I am publishing my show notes on ozeanmedia.com

Move over S.C., Fla. picks the GOP nominee

South Carolina Republicans used to love boasting about their track record for picking Republican presidential nominees in modern modern, but that went out the window 2012 when Newt Gingrich won the Palmetto state only to quickly crash to the ground in Florida.

The good folks at Smart Politics, the politics site from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has a new report examining how each state has fared over the last 40 years in voting for the eventual Republican presidential nominee. Just nine —  Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin just nine have backed the eventual Republican nominee in primaries or caucuses each time — and, Florida is the biggest standout.

Here’s the full report, and here’s an excerpt:

Florida is the most notable of these states as it has tended to hold its primary while the GOP nomination was still in doubt – particularly in recent cycles.

The Sunshine State’s primary was held in the second week of March from 1976 through the 2000 cycle and in the last week of January in 2008 and 2012. Overall, the state hosted one of the first five Republican primaries in 1976, 1980, 1988, 2008, and 2012.

(Primary dates from 1984 and 2004 are ignored in this analysis as incumbent Republican presidents did not face bona fide opposition in those cycles).

Along the way, Florida Republicans narrowly backed Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan in 1976 by 5.6 points, John McCain over Mitt Romney in 2008 by 5.0 points, and Romney over Gingrich in 2012 by 14.5 points.



‘The criminalization of politics’

We are in real danger of criminalizing ordinary politics, if not there already.

We are seeing more and more cases of this.

The state has enormous power, resources and discretion to go after people they don’t like politically.

When we see government policing units and justice departments going after political actors, we should be scared.

The amount of power the state has or a zealot of a state prosecutor has is frightening.

Let’s start with how we define corruption?

Private Gain using taxpayers resources?

  • Bad judgement, poor decision making is NOT criminal.
  • Being stupid is NOT Criminal.
  • Taking donations from people is NOT criminal.
  • Helping out friends, constituents, even DONORS is not criminal.
  • Following the law, even though you may not like the law, is NOT criminal.
For every politician that does something you hate, there is someone on your side side.
Don’t like corporate donations to campaign?  What about Unions?
But how does one distinguish these offenses from the common situation in which individuals, companies, and unions give candidates substantial amounts of money in the hope that they will favor them in some fashion?

In theory, the distinction turns on whether the recipient accepts the donation with the understanding that he or she will perform official acts in exchange.

People give money so that a politician / party will take the call!


If the jury thinks it sees “knowing winks and nods” (these words actually appear in the jury instructions in McDonnell’s case), it can render a verdict that will send the public official to prison for a long time.


Corporate donations were/are illegal in Texas.  Corporations gave to the party and money was moved around.

Rick Perry case in Texas

Rick Perry And The Criminalization Of Politics

Perry joins the list of other politicians prosecuted under controversial or dubious theories, including Tom DeLay,
John Edwards,
Don Siegelman, and
Ted Stevens.
Some go to jail; some don’t. Some get convicted by juries; some don’t. Some have their prosecutions overturned on appeal; some don’t

Better to leave the criminal cases to clear violations of the law – freezers full of cash.

Rick Perry and the left’s criminalization of politics by Tom Delay

Political disputes should be settled in the political arena, not by unaccountable district attorneys or by judges.
Delaney was  accused of “conspiring to defeat Democrats”
prosecutorial abuse and the near-total immunity prosecutors have even when bringing abusive cases such as this one.

If FDLE starts investigating you, there is NOTHING you can do.

If a rogue prosecutor decides he doesn’t like your activity – there is NOTHING you can do.

FDLE turning into a political operation is awful.

FBI turned into a political operation is scary.

BIOMASS, – their decision making was awful, their politics were awful, — they played hardball – but they new the law.  NOTHING so far looks criminal in nature.  Just a mess.

Solar FIT program – several people personally benefited from it, but NOTHING so far looks criminal in nature.  Just a mess.







Bush will also be dogged by advocates of campaign finance regulation. The Campaign Legal Center, which supports aggressive regulation of money and politics, has already complained to the FEC that Bush is currently flouting the law by raising money for his super PAC while acting like a candidate for president. Others are on guard, too.

“In our view, we are headed for an epic national scandal,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of the pro-regulation group Democracy 21. “We intend to carefully and closely monitor all the candidates and their super PACs, because they will eventually provide numerous examples of violations.”

It’s up to only the Justice Department, because the FEC for all practical purposes … will not enforce the law,” Wertheimer said.

Below are my show notes for the 4/14/2015 Ward Scott Files.  In the future, I will attempt to make them more coherent, but these note represent my actual notes for the show.
It is my goal to publish notes and links to any article(s) I reference during the show.

As always, feedback is welcome.

Rubio Announced

 Great Speech
New Generation – taking a slight jab at Jeb!  (Hillary has been good for him)
Rubio’s campaign has so far attracted paltry support from Republican voters, according to polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as nationally. He’s down near Chris Christie!
He is not polling particularly well with Hispanics right now, but Rubio pulled 40 percent of the non-Cuban Hispanic vote in a three-way contest in his 2010 Senate bid.
Which brings us back to Rubio’s path to the GOP nomination: It looks a lot like Walker’s – pulling together conservative and establishment Republicans.
Be the anti-jeb
Three paths for Marco
  • Catch fire, and win the nomination
  • Do well, Jeb not win and he comes under tremendous pressure for VP
  • If all else fails, runs for Governor in 2018 and earns his executive stripes – with the option to run again for POTUS
In a race between “the old guard” and “the new wave” bet on the money.
May4, Ben Carson will announce his candidacy (book tour)

US Senate Seat

Jeff Atwater – out
Who is thinking about running?
Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera
Rep Ron DeSantis
For Speaker Will weatherford
Rep Tom Rooney
For US Senate George Lemieux
state Senate President Don Gaetz
Here is what we know – the seat is critical to the GOPs chances at holding the Senate and the Presidency.
Whomever gets the nominee, it will be all hands on deck!

On Clinton

In other words: Clinton’s worst national poll since the start of last year is still better than her best poll during the 2008 cycle.
Her current edge is even more striking when one considers that Clinton’s closest competitors are Sen.Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Vice President Joe Biden, who only register in the low double digits.
Lurking in the third tier are four Democrats who at least appear to be seriously considering the race. It’s not a mighty list, but there are credible politicians on it. Leading the group is former Gov. Martin O’Malley (MD), who seems to be seriously preparing for a run and is showing signs he’d be willing to take on Clinton vigorously. Clinton is a powerful force, but the door is not completely shut to any challenger. If someone is to exploit Clinton’s weaknesses, he or she is going to have to be aggressive about it. Playing nice in order to angle for a VP slot or Cabinet appointment isn’t going to cut it.

Former Sen. Jim Webb (VA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) also will not be shy about mixing it up with Clinton if they run.

Surprisingly, another Democratic contender has emerged: former Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI).

Vice President Biden is on the list as a wild card.

Campaigns are not an inherently genteel enterprise.  They’re not like shaking hands, they’re more like snatching power out of the other guy’s hand.

As any political consultant will tell you, “It’s difficult to get a ballot initiative passed, but fairly easy to defeat one – all you have to do is create enough doubt.”

We see that old adage at play with the current “debate” playing itself out in the Gainesville Sun editorial pages.

We have been treated to no less than 7 Guest Columns on GRU and or Representative Keith Perry’s bill:

What is most interesting are the cons arguments brought forth by former elected officials and their known supporters.amplitude

If you read their argumentation carefully, there is little to no overlap between the arguments and they follow classic argumentation styles and devices.

From all appearances, it appears there is a conscious, coordinated, and intelligent effort to increase the amplitude of arguments against Keith Perry’s proposal.

In layman’s terms, “Hey, let’s throw as much crap against a wall and see if any of it sticks.  Remember, we just need to create doubt.”  A nicer way to say this would be “If you can’t win an argument, argue the details.”

Why are they throwing SO much brain power and effort into coming up with so many different arguments against Keith Perry’s proposed bill?

It is simple; they do not want the argument to address, to center or return to the fundamental premises:

  • “Is the current governance structure serving GRU customers well?”stasis-classical
  • “Is the current governance structure serving Gainesville GRU tax-payers well?”

None of the CON argumentations even acknowledge there is a problem or address the fundamental question(s).

All of the CON argumentations skip the basic question, and rush to redefine terms, argue costs of change, opportunity costs, argue venue, etc.  Why?

  • Because these very bright people, when they are being intellectually honest, fully recognize the inherent conflict of interest with the current governance structure.  Allowing the City of Gainesville Commission to have a dual role as the Board of Directors of GRU with the decision making power over the amount of the general revenue transfer is a recipe for disaster.  Also,
  • Because with the City of Gainesville’s issuance of the Navigant report, they have lost the basic argument.  It’s over.

The past years’ events leading up to the GREC contract conclusively prove the current governance structure of GRU failed the customers and taxpayers.

Until these former elected officials and supports can bring themselves to say “Serious mistakes were made.” their remaining argumentation is suspect and should be ignored.

We should acknowledge the cleverness and skill of their political maneuvers, but we should also label them as such.

Keith Perry’s bill is far from perfect, but I think Susan Bottcher’s “hate” of the bill is overblown hysteria.

If you have constructive criticism of the bill, please contact Representative Perry, but if you have nothing to offer but throwing crap against a wall, please stop.

Rand Paul has a big announcement today
  • “defeat the Washington machine and unleash the American dream:
  • The conventional wisdom is that Rand Paul inherits his fathers voters and campaign apparatus.    I don’t believe that.
  • Rand Paul can’t say the same things his father did and expect different results.
  • Political landscape has changed from under him – especially on International Affairs.  Crimenia, Russia, Iran, ISIS – isolationism is out.
  • Cruz – sharing a lane.
  • There are at least two areas where Paul has moved more in line with the conservative Republican base, somewhat to the consternation of the purists in the libertarian movement: adopting a more muscular posture on defense and foreign policy, and courting the religious right.
  • The Foundation for a Security and Prosperous America, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, will launch the ad on broadcast TV stations in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — the four states with the earliest presidential primaries and caucuses — as well as nationally on Fox News Channel.
Marco Rubio – April 13 – Announcement
We have already established that Florida is essential to the GOP’s path to success.
Rubio resignation puts US Senate Seat in play.
Florida which was won by less than 1% in 2012 is now a pure toss up and the official center of 2016.
The dominos are falling.
Who will take a run at Senate?  Patrick Murphy is in.  The liberal faction of the party is revolting and attempting to get Alan Grayson in the race.
Rep side – Atwater is emerging as the leader.  But there have been 3-6 names thrown around.  Weatherford,etc
Then all the seats these people currently hold – open up.  Atwater, if he runs, will be filled by appointment.  etc.  2 congressional seats currently in Dem hands.
Clinton announcement rumored to be in 2 weeks
Model for Local Elections
Past results:
Jay Curtis – 47,8
Harvey Budd – 33,4
Yvonne – 12,6
Goston – 10,1
Warren 50%/49%
Lowe / Don – 50%/49%
Mastr / Domen – 44%/54%


It took me several months to get off my couch after the walloping the Jake Rush for Congress campaign took from incumbent Ted Yoho (Rep FL3), but let’s back up to exactly 1 year ago today.Jake-speech-crowd in Alachua

At the close of March, 2014, the Jake Rush for Congress was on cloud nine.  The campaign had successfully kickedoff with a 2 day announcement and had just closed a successful, first fundraising quarter.  The campaign felt good about meeting the campaign’s internal fundraising goals, and in what would be later confirmed, in an almost unheard of manner the Jake Rush campaign had out-raised a sitting congressman for the quarter.

The campaign was on its way to proving viability.

The euphoria was short lived.  On April 1, 2014, I found out what is LARPing and how it differs from gaming.  Sadly, it was no April Fool’s joke.

What is LARPing?

LARPing or Live Action Role Playing –  It is a ‘slightly’ nerdy hobby where the “participants in a LARP physically portray characters in a fictional setting, improvising their characters’ speech and movements somewhat like actors in improvisational theatre.”

My simplistic analogy is that it’s Dungeon and Dragons meets improv theater.

I came to realize that for the most part, LARPing is geeky but harmless.  LARPing is a massive industry with associations, conventions and enormous online communities.  In fact, LARPing even went “mainstream” during the summer of the campaign with the debut of ABC’s television show, The Quest.

None of this mattered in a Republican primary in a very conservative district that Cook ranks as R+14 where Romney took 62% to President Obama’s 38%.

Breaking the News in Today’s Politics

An interesting aspect to this story is how the “news” of Jake Rush’s past participation in LARPing broke.

It began with a fellow gamer, Larry Henson, who was disillusioned with Jake Rush running for office as a conservative candidate.  Mr. Henson admits sending an email on March 23rd to Yoho’s campaign and several media outlets outing Jake Rush as a LARPer including photos and other information.  At that time, no credible media outlet picked up the story.

Interestingly, someone repackaged the original information Mr. Henson sent into a more professional political hit piece.

On March 23rd, an anonymous Google account rushrealitysquad@gmail.com with the Subject: The Real Jake Rush resent the repackaged information far and wide.

Like many stories in today’s political area, it started on a political blog as a sensational, muckraking, hatchet job.  The blog never asked for a comment from the campaign nor checked its accuracy before posting the blog story.

Curiously, the original blog post is no longer available – possibly because the Washington Post referred to the blogger as “stretching as far as he possibly can to suggest that Rush is palling around with dog-menacers and book burners.”  In an ironic twist, as this episode proves nothing on the Internet is truly removed.

The story combined with the visuals of a congressional candidate – especially a conservative candidate – dressed in costumes was too much for the media and Internet to resist.

While it was later confirmed that many of the salacious items were inaccurately attributed to Jake Rush, the Internet did what the Internet does.

What followed were endless Internet stories, link bait articles, and SEO spins – almost all never asking the campaign for any comment.

It was regurgitate, link, and full speed ahead valuing speed and snark over accuracy.

The narrative fell right into the wacky, Florida meme and became national news before lunch.

The days and weeks that followed were tough.

The Internet trolls were relentless with obvious fake account after fake account reported to Facebook and Twitter for harassment and cyber-bullying.  Looking back, the campaign should have hired Curt Shilling to handle the endless trolling.

After seemingly interminable Internet stories both defending and mocking the campaign, the events culminated with an attempt to show the press and voters that Jake Rush could laugh at himself and put the issue behind him with a national appearance on The Colbert Report (that experience is an entirely different blog post).colbert

While the campaign eventually received an apology from the gamer, Larry Henson, writing “What I did was petty, shortsighted, and foolish.”, the campaign was never able to recover from the gamer visuals and national spectacle.

Like many mysteries in politics, exactly who re-packaged and re-broadcasted the information remains unknown, but I believe I know exactly who repackaged and resent the information.   Out of the original distribution list comprised of media outlets and the opposing campaign, ask “Cui Bono?”

Reflections on Jake Rush for Congress

They say you learn a lot in defeat, and this is no different.   It has been one year, and I learned several things.

First, Jake Rush is absolutely unflappable.  Whether it is Jake Rush’s normal disposition or Rush’s law enforcement training, Jake Rush never cracked.  In today’s political age, politicians often backtrack at the slightest push-back; not Jake Rush!  Often, Jake Rush was the one calming the campaign down.  In the face of unrelenting chaos, Jake Rush stood tall and never blinked.  In the pressure to close the campaign, Jake Rush decided to move forward because he was committed to finishing what he started and further exhibiting that there is nothing to be ashamed about being a nerd.  I’d climb in a foxhole with Jake Rush any day.

Second, I learned just how difficult it REALLY is to challenge an incumbent.  Every political operative knows in theory how difficult challenging an incumbent is.  No political operative knows exactly how difficult it is until you undertake the endeavor.  So many people privately offered support and agreed the incumbent was/is not in their best interest(s), but few would publicly do so.  The exact same people who spent a year saying “I wish someone would challenge” where nowhere to be found after the paperwork was filed.  In the face of incumbency, even the most seasoned political actors lose their “courage”.  The fact remains: to beat an incumbent Congressman, a challenger must run close to a perfect campaign and receive some luck.

Next, I also learned about Cassandra and the mental gymnastics political actors will perform to explain away inconvenient truths during a political process.    As it turns out, when it comes to Florida’s 3rd Congressional district, everything Jake Rush campaigned on has turned out in to be true.  However, like Cassandra, at the time, Jake Rush was not believed.

Finally, upon reflection, I can say I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Don’t get me wrong – there are a TON of things I would do differently given the chance, but in the final analysis, I take great, personal pride in working with Jake Rush and calling him a friend.

Even though Ozean made its bones operating in hostile political environments, this campaign was different.  Yes, the end results were awful and the undertaking reinforced all my cynical thoughts about the political process, but after stripping away all the hyperbole, the Republican party and politics need more Jake Rushes.

Jake Rush is confident and comfortable in who he is.  Jake Rush is an intelligent, courageous, and honest man.   Jake Rush is thoughtful in his approach to issues never shying away from truth.

Why do I say that would I do it again?  It’s simple:  Jake Rush’s performance and fortitude under tremendous pressure began the process of restoring of my faith in good people willing to run for office.

I don’t know if Jake Rush desires to ever step foot in the political arena again, but the fact remains Jake Rush would be a terrific public servant.

I am not an alarmist, nor would I be considered a chicken little.  In fact, I tend to think systems self-regulate and maintain an equilibrium.

However, for the first time, I am starting to ponder is America’s current two party system heading towards collapse?


Over the weekend, I made the mistake of peering down the rabbit hole of the study of complexity and complex systems.

My over-simplified definition of a complex system?  A complex systems is comprised of many, diverse actors who have interdependent relationships providing feedback that operate in an adapting, ever changing landscape.

This field is study’s grandfather could be considered Thomas Schelling.  His nobel prize winning economic work is summarized in Micromotives and Macrobehavior.   You are familiar with his work if you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point.

A basic point is micro level behavior and preferences can and often will differ from macro level results.  These macro level results “emerge” from the microlevel actors, meaning no central actor is conducting.

I think we all can agree, the american political system could be described as a complex system.

The Collapse of Complex Systems

When we look at complex systems, they are remarkably tolerant systems, because as we defined them, they adapt….to a point.

However, our current political system is suffering fundamentally in two requirements for a healthy complex system:

  • Diversity
  • Feedback

Diversity in a Complex System

One of the requirements of a complex system is diversity.  Not diversity of just the commonly discussed race and gender, but diversity of thought.

Diversity is a sign of the robustness of a system and its ability to adapt.

Making the concept simple: the more robust (diverse) a system, the more likely of optimizing a outcome.

When a system is reduced to homogeneous actors, the system loses robustness and heads towards catastrophic failure.

An example is a lake.Eutrophication-lake

A lake is a large, complex, diverse and robust system.  You put nitrogen run-off into a lake, a lake can adjust and adapt.  No big deal.

You continue to add more nitrogen, a lake will continue to adjust, but its diversity is being reduced.  It is still a healthy lake, but the complex system is undergoing stress.

You continue to add nitrogen to a lake, and at some critical point there is little to no diversity and BAM! you hit a tipping point and we are left with a slimy mess, a eutrophic lake.

Feedback in Complex Systems

Complex systems have cascading effects leading to tipping points.  One of those cascading causing effects is when feedback loops tip too far to positive only or negative only.

With the lack of diversity in both parties and the curating of news, we observe epistemic closure skyrocketing in our political system.

Epistemic closure is not new, it was first talked about in the 1960s.  More recently David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, was warning us about closed feedback loops in 2010 in his NYT piece, Post-Tea-Party Nation.

We observe feedback loops becoming less diverse, reinforced with epistemic closure, further affecting the feedback loop.  It is a death spiral.

Observation of Current System

We would be hard-pressed to find a single thinking American that is satisfied with the current state of America’s political system.

Currently, the American political system is undergoing the Big Sort.  Our politics are becoming more partisan and each party is undergoing it’s own purge of diversity of RINOs and DINOs.

The political system is less diverse thanks to gerrymandered districts and ideological purges.  The feedback loops are closing (if not closed for some) thanks to epistemic closure.

Both factors are accelerating to magnitudes we have not observed due to catalysts such as technology (Internet) and money (super PACS).

This is observed in Gallup’s recent findings that NEITHER the Democratic Party nor the Republican party exceeds a 40% favorability rating.  This is a historical finding:  BOTH parties have NEVER been below 40% at the same time in Gallup’s poll.



Another observation of change in complex systems and its modeling is the speed at which massive change happens.

Let’s return to the lake example.  A little disfunction is tolerated, but once cascades happen the change is inexorable, and change happens with a violent suddenness.    Recent examples?  the fall of the USSR and the US financial meltdown.

The USSR and the world financial markets were both systems similar to the lake.  You could observe the signs of stress, but no one predicted the rate or size of change.

The current system of 2 party dominance is under tremendous stress.

  • Congress’ approval rating is near an all-time low of 15%.
  • BOTH parties favorabilities are at historic lows.
  • Citizens have lost faith in government’s ability to do its basic job.

When I look at our country’s current two party system, I see signs of collapse and cascades.

There are questions remaining:

  • Can we interject enough diversity back into the complex system to increase the likelihood of the system adapting?   I see little to no evidence of that.
  • Have we already passed the tipping point towards collapse?
  • If we have not reached a tipping point towards collapse, will the system adapt and experience a realignment like we have seen in the past?  V. O. Key, Jr. wrote about such realignments – Whigs, FDR, Nixon, Reagan, etc.
  • If we have reached a tipping point, what would a collapse of the current political system look like?  A third party and the death of one or both of the established parties?  A radical redesign of the governmental system towards a multi-party governance?

I have always tended to believe that our 200 year old system of government is extremely robust and will adapt.  I have previously thought we could and should expect a realignment.

However, with the acceleration of purges and closed feedback loops, I fear the system is now barreling towards collapse.

What I am becoming is more convinced daily that our complex system of governance will undergo a massive change in a relatively short period of time.

This massive change will take the form of a major realignment of the two major political parties or a collapse of our governing system.  I hope it is the first.

As with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Duke leading up to World War 1, in complex systems, a small spark can cause a massive, cascading change.

One possible spark?  The electoral college advantage of the Democrats leading to the election of Hillary Clinton to the Presidency of the United States.

Additional Reading on Complexity

Santa Fe Institute


There is a difference between descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.  There is also a difference between the following two questions:keep-calm-and-vote-out-every-incumbent

  • What are my chances of challenging an incumbent? and
  • If I decide to challenge an incumbent, what do I need to do to be successful?

Today, we explore second question.

If I decide to challenge an incumbent, what do I need to do to be successful?

People are upset and anxious and with these feelings comes the desire to throw out every incumbent, but that seldom happens.  Why?

We are not going to explore the substantial advantages incumbents enjoy.  We are going to set them aside and attempt to answer the question, “what does a challenger need to do to be successful?”

Often in politics, we borrow from other disciplines and blend them together.  In attempting to answer this question, I am going to borrow heavily from business to build out a new theory on challenging an incumbent.

The specific theory I am going to use is the New Lanchester Strategy.  The strategy has its roots in Britain and then used by Japan business as a closely guarded trade secret.  The New Lanchester Strategy is considered one of the best tools available for determining market type choices for both start-ups and existing businesses and is used to formulate marketing plans with strategies to attack market share.

The theory has military, business and political implications.

The New Lanchester Strategy asks “How do you win customers for a new, improved offer?  You must understand how customers decide, and you must target at their decision process. It means that the offered products or services must become irresistible for the target market.”

I came across the New Lanchester Strategy when reading The Four Steps to the Epiphany, by Steven Gary Blank.  Mr. Blank is a founder of the lean start-up movement and the book is considered a classic book in the start-up world.

Mr. Blank removes the math and states:

  • If a single company has 74% of the market, the market has become an effective monopoly. For a startup, that’s an unassailable position for a head-on assault
  • If the combined market share for the market leader and second-ranking company is greater than 74% and the first company is within 1.7 times the share of the second, it means the market is held by a duopoly. This is also an unassailable position for a startup to attack.
  • If a company has 41% market share and at least 1.7 times the market share of the next largest company, it is considered the market leader. For a startup, this too is a very difficult market to enter. Markets with a clear market leader are, for a startup an opportunity for re-segmentation.
  • If the biggest player in a market has at least a 26% market share, the market is unstable, with a strong possibility of abrupt shifts in the company rankings. Here there may be some entry opportunities for startups or new products from existing players.
  • If the biggest player has less than 26% market share, it has no real impact in influencing the market. Startups who want to enter an existing market find these the easiest to penetrate.

Blank adds two more important rules in the strategy that are particularly relevant:

  • If you decide to attack a market that has just one dominant player, you need to be prepared to spend three times (3x) the combined sales and marketing budget of that dominant player.
  • In a market that has multiple participants, the cost of entry is lower, but you still need to spend 1.7 times (1.7x) the combined sales and marketing budget of the company you plan to attack.

Lanchester model

Political Implications of the New Lanchester Strategy

If we consider an incumbent politician as having established market-share, and if we switch market-share for favorability polling numbers or even elections results, we can start to apply the New Lanchester Strategy to politics and develop a substitute hypothesis.

I think the best substitute is favorability ratings because it should be more current than past election results.

I am going to over-simplify for a starting point.

  • If an incumbent has a favorability rating over over 74%, it is an unassailable position for a head on-assault; possible with a strategy of re-segmentation.
  • If an incumbent has favorability ratings between 41%-74%, it is still an unassailable position for a for a head on assault; possible with a strategy of re-segmentation.
  • It is not until the favorability rating is less than 41%, do we observe an easier path to entry.

Blanks’s stunning finding using the New Lanchester Strategy: regardless of the specific market-share or favorability ratings, if you are going to challenge an incumbent, you need to spend 1.7 x – 3 x the communication budget of the incumbent to take market-share.  


As a company that has run many challenges to incumbents, some successful, most not; it is difficult to explain to excited candidates the difficulties facing challengers – not even specific to your candidacy – but rather any challenger.

When challenging an incumbent, almost every card in the deck is stacked against the challenger.

Now, consider a political neophyte with no market-share.

Candidates often cite such events like Rep David Blat’s defeat of an Eric Cantor as proof of concept, but interestingly they never consider the true Black Swan nature of such a defeat.

Combine that fallacy with prospective incumbent challengers basing their campaign budgets on what either the incumbent or a previous unsuccessful challenger spent, and we have a recipe for defeat.

We are now going to take this new theory and back test it against races to where incumbents or politicians with high market-share (in open races) were defeated by successful challengers.    Any bets whether this new theory holds true?

Our first case study will be Representative Curt Clawson’s win in Florida.


Additional Reading

New Lanchester Theory for Requirement Prioritization, Dr. Thomas Fehmann (PDF)

Lanchester Laws Apllied to Sales Campaign Succes by Paul McNeil (PDF)

The Four Steps to the Epiphany, by Steven Gary Blank (Amazon link, non-affiliate)

In part 1 of The Path to 270, we looked at a logical starting position or “Strong Favors” for each party’s electoral college map.

In part 2 of The Path to 270, we looked at the remaining states and the trend lines for those states.  We also began to noticed the glaring importance of Florida to the GOP.

In part 3 of The Path to 270, we will reconsider our assumptions and look at possible paths to 270 for each party.

Reconsider assumptions

In our quick analysis we have made some critical assumptions that now require reconsideration.

Considering additional information to the historical wins in each state, do any of our “Strong Favors” need to be removed from Strong Favors?  And Why?

We will expand our map slightly by setting an arbitrary cut of line of a margin of victory in 2012 of 10% or less.   (CLICK map for larger view)

2016 Battle Ground States


This is how we mark our initial battle ground map, and we require a very good rational to add a state to the map.

What would “a very good rational” be?  Great question.

  • New polling information
  • A black swan event that is not in our consciousnesses (example: some event localized to that state)
  • A mistake by our opponent
  • A new trend emerging since 2012 that we feel will be matured in time for the race (examples: demographics, more recent elections)
  • A statewide issue or campaign that will be on the ballot in a specific state (example: pot legalization)
  • Given our resources, forcing our opponent to defend one of their Strong Favors; thus, spending their own resources.

We are going to break our geography into three tiers, keeping in mind the situation is fluid and smart people update their assumptions when given new information.

  • Tier 1 States – Competitive States.
  • Tier 2 States – Special Circumstance States.
  • Tier 3 States – Conceded States (initially defined as any state with a margin of victory of greater than 10%.

2016 Tier 3 States – Conceded States

At this point, the following states are considered NOT competitive until we get new information indicating they are competitive.   Barring some unforeseen event, the likely-hood of one of these states moving would be considered low.   For example, I think it is fair to say, it is highly unlikely that Republicans will win DC’s electoral votes or that Democrats will win Utah.

EV to 270
Rep Tier 3 134 136
Dem Tier 3 186 84

Tier 3 Detail – sorted by 2012 Margin of Victory

State Rep wins in last 4 2012 Rep Win (Y=1) Electoral Votes 2012 Margin of Victory
MS 4 1 6 0.115
OR 0 0 7 0.1209
MT 4 1 3 0.1364
AK 4 1 3 0.1399
WA 0 0 12 0.1477
ME 0 0 4 0.1529
TX 4 1 38 0.1577
IL 0 0 20 0.1684
LA 4 1 8 0.1721
CT 0 0 7 0.1733
NJ 0 0 14 0.1774
SD 4 1 3 0.1802
DE 0 0 3 0.1863
ND 4 1 3 0.1963
TN 4 1 11 0.2038
KS 4 1 6 0.2161
NE 3 1 5 0.2178
AL 4 1 9 0.2219
KY 4 1 8 0.2268
CA 0 0 55 0.2309
MA 0 0 11 0.2315
AR 4 1 6 0.2369
MD 0 0 10 0.2608
WV 4 1 5 0.2669
RI 0 0 4 0.2746
NY 0 0 29 0.2818
ID 4 1 4 0.3169
OK 4 1 7 0.3354
VT 0 0 3 0.356
WY 4 1 3 0.4082
HI 0 0 4 0.4271
UT 4 1 6 0.4788
DC 0 0 3 0.8363
Grand Total 71 18 320

2016 Tier 2 States – Special Circumstances

The next question we ask, “Is there any compelling reason to move a state off this tier?”

  • For example, does the Hillary campaign have some information showing she can be competitive in Arkansas?
  • Will recent scandals in OR give the Republican’s hope of being competitive?

Seeing no compelling reason at the current moment, we will not move a state and continue.

2016 Tier 1 States

 Tier 1 Detail – sorted by 2012 Margin of Victory

Our goal is to label each state: Toss up, Leans Democratic, Leans Republican, Likely Democrat, or Likely Republican.  These are the 18 states we will do a deeper dive on to see where are model brings us.

State Rep wins in last 4 2012 Rep Win Electoral Votes 2012 Margin of Victory Category
FL 2 0 29 0.0088 Toss Up
NC 3 1 15 0.0204 Leans R
OH 2 0 18 0.0297 Toss Up
VA 2 0 13 0.0387 Toss Up
CO 2 0 9 0.0536 Toss Up
PA 0 0 20 0.0538 Leans D
NH 1 0 4 0.0558 Likely D
IA 1 0 6 0.0581 Toss Up
NV 2 0 6 0.0668 Toss Up
WI 0 0 10 0.0694 Toss Up
MN 0 0 10 0.0769 Likely D
GA 4 1 16 0.078 Likely R
AZ 4 1 11 0.0904 Likely R
MO 4 1 10 0.0936 Likely R
MI 0 0 16 0.0947 Likely D
NM 1 0 5 0.1015 Leans D
IN 3 1 11 0.102 Likely R
SC 4 1 9 0.1047 Likely R
Grand Total 35 6 218

Florida – Toss Up

North Carolina – Leans Republican

  • 2016 Governor on Ballot – Republican Incumbent
  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot – Republican Incumbent
  • 2014 US Senate pick up – Republican win (+1.7%)
  • 2012 Presidential – Republican win

 Ohio – Toss Up

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot -Republican Incumbent
  • 2014 Governor – Republican win (+30.9%)
  • Average win has been by a margin of 3.29% in last four presidential elections

Virginia – Toss Up

  • 2014 US Senate Race – Democrat win (.8%)
  • 2013 Governors Race – Democrat win (2.5%)
  • You could make the case for a slight lean Democrat, but this far out we will keep it in toss up

Colorado – Toss Up

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot -Democrat Incumbent
  • 2014 US Senate Race – Republican win (2.5%)
  • 2014 Governors Race – Democrat win (2.9%)

PA – Leans Democrat

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot – Republican Incumbent
  • 2014 Governor Race – Democrat win (9.8%)
  • The only keeping it from a lock for Democrats is the two year trend line in Presidential elections of -5%

NH – Likely Democrat

  • 2016 Governor Race – Democrat Incumbent
  • 2014 Senate Race – Democrat win (3.2%)
  • 2014 Governor Race – Democrat win (5.2%)
  • The only thing keeping it from a lock for Democrats is that Republicans have won the state before and the relatively small margins

IA – Toss Up

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot – Republican Incumbent
  • 2014 US Senate Race – Republican win (8.5%)
  • 2014 Governors Race – Republican win (21.8%)
  • The only thing keeping it from leaning Republican is the last two Presidential races +7.67 average in favor of Democrats, and  the 1 Republican POTUS win was by less than 1%.
  • One could easily make the case that Iowa is a Lean Democrat state

NV – Toss Up

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot – Democrat Incumbent
  • President Obama flipped to blue after President Bush carrying state two times
  • 2014 Governor – Republican win (46.7%)
  • 2012 Senate – Republican win (1.2%)
  • Preventing Republican lean is this is the same state that keeps electing Harry Reid and the last two POTUS elections going Democrat by an average of 9.6%

WI – Toss Up

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot – Republican Incumbent
  • Last 4 POTUS elections Democrat
  • 2014 Governor – Republican win (5.7%)
  • Home to Governor Scott Walker

MN – Likely Democrat

  • Last 4 POTUS elections Democrat wins
  • 2014 US Senate – Democrat win (10.3)

GA – Likely Republican

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot – Republican Incumbent
  • 2014 US Senate – Republican (7.9)
  • Last 4 POTUS – Republican

AZ – Likely Republican

  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot- Republican Incumbent
  • Last 4 POTUS Republican
  • 2014 Governors – Republican (11.9)

MO – Likely Republican

  • 2016 Governor on Ballot – Open Race, current Dem term-limited
  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot- Republican Incumbent
  • Last 4 POTUS Republican

MI – Likely Democrat

  • Last 4 POTUS Dem wins
  • 2014 Senate – Democrat (13.2)
  • 2014 Governor – Republican (18.2)

NM – Leans Democrat

  • Last two POTUS – Democrat (12.64 avg)
  • 2014 US Senate – Democrat (10.8)
  • 2014 Governor – Republican (14.6)

IN – Likely Republican

  • 2016 Governors Race – Republican Incumbent (Pence may run for President)
  • 2016 US Senate on Ballot (held by Rep)
  • 3 / 4 POTUS races Republican win

SC – Likely Republican

  • 2016 US Senate Race – Republican Incumbent
  • Last 4 POTUS Republican


2016 Electoral Map Starting Summary

Party Tier3 Tier 2 Tier 3 Total EV
Republican 134 15 57 206
Democrat 186 30 25 241
Toss Up 91

2016 Toss Up States

We have arrived at a grand total of 7 toss up states: FL, OH, VA, CO, IA, NV, WI worth 91 electoral votes.

As it stands now, if we give all likely and leans to their respective parties, in order to get to the magic number of 270 – Republicans need 64 electoral votes,  Democrats need 29 electoral votes from Toss Up states.

Here is how the Toss Up states break down by electoral vote.

State Electoral
FL 29
OH 18
VA 13
CO 9
IA 6
NV 6
WI 10

Conclusions – part 3

It is still very early – 620 days until the election is an eternity in politics – and this analysis does little detailed analysis on demographic trends in each Tier 1 state; however, we can see some things come into clear focus.

Ignoring for a minute a black swan event that re-frames the entire 2016 campaign, Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, is key to the GOP wishes for the Presidency.  If the GOP loses Florida, the GOP would have to make a run on all of the Lean Dem and add a Likely Dem to make up Florida.  That is simply a tall order.  It is extremely difficult to arrive at a likely scenario for a GOP win without Florida.    One could come up with several possible scenarios for a Democrat win not including Florida.  brace

A protracted, bloody primary is NOT in the best interest of the GOP, especially if the Democrats do not engage in one.   With this week’s estimates coming from the Hillary camp of a working budget of $1.7 billion, will need to have a candidate not worried about putting the GOP back together while re-building a war chest.

Also of note is the number of Toss Up States which will have US Senate races occurring at the same time: 6 of our 7 toss up (4 incumbent Rep, 2 Incumbent Dem – if Senator Rubio runs 1 will be vacant) will have active US Senate Races; none have active Governors Races.

As you can see, the model has many moving parts and is inherently fluid.  This is where a Bayesian approach works well : we update this model as we get new information.

But for now, the only two things are certain: the path to 270 is more difficult for Republicans than the Democrats and political ads will flood Florida.



download the dataset for your own analysis, filetype: CSV


Yesterday in part 1 of the path to 270, we took a look at the starting electoral vote scoreboard.

Here is a recap of the “Strong Favors” or states that have been won by 1 party for each of the last 4 Presidential elections.

2016 Starting Scoreboard

Party Strong Favor 270 Shortage
Republicans 175 95
Democrats 242 28


 2016 Contested States

Today, we take a look at all states that are not considered “Strong Favors” for any state.  (CLICK map for larger view)
2016 Presidential Map contested states

 2016 Contested States Detail


Rep Past Wins Possible EV
3/4 31
2/4 75
1/4 15


This is the detail for the map above, color coded by the party that won the race with the margin of victory.   This provides some high level insight into the trends of the states.


ST Rep
IN 3 1.03% 15.50% 11 10.20% 1.03% 20.68% 15.63%
NC 3 0.33% 9.10% 15 2.04% 0.33% 12.43% 12.83%
NE 3 14.93% 28.00% 5 21.78% 14.93% 33.22% 28.99%
CO 2 7.16% 6.52% 9 5.36% 8.95% 4.67% 8.36%
FL 2 1.85% 2.51% 29 0.88% 2.81% 5.01% 0.01%
NV 2 9.59% 3.07% 6 6.68% 12.49% 2.59% 3.55%
OH 2 3.78% 2.81% 18 2.97% 4.58% 2.11% 3.51%
VA 2 5.09% 8.12% 13 3.87% 6.30% 8.20% 8.04%
IA 1 5.22% 0.67% 6 5.81% 9.53% 0.67% 0.31%
NH 1 5.52% 1.27% 4 5.58% 9.61% 1.37% 1.27%
NM 1 8.45% 0.79% 5 10.15% 15.13% 0.79% 0.06%
5.72% 7.12% 121



With a look of the states that neither party dominated in the last 4 years, we can start to make some early, tentative decision of which states will be important for targeting and identifying ‘must win’ states.

Plainly speaking with a base line shortage of 95 electoral votes, we can clearly observe the GOP’s room for error.

Finally, the importance of Florida jumps off the page.

  • Assuming no “strong favor” state flips color in our base analysis in part 1 , if the GOP doesn’t win Florida, there are only 92 electoral votes (EV) left on the board.
  • Or said a different way, assuming no “strong favor” state flips color in our base analysis in part 1, the Democrats are 28 electoral votes from 270, Florida’s 29 EV puts them over 270.

Tomorrow in Part 3, we dive a little deeper and will reconsider our “strong favors”, reconsider the so-called “Blue Wall” and look at possible paths to 270 for the GOP and the Democrats.