Margin of Σrror

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Martin O’Malley who? The 2016 speculation is getting nonsensical | Harry J Enten

Contrary to some reports, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley doesn’t stand a chance in the Democratic presidential field

As much of 2016 election speculation centers around Hillary Clinton, other Democrats have been trying to break through the press wall. Arguably the most successful has been Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley. If you don’t live in his state or follow these things closely, you’re probably wondering, who?

O’Malley, with the help of a Democratic state legislature, has ushered through gun control, medical marijuana, a repeal of the death penalty, and a gas tax. In other words, he appears to have plenty of liberal chops. Despite all of these accomplishments, I remain skeptical about O’Malley’s prospects. Why?

Start with the fact that O’Malley seems to be having a hard time convincing Democrats in his own state that’s he up to the task. He only gets 7% of the vote among Maryland Democrats in a 2016 primary ballot test. Beyond that, O’Malley’s approval/favorable ratings suggest that the Democratic base aren’t his biggest fans.
His latest favorable rating (with undecideds allocated) among Maryland Democrats in a Goucher Poll conducted in March is only 74%. That matches his approval among Democrats in the Washington Post pollfrom late February.

We can compare this 74% home state Democratic approval to that of other possible 2016 contenders: Joe Biden (Delaware), Hillary Clinton (New York), Andrew Cuomo (New York), Brian Schweitzer (Montana), Mark Warner (Virginia), and Liz Warren (Massachusetts). In all cases in this article, we reallocate undecideds and third party votes based upon those who have already selected either a Republican or Democrat. All the polling data is the same as in a prior article I wrote on Andrew Cuomo except for those who have more recent data.

It turns out that O’Malley’s home state Democratic favorables are the worst by a long way – 11 pts worse than any other other contender, to be exact. Consider that Andrew Cuomo, who was a moderate who has tried to move to the left with new legislation, is at 85%. The median Democrat is 16 pts ahead of O’Malley at 90%. For those wondering, O’Malley’s Democratic support is actually down from his last statewide election, despite his progressive legislation blitz, when the percentage of Democrats he won was also the lowest of any of the listed 2016 contenders.

And lest you think that O’Malley is representative of Maryland’s Democrats, thanks to crosstabs provided to me by Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center and overseer of the Goucher Poll, we can see how Maryland’s other major statewide office holders are doing. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski both fall short of 90%, though are well above O’Malley with Democrats at 85% and 88% favorables, respectively, among Democrats.

Why is O’Malley’s lack of support a big deal? As I noted in my piece on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, I think it’s important to see how Democrats who know these candidates well think of them. If they don’t like them, then it’s unlikely that voters around the country will like them once they get to know them. These politicians are either passing or voting for legislation that isn’t as pleasing to the Democratic base as some might believe. That or they are doing a poor job of communicating their agenda. Neither is a good thing for someone running for president.

Some might retort to all of this that O’Malley might not be loved among Maryland’s Democrats, but he’s running to the left and is going to alienate some more moderate Democrats. The payoff is going to be that he’s going to be rewarded with financial support from national “progressives”. The flaw in that theory is that the data suggests differently.

Adam Bonica has developed a methodology that maps out the ideology of a candidate’s contributors. The most liberal politicians are closest to -2, while the most conservative are closer to +2. As I said last November, no system is perfect. This one, however, is checked against systems.

The good news for O’Malley is that his donor base is more liberal than Andrew Cuomo’s and “Nascar Democrat” Mark Warner of Virginia. The bad news is that he’s actually quite close to them with a score of -.786 to Cuomo’s -.646. That difference of 0.14 is more than double that between O’Malley and Clinton, who is at -1.109. As we would expect given her support from the netroots in 2012, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren’s score is far and away the most liberal at -1.664.

To put another way, O’Malley doesn’t have a history of attracting a liberal donor base. His donor base looks more moderate like Joe Biden’s. He’s very much unlike oft-cited comparison Howard Dean, who has a score nearly a deviation away of that of O’Malley’s at -1.482. Like Dean, O’Malley will likely need progressives’ money to overcome his lack of national name recognition. He’s currently polling at 0% in an Iowa caucus ballot test, even when Clinton isn’t on the poll question. He’s also currently at 0% in a New Hampshire primary ballot test. O’Malley is at a grand 1% in a national primary ballot test without Clinton. In all cases, he’s either last or tied for dead last.

All these numbers suggest that Martin O’Malley may be a current media liberal darling, but he has a long way to go to become a legitimate presidential contender. Even with a liberal agenda, Maryland Democrats have not warmed to him like one would expect. In addition, he has failed to attract a liberal donor base that will be necessary to raise his brand name.

O’Malley at this point remains unimpressive for 2016, regardless of whether Hillary Clinton runs. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Establishment v insurgent: the Capitol’s new political dynamic | Harry J Enten

The old left-right ideological model for how Congress votes has lost explanatory power. Something different is afoot in US politics

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a lot about ideology and polarization. Most of that has focused on the left-right differences. But there’s another shaping theme in politics that is also present: establishment v insurgent.

Presidential campaigns, for example, usually come down to those who are backed by the establishment and those who are not. The candidates backed by the establishment usually win, and the outsiders almost always lose. It’s the main thesis of the great book The Party Decides.

That’s why many political scientists thought that Mitt Romney winning the bulk of congressional endorsements for the Republican nomination in 2012 meant that he would almost certainly capture the nomination. His establishment support came from both left and right of the party, and was actually slightly more conservative than either Gingrich’s or Santorum’s, despite Romney donor profiles indicating that his public was moderate.

Twelve years prior, George W Bush triumphed over the moderate John McCain on the back of establishment support. Likewise, Hillary Clinton saw her 2008 hopes fade because of her inability to lock up support from establishment congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

No one can doubt that this establishment v insurgent dynamic has been present in Congress for a while, but “DW-nominate” scores indicate that this dichotomy is becoming increasingly important. These scores seek to rank congressional members’ ideology in two dimensions, based on their rollcall voting record. In my previous analyses of polarization, I’ve used the first dimension, which usually does a good job at placing members on the liberal-to-conservative spectrum. The second dimension has rarely been used in recent years because it hasn’t seemed to stand for anything.

In the past Congress, however, the second dimension has begun to have more explanatory power – among Republicans, especially. That is, something beyond just being conservative or liberal is beginning to predict voting patterns of congressmen and women. The vote-view folks and I think that this dimension is along an establishment v anti-establishment axis, though one might also argue that it is geographically based – since many insurgent Tea Party members are from the American south.

Consider the debt ceiling debate of 2011. People on both the liberal and conservative side of the aisle supported the bill. Oddly, House Democrats and Senate Republicans were the two groups most likely to oppose the bill.

If the voting had been strictly along partisan lines, we’d expect the best fit line to be straight up and down. That is, the vote could easily be determined as being to the left or to the right. Instead, we have more of a diagonal line that goes from upper left to lower right in the House and upper right to lower left in the Senate. What that means is that there are liberal and conservative elements behind the voting, but there is also something else happening. You might call it a rather strange vote in which the Tea Party caucus, progressive caucus, and black caucus voted all together – though, arguably, it could be explained as establishment House Democrats and establishment House Republicans voting together. In other words, how many times can we expect John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Steny Hoyer, Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz all to vote the same way on a relatively divided debate?

The coalition was slightly different with the recent fiscal cliff vote, yet it displayed a similar pattern. Again, there was a left-to-right element, with more Democrats voting in favor this time. But there was also a “second dimension” element.

The lines are, again, diagonal. The differences among Democrats largely disappeared, but they were as present as ever among Republicans. The “establishment” Republicans largely voted in lockstep with one another, while the anti-establishment folks also banded together, voting the other way. The fit is certainly not perfect, with establishment figures like Cantor and McCarthy voting no – thought that actually matches well with the press coverage afterward declaring that Cantor’s vote indicated a break with the establishment leadership, rather than the fact that he’d newly discovered a conservative soul.

This divide between establishment v anti-establishment was present throughout the 112th Congress. Whether it was the 2012 omnibus bill, or the highway and student loan funding bill of 2012, outsiders such as blue-staters Michele Bachmann and Marco Rubio voted alongside southerner Rand Paul and westerner Mike Lee. Others with similar left-to-right rankings, but who were closer to the establishment, such as Senator John Barasso, Representative Cantor, Representative Billy Long of Missouri, and, yes, even very conservative Mitt Romney-backed Representative Steve King of Iowa often voted the opposite way.

It’s necessary to note that while the insurgents seem to be rising, it was the establishment that won in all the situations. My guess is that they will continue to win, even if they need to adjust. That’s why I’m skeptical about whether we’re really likely to see a “Republican civil war” in the coming years, or even the 2016 presidential nomination season.

In practise, the establishment tends to line up behind the eventual winner of the nomination before a war breaks out. That’s why even the hard-fought 2008 Democratic and 2012 Republican nomination winners became quite clear by the end of February in the nomination seasons. Further, if Republicans do well in 2014, which they should given the midterm landscape, then this should placate those currently calling for heads.

The ability of the party establishment to hold onto power might explain why Paul Ryan voted for the fiscal cliff package. Ryan is pretty far to the right in the left-to-right ideological rankings. He’s even been seen as fairly anti-establishment over the long term. Yet, he voted for each and every one of the “establishment” positions on the four key financial bills discussed here. Ryan may be looking to capitalize on the establishment credentials he built up during his run as vice-presidential nominee. We’ll have to see if his future voting record also supports the idea that he’s shifted toward the establishment.

In the meantime, it looks likely that this establishment v insurgent divide will continue through to the next Congress. The votes for and against John Boehner for house speaker did not split according to the liberal-to-conservative spectrum for Republicans, but rather among the second dimension: between establishment v anti-establishment forces. In short, this should looks set to be yet another unproductive and unwieldy Congress. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds