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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Campaigns & Elections Magazine on Outsiderism

Campaigns and Elections develops the outsiderism theme:
The year thus far in electoral politics has been defined by the influx of adamantly outsider candidates and enthusiastically anti-beltway sentiments. Going beyond being a minor thorn in the side of incumbents and candidates hand picked by the party establishment, these so-called political outsiders have managed to piece together exuberant contributions, national PR, and a better than average track record in primaries thus far. It’s hard to put the finger on a definition or set of instructions for the successful outsider campaign; anything too uniform would no longer constitute as outsider. But what separates a Scott Brown from a Marlin Stutzman? A Mike Lee from a Steve Levy? What has worked, and what has failed for non-traditional candidates in primaries this year?
Well, as mentioned earlier, it helps to have friends in high places, say…Alaska. The golden ticket for GOP insurgents, a Sarah Palin endorsement, has already catapulted outsider and Tea Party leaning candidates to fifteen primary wins in comparison to three losses in races across the country. Through endorsements and SarahPAC support collectively accumulating thus far over $2 million, Palin has come to the aid of nearly 50 Republican gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and U.S. House candidates. Self-described as, “dedicated to building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation,” SarahPAC support has been essential to successful GOP outsider campaigns this year.

American Crossroads Spending Patterns

A new and powerful political action committee tied to Republican strategist Karl Rove, fueled by out-of-state corporations and billionaires, is swooping into Florida to put its money behind front-running U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio.

American Crossroads has spent nearly $250,000 so far on pro-Rubio mailings aimed at absentee voters, according to a report filed this week with the Federal Elections Commission.


A spokesman for American Crossroads said the group is prepared to spend more money in Florida if Rubio's lead slips. A CNN-Time Opinion Research poll released Wednesday found Rubio with 42 percent of the vote, Crist with 31 percent and Meek with 23 percent.

The pro-Rubio mailing features pictures of the Democratic establishment in Washington -- President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reid -- and assails them for running up the federal deficit.

``Marco Rubio will get our economy moving forward again and rein in out-of-control spending in Washington, D.C.,'' it says.

Hotline reports:

The conservative group American Crossroads has re-upped its media buys in 6 key Senate races and has ventured into the Washington Senate contest for the first time, according to FEC filings.

In sum, American Crossroads and its nonprofit affiliate Crossroads GPS have spent another $3M on the Senate races in Florida, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Washington.

The spending is entirely on airing new commercials with the exception of Florida, where American Crossroads appears to be sending $247K of direct mail in support of former House Speaker Marco Rubio (R).

The spending in Washington by Crossroads GPS shows Republicans still believe Sen. Patty Murray (D) is vulnerable. Recent polling has suggested that Murray is leading Republican challenger Dino Rossi, however, and the race has become a priority for Democrats as they try to build a firewall to prevent the GOP from winning a Senate majority this fall.

A full breakdown of the buys, from The Hotline's Independent Expenditure tracker, is after the jump.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

American Crossroads: Here Today, Here Tomorrow

American Crossroads and its non-profit companion, Crossroads GPS, just reported shelling out more than $3 million on Senate races last night. ...

Crossroads GPS:

  • PA-SEN (open, Specter): $267,000 in ads against Joe Sestak, D.
  • WA-SEN: $492,343 in ads against Sen. Patty Murray, D.
  • MO-SEN (open, Bond): $384,000 in ads against Robin Carnahan, D.

American Crossroads:

  • NV-SEN: $346,000 in ads against Sen. Harry Reid, D.
  • IL-SEN (open, Burris): $618,000 in ads against Alexi Giannoulias, D.
  • CO-SEN: $724,000 in ads against Sen. Michael Bennet, D.
  • FL-SEN (open, LeMieux): $247,000 in mailers to support Marco Rubio, R.
  • KY-SEN (open, Bunning): $215,000 in ads against Jack Conway, D

Ben Smith writes at Politico:

Claire McCaskill, debating the Disclose Act on the Senate floor, asked of the new Republican groups like Crossroads GPS:

"How many people think these organizations will be around after November? Really? How naïve are you?”

... The group's communications director, Jonathan Collegio, emails that McCaskill's comment was "kind of amusing" and sends on an image of an ad he says will run tomorrow in POLITICO and Roll Call, pressing the opposition to letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

That is, he says, the first piece of a seven-part legislative push "which we plan to engage thoroughly in the lame duck session and throughout 2011 and beyond."

"As we’ve said everywhere, we plan to be around for a long, long time. McKaskill’s audience must be pretty naïve indeed," said Collegio.

Comparative Demonology

So far, Republicans have more effective demons than Democrats. Byron York writes in The Washington Examiner:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's negative ratings have hit an all-time high in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. A full 50 percent of those surveyed have a somewhat or very negative impression of Pelosi, while just 22 percent have a somewhat or very positive impression of her.

Finally, the poll found that House Minority Leader John Boehner remains relatively unknown, even after weeks of targeting by the Obama White House. Fifty percent of those surveyed don't know who Boehner is, while his ratings are 14 percent positive and 17 percent negative.

Mitch McConnell is at 50% "don't know name/not sure." The "tea party movement" is 30% positive, 36% negative, 21% neutral and 13% dk/ns.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oppo & Coordination

CQ-Roll Call has a smart article on oppo. Dems are looking at divorce records and lawsuits of challengers and open-seat candidates. Reps are looking and votes & quotes of incumbents. The article highlights a loophole in campaign finance law:

In general, there are no specific rules about how research can be shared between the committees and candidates. Once the independent expenditure arms of the committees are established, the two sides of the wall are prohibited from coordinating with each other. But when it comes to research, both parties appear to have found a way to communicate without coordinating.

Since sharing public information isn’t considered coordination, all four Senate and House campaign committees appear to be utilizing a network of public websites to communicate messages by highlighting opposition research.

In some cases, the sites look like boilerplate pages available through the committees’ main pages, including the “Meet the Republicans” section of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s website. Clicking on a race through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s 2010 races map takes you to a paragraph and three bullet points about the race.

House Republicans appear to be using micro sites that include a Democratic incumbent’s name. For example is used for information about Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.). The National Republican Senatorial Committee has a series of sites that can be found by inserting a state as a subdomain — for example

The websites seem innocuous but are actively read by party strategists on both sides of the aisle. Staffers in each committee are assigned to combing the sites each morning.

“There is nothing illegal about it,” according to one GOP insider. “Both sides are doing it.”


American Crossroads: WaPo on Super-PACs

The Washington Post reports:

Among super PAC spending, more than half has come from American Crossroads, a pro-Republican group founded with the help of former George W. Bush administration adviser Karl Rove. Donations to the group include $400,000 from American Financial Group, a publicly held company, which could make the contribution because of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling lifted restrictions on corporate spending in elections.

In two days last week, American Crossroads' super PAC reported spending $2.8 million on ads attacking Democratic candidates, including Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.), Jack Conway (Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.). "Harry Reid," one ad intones, "extremely out of touch with Nevada."

"There are some donors who are interested in anonymity when it comes to advocating for specific issues," spokesman Jonathan Collegio said. The super PAC is just one part of the American Crossroads operation, which also includes a nonprofit advocacy arm called American Crossroads GPS that does not have to disclose its donors under U.S tax laws. Overall, American Crossroads says it has raised about $32 million, divided evenly between its super PAC and nonprofit arms.

The story gives some background:

The super PAC model emerged with little fanfare this summer from a pair of FEC advisory opinions, which were issued in response to inquiries from the Club for Growth and another group, Commonsense Ten, which supports Democrats. The FEC said the super PACs were allowed because of the Citizens United decision and a subsequent appeals court ruling, which struck down limits on individual contributions to independent groups.

David Keating, the Club for Growth's executive director, said old rules that were being applied to independent groups - including limits on explicit appeals to both donors and voters - were awkward and forced the organizations to be vague about their intentions.

"What's really liberating about this particular type of organization is that you can actually talk to people honestly about what you want to do," said Keating, who is also head of, the conservative group involved in the appeals court case. "Raising money is also a lot easier and more on the up-and-up for everyone involved."

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 50

Like other high-profile opponents of school choice -- Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson -- the president sends his own children to an expensive private school. The issue came up when the president talked about education in an NBC interview that featured guest questions via video link:

Ms. KELLY BURNETT: Good morning. Thank you for taking my question, President Obama . As a father of two very delightful and seemingly very bright daughters, I wanted to know whether or not you think that Malia and Sasha would get the same high-quality, rigorous education in a DC public school as compared to their very elite private academy that they're attending now?

Pres. OBAMA: Well, thanks for the question, Kelly .

Ms. BURNETT: Mm-hmm.

Pres. OBAMA: And I 'll be blunt with you. The answer's no right now. The DC public school systems are struggling. Now, they have made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform .

Ms. BURNETT: Right.

Pres. OBAMA: There are some terrific individual schools in the DC system -- and that's true, by the way, in every city across the country . In my hometown of Chicago there are some great public schools that are on par with any private school in the country . But it goes to the point Matt and I were talking about earlier. A lot of times you've got to test in or there -- it's a lottery pick...

Ms. BURNETT: Right.

Pres. OBAMA: ...for you to be able to get into those schools, and so those options are not available for enough children.

Ms. BURNETT: Right.

Pres. OBAMA: I'll be very honest with you. Given my position, if I wanted to find a great public school for Malia and Sasha to be in, we could probably maneuver to do it. But the broader problem is for a mom or a dad who are, you know, working hard but don't have a bunch of connections, you know, don't have a lot of choice in terms of where they live...

Ms. BURNETT: Right.

Pres. OBAMA: ...they should be getting the same quality education for their kids as anybody else. And we don't have that yet.

LAUER: Kelly , thank you very much for your question. I appreciate it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

CA: The Chronicle Says "None of the Above" in the Senate Race

The San Francisco Chronicle would never endorse a conservative such as Fiorina. But it is also rejecting Boxer:

For some Californians, Boxer's reliably liberal voting record may be reason enough to give her another six years in office. But we believe Californians deserve more than a usually correct vote on issues they care about. They deserve a senator who is accessible, effective and willing and able to reach across party lines to achieve progress on the great issues of our times. Boxer falls short on those counts.

Boxer's campaign, playing to resentment over Fiorina's wealth, is not only an example of the personalized pettiness that has infected too much of modern politics, it is also a clear sign of desperation.

In past elections, Boxer has had the good fortune of having Republican opponents who were inept, underfunded, on the fringe right - or combinations thereof. Her opponent this time, Fiorina, is proving to be articulate, well-funded and formidable.

Unfortunately for Californians who are eager for change, Fiorina has firmly staked out positions that are outside of the state's mainstream values and even its economic interest. The list only begins with her openness to offshore oil drilling, her opposition to the Roe vs. Wade abortion rights ruling and her unwillingness to support even the most commonsense gun-control measures to keep assault weapons off the street or to deny guns to suspected terrorists on the federal "no fly list."


It is a dismal choice between an ineffective advocate for causes we generally support and a potentially strong advocate for positions we oppose. Neither merits our endorsement for the U.S. Senate.

Read more:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

American Crossroads: The Origins

Jim Ruternberg writes in The New York Times:

In April, Mr. Rove summoned several of the important players behind Mr. Bush’s ascendance to his home once again, this time to draw up plans to push a Republican resurgence.

Over takeout chicken pot pies, the group — the Republican fund-raiser Fred Malek, the onetime lobbyist and Bush White House counselor Ed Gillespie, and former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary Cheney, among others — agreed on plans for an ambitious new political machine that would marshal the resources of disparate business, nonprofit and interest groups to bring Republicans back to power this fall.


“A lot of what we’re doing would normally be done with the R.N.C.,” said Ms. Cheney, who is part of a group, the Alliance for America’s Future, that is working with the organizations Mr. Rove helped start on encouraging early voting in House races this fall. “There’s no money there.”

Crossroads officials say they are seeking to supplement party activities, not replace them.

In a brief interview, Mr. Rove said he was trying to help build something that would remain in place beyond November. “We want this to be durable,” he said.


Around the same time, Mr. Rove came up with the idea of gathering other like-minded outside groups at his home on Weaver Terrace in Northwest Washington. Calling themselves the Weaver Terrace Group in honor of that first meeting, the participants now regularly reconvene at the Crossroads offices downtown to ensure that they work in tandem and avoid overlap.

Central to the effort is the development of a sophisticated list of voters that several of the groups share and contribute to, helping organizations like Ms. Cheney’s, for instance, to identify people likely to vote by early absentee ballot in House races.


Whatever battle Mr. Viguerie predicts, Mr. Duncan said the group would have staying power. “We’re going to be involved in 2012,” he said. “That’s what we’re gearing for.”

And it is using the microtargeting technique that Rove helped pioneer, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:

On the Republican side, GOP-aligned groups such as American Crossroads are homing in on issue-driven Nevada voters, too. The brain trust behind the group is Karl Rove, who helped George W. Bush win a second presidential term in 2004 by using micro-targeting in 16 battleground states.

American Crossroads already is running TV ads here to boost Angle over Reid. And it plans to spend $10 million in Nevada and seven other states on get-out-the-vote efforts through Nov. 2.

Instead of putting boots on the ground, however, American Crossroads will work by mail and phone. It will focus on all Republican voters, as well as the independent voters who are most likely to go into the ballot box for this midterm election.

American Crossroads plans to use voter files and study voting patterns to deliver absentee ballots and early voting notifications to targeted Nevadans, and to persuade people to back Angle.

"In a race like this, every last factor is going to count," said Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for American Crossroads. "Micro-targeting is a system of leveraging every last bit of information into voter turnout to get your voters to the polls, whoever they may be."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CA: Ma'am

The most predictable hit piece of the campaign:

Friday, September 24, 2010

American Crossroads Background

At The Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes writes about outside conservative groups:

The conservative alliance grew out of a meeting at Mr. Rove's Washington home in April. Nineteen independent expenditure groups, old and new, were represented. The result was an extraordinary division of labor and the sharing of spending plans and political data. American Crossroads, for example, paid the Republican National Committee $1.5 million for a micro-targeted voter file and immediately shared the information.

Independent groups are not permitted to "coordinate" with candidates or their campaigns. So they watch for signals of what candidates and party committees are planning and try to avoid duplication, particularly in airing TV spots.

Many of the new groups are targeting the House. Scott Reed, the strategist who managed Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996, established the Commission on Hope, Growth, and Opportunity this summer. He expects to raise $25 million to help underfunded Republican candidates regain control of the House. Another newly formed group, the American Action Network headed by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, may spend $15 million or more. Two other groups, the 60 Plus Association and Americans for Job Security, are running TV ads against vulnerable Democrats like House veteran Rich Boucher of Virginia.

American Crossroads, meanwhile, is concentrating on 11 Senate races. It has spent heavily in Missouri on behalf of Roy Blunt, who leads Democrat Robin Carnahan 52% to 44% in the latest Rasmussen poll. The group intends to defend Mr. Blunt against attack ads for his being a "Washington insider," his support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and even for buying a house in Georgetown. "Roy Blunt has on boxing gloves and Robin Carnahan has knives out," an AC spokesman says.

Politico reports:

Since Obama took office, ten of the most active conservative donors identified by a POLITICO analysis have contributed $19 million to Republican candidates and the political committees that boost them — a pace that far eclipses their giving at this point in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, according to professional fundraisers, as well as anything big Democratic donors have done.

The numbers analyzed by POLITICO — compiled from campaign finance reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Election Commission and various state campaign finance agencies — reflect personal donations as well as contributions from immediate family members and their corporations.

But the tally does not take into account the money these donors may be giving to the proliferation of right-leaning groups registered under section 501(c)4 of the IRS code — the groups that Obama attacked last week for airing a “flood of deceptive attack ads sponsored by special interests using front groups with misleading names.” By law, the groups aren’t required to reveal their contributors’ identities — only their overall fundraising tallies and expenditures months, and only months after Election Day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CA: The Limits of the Tea Party

At the New York Times "Room for Debate" blog, Doug Johnson explains:

The "Tea Party candidate" Tim Donnelly shocked California's Republican establishment with his primary victory in the 59th Assembly District, which is east of Los Angeles. But Mr. Donnelly was the exception proving the rule that California's huge population smothers grassroots movements.

The Tea Party's grassroots organizing occurs primarily by word of mouth (whether in person or through online social media). But California's electorate is simply too enormous to reach one by one. Like Mr. Donnelly, Chuck DeVore ran a "tea party" campaign in his race for U.S. Senate. A populist conservative, Mr. DeVore was an early supporter of Scott Brown's Massachusetts Senate campaign. But where 30,500 tea party voters won the Senate primary in Delaware, and 56,000 Alaska tea party votes won in Alaska, Mr. DeVore's 452,000 votes placed him only a distant third in California's Republican Senate primary.

American Crossroads and other SuperPACs

The Center for Responsive Politics reports:

The proliferation of “super PACs” -- political organizations armed with the ability to raise unlimited amounts of money from wealthy individuals and corporations and to spend huge sums explicitly advocating for or against candidates -- continues at a staggering pace.

Thirty-three such committees have now registered their intention to raise unlimited sums for independent expenditures with the Federal Election Commission, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of FEC data.

High-level political operatives on both the left and the right have jumped into the fray, establishing these new “super PACs,” as OpenSecrets Blog has previously reported.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

American Crossroads: Dems Try to Catch Up

Jonathan Martin writes at Politico:

[A]ccording to an internal Democratic spreadsheet obtained by POLITICO, there is a canyon-size gap between the two parties right now when it comes to spending by outside groups.

As of Monday, pro-Republican third-party organizations had paid for a total of $23.6 million worth of ads, while Democratic-aligned groups had spent just $4.8 million on TV.

... Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California inquired during the House Democratic Caucus meeting about the heavy spending by right-wing groups, particularly the new American Crossroads.


Service Employees International Union, the country’s largest union, is targeting from 15 to 20 House races, according to spokesman Teddy Davis. But it won’t air TV ads in every one of those districts, and much of its effort will be on the ground.

“When you’re looking at House races that can be decided by 1,000 to 2,000 votes, doing field and GOTV is our bread and butter and what the other side can’t match,” AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale said.

A Democratic campaign official said labor’s ground game is appreciated — but might be moot if their candidates can’t first close the gap in the polls heading into Election Day.

“Field only gets you so far if you’re getting buried,” the aide said.

Perhaps most frustrating for Democrats is the absence of a pure, campaign-oriented third-party group along the lines of American Crossroads, the group founded in part by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie and now run by veteran Republicans Steven Law and Mike Duncan. No organization on the left will do anything like what American Crossroads, with a fundraising goal of $52 million, is doing now for GOP Senate candidates. And what worries some House Democratic officials is that if Law and Duncan, seeing better prospects for carrying the House than the Senate, shift some of their money away from the statewide races into less expensive congressional campaigns.

Seeking to respond to the influx in spending from conservative-leaning groups this cycle, left-leaning third party organizations are trying new strategies in order to stretch their dollars to compete.

Across the board, Democrat-backed third party groups acknowledge that there is no way they can match the funds of organizations that are supporting the GOP, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 60 Plus, Americans for Prosperity and American Crossroads.

As a result, groups that have had large footprints in previous cycles like MoveOn and labor unions are largely abandoning the TV airwaves so far, choosing instead to focus on mobilizing their members in grassroots efforts. In some cases, they are even going so far as to campaign on undermining the conservative third party groups.

American Crossroads Ad Blitz

Ohio Senate:

Kentucky Senate:

Illinois Senate:

Nevada Senate:

New Hampshire:

Pennsylvania Senate (Crossroads GPS):

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

American Crossroads: Money Comes In, Goes Out

The New York Times reports:

Interviews with a half-dozen campaign finance lawyers yielded an anecdotal portrait of corporate political spending since the Citizens United decision. They agreed that most prominent, publicly traded companies are staying on the sidelines.

But other companies, mostly privately held, and often small to medium size, are jumping in, mainly on the Republican side. Almost all of them are doing so through 501(c) organizations, as opposed to directly sponsoring advertisements themselves, the lawyers said.

“I can tell you from personal experience, the money’s flowing,” said Michael E. Toner, a former Republican F.E.C. commissioner, now in private practice at the firm Bryan Cave.


The I.R.S. division with oversight of tax-exempt organizations “is understaffed, underfunded and operating under a tax system designed to collect taxes, not as a regulatory mechanism,” said Marcus S. Owens, a lawyer who once led that unit and now works for Caplin & Drysdale, a law firm popular with liberals seeking to set up nonprofit groups.


the I.R.S. It’s a farce.”

A report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration this year revealed that the I.R.S. was not even reviewing the required filings of 527 groups, which have increasingly been supplanted by 501(c)(4) organizations.

Social welfare nonprofits are permitted to do an unlimited amount of lobbying on issues related to their primary purpose, but there are limits on campaigning for or against specific candidates.

I.R.S. officials cautioned that what may seem like political activity to the average lay person might not be considered as such under the agency’s legal criteria.

“Federal tax law specifically distinguishes among activities to influence legislation through lobbying, to support or oppose a specific candidate for election and to do general advocacy to influence public opinion on issues,” said Sarah Hall Ingram, commissioner of the I.R.S. division that oversees nonprofits. As a result, rarely do advertisements by 501(c)(4) groups explicitly call for the election or defeat of candidates. Instead, they typically attack their positions on issues.

Steven Law, president of Crossroads GPS, said what distinguished the group from its sister organization, American Crossroads, which is registered with the F.E.C. as a political committee, was that Crossroads GPS was focused over the longer term on advocating on “a suite of issues that are likely to see some sort of legislative response. ” American Crossroads’ efforts are geared toward results in this year’s elections, Mr. Law said.

Hotline reports:

Fresh off a strong fundraising kick, American Crossroads, a conservative 527, is launching an ad blitz in key Senate races on Tuesday.

American Crossroads is spending nearly $1.9M on the ads, which includes keeping ads in Colorado and Missouri on the air and going up with new ads in New Hampshire and Nevada, sources tell Hotline On Call.

The ads are significant because they indicate that American Crossroads, which has already had a large impact on airwaves in Senate battleground states, now has the resources to play through the election. On Monday, the group reported having raised $2.6M in August and having $7.1M in its war chest.

The blitz also shows that American Crossroads appears to be going on both offense and defense. Missouri and New Hampshire are GOP held seats. The group's sister, issue-based organization -- Crossroads GPS -- has also spent significantly on holding onto Kentucky.

Meanwhile, targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in Nevada and Sen. Michael Bennet (D) in Colorado, show the group is also going after Democrat held seats.

Politico reports:

American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies have spent millions on ads boosting Republicans in some of the most closely contested Senate campaigns headed into the midterm elections and intend to use their swelling coffers to get involved in as many as two dozen House races soon.“Playing in House races is a priority for us,” said American Crosswords spokesman Jonathan Collegio. “Those races develop much later than Senate races, so we’re still making strategic decisions on which to engage in.”

A report filed Monday afternoon with the Federal Election Commission showed that American Crossroads, a political action committee, raised $2.6 million, the bulk of which came from a pair of $1 million donations from Robert Rowling, a major George W. Bush bundler, and Trevor Rees-Jones, president of a privately held Dallas energy company, who had previously contributed another $1 million to Crossroads.

Demoralized, Dissatisfied, Disillusioned, Disenchanted, Disappointed

Richard Simon and Tom Hamburger write at The Los Angeles Times:

Environmentalists who provided money, zeal and manpower to Democrats in 2008 are demoralized this campaign cycle, further fraying the coalition that sent Barack Obama to the White House and gave the party majorities in both houses of Congress.

Also at The Los Angeles Times, Peter Nicholas writes:

Independent voters, who broke heavily for President Obama in the 2008 election, have swung dramatically in the other direction and are now deeply dissatisfied with his job performance, the country's direction and the overall state of American politics, a new poll finds...The Democrats' policy choices have left independents disillusioned, the poll found.

Bob Herbert writes at The New York Times:

It’s no secret that the president is in trouble politically, and that Democrats in Congress are fighting desperately to hold on to their majorities. But much less attention has been given to the level of disenchantment among black voters, who have been hammered disproportionately by the recession and largely taken for granted by the Democratic Party. That disenchantment is likely to translate into lower turnout among blacks this fall.

Gary Martin writes at The San Antonio Express-News:

Hispanic groups are disappointed with Obama and Democrats for failing to act on a campaign pledge in 2008 to pass sweeping immigration reform in the first two years of a new administration.

Velma Hart expresses disappointment during a CNBC town hall:

Q I am a chief financial officer for a veterans service organization, AmVets here in Washington. I’m also a mother, I’m a wife, I’m an American veteran, and I’m one of your middle-class Americans. And quite frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for --


Q -- and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.

I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people, and I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don't feel it yet. And I thought, while it wouldn’t be in great measure, I would feel it in some small measure.

I have two children in private school. And the financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family. My husband and I joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives.


Q But quite frankly, it’s starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we’re headed again. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly, is this my new reality?

Monday, September 20, 2010

CA: Where Boxer and Fiorina Get Campaign Money

Mike Zapler reports in The San Jose Mercury News:

On issue after issue, the battle for the Senate seat in California between incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and Republican Carly Fiorina is a study in contrasts. That is no less true when it comes to who is bankrolling their campaigns.

Trial lawyers, abortion-rights advocates and entertainment executives are among Boxer's top campaign contributors, while Wall Street investors and oil and mining interests are major financial backers of Fiorina's bid. And despite Fiorina's close Silicon Valley ties as a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, high-tech firms are giving substantially more money to Boxer, a three-term senator.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Losing to Win, 2010

In Losing to Win (1997), Jim Ceaser and Andy Busch argued that American voters tend to prefer divided government. Each side can win votes by portraying itself as a check on the other. Accordingly, President Bush's defeat in 1992 enabled the GOP to take the House in 1994. Conversely, that takeover helped President Clinton win reelection in 1996. On "Face the Nation," President Clinton acknowledged that something similar may be playing out during the Obama years. Apparently, though, he realized that he had blurted out an inconvenient truth that the press would seize upon, so he filibustered.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me just ask you, because you mentioned 1994. That is, of course, when the Republicans took the House and Newt Gingrich came to power in the House. A lot of people said that that’s also when your administration finally began to focus and get some things done. You were having your problems going into that election. You lost a bunch of seats in the House. But after that, you did things like welfare and NAFTA. You got some tax cuts in. You balanced the budget. Would it be good for him in-- in a way if he-- if he lost the House and the Republicans came to power and had to share some of the responsibility here?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, I think it would increase his chances of being re-elected. Whether it would be good for the country or not, I don’t know. But see-- you just said that’s part of the-- the narrative. But, yeah, we passed a Balanced Budget Bill. But it was easy to pass the Balanced Budget Bill, because ninety percent of the deficit was reduced by the budget that only Democrats voted for in 1993, that the Republicans beat them for.


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Because the-- because that’s what reversed trickledown economics. That’s what put the country on a whole new course. It was that budget and the people who got beat were the people who voted for it. I’m worried that we’re going to beat lot of people now who voted for a lot of the policies that will bring this country into the 21st Century. And then we’ll have a Congress that won’t support building a green economy anymore.


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I mean-- I-- that-- that’s the thing that really bothers me. I think that, yeah, we got a lot done. And I like working with Newt Gingrich. And I could deal with all the shenanigans they pull, but I-- but I hate to see the people who are more likely to generate manufacturing and small business opportunities and more likely to train the American people to do the jobs that are open and more likely to deal with the remainder of the mortgage crisis
thrown out of office.


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: And I don’t know how it’ll play out.

CA: Joint Fundraising

CQ/Roll Call reports:

Parties and politicians preparing for the final months of the 2010 election cycle have opened a record number of joint fundraising committees to allow donors to write larger checks than individual campaigns can collect.

Campaigns have filed paperwork for more than 700 such groups since the beginning of 2009 — doubling the number that were active during the 2006 midterm elections, according to a CQ MoneyLine study of Federal Election Commission records.

Joint fundraising committees are separate entities set up by existing committees that allow them to fundraise together at joint events. Usually a campaign is limited to raising a maximum of $2,400 from one donor per election. But joint fundraising committees receive checks that are often in excess of $20,000 at major fundraising events. These large sums of money are pooled together through the committee, then divided among campaigns, parties and even politicians’ political action committees.

“Candidates are under more pressure than ever to raise money, and it may simply be that word is getting around that this is a simple way to do it,” said Paul Ryan, FEC program director and associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. “The only thing that a joint fundraising committee allows is for one check to be written instead of multiple checks.”


Under campaign finance laws, federal candidates can set up as many joint fundraising committees as they want. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is running for re-election this year, has at least three such committees that have collected more than $1 million each.

In February, Politico reported:

“It’s kind of like the used-car-lot approach to fundraising,” said a longtime Democratic fundraiser. “You need as many cars out there as possible because you never know which one somebody will buy and take home with them.”

Besides joining with Reid, Boxer has also set up shared committees with the DSCC, the California Democratic Party and Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Boxer’s cut from these committees amounted to more than $275,000 last year, a big chunk of which came from two fundraisers headlined by Vice President Joe Biden. Boxer reported having $7.2 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, according to her campaign’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

“It’s efficient for the candidates and efficient for the donors,” said Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski. “The candidates have very busy schedules, so they look to combine two events into one.”

Back in 2009, NRSC established a joint fundraising committee with Carly Fiorina, which some saw as a quasi-endorsement in the GOP primary.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

American Crossroads: Steven Law Speaks

The Wall Street Journal reports on American Crossroads president and CEO Steven Law, who notes the network of outside groups that has long helped the Democrats:

"I think the Democrats figured out how to collaborate and coordinate their efforts in a way that we'd never seen on the Republican side outside of the party apparatus," he says. "They were very intentional about sharing plans, and information, and data."


Mr. Law says American Crossroads, which launched in April, will do much more this fall than just TV ads, phone banks and direct mail. It will conduct polls and opposition research, conduct "industrial-strength" voter turnout activities and an absentee-ballot program. The organization will target 11 key Senate races. But it will also be active in up to two dozen House seats, though on the House side it's coordinating with other outside groups so "our dollars go farther," Mr. Law says. The organization is barred by law from comparing strategy notes with a particular candidate or campaign.


Mr. Law says he "got to know organized labor fairly well" during his tenure as a deputy labor secretary in the Bush administration. "I was quite impressed by their courage, their dedication, their boldness, their willingness to put it all on the line to elect people who supported their political agenda," he says. "Frankly they were much bolder and more dedicated than some in the business community, which is why they continue to be successful in advancing their agenda when the political winds are against them."

Most of American Crossroads' money comes from large individual donations. And despite Mr. Obama's semi-hysterical fulminations about a "corporate takeover of our democracy," Mr. Law says that "you don't see large publicly traded businesses rushing pell-mell into overt political activity, and I think its unlikely to happen." Corporate America wants to protect its brands and avoid political retribution; "executives understandably want to get along with everybody," he says.

On the other hand, "You compare that to the unions where their future longevity and prosperity depends significantly on government," and it is clear that "unions not only invest dramatically more in politics but they do it very publicly, and in a very sophisticated and intentional manner. After the 2008 election Andy Stern of the SEIU boasted that they had gone $10 million in debt to buy more TV ads. There's not a public corporation in America that could get away with doing that."

Leaderless: The Polls

A new poll confirms a reason why the Democrats have struggled to find their enemy.

As the mid-term election campaign heats up, the public continues to see no clear leader atop the Republican Party. Only a quarter offer a name when asked who they think of as the leader of the party these days. More than half say they do not know and 18% volunteer that “nobody” leads the party,

Those numbers are little changed since the question was last asked in April.

The latest Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection poll, sponsored by SHRM, conducted September 9-12 among 1,001, finds that Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin each are mentioned by 5% of the public. Beyond the 2008 presidential ticket, another 4% mention House Minority Leader John Boehner, who could become speaker if Republicans take control of the House in the elections. Mentions of Boehner have risen from 1% in April.

As I have written, "leaderless out-party" is a very old story.

And Public Policy Polling suggests that Republicans are not all that happy with the plural leadership that they do have:
John Boehner and Mitch McConnell should not rest easy if their party trounces Democrats at the polls this fall, for their base is restless and ready to give some
new blood a chance to lead potential new Congressional majorities next January.
57% of national voters who usually vote in Republican primaries want to replace the
party’s current leadership in Congress, with only 21% preferring to keep Boehner,
McConnell, and company.

Republicans are split over whether Boehner should be elevated to the Speakership, with a third favoring him, a third preferring someone else, and a third unsure. A third also would like someone other than McConnell to become Majority Leader in the less likely event the GOP takes charge of the Senate, but only 27% want McConnell himself.

Contrary to what one might expect, the 69% of self-labeled conservatives are actually considerably more likely to want to retain the status quo than the small minorities who call themselves liberal or moderate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

CA: The Senate Race Gets Personal

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Signaling a combative round in the California U.S. Senate contest, Republican Carly Fiorina on Thursday defended her new attack ad on "millionaire" U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, charging that the Democrat has consistently tried to "play class warfare" on the issues.

Fiorina's online spot, "Failure," characterizes Boxer as a wealthy career politician. "Since she went to Washington, her taxpayer-funded salary has more than doubled," the ad says. "She has become a millionaire. And members of her family profit off her special-interest-backed political committees."

The third-term senator, who is paid $174,000 a year, has listed her blind trust as having a value of between $1 million and $5 million, according to Senate financial disclosure forms. Boxer, on the stump and in her TV ads, has consistently charged that Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers while earning a multimillion-dollar salary as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. But Fiorina has said Boxer has accepted contributions from other executives who have laid off workers.

Calbuzz reports:

Barbara Boxer unleashed a forceful attack on Carly Fiorina on Thursday – a purely negative ad noting that, as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the Republican nominee for Senate laid off 30,000 workers, shipped jobs to China, tripled her own salary, bought a million-dollar yacht and five corporate jets.

Kaboom. That’s nasty. Especially because the charges are based in fact and the star of the ad is Hurricane Carly herself, defending the “massive layoffs” she implemented at H-P. And the kicker slogan is killer: “Carly Fiorina – outsourcing jobs, out for herself.”

You can’t get too much more negative than that, unless you were to accuse her of personally stealing Christmas from the crippled children of jobless workers.

But as Calbuzz always says: an election is not a tea party. Negative is fair, if it’s true.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

American Crossroads and Other Groups

Time reports:

One way to understand how much has changed since 2008 is to visit one office building in downtown Washington. On the 12th floor are the offices of American Crossroads, which plans to spend more than $50 million influencing the midterm elections. American Crossroads was the brainchild of a group of top Republican insiders, including two of George W. Bush's closest White House political advisers, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, both of whom remain informal advisers. (Neither would talk for this article.)

Running the group's day-to-day operations, with a staff of about 10, is a GOP establishment insider named Steven Law. A silver-haired, genial veteran of Republican politics — he is a former chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell — Law sits behind a tidy desk as he boasts about his group's grand plans. They include a fall advertising blitz that in the past month has already targeted Democratic candidates in at least six states, including Colorado, Nevada, Missouri and California, as well as a monster $10 million national get-out-the-vote campaign that will include 40 million pieces of political mail and 20 million phone calls to voters in key states. "I catch my breath every time I say it," Law says of the huge numbers. (See "Florida GOP Candidate Wins a Finance Ruling Against Rich Opponent.")

At the same time, American Crossroads is helping coordinate a network of some two dozen conservative independent groups, planning ad campaigns and mailers, to ensure that they aren't duplicating or interfering with one another's work — "like kids' soccer, where they all run to the ball instead of spreading out," Law says.

CNN reports:

An independent Republican organization is on the attack with new television commercials in Colorado and Missouri.

American Crossroads says it launched ads Wednesday that target Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado and Missouri Secretary of State and Senate nominee Robin Carnahan, criticizing both for "supporting out of control federal spending."

"Both Robin Carnahan and Micahel Bennet are trying not to blush as they tell Missouri and Colorado voters that they're somehow 'fiscally conservative,'" says American Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio. "These spots pull back their respective curtains to show voters what they really are: desperate liberal politicians addicted to pork, stimulus and bailouts, all at the expense of taxpayers."

See also NY Times story on the ads

KWGN in Denver has detail about the voiceover guy.

CA: Pinocchio

Jerry Brown is responding to Meg Whitman's attack ads with a "Pinocchio" response ad.

As Calbuzz notes, the Pinocchio-nose is an old gimmick. Heck, it's even been in vodka ads:

Pinocchio Politicians & Roller-Coaster Taxis

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

American Crossroads v. Harry Reid: The Backstory

Politico writes of bad blood between Karl Rove and Harry Reid:

Rove wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO that his efforts through Crossroads GPS and its sister group, American Crossroads, are not driven by his personal feelings toward the majority leader. And he declined to lay out his views of Reid, instead referring POLITICO to his new biography — which is none too kind to Reid.

Rove, in his book, characterizes Reid as an “unreliable,” “untrustworthy,” “rash” and dishonest Democratic leader — even though he said they both tried to be polite to one other in their initial dinner meetings.

Steven Law, president and CEO of American Crossroads, called it “completely absurd” that the group’s attacks have had anything to do with the relationship of the two men. He downplayed Rove’s role with the group, saying Rove “informally advises” it on strategic decision making.

But Law said dumping cash into the Nevada race was a “good investment” because the most powerful Democrat in the Senate remains very unpopular back home, making the race “high on our priority list” as American Crossroads gets involved in a number of Senate races.

But it’s clear Crossroads has had it in for Reid. The group raised eyebrows with its all-in approach, attacking Reid on the airwaves long before other Republican-leaning outside groups got involved. Such attacks helped give Angle cover when her sparsely staffed campaign couldn’t respond on the airwaves for weeks after the June primary.

Obviously, ill will has something to do with the story. But as we explain in Epic Journey (pp.176-177) decapitation has been a major element of American political strategy for many years.

The Tea Party Movement as a Starfish

Jonathan Rauch has a very smart article at National Journal:
The tea party began as a network, not an organization, and that is what it mostly remains. Disillusioned with President Bush's Republicans and disheartened by President Obama's election, in late 2008 several dozen conservatives began chattering on social-networking sites such as Top Conservatives on Twitter and Smart Girl Politics. Using those resources and frequent conference calls (the movement probably could not have arisen before the advent of free conference calling), they began to talk about doing something. What they didn't realize was that they were already doing something. In the very act of networking, they were printing the circuitry for a national jolt of electricity.

Activists, he explains, liken the movement to a starfish:

The Starfish and the Spider, a business book by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, was published in 2006 to no attention at all in the political world. The subtitle, however, explains its relevance to the tea party model: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. ... Fragmentation, the bane of traditional organizations, actually makes the network stronger. It is like a starfish: Cut off an arm, and it grows (in some species) into a new starfish. Result: two starfish, where before there was just one.

In August, Kenneth Vogel wrote in Politico:

In fact, FreedomWorks has included the book in an eclectic lecture series for grass-roots activists that also includes the writings of Friedrich August Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Alinsky, author of 1971’s “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.” Brandon explained, “One of the last books that we were kind of hot on was ‘The Tipping Point,’ and a lot of our activists read it to understand how you get to this mass, this point, and then — bam — all of a sudden you become a movement. Well, that happened. Now, we’re in this movement, and it is kind of uncomfortable when there is no coordination. So when you read [Starfish], it makes you more at ease and comfortable with the way this movement is growing.”

But the book also seems to encapsulate some of the central dilemmas facing tea party activists as they struggle to transition from a protest movement to one that flexes its muscles through lobbying and electing representatives who share their small-government principles.

A faithful application of the starfish theory would seem to hold that, in order to perpetuate the tea party’s grass-roots momentum, tea partiers should reject the compromises often necessary to unite behind candidates and resist the temptation to raise the money and build the centralized infrastructure traditionally used to elect them.

“The tea party is encountering a very spidery political system where it is about power and it is about money and it is about getting someone into office,” Brafman told POLITICO. “It can be easier to unite around shared values if you’re not trying to elect people into office.”

“If the tea party starts bringing money and power into the equation, that makes some people more equal than others, and they will start losing the advantages of being adaptable and starfish-like,” Brafman said. “That’s the biggest challenge the tea party movement is facing.”

CA: Clinton Endorses Brown

Seema Mehta and Michael J. Mishak report at The Los Angeles Times:
Party loyalty is apparently thicker than a personal grudge.

President Bill Clinton weighed in on the California gubernatorial race Tuesday, endorsing Democrat Jerry Brown. A former Democratic president backing his party's standard bearer would be unremarkable, except for two facts: the men have had a rocky relationship since clashing in the 1992 presidential primary, and Brown — speaking off the cuff two days ago — called Clinton a liar and made fun of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Brown apologized Monday.

Clinton did not refer to the slight in his statement to The Times.

"I strongly support Jerry Brown for governor because I believe he was a fine mayor of Oakland, he's been a very good attorney general, and he would be an excellent governor at a time when California needs his creativity and fiscal prudence," Clinton said.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

American Crossroads: Spending Gap & Rove Derangement Syndrome

If the trend on television continues and extends across other types of independent group spending, it would be a reversal from the past. In recent elections, it was Democrats who used so-called soft money vehicles, which are able to accept unrestricted donations, to a much greater degree.

In 2006, for example, the last midterm election, Democratic-leaning 527 groups, named for the part of the tax code they fall under, outspent Republican-leaning ones in federal races $121 million to $65 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“The groups that perfected this were on the Democratic side,” said Steven Law, president and chief executive of American Crossroads, a Republican-oriented advocacy group, and its sister organization, Crossroads GPS. Crossroads GPS has been the biggest third-party player on television by far since early August.

In Senate races, Republican-leaning interest groups outspent Democratic-leaning ones on television $10.9 million to $1.3 million, from Aug. 1 to Sept. 8, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks political advertising.

In the House, Republican-leaning groups outspent Democratic-leaning ones, $3.1 million to $1.5 million.


Crossroads GPS is organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, meaning it legally cannot devote more than half of its activities to politics, but it also means that it does not have to disclose its donors.

American Crossroads, on the other hand, recently filed paperwork to become an independent-expenditure political action committee, a new classification for third-party groups made possible by a pair of recent advisory opinions by the F.E.C. after the Citizens United decision. Such groups can accept donations of unlimited size but are required to regularly disclose their donors.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, American Crossroads spent only $437,000 on television in August and early September, much less than its sister-organization. Donations revealed in campaign finance filings by American Crossroads, however, offer a glimpse of the kinds of hefty contributions its leaders have been soliciting. There are the $1 million contributions linked to Mr. Simmons; and another $1 million donation came from a trust controlled by Jerry Perenchio, a former chairman of Univision and another major contributor to Republican causes.

Raw Story reports:

Amid the launch of a new campaign to encourage greater scrutiny of the right-wing "American Crossroads" groups known to many as the "shadow RNC," an activist organization declared that it would give $100,000 to any person who comes forward with "information leading to the arrest and conviction of Karl Rove."

The campaign is being conducted by American Crossroads Watch, an offshoot of Velvet Revolution, which promotes issues key to many progressives activists and represents the political will of dozens of organizations and unions nation-wide.

Their newly launched Web site declares:

Karl Rove created American Crossroads to continue his 40-year history of unfairly manipulating elections on behalf of oligarchs. He joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a cabal of corporate barons and other CEOs that want Big Business to control our elections and our government.

In Search of Enemies: "Trying to Find a Bad Guy"

From George E. Condon Jr. and Billy House,Attacks On Boehner Bring Skepticism From Both Sides, CongressDaily, September 14, 2010 (subscription required):

There is no precedent for the White House obsession with a minority leader little known outside southern Ohio, helping to explain skepticism among Democrats that the attacks will change the electoral dynamic. Indeed, the latest Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center, showed that 60 percent of Americans could not identify the leader of the Republican Party. A mere 4 percent, within the survey's error margin, said Boehner was the leader of the GOP.
"Oh, he's a household word. The most hated man in America. I think they hate him more than they hate Osama bin Laden," joked Democratic consultant Jim Duffy, who is trying to elect several Democrats to the House.
But even as he doubts there will be great benefit from the strategy and doesn't think independents will be moved at all, Duffy said targeting Boehner will not hurt. "They're trying to fire up the faithful," he said. "They are trying to find a bad guy. And I think they settled on him by a process of elimination and it does get the base fired up."

Monday, September 13, 2010

CA: Brown Attacks Clinton

Almost exactly one year ago, this blog included a post about the bad blood between Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton.

Hard feelings endure, leading Jerry Brown to botch his rebuttal to a Meg Whitman ad.

This is not smart:

Slow Start to 2012

The race for the 2012 GOP nomination is off to a slow start. Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith tell why:

There are three main reasons for the delay: The intense focus on the 2010 midterms; the risks of starting too early; and, especially for the best-prepared candidate, Romney, a paralyzing fear of failure in Iowa.


“Given the opportunity for midterm gains, it would be unseemly to be out there ignoring this election and working on your own presidential aspirations,” said former New Hampshire GOP Chairman Steve Duprey, a top McCain supporter and donor.


Resurgent Republic reports:

Independent voters’ opposition to the agenda favored by President Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress has calcified. From August 27 to September 1, 2010, YouGov/Polimetrix conducted a national online survey of 800 Independent voters on behalf of Resurgent Republic. Overall percentages are based on a re-weighting of the data to represent the national likely voter population.

The survey data show the following:

  • Independents express overwhelming disappointment with the direction of the country and by a 2-to-1 margin hold an unfavorable opinion of President Obama and his job performance.
  • Disappointment with President Obama extends beyond a faltering economy to a deeper concern about his specific policies and the way he has governed, particularly his perceived failure to change the way Washington works.
  • Independents continue to look more like Republicans than Democrats, most notably on government spending. Swing voters also view President Obama as further to the left of Democrats in Congress on issues related to the proper role of the federal government.
  • Support among Independents is highest for candidates who oppose stimulus spending and government bailouts, favor tax cuts to grow the economy, prioritize reducing the federal deficit, and believe “drastic change” is needed to redress a federal government that has gotten “out of control.”

Americans Don't Like What Congress Has Done

In yet another gust of headwind for congressional Democrats, Gallup reports:
The financial reform bill President Obama signed into law in July is the most popular of five major pieces of legislation Congress has passed in the past two years -- in fact, it is the only one tested in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll that a majority of Americans support.

Six in 10 Americans approve of the legislation to strengthen government regulation of the financial industry. By contrast, a majority disapprove of the 2009 economic stimulus package, the auto industry bailout, healthcare reform, and -- most of all -- the 2008 banking industry bailout

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In Search of Enemies:Doubling Down

The Wall Street Journal reports that POTUS's attack on John Boehner was not a one-off:

Democrats are planning a new step in their attacks on Republican Rep. John Boehner, who would likely become House speaker should the GOP take control of the chamber next year. The Democratic National Committee says it will begin airing a TV ad Tuesday that criticizes Boehner for opposing additional aid to states for teachers and Medicaid.

The ad marks an escalation in the Democratic effort to elevate and to define Boehner, the House minority leader, who is largely unfamiliar to most voters.

It is part of the Democrats’ plan to make the approaching midterm elections a choice between the two parties–a contest they believe they have a chance to win–rather than a referendum on Democratic leadership in Washington, which they fear they would lose.

President Barack Obama has played a central role in the effort, criticizing Boehner on Wednesday during a speech in the GOP leader’s home state of Ohio. In the speech, the president mentioned Boehner by name eight times.

The new TV ad is to run in Washington and on national cable TV for several days beginning Tuesday, said Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. He wouldn’t say how much the party was spending on the ad buy.

Also in the works are an anti-Boehner Web site and a string of events highlighting what Democrats see as flaws in the House minority leader’s record and views, Mr. Woodhouse said.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Search of Enemies, Acknowledged

The White House is quite open about trying to use Boehner as its Alinsky-style target, as Peter Nicholas reports in The Los Angeles Times:
"You need a device if you're going to have a debate, because you can't have a debate against a vacuum," a senior White House aide said in an interview Thursday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's thinking. "Boehner provided an opportunity for that. At previous times over the course of the last year, [Senate Republican leader Mitch] McConnell has served that purpose and [Texas House Republican Joe] Barton has been a foil."

CA: Did Brown Raise Taxes?

Seema Mehta reports in The Los Angeles Times:

A claim in a Meg Whitman television ad that state taxes went up when Democratic rival Jerry Brown was governor from 1975 to 1983 is false, according to the state Department of Finance.

"Taxes went down, by this yardstick, yes," said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the department, who added that the figures are the result of an impartial, nonpartisan analysis of the data. "The data you have in front of you does not have an R suffix or a D suffix after them. The Department of Finance calculated these numbers in a consistent manner over Republican and Democratic administrations."

The Republican gubernatorial nominee's 30-second television ad, which was unveiled Thursday, features 1992 footage of then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton slamming Brown's claim that he lowered taxes as governor. The video came from a Democratic primary debate that featured both men.

"CNN. Not me, CNN says his assertion about his tax record was, quote, just plain wrong," Clinton says in the ad. "He raised taxes as governor of California…. He doesn't tell the people the truth."

Palmer said CNN apparently used the wrong years for its analysis.

At The San Jose Mercury News, Ken McLaughlin adds detail:

Ironically, the reporter who made the error, Brooks Jackson, is now the head of a respected nonpartisan website,, which rebuts what it considers inaccurate and misleading claims by politicians.

Reached late Friday night on the East Coast, Jackson said he would review California Department of Finance documents on Monday and issue a "fact check on an 18-year-old story" -- his own.

Jackson had reported in 1992 that taxes during the Brown years had increased from $6.47 per $100 of personal income to $6.98 per $100. But he used the wrong base year -- the 1973-74 fiscal year. Jackson should have used fiscal year 1974-75, the last budget that Brown's predecessor, Ronald Reagan, controlled.

If Jackson had used the correct year, it would have showed taxes decreasing from $7.03 per $100 in fiscal year 1974-75 to $6.83 in fiscal year 1982-83, the last year Brown had control of the budget. Jackson had also erroneously used the 1981-82 fiscal year in citing the $6.98 figure.