Saturday, November 22, 2014

American Crossroads Is Back With the Spelling Bee Ad

The attack ad season is not quite over. American Crossroads is again using a "spelling bee" ad, this time linking Obama to Mary Landrieu in the Louisiana runoff.

More on Why the GOP Won

At FiveThirtyEight, By Harry Enten and Dhrumil Mehta write:
This year was different from other wave years because of the unusually strong influence of the presidential vote in individual states in the last two cycles. It explained over 75 percent of the variation in results across the races this year. That’s the highest ever.
When controlling for the presidential vote, incumbency had 40 percent of the explanatory power it normally does. While it would be tempting to assert that incumbency doesn’t matter as much as it used to, it would also be wrong. In 2012, controlling for the presidential vote, the explanatory power of incumbency pretty much matched the historical average from 1982 to 2014.
In other words, negative feelings towards President Obama almost entirely overwhelmed the incumbency advantage in 2014. That’s why Democratic Sen. Mark Warner — a former popular governor who won his seat by 31 points in 2008 — nearly lost in Virginia even though Obama won the state twice. Republican Thom Tillis beat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in the purple state of North Carolina. And in Iowa, which has voted just once for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, Republican Joni Ernst beat Democrat Bruce Braley.
They go on to mention candidate quality as another reason for the outcomes.  Right after the election, David Brooks surveyed the biographies of newly-elected GOP senators and governors:
Let’s pause over some of the institutions mentioned in these mini-bios: IBM, Reebok, the Red Cross, McKinsey and the Army. These are not fringe organizations. These are the pillars of American society.

Republicans won this election in part because they re-established their party’s traditional personality. The beau ideal of American Republicanism is the prudent business leader who is active in the community, active at church and fervently devoted to national defense.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Democratic Non-Coordination Coordination

Paul Blumenthal writes at The Huffington Post:
Republican Party committees and outside groups shared polling data over Twitter during the 2014 elections, according to a CNN report on Monday. The purpose was to circumvent federal anti-coordination rules -- and the practice appeared to be part of a growing bipartisan effort to get around those rules by posting information in public.
While those Republican accounts have garnered the attention since the CNN report, they were not the first use of Twitter by a party committee to hide coordination in plain sight.
In 2012, the Democratic Party shared information about advertising buys through a seemingly unconnected Twitter account called AdBuyDetails. This account, which posted tweets from Aug. 31 until Oct. 23, 2012, sent out data on ad buys made by Democratic House candidates in tight races across the country.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The 2016 Target List for House Dems is Mighty Small

It was a good year for House Republicans, and they are already in reasonably good shape for 2016. Philip Bump writes at The Washington Post:
If we look just at how each party did in its margins of victory each year, you can see 1) that most races are won by 10 points or more, and 2) Republicans had a remarkably low number of victories that were in the single digits -- 17 to be exact. That's the lowest number of similarly close races for either party in any of the last four cycles.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Demographics, Turnout, and the Vote for the House

David Wasserman writes at FiveThirtyEight:
When the 114th Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, House Republicans will boast their largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president. If all leaders in the yet-to-be-called races hold their leads, Republicans will go from 234 seats to 247, a triumph that exceeds their “Drive to 245” goal. Not even Republicans anticipated they were in for such a good year.
So how did they beat the point spread? The answer lies less in what Republicans did, and more in what Democratic voters didn’t do: show up to vote in so-called orphan states.
To ease my post-election withdrawal, I built a spreadsheet of results in all 435 districts to analyze what happened. What it illustrated: By winning just 52 percent of votes cast for the House, Republicans were able to win 57 percent of all House seats. Thanks in part to favorable redistricting after the 2010 Census, Republicans will likely have won five more seats than they did in 2010, even though Republican candidates won by less of an aggregate vote margin than they did four years ago.1
The election of a historically large Republican majority coincided with thelowest turnout in a midterm election since 1942. But the 2014 race for the House played out in two very different sets of states. In the 24 states hosting high-profile, competitive Senate or gubernatorial races, raw votes cast in House races were down an average of 30.5 percent from 2012.2 But in the 26 states that weren’t, raw votes were down a much more severe 43.9 percent.3
Sean Trende writes at RealClearPolitics:
The major difference was that in 2012 Barack Obama was a moderately popular president. In 2014, he is an unpopular president. If this does not change between now and 2016, demographic shifts alone will not save the Democratic nominee.

We can illustrate this best by borrowing a page from Harry Enten, and seeing what would have happened if the 2014 electorate had instead more closely resembled the 2012 electorate. That is to say, let’s keep whites voting 60-38 for Republicans, Hispanics voting 62-36 for Democrats, and so forth, as they all did in 2014, but alter their shares of the electorate to resemble 2012 (72 percent white, 10 percent Hispanic, and so forth) rather than 2014 (75 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, and so forth). This allows us to isolate the effects of demographic change between 2012 and 2014.
The results are underwhelming: If the 2014 electorate had resembled the 2012 electorate in terms of race, the Republican vote share would shrink by just 1.97 percentage points. In other words, in a 2012 electorate, Republicans would have won the popular vote for the House by 4.5 points, rather than 6.5 points. That’s not nothing, as they say, but it still only explains a relatively small share of the difference between the 2012 and 2014 results. Put differently, if Obama had put up the same vote shares among racial groups in 2012 as Democrats ultimately did in 2014, he’d have lost.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Twitter and Non-Coordination Coordination

CNN reports that the NRCC and outside groups did non-coordination coordination via Twitter.
The Twitter accounts were hidden in plain sight. The profiles were publicly available but meaningless without knowledge of how to find them and decode the information, according to a source with knowledge of the activities.
A typical tweet read: "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s." The source said posts like that -- which would look like gibberish to most people -- represented polling data for various House races.
At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP.
The Twitter operation underscores the uncertain state of campaign finance rules after the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision upended limits on outside spending in politics. Regulations provided by the FEC in the wake of the court ruling leave much to interpretation about what constitutes "coordination," creating a Wild West environment that, according to campaign finance experts, gives outside groups ample opportunity to share information while arguing they stayed within the confines of the law.
"It may bend common sense, but not necessarily the law," said Daniel Tokaji, a professor of Constitutional Law at Ohio State University who co-authored a study this year examining the relationship between outside groups and campaigns. "A lot of things you and I would consider coordination are not coordination under the law. I don't think sharing polling data is going to be enough to establish that the campaign was materially involved in decisions about content, target audience or timing."
In response to this story Monday, FEC vice-chair Ann Ravel said the commission may address the use of social media to share campaign information, but conceded that the rules governing campaign finance are "murky."

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Despicable Mailer

Dan Morain reports at The Sacramento Bee:
Mike Gipson won his Assembly race thanks to the clout of Rep. Maxine Waters and Assemblyman Isadore Hall, the California Democratic Party, heavy contributions from the moneyed interests that matter, and a lie.
The California Teachers Association, oil producers, casino owners, payday lenders, soda and alcohol companies, unions representing nurses, public employees and construction workers, insurance companies and, of course, tobacco companies paid to bring Gipson to Sacramento.
Using some of their money, Gipson fabricated and sent to voters in his South Central Los Angeles Assembly district one of the most vile mailers I’ve ever seen. There is little recourse. With other new legislators, he will take the solemn oath of office on Dec. 1.
Like all freshmen, Gipson will be a backbencher. But the smart people who select and elect candidates see potential. They spent $2.7 million on the campaign for and against Gipson and his opponent, Prophet Walker, who was running for the first time.
Gipson’s deception wasn’t clever. Anyone with a computer could have done it. He cut out a photo of Walker and pasted it in a dark hoodie, and manipulated the photo to depict Walker aiming a gun and grinning, though in context it looks like a snarl. Gipson placed a photo of his own face onto a police officer in uniform.
The verbiage described Walker’s criminal past and Gipson’s good work. But that was secondary. The point was the menacing image, juxtaposed against “Officer” Gipson. Gipson was a cop 20 years ago in Maywood, a gritty L.A. suburb that in 2010 disbanded its police force because of its history of brutality and corruption.
Read more here:

  Campaign mailer for Mike Gipson in his Assembly race against Prophet Walker in South Central Los Angeles.