Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Blunder in California

At Fox and Hounds, Tony Quinn notes a blunder by Ashley Swearengin, GOP candidate for controller:
Swearengin’s campaign decided not to spend the $7,000 for a ballot statement. Her campaign manager told the Fresno Bee “We don’t believe that it gets read or has any impact. In the grand scheme of what matters and what doesn’t, we decided to let that one go.” This conclusion is simply not true. Experienced ballot measure campaigns can see a shift in public opinion when the ballot pamphlet begins arriving. The small percentage of Californians that actually votes want to be well informed, and they read the pamphlet fairly closely.
The proof of course is in the pudding. In 2010, Gavin Newsom paid for a ballot statement for Lieutenant Governor; he won. Bill Lockyer paid for a statement for Treasurer; he won. John Chiang paid for a statement for Controller; he won. Debra Bowen paid for a statement for Secretary of State; she won. Dave Jones paid for a statement for Insurance Commissioner; he won. Tom Torlakson paid for a statement Superintendent of Public Instruction; he won. These victorious candidates certainly would not agree that the ballot statement has “no impact.” The only winning candidate who did not buy a ballot statement was Kamala Harris, and she ran way behind the rest of the Democratic ticket and nearly lost to Republican Steve Cooley who did buy a statement.
And the 2014 primary made that point even more forcefully. [Betty] Yee paid for a statement; Perez did not, and she beat him by 481 votes although he outspent her three to one. David Evans, another Republican candidate for Controller, raised no money at all and only had a one line ballot pamphlet statement. He got 850,000 votes and nearly made the runoff.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Nunn Documents

Eliana Johnson of National Review got campaign documents for Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D-GA):
The documents reveal the campaign’s most sensitive calculations. Much of the strategizing in the Georgia contest, as is typical in southern politics, revolves around race. But the Nunn memos are incredibly unguarded. One is from Diane Feldman, a Democratic pollster and strategist who counts among her clients Minnesota senator Al Franken, South Carolina representative James Clyburn, and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Feldman, who did not return calls seeking comment, is frank in her characterization of the demographic groups — Jews, Asians, African Americans, Latinos, and gays — that are essential to a Democratic victory. The Nunn campaign declined to comment about the document on the record.
The campaign’s finance plan draws attention to the “tremendous financial opportunity” in the Jewish community and identifies Jews as key fundraisers. It notes, however, that “Michelle’s position on Israel will largely determine the level of support here.” That’s a position she has yet to articulate — her message on the subject is marked “TBD” in the document — and Israel goes unmentioned on her campaign website.
Asians are also identified as key fundraisers. The community is described as “very tight,” one in which people work to “become citizens quickly.” Nunn’s strategists also say there is a “huge opportunity” to raise money from gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals, who are described as having “substantial resources.”

As southern whites have moved to the right, Democrats have been forced to cobble together a coalition of minority voters. Feldman recommends as a goal winning just 30 percent of the white vote while working to increase turnout among African Americans and Latinos. So while Jews, Asians, and gays are characterized as potential “fundraisers,” African Americans and Hispanics are the ones the campaign needs to get to the polls in historic numbers, the document makes clear.
The document in its entirety can be viewed below.

2014 Michelle Nunn Campaign Memo

Monday, July 28, 2014

King Andrew

At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green writes about the governor of New York:
Andrew Cuomo, meet Louis XIV, France’s Sun King. As tradition has it the Bourbon monarch, who ruled from the mid-1600s until 1715, quipped “L’√Čtat, c’est moi,” which translates “I am the State.” Fast-forward three centuries, and Cuomo II sounds awfully like the long-dead Louis.
When confronted with pushback over his decision in March to disband an anti-corruption commission—the so-called Moreland Commission—which Cuomo himself appointed in 2013, the governor was defiant. He bellowed to Crain’s: “It’s my commission. My subpoena power, my Moreland Commission. I can appoint it, I can disband it. I appoint you, I can un-appoint you tomorrow...It’s my commission. I can’t ‘interfere’ with it, because it is mine. It is controlled by me.” For history buffs, the commission itself takes its name from a 1907 law that empowers New York’s governors to appoint investigative bodies to root out wrongdoing.
Cuomo may now be learning that executive arrogance comes with a price. Immediately after the governor’s self-aggrandizing pronouncement, Preet Bharara, the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, expressed his dismay with Cuomo, particularly given the state’s corruption-rich environment. So there’s no doubt, the Empire State is among the most corrupt in America. Between 1976 and 2010, New York led America in federal public corruption convictions with more than 2,500.
The March disbanding of the commission didn’t generate much outrage. But then last week, The New York Times dropped a bombshell story on how Team Cuomo rigged the game, and how this latest Moreland Commission was never about being independent. Rather, it was about beating the legislature into submission.

Anti-Incumbent Consultants

Alexander Burns reports at Politico:
Not that long ago, consultants say, it might have been a professional death sentence to sign up with even one candidate targeting a veteran incumbent like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. These days, Cold Spark is only one of a limited but growing number of Republican firms that operate heavily in the black market of anti-incumbent campaigns.
The Pennsylvania company took in an eye-popping sum from the campaigns of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Idaho attorney Bryan Smith and Kentucky investment manager Matt Bevin. Hopping from one anti-incumbent race to the next, the firm collected a total of $2.4 million for services including ad production, digital strategy and data analysis.

Thanks to an explosion of outsider Republicans running for office and the Supreme Court’s loosening of campaign finance rules, the economics of political consulting have shifted. Suddenly, there’s enough anti-incumbent work to sustain not just a skeleton crew of mercenary consultants, but a full-fledged cottage industry of ideological renegades — interlocking firms that pop up in one divisive primary after another, often working together or for different entities in the same race.
Other firms in the niche include:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

GOP Edge

Nate Cohn writes at The New York Times:
On Sunday, the research firm YouGov, in partnership with The New York Times and CBS News, released the first wave of results from an online panel of more than 100,000 respondents nationwide, which asked them their preferences in coming elections. The results offer a trove of nonpartisan data and show a broad and competitive playing field heading into the final few months of the campaign.
The Republicans appear to hold a slight advantage in the fight for the Senate and remain in a dominant position in the House. They need to pick up six seats to gain Senate control, and they hold a clear advantage in races in three states: South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. The data from YouGov, an opinion-research firm that enjoyed success in 2012, finds the G.O.P. with a nominal lead in five additional states.
The five states where the Republicans hold a slight lead in the YouGov panel include three Southern ones — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — where Democratic incumbents face tough re-election contests and where Mitt Romney won in 2012. Republicans also have a slight edge in Iowa and Michigan, two open seats in states that usually vote for Democrats in presidential elections.
The Republican advantage, however, is not especially significant in these states, suggesting that the campaign remains up for grabs. The results are broadly consistent with the Times’s forecasting model, which incorporates surveys, fund-raising data and other information, and currently gives the Republicans a 60 percent chance of winning the Senate.
CNN reports:
The new CNN poll illustrates the turnout problem for the Democrats.
In the generic ballot question, the Democrats have a four percentage point 48%-44% edge over the Republicans among registered voters. The generic ballot asks respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates.
But when looking only at those who say they voted in the 2010 midterms – when the GOP won back the House thanks to a historic 63-seat pick up and narrowed the Democrats' control of the Senate – Republicans hold a two-point 48%-46% margin.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from July 18-20, with 1,012 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dems Move Farther Left

At Politico, Douglas Sosnik writes:
The progressive domination of the Democratic Party is already being felt across the country at the state and federal levels. Much less ticket-splitting is taking place these days, as the overall political leanings of most states increasingly determine how people vote from the top of the ticket down to the local level. As a result, a growing percentage of Democratic federal and statehouse officeholders come from blue states and districts across the country where progressive views tend to predominate. Democrats elected in more purple areas often tend to be more moderate in their views, but when these seats open up due to retirements or defeats, the more progressive forces will likely determine the primary election outcomes.
Just look at the U.S. House of Representatives. Democratic House members are overwhelmingly liberal, due in large part to 2010 midterm election losses and the 2012 reapportionment and redistricting process, when they were packed into as few seats as possible by Republicans intent on keeping control of the House. As a result, moderate Democrats are somewhat of an anomaly in the House—there are currently only nine Democratic members of the House in seats carried by Romney in 2012. And this number is certain to drop due to retirements and defeats in the upcoming midterm elections. The House Blue Dog Caucus, a moderate-to-conservative group of Democratic lawmakers, currently has only 19 members—down from 54 only four years ago. This number will also decrease after November.
The last bastion of moderate elected Democrats is the U.S. Senate—but even that base appears threatened. Although there are currently 12 Democratic seats from states that Romney carried in 2012, seven of them are up for re-election in November. As in the House, this bloc will almost certainly shrink.