Amidst an increasingly unpredictable political season, tonight the Iowa caucuses will finally cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's an outsider vs. establishment war in both parties, as Republican leaders struggle to dislodge Donald Trump and Ted Cruz from the top while Hillary Clinton marshalls her endorsements and long résumé against the populist zeal of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. The best guesses of FiveThirtyEight, BetFair, and Ann Selzer's gold-standard Des Moines Register poll all favor Trump and Clinton, but the race remains very close, and turnout in the demanding and complicated caucus events will be key. Vox provides a helpful video explainer on the process [previously]. Pass the time with FiveThirtyEight's 40-minute elections podcast, and keep an eye on the New York Times live blog of the caucuses for real-time updates once voting starts at 8:00 PM Eastern -- and don't forget to leave your two cents in the MeFi election prediction contest!
Thursday was a banner day for Bernie Sanders, whose campaign reached two million donations and won two key endorsements. So it came as a shock Friday when Sanders was hamstrung by, of all things, a Clinton data scandal. NGP VAN, the Democratic Party's main vendor for data services, mistakenly lowered the firewalls isolating each campaign's voter info -- and one Sanders staffer peeked. While the (now-fired) staffer claims they were just trying to gauge the scope of the exposure, the Clinton camp accused their rival of downloading valuable data. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz agreed, barring the entire campaign from NGP VAN in response -- potentially crippling their sprint to Iowa. Already dinged for shielding Clinton with favorable debate schedules, the DNC dropped the ban following outcry and a Sanders lawsuit (which Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said might expose collusion). Crisis averted, though not without adding some potential fireworks to tonight's Democratic debate on ABC.
2 Clintons * 42 years * $3 Billion: A Washington Post investigation reveals how Bill and Hillary Clinton have methodically cultivated donors over 40 years, from Little Rock to Washington and then across the globe. Their fundraising methods have created a new blueprint for politicians and their donors.
His superPAC is selling a poster of a ripped, tattooed Ted Cruz; the candidate says that the only thing was wrong with the picture is that he doesn't smoke. If Trump smells like victory to you, you may be interested in "Empire" (not an actual campaign site offering). Maybe you'd prefer Rand Paul's head on a stick. Dems may opt for a Hillary pantsuit tee shirt. Or, if you like Bernie Sanders and puns, you can go for this mug.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his associates have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign. Mr. Biden’s advisers have started to reach out to Democratic leaders and donors who have not yet committed to Mrs. Clinton or who have grown concerned about what they see as her increasingly visible vulnerabilities as a candidate.
"Democracy is not a game. It is not a means of getting our names on the front page or setting the world abuzz about our latest scoop."
The Seven Minutes In 2000 When The Clinton White House Considered Endorsing Marriage Equality (SL Longform Buzzfeed)
Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced (via a YouTube video and emails to supporters) she is running for the position of nominee on the Democratic Party ticket for the 2016 US Presidential Election. Her campaign website. Will she win the Democratic candidacy? Bookmakers currently say "very likely". And the presidency itself? "50/50". [more inside]
In response to Senator Mitch McConnell and his assertion that in 2016, Hillary Clinton will be too old to run for POTUS, Jezebel presents 101 Things Older Than Hillary Clinton.
In 2008, the National Journal released The Hidden History of the American Electorate, an analysis of exit poll demographics conducted by multiple news organizations from US presidential elections between 1988 and 2004. The study looked for "pressure points in the electorate": trends which were likely to decide the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. They've released an update for 2012, by adding exit poll results from the 1980, 1984, and 2008 presidential elections. It gives a more comprehensive look at voting trends over a 32 year period of the groups whom they believe are likely to influence the outcome in November. Charts: Voting Preferences of the American Electorate, 1980-2008
Robert Reich writes today: My political prediction for 2012 (based on absolutely no inside information): Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden swap places. Biden becomes Secretary of State -- a position he's apparently coveted for years. And Hillary Clinton, Vice President [more inside]
It's official. Obama has won the Democratic Party nomination for the US Presidency. In response, McCain has launched a "verbal sortie" against him and the media has already begun disecting Hillary's campaign.
"People are talking, but no one is really listening. For all the fun and fantasy that can be had following this election on the internet, the overriding impression it gives after a while is of tuning into thousands of people as they sit in their cars and complain about the traffic." David Runciman on "The Cattle-Prod Election."
The hidden factor in Hillary Clinton's rebound: committed Republicans voting in open primaries who want to prolong the messy battle for the Democratic nomination, encouraged by right-wing radio hosts like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh. Or is Hillary just suddenly more palatable to conservatives than multi-culti Obama?
20 minutes or so on why I am 4Barack. A very thoughtful and eloquent comparison (transcript) of the core differences between Obama and Clinton - by Creative Commons CEO and Professor Lawrence Lessig.
This Flash tool from the New York Times shows you how many times each candidate has named each of the other candidates, suggesting which candidates the others perceive as worthy of addressing. It's a very neat and efficient visualization tool. Guess who everyone can't stop mentioning?
Bill Clinton on Charlie Rose - on display: Thoughtful Visionary as well as Political Animal; cf. Howard Dean and Jimmy Carter.
Let's play 20 questions. 20 candidates for President, 20 personalized questions.
Spin, exposed live and wriggling. In 1995, Brian Springer released an hour-long documentary film comprised of incredibly revealing moments caught from raw satellite feeds. Not only do we get to hear the spin-doctor coaching candidates received during various commercial breaks, there are also some amazing moments such as Larry King suggesting to Clinton that Ted Turner could "serve him," an anchor suggesting to her expert that during the L.A. riots his frank diagnosis of inner-city hope is "too obtuse," and the exclusion and exclusion of Larry Agran from the 1992 Democratic primaries — and, really, there's much more.
Clinton’s Former Aide Drops Windfall in the Lap of Bush Campaign "...Presidential challenger Kerry will have to think twice before attacking Bush on national security issues lest he lay himself open to reminders that a former Clinton aide and his own adviser was caught red-handed misappropriating classified materials that revealed how a Democratic president mishandled the threat of terror...."
October Suprise. The Wall Street Journal is holding a contest asking readers to predict what Clinton will do to influence the November election.
You have the right to protest. You have to right to speak out in public against political candidates. Unless that political candidate is Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then the Secret Service bags you and throws you out the door.