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.
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]
California begins its "top two primary" runoff. Called a blanket primary, open primary, jungle primary, the top-two primary seeks to end partisan gridlock by having one primary for all voters in June, where the top two candidates face off in November, regardless of party affiliation. Said to favor moderates while hurting small parties, Arizona votes on a similar measure next week. [more inside]
Battleground is hulu's first exclusive scripted original series. A mockumentary drama/comedy depicting a Senatorial campaign in Wisconsin, the show has a run of 13 episodes this season, 12 of which are already available on hulu (the season finale will be released May 8). Happily, the first six episodes are also available on YouTube. 1: The Pilot, 2: Who Is Claire Villareal, 3: Hold The Whipped Cream, 4: The Comment, 5: They'll Burn Your Eyes, 6: Polls Close At Six [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.
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.
Is Newt really going to be the nominee? As Romney collapses and Newt surges in the polls, the party establishment is worried. Libertarians are panicking. Can the establishment stop him? What about Ron Paul? Can Huntsman save the party from catastrophe?
Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is booked on all the major morning shows tomorrow, and with good reason. After two months of gaffes, impolitic stands, and bizarre speeches that quickly waned his once-strong odds of winning the Republican nomination, Perry went into Wednesday's CNBC debate sorely needing a win... only to deliver a tortuous, cringingly forgetful attempt [video] to recall just which three cabinet departments he'd vowed to abolish, a stunning failure political scientist Larry Sabato deemed "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate" in his memory. While Perry's slow-motion flameout has boosted the fortunes of dark horse candidate Herman Cain, the unlikely challenger is facing troubles of his own in a volley of sexual harassment claims -- an oddly ineffective scandal Cain is doing his best to (somewhat dubiously) disavow. If Cain collapses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may reap the benefits, but his moribund campaign has issues of its own. Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, Cain, Gingrich... the base is loathe to rally round him, but after so many failed, flawed, or forfeited challenges, can anyone topple Mitt Romney?
Gospel singer Herman Cain's album "Sunday Morning" is now available online. In the fifteen years since the album was originally released the singer and baptist preacher has also found success in the business world, broadcasting, and politics.
I'm Basil Marceaux dot com, the Republican candidate for Governor. I like to recall all permit, and registration, for guns. Everyone carry guns. If you kill someone though, you get murdered, you go to jail, and uh, I'd like to put... plant grass or vegetation across in the state on any vacant lot, and sell it for gas, so we can use it for our expenses. Also, I'm gonna remove all gold fringe flags from the state and fly the real flag with three stripes. I also wanna stop traffic stops; set it up like the Supreme Court ruled in Knowles v Iowa: you can't find innocent car, you can't look. I want you all to vote for Basil Marceaux. I want to say the Pledge of Allegiance to a Republic in the morning when you come out... and we all pray to God and say Amen and everyone... have a nice day. And I'll see you all at the polls. Thank you... have a nice day. [more inside]
Party Like It’s 2008 [SLNYTOE] Almost every wrong prediction about this election cycle has come from those trying to force the round peg of this year’s campaign into the square holes of past political wars. That’s why race keeps being portrayed as dooming Mr. Obama — surely Jeremiah Wright = Willie Horton! — no matter what the voters say to the contrary. [more inside]
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.
No winner in MoveOn primary... but Dean places first, with 4387%. No candidate getting over 50% means no endorsement for now. But more people voted in this virtual Democratic primary than voted in the New Hampshire, Iowa, and North Carolina Democratic primaries/caucuses in 2000.
Howard Dean is closing in on the lead in New Hampshire, with 16% to Kerry's 17%. Dean is appealing to voters by being outspoken in an environment in which many of his fellow democrats are submissive to Bush's approval rating, and due to anticipation of his universal health care plan, which he is soon to unveil. Already established as the most net-savvy candidate, Dean has hundreds of real-life meetups planned for today.
Another election debacle in Florida. One year and $30m in technology later, the Reno/McBride primary is marred by late openings and other assorted and sundry glitches. I know, it's a CNN link, but I can't resist anything that includes someone delivering the grade "F-minus-minus-minus" (later determined to be merely an "F-minus-minus" and some Drambuie). Any personal voting horror stories from our Florida contingent? Will the state become a case study in how "throwing money at the problem" never works?
Georgia Republicans Attempt to Derail Democratic Primary "Overzealous staffers" signed affidavits of identity for candidates in eight Senate seats to pose as primary opponents to more established Democratic candidates. Dirty pool or legitimate tactic?