There was some meaningful movement in the Republican primary this week as (market) front-runner Marco Rubio failed to consolidate support for yet another week and (market) second-place Ted Cruz continued to gain in the polls Iowa, the crucial test of the non-establishment. Meanwhile, Republican (polling) front-runner Donald Trump held somewhat steady, but fell into third place in the markets. Neither fourth or fifth place establishment candidates Jeb Bush or Chris Christie made a big enough move in the debate to get back into serious contention … yet!

The debate was much more substantive than previous debates, as the candidates actually went into some serious policy detail over both immigration and war; while the non-establishment and establishment divide is pretty clear, both groups are very far from the Democratic position as, in general, all of them are pro-intervention and anti-immigration. On immigration, Rubio and Cruz battled, with Rubio taking the softer stance, and, paradoxically, attacking Cruz for previously having taken a softer stance. Bush seems to back Rubio’s, slightly softer stance, while Trump clearly is a hardliner. To be clear, Bush’s softer stance is allowing Christian refugees only; this is still a pretty anti-immigration policy. Christie is in the strong non-establishment camp on this policy. On war, Cruz and Trump took the position of less ground intervention and more large scale bombing of our enemies, while Rubio and Christie seem more poised for land invasions. War talk ranged from Russia, to Sunnis Muslims, to Shiites Muslims; it was not easy to determine a ranking of most pressing enemies, as the list is long and intertwined.

The Democratic candidates are all pro-immigration and pro-negotiation. As a generalization the Democratic candidates all want to allow the regular flow of immigrants and increased access for refugees. Further, they all back continuing a light intervention, no major ground wars, and continued negotiations and open dialogue. I would provide more detail, but like most Americans, I did not bother to watch a debate on the Saturday night before Christmas.


Vertical Lines: Republican Debate on December 15, 2015

Sources: Betfair, Hypermind, PredictIt,

If you are interested in the Democratic nomination, here is the link: Clinton is going to win.