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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, June 30, 2014

American Crossroads in Kentucky and Alaska

In Kentucky, American Crossroads links Alison Lundergan Grimes to Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama.

In Alaska, it links Mark Begich to Obama, and uses Don Young to accuse him of false credit-claiming.


Sunday, June 29, 2014


Hillary Clinton’s road to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 is wide open, with few challengers looking capable of erecting big barriers in her way.

That’s welcome news to some in Hillaryland. But other allies worry that the perception of another inevitable candidacy might hurt her. Memories are still sharp of how clear a favorite she looked in 2008, before the man who is now president snatched it all away.

“She needs someone to challenge her,” said one Democratic strategist with close ties to the former Secretary of State’s inner circle. “You don't want any kind of perception that you are the inevitable candidate. And without that, it will bleed into the general [election] and that's just not helpful. It’s good for her to face some friendly fire.”

“Having an opponent or two in the primary doesn’t hurt her, it helps her,” added one former senior aide to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. “It reminds people that she’s going to have to work at this.

“She wears inevitability very badly,” the former aide continued.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Clooney for Governor?

In the UK, The Mirror offers a ... speculative report:
Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney is set to follow in the footsteps of fellow actor Arnold Schwarzenegger by running for Governor of California.
Friends of the Gravity star say the 53-year-old is being courted by Barack Obama’s Democrat party who want him to run for office in the 2018 race.
As the Mirror exclusively revealed last month George is planning to launch his new career after he ties the knot with British lawyer Amal Alamuddin, 36, in September, following an eight-month romance.

Previously George has been a huge supporter of campaigns by the Democratic Party and rallied for Obama at the 2012 election to ensure the President was successful in securing a second term in office.
He is an ardent campaigner for human rights and has personally funded his own drone spying missions to report war atrocities and human rights violations in Syria to the US government.
He was once arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy after a planned protest over Darfur.
That year George ruled out running for president and said: "There's a guy in office who is smarter than anybody. I have no interest."
His spokesperson has refused to comment on his ambitions to enter politics however friends close to the star say he has turned down several long-term projects in Hollywood to ensure he remains free to pursue his goal.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Plurality of Americans Want to Decrease Immigration

Immigration is not going to be a winning issue for Democrats this year.  Gallup reports:
While illegal immigration typically dominates debates over immigration policy, the issue of legal immigration came to the forefront in the recent Virginia Republican primary when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was soundly defeated by Tea Party favorite Dave Brat. Brat highlighted Cantor's support for expanding visas for skilled immigrants in his blistering charge that Cantor is soft on immigration. Brat's case may have been a fairly easy one to make, as new Gallup polling finds fewer than one in four Americans favor increased immigration.
 Should Immigration Increase, Decrease, or Stay at Current Levels

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Looking Back on This Week's Primaries

Alexander Burns writes at Politico about what happened after Cochran lost his first round:
Back in Washington, Cochran’s most important allies resolved to muffle their anxiety and stick with him for another three weeks. The Chamber of Commerce polled the race, concluded the senator had a difficult but viable path to victory; the group began brainstorming inventive ways to make a splash in the state, culminating with a sensational commercial starring NFL legend Brett Favre. National Republican Senatorial Committee political director Ward Baker, confronted with Beltway pessimism about Cochran’s chances, repeatedly told Republicans in D.C.: “We don’t leave our people on the field.”
Within a week, a powerful operation had swung into motion to save the 76-year-old legislator. Rather than making peace with his firebrand challenger, state and national Republicans redoubled their efforts to tear down Chris McDaniel, whom they considered a political lightweight taking advantage of a virulently anti-Washington mood. In interviews on the day and night of the runoff vote, strategists and party leaders described the campaign as a near-perfect turnaround – considering the slimness of Cochran’s victory, it had to be.
By the time the second round of balloting rolled around on June 24, a collection of groups that might be dubbed the Emergency Committee for Mississippi had spent millions on new television ads, knocked on tens of thousands of doors and reached out to voters – including African-Americans and Democrats – who had likely never voted before in a GOP primary.
Nate Cohn writes at The New York Times:
Turnout hadn’t increased in a Senate runoff primary election in 30 years until Tuesday night, when a momentous surge of voters allowed Senator Thad Cochran to defeat Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party-backed state senator, in Mississippi’s Republican Senate runoff.

Overall turnout has surpassed that from the initial primary by 14 percent, or 45,465 votes, so far. In that contest, Mr. McDaniel edged Mr. Cochran but fell short of the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff. Turnout increased by 15.9 percent in the counties that reported 100 percent of their precincts.

The increase in turnout was generally to the benefit of Mr. Cochran. Turnout increased by 34 percent in the counties where Mr. Cochran was strongest and won at least 62 percent of the vote. But turnout also increased by 18 percent in counties where Mr. McDaniel was strong.
Sam R. Hall writes at The Clarion-Ledger:
In the primary, Cochran and his supporters made the race as much about McDaniel as anything. They tried to paint McDaniel as an extremist with questionable background who would be a loose cannon in the general election and — if elected — in Washington. They attacked him on the nursing home scandal, called him a trial lawyer and sent clips of his old radio show to voters in the form of a talking card.
In the runoff, the campaign changed their message. They started talking about what Cochran had done for Mississippi. They embraced his legacy of bringing billions of dollars to the state and helping to build schools, roads, bridges, research facilities and countless other projects.
In other words, instead of giving the voters someone to vote against, Cochran gave them someone to vote for.
James Hohmann writes at Politico:
Two-term Rep. James Lankford crushed T.W. Shannon — the former speaker of the state House who was backed by tea party hero Ted Cruz — and avoided a runoff in the special election to succeed the retiring Tom Coburn.
Before being elected to the House in 2010, the 46-year-old Lankford ran the biggest Baptist summer camp in the state. This helped him build an extensive network among the religious right, and they mobilized for him across the state.
Shannon is both an African-American and a member of the Chickasaw Nation, whose gambling interests make it a major, deep-pocketed player in Oklahoma politics. But the Baptists were far more energized than the tribes, and Lankford far outperformed polls that showed him with a slight lead but below the majority needed to avoid a runoff.
Lankford faces no credible Democratic opposition in the fall.
 Karl Rove writes:
 Tuesday's outcomes suggest local tea party groups have more influence than the national groups purporting to speak for them. A network of Mississippi tea party groups made Mr. McDaniel competitive. In Oklahoma, national groups like Club for Growth, Senate Conservative Fund and FreedomWorks could spend and endorse all they wanted, yet local tea party support for Mr. Lankford blunted these inside-the-Beltway groups' impact in the Sooner State.
This has happened a lot this year. Republican incumbents in Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas, and GOP Senate candidates in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia all avoided or vanquished tea party challengers by keeping close to their state's politics and offering a message that grabbed a significant slice of local tea party support.
Eight of nine GOP House members targeted by the Club for Growth escaped serious opposition and the one who did face serious opposition won 2 to 1. On the flip side, every national tea party group sat out the June 10 Virginia Seventh Congressional District primary. Local tea party groups provided the volunteers and enthusiasm that propelled David Brat to his stunning victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crossroads GPS Against Udall and for Gardner

The Denver Post reports on issue advocacy ads from Crossroads GPS:
Two new ads that focus on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and energy policies debuted today, with one spot praising Republican Cory Gardner and one panning the Democrat he wants to unseat, Sen. Mark Udall.
The ad critical of Udall is airing in Denver and looks at new EPA regulations. The ad praising Gardner is airing in Colorado Springs and praises him for supporting the Keystone XL pipeline project, which Udall opposed last week in a procedural vote.

Democrats Had a Bad Night and a Worse Morning

Tuesday night was bad for Democrats, good for the GOP establishment and great for incumbents of both parties.
Going into the latest round of primaries, top Republicans feared that Sen. Thad Cochran would fall in Mississippi, immigration hard-liner Tom Tancredo could win their gubernatorial nomination in Colorado and GOP Rep. Richard Hanna would lose a primary in New York because he had endorsed gay marriage.
Such a scenario would have kept one of the country’s reddest states on the map of competitive Senate races through the fall and badly damaged the Republican’s Senate challenger in Colorado — not to mention spurred days of negative coverage presenting the tea party as ascendent and the GOP as intolerant.
But the Republican nightmare didn’t happen: Cochran and Hanna won, Tancredo lost and Rep. James Lankford trounced his Ted Cruz-backed rival in an Oklahoma Senate primary, avoiding a widely expected runoff.
The Wall Street Journal reports on a development that is much worse for Democratic prospects:
The U.S. economy contracted at a worse pace than previously estimated in the first quarter, marking its sharpest pullback since the recession ended five years ago.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first three months of the year, according to the Commerce Department's third reading released Wednesday. That was the fastest rate of decline since the first quarter of 2009, when output fell 5.4%.
Commerce had previously estimated output fell by 1% in the first quarter as manufacturers drew down inventories rather than produce new goods and as unusually harsh weather kept consumers at home and shut down work sites. Exports also declined after a surge late last year.
In its third GDP reading, based on newly available data, Commerce said first-quarter consumer spending and exports were even weaker than previously estimated.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted Wednesday's report would revise GDP growth down to a 2% decline.


Lloyd Green writes of Hillary Clinton:
It’s not that Clinton can’t “do” passionate, it’s just that when she does it seems suffused with the expedient. Take Clinton’s stint as a court-appointed defense counsel for a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. As Josh Rogin reported in The Daily Beast, the victim has now accused Clinton of smearing her and using dishonest tactics to successfully get her attacker off with a light sentence—time served in lockup—even though the victim claims Clinton knew that the perp was guilty.

As Clinton herself described what went down, she had the accused “take a polygraph, which he passed—which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs.” That Clinton did a great job as a defense attorney should come as no surprise. But her pat of her own head for helping a rapist beat the rap, in contrast to her evasive narrative of what went wrong in Libya, is a letdown to say the least.
At this moment, Clinton looks like she has a lock on the Democratic nomination. But her book tour has not engendered public enthusiasm or warmth. According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 38 percent of registered voters said they would “probably” or be “almost certain to” vote for Clinton, while 37 percent said they’d definitely vote against her.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Begich and Pryor

In issue-advocacy ads (the tag lines tells viewers to contact the members, and do not mention the election), Crossroads GPS goes after Mark Begich (D-AK) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) over Obamacare.

American Crossroads v. Pryor

The Weekly Standard reports:
Conservative super PAC American Crossroads has a new ad running in Arkansas calling Democratic senator Mark Pryor a "rubber stamp" for Barack Obama.
American Crossroads founder Karl Rove says the group is spending $440,000 on the ad buy.
Pryor is up for reelection this November and faces first-term Republican congressman Tom Cotton, who is giving the incumbent Democrat a tough fight. The Real Clear Politics poll average shows Pryor and Cotton locked in a virtual dead heat, with Pryor holding a one-point advantage.


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Democracy Alliance

The iron law of emulation continues to work. At Politico, Kenneth P. Vogel shines a spotlight on the Democracy Alliance:
The 21 groups at the core of the Democracy Alliance’s portfolio intend to spend $374 million during the midterm election cycle — including nearly $200 million this year — to boost liberal candidates and causes in 2014 and beyond, according to internal documents obtained by POLITICO.
While growing sums of that cash are being spent vilifying the billionaire conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch over their own network’s political spending, the documents reveal the extent to which the Democracy Alliance network mirrors the Kochs’ — and is obsessed with it.
“Conservatives, particularly the Koch Brothers, are playing for keeps with an even more pronounced financial advantages than in recent election cycles,” reads the introduction to a 62-page briefing book provided to donors ahead of April’s annual spring meeting of the DA, as the club is known, at Chicago’s tony Ritz-Carlton hotel.
The briefing book reveals a sort of DA-funded extra-party political machine that includes sophisticated voter databases and plans to mobilize pivotal Democratic voting blocs, air ads boosting Democratic candidates, while also — perhaps ironically — working to reduce the influence of money in politics.

Liberals and conservatives have been jealously eyeing and trying to copy each others’ extraparty political and intellectual infrastructure since at least the early 1970s, when future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell encouraged the business community to build institutions to fight well-financed “Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries,” including Ralph Nader. The Powell Memo was cited approvingly by the liberal strategists who started the DA back in 2005, while Karl Rove and operatives associated with the Kochs pointed to the DA and the unions as a model for their side to replicate after Obama’s win in 2008.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Immigration Issue Will Not Help Democrats This Year

The immigration issue will not help Democrats this year.  Americans already disapprove of how the president is handling the issue.  To put it mildly, sending foreign aid to Central America will not improve his political standing.

Americans' approval of President Barack Obama's handling of immigration has dropped to 31%, one of the lowest readings since 2010, when Gallup began polling on his handling of the issue. Meanwhile, two in three Americans (65%) disapprove of his handling of immigration.

Recent developments contributing to the ongoing debate about immigration include Obama's delay of a review of deportation policies by the Department of Homeland Security in the hope of striking a legislative deal on immigration reform with Congress. Also, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's recent primary loss was widely viewed as a defeat rooted in Cantor's perceived stance on immigration. The primary loss and subsequent shakeup in House leadership could spell greater challenges for Obama as he tries to work with Republicans. Additionally, the media has recently enlarged its spotlight on the  increasing numbers of unaccompanied Central American children who have crossed the U.S. border, seeking their already immigrated family members and a generally better life.
On Friday, Ricardo Zuñiga, the Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the National Security Council.announced:
 I'll note that the U.S. government is going to be providing $9.6 million in support for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to invest in their repatriation centers so that as people are being removed they have someplace they can orderly land and then be processed back home.

In Guatemala, we're launching a new $40 million U.S. Agency for International Development program to improve citizen security in the areas that are most affected by violence.  In El Salvador, we're launching a $25 million crime prevention USAID program to establish 77 youth centers, youth outreach centers, in addition to the 30 that we already have in place.  And this is in the context of a substantial amount of assistance that we've provided under the Central American Regional Security Initiative and, as well, as we've provided under other types of assistance -- about $130 million in other forms of bilateral assistance to those three countries for programs related to health, education and to promote economic growth.
This move is not likely to be popular.  Americans have long wanted to cut foreign aid.  When Pew asked about spending on 19 areas, the only one in which a plurality wanted cuts was "aid to the world's needy." 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Contributions to American Crossroads

USA Today reports:
Hedge fund founder Paul Singer contributed $1 million last month to American Crossroads, the super PAC tied to Republican strategist Karl Rove.
Singer’s contribution accounted for more than half the $1.7 million the political action committee reported collecting in May. Singer, CEO of Elliott Management Group, donated $250,000 to Crossroads earlier this year.
In all, the super PAC has raised nearly $14 million since Jan. 1, 2013. It ended May with $4.6 million in cash reserves. It is working to elect Republicans to the House and the Senate, where the party needs a net gain of six seats to seize control of the chamber in November.
Michael Beckel writes at the Center for Public Integrity:
Republican super PAC American Crossroads received a cash infusion last month from a mysterious limited liability company that lists its address as the Tempe, Ariz., training facility of the Arizona Cardinals football team, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of campaign finance records filed today.
On May 23, Cholla West LLC contributed $50,000 to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by GOP strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, which, this year, has actively supported Republican candidates such as Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.
What is Cholla West LLC, and who's behind it? That's not immediately clear.
There is no business registered with that name in Arizona, according to the Arizona Corporation Commission. But other business records show that a "Cholla West LLC" was incorporated in Delaware in October 2013. That filing lists a company that specializes in business incorporation and compliance issues as its registered agent.
The address American Crossroads listed for Cholla West LLC on its new filing with the Federal Election Commission, which shares the address of the Arizona Cardinals football team's training facility, is also listed in business records as the address for other LLCs operated by members of the Bidwill family. The family's patriarch, William V. Bidwill Sr., is the owner and chairman of the Cardinals.
Bidwill's sons William and Michael also both serve as Cardinal executives. All three men have previously contributed to politicians — mostly Republicans — according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Video on America Rising

America Rising is already making its markFrom Bloomberg: 
Primary season is winding down and the 2014 general election is gearing up. Both sides of the aisle are digging deep into their opponents. In this installment of "Power Brokers," Bloomberg's Phil Mattingly takes an inside look of the Republican oppo research group America Rising and how they are transforming this dark art into big business

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mailer Mistake

Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson's group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, has sent out the mailer below to constituents of California State Senator Carol Liu.  Apparently, the group's consultant does not know that Senator Liu is a woman.  It asks recipients:  "Ask him to protect our kids and oppose legalizing online gambling."

The return address is for Mercury Public Affairs.  For other clients, see here.

Poll Results on the Role of Government

At The Washington Examiner, Philip Klein writes about a recent Wall Street Journal,/NBC poll: 
 True, there are some issues, such as global warming, in which the poll showed the public closer to the liberal view. But not on the overarching question that has been at the center of American politics since the New Deal era.
According to the poll, just 46 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that, “Government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people” compared with 50 percent who agreed with the view that, “Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.” In February 2009, right after he was sworn into office, the same poll found 51 percent thought government should do more and just 40 percent who thought it was doing too much.
A lot has been made about the poll's finding that the public now views the Obama administration as less competent than that of President George W. Bush in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as well as another finding that 54 percent of respondents no longer feel that “he is able to lead the country and get the job done.”
But what I found more worrisome for liberals was another question, which asked about the problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs. It found that just 14 percent blamed the problems on “poor management by the Obama administration” compared with 61 percent who blamed “longstanding government bureaucracy.”
On the surface, it would seem to be good news for the left that the public doesn't pin the blame on Obama. But as I detailed in a column last month, liberals once touted Veterans Affairs hospitals as evidence that government-run health care could work and even outperform the public sector.
But note this result on the environment:
Which is your view of government regulations (ROTATE STATEMENTS) -- most are necessary and protect consumers or the environment, or most are unnecessary and harm the economy?
Most are necessary ...............................50.....42
Most are unnecessary ...........................40.....47

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Gathering Survey Storm

Patrick O'Connor writes at The Wall Street Journal:
Foreign crises and domestic economic unease have eroded President Barack Obama's public standing, sapping his ability to respond to overseas conflicts and weighing on fellow Democrats heading into the midterm elections.
As clouds gather abroad, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds Mr. Obama's job approval rating at 41%, matching a previous low. Approval of his handling of foreign policy hit a new low of 37%. Both numbers are driven in part by conflicts largely outside the president's control, including a new wave of sectarian violence in Iraq.

WSJ/NBC News Poll Results

This latest dip in Mr. Obama's approval runs contrary to signs Americans agree with his policies on climate change and education, and as a divided Republican Party remains far less popular than the president and his party. Despite misgivings toward Mr. Obama, the survey showed the public sides with him and his fellow Democrats on a range of issues, including immigration, education and the environment. (Interactive: Poll Results)
The latest Journal poll of 1,000 adults, conducted between Wednesday and Sunday, highlights what appears to be a lasting slide in the president's public image. Respondents split in half on whether the Obama administration is competent, lower marks than Americans gave former President George W. Bush's administration in 2006, after the war in Iraq and the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina derailed his presidency.
At the same time, Americans seem to be losing faith in Mr. Obama's ability to accomplish his goals, with 54% of those polled saying they no longer feel the president "is able to lead the country and get the job done," compared with the 42% who said he could. And 41% said his administration's performance has gotten worse over the past year, compared with the 15% who noted improvement

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Tale of the Tape: GOP Advantages

Since its passage nearly four years ago, a plurality of Americans has disapproved of the Affordable Care Act. Since the onset of the Great Recession 6 years ago, more than 80% of Americans have rated economic conditions as only fair or poor. And since winning a second term, Barack Obama’s approval score has mostly been in the mid-40s or lower. One or more of these attitudes will have to move in a clearly positive direction for the Democratic Party to avoid a drubbing in the congressional elections, according to a new analysis of voter opinion.

A special analysis of a recent Pew Research Center/USA Today survey suggests that these three factors are strong correlates of congressional preferences in 2014. Taken together, opinions about the national economy, the Affordable Care Act, and the president’s job performance accurately predict congressional voting intentions. For example, in the most recent Pew Research survey, these three pieces of information are enough to identify 86% of registered voters who plan to vote for the Republican candidate in their district.
The poll from which these analyses were made found 47% of registered voters supporting or leaning to Republican candidates in their district compared to 43% favoring the Democratic candidates. This is a better showing for the GOP than in other surveys over the past six months. Odds are, if this poll were based on likely voters rather than all registered voters, the Republicans would hold a significant lead.
The survey also showed 26% of voters saying they will be casting a vote against the president in November, which is roughly the same percentage who said they were doing so in 2010, when his party’s poor showing cost it control of the House of Representatives. The poll identified jobs as the most important issue, followed by health care. In that regard, the public has come to the view that the president’s signature legislation is probably “here to stay,” even as it remains widely unpopular.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Raul Labrador = Fredo Corleone

In a Politico article comparing House GOP leadership politics to The Godfather, I write: "A number of the Tea Party folks bear a passing resemblance to Fredo Corleone: Their skill sets don’t exactly match their aspirations."

David Drucker reports at The Washington Examiner:
As Rep. Raul Labrador launched his upstart bid for House Majority Leader on Friday, he ran into a big problem: He didn't have his colleagues' phone numbers.
House Republican members and GOP aides, in interviews with theWashington Examiner over the weekend, said that the Idaho Republican has made concerted attempts to woo his colleagues, whose votes he is asking for in Thursday's secret-ballot election for majority leader.
But events over the weekend showed why Labrador's bid to upset House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for the conference's influential No. 2 post remains a long shot.
Labrador, a Tea Party favorite, didn't have basic contact information for many of his colleagues, such as their direct cell phone numbers. Republican aides said Labrador's staff was calling their offices and asking for it.
I rest my case.

Iraq and the Midterm Election

In the short term, events in Iraq will have only a limited effect on domestic American politics.  President Obama's critics say that the situation reflects his administration's incompetence, but others blame President George W. Bush.

The real political impact could come via the economy.  Mideast turmoil could possibly mean an oil shock, which would probably trigger a recession, which would certainly hurt Democrats.

Alan Mattich writes at The Wall Street Journal:
“The correlation between oil shocks and economic recessions appears to be too strong to be just a coincidence,” wrote James Hamilton, an economics professor at the University of Southern California, San Diego, in a 2011 analysis of historic relationships between oil and economic growth.
Substantial rises in oil prices have been associated with most of the recessions the U.S. has faced since the end of the Second World War. And in a few of the cases where only a modest rise in oil prices preceded the economic downturn, concurrent price controls on fuel make it hard to gauge where prices might have been under free market conditions.
What’s more, as the oil shock associated with the Gulf War of 1990 shows, Iraq matters.
Iraq is a key oil producer, the world’s eighth largest in 2013. And a jump in total production (including natural gas) to 3.1 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2013 from 2.4 million barrels in 2009 has been a major contributor in the overall growth in global output to 90.3 million bpd last year from 85 million over the same period.
Voters might not blame the current president for the Iraq situation , but they always blame recessions on the in-party

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Crossroads v. Doheny

Andy Kroll writes at Mother Jones:
Last year, American Crossroads, the super-PAC conceived of by Republican operative and fundraiser Karl Rove, hatched a plan: Inject itself into 2014 GOP primary races to protect incumbents from hard-line challengers in the mold of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock who could cost the party winnable seats in Congress. Immediately, conservatives howled with outrage over an establishment group targeting tea partiers—Mike Huckabee called it "fratricide." The plan never got off the ground, and American Crossroads itself has largely shied away from picking primary fights.
But here's an exception: A brand-new Crossroads ad slams Matt Doheny, who's vying with Elise Stefanik to be the GOP nominee in New York's 21st congressional district, as a "perennial loser." Crossroads accuses Doheny, a investment fund manager, of mistreating his employees and not paying his rent on time, while at the same time depicting him as a one-percenter who owns two islands. "With his selfish fiscal irresponsibility, Matt Doheny is no conservative," the narrator says. "And he's a big mistake for Congress."


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Missing Emails

The IRS scandal is not going away. AP  reports:
The Internal Revenue Service said Friday it has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency’s tea party controversy, sparking outrage from congressional investigators who have been probing the agency for more than a year.

The IRS told Congress Friday it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner’s emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year.

Lerner headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups.

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’ response to congressional inquiries,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Big Sort

New Pew data add some context to the phenomenon of unintentional gerrymandering.  At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes:
One of the main reasons Republicans have a big advantage on the congressional map in the years ahead has nothing to do with politicians gerrymandering districts; it has to do with Americans gerrymandering themselves.
Basically, the argument (which I have espoused) is that Republicans have an advantage when it comes to map-making because their voters are much more diffuse and spread out, while Democratic voters tend to be more concentrated in urban areas. So while Republicans have a bunch of districts that they generally win with 55 or 60 percent, Democrats have many more districts that are 70 percent-plus Democratic performing.
Thus, the half of Americans who tend to favor Democrats are concentrated in fewer districts, leaving Republicans with many more districts -- and states -- that lean their way.
One point of contention on this theory, though, is the "why." Why are Americans sorting themselves in this way? Are people who just happen to live in more rural areas simply drawn to the Republican Party and city-dwellers to Democrats, or are Republicans actually physically moving away from the cities so they can live near people who agree with them politically (and vice versa for Democrats)?
Well, according to new data from the Pew Research Center, it's pretty clear that politics do inform people's decisions when they move -- to a significant extent.
The data show that 77 percent of people who are "consistently liberal" favor urban communities, while 75 percent of "consistent conservatives" favor a more spacious lifestyle. And there's a pretty smooth progression as you move along the political continuum between the two.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Crossroads Groups v. Hagan and Begich

Crossroads GPS goes after Kay Hagan (D-NC) on Obamacare:

And American Crossroads goes after Mark Begich (D-AK) on the VA scandal:

Obama Underwater on Favorability

The president has long been underwater on job approval.  Now he is underwater on a related but separate measure, personal favorability. CNN reports:
In January 2009, as President George W. Bush was days away from leaving the White House, the unpopular President's favorable rating stood at 35% in a CNN/ORC International survey. The man who was succeeding him, Barack Obama, was fresh from his historic 2008 presidential election victory and had a 78% favorable rating among Americans.

But a new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday indicates a milestone of sorts: Obama is now as unpopular as Bush. Fifty-one percent have an unfavorable view of Bush; 51% feel the same way about Obama. Obama's favorable rating is now at 47% - a new low for him, and virtually identical to Bush's 46% favorable rating, a significant improvement over his 2009 numbers.
Obama started out strong, but as many predicted, the public's love affair with Obama faded as reality set in. Obama dealt with the severe recession plaguing the nation and pushed for controversial proposals such as the federal stimulus and health care reform. By 2010, the President's favorable rating had dropped by double digits, although his numbers generally remained in the mid-50s throughout the 2012 presidential campaign.
"This marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obama," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And, at 51%, his unfavorable his higher than his favorables for the first time as well."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cantor Loses, Graham Wins

What account's for Eric Cantor's surprising loss in a GOP primary?  At The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jeff Schapiro writes:
In Tuesday’s primary, Cantor was trapped in a crossfire over immigration reform. He attempted to strike a hard line against amnesty, dramatically scuttling a House vote on legislation that would make it easier for illegal immigrants serving in the U.S. military to become citizens.

But Brat, echoed by high-profile conservative broadcasters and pundits, attacked Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, as soft on immigration. They noted that he’d spoken of reaching an accommodation with the Obama White House, perhaps allowing children born in this country to illegal immigrants to naturalize.

Cantor’s maneuvering on immigration was illustrative of a larger issue: a perception within Republican circles that Cantor, in his determination to succeed John Boehner as speaker, seemed more interested in positioning for the next phase of the nonstop news cycle than embracing a distinct agenda.

Further, Cantor — a self-styled Young Gun, who along with Paul Ryan, the 2012 vice presidential nominee, was a symbol of Yuppie Republicanism — became a distant figure to many of his Virginia constituents, seen only on Sunday talk shows and in the pages of national newspapers.

Cantor’s priority was traveling the country, raising money from corporate and financial leaders. The torrent of Cantor-generated cash would shore up a smaller but more influential constituency for the often-aloof lawyer: a handful of conservatives within the Republican caucus who would decide the speakership.
Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) cruised to an easy primary victory, even though he had a closer association with immigration reform.  How did he survive?  Josh Kraushaar writes at National Journal:
Unlike other targeted Republicans who have rebranded themselves in the run-up to an election, Graham has stuck to his moderate principles on immigration (he supports comprehensive reform), the environment (he's argued climate change needs to be addressed), and Supreme Court justices (he voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan on the principle that senators should judge on qualifications, not ideology). In contrast to several other endangered Republican senators who spend most of their time in Washington—neighboring Sen. Thad Cochran, who's at risk of losing a runoff this month, is a prime example—Graham regularly returns home on weekends to rallies, party events, and American Legion posts, where he tells well-wishers to greet him by his first name. "Everyone calls him Lindsey back home, no one calls him Senator Graham," [Katon] Dawson said.
Graham's comfortable victory is a testament to the fact that mastering the fundamentals of politics—strong relationships with colleagues and maintaining regular connections with voters—still plays an outsize role in winning elections. As Slate's Dave Weigel pointed out, while many Republicans have lately lost primaries for ideological reasons, a disproportionate number were defeated because they're old. Cochran might have won his primary against Chris McDaniel if he campaigned more vigorously in the final week, but instead he faced late-breaking questions about his rustiness on the campaign trail.
That's never been an issue with Graham.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Bergdahl Burden

Pew reports:
The prisoner exchange that freed U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban in Afghanistan gets a more negative than positive reaction from the public.
Overall, 43% say it was the wrong thing for the Obama administration to exchange five Taliban prisoners for captive soldier Bergdahl, while fewer (34%) say it was the right thing to do; 23% do not offer an opinion.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted June 5-8 among 1,004 adults, finds that while this specific prisoner exchange is viewed negatively on balance, most think the U.S. has a responsibility to do all it can to free captive U.S. soldiers in general, regardless of the circumstances of their capture.
President Obama has received criticism for failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance of the transfer of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. When asked to think generally about situations like the exchange, most Americans (64%) say “the president should be required to inform Congress in advance of decisions like these”; just 30% say he “should have the flexibility to make decisions like these without informing Congress in advance.”
This view is nearly unanimous among Republicans (87%-11%), and 67% of independents also say the president should be required to inform Congress in advance of decisions like these. Democrats are more divided, with a narrow 53%-majority saying the president should have the flexibility to act without informing Congress in advance, while 44% say he should be required to notify Congress.
And the kicker:
The Obama administration’s decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners for U.S. solider Bowe Bergdahl tied with reports about problems with care at veterans hospitals around the country as the public’s top story last week. Overall, 34% say they very closely followed each news story.

Republicans (51%) were much more likely than Democrats (31%) to say they followed news about the prisoner exchange very closely.

Relatively few say they followed news about a plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon emissions from power plants (16%) or news about the 2014 Congressional elections (14%). Similarly small percentages of Republicans (18%) and Democrats (17%) followed midterm election news very closely.

Monday, June 9, 2014

More on the Missing Jobs

Why are Democrats hesitant to tout economic recoveryAt AEI, James Pethokoukis writes:
As a share of total employment, jobs losses during the 2007-2009 recession were twice as bad as those during the 1981-82 downturn, although the jobless rate was higher in the latter. But the subsequent jobs recovery took five times longer this time around.
The 1980s Reagan recovery, as measured by the NBER, began in November 1982, and all the lost jobs from the 1981-82 recession were recovered by the following September, less than a year.
The Obama recovery after the Great Recession began in June 2009, and only last month did total employment fully recover and make a new high.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Missing Jobs

The economy remains a problem for Democrats, despite superficially good numbers on unemployment.  Pew reports:
According to today’s employment report, the U.S. finally — after six and a half years — has more jobs than it did before the housing crash and subsequent global financial crisis cratered the economy. After adjusting for seasonal variation, there were 138,463,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in May — surpassing the pre-recession peak of 138,365,000 in January 2008.
But while the country may have climbed out of the deepest jobs hole since the Depression, that hardly means everything is peachy. There are about 15 million more working-age people now than there were in January 2008, but essentially the same number of jobs. Only 58.9% of the adult population is employed, four percentage points below the level in January 2008.

As the above chart from the Economic Policy Institute (prepared before today’s jobs report) shows, the economy is still some 7 million jobs short of what it would need for the employment-to-population ratio to reach its pre-recession level.


Friday, June 6, 2014

California GOP Semi-Redux?

Dan Walters writes at The Sacramento Bee that the Calilfornia GOP may be making a mild comeback.
Kashkari, of course, has almost no chance of denying Gov. Jerry Brown a fourth term, but he’s a credible, intelligent and articulate candidate whose win avoids the embarrassment that Donnelly would have brought the party.
Pete Peterson’s chances of defeating Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla for secretary of state are only slightly better, given the state’s strong Democratic bent.
However, Fresno’s Republican mayor, Ashley Swearengin, has at least a fair shot at becoming state controller, although she still doesn’t know for certain whether she’s on the November ballot, thanks to a close four-way race. She’ll likely make it and probably face former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez or Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. [As of last night, Republican David Evans was actually in second place, though many more ballots remain uncounted.]
Swearengin is clearly a rising Republican star, potentially a future candidate for governor or U.S. senator.
Results further down the ballot indicate that recent GOP efforts to broaden its reach are paying off.

Read more here:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Media Markets and Missisippi

At National Review Online, Henry Olsen suggests that Thad Cochran has to face a runoff because of inept media buys:
In short, Thad Cochran beat Chris McDaniel handily in the five, non-Hattiesburg, in-state media markets. He beat McDaniel comfortably even when Hattiesburg is thrown into the mix. He lost solely because he ran well behind his showing in the rest of Mississippi in these fringe, out-of-state media market counties where it is very expensive to advertise per Mississippi voter reached owing to the high percentage of non-Mississippi residents in the market.

That’s the sort of result you would expect to see if only one candidate were on the air in those markets, or if one candidate focused its media more closely on certain parts of that market (i.e., perhaps McDaniel bought on Memphis drive time radio while Cochran did not).

If that did happen, if Cochran’s outside allies avoided these markets because of the cost while McDaniel’s allies did not, it was the classic case of penny wise and pound foolish. Had Cochran simply run even with McDaniel in those counties, he would have won enough votes to have won without a runoff. Had he replicated his showing in the Columbus market, he would have won with thousands of votes to spare.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Neel Kashkari's victory -- actually, a second-place showing in the top-two primary won't bring California Republicans into the sunshine, but it may keep them from digging deeper into the hole.

California is a blue state, but that doesn't rule out future victories for Republicans not named Schwarzenegger. States that are even bluer than California -- New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Maryland -- have all elected Republican governors. The challenge is to find a well-qualified candidate who can hold onto the GOP base and appeal to other voters.

Kashkari will have a hard time beating Brown. But if he can hold his own, he can open the door for other Republican candidates in 2018 and beyond.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Crossroads in a House Primary and an Arkansas Senate Race

National Journal reports:
 American Crossroads is about to get involved in another Republican primary, this one for an upstate New York congressional district the party hopes to flip in November. And this time, the GOP super PAC is going negative against a fellow Republican, something the group hasn't done in other primaries this election year.

Crossroads will begin airing TV ads in the House district Tuesday, according to an advertising schedule filed with the CBS affiliate in Burlington, Vt. The form, accessed through the Sunlight Foundation's "Political Ad Sleuth" tracking tool, also lists the purpose of the ad: "Matt Doheny NY-21 Congressional; Why he is unfit for Congress."
Doheny is making his fourth run for the closely divided 21st District, where Democratic Rep. Bill Owens is retiring. But former George W. Bush administration official Elise Stefanik's campaign has drawn significant Republican support this year in one of her party's top pickup opportunities in the House of Representatives. 

Roll Call reports:
American Crossroads is going up with a new ad Wednesday tying Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., to President Barack Obama and his signature health care law — both unpopular topics in Arkansas, according to polls.
The ad, called ‘Spelling Bee,’ features a young girl on stage at a spelling bee, playing out a familiar scene to anyone who watched the Scripps Spelling Bee last week.

Monday, June 2, 2014

On Donnelly

At Fox and Hounds, Tony Quinn writes about California gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly:
Donnelly’s claim to fame is a Minuteman leader who has called for a war with Latinos over immigration. “We are in a war. You may not want to accept it, but the other side has declared war on us”, Donnelly told a Minuteman rally at the Mexican border in 2006.
So there is no doubt that Donnelly would bring out a huge turnout of straight ticket voting Latino Democrats. There is almost no ticket splitting left in California so even the strongest Republican candidates would simply be swamped by Democratic votes. Four GOP-held Congressional districts are on the Democratic radar, those of GOP Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadeo, and the open Buck McKeon and Gary Miller districts – all four would be lost as the Latino base in those districts is large. Republican challengers to newly elected Democratic congressmen and legislators all would fail, and the GOP would lose more of its own incumbents, opening the way for massive Democratic tax increases in 2015.
Donnelly had no ability to raise funds, an absolute prerequisite to campaign effectively in California. In fact, his campaign manager quit in disgust last spring; and he had no media operation, no formal campaign organization, no nothing. Were he to end up running against Gov. Jerry Brown, Democrats would just pick him apart while tying every GOP candidate to his hopeless cause.
But the worst thing for California Republicans is that the donor class would just walk away – they pretty much already have. Business now spends its money trying to elect pro-business Democrats. If Donnelly gets the runoff spot to go up against Brown, donors will just kick the last remaining bit of the GOP carcass over the cliff.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Kashkari Gains Ground

Seema Mehta and Michael Finnegan report at The Los Angeles Times:
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown holds a commanding lead in his bid for an unprecedented fourth term, but the race among GOP candidates seeking to take him on in November has become a dead heat just days before Tuesday's election, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.
Half of Californians deemed likely to vote in the primary supported Brown's reelection. Among his chief challengers, both Republicans, Neel Kashkari was far behind at 18% and Tim Donnelly trailed at 13%. The difference between the two vying for the second slot in the general election was within the poll's margin of error.
Still, Kashkari's position represented a boost from earlier public polling that showed the political neophyte and former Treasury Department official trailing Donnelly, an assemblyman from San Bernardino County. The apparent movement suggested that Kashkari's recent blitz of television ads and glossy mailers was paying dividends.
"It's too close to call, but Kashkari has some momentum going into the final stretch," said Dave Kanevsky of American Viewpoint, the Republican firm that conducted the poll along with the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. "His spending edge has helped push him into a competitive race."
Among likely Republican voters — the targets of flurries of Kashkari fliers touting his bid and attacking Donnelly — Kashkari led 37% to Donnelly's 23%.