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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 61

The president recently did interviews with network correspondents. The White House website includes no transcripts.

DIANE SAWYER: Looking at each end of the spectrum of possibilities, if Gadhafi ends up in a villa some place in Zimbabwe with no war crimes trial, is that OK with you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well -- you know, that's not going to be my decision alone. I will tell you, though that -- the first step is for Gadhafi to send a signal that he understands -- the Libyan people -- don't want him ruling anymore. That 40 years of tyranny is enough. And -- you know, once he makes that decision -- I think the international community will come together, and make a determination -- as to what -- the most appropriate -- way of facilitating him stepping down will be. I certainly will be supportive of him -- being removed from power. And -- we're going to have to examine what our options are after that.

Hill: The supreme allied commander for NATO said today that there are flickers of al Qaeda and Hezbollah amongst these rebels. How do we know what their end goal is? And how do we know they won't, in fact, turn on the U.S. and on our allies?

Mr. Obama: Well, first of all, I think it's important to note that the people that we've met with have been fully vetted, so we have a clear sense of who they are, and so far they're saying the right things, and most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors, people who appear to be credible. That doesn't mean that all the people, among all the people who opposed Qaddafi there might not be elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests.

That's why I think it's important for us not to jump in with both feet but to carefully consider: What are the goals of the opposition? What kind of transition do they want to bring about inside of Libya? Because our main concern here is the Libyan people as well as stability in the region.

Due respect, Mr. President, watching the reportings of our two correspondents in Libya. What it appears the rebels need is military equipment. Some of their equipment dates back to World War II. Are you ruling out U.S. military hardware assistance?

I'm not ruling it out. But I'm also not ruling it in. We're still making an assessment partly about what Khadaffy's forces are going to be doing. Keep in mind, we've been at this now for nine days. And the degree to which we've degraded Khadaffy's forces in those nine days has been significant.

Operations to protect civilians continue to take out Khadaffy's forces, his tanks, his artillery on the ground, and that will continue for some time. And so one of the questions that we want to answer is: do we start getting to a stage where Khadaffy's forces are sufficiently degraded, where it may not be necessary to arm opposition groups.

But we're not taking anything off the table at this point. Our primary military goal is to protect civilian populations and to set up the no-fly zone. Our primary strategic goal is for Khadaffy to step down so that the Libyan people have an opportunity to live a decent life.

Redistricting and Uncertainty

Rhodes Cook writes at Crystal Ball:
It is conventional wisdom these days that congressional district lines in most places are drawn to protect incumbents of both parties. But if that is the case, the cartographers in many states last time out did not do a very good job. More House incumbents were beaten under the current lines than in any other period since the 1970s. And for good measure, more House incumbents were defeated in the 2010 election (54) than in any other general election since 1948. The chart below compares the number of defeated House incumbents by decade. Post-redistricting elections that end with a “2″ are not included, since incumbents then can often find themselves pitted against each other. Totals are restricted to the four general elections that follow, when the district lines traditionally undergo little or no change.


The current redistricting process is different from the last one in a variety of ways. Republican gubernatorial and state legislative gains last fall put the GOP in a much stronger position in many states to push through maps of their choosing.

On the other hand, for the first time in more than four decades, the federal Justice Department is in the hands of the Democrats at redistricting time. That puts them in position to review redistricting plans from states required to seek federal approval under the Voting Rights Act, many of which are in the South where Republicans hold sway.

And then there is the voter-approved commission in California empowered to draw more competitive congressional districts, as well as a voter-approved constitutional amendment in Florida that declares that districts “may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party.”

Yet no matter which mode of redistricting is employed, the handiwork of the cartographers will continue to be challenged over the next decade by changing demographics, the ups and downs of the economy and an ever-evolving political environment. In short, safe congressional seats will always be with us, but probably not as many as their most ambitious creators would want.

Reid Wilson writes at National Journal:

In California and Florida, two states new to nonpartisan redistricting, the uncertainty factor should be a major concern. The process in both states isn’t expected to lead to major changes in the partisan makeup of each delegation, but party officials in Washington are making sure that incumbents get a clear message: Just because a district stays in one party’s hands doesn’t mean it will be represented by the same member.

“We’re telling our delegations that they don’t draw the maps,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., who is the redistricting point man for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“We would like to think that every member could come in and draw a perfect district for them. The one thing that we know for sure [is], unless you live in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, or Montana, you’re going to have a different district,” Westmoreland said.

And things are up in the Iowa air, as Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post:

Iowa’s nonpartisan redistricting commission threw an early wrench into the state’s redistricting process Thursday, proposing a map that would put Republican Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King into the same district, while also drawing Democratic Reps. Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack into the same district.

The state is dropping from five districts to four districts due to slower-than-average population growth over the last decade, meaning that it was a foregone conclusion that two incumbents would be drawn into the same district.

But instead of making minor changes, the proposal is a wholesale re-drawing of the congressional map and pairs up two sets of incumbents, while leaving Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) in his own district and creating an open seat in the southeastern corner of the state – where the potential candidates include former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D).

This map is not the final plan, however, as the state legislature and governor have to sign off on it first. Republicans, in particular, might bristle at the idea that Latham and King would be in the same district. Latham moved to his current home in Ames in 2001 to avoid just such a scenario.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dem Losers Blame Obama & Pelosi

At Politico, Richard E. Cohen reports:
"Moderates and independents who leaned toward Obama didn’t come out because they saw a continuing polarization. Health reform was only supported by Democrats. So, the message from Washington was that Obama was getting his way,” said former Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), who has become a senior fellow with Third Way, the centrist Democratic group.

Former Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.) blamed Pelosi’s liberal agenda for his more decisive 10-point loss. “A winning political strategy is to take issues that are popular with the center. Democratic leadership brought too many votes that weren’t going to be enacted. It was a ‘choose and lose’ approach,” said Nye, now a senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

American Crossroads and The List

At Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg reports on discussions about the RNC's extensive voter files:

Multiple Republican sources said that a number of prominent GOP strategists and operatives are trying to persuade the RNC’s leadership to end the party’s monopoly of the list by creating an arrangement whereby a new, non-party group could have access to the list in exchange for improving it.

Among those Republicans said to be pushing for the move are former Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, former White House Political Director Karl Rove and Barry Jackson, a top aide to Speaker John Boehner (Ohio).

Duncan, who is chairman of the board of American Crossroads, one of the non-party groups credited with helping Republicans win the House last year, adamantly opposed the move when he chaired the RNC but now favors it. Rove is also heavily involved in American Crossroads.

Numerous former RNC staffers described the voter file as the committee’s “greatest asset” and argued that by giving up control of the file, which the RNC shares with state parties, the committee would be agreeing to diminish its power dramatically.

Others downplayed the risk, arguing that the RNC must never and will never “give up the list” but can allow private entities access to it. The more the list is used, they argued, the more it would be “refreshed.” And, they added, only the parties can pay for federal get-out-the-vote efforts, thereby guaranteeing the RNC an important role in campaigns.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Social Issues Redux

At The New York Times, Jeff Zeleny reports:

Here in Iowa, whose caucuses next winter will open the campaign, social and religious conservatives are pressing the likely candidates on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion rather than on jobs, the budget deficit and other economic concerns that leaders of both parties expect to dominate the general election.

The development provides opportunities for candidates like Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who have a following among social conservatives. But it could make Iowa even more difficult territory for, among others, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who has yet to visit the state this year.

More broadly, some Republicans say, it could muddle the party’s message as it seeks to defeat President Obama.

“We look like Camp Christian out here,” said Doug Gross, a Republican activist and former nominee for governor. “If Iowa becomes some extraneous right-wing outpost, you have to question whether it is going to be a good place to vet your presidential candidates.”

As Zeleny also reported, different approaches were on display at the state's Conservative Principles Conference:

Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi urged Republicans to keep a tight focus on the policies of the Obama administration, the state of the economy and the size of government.

“It is absolutely critical that we elect a new president,” Mr. Barbour said. “I think the best way — perhaps the only way — is for us to make sure the 2012 campaign is focused on policy. The American people agree with us on policy.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who took the stage after Mr. Barbour, offered a different view, ranking values above the economy and national security in his three-point list of what the next presidential campaign should be about.

“Some people may say we should stay away from values, stay away from social issues,” Mr. Gingrich said. “I’m here to tell you that if you don’t start with values, if you don’t start by saying who we are as Americans, the rest of it doesn’t matter.”

Mr. Gingrich drew applause when he suggested that students “in every class in K-12 and in every tax-paid college” should learn the words of the Founding Fathers that “we are endowed by our creator.”

Unimpressed with Rudy

Fergus Cullen writes at the Manchester Union-Leader:

Rudy Giuliani visited Manchester last week to repay political debts, reconnect with past supporters and muse about running for President again. He ate some crow, acknowledging that not paying more attention to New Hampshire last time was a mistake.

Admitting the problem is the first step in recovery, but confession doesn't excuse how bad a campaign Giuliani waged in New Hampshire four years ago. America's Mayor, respected by all for the job he did in New York, let his supporters down and wasted $58 million to win a single delegate, from Nevada. Let Giuliani be a lesson to all future candidates in what not to do.

Giuliani's was the Potemkin Village of presidential campaigns: What looked like a campaign was just a facade for the cameras and national media. It was artifice, disrespectful of the process and the voters. Perhaps this is what campaigns in New York City are, where everything plays out on TV and in the tabloids, where no grassroots grow in the concrete jungle.

In the course of the last campaign, during which I was state Republican Party chairman, I must have met Rudy Giuliani a half-dozen times. But for Giuliani, it was always the first time; he gave no indication of recognizing me. Getting to know individual voters was unimportant. In contrast, McCain and other candidates routinely picked me out of crowds. Mitt Romney even did so at a South Carolina event asking, "Fergus, what are you doing here?"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Huck's On First

At Politico, Andy Barr notes:

In the latest Gallup Poll released Friday, he’s the Republican leader, ahead of 16 other presidential prospects. Regardless of what’s being polled, who’s doing the polling or how the question is asked, among Republicans Huckabee typically finishes on top.

Who is best liked? Mike Huckabee.

Whom do Fox News viewers favor? Mike Huckabee.

Who does the South want to be president? Mike Huckabee.

Poll the early primary states, and the former Arkansas governor is winning. Match up any of the 2012 contenders with President Barack Obama, and Huckabee usually runs strongest.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Romney and the GOP Nomination Process

Jonathan Martin writes at Politico:

Mitt Romney is sketching a path to the GOP nomination that looks nothing like the one blazed by Republicans before him.

Romney’s plan, by necessity, more closely resembles the outline of the epic 2008 Democratic presidential primary than the GOP’s recent victory-by-early-knockout design.With glaring weaknesses in two of the traditional early states, an increased number of contests allocating delegates on a proportional basis and a capacity, thanks to his own deep pockets and a growing stable of donors, to raise significant cash, Romney’s second White House bid relies on outlasting the competition.

Much will depend on the still-unsettled primary calendar and the eventual field of candidates. But the former Massachusetts governor’s aim, according to multiple aides and advisers, is to exceed expectations his team is working feverishly to lower in Iowa, to come back strong with a win in New Hampshire, to survive South Carolina in part by picking up an off-setting victory in Nevada and then to settle in for what many described as “a slog” that they’ll emerge from thanks to superior money and organization.

Josh Putnam has more on the GOP's proportional allocation requirements.

Crossroads, CREW, and Crowdsourcing

At Slate, David Weigel writes:

Michael Warren called up CREW to ask if it would follow up Melanie Sloan's criticism of American Crossroads GPS by going the extra mile and disclosing their own donors.

"CREW does not discuss its donors," said communications director Garrett Russo. I asked him why not, since Sloan said Crossroads GPS was guilty of hypocrisy for not doing the same thing.

"CREW does not discuss its donors," Russo repeated. "That's about all I can tell you."

Helpful! American Crossroads GPS, loving it, sends over a statement from spokesman Jonathan Collegio:

Democrats generally miss the difference between private and government entities, which explains why they are the party of high taxes, suffocating anti-business regulations and everlasting recessions. While Crossroads GPS fully follows the disclosure laws that govern private nonprofits, the Obama administration is breaking laws that govern the free flow of information from federal bureaucracies to taxpaying citizens.

None of this is meant to equate CREW and ACGPS. CREW does name liberal targets and file ethics complaints against Democrats; ACGPS is not in the business of attacking Republicans. But the very idea that ACGPS or any other group is hypocritical for crowdsourcing research on government transparency is ridiculous.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mitt's Shock and Awe

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has quietly launched a 15-city push to secure financial commitments from big-money "bundlers," hoping to reveal a fund-raising network that would establish him as the prohibitive frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president.

Mr. Romney and top aides will meet Thursday in New York with nearly 100 donors—many from Wall Street— at the Harvard Club. Attendees are being asked to raise between $25,000 and $50,000 for Mr. Romney within 90 days, in an effort to post large fund-raising totals quickly, one person familiar with events said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Romney met with fund-raisers in downtown Washington, where he also gave his view of the early nominating caucuses and primaries.

Mr. Romney said he needed to do well in the New Hampshire and Florida primaries and Nevada's caucuses, while emerging from those early states with enough money to convince undecided voters that he would have the financial firepower to get to the finish line.

He said he expected to win in Nevada, as he did in 2008, and that he saw Florida's primary as pivotal, with only two candidates likely to emerge from that state able to compete in the later primaries. Less clear was his thinking on the nation's first nominating contest—the Iowa caucuses—where socially conservative voters dominate and where Mr. Romney placed a distant second in 2008.

DCCC v. Crossroads

Alexander Burns reports at Politico:
Democrats haven’t yet found an outside group that can counter the might of American Crossroads on the right. But the DCCC has launched a website to answer the conservative group’s online offensive against the Obama administration. Just yesterday, Crossroads GPS unveiled – a hub for posting files and other data obtained from the Obama administration through the Freedom of Information Act. Today, the DCCC responds with, a website that blasts Crossroads for pushing a transparency-themed initiative while taking huge sums from anonymous donors. The DCCC’s Jennifer Crider: “Crossroads GPS has spent millions of dollars from secretive, hidden donors on misleading campaigns. If Crossroads GPS wants to be taken seriously on transparency it must practice what they preach and the names of their secretive donors.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crossroads GPS and WikiAccountability

Mike Allen reports at Politico:

Crossroads GPS, the cash-flush Republican advocacy group, is launching a new initiative and website Thursday,, which is designed to crowdsource FOIA files from organizations, individuals and journalists who have sought, and who have received, public information from the Obama administration. Thousands of pages of information from the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services have been uploaded to the site, and Crossroads is encouraging other groups and individuals to upload their own FOIA reports as well.

The site is also designed to spotlight what it suggests is the administration’s poor record of compliance with FOIA — with a special section devoted to unfulfilled FOIA requests

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Tepid Rally Effect

Gallup reports that less than a majority approves of the president's action against Libya, a pretty tepid "rally-round-the-flag" effect.

A Gallup poll conducted Monday finds more Americans approving than disapproving of the military action against Libya by the United States and other countries.

The March 21 poll was conducted just days after the United States joined other countries in conducting airstrikes against Libya to enforce a United Nations no-fly zone. The U.N. passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone in response to reports that Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi had attacked Libyan forces opposed to his government.

The 47% of Americans approving of the action against Libya is lower than what Gallup has found when asking about approval of other U.S. military campaigns in the past four decades.

The most comparable military operations were Clinton's air-power-only attacks in Kosovo and Iraq. Several years ago, Gallup summed up the reaction:

"Operation Desert Fox"

Similarly, in December 1998, Gallup found nearly three in four Americans (74%) approving of a joint U.S.-British attack on Iraq launched in response to Iraq's failure to comply with U.N. weapons inspection requirements, and designed to damage Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities. The following month, 56% of Americans said they approved of the way President Bill Clinton was handling the situation in Iraq.


Although a much larger undertaking than either Grenada or the 1998 air strikes against Iraq, a solid majority of Americans continually approved of the way Clinton handled the situation in Kosovo during the 1999 NATO-sponsored action. American troops made up a large share of the NATO force, and U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's Supreme Commander in Europe, led the military operation that lasted approximately three months, from March to June 1999. In this period, between 55% and 61% of Americans consistently approved of the way Clinton was handling the situation in Kosovo. The fact that no U.S. soldiers were killed in combat during that war may have been an important factor in that support.

Monday, March 21, 2011

T-Paw and Haley

At The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza notes some top-notch Barbour hires but adds a caution:
That Barbour is excelling at the inside game is not terribly surprising, given that he has spent decades cultivating relationships among elected officials and high-level operatives. Essentially everyone in GOP circles knows and like Barbour.

To win the presidential nomination, however, Barbour has to not only prove himself among insiders, which he is well on his way to doing, but also among average voters who know nothing of the inside game. Barbour has struggled far more in that latter category, finding himself caught in a series of negative headlines regarding race.

Staying on message — a message that early signs indicate will focus on his understanding of how to turn the economy around — is critical for Barbour. Without that, visits to early states and victories in the fight for staff talent will be quickly forgotten.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Opinion on Obama

Gallup reports:

Before the Japanese earthquake and resulting nuclear crisis, a majority of Americans -- 55% -- said President Obama is doing a good job of protecting the nation's environment. At the same time, 55% said he is doing a poor job of making America prosperous and, by 47% to 41%, Americans said he is doing a poor rather than a good job of improving the nation's energy policy.

These results are based on Gallup's annual Environment survey, conducted March 3-6, just prior to the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear crisis in Japan. The survey asks Americans to rate the president on these three dimensions. Obama's ratings on all three are similar to his ratings last year, but remain well below those from March 2009, shortly after he took office.

The high rating on the environment, however, will do him only limited good. Gallup also reports:

Gallup finds the widest margin in nearly 30 years in Americans' prioritizing economic growth (54%) over environmental protection (36%). Americans for the most part have given the environment higher priority since Gallup first asked this question in 1984.

The results, part of Gallup's annual Environment poll, continue the trend toward Americans' assigning a higher priority to the economy since the economic downturn began in 2008. That trend was interrupted by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; Gallup found Americans returning, rather dramatically but only temporarily, to a pro-environment position last May, shortly after the spill occurred.

The recent trend in these attitudes suggests Americans are responsive to what is going on with both the economy and the environment. The current poll was conducted March 3-6, the week before a major earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and caused a nuclear power plant to fail. It is not clear whether the nuclear disaster in Japan will cause Americans to shift in a more pro-environment direction.

In Gallup's 2000 Environment poll, Americans overall favored the environment over the economy by a better than 2-to-1 margin (67% to 28%). At that time, all major demographic and attitudinal subgroups were strongly pro-environment. Now, all have moved rather dramatically toward a pro-economy position.

The Pew Research Center reports on some public ambivalence:

As the budget debate moves into a crucial phase, far fewer Americans say that Republicans in Congress have the better approach to the budget deficit than did so in November, shortly after the GOP’s sweeping election victories. The GOP has lost ground on the deficit among political independents and, surprisingly, among key elements of the Republican base, including Tea Party supporters.

However, the public is no more supportive of Barack Obama’s approach to the budget deficit than it was in November. Rather, there has been a sharp rise in the percentage saying there is not much difference between Obama’s approach and that of congressional Republicans – 52% say that now, up from just 33% in November.

The shift in opinion has been particularly dramatic among Republicans, Republican-leaning independents and Tea Party supporters. Shortly after the November election, 76% of Tea Party supporters said Republicans in Congress had a better approach to the budget deficit while just 16% said there was not much difference between their approach and Obama’s. Today, 52% of Tea Party supporters say the GOP has a better approach and 39% say there is not much difference in how the two sides approach the deficit

One major unknown: whether the Libya strikes will produce a rally effect.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Resurgent Roundup

Some poll data via Resurgent Republic:

More Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track since the beginning of the year, an increase influenced by the rise in gasoline prices (a plurality of Democrats now believe President Obama should do more to increase offshore drilling). On key economic measurements, President Obama remains upside down, leaving him vulnerable to criticism of his leadership on the budget. Also two separate polls find that Americans are more likely to believe that the debate over government employee unions is more about solving fiscal problems than weakening unions.

Political Climate

  • Nearly two-thirds of the country believes that America is on the wrong track. By 64 to 31 percent, Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, a two-year high in this poll (Reuters/Ipsos, 3/3-6/11).
  • A plurality of voters believe Republicans in Congress are “taking a stronger leadership role” in Washington compared to President Obama (46 to 39 percent). In December of last year, respondents were split, 43 percent favoring Obama with Republicans in Congress at 42 percent (WP/ABC, 3/10-13/11).

Obama Approval

  • Half of registered voters would not vote to re-elect President Obama (50 to 40 percent). There is a 13-point intensity gap on the generic ballot with 35 percent who say they would definitely vote for someone else compared to 22 percent who would definitely re-elect President Obama (Allstate/National Journal, 3/4-8/11).
  • A majority of Americans disapprove of how President Obama is handling the economy (43 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove) and the federal deficit (39 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove). On both measurements, nearly 2x as many Americans strongly disapprove compared to those who strongly approve (WP/ABC, 3/10-13/11).
  • 7 out of 10 Americans believe President Obama’s economic stimulus spending has made no difference (49 percent) or hurt (21 percent) the national economy. Only 28 percent believe the spending has helped the economy, matching this survey’s low point in June 2009 (WP/ABC, 3/10-13/11).
  • Independent voters trust Republicans in Congress to do a better job than President Obama on the economy (47 to 39 percent), the federal deficit (48 to 36 percent), and split on health care (42 to 41 percent in favor of Republicans in Congress) (Quinnipiac, 2/21-28/11).

Friday, March 18, 2011

More on Crossroads and the IRS

Jeanne Cummings writes at Politico:

Crossroads’ tax status — as a “social action” network, effectively a charity — allows the group to keep its donors secret, as it does for the other groups as well. But it also requires them to prove to the IRS that they deserve that special, non-political status, and the perks that go along with it. They do so by balancing out the millions spent on campaign ads with millions more spent on issue ads, which sound almost exactly like the campaign ads.

The upshot: An unrelenting political cycle that isn’t likely to fade from the scene anytime soon.


Former Rep. Tom Davis and others say the new reality is a direct result of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which restricted the amount of money the political party committees could raise and sent that cash into the private sector to be exploited by outside groups.

“It’s a spiral that began with campaign finance reform that went on steroids after the Citizens United case,” said the moderate Virginia Republican, in a reference to last year’s Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of cash in campaigns for federal lawmakers.

The way Davis sees it, the overall affect is a corrosive one that will harden partisan lines and make the sort of compromises and bipartisanship sought by independent voters much harder to achieve.

“It polarizes [House and Senate members] and it is a very disciplining message for members to stay within their coalition,” he said. “These are basically shots across the bow, just letting members know what’s in store for them.”


Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said some of its advertising was done in response to a significantly smaller ad campaign launched by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee against 50 targeted Republicans.

“There was a sense that [the DCCC] was more interested in the buy as a media stunt. They spent about $500 per district. Our sense was we could go into the same districts and have a much bigger impact than what they were trying to do,” he said.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

California Latinos & the GOP

At Fox and Hounds, Bob Moore and Marty Wilson present a new poll confirming that California Latinos dislike the GOP and disagree with its stand on immigration. They add, however:

Are things as bad as the Los Angeles Times pollster said after some similar findings, "I don't know how any Republican thinks they can win in California?" Is it hopeless to think California Republicans can capture a larger share of the Latino vote?

The simple answer to that is no, but there is also work to be done to convince California Latinos that the Republican Party and its candidates can effectively represent them. Contrary to the Times' prophecy, we believe Republicans can win again in California based on key issues:

  • More than seven-in-ten voters will consider a candidate who says, "secure the border first, stop illegal immigration, then find a way to address the status of people already here illegally" (73 percent favorable reaction).
  • More than six-in-ten Latino voters are likely to consider voting for a GOP candidate who would "ensure all children had a chance at a first rate education" (69 percent), who they agreed with on improving the economy and creating jobs (65 percent) and with whom they agree on protecting America from terrorists (63 percent).
  • Latino voters are more pro-life on abortion (45 percent say they are pro-choice, 45 percent pro-life) than voters are statewide (56 percent of voters statewide say they are pro-choice and 36 percent pro-life).
  • Philosophically, a third are self described "Conservatives," a third are Moderate and a quarter are Liberal. Their ideological makeup is significantly more Conservative than that of Democratic voters.
  • Finally, Latino voters are more likely to be regular church attendees than the statewide voting population - 43 percent of Latino voters attend church once a week or more often, compared to just 32 percent among the California electorate as a whole.

The 2010 election results for Republicans were, to be charitable, disappointing. We know from CNN exit poll data that the two top Republicans on the ballot, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, received approximately 30 percent of the Latino votes cast - not nearly enough to win. Clearly, Republican candidates must do better and must set their sights on earning at least 40 percent of these votes, if they are to have a reasonable expectation of gaining statewide office. Based on this very preliminary data we believe over time, this is an achievable goal but it will take a sustained and focused communications effort based on issues such as education and job creation. Further, this work can't wait until a few weeks before the next election - the work must begin today.

To read more about this survey, click here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

American Crossroads Quarterly Filing

The Open Secrets blog reports:
American Crossroads -- an influential conservative political committee launched last year with assistance from President George W. Bush's political guru Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie -- has changed from filing its campaign finance reports every month to filing them every quarter.

Federal regulations allow political committees the option of filing these documents monthly or quarterly. Another quirk in federal law allows quarterly filers to only submit forms twice a year during years without a federal election, such as 2011.

This means the first disclosure of American Crossroads' donors this year won't come until after July 31.

"Crossroads will join a multitude of groups and candidates, including many liberal and Democratic ones, which file every three months," Jonathan Collegio, the communications director for American Crossroads, told OpenSecrets Blog. "Because monthly reporting is not required, moving to a three-month system is a way to cut administrative overhead and time and resources dedicated to paperwork."

Republicans and Declinism

Jonathan Martin writes at Politico:

“Economically, we are not the nation we once were, and we may be overextended in foreign commitments,” explained Thomas Eller, a retired attorney who attended a GOP luncheon featuring former Sen. Rick Santorum at a local cafe in this western Iowa town last week. “It’s a very difficult time. We cannot continue our slide.”

Asked to sum up what worried him most, Eller said: “the decline of the United States.”

This widespread lament over the loss of the nation they once knew is already provoking a response from GOP presidential prospects. The candidates are tailoring their rhetoric to tap into a fear that is apocalyptic in tone, expressed by a base that is gripped by a sense of deep disappointment with the national GOP and worry over a Democratic president they see as intent on making America more like France.

From tea party luminary Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to establishment favorite Mitt Romney, the GOP hopefuls are all vying to respond to the mix of fear and outrage coursing through the right.

Newt tweets: "On the way to philadelphia to film movie on american exceptionalism will be at site of constitution and declaration of independence."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Palin Roundup

Politico's "Morning Score" has a roundup of Palin news:
Former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg warns in the Hill that the 2012 Republican primaries could drag on all the way to the GOP convention and produce a nominee who can’t win the general election. That’s Palin he’s talking about, arguing that someone “who runs second or third in a great many primaries could go into the convention with a sizable block of delegates. Who would this favor? Does Sarah Palin come to mind? Although she is not viewed by most as strong enough to win, she is viewed by many as a person worth voting for to make a statement … [P]icking a nominee who it seems would be easily defeated by President Obama might not be the best statement.”

- POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin and John Harris write that a growing number of Republican intellectuals are frustrated with Palin’s “politics of grievance and group identity” and “empty brand of populism.” Martin and Harris: “For decades, it was a standard line of the right that liberals cynically promoted victimhood to achieve their goals, and that they practiced the politics of identity—race, sex and class—over ideas … Matt Labash, a longtime writer for the Weekly Standard, said that because of Palin’s frequent appeals to victimhood and group grievance, ‘She’s becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition’ … ‘This is a problem for the movement,” said Will about what Palin represents. “For conservatism, because it is a creedal movement, this is a disease to which it is susceptible.’”

- Gabriel Sherman reports in New York magazine that Palin may be on “thin ice” with Fox News following her decision to spurn advice from Chairman Roger Ailes on how to handle the Tucson shootings in January. Sherman: “‘Lie low,’ [Ailes] said … The consensus in some corners of Palin's camp was that she faced considerable risks if she spoke out. But, this being Sarah Palin, she did it anyway. Ailes was not pleased with her decision, which turned out to be a political debacle for Palin … Ailes’s displeasure matters, not only because his network is a holding pen for Republican candidates-in-waiting, but because he is paying Palin a hefty $1 million annual salary while she strings out her decision over whether to run … Fox executives have been discussing when they need a definite answer from Palin on her presidential intentions.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How 2008 Explains the Slow Start to 2012

At AP, Philip Elliott writes:

"It's a little sluggish. The major donor folks are sitting back a bit," said Rob Bickhart, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman helping ex-Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

"The major donor folks, I think, are a little slower getting started because the whole process was slower to get started," said Bickhart, who helped raise money for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney four years ago. "The last one started, it seemed, after World War I and folks were just exhausted."


All-but-certain candidates Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have lined up pieces of their fundraising teams; others are moving more slowly. None is eager to start spending cash.

They remember what happened in 2008.

Arizona Sen. John McCain spent heavily in the early days of his campaign and then went into the summer broke, relying on volunteers to shuttle him from town hall to town hall. It limited what his advisers could plan and resulted in a strategy overhaul, returning to a grassroots-focused effort that ultimately won him the nomination.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wasn't so lucky. He won the Iowa caucuses but was cash poor. Poised to harness that momentum, he found himself on the phone with supporters, asking for money instead of talking with voters.

That has left him skittish about jumping into the 2012 campaign and starting to spend. Instead, he's looking at a delayed entry, perhaps as late as fall.

"If you can concentrate it to fewer months, you have more money to air campaign ads and less money spent on overhead and office space," Huckabee said.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crossroads GPS & IRS

The GOP group Crossroads GPS is, Jonthan Martin reports, putting a substantial $750,000 behind this ad, which paints unions and their leaders as greedy and Democrats as dependent on them.

The broad national buy might be puzzling, but keep in mind that non-profit groups like Crossroads, which poured millions into electoral politics last year, are now required by the IRS to spend the same amount on their "primary purpose" of policy advocacy. That's the legal downside of a structure that allows you to conceal your donors, and will likely explain this and other broad-brush, relatively low-impact policy advocacy from a group whose 2010 work was more surgical.

The good news for Crossroads is that its donors seem willing to pour money into this broader advocacy, protecting it from the legal issues that crippled some 501(c)4s, notably the left-leaning Progressive Media.

The Washington Post reports:

Crossroads GPS was founded with backing from Karl Rove, a political adviser to President George W. Bush, and concentrated its spending to produce attacks on vulnerable Democrats last year. But the group was formed as a "social welfare" organization under the tax code, allowing it to avoid revealing donor names.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) discovered that Crossroads's application had not been approved.

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said that any new nonprofit would face the same IRS backlog and that "reading anything into it beyond a typical procedural issue is irresponsible."

Collegio added: "CREW focuses its complaints overwhelmingly against conservative groups - ignoring that Crossroads GPS complies fully with the same laws that govern 137,000 nonprofits, all of which can legally engage in advocacy."

Friday, March 11, 2011

The 2012 GOP Playbook

Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen write at Politico:

The Republican Party is undergoing a messy but unmistakable 20-month transformation from fanatically anti-Obama to fanatically anti-spending, providing top party officials a new and intriguing playbook for recapturing the White House in 2012.

The new formula can be seen in the big policy fights gripping the nation - and in the political figures leading the charge.

Republicans in Congress, key states such as Wisconsin and around the country are all consumed with one thing: cutting spending at the federal, state and local levels. The shouts of most activists have changed from “Show me your birth certificate” in the early days of Barack Obama’s presidency, to “Show me your budget cuts” today. (See: Wisconsin's Scott Walker gets union bill ) (See: Anti-Obama or anti-spending? on The Arena)

That has allowed conservatives who are credible in a governing context – Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, and others – to dominate the national debate instead of more flamboyant and controversial figures such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, who hogged the headlines in the spring of 2009. (See : Daniels sticks to his call for truce)


Republicans are aware of the danger of coming across as too dour, and a senior administration official said that could be the one trap in their new strategy.

“A conundrum for them is that if they look too narrow and vindictive, they won’t get credit for whatever recovery there is,” the official said. A well-known Democratic adviser, however, said “the nightmare scenario” for Obama would be a fragile, job-poor economy, and Republicans “nominate someone who is competent and is able to offer a comprehensive vision of economic change.”

But Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and Bush White House counselor, said the party will have to watch its language. “The greatest temptation,” he said, “is to overreach.”

A Young Candidate

Ricky Gill has an exploratory committee for California's 11th congressional district. Incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney won reelection by a very slim margin in 2010. But redistricting could change its contours, either helping or hurting a Republican challenger.

Ricky Gill, whose achievements vary from serving as student representative on the California Board of Education to working for the Sacramento Kings and Oakland Athletics, is seriously considering a run at Congress.

Gill, who turns 24 in May, has formed an exploratory committee to consider representing San Joaquin County in what is now the 11th Congressional District.

The California Redistricting Commission is spending the year creating new political boundaries in state and federal districts for the 2012 election, so the big question will be whether Rep. Jerry McNerney's home in Pleasanton will continue to be in the same district as the Lodi-Stockton area. However the districts line up, Gill said he would like to represent San Joaquin County.

Gill is a Republican, but he emphasized the need for civility and respect across party lines.

"When it doesn't become a tit-for-tat game, dialogue gets better," Gill said. "We have to transcend labels. We need to be singing from the same sheet of music."

Gill also believes it's time for some new blood, even if he's only 23.

Palin Polls

Andy Barr writes at Politico:

The former Alaska governor’s numbers are astonishingly upside-down, according to a new Bloomberg poll showing a 32 percentage point spread between those who have an unfavorable rating of Palin and those who view her favorably.

Of the 60 percent in the poll who have an unfavorable opinion of Palin, more than half of them – 38 percent among the whole survey – said they have a “very” unfavorable view of Palin.

Her “very” unfavorable rating is higher than the total favorability ratings of Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump and Chris Christie.

The new poll is a dip from a December Bloomberg poll showing Palin with a net favorable rating of 33 percent and a net unfavorable rating of 57 percent.

Trend from the CBS/NYT poll:


Not favorable






























10/31 - 11/2/08 RV



10/25-29/08 RV



10/19-22/08 RV



10/10-13/08 RV



10/3-5/08 RV



9/27-30/08 RV



9/21-24/08 RV



9/12-16/08 RV



9/1-2/08 RV



8/29-31/08 RV



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crossroads GPS v. Unions

Jonathan Martin writes at Politico:

An arm of American Crossroads, the well-financed Republican super PAC, is going up on the air Wednesday with an ad taking aim at public employee unions and highlighting the aid President Obama got in his campaign from organized labor.

“Why are Democrats shutting down state capitals?” asks a narrator with images of the protesters in Madison, Wis., on the screen. “To protect a system that pays unionized government workers 42 percent more than non-union workers, a system that collects hundreds of millions in mandatory dues to back liberals who support government unions.”

The 60-second spot also captures a fired-up Obama at an SEIU event thanking members of that union – most of which work in the private sector – for their help in getting him elected.

And to drive perceptions of unions as thuggish and selfish, the spot opens with Rep. Michael Capuano’s (R-Mass.) line about getting “out in the streets and … a little bloody when necessary” while closing with a speech by an NEA official who says the teachers’ union has power because of the willingness of members to pay “hundreds of millions of dollars in dues.”

Crossroads GPS is airing the ad on national cable. The buy is $750,000 over one week, with spots running on CNN, CNBC and Fox News.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Iowa: And So It Begins

Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin write at Politico:

Five potential presidential candidates vied to please a socially conservative crowd at a packed event here Monday night that marked the unofficial start to the Iowa caucus campaign and the first time a crush of GOP hopefuls shared a major stage.

Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Buddy Roemer and Herman Cain each took a turn at the microphone, riffing on a range of social-issue touchstones — denouncing gay marriage, lambasting activist judges and praising the push to defund Planned Parenthood.

But all five essentially share the same positions, and in the end, it was Cain and Roemer — the least known and probably longest-shot of the hopefuls — who got the most praise from a group of influential Hawkeye State conservatives.

“This is the first significant event of the caucus season and you’re turnout tonight says you are very interested in making some change,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told the crowd before the speeches, calling those on-hand loyal caucus-goers and “valuable” potential supporters.

Martin also describes a Gingrich flyer proposing four executive orders:

• "Eliminate the thirty-nine White House 'Czar' positions created during the current administration" (fact-checkers have taken issue with claims that put the number this high)

• "'Mexico City Policy' of Respect for Life" (to stop taxpayer dollars from used to fund abortions abroad)

• "Restore conscience clause protections for Healthcare Worker" (to let those in medicine to opt out of any procedure, including abortion, they found ethically or religously objectionable)

• "Respect Each Sovereign Nation's Choice of its Capital" (moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Front Runners and Historical Context

Gallup reports:

The wide-open battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination -- with nearly a three-way tie among Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney -- is quite different from the typical pattern observed in past Republican nomination contests. In Gallup polling since 1952, Republican Party nomination races always featured a clear front-runner at this stage of the campaign, and in almost all cases, that front-runner ultimately won the nomination.


Winning a presidential nomination is never assured, and every eventual nominee encounters competition and threats of varying degrees on his or her way to the convention. However, looking retrospectively at the 10 open or competitive Republican races since 1952, early Republican front-runners have had very good odds, prevailing in 8 of these. Additionally, although Goldwater did not lead the earliest Gallup Republican preference polls in 1963, he was leading by the spring of that year and thus comes close to fitting the pattern. The only nominee to truly break the mold was McCain, running a distant second to Giuliani throughout 2007. However, by virtue of his undisputed second-place ranking, McCain was able to capitalize on Giuliani's poor early primary showing and ultimate withdrawal from the race in late January, springing ahead of his remaining rivals.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

American Crossroads and Labor

John Gizzi writes at Human Events:
Emboldened by the latest developments in Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining, Big Labor is expected to ratchet up its fund-raising machine that brought in more than $400 million to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats in ’08. To counter this, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have announced a collective fundraising goal of $120 million through the end of 2012. In addition, American Crossroads (a 527 group) has launched a Presidential Action Fund, which will conduct in-depth issue research, polling, micro-targeting, issue advocacy and turnout activities. AC describes the fund as “ a new initiative that will be dedicated to shaping the issue environment and driving high-impact messages and themes in 2012.”

Pelosi sent an e-mail to Democratic supporters nationwide Thursday, asking them to pledge as little as $5 to help fight what she called Walker's "reckless assault on the middle class."

"Karl Rove and the very same special interests that Republicans are voting to protect are planning a massive campaign to defend their radical agenda," Pelosi wrote. "This deserves an immediate response."

Pelosi said she was responding to the announcement this week that American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, conservative organizations were co-founded by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, are working to raise $120 million to spend against Democratic candidates before the 2012 election.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Huntsman v. Romney

Jason Horowitz writes in The Washington Post:

A showdown between Huntsman, 50, and Romney, 63, would likely be the most bitter of the coming election. The respective former governors of Utah and Massachusetts have vast fortunes, silver tongues and great hair. They are also distant cousins, descended from a Mormon apostle who played a key role in the faith's founding. The two men enjoyed the early support of powerful and devout fathers and performed the church's missionary work - Romney in France during the Vietnam War and Huntsman in Taiwan. For years, the clans remained close, until the two scions sought to lead the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a coveted post that promised to boost political prospects. The Games went to Romney, and the family bonds froze over when Huntsman endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over Romney in the 2008 presidential contest.