May 9, 2014

The Emerging Tone Of The 2014 Midterm Elections

I noted a few months ago that it appeared that the Republican Party and its grass roots were indicating they wanted to win the 2014 national midterm elections decisively with their best candidates for competitive U.S. house and senate seats.

Tuesday’s primaries in North Carolina reinforces my initial observations. Most notably, North Carolina state house Speaker Thom Tillis won enough votes to become the GOP nominee without going to a runoff. Tillis had been opposed in the primary by two so-called Tea Party protest candidates, and as they have done in recent elections, Democratic Party strategists spent money against him hoping it would elect one of the protest candidates (who would of course be easier to beat in November). Democrats did this successfully in races in 2010 and 2012, most notably in Missouri where they spent more than $1 million to defeat a strong GOP senate candidate, The result was a weak and gaffe-prone Republican senate nominee who lost in November to an otherwise vulnerable Democratic incumbent.

(There has been, incidentally, little media discussion of the political ethics of one party interfering and intruding in the candidate selection process of the other party. This has been particularly true of the biased so-called “mainstream” media, which in fact have mostly cheered this practice on, resulting in the success of their preferred candidates. After two cycles of this, however, the Republican electorate has evidently caught on to the mischief, as North Carolina and other primaries have demonstrated. Led by Harry Reid in competitive senate races, the practice continues, but it is now likely to turn out to be mostly a waste of campaign dollars that might be more needed in November. Doing this is not illegal, of course, but it might be interesting to see how loudly Democrats and their media friends complain if Republican strategists resorted to the same practice in future elections.)

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who led the fight to block Mr. Tillis’s primary win in North Carolina by campaigning for an obviously flawed Tea Party candidate, then did the right thing by immediately and strongly endorsing Tillis on primary night. Mr. Paul, who is emerging as a serious contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, hopefully learned an important lesson from this experience, especially as he has been reaching out beyond his libertarian base to gain support for 2016. As Governor Chris Christie learned in 2012 when he “embraced” Barack Obama in the closing days of that campaign, a certain party loyalty is necessary if one expects then to obtain party support for oneself. (It will be interesting to observe how Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, another GOP protest figure with national ambitions, will conduct himself during the rest of the 2014 campaign.)

As I have pointed out repeatedly, the Tea Party movement was born as a legitimate economic protest by conservative voters, most of whom were Republicans, but also included many disaffected  independents and some centrist Democrats. As their numbers grew, and their success, social issue factions began to dominate, especially in candidate selection, and the “Tea Party” brand began to acquire a negative image in Republican Party circles that were trying to win elections. Most of the grass roots Tea Party members by 2014 seem to have now rejoined the party, but some social issue partisans remain to create intraparty challenges.

More contests with intraparty challenges lie ahead, most notably in Georgia, Kentucky, Alaska and Iowa. In these races so far, the strongest GOP candidates appear to be ahead, although surprises can yet happen. On the Democratic side, the left wing of the party appears to be stirring, especially against the prospects of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee in 2016, but so far Democrats are not indulging in intraparty fights against their own U.S. house and senate candidates. Democrats, to their advantage, avoided these squabbles in 2010 and 2012, and reaped rewards for their self-discipline.

Public opposition to Obamacare remains the largest issue of 2014 so far, but other issues are emerging, including President Obama’s stubborn refusal to permit the construction of the Keystone pipeline to please a few rich supporters (but not his union friends), and some pocketbook issues such as a sluggish economy and raising the minimum wage.

Although foreign policy issues very rarely affect midterm elections, the constant headlines featuring Russian aggressiveness in Ukraine, Chinese aggressiveness in Asia, North Korean provocations, and bestial murder and kidnapping by warlords in Africa, to name only the most prominent, could have an affect on voters, especially if they want to protest Mr. Obama’s foreign policy.

The curious advice by administration supporters and some Democratic strategists for candidates to “double down” by supporting unpopular and controversial Obama policies so far does not seem to be working for most of these vulnerable Democratic candidates. Those who early on have tried to separate themselves from Washington, DC seem to be having the most success. In the U.S. senate, now controlled by the Democrats, majority leader Harry Reid is becoming more and more erratic in his speeches and public comments, and thus further enabling the 2014 election to be nationalized, something which in this cycle clearly helps the Republicans.

With six months to go, and a potential electoral catastrophe for the Democrats approaching, it would seem only a matter of time before Mr. Reid, Mrs, Pelosi and other liberal hardliners are superseded or abandoned by cooler heads in their party who still want to win.

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

by @ 8:48 am. Filed under 2014, Campaign Issues, Conservatism, Rand Paul, Republican Party, Tea Parties, Ted Cruz

April 2, 2013

How Many Republican Parties Are There? A Very Simple Answer.

Many commentators have been suggesting recently that the Republican Party is actually two parties. The problem with this analysis is that there are so many different suggested pairs of the Party’s identity.

Some say the GOP is split between Tea Party devotees and establishment conservatives.  Others say the division is between social conservatives and economic  conservatives. Still others see the two groups as rural Republicans and urban/suburban Republicans. Some analyze the GOP as differing by regions (in which case there are four parties). There are those who say that today’s GOP is divided between rich voters and blue collar (“Reagan Republican”) voters.  One more theory has it that the major difference is between young Republicans and older Republicans.

There is some truth to each of these analyses, and if this is so, there are more than a dozen overlapping large factions in the Republican Party, and that does not further divide GOP voters by specific issues (in which case there are almost a hundred identifiable factions).

With so many factions and so many divisions, how will it be possible for the American conservative party to win a national election?

I suggest that as long as the various elected officials, spokespersons, radio hosts, TV personalities and political consultants emphasize, screamt, focus on exclusively, and obsess about their differences, and insist on them, they are very unlikely to win back control of both bodies of the Congress, and later, the White House.

The best way to win elections is for a political party to figure what its members agree about.

A political party that does not want to win elections is not fit to govern, no matter what their written or stated policy principles.

Winning isn’t everything, differing opinions always exist in any group. but not winning is not governing.

It’s that simple.

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

by @ 10:46 am. Filed under 2014, 2016, Republican Party, Tea Parties

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 6, 2012

The Irony of Romney’s Support

Republicans, at least to some rather large degree, were hopeful of a Romney candidacy because of one key aspect: the appeal to independents. A Romney candidacy was a chance to rebrand the GOP, after the stereotype of Republicans as unintelligent southern hicks culminated in the Bush 43 presidency. Independents, the theory went, would not be afraid or ashamed to support the GOP any longer.

Well, here we are less than a month away from the 2012 election, and… the theory was proven correct. Perhaps even more correct than anyone could have hoped, actually. Political nerds who read past the topline results have long commented on Romney’s standing with independents throughout the last six months or so. In fact, he is doing extraordinarily well with them.

For comparison sake, in 2008 Obama won independent voters by an eight-point margin over John McCain. In 2004, George W. Bush and John Kerry essentially tied among independents, with Kerry having a slight edge. This year, Romney has consistently, on a national level, held an average of around a 5-point lead with independents.

If that’s the case — if he is doing 13+ points better than McCain with that key voting bloc, and five to even ten points better than George W. Bush did, then why has a lead in the topline results been so difficult to come by for Governor Romney?

The answer may seem a little counter intuitive at first glance, but the problem is with Republicans.

Every Presidential candidate in modern history who has won their election has done so with the backing of around 90% of their respective party. For example, Bush pulled in 91% of Republicans in 2000 (and just 47% of independents); he upped that to 93% in 2004; Obama got just under 90% of Democratic votes in 2008.

On a national level, Romney has struggled to maintain the support of 85% of Republicans this year. That’s a losing proposition. Currently in Rasmussen, he sits at 86% of Republican support — compared to 89-90% of Democrats who support Obama. The only reason he is close to Obama is his six-point lead among independent voters (a fourteen point swing from four years ago).

In the crucial trio of swing states affectionately known as FLOHVA, it’s the same story. In Ohio, Romney leads among independents by 15%, in Virginia by 7%, and in Florida by a massive 22%. Those are ridiculously absurd numbers. If someone would have read those margins among independents to me one year ago, I would have told them Romney was headed toward a landslide of 1984 proportions.

Instead, Romney is barely ahead in Virginia and Florida, and still losing Ohio.

Why? Because he is lacking the support of Republicans. In Ohio, only 83% of Republicans are supporting Romney. In Virginia, it’s only 85%. And in Florida, just 76% of the GOP plan on voting for Romney. In each state, Romney is running well behind even John McCain, who lost all three (McCain got 92% GOP support in OH and VA and 87% in FL).

So what’s going on here? Most all of it, I suspect, can be attributed to the fact that the GOP is currently so divided into so many factions — many of whom are lukewarm toward Romney at best. Within the “tent” of Republicanism, for instance, we now house the Paulite wing and Tea Party wing of the party — and those are on top of the more historical splits between neo- and paleoconservatives, as well as between fiscal and social conservatives. In fact, the traditional divide between fiscal and social conservatives has been magnified by the Tea Party movement — a movement which began based on fiscal issues and was then hijacked by the social conservative wing of the party. The Tea Party has given voice to and amplified the debate and the divide between the two.

It’s no wonder Romney is doing so poorly among Republicans. After all, when Ronald Reagan ran on his vision (given in his now-famous 1976 CPAC speech) of uniting the various wings of the GOP together, all he had to contend with (mostly) were two groups: social and fiscal conservatives. That coalition began cracking when neo- and paleo-conservatism began splintering off with opposing views on foreign policy, and with the Paulite and Tea Party factions now gaining prominence the Republicans are now the most splintered they’ve been in over thirty years. Or perhaps ever.

So far, Romney’s lopsided victory in the first Presidential debate has done little to move the needle with his fellow Republicans. But if he’s to win in four weeks, he’s got one of two options: run up even larger and more unheard of margins with independents, or find a way to get the GOP base behind him. Because if Romney loses to Obama, at this point it appears the Republican Party would have no one to blame for the loss but themselves.

April 30, 2012

2012 Is Not Like 2008 Or Any Other Election

We pundits can’t help ourselves when we try to make analogies between current and past presidential election years. To some degree, the best analogies usually do apply. But I am coming to the conclusion, that apart from some obvious comparisons, the conventional rules of U.S. presidential elections will be largely upturned in 2012.

My reasons center around some simple facts and conditions.

President Obama was the first black president. He will thus be the first black incumbent president to run for re-election. Mr. Obama won the 2008 election primarily for two reasons. First, there was considerable “fatigue” with Republican President George W. Bush, then completing his second term. Second, only weeks before the November election, there was a meltdown in the mortgage banking sector causing an immediate economic crisis. In short, there was a conflation of circumstances which enabled Mr. Obama to win. The election was decisive, but it was no landslide.

Mitt Romney is not John McCain. Although Senator McCain was clearly a much-admired figure for his Viet Nam war experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war, and for his service in the U.S. senate, he lacked ironically the combative nature to wage a tough election campaign against Mr. Obama, There was also perhaps no viable strategy to overcome the mortgage banking crisis that appeared so close to the election; Mr. McCain’s strategy to suspend his campaign might have been one of the worst alternatives available to him.

Mitt Romney is also not John Kerry, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey or Barry Goldwater. Barack Obama is not George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon. Mr. Romney is the first Mormon to be nominated for president. Although he was a governor, he is the first nominee for president since before World War II to come from a successful self-made career in business.

Although the U.S. economy is always going through cycles of prosperity and recession, the current downturn is unusual for its length and its chronic high unemployment. Previously the world’s dominant economy, the U.S. faces historic ad unprecedented trade challenges from China, India, Brazil and the European Union. There is also a growing global economic debt crisis facing Europe and China that has made world fiscal conditions more important to individual Americans than ever before.

Changing rules and new technologies are increasingly and more rapidly altering U.S. presidential campaigns. This is especially so in the key aspect of fundraising, public relations and in identifying voters in the often under-noticed get-out-the-vote campaigns. The internet, even more than before, has changed American politics.

The congressional election cycles have gone through two unprecedented (in terms of their quick reversal) “wave”elections. In 2006 and 2008, the “wave” went to the Democrats. Abruptly, the 2010 “wave” went the other way, to the Republicans. In 2012, Republicans control the U.S. house, and Democrats control the U.S. senate. Not all candidates are known yet, and once-in-a-decade redistricting has taken place, but given the national economic conditions, and the fact that such a disproportionate number of vulnerable Democratic incumbent senators are running, the relationship between the congressional elections and the presidential campaign of the incumbent are extraordinarily, on their face, disconnected.

The influence of non-traditional political forces on a presidential campaign has, seemingly, not been greater. The Old Media, continuing its pattern from 2008, has become a mostly uncritical cheerleader for Mr. Obama. This also includes most of the figures of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. The New Media, including radio talk show hosts, Fox News (its cable viewers total more than all the other cable networks combined), and large-scale websites such as Drudge and Breitbart, have become cheerleaders for the conservative movement.

Further complicating the 2012 elections are the new populist movements of both the right (Tea Party) and the left (Occupy Movement) which have recently emerged. As these pull against the natural gravity of the political center in presidential election, they tend to upend traditional politics and politicking.

Finally, there is more political and ideological division in the nation since the 1930’s. There was perhaps as intensive political emotion in the country in the Viet Nam war period, or more, but the division was not so much between conservative and liberal as it was about the specific war issue (and it was generational).

Of course, assuming what I am contending is true about the unprecedented nature of the 2012 presidential election, the key and obvious question is:  Who does these circumstances help the most and hurt the most in their quest to be elected, or re-elected, president this year?

The answer to that will become obvious right after election day, and no one knows that answer for certain six months away, but we do have some  fascinating clues to the possible answer to this question, and I will discuss them in the weeks ahead.

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Copyright (c) 2102 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

by @ 6:09 pm. Filed under Democrats, Presidential History, Republican Party, Tea Parties

December 12, 2011

New Hampshire Tea Party Leader Endorses Mitt Romney

From the Union Leader:

MANCHESTER — Leading state Tea Party activist and long-time “ax-the-tax” advocate Tom Thomson has chosen Mitt Romney as his presidential candidate.

Thomson, honorary chairman of the conservative Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire advocacy group and co-organizer of three annual April 15 Tea Party AFP-Tea Party rallies at the New Hampshire State House, will formally endorse the former Massachusetts governor at 12:30 p.m. today at Madison Lumber Mill in West Ossipee.

A son of the anti-tax patriarch former Gov. Meldrim Thomson Jr., Thomson pre-dates the Tea Party as an outspoken fiscal conservative, but in recent years has become a Tea Party leader.

by @ 9:04 am. Filed under Endorsements, Mitt Romney, New Hampshire Primary, Tea Parties

November 12, 2011

Sharron Angle Revisited

Last year the Republicans here in Nevada choose Sharron Angle to go up against the unpopular Harry Reid. She ran perhaps one of the poorest campaigns I’ve ever seen from a major candidate for a major office . She lost

A myth has grown up from that campaign that it was all the Tea Party’s fault. If it hadn’t been for them “thrusting” Angle upon us, Harry Reid would have been toast. While it is certainly true that Sharron did have the Tea Party’s support, it was not that support that got her the nomination. It was the other candidates.

There were three top candidates for the nomination last year, Sue Lowden, Danny Tarkanian, and Sharron Angle. Sue Lowden started out on top. Tarkanian was second with Angle third. All things being equal, that is how they would have finished.

But Lowden and Tarkanian both ran very poor campaigns. Lowden kept making little amateur mistakes like using a van donated by a supporter for campaign uses. That’s a donation in kind above the legal limit, and it got her into trouble. Tarkanian’s biggest mistake was going negative almost immediately. He did little else but attack Sue Lowden. He never really gave much of a reason for anyone to actually vote for him. He only gave us reasons not to vote for Lowden. Sharron Angle, on the other hand, ran almost a perfect campaign. I can’t remember a single mistake she made during the primary.

Nevada Republicans knew that whoever got the nomination was going to have to run a tight, effective race to send Reid packing, and the only one in the primary who came close to doing that was Sharron Angle. So we selected her to be our nominee to defeat Harry Reid.

But it was not to be. Angle’s general election campaign was one mistake after another.  She never really got it together. It led me and other Nevadans to wonder exactly what happened? Did she hire Lowden’s and Tarkanian’s campaign staff to run her general campaign? Did she think that after a tough primary fight that she was just going to coast to a general election win over the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate? Did she get complacent when she kept reading polls that said she was winning easily by a minimum of five points?

I feel it safe to say that if Angle had run her primary campaign like she ran her general campaign, we would likely have had Sue Lowden as our nominee last year, not Angle. Could Lowden have defeated Harry Reid? Perhaps. She couldn’t have done much worse than Sharron Angle did. That is for certain.

(more…)

by @ 9:43 am. Filed under Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Tea Parties

October 7, 2011

Poll Watch:Pew

Pew has released their latest poll on the 2012 national race. Here are the horse race numbers with some crosstabs:

All GOP Tea Party Yes Tea Party No A Lot of Thought Less Thought
Romney 22 17 25 23 22
Perry 17 18 17 19 15
Cain 13 23 6 20 9
Paul 12 13 11 11 13
Gingrich 8 9 7 8 7
Bachmann 6 7 6 3 8
Santorum 2 3 2 2 2
Huntsman 1 1 2 2 1
Other 1 1 1 1 1
None/DK 17 9 23 11 21

(more…)

September 18, 2011

Race42012 Polling Averages and Line Chart – September 18, 2011

2012 Republican Presidential Nomination

Poll Average CBS / NYT Bloomberg PPP CNN ABC / WaPo NBC / WSJ Politico / GWU Battleground FOX News
Date 8/27 – 9/12 9/10 – 9/15 9/9 – 9/12 9/8 – 9/11 9/9 – 9/11 8/29 – 9/1 8/27 – 8/31 8/28 – 8/31 8/29 – 8/31
Perry 29.88 23 26 31 30 29 38 36 26
Romney 19.38 16 22 18 18 23 23 17 18
Paul 8.75 5 8 11 12 8 9 10 7
Bachmann 7.13 7 9 9 4 6 8 10 4
Gingrich 5.38 7 4 10 5 4 5 5 3
Cain 4.75 5 4 8 5 3 5 4 4
Santorum 2.50 1 2 2 2 2 3 5 3
Huntsman 1.38 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 1
Johnson 1.00 1
McCotter 0.50 0.5

It’s probably the case that Rick Perry has peaked.  How hard and fast his star will fall depends on how well he maintains himself from here on out.  By staying aloof but substantive, Perry could manage to level off a few points ahead of Romney.  It might be wise for Perry, at this point, to completely ignore his Republican competitors and launch an all-out offensive against Obama, trying to convey himself as the best general election choice.  I’ve been surprised at how quickly Romney went into attack mode against Perry, and kind of disappointed at the weakness of some of Romney’s anti-Perry arguments (Criticizing the “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme” comment in this Tea Party day and age?  Really?  Does Romney not know that most of the conservative base these days agrees with Perry on this?).

In any case, I think it would also be wisest for Romney to ignore Perry, focus on Obama, and just wait for Perry to trip up (Perry’s debate performances have, after all, been horribly painful to watch–I can almost see the gears in his brain struggling to turn during those long, awkward pauses).  History favors a Romney nomination anyway.

Bachmann seems to be leveling, after most of the star dust from her first debate performance was shaken loose by several weeks of attacks by Democrats and startled Republican competitors.  Gingrich’s “be everybody’s friend but the media’s” strategy also seems to be paying a little bit of dividend, as his slide into single digits has halted, and he has seen a slight uptick in support over the past couple weeks.

Meanwhile, Huntsman’s failure to gain polling traction is becoming so worrisome that some news sources have pointed out he’s actually risking missing the cut for some of the upcoming debates.  Johnson, on the other hand, after being inexplicably removed from CNN’s polls (right after tying with Cain and doubling Santorum/Huntsman’s support) can look forward to being added to PPP’s polling to replace Sarah Palin, for whom the window to enter has all but passed.

September 5, 2011

Why Romney May Not Win the Nomination

Mitt Romney’s speech at a Tea Party Express event in Concord, New Hampshire, may have provided a telling illustration of the fundamental political dynamics that may prevent him from fighting off Rick Perry for the Republican nomination:

If former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in search of elusive tea party mojo, he didn’t find it here at a small Tea Party Express rally, where a few dozen conservatives sat in lawn chairs and argued about Romney’s conservative bona fides.

…Romney’s supporters couldn’t have been more out of place at an event festooned with characters such as former Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle and the blunt symbols of the tea party movement — images of one stick figure shooting another under the heading “socialism” and of an automatic weapon with the legend, “Come and Get It.”

Romney’s supporters hail from a different Republican Party, said Bill Gordon, a retired software engineer from Lowden, who dressed his poodle in a blue Romney shirt.

“I want somebody’s who’s in the center who can pull people together from both sides,” he said. “We’ll tear this country apart if we swing all the way the other way — we already swung all the way left.”

The event reflected some tension inside the tea party movement, with the Tea Party Express — a PAC organized by a California GOP consultant — taking heat from other local groups over the decision to allow Romney to speak to the group.

“He’s all right,” said Tom Homer, a tea party member and retired postal worker who was among the few who hadn’t come to the rally with fixed views on Romney. “But yet, he’s Establishment.”

Despite early polls that showed Romney drawing a majority of the Tea Party’s support (which presumably came about because of his high name recognition), the activists that comprise the Tea Party and the Republican base simply may not view Mitt as “one of them”. The last quote in the above excerpt demonstrates this.

Many in the Tea Party don’t seem to believe that Romney understands their concerns and frustrations with the current state of American politics. They feel shut out by both political parties (hence, the frequent criticisms of the Republican establishment). They also fear Romney may pay lip service to their desire to drastically reduce the size and scope of the government but then simply continue the status quo if he becomes President. Stated differently, they feel he doesn’t reciprocate their intense, visceral outrage with Washington.

Perry, on the other hand, survived his recent re-election battle and has emerged as the new frontrunner specifically because he has mastered the art of speaking the Tea Party’s language. And that simple reality may end up propelling him to the Republican nomination.

by @ 12:31 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads, Republican Party, Rick Perry, Tea Parties

September 3, 2011

Romney to Make Himself the Tea Party Candidate?

Mitt Romney’s campaign, which had heretofore made a point of steering clear of Tea Partiers, seems to have finally decided to try to tap into the movement.  The Daily Caller reports that Mitt Romney has asked to participate in the Tea Party Express bus tour as it rolls through New Hampshire during the Labor Day weekend.  Seems Rick Perry’s rise has jolted the Romney campaign into taking a slightly different strategy.  The only other candidates to have participated in the Tea Party Express tour are Michele Bachmann and Gary Johnson.

by @ 3:45 am. Filed under Gary Johnson, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Tea Parties

August 21, 2011

Our New and Improved Political Discourse

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has apparently ignored the advice of our fearless Commander-in-Chief to employ “civility” in our politics:

“I’m not afraid of anybody,” the California congresswoman told constituents in footage that appeared on ABC affiliate KABC in Los Angeles, not backing down from comments made about President Obama earlier in the week. “This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned — the tea party can go straight to hell.”

Of course, the entirely objective mainstream media will overlook this example of hypocrisy in the Democratic Party. After all, only the Tea Party bears the guilt of devolving the public debate into anger, discord, and disrespect.

by @ 12:46 pm. Filed under Democrats, Tea Parties

August 4, 2011

Path Dependence and Structural Reform: a Response to “Democracy in Decline”.

It seems as though nobody, on the left or the right, is even remotely happy with the recent debt deal. Liberals bemoan the spending cuts and lack of new tax revenue, and throw around terms like “terrorists” and “nuclear blackmail” to describe the negotiating tactics of Tea Partiers. On the other hand, many in the tea parties, and more broadly on the right, bemoan the fact that the current debt deal does not do anything to fix the serious, structural deficiencies which cause the debt in the first place, and site the desperate need for entitlement reform as an example of this. Some have even analyzed the crisis as an example of “democracy in decline”, in which political gamesmanship and cultural dog-whistling has taken the place of actually fixing the problem. I am actually a lot more sanguine about the debt deal than many of my conservative colleagues, and I think that those who believe government spending and entitlements need to be permanently inviolate, and that tax increases on the wealthy can close the debt loophole, do have reason to worry. Most of my optimism comes from what my political science background has taught me about institutions. There are two critical lessons: institutions are almost impossible to change accept at very specific points, and the culture and assumptions of those who make the changes will help shape the new institutions which are created, and which will, in turn, become equally difficult to change.

To understand this argument, you need to know something about the theory of “path dependence”. Economists began noticing, a few decades ago, that the free market does not always lead to the most efficient choice, where consumer behavior is concerned. Economists site the development of the qwerty keyboard, as compared to one in which key placement would better reflect typing habits, and the triumph of VHS over beta as examples of this phenomenon. These economists postulate that, once a standard is established, it becomes progressively more difficult to change that standard, as more and more people become invested in it. Political scientist Paul Pearson applied this insight–with a great deal of success–to political institutions. Pearson found that, in highly institutionalized democracies like our own, institutions are constructed as a result of specific political circumstances at the time of their creation. Long after those circumstances have changed, at which point a different institutional configuration might be considerably more efficient, stakeholder interest in the institution has grown, to the point that change becomes difficult to impossible. Only a deep and serious institutional crisis–what Pearson calls a “critical juncture”– truly gives policy-makers the opportunity to remodel institutions. When they do so, they will (usually) bring their momentary political considerations into the process with them, which will shape the institution long after circumstances have changed.

Based on this theory of institutions, I think I can draw a couple of conclusions about the current fights over debt and entitlement reform. First, we have not reached a “critical juncture”, at which large-scale institutional reform is possible. Popular resistance to the Ryan plan, and the timidity of all political parties vis-a-vis entitlement reform, tells me we’re still at a point where institutional durability–particularly in the minds of the public the institutions serve–trumps oncoming crisis. If anything, path dependence theory tells me that the American public won’t be ready for institutional reform of entitlements until a crisis is either upon us, or so close that the public at large recognizes it’s inevitability. The Ryan plan, then, is genuinely ahead of it’s time, by 4 to 10 years in my estimation. Second, upcoming elections really could be critical in the long-term. The ideological make-up of our political decision-makers at the moment when a critical juncture finally allows for institutional reform is going to be absolutely pivotal in determining the kind of new institutions we get moving forward. This entitlement critical juncture could be a literal once in a lifetime opportunity to remake and limit government. Third, the importance of the debt deal is not that it fixes the problem–a problem that is inherently structural can’t be fixed until the brokenness of the structure is inescapably revealed–but rather in that it sets a new normative precedent. According to this precedent, cutting government, rather than increasing taxes,  is the new appropriate response to a debt crisis. This is not to say that current tax rates are inviolate and will never increase; such a notion would be foolish and ahistorical. Rather, it implies that the new political default is shrinking government. Ardent fiscal conservatives may be right in arguing that the cuts in the compromise bill are laughably small given the scope of the problem we face, but, perhaps for the first time in living memory, serious cuts in the size and scope of government are on the table. Put differently, if the question when we do eventually reach a critical juncture and can reform institutions is where and how to shrink government rather than where and how we can expand it, and if this debt deal contributes substantially to that understanding, we may have a lot more to thank house and senate Republicans for than a few small spending cuts, when all is said and done.

There is one final point worth making. The debt deal is not, by any stretch, a failure of democracy, but a necessary side effect of having strong institutions. It has nothing to do with a young-old divide, the timidity of house Republicans, or any other aspersion you’d like to cast. The plain fact of the matter is that institutional reform is very nearly impossible most of the time, and very difficult to get right in the narrow window one has in which to do it, before the new pattern hardens. It’s also worth noting that most societies have a very deep strain of institutional conservatism, which views askance any attempt to tamper with institutions that have existed for a very long time. Only the abject failure of such institutions will lead to a widespread understanding that reform is necessary. On the whole, such institutional conservatism is probably a good thing: “don’t fiddle with what works” may not be a glorious utopian principal which satisfies every fine point of conservative ideology, but eight times out of ten, it’ll be sufficient to keep the mechanisms of society running. Unfortunately, it appears that our current situation is one of the two times in ten that institutional conservatism is more of a hindrance than a help. The key for those conservative Republicans who oddly find themselves cast in a reformist role will be to recognize the critical juncture when it arrives, and to capitalize on the widespread support for reform to refashion a government that will function until the next eventual crisis, seventy or eighty years down the road. And for those Democrats who are counting on defense of the institutional status quo to preserve their short-term political advantage, be warned that, when institutions do change, there is little chance of going back.

Post-script: These institutional arguments have a lot of relevance to Obamacare as well. The hope of conservatives is that Obamacare can be repealed and replaced. This may be possible, but will have to happen quickly, before the institution hardens into permanence. By contrast, most progressives hope that, eventually, this system can be transitioned into a single-payer system. They should read very carefully what I have said above regarding institutional reform. I think it is highly unlikely that, if Obamacare is firmly established, either side will be able to budge it significantly in the direction they would prefer. Once established, the actual structural institutions Obamacare creates will be hard to change or abolish for a very long time. This is yet another reason why elections–and the 2012 elections in particular– matter a great deal.

by @ 12:03 pm. Filed under Misc., Tea Parties

August 1, 2011

The Coming Perry-Giuliani-Palin Alliance?

When Rick Perry gives his speech announcing he is running for President in late August, try picturing a scene that includes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin flanking him on stage in support of his candidacy.

According to the latest rumors from GOP circles, that scene (or something like it) could become a reality – much to the consternation of every other already-announced Republican candidate. Such an alliance would symbolically bind together disparate factions of a splintered Republican Party, giving Tea Party members, “establishment” members, and moderates a single candidate to unite behind.

It would undoubtedly make Rick Perry the candidate to beat for the Republican nomination, leapfrogging ahead of Mitt Romney for the position of front runner.

How plausible is it? The fact that it has Republicans talking as much as they are (either in excitement or dread) says something already. But consider: the friendship between Perry and Giuliani is well documented; the friendship between Perry and Palin, if not as well known, is just as well documented. Palin and Perry have served together on oil and energy panels and respected one another as Governors. After George H.W. Bush endorsed Hutchinson in the Texas Gubernatorial primary in 2010, Palin jumped in and endorsed Perry, campaigning and making appearances for him. The two have been political allies for some years, and it seems that they are personal friends as well.

The linchpin in this political motley crew is Perry, which is why it makes sense for him to be the one to run. Giuliani may not be able to count on Palin’s support, and vice-versa. But with a Perry candidacy, the trio stands united. Giuliani and Palin get to play the roles of kingmakers and keep their public personas in the spotlight (and their favorability ratings unsullied) as they campaign for Perry.

And Rick Perry gets to step in as the one who unites and saves a splintered and fragmented party.

The extent to which this move is being thought about or is already being planned differs depending on the rumor being heard. The way some tell it, Sarah Palin has (wisely) recognized her own inability to win, and the damage it would cause her brand if she were to lose. Giuliani burns with a desire to stop Mitt Romney from being the party’s nominee because of the rough 2008 primary campaign – and he recognizes the best way to end Romney’s bid isn’t to run himself, but to get behind a strong Perry candidacy. (Other versions of the rumors have Giuliani entering the race as well, but with the sole purpose of bringing Romney down in New Hampshire.) Giuliani also has the desire to remain active in politics at some level, and would love having some sort of power in Washington.

And so the three have been having behind-the-scenes discussions regarding a Perry candidacy with support from Giuliani and Palin. They may or may not be discussing positions in a future Perry administration. They may or may not be working out the details of campaign appearances. But all the rumors say they are at a minimum exploring the possibility, either formally or informally, of such a united campaign.

It may not happen during Perry’s announcement speech. The two high-powered endorsements may come later in the campaign if they perceive a more opportune time to take advantage of their star power down the road. Regardless, having Giuliani and Palin in his corner makes Rick Perry a very, very dangerous candidate in these Republican primaries. And this may be just the plot twist this primary narrative has been thirsting for.

July 29, 2011

Debt Ceiling Debate Open Thread

Throwing this up here so we don’t have to thread jack posts about Rick Perry or Tim Pawlenty in order to discuss this incredibly important issue…

As Jim Geraghty notes in his excellent daily Morning Jolt (if you aren’t signed up to receive it, go do it now) today, the debt ceiling debate is causing a remarkable Republican Civil War — even a Conservative Civil War. He likens it, amusingly and appropriately, to a comic book civil war:

No, this is messy, with lots of longtime allies and friends surprised to find themselves in opposition. This is the conservative version of the Marvel Civil War, a comic-book storyline in which all of the publisher’s most prominent heroes took sides on the institution of a “Super Hero Registration Act,” in which any person in the United States with superhuman abilities had to register with the federal government as a “human weapon of mass destruction,” reveal his true identity to the authorities, and undergo proper training. Those who signed also had the option of working for a government agency, earning a salary and benefits such as those earned by other American civil servants.

Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four supported the act. Captain America and Daredevil opposed it. And the storyline tossed away the familiar story of heroes’ fighting villains to the surprising, unpredictable, and incongruous sight of popular, noble heroes’ fighting other popular, noble heroes — each convinced that his view is the right one and the best way to protect his values.

Geraghty points out that this issue has pitted Rush Limbaugh vs. Thomas Sowell; Sean Hannity vs. Ann Coulter; and Pat Caddell vs. Hugh Hewitt. Count this blogger as surprised that I would ever see the day that Ann Coulter is trying to talk sense into Sean Hannity. I would also add to the list of brothers against brothers the Grover Norquist vs. Club For Growth showdown. This issue is dividing us like nothing I’ve seen in my lifetime, especially not in my 13 years of following politics.

My general thoughts (and they are mine – in no way representative of this site or any other front page posters, who are welcome to post their own thoughts) are this: the Tea Party – and candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann – are on the verge of costing us every opportunity to win in 2012. After already defeating our chances at taking over the Senate in 2010 with self-inflicted wounds like Angle, O’Donnell, Miller, and Buck, the Tea Partiers seem hellbent on relegating our chances to retake the White House next year to the trash heap as well.

If these negotiations (whatever level they still exist) in the House and Senate fall apart, Obama will point to the Republican Party and say, “They did nothing. All I wanted was a balanced approach. A compromise. And all they wanted was to lift up their unrealistic extremist principles. And the horrible economy that resulted is their fault.”

The American people will buy it hook, line, and sinker, and Obama will be re-elected overwhelmingly in 2012. We will squander the number one line of attack we have against Obama going into 2012: the economy.

All because of… what, exactly? What is so horrid about the Boehner plan, which was crafted in the face of intense Democratic opposition in the Senate and the White House? It gives conservatives $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. That is huge. It also gives conservatives a vote on a balances budget amendment. Also huge. In return, it raises the debt ceiling by $1 trillion. Of particular note is what is not included in the bill: tax increases. Gone. Something that was unthinkable a few weeks ago.

And so this plan appears to me to be a fantastic compromise. But there are those, sadly, for whom “compromise” is a dirty word.

Refusing to back the Boehner plan because it doesn’t include a balanced budget amendment in the actual bill (like Tim Pawlenty) – is a ridiculous reason to hold the process hostage. You’ll get your BBA vote; the legislation requires it. Personally, I think holding a vote at a later date would be more beneficial anyhow, because it gives the American people time to work their Congressmen and women and express our desire for a BBA.

On the other hand, refusing to back the Boehner plan because it raises the debt ceiling at all (like Michele Bachmann) is pure, childish foolishness. The debt ceiling is going to be raised because the debt ceiling has to be raised. The adults in the room entered this debate understanding that, and determined to get what we could in return for raising the ceiling. The Boehner plan would most likely pass and be signed by Obama — yes, I realize that Obama said he would veto it, but let’s be honest: it’s the only serious plan being considered that could pass before August 2. Obama will be pressured into signing it, all the while declaring that he didn’t really like it but it was all Congress could give him. And when America hears about the Boehner plan being passed by Reid and signed by Obama, guess what they will hear? A Republican came up with a plan to end the stalemate. The Republicans saved the day with their plan, when the President never had one.

The fact that non-candidates like Sarah Palin threaten the new members of Congress over this, and that candidates such as Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann give them cover to oppose the Boehner plan, is simply despicable to me.

Reports are that many Republican Congressmen weren’t actually opposed to the bill last night, but that they simply requested a night to sleep on it and mull it over. I’m hoping against hope that they wake up this morning and realize there are two paths before them now: one, pass the Boehner plan and become the saviors of the debt talks; two, defeat the Boehner plan and essentially give Obama the White House for four more years. If the Boehner bill goes down in defeat, this Civil War may be one that the GOP does not recover from for a very long time.

by @ 8:57 am. Filed under Misc., Republican Party, Spending, Tea Parties

June 22, 2011

Bringing the Perry Balloon Back Down to Earth

Never thought I’d be saying this: Alex Jones injects a little sanity into the Rick Perry lovefest that’s been sweeping the conservative political class recently.  Jones’s website recently brought to light a long list of facts about Perry’s tenure as Governor that should give conservatives and Tea Partiers pause before hailing Perry as a “Southern-fried Reagan”.

Several of the bullet points have to do with conspiracy theories regarding the “NAFTA Superhighway” or the Bilderberg conference — I’m not going to bother listing those — but the other bullet points are issues that Perry may have trouble responding to, if he wants to present himself as the GOP’s savior in 2012:

  • “When Rick Perry became the governor of Texas in 2000, the total spending by the Texas state government was approximately $49 billion.  Ten years later it was approximately $90 billion.”
  • “The debt of the state of Texas is out of control.  According to usdebtclock.org, the debt to GDP ratio in Texas is 22.9% and the debt per citizen is $10,645.  In California (a total financial basket case), the debt to GDP ratio is just 18.7% and the debt per citizen is only $9932.”
  • “The total debt of the Texas government has more than doubled since Rick Perry became governor.”
  • “Rick Perry has repeatedly raised taxes and fees while he has been governor.  Today, Texans are faced with significantly higher taxes and fees than they were before Rick Perry was elected.”
  • “Even with the oil boom in Texas, 23 states have a lower unemployment rate than Texas does.”
  • “Back in 1988, Rick Perry supported Al Gore for president.  In fact, Rick Perry actually served as Al Gore’s campaign chairman in the state of Texas that year.”
  • “Between December 2007 and April 2011, weekly wages in the U.S. increased by about 5 percent.  In the state of Texas they increased by just 0.6% over that same time period.”
  • “Texas now has one of the worst education systems in the nation.  The following is from an opinion piece that was actually authored by Barbara Bush earlier this year….

• We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma.

• We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.

• We rank 33rd in the nation on teacher salaries.”

  • “Texas has the highest percentage of workers making minimum wage out of all 50 states.”
  • “In 2007, 221,000 residents of Texas were making minimum wage or less.  By 2010, that number had risen to 550,000.”
  • “Rick Perry actually issued an executive order in 2007 that would have forced almost every single girl in the state of Texas to receive the Gardasil vaccine before entering the sixth grade.  Perry would have put parents in a position where they would have had to fill out an application and beg the government not to inject their child with an untested and unproven vaccine. Since then, very serious safety issues regarding this vaccine have come to light.  Fortunately, lawmakers in Texas blocked what Perry was trying to do.  According to Wikipedia, many were troubled when ‘apparent financial connections between Merck and Perry were reported by news outlets, such as a $6,000 campaign contribution and Merck’s hiring of former Perry Chief of Staff Mike Toomey to handle its Texas lobbying work.'”

Given the fact that this general election will undoubtedly be first and foremost about the lagging economy, is Rick Perry really the best person to take up our banner in this regard?

by @ 12:22 am. Filed under 2012 Misc., Republican Party, Rick Perry, Spending, Tea Parties

May 31, 2011

FreedomWorks v. Romney

With the slow news days we’ve recently had, I wanted to pass along an article I came across in HuffPo (yes, I know, many will categorically dismiss the story because of the source). FreedomWorks, the national Tea Party organization headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, apparently doesn’t think too highly of Gov. Romney:

Interviews with top officials at FreedomWorks, a Washington-based organizing hub for Tea Party activists around the country, revealed that much of their thinking about the 2012 election revolves around derailing the former Massachusetts governor.

“Romney has a record and we don’t really like it that much,” said Adam Brandon, the group’s communications director.

…The group knows they cannot impose their will on the fiercely independent conservative organizers fueling the Tea Party. But they say the activist base is just as anti-Romney as they are.

…Brendan Steinhauser, who travels around the country meeting with activists as FreedomWorks’ top liaison to the grassroots, said most people he talks to are “definitely trying to stop Romney.”

“I don’t think I’ve met any groups or any local activists that like him or want him to be president,” Steinhauser said. “They just don’t believe he’s authentic. That’s the biggest problem in addition to the health care thing.”

…FreedomWorks is not currently leaning in any one candidate’s direction, though Pawlenty’s was mentioned as having the best shot to beat Romney and win the general election.

The article proceeds to analyze FreedomWorks’ clout compared to other Tea Party organizations. The information provided here clashes with some polling data we’ve seen, which have ranked Romney at or near the top of Tea Partiers’ lists of preferred candidates.

Will the Tea Parties ever bring themselves to back Pawlenty – a candidate whose rhetorical stylings and personality contrast with what they hope to see in Republican candidates (see: Scott, Rick; O’Donnell, Christine; and Paul, Rand)? If so, T-Paw will find himself in a rather comfortable position.

by @ 9:12 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads, Tea Parties, Tim Pawlenty

May 25, 2011

Ron Paul’s Voter Outreach Operation

Yes, you read that right. The candidate who often gets chided for valuing ideological purity over party building apparently has a strategy to expand his support base in Iowa:

Three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul is courting Iowa Republicans who backed former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. Huckabee announced earlier this month that he would not run again in 2012.

“I think that opens up the door for us because he is one that stood for family values and it’s something that we’ve been pushing real hard,” Paul said Monday during a news conference in Ankeny. “And I think there’s a chance that we will be able to capture a lot of those votes.”

The article proceeds to explain how Paul, obviously a libertarian-minded candidate, has turned to an unlikely issue to appeal to former Huckabee supporters: gay marriage.

Now, at first glance, Paul and Huckabee may appear to mix like oil and water, but polling data has actually suggested that the Congressman would see a greater relative increase in support in Iowa than any other candidate if the Governor opted against a 2012 run.

One factor could throw a wrench in Paul’s plans, however: the entrance of Sarah Palin. Should she jump into the race, she would most likely draw a considerable amount of Huckabee’s Tea Party support – voters who would probably take a favorable view toward Paul’s candidacy.

Stay tuned on this one, folks. This story could definitely turn some heads.

April 20, 2011

Marist Poll Watch: Obama in Trouble

Marist has released the full results of the poll they announced yesterday. It does not look good for Obama.

First the question, “Do you definitely plan to vote for Barack Obama for re-election as president or do you definitely plan to vote against him?”. Here are the results for the last three polls:

For Against Diff
Apr 2011 37 44 -7
Jan 2011 51 38 13
Dec 2010 44 46 -2

A solid plurality is planning to definitely vote against Obama. That is down from a solid majority planning to vote FOR him just last January.

Next, the question, “If the 2012 presidential election were held today, whom would you support if the candidates are: Obama and XXXXX?”. Here are the results, their margins, the margins last January, and the change since the first of the year:

(Apr 2011) Obama Hopeful Margin Jan. Margin Change
Romney 46 45 -1 -13 12
Huckabee 48 43 -5 -12 7
Trump 54 38 -16 N/A N/A
Palin 56 34 -22 -26 4

Romney does best, with Huckabee close behind. Palin fares worst with a margin of -22.

Finally, they asked the Republicans and the Republican leaning Independents, “If the 2012 Republican presidential primary were held today, whom would you support?” They gave them a list of names to choose from.

(more…)

April 15, 2011

Sen. Robert Paul (R-TX) 2012?

Could the first family of libertarianism be adding yet another name to its increasingly Kennedyesque dynasty of freedom fighters?  Ron Paul’s other son, Robert Paul, is considering launching a campaign to join Rand in the U.S. Senate, come 2012.  He’s begun making some speaking arrangements and has been talking to the press about the possibility.  Robert Paul already has an impressive Facebook following: over 2000 individuals “like” the idea of Robert Paul for Senate, and that number is quickly growing.

What do you think?  Love them or hate them, libertarians seem to have become a permanent “fourth leg” of sorts to the Republican stool, showing no signs of going away.  And the GOP’s sizable Tea Party contingent–while not explicitly libertarian–is heavily influenced by proto-libertarian philosophers like Hayek and Bastiat.  Would it be a bad thing if Texans chose a libertarian to represent them in the Senate?

by @ 7:25 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Ron Paul, Rumor Mill, Tea Parties

April 14, 2011

Romney Takes Off the Gloves, Calls Out Obama in Dual Op-Eds

Romney takes on Mitt in new Op-edOuch! Take a peek at this list of words Romney employed in a new op-ed directed at Obama: failures, inexperience, misguidance, incompetence, deceptive, dishonest, demagoguery, divisiveness, deception, impair, depressing, short-comings, fault, impugning, disheartening, dangerous… and then the two harshest of them all… wrong and bad.

This op-ed makes an interesting departure from Romney’s give-Obama-the-benefit-of-the-doubt tone of the past two years. Read for yourself:

America saw a different President Obama yesterday. Over the last two years, the president’s job was to repair the economy and to make us safer. He has failed at both but at least he appeared to be trying — his failures were arguably attributable to inexperience, misguidance, and incompetence. Yesterday, however, the president went from being wrong to being deceptive and intellectually dishonest.

The peril of our nation’s present fiscal course has been amply documented. The facts are settled. The president’s own bipartisan deficit commission proposed entitlement and spending reforms to restore fiscal responsibility. The Republicans in the House of Representatives and Chairman Paul Ryan have offered alternative reforms of their own. With the resulting national recognition of financial peril, the country was presented with a once-in-a-generation opportunity. As the president summoned the nation, change was hoped for. Demagoguery, divisiveness, and deception is what we got.

Read the full op-ed at NRO.

UPDATE: Just a few hours later another op-ed by Romney is release in the Orlando Sentinel “Rein in government – starting with Obama”

Romney gives Obama the old 1-2 with concurrent op-eds in two different publications. This newer one, by only a few hours, talks Tea Party (including the original one in Boston), GDP, ObamaCare, mind-boggling tax code, small biz and entrepreneurs.

Snippet from the Orlando Sentinel:

For the first time in the post-World War II era, there is a significant popular movement to scale back government and reduce the tax burden that has been stifling our economy. A lot of this is because members of the Tea Party are making their voices heard.

Almost 21/2 centuries after the original Boston Tea Party of 1775, the idea of limited government that inspired our forebears is very much alive. The growth of government is not some inexorable force. In a democracy, we the people decide. Thanks to the Tea Party, there’s real hope that we can rein in our profligate federal government.

But in order to make progress, we have to first rein in President Obama, whose spending binge is driving our national debt to historic highs.
[…]
These staggering new burdens are made worse by the fact that our system of taxation is killing our nation’s once-strong economic engine. The mind-boggling complexity of our tax system is only part of the problem. As of last year, the U.S. tax code had mushroomed into 71,684 pages that no one human being can fully understand. Along with complexity comes a dizzying array of perverse incentives.
[…]
A smart tax system would reward investment, savings and entrepreneurship, while providing job-creators with the predictability and stability they need to grow our economy. But our tax system is not smart; it’s quite the opposite. It needs urgent reform that reduces rates and restores a climate of confidence in our economy. With millions of Americans seeking but not finding work, a transformation of our approach to taxes is both an economic and moral imperative.

But reform requires both understanding and leadership. Unfortunately, when it comes to those qualities, we are facing Washington’s biggest deficit of all.

Click here to read entire op-ed at Orlando Sentinel

I particularly like that last line. Washington’s worst deficit is its leadership. In 2008 we had epic levels of debt. Obama’s spend, spend, spend policies have moved those debt levels from “epic” to a completely new class: über epic.

by @ 10:55 pm. Filed under Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Tea Parties

April 4, 2011

Who Will Be the Rand Paul of 2012?

In 2010, a lot of quite fiscally libertarian (and in several cases, even reasonably socially libertarian and noninterventionist-to-realist on foreign policy) candidates made it into the Republican primaries for House, Senate, and Governor.  Largely a result of the Tea Parties, a whole slew of back-to-basics conservatives found itself running a platform arguably closer to the Old Right Republicanism of the Calvin Coolidge-Robert Taft era than ever before.

Some of the candidacies were quite remarkable: a no-name, Nevadan assemblywoman came out of nowhere in the last leg of the race, defeating two frontrunners in the primary, and coming very close to unseating the Democratic Senate Majority Leader; a self-proclaimed “libertarian Republican” actually dethroned an incumbent Republican Senator in his own primary, and is now the freshman US Senator from Utah; a “live-free-or-die” type constitutionalist conservative won a primary over a moderate, establishment Republican Senator in Alaska (though ended up losing the general election to her by an incredibly slim margin).

But perhaps the most fantastic and iconic of these candidates was the son of Ron Paul, the libertarian hero of the early 21st century, who, coming from obscurity, flew unashamedly on the wings of the Tea Party and used pure grassroots power to overcome a well-liked, mainstream candidate that had been handpicked and well-funded by the GOP establishment.  Of all the candidates and candidates-elect that we saw in 2010, Rand Paul exemplifies this new-found, Tea Party-inspired “return to the Republic” wave that is washing over the Republican Party.

Was the election of Sen. Rand Paul a fluke?  Or will there be even more Rand Pauls elected in 2012?

Here’s some candidates and potential candidates that might be joining Rand Paul in his Goldwateresque crusade next year:

#1. Jeff Flake in Arizona 

Flake, long regarded as one of the most individual liberty-oriented members of the US Congress, is making a strong run for US Senate in Arizona.  Socially tolerant, with a deep sense of fiscal discipline, he stands a great chance of being elected.

#2. Jimmy Wales in Florida 

The founder of Wikipedia, who has not yet put together any sort of official organization, has been dropping hints left and right that he’s interested in unseating Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.  Wales, who crafted the concept of Wikipedia from an essay by F.A. Hayek, and who unabashedly calls himself an “Objectivist” and “libertarian,” definitely has a good fundraising base.

#3. Sarah Steelman in Missouri 

Former Lt. Gov. Steelman, dyed-in-the-wool conservative and friend of the Paul family, is already in the process of running a great campaign for Democrat Claire McCaskill’s Senate seat.  “Freedom” being the buzz word of her campaign, she would certainly be an ally of Rand’s on the Hill.

#4. Kevin Cramer in North Dakota 

Card-carrying member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, North Dakota’s public service commissioner Kevin Cramer, is making moves toward vying for the open Senate seat in North Dakota, now that it is clear Sen. Byron Dorgan will not be seeking re-election.  His small government, low tax, constitutionalist philosophy would likely fall somewhere between Mike Lee and Rand Paul.

#5. Jason Chaffetz in Utah 

This two-term US Representative has amassed a very respectable, small government record in Congress, even sharing Ron Paul’s disdain for what he calls “trivial resolutions,” voting against meatless “sense of the Congress” legislation in protest of what he sees as a constitutionally unauthorized waste of time when there are so many more pressing issues.  He is seen as a likely choice for Senate.

#6. Jamie Radtke in Virginia 

A popular Tea Party activist challenging a big, establishment Republican politician for the right to represent the GOP in a general election in an East Coast state?  Actually, this isn’t necessarily Christine O’Donnell part deux.  Radtke is an infinitely more suitable candidate for the fiscally conservative, socially modern middle-East Coast.  At the very least, her presence in the race seems to be pushing George Allen in a more Tea Partyesque direction.

#7. Clint Didier in Washington 

Didier ran a respectable primary campaign in 2010, conceding to Dino Rossi in the end, but seems likely to have another go at it in 2012, where his odds appear to have approved.  One of last year’s Sarah Palin endorsees, this former NFL champion and Ron Paul fan would fit right in with Rand and the Tea Party Caucus.

#8. Cale Case in Wyoming 

State senator Case has quickly become a hero of the conservative movement in Wyoming, being an ever-reliable vote against government regulation and spending.  His status as an economics professor gives him credibility when he talks about free markets, and he has managed to unite a diverse fan base of traditional Reagan conservatives and more socially tolerant Goldwater conservatives.  He hasn’t said one way or the other whether he’s interested in the US Senate, but there’s a quietly growing, grassroots draft movement coming after him, which he will have to address sooner or later.

by @ 10:09 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Tea Parties

Romney to Speak at Key New Hampshire Tea Party Forum Later this Month

The New Hampshire chapter of Americans for Prosperity has announced that Mitt Romney has accepted the fourth open slot to speak at their “Summit on Spending and Job Creation” at the end of this month. There are only five slots available:

Americans for Prosperity Foundation is pleased to announce that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is joining the line-up of participants in the organization’s “Summit on Spending and Job Creation” on April 29 at The Executive Court in Manchester. Confirmed attendees also include former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty, former US Senator Rick Santorum and businessman Herman Cain.

“We are honored to welcome businessman and former MA Governor Mitt Romney to speak at the first major summit to discuss spending and job creation as we approach the 2012 election cycle,” said AFP Foundation President Tim Phillips. “The American people are eager to hear how Governor Romney and other speakers might plan to change the ‘spend now, pay later’ culture in Washington,” continued Phillips

Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain have all accepted invitations to speak. They have also invited Haley Barbour, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee to fill the last slot. If any of those guys wish to speak at the forum, they had better get a move on.

First come, first served.

 

 

March 30, 2011

America Souring on the Tea Party

A new CNN poll finds that Americans are abandoning the Tea Party, with the group’s unfavorable ratings up 21 points from last year.

The bottom lines:

Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings of Parties

  • Democrats – 46/48 (-2)
  • Republicans – 44/48 (-4)
  • Tea Party – 32/47 (-15)

Survey was taken March 11-13 of 1,023 people, and has an MoE of 3%.

CNN notes that the 32% favorable rating is down 5 points from their last survey in December. The Tea Party’s unfavorable ratings stood at just 26% last January – nearly doubling since then.

Now, the group’s unfavorables match those of the two major parties – indicating people are just as fed up with the Tea Party’s gimmicks as they are with the GOP and Dems – but their favorability lags 12-14 points behind. Not a good spot to be in on a national level.

by @ 12:12 pm. Filed under Poll Watch, Tea Parties

March 24, 2011

Today’s Most Interesting Statistic

We have had a fair number of polls released today. Pew, CNN, PPP, UofU have all had something new to say. The one stat in the cacophony of statistics released that I found most interesting was buried inside the PEW report.  They asked 249 Republicans who supported the Tea Party whom they would like to see receive the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination. Here are the results:

Romney 24
Huckabee 19
Gingrich 15
Paul 13
Palin 12
Pawlenty 4
Barbour 3
Don’t Know 3
Santorum 2
Christie 2
Daniels 1
None 1
Other 0

Now contrary to what you might think, it isn’t the fact that Romney came in first by five points that so intrigues me. It IS great news for a Romney fan such as myself, but it’s early.  A lead of a mere five points is not likely to hold. It might as well be a statistical tie. Besides, it is just one more poll showing either Mitt or Mike in the lead.

No, what really intrigues me about these numbers is the fact that Sarah Palin came in fifth. She only managed to poll half — HALF the score of Mitt Romney. That is something I would not have expected.

We have been told for two years that Sarah Palin was the queen of the Tea Party. She had them in the palm of her hand. They saw eye-to-eye. She was what they were waiting for. Yet here is a poll of Tea Party supporters that places her in fifth place, lagging double digits behind the leader.

How does one explain it?

I don’t think you can chalk it up to not knowing the candidate. Very few GOP hopefuls have anywhere near the name recognition of Sarah Palin. Hardly anyone in America doesn’t know her name. Very few Republican voters don’t have an opinion of her.

Nor can you really claim it is the fault of the liberal news media out to get her. Almost by definition, supporters of the Tea Party don’t trust those guys. So to suggest that they have been duped by the machinations of the media really doesn’t pass the laugh test.

And please don’t waste my time with the old “the pollsters are out to get her”.  They can’t ALL be cooking the books just to make her look bad. I don’t know a single reputable pollster that hasn’t been showing that she’s been fading for quite some time.

So what exactly IS happening to Sarah Palin? Is her star dimming? Is she slowly but surely deflating like a pinpricked balloon? If so, what does she have to do to turn it around? It’s going to be quite the challenge if she decides to run.

What are her options?

Romney 24
Huckabee 19
Gingrich 15
Paul 13
Palin 12
Pawlenty 4
Barbour 3
Don’t Know 3
Santorum 2
Christie 2
Daniels 1
None 1
Other 0

March 9, 2011

Flashback: Pawlenty’s Record

As Gov. Pawlenty attempts to curry favor with the small government, Tea Party wing of the GOP in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, I feel it is important we do not let Tim Pawlenty 2.0 erase his true colors from our collective memory.

Here’s some choice quotes from the Wall Street Journal‘s 2008 article, “Pawlenty’s Record“:

“The era of small government is over . . . government has to be more proactive, more aggressive.”
— Tim Pawlenty, 2006


But in 2005, signs of his “progressive” instincts emerged. In a quest for new revenue, Mr. Pawlenty supported a 75 cents per-pack cigarette tax. He called it a “health impact” fee. No one was fooled. User fees are generally charged to ensure that those who use a government service pay for the cost of providing that service. In this case, however, it was obvious that smokers were just being tapped to fund health-care entitlement programs.

Following the tax hike, the governor pushed through a state-wide smoking ban in workplaces, restaurants and bars. Aggressive, Nanny-state government seems to be big with Republican governors these days — although policies such as smoking bans do little to stem the costly tide of state-run health care.

Mr. Pawlenty responded with a more limited proposal to expand the state’s child health-care program, Minnesota Care, to cover all children. More recently, the governor’s Health Care Transformation Task Force recommended imposing a mandate — à la Massachusetts — on residents to buy health insurance.

The South St. Paul populist also advocated a temporary ban on ads paid for by pharmaceutical companies. Not exactly the stuff of which markets are made.

Nevertheless, Mr. Pawlenty has presided over back-to-back biennial budget increases of 12.4% and 9.8% respectively. Last year the governor’s proposed budget survived essentially intact but still spent the state’s $2 billion surplus, with half the general fund increase going to education. Minnesota, with five million people, now has a biennial budget of nearly $35 billion.

Mr. Pawlenty’s proactive government stance extends to support for mass transit and sport stadium subsidies, as well as for hiking the state’s minimum wage, which is now $6.15 an hour for large employers (the federal minimum wage is $5.85). But it is education and the environment where Mr. Pawlenty hopes to establish his progressive bona fides.

Mr. Pawlenty has courted the unions, telling the Minnesota Business Partnership that “I can’t have the Republican governor talk about changing the school system without having the support and help of the teachers’ union and my friends on the other side of the aisle. It just won’t work.”

On the environment, Mr. Pawlenty imposed some of the most aggressive renewable energy mandates in the country. Other states will be requiring, in coming years, that energy producers get 20% of their electricity from “renewable” sources such as wind, solar or animal manure. In Mr. Pawlenty’s Minnesota, the state’s largest utility will be required to generate 30% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

In April, Mr. Pawlenty delivered the remarks that probably best reveal his views on the environment. “It looks like we should have listened to President Carter,” he told the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group. “He called us to action, and we should have listened. . . . Climate change is real. Human behavior is partly and may be a lot responsible. Those who don’t think so are simply not right. We should not spend time on voices that say it’s not real.”

Mr. Pawlenty responded by calling for a state gas tax increase.

by @ 8:04 am. Filed under 2008 Misc., 2012 Misc., Tea Parties, Tim Pawlenty

February 2, 2011

Orrin Hatch Shows How It’s Done

There have been rampant rumors of a Tea Party challenge to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch ever since Mike Lee and the Tea Party knocked out Bob Bennett last year at the Utah Convention. However, unlike Bennett, Senator Hatch has not been taken by surprise. The Beehive State’s Senior Senator knows of the rumblings from his right flank and Hatch has found a way to stop it in its tracks.

How is Senator Hatch doing this? By making an unholy alliance with the Democrats (all 7 of them in Utah)? By threatening to go 3rd Party/write-in ala Lisa Murkowski? By bashing them? Nope, none of the above. Senator Hatch has done something even more potent, something that has succeeded in dividing would-be Tea Party opponents. Something that might just give the Senator another term in Washington. What is it?

Orrin Hatch is actually reaching out to them. (cue shocking music)

That’s right, according to Politico and other sources, Senator Hatch has been talking with, meeting with, and discussing with many of the leaders of Utah’s Tea Party movement. The Politico article I linked to shows just how clever Senator Hatch’s approach has been. The Senator still more-or-less defends his vote for the TARP and other “purity tests”, but he is still willing to discuss these things with the Tea Partiers. He keeps in constant contact with Tea Party leaders in Utah and has been talking about how his seniority, especially on the Senate Finance Committee, can be used to make life miserable for the Democrats.

Now, it’s way too early to tell if Hatch’s plan is going to be successful; the Utah GOP Convention isn’t until next June, but it’s already bearing some fruit. Tea Party leaders are now fairly divided about whether or not to mount a big challenge to Hatch next year. That in itself is a big deal; against a divided opposition, Hatch is more likely to prevail. What’s even more important is that Senator Hatch is, perhaps, showing how the Establishment Republicans can mollify the Tea Partiers without splitting the Party in two.

Perhaps the main lesson from what I’ll call the Hatch approach is the power of listening. Hatch isn’t turning into Mr. Tea Party. That simply isn’t him. What he is doing is showing the Tea Party that while he may not be one of them, that doesn’t mean he’s against them or ignoring them. That’s an important distinction, one that some Tea Party leaders seem to be acknowledge. If Senator Hatch fends off a Tea Party challenge next year, his approach will show the rest of the Republican Party just how to do that.

by @ 1:47 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Republican Party, Tea Parties

November 14, 2010

Midterm Elections a Victory for Small-C Conservatism

All Politics is (Still) Local

It is no secret to political observers that much of the contemporary American Right is of a revolutionary mindset, and is supportive of large-scale, seismic changes to the way government interacts with society.  This certainly exists in libertarian and quasi-libertarian quarters, whose policy goals have always appealed to me intellectualy, and it is equally true among movement conservatives who feel that, three decades into the Reagan Revolution, America is still a nation where tax rates are too progressive, where the state is too powerful, where abortion is still pretty much available on demand, and where tyranny continues to exist in too great a portion of the world.  The right-wing revolutionaries view the Tea Party movement as evidence that their ideology is finally catching on among the greater populace, and Scott Brown’s election earlier this year in Massachusetts was supposed to pave the way for unprecedented Republican gains this fall that would launch the Reagan Revolution 2.0.  All of this is supposed to culminate in a revolutionary conservative being elected to the presidency in 2012, perhaps someone like Sarah Palin, who would then proceed to repeal the 16th Amendment, overturn Roe v. Wade, and spread democracy to the far side of the world.

I submit to you that the election results suggest that no such thing is going to happen, and that a return to the pre-Obama status quo is more likely to come to pass after 2012 than anyone’s revolution.  The simple fact of the matter is that Decision 2010 simply does not portend a second American revolution.  It was not a victory for movement conservatism, but for small-c conservatism, the sort that resists the very kinds of top-down, ideology-driven, bold and sweeping changes that all revolutionaries desire.

First — and I touched on this last week — the Republican gains at the congressional level, while near-historic for the post-war era, are misleading when only the topline results are taken into account.  Yes, Republicans are poised to seat 244 members of their party when the 112th Congress convenes.  What those numbers don’t tell you is that, absent a net gain of 14 House seats in Southern states as compared to the last Republican House in 2005-06, the incoming GOP majority would look a lot like the one that came to power in 2004.  The GOP’s massive Rust Belt gains were pretty much due to taking back territory lost in ’06 and ’08.  Ditto the gains out West.  Other than that, the GOP traded some newfound strength in the Midwest for some seats that remained Democratic in New England, but it was the South that was really responsible for the largest Republican congressional caucus since the 1940s.

These results suggest that the 2010 election was, in most of the country, a repudiation of Obama, and not a call for revolution.  A return to normalcy, not a fundamental re-ordering of American politics.  To be sure, I do not mean to downplay the significance of the Republican gains in the House.  One fascinating statistic, ignored by pretty much everyone on all sides, is that there are 216 congressional districts that voted Republican in 2004, Republican in 2010, and Democratic at some point in the interim.  That means that just over 49 percent of the nation’s congressional districts are likely to vote Republican absent a perfect storm of economic, cultural, international, and ethical dilemmas such as those that plagued Republicans in 2006/08.  And that doesn’t take into account districts like TN-06, which was Democratic for generations but which moved into the GOP column in 2010 due to a blue dog retirement, nor does any of this take into account the re-districting that will take place over the next couple of years, which will almost certainly create a few more solid red districts.  As such, it is plausible that we are on the verge of a structural Republican majority in the House of Representatives.  That is to say, absent a complete Republican meltdown, the GOP should control the majority of seats in the House for the foreseeable future.

(more…)

by @ 2:37 pm. Filed under 2010, Republican Party, Tea Parties

February 24, 2010

Poll Watch: Quinnipiac Ohio Senatorial Survey

Quinnipiac Ohio Senatorial Survey

Democratic Primary

  • Lee Fisher 29% (24%) {26%} [24%] (20%)
  • Jennifer Brunner 20% (22%) {17%} [21%] (16%)

General Election

  • Rob Portman (R) 40% (39%) {31%} [33%] (31%)
  • Lee Fisher (D) 37% (36%) {42%} [37%] (42%)
  • Rob Portman (R) 40% (38%) {34%} [34%] (32%)
  • Jennifer Brunner (D) 35% (34%) {39%} [35%] (40%)

Favorable / Unfavorable {Net}

  • Rob Portman 25% (22%) {20%} [21%] (22%) / 7% (7%) {7%} [6%] (9%) {+18%}
  • Lee Fisher 26% (25%) {33%} [29%] (37%) / 12% (15%) {13%} [17%] (13%) {+14%}
  • Jennifer Brunner 21% (20%) {27%} [27%] (31%) / 12% (18%) {14%} [16%] (12%) {+9%}
  • Tea Party movement 32% / 23% {+9%}
  • Republican Party 37% / 46% {-9%}
  • Democratic Party 38% / 50% {-12%}

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George Voinovich is handling his job as United States Senator?

  • Approve 51% (47%) {52%} [52%]
  • Disapprove 32% (36%) {34%} [29%]

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Sherrod Brown is handling his job as United States Senator?

  • Approve 43% (46%) {48%} [41%]
  • Disapprove 30% (31%) {33%} [29%]

Survey of 1,662 voters was conducted February 16-21, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 2.4 percentage points. The survey includes 604 Democrats, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted November 5-9, 2009 are in parentheses. Results from the poll conducted September 10-13, 2009 are in curly brackets. Results from the poll conducted June 25 – July 1, 2009 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted April 28 – May 4, 2009 are in parentheses.

by @ 11:53 am. Filed under 2010, Democrats, Poll Watch, Republican Party, Tea Parties

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