Donald Trump

Turnout Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing at the Iowa Caucuses

Can the Trump and Sanders campaigns mobilize the voters they need to win?


Bernie Sanders
Phil Roeder / Flickr

We are four days out from the Iowa caucuses. The Democratic candidates made their final pitches to voters at a town hall event on Tuesday, while the Republicans (minus The Donald) will take their parting shots at this evening's Fox News–sponsored debate.

For almost a year I've been advising readers not to put much stock in the polls. Among other reasons, I've said that people are apt to change their mind about who they're supporting many times over the course of the weeks and months leading up to an election, as they learn more about the various candidates, observe their performances in the debates, and view ads for and against. Poor showings in the early states can also push straggling candidates to throw in the towel, thus winnowing the field and changing voters' calculus.

But none of that likely matters in Iowa at this late stage in the game. By now, most people there know who they like. They not only have studied up on the various candidates, they've probably met some of them. I'll never forget watching a focus group in Des Moines in 2014: The moderator asked how many of the 30-some participants had personally shaken hands with Barack Obama while he was running for president. Virtually everyone indicated that they had. Iowa is, in many ways, a horse of another color.

So the time remaining for voters there to change their allegiance is running low. The only real remaining question is how many people will actually turn out—but the answer can make a hell of a difference.

The race on the Democratic side is extraordinarily close. The RealClearPolitics average for the state has Hillary Clinton ahead of Bernie Sanders by just two percentage points. Anything, it seems, could happen.

Yet whether Sanders is able to squeak out a win depends entirely on whether his supporters are motivated to show up Monday night and stick it out. As I wrote here at Hit & Run a couple of weeks ago:

Bernie Sanders is doing well in the polls at the moment. But if a lot of the people who say they support you don't show up to actually vote, those strong polling numbers mean very little.

Turnout matters, and it's not yet clear whether the largely grassroots Sanders campaign can compete with the Clinton machine at getting warm bodies to their polling places

This is an especially important question in places like Iowa that don't hold traditional secret-ballot primary elections. Caucusing is a far more arduous and time-consuming process, one that by its nature includes multiple rounds and can stretch late into the night. Importantly, at least on the Democratic side*, it's also a more public one. Supporters must literally stand under a sign or banner with their preferred candidate's name on it, for all their neighbors to see.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is leading by a reasonably solid margin in Iowa right now. (He's more than six points ahead of his closest competitor, Ted Cruz, according to the RealClearPolitics average, and nearly 20 points in front of Marco Rubio.) There are some very good reasons to be skeptical that he'll be able to match his polling performance on caucus night, however—and the biggest one is that his get-out-the-vote operation is untested, to say the least. Per The New York Times:

Some of Mr. Trump's Republican rivals have spent months calling and knocking on doors to identify potential supporters to draw them out to caucuses, but Mr. Trump does not appear to have invested in this crucial "voter ID" strategy until recently.

Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Something called social desirability bias comes into play in Iowa, as well. A December study from the Morning Consult found that better-educated voters were more likely to say they were supporting the real estate mogul in totally anonymous online surveys than they were in live-interview telephone surveys. In other words, some people like Trump but are too embarrassed to say so out loud. It seems rather unlikely that all of these individuals would be willing to venture out on a cold February night to vote for a reality TV star*. 

As a new report from Monmouth University explains, for Trump to win Iowa, he will need the GOP caucuses to garner record-setting turnout numbers. If 170,000 Republicans show up—far surpassing the record-high 122,000 from 2012—Trump is expected to emerge victorious. But if the real number is more like 130,000—still a record, mind you—it "puts the race in a tie at 26% for Trump and 26% for Cruz, with Rubio at 15% and Carson at 12%."

Why does lower turnout necessarily spell bad things for Trump? Because his support is disproportionately strong among groups that tend to vote in low numbers—"disaffected folks who are only marginally attached to the political process," as The New Yorker put it, or "people on the periphery of the G.O.P. coalition," as per The Upshot blog at The New York Times. He does well among blue-collar types, among people who call themselves Republicans but are actually registered as Democrats, and among those who have turned out only "irregularly" for past elections. To believe he'll win is to assume these groups will buck history and show up en masse.

Despite all the reasons to be skeptical, though, I'm becoming increasingly nervous about what might lie ahead. 

I keep thinking back to the right-of-center conventional wisdom on the eve of the 2012 general. It held that, in order to win re-election, President Obama would have to repeat the miracle he achieved on Election Night 2008 by turning out unprecedented numbers of "unlikely" voters—young people, African Americans, and other demographic groups that have a track record of staying home.

Given all that had occurred in the four years intervening, that struck conservatives as thoroughly implausible. With the GOP's strong showing in the 2010 midterms, the collective national momentum seemed to be running against the Democratic Party. Surely Obama's base was disappointed in the candidate that ran on a platform of criminal justice reform and closing the prison at Guantanamo and then went through with none of it?

Of course, all those assumptions turned out to be wrong. Obama did repeat his GOTV miracle and won big as a result. In raw numbers, more blacks and Hispanics cast ballots in 2012 than they had four years before. Stated a report from Brookings, "Minority turnout determined the 2012 election."

The Trump campaign is betting it can accomplish something similar. Are they right? I have honestly no idea. As savvy politicos like to say, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior—right up until it isn't.

*CORRECTION 2/1/16: I originally wrote that it seems unlikely Trump supporters who won't admit they like him to a live interviewer would be willing to "plant themselves, in full view, next to a sign bearing a reality TV star's name." But only the Democratic caucuses require people to publicly show support for their favored candidate. The Republican caucuses allow people to give public speeches, but they also make use of a secret-ballot straw poll. I sincerely regret this error.

What does that mean, in practice, for Trump's chances tonight? It's still an open question whether his campaign machine has what it takes to get the vote out, especially with a snow storm advancing on the state. But given that his supporters won't necessarily have to make their Trump love known to all their neighbors, it would be valid to dial up your expectations for him at least a bit.

NEXT: Our Police at Work: It's Not Public Property. It's State Property! And We'll Make Up a Reason We Bothered You to "Cover Our Ass"

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  1. and view ads for and against.

    And yet everyone is kind of sort of beginning to get around to entertaining the notion that it’s entirely possible that political ads may not have a whole lot of effect.

    1. Everyone knows the only way to turn out voters is to spitroast a couple pigs and roll out the ale barrels.

      1. spitroast a couple pigs

        well we know what kind of porn Mr. spittoon likes to watch.

        1. LEO Gang Bang 8? Gross.

          1. +1 wobbly H

          2. Felon Up Dirty Cops 8

            I’m thinking more of a power-inversion fantasy film here, Nicole. I thought you’d be on board.

            1. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you guys to stop rewarding immoral people with sex.

              1. Find me one righteous man, Nicole.

                1. Freddie Mercury was righteous, man.

                2. Find me one righteous man, Nicole.

                  What does she look like, Diogenes?

                3. Ferris Bueller?

      2. Here in Virginia they stick a bunch of fish on some wood instead of roasting pigs, but the idea is the same.

        1. Why would you cook bait?

          1. Because if you don’t, it’s called sushi.

          2. As someone born here, I’ve never understood why they would get together and eat a crappy fish like mud shad.

            Rockfish on the other hand.

            1. Blue Dogs will eat anything. They are the opossums of politics.

              1. I’ve met a few of the GOP party apparatchiks in Virginia. They’ll eat anything as long as it’s free.

      3. I’m gonna laugh like a bastard when Hillary shows up in Iowa with Colt 45 and Newports.

    2. Really? I haven’t noticed any networks reporting on this shocking twist, for some reason.

      1. Even NPR was kind of shoe-gazing about it when discussing the perplexing success of Trump even though (at the time) he was entirely sans TV ads.

        1. Ok. I really don’t watch network news at all, I was just sarcastically observing that they would, as ad-funded ventures, probably not be keen to report that ads don’t actually provide value.

  2. The race on the Democratic side is extraordinarily close. The RealClearPolitics average for the state has Hillary Clinton ahead of Bernie Sanders by just two percentage points. Anything, it seems, could happen.

    Look, I live in a terrifying future that me three months ago absolutely believed was impossible!

    1. The terrifying dystopia where you were sort of disappointed by The Force Awakens?

      1. Can’t be disappointed by a movie I never bothered to see.

        1. Not enough Max von Sydow? Or too much Max von Sydow?

          1. I have no point of reference for the quantity of Max von Sydow in the new movie.

        2. Good call. Passable action movie, terrible ‘Star Wars’ movie. Practical replica of the original movie. New leads were actually fairly good, but that’s about it.

          1. Why? Was the acting too good?

      2. Thankfully we don’t live in that world. TFA was really good.

  3. We got a big snowstorm coming to Iowa, predicted to start hitting sometime Monday night.

    That ought to do something to the turnout.

    1. I’d assume that would help Bernie over Clinton, since his supporters are more enthusiastic.

      1. No idea

        If the quantity of yard signs is any indication then in my town of 10,000 at least, no one is enthusiastic about anyone.

    2. Shit, that’s not good news. I’m supposed to go to Clinton (the town, not the hosebeast) and don’t want to get stuck in that toile… errr…. your lovely state.

      1. Clinton is likely to be on the lower end. At least if the tracks stay the same. Too early for them to say more than “somewhere in the Eastern Plains is going to get a lot of snow”

  4. History of Iowa Caucus winners starting in *picks random year* 1976:


    76: Uncommitted[?!]
    80: Jimmy Carter
    84: Walter Mondale
    88: Dick Gephartd
    92: Tom Harkin
    96: ? No Democratic caucuses
    2000: Al Gore
    2004: John Kerry
    2008: Barack Obama


    76: Gerald Ford
    80: George Bush
    84: ? No Republican caucuses
    88: Robert Dole
    92: ? No GOP caucuses.
    96: Bob Dole
    2000: George W. Bush
    2004: ? No GOP caucuses.
    2008: Mike Huckabee

    Make of that what you will.

    1. Every year Iowa gets less important. It is just a stupid and pious ritual that our media and political class go through.

      1. It’s like groundhog day, only less predictive.

        1. “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

            1. To be fair, who wouldn’t choose a header into the pavement over being held by Bill de Blasio?

              1. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened more often among Biden’s victims.

                1. People just tend to spend a week in the shower after being fondled by Uncle Joe.

              2. Isn’t that how his first 3 ex-wives went out?

          1. My friend’s wife’s birthday is on Groundhog Day. If the big rat gives us six more weeks of winter, our tradition is to punch her in the muff.

            1. It’s sort of nice to have a window on the kind of environment that produced your particular muse.

            2. punch her in the muff

              With what?

      2. The media likes ‘jes folks’ type political stories. Iowa fills that bill.

        1. And they like to go out into the wilds of Iowa and see the exotic culture of people who live in places like Des Moines and eat at Olive Gardens the same way Micheal Rockefeller liked to visit Africa.

          1. Keep Cuba poor authentic!

            Here is Matt Bradley, Middle East correspondent for the Wall Street Journal: “I really hope I can make it to Cuba before McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc.” And progressive radio host Matt Binder: “Booking my Cuba vacation now before there’s a Starbucks, a McDonald’s, and a bank on every block.” BBC producer Jeane McCallum: “May be time for a return to Cuba before McDonalds moves in.” And Jonathan Eley of the Financial Times: “Cuba: visit now before McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks et al move in. It’s a unique place.”


            1. Incidentally, you should really look up Matt Binder clips on Youtube. He’s hilarious. He’s like every pajama boy stereotype imaginable. He spends the whole time yelling in a nasaly, irritating voice while waving his stick arms around in great excitement.

              Binder in all his glory.

              1. That picture made me want to punch something into its component molecules.

              2. “Is that what a man looks like?” – Tyler Durden

                1. Motherfucker needs to do something with his hair. Get a hair cut, hippy. Maybe buy a comb.

            2. Shorter miscellaneous proggie fucktards: “Let’s visit Cuba while we can still marvel at the Worker’s Paradise that communism has created before capitalism ruins it by actually makes the lives of the poor schlubs who live there better!”

          2. I’m from Iowa and my aunt still lives there. She’s a big Rubio supporter and at a rally of his recently, she was interviewed by 5 or 6 big eastern media establishments.

            She said, “They all love Iowa!” A WSJ reporter said he comes back to Iowa in the “off years” between elections because he loves Iowa! As if this was an amazing feat or something.

          3. And butter sculptures.

          4. All of the politicians that come to Iowa should be required to spend an entire day in July de-tasseling corn. And it would be even awesomer if “the press” did it too.

      3. Every year Iowa elections gets less important. It is just a stupid and pious ritual that our media and political class go through.


      4. Less important for determining the president, yes.

        Less important in propping up the ludicrous ethanol-based fuels cartel, unfortunately no.

    2. I would be happier in a timeline where Mike Huckabee had never won so much as a church raffle, let alone the Iowa Caucus.

      1. You just have an irrational hatred of matching shirts Jesse.…

        1. I LOVE that picture. Although the one you linked is flawed because it makes his wife look normal when in the uncropped pic she’s clearly strangling a puppy.

          I assume the daughter is adopted.

          1. I love that picture too. I honestly can’t understand who thought it was a good idea. It is one of the great political treasures of the last 20 years.

            1. It is one of the great political treasures of the last 20 years.

              I could not agree more. As soon as they saw the proofs from that photo shoot they should’ve murdered the photographer and burned his studio down and destroyed every single copy of it.

              1. From the sheer size of those striped shirts, I’d guess she’s preparing to slaughter and cook that dog, in order to keep them from eating her.

          2. The daughter has the same dull expression and huge forehead as the boys. I’m sure Mme Huckaboo was riding the stableboy in her free time, but I don’t think the daughter is one of his.

            1. What’s wrong with a dull expression and huge forehead? Some of us built entire careers on that.

              1. Go home, Cher, you’re drunk.

              2. What’s wrong with a dull expression and huge forehead?

                +1 Peyton Manning. +2 Joe Buck.

              3. Are you Peyton Manning?

                1. fukin refresh

          3. Someone needs to tell the Hucks to stop wearing stripes – either horizontal or vertical – not flattering on big people. Stick with solid colors.

            1. I’d advise them to stay out of pictures entirely.

              1. paper silhouettes seem like the best option.

                1. Hmmm, I imagine it would look something like THIS*

                  *please let image hotlinking work, please let image hotlinking work

              2. BTW, Playa – I’m finally giving you those pics you’ve been requesting.

                    1. That’s high quality 18th century porn! If it was good enough for Ben Franklin it’s good enough for you.

                1. BTW, Playa – I’m finally giving you those pics you’ve been requesting.

                  Oh jeez, has been asking you for feet pix too?

            2. Vertical stripes are very thinning!

              1. Vertical stripes are very thinning!

                To a point. Past that, though, they just make the wearer look like a watermelon.

    3. Democrats:

      76: Uncommitted[?!]

      Jimmy Carter came in second to Uncommitted, and this launched his campaign to win the presidency in 76.

      No one cared about the Iowa Caucuses until “Jimmy Who?” became president.

    4. “Of course, all those assumptions turned out to be wrong. ”
      –What about the assumption that having a prohibitionist religious fanatic say “banks are people too” would win the election?
      Let’s hope the LP learns from that spectator sport that pregnant women, not banks, are individuals too. And they vote!

  5. This article about Sanders must be read to be believed. The guy is a bum. He really is the crazy old man at the laundromat who screams at everyone about the evils of capitalism.

    It wasn’t as bad as he says. His family managed to send him to the University of Chicago. Despite a prestigious degree, however, Sanders failed to earn a living, even as an adult. It took him 40 years to collect his first steady paycheck ? and it was a government check.

    “I never had any money my entire life,” Sanders told Vermont public TV in 1985, after settling into his first real job as mayor of Burlington.

    Sanders spent most of his life as an angry radical and agitator who never accomplished much of anything. And yet now he thinks he deserves the power to run your life and your finances ? “We will raise taxes;” he confirmed Monday, “yes, we will.”

    One of his first jobs was registering people for food stamps, and it was all downhill from there…..our-money/

    Remember Sarah Palin was unfit to be VP because she went to a state school and Marco Rubio is unfit to be President because he once borrowed money to buy a boat. Meanwhile, Bernie is totally the guy to be President.

    1. Principals, not principles.

    2. I don’t believe that article. There’s no way Bernie was that productive or successful before he got into politics.

    3. Yo, fuck Bernie Sanders.

    4. “Sanders spent most of his life as an angry radical and agitator who never accomplished much of anything. And yet now he thinks he deserves the power to run your life and your finances…

      That the Presidency confers such powers is the ultimate abomination.

      1. *dusts off old document, blows on it, pores over it a bit tracing with finger*

        Huh. Says here ‘Commander in chief of the military and signs bills into law’, so I don’t really know what you are talking about.

        1. Dude, that thing is like a hundred years old and hard to read, so it doesn’t matter anymore!

          1. Plus, I hear it was written old slave owning white dudes. Seriously, WHITE MEN! *faints*

        2. I’ve heard there’s a provision in there that in the event no candidate gets a majority of votes the House gets to pick who gets to be President. I’ve also heard some of those old dead white guys kinda figured that’s how most of our Presidents would get picked. The popular vote would be sort of a non-binding poll, a popularity contest, and the House would really be the one to name the President. You know, like the board of directors names a new CEO. The CEO only carries out policy, he doesn’t get to make policy. That’s why they call him an executive rather than a legislator.

    5. Have you checked out Bernie’s website? I knew he was bad, but I had no idea how bad. He wants to increase spending (and taxes) by 2 TRILLION dollars PER YEAR. Yeah, that’s what we need, a 50 percent increase in federal spending.

      1. I sure wish presidents would spend time talking about how they plan to execute their own responsibilities, rather than Congress’.

    6. My impression is Bernie is exactly the disgusting president the Grand Old Prohibitionists need to yelp at for four more years. That way any sane ones will remember the demand for mad bomber mystical bigots went to Hell after the Soviet Socialists went the way of Christian National Socialism. Meantime, LP candidates will gladly accept their votes as a statement that looter taxation is despicable. The Klan, Birchers, YAF, MADD, ASL, Just Say No, AntiChoice and abortion clinic shooters have had their say, and they may now inherit the wind.

  6. It seems rather unlikely that many of these individuals would be willing to venture out on a cold February night and plant themselves, in full view, next to a sign bearing a reality TV star’s name.

    Which might be relevant, except that the Republican caucus is a secret ballot.

    1. I wonder how many people will vote for Trump but won’t admit it to pollsters.

      1. I’ve never met anyone who voted for Nixon.

        1. Yeah. Maybe none. But I really wonder if there are not a lot out there. Time will tell.

        2. I’ve met a CPUSA sympathizer. He was fucking insane.

          1. I knew a couple of those in college. And insane is putting it mildly. They believed that neither Stalin nor Mao had murdered more than a few thousand people who deserved it and that North Korea and Cuba were just and free countries unfairly demonized by the West. And this was in 1990. They were scary.

            1. 1990? Pfft. Try 2016. Millions of Russians are still true-red communists, and a great many of them are actual Stalinists. They’re clinically insane. There’s no other descriptor for them.


              1. I would grade the “insane” distinction on a curve. Someone who grew up in Russia under a system without a free press gets a hell of a lot more understanding from me than some literate person who grew up in the U.S. who has no excuse for being ignorant.

                1. Although in all fairness, America’s press (and news media, and entertainment media, and education system) is pretty solidly socialist.

                2. Someone who grew up in Russia under a system without a free press gets a hell of a lot more understanding from me than some literate person who grew up in the U.S. who has no excuse for being ignorant.

                  Most of the people in that photo looked like they were, at best, toddlers in 1992. No deal. They’re fuckwads.

          2. I knew a communist in college too. Once, after he got on a tirade about how private property should be abolished, I got up and helped myself to a soda from his fridge, and a bag of chips that was on the counter. When he asked me what the hell I was doing, I said “Since you don’t believe in private property I assumed it would it OK if I helped myself to a soda and these chips. Y’know, since they’re not actually yours…”

            We didn’t get along after that.

        3. Ayn Rand ordered her followers to vote for Nixon. If you know any objectivists who are old enough to have voted in the election you have a good chance of finding one.

          1. She was a self-described anti-Nixonite for Nixon.

            1. When the GOP nominated Goldwater, Ayn took it as a sign they weren’t out to murder Jews like those other Christian National Socialists. A lot of tan people saw Obama as a sign the Dems have finally ditched the Klan. Ironic that she let a bunch of mystical altruists brainwash her, but the Soviet was a scary monster. Late sixties smoke-filled patchouli-scented rooms buzzed with heated arguments for and agin Ayn Rand, and articles like “The Forgotten Children of Ayn Rand” explored the phenomenon. Bottom line: she had more in common with Tim Leary and Robert Heinlein than with christianofascist republicans. Atlas Shrugged is patterned after the Herbert Hoover Administration’s toppling of the U.S. economy. After Nixon was elected I went back to the Old Country until he resigned in disgrace.

        4. “I’ve never met anyone who voted for Nixon.”

          Pauline Kael, is that you??????

      2. I’m probably going to vote for Trump. I think I’ll enjoy the train wreak more at 120 mph instead of just 90 mph.

        1. If you want that, you should be voting for Hillary. Trump is a carnival barker. Hillary is a no shit criminal. And if elected will be subjected to no media scrutiny. The orgy of theft and criminality that would occur in a Hillary administration is mind boggling. And on top of that, she is old and likely fairly ill. So you will likely get an incapacitated President with no one willing to admit as much and the Presidency being run by God knows who as an added bonus. Oh and don’t forget Bill running around screwing anything that moves.

          1. “So, this is how liberty dies — to thunderous applause.”

            1. I understand that people don’t like Trump. But I cannot for the life of me understand how people can think his winning the Presidency would be anything close to as bad as Hillary winning it. With Hillary it is not about politics. It is about the country embracing open criminality in its leaders.

              1. It is about the country embracing open criminality in its leaders.

                Oh yeah? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

            2. Zheev Palpatine/Anakin Skywalker 2016:
              “For a safe and secure society!”

          2. Yeah, but if Trump wins there’ll be magic shows, slots and maybe even Keno at the Inauguration – who’d pass that up?

            1. I hope he opens up the White House to the public Jackson style.

              1. I think the White House will end up looking a lot like Graceland.

                1. With a giant gold “TRUMP” on the facade.

                2. Peanut butter in the frying pan and a fat dead guy on the toilet? USA! USA! USA!

                  1. A fat dead guy on everybody’s pot? Trump’s America!

                3. The Donald already bought the old post office building a couple blocks from the White House and is turning it into a hotel.

                4. You’re probably more right than you know. I’ve been to one of his golf clubs – the decor is beyond garish.

                  1. The Forbes editor, re the richest 400, said that Trump would be better off for the last couple decades if he’d just bought an S&P 500 index fund. He’s no financial genius.

          3. Hillary is a no shit criminal.

            Yeah, well, good luck getting anyone on the left to believe that. You see, it’s all lies, made up by the Republicans. Besides, has she been in court and been convicted? No, she has not. That means she’s not a criminal.

            Now Bush on the other hand. There’s a criminal. An international war criminal to be exact.

            What? You say he hasn’t been convicted and so by the same standards I’m holding Hillary to he’s not a criminal? That doesn’t matter. It’s who did it that determines if they are a criminal, not what they did.

          4. And if elected will be subjected to no media scrutiny.

            Then how will we get a good view of the train wreck? Think, man.

          5. America can and has survived criminals. It will do much worse under a fascist such as Trump.

          6. Conservatism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies.

        2. Better to vote for Bernie, he cant drive a train at all .

          1. According to SugarFree, he can pull one.

            1. MOAR MUTTON FLAPZ!!

      3. This is why I think a lot of the polling data is skewed. A lot of Trump supporters won’t admit it in polls because they don’t want to be seen as racist or xenophobes so they’ll say undecided or mention someone else to avoid being judged.

        1. ” A lot of Trump supporters won’t admit it in polls”

          Really? These guys seem to be the most thin-skinned and obnoxious voter group ever.

        2. Next you’ll start wondering whether your vote was counted as cast. I’ll bet $100 to your $10 it wasn’t.

    2. Don’t they have both ballots and groups under banners/signs in the Republican caucus?

    3. So Trump’s plan to hire a bunch of strippers to stand by his banner and let the crowd drift over isn’t going to work?

  7. “I just want to put one finger in, Donald. The finger of the 1%. One finger of a hundred fingers. A Bronx finger. Do you have any ice cream? I need to use the bathroom. It’s a bladder thing. I still have my original bladder. Ha. Ha. Ha. I made a joke.”

    “Get the fuck away from me, Bernie,” Donald said. “I have Hillary for that sort of stuff.”

    “What the fuck is wrong with this guy?” Donald’s hair whispered.

    “Fuck if I know,” Donald’s hat replied. “But I want some. I want to ride the triplightning fantastic.”

    “Are you OK?” the hair asked.

    “Of course I am,” the hat replied. He sounded dreamy and far away. It loosened its rear strap a notch.

    “Bernie, I want to talk to you about voter turnout. We got to get the voters to come to the polls. We need yuge poll numbers! YUGE!”

    “Stop yelling,” Bernie yelled. “I can hear you fine. Bend over. I want to give you a Bronx handshake.” Bernie stuck his index finger into his mouth and began to wet it.

    “YUGE TURNOUT!” Donald yelled.

    “THE ONE PERCENT!” Bernie yelled, advancing on Donald with a stiff index finger covered in salvia.

    “Seriously, man. Like, what the fuck?” the hat said laconically.

    “Something is really wrong with you,” the hair said. “Maybe proximity to this broken-down old hippie is fucking you up.”

    1. “Maybe. Hey man, have I ever told you that you are beautiful? Like not in a gay way. I got that out of my system in college, just as like… a head of hair, man. You are a beautiful head of hair and it makes me really happy to sit on you…” The hat drifted off. The hair thought it might have passed out.

      The two old men were circling each other now, Bernie still menacing Donald’s butthole with a wet finger, Donald screaming about someone’s menses.

      “Hold on, buddy,” the hair said. “I’ll save you.”

      Tapping an unknown reserve of follicular fortitude the hair pushed against Donald’s scalp. There was some small movement. Again it struggled and again. Finally, with the dry farting of parting Velcro, the hair and hat fell to the floor together, still embraced.

      A cool breeze brushed across Donald’s scalp.

      “What happened to your hair? I knew a guy from The Bronx that went bald. Terrible. Horrible. He was in his 20s. Smelled like pickles.”

      1. “I’m not bald!” Donald roared.

        “Do you like pickles? I love pickles. Can’t eat enough of them. Ha. Ha. Ha. Pickles!”

        Donald touched his head and screamed.

        “My hair! Where is my hair!” He fell to his knees.

        “It’s over here, Mr. Pickles.” Bernie was standing over the hat and hair. He farted like a train whistle and began to urinate.

        “What are you doing?” Donald screamed. He scrambled across the rough convention center carpet, but a tide of old man piss was already soaking into the hate.

        “I don’t want to go out like this, man,” the hat said, cruelly sober in its last moments.

        “Hold me,” the hair said. “Just hold me.”

        1. Hang on, did you just kill off your two most sympathetic characters? That’s like George R.R. Martin level monstrous, man.

          1. You’ll find out in 7 years or so.

            [eats entire pie]


              1. And washed down with a goblet of mulled wine while he watches his dwarf fool jest and jape.

              2. Mutton flaps and corn.

                  1. *wipes hands clean on nearby dog*

        2. Which is funnier, the idea that Trump himself is anthropomorphizing his hat and hair or that they are in fact separately conscious and only he can hear them?

          1. It’s like a fucked-up Calvin and Hobbes.

          2. I just assumed that the hat and the hair are separately conscious and this fact is taken in stride by everyone who encounters them.

          3. Trump definitely talks to his hat and hair, but it’s not clear from the text that he can hear them talking back. Clearly it’s a symbol for God.

          4. I believe the hat and hair are the only true conscious beings and that the people around them anthropomorphize the Donald.

        3. You, SugarFree, are going to hell. No doubt about it.

          1. ” Jeff: Greendale, it’s been a pleasure fighting with you. Some of us won’t make it. But there is a place where we will all see each other again, and that place is Denny’s.
            Leonard: Which Denny’s?
            Jeff: We’ll figure it out later, Leonard.
            Leonard: The one near the fifteen exit? I’m banned from there.
            Jeff: Well then I guess I’ll see you in Hell.”

        4. Salvia?

    2. covered in salvia

      THAT’S the hat’s problem.

      1. Hey, man. Nice typo.

      2. Fuck, I need to learn to scroll down better.

  8. “…I’ve said that people are apt to change their mind about who they’re supporting many times over the course of the weeks and months leading up to an election, as they learn more about the various candidates…”

    I don’t doubt this, but I’m always amazed at the degree at which it happens. How can someone be for Trump one week, and Cruz or Rubio another? I used to work with a whole office full of Republicans (mostly vets) and I’ll never forget one old guy who was all gung ho for the Iraq war. When it started to fall apart with the insurgency, etc. he said, “we should have never gone in there.” I thought to myself, “Really? I’m sure all those dead soldiers would be glad to hear that now.”

    1. Happens all the time for bandwagon sports fans. People want to be associated with winners.

      1. I guess so. With a reality TV star leading the GOP polls, I also guess that Americans take the NFL more seriously than the presidential election. Electrolytes: it’s what the plants crave!

  9. My expectation of Trump’s failure three months ago was based on two propositions:

    1) The caucus system played exactly against his strengths, and
    2) If Trump still looked viable as of mid-January, the establishment would purely rally around a Stop Trump agenda.

    That #2 didn’t happen . . . well, I mean, I knew the GOP was run by a bunch of morons that failed to notice that in the last 40 years the GOP has only won the popular vote by running “extremist conservative” Presidential candidates who were virulently hated during the primaries by the media (Reagan, Bush-as-Reagan-term-3, Iraq Invader W) rather than moderate-compromiser types (Ford, Tax-Raiser Bush, Dole, Compassionate Conservative W, McCain, Romney) that got through the primaries unhated. But I thought that was just idiocy, not an actual preference for defeating “extremist conservatives” like Cruz at all costs.

    1. I think it is going to come down to Trump versus Cruz. If that happens, it is going to be funny as shit watching National Review shill for Cruz, a guy everyone who has ever worked with him admits is a total asshole, after just publishing an entire edition on how no one should support Trump, half of which was them whining about how “uncivil ” Trump is.

    2. I think you have a point.

      However, at the end of the day, it is still Republican voters in the primaries who determine who the nominee is. (Granted, the establishment has money to spend on ads).

      When it comes right down to it, who’s fault was it that John McCain was the nominee in 2008? Or Dob Bole in 1996? Or Romney in 2012? Republican primary voters. This year there are candidates from all areas of the Republican spectrum:
      NatSec asshole: Christie
      Chamberof Commerce darling: Jeb Bush
      Libertarian leaning: Paul
      Tea Party type: Cruz
      Nice guy/minority/not politician: Carson
      Neocon: Rubio
      Business woman: Fiorina
      Populist-strongman: Trump

      Interestingly enough, though they all have had to play along at various levels with Evangelicals/Religious Right folks,
      none of the top tier candidates made their mark specifically as religious conservatives (unlike Huckabee and Santorum previously). Carson maybe the closest, and Cruz (like with Kim Davis) and Rubio both have definitely padded their religious “stats”, but it really hasn’t been THE defining character of any of their campaigns.

      Also has an aside: In 2008 Romney was considered the “conservative” candidate who “should” have gotten the nomination instead of McCain. Then, in 2012 Romney was the squishy moderate.

      1. The irony of all of the pants shitting in the conservative media over Trump is that in 2012 conservative voters put up one conservative champion after another against Romney hoping to unify the anyone but Romney vote and every single time the conservative media either stood by and did nothing or actively assisted the major media destroying the candidate. The conservative beltway media bears a tremendous amount of the blame for the party being stuck with a liberal Massachusetts Republican who in most people’s minds invented Obamacare as the nominee.

        And now they are having a case of the vapors because Donald Trump isn’t really a “conservative” They didn’t seem to interested in purity tests when McCain and Romney were the nominees. Then it was all about telling the dumb rubes to shut up and vote for a moderate who can win.

        1. Well, hold on. Most of the people up against Romney were terrible D-Listers. Had Romney not spent the prior 4 years clearing the field so that none of the decent candidates in the GOP ran against him, the Media would not have had to select him as the least of banal evils.

          1. How were Gingrich or Gulliani d-listers? I know neither of those guys were popular here but they were among conservatives and were a hell of a lot more conservative than Romney.

            It would be nice if there were a conservative media around who have the intellectual authority to make a principled case why conservative voters should not vote for Trump. It would be doing the country and the Republicans a huge favor.

            Sadly, however, no such media exists. The entire lot of them pissed away any credibility they had as gate keepers when they were willing to go along with McCain and Romney as nominees and talked up people like Paul Ryan to be Speaker and sold the party John Roberts as the perfect Supreme Court Candidate.

            It is clear whatever issues they care about in places like the National Review and the Wall Street Journal and such, having a conservative Republican nominee isn’t one of them. And for them to now have a temper fit about Trump not being a real conservative is rather than a service to the party and the country just sad and pathetic.

            1. But wasn’t Gingrich a little stale at that point? And I like Rudy probably more than most here, not that I agree with him on everything. But while he was well known, he has never been accused of being very conservative. On many issues, he was left of Romney.

              1. He was stale but better than Romney. And Gulliani while not perfect at least didn’t invent Obamacare. It is hard to imagine a worse nominee in 12 than an out of touch eastern rich guy who is fairly or unfairly credited with the concept behind Obama’s “signature achievement”.

                1. Oh I remember folks on the radio begging and pleading that Romney deal with “Romneycare” head on. Say we tried it and it didn’t work. But he could never bring himself to do that. It was just some talk about federalism and what is good for one state isn’t necessarily good for another or the country as a whole (which in a limited sense might be true. But not for something as big as the debate over Obamacare).

                2. Giuliani didn’t run 12, he ran in 08. So the Obamacare comparison isn’t relevant for him at least.

          2. You may be right, but I am not sure that leading up to 2012 there were a lot of GOP folks ready for a Presidential run. I think the party had a strong bench for the future, but I wasn’t sure there was that many ready at that point.

        2. I think the R media folks have forgotten (and honestly, I don’t think ever really followed) Reagan’s 11th commandment. There never seems to be enthusiastic positive support. It is always either:

          “Shut up, even though he isn’t that conservative, he is the best we can do”
          “Shut up, he isn’t conservative enough”

          Of course, none of this is to say that I want a ‘conservative’ from the standpoint of a Santorum or pretty much anyone the FRC wants to support. But rather the more broad understanding of ‘conservative’ meaning sort of limited government and maybe even flirts with libertarian ideas.

          1. That is the guy I want too. Hell, I would settle for someone who was willing to go after spending and at least stop running up the debt at this point. And it is clear that none of the people that the various beltway Republican media have sold to conservatives fit any description of being such. They have all turned out to be at best tax collectors for the welfare state and at worst outright supporters and collaborators with the Progressive cause.

            1. At this point the state and political classes are effectively innoculated against such people.

              Everyone should ask themselves how they would react if someone offered to bankroll your candidacy for president to the tune of a billion dollars. You could hire everyone you needed, put out ads, set up websites, rent offices etc. Money was no object.

              Would anyone here accept? I don’t think so… They recognize that even is succesful they would be effectively destroying their chances at normal happiness. That they would be demonized. That every past indiscretion or error would be searched out by implacable enemies and plastered in front of everyone’s faces. That should they fail, which was highly likely, they would be forever marked as an evil person and the target of monstrous libels and slanders.

              I certainly wouldn’t! And I expect all decent people would similarly not take that horrible bet. Only the insane or the venal would find such a prospect enticing.

              1. Well I might accept and I’m decent. Every rule has an exception.

          2. Look, there’s zero possibility of a small government type winning at the national level. We’ve moved far beyond that point and there’s no going back. Our choice now is between disaster A or disaster B. I’m about ready to call it a day and assume this democracy is nearly done.

            1. #BernItAllDown

          3. conservative, n.: 1) superstitious prohibitionist warmonger absolutely opposed to individual rights. 2) Supporter of keeping plank 2 of the Communist Manifesto of 1848 in the US Constitution.

  10. DOW up 104… take THAT market doomsayers!

    1. I think you should buy now. You’re a masochist, right?

      1. I bought in 2013. You have no idea what kind of masochist I am.

        1. Buy high, sell low, amiright?

          My very sophisticated, informed, and smarticle advice is to switch that around.

      1. I’m in the ‘stunned silence’ phase right now. It involves a lot of ‘mouth agape’ when looking at my portfolio.

      2. You might search for “prohibition and the crash”. Suppose there is, as in Adam Smith’s time, a causal relation between asset forfeiture confiscation by looter politicians and economic collapse… wouldn’t that be a surprise?

  11. I’m thinking about buying a chromebook. Am I crazy?

    1. I think you should buy now. You’re a masochist, right?

      1. I rather enjoy SF’s fiction. Does that answer your question?

        1. Just don’t touch your face. You can hide cuts and bruises under t-shirts and pants.

      2. Well played.

      3. Lady, when you’re with me I’m smiling


    2. Am I crazy?


      1. Yeah, i don’t know what that question has to do with the preceding sentence.

      2. Yeah? It’s that or a splurge on something from Acer.

        1. Buy a Macbook before apple goes out of business

        2. Just get a Surface 3. They’re relatively cheap and bridge the gap between a tablet and laptop, similar to a Chromebook but without the suck.

    3. Yep, you are.

    4. A Chromebook is basically just a Chrome web browser running full screen all the time. Now a days, a lot can be done in browsers; think Google docs.

      It won’t run any normal software or games other than things you can run in browsers.

  12. Rand Paul FTW.

  13. No, you can’t use whatever bathroom you want.

    OLYMPIA ? A bill that would eliminate Washington’s new rule allowing transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity passed out of a Senate committee 4-3 Wednesday.

    Democratic Sens. Bob Hasegawa, of Seattle, and Steve Conway, of Tacoma, voted against the bill, saying the rule, approved by the state Human Rights Commission, protected civil rights. Sen. Karen Keiser, a Kent Democrat, also voted against the measure.

    1. Please tell me this is the “Buckle Up, Buttercup Bathroom Sanity Bill.”

  14. just before I saw the receipt that said $7527 , I accept that my mom in-law woz like actualey making money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than twentey months and at present cleared the depts on there appartment and bourt a great new Citro?n 2CV . look here…….
    Clik This Link inYour Browser.

  15. Didn’t Obama win re-election partly because many republicans just didn’t show up to pull for Romney?

  16. “The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real? it is possible? it’s yours.” ? Ayn Rand
    But you have to get off your complacent butt and vote Libertarian…

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