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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Non-Coordination Coordination in 2014

At Bloomberg Business Week, Phil Mattingly has a sharp article on non-coordination coordination in 2014:
The pattern is repeating itself in the runup to the November midterm elections. In May the National Republican Senatorial Committee began buying ads for the fall; its filings on the FCC’s website provided a road map for outside groups. “You’re seeing all of the other groups start to layer in,” Forti says. “That’s a coordinated effort.” That helps candidates keep up with the national groups’ plans. On July 1, the Hill newspaper reported that American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS had reserved $20 million in fall advertising time. The buy tracked the NRSC schedule. American Crossroads reserved $5.5 million in Alaska and $3 million in Iowa, while Crossroads GPS staked out $5.1 million in North Carolina, $2.5 million in Arkansas, and $2.1 million in Louisiana. Candidates, including Gardner, know where to find the gaps. “It’s not quite like ordering sandwiches,” says Scott Reed, the chief political strategist for the Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s close.”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jumbo Joint Fundraising

Michael Beckel writes at The Center for Public Integrity:
Senate Democrats have embraced a new big-money fundraising vehicle — after repeatedly blasting the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it possible — that could help candidates, state parties and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tap wealthy donors for even more cash.
The new “jumbo” joint fundraising committee, dubbed the Grassroots Victory Project 2014, marks the Democrats’ first foray into the territory opened up in April after the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
That decision eviscerated the so-called “aggregate” campaign contribution limits that capped at nine the number of candidates a single donor could financially support at the maximum level.
Paperwork recently filed with the Federal Election Commission indicates 26 Democratic candidates and party committees stand to benefit from money raised collectively through the Grassroots Victory Project 2014.
This means that thanks to the McCutcheon ruling, donors this year may give more than $178,000 a piece to the new Grassroots Victory Project 2014, which would distribute the funds among its 26 members.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Intensity Gaps

A couple of recent Gallup polls suggest an intensity gap between the parties.

On presidential approval:
Americans are more than twice as likely to say they "strongly disapprove" (39%) of President Barack Obama's job performance as they are to say they "strongly approve" (17%). The percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of Obama has increased over time, while the percentage who strongly approve has dropped by almost half.
On thought to the midterm election:
One in three Americans (33%) say they have given "quite a lot" or "some" thought to the 2014 midterm election, up from 26% in April. Importantly, Republicans (42%) are much more engaged than Democrats (27%) in the election at this point.

Debt Pile

Crossroads GPS goes after California House members Ami Bera and Scott Peters with the same ad it is running against Bill Enyart (D-IL):

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Expectations Gap

Pew reports:
With just over two months before the midterm elections, Republican voters are widening the “expectations gap” with the Democrats. About six-in-ten (61%) Republican and GOP-leaning registered voters think their party will do better than in recent elections — roughly double the share of Democrats (32%) who feel similarly about their party’s chances.
This gap has not reached the same levels of the GOP’s margin before their large 2010 gains or the Democrats’ expectations in their 2006 sweep of both houses of Congress. Last December, the expectations gap was narrower; 55% of Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters said the party would do better than recent elections, compared with 43% of Democrats.
A plurality of Democrats (48%) believe their party will do about the same as past elections while 14% think the outcome will be worse. Among Republicans, about one-third (32%) think the GOP will perform about the same and just 3% say the party will do worse than in recent elections.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Hagan and Schneider on Entitlements

At The Washington Post, Greg Sargent writes:
The other day, I noted that Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS is up with a new ad that slices and dices Dem Senator Mark Pryor’s quotes to create the impression he supports raising the Social Security retirement age in ways that should frighten today’s seniors. Just as they have in the last two cycles — in which Republicans have built national campaigns around dishonest attacks on Obamacare’s provider-side cuts to Medicare — this ad shows Republicans once again hitting Dems from the left on entitlements.
Now Rove’s Crossroads is back with another ad that does pretty much the same thing, this one hitting Senator Kay Hagan in North Carolina over Social Security’s retirement age. The spot, which is backed by more than $1 million, says Hagan is a “big believer” in a “controversial plan” that “raises the retirement age,” while the words “raises Social Security retirement age” flash on the screen. It also claims the plan Hagan supports “increases out-of-pocket Medicare costs.”
Yes, it appears Rove’s Crossroads is attacking Hagan for saying nice things about the Simpson Bowles debt reduction plan, which squeezes seniors by cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits.

 It takes a similar approach against Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL):


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Digital Ads

Darren Samuelsohn reports at Politico:
A leading ad research firm recently estimated that more than $270 million will be spent across the country this cycle on digital campaign efforts — an 1,825 percent increase from 2010, when the first generation of tablet computers was just hitting the market.

And just wait until 2016, when online political spending could top almost $1 billion and for the first time surpass newspapers, direct mail and telemarketing. Digital spending will still lag a long way behind TV, but it’s creeping closer to cable and radio budgets.
The next big thing in political campaigns is finally here, and it represents a nice payday for the likes of Google, Facebook, Pandora and other tech giants that have become mainstays in an American voter’s daily routine.

“In one way, it’s surprising that it’s taken that long,” said Kip Cassino, an executive vice president at Williamsburg, Virginia-based Borrell Associates, the research firm that compiled the ad spending totals and predicted a growing “digital juggernaut” in each upcoming election cycle.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Libertarian Moment? Maybe Not.

Pew reports:
About one-in-ten Americans (11%) describe themselves as libertarian and know what the term means. Respondents were asked whether the term “libertarian” describes them well and — in a separate multiple-choice question — asked for the definition of “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government”; 57% correctly answered the multiple-choice question, choosing “libertarian” from a list that included “progressive,” “authoritarian,” “Unitarian” and “communist.” On the self-description question 14% said they were libertarian. For the purpose of this analysis we focus on the 11% who both say they are libertarian and know the definition of the term.
These findings come from the Pew Research Center’s political typology and polarization survey conducted earlier this year, as well as a recent survey of a subset of those respondents via the Pew Research Center’s new American Trends Panel, conducted April 29-May 27 among 3,243 adults.
Self-described libertarians tend to be modestly more supportive of some libertarian positions, but few of them hold consistent libertarian opinions on the role of government, foreign policy and social issues.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ronald Reagan, Mike Lee, and Taxes

Reform conservatism is beginning to stir. Henry Olsen writes at NRO:
Senator Mike Lee has offered a tax reform plan that gives everyone a break, cutting top rates and increasing the child tax credit. He spoke about that at the Reagan Ranch last week, but his speech was also much more notable for his philosophy of governance.

Lee’s Reaganesque philosophy does not rest primarily on Reagan’s opposition to government. Instead, he reminds us that Reagan “had the cadence of compassion.” He noted that the Reagan who created that new Republican party from 1977–80 focused on the “people shouldering the brunt of big government’s failure: the working men and women of and aspiring to America’s middle class.” Lee noted that while the poor “attracted Washington’s sympathy” and the rich “could influence public policy,” the average American was “being ignored, slighted, and left behind by the political class in Washington.”
Sound familiar? Reagan’s challenge is our challenge.
Lee even unearthed a long-forgotten Reagan quote from a 1964 essay he wrote in National Review explaining why Goldwater lost. In that piece, Reagan said “we [conservatives] represent the forgotten American — that simple soul who goes to work, bucks for a raise, takes out insurance, pays for his kids’ schooling, contributes to his church and charity and knows there just ‘ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’” Lee cites this approvingly and, I believe correctly, goes on to argue that Reagan “believed government should stand on the side of the little guy against unfair concentrations of political and economic power.” Most important, Lee notes that Reagan believed “that freedom doesn’t mean you’re on your own; it means we’re all in this together.”
Yes, yes, ten thousand times yes!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Enyart

The Southern Illinoisan reports:
The nonprofit arm of an organization founded by GOP operative Karl Rove is spending handily — to the tune of more than a half-million dollars — for attack ads that began Tuesday against U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, who quickly responded with a message of his own.
Enyart faces Republican state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, in the Nov. 4 election.
Crossroads GPS, which is a tax-exempt 501 (c) (4), plans to spend $565,000 to fund attack ads against Enyart, according to the D.C.-based insider publication, Politico. Bost’s office is not coordinating with Crossroads, and to do so is prohibited by federal law.
“We have no control over third-party commercials or ads done, so we have no control over what people can and cannot do,” said Jim Forbes, campaign spokesman for Bost.
Enyart said in an email message to supporters on Tuesday that a “big thank you goes out to everyone who chipped in last week to help us respond.”


Coal, Rahall, West Virginia, and Crossroads GPS

"In 1999 and early 2000, I became convinced that George W. Bush could carry West Virginia ... The state's coal industry was under attack from the Clinton administration, many Democratic voters were pro-life, pro-prayer, and pro-gun, even if they had voted Democratic for decades, and it seemed Bush was a better fit than the elitist Al Gore. We made a concerted effort to win the state, and it paid off. Bush beat Gore by 6 points in West Virginia. that was a 15-point swing from four years earlier..." -- Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence (New York: Threshold, 2010), p. 71
The Hill reports that Crossroads GPS is is hitting Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) on coal.
The group, which is the nonprofit arm of GOP strategist Karl Rove's American Crossroads, claims Rahall "endorsed" Obama's climate agenda by backing a carbon tax.
Rahall, who is facing a tough reelection, came out in fierce opposition to the administration's proposed carbon emissions standards. The rules would mandate that the nation's fleet of existing power plants cut carbon dioxide 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
After the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the rules in June, Rahall proposed legislation to block the new standards, and has said he does not support a carbon tax.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Begich on Gender Equity

"Never go after someone's strength; go after what he thinks is a strength, but what is, in reality, a weakness." -- Karl Rove, Courage and Consequence (New York:Threshold, 2010), p. 78.


The Wall Street Journal reports:
The case against Sen. Mark Begich isn’t about Obamacare, spending or federal debt.
Instead the first round of general election advertising in Alaska hits the first-term Democrat where he’s strongest: women’s issues and work ethic.
Americans for Prosperity on Thursday began a $1 million television advertising campaign charging Mr. Begich skips Senate votes. Featuring Steve Perrins, a local hunting lodge owner who has a reality TV show, the ad hammers Mr. Begich for missing too many Senate votes – more than 80% of other Senators.
“Why can’t Mark Begich show up to vote when it’s time to vote,” Mr. Perrins asks.
Earlier Thursday, American Crossroads launched an ad attacking Mr. Begich on women’s issues – the core of the argument he’s made for months against Republican nominee Dan Sullivan, who won Tuesday’s Senate primary. The Crossroads ad attacks Mr. Begich for gender pay disparity on his Senate staff: Women in his Senate office, the ad says, earn 71 cents for every dollar men do.

Another California Scandal


AP reports:
Democratic state Sen. Ben Hueso was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunken driving, the latest black eye for the state's majority party and the 40-member chamber that suspended three other Democrats facing legal troubles.
Hueso, 44, of San Diego, was arrested at 2:39 a.m. and booked into Sacramento County Jail, said sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Bowman, after the California Highway Patrol stopped him going the wrong way on a one-way street.
Hueso was among the guests at a dinner hosted Thursday by the Latino Legislative Caucus at a restaurant in downtown Sacramento, but the event ended about 9 p.m., said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the caucus.
A photograph posted to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez's Twitter account late Thursday night with the message, "Yes ... Loving my Latino Caucus boys" shows Hueso and four other lawmakers, several with drinks in their hands, hamming it up inside the state Capitol.
California lawmakers have taken steps this year to repair their image in the wake of the legal trouble and suspension of the three Democratic senators. Sen. Rod Wright, of Inglewood, was convicted for lying about living in his district, while Sens. Ron Calderon, of Montebello, and Leland Yee, of San Francisco, are fighting unrelated federal corruption charges
John Hrabe adds:
On Thursday, Hueso voted in favor of a bill that one ride-share executive fears “would literally spell the end of the ride-share industry.”

Assembly Bill 612 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys, would require ride-sharing companies to abide by extensive new regulations. Earlier this month, in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul said that the bill could mean the end of the industry that’s helped minimize drunk driving.
Hueso also had a conflict of interest.  Last year, The Sacramento Bee reported:
Taxi cab companies hoping to change a law concerning cab drivers have turned to Assemblyman Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat whose brothers own a cab company. His Assembly Bill 1243 would generally classify cab drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees of the companies for which they drive.

Video Hits on Braley

The Iowa Senate race is lighting up YouTube.

From Crossroads GPS:


 From America Rising:



Russ Choma reports at Open Secrets:
Facing a multimillion dollar shortfall when compared to their Democratic rivals, top House GOP leaders organized a crackdown on members last month, demanding they pay party “dues” — regular contributions to theNational Republican Congressional Committee. And the whipping seems to have had an impact: In the days after media reports of the leadership’s irritation with deadbeat Republican caucus members, the cash began pouring in, including from lawmakers who’d been publicly shamed.
The bad news, however, is that the NRCC is still lagging behind its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
While there is no official system of dues collection, it’s widely understood that members of Congress who want support from the party apparatus come election season must kick in money themselves, and any member hoping to attain a leadership position or prime committee slot must kick in much more. The fees reportedly escalate from tens of thousands of dollars for junior members to hundreds of thousands for senior members who want top committee posts.
But with the funds coming in at a slow or nonexistent trickle from some quarters, leaders decided to crack the whip. Out of 234 GOP members of the House, only about 120 had paid their dues in full, Politico reported in July. Several big names were on the list of debtors, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
According to data and Federal Election Commission filings, on the day the Politico article was published, Goodlatte’s campaign and leadership PAC combined to give the NRCC $346,450. Then on July 31, his campaign transferred another $122,000. That’s in line with the contributions of many other committee chairs, though well below the $2.1 million that Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has kicked in.
Several other members of the GOP caucus were named in the Politico article, and since its publication, most have responded.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Pryor on Social Security and Medicare

Philip Klein writes at The Washington Examiner:
Crossroads GPS, an arm of the Karl Rove-founded political action committee American Crossroads, has dipped its toes into the keyArkansas U.S. Senate race with an ad attacking Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., on Medicare and Social Security. And it’s right out of AARP’s playbook.
The context is that Pryor has been hammering challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., for backing raising the Social Security retirement age and voting for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget, which would transition Medicare into a system providing seniors a choice of competing privately-administered plans.
Back in May, Jim Antle, writing for the National Interest, urged Cotton to go on offense onentitlements by making a positive case for the need to reform programs that are currently fiscally unsustainable.
Yet Cotton’s campaign has attacked Pryor for also having supported raising the Social Security retirement age. Granted, it’s perfectly fair to point out Pryor’s hypocrisy. But the Crossroads ad goes a step further, outright attacking Pryor for supporting raising the retirement age and voting to cut Medicare through President Obama’s health care law.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crossroads GPS in California House Races

Crossroads GPS is on the air in California.

Against Ami Bera:

Against Scott Peters:

KGTV reports on the candidates' reactions in CA-52
"That's what the Tea Party does," Peters said. "They stand on the outside and throw rocks. That's what these ads do."

DeMaio said he was not the Tea Party's choice to run against Peters. He denied being affiliated with the Tea Party.

The ad was paid for and sponsored by a political action committee run by former president George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove.

Rove's Crossroads GPS is a nonprofit organization with more than $100 million in anonymous funding, according to the group's 2012 tax returns.

"Not only did I not know about this ad, I wish these national groups on both sides would go away," [Carl] Demaio said. "Scott Peters should be called out for his terrible votes undermining the future of Social Security and Medicare but I can do that just fine."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Brown to Debate Kashkari

Michael Finnegan reports at The Los Angeles Times:
 Jerry Brown and his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari, have agreed to debate Sept. 4 in Sacramento.
The one-hour debate, sponsored by The Times, KQED public radio, Telemundo and the California Channel, is the only one the Democratic incumbent has accepted.
The match will be a crucial opportunity for Kashkari, who remains largely unknown to many Californians and has struggled to raise enough money to introduce himself through advertising. Kashkari had sought multiple debates, even as many as 10.

Brown's campaign spokesman, Dan Newman, said Monday night: "We look forward to what we hope will be a thoughtful and substantive event, and we are particularly pleased that the diverse and respected group of media hosts will make it available and accessible to virtually every interested Californian."
The 7 p.m. debate will be televised live, aired on radio stations around the state and live-streamed on the Internet. Senior Editor John Myers of KQED will moderate. Other panelists will be Times Editor-at-Large Jim Newton and a journalist from Telemundo, yet to be named.
Here is one debate moment that the governor would rather forget: 

Monday, August 18, 2014


At The Orange County Register, Matthew Fleming reports that California GOP chair Jim Brulte is addressing the party's problems.
Republicans regularly held the governor’s mansion for years, said Brulte, and they enjoyed the big checks from donors, who often contribute to the party in power. As a result, Republicans “lost the mechanics,” he said.
“The California Republican party didn’t even have an online voter registration program in 2012,” said Brulte, who pointed to Democrat Steve Fox getting elected to the Assembly by 145 votes in 2012 in a district that includes parts of San Bernardino, Kern and Los Angeles counties, as an opportunity squandered by neglected mechanics. “That’s one Assembly seat that was lost simply because of that failure.”
Another factor could be a failure to recognize changes in demographics, most notably the rising Latino population. Republican efforts to tap into this growing electorate have been trivial at best. At worst, Republicans’ inability to coalesce around an immigration strategy may be pushing Latinos away.
Loss of hope and leadership could be another factor, according to longtime Republican operative Jonathan Wilcox. The last Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with the last Republican gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman, have both been conspicuously absent, leaving an enthusiasm void.
“There’s not success without belief,” Wilcox said. “I think some Republicans have suffered from a lack of belief and they’ve gone through some tough times. ... Our standard bearers have removed themselves from the partisan or political process – that’s very unique in our politics. … I’m not trashing them, but if they were still involved, it would truly benefit the Republican Party.”
The article also notes some modest recent successes that reflect Brulte's emphasis on nuts and bolts.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Santorum to Israel

A release from Patriot Voices:
Former U.S. Senator, former Republican presidential candidate and Chairman of Patriot Voices Rick Santorum will travel to Israel on Sunday, August 17, for a 3-day mission with prominent conservative and business leaders.
The trip will focus on three goals:

  • To show solidarity with the State of Israel - with her courageous people and leaders - who are engaged in a fight for their lives and freedom against the twin evils of Radical Islam and Repugnant Anti-Semitism.
  • To reaffirm the moral and strategic imperative of maintaining a strong, close, enduring U.S.-Israeli alliance.
  • To pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all who live in the Middle East.

The trip will be mainly in Jerusalem and also include a visit to an Iron Dome facility. The delegation will make visits to Mount of Olives, City of David, Mount Herzl Military Cemetery and other sites.

Senator Santorum and the delegation will meet with Israel government and military leaders, Israeli soldiers, local residents directly affected by the violence, religious leaders, and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.
The delegation will include:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Early Trial Heats are Predictive. Just Ask President Giuliani.

At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes:
It's no big surprise that Hillary Clinton has come back down to earth polling-wise in the last few months. Her stumbles aside, it was basically bound to happen eventually -- for a whole host of reasons.
A new poll from McClatchy and Marist College documents that decline pretty well. In hypothetical matchups with potential 2016 Republican candidates, Clinton has seen her lead decline from 20-plus points in February to the mid-single digits today. She leads Chris Christie by six points after leading him by 21 points six months ago. She leads Jeb Bush 48-41 after leading him by 20 in February. She leads Rand Paul 48-42 after leading him by the same margin early this year.
More than two years  away from the election, however, those data are close to meaningless.  On February 9, 2006, Dana Blanton reported at Fox News:
A new FOX News poll finds that strong support from within their party as well as from majorities of independents helps Republican candidates outperform Democratic candidates in head-to-head presidential matchups.
It might be early, but it is still fun to look at hypothetical matchups between possible 2008 candidates. The poll asked about Republican candidates Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Democratic candidates Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Overall, the Republican candidates top their Democratic opponents, and while the two Republican candidates get about the same level of support in each trial heat, Clinton performs significantly better than 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Kerry.
Among registered voters, Giuliani bests Clinton by 11 percentage points and Kerry by 19 points. McCain tops Clinton by 13 percentage points and Kerry by 20 points. These results are in line with past FOX News results on these vote questions, with the only real change being a lessening of support for Kerry.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Clinton Performances

Frank Underwood and Hillary Clinton wish a happy 68th birthday to the former president.

In 2000, Spacey appeared with the Clintons in a video for the White House Correspondents Dinner.

In 2007, the Clintons parodied the Sopranos finale, along with Vincent Curatola (Johnny Sack).


Crossroads Groups and Senate Races

American Crossroads has radio ads for Senate races in North Carolina and Alaska.

 In Colorado, Crossroads GPS has an issue advocacy ad against Mark Udall and Obamacare:


Thursday, August 14, 2014

CREW Goes Partisan

At Politico, Kenneth P. Vogel reports:
In a major power play that aligns liberal muscle more fully behind the Democratic Party — and Hillary Clinton — the self-described right-wing hitman-turned-Clinton enforcer David Brock is taking over a leading watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Brock was elected chairman of the group’s board last week after laying out a multifaceted expansion intended to turn the group into a more muscular — and likely partisan — attack dog, according to sources familiar with the move.
Outgoing executive director Melanie Sloan mostly went after Republicans but criticized some Democrats, too.
That bipartisan focus gave CREW credibility in the watchdog community and made Sloan a go-to quote for reporters, leading Ms. Magazine to ask in 2007 whether she was “The Most Feared Woman on Capitol Hill.” But the take-no-prisoners approach may have complicated efforts to raise money from wealthy Democratic donors. And, in February 2012, the group was demoted from the top tier of recipient organizations recommended by the Democracy Alliance rich liberal donor club during a reshuffling seen as boosting super PACs and other groups closely aligned with Democrats. On the other hand, Brock seems to have a golden touch with rich Democrats, including billionaire financier George Soros.
Disclosure is an issue:
Neither CREW nor most of Brock’s groups disclose their donors — something that led to charges of hypocrisy against CREW and other liberal-leaning watchdogs. But anecdotal evidence suggests that there’s a bit of overlap between the donor pools, since Brock’s groups have found great success raising money from Democracy Alliance members. In the CREW shakeup, two donors close to Brock — San Francisco investor Wayne Jordan and Washington-based consultant David Mercer — also joined CREW’s board.
The Huffington Post in its Wednesday afternoon newsletter reported that Media Matters was “acquiring” CREW and quipped “Will It Survive DOJ Antitrust?” but didn’t offer any details on the moves.
Brock deflected when asked if CREW, under his leadership, would continue pursuing complaints against Democrats.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Attacking Presidential Vacations

On February 10, 1984, the New York Times reported:
Walter F. Mondale, in his most direct personal attack on President Reagan, said today that Mr. Reagan ''has not applied himself'' to the job of President and ''should get on the plane and come back to Washington'' from his vacation in California to deal with the crisis in Beirut.

''I believe a person cannot run the Presidency in the remote way that he's doing, and I think it's showing,'' the former Vice President, a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, said at a news conference outside Independence Hall, where he received the endorsement of W. Wilson Goode, the first black Mayor of Philadelphia.

At another point Mr. Mondale remarked, ''These last two or three days, we've seen basic problems erupt on the national scene. First of all the stock market has been sinking very rapidly. Yesterday the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board testified that we may be in for higher interest rates. The third thing is the disastrous situation in Lebanon where out troops are still in trouble, where it's not clear what our new policies of engagement are.''

''During all this time, the President is on vacation in California, the Secretary of State is in Barbados,'' said the former Vice President. ''Here our nation needs leadership. We need a President in command. We need our questions answered, not just for ourselves but for the world.''

''The Presidency is the toughest job on earth, and it's one where vacations come second,'' said Mr. Mondale. ''If the nation is in trouble, the President of the United States should be at the helm. I recommend today Mr. Reagan get on that plane to come back to Washington and answer our questions.''

Mr. Mondale, asked by a reporter if he was saying that Mr. Reagan was ''lazy,'' replied that it was ''a good question.'' He said the Presidency ''absolutely consumes and devours the person who occupies that office,'' and the nation needed ''a President who understands the complexities of the job and the issues.''

''In my opinion, the President has not applied himself,'' said Mr. Mondale.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dragging Down Dems

McClatchy reports:
President Barack Obama is dragging down his party and hurting the prospects of fellow Democrats as they head into midterm elections that will determine who controls Congress, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
Obama is beset by problems at home and abroad. Just 40 percent of voters approve of the way he’s doing his job, tying his worst mark in three years and the second worst of his presidency.
Just 39 percent approve of the way he’s dealing with the economy and only 33 percent approve of how he’s dealing with foreign policy, the worst of his years in office.
By 42-32 percent, voters say their opinions of Obama make them more likely to vote this fall for a Republican than for a Democrat.
And for the first time this election cycle, more people said they’d vote for a Republican than a Democrat for Congress, by 43 percent to 38 percent.
The Democrats are sputtering,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the national survey.

Read more here:

Sunk Cost

At Open Secrets, Lalita Clozel reports that Senator Walsh's withdrawal is a significant financial loss for Democrats:
A plagiarism scandal that drove Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) to drop his reelection bid Thursday was a major blow to the Democratic Party, still intent on proving it can keep its majority in the Senate. It also constituted a major financial loss for Democrats who’d placed their bets on Walsh and saw them evaporate long before he could even reach the finish line.

Both parties were invested in the race, a heated battleground for the Senate midterm contest. But the Democratic Party went all out to defend Walsh, a vulnerable candidate who had been nominated to the seat barely six months ago when predecessor Max Baucus became the U.S. ambassador to China. Senate Democrats huddled to support Walsh, making leadership PACs the fresh appointee’s second largest contributing industry. 42 Senators — four out of five of Democrats in the upper chamber — gave to Walsh through their leadership PACs, for a total of $246,000.
The Democratic Party also enlisted its best and richest donors to bankroll Walsh’s campaign. Fred Eychaner, a Chicago-based media mogul who is the third biggest individual donor to outside groups this cycle, gave him $5,200, the maximum possible. Robert E. Rubin, the former Secretary of the Treasury, gave $2,600, and Lisa Blue-Baron, whose late husband Fred Baron was a Democratic operative famous forproviding expensive cover to the mistress of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), gave $2,500. In another sign that Washington rainmakers expected Walsh to win, several lobbyists chipped in as well. Donald R. Pongrace of Akin, Gump et al, gave $5,200, while colleague Brian Arthur Pomper gave $2,500. Vester T. Hughes, Jr., of K&L Gates, gave $5,000, and Bert Carp, of Williams & Jensen, gave $2,600.
Still, Walsh raised considerably less than his opponent Daines. As of June 30, pre-plagiarism scandal, he’d pulled in about $2.8 million while his challenger had already passed the $5 million bar. But having spent a good chunk of it, he only had about $700,000 left in the bank. Like his political ambitions, the rest — more than $2 million in campaign expenditures– is history.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Single-Party Control in the States

The recent history of state legislative elections can be summarized with one word: homogeneity. In 1992, 16 states had single-party control of their state politics. In 2013, that number was 35. And, in a not unrelated note, that shift has been strongly toward Republicans. Of those 16 states in 1992 that were single-party run, 13 were Democratically controlled. By last year, Democrats controlled 12 -- and Republicans had leapt from three to controlling 23 states.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What Would a GOP Congress Do?

Carl Hulse gives some examples in The New York Times:
Political complexities aside, top Republicans say they would embrace the chance to contrast their governing skills with those of the Democrats. They said their goal would be to try to quickly corner President Obama by sending him measures that already have bipartisan support but have been sidelined on Capitol Hill. Those would include approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, endorsement of natural gas exports, repeal of a new tax on medical devices, a change in the definition of full-time work under the new health care law to 40 hours from 30 hours and a veterans employment bill.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Kashkari Outside the Box

Seema Mehta reports at The Los Angeles Times
On a recent sunny Sunday in South Los Angeles, worshipers gathered in a wood-beam Pentecostal church to sing and offer testimonials of faith. In the middle of the African American congregation, swaying during the hymns and dropping money into the collection basket, stood Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for governor.

Democratic politicians often drop by the Living Gospel Church — Rep. Maxine Waters and former Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke are familiar faces. But Kashkari is the first GOP candidate to visit, said church administrator Lafayette Shelton.

The campaign appearance — like Kashkari's week-long experiment living as a homeless person last month and marching in a San Diego gay pride parade — reflects the unconventional campaign he hopes to mount in his improbable run against Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
 "I'm using every tactic, every creative strategy I can come up with to force us in this state to have conversations" about the millions of Californians who are still struggling, Kashkari said in an interview. "I'm going to keep doing things like this, and he's going to hide and duck, and I'm not going to let him get away with it."
Kashkari has criticized Brown for paying too little attention to poverty and education in disadvantaged communities, topics that are not part of the traditional GOP playbook, though such issues are increasingly being raised by prominent Republicans such as Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a comprehensive measure of unemployment and underemployment (U-6), which includes total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.
For the 4-quarter average period ending in June 2014, Nevada and Rhode Island had the highest rates for most of the alternative measures of labor underutilization. The District of Columbia had the highest U-1, at 5.4 percent, while Rhode Island had the highest U-2 and U-3 rates, at 5.1 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. Nevada had the highest rates for both U-4 (9.7 percent) and U-5 (10.5 percent), while California and Nevada tied for the highest U-6 rates, 16.2 percent each.
 At KCAL, Dave Bryan reports:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Impeachment Fundraising Ploy

At Politico, Darren Samuelsohn reports:
House Democrats have their email fundraising down to a science: Cast Speaker John Boehner as the leading villain, use President Barack Obama’s signature (but sparingly) and don’t hesitate to go ALL CAPS with a subject line like this: “BREAKING: IMPEACHMENT.”
Over the top? Undoubtedly. But the fact is it’s working — better than anything Republicans have tried so far. Last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $4.8 million, thanks to a series of “red alert” emails feeding off talk of impeachment and Boehner’s lawsuit against Obama over executive actions. It was the committee’s best week for online fundraising.
Molly Hooper reports at The Hill:
Congressional Democrats have talked about the impeachment of President Obama 20 times more than Republicans have on the House and Senate floors.

Since the start of the 113th Congress last year, Democrats have used the word “impeach” or “impeachment” regarding Obama 86 times, according to a review of the Congressional Record by The Hill.

Utterances on the floor from Republicans about impeaching Obama, in contrast, have been relatively rare. Only three Republicans in this Congress have raised the subject on the House floor, and the words have been used a total of four times by GOP members.

Most of the talk has come from House Democrats, with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) alone using the words 18 times in two separate speeches late last month.
In the Senate, where the GOP hopes to retake a majority this fall, not a single Republican has mentioned impeachment on the floor over the last couple of years.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Braley

Crossroads GPS is up against Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley.  The issue is veteran care.

Roberts, Wolf, and NRSC

At Politico, Kyle Cheney and James Hohmann tell how Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) edged out primary challenger Milton Wolf:
Largely overlooked in the race was the fact that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is chaired by Roberts’ Kansas colleague, Sen. Jerry Moran, whom some far-right activists have threatened with a 2016 primary challenge. That made a win for the incumbent even more personal.
The party made a strategic decision to focus on turning out supporters in Wolf’s home base. Wolf lives and works in Johnson County, in the suburbs of Kansas City, and he needed a healthy margin there to offset Roberts’ strength in the sprawling 1st Congressional District on the western side of the state, which he represented in the House for 16 years.
The NRSC sent six workers to the Kansas City area for the final 10 days, and they knocked on more than 10,000 doors in Johnson County alone, a party official said. A Washington phone bank set up by the NRSC also made more than 40,000 phone calls in the final three weeks.
Ultimately, Roberts fought Wolf to a virtual tie in Johnson County. Wolf took 45.7 percent to Roberts’ 45.4 percent, a 147-vote edge.
Roberts said in his victory speech that his campaign reached more than 200,000 GOP households in the state through live telephone calls and door knocks, most multiple times, over the final three weeks.
The NRSC also sent its regional political director, Brittany Belt, into Kansas for the final three weeks before the primary; she focused on the early vote and worked with the campaign on messaging in the final weeks.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Christie v. Huckabee

At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green sizes up some 2016 contenders:
Christie was clearly what non-Southern high-end Republicans wanted--a hawk who kept his eye on the bond market. That Christie had posed a serious vetting problem for the Romney campaign back in 2012 was but a minor detail for Republicans, especially after eight years of Barack Obama. Likewise, Christie’s use of 9/11 and the fall of the Twin Towers to justify NSA overreach met with approval by Wall Street Republicans.
Huckabee, on the other hand, is closer to where the Republican Party lives and worships. He is an evangelical in a party in which half of its presidential primary voters are themselves evangelicals. Huckabee’s roots are rural and, as a party, the GOP is the home of white rural America. From the looks of things, Huckabee’s profile is well-tailored for 2016’s early contests, in a way that Christie’s bluster-filled mien is not.
The tentative 2016 primary calendar paints a picture of early wins for Huckabee in Iowa and South Carolina, a brawl between Paul and Christie in New Hampshire, a big industrial state primary in Michigan on February 23, and a March 1 demolition derby in Florida, Texas, and Virginia. If Christie does not score a win in New Hampshire or Michigan, his political obituary will read like Giuliani 2.0, a Northeast ex-prosecutor and pol who managed to offend more than charm.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Crossroads Video

Bloomberg reports:
American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are the groups founded by ex- George W. Bush aide Karl Rove. They're central to the Republican party's goals for the midterm elections. Bloomberg White House correspondent Phil Mattingly got an exclusive, inside look at their operation.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Foreign Policy as a Midterm Non-Issue

At The New York Times, Jackie Calmes writes:
“We’re in an interesting time,” said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate and gubernatorial races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “I’m not sure a decade ago what’s going on in the world right now would be so ignored by the electorate. But I think that there’s a lot of fatigue among voters, especially about war.”
Ms. Duffy and David Wasserman, a Cook colleague who monitors House campaigns, said they had seen little reaction from candidates to the various international crises. Foreign policy and national security topics were not even among the top 20 subjects covered by 2014 political television advertisements through July 29, according to Kantar Media CMAG, which tracks such ads.
“Despite everything going on in the world, we’re seeing almost none of it show up in campaign ads,” said Elizabeth Wilner, the senior vice president for politics at Kantar Media Ad Intelligence. “The closest you get to foreign policy or national security are ads that mention U.S. dependence on foreign oil.”

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Homelessness and Politics

Some have criticized Neel Kashkari for his week on the streets.  But there are precedents.

In an emerging trend, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), a longtime advocate on Capitol Hill for issues like poverty and hunger, is the latest lawmaker to leave the comforts of his home and spend a night in a homeless shelter to better understand what it’s like to live at the margins of society.

McGovern is the third member of Congress recently to spend an extended period of time with homeless people. In December, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) spent a vacation day shadowing a homeless man as he went about his day, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) spent the night in a shelter in February. Speier has since started a campaign calling on her colleagues to learn more firsthand about homelessness.
On February 6, Kevin Fagan reported at The San Francisco Chronicle:
Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier is gearing up for what she hopes is the next big fight in Congress — balancing out the growing economic inequality that has ravaged the middle class for years — so she reckoned she’d do a bit of ground-level research first.
And since you can’t get much more ground level than a homeless shelter, that’s where she went last Friday — to spend the night.
The Maple Street Shelter in Redwood City was the destination. Speier had actually been there a week before to chat with the residents, and the fact that a well-off Hillsborough member of the Washington power structure was hanging out with the penniless was lost on nobody, least of all the member herself. That was the point, she said.
“I’m still kind of reeling from the experience. Every member of Congress should be required to do what I did,” Speier said this week. “It would help us appreciate who we are talking about. We rattle off numbers, but it doesn’t speak about the people themselves.”
Neel Kashkari, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, has also slept in a homeless shelter – in Oakland – so Speier wasn’t the first one out of the blocks on this research approach.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Party Identification Looks Good for GOP

Gallup reports:
An average of 42% of Americans currently identify as Democrats or say they are independent but lean to the Democratic Party. Slightly fewer, 40%, are Republicans or Republican leaners. That narrow two-percentage-point Democratic edge is closer to what Gallup measured in the third quarter of strong Republican midterm years such as 1994, 2002, and 2010 than in the strong Democratic years of 1998 and 2006.
Democrats currently have a narrow advantage in terms of Americans' identification with the two major parties, but based on historical turnout and other structural patterns, this small advantage suggests that the Democrats face a tough election environment this year. As Gallup demonstrated earlier this summer, President Obama's below-average job approval rating and Americans' low level of satisfaction with the way things are going in the country are also ominous signs for the Democrats. Historically, these indicators are unlikely to change in a short period of time such as the three months between now and Election Day.
With Democrats' advantage in partisanship currently consistent with where it has been in previous strong GOP midterm election years, it is imperative that Democrats match or exceed Republican turnout this fall if they hope to keep control of the Senate and minimize the size of the Republican majority in the House.