Friday, June 24, 2016

BTRTN Dem VP Prediction: Raising Kaine

We are quickly shifting from Brexit back to US politics.  We were calling Brexit as a very close "Remain" win, 52/48, and it went to the "Leaves" by that same percentage (the whole campaign was conducted within the margin or error).  David Cameron is out, other European right-wingers are calling for more exit votes across the EU, and world markets are reacting predictably to this shocking outcome.

Usually at BTRTN we make projections about elections, largely (though hardly exclusively) based on polling.  But occasionally we venture out into the land of gut feel on other matters of import, and we do that again today.
Our track record is pretty good on this front.  This was probably my favorite, the first Supreme Court decision on the fate of Obamacare.  I wrote this on May 12, 2012, six weeks before the Court decision, when the betting markets were in the 90% range the other way.
"I may be the only person in America who thinks they will NOT overrule {Obamacare}.  My basic theory is that Chief Justice Roberts has no interest in achieving the same legacy as Chief Justice Hughes, who presided over a conservative court known best for thwarting the New Deal in battle with FDR.  I think he’ll find a way to convince Justice Kennedy to uphold the act and then, as is his wont, join the majority for a 6-3 ruling.  You heard it here first!"
On June 28, 2012, the Court proved me right (although it was 5-4; Roberts did indeed join the liberals, but Kennedy was opposed).
And this was another good one…written in the thick of what was then known as the strangest GOP race for the Presidency ever.  On November 9, 2011, I was trying to predict where the GOP might go next, having embraced and discarded Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain and others. 
"Or maybe….just maybe…December will be Rick Santorum’s turn in the spotlight.  Sure, he’s been to all 99 counties in Iowa and is still under 5% in the polls there.  They’ve seen him, examined him very closely and they, um, don’t like him.  But guess what….he’s a true, blue social conservative.  It’s in his bones.  And he’s got some depth to him since he’s been arguing the case for twenty years.  He’s not cramming for the debates.  He’s a policy wonk.  So do I dare call a boomlet coming for Santorum?  The upcoming debates give him another shot.  By the time of the Iowa caucus, he might even be the Republican frontrunner…"
Rick Santorum did indeed escape low single digits in the polls and on January 2, he did indeed win the Iowa caucus, by 34 votes (though it took about a month to figure out the actual vote count that gave him the win).

Which brings me to right now, when we make another prediction based on instinct and logic:   BTRTN predicts that Hillary Clinton will select Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her Vice President.
Why Tim Kaine, when there are so many other more exciting picks out there?  There’s Bernie Sanders Himself, and Elizabeth Warren, the Castro brothers, Corey Booker, Tom Perez….the list is endless in this history-making year.
Here’s why: 
  • Bernie is not cut out to be a VP, and while Clinton would love to have his supporters, there is too much bad blood here for this to be realistic.  And more to the point, Sanders offers no swing state help, still carries that nationally untested “Socialist Democrat” label, does not display classic #2 humility, would be a difficult partner for an eight-year stint (and well into his 80's by then) -- and, perhaps most importantly, might overshadow Clinton on the campaign trail.
  • Elizabeth Warren is a formidable name and her selection would certainly excite the Bernie crowd.  She has already mastered the fine art of lacerating Donald Trump.  But she too could outshine Clinton and also could be a difficult partner.   She offers no swing state help, and, importantly, as a sitting Democratic Senator in a state with a Republican Governor, her selection – and election – would put her Senate seat at huge risk.
  • Julian Castro is highly appealing but fails the basic test – he is only 41 and not really “ready to be President of the United States.”  Castro is your classic “Hail Mary” pick, a historic pick (first Hispanic on a national ticket) but I don’t think Clinton is anywhere near the position of needing to throw the long ball – quite the opposite.  (His twin brother, Joaquin, a member of the House, is at times mentioned as a potential VP candidate as well, but he has a far lower profile.)
  • Tom Perez is the Labor Secretary, also Hispanic, but I think he is way too low profile for a VP pick.  He is basically totally unknown to the American public.
  • Corey Booker is the Senator from New Jersey, who also, as an African-American, would lend diversity to the ticket.  But Clinton has New Jersey in the bag already, and the Governor of the state, a fella named Chris Christie – remember him? – would love to name a GOP replacement for Booker.
  • Sherrod Brown, the Senator of Ohio, is a Clinton friend who passes the “comfort zone” test easily.  Clinton would love a VP with policy chops like Brown, and he is in one of the most important swing states.  But…remember, who is the Governor of Ohio?  Oh yeah, John Kasich.  Another Senate seat at risk.
That brings me to Tim Kaine.  He’s got it all.  He is a former Governor and a current Senator, serving on the Armed Service Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee – no question he checks the first box, “ready to be President.”   He is a solid-citizen-type who will never overshadow Clinton and will willingly play the second fiddle role.  Virginia is certainly an absolutely crucial swing state.  Kaine was a finalist in the Obama Veepstakes in 2008, and while his national profile is not huge, he is just the sort of soothing safe pick that makes sense for a history-making frontrunner who has no need to take a risk.
Let’s see how we do.  And don’t ask me about GOP veepstakes; I have no idea.  The main question is really not “who will Trump pick” but rather “who might possibly accept?”


  1. Brown, Warren and Booker (in that order) would be better choices but, as you note, would cost a Senate seat that Dems can't afford. So, I agree with your logic.

  2. Re Brexit: scariest part to me is the analogy to our Potus campaign. All the more rational, educated observers felt it wouldn't happen in the end - even yesterday's markets bought that story. But in the end the troglodytes prevailed. Is Trump the next example of this? Seems to me that a lot of "right thinking" people may be indulging in wishful thinking - I sure hope not!


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