Thursday, July 24, 2014

Voter Enthusiasm in Midsummer

Pew reports:
The Republican Party holds a clear advantage in voter engagement in this fall’s midterm elections, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center. Yet GOP voters are not as enthused and engaged as they were at this point in the midterm campaign four years ago, prior to the Republican Party winning control of the House of Representatives, or as Democratic voters were in 2006, before Democrats gained control of Congress.
The latest survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 8-14 among 1,805 adults, including 1,420 registered voters, finds neither party has an advantage in voter preferences. Currently, 45% say if the election were held today they would support the Republican in their district or lean toward the Republican, while 47% favor the Democrat or lean Democratic.
The two parties also ran even on the so-called “generic ballot” throughout much of the 2010 campaign. The GOP’s victory in the national popular vote in 2010 – and their gain of 63 seats in the House – was ultimately fueled by a sharp rise in turnout by the Republican base, particularly among conservatives and older voters.
Today, the Republicans lead on a number of key engagement indicators, though in some cases by smaller margins than four years ago. Currently, 45% of registered voters who plan to support the Republican in their district say they are more enthusiastic about voting than in prior congressional elections; that compares with 37% of those who plan to vote for the Democratic candidate. The GOP had a 13-point enthusiasm advantage at this point in the midterm campaign four years ago (55% to 42%) and the Democrats held a 17-point advantage eight years ago (47% to 30%).
However, as many voters who support the Republican in their district say they are “absolutely certain” to vote this fall as said this in June 2010. Three-quarters of Republican voters (76%) say they are absolutely certain to vote, compared with 67% of Democratic voters. Four years ago, 77% of Republican voters and 64% of Democratic voters said they were absolutely certain to vote in the fall.
Barack Obama is as powerful a motivating factor for Republican voters as he was in 2010: about half (51%) of those who say they will vote Republican this fall consider their vote as a vote “against” Obama, little changed from June 2010 (52%). And Obama has become a less positive factor for Democrats – 36% of those who plan to vote for the Democrat in their district view their vote as being “for” Obama, down from 44% four years ago. (For more on Obama’s job ratings.)

Oppo Summer!

At The Hill, Cameron Joseph and Alexandra Jaffe report:
The battle for the Senate is shifting fully into opposition research season after Georgia's Tuesday primary decided one of the final marquee Senate matchups.
Campaigns across the country are beginning to crack their research books to leak embarrassing and incriminating stories about their opponents, seeking to disqualify them as the general election season heats up.
On Wednesday alone, the New York Times reported that Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) plagiarized much of his 2007 master’s thesis, Michigan papers continued their coverage of questions surrounding Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land’s (R) financial disclosures (which are missing any record of a joint account with her husband, which she’s said is being used to pump millions of their money into the race), and Iowa Republicans continued to make hay out of Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) poor attendance record at Veterans Affairs Committee hearings.
Opposition research dumps, always a key facet of campaigns, have become even more important with shrinking newsrooms and burgeoning outside groups such as American Bridge on the left and, this cycle, the GOP’s response with America Rising. At the same time, what used to be “October surprises” are now coming earlier as campaigns and super-PACs spend on early TV and candidates look to damage each other in the spring and summer.
A tracker for America Rising found an unhappy Walsh coming out of a fundraiser:

In Michigan, America Rising counters on the personal financial disclosure front:
Gary Peters loves to rail against companies that move overseas for tax purposes. He supports cracking down on offshore tax havens, voted for a bill that would crack down of offshore tax evasion, and said that the U.S. needs to keep corporations from exploiting offshore tax shelters.
But, according to his personal financial disclosure, Gary Peters owns between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of stock in Medtronic Inc:
In June, Medtronic bought Covidien Plc. The new combined company will be based in Ireland for tax purposes and the move would free up almost $14 billion that Medtronic would avoid paying taxes on in the U.S.
Peters talks a big game, but when it comes right down to it, he profits from companies that avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Meanwhile, Crossroads GPS deploys votes and quotes against Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mark Udall (D-CO):

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Low Primary Turnout

A release from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate:
If the first 25 statewide primaries (for U.S. Senate and/or state governor) are any guide, the nation is likely to witness the lowest midterm primary turnout in history. It is also likely to witness the greatest number of states setting records for low voter turnout.
--National turnout for the 25 states which held statewide primaries for both major parties reported a decline of 3.5 percentage points or 18 percent from the turnout in 2010. The national percentage of eligible citizens who voted in these primaries was 14.8 percent, down from 18.3 percent in 2010. Only 18,201,718 out of 122,751,000 age-eligible citizens voted for governor and/or U.S. Senator in these primaries.
--Turnout in fifteen of the twenty-five states which held statewide primaries reached historic lows. Only three of those 25 states had higher turnout in 2014 than in 2010.
--Republican turnout at 8.2 percent dropped 1.4 percentage points or 15 percent from its 2010 level of 9.6 percent of the age-eligible citizens. But GOP turnout was only slightly off its 13 midterm election average of 8.9 percent.
These were among the highlights of a report on official and certified final turnout figures for all the contested statewide primary elections prior to July by the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE). The aggregate national turnout figures in this report are based on the average turnout of all the states which held primaries in any given midterm election. (Some of the states that held primaries in 2014 did not do so in any given previous election. Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota did not do so in 2010. In the detailed charts section of this report, there are charts providing comparisons between states that held primaries in every prior midterm election. Those charts don’t change the essential conclusions based on averages in this report.)
Among other findings:
--Overall turnout, the turnout in both Democratic and Republican primaries combined was 17.1 percentage points or 54 percent lower that the most recent high of 31.9 percent of age-eligible citizens voting in 1966.
--Democratic turnout was 14.5 percentage points or 70 percent lower than their most recent high of 20.9 percent of eligibles voting in 1970.
--Republican turnout was down five percentage points or 38 percent from its high water mark of 13.2 percent of eligibles voting in 1966.
--There were only three states – West Virginia, Nebraska and North Carolina – of the 22 which held statewide primaries in both parties and had comparable elections that had higher turnout in 2014 than in 2010. Democratic turnout as compared to 2010 was higher four states. Republican turnout was higher in six of the 22 states.
--Both overall turnout and Democratic turnout reached record lows in 15 of the 25 states that had statewide primaries. The GOP recorded record lows in three states – Maine, Nevada and Pennsylvania – but also recorded record high turnout in four states – Arkansas, Mississippi (in the senatorial runoff), Montana and Oklahoma.

Immigration Polls

With thousands of undocumented immigrant minors crossing the nation's southern border in recent months, the percentage of Americans citing immigration as the top problem has surged to 17% this month, up from 5% in June, and the highest seen since 2006. As a result, immigration now virtually ties "dissatisfaction with government," at 16%, as the primary issue Americans think of when asked to name the country's top problem. 
This is not the first time that immigration has spiked in the public's consciousness. Most recently, Gallup found the issue increasing to 10% in 2010, at a time when a new immigration law in Arizona was making news. And prior to that, it increased twice in 2006 to 15% or higher, amid congressional debate over immigration reform. 
Signaling that public mentions of immigration today could be stemming more from concern about illegal immigration than from support for immigration reform, mentions of the issue are significantly higher among Republicans (23%) than Democrats (11%). Gallup polling earlier this year showed Republicans with a preference for focusing on sealing the border, while Democrats prioritized addressing the status of illegal immigrants already here.
Even in Massachusetts, there is considerable opposition to taking the young migrants and other undocumented aliens.  The Boston Globe reports:
Massachusetts voters are split on Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to provide temporary shelter for up to 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children on a state air base or military training installation, according to a new Boston Globe poll. 
Given the details of Patrick’s proposal, including the fact that the facilities would be staffed and paid for by the federal government and open for up to four months, 50 percent of those polled expressed support, with 43 percent opposed. That’s within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

But on national immigration initiatives, respondents were more skeptical. Asked more broadly whether the migrant children should be allowed to stay in the United States after judicial hearings, only 39 percent answered yes, compared with 43 percent who said the children should be deported.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Single-Candidate Super PACs

Open Secrets reports:
We’ve written before about “single-candidate super PACs,” outside spending groups that exist solely to support or oppose a sole office-seeker. Last cycle, virtually every presidential candidate had at least one dedicated super PAC. Some are managed by the candidate’s close associates, most notablyRestore Our Future, last cycle’s top-spending super PAC and one of Mitt Romney’s most important allies; others are run by wealthy outsiders with no connection to the candidateexcept a shared ideology.
Now, we’ve given these groups a permanent home on our site. Our single-candidate super PAC page will put these groups in focus and highlight their growing importance.
Conservatives have dominated the single-candidate super PAC scene in both the 2012 and 2014 cycles (so far), outspending their liberal counterparts by about three-to-one. Of the 30 single-candidate groups that have reported independent expenditures this cycle, 26 lean conservative – although the largest, Put Alaska First PAC, backs Democrat Mark Begich. This is partly a reflection of the importance of super PACs in primaries, where a few million dollars in independent expenditures can make or break a candidacy; most of the hottest primary battles in 2012 and 2014 have been Republican contests.
The Washington Post reports:
As one of their first to-do items, congressional hopefuls are now asked to identify wealthy family members, friends or business associates willing to spend on behalf of their candidacies. As a result, deep-pocketed political patrons and special interests have a greater ability than ever before to influence the outcome of individual races, with a relatively modest investment of funds. 
“It is the norm this cycle,” said Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan Republican Party chairman, noting that he told every potential candidate to identify generous friends and family members. “Anybody giving advice to campaigns that did not recommend super PACs as part of the strategy mix would be committing political malpractice.”
So far in 2014, at least 64 such groups have poured more than $21 million into television ads, mailers and robo-calls to help their chosen candidates, according to campaign finance data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That means such groups are on track to far exceed the nearly $31 million spent in the 2012 elections by 42 super PACs focused on individual congressional candidates, according to data analyzed by the advocacy group Public Citizen.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lincoln Labs and the Iron Law of Emulation

At The Los Angeles Times, Seehma Mehta writes of GOP and conservative efforts to reach out to the tech community.
"It does make you stand out a little bit. You have to be careful how you position yourself. You have to be careful what you say in public," Eric Jackson, co-founder of CapLinked, said during a panel discussion Saturday about conservatives in the industry at the inaugural Lincoln Labs Reboot conference. 
Having taken a drubbing in the last couple of elections, I think the party has woken up to the idea of having better technology," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the California Republican Party, during a panel Friday evening. "I can order Uber to come to my house in two minutes. We still don't have good apps to give me a good map to walk precincts on a weekend." 
Lincoln Labs is one of several efforts born in the aftermath of the 2012 election, which set off tsunami warnings in GOP circles because of the Democrats' stark advantage in the use of technology and data. The Republican National Committee is spending $17 million on efforts to modernize its technology and use of data, with mixed reviews.
The founders of Lincoln Labs said they saw the need firsthand when their technology efforts were rebuffed by some party and campaign officials in 2012.
They face obstacles in their current endeavor: One of Lincoln Labs' first hackathons had to switch locations when employees of the firm that had planned to host it complained about the group's backing by entities related to the Koch brothers, two wealthy donors who give money to conservative causes. 
The iron law of emulation kicks in:
Bret Jacobson, co-founder of the digital advocacy firm Red Edge, said conservatives need to understand what the left did well, create their own digital approaches, and replicate them across the party and campaigns. 
"We view 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 as a continuum, and a process the right will go through culturally, and then we'll be able to judge whether it worked," he said during a panel discussion Saturday.

Partisans and the Mideast

The Pew Research Center reports on a survey conducted July 8-14 among 1,805 adults:
Currently, 51% of Americans say that in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, they sympathize more with Israel. Just 14% sympathize more with the Palestinians, while 15% volunteer that they sympathize with neither side and 3% sympathize with both.

These views are little changed from April, before the recent outbreak of Mideast violence. However, the share of Republicans who sympathize more with Israel has risen from 68% to 73%; 44% of Democrats express more sympathy for Israel than the Palestinians, which is largely unchanged from April (46%). The share of independents siding more with Israel than the Palestinians has slipped from 51% to 45%.

Just 17% of Democrats, 17% of independents and 6% of Republicans sympathize more with the Palestinians than Israel. These numbers have changed little since April.
White evangelical Protestants remain more likely than members of other religious groups to sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians (70%). White evangelical Protestants make up nearly a third of Republicans (31% of all Republicans and Republican leaners), so this accounts for at least some of the partisan gap in sympathies. However, even among Republicans who are not white evangelicals, two-thirds (66%) sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians. This compares with 78% of white evangelical Republicans.