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Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Marco Rubio Scares Me"

Jeremy W. Peters writes at The New York Times:
An incipient sense of anxiety is tugging at some Democrats — a feeling tersely captured in four words from a blog post written recently by a seasoned party strategist in Florida: “Marco Rubio scares me.”
What is so unnerving to them at this early phase of the 2016 presidential campaign still seems, at worst, a distant danger: the prospect of a head-to-head general-election contest between Mr. Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Yet the worriers include some on Mrs. Clinton’s team. And even former President Bill Clinton is said to worry that Mr. Rubio could become the Republican nominee, whittle away at Mrs. Clinton’s support from Hispanics and jeopardize her chances of carrying Florida’s vital 29 electoral votes.
Democrats express concerns not only about whether Mr. Rubio, 43, a son of Cuban immigrants, will win over Hispanic voters, a growing and increasingly important slice of the electorate. They also worry that he would offer a sharp generational contrast to Mrs. Clinton, a fixture in American politics for nearly a quarter-century who will turn 69 before the election.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sanchez's Very Bad Start

Lauren French reports at Politico:
Loretta Sanchez is not having the best campaign roll out.
After having a “draft” of her official launch announcement leak and making a “war cry” gesture while describing Native Americans at a California Democratic convention, Sanchez was caught on camera dancing in front of signs blasting Rep. Ami Bera, a fellow California lawmaker who is facing criticism from progressives and union leaders for his decision to support fast track authority.
It’s highly uncommon for lawmakers of the same party to appear at events where their colleagues are being protested but a video dated May 18 shows Sanchez clapping in front of signs blasting pro-trade lawmakers like Bera. One sign slams him directly.
The video, shot last weekend at the California Democratic convention, is drawing criticism from senior Democratic staffers on Capitol Hill who are heavily engaged in the legislative fight over fast track authority — a top priority for President Barack Obama’s second term.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Changed World for the Crossroads Groups

Eric Lichtblau and Maggie Haberman report at The New York Times that the Crossroads groups are facing an environment that has changed considerably since 2010.
The nonprofit arm of Crossroads is facing an Internal Revenue Service review that could eviscerate its fund-raising. Data projects nurtured by Mr. Rove are being supplanted in Republican circles by a more successful initiative funded by the Koch political network, which has leapfrogged the Crossroads organizations in size and reach.
And the group faces intense competition for donors from a new wave of “super PACs” that are being set up by backers of the leading Republican candidates for president, who are unwilling to defer to Mr. Rove’s authority or cede strategic and fund-raising dominance to the organizations he helped start.
In recent weeks, Crossroads has begun carving a niche for itself in attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumed Democratic front-runner. The group will use polling data and opposition research to paint her as “a typical politician who would say or do anything to get elected,” said Steven Law, president of Crossroads.
If the group’s role seems diminished, Crossroads officials are not complaining publicly. If anything, they are lowering expectations for an organization that raised $300 million in the 2012 cycle.
“Our goal is not to make American Crossroads the big dog of 2016,” Mr. Law said in an interview. “Our goal is to win the White House and hold the Senate and the House.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Republicans Have a Positive View of Their Field

Pew reports:
From the start, the Republican presidential field for 2016 has been much more crowded than the Democratic field. But voters in each party have similar views of the quality of their party’s candidates.
Nearly six-in-ten (57%) Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say they have an excellent or good impression of their party’s presidential candidates. That compares with 54% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters who have positive impressions of the Democratic Party’s candidates.
Republicans are more positive about the GOP field than they were at nearly comparable points in the past two presidential campaigns. In May 2011, 44% of Republicans viewed the field of GOP candidates as excellent or good. In September 2007, 50% gave the presidential candidates positive marks.
Democrats are less positive about the current group of candidates than they were in September 2007, at a somewhat later point in the 2008 campaign. At that time, 64% said the Democratic candidates as a group were excellent or good. Throughout the fall of 2007 and early 2008, Democrats consistently expressed more positive views about their party’s candidates than Republicans did about theirs.
In September 2003, just 44% of Democrats and Democratic leaners gave positive ratings to their party’s field of candidates. At that time, the Democrats were challenging an incumbent president, as were the Republicans in 2011.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Republican Strength

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende uses his index of party strength to appraise the GOP:
Before the 2014 elections, the parties were pretty close to parity: The index stood at 7.98. This indicated an insignificant advantage for the Republicans, although it placed them well above their post-World War II average of -20.
It goes without saying that Republicans improved upon their showing in the 2014 elections. Their 54 Senate seats represent the second-best tally for the party since 1928. Their 247 House seats is the most the party has won since 1928, although when combined with the popular vote percentage, it drops to the second-highest since then (in 1946, the party did slightly better).
At the state level, the GOP’s share of governorships is the ninth-highest since Reconstruction, and the third-highest in the post-war era (1996 and 1998 were higher). The party’s showing in state legislatures is the highest since 1920, the ninth-highest ever, and the third-highest since the end of Reconstruction.
Overall, this gives the Republicans an index score of 33.8. This is the Republican Party’s best showing in the index since 1928,and marks only the third time that the party has been above 15 in the index since the end of World War II.
None of this is to say that Republicans are building a permanent majority of any sort. It is simply to say that when one takes account of the full political picture, the Republican Party is stronger than it has been in most of our readers’ lifetimes. This is important, and more analysis should take account of this fact.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Candidates and the Party Networks

At The Washington Post last year, Seth Masket explained:
American political parties have become much more complex in recent decades. The demise of those political machines and the rise of the civil service meant that party leaders couldn’t just hand out public jobs to their supporters; they had to attract volunteer labor from ideological activists, which became easier as the parties moved toward the ideological extremes. Campaign finance laws prevented prominent party leaders from handing sufficient funds to their preferred candidates. Money is now raised in small amounts from a wider range of donors and coordinated across many different organizations.
The modern American party is a network in this sense: It is a collection of different sorts of political actors — candidates, officeholders, activists, major donors, media figures, and others — working together to determine who gets nominated for office and thus what direction the government moves. These different actors are connected to each other in a variety of ways, including theexchange of information and the transfer of campaign money, all of which involve picking candidates and backing them at the presidential,congressional, or local level.
Gregor Aisch and Karen Yourish write at The New York Times:
Presidential candidates change, but the people who run the campaigns often remain the same. Here is how the teams behind some likely and announced candidates are connected to previous campaigns, administrations and organizations close to the possible nominees.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Mrs. Clinton is relying on a mix of Clinton loyalists, seasoned Obama operatives and other key strategists to modernize and force discipline on her campaign (in other words, to avoid many of the mistakes of her 2008 primary race). At the top are John D. Podesta, a Clintonite with strong ties to President Obama; Robby Mook, known for his no-drama approach to managing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign; and Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s longtime aide. Campaign veterans loyal to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are running Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Mrs. Clinton, which operates outside the official campaign.
Jeb Bush
The former Florida governor is building a sizable political operation in anticipation of a likely campaign announcement. His team includes longtime advisers, key operatives from Mitt Romney’s presidential races, and a few veterans of George W. Bush’s campaigns. Sally Bradshaw and Mike Murphy form the core of Jeb Bush’s inner circle. Ms. Bradshaw and David Kochel are expected to head the campaign, and Mr. Murphy will oversee Right to Rise, the pro-Bush super PAC.
Jonathan Martin follows up here. 

One Nation

CNN reports:
One Nation, a new 501(c)4 linked to the Karl-Rove-backed American Crossroads super PAC, is spending more than $1.9 million on print, radio and digital ads highlighting the efforts of Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey to pass the "doc fix" legislation that realigned payments to Medicare providers with inflation.
The group is headed by Steven Law, the former Mitch McConnell chief of staff who also serves as American Crossroads' president.
It looks to be a likely vessel for the GOP's messaging on policy issues this cycle, as the party faces a difficult political climate with a tough Senate map to defend. All of the incumbents featured in the group's initial ad blitz except for Burr are running in states that Obama won in 2012 and remain top Democratic targets.
According to spokesman Ian Prior, who fills the same role for American Crossroads, the group "will be a platform that will focus on communicating the legislative accomplishments of this new, Republican-led Congress, as well as advocating for legislative issues and solutions currently being debated in Congress."
Its website features a cinematic launch video that splices together clips of presidents from both parties speaking about the American Dream, all under the theme of the U.S. motto, "E Pluribus Unum" — "Out of many, one.