December 17, 2014

Poll Watch: Rasmussen Generic Congressional Ballot Survey

Rasmussen Generic Congressional Ballot Survey

  • Republicans 40% 39% 41 % 43%
  • Democrats 37% 40% 40% 39%

The national telephone survey of 3,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from December 8-14, 2014. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

by @ 10:08 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Poll Watch, Republican Party

December 9, 2014

Poll Watch: Rasmussen Generic Congressional Ballot Survey

Rasmussen Generic Congressional Ballot Survey

  • Democrats 40% 40% 39%
  • Republicans 39% 41 % 43%

The national telephone survey of 3,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from December 1-7, 2014. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

by @ 10:55 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Poll Watch, Republican Party

December 4, 2014

The Democrats, On the Other Hand, DO Have An Alternate Front Runner

The Democrats’ undisputed front runner is Hillary Clinton by a longshot:

CNN/ORC November 23

  • Hillary Clinton: 65%
  • Elizabeth Warren: 10%
  • Joe Biden: 9%
  • Bernie Sanders: 5%
  • Andrew Cuomo: 1%
  • Deval Patrick: 1%
  • Jim Webb: 1%
  • Martin O’Malley: 0%
  • Other: 4%
  • None: 3%
  • Don’t Know: 1%

457 Democrats polled for a MOE of +/1 4.5%

Almost 2 out of every 3 Democrats support the former First Lady to be their nominee in 2016. That is easily a prohibitive position.

If you take away Clinton, they still have a definite front runner:

  • Biden: 41%
  • Warren: 20%
  • Cuomo: 7%
  • Sanders: 7%
  • O’Malley: 4%
  • Webb: 3%
  • Patrick: 2%
  • Other: 5%
  • None: 8%
  • Don’t Know: 4%

Without Hillary, Joe Biden gets the lion’s share of her votes and ends up with more than 20 ppts on his closest rival, Elizabeth Warren. He more than doubles her score.

It is ironic that the leading candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination are politicians past retirement age. They are supposed to be the party of the young and the Republicans were supposed to be the party of the old, geriatric set. Yet Hillary (67) and Biden (72) are older than any of the top Republican candidates Bush (61), Christie (52), Carson (63), and Paul (51). Only our soon-to-be-forgotten front runner, Mitt Romney (67) is as old or older than the two Democratic front runners.


December 2, 2014

Poll Watch: Gravis Marketing (R) Florida 2016 Democratic Primary Survey

Gravis Marketing (R) Florida 2016 Democratic Primary Poll

  • Hillary Clinton 51%
  • Elizabeth Warren 18%
  • Joe Biden 12%
  • Martin O’Malley 4%
  • Andrew Cuomo 2%
  • Unsure 13%

Survey of 694 Democratic voters was conducted November 19-20, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 2:41 pm. Filed under 2016, Andrew Cuomo, Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Martin O'Malley

November 28, 2014

Poll Watch: Quinnipiac 2016 Democratic Nomination Survey

  • Hillary Clinton 57% [58%] (65%) {66%} [61%] (65%)
  • Elizabeth Warren 13% [11%] (7%) {7%} [7%]
  • Joe Biden 9% [9%] (8%) {8%} [11%] (13%)
  • Bernie Sanders 4%
  • Martin O’Malley 1% [1%] (1%) {0%} [0%] (1%)
  • Jim Webb 1%
  • Don’t know 14% [15%] (13%) {12%} [15%] (14%)

National survey of 610 registered Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters was conducted November 18-23, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted June 24-30, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted January 15-19, 2014 are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conductedDecember 3-9, 2013 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted September 23-29, 2013 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted April 25-29, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 12:50 pm. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Poll Watch

November 20, 2014

Jim Webb Forms an Exploratory Committee

Jim Webb has formed an Exploratory Committee (thanks Ben Christie for the tip)

Jim Webb, the former Democratic U.S. senator from Virginia, said he launched a committee to explore running for president in 2016, according to a 14-minute video he sent to supporters by email just before midnight on Wednesday.

Webb gave no notice he would announce the committee this week. He has only said in recent months that he is considering a presidential run.

The video was sent in an email to subscribers of Webb’s website. The message linked to another website, headlined, the Webb 2016 Exploratory Committee.

The first 2016 shoe has dropped.

by @ 8:54 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Jim Webb

November 19, 2014

Here’s a Thought. Hillary Might Be the Youngest Democrat in the 2016 Race

A number of alternatives to Hillary have been put forward. Among them are:

  • California Governor Jerry Brown
  • Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Vice President Joe Biden
  • Virginia Senator Jim Webb

What do they have in common? One thing is that they are all older than Hillary. In 2016 Brown will be 78, Sanders 75, Biden 73, and Webb 70. Hillary will be 69.

Yes, we have heard Elizabeth Warren’s name batted about as a possible alternative to Mrs. Clinton. She would be younger than our former First Lady, but not by much. Senator Warren would be 67 in 2016.

And this is the party of the youth?

As an aside, Harry Reid will be 77 and Nancy Pelosi will be 76 in 2016.


by @ 7:37 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Jerry Brown, Joe Biden

November 17, 2014

Democrats Toss Out Some Possible Alternatives to Hillary

ABC News had a recent panel discussion of possible alternatives to Hillary:

The names they threw out were:

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren D-MA
  • Senator Bernie Sanders D-VT
  • Vice President Joe Biden
  • Senator Al Franken D-MN

Jonathan Karl pointed out that Warren used to say, “No, no, no, no, no”, when asked about running for President. Now she is simply saying, “I’m not running”.

Donna Brazile, who mentioned Franken, did not recommend him in this clip, but says that she is starting to get tweets about him. However, she herself gets in on the act:

The nursery rhyme comes to mind:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to her cupboard
To fetch her poor dog a bone.

But when she got there,
the cupboard was bare,
and so the poor dog got none.

For the Democrats, after Hillary, the cupboard truly appears bare. The pickin’s are mighty slim.

by @ 2:48 pm. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden

And So Begins the Race for 2016: Democratic Edition

The conventional wisdom is that 2016 will be the Year of Hillary — that she will easily dispatch the token opposition in the Democratic primaries, and that she will just as easily cruise to becoming the 45th president of the United States. So far, polls show that assumption to be true. But it is two years before the election right now, and in that time a lot can and will go wrong – and right – for candidates on both sides of the ring. The die has not yet been cast; after all, everyone thought 2008 would be the Year of Hillary as well.

There are two huge questions looming over the Democratic primary at this moment: will Hillary run, and if she does, can she win? At first blush, these seem like absurd questions. Of course she will run — the Clintons are power hungry and will not give up a golden opportunity like this to occupy the Oval Office again. And of course she will win — all the polls show her demolishing any and all opponents on both sides of the aisle by double digits. But what if we took a step back and questioned those assumptions for a moment?

Uncertain Certainties

I’ve predicted ever since 2008 that Hillary Clinton will not run for president again. How could she pass up such a perfect opportunity? Because it might not be so perfect after all, for all the following reasons:

  1. Age. Consider: on election day 2016, Hillary Clinton will be 69 years old. If elected, she will tie Ronald Reagan for the oldest president in the history of the country. Of course, that would be a Hillary supporter’s rejoinder: so what if she’s that old – so was Reagan. However, Reagan didn’t suffer major health concerns before running like Hillary’s fainting spells and head injury, and Reagan’s age did become an issue as early Alzheimer’s sadly set in during his waning years in the White House and dementia became more and more apparent. More to the point, not only will the American people need to decide if we want another septuagenarian in the White House, Clinton will have to decide herself if she (and Bill, who has had several heart surgeries now) is healthy enough to run — and if this is how she truly desires to spend her twilight years. Which leads us to the second point.
  2. Family. The Clintons have a new grandbaby, and while the hardened political cynics were quick to point out how a baby is a perfect “political prop,” the opposite could be just as true. A desire to spend time with their new grandchild is certainly part of the equation Clinton is processing.
  3. Campaigning. As in, Hillary Clinton is just no good at it. In this, she shares many similarities with Rudy Giuliani on the other side of the aisle. In 2007, when Giuliani was the larger-than-life NYC Mayor who helped rebuild after 9/11, he was skyrocketing and leading all the polls. As soon as he hit the road and actually started campaigning, his numbers fell to earth. The same could be said of Hillary Clinton: when people think of her in general terms, they get warm fuzzies remembering the 90s when Bill was president and thinking about the possibility of having a female president, among other things. Then Hillary shows up and starts talking, and those memories are shattered, replaced by a much grittier reality. This was never more on display than the 2008 primaries, and to a lesser extent during her book tour earlier this year. Hillary has always lacked the political acumen of her husband, and she realizes it. Which takes us to point four.
  4. Losing. Yes, the polls show Clinton ahead of her closest Democratic competitor by 50 or 60 points right now. There is still a very real possibility that she could lose if she chooses to run. The word from insiders is this is one of the major variables the Clintons are considering as they weigh whether or not to run. If Hillary runs and loses a second time, it will tarnish their legacy as a power couple in Washington. They risk damaging the Clinton brand, which would damage the work they are doing through the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as damaging prospects of high dollar speaking events.
  5. Obama. Hillary Clinton served the party faithfully by accepting Obama’s invitation to be his Secretary of State. What was supposed to be a goodwill gesture to help heal the party — and yes, to further her own potential future — turned out to be harmful instead. Russia, Syria, Iran, the Arab Spring, Iraq, ISIS, Benghazi… oh, and did we mention Russia? Hillary’s term as Secretary of State was nothing but one unmitigated failure after another. Is there a single foreign policy success Clinton oversaw while in the Obama administration? To be fair, many of these were not her fault: she was serving a feckless President who lacked the courage or the will to advance a strong foreign policy, and even when she attempted to do what was right (see: Syria response) her comments were walked back and overridden before she was back stateside. In 2008, Hillary Clinton had the glow of the 90s as well as the mini trail of success she had paved as a United States Senator; in 2016 she will have the stink of five years of failed foreign policy following her which open up brand new lines of attack should she run. Understanding that — and how it plays into point four above — may be enough to keep her out of the race.

Filling the Void

So if Hillary Clinton ends up not running, who will step in to fill the void? This is where the schism in the Democratic Party rears its ugly head, mirroring the struggle that will occur with the Republicans as well.

I’ve written about the DLC and the New Democrats several times before here at Race, but the backstory bears repeating because it will play a key role in what’s going to happen in the 2016 race.

After Jimmy Carter’s dismal failed term and Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in 1980, the Democrats nominated ultra-liberal Walter Mondale to face Reagan in 1984. They watched, panic-stricken, as Reagan won an even larger landslide victory, and a rumbling began. Deciding that they were done playing to the fringe elements of their party, powerful factions of Democrats veered toward centrist moderation in an attempt to rebrand themselves and sell themselves to the American people anew.

These moderate factions came together to found the Democratic Leadership Council in 1985 in order to promote a more centrist approach to Democratic governance. They threw their weight behind moderate Senator Gary Hart of Colorado (runner-up to Mondale four years earlier) in the 1988 primaries, only to see their hopes dashed by his extramarital affairs. The Democrats ended up with yet another ultra-liberal nominee in Michael Dukakis and lost in yet another landslide.

Four years later, the DLC finally found success on the Presidential level when DLC’er Bill Clinton won the White House. Clinton ran a campaign (and ostensibly an administration) based on the new “third way” of centrism in national politics, rejecting the liberalism that Democrats had embodied for the previous three decades. And after Clinton became the first Democratic President to be re-elected since FDR, people really sat up and took notice of the DLC and their so-called “New Democrats”.

After eight years of George Bush in the White House, the 2008 election featured a great opportunity for the DLC to regain their power and prominence with their candidate of choice (and former DLC Chair) Hillary Clinton. Instead, Hillary lost to Barack Obama — who was not a member of the DLC and in fact went out of his way on multiple occasions to say he wasn’t aligned with or endorsed by the DLC. In fact, Obama probably ran the most anti-DLC campaign since Howard Dean infamously declared that the DLC “represented the Republican wing of the Democratic Party” in 2003.

It didn’t take long, despite shallow overtures of peace made by Obama, for the DLC to become disillusioned and angry with Obama and the liberal wing of Democratic politics he represented. The DLC shuttered their doors in 2009 when they couldn’t raise enough money to stay afloat, thanks to the perception (encouraged by Obama) that they were not an ally of the White House. Ever since, they’ve been harboring resentment and longing for the opportunity to put one of their own in power once again.

In This Corner…

That’s where it starts mattering in our story. The DLC (or, rather, the former members of the now-dissolved DLC) has an incredibly deep bench for the 2016 primaries. All they have to do is figure out who to coronate as their champion (or choose two or three of them for strategic purposes, to help drown out the din of the liberal wing of the party). Moderate Democrats like Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, Brian Schweitzer, Jim Webb, and Mark Warner all make the list of potential 2016 hopefuls, and all are former members of the DLC. O’Malley and Warner may have been damaged a little by the results of the midterm elections, but by next year when the campaign begins that will be forgotten history.

This is one of the reasons I think Hillary will find it easier than some think to make the decision not to run. Bill and Hillary own the Democratic Party establishment (much in the same way Bush/Romney own the Republican establishment) because of their leadership of the DLC. Both have served as DLC chairs and have worked tirelessly to advance DLC causes. So then, here is Hillary’s out: she and Bill endorse one of the fellow DLC’ers in the 2016 race and work to get them elected. They work against the liberal wing of the party which burned them so badly for the past eight years, and exact revenge while rebranding the Democrat brand at the same time. Meanwhile, they never risk tarnishing their own legacy in the process. It’s a win-win for the Clintons.

On the other side of the schism sit all the liberal, grassroots candidates. This group will be comprised of folks like Elizabeth Warren, Howard Dean (yes, he says he is eyeing another run), and Bernie Sanders (actual, literal Socialist) — and probably a surprise or two, like a Dennis Kucinich-type character.

So who will win? After eight years of an Obama presidency which has produced low approval numbers and a desire for change, the DLC candidates will be most likely to succeed. Among them, two stand out as top tier: Andrew Cuomo and Martin O’Malley. Cuomo has made a name for himself in New York and has managed to upset the liberal wing of his party while maintaining a decent approval rating among Republicans — a magical feat, to be sure, in a state like New York. And O’Malley is widely known as the hardest working potential candidate, willing to work long hours and embrace the daily grind in order to build a winning campaign structure. He did more fundraisers and campaign stops for more candidates than anybody on either side of the aisle during the midterms, which is impressive considering he did so in an unofficial capacity. But his goal went far beyond helping candidates win (which obviously didn’t happen) — his goal was to create and garner goodwill among a nationwide network of supporters that would be in place when he launches his campaign next year.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the major DLC players sit back and collaborate on which of them will enter the race, much like the Republican establishment is doing on the other side of the aisle. So far, with the potential exception of Elizabeth Warren, the DLC wing doesn’t have any serious competition for the nomination, which could make the general election very interesting – and a little tougher for the GOP.

by @ 4:00 am. Filed under 2016, Barack Obama, Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley

November 13, 2014

Hey Hillary! Watch Out for Liz on Your Left!

A couple of interesting stories are running in Politico today.

The first one deals with a meeting with major liberal donors:

Vice President Joe Biden will join Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other leading progressives in addressing a closed-door gathering of elite liberal donors — a roster of speakers that notably doesn’t include Hillary Clinton.

The annual winter meeting of the Democracy Alliance, a group of funders of liberal causes, isn’t a presidential cattle call. But speculation about the 2016 Democratic presidential race looms over the four-day gathering, which started Wednesday at Washington’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. Last year’s meeting was a lovefest for Warren, whose speech fired up the crowd. This year’s program, reviewed by POLITICO, includes sessions on numerous progressive causes — including fighting climate change, reducing the role of money in politics and more rigorously regulating Wall Street — on which Warren is seen as more liberal than Clinton.

A major meeting with liberal donors that deliberately snubs Hillary Clinton? That can’t be good for the aura of inevitability she has been trying  to culture. But whom did they invite instead? Why Elizabeth Warren of course.

Which brings up the next Poltico story today:

Senate Democrats are enlisting progressive firebrand Elizabeth Warren to be a member of their leadership team, likely to serve as a liaison to liberal groups.

Harry Reid, the incoming Senate minority leader, is engaged in private talks with the Massachusetts freshman to create a special leadership post for the former Harvard professor, according to several people familiar with the matter.

In the new position, Warren is expected to serve as a go between to liberal groups to ensure their voice is part of the leadership’s private deliberations, a source said. She would be part of the messaging and policy team.

Warren’s star is rising in the Senate with the help of Harry Reid.  She’s only been in the chamber for less than two years, and here she is being considered for a leadership position.

It’s doubtful that Senator Reid is doing anybody any favors. He, the master politician, is trying to stave off any rebellion against him for Senate Democratic Leader after the disastrous midterms. If that means elevating Ms. Warren at a time when the Clintons would prefer her kept out of the limelight, so be it. Numero Uno comes first.

Perhaps Mrs. Clinton road to the 2016 nomination isn’t going to be as smooth as once thought.

by @ 11:10 am. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton

November 3, 2014

Can Democrats Win Without the Middle Class?

Eight years ago, in the wake of the Republican loss of both the House and the Senate in November of 2006, I penned a piece comparing the exit polls from the 2006 midterms with those from the 2004 general election in order to discover just which voters had abandoned Republicans and ended their 12 year reign on Capitol Hill. In so doing, I discovered that Republicans had garnered disproportionate losses among middle income and upper middle income white male voters in suburban and exurban communities. While the GOP had held its own among its truest believers — the very ideological and very religious — the regular Republicans, who just wanted their taxes to remain low, their communities to remain secure, and who otherwise wanted to be left alone, had stayed at home or voted Democratic during that election, giving Congress to the Democrats.

Now, Republicans are almost assuredly about to take back the Senate, capturing control of both houses of Congress for the first time since their loss of the same in 2006. This begs the question as to which voters have decided to part company with the Democrats, at least for now, in order to give the GOP another bite at the apple.

My prediction is that the voters that Democrats will lose tomorrow night will largely be middle class and lower middle class white voters, who have little in common with a Democratic Party that has placed kitchen table issues on the back burner in order to focus on a proactive cultural agenda that would make Lena Dunham swoon. Just as Republicans need those regular voters who don’t care much about politics, but who do have a basically Republican world view, to come out to the polls and form the meat in the middle of the Republican Party, so do Democrats need lunch bucket voters to support them at the polling place if they are to retain control of the nation’s levers of government. Without the lunch bucket Democrats, the party will still win the vote of urban white women in their 20s, and dyed in the wool progressives, but that will not a majority make.

President Obama and the Democratic establishment’s midterm election strategy seems to be to turn out as many Democratic base voters as possible, while ignoring the casual Democrats who have always been needed for any long-standing majority. The War on Women is back, but in a sloppier, campy, almost unintentionally comical way in some races. The establishment winks and nods about immigration reform after the election, and implies that those who support Ebola quarantines have a nefarious racial motive, hoping to up turnout among voting blocs of traditionally under-represented minorities. But this kind of cultural campaign ignores the kitchen table issues that middle class voters who have been inclined to support the Democrats in recent elections want to hear about.

Many such voters have seen ObamaCare destroy their state budgets and lead to changes in their health plans or cuts to other programs they care about, such as state pensions or education. These voters have been hesitant to embrace Republicans until late in the game, hence the number of late-breaking races for the GOP. And many will likely choose to stay home, perhaps exacerbating the “missing white voters” issue from 2012. But the reality is that if and when Democrats lose tomorrow night, they will likely do so because they have ignored the concerns of the broader middle class that they so often claim to speak for and represent.

by @ 8:43 pm. Filed under 2014, Democrats

October 26, 2014

What Could Happen If There Is A Wave

I am writing this BEFORE the votes are counted on election day; in fact, I am writing this several days beforehand. I am NOT predicting any of the outcomes discussed here; I am only suggesting what might happen if the much-discussed political “wave” does (or does not) occur on November 4.

I further want to point out that political waves come in various sizes. Furthermore, it is quite possible that there will be no true wave this cycle, only an election in which the party holding the White House loses some seats in the U.S. house and senate.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, there IS a wave.

If there is a wave, its intensity and impact will depend on how emotionally motivated significant numbers of voters, most of them independents or non-party-affiliated, are on election day. This general group usually make up most of the so-called undecided voters, especially those who make up their minds at the very end of the campaign, and then go to the polls.

At this late date, it is very difficult to imagine a scenario in which “wave” voters would turn to Democratic candidates. If there is a wave in 2014, it will be most likely a conservative and/or anti-Obama wave.

Currently, not taking into account a wave, there is a general consensus that Republicans will pick up 5-7 U.S. senate seats, 5-10 U.S. house seats, and that Democrats will gain a net of 3-4 governorships. That would be a decent night for the conservative party, but no wave. If the Democrats can hold GOP gains in the senate to five or less, it would actually be a relatively good night for the Democrats.

A true “wave,” in my opinion, would require many more undecided voters to vote Republican, and many Democrats to stay home. A true wave would produce a net gain of 8-10 Republican senators, 11-15 Republican house members, and close to a draw in net new governors. A “tsunami” wave, on the other hand, would bring in 11-15 new GOP senators, 16-25 new GOP house members, and the surprise of some net gain in GOP governors.

The “tsunami” scenario in 2014 seems unlikely with about one week to go, but a more modest “wave” does not. Considering the Democratic advantages of cash and their get-out-the-effort, a more modest “traditional” mid-term election with only some congressional gains for the GOP, and Democrats picking a small number of governorships is also quite possible.

I want to repeat what I have said now for many months. Any kind of true wave, moderate or heavy, does not appear visible until either just before election day, or when the vote is counted. Waves are almost always late-breaking. Not only that, waves can peak too soon or, as in the 1968 presidential election, not reach their peak in time for the actual voting. (“President” Hubert Humphrey knew a lot about that scenario!)

This discussion is obviously speculative. Even with only days to go before election day, the dimensions of the 2014 cycle are unclear. Waves are relatively rare electoral occurrences. When they do happen, however, and especially when they are passionate expressions of the voters, they often bring big surprises and great shock in their wake.

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

by @ 1:34 pm. Filed under 2014, Democrats, Predictions, Republican Party

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

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