Breaking Iowa Democratic hearts, Hillary Clinton picks Tim Kaine for VP

Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced a few minutes ago that U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a former mayor of Richmond and governor of Virginia, willge the Democratic candidate for vice president. Kaine’s been the front-runner for the job all along, by virtue of his extensive political experience, stature in a swing state, good ties with the business community, and fluency in Spanish.

I suspect that the Bernie Sanders endorsement last week, combined with the mostly disastrous Republican National Convention, gave Clinton confidence to make a "safe" choice, rather than someone who would excite our party’s base, like Senator Elizabeth Warren or even Senator Cory Booker. Too bad Ohio has a Republican governor, otherwise Senator Sherrod Brown would have been an ideal running mate. Some pundits are calling Kaine a "governing pick," someone Clinton feels comfortable working with for the next four or eight years, as opposed to the person who can do the most to boost her campaign over the next four months.

Of all the people Clinton was considering, Kaine arouses the most antipathy from the Sanders wing for various reasons. His vocal support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is just one of the problems. Kaine’s defenders point to his perfect voting record in the Senate on reproductive rights and LGBT equality, his near-perfect record on labor issues, his background as a civil rights attorney, and numerous accomplishments as governor. He is not outside the Democratic Party’s mainstream. On the other hand, the Progressive Punch database ranks Kaine the 40th most progressive among the 46 current senators who caucus with Democrats.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was repeatedly named in news reports and commentaries about Clinton’s short list. He’s got an inspiring personal story and developed a tremendous grasp of public policy over his long career in local, state and federal government. By all accounts, he and Clinton get along very well, having been acquainted since Clinton became friends with Christie Vilsack’s brother Tom Bell during the 1970s. Like Kaine, he has a reputation for making few mistakes. I regret that Clinton didn’t choose Vilsack, though I would have been equally happy with Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

No one is more disappointed tonight than the Iowa Democrats who know Vilsack best. Sometimes in politics, you hear how so-and-so big shot elected official was a nightmare to work for. You never hear those stories about Vilsack. On the contrary, the former Vilsack staffers I know rave about how knowledgeable, thorough, caring, engaging, and funny he was.

Then First Lady Clinton came through for Vilsack at a critical time during his underdog 1998 gubernatorial campaign. I have no doubt she will tap him for an important job if she is elected president. Iowans will see plenty of Vilsack on the trail this fall as a supporter of Clinton and down-ticket candidates.

Any thoughts about Kaine or the presidential race generally are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Added below some comments from Iowa Democrats to the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble and Brianne Pfannenstiel.

SECOND UPDATE: Embedded below the video from the first joint campaign appearance by Clinton and Kaine, in Miami on July 23. His stump speech is worth watching in full; it was remarkably well constructed and delivered. I see more clearly now what this "happy warrior" could bring to the ticket. He wove together personal details, policy accomplishments, and a clear contrast between Clinton’s vision for the country and Donald Trump’s. I didn’t know much about Kaine’s legal work to combat housing discrimination, or that he and his wife sent their kids to public schools. If he does as well at the DNC on Wednesday night, Republicans should be worried.

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In 11 days, we will probably know who the next President is

Many thanks to Dan Guild for this historical perspective. You can read his past contributions to this blog here and here. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In any election there are a few predictable and important events. Few are as important as the Conventions. How important? Here are some basic facts:

  1. In the 12 elections since 1968, the candidate leading in polling after the second convention has won the popular vote 11 times, and the only exception led by less than a point (McCain in 2008).

  2. The candidate leading 3 weeks after the second convention has NEVER lost the popular vote.

  3. No candidate has EVER won if they trailed after their convention. EVER.

  4. 10 of 11 candidates who led by more than 5 after their convention won (Dukakis in ’88 is the only exception.

A table summarizing the data is set forth below. In addition, my database of presidential polling (which is the most complete online) is here.

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Another Iowa poll shows tight presidential race, single-digit lead for Chuck Grassley over Patty Judge

In more support for forecasters who view Iowa as a toss-up state, Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by a statistically insignificant 40 percent to 39 percent in a new CBS News Battleground Tracker Iowa poll conducted by YouGov. About 3 percent of the 998 "likely voters" surveyed between July 13 and 15 back Libertarian Gary Johnson, 2 percent Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 7 percent "someone else" and 8 percent are "not sure."

Among respondents supporting Clinton, 50 percent said it is mainly because they like her, 37 percent said mainly to oppose Trump, and 13 percent said mainly because she will be their party’s nominee. The opposite was true for respondents planning to vote for Trump: 53 percent said they will do so mainly to oppose Clinton, 36 percent said mainly to support Trump, and 11 percent said because Trump will be their party’s nominee.

In Iowa’s U.S. Senate race, the CBS/YouGov poll found Senator Chuck Grassley ahead of Democratic challenger Patty Judge by 45 percent to 37 percent, with 16 percent not sure and 2 percent favoring "someone else." In his previous re-election bids, Grassley has never been below 50 percent and less than 10 points ahead of his challenger in any public survey by a reputable pollster. YouGov now becomes the third firm (after Public Policy Polling and Loras College) to find a single-digit lead for the incumbent.

The full questionnaire for the CBS/YouGov poll is available here, along with cross-tabs. Assuming random sampling techniques produced a representative respondent pool, the margin of error for this survey would be plus or minus 4.8 percent. One possible problem with the sample: 41 percent of respondents said they are currently registered Republicans, 42 percent registered Democrats, and just 14 percent "not affiliated with either party." More than 31 percent of Iowans who cast ballots in the 2012 general election were no-party voters. It’s possible that many of the registered Republicans or Democrats sampled by YouGov think of themselves as "independents" but changed their registration in order to participate in the February 1 Iowa caucuses or June 7 primaries.

YouGov polls are conducted over the internet; the firm received a "B" grade in FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings.

Donald Trump's hilariously bad rollout of a smart VP pick

I was hoping for Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump’s "gut" wanted to go with Chris Christie, but family members and campaign chairman Paul Manafort managed to persuade the impulsive billionaire that Mike Pence was the smart pick. The Indiana governor is a strong conservative and could do the most unify the party, having endorsed Ted Cruz in April.

Trump should have been able to get a boost from his running mate choice going into the Republican National Convention. Instead, he fumbled the rollout in several ways, summarized well by Philip Bump. It must have humiliated Pence to have CNN, the New York Times, NBC News, and other media outlets focus on Trump’s last-minute doubts about the pick, instead of on what Pence brings to the ticket. Christie suffered an even greater blow at the hands of the man he endorsed in February.

I’m no graphic design expert, but the Trump-Pence logo is a disaster. I thought it was a joke the first time I saw it yesterday, when a Facebook friend shared this not-safe-for-work commentary. Gregory Krieg reported more delicately for CNN that the logo "is raising eyebrows" and "drawing titters from cheeky tweeters." Iowa Twitter user @jbelcap pointed out that there is a "hidden negative space H" in the graphic as well.

Any comments about the Trump-Pence ticket are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: It took only one day for the Trump campaign to dump the logo and scrub all images of it from the website. The new logo is after the jump.

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Stop badgering Bernie Sanders supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for president Tuesday morning during a joint campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as in an e-mail blast and a Facebook note.

Some enthusiastic Sanders fans, including his captain in the precinct next door to mine, have made their own pitches to their fellow Berners today. I enclose below an e-mail that former State Senator Daryl Beall sent to friends and acquaintances. Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry shared the Sanders Facebook post calling on progressives to continue the political revolution. More power to them, and to those who are expressing their newfound support for Clinton in a humorous way.

I still see too many arguments on social media between Clinton backers and #BernieOrBust holdouts. Please stop. Give people time to grieve. Most Democrats who backed Sanders in the primaries will eventually support Clinton this fall. Some small percentage won’t. It’s not productive for those who were "with her" from the beginning to engage with them, especially not now. No amount of arguing on Facebook or Twitter will convince diehard Hillary-haters to support the Democratic nominee. It can only antagonize people.

Some in the #HillYes crowd get upset seeing fellow Democrats bash a woman they admire. My best advice: you don’t have to make it your mission to get them to see what you see. Either try to find common ground with them by talking about down-ballot races, or back off and focus your energy on mobilizing other voters.

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