Vox Populi Iowae: Charisma, Anyone?

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Finally, the returns from Iowa are almost complete, and the Washington Post nicely lays them out for you. Lots of information here, but I want to focus on the above graph.

It turns out that, when given a binary choice, only 61 percent of Iowa caucus goers picked “rather nominate a candidate who can beat Donald Trump” rather than the single alternative, “rather nominate a candidate who agrees with you on major issues.”

Let’s look at the preferences of the 61 percent who placed highest value on electability. Within that group, one of the insurgent candidates, Crazy Bernie, garnered the support of only 15 percent of the population—a huge difference from his 36 percent share among voters who cared most about issues. Conclusion: the good people of Iowa are really skeptical that Crazy Bernie could be elected.

What about Pocahontas? Among the electability-concerned 61 percent population, Warren got only 16 percent (only a tiny difference from the 17 percent of the issue-concerned voters who favored Warren). Conclusion: the good people of Iowa are very skeptical about Pocahontas’s electability and  they are not too keen on her, on the issues, either.

Like Sanders, there was a whopping big difference in Biden’s support among the issues-concerned voters, where he had five percent support, and among the electability-concerned set, where his support jumped almost five times, to 23 percent.

However, among the electability-minded, Biden still came in second to Buttigieg, who garnered 24 percent support, the largest figure for any candidate.

Why Do Iowans Think Buttigieg is More Electable than Biden?

For sure, it isn’t because of the national polling data.

And, for sure, it isn’t because of Buttigieg’s resume.

Part of it likely has to do with Ukraine.

But my instinct tells me it’s mainly because Iowans don’t think an insurgent is electable, and they don’t think a generic, well-spoken, presentable Democratic politician is electable.

I think it’s because the Iowa voters’ guts tell them that we need Something Else.

Charisma, anyone?

And, right now, Mayor Pete is the only seemingly viable Something Else on offer.


For a more comprehensive perspective, check out William Saletan, How Pete Won: His success in Iowa is a template for victory in November.


Greetings to yesterday’s readers from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Jordan, Kenya, India, Mauritius, Peru, and the United States. Readers in the US were most numerous, but Kenya placed a strong second. So, let’s all enjoy some music.

Humpty Dumpty Explains Glass-Steagall to Elizabeth Warren

humpty dumpty

Elizabeth Warren: You said we need a 21st-century Glass-Steagall at your confirmation hearing. And now you’ve just said the opposite. In the past few months, you and the president have had a number of meetings with big-bank C.E.O.s and lobbyists—is that the reason for the reversal on Glass-Stegall?

Steven Mnuchin: Not at all; there actually wasn’t a reversal.

Warren: There wasn’t a reversal?

Mnuchin: Let me explain.

Warren: I’m ready.

Mnuchin: The Republican platform did have Glass-Stegall. . . . The president said we do support a 21st-century Glass-Steagall, that means there are aspects of it that we think may make sense. But we never said before we support a full separation of banks and investment banking.

Warren: Let me just stop you right there, Mr. Secretary—

Mnuchin: You’re not letting me finish—

Warren: Yeah, I’m not, because I really need to understand what you’ve just said. There are aspects of Glass-Steagall that you support, but not breaking up the banks and separating commercial banking from investment banking? What do you think Glass-Stegall was if that’s not right at the heart of it?

Mnuchin: Again, I’m well aware of what Glass-Steagall was, as you may know the original concern of Glass-Steagall was about conflicts not about credit risk, and if we had supported a full Glass-Stegall we would have said at the time we believed in Glass-Stegall, not a 21st-century Glass-Stegall. We were very clear in differentiating it.

Warren: I still haven’t heard the answer to my question; what do you think Glass-Stegall was if not separating commercial banking from investment banking, from ordinary banking?

Mnuchin: Again, the fundamental part of Glass-Stegall was, as you just outlined, it was separation of investment banking from commercial banking because people were concerned about conflicts.

Warren: And how do you separate without breaking up the big banks that have integrated these two things?

Mnuchin: Again, the integration of commercial banking and investment banking has gone on for a long time, that’s not what caused the financial crisis, and if we did go back to a full separation, you would have an enormous impact on liquidity and lending.

Warren: So let me get this straight. You’re saying you’re in favor of Glass-Steagall, which breaks apart the two arms of the banks, except you don’t want to break apart the two parts of banking. This is like something straight out of George Orwell. You’re saying simultaneously you’re in favor of breaking up the banks— that’s what Glass-Steagall is—

Mnuchin: I never said we were in favor of breaking up the banks. If we had been, it would have been very simple .

Warren: Let me try one more time—what does it mean to be in favor of 21st-century Glass-Steagall if it does not mean breaking apart these two functions in banking?

Mnuchin: I’d be more than happy to come see you and follow up—

Warren: Just tell me what it means. Tell me what 21st-century Glass-Steagall means if it doesn’t mean breaking up those two parts. It’s an easy question.

Mnuchin: It’s actually a complicated question—

Warren: I’ll bet.

Mnuchin: There are many aspects of it. The simple answer is we don’t support breaking up commercial and investment banks. We think that would be a huge mistake, but, again, I’m more than happy to listen to your ideas on it, you obviously have strong views.

Warren: This is just bizarre. The idea that you can say we’re in favor of Glass-Steagall but not in breaking up the banks.

Mnuchin: We never said we were in favor of Glass-Steagall, we said we were in favor of a 21st-century Glass-Steagall. We couldn’t be clearer.

Warren: Thank you . . . this is crazy.

Props to Lobo Loupe. Transcript from Bess Levin.