October 17, 2014

Fair Warning

The past week was generally good to the Republicans, but a true whole picture of the final outcomes of 2014 is not yet in sight.

No political party easily gives up the powers that they have, and the Democrats are  particularly “ferocious” in this cycle to keep control of the U.S. senate, and to make gains in their number of governors of the states.

I have been stressing, despite the voter momentum to the conservative party this cycle, that the liberal party has serious cards to play, and that they are, and will continue, playing them right up to election day. These include much more campaign funds, reliable constituencies, and a proven and effective ability to get out their vote. Republicans this cycle have outfunded the Democrats only in the gubernatorial races (thanks to having more incumbents and the efforts of Republican Governors Association chairman Chris Christie).

The structure of the congressional map, as well as the GOP trend this year, ensures mostly good outcomes for the conservative party in U.S. house races, despite the Democrats’ financial advantage in these races. The Democrats have now pulled their ads in many of the races where they hoped to defeat incumbent Republicans, and reallocated those funds to saving vulnerable Democrats.

It is in the U.S. senate races where Republicans must most be wary, and not overconfident, with just under three weeks to go. The Democrats know where they still have opportunities, both to save their own vulnerable incumbents and to possibly pick off an incumbent GOP senator or two. They have the money and they have the technology to make a successful last stand.

As in some house races, Democrats have redirected their efforts in some senate races. They appear to be conceding Colorado and Kentucky, but there are several senate races where heavy advertising and aggressive get-out-the-vote efforts might yet save the political day for them.

Just as, following the 2004 election when Republicans had the better ground game, the 2014 mid-term elections are a challenge to the opposition party to adapt to a new election landscape featuring early voting, looser voting rules, high-tech voter I.D methods, and new political media/communication venues.

Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic party nomination in 2008 in part by embracing the then new election landscape, and he defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 in part because the Republicans had not learned the technical lessons of 2006 and 2008.

The conservative party has had fair warning.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 5:12 pm. Filed under 2014, Campaign Strategy, Chris Christie, Democrats, House Races, Republican Party, Senate Races

October 14, 2014

It’s Complicated

Three weeks from tonight, if current trends hold, the Republican Party appears poised to achieve a solid, yet not overwhelming, victory in this year’s midterm elections. What we’re about to see is not quite a wave, but might best be described as a correction. The red states are red again, while the blue states remain blue, and the purple states seem willing to give Republicans a chance. The Republicans will almost certainly capture the Senate, and possibly do so quite solidly, and may actually attain their greatest majority in the House in several decades. All of this, however, does not suggest a Republican resurgence, but rather a diminishing Democratic government.

If the national zeitgeist were to be put into words right now, it would probably go something like this. Things just don’t feel quite right in America. We’re not exactly doing poorly. We’re not in the midst of a once-in-a-generation economic depression, or a clash of civilizations against a foreign empire. No, instead, the tableau is more complicated. The economy seems to be growing on paper, but it doesn’t quite feel that way on the ground. America’s economic engine is working, but not roaring. The unemployment rate has gone down, but people are still not getting promotions, not getting raises, and working two jobs to keep afloat. There’s no optimism out there. Instead, there’s acceptance of a new normal, and a creeping feeling that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Internationally, America seems to be faced with a number of difficult challenges. These challenges seem like they could have been prevented, but now that they exist, they don’t seem easily reparable. The spread of ISIS in the Middle East, and the presence of Ebola within American borders, shouldn’t have happened, but did, and solutions to these sorts of challenges seem, like the economic picture, complicated.

And then there’s the Democratic government. Democrats like “complicated.” Democrats are all about “complicated,” because Democrats believe that life is inherently complicated, and are always ready and willing to provide complicated solutions that will somehow make things even more complicated. Democrats will be the first to claim that the current complicated state of things is the best of all possible outcomes given what they had to work with.

But again, I think, the current zeitgeist goes something like this. We don’t quite buy that argument. Both parties made that argument before, in the 1970s, and then the 1980s came, and it turned out not to be true, and that America could make a comeback. So maybe, once again, it’s not so simple as to deem the future of America to be complicated. Maybe it’s just that our current leaders don’t have a better answer.

Enter Hillary Clinton. Once thought to be the inevitable 45th President, Mrs. Clinton has been coming down to earth in the polls as of late. Several polls have found her statistically tied with a number of Republicans in Iowa, an all important swing state won by Republicans in 2004, and Democrats in 2008 and 2012. Should other purple states follow suit, the Democrats may find that they have a fight on their hands, as memories of the Clinton years are eclipsed by the nagging feeling that the Democratic government simply doesn’t know what to do to make the country better.

Meanwhile, the Republicans still seem to lack a unified message, or optimistic tone, and continue to search for a national leader that can give the party meaning and purpose in the modern era, a full decade following its last presidential victory. Such a leader is not simply going to have to speak to the GOP base, but actually bring together the hodgepodge of voting blocs that will give Republicans victories in states like Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire, the purple states last won by George W. Bush.

Asking for a charismatic and optimistic leader who will end up on Mount Rushmore might be a bit much given the prospective field of Republican candidates. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Democrats thought they had found the same in Mr. Obama, and look how that turned out. The nation may not be opposed to electing someone with less panache this time around, someone a bit more sober and perhaps just a tad boring, but at the same time, any such leader is still going to find that a personal connection with the American people remains a prerequisite for the presidency.

That personal connection was something that Mr. Romney, who is rumored to be considering yet another run, was never able to attain. Despite winning all three debates with Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney was unable to garner the support of a majority of Americans. The Republican Party, hungry for leadership, appears to be considering Mr. Romney again, but it is still far from clear whether Mr. Romney has the ability to be relatable, and to truly reach through the television screen and have a human moment with the American people.

Contra Mr. Romney is Mr. Huckabee, his former primary opponent, and continued outspoken former governor and cultural conservative. Mr. Huckabee is not lacking in human moments, but may not quite capture the zeitgeist of the era, which isn’t really about cultural conservatism versus cultural liberalism, and which is more about a Democratic government promising stagnation in perpetuity, and an American people that want an optimistic alternative filled with opportunity. Mr. Huckabee’s recent weigh in on same sex marriage, an issue on which the country seems to be moving away from his point of view, probably does represent the former’s governor’s genuine beliefs, but doesn’t necessarily bode well for a presidential campaign.

And then there’s Mr. Bush. The former Florida governor seems to be setting his sights on becoming the third member of the Bush family to find his way into the Oval Office, and, in ways that were unthinkable just six years ago, is beginning to seem to be a reasonable bet for the nomination were he to run. The zeitgeist, acting as confessor, seems to have given the most recent president named Bush absolution, and the nation’s problems no longer seem to be the result of an inept Republican president, but the inevitable woes of a nation that had once believed that peace and prosperity could last forever, with the focus now being on how to regain America’s lost prowess.

Mr. Bush’s argument for the nomination goes something like this: “Republicans, I am you. I am just as competent and intelligent as Mr. Romney, but I can avoid being branded just another rich guy. I proved that in Florida. I am no less pro-life than Mr. Huckabee, but no one can pigeonhole me as a socially conservative former preacher. I can appeal to Latino voters, and my wife and son prove that, and I can do so with the gravitas that my friend Mr. Rubio can’t yet muster. I can improve the country’s economic policies, without coming off as wonkish like Mr. Ryan, and I can do so without scaring seniors. Heck, I governed a state filled with seniors. I can win a majority, unlike Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz, but I also have no animosity for the followers of Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz, nor do they for me. I know how to win Florida. I’ll hold North Carolina. I can take back Virginia, because I know how to appeal to the concerns of the military without sounding brazen or hawkish. And we can take back Ohio, because despite my family name, I don’t come off as an elitist. And if we all work together, we can win back the swing voters of the Midwest and the Southwest who instinctively know that we as a nation can do better than this, but who need to hear it from someone who sounds eminently reasonable.”

And that may be what Americans will be looking for in their next president — someone relatable without being a rock star, and someone more competent than charismatic. If so, at least a couple of dark horse contenders who believe that they meet such criteria, such as Mr. Walker of Wisconsin, and Mr. Kasich of Ohio, may also begin to more seriously look at a country in need of a leader whose primary claim to fame will be uncomplicating that which is hopelessly complicated.

Then there’s Mr. Christie, a man who appears to be eyeing the White House, despite his own path to the Oval Office being quite complicated in and of itself. Mr. Christie most assuredly has the charisma and the ability to personally connect with the American people and to make a formidable candidate in a national election. But where does Mr. Christie find his base? Is Mr. Christie going to bring lots of new voters into Republican primaries, tilting the culturally conservative Iowa caucus or the gritty, provincial, slightly paleoconservative New Hampshire primaries towards his own personal version of conservatism and Republicanism? If so, Mr. Christie has no time to spare in starting to build such a coalition, and in coming up with the ideas on which this coalition is to be built, neither of which has happened yet. Despite a personality that is larger than life, Mr. Christie will need more than personality to establish a foothold in an early primary state, or put together a coalition that will take the nomination, let alone the presidency.

To be sure, Mrs. Clinton is still the frontrunner for 2016. But a bit less of a frontrunner than she was six months ago. And perhaps six months from now, she’ll be even less of a frontrunner, as Americans, tired of economic and global complications, decide to send the Democratic government a Dear John note with the message, “It’s complicated.”

October 10, 2014

It’s The Ground Game, Smart Guy

There are now less than four weeks to go until election day. Nominees have been chosen. Initial TV and other media ads have been run. Campaign strategies are being carried out. TV debates between the candidates have begun. What remains to be done?

A very great deal, and it can be summed up in one phrase, “ground game.”

The ground game is the unglamorous, media-invisible and most labor intensive side of a political campaign. It consists of the time-consuming work of identifying a candidate’s most likely voters, keeping in touch with them by phone, with mailings and the internet, and then creating an effective organization that makes sure they get to the polls on election day.

Since 2006, the national Democratic Party, and most of the state Democratic Parties, have clearly had the better ground game. I think the liberal party’s ground game made the difference in the 2012 presidential election on behalf of their ticket. Even though the Democrats don’t have a presidential candidate running in 2014, and despite the fact that their own presidential incumbent has become quite unpopular, they will conduct a massive and effective ground game in most areas of the country this year.

Although it is undeniably a cycle favoring Republicans, the conservative party would make an enormous mistake if it does not achieve a major catch-up in its ground game in the closing days of the 2014 national mid-term elections. So far, all polling shows a higher intensity for Republican voters this year, and many Democrats are demoralized by the performance of President Obama, but that does not mean that most Democrats, effectively identified and prodded by their party’s ground game, won’t go to the polls and vote for Democratic candidates.

A so-called political “wave” could help Republicans, especially Republican U.S. senate challengers, this cycle, but if there is not a truly effective GOP ground game in the competitive senate, house and gubernatorial races, the Republican Party, its candidates, and its aspirations will fall short on election day.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 2:46 pm. Filed under 2014, Campaign Strategy, Democrats, Republican Party, Senate Races

October 8, 2014

Surprises Are Coming

The political turnabout in Kansas does not fully qualify as a last-minute surprise, the kind of which almost always appear on a national mid-term elections night. The collapse of the GOP in that state is real enough, but it has occurred enough in advance of the actual election for the Republican incumbent to make a serious effort to recover.

The real surprises percolate either on election night itself when the results are being tabulated, or at most, a few days before in the final polling when little or nothing can be done to affect the outcome.

Somewhere in the list of “Safe” Democrats and/or “Safe” Republicans is a candidate or two (or more) who is not so safe at all. Why the dynamics of these campaigns are so sudden and come so late is often unclear, but invariably they occur. And they can occur in either party. The Kansas example demonstrates this. It is shaping up to be a GOP year in the midwest, if not most of the country, and Kansas is usually as red as red can be, but both the conservative governor and the conservative U.S. senator are in trouble.

Early possibilities for a last-minute surprise include Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The four former are “safe” Democratic seats, the latter race is considered now “safe” Republican. But a “wave” could defeat the Democrats, and a third party candidate could upset the Republican. In fact, there are several third party candidates this year who could alter the final results. Most of these races are now considered likely Republican, but Democrats could pull out surprise victories because some Republican voters might be moved to vote for independent or libertarian third party candidates.

I have been covering national mid-term and presidential election cycles for a very long time, and I cannot remember even one of those many election years when there was not at least one or two true surprises on election day.

I think this is one of the most wonderful and reassuring aspects of U.S. representative democracy. As much as my fellow pundits, myself included, labor to analyze and prognosticate the behavior of the American voter, it is the single voter, counted in an aggregate, who has the last, and often surprising, word.


-Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 3:27 pm. Filed under 2014, Democrats, Predictions, Republican Party, Senate Races, Third Parties

October 5, 2014

Poll Watch: McClatchy-Marist 2016 Democratic Nomination Survey

McClatchy-Marist 2016 Democratic Nomination Poll

  • Hillary Clinton 64% [65%] (63%)
  • Joe Biden 15% [12%] (13%)
  • Elizabeth Warren 8% [9%]
  • Bernie Sanders 4%
  • Martin O’Malley 2% [1%] (1%)
  • Jim Webb 1%
  • Undecided 6% [9%] (18%)

Survey of 408 registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents was conducted September 24-29, 2014.  The margin of error is +/- 4.9 percentage points. Party ID: 76% Democrat; 24% Independent. Results from the poll conducted December 3-5, 2013 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted July 15-18, 2013are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 5:00 pm. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Poll Watch

September 8, 2014

The Home Stretch

The 2014 national mid-term elections have now entered the final turn of their campaigns. Less than two months remain, and the number of truly undecided voters is beginning to diminish with greater velocity.

A few weeks ago, some pundits asked aloud whether a potential “wave” election was in fact going to occur. I wrote at that time that “wave” elections rarely appear visible until the final weeks and days of a political cycle, but that signs do appear to indicate that one one is forming.

I have suggested that a clear pattern of increasingly vulnerable U.S. house and senate seats now held by Democrats was just such a sign. I also suggested that most of the notable “gaffes” of the 2014 cycle were happening in Democratic campaigns (unlike 2010 and 2014 when they occurred in Republican campaigns).

The latest example of the latter took place in Alaska where incumbent Democratic Senator Mike Begich, seemingly holding his own in a close race with Republican challenger Dan Sullivan, ran a spurious and self-destructive ad against his opponent, an ad which he had to quickly withdraw. But the damage has been done, and it has changed the race.

Earlier, Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley, his party’s senate nominee in Iowa, made absurd remarks about his Iowa GOP senate colleague Chuck Grassley, belittling the fact that Grassley was an Iowa farmer. Braley, at that point, was comfortably ahead of his eventual GOP opponent Joni Ernst. The race is still competitive, but Braley has not regained his momentum, and is now behind in most polls.

Appointed Montana Democratic Senator John Walsh had acquired incumbency in his contest against GOP Congressman Steve Daines, but revelations of earlier plagiarism forced Walsh to resign his nomination, and the race is no longer in play.

Incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, who is part of a powerful family dynasty in Louisiana, had been narrowly leading her GOP opponent Bill Cassidy, a physician, but new revelations that she is spending more time at her residence in DC, and claims her parents’ home in Louisiana as her state residence, has not been helped by assertions that she is hailed by DC politicians as the District of Columbia’s “51st senator.” The race could end in a December run-off, but if Republicans win control without her, her claim of senate influence would disappear, and she would likely lose the run-off.

For a while, it looked that the Republicans were going to get by “gaffe-free,” but the senate race in Kansas has been turned upside down by allegations that GOP incumbent Pat Roberts spends little time in the state, and has run a weak re-election campaign. His Democratic opponent has just withdrawn from the race, leaving independent Greg Orman, a moderate businessman, as the suddenly new frontrunner. Roberts might still win, but if he does not, it might not be a net loss for the GOP since Orman has declared he will caucus with the party which has the majority in the new senate. Nevertheless, the unexpected political reversal is an embarrassment to the Republicans.

Another late-developing surprise have been polls in heavily liberal (or blue state) Illinois. Not surprisingly, controversial Democratic incumbent Governor Pat Quinn is trailing is GOP opponent, but no one I know ever suggested that incumbent Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was anything but a shoo-in for re-election. Durbin, however, is under 50%, and his unknown Republican opponent only 7 points behind, an unexpected political shock. Durbin will still probably win, but now has to take his race seriously in its final days.

Otherwise, several hotly contested senate races remain close, including in North Carolina, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Colorado and Michigan. Potentially close races exist in Minnesota, Oregon, Delaware and Virginia. Vulnerable GOP seats remain in Kentucky and Georgia. How these races “break” in the final days of the 2014 elections will signal whether or not a true “wave” election is about to happen.

Unless there are more and new gaffes by individual candidates, the month of September should be relatively quiet politically on its surface. Most of the undecideds, many of them independents, will likely make their minds in October as election day approaches. A second group of pivotal voters, disaffected Democrats, will also decide whether or not they will vote at all.

This election cycle and its consequential dimensions are not yet concluded.

Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 4:13 pm. Filed under 2014, Democrats, Predictions, Republican Party, Senate Races

June 25, 2014

Is Hillary An Historically Weak Frontrunner?

This is the second time Hillary Clinton has been the prohibitive frontrunner for her party’s nomination for president. This time (in contrast to 2007-08) she seems even stronger in the polls. Amazingly, this time she does not yet seem to have a significant challenger, and most commentators on both the left and the right seem ready to concede her the nomination.

And yet, there is a recurring and very persistent negative aura about her candidacy, based on her record, her health, and most importantly, her performance so far as the putative choice of the national Democratic Party.

Her new book, and its accompanying book tour/appearances, have been a public relations disaster, the exact opposite for which it was intended. Rumors, and I stress that they are so far just rumors, about the state of her health abound in the media, and not just in the hostile conservative media.

It is not even an unspoken truth that the primary energy of her candidacy is that she would be the first woman president. That is certainly not necessarily a bad motive; in fact, it is a good thing that we break down barriers to the highest office in the nation. We have already had the first Catholic president and the first black president. It is only a matter of time when we have the first woman president, the first Jewish president and the first Hispanic president. But surely, religion, race or ethnicity should not be the primary or only qualification for president.

I will not here enter a detailed discussion of the quality and performance of her experience and preparation for the presidency. It is unquestionably much greater than that of the current White House occupant when he first ran in 2008. On the other hand, it is very controversial.

As for her health, she must convincingly persuade the public that she is able to endure the punishing pressure and schedule of the presidency. The days of hiding health problems of presidents and those who seek the presidency surely must be over. Going back to President Grover Cleveland’s secret cancer operation in the late 19th century, President Woodrow Wilson’s dehabilitating stroke early in the 20th century, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s rapid physical decline in his third term twenty years later, President John F. Kennedy’s secret (almost always) fatal case of Addison’s Disease forty years later, and President Reagan’s perhaps onset Alzheimer’s at the very end of his second term, these pathologies did nothing but diminish their presidencies.

Since that time, the daily demands of the presidency have only increased manifold. Whatever one thinks of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, each of them were vigorous and in good health. For the period from January, 2017 to the next four and eight years, the executive challenges, and the physical stress, for the next president will likely be even greater than ever before.

Hillary Clinton has no visible individual challenger in her party with a year and a half to go before the actual next presidential contest begins.

Her primary opponent so far seems to be herself.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 4:41 pm. Filed under 2016, 2016 Headlines, Campaign Issues, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Presidential History

December 19, 2013

Poll Watch: Fairleigh Dickinson 2016 Democratic Nomination Survey

FDU PublicMind 2016 Democratic Nomination Poll

  • Hillary Clinton 63% (63%)
  • Elizabeth Warren 9%
  • Joe Biden 5% (12%)
  • Andrew Cuomo 1% (3%)
  • Someone else 11% (12%)
  • Don’t know 11% (10%)

National survey of 412 Democratic and Democratic-leaning adults was conducted December 9-15, 2013. Results from the poll conducted April 22-28, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 5:37 pm. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Poll Watch

Poll Watch: PPP (D) 2016 Democratic Nomination Survey

PPP (D) 2016 Democratic Nomination Poll 

Given the choices of Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Martin O’Malley, Brian Schweitzer, and Elizabeth Warren, who would you most like to see as the Democratic candidate for President in 2016? 

  • Hillary Clinton 66% [67%] (52%) {63%} [64%] (58%) {57%} [61%] (57%)
  • Joe Biden 10% [12%] (12%) {13%} [18%] (19%) {16%} [12%] (14%)
  • Elizabeth Warren 6% [4%] (6%) {3%} [5%] (8%) {4%} [4%] (6%)
  • Andrew Cuomo 2% [2%] (2%) {4%} [3%] (3%) {4%} [5%] (5%)
  • Martin O’Malley 2% [2%] (1%) {2%} [1%] (1%) {3%} [2%] (1%)
  • Cory Booker 2% [1%] (3%)
  • Howard Dean 2%
  • John Kerry 2%
  • Brian Schweitzer 1% [0%] (2%) {1%} [1%] (0%) {1%} [1%] (1%)
  • Someone else/Not sure 7% [12%] (17%) {10%} [6%] (9%) {10%} [12%] (12%)

If Hillary Clinton was not a candidate for President, who would you support, given the choices of Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Andrew Cuomo, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Martin O’Malley, Brian Schweitzer, and Elizabeth Warren?

  • Joe Biden 35% [27%] (34%) {38%} [49%] (57%) (32%)
  • John Kerry 13%
  • Elizabeth Warren 13% [19%] (13%) {13%} [11%] (13%) (8%)
  • Cory Booker 7% [6%] (4%)
  • Andrew Cuomo 7% [6%] (10%) {10%} [10%] (5%) (18%)
  • Howard Dean 4%
  • Martin O’Malley 4% [3%] (3%) {3%} [1%] (1%) (2%)
  • Brian Schweitzer 1% [1%] (2%) {1%} [2%] (0%) (1%)
  • Someone else/Not sure 16% [33%] (29%) {26%} [15%] (14%) (32%)

If neither Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Howard Dean, nor John Kerry ran for President in 2016, who would you most like to see as the Democratic nominee?

  • Elizabeth Warren 24% [23%] (20%) {17%} [18%] (21%) {16%} [16%] (9%)
  • Andrew Cuomo 14% [13%] (11%) {25%} [22%] (25%) {19%} [21%] (27%)
  • Cory Booker 13% [14%] (8%)
  • Martin O’Malley 7% [4%] (2%) {5%} [8%] (5%) {7%} [5%] (4%)
  • Brian Schweitzer 2% [1%] (4%) {1%} [1%] (2%) {2%} [2%] (2%)
  • Someone else/Not sure 40% [39%] (47%) {38%} [36%] (36%) {40%} [45%] (46%)

Favorable / Unfavorable {Net}

  • Hillary Clinton 85% {85%} [84%] (81%) {79%} [86%] (86%) / 11% {12%} [11%] (12%) {15%} [10%] (10%) {+74%} 
  • Joe Biden 72% {73%} [73%] (80%) {73%} [80%] (70%) / 15% {16%} [15%] (13%) {22%} [14%] (21%) {+57%}
  • John Kerry 66% / 17% {+49%}
  • Elizabeth Warren 46% {42%} [43%] (48%) {47%} [45%] (28%) / 15% {13%} [13%] (8%) {13%} [12%] (17%) {+31%}
  • Howard Dean 33% / 25% {+8%}

Survey of 453 Democratic primary voters was conducted December 13-15, 2013.  Political ideology: 35% [38%] (34%) {37%} [39%] (36%) {37%} [32%] (36%) Moderate; 35% [34%] (35%) {31%} [30%] (32%) {24%} [32%] (30%) Somewhat liberal; 18% [15%] (17%) {14%} [17%] (20%) {23%} [20%] (16%) Very liberal; 10% [8%] (9%) {12%} [9%] (9%) {13%} [12%] (13%) Somewhat conservative; 2% [5%] (4%) {6%} [5%] (3%) {2%} [4%] (5%) Very conservative. Results from the poll conducted October 29-31, 2013 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted July 19-21, 2013 are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conducted May 6-9, 2013 are in curly brackets. Results from the poll conducted March 27-30, 2013 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted January 31 – February 3, 2013 are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conducted January 3-6, 2013 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted November 30 – December 2, 2012 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted April 12-15, 2012 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 12:45 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Poll Watch

December 15, 2013

Poll Watch: Des Moines Register/Selzer & Co. Iowa 2016 Democratic Caucus Survey

Des Moines Register/Selzer & Co. Iowa 2016 Democratic Caucus Poll 

Favorable / Unfavorable {Net} 

  • Hillary Clinton 89% / 7% {+82%}
  • Joe Biden 71% / 18% {+53%}
  • Martin O’Malley 18% / 13% {+5%}
  • Brian Schweitzer 16% / 14% {+2%}

Survey of Democratic adults was conducted December 8-11, 2013. The margin of error is +/- 8 percentage points.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 4:00 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Iowa Caucuses, Poll Watch

December 1, 2013

Is It “It’s Obamacare, Stupid!” Or “Time For A Woman President!” in 2016?

As the 2012 presidential campaign began to form seriously in 2011, some conservatives suggested that the by-then commonplace slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” would be replaced by  new slogan “It’s Obamacare, stupid!” as the emblematic theme of the Republican attempt to replace the president, then in his first term, the next year.

It was based, quite understandably, on the performance of the 2010 mid-term elections when the Republicans  regained control of the U.S. house with a pick-up of 60-plus seats, and a significant pick-up of U.S senate seats, primarily due to negative voter reaction to the just-passed medical care reform law known as Obamacare. Republicans, it should be remembered, became increasingly confident that they could win the 2012 presidential election, and they nominated someone who, because of his support of a similar program when he was governor of a northeastern state, was going to have a difficult time making Obamacare a dispositive issue. Mitt Romney had other political problems, to be sure, and the election was close, but the GOP slogan did not materialize as the difference.

Going into the 2014 mid-term elections, Obamacare is once again driving voters away from Democratic candidates. In fact, it is potentially more serious than in 2010 because the legislation is now being implemented — with disastrous early results.

I am suggesting, however, that a focus on Obamacare by Republicans beyond 2014 is a very bad strategy. The reasons are simple. If voter dissatisfaction with the legislation does resonate in the 2014 elections, it will be repealed or dramatically altered whether or not President Obama agrees to it. Members of Congress of his own party, having seen the writing on the electoral wall of 2014, will vote to override any veto. It will be a matter of political survival, and Mr. Obama will be a very lame duck. If, somehow, Obamacare miraculously (it would take a miracle) succeeds suddenly in 2014, including getting by its inaugural technical glitches, and its implementation is not put off until 2015, there will obviously no issue. In either case, Obamacare would cease to confront voters after 2015.

At the same time, Democrats are developing, as their prime slogan for 2016, “It’s time for a woman president!” This, of course, presupposes that the current Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, is their nominee. There are two problems with this slogan-as-strategy. First, in spite of her huge lead in current polls, the election is almost three years away. Mrs. Clinton enjoyed a similar “insurmountable” lead in 2005, and three years later, she came up short when Mr. Obama won the party nod. Second, and perhaps more important, relying on an abstraction, albeit a sympathetic one for some voters, is a very risky strategy, and not ultimately complimentary to Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications.

I happen to believe it IS time for a woman (from either party) to be elected president, but I certainly would not want to vote for a woman primarily because of her sex. The nation leads outstanding leadership, now more than ever, and the only true major consideration should be a vote for the best person, either liberal or conservative, to serve in the nation’s highest office. Historically, it was theoretically time for a Catholic to be president in 1928 when Al Smith was the Democratic nominee, but it was not until 1960 when John Kennedy was elected. It was time to have a Jew on the national ticket in 2000 when Joe Lieberman was the Democratic vice presidential nominee, but he did not win. Jesse Jackson ran twice for president, and many said that Republican Colin Powell could have won if he ran, but it was Barack Obama who was the first black president.

Today, notably more women already vote Democratic, and notably more men vote Republican. It is difficult to imagine that an even higher percentage of women would vote for a Democratic nominee. It is thus illusory to think that primarily because she is a woman, Mrs. Clinton would win in 2016.  Nor will her “resume” alone give her victory.  American voters historically don’t vote for “resumes,” including most recently in 2008. If she is her party’s nominee, Mrs. Clinton will have to give voters very good reasons to vote for her, especially after two terms of a president of her own party, the resulting Obama-fatigue that will exist in 2016, and despite her own many controversies, personal and political.

It is, of course, a long time until 2016. In addition to the 2014 elections, numerous events, many of them unanticipated, will occur. Hillary Clinton could indeed be elected president in 2016, but I suspect the main reason would not be simply that she is a woman. (What if, by the way, the GOP nominee chooses the talented New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez as his running mate?) A Republican might indeed be elected president in 2016, but I suspect the main reason would not be voter dissatisfaction with Obamacare.

Slogans, or other short rationales, do rarely win national elections. Long before it was verbalized by the Bill Clinton campaign, the “economy” was almost always was the major factor in a presidential election.


-Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 12:12 pm. Filed under 2016, Campaign Strategy, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Obamacare, Republican Party, Susana Martinez

October 31, 2013

On the Clinton Mirage

As Terry McAuliffe appears to be headed for the Virginia governor’s mansion, Bill Clinton has again come out of hiding to stump for his former underling — and to do what he does best, which is revel in the adoration of crowds:

Roland Clark, a 56-year-old defense contractor who lives about a half-hour south of Richmond, has watched Clinton on TV for decades and always wanted to watch him live.

“A lot of people just want to see President Clinton,” he said.

His wife, Brenda, said Clinton will help motivate people to get out and vote.

“President Clinton is just the extra piece to confirm you’re voting for the right guy,” she said.

Bill Clinton was widely credited with boosting President Obama’s standing in the polls after the 2012 Democratic National Convention. There’s not a Democrat alive that doesn’t want a piece of that old Clinton magic.

People don’t actually miss Bill Clinton, however. They miss the 1990s.

Like all masterful politicians, Clinton is skillfully playing upon people’s natural tendency to conflate representations of things with the things that they represent.

Major premise: The 1990s were good. Minor premise: Bill Clinton was president during the 1990s. Ergo, Bill Clinton is good. (Yes, he’s still taking credit for the tech boom and the ‘peace dividend.’)

People miss the 1990s in a terrible way. And why not? It was the second coming of the 1950s: a tyrannical state preaching a horrific totalitarian ideology had finally been felled, the American economy boomed, and we took a so-called ‘holiday from history.’ I was born in 1990. There couldn’t have been a more idyllic decade in which to have been a child.

Or to have been president. Bill Clinton is not the 1990s. He entered office in the midst of a relatively calm international climate, a booming economy, and stable social conditions. One could certainly credit him with not breaking anything, but George W. Bush’s warning about the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ resonates. The political virtues of the Clintons, in this sense, are a sort of mirage — defined by the dictionary as ‘an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions.’

Hillary Clinton is going to wage a campaign in 2016 that subtly appeals to 90s nostalgia. She might get away with it. But the 1990s are over. Putting a representation of the 1990s in office won’t bring those years back.

by @ 1:12 pm. Filed under Democrats

September 19, 2013

Poll Watch: Rasmussen 2016 Democratic Nomination Survey

Rasmussen 2016 Democratic Nomination Poll 

  • Hillary Clinton 77% (63%)
  • Joe Biden 11% (12%)
  • Some other candidate 6%
  • Undecided 6%

Survey of likely Democratic primary voters was conducted September 16-17, 2013. Results from the poll conducted August 1-2, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 11:45 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Poll Watch

August 21, 2013

Centrists In The Senate

Much has been made in the conservative media about the few remaining “moderates” who are Republicans in the U.S. senate. Most notably, these are senators from the Northeast and border states, and they have become targets for some so-called Tea Party conservatives who challenge them in their re-election primaries. Two of these “moderates” (who I prefer to call centrists) are up for re-election next year. They are Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

But there are many more so-called “moderates” or centrists on the Democratic side of the aisle. They include, in varying degrees, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware, Senator Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Jeff Donnelly of Indiana, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Senator Mike Begich of Alaska and Senator Angus King of Maine (who calls himself an independent, but organizes with the Democrats). Democratic Mayor Cory Booker of New Jersey, who almost certainly will be elected to the senate in an October special election to replace a recently deceased liberal Democrat, is also very much a liberal centrist, and will be added to this group.

The presence of so many centrist Democratic senators is rarely discussed in the Old (liberal) Media, because if it were properly acknowledged, it would reduce the media-supported illusion of the Obama radical agenda.

Most of the above senators, it should be pointed out, are rather liberal on social issues (especially compared to most Republicans) as might be expected, but they have also been voting quite liberal on many economic issues, too; often more liberal than their private views. That has been primarily due to the heavy-handed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and to President Obama, both of whom have advanced a radical liberal agenda, tolerate little dissent, and who have maintained a tight discipline on all Democratic members, regardless of their views.

Just as centrist Republicans face primary challenges in 2014 (and did so in 2010 and 2012), centrist Democrats face serious GOP challengers in their re-election campaigns. Their major problem, unlike their conservative centrist counterparts, is usually not with their party base, but with their statewide electorates. Thus, Senators Landrieu, Pryor, Hagan, and Begich are vulnerable in 2014 (although only Senators Pryor and Landrieu already have a very serious GOP opponent). Other centrist incumbent Democratic senators have simply retired rather than face defeat.

I have pointed out that most of these liberal centrist senators have been voting with the very liberal Democratic senate leadership and with the White House, but a new question arises if the Republicans should win back control of the U.S. senate in 2014. Should the GOP win in 2014, especially if it’s a wave election as it was in 2010, surviving Senate Democratic centrists will face a very different environment in 2015. President Obama will not only be an extremely lame duck, he also would be without the leverage to expand his very liberal agenda. Not having a record of compromising, or any pattern of meaningful relationships with the Republicans in the Congress during his first six years in office, Mr. Obama would be on constant defense, trying to protect his earlier legislation and programs, and unable to expand his agenda.

Since more than 40 per cent of the surviving incumbent Democratic senators would be centrists, and a number of them up for re-election in 2016 and 2018, the ability of any senate Democratic leader to maintain voting discipline would be very problematic. The ability to maintain Obama health care reform, raise taxes, add new government regulations, and increase government spending would be very much at risk not only because Republicans would control both houses of the Congress, but also because many Democrats might well begin voting along more the centrist lines which they believe in, and most importantly, which they can defend when they next go before the voters.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 5:05 pm. Filed under 2014, Campaign Issues, Democrats, Senate Races

August 8, 2013

Poll Watch: Rasmussen 2016 Democratic Nomination Survey

Rasmussen 2016 Democratic Nomination Poll 

  • Hillary Clinton 63%
  • Joe Biden 12%

Note: Several other prominent Democrats (Cory Booker, Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, and Antonio Villaraigosa) muster five percent (5%) or less support.

Survey of likely Democratic primary voters was conducted August 1-2, 2013.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 12:40 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Poll Watch

April 17, 2013

Hillary the Inevitable? Not So Fast.

For the innumerable faults of the mainstream media there is one thing that they can do better than anyone; set and parrot the conventional wisdom. The idea that “Hillary Clinton is a done deal for 2016” is one that they have latched onto with glee. It makes sense really. At a certain level there is some guilt amongst them for having so openly cheered on Obama during the 2008 primaries (giving Hillary a small sampling of the bias that Republicans always have to contend with), and the other part is history. They helped elect the first African-American President, now it’s time to elect the first liberal woman President. I say liberal woman President because if anyone believes that the media would so openly root for Susana Martinez or Nikki Haley, I have a ski resort in Orlando to sell you. So as is their wont, the media is in full Hillary 2016 mode; she’s inevitable, she’s wildly popular, she’d win in a landslide, Republicans would stand no chance, and the Democratic nomination is nothing but a coronation. If any of this sounds familiar that’s because we heard the same song-and-dance back in 2005 as Clinton pondered running in 2008. She was all those things back then too.

Now, I’m not saying that Hillary, if she decides to run (which is a big if in my opinion, more on that later) won’t be the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. She certainly will be, but therein lies one of her problems. Democrats simply don’t like to pick their front-runners. Since 1972 when the modern primary system came into effect, there have been 8 Democratic primaries where the incumbent President has not run. In those 8 contests only twice has the Democratic front-runner went on to win; 1984 with Walter Mondale, and in 2000 with Al Gore. Both cases involved a Vice President, and Fritz Mondale nearly lost in 1984 to Gary Hart.

But, you say, Hillary is so popular with the country, the Democrats would be crazy to not nominate her. If Clinton’s popularity was based on actual accomplishment, then yes we should be worried. But it isn’t. Clinton’s popularity right now is based on a carefully crafted narrative; that of the well accomplished, wildly successfully, moderate Secretary of State. It’s all a fantasy. Look at the world we live in; a hyper-aggressive North Korea, Syria in a bloody civil war, Egypt in turmoil, the Palestinians even more useless than usual, the Eurozone collapsing, frost between the US and Israel, China on the ascent, and Iranian centrifuges still working. Is Hillary Clinton responsible for all of this? No, but they all happened or started happening while she was nominally the top US official besides the President in charge of foreign policy. Candidate Clinton would have to answer for every single one of those things. Not to mention the worst one of all, when a mob of savages murdered four Americans, including our Ambassador in Benghazi. The best Hillary Clinton could come up with at the Senate hearing on it was “what difference does it make?” The perception of Clinton is far stronger than the reality of Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom.

The other problem for Clinton is the one that plagued her in 2008; the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Liberals rejected Clinton for two main reasons; one of them was her vote to authorize the War in Iraq. The second one is far more dangerous long term for Clinton. The second reason liberals rejected her was because they were tired of running a Bill Clinton “Third Way” or triangulation campaign. They wanted to win as liberals. This was fundamentally at odds with the Clinton strategy. Clinton felt that even in the primaries, she had to at least talk like a moderate so as not to scare off independents for the fall campaign. That was unacceptable to the left-wing of the Party and they cast their eyes about looking for a liberal alternative. They found one, and he is now President of the United States.

President Obama’s two victories have also taught the left a seductive lesson, one that is very hard to forget; that a liberal, running as a liberal, can win a general election without having to moderate or move to the center. Looking to the Obama example in 2008 and 2012, liberals in the Democratic Party will want their 2016 nominee to be a person of the left. Much like right-wing Republicans who think that we can just reprint the 1980 party platform every cycle and win, the left in the Democratic Party will do the same thing. This type of analysis of course ignores a ton of the factors that go into the election of a President, but it is the lesson those people learn because it is the lesson they want to learn.

This will hurt Clinton because the rest of the would-be Democratic field has already moved left or was always on the left. Andrew Cuomo in New York veered hard left earlier this year with vast new gun control legislation. Elizabeth Warren thinks that banks and Wall Street are the root of all evil. John Hickenlooper in Colorado signed new gun restrictions and is Governor of the state that legalized marijuana. Even Joe Biden has been making noise to please the left. And perhaps the most dangerous one of them all, Martin O’Malley of Maryland has compiled a long list of left-wing accomplishments; raised taxes, abolished the death penalty, and legalized gay marriage to name a few. In short, if the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is still suspicious of Hillary Clinton and the Clintonite Third-Way, there are definitely alternatives out there. And some of those people, particularly O’Malley, will not step aside for Clinton. The aura of invincibility is something that, once gone, is impossible to get back. And Hillary lost it when she lost the nomination in 2008.

Finally, there is no guarantee that Hillary will run anyways. This is usually dismissed as wishful thinking, but I don’t think so. Clinton suffered a relatively serious health scare recently; God willing it’ll be the last, but you just don’t know with that kind of stuff, particularly at her age. Clinton will be 69 years old in 2016 and she knows how physically taxing not only campaigning but actually governing the country is. All she has to do is remember what her husband looked like in 1992 and what he looked like in 2000; the Presidency ages the person who holds the office. Perhaps Clinton will feel that she physically cannot do the job to the best of her ability? Also, there is the legacy argument; as has been stated before she is currently very popular with broad sections of the public. This will not last in the intensity of a presidential campaign. Both her Democratic opponents and whoever we Republicans nominate will comb through her long record, find something, and bludgeon her with it. This vote in the Senate or that comment to the Prime Minister of such-and-such. Why would Clinton want to risk her popularity and star power on one last shot at the brass ring? Why not simply stay the beloved elder stateswoman?

At this point, I have no idea how 2016 is going to play out, and those who say that they are certain are fools and delusional. Four years is an eternity in politics. Old faces will fade away, new ones will come to the forefront, issues that we never thought would be important suddenly are, or the electorate will suddenly want someone with a certain type of experience, who knows? That’s the point; those who already have Hillary Clinton writing her convention acceptance speech and measuring the drapes for the Oval Office are looking at 2016 from the viewpoint of 2013. And that is nothing but folly.

by @ 12:00 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton

February 26, 2013

Martin O’Malley Struggling to Emerge from Hillary’s Shadow

Over at BuzzFeed, Ruby Cramer chronicles Gov. Martin O’Malley’s difficulties generating buzz with the specter of Hillary! 2016 casting a large shadow over campaign already:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ask the Democratic governors gathered at the JW Marriott this weekend who they liked for president in 2016 — as all but every reporter here did — and most would come around to mentioning Martin O’Malley.

The annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association is, traditionally, one of the places the season of the Great Mentioner begins to settle in on the candidates for the presidency, and the Maryland governor — the Democrat with perhaps the best résumé, and the cleanest shot of any here — made himself known as one of the chosen few.

But the reporters at the event, ready to chase down governors in between conference sessions and meals and breaks for the bathroom, weren’t asking about him: They were asking, as Politico did, about Hillary Clinton, leaving O’Malley to embody the frustrating waiting game inhabited by him and all other Democrats not named Clinton.

“I can’t really control what decisions other people make, whether or not they run,” O’Malley said after being asked, not for the first time, whether Clinton’s decision to run would affect his own. “And even if I knew, I don’t think it would change what I have to do this year, which is to govern well, always learn, become better prepared, and most important, deliver results for the people you’re serving.”

Be sure to read Cramer’s full story here.

by @ 12:36 pm. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley

February 4, 2013

Report: Janet Napolitano Considering 2016 Run

The Washington Post has the story:

So, what happens if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run in 2016?

It is hard to imagine the presidential field without a woman contender, and here’s one to keep your eye on: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano is quietly making it known that she is considering the race, and there is reason to take her seriously.

Before coming to Washington, Napolitano was a highly regarded and very popular governor in Arizona, a state not known as a hospitable one for Democrats. In 2005, Time Magazine named her one of the nation’s five best governors, noting: “Positioning herself as a no-nonsense, pro-business centrist, she has worked outside party lines since coming to office in January 2003 to re-energize a state that, under her predecessors, was marked by recession and scandal.”

Full story here.

by @ 5:48 pm. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton

December 4, 2012

Daily Kos: Say No to Cuomo in 2016

Kos blogger Constantinople outlines all the reasons why Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s potenetial 2016 presidential bid should is a non-starter for progressives:

On the heels of the historic achievement of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, a small but influential cabal of establishment pundits (who neither live in New York, nor are progressive) have already begun the Andrew Cuomo for President in 2016 buzz.

Politico, the Washington Post, 538 (is Poblano jumping the shark?), and no less an establishment insider than Bob Shrum are practically ready to start drafting the man’s inauguration speech.

But while the same-sex marriage achievement is a terrific one (shared by Cuomo and many others), Andrew Cuomo has otherwise governed New York like a red-state conservative (not just a New York Republican, but a Christie-like conservative) who has made the New York Post editorial page swoon: ending taxes for millionaires, while cutting services for the elderly, children, disabled, ignoring environmental hazards to protect the deep-pocketed gas drilling industry, and waging a war on labor. These kinds of things are hailed by the establishment types as “taking on the unions” and “making the hard choices.”

But whatever you call them, they ain’t progressive. And progressives would be wise to cut this fledgling speculation off at the legs, before it grows tentacles.

Full post here.

by @ 10:34 am. Filed under 2016, Andrew Cuomo, Democrats

November 7, 2012

Election 2012’s Winners and Losers

Now that everything is said and done, it’s time to figure out the truly important stuff: Who benefits, duh! (Gotta embrace the new national ethos, right?)

WINNER: Nate Silver, Public Policy Polling, and Pollsters Generally: Surprise! It turns out that professional pollsters know how to do their jobs! Nate Silver and Public Policy Polling especially deserve credit, given the crap that they’ve had to put up with. Many conservative bloggers erupted at them for not telling them what they wanted to hear — but they were right. Mr. Silver’s modeling was highly accurate for the second cycle in a row, and the dreaded PPP nailed this election, calling every state, including Florida, correctly. Marist and Quinnipiac, also slammed by conservatives, were also highly accurate. When I predicted last week that Obama would win reelection and that we’d lose ground in the Senate, almost every single commenter on this site told me that I was buying into the awful biased pollsters and Nate Silver’s nonsense. The lesson here is simple: If you want to criticize a pollster, you need to understand how polling works and then make a specific criticism about the pollster’s methodology. If a poll shows a strong Democratic turnout advantage, it does not mean that the pollster is conspiring against Republicans — it means that more people are telling pollsters that they are Democrats and that they are also likely to vote. Weighting for party ID — ie; what so many people wanted the pollsters to do — is what would have really skewed the polls. Polls showed consistently that Democrats were just as enthusiastic, if not more enthusiastic, about reelecting the president as Republicans were about defeating him — and there’s more Democrats in this country than Republicans. The math is quite simple.

WINNER: Social Liberals: Ballot questions about same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization passed in almost every state that had them. (Oregon rejected a more extreme version of marijuana legalization.) Prominent social conservatives Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost Senate races that should have been easy GOP pick-ups. Is social conservatism viable? Perhaps, but at the very least, it will have to be repackaged. As a 22-year-old, I find it impossible to have conversations about politics with friends who barely follow the news: “Doesn’t Mitt Romney want to ban abortion? Wasn’t there a Republican talking about how he supports rape? Why would anyone vote for someone who doesn’t support gay people?” They won’t even listen to me try to explain the conservative position on a complicated issue like Medicare — they’ve already closed themselves off to the GOP, because they think it tolerates bigotry. Conservative activists need to learn that young people do not choose a party based on a checklist of issues — they examine the parties, usually in their late teens or early 20s, and try to get a general sense of what they stand for. The social issues are the easiest to understand and are the most emotionally-loaded. If the Republican Party is seen as harboring extremists, it will lose young people’s votes — possibly for a generation. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock are not representative of the GOP mainstream — but too many young people look at the party and say “Well, I’m not sure where I am on all the issues, maybe, but I just know that I don’t wanna be in the same party as the guy talking about legitimate rape.” For your average voter, choosing a party is often no more complicated than that. If we want to make gains among young people, we have to actively suppress the candidacies of social-issues extremists.

LOSER: Rasmussen Reports: Scott Rasmussen can no longer be considered a credible pollster. His projections were disastrous. Furthermore, Rasmussen Reports polls should no longer be included in the RealClearPolitics polling average. If Rasmussen wants to win back his reputation, then he should demonstrate in 2014 that he is not just a partisan hack. But in this cycle, every single one of his state polls — both in the presidential race and in the Senate races — showed a pronounced bias toward the Republican candidate, just like they did in 2010. Rasmussen helped create a counterproductive echo-chamber environment amongst conservatives in this cycle — even as credible pollsters like PPP, Marist, and Quinnipiac showed the president gaining, for instance, conservative activists always were able to point to an inaccurate Rasmussen poll as a reason to believe that Mitt Romney still had a chance and that Rasmussen was catching something that the other pollsters, with their flawed turnout models, were missing. But Rasmussen showed a systemic Republican bias, and he needs to be held accountable for it in some way.

WINNER: GOP Up-and-Comers: With the Romney-Ryan 2016 question out of the way, the field is cleared for a new generation of leaders to truly assume command of the national conversation. Expect to hear more from Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, and others — and for a dynamic 2016 primary race to unfold. Despite last night’s wipe-out, it’s an exciting time to be a Republican — for the first time in quite some time, it’s our party that looks like the party of the future. If we can fix our little demographic problem, that is…

LOSER: The GOP, Among Hispanics: Here is the fact that will tell you everything that you need to know: Romney won whites by the same margin that Ronald Reagan did in 1980. He still lost in an electoral landslide. There’s no way around this problem anymore: the electorate was only 72% white this year. We are running out of Joe the Plumbers. We cannot continue to be the party that Latinos perceive as hostile to their race and culture. We can complain all day long about whether that’s fair or accurate — but the problem exists whether he want to acknowledge it or not. It has cost us a variety of races in the past few cycles in states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. George W. Bush was on the right track, earning nearly 40% of the Hispanic vote. If his immigration reform bill had passed, we might have a considerable share of the Hispanic vote right now. But we gave into the Tom Tancredos of the world in 2006, just like Mitt Romney did in 2011 when he ran to the right of Rick Perry for short-term personal gain at the party’s expense. He laid his own trap for the general election. Now this problem persists. Obama is going to tackle immigration reform in his second term. If the Republican Party revolts against it, we may lose the Hispanic vote for an entire generation, and with it, the party as we know it. I anticipate a full-on civil war about this issue in the party within the next two years.

WINNER: Bill Clinton: The rehabilitation of William Jefferson Clinton is complete. There is no more beloved Democrat in the entire country. His excellent convention speech was widely credited with launching Obama into his comfortable September lead, and his preferred strategy of painting Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat rather than a flip-flopper paid off. Romney bested Obama on questions about the economy and deficit — but when pollsters asked whether Romney understood the problems facing the middle class, he was absolutely blown away by the president. Clinton helped Obama to embrace a truth that few politicians truly understand: That most people don’t vote for ideology. They vote for politicians who they think “get” them. Bill Clinton will also be a tremendous asset to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign — both in the primaries (should they matter) and in the general election. If she decides to run, that is…

NEUTRAL: Paul Ryan: Nobody is blaming Paul Ryan for any part of last night’s outcome. He performed admirably as Mitt Romney’s running mate and has seen his national stature elevated. He finds himself in a position much like John Edwards four years ago. Hopefully he can make a bit more of the opportunity — he is an exceptional politician and he deserves to be one of our party’s leaders.

WINNER: Establishment Republicans / LOSER: Tea Party Republicans: The Tea Party continues to rack up losses in the Senate. In the past two cycles, they have cost us Delaware, Indiana, Colorado, and Nevada. (Full disclosure: I supported Mourdock over Lugar. I did not expect him to self-destruct; I will never again support a Tea Party insurgent against a popular incumbent.) Tea Party favorites Allen West and Mia Love both lost; Michele Bachmann had a scare but managed to hang on. Republicans retain control of the House, though. As Obama’s second term begins, I expect Boehner and Cantor’s influence to grow against the more hardline Tea Party elements of the Republican caucus. The country has voted, and elections have consequences. Boehner and Cantor — as well as Ryan — recognize that. My advice to the Tea Party is this: When qualified, articulate, conservative establishment-types like Rubio, Cruz, and Toomey are nominated, they win. When radical ideologues like Sharron Angle, Richard Mourdock, and Christine O’Donnell are embraced, they lose. It’s not too hard to figure out what to do with such information.

OVERALL: I’m trying to find a silver lining for Republicans, but I just don’t see one. Last night was an utter massacre. Yet, this is no time to whine (or to shoot the messenger). It’s time to figure out why we lost — and what we can do about it.

October 21, 2012

The Tale of Two Rallies

The Democratic Party held a rally featuring Sandra Fluke in Washoe County, NV (pop 426K). Ten people showed up. Ten people!

The Tea Party held a rally featuring Connie Mack and Allen West in Indian River County, FL (pop 139K). 3000+ people showed up.

By population, the ratio between the two rallies’ attendance is 920 to one. In other words, to match the turnout of the Tea Party rally per population, Fluke should have had 9200 people in Reno there to see her. Instead, she only had ten.

And how many were media people, I wonder.



by @ 6:07 am. Filed under Democrats, Election Tells, Tea Parties

October 19, 2012

Democrats Report Small Cash on Hand, Large Debt

Political junkies know by now that when the fundraising numbers for each campaign are released every month, things are more complicated than they might seem. The numbers each campaign releases are usually the combined totals of three different entities: the campaign, the party, and the joint “victory fund” between the two. Between those three organizations, for instance, Romney and the RNC raised $171 million in September and began October with an eye-popping $191 million cash on hand.

Obama and the DNC announced earlier in October that their three groups had raised a total of $181 million in September — but have actively refused to tell anyone how much cash they had left for the final month of the campaign.

Well, the filings that will reveal all are due to the FEC no later than tomorrow… and two of the three pieces of the Democratic puzzle have filed their reports today. First, the joint Victory Fund reported raising $82.3 million and ending September with just $45 million on hand.

Then, the DNC reported ending September with only $4.6 million cash on hand — and carrying $20.4 million in debt. (For comparison sake, the RNC ended September with $86 million cash on hand.)

Adding those two pieces together, we get $49.6 million cash on hand… and $20.4 million in debt.

Obama’s campaign better have a ridiculous amount of cash on hand if he hopes to compete with Romney in these final weeks. Either way, their total is not going to come anywhere close to the Romney/RNC total of $191 million. We will know for sure tomorrow…

by @ 3:21 pm. Filed under Democrats, Fundraising, Republican Party

October 4, 2012

The RNC and DNC Release Ads Based on Last Night’s Debate.

That didn’t take long. Below is a brand new ad the RNC put out this morning zeroing in on Obama’s atrocious body language last night:

It’s effective, but too bad it’s a minute and a half. That makes is way too long for TV.

The DNC responded with an ad of their own. You could call it, “Mitt is a big meanie!”:

Well if your guy just pummeled on National TV, what else are you going to say?

I doubt it gets run on too many TV stations. You usually don’t broadcast that your presidential candidate is a wimp, and the other guy isn’t.

October 2, 2012

Sparse Attendance at Democrat Event in Maine

The Maine Campus (UoM’s student newspaper) reports:

Maine’s heavy-hitter Democrats gathered Tuesday to speak to students about the need for involvement in the political process. Congressman Mike Michaud, George Mitchell and Emily Cain — district representative for Orono — were just a few of the speakers at the event, which took place in the Wells Convention Center at the University of Maine.

Only four students showed up to the event.

Out of a student body of around 8900 students, only four showed up. FOUR!!! That works out to 0.045 percent of the enrolled students.

“Toto, I don’t think we’re in 2008 anymore.”



by @ 1:28 pm. Filed under Democrats

September 9, 2012

Explaining the “Empathy Gap”

It’s striking to me how few people actually argue with the intent to persuade. Every day, political junkies march into battle in the war of words taking place in the blogosphere and on social media websites — yet, it is difficult to imagine many people emerging from these exchanges feeling compelled to change their opinions, let alone reexamine their ideologies. Mostly, people just assert, and when their assertions are challenged, they assert some more, without bothering to examine their opponents’ assumptions about the world — which, right or wrong, are very different than their own.

I joked on my Facebook feed earlier this week that the Democratic Convention reminded me of why I dislike Democrats even more in practice than I do in theory — that, in the abstract, I usually agree with the party about one-third of the time, but that as soon as one of their leaders opens his mouth, I’m reminded that our agreement is basically an accident. I support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, for instance — yet, in my mind, I am not framing that support as a vindication of my own kindness, empathy, and compassion. Despite our mutual support for the bill, I could not recognize myself in the pro-Dream Act speakers, who discussed the argument in terms of heroes and villains — open-minded, compassionate liberals against racist, selfish conservatives. Why is this?

The answer can be found in the makeup of the parties. The essential nature of the two parties’ coalitions is this: the Republican argument is geared fundamentally toward ideology, while the Democratic argument is geared fundamentally toward identity. The Republican Party is a collection of ideological factions — capitalists, defense hawks, and religious traditionalists, all of whom identify first and foremost with their chosen ideology — and the Democratic Party is a collection of identity factions — women, gays, Hispanics, union members, etc., all of whom identify first and foremost with that identity. It’s not a perfect split, of course, but I think, as a general rule, this is true.

Ideology, by definition, is an abstract concern, while identity relates to people’s lived experiences. Ideals of liberty and freedom are worth fighting for — but for those who aren’t already predisposed to identify with and prioritize those values, they’re also hard to relate to, on a day-to-day level. This difficulty is compounded when dealing with people who are members of minority groups — people for whom identity traits are a constant theme in their emotional life. If you’re white, you’re unlikely to spend a lot of time thinking about your race. However, if you’re gay, you’re almost certainly going to spend a lot of time thinking about your sexual orientation, including how that factors into other aspects of your life, such as politics — which leaves less room for other values, like freedoms of speech, association, and religion.

Should that be so? Maybe. Maybe not. But that’s the way it is. And it makes it significantly easier for Democrats to convince minorities to identify with their party — especially at a young age, when they are still in the process of forging an identity, still deciding what values will be meaningful in their lives. Most people — believe it or not — don’t actually pay much attention to politics. When choosing a political party, the average American simply asks himself which party best matches his personal values. Last year, I persuaded my best friend, a fellow young gay man, to become a Republican instead of a Democrat. “I became a Democrat because of gay marriage,” he explained to me. “From there, I just kind of talked myself into the rest of what the party said.” There are millions of stories just like my friend’s.

Those millions of stories translate into a solid foundation of public support for Democrats. The paradox of appealing to “minorities” is that the majority of us fall into one of those categories. Between blacks, Hispanics, feminist women, gays and lesbians, Jewish people, Muslims, and niche constituencies like labor unions, there are a whole lot of people who can properly identify as a member of a minority group — and the Democrats, not the Republicans, are the ones who appeal to them on a visceral, emotional level. Democrats reach out to them on the basis of identity — on the basis of their lived experiences. When it comes to raw, emotional reactions, lived experiences always beat abstractions. This is why Republicans are consistently trounced on the question of empathy — and why Obama is still in a commanding position to win reelection.

If Republicans want to win over minority voters, they have to do so by appealing to their lived experiences — not to abstract ideology. We can’t persuade simply by doubling down on idealistic themes like liberty and free enterprise. These are values that are worth fighting for, to be sure — and they remain our ultimate goals — but in electoral politics, different tactics must be used to appeal to different constituencies. We have to explain to the black urban voter how conservatism, not liberalism, will help his child obtain a better education, become financially independent, and encounter less discrimination in the world. We have to explain to gay voters that capitalism, not socialism, has made life easier for sexual minorities all around the world. These voters are not predisposed to agree with the Republican Party’s values, and they can’t be won over with the same rhetoric that we would use at CPAC. They want to hear language that relates to their lived experiences.

Perhaps in an ideal world, we’d be able to explain our values to left-wingers and moderates in the same way that we do among fellow conservatives and libertarians. Maybe, maybe not. But we’ve already tried asserting. We do that all the time. When it comes to winning over minority voters, it doesn’t work. If we want to close the ‘empathy gap,’ what we need to do is start persuading. And that means meeting other people on their terms. That is, after all, the very definition of empathy.

by @ 1:50 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Barack Obama, Campaign Strategy, Conservatism, Culture, Democrats, Opinion

September 7, 2012

Obama WANTED a Low-key Speech

Obama’s acceptance speech is getting panned today by both the left and the right, but his supporters need not worry. It turns out that is exactly what he wanted to do all along. From the Daily Beast:

Barack Obama’s team wanted an earthbound speech, and they got it.

In short, the president deliberately dialed it down, stopping well short of the altitudes he is capable of reaching. Perhaps that will prove to be a mistake, but the decision to go with a less rousing approach was carefully considered.

So just as they explain the much smaller crowds showing up at his rallies as their desire to have more “intimate” occasions with the President and his supporters, they are now purposefully limiting the height his rhetoric soars. He doesn’t want to overly excite them.


by @ 3:07 pm. Filed under Barack Obama, Conventions, Democrats

September 6, 2012

Democrats: “Abolish Profits”

Radio host Peter Schiff finds out:
How does the average Democrat think the economy should work?

by @ 6:35 am. Filed under Conventions, Culture, Democrats

September 5, 2012

Oh… My… Gosh….

There are no words to describe this… Just watch.

by @ 5:51 pm. Filed under Conventions, Democrats

DNC: We All Belong to the Government

The Democrats opened up their convention with a video proclaiming that the Government is the only thing that we all belong to:

To which Romney quickly tweeted:

We don’t belong to government, the government belongs to us.

Now the DNC and the Obama Campaign are claiming that they had nothing to do with the video. From BuzzFeed:

An Obama aide emails that the Charlotte host committee, not the Obama campaign, produced the video:

“The video in question was produced and paid for by the host committee of the city of Charlotte. It’s neither an OFA nor a DNC video, despite what the Romney campaign is claiming. It’s time for them to find a new target for their faux outrage.”

That explanation doesn’t quite pass the smell test. I can fully accept the fact that things can go wrong in a live event. Technicians might play the wrong tape. Speakers might mangle a word or two, or even go completely off script. (Clint Eastwood, anyone?) Chaos happens. It is a fact of life. However, to assume that the video used to open the 2012 Democratic National Convention wasn’t fully vetted by both the DNC and the Obama Campaign strains credulity to the breaking point.

The Democrats are left with one of two choices. Either the tape was vetted, and they were incompetent fools for letting it run; or they are incompetent fools for not vetting it before letting it run. Neither explanation is particularly flattering.

They are claiming the latter. I am betting on the former. It fits so well with the Democratic philosophy expressed in Obama’s infamous, “You didn’t build that”, speech. It’s all part and parcel of the same thing.

In both cases their mask slipped. What makes it so damning is they didn’t even realize it has slipped until it is pointed out to them. Then they scramble all over themselves trying to push it back into place.

It’s either that, or you must believe that nobody over there knows how to run a nationally televised convention.


by @ 1:54 pm. Filed under Conventions, Democrats

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