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    About last night’s debate

    About last night’s debate

    The more I see Rick Perry in action the more I like him, but the more I get the feeling that he’s not up to the task of defeating Romney, much less Obama.  I’m not writing him off, at all, but he has to play a long game.  It may not be fair, but running for president is not like anything else; he has to be the messenger not just have a message.

    Cain was disappointing.  Alan Greenspan?!?!

    Michelle Bachmann had the best answer of the night, focusing on Chris Dodd and Barney Frank as the cause of the housing crisis.

    Newt was good, but didn’t get a lot of air time.

    Time to thin the herd and drop Huntsman from the next debate, he’s reduced to one-line jokes.

    Remember, not a single vote has been cast.  But unless some of the not-Romney’s drop out, I don’t see a path for any of them at the moment as the not vote gets diluted.


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    workingclass artist | October 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Interesting results from evolving strategies.

    “Most Americans outside of the media and politics have little idea who Romney is, let alone Perry or Cain. The only way to get a real sense of how each candidate might play in a general election is to introduce respondents to the candidates.

    What makes our survey unique and uniquely informative is the fact that we had our respondents watch a video clip of President Obama speaking about the economy, followed by a video clip of either Romney, Perry, or Cain speaking about the economy during the last Fox debate (they also read a short, 125-150 word bio). See the bios and video clip treatments here.

    ” * Despite several bad debate performances by Perry in September, when respondents watched a clip of Perry he actually gained more support than any of the other candidates and beat Obama by 6-points, 42-36.

    * Now Romney had a slightly higher margin – he beat Obama by 7-points 40-33, but he did it with less support. He got less support than Perry, but so did Obama, and there were more people who were uncertain about him, which doesn’t come as a surprise — there’s clearly been a lot of dissatisfaction with Romney as the establishment candidate.

    * Finally, the candidate we’re all most interested in — Herman Cain. The question is can he win the Republican primary? And can he win the general election?

    * Well, he can certainly win the Republican primary. Across all treatments, when asked to choose among the eight GOP candidates, Cain won handily with 28% of the vote, followed by Romney at 19% and Perry at 12%.

    * When it comes to a general election, Cain barely edged out Obama 35-34, but he moved from 5-points down in the control group with the generic Republican to 1-point up. And this jump came entirely out of Obama’s margin of the vote. It’s clear a lot of uncertainty remains in the general population about Cain – for starters he doesn’t “look like” the stereotypical GOP candidate. And he certainly doesn’t have the typical political background. But despite all that, people seem willing to give him a look – and when they get a look at him, he’s running even with Obama. What will be interesting to see is whether all those uncertain votes become more certain about Herman Cain when they get to see more of him.

    Bottom Line: Herman Cain can win the general — people have an open mind about him — but he needs to close the sale with those uncertain swing voters.”

    Just saw a poll — a bit odd in the method (and not letting me post the link here) — where they asked respondants about the candidates after they read a 120-word bio (source unspecified) and some video.

    This seems a tad suspicious to me but the polling firm said they resorted to it because at this point only political junkies and people in the few states with early caucuses have much familiarity with the field (which is quite true).

    The results they got were interesting (if only in that they match my personal observations). First, Perry, Romney, and Cain all beat Obama head-to-head, by a signifcant amount.

    Second, Perry was the strongest is the sense that he gained the most when people learned more about him. Romney was weak in that people were willing to support him, but they did not especially like him and his support was shallow.

    (I read this as a “he’ll do” vote based on “electability”. Basically I think Romney gets picked not because he’s popular or people agree with his positions, but they think other people think he’s popular, hence electable.)

    Cain intrigued people and they were willing to give him a look, but they were also unsure about him and his positions. The bottom line for him is that he has raised some interest but he has a long way to go to close the sale.

    If this poll has any merit at all (debateable) it means the following:

    Perry is seen as the best qualified and a leader people can respect. His support will grow as real voters become more acquainted with him.

    Romney is attractive mainly becasue he has name reconition and people are under the impression he is “popular” but they are not inspired by him, nor to they know what he really stands for. As this veneer wears off and people figure out that they aren’t the only ones who think “well, I guess he’d do”, his numbers will decline and could do so swiftly.

    Cain will generate some more excitement, but his lack of political acumen and inexperience will begin to tell and people will be reluctant to place a lot of faith in him, although they’ll like him personally and admire his story. But as thngs progress, the story will get stale and he doesn’t have enough relevant accomplishments behind it to close the deal.

    So the likely path is Cain peaks and fades when the race truly becomes national; Romney stays about where he is until he goes off a cliff; Perry climbs slowly and unevenly until he pushes Romney off the cliff.

    That assumes Perry has the stomach to tough things out. That seems likely. If not, Romney wins by default.

    The wildcard is Palin’s endorsement, assuming she makes one (I can’t see her not making one.) I also expect for her to wait until after the NH primary, and probably after Iowa (or whoever’s second). That’s when her endorsement would have the most impact, and I suspect she knows that.

    So it will be an interesting few months (as much as it will drive the junkies nuts).

    spartan | October 13, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Professor, I agree with you.
    I think Perry is the only candidate left who has a legitimate shot at beating Romney and Obama. The problem is no one has done a real evaluation of Romney.
    The chattering class is all agog over Romney’s debate performances but the guy has made deflection and obfuscation an art form. He rarely directly answers a question. He gets away with it because Cain is cut from the same cloth (yes folks, Cain is a technocrat and tries the same techniques) and Bachmann comes off as a shrill demagogue. The rest of the candidates are mostly ‘has-beens’, ‘wannabees’, and ‘never will bes’.
    Romney also gets away with it because the media has set the bar too high. As long as the media decides Romney doesn’t make a mistake, he wins debates. Therefore, the only way anyone beats Romney is to take the proverbial ‘kill shot’ and succeed. Good luck with that when deflection and obfuscation are treated as presidential. Seven years ago, it was called ‘nuanced’.
    Unfortunately for Romney, he remains stuck in the polls. He is also running neck and neck with ‘undecided’. This tells me the GOP base/voter is not sold on Romney. If his debate performances are as boffo as the media tells us, then why is Romney stuck in the polls?
    The American people are on to Romney and believe he is truly inauthentic. I think all this chatter about Romney beating Obama in a debate and an election is premature. The GOP will only win if they run a candidate who can contrast himself from Obama. Romney can not contrast himself from Obama. If Romney wins the GOP nomination, he will join such GOP luminaries as Charles Evans Hughes, Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Tom Dewey, Bob Dole, and John McCain. A Romney presidency will destroy the Tea Party and any gains made by the Tea Party. Perhaps, that is why certain folks insist on backing Romney.

    The wild card in all of this is Sarah Palin. Her endorsement will be key. She brings a lot of energy and new faces to the process. If she endorses Perry, Romney is cooked. If she was hated before that endorsement, I imagine that hate will turn white-hot when Romney fails. I expect her to endorse before the Iowa Caucus.

    Godfather of Supply-Side Economics Supports Cain’s ‘9-9-9’ Plan

    “Famed supply-side economist Art Laffer​ told HUMAN EVENTS that Cain’s “9-9-9” plan was a pro-growth plan that would create the proper conditions for America’s economy to grow and thrive again.

    “Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would be a vast improvement over the current tax system and a boon to the U.S. economy,” Laffer told HUMAN EVENTS in a statement. “The goal of supply-side tax reform is always a broadening of the tax base and lowering of marginal tax rates.”

    Added Laffer: “Mr. Cain’s plan is simple, transparent, neutral with respect to capital and labor, and savings and consumption, and also greatly decreases the hidden costs of tax compliance. There is no doubt that economic growth would surge upon implementation of 9-9-9.”

    Laffer also said that “such a system provides the least avenues to avoid paying taxes, yet also maintains the strongest incentives for work effort, production, and investment.”

      retire05 in reply to Viator. | October 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

      The money phrase here is “would be a vast improvement over the current tax system.”

      The problem is that the Congress would have to totally abolish the current tax system, and Laffer knows there is as much chance of that as a snowball has in hell. In order for Cain’s 9-9-9 plan to work, states would have to abolish their sales tax systems, which is currently their own secure source of revenue, be willing to collect the 9% federal sales tax at the local level, return it to the federal coffers with the hope they will get it back. As it is now, state sales tax is collected on a local level and distributed by the state. Sales tax collected in Missouri does not go to bail out New York. The states will never do that.

      Also, federal sales tax creates a whole new stream of revenue that could be tinkered with as the Congress continues to spend more and not cut its own budget. There would be no way to stop the Congress from raising the 9% to 12% if they wanted to do so. The president doesn’t set tax rates, Congress does, and I for one am not willing to put that kind of power into the hands of a future Congress full of Democrats who never met a tax they did not love (and yes, eventually, Congress will be a D majority again).

      Cain’s plan, assuming he could even get it passed, runs the risk of there being a 15-19% sales tax on goods and services. Research the VAT tax in Europe. Started out small, now it’s a leviathan.

      And who would it hurt the most? In states where there is no sales tax on groceries and medications, it would reduce the buying power of seniors and low income families by 9% for the two items that take the biggest chunk out of their monthly budgets. Prebates are just another convoluted system that would be confusing.

      I would support a flat tax. You make $XXX, you pay 10%. No deductions for the children you chose to have, no deductions for your mortgage interest, no deductions for medical expenses. If you make $25K/yr, your tax bill is $2,500. End of story. One page: list your income, your tax is 10%. High income earners would still pay the majority of taxes. Progressive taxation was one primary tenent of the Communist Manifesto.

      Cain’s Fair Tax is basically the plan designed by Dennis Prager with a few twists. But the problem is it is not workable. And Cain has yet to hire an economist to his campaign team to really evaluate his 9-9-9 plan.

    workingclass artist | October 13, 2011 at 8:55 am


    Cain’s 999 plan leads to a VAT. and Cain has showed he doesn’t really understand the legislative process or how this relates to the executive. He thinks like an autocrat.

    Cain also didn’t know what the Palestinian “Right of Return” is during the UN petition. Once he found out what it was he was all for it as long as the Israeli Govt. supervises it’s demographic extinction by Jordanians? Where has this man been for 30 odd years? (My estimate for when “right of return” was hijacked by the tribal politics folks allover the world)

    Square that circle.

    Cain agreed with Harry Reid and admonished Speaker Boehner to fund FEMA now and find the money later.

    Herman Cain is a political disaster….sheeesh!

    We need a seasoned political veteran executive who knows what battles to fight, knows how to spend political capital,has the courage to do it & can rally support within a constituency. We need conservative leadership to right this ship and make America economically strong so we can be strong in foreign policy.

    Newt had those qualities but his own party booted him in a coup led by Boehner.

    Gov. Perry has those qualities and it is only in this last election that republicans have gained a majority in both houses. In Texas conservatives and bluedogs try to keep the liberals at bay & with more and more of them moving here from liberal states as economic refugees it will be a factor in the next 10 years. Still Texans will fight tooth and nail to avoid becoming California & because of that many liberals retire to New Mexico to muck that state up.

      Owen J in reply to workingclass artist. | October 14, 2011 at 3:07 am

      This is a back-of-the-envelop hack at Cain’s 999 Plan. I assume he means what he says about no deductions and I would welcome other’s take on this:

      Let’s say you are a married couple living in California with a house-hold annual income (per W2) of about $100K. You own a modest home you bought in 2002, have a fixed 30-yr 1st mortage and 2 kids.

      Given those conditions, you will have deductions of about $40K (probably a bit more): mortagage interest, property taxes, state and local income taxes, and personal exemptions for you, your spouse and your two kids. So your taxible income will be a little less than $60k.

      For that amount, in 2010, you would have paid close to $8000 in Federal income tax.

      Under Cain’s plan, you would pay $9,000 in federal income PLUS 9% sales tax of whatever you buy. This could easily be another $2000 to $3000, so your total federal tax just went from $8000 to $12,000!

      How is this a good thing? A 50% tax increase on a middle-class family?

      So either Cain’s 999 plan is much more complex than this, or he’s ignorant of many people’s reality, or he’s really dumb.

      Looking at the tax code, I find it hard to identify a demographic who’s taxes would actually go down under this plan, except maybe singles who make 6-figures, have no kids, and rent their homes.

      While the tax code can certainly be vastly improved, unless I’m missing something fundamental, Cain’s 999 plan would be nothing more than a huge tax hike for most people, especially for working families.

      Is this really what the Tea Party wants?

        workingclass artist in reply to Owen J. | October 14, 2011 at 7:34 am


        The problem with Cain’s 999 plan is it is based on a European Model. Countries in Europe (Italy) initiated a national sales tax that escalated quickly. Then the EU added on the VAT.

        Cain’s plan adds both at once and states will balk.

        Another revenue stream for an increasingly oppressive distant Centralized Federal Government.

        It also makes it almost impossible to follow the money.

          I know — that’s part of my problem with it. The VAT in the UK has been a huge mess and is heavily gamed. Also some of the “praise” I’ve seen for it is really praise: Ryan said it was bold thinking — which it is — but he didn’t say it was a good idea.

          But my real question is: are there details for the 999 plan that are more than talking points?

          If there are, someone needs to put up a website to show people what their total federal taxes will be under the 999 plan so they can compare them to what they pay now.

          I’d be happy to do this myself if reliable details were available.

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