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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Switcher List

The following Democratic state legislators have switched to the GOP since the midterm:

1. Representative Allan Boothe – Alabama House

2. Representative Steve Hurst – Alabama House

3. Representative Mike Millican –Alabama House

4. Representative Lesley Vance – Alabama House

5. Senator Tim Golden – Georgia Senate

6. Representative Ellis Black – Georgia House

7. Representative Amy Carter – Georgia House

8. Representative Mike Cheokas – Georgia House

9. Representative Bubber Epps – Georgia House

10. Representative Gerald Greene – Georgia House

11. Representative Bob Hanner – Georgia House

12. Representative Doug McKillip – Georgia House

13. Representative Alan Powell – Georgia House

14. Senator Chris Steineger – Kansas Senate

15. Senator John Alario – Louisiana Senate

16. Senator John Smith – Louisiana Senate

17. Representative Noble Ellington – Louisiana Senate

18. Representative Walker Hines – Louisiana House

19. Representative Fred Mills – Louisiana House

20. Representative Michael Willette – Maine House

21. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith – Mississippi Senate

22. Representative Bobby Shows – Mississippi House

23. Senator Eldon Nygarrd – South Dakota Senate

24. Representative Allan Ritter – Texas House

25. Representative Aaron Pena – Texas House

A Strange Way to Protest Tax Cuts

Several professors have started a website to protest the recent tax bill because it deprives the government of revenue. Their proposal, however, will deprive the government of even more revenue. James Taranto writes at The Wall Street Journal:

We'd like to offer a last-minute nomination for the nitwittiest idea of the This is the cognitive elite's version of a tax revolt, made all the more comical because it is the product of two of America's top universities. (They are Yale and Cornell, so that our Harvard readers have reason to feel even smugger than usual today.)


These profs--Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker and law scholars Robert Hockett of Cornell and Daniel Markovits of Yale--are obviously left-wing progressive Democrats. ...So, how do they propose that you protest the absence of a tax increase? The first step is to enter your filing status and your best guess as to your 2011 adjusted gross income into a calculator on the homepage, which will "calculate the magnitude of your tax cut." (By "tax cut," they mean the tax increase that was averted.) The number is calculated to the cent, a level of precision that is utterly false. You won't actually know your adjusted gross income until you've finished the first page of your 2011 tax return, in 2012; and your taxable income varies further depending on deductions and exemptions.


They don't want you to give your money to the government. Instead, they want you to "give back . . . by making donations to organizations that promote fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class." They suggest Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, the Children's Aid Society and the Nurse Family Partnership, but you can choose another charity if you like.

One advantage of this approach, as the professors note, is that "contributions to all of the selected charities are tax deductible." That means "donations made through this site draft the government as a partner in funding the projects that they support."

To translate that obfuscatory verbiage into plain English, if you follow the professors' method of protesting your low tax bill, you will lower your tax bill even further. Talk about a win-win!


Come to think of it, we're being too hard on these guys. They've made a profound discovery: Private, voluntary charity is far more effective than coercive federal bureaucracies at helping people in need.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fundraising by Potential GOP Candidates

USA Today reports that potential GOP presidential candidates have gotten around FEC limits on presidential campaigns by setting up PACs and other fundraising accounts -- a practice that goes back decades.

Haley Barbour

Mike Huckabee

Newt Gingrich

Sarah Palin

Tim Pawlenty

Mitt Romney

Mississippi governor

Former Arkansas governor

Former House speaker

Former Alaska governor

Minnesota governor

Former Massachusetts governor

Federal PAC

Haley's PAC

Huck PAC

American Solutions PAC


Freedom First PAC

Free and Strong America PAC

Total federal receipts

$1.1 million

$1.8 million


$5.4 million

$3.3 million

$7.4 million

Donated to federal candidates and committees







Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Citizens United, American Crossroads, and the F-Word

The New York Observer reports:

In a wide-ranging interview before he prepares to leave the House of Representatives, Hudson Valley Congressman John Hall warned that the nation could quickly descend into Fascism if more is not done to curb the influence of corporate money in politics.

Speaking about the Citizen's United [sic] decision, which allowed unregulated flow of cash into campaign coffers, Hall said, "I learned when I was in social studies class in school that corporate ownership or corporate control of government is called Fascism. So that's really the question— is that the destination if this court decision goes unchecked?"

Hall said that the flow of corporate dollars is why he and the Democrats lost control of Congress.

"The country was bought," he said. "The extremist, most recent two appointees to the Supreme Court, who claimed in their confirmation hearings before the Senate that they would not be activist judges, made a very activist decision in that it overturned more than a century of precedent. And as a result there were millions of extra dollars thrown into this race."

The extra money floating around, he said, compounded the Democrats weaknesses on the economy, unemployment and the mortgage crisis. And he said that for of the accomplishments of the lame duck Congress, their failure to pass the Disclose Act—which would have at least forced corporations to reveal who they were donating to—stood out a black mark on the session.

"We are talking about supposedly wholesome names like Revere America, American Crossroads, Americans for Apple Pie and Motherhood—if somebody hasn't trademarked that one I probably should. The fact is you can call it anything and the money could be coming from BP or Aramco or any corporation domestic or foreign," Congressman Hall said.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unpopular Health Insurance Mandate

The health insurance mandate is getting less popular. A CNN poll:

Requiring all Americans who do not have health insurance to get it;

December 17-19, 2010 .............38% .....60%
August 6-10, 2010................... 44% .....56%
February 12-15, 2010 ..............45% .....53%

Monday, December 27, 2010

Somebody's Doing Serious Oppo on Barbour

The Democratic National Committee formally has asked the Pentagon for reams of correspondence between military agencies and nine potential Republican presidential candidates, a clear indication that Democrats are building opposition-research files on specific 2012 contenders even before the midterm elections ... The nine Republicans that Democrats are seeking information on are former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska; former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.; Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss.; Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.; former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind.; Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.

Erick Erickson of RedState tells CNN's John King: "There is a dribble of negative oppo flowing out on Haley Barbour. People want to know who is doing it. I think we need to look at potential primary rivals, not Democrats."

Matthew Yglesias writes: "An opposition research professional sent me this Nexis clip from Haley Barbour’s first gubernatorial campaign."

The Mississippi state plane, a zippy Cessna Citation with a capacity of 12, is a favorite of corporate executives and the wealthy, and its principal passenger, Gov. Haley Barbour, might easily be mistaken for one of them when he arrives with a small entourage at airports in Washington, Las Vegas or New York, a car and driver waiting there at their disposal.

Barbour has traveled extensively on the jet, brushing off suggestions from Mississippi Democrats that he give it up in favor of a more modest propeller plane for his travel. The trips, according to a POLITICO review of the Cessna’s flight manifest since 2007, have mixed state business with both pleasure and national politics.

AP reports:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential Republican presidential candidate, said Tuesday he was not trying to downplay the pain that many endured during the South's segregation era when he defended his home town's 1970 public school integration process.

Barbour spoke out a day after several liberal activists criticized his published comments about school desegregation in Yazoo City, which occurred when he was 20. Historical accounts confirm the schools integrated peacefully, as Barbour stated in a recent profile in the Weekly Standard magazine.

Some critics, however, said his comments skimmed over the segregationist role played by so-called Citizens Councils in the state.

TPMMuckraker reports:

Long before all this week's hoopla over Barbour's rose-tinted recollections of the segregationist Citizens' Councils, two major GOP donors who supported the controversial Swiftboat ads had already stopped their donations to the political action committee affiliated with Haley Barbour. The 527 organization known as Haley's PAC brought in $986,506 in 2008 -- but that number dropped to just $211,486 in 2009, according to recently disclosed IRS filings.

Though 2009 was an off-year in the election cycle, that remains a precipitous drop unmatched by other leadership PACs, including former Rep. Newt Gingrich's.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

California Redistricting

At the Contra Costa Times, Lisa Vorderbrueggen writes about the job facing California's new Citizens Redistricting Commission:

Mappers must keep the population of each district equal almost to a person. They must factor county and city boundaries.

Districts must be contiguous. Topography such as mountains and bays count. They must consider the vaguely defined "communities of interest."

They cannot split ethnic or racial minority populations in the hopes it will dilute their voting clout. Place two Assembly districts within each Senate district to the extent practicable.

Mappers may not factor incumbents' home addresses or draw lines that favor or hinder a political party. And remember, voters want neatly drawn districts that don't scream gerrymander.

Don't be discouraged.

You, too, can draw maps and submit them to the commission, which must conduct an "open and transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment" on the proposed lines.

The Statewide Database will open in the spring six redistricting centers around California, including one at its Berkeley office. Residents will have free access to computers and experts who will help navigate the software. (Go to for updates.)

Patrick McGreevy writes at The Los Angeles Times:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refers to it as the "ribbon of shame,'' a congressional district that stretches in a reed-thin line 200 miles along the California coast from Oxnard to the Monterey County line. Voters there refer to it as "the district that disappears at high tide."

Democratic lawmakers drew it that way to make sure one of their own won every election. The party has held the seat throughout the decade — since the last redistricting gave it a big edge in voter registration there.

Critics of that 2001 remapping have cited the coastal ribbon as Exhibit A — the reason, they say, that Californians were right to strip elected officials of the power to choose their voters and give the task of determining political boundaries to more ordinary citizens.

As the new Citizens Redistricting Commission begins its work next month, members say, the 23rd Congressional District will be a good reminder of what not to do.

"It's been used as an example of how absurd the process is,'' said Peter Yao, the commission's chairman. "It does not allow people to choose the candidate. They are forced to go with the party's choice.''

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Card

Jim Geraghty at NRO notices the Romney Christmas card: "The inscription on the bottom reads `Guess which grandchild heard that Papa might run again?'"

And a blast from the past, Mike Huckabee's 2007 ad:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Census: Disputed Count in CA

Seema Mehta reports in The Los Angeles Times:
California officials estimate that the U.S. Census Bureau failed to count 1.5 million of the state's residents, a discrepancy that if true could cost the state billions of dollars in federal aid over the next decade and perhaps an increase in its representation in Congress.

On Tuesday, the Census Bureau released national and state population figures that declared California to have 37.3 million residents, 10% more than in 2000. That growth — based on mailed-in surveys and door-to-door interviews by census takers — roughly mirrored the nation's, but meant that for the first time since California became a state in 1850 it did not grow enough to add another member to its congressional delegation.

But according to the state Department of Finance, the state's population was 38.8 million on July 1. That figure is drawn from birth and death statistics, school-enrollment data, driver's license address changes, tax returns and Medicare enrollment, a set of data points that provides a "more refined" picture of the population, according to H.D. Palmer, a finance department spokesman.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

GOP Contenders and Hispanics

Chris Good writes at The Atlantic:
Between 1990 and 2000, the Hispanic population grew by over 57 percent, from 22.4 million to 35.3 million, according to the Census Bureau. In 2010, the population is expected to grow by another 41 percent, to 49.7 million, making up just over 16 percent of the country as a whole (based on Census projections from 2008).

In some ways, this shift has yet to manifest itself politically. Arizona and Texas are still bright red. But in others, it's evident: President Obama won Nevada and New Mexico in 2008 thanks, in part, to Hispanic votes. And in the 2010 midterms, Democrats banked Hispanic votes in Nevada and California on their paths to victory in two Senate elections and one gubernatorial race.

On the whole, Hispanics vote heavily Democratic--an October Pew study found 47 percent see Democrats as more concerned about their views, while just six percent prefer the GOP--but there's some debate as to why. Hispanic voters, advocates will tell you, care about education, jobs, and health care. Pundits often assume that Hispanic votes come down to immigration policy, but immigration politicking probably has more to do with it.

"Border security is completely on the table with the majority of Latino voters, and Latino voters in general--punishing illegal alien smugglers and criminals, and if you go after people who are here who are felons or gang members or something like that--the problem is with the rhetoric, when you start lumping people in with them," Mario Lopez, the conservative president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, told me the day after the 2010 midterms.

Latinos voted 67 percent for Obama nationally in 2008, according to CNN exit polls. That reliably Democratic base is predicted to grow from 12.5 percent of the national population in 2000 to 19.4 percent by 2020.

Ironically, this will hurt Democrats in the short term. As the Hispanic population balloons Texas's Electoral College votes to four, Democrats still have not reached an electoral majority in that state. On Election Night, it's winner-take-all, and new Hispanic voters will inflate the weight given to Texas's Republican majority in the 2012 presidential race. Then again, the Hispanics will likely supply Obama with Electoral College votes from Nevada and New Mexico.
Politico reports:

It was billed, in part, as a forum for the 2012 Republican presidential field to speak directly to Hispanics — a replica of the vaunted Conservative Political Action Conference, but tailored to the fastest-growing slice of the electorate.

Yet, when former Gov. Jeb Bush, former Sen. Norm Coleman and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez open the first Hispanic Leadership Network conference next month in Miami, the only potential presidential candidate confirmed to attend — so far — is Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declined the invite. So did South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Texas Gov Rick Perry.

Newt Gingrich is “amenable” to attending but hasn’t committed yet, his spokesman said.

And others in the group, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, didn’t respond to inquiries from POLITICO.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 58

From an interview with The Advocate:
Well, no doubt I think a pivotal moment. And I know that so many people who voted for you, LGBT folks who voted for you, did so because they believe that you were a fierce supporter of equality. Given what you’ve just said, Mr. President, do you think it’s time that gays and lesbians should be entitled to full marriage rights?
Well, I spoke about this recently with some bloggers who were here ...

Mr. Joe Sudbay.
Yes, and Joe asked me the same question. And since I've been making a lot of news over the last several weeks, I’m not going to make more news today. The sentiment I expressed then is still where I am — which is, like a lot of people, I’m wrestling with this. My attitudes are evolving on this. I have always firmly believed in having a robust civil union that provides the rights and benefits under the law that marriage does. I’ve wrestled with the fact that marriage traditionally has had a different connotation. But I also have a lot of very close friends who are married gay or lesbian couples.

And squaring that circle is something that I have not done yet, but I’m continually asking myself this question, and I do think that — I will make this observation, that I notice there is a big generational difference. When you talk to people who are in their 20s, they don’t understand what the holdup is on this, regardless of their own sexual orientation. And obviously when you talk to older folks, then there’s greater resistance.

And so this is an issue that I’m still wrestling with, others are still wrestling with. What I know is that at minimum, a baseline is that there has to be a strong, robust civil union available to all gay and lesbian couples.

Can you imagine a time when you would get there? I mean, you say “evolving,” and that sort of assumes that you get somewhere. Can you imagine a time of getting there?

I'm going to stick with my answer. [Laughter]

OK. So, looking forward, I know that there are — many of your LGBT supporters would have wished for more in the first two years. And it’s never enough, of course ...
I’ve found that. [Laughter]

Census Analysis

At the Rose Institute, Doug Johnson writes:

The 2010 apportionment of Congressional districts among the 50 states is brings Western states’ gains to 26 Congressional seats since the 1970s, with the South picking up 27. The Northeast has now lost 26 seats and the Midwest 27 over the same period. The disparity in population growth will significantly alter the makeup of the House of Representatives. In the 1970s, the Midwest and Northeast together made up 52% of Congress. After 2010, they will hold only 40% of the seats. The Northeast alone held 104 seats in the 1970s, but that number is now down to 78.
At the Washington Examiner, Timothy Carney writes:

D.C. congressional representation was a possibility last decade, in part because of a proposed compromise that pleased Republicans: we increase the chamber from 435 seats to 437; D.C. would get one seat, and overwhelmingly Republican Utah would get another.

Now this wasn't just arbitrary, and Utah wasn't chosen just for being the most Republican state in the country. Utah spent last decade as the "First Loser" in the reapportionment lottery. The state just barely missed out on getting a fourth seat. Put another way, a fourth Utah seat was the 436th seat according to the reapportionment formula.

But Democrats blew up statehood over gun rights last Congress. Then Republicans took over the House. D.C. representation was basically dead for now, and the reapportionment makes it even more dead.

Utah got its fourth seat. The 436th seat this decade is North Carolina -- it just missed out on gaining a seat. Who knows if that seat would have been a Republican or Democratic seat? But we know this: it's not a good counterweight to a 100% liberal Democratic D.C. seat; and it's nothing like a 4th seat in Utah, the most Republican state in the country.

The New York Times reports:

On the surface, Republicans would seem to have an overwhelming advantage. Most of the states gaining seats trend Republican, and most of those losing them tend to elect Democrats. What is more, Republicans will be well-placed to steer the process, with Republican governors outnumbering Democratic ones 29 to 20, with one independent, come January.
“Republicans are in the best position since modern redistricting began,” said Tim Storey, an expert on redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Of the 336 districts whose borders are drawn by state legislatures, Republicans have full control of 196, Mr. Storey said. Democrats control legislatures for 49; a further 91 are split. The rest would be drawn by divided legislatures or appointed commissions.
But population gains in the South and West were driven overwhelmingly by members of minorities, particularly Hispanics. The new districts will need to be drawn to reflect their numbers, opening potential advantages for Democrats.
In Texas, for example, more than 85 percent of the population growth has been minority, according to Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire. And even though Republicans control every statewide elected office and both chambers of the legislature, state Republican officials concede that the district lines will most likely be drawn so Democrats are in position to win as many as two of the new seats.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Red Shift


Aaron Blake writes at The Washington Post:

Republican-leaning states in the South and West that experienced a population boom over the past decade will gain political clout, while some historically Democratic states in the Rust Belt will lose it, according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday aimed at ensuring proportional representation in the House.


The shift will change the partisan lean from blue to red of a net of six electoral college votes. Obama beat McCain by 192 electoral college votes in 2008.

Overall, 18 states lost or gained congressional districts. Texas, as expected, gained the most seats, moving from 32 to 36 seats. Florida was the only other state to gain multiple seats, adding two and bringing it to 27 seats.

Six other states gained a single seat: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

The biggest losers were New York and Ohio, which each lost two seats. Eight other states lost a single seat: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Republicans will control the redistricting process in eight of the states experiencing changes, while Democrats will control it in two.

Sean Trende adds at RealClearPolitics:

Overall, this represents a continued shift in the Electoral College from blue-leaning states to red-leaning states. If the 2008 election had been held under these census numbers, President Obama's 365-173 victory over John McCain would have become a 359-179 win. For 2004, the numbers are starker still: Bush's 286-251 victory would become a 292-246 win, meaning that even if Kerry had won Ohio, he still would have lost (in 2004, flipping Ohio would have been sufficient to give Kerry the win).

And finally, in 2000, rather than a 271-266 win (with one faithless Gore/Lieberman elector from DC abstaining), the changes of the past two decades would have resulted in a President Bush win of 285-252. While Florida would still would have been the difference-maker, Gore would not have to tell himself that, had he won New Hampshire, Tennessee or Arkansas, the whole Florida debacle would have been irrelevant.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Switch in the Not-So-Blue-Anymore Bayou

AP reports:

Another prominent Louisiana Democrat has officially switched his party affiliation to the GOP, giving Republicans a majority control of the state House for the first time since Reconstruction.

State Rep. Noble Ellington said last week he was "95 percent sure" he would be joining the Republican Party and GOP Chairman Roger Villere confirmed the switch Friday.

"For more than 100 years the Louisiana House of Representatives has remained under Democrat control, but today that has all come to an end," Villere said in a statement. "In just three short years a 16-seat Democrat majority has been erased and Rep. Ellington's decision to become the 53rd Republican in the House gives the GOP our first controlling majority in that body since Reconstruction.

"This is a great and historic day for the Republican Party of Louisiana and I'm pleased to welcome Rep. Ellington to the new conservative majority in the House."

Louisiana is not the only southern state where Democrats are defecting.

In Alabama, four Democrats announced last month they were joining the GOP, giving Republicans a supermajority in the House that allows them to pass legislation without any support from the other party. In Georgia, eight Democratic state lawmakers have switched allegiance to the GOP since Nov. 2.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Haley Barbour

Andrew Ferguson writes in The Weekly Standard of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a potential presidential candidate:

Since he first entered national Republican politics, as a young lawyer from Yazoo City, Mississippi, Barbour has been one of the most popular figures in the party. “If you don’t like Haley Barbour,” [former RNC chair Ed] Gillespie said, “you’ve got something wrong with you.” Amiable and humorous and tirelessly upbeat, his persona is large and unusual enough to pass for colorful in today’s politics. There’s the voice, for one thing: an accent so rich and unapologetic—nine comes out nan—that a Yankee used to the gentler roundings of more acculturated Southerners might think he’s getting his leg pulled. The Barbour style of pronunciation involves a fatal collision of sibilants, as if he’d left the dentist’s office before the Novocain could wear off. He doesn’t so much walk as saunter. Though not tall, and not as heavy as his legend suggests—what poundage there is looks tightly packed—he’s physically imposing, not to say intimidating, with impressively large hands and head, and short thick arms that swing freely when he walks. You don’t have to be a Midwestern weenie to imagine him as the Southern sheriff in Deliverance, squinting at Jon Voight through aviator sunglasses and suggesting he might want to get his pale Yankee ass out of town.

The guy who played the sheriff in the movie was the novel's author, James Dickey -- an award-winning poet and very acculturated professor at the University of South Carolina.

Just sayin'....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

American Crossroads Postelection Ad

The Washington Examiner reports:

The 2010 campaign is over, but 2012 apparently isn’t far away.

Karl Rove’s super-PAC, American Crossroads, was out this week with an ad targeting recently-re-elected House Democrats, including Northern Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly — who narrowly beat Republican Keith Fimian — over the Bush-era tax cuts.

“She’s back – Nancy Pelosi’s at it again, trying to raise taxes as our economy struggles,” the radio ad says. “And whose side is Congressman Gerry Connolly on? Will he side with Nancy Pelosi to raise job-killing taxes? Or with struggling families and small businesses that can create the jobs we need?”

The House ended up passing the tax-cut package hashed out by Republicans and President Obama. And Connolly, who represents Virginia’s wealthy 11th Congressional District and has supported a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for some time, was probably never going to vote against such a measure.

Friday, December 17, 2010

GOP Strategy

In The Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes outlines House GOP strategy:

The Republicans' strategy is to use the House as a battering ram to force their proposals and ideas to the top of Washington's list of priorities. By passing spending cuts—a new one every week—and curbs on government activism, the goal is to put Democrats and the president on the defensive.

"They're going to vote against everything," says Ohio's Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the Republican Study Committee, the influential group of House conservatives. "Democrats are going to be the party of no." And they're going have a lot to say no to.


To succeed, Republicans must prove that three hardy perennials of Washington thinking are wrong or misleading, at least at the moment.

One is that the president always sets the agenda. John Boehner, who will be the new House Speaker, endorsed that notion on election night in November. But that's no longer what Republican leaders are saying. "We're better prepared to control the agenda than the Senate or the president," says California's Kevin McCarthy, who will be majority whip in the new Republican leadership. In their Pledge to America, Republicans laid out an agenda that includes slashing spending to "pre-stimulus, pre-bailout" levels. "From day one, we're ready to move," Mr. McCarthy says, while Democrats and Mr. Obama are in disarray.

The second Washington oldie is that voters favor spending cuts and smaller government in the abstract but balk at individual reductions that may actually affect them. With a looming debt crisis, "this time it's different," Mr. Ryan says. Adds Mr. McCarthy: "You haven't had this kind of election since the '30s. You haven't had this kind of [high and steady] unemployment since the '30s."

The third maxim is that you can't govern from Capitol Hill. True enough, Newt Gingrich failed when he tried to do so as House speaker from 1994 to 1999. The GOP strategy today is different. Republicans aren't trying to govern. They're aiming to do what voters have asked for, but with little expectation of enacting legislation. And they're determined to play up ideas to help elect a Republican president in 2012.

The game plan is simple: Take on the federal behemoth in Washington. "We can't be daunted," says Mr. Ryan. "We shouldn't be intimidated. We can put our ideas out there in a very clear way. That's not by splitting hairs and being bland."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cook on 2012

Charles Cook, as usual, is clear-eyed about the numbers:

The fact that Republicans just picked up a whopping 63 House seats would suggest they have over-exposure heading into the 2012 election. But it seems to be much less than one might expect.

In 2006, when Democrats needed just 15 seats for a majority, there were 27 Republicans sitting in Democratic-leaning districts, according to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index.

In 2012, Democrats will need to pick up 25 seats, but there will be only 21 Republicans sitting in Democratic-leaning districts. Many of the GOP’s 2010 gains were in districts that should have fallen to Republicans long ago, like Rep. John Spratt’s seat in northern South Carolina or Rep. John Tanner’s seat in western Tennessee.

The five House elections between the wave elections of 1994 and 2006 were marked by mild swings of only nine, five, one, seven, and three seats, respectively. But in the last three House cycles, consecutive swings of 30, 21, and 63 seats have made strategists on both sides feel like they were riding a bucking bronco.

If the bygone era of calm made Democrats’ task of picking up the 15 seats to take back the House look deceptively difficult at the outset of the 2006 cycle, today’s turbulence makes Democrats’ task of recouping 25 seats look deceptively easy.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures’ Tim Storey, heading into 2011, Republicans will control the entire redistricting process in states totaling roughly 195 congressional districts versus Democrats running the show in states with 49 districts. The rest have split control, independent commissions or some other method.

Predictions that the GOP can pick up dozens of additional seats aren’t terribly realistic. After all, you can’t pick up a seat that you’ve already won, and Republicans just picked up 63.

But at a minimum, the GOP should be in a position to shore up many of their freshmen, maximizing their chances of retaining newly acquired seats.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is POTUS Pulling an Oral Roberts?

In 1987, evangelist Oral Roberts suggested that God would kill him if he didn't meet a fundraising goal.

The Hill reports that the president is making an analogous pitch to House Democrats:

In urging lawmakers to vote for his tax deal, President Obama is using one of his go-to lines from the healthcare debate, according to a Democratic lawmaker.

Obama is telling members of Congress that failure to pass the tax-cut legislation could result in the end of his presidency, Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) said.

"The White House is putting on tremendous pressure, making phone calls, the president is making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad deal," he told CNN's Eliot Spitzer.

But the White House shot back late on Wednesday.

"The president hasn’t said anything remotely like that and has never spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

DeFazio has previously gained attention by quoting the president's private comments. On April 1, 2009, AP reported:

At a meeting with the president Monday night, DeFazio told Obama that he wanted more infrastructure spending. Without prompting, Obama immediately recalled DeFazio’s vote against the president’s economic stimulus bill.

“I know you think we need more for that because you voted against” the stimulus bill in February, Obama told DeFazio during a question-and-answer session with about 150 House Democrats at the Capitol.

“Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother,” Obama added, as other lawmakers howled with laughter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

American Crossroads: Disclosure and Taxes

Kenneth Vogel writes in Politico of FactCheck panel on Citizens United (video here):

American Crossroads, which initially struggled to raise money, is incorporated under section 527 of the tax code, enabling it to accept unlimited contributions, but requiring it to publically disclosure its donors’ identities.

Meanwhile, section 501(c)4 of the code, under which Crossroads GPS is incorporated, allows groups to shield their donors’ identities, but requires them to spend a majority of their cash on apolitical purposes – an obligation Democratic critics say Crossroads GPS and other right-leaning groups flaunted during the campaign, when they bombarded Democratic candidates with bitingly critical ads.

“Disclosure was very important to us, which is why the 527 was created,” Forti said. “But some donors didn’t want to be disclosed and, therefore, a (c)4 was created,” Forti explained, referring to Crossroads GPS.

Forti’s frank explanation differs from that previously offered by the Crossroads team, which had asserted that they always intended to create a 501(c)4 because it was better suited to facilitate issue-based advocacy.


“We are in the process of determining what we will be doing in 2011 and then worrying about 2012,” Forti said. “We’re not looking forward all the way right to the presidential race,” he said, though he did add “it’s difficult to imagine we would ever be involved in a Republican primary."

Alex Isenstadt writes at Politico:

Crossroads GPS—the conservative group that carpet-bombed Democrats with a wave of attack ads during the 2010 midterm election—is about to launch its first offensive of the 2012 election cycle.

The organization is rolling out a $400,000 radio ad campaign this week in the districts of 12 House Democrats who won reelection by the slimmest of margins.

The ad campaign, which urges the Democrats to support a vote this week on the tax cut package, marks one of the first major advocacy efforts by an outside group since the Nov. 2 elections and provides a clear signal as to which incumbent Democrats are viewed as vulnerable by GOP strategists in 2012.

Among the Crossroads targets are five Democrats who barely survived the GOP wave in November– New York Rep. Tim Bishop, California Rep. Jim Costa, Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and Kentucky Rep. Ben Chandler– all of whom were engaged in races so close that the outcome wasn’t know for days, and in some cases weeks, after Election Day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Epic Journey Meets the Judiciary

As Joe Biden would say, this is a big bleeping deal. From Bloomberg:

The Obama administration’s requirement that most citizens maintain minimum health coverage as part of a broad overhaul of the industry is unconstitutional because it forces people to buy insurance, a federal judge ruled, striking down the linchpin of the president’s plan.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, said today that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid that are unrelated to it. He didn't order the government to stop work on putting the remainder of the law into effect.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

American Crossroads and the Future

Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold write in the LA Times:

Now the talk among Democratic lawmakers and their campaign advisors is how to create "our own Crossroads," a reference to two tax-exempt groups established in part by GOP strategist Karl Rove.

"I can sympathize with them, but I have no sympathy for them," said Carl Forti, political director for American Crossroads, a "super PAC" that discloses its donors, and Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit social welfare organization that accepts anonymous contributions.

Crossroads raised more than $70 million in 2010, but campaign finance lawyer Michael E. Toner, who advised several Republican presidential campaigns, anticipates that the two groups will spend more than $200 million in the next campaign cycle.

Democrats who vigorously protested the role played by independent campaigns now agree their party needs to compete better. Earlier in the decade, Democrats were pioneers in using these groups. This year, Republicans enjoyed a 2-1 advantage in outside spending.

"You're going to see a response on the Democratic side by allied groups and others to respond in kind," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for 2010. "It seems like everybody wants to form their own [independent group] these days. I think it's a terrible new world. But I don't believe in unilateral disarmament either."

They don't have much time to gear up. Many GOP allies such as the Chamber of Commerce, Crossroad GPS and Americans for Prosperity already are planning to launch issue advertising and grass-roots campaigns in 2011.

"We are looking for opportunities," said Forti, who said part of the Crossroads group's aim would be to concentrate on issues next year that could undermine Democrats facing reelection in 2012.

The issue ads, which cannot explicitly call for the election or defeat of a candidate, are in part an effort by the groups to show that their work is not predominantly political, a requirement to maintain their tax-exempt status. But their push on issues such as tax cuts and deficit spending — two issues Crossroads plans to focus on — likely will heighten polarization around those debates and lay the groundwork for the 2012 battle.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Switch Goes On

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Two African-American Democrats on Thursday announced that they were joining the Republican Party.

Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell and former state executive committee member Andre Walker said the Democratic Party had grown too liberal and they are finding a new home with the Republicans.

The state GOP touted Bell as the first black elected official in modern times in Georgia to leave the Democrats for the GOP. But that distinction belongs to former state Sen. Roy Allen of Savannah, who joined the Republican Party in 1994.

Bell was introduced as a Republican at a news conference Thursday at party headquarters.

“My district is pretty Republican as it is,” Bell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “My wife and I have been thinking about this for six months.”

The Austin American-Statesman reports:

State Rep. Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg, is considering switching to the Republican Party, he told the online Rio Grande Guardian in an interview posted Friday night.

After Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka mentioned rumors of a Pena party switch on his blog earlier this week, Pena received a flood of calls from Democrats and Republicans, he said. (Burka quickly took down his post.)

“Many of the Democrats are still thinking the party can be reformed and that perhaps, in a decade, we can be competitive again,” Pena said. “Many of the calls from Republicans, including lawmakers, were that our community can still have a seat at the table now. Why wait a decade when you can have opportunities now? And so, after the large number of calls today and the growing speculation, I can say I am taking the matter under consideration and I will issue a public statement in the coming days, one way or the other. I am who I am and my intention is to represent my community and to give them the best possible advantage under the current environment.”

The Merrillville [IN] Post-Tribune reports:

Two of the town's elected officials have switched parties.

Clerk-Treasurer Amy Sund and Councilman John Foreman have declared they are joining the Republican Party, Lake County GOP Chairwoman Kim Krull said in a news release.

"With the huge wins we had last month and the organization we are putting together I am sure we will see more people interested in joining the Republican Party," Krull said.

Sund, who has worked in the clerk's office nine years and is in her first term as clerk-treasurer, said she had been thinking about the switch for several months.

"I'm fiscally conservative," Sund said. "I have no problem with the local Democratic Party, but there appears a lack of leadership and organization. I prefer to be with people who are more organized and work together as a team."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Boehner, Gingrich, and Mandates

Peter J. Boyer writes in The New Yorker:

Gingrich’s style, and his Speaker-as-Prime Minister approach, facilitated the famous Clinton pivot, insuring the triangulator a second term that outlasted Gingrich’s tenure as Speaker. When I asked Boehner whether he saw the Republican victory of 2010, which was at least as decisive as Gingrich’s, as a mandate, he seemed almost to recoil. “No, no, noooooo,” he said. “I have watched people in the past deal with this issue, whether it’s Speaker Gingrich, or Speaker Pelosi, or President Obama. And we made a very conscious decision that we were not going to go down that path. The tone that we set is very important. You saw it on Election Night, and you’ve seen it since.”

Boehner forbade a Republican victory party on November 2nd, and has since signalled that he means to play the “adult” card in his dealings with Obama and within his own House conference. It is the strongest play he has. Unlike Gingrich, Boehner is not a visionary; his politics were formed by his revulsion, as a small businessman in Ohio, at the size of his tax bill. Nor is he an extemporaneous rhetorician; in public appearances, he rarely strays from his script. Where Gingrich was at once the Party’s chief political theorist, strategist, and messenger, Boehner is happy to delegate those roles to the young comers around him: Eric Cantor, the next Majority Leader; Kevin McCarthy, who will be the Republican Whip; and Paul Ryan, the G.O.P.’s designated thinker on the big issues, like entitlement reform. “We have very different personalities and different styles,” Gingrich told me recently. “You have to measure Boehner against other Boehners—you can’t measure him against me. Boehner would tell you up front that he’s not attempting to be the defining figure of this moment. He’s trying to be the organizer of the team that may define the moment. Clinton was able to pivot with me because I was a large enough figure that Clinton could say to the left, ‘You really want Gingrich?’ And they’d go, ‘O.K., even though we’re really mad at you, we’re not that mad at you.’ This may be an argument for the Boehner model.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Are You Better Off?

Bloomberg reports:

More than 50 percent of Americans say they are worse off now than they were two years ago when President Barack Obama took office, and two-thirds believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

The survey, conducted Dec. 4-7, finds that 51 percent of respondents think their situation has deteriorated, compared with 35 percent who say they’re doing better. The balance isn’t sure. Americans have grown more downbeat about the country’s future in just the last couple of months, the poll shows. The pessimism cuts across political parties and age groups, and is common to both sexes.


As Reagan approached the end of his second year in office, his numbers were more negative than Obama’s in this survey. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken in Oct. 1982, 61 percent of Americans said things were worse and 33 percent said they had improved. Reagan won re-election in a landslide in 1984. In the final months of George W. Bush’s presidency, as the financial crisis intensified, Americans said by a 2-to-1 margin that their financial situation had deteriorated, compared with a year earlier.

In 1982, however, the nation was about to enter a strong and long recovery. Also note that Reagan's party had not lost nearly as many seats as Obama's.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wealth, Taxes, and American Crossroads

Obama had to abandon his goal of raising taxes on high earners not because Republicans opposed it but because not enough Democrats supported it. Pelosi couldn't summon up a majority on the issue back in September, and Harry Reid could get only 53 of the needed 60 votes this month.

Democrats, not Republicans, are responsible for extension of all the "Bush tax cuts."

Still, Obama in his surly statement Monday evening and his unusually brief press conference Tuesday afternoon was at pains to attack Republicans.

The president who first came to national attention for expressing respect for those with whom he differed insisted that he was eager to "fight" Republicans and described them as "hostage takers," with the American people as hostages. Not much evidence of civility.

And he addressed most of his remarks to what last month's election revealed as a narrow segment of the nation's electorate, the Democratic base.

Over the years I've noticed that politicians tend to view the whole nation through the prism of their electoral base, even when they know it's not typical. On Monday and Tuesday, Obama seemed to be aiming his remarks at the 13th state senate district of Illinois, which he designed and which is about 60 percent black and 25 percent gentry liberal, not to the political independents who supported him and his party in 2008 and then went heavily Republican last month.

And the gentry liberals are necessarily supportive, as John F. Harris and Alexander Burns write at Politico:

Polls show the most appealing option is protecting middle-class tax cuts. But the second most appealing option is protecting tax cuts for all – what Obama and Republicans just agreed to do for two years – and that makes it a pretty close call, politically.

Complicating matters even further are the changing dynamics of the wealthy and the near-wealthy – or put simply, who is considered “rich.”

High-earners are a much bigger chunk of the electorate than in years’ past. And, at least in some circumstances, they are more inclined than ever to vote for Democrats.

As recently as 1996, when Bill Clinton won re-election, exit polls indicated that voters making more than $100,000 annually made up just nine percent of the electorate and tilted strongly Republican. They backed losing Republican Bob Dole over Clinton by 54 percent to 38 percent.

Just a dozen years later, in 2008, by contrast, voters making more than $100,000 represented 26 percent of the electorate—and many of these affluent voters were Obama backers. For the first time ever, a Democratic presidential nominee tied the Republican for support among the $100K and up crowd. In 2010, Democrats lost this group by 18 percentage points—58 to 40.

There are consequences for the flow of campaign money. ABC reports:

After Obama pushed through major financial reform, some leaders of the investment community like Ken Griffin have voiced their displeasure by serving as big-money backers of Republicans in 2010. A fresh batch of campaign finance and tax records show Griffin and his wife -- herself a hedge-fund manager -- combined to give $500,000 to American Crossroads, the so-called Super PAC organized by Karl Rove to defeat Democratic candidates in the mid-term elections. ...

Records show American Crossroads brought in numerous large contributions from heavy hitters in the financial industry. Jonathan Collegio, the communications director at American Crossroads, said many of the group's donors have been looking to blunt Obama's Wall Street initiatives. They are "folks who are deeply concerned about the direction of the country, and who saw the 2010 elections as an opportunity to put the brakes on the Obama agenda in Congress," Collegio told ABC News. "They believe in our goals of promoting free markets, free enterprise, and limited government."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bush Over Obama

The epic journey has entered uncharted waters. Politico reports:

That’s 1 point higher than President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in a poll taken the same week.

This is the first time Gallup asked Americans to retrospectively rate Bush’s job performance. And it was a stunning turnaround from his low point of 25 percent in November 2008. The 47 percent number is 13 points higher than the last Gallup poll taken before Bush left office in 2009 and the highest rating for him since before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Monday, December 6, 2010

American Crossroads and Citizens United

FIRST LOOK – CROSSROADS GPS, a Republican outside group, will release a polling memo from Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies on how to message the coming extension of tax cuts for everyone: “Voters are EVENLY divided on the question of extending the tax cuts for people earning $250,000 or more. Republicans support extension, Democrats oppose it, and Independents are split on the issue. … Supporters of extended tax cuts for all should drive the message that the best way to balance the budget is to cut spending, grow the economy, and create new jobs. Raising taxes on small businesses and job creators will make things worse.” See the 5-page memo Results (21-page PDF)

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling in January ushered in a big money free-for-all for non-party groups, including trade associations, unions, and corporate-friendly nonprofits. Such groups may now raise and spend oodles of previously-banned corporate and union treasury money on elections, often in secret. The GOP-friendly PAC American Crossroads and its partner nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, for example, pulled in more than $70 million during the midterm campaign.

But the national party committees still face the same old contribution limits and disclosure requirements. For major donors, particularly corporate contributors reluctant to anger shareholders or consumers, secretive outside groups look a lot more appealing. The party committees “absolutely got the short end of the stick” in the Citizens United ruling, said Brett Kappel, counsel to the government relations group at Arent Fox.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The New York State Senate

Bloomberg reports:

New York Republicans regained control of the state Senate after Jack Martins was declared the winner of a disputed race in Nassau County today by State Supreme Court Justice Ira Warshawsky, the Associated Press reported.

The ruling gives Republicans at least 32 members in the the 62-seat chamber, with one contest still undecided. Before 2008, when Democrats won a 32-30 Senate majority, the Senate had been controlled by Republicans since 1966. Democrats retained a majority in the 150-seat Assembly in the Nov. 2 elections.

The Republican’s victory over Democratic Senator Craig Johnson strengthens the party’s position in talks to close next year’s $9 billion budget deficit and in the drawing of new boundaries for lawmakers’ districts.

The last item is of particular importance for national politics. Illinois is now the only big state in which Democrats will control redistricting. (In California, Democrats will have the governorship and the legislature, but thanks to a 2010 ballot measure, a nonpartisan commission will draw the lines.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS Money

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Crossroads GPS raised $15.4 million more than American Crossroads this election season, according to data filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night – a clear signal that big money often prefers to remain anonymous when it comes to politics.

But Crossroads GPS, which brought in $43.2 million, does not have to disclose its donors to the public. American Crossroads, which took in $27.8 million, does.

The two Republican campaign committees have a lot in common: Both have ties to GOP strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie; both were created to advance Republican causes, and the two sent out a single email to report their fund-raising totals. Together, they raised $71 million.

The Washington Post reports:

The newly created independent political groups known as super PACs, which raised and spent millions of dollars on last month's elections, drew much of their funding from private-equity partners and others in the financial industry, according to new financial disclosure reports.

The 72 super PACs, all formed this year, together spent $83.7 million on the election. The figures provide the best indication yet of the impact of recent Supreme Court decisions that opened the door for wealthy individuals and corporations to give unlimited contributions.


American Crossroads, a conservative super PAC that outspent its peers, pulled in six- and seven-figure donations from the financial industry. That included $500,000 from Anne Dias-Griffin, founder of the Aragon Global Management hedge fund, and her husband, Kenneth Griffin, founder of the Citadel Investment Group hedge fund.

Crossroads, which was founded with the support of Bush administration adviser Karl Rove, raised $70 million, much of it used to support 10 Republican Senate candidates and 30 Republican House candidates.

Friday, December 3, 2010

American Crossroads Endgame Surge

The Center for Responsive Politics reports:
A flood of last-minute donations -- many directly from corporations -- helped American Crossroads, the biggest spending super PAC this year, stay on the political offense through Election Day.

During the final days before the 2010 midterm elections, American Crossroads, a conservative organization heavily supported by former George W. Bush aide Karl Rove, raised a staggering $3.8 million, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of the group's "post-general" campaign finance report, which was filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

Spokesman Jonathan Collegio also said Thursday that a sister group, Crossroads GPS, took in about $43 million this year. Because it is organized as a nonprofit, the second group does not have to reveal its donors.

"After a successful 2010, we are shifting toward our goals for 2011 and beyond," Collegio said, adding that the Crossroads duo will be "active throughout 2011 in support of a conservative, free-market legislative agenda."

The disclosures came amid a wave of reports from political committees and organizations that were filed Thursday at the FEC, covering the period from just before the Nov. 2 elections through Nov. 22.


On the expenditure side, the American Crossroads umbrella reported spending nearly $40 million during the elections, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was close behind at more than $31 million. Neither of those numbers fully accounts for the groups' total spending, however, since many disbursements do not have to be reported to the FEC.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

DCCC Spent a Lot More

Roll Call/CQ reports:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outspent its Republican rival by more than $23 million in the weeks leading up to Election Day, a massive disparity aimed at protecting dozens of vulnerable House incumbents who ultimately fell amid historic Democratic losses.

The DCCC and the National Republican Campaign Committee spent more than $86 million combined in the five-week period from Oct. 14 to Nov. 22, according to updated filings reported with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night. The NRCC spent $31.3 million, compared with the DCCC’s $54.8 million in that five-week period.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Democrats and Diversity

At National Journal, Josh Kraushaar argues that racial gerrymandering has helped Democrats win House seats. But their occupants tend to be liberals with little crossover appeal.

The increase in minority representation comes at the cost of electing more moderate minorities best-positioned to win statewide. And by concentrating so many Democrats in one single district, it also protects neighboring Republicans -- a major reason why Republicans often are behind some of the most contorted gerrymandering plans.

“It’s not in the best interests of Southern voters, it’s certainly not in the interest of people who want a non-racial politics focused on substance and identity, and the content of a candidate’s character, not the color of their skin,” said outgoing Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., a centrist black congressman who lost his state’s gubernatorial primary this year.

The electorate is changing, too. Republicans this year elected two blacks from the South in white districts, Reps.-elect Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Allen West, R-Fla. Two Indian Americans, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gov.-elect Nikki Haley, will lead the deep South states of Louisiana and South Carolina, respectively.

The obstacle for many black Democrats, Davis argued, is liberalism, not race.

“There’s no question in my mind white Southern voters will vote for a black candidate if they believe they are sympathetic to their viewpoint,” Davis said. "Tim Scott's election in South Carolina is powerful, overwhelming evidence that even conservative southern white voters will vote for a black candidate, but they will not vote for someone who disagrees with them on every issue under the sun."


“The only kind of black candidate who can win outside of a state like Massachusetts or New York is one who can win significant support from white, independent voters.”

Contrast that with the GOP’s minority stars. Florida Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, Haley, New Mexico Gov.-elect Susana Martinez, and Nevada Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval are being mentioned as national candidates for 2012. Scott is one of two freshman liaisons to House Republican leaders. GOP leaders are eager to showcase this, partly because of their recent lack of diversity in the ranks.

The GOP success this year in electing minority leaders who can appeal to a wide cross-section of voters should serve as a wake-up call to Democrats, who are accustomed to carrying the mantle of diversity. If Democrats don’t address their own challenges recruiting minority candidates with widespread appeal, the rise of Obama could be more the exception than the rule.