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!
Tonight (Thurs., Aug. 6, 2015) is the first official** televised debate for Republican presidential candidates, to be held in two separate events on Fox. First, there's the happy hour debate at 5 PM EST, with the seven candidates who didn't make the final cut*. At 9 PM EST, the Prime Time debate takes place with the top 10 candidates. You can watch online, if you have cable authentication, but you can also participate through Facebook, who are co-presenting the debates. Otherwise, wait until after the show for clips to start surfacing, or you can follow live-blogging a-plenty (NPR | New York Times | The State | Reason), and you can add your two bits with the Fox News Election HQ 2016 App. [more inside]
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum abruptly suspended his campaign in a news conference this afternoon, marking the unofficial end to a lengthy, often-combative primary. By suspending his campaign rather than ending it, Santorum can continue to raise money to retire any remaining debt he might have. [more inside]
Artist Bas Van Oerle presents a series of propaganda posters for the 2012 Republican presidential contenders. Ron Paul For The Youth Vote. Fields of Santorum. Love Me Romney. Join The Cosmonewts.
...Many Republicans are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7—followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects. “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama,’ ” says former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins. “Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, ‘My God, what a fucking mess.’ ”John Heilemann in New York Magazine on "The Lost Party", part one of a series on the modern Republican party in light of the 2012 presidential election. [more inside]
After interminable months of campaigning, debates, and roller-coaster polling, the first official vote of the 2012 presidential race is in -- and boy, is it a doozy. Ames straw poll winner Michele Bachmann placed second-to-last, while former juggernaut Rick Perry performed so badly he's canceled upcoming events and is said to be on the verge of dropping out. Meanwhile, perennial laughingstock Rick Santorum, consolidating the support hemorrhaging from Perry, Bachmann, and an ad-blitzed Newt Gingrich, rocketed past the youth- and independent-backed Ron Paul and, with 99% of the vote counted, is separated from Mitt Romney by four votes out of ~120,000 -- by far the closest result in caucus history. As the shaken field contemplates the path ahead through Romney firewall New Hampshire, conservative South Carolina, Florida, Super Tuesday, and beyond, President Obama staged a quiet redux of his own dramatic caucus win four years ago, a dry run for the looming general election. And as for powerhouse Buddy Roemer? Don't worry -- his team is ready to do battle with evil.
Santorum surges from behind in Iowa. With the countdown to the Iowa Caucuses entering its final hours the GOP race remains in a dead heat. Polls show the unlikely campaigns of social conservative Senator Rick Santorum and libertarian leaning Representative Ron Paul in surprisingly strong positions to challenge Governor Mitt Romney for the opening victory in the Republican primary season. Both Paul and Santorum have focused heavily on traditional retail politics in the Hawkeye State.
Great local investigative piece on the GOP's "point man on lobbying reform". (check out the video) Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)'s "charity" has spent almost half as much on "unexplained" T&E as it has given out to the needy. What's more, the treasurer of this organization is not only treasurer of his re-election campaign, but is also the the treasurer of Americans for a Republican Majority, the PAC run by Tom DeLay, who is no stranger to lobbyist scandals.
I am happy to see that the GOP is expanding their reach to the more eclectic fringes of society. Although it may freak some other people out.