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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

CA: Brown Plays Up Age

Jerry Brown resents Meg Whitman's focus on his age. Andy Barr reports in Politico:

California Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown on Wednesday criticized Republican rival Meg Whitman for running an ad highlighting his age.

Whitman began running a ‘60s-themed television ad last week tracking Brown’s five-decade career in politics. It starts with pictures of a younger Brown during his first campaign for governor in the 1960s and ends with an aging Brown in his current spot as state attorney general.

Brown, 72, was asked about the spot during an interview Wednesday morning with “Good Day L.A.” "'60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, I’ve been around a long time,” he said. “I know stuff. Knowing is better than not knowing."

Read more:

The emphasis on government experience might work this year, but it wasn't a winner for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

American Crossroads v. Reid

Chris Cillizza reports at The Washington Post:

American Crossroads, a conservative independent group, is launching its second television ad in the last three weeks targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.).

The commercial is designed to rebut the tagline of Reid's own ads: "No one can do more." It quotes Reid on the Senate floor calling it a "big day in America...only 36,000 people lost their jobs today" before asking "Really, Harry?" and noting that Nevada's unemployment rate is now the highest in the country.

American Crossroads is spending $120,000 on the ad, roughly the same amount they spent on their first commercial, which hit Reid on his support for President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package.

The group, formed this spring by a number of GOP heavyweights, has set a $50 million fundraising goal but, to date, has fallen well short of that mark. American Crossroads president Steven Law has said publicly that the organization, which was set up as a 527, has commitments in the range of $30 million.

Monday, June 28, 2010

CA: Brown and Whitman Contrast

In The Sacramento Bee, Jack Chang writes:

Whitman's team occupies part of a nondescript office park about a block away from the Cupertino headquarters of tech giant Apple Computer and several miles from the San Jose home base of eBay, the online auction firm where the candidate spent a decade as CEO.

On a recent afternoon, several dozen staff members were raising funds, monitoring media coverage of the race and doing other work in cubicles and side offices while the digital media firm Tokoni crafted the campaign's online content from another part of the office park.

Whitman has opened field offices in Costa Mesa, San Diego and Woodland Hills, and paid six-figure salaries to top GOP consultants in Sacramento and Southern California. The campaign had spent $3.58 million on campaign worker salaries as of May 22 and $8.43 million on consultants. It's run TV and radio ads since September and is experimenting with cutting-edge technology to reach voters.

"We've been innovative in the way we communicate, and that's a product of the campaign trying to be as effective as possible in building support for what we see as a movement type of candidate," said campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.

"The fact is Meg has been operating inside of a budget that is designed and calibrated to achieve a goal."

The Brown campaign, by contrast, seems to go out of its way to violate the norms of modern political campaigns.

The team works out of a brick former warehouse near Oakland's Jack London Square, set amid grocery wholesalers, condos and lofts. Last Wednesday, eight young volunteers sat at a long, wooden table at the front of the 5,000 square-foot space typing on laptops they'd brought from home.

Read more:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

CA: The Whitman Shoving Incident

At the San Francisco Chronicle, conservative columnist Debra Saunders keeps the Whitman shoving incident alive:

I've tried to get an explanation. Though given ample opportunity, Team Meg won't deny a physical element to the incident or do the other requisite things a campaign does to kill a bad story.

As a Republican, I want to know why Whitman did not disclose this story during the primary.

Did she tell campaign staff? I can't get an on-the-record answer, although the New York Times reported that Whitman's senior campaign adviser and eBay alum Henry Gomez was in the loop.

Maybe, as a political neophyte, Whitman does not understand that the people who support her have a right to know if she recently agreed to a legal settlement that could hurt GOP chances in November. In any event, she left GOP primary voters out of the loop.

"We knew about it a long time ago," [Brown spokesman Sterling] Clifford told me. "It's a well known incident in the business community in Silicon Valley." (He also denied that the Brown campaign had anything to do with the New York Times story.)

Face it: This story was bound to get out.

CA: Fiorina and Hispanic Voters

David Siders reports at the Sacramento Bee:

In a bid to reach out to Latino voters, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina campaigned in Sacramento on Saturday with former Bush administration Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a well-known advocate of creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

But Fiorina declined to say whether she agrees with Gutierrez on the issue.


Edgar Calderon, a Fiorina supporter and state vice chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said he planned to ask Fiorina about immigration but ran out of time. Asked about her refusal to address a path to citizenship, he said, "Remember, politicians are politicians."

He said, "Next time she comes to town, we're going to have those questions for her."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grassroots and Netroots 2010

House Republicans are using social networking to develop a policy agenda. America Speaking Out is the vehicle. See Reid Wilson's story at Hotline. and Charles Babington's AP story.

Meanwhile, Organizing for America continues its identity crisis. A Washington Monthly article from a few months ago put it this way:
But so far, Obama has failed to do what Reagan and Eisenhower did: he has asked his supporters to rally around Democratic causes, but he has balked at asking them to become Democrats. He has asked his loyal enthusiasts to take ownership of a presidency, but not of a party. The distinction matters—you can support a presidency, but you can’t really participate in it. OFA has called on its members to contribute money, make phone calls on a handful of issues, even knock on doors for Democratic candidates running in off-year elections in November (desultory get-out-the-vote efforts which, unsurprisingly, turned out only dribs and drabs of Obama’s electorate for John Corzine and Creigh Deeds in their failed gubernatorial campaigns in New Jersey and Virginia). But it hasn’t asked them to, for instance, work on behalf of primary candidates who reflect their values, shape local party platforms, or run for office themselves. It’s why, for all of its fervent activity, OFA looks less like a movement than a cheering section.

More recently, the Democrats have tried to rev up OFA. CNN reported last week:

The Democratic National Committee announced details Thursday of a new addition to their get-out-the-vote efforts, which includes a website and a focus on recruiting new voters for the midterm election.

Democratic leaders vowed to spend $50 million, which they describe as an unprecedented sum, for their "Vote 2010" efforts, which include the unveiling of a new "Raise Your Vote" campaign.

Party officials say the new campaign is specifically geared toward making voting registration and getting information about voting as easy as possible for people in any state across the country to access. DNC staffers say this is the first-ever comprehensive voting information and registration hub ever housed at the party headquarters.

"Also unprecedented is the idea that when our organizers hit the doors to register voters and turn them out they will have already built a relationship with them over the last year and a half," said Mitch Stewart, director of Organizing for America, the political arm for President Obama. "This won't be the first time our organizers will have met with the pastor at the local church or the commander at the local VFW post. We're hitting the ground running."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Opinion Update

Conservative continue to outnumber liberals, and by a slightly larger margin than in the recent past. Gallup reports:

Political Ideology -- 2010 Half-Year Update (1992-2010 Trend)

The climate of opinion continues to grow toxic for the president. Resurgent Republic reports:
By a 64 to 27 percent margin, likely voters believe that the nation is on the wrong track, a net negative 11 point swing since our last survey in April. This political barometer's widening can be attributed to a shift among Independents and Democrats (largely because Republicans are already in near-unanimous agreement on the need for change). In our most recent survey, 72 percent of Independents say the nation is on the wrong track (up 7 points since April) and 56 percent of Democrats say the nation is headed in the right directio n (down 9 points since April).

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this week shows Barack Obama with a negative 45%-48% job rating. But as the Wall Street Journal story notes, Obama’s job rating among black voters is 91% positive. A lttle back of the envelope arithmetic suggests that Obama’s job rating among the 88% or 89% of non-black respondents is about 39% positive and 54% negative.
In this election, the swing states and districts generally have below-average black populations, intensifying the effect of the president's unpopularity.

Newsweek reports:
Though the McChrystal drama has passed, the Afghanistan war continues and signals further political problems for Obama's administration in the fall, even while worries about Iraq appear to be subsiding. The poll found that 46 percent of respondents think America is losing the war in Afghanistan (26 percent say the military is winning). A similar plurality think the U.S. is losing the broader war on terrorism (43 percent vs. 29 percent), though the war in Iraq is seen as a successful effort, with 42 percent saying the U.S. is winning there, compared with 34 percent who say the U.S. is losing. While many factors have contributed to this gradual collapse in public support, the revelations of military-civilian dysfunction that have accompanied the McChrystal fiasco have likely made matters worse.
In fact, solid majorities of Americans now disapprove of the way the president is handling almost every major challenge confronting his administration—a complete reversal from only four months ago, when he enjoyed broad public support on the issues.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CA: Senate Candidates and Silicon Valley

The Los Angeles Times reports that HP will be a campaign issue:
In her memoirs, Fiorina acknowledged that she knew before she pushed a controversial 2001 merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer Corp. that it would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs. The company also laid off 6,000 workers shortly before the merger was announced, and job cuts occurred each year after through 2005, when she was fired. But asked after the event Wednesday whether she had any regrets about those cuts, Fiorina defended her decisions.

"Every business in this state knows that there are times when you face a terrible decision: do you lay off some to save the enterprise?" she said. "Barbara Boxer doesn't understand it; she can't possibly understand it."

But Boxer's campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski, said Fiorina's choices at HP placed "profits over people."
Politico reports that Boxer is doing fine with the tech industry:

So while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Fiorina is touting her conservative, business-friendly leanings, it’s Boxer’s tech-friendly track record that is helping her on the campaign trail.

“She’s someone who’s viewed as one of the most liberal members of the Senate, but on key tech issues, [Boxer] has not only often voted the right way but has been an evangelist in her caucus on the floor for key tech issues,” Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, told POLITICO.

Read more:

But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the computer/internet field is not Boxer's top industry for contributions. Career totals:

Lawyers/Law Firms .....$4,474,825
Women's Issues ............$2,653,311
TV/Movies/Music ........$2,281,469
Retired ..........................$1,733,397
Democratic/Liberal ......$1,319,321
Real Estate .......................$931,238
Securities & Investment $863,586
Health Professionals .......$834,843
Pro-Israel .......................$742,407
Business Services ............$662,353
Lobbyists ........................$637,751
Leadership PACs ............$568,860
Computers/Internet ......$537,367

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CA: 40 Years

Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times reports that Meg Whitman addressed reports of a 2007 shoving incident at eBay, saying it was a mere "verbal misunderstanding." And she found a way to remind people of how long Jerry Brown has been in politics, dismissing his comment that the Goebbels gaffe was off the record.
"Jerry Brown has been in politics for 40 years," Whitman said, chuckling. "Jerry Brown knows exactly how this game works."
Whitman is hitting the "40 years" theme in a new ad:

Whitman mentioned the "40 years" during her primary-night speech, and expect to hear the phrase "40 years" many times in the months ahead. Not only does it remind people that Brown is a longtime insider, but it even has a biblical resonance.

At Politico, Maggie Haberman says that Democrats are worried that Brown is still campaigning like it's 1970, with no real field operation in place yet.

Republicans are quickly seizing on the sense of inactivity to convey a sense of creakiness.

“A lot has changed since Brown was last governor — like the invention of movable-type printing, the Internet, cell phones and the end of the Cold War — but we are not taking anything for granted,” said Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

“Meg is prepared to counter his blast-fax offensive and Burma-Shave billboard blitzes,” he said. “We are also on the lookout for a serious snail-mail pen-pal campaign that we are hearing he and the unions might mount. But I am most concerned about the reports of his mass-production of campaign buttons. Now, that has me losing sleep.”

Haberman also reports:

Whitman’s spending is particularly noteworthy in Spanish-language media, where the free press has blasted her over her immigration stand in the primary. [see another ad here]

Still, she’s following a model that many likened to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s early spending in his first successful race in 2001: investing heavily out of the gate in Spanish-language paid media.

Bloomberg split the Hispanic vote down the middle with his white Democratic rival — an astonishing feat for a Republican in New York City at the time.

While Whitman won’t split or even come close to splitting the Hispanic vote with Brown, who has a strong relationship with the state’s Latino voters, if she can siphon off some voters, it could make a difference.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Electoral College Shift

Peter Brown writes in The Wall Street Journal that the 2010 census will help the GOP in the 2012 presidential election:

The best guess – and it is more than a guess since reasonably accurate population projections for the states are no secret – is that the following states are likely to gain one seat in Congress and one electoral vote: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Texas will gain at least two and probably three. One other state is likely to gain a seat, but it is not clear at this point which one it will be.

Five of those states, including Texas, went for Republican John McCain in 2008, but all except Washington backed Mr. Bush in the close 2000 and 2004 elections – an indication that if 2012 is as close as it was in those two years, this year’s census could give the GOP nine of the 10 votes.

Conversely, Ohio is expected to lose two congressional seats and Electoral College votes while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are expected to lose one each. President Obama carried all of those states in 2008 except Louisiana.

Keep in mind these are estimates and the numbers might be off here or there, but there is no doubt about the overall trend.

Monday, June 21, 2010

American Crossroads Lags in Fundraising

At Politico, Kenneth Vogel reports:

A new 527 group conceived by veteran GOP hands Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie and launched this year with predictions that it would raise $52 million to support Republican candidates has thus far failed to live up to the fundraising hype.

The group, American Crossroads, raised only $200 last month, according to a report it filed Monday with the Internal Revenue Service, bringing its total raised since launching in March to a little more than $1.25 million. It spent $76,000 in May, primarily on legal fees and salaries, bringing its total spending to $140,000.

Read more:

Bad Numbers for Dems, Continued

In The Wall Street Journal, David Brady, Daniel Kessler and Douglas Rivers write:

In January, we asked voters in 11 states that could have competitive Senate races in November—Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania—how they felt about health reform and how they were likely to vote. The polls were conducted by YouGov using a panel of Internet users selected to represent registered voters in each state. We found widespread opposition to reform—and to the Democratic senators who voted in favor of it.

Last month, we went back to the same voters and asked the same questions. We found that public opinion about health reform is roughly stable, and opposition to reform appears to be an important determinant of voting intention in the midterm elections—particularly for political independents.

Gallup reports:
An average of 59% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have said they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year compared with past elections, the highest average Gallup has found in a midterm election year for either party since the question was first asked in 1994.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

CA: Fiorina's Rough Start

The legacy of the primary campaign lives on, according to The San Jose Mercury News:

IA was making the rounds of political Web sites the other day when we stumbled upon an ad by Barbara Boxer that looked oddly familiar.

Sure enough, the ad — a link to a two-minute video slamming Carly Fiorina's record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard — was produced by Tom Campbell, the law professor and former congressman who lost the Republican primary to Fiorina.

Boxer took the video and adopted it, in its entirety, as her own (it can be viewed at The Democratic senator did give credit, noting in an introduction that what followed was a Campbell joint (our words), along with this line: "What Republicans say about Carly Fiorina ..."

And when she campaigned in a black neighborhood on Juneteenth, liberal activists took a page from Alinsky. From the LA Times:

"While we have still much work to go, while there is still much injustice, we do live in a country where an African American man can become president of the United States, the most powerful leader in the world," Fiorina said to applause.

But midway through her remarks, 39-year-old Heather Buzzard charged through the crowd, shouting: "You are a turncoat and a back-stabber, you can't even stand black people. You are a two-faced liar."

Buzzard eventually left after a man in the front row turned and told her, "We invite everybody here." Moments later, another woman mockingly kneeled on the grass in front of Fiorina and bowed her head to the ground.

Partisan Warfare in the Past Week

The president was quite direct in his Saturday address, titled "Republicans Blocking Progress." From the text:
Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate won’t even allow this legislation to come up for a vote. And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home.

And as we speak today, 136 men and women who I’ve nominated for key positions in the federal government are awaiting a vote on the floor of the Senate. All are highly qualified. Very few are controversial. The vast majority already have support from both parties. But most of them are seeing their nominations intentionally delayed by Republican leaders, or even blocked altogether. They cannot get a vote. What this means is that, at a moment when our country is facing so many challenges – a time when we need all hands on deck – we cannot get the qualified people we need to start the jobs they were appointed to do.
And from Politico:

As the political aftershocks from Rep. Joe Barton’s expression of sympathy for British Petroleum continue, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel promised Sunday that President Barack Obama hopes to make sure that voters don’t forget the gaffe anytime soon.

Emanuel tore into the GOP over Barton’s apology for the government’s treatment of the company responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying on ABC’s “This Week,” that “in case you forgot what Republican governance was like, Joe Barton reminded you.”

Read more:
At the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), strategists blasted out fundraising solicitations and searched for vulnerable GOP candidates to hang Barton’s comments around like a 50-pound weight. The fund-raising e-mail warned donors that “if the GOP wins back the House, Barton is the guy who could be in charge of regulating the oil industry.” Officials said the first national television ad featuring Barton would run on cable stations as soon as this weekend.
Politico also reports that the GOP started damage control soon after Barton's comment:

Republican leaders left the floor vote and huddled in Boehner’s second-floor Capitol suite. Boehner, Cantor and leadership aides discussed calling a meeting of the Republican Steering Committee to recommend Barton be summarily removed from his job.

They were “a hair away” from booting Barton outright, according to a Republican aide.

The private maneuverings by his colleagues to get rid of him were “news to me” Barton told POLITICO as he walked into the ambush. He said he planned to keep his job: “Damn straight,” he said.

The Texas machismo – or perhaps a basic ignorance of the peril at hand – was evident in the meeting, according to Republican sources. Barton didn’t get it.

He was offered an out: Apologize for the apology or lose his job.

Read more:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tea Party Origins

Although Rick Santelli gave a name to the tea party movement, the underlying sentiment had been building for some time. Reporting on a Bradley Center panel about the movement, Chuck Raasch writes:

It is a misnomer and political miscalculation for detractors and supporters of the tea party movement to view it strictly as a recoil to President Barack Obama and his policies.

Indeed, as leading conservative activists, thinkers and writers said this week, millions of conservative Americans seethed in quiet discontent over the spending and growth of the federal government under Republican George W. Bush. Only the fight against terrorism kept the fire from breaking out under Bush's watch.

Some trace the tea party's roots as far back as Bush's decision to endorse then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter in stead of his limited-government primary opponent, Pat Toomey, in a 2004 Pennsylvania Senate primary

Friday, June 18, 2010

CA: The Politics of Endorsements

Much of Silicon Valley seems to be supporting Boxer over local candidate Carly Fiorina. Bloomberg reports:

Boxer’s popularity in Silicon Valley is due in part to her role as chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where she has focused on creating clean-energy jobs and reducing carbon emissions. She’s also backed policy for the granting of more H-1B visas, which bring technology engineers to the U.S. from overseas. And in 2004 she opposed rules that forced companies to expense stock options for employees, saying it would eliminate an incentive for attracting top talent.

“Barbara has worked with our industry on critical issues impacting Silicon Valley, including education, promoting innovation, stock options and tax policies,” Chambers, Cisco’s chief executive officer and a founding member of Technology Leaders for Boxer, said in an e-mail.

As for Fiorina

“There’s a lot of animus about her business decisions at HP,” said Barbara O’Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento. “It’s mostly the Compaq decision and how she handled it.”

David Siders of the Sacramento Bee reports of the governor:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is not sure he will endorse either candidate bidding to succeed him. If he does, he said after last week's primary elections, it will not necessarily be Republican Meg Whitman, his party's nominee. Not that she has asked. Or that the governor's endorsement would be helpful, anyway.

Presidential Credentialism

Eugene Robinson, usually a supporter of the president, criticized him for trumpeting Energy Secretary Chu's Nobel Prize during his Oval Office address this week:

We can all applaud Chu’s accomplishment. But here’s the thing: Chu is a physicist, not an engineer or a biologist. His Nobel was awarded for the work he did in trapping individual atoms with lasers. He’s absurdly smart. But there’s nothing in his background to suggest he knows any more about capping an out-of-control deep-sea well, or containing a gargantuan oil spill, than, say, columnist Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel in economics. Or novelist Toni Morrison, who won the Nobel in literature.

In fact, Chu surely knows less about blowout preventers than the average oil-rig worker and less about delicate coastal marshes than the average shrimp-boat captain. His credentials, in this context, are meaningless. So do the president and his aides cite Chu’s beside-the-point Nobel to reassure Americans that the team handling the oil spill knows what it’s doing? Or are Obama, Browner, Axelrod, Gibbs and the others constantly trying to reassure themselves?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

American Crossroads Targets

At "The Fix," Chris Cillizza reports:

American Crossroads, the conservative independent organization promising to spend upwards of $50 million on races this fall, has settled on 11 targeted Senate contests, according to sources briefed on the group's plans.

In each of the 11 races -- in Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois and Washington state -- American Crossroads plans to hire a media consultant and pollster tasked with crafting a tailored message.

The group's first foray into a race came earlier this week in Nevada when it dropped about $120,000 on a week-long television buy that hits Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his support for the $787 billion economic stimulus plan.

Wilson Grand is handling the ads for American Crossroads in Nevada while Jan van Lohuizen of Voter/Consumer Research, who handled polling for President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election bid, will play the same role for the conservative group in the Silver State.

Sources familiar with the group, which was formed in the spring with the blessing of major GOP figures including Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, cast the selection of Senate targets as evidence that it is beginning to function in the way it was imagined.

As further evidence, they point to the hires of Carl Forti, a former political director for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential camp, to a similar role for American Crossroads as well as Chris McInerney, another former Romney aide, as the organization's research director.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CA: National GOP to Come In?

Seema Mehta reports at the Los Angeles Times:

National Republicans, buoyed by what they see as a potential resurgence in California, pledged Tuesday to send significant financial, logistical and strategic resources to the state in coming weeks.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said Republicans in years past have treated California as a “flyover” state because of Democrats’ electoral edge, or little more than fertile grounds for fundraising.

“The days of just grabbing and going or just ignoring altogether are over,” he said after meeting with California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring in Washington, D.C. “We’re going to be full partners on the ground.”

Asked how much the RNC would spend, Steele chuckled and said, "a lot," but declined to specify

Time will tell whether the commitment is real or a mere head fake.

One quickie poll shows statistical ties in the races for Senate and governor. If other polls yield similar results, then maybe the national GOP will follow through.

CA: National GOP to Come In?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CA: Same-Sex Marriage Stand Hurt Campbell

Capitol Weekly reports:

Tom Campbell still would have lost his Republican primary for U.S. Senate even if he didn't support gay marriage, according to a survey of GOP voters. But he probably wouldn’t have been trounced as badly as he was.

That’s the conclusion of a poll commissioned by the National Organization for Marriage, a group opposing same-sex marriage that ran an ad campaign targeting Campbell on the issue.

Even though most voters didn’t know Campbell’s position, there was a significant minority who did. The poll showed that the latter turned against Campbell in large numbers.

The post-election poll of 300 GOP primary voters found that those who voted for Campbell’s opponents were more aware of his gay-marriage stand. Of the voters who supported Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, or former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, three in 10 said Campbell’s opposition to Proposition 8 was a factor in their decision.

NOM's release on the poll is here.

Poll: Swing Districts May Swing Republican

Yet more bad poll data for Democrats come from NPR:

A new public opinion survey for NPR shows just how difficult it will be for Democrats to avoid big losses in the House this November.

Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger conducted the first public battleground poll of this election cycle. They chose the 70 House districts experts regard as most likely to oust incumbents this fall. What they found was grim news for Democrats.

For this poll, Bolger and Greenberg chose the districts where incumbents are considered the most vulnerable, and, in the case of open seats, the ones most likely to switch party control in November. Sixty are currently held by Democrats — many of whom won these seats even when voters in the same district preferred Republican John McCain for president in 2008. The other 10 districts are the flip side — held by Republicans in the House, even though their voters went for Barack Obama in 2008.

These are this year's swing seats — the political terrain where the battle for control of the House of Representatives will be won or lost. In this battleground, voters are choosing Republicans over Democrats 49 percent to 41 percent.

NPR Poll: Congressional Battleground

Monday, June 14, 2010

American Crossroads v. Harry Reid

American Crossroads is running an ad against Harry Reid, as Chris Cillizza reports:

American Crossroads, a conservative outside organization, is launching television ads today that take Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to task for the economic stimulus package passed by Congress last year.

"With Nevada in economic free fall, Harry Reid brags about his taxpayer-funded $787 billion bailout," says the ad narrator. The ad goes on to note that 180,000 Nevadans are out of work and home values have "plummeted." The ad ends with an image of Reid, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The ad, which will run for a week and cost the group $120,000, is the first television commercial sponsored by American Crossroads since it was formed in the spring. According to its most recent filing, the group has raised a little over $1 million but has significantly broader financial aspirations.

Democrats Off Center

Bold moves by Congress and the president have not helped the Democratic Party's public image. Gallup reports:
In the past two years, Americans have become increasingly likely to describe the Democratic Party's views as "too liberal" (49%), and less likely to say its views are "about right" (38%). Americans' views of the Republican Party, on the other hand, have moderated slightly, with a dip in the percentage saying the GOP is too conservative from 43% last year to 40% today, and an increase in the percentage saying it is about right, from 34% to 41%.

The recent increase in perceptions of the Democratic Party as too liberal could be a response to the expansion in government spending since President Barack Obama took office, most notably regarding the economic stimulus and healthcare legislation.

The 49% of Americans who now believe the Democratic Party's views are too liberal is one percentage point below the 50% Gallup measured after the 1994 elections, the all-time high in the trend question first asked in 1992.

And Rasmussen reports:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 19% of voters think it would be better for the country if most incumbents in Congress were reelected this November. Sixty-five percent (65%) disagree and say it would be better if most were defeated. Sixteen percent (16%) aren’t sure.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

POTUS and the Press

One expects New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd to dump snark on Republicans. So when she does it to President Obama it's worth a note:

The press traveling with Obama on the campaign never had a lovey-dovey relationship with him. He treated us with aloof correctness, and occasional spurts of irritation. Like many Democrats, he thinks the press is supposed to be on his side.

The patrician George Bush senior was always gracious with reporters while conveying the sense that what we do for a living was rude.

The former constitutional lawyer now in the White House understands that the press has a role in the democracy. But he is an elitist, too, as well as thin-skinned and controlling. So he ends up regarding scribes as intrusive, conveying a distaste for what he sees as the fundamental unseriousness of a press driven by blog-around-the-clock deadlines.

The 21st-century press beast is a scary multimedia monster, caught up in the trite as well as the vital, and reporters rarely can be as contemplative as the cerebral Obama would like.

Sometimes on the campaign plane, I would watch Obama venture back to make small talk with the press, discussing food at an event or something light. Then I would see him literally back away a few moments later as a blast of questions and flipcams hit him.

But that’s the world we live in. It hurts Obama to be a crybaby about it, and to blame the press and the “old Washington game” for his own communication failures.

For an example of the president's thoughts about the multimedia environment, see his May 9 commencement address at Hampton University:

And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- (laughter) -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.

The president's attitude is not simple a matter of feelings. There are real consequences, as The New York Times reports:

In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions. His administration has taken actions that might have provoked sharp political criticism for his predecessor, George W. Bush, who was often in public fights with the press.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Public Opinion Still Perilous for Democrats

If the election turns on the economy, these Pew data cannot be good for Democrats:
The public increasingly sees Barack Obama’s policies as having an impact on economic conditions and, for the first time, slightly more say the impact has been negative rather than positive.

About three-in-ten (29%) say Obama’s economic policies since taking office have made economic conditions worse; 23% say his policies have made conditions better. Nearly four-in-ten (38%) say they have had no effect so far or volunteer that it is too soon to tell, according to the latest Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, sponsored by SHRM. The survey was conducted June 3-6 among 1,002 adults.
Gallup data are not favorable, either:

1992-2010 Trend: Does the U.S. Representative in Your Congressional District Deserve Re-Election?

Gallup concludes:

A stronger-than-usual anti-incumbent bias is another challenge for a majority Democratic Party that is trying to minimize the losses usually dealt to the president's party in a midterm election year. Gallup's Daily tracking of registered-voter candidate preferences this year has typically shown Republicans and Democrats tied or the Republicans with a slight lead, either of which would generally predict a strong Republican showing at the polls on Election Day.

That day is still nearly five months away, but typically, voters' attitudes toward incumbents do not change dramatically over the course of an election year. To the extent change has occurred in a given election year, it has usually been toward a more negative rather than a more positive view of incumbents.

Friday, June 11, 2010

American Crossroads and the Democratic Response

Hotline on Call reports:

Angling to compete with outside GOP groups, a new Dem organization will form today aimed at helping their party stay competitive in Nov.

The group, called Commonsense Ten, is run by Dem strategists Jim Jordan, Monica Dixon and Jeff Forbes. They say they will raise millions from Dem donor communities in an effort to augment the party's fundraising operations. The Washington Post's "The Fix" blog first reported the group's existence.

Already, GOP groups aimed at helping fund the minority's campaigns have made big noise. American Crossroads, a group chaired by ex-RNC chair Mike Duncan and advised by ex-RNC chief Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove, has said it will raise upwards of $50M. The American Action Network, headed by ex-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and GOP activist Fred Malek, has already started running ads.

American Crossroads has launched its website (here).

CA: Brown Compares Whitman to Nazi

After calling his Republican rivals "the apostles of darkness and ignorance" on Monday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown pledged this morning that his campaign would engage in "no mudslinging."
A reporter then ran into Jerry Brown and caught an unscripted moment:
Brown boasted about his legendary frugality. "I've only spent $200,000 so far. I have 20 million in the bank. I'm saving up for her." It's true - his stay-on-the-sidelines, bare-bones primary run cost him almost nothing, at least in California political terms. But he also fretted about the impact of all those eBay dollars in Whitman's very deep pockets. "You know, by the time she's done with me, two months from now, I'll be a child-molesting..." He let the line trail off. "She'll have people believing whatever she wants about me." Then he went off on a riff I didn't expect.

"It's like Goebbels," referring to Hitler's notorious Minister of Propaganda. "Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world. She wants to be president. That's her ambition, the first woman president. That's what this is all about."
Brown later said that he had been taken out of context.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CA: iCarly and eMeg

Rasmussen reports:
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of voters in yesterday’s California Republican Primary have a favorable opinion of their party’s new Senate nominee, Carly Fiorina. A Rasmussen Reports Election Night Survey found that just over 50% had favorable views of her two opponents Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore.

Meg Whitman’s mega-win in Tuesday’s Republican Primary has thrown her into a virtual tie once again with Democrat Jerry Brown in the race to be the next governor of California.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in California, taken last night, shows Brown with 45% of the vote, while Whitman earns 44% support. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and seven percent (7%) are undecided.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Barone on the June 8 Primaries

Michael Barone writes:

Eleven states voted yesterday in primaries and runoffs—the largest number of the year—and one way to look at the results is that no incumbent member of Congress lost his or her bid for reelection. So does this make 2010 less of an anti-incumbent (and anti-Democratic) year? Not really. I am put in mind of the story of the Teamsters Union business agent who was confined to the hospital. A bouquet was sent, with a note reading: “The Executive Board wishes you a speedy recovery, by a vote of nine to six.” Such was the voters’ verdict on incumbents on June 8.

Consider Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, renominated in 2004 by an 83%-17% margin and reelected that November by 56%-44%. One big headline of last night’s news coverage was that she won her Democratic primary runoff over Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. But her margin was only 52%-48%. And in recent polling she trails 3rd district Republican Congressman John Boozman by a 59%-34% margin. Her runoff victory and her “I’ll keep fighting” election night speech may close the gap a bit in Jacksonian Arkansas. But not by much.

Or consider South Carolina 4th district Republican Congressman Bob Inglis. Elected in 1992, 1994 and 1996, he lost a Senate race to Democrat Ernest Hollings in 1998, then came back to win when his 4th district successor Jim DeMint ran successfully for Hollings’s seat in 2004 and won reelection in 2006 and 2008. So he’s represented the 4th district—Greenville and Spartanburg, basically, for 12 of the last 18 years. And on Tuesday he trailed Spartanburg County Solicitor (i.e., prosecutor) Trey Gowdy by a 39%-28% margin. That’s a devastating result for an incumbent in his own party’s primary: 100% know him and 72% voted for someone else. Inglis managed to carry his home base of Greenville County but by only 29%-24%. He lost Spartanburg County 60%-19%. Maybe he has a chance in the runoff since there are a lot more voters in Greenville County than Spartanburg County; but I doubt it. Gowdy’s winning tactic: he pointed out that Inglis has the most liberal voting record of any South Carolina Republican member of Congress (although only marginally more so than Senator Lindsey Graham’s), including voting for the $700 billion TARP bill in fall 2008.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:
Swing State Project notes a race that confirms Barone's analysis:
Who (other than Swing State Project, of course) would've guessed that out of all the dozens of incumbent House members up for re-election, the night's second worst performance after Bob Inglis would come from Orange County's Gary Miller? With problems including war record embellishment, ethical clouds, and a pro-TARP vote, Miller beat Phil Liberatore only 49-37.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 43

In an interview with Matt Lauer, the president discussed the Gulf oil spill and went for the gluteus:

MR. LAUER: -- that this is not the time to meet with experts and advisers. This is a time to spend more time in the Gulf and -- I never thought I'd say this to a president -- but kick some butt.


MR. LAUER: And I don't mean it to be funny.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No. And I understand. And here's what -- I'm going to push back hard on this, because I think that this is just an idea that got in folks' heads and the media has run with it. I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be.

And I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers so I know whose ass to kick, right?

So, you know, this is not theater. Most of the decisions that I make on a day-to-day basis, I make because I have gathered the best information possible in very difficult situations, and my job is to figure out how can I move the federal government, the private sector, all the various players who are involved, to perform some very, very difficult tasks?

And I don't always have time to perform for the benefit of the cable shows. What I do have is dedication and commitment to make sure that the people who are actually being affected by this are going to get the best possible service from me. And as long as I'm president, that's the approach that I'm going to take to this job.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Town Halls: A Reaction That Alinsky Could Have Predicted

The New York Times reports:

The sentiment that fueled the rage during those Congressional forums is still alive in the electorate. But the opportunities for voters to openly express their displeasure, or angrily vent as video cameras roll, have been harder to come by in this election year.

If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.

It was no scheduling accident.

With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.

And to reach thousands of constituents at a time, without the worry of being snared in an angry confrontation with voters, more lawmakers are also taking part in a fast-growing trend: the telephone town meeting, where chances are remote that a testy exchange will wind up on YouTube.

Some of the protesters were taking a cue from Saul Alinsky, who could have predicted the lawmakers' reaction. From a 1972 interview:

Well, quite seriously, the essence of successful tactics is originality. For one thing, it keeps your people from getting bored; any tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag itself. No matter how burning the injustice and how militant your supporters, people will get turned off by repetitious and conventional tactics. Your opposition also learns what to expect and how to neutralize you unless you're constantly devising new strategies. I knew the day of the sit-in had ended when an executive of a major corporation with important military contracts showed me the blueprints for its lavish new headquarters. "And here," he said, pointing out a spacious room, "is our sit-in hall. We've got plenty of comfortable chairs, two coffee machines and lots of magazines and newspapers. We'll just usher them in and let them stay as long as they want." No, if you're going to get anywhere, you've got to be constantly inventing new and better tactics.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Limits of the Tea Party

In The Wall Street Journal, Stu Woo and Jim Carlton make an important point about the limits of the tea party movement:

The California and Nevada primaries illustrate a potential weakness of the tea-party movement: The bigger and more complex the stage, the more money and organization the movement needs. It has little of either now.

Tea-party activists, in their crusade to reduce government spending and taxation, have notched three victories so far this year. But all occurred in small-turnout, low-cost Senate races: a state-convention vote in Utah, a primary in Kentucky and a special election in Massachusetts, although other factors were also at play there. Nevada, with its population of 2.6 million, promises to provide the next victory in this category.

In California, with a population nearing 40 million, the movement has had trouble sustaining itself without adequate resources. That suggests some populist candidates may face challenges in the general election, which draws far more voters than primaries and requires more money for advertising.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gallup Numbers Boost GOP

This week, Gallup reported data that heartened Republicans. First came the generic ballot numbers:
Gallup tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences shows Republicans moving back ahead of Democrats, 49% to 43%, by two points their largest lead of the campaign to date. Registered voters' preferences had been closely divided for the last several weeks.
Then came the top issue concerns:

The Republican Party is preferred over the Democratic Party for handling the two top-ranking issues of public concern -- terrorism and federal government debt. The Democratic Party is preferred by much wider margins for the environment and discrimination against minority groups -- but these are among the least worrisome issues to Americans.

Party Preferred to Deal With Each Perceived Threat

Friday, June 4, 2010

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 42

On Larry King, the president made a prediction:
OBAMA: You know, the -- we've gone through the worst recession since the Great Depression. We've got two wars going on right now. We've had multiple crises that have cropped up and people still haven't fully recovered in terms of their job losses, in terms of what's happening in housing.

So, you know, people, I think, understandably, are frustrated. But what they're starting to see is that the economy is getting better. We had the biggest job growth in years last month and I think we'll have decent job growth this month...

KING: Tomorrow it will come out.

OBAMA: Tomorrow we'll get an announcement. Businesses are starting to invest again. Manufacturing is stronger than it's been. The investments that we made early on -- some of which were controversial -- are paying off.

A swell in temporary government hiring for the census drove almost all the job market's gains last month — a huge disappointment to Wall Street and a sign that private employers aren't yet confident enough in the recovery to start adding workers with gusto.

Daunted by the European debt crisis and a falling U.S. stock market at home, American businesses added just 41,000 jobs in May, the fewest since January. The government hired 10 times as many for the national census, but those positions will begin to disappear as summer arrives.

At least on paper, the 431,000 total new jobs was the biggest gain in a decade. The unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent, mainly because hundreds of thousands of people gave up searching for work and were no longer counted.

"On the surface, they look great," Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, said of the numbers. "But that beauty was only skin-deep. The private sector is not out there hiring like crazy."

Thursday, June 3, 2010


At Politico, Jonathan Martin reports:

When Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Parker Griffith decided to switch parties, they were welcomed with open arms by their new political families in Washington.

But when each returned home to face the voters of his new party, the door was slammed in his face.

That both were so soundly rejected before they even got to the general election — Griffith's defeat in Alabama on Tuesday wasn't even close — illustrates the growing disconnect in both parties between the national political establishment and the grass-roots activists who typically decide primary elections, and between the conventional goals of the national parties and the loftier aims of the rank and file.

In an era of decentralized power, well-informed voters and heightened polarization, primary voters seem intent on making up their own minds and creating a party in their own image, thank you very much. And they're willing to risk a majority to do it.

Read more:

The contrast with 1994 is evident. After the GOP takeover of Congress, several Democratic House members and a couple of senators (Shelby of Alabama and Campbell of Colorado) switched sides, bolstering the new majority's strength. There had been speculation that if the Republicans fell just short of a majority in 2010, some moderate and conservative Democrats might cross the aisle to put them over the top. But now they might balk at doing so, for fear of losing their seats in 2012.

Outside Groups in 2010

The Washington Post reports on outside spending on 2010:
The biggest war chests appear to be amassed on the right, where groups hope to take advantage of widespread unhappiness over the recession, stimulus spending and other fiscal issues to propel Republicans into office. About two-thirds of the expected group expenditures compiled by The Washington Post will come from conservative-leaning groups.

For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads, a new GOP-focused group backed by former White House political director Karl Rove, each plan to spend at least $50 million this year on election-related efforts, officials said. Other big spenders on the right include the American Action Network ($25 million), the Club for Growth ($24 million) and FreedomWorks ($10 million).

The CRP's page on 527 groups is here. As of the last report, American Crossroads had raised only only $250,000.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

CA: Campbell's Last-Ditch Web Ad

In California, Tom Campbell uses a web ad to press the argument that he can beat Boxer.

As of early evening on June 2, however, the YouTube video had only 1,266 views.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

American Crossroads and the DISCLOSE Act

The Washington Post reports:

Corporations are being urged by fundraisers to use the shared megaphone of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads, a political action group founded this year by former Bush White House deputy Karl Rove. Together, the two groups and their affiliate, the American Action Network, have pledged to raise $127 million, most of it from business interests, to elect GOP candidates in 2010.

President Obama dispatched his aides to work with Congress to tighten the rules after the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Obama and Democratic leaders, who rely more heavily on unions for campaign donations, say the public deserves to know which specific corporations are bankrolling an ad that may conceal its goal and twist the facts.

"What we are facing is no less than a potential corporate takeover of our elections," Obama warned last month. "What is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy."

The Democrats' Disclose Act proposal, released in early May, would require chief executives to appear for a few seconds in campaign ads they finance, saying they personally endorse the message. Umbrella groups would have to list the top five corporate donors for an ad.

Eugene Scalia, attorney for the Chamber of Commerce, said the requirement that chief executives appear in the ads is aimed directly at the risk-averse corporate manager who doesn't want to irritate customers or shareholders, and doesn't want to be personally vilified either.

As the president once told Representative Peter DeFazio: "Don't think we're not keeping score, brother."