Sunday, April 14, 2013

Radioactive: First Presidential Debates




Tonight, the first presidential debate was held at University of California at Berkely, and a majority of post debate polls show a victory for Biden. The prime focuses of this debate were foreign policy and the economy. Biden captialized on the current success of the Obama administration's economic policies, which have brought the unemployment rate down to 7.8%. Ayotte made strong points about decreasing regulation and tax rates on the upper class and criticized the slowing economic growth of the last two years. Another critical point of the economic debate was Obamacare. It's policies have been controversial, with majority of people with yearly incomes of under $40,000 in support of it, but there has been a lot of corporate pressure to repeal it due to the numerous layoffs that have occured because of it. Biden reiterated his support for Obamacare, but emphasized a need to update the law. Ayotte wanted to repeal it entirely, calling it "a burden on the America's economy and its people".

The second portion of the debate was focused on foreign policy. It focused on the tough points of North Korea, Israel, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt. North Korea, not as much of an imminent threat since the period when it stepped up its rhetoric in mid 2013. Both candidates voiced their support for South Korea. Iran, who is still suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons, was deemed a state that needed to be firmly kept under control, while Biden said he was open to negotiation if they would allow themselves to become a more democratic state. Another issue was its neighbor, Iraq, which has had increasingly worsening human rights violations against Sunnis and Kurds under its Shia regime. Biden made it clear he did not want to intervene only two years after Obama funded pulling troops out of the Middle East and declared an end to the War on Terror, while Ayotte took a more interventionist stance and said she would support an independent Kurdistan if it wished to become so. A newer issue is Egypt, which has had increasing protests against President Mohamed Morsi's rule in the last year and has shown a large number of human rights violations. Biden and Ayotte held their respective views on Iraq with Egypt as well.
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Today, the single VP debate of the election season was held at John Hopkins University. Polls clearly showed a victory for Huntsman at 61%. The debate started with economic issues, but quickly shifted to a heavier focus on social issues and foreign policy. Huntsman made a number of strong points regarding North Korea and Egypt that Gillibrand commented on, but made very few comebacks on. The social policy discussion was considerably more heated since Gillibrand was able to make a lot more comebacks. There was a more intense battle over gay marriage. Huntsman took a moderate position that advocated for civil unions, and wanted to leave full marriage to the states. Gillibrand made a strong call for legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide in response, which most people considered to be her high point of the debate. Some Democrats accused Gillibrand of being too soft and letting Huntsman walk over her. The first two debates have shown a slight shift in favor of the Republicans: Nevada and West Virginia turned from toss up to GOP lean and Iowa turned from a Democrat lean to a toss up. New Hampshire is also polling more solidly for Ayotte at 56%.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Radioactive: Running Mates and Party Conventions


Paul, one of the three people who could become his party's nominee, has announced at a rally in Charleston today that Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley would be his running mate. Not many were surprised by his decision since they were both members of the Tea Party Caucus in the Senate, but it was surprising that he did in fact make a decision. With Ayotte having stated that she is making a shortlist for her decision, this will be one of the few times where a party enters a convention with more than one fully formed ticket.

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Today at a rally in Las Vegas, Republican presidential nominee Kelly Ayotte announced that former governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman would be her running mate and Vice President candidate, which completes the competing GOP ticket. Some Tea Party Republicans are very unhappy with her choice due to Huntsman being somewhat more liberal than the rest of the party with on some issues. However, many critics are calling her choice of a moderate a smart choice, and are looking at her record of focusing more on Americas 'bread and butter' issues over social ones, trying to avoid what many people consider to be one of the pitfalls of the 2012 Romney/Ryan campaign. She also balanced out one of her weaknesses, which is a lack of dealing with foreign relations, which is one of Biden's strong points, by making Huntsman he running mate. This also makes history by being the first election where not only one, but both major tickets (not to mention both GOP tickets currently running) for president and vice president all have a woman. Here are the current electoral projections based on the two most likely races:








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In a last minute announcement, Jeb Bush has suspended his campaign for president and endorsed the Ayotte/Huntsman ticket for the nomination, which gives her a delegate majority. Bush stated that he had significant ambitions to become his party's nominee, but that in the end, it was more important to him to have party unity in order for the Republicans to have a better chance to beat Biden in the election. Paul has stated that he respects Bush's decision and that he will not be attempting to run for president with a seperate Paul/Haley ticket. The Ayotte/Huntsman campaign celebrated today at a rally in Atlanta, stating that they were “ready to face whatever Biden and Gillibrand could throw at us.”
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The Democratic National convention, held in Phoenix, Arizona, was quite a popular television event. Over 50 million people watched it, which was quite significant viewership for any convention. Among the most notable speakers on day one were Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, who gave a resounding speech about gun control measures that were pioneered in his own state, and Second Lady Jill Biden. Most people who attended the convention said that Jill Biden gave nearly as an electrifying speech as First Lady Michelle Obama did during the 2012 DNC. Many people were surprised by this, considering how she was became more resigned from politics and public speaking after the 2012 election season. The second day of speeches was dominated by the speaker who officially nominated Biden to candidacy for President, which was current President Obama. He said in his address to the convention that he felt like electing Ayotte will undo everything he has worked towards in his two terms as president.

The third and final day of speeches saw Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and her husband Jonathan Gillibrand speak and accept the nomination for Vice President candidacy. In her acceptance speech, she highlighted women's equality and "keeping the drive for change so that she fights hard for as Senator." The final speaker was Vice President Biden, who accepted his party's nomination for candidacy. In his acceptance speech, he highlighted the fact that he wants to pursue the same policies of the current administration with more vigor and a renewed drive for change. One note about this ticket that makes it historic is not only the fact that it is the first woman Democratic VP nominee, but the fact that both people on the ticket are Roman Catholic. Post convention poll boosts for the Democratic Party were major with a majority showing a three percent boost for the Biden/Gillibrand ticket.
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The Republican National Convention was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania between August 26 and 28. It garnered around 45 million views, which is just under the amount of views the DNC received. The first day of speeches was highlighted by Ayotte's husband Joseph and Jeb Bush, who was the keynote speaker. He called for the GOP to reconsider its hard line stance on many issues and to reach out to voter of all walks of life. The second day of speeches was highlighted by vice presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. His speech was rather foreign policy heavy, highlighting how the Ayotte/Huntsman administration wanted to handle current “sore spots” like Egypt, Israel, Iran, and North Korea. This was when the first ballot was held, which Senator Ayotte has received a majority vote on, which meant the GOP will avoid the hassle that is a brokered convention that plagued them as a likely possibility during the early summer months.
The third and final day of speeches was highlighted by none other than presidential candidate Kelly Ayotte. In her acceptance speech, she emphasized the need to return to traditional American values and to fix the economy and strengthen it after 8 years of Democratic Party policy. Her speech rallied much of the former Paul support base to support her in order to get rid of any bitterness they had over her clinching the nomination over him. Post convention polls show Ayotte/Huntsman with a small boost, and the current electoral map has West Virginia, which was previously put in the unlikely position of swing state, is now a GOP lean state with 54% polling in for Ayotte.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Radioactive: the World and Politics in the 21st Century


This is not quite alternate history, but future history that I have been itching to write for a while. Hopefully you guys enjoy it!



The IOC held a session in Kuala Lumpur today to decide who would host the 2020 Summer Games. Tokyo was expected to win after the first round of votes when it lead and Madrid was eliminated. However, most of the votes from Madrid went to Istanbul, which gave it the edge over Tokyo in the second round and allowed Istanbul to clinch victory. This will be the first time the Games will be held in a Middle Eastern and majority Muslim country.
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The 2016 presidential election season has been officially kicked off today with the announcement that vice president Joe Biden was running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. In the last two years of his term as VP, he has broken away from President Obama on a number of issues and has made himself more public about his ideas. However, at his announcement outside of his residence in D.C., he talked about “continuing the policies of the current administration with more vigor” He has hinted to his intentions to run during his term as vice president, but has not confirmed this until now. Recent polling done by Gallup show Biden with double digit leads against all of the other frontrunners in the Democratic Party except for Hillary Clinton, who beats him by around 5%.
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With the announcement that Biden will be seeking the Democratic nomination, a flood of Republicans have thrown their hats into the ring for the GOP nomination, which is expected to be very contentious. First off was Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is currently the only candidate with significant Tea Party backing. He made his announcement in his home state of Kentucky today, saying that he wanted to “restore America to its rightful place after 8 years of the lackluster and cowardly Obama administration”. Current Gallup polling places him in front of the three way race at 39%. Next was the former Governor and relative of GWB, Jeb Bush of Florida, who had been mulling a presidential run since his television blitz in early 2013. He is just behind Paul at 36%. Finally, we have the Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal, who has been very popular with the people of Louisiana and many moderates in the GOP. Many others could still be entering the race, such as the GOP’s runner up in 2012 Rick Santorum among others.
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In the moment the Democratic Party has been holding its breath for, Hillary Clinton has permanently put to rest speculation by deciding she will not run for the office of President. She said that she wanted to leave room for the new generation of Democrats to be able to have the Presidency and revitalize America. She also stated that she was going to retire from politics in general and begin to support her daughter’s political ambitions. Waiting for Clinton’s decision has dictated many of the Democrats thus far, seeing how she was in front of the pack in polling. With the confirmation that she will not run, Biden has become the sole frontrunner, but it is still to be seen how many will challenge him for the nomination that many Americans think he has already clenched.
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Today at a rally in New Hampshire, one of the states Senators, Kelly Ayotte, announced her candidacy for president. At her rally, she spoke to her supporters about bringing America back to its rightful place in the eyes of the people of the world. She also emphasized points about smaller government, specifically "stopping the government from infringing upon our 2nd Amendment rights" and "reducing the numerous bloated and overspending institutions in government." Polling right after the announcement peaked at 25%, but looks to be falling. Some political analysts were surprised by her announcement, seeing her as more of a dark horse for the nomination.
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Since Biden's announcement, only a few other Democrats have decided to throw their wight against him. The first was the Senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. She has been very popular in speculation along with Hillary Clinton to be one of the first female nominees for President. She is also very popular with the more liberal parts of the party. Next was the Governor from Colorado, John Hickenlooper. Some analysts were rather surprised by his run, and he is currently in last place polling wise, but he has a strong base of support in Colorado and in the surrounding mountain and plains states. Finally the Governor from Maryland, Martin O'Malley announced his candidacy just hours ago today. All three above are at least 10% behind the clear front runner, Joe Biden, and will have a hard fight ahead of them if they want the nomination.
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In an interview today, the GOP senator from Florida Marco Rubio dispelled rumors about a possible presidential run by stating that he is not going in for the nomination this time. He has stated he feels the GOP field of candidates is already full of well qualified individuals that could lead the party in a new direction, and that the last thing he wants is more division in the party. The most current polls show that he would have been in third place behind Senator Paul and former Governor Bush.
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Today, the first GOP debate was held in Des Moines, Iowa as preperation for the Iowa caucus which is to take place early in January. At the first GOP debate, there were a lot of expecations that Paul and Bush would perform well and that one of the two would win the debate. Overall, the debate went well and the debating got fairly fierce at some points without an extreme amount of interruption. However, Paul and Ayotte were called out as clear winners with the other candidates not even coming close to their level of performance. All 3 of the leaders have broken the 20% mark in polling, with undecided voters falling by double digits. Jindal hardly even had a chance to speak, and has drastically fallen in the polls as a result. Bush performed well, but not as well as expected, leaving Bush and Ayotte to generally be seen as the winners. Another debate will be held, and will include the new candidates if or when any more enter.
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In somewhat of a rushed move, two people declared their candidacy today to fully round out the GOP field. The first was somewhat of a surprise: Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada. Many people are excited by the prospects of a more moderate candidate, but many Republicans have taken issue with his pro-choice stance. Next was the much more conservative Representative Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania. He was the runner-up in the 2012 GOP primaries, and currently has a support base of 20%. As a result of these announcements, Ayotte and Jindal have been pushed down in polling.
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Even though politics have been heating up un the nation, it is worth some time to reflect on the year, especially in cinema. Many critics have considered this year to be one of the best in the century so far in terms of quality and profit for cinema. Far in first place is the Star Wars Episode VIII, which grossed the huge sum of during its time in theaters. Many fans were extremely sceptical of what Disney and J.J Abrahms were going to produce. Most fans were delighted when the movie mostly followed the story of Grand Admiral Thrawn trilogy as descirbed in the expanded universe created by Star Wars enthusiasts many years before production of the movie was announced. The release of the movie was surrounded by significant media hype and the release of numerous video games, products and toys relating to the film.
Next up was Mockingjay: Part 2, which concluded the Hunger Games trilogy of novels by Susanne Collins which were transposed into movies. This movie grossed To the delight of many movie viewers, the director took major liberty with the ending of the book, which many of the series fans were irate with. Finally, we have the oft delayed Ender's Game, which was adapted from Orson Scott Card's novel. The movie was supposed to be released last year, but it faced a number of roadblocks with actors' commitment and funds to make the film. It was finally finished and released this year, becoming the third highest grossing film. Some people were unhappy with the amount of liberties that were taken with some of the story line and the characters, such as Ender being noticeably older than he was in the book.
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Today, in a rather unsurprising milestone, VP Biden won the Democrat caucus in Iowa. He received around 37% of the vote. One thing that we can be surprised about from the caucus was all of the other candidates performances. Gillibrand, O'Malley, and Hickenlooper all had much stronger showings than previous polls indicated, which means that Biden could be facing much bigger fights than expected for the Democratic nomination. Here are the percentage of votes each candidate received in the caucus:

VP Joe Biden - 37%
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - 28%
Governor Martin O'Malley - 21%
Governor John Hickenlooper - 14%
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Just after the Democrats held their primary in Iowa, the Republicans held theirs. The votes were much more spread than with the Democrats, with Paul, Bush, Sandoval, Huntsman, and Ayotte all pulling decent numbers. Santorum and Jindal are lingering in the back slightly with only a few percent each, but there is still a long campaign season ahead of them. These numbers are much closer than in the Democrat race and there is no clear leader this far, which likely means we will be seeing a much tougher fight for the GOP nomination.
Here are the percentage of votes each candidate received at the caucus:

Senator Rand Paul - 21%
Fmr. Governor Jeb Bush - 20%
Fmr. Senator Rick Santorum - 19%
Senator Kelly Ayotte - 15%
Governor Brian Sandoval - 13%
Governor Bobby Jindal - 12%
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In something seen by many as quite the surprise, Ayotte took the primary in her home state of New Hampshire by storm with over 30% of the vote after a fourth place finish in Iowa. Only one candidate even broke the 20% in Iowa. As a result of this primary, Jindal and Santorum suspended their campaigns due to lack of support. Many did not expect these candidates to drop out this early from underperformance, but both of them cited need for unity in the party in order to be able to have the chance to defeat the Democrat for election. Santorum endorsed fellow Tea Party member Rand Paul for candidate and Jindal endorsed Bush upon dropping out.

Senator Kelly Ayotte - 41%
Senator Rand Paul - 20%
Fmr. Governor Jeb Bush - 15%
Governor Brian Sandoval - 13%
Fmr. Senator Rick Santorum - 7%
Governor Bobby Jindal - 4%
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Today was the big day in primary season, Super Tuesday. No radical shift occurred from the front runners beforehand, but it did separate out the top from the rest. Senators Paul and Ayotte have made themselves the likely top two spots, both winning sizeable prizes. Ayotte has been popular in the midwest and northeast while Paul has been popular in the Rockies, Plains, and the South. Bush took the rather large prize of Georgia, but he is starting to lag behind the front two. It is looking like Governor Sandoval will likely not have the chance to receive the nomination due to general lack of support. The Democrats have also made a top two out of VP Biden and Senator Gillibrand, while Governors Hickenlooper and O'Malley both gained some delegates but have fallen noticeably behind the front runners. However, there are still a fair number of delegates to be handed out and near anybody could make a comeback before the conventions come up.


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How the Candidates are Stacking Up
Gallup.com | March 8, 2016
Primary season is about end in the next two months, and candidates are on the final stretch. Most have predicted Biden will clench the democratic nomination, even though the primaries have been far from a clean sweep and Gillibrand could possibly make a comeback. The GOP is tied into a trio of Senator Paul, Senator Ayotte and former Governor Bush. This is how they are faring, according to our polls, between members of their own party and compared to members of the other party.

GOP Candidates: Democratic Candidates:
Senator Rand Paul - 34% Vice President Joe Biden - 47%
Senator Kelly Ayotte - 32% Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - 33%
Fmr. Governor Jeb Bush - 23% Governor Martin O’Malley - 11%
Brian Sandoval- 11% Governor John Hickenlooper - 9%

Here is how the candidates stack up when they are matched up to someone of the other party (just the current leaders):

Vice President Joe Biden (48%) v. Senator Rand Paul (45%)
Vice President Joe Biden (47%) v. Senator Kelly Ayotte (46%)
Vice President Joe Biden (49%) v. Fmr. Governor Jeb Bush (45%)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (47%) v. Senator Rand Paul (45%)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (47%) v. Senator Kelly Ayotte (48%)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (48%) v. Fmr. Governor Jeb Bush (45%)

Currently, the only theoretical race the GOP could win is Ayotte v. Gillibrand, but that could easily be skewed by VP choices that come later on. The GOPs weakest performer is Fmr. Governor Jeb Bush, who is losing by 3% in both scenarios at a total percentage of 45%. One interesting scenario that came up through the polls were the theoretical races between Sandoval and the lower three Democratic candidates:

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (47%) v. Governor Brian Sandoval (48%)
Governor Martin O’Malley (46%) v. Governor Brian Sandoval (49%)
Governor John Hickenlooper (46%) v. Governor Brian Sandoval (50%)

So far, the only state Sandoval has managed to win in the primaries is Nevada, his home state. Even though he is a moderate and a Hispanic, which is probably why he has leads in the polls above, many social conservatives in the Republican party are turned off by his more liberal stances on social issues, mainly abortion where he is pro-choice. It could be unfortunate for the GOP that they have decided to turn away one of the only people that could give them victory in this election.
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While preparing to attend a flight to in order to campaign, Senator Paul had to undergo a pat down after setting an alarm off under the scanner. However, the senator "refused to have his rights infringed upon”, and attempted to continue to the concourse with his belongings. A TSA officer attempted to stop him and Airport security had to block his way to the concourses. Some reports say that he directed verbal outbursts towards the TSA officers. After a half-hour of arguing and making phone calls to superiors, he was released to fly without having a pat-down. Online, there is also supposed video footage of what happened at the airport. However, the Paul campaign has claimed the video has been doctored to make the incident seem much worse.
He has made it known in the past that he opposes the Patriot Act and wants it to be repealed, and this is an instance of showing that. The libertarians that were traditionally behind him are polling even stronger in favor of him, while the more conservative wing, especially the Tea Party, has drifted away from him and more towards Ayotte as a result of this. Ayotte made an especially fiery speech about “protecting America from those who wish it harm.”  Unfortunately for his campaign, Jeb Bush has barely seen support rise after this, which likely signifies a tough battle if he wants to receive his party's nomination.
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After a recent string of primaries and caucuses in the US and its territories, Senator Ayotte has overtaken Senator Paul in delegate count. Ayotte swept the primaries in the territories and gained the large prize of New York, which got her at around 50 delegates above Paul. Many political analysts point to Paul's major 'incident' with the TSA and slowing down of political momentum, while Ayotte was on a roll since her huge win in New Hampshire got her campaign momentum that just couldn't be stopped.
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After 3 primaries in a row where he received less than one percent of the vote, Governor Sandoval decided to suspend his campaign and endorse Senator Ayotte to receive the nomination. The 28 delegates pledged to him in Nevada will now be casting their ballots for Ayotte at the RNC, which be held in early August. This move may be unfortunate for the GOP. Some speculative polls have indicated that Sandoval would win the election if pitted against O’Malley or Hickenlooper.
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Ayotte has overtaken Paul in delegate count while Biden remains in the lead for the Democrats. The likely nominee has been narrowed down to two for both parties with Ayotte and Paul for the GOP and Biden and Gillibrand for the Democrats.



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The primary season has officially wrapped up after the GOP held its last primary in the state of Utah. The majority of delegates needed to clench a party’s nomination is 1,144. VP Biden passed this mark through the past few primaries, making him the presumptive Democratic nominee for President. Unfortunately for the GOP, there was no delegate majority. Even with an Ayotte victory in Utah today, she was put to the delegate mark of 1077, which is just short of the 1144 majority needed to clinch the nomination. This means that the RNC could be a brokered convention, which could be very bad publicity for the party and damage the GOP's chances for election. Paul and Ayotte are the absolute frontrunners in the race now, with Bush in an unlikely position to win but still in it at around 14% polling in his favor. If Bush does not pull out before the RNC, there will be no majority on the first ballot and a brokered convention will occur. However, interesting things always can happen at a brokered convention, so everything will be speculation until we get some concrete results.


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Today, Democrat nominee Joe Biden announced that his running mate would be Senator from New York and runner up in the primaries, Kirsten Gillibrand. The addition of Gillibrand to the ticket will likely appease many liberals who might not have felt so in tune with the more moderate Biden. With this announcement, his numbers have risen slightly while slimming the undecided category and not affecting Ayotte's poll numbers.
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