the choices are pretty much white guys: Tim Kaine (Virginia), Mark Warner (Virginia), Terry McAuliffe (Virginia), Bill Nelson (Florida), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio). Sherrod Brown stands out as the only swing-stater that would also excite progressives. Interestingly, I’ve not heard much about Ken Salazar (Labor Secretary before Tom Perez), even though he’s a prominent Latino politician and from a swing state (Colorado). Granted, Colorado is not as big as the other states mentioned, but… could be a surprise pick?

Thomas Perez

Perez: one letter away from Prez?

Well, that about covers who should be on the short list, but the diagram also reveals who is probably overrated! I’m going to say it, because it needs to be said: I don’t think we’re going to see a Clinton-Sanders ticket. That’s because Sanders doesn’t bring anything to the ticket that Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t also bring. This analysis has also got me wondering why Julián Castro (Secretary of HUD), Terry McAuliffe (Governor of Virginia), and John Hickenlooper (Governor of Colorado) keep getting mentioned in articles I find. I have nothing against them, but I don’t see what they bring over other options. Kirsten Gillibrand presents an additional issue. Gillibrand and HRC would probably get along well, but since you’re not allowed to have a running mate from the same state, and Gillibrand is currently Senator of New York, Clinton would probably have to change her state of residence fairly soon, which… well it just gets tricky.

Lastly, there’s one more consideration, and I could’ve tried to make a seventh circle in the Venn diagram for this, but I’m not a masochist. Harry Reid (and probably others) are pleading with the Clinton campaign to not choose a senator who would get replaced by a Republican. If a Senate seat goes vacant, the state’s governor gets to appoint a replacement. If Clinton wants to increase the chances of Dems regaining the majority, that’s bad news for certain prospective senators: Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Klobuchar, and Bill Nelson. Ironically, some of the most exciting progressive choices come from states with Republican governors.

It might be a good year to be Tim Kaine or Tom Perez.

Categories: Democrats, Elections, Hillary Clinton Tags:

Could Trump Actually Win?

March 22nd, 2016 No comments

Modified from photo by Gage SkidmoreIt’s a question that’s kept me up at night: could Trump actually become President? Assuming a Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton general election contest (Sanders supporters, just roll with me here), could Trump pick up so many disaffected working class white voters that he wins? That’s the scenario that I keep reading about: Trump could boost turnout from his base of whites without a college degree, and become competitive in places like Ohio and Wisconsin.

Then I discovered that Nate Silver’s site, FiveThirtyEight, has actually put together a simulator that lets you see how changes in turnout and voter preference would affect the election, starting with Obama vs. Romney 2012 as a baseline. It divides the electorate into some pretty broad groups (college-educated white, non-college-educated white, black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian/other), but it still offers some interesting insights. And I found it addictingly fun to play with…

So anyway, could Trump win? I wanted to see how the aforementioned nightmare scenario would actually play out. I gave Mr. Trump the most charitable possibilities I could think of for each group. I started with the premise that he somehow pulls off a “white miracle” and not only attracts Reagan-levels of the non-college-educated white vote to the GOP, but also boosts that group’s turnout to unprecedented heights, matching college-educated turnout for the first time in polling history!

Next, as we know, his rhetoric and temperament have appalled many “establishment” Republicans, and folks with college degrees in general. So I moved the college-educated white vote a tiny bit towards the Democratic side, but also reduced its turnout a couple points (figuring some Republicans and maybe young Sanders supporters stay home): probably a best-case scenario for Trump. I don’t think there’s a way to avoid the non-white vote sliding towards Hillary Clinton in this scenario, after all the things Trump has said. But I only shifted it a bit and only moved turnout up a tiny amount: maybe fear of Trump is not that much stronger than having an inspirational black candidate like Obama? I don’t know, but again, this is supposed to represent the most charitable scenario for Mr. Trump.

When all of that is entered in, here is what we get:

Trump Scenario 1

The results surprised me! It may be hard to read, but Clinton wins with 294 electoral votes to 244. Even with unfathomable record-breaking support from his base, it only takes a small shift among other groups for Trump to still lose. Why does this happen, even with Trump picking up places like Ohio and (usually true-blue) Wisconsin? The reason, I found, is that states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada have all gotten more diverse and more college-educated on average. Playing on racist and xenophobic fears just doesn’t cut it in those places.

And that was supposed to be the good scenario for Trump! Here’s a more (in my eyes) likely scenario, where Trump makes some gains with the non-college-educated white vote, but turns off all of the other groups just as much, if not a little more, and a lot of college-educated Republicans choose Clinton or stay home:

Trump Scenario 2

In this scenario, Clinton wins Texas, and even states like Mississippi and Alaska are within reach.

In conclusion, the Trump victory scenario that I keep hearing about is really far-fetched. And that’s without even factoring in all the negative ads that will run against him for the next several months, a potentially divisive convention fight, conservative plans for a third-party ticket, and a poll showing nearly 25% of Republicans would choose Clinton over Trump. So, I’m not going to tell you to stop fearing or fighting Trump, because he’s still frightening and still hurting the country. But I can tell you, I’m definitely going to sleep a little better at night.

PS: I was thinking about posting possibilities for other match-ups, like if Sanders or Cruz somehow grabbed the nomination, but that would be a lot of screenshots. Feel free to try out your own scenarios with the simulator!

A Game of Votes – Part III

September 29th, 2015 No comments

Burning SandsIt was early autumn, the most beautiful time of year in Maplerun, before the start of the northern snow. Burning Sands strode on foot up to the heavy doors of Maplerun’s great hall, flanked on either side by his two dire wolves, Truth and Justice. The kennelmaster’s son came running out with a leather couple for the lord’s hounds, but stopped dead and stared when he saw the powerful beasts: Truth with his majestic coat of snowy white, and Justice in her bristling black. Both of the wolves were larger than the lad, with height to spare. They eyed the couple in his hand skeptically.

Burning Sands chuckled and sauntered over to the lad. “Take a deep breath at look at me, my boy,” he said, putting his hands on the young one’s shoulders and lowering himself to eye level, “Do you strive to be honest and just in everything you do?”

The boy stared at Burning Sands, examining his wispy white hair, fur cloak, and ginger-root nose. “Yes, my lord. I do.”

Burning Sands stood up, smiling, and gave the boy a hearty pat on the shoulder, “There then! You have nothing to fear from these two!” Pulling the leather couple out of the boy’s hands, he added, “Although you won’t be needing this. Here, stow it away. Just put your hand out like this, palm down, when you want them to follow.” He demonstrated, turning to the wolves, “Truth, Justice, come here. Go with my friend now and do what he says.”

The boy looked nervous, but he copied Burning Sands and the beasts followed him dutifully. Burning Sands grinned at one of the guards nearby before entering the hall.

The lords Deane and Laehy of House Vyrrmont (or Howler Deane and Patchwork Laehy, as Burning Sands used to call them growing up) were waiting for him with ale around the old oak table. Laehy slid a tankard toward Burning Sands, winking. Deane belched, then bellowed, “Bernhard! Take a seat, you crazy old man!”

“Or should we call you Burning now?” Laehy teased, winking again.

Burning Sands complied, lowering himself down with a sigh. “Ah these old bones! I wonder what father would say if he knew I were fighting for the White Throne at this age.”

Deane waved his hand dramatically, responding, “He’d say, go get ’em Bernhard! Stand up for what’s right!” Deane took a thoughtful swig, adding, “There are no more dragons left to slay, only wicked men.”

Laehy eyed his brother shrewdly, before pressing, “You brought up father for a reason, Bernhard.”

Burning Sands smiled coyly. “You know me too well, old Patchwork. Indeed, I did not come here just to reminisce, although I miss our talks. I wanted to ask you about my relationship to House Vyrrmont.”

“Finally tired of being a bastard?” Deane offered playfully, “I thought you like being independent! Flaunting your basterdom with pride! Bernhard Sand!”

“I do indeed. You know I despise how the kingdom revolves around the rich noble houses, with their lineages and their gold. I hate watching farmers starve while the Butches and Clintanes dine on suckling pig and gossip about the King’s court. But you know I also can’t change it all from the outside. I seek to unite the Bluelands, and the important houses therein will be more likely to support a true lord of the Bluelands than a Sand with an army.”

Laehy raised an eyebrow, probing, “I thought you were just trying to convince the great houses to follow your ideals. Now you speak as though you might be King of Amerikos!”

“It is a little scary, isn’t it? But every month my bannermen grow in number. Many Bluelanders are worried that The Hill used dark magic with her ravens, and they are becoming more receptive to my message. The North is beginning to rally behind me. One day I woke up to find that knights who once laughed at me were now waiting outside my tent on bent knee to pledge their loyalty. They imagine a court beholden not to gold, but to the people, like we’ve always talked about!”

Deane raised his tankard. “To the Bastard King!” The other two raised their drinks, chuckling.

“That will be the day,” Burning Sands mused, taking in a long quaff of the bitter brew. “Did father ever say why he named me Sand? As a bastard of the North, I ought to have been a Snow.”

Laehy shook his head. “He never talked about it, you know. Any of it. Maybe it had to do with your mother, but who am I to say?”

“Maybe he just didn’t like the ring of Bernhard Snow,” Deane chimed in, “He could be a bit giddy in the head at times.”

“Well, Sand or Snow, my problem is the same. If I want the Bluelanders’ support, I need the name of a respected Blueland house.”

“Well, I’m afraid we can’t help you there!” Deane guffawed, sharing a mischievous look with Laehy, and the two had another good laugh at Bernhard’s expense. Deane was joking, as usual. Though small and not very powerful, House Vyrrmont was a stalwart defender of the Bluelands, and its members were held in high esteem.

Laehy met Burning Sands with his eyes, and spoke earnestly, “In my mind, Bernhard, you have always been a part of our house. As the reigning Lord of Maplerun, I will be proud to welcome you into House Vyrrmont as my full brother. I will meet with the maesters tomorrow to draft an official decree and make sure it is binding. I will adopt you myself if I have to!”

Lord Deane rose out of his chair, pulling out his sword and thrusting it forward, point raised up over the table. “House Vyrrmont!” he bellowed.

Laehy and Burning Sands both stood up and raised their swords aloft, meeting Deane’s in the middle, and together they chanted, “House Vyrrmont! Cold winds, hot blood!”


Marcus Ruby bolted upright in bed, startling his wife awake as well. “What is it my dear?” she whispered, afraid that someone had come in the night to threaten her and her would-be king.

“Something that I saw before I awoke.” Lord Marcus rose slowly as if in a trance and went to look out the opening of their tent. Rain continued to pour down outside as it had the whole night and the day before, but his guard stood vigilantly.

“A dream?” Lady Jehanne pressed.

The White WalkerMarcus continued gazing into the rain, but answered his wife, “No, a vision. A vision of things now happening and those that are yet to come. I saw the White Walker shriveling in the dirt in Ayoa, his frozen army whittled away by the same warm winds that carry the Trumpet’s ships to shore. I saw the Trumpet himself, moving onto land with an army of Tea Folk and disgruntled pirates, beset on all sides by the other Redland factions. I saw Kharson, the maester-turned-warlord they call the Quiet Warrior, marching with his own army. I saw wave upon wave clashing, the dead everywhere. But then I saw something else. I saw a leader reaching into the dead White Walker’s chest and pulling out the Kogh Stone. The crystal forged by the warlock Kogh brothers that funneled their dark magic into the White Walker, giving it life. I saw the crystal glowing in his hand, with all its power flowing into him, and then the other lords rallying behind him. I saw the Trumpet sailing away in defeat, and all of the Redlands united behind this one southern lord.”

Jehanne could barely move, listening to her husband’s vision. “Who was it… this southern lord?”

The head of House Ruby turned to her and looked deeply into her eyes. “It was me.”

His wife was out of bed and getting dressed. “Then we are going to Ayoa to find this Kogh Stone,” she said simply. She was out the tent door, yelling at the guard outside. Marcus snapped back to reality. He began to dress quickly. His wife was already back inside before he was done. “Your men are being roused to march,” she informed him.

He moved closer and brushed her cheek with his fingers. “I love you.”

 ~~~~~ To Be Continued ~~~~~


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