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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Hagan and Obamacare (Again)

Crossroads GPS goes after Kay Hagan (D-NC) for backing "partisan" Obamacare.

Ground Game, Early Voting

Derek Willis writes at The New York Times:
With a strong possibility that Democrats could lose control of the Senate in the midterm elections, they are investing heavily in voter turnout efforts.
In states too close to call like Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina, Democrats are making much greater investments in the ground game than Republicans.
Not all spending is captured in Federal Election Commission data, but the spending trends are clear. The Democrats’ spending advantage is greatest in states where they’ve had time to organize and plan for competitive races, and they are using that edge to register new voters; publicize absentee and early voting options; and, of course, make sure supporters actually go to the polls on Election Day. The efforts extend to states where the Republicans more recently made Senate contests more competitive, like Michigan.
Democrats have invested several million dollars in both North Carolina and Colorado for this ground game. Republican spending in those states so far has tended to focus on broadcast advertisements and direct mail.
Michael McDonald writes at The Huffington Post:
Fall has just begun and voters are already casting ballots in key states holding U.S. Senate races that will likely determine which party will be the Senate majority. So far, at least 18,000 people have already cast mail ballots as of Friday, September 26, 38 days out from Election Day on November 4.
Election officials in these states release early voting data that provide clues as to which party currently has an edge. (I track these statistics here.) The $60 million voter mobilization "Bannock Street project" is a key component of the DSCC's strategy to expand the electorate just enough in the most closely contested states to lift the Democrats' candidates over the top. The fingerprints of these efforts can be seen in these data, as well.
The DSCC's investment appears to be paying off. There are signs Republicans are not going to cede early voting, but their efforts are being swamped by the Democrats' mobilization drives.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Huckabee and Tax Reform

At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green talks to Mike Huckabee about tax reform:
Huckabee viewed the tax trap this way: “Most working families… need tax reform they can understand and follow easily. They need time to see their kids’ ball games and dance recitals instead of having to gather information for the tax man.” At the recent Values Voters Summit, Huckabee also acknowledged that same disconnect between the GOP’s base and Washington, saying, “Some of you are frustrated and even upset and angry about America, and I get it.”
As a former governor of a rural state, Huckabee is also mindful of the effects inheritance taxes can have on family farms and small businesses. Says Huckabee, “Some families have assets in long-held land that has to be sold to pay inheritance taxes. Why should a generation be punished for seeking to leave something for one’s family?” At present, the federal estate tax kicks in at estates valued at more than $5.34 million.
In Huckabee’s view, tax reform should not harm the middle class or undermine the family. As corollary, Huckabee opposes tax reform that is based on curbing charitable deductions or undermining the home interest mortgage deduction—which Mitt Romney refused to rule out in 2012.
According to Huckabee, “If we continue the current system, then we should keep deductions that benefit the community and the country, such as charitable contributions or mortgage payments.” To be sure, Huckabee still views the Fair Tax as “the better option.”
Huckabee also has his eye on revamping the corporate tax structure, which seems to be driving American corporations offshore, and revenues overseas. ...
Ironically, the brains behind corporate tax inversions are actually the President’s own donor base. According to Bloomberg News, the lawyers and bankers who facilitated and structured tax inversions, as well as companies that have relied upon them, have contributed to the President. Not surprisingly, Obama has refused to return campaign donations from the very individuals who benefited from these “unpatriotic measures,” much the same way as Obama tapped Lew as his Treasury Secretary, despite Lew’s investments in Cayman Island based entities.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Begich and His Record

Fear Appeal

A email from the DCCC is explicitly using a fear appeal, with Rep. John Lewis saying that the prospect of an enlarged GOP majority "terrifies" him.:

Barack Obama's election was one of the proudest days of my life.

I felt like I had spent decades fighting for that moment...and in many ways I had.

But now 6 years later, Republicans are trying once again to tear the President down. And quite frankly, it terrifies me what they could do if they grow their Tea Party Majority in this election.

That's why I need your help. That's why I need you to answer President Obama's call-to-action right now. I'm not ready to give up on his last 2 years in office. And you shouldn't be either.

The most critical deadline of the election is in 3 days. Can I count on you right now?


Chip in $5 immediately >>

Chip in $35 immediately >>

Chip in $50 immediately >>

Chip in $100 immediately >>

Chip in $250 immediately >>

Or click here to donate another amount.


Congressman John Lewis

Paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee | 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC 20003 | Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

"A Victory for America Rising"

Mike Allen reports:
THE NARRATIVE – Des Moines Register, taking up two-thirds of the front page, “AMAZING RACE: DUEL LONG SEEN AS DRAW HAS BECOME 6-POINT ERNST LEAD – Iowa Poll: Joni Ernst [R] 44% ... Bruce Braley [D] 38%,” by Jennifer Jacobs: “The ground under Bruce Braley has shifted. ... Ernst leads ... in a race that has for months been considered deadlocked. She leads nearly 4-1 with rural voters, and is up double digits with independents. ... Just seven months ago, political analysts considered Braley almost a shoo-in for a seat held for 30 years by liberal Democrat Tom Harkin. ...
“[T]he 6-point deficit isn't insurmountable ... Twelve percent of likely voters remain undecided. Some of the vulnerabilities for Braley, a lawyer and eight-year congressman: He isn't winning in his home district ... Two-thirds of likely voters think it's a problem that he missed a large percentage of Veterans Affairs Committee meetings in the U.S. House. Fifty-nine percent think his role in crafting ... Obamacare is a problem. ...
“[A victory for America Rising, the new GOP oppo factory:] Two-thirds of likely voters who live in the country are bothered by a remark he made about Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley that's been perceived as besmirching farmers. ... Republicans call Braley ‘gaffetastic.’”

Crossroads GPS v. Mark Udall

Crossroads GPS continues to hammer Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) on his support for Obama in general and Obamacare in particular.  In another ad, it goes after the "war on women" (see earlier ad).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Crossroads GPS, Grimes, and Coal

Crossroads GPS links Alison Grimes to Harry Reid and the war on coal:

Contract Refuseniks

At NewsMax, Marco Rubio writes:
This method of leadership, powered by ideas and sustained by an open communication of those ideas to the people they impact, is certainly not one that I invented myself. Others have taken a similar approach, often with great success. One of the most notable instances in our nation’s history was an initiative announced 20 years ago: the "Contract With America."
It was led by a remarkable idea man: Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, then minority whip and future speaker of the House. He partnered with other Republican leaders, including Texas Rep. Dick Armey and policy leaders at the Heritage Foundation, to craft a revolutionary collection of ideas for restoring the promise of America.
Every Republican candidate signed the contract — and that November, the American people gave it their stamp of approval by giving Republicans the majority.
Senator Rubio is mistaken.  Seven Republicans refused to sign the contract:

  • Sam Brownback (Kansas)
  • Jim Bunn (Oregon)
  • Tom Coburn (Oklahoma)
  • Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Florida)
  • Ray LaHood (Illinois)
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida)
  • Don Young (Alaska)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

GOP Factions: A Diagram

A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute Institute  nicely sums up the relationship of the GOP, the Tea Party, and the Christian Right.  They overlap, but are not identical.


This analysis is roughly consistent with what Henry Olsen observed earlier in the year:

REPUBLICAN VOTERS fall into four rough camps. They are: moderate or liberal voters; somewhat conservative voters; very conservative, evangelical voters; and very conservative, secular voters. Each of these groups supports extremely different types of candidates. Each of these groups has also demonstrated stable preferences over the past twenty years.
The most important of these groups is the one most journalists don’t understand and ignore: the somewhat conservative voters. This group is the most numerous nationally and in most states, comprising 35–40 percent of the national GOP electorate. While the numbers of moderates, very conservative and evangelical voters vary significantly by state, somewhat conservative voters are found in similar proportions in every state. They are not very vocal, but they form the bedrock base of the Republican Party.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Recycling an Ad Theme

At Vox, Andrew Prokop notes a new ad from Americans for Shared Prosperity.


In After Hope and Change, we discuss the potential candidacy of Mitch Daniels, who eventually opted out of the 2012 race.  The ad above is very, very similar to a 2011 spot by a student group supporting Daniels:

Huck Speaks

At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green reports on an interview showing that Mike Huckabee will not bee the elites' candidate in 2016:
For example, domestically, Huckabee views America’s policies as running counter to the needs of middle-class America. Huckabee points out that “Open immigration policies bring foreign labor to work on the cheap—even in high-tech sectors where students who worked in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] programs are being passed over for immigrants.”

Huckabee’s stance is likely to put him at odds with influential Silicon Valley moguls and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but the Arkansan is in sync with public sentiment. When Obama seeks to punt immigration to a lame duck Congress—that is, when the voters are least likely to be paying attention— that is a tell-tale sign that our porous borders are a loser with the public at large, a notion that even Hillary Clinton appears to be embracing.

Domestically, the former governor offers an avowedly nationalistic agenda, focused on American self-sufficiency. As he says, “We should focus on three things: Feed ourselves (agriculture), Fuel ourselves (energy), and Fight for ourselves (manufacture our own weapons of defense and not outsource it).”

Energy policy and production are not just national security items on his agenda, but go to the very heart of giving the middle class a boost. Huckabee adds, “High energy and higher food costs take away any upward mobility of the middle class. Extracting our own energy is not only job creation, but wealth retention for the middle class.”
Yet, where Huckabee is actually groundbreaking is the Middle East, where he rejects decades of stated U.S. policy and received wisdom. With Barack Obama having made an Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority at the beginning of his administration to no avail, and then giving Secretary of State John Kerry free rein to endlessly shuttle between Jerusalem and Ramallah and having nothing to show for it, Huckabee put it bluntly: “The so-called two-state solution is a politician’s pipe dream.”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

CA GOP Problems

At The Los Angeles Times:Michael Finnegan and Seema Mehta report on the California GOP convention:
The gathering opened on a sour note Friday, when the evening's keynote speaker, state controller candidate Ashley Swearengin, told reporters she was still mulling whether to vote for Kashkari or Brown. "I'm looking at the two candidates like other Californians are," she said.
And Pete Peterson, the Republican running for secretary of state, said in an interview that he was not endorsing Kashkari — or anyone else on the statewide ballot — and did not plan to vote a straight party ticket.
The extraordinary display of disunity led Ron Nehring, a former state Republican chairman and underdog candidate for lieutenant governor, to vent his fury in a profanity-tinged email to party brass just before midnight Friday, after news organizations began reporting the dust-up.
"This does NOT help the party, and it distracts from the efforts made to convey a positive theme," Nehring wrote. "The coverage is not of a party expanding its reach. It's about a party that isn't unified because its candidates can't get it together and get on the same page.
David Siders reports at The Sacramento Bee about the reaction of state party chair Jim Brulte:
Brulte said he hadn’t reviewed media coverage of the convention but that “I will trust Ron that our story line is getting stepped on...and that is tragic.”
Harmeet Dhillon, the party’s vice chair, responded that she agreed with Brulte.
“I also fully support our ticket and don’t think it is cool of any candidate to distance themselves from it,” she wrote. “I have said nothing but good things about all of them in the media.”
She went on, “We have many media opportunities today. I hope everyone can be a team player and not complain about each other, on or off the record. Our party deserves better.”
Aaron McLear, a Kashkari adviser, responded to the party leaders in an email, saying Kashkari “will continue to say nice things about everyone, and I’ll continue to be baffled by the Mayor’s (Swearengin’s) strategy. As Ron notes, it is absolutely eclipsing whatever message she and the CRP (were) hoping to deliver this weekend.”
Brulte responded: “Felony stupid.”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Party Strength

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende and offer five measures of party strength:
  • It’s commonplace to say that the Republican Party is in decline. When this claim is made, the explanation offered is usually some combination of the party’s supposedly limited appeal at the presidential level and demographic decline. There is certainly a case to be made at the presidential level, although the stronger case is that this is simply the effect of random noise.
  • But even assuming that the Republican Party is weakening at the presidential level, at the other levels of government, this is much less true, especially if one takes a long view of United States history. For example, despite some self-inflicted wounds in Senate races over the past few cycles, as of 2012 the GOP was still above median strength in the postwar period.
  • In the House, the GOP has the sixth best showing in the postwar period, despite a 2012 election that many described as disappointing.
  • What about governorships? After the 2012 elections, the GOP controlled a larger share of the nation’s governorships than at any point except after the 1994, 1968, 1998 or 1996 elections.
  • Finally, in the state legislatures, Republicans likewise find themselves in roughly as strong a position as they have been in living memory; only in 1946, 1952, 2002 or 2010 did they find themselves in stronger positions in the state legislatures.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Oppo's Golden Age

Kenneth P. Vogel and Byron Tau write at Politico:
In an election in which candidates have mostly dodged the big issues facing the country, the dark art known as “oppo” seems to be filling the void. And the trend lines suggest oppo’s golden age may just be beginning.
“In all my years of doing this I’ve not seen a cycle where I’ve seen this many seemingly oppo-driven hits shape so many big races,” said Joe Pounder, a veteran GOP researcher who last year co-founded America Rising, a new model of super PAC and LLC that plans to spend between $8 million to $12 million in the 2014 cycle digging up dirt on Democrats.
Some of the best oppo hits are never definitively traced back to such research, or are only revealed well after the election. That often feeds speculation among rival campaigns and media outlets about the derivation of damaging scoops. After POLITICO in May broke the news that Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby was accused by her ex-boyfriend of “stalking” him, The Oregonian revealed that the police report on which the story was based had been requested first by a Democratic Party researcher.
Reporters contacted about the stories cited in this piece either declined to comment or did not respond to questions.
Reporters and researchers have an interest in keeping the trade out of public view, since proof that a controversy started as oppo can be used to minimize it, even when the information is independently corroborated, bolstered and contextualized by diligent journalists whose credibility depends on getting it right.

Meanwhile, campaigns and committees — eager to avoid charges of playing dirty or of telegraphing their moves — have been known to cloak payments to opposition researchers by channeling them through general consultants or polling firms.

The article attributes the oppo boom to the rise of outside spending and  the decline of mainstream journalism.  That is, the oppo groups have the resources and newspapers don't.  Another important cause is the development of technology:

  • Smartphones make is much easier to take video, and to do so surreptitiously.  Mitt Romney and Bruce Braley made gaffes while apparently unaware that somebody was recording them.
  • The shift from analog to digital makes it much easier to store and transmit video.  And now we have sites such as YouTube (not even ten years old!) that allow for wide dissemination.  Such things were not possible 20 years ago.
  • Nexis did exist 20 years ago, but the World-Wide Web was just getting under way.  There is vastly more material available.
  • Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites provide for rapid dissemination and crowdsourcing.

Crossroads GPS v. Pryor on Social Security, Obamacare, and Immigration

Crossroads GPS goes after Mark Pryor on Social Security (again), Obamacare (again) and immigration:


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Begich

Crossroads GPS is going hard after Mark Begich on his record in Anchorage, along with his ties to Obama.

Better Poll News for Republicans, Worse for Dems

Americans' views of the Democratic and Republican parties are now similar, mainly because of their more positive ratings of the GOP. Since bottoming out at 28% last fall during the government shutdown, Americans' opinions of the Republican Party have grown more positive and are nearly back to pre-shutdown levels. Over the same time period, ratings of the Democratic Party have generally held steady.
Americans view both parties negatively overall, with a 40% favorable and 57% unfavorable rating for the Republican Party, and a 42% favorable and 54% unfavorable rating for the Democratic Party. This net-negativity toward both major political parties has generally been the case since 2010, apart from President Barack Obama's re-election year in 2012, when on several occasions Americans had slightly more positive than negative views of the Democrats.
The situation is similar to what occurred in 2010Even as Republicans were making large gains in federal and state offices nationwide, Americans did not view the GOP any more positively than the Democratic Party. As such, the Republicans may have merely benefitted from public frustration with Obama and the Democrats in 2010, rather than having been truly embraced by Americans. Thus, if Republicans do well on Election Day this year it does not necessarily equate to a voter mandate for the party and its policies.
The New York Times reports:
A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Obama’s approval ratings are similar to those of President George W. Bush in 2006 when Democrats swept both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.  RELATED ARTICLE

A deeply unpopular Republican Party is nonetheless gaining strength heading into the midterms, as the American public’s frustration with Mr. Obama has manifested itself in low ratings for his handling of foreign policy and terrorism.
The generic ballot question, which measures national sentiment for the House of Representatives vote, shows a notable swing of voters toward the Republican Party and away from Democrats. Voters’ dissatisfaction with their own representatives has hit a high as nearly two-thirds say they are ready to throw their own representatives out of office.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Crossroads GPS v. Mark Udall

Crossroads GPS is running an ad against Mark Udall.  The Washington Examiner reports:
One of the leading pro-Republican outside groups will try to chip away at Sen. Mark Udall’s support among women with a new ad launching Tuesday.
Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit arm of the Karl Rove-backed group American Crossroads, will debut a television advertisement throughout Colorado urging women voters to “vote ‘no’ on Mark Udall.”
Udall, a Democrat, has maintained a commanding lead over Republican Rep. Cory Gardner among women, whose support could decide the outcome of this key Senate race.
The ad, “Talk,” features four women chatting around a kitchen island about the upcoming election.

“We aren’t single-issue voters,” one woman says. “We care about good jobs that support our families.”

Four years ago, Frank Luntz offered some good advice:
Connecticut GOP Senate candidate Linda McMahon spent more than $40 million of her own money, much of it on ads that often did her more harm than good. The most memorable featured two chatty women in a car talking about McMahon's job-creation capabilities. When one asked whether the other thought McMahon could shake things up in Washington, the two chirped in confected unison, "Oh, yeah." The response from viewers: Oh, no. No actors. Ever.

Inland Empire Economic Forecast Conference

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

GOP Brand: Not as Bad as It Was

At Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg writes about the latest NBC/WSJ poll:
The big news is that the Republican brand has improved dramatically from where it was right after the government shutdown.
The new poll found Republicans regarded positively by 31 percent of respondents and negatively by 41 percent. The net -10 is nothing to brag about, of course, and it is slightly worse than the Democratic Party’s image or the president’s. But the president’s negatives (46 percent) are higher than the Democratic Party’s (42 percent) or the GOP’s (41 percent).
The Republican Party’s net image was much worse (-18) in March of this year (27 percent positive/45 percent negative) and a mind-boggling -31 in the October 25-28, 2013 NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey (22 percent positive/53 percent negative), conducted right after the government shutdown.
The GOP’s image is now close to where it was immediately before the 2012 presidential election (-7: 36 percent favorable/43 percent unfavorable) and before the 2010 midterm balloting (-7: 34 percent positive/41 percent negative).
The party’s positive image is up 9 points since October, and its negative image is down 12 points, when many voters blamed the party for the government shutdown.
What have Republicans done to improve the party’s image so dramatically in the past 10 months? Not much.
Basically, they have stopped doing really stupid things and allowed the public to focus on the president and the bad news that seems to arrive on TV each day. They are not threatening another shutdown before the elections, chose not to risk a GOP bloodbath by fighting over an immigration bill before the election, and have stopped attacking each other.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Voters Don't Feel the Economic Love

Despite continued signs of a halting but persistent national comeback, midterm voters remain frustrated and unhappy with the state of the economy, according to the latest POLITICO poll of likely voters in 2014 battleground states. Many appear to blame President Barack Obama: 57 percent of these voters disapprove of his economic leadership.
By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.
Democrats had initially envisioned 2014 as a year when their candidates could hail the fruits of an economic turnaround. For a time, a handful of impressive monthly employment reports bolstered their hopes.
(The latest POLITICO polling data)
But while the economy has improved, it has not yet taken flight: Unemployment remains above 6 percent, and in August the country gained just 142,000 jobs. Candidates around the country have tempered their claims of economic improvement, including Republican governors who also initially aimed to run on their records of job creation.
Strong majorities now say that they lack the savings to grapple with an unforeseen job loss (61 percent) and that the cost of basic household items like gas and groceries has strained their finances (62 percent.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bad Poll News for Dems

Mark Murray writes at NBC:
Nearly 70 percent of Americans say they lack confidence that the U.S. will achieve its goals in fighting the terrorist group ISIS, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll. The findings come in the wake of President Barack Obama’s national address announcing new measures to combat the Sunni militants.
Pressure is mounting on the U.S. and its allies to cripple the militants, who have waged a brutal campaign across Syria and Iraq. ISIS already has beheaded two American journalists and on Saturday released a video showing the execution of a third Westerner, British aid worker David Haines.

The poll – conducted before the latest execution emerged – showed that a combined 68 percent of Americans say they have “very little” or “just some” confidence that Obama’s goals of degrading and eliminating the threat posed by ISIS will be achieved. Just 28 percent said they had “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence. Still, 62 percent of voters say they support Obama’s decision to take action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while 22 percent oppose it.
At The Wall Street Journal, Janet Hook reports on an earlier poll:
Democrats have a lot to worry about in the midterm elections but one of their sturdiest bulwarks against a GOP rout in the fall has been support among women. They have held significant leads over Republicans among women by a number of polling measures.
But the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll has some warning signs for Democrats who are counting on women to help them weather a tough political climate.
An important bellwether is the question of which party voters would prefer to control Congress, and it has long been the case that men prefer a Republican Congress and women favor a Democratic Congress.

But the poll conducted Sept. 3-7 found that women’s Democratic preference had shrunk to a 47%-40% margin — down from 51% -37% a month earlier. The swing was especially sharp among white women, who gave Democrats a 4 point edge in August; in the new poll, Republicans enjoyed 48%-40% advantage.
It is hard to assess what accounts for that shift but, if it proves a durable trend, the stakes are high. GOP pollster Bill McInturff said that maintaining support among women is critical for Democrats in the midterm elections, or else “a difficult cycle becomes a really terrible cycle for Democrats.”
Jay Cost has more on the earlier NBC poll:
Breaking it down by issues, we can see why Republicans are in better shape. They are more trusted on the more salient issues. Democrats have a net advantage of 28 points on who is better “looking out for the interests of women,” where 45 percent say Democrats and 17 percent say Republicans. They have a 27 point advantage on the environment, and a 15 point edge on abortion. On health care, they have an 8 point edge, which is close to their lowest advantage since 1991. But that is it for Democrats. On taxes (R+4), immigration (R+7), economy (R+10), foreign policy (R+18), the deficit (R+18) and a strong national defense (R+38), the GOP has the edge. Moreover, this advantage has either stayed the same or expanded in the last month. And on every one of these metric the party is improved from a year ago, often substantially so.
The immigration item is of most interest to me. Democrats are not dummies. There was a good reason they did not pass a comprehensive reform bill when they had complete control of government back in 2009-2010. The reality is that wide swaths of any such bill are bound to be unpopular. Once you satisfy the “stakeholders” (Obamaspeak for: interest groups that have purchased undue access to policymakers), you wind up with a rotten piece of sausage that John Q. Public does not want to eat. This is why Democrats need Republicans -- as cover on the issue. They thought they had it a year ago, and when it looked like the GOP might give in, the public favored Democrats on immigration by four points last September, 30-26. But Republicans like Jeff Sessions have been arguing passionately and effectively about how it is a bad deal for the working class (regardless of race or ethnicity), and lo and behold the issue has flipped from a year ago, to a 35-28 advantage for the GOP.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Arkansas: Suddenly Red

Republicans are likely to win races for Senate and governor in Arkansas.  As Fred Barnes notes in The Weekly Standard, such victories would complete a rapid realignment.
No state has switched party control as suddenly and totally as Arkansas. Before the 2010 election, Democrats held both Senate seats, three of the four House seats, the governorship, and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans feared they were doomed to permanent minority status.

After the 2010 election, they stopped worrying. Republicans won all four House seats, and Republican John Boozman crushed incumbent Democratic senator Blanche Lincoln,

58 percent to 37 percent. Two years later, they took over the state legislature for the first time in 158 years. And Mitt Romney defeated President Obama in Arkansas, 61 percent to 37 percent.
But it was Republican success in down-ballot races that was most telling. In 2010, GOP candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and land commissioner were little-known, poorly funded, and expected to lose by roughly 60-40. To everyone’s surprise, they won narrowly, with 51 or 52 percent of the vote.

This meant “the Republican base vote” had become a majority in Arkansas elections, says Dan Greenberg, the president of the Advance Arkansas Institute, a Little Rock think tank. The Republican advantage appears to have grown since 2010 to 5 or 6 percentage points.

Crossroads GPS v. Peters

In Michigan, Crossroads GPS is hitting Senate candidate Gary Peters over the Keystone Pipeline.

Friday, September 12, 2014

NBC Poll: Arkansas, Kentucky, Colorado

Mark Murray reports at NBC:
In Arkansas, Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor by five points among likely voters, 45 percent to 40 percent, with two minor candidates getting a combined 5 percent.
In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is ahead of Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by eight points among likely voters, 47 percent to 39 percent, with Libertarian David Patterson getting another 8 percent.
And in Colorado, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is up by six points over Rep. Cory Gardner, 48 percent to 42 percent.


Republicans, Democrats, and the 2014 Midterm

Pew reports that Republican and Democratic differ on the importance of key issues:
Foreign policy, the budget deficit and immigration are among the most dominant issues for Republican voters; each is named by 70% or more as “very important” to their vote in the fall. But only about half of Democratic voters say each of these issues are very important to their vote decisions.
In contrast, both the environment and economic inequality rate as very important to about seven-in-ten Democratic voters—but no more than about four-in-ten Republicans.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Sept. 2-9 among 2,002 adults (including 1,552 registered voters), finds that terrorism and the economy are top issues for both Republican and Democratic voters, though in both cases they rate as more important for Republicans than Democrats.
Health care also remains a key issue for voters in both parties this fall, with 77% saying it is very important to their vote. Democratic voters are more likely than Republican voters (80% vs. 75%) to say health care will be very important to their vote in November.
Overall, opinions of the Affordable Care Act have changed little over the past year. Currently, 44% approve of the law, while 52% disapprove.
The survey also finds that GOP voters continue to be more engaged with the midterm election than Democrats. Republican voters are 15 points more likely than Democrats to say they’ve given a lot of thought to the election, and 12 points more likely to say they definitely will vote. GOP voters also express more enthusiasm for voting in the upcoming midterm than their Democratic counterparts.
As a result, while the so-called “generic ballot” slightly favors the Democrats (47% of voters say they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate or lean toward the Democrat, while 42% say they plan to vote for the Republican or lean Republican), the likely electorate is more favorable to Republican candidates than the overall electorate. When the generic ballot is narrowed to a subset of voters most likely to cast votes in November (1,150 likely voters), the result is more divided: 44% support the Democratic candidate, 47% support the Republican candidate.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Terrorism, ISIS, and Party Politics

Last night, POTUS went on national TV to discuss strategy against ISISRich Galen points out:

  • A few months after Senator Obama became President Obama a memo was issued that stated the phrase "Global War on Terror" was no longer operationable and would henceforth be referred to as "Overseas Contingency Operations."
  • I am not making this up. The relevant Washington Post article in on today's Secret Decoder Ring.
  • Last night he used the root word "terror" (including terrorist(s), terrorize, terrorism, etc.) no fewer than 20 times in his 13 minute speech.

Gallup reports:
The Republican Party has expanded its historical edge over the Democratic Party in Americans' minds as being better able to protect the U.S. from international terrorism and military threats. At this point, 55% of Americans choose the GOP on this dimension, while 32% choose the Democratic Party. This is the widest Republican advantage in Gallup's history of asking this question since 2002.

The latest update on this 12-year trend comes from Gallup's Sept. 4-7 Governance poll, finished just days before President Barack Obama's speech to the nation Wednesday night, in which he outlined his plans for addressing the challenges presented by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other international threats.

Republicans have held a perceptual edge on this question in all but two of the 12 years that it has been asked -- 2007 and 2012. The GOP's edge has been significant in many of the other years, although the 19-percentage-point gap measured in 2002, which was previously the largest, is eclipsed by this year's 23-point Republican edge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Primary Lessons

At National Journal, Scott Bland and Alex Roarty draw some lessons from the 2012 primary season.
Altogether, Senate candidates challenging incumbents in primaries raised nearly $19 million in 2013 and 2014, according to a review of the most recent campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission. That's a lot of money; for reference, primary challengers to incumbent senators raised around $22 million over the previous three election cycles (2008, 2010, and 2012) combined.

Even fairly recently, incumbents used to be able to pretty much shut off fundraising for any challengers they got. But now, there are more ways to access money—like the grassroots conservative donor networks that come with endorsements from groups like the Club for Growth or Senate Conservatives Fund.
Messing around in the opposing primary to try and boost a less-electable candidate is a sexy strategy these days—especially after Senate Democrats used it to help win races in two successive elections by promoting self-destructive Republican candidates (Nevada's Sharron Angle and Missouri's Todd Akin). But the party came up empty this year, trying it in a number of House, Senate, and gubernatorial races where the strongest GOP nominee still won, often by a wide margin.

In the end, the attention those two successes got was out of line with the overall effectiveness of the strategy. "Because of the success with Akin, I feel like it's this new trendy thing," one Democratic strategist said. "I've been on calls where people are like, maybe we should screw with their primary. But you shouldn't do it nine times out of 10, or maybe 95 out of 100. It's very easy to get a backlash, and we don't know how to poll hardcore Republicans—as a Democratic pollster, you're just guessing."

Crossroads GPS v Pryor and Obamacare

David Drucker reports at The Washington Examiner
The death of Obamacare as a campaign issue has been greatly exaggerated.
Two months before Election Day, senior Republican strategists working on key Senate campaigns say they intend to continue using the Affordable Care Act to weigh down their Democratic opponents, despite talk that the issue is fading.
In some cases, they say simply tying the Democratic candidate to President Obama’s healthcare law could prove decisive. But even in races where it isn’t a knockout blow, GOP operatives say it is a useful symbol for disgruntled voters of their dissatisfaction with the president.
“There is absolutely no issue more salient than Obamacare in any Senate race that I know about,” a Republican strategist advising multiple candidates told the Washington Examiner. “It has become a proxy for Obama’s job approval as a whole — or maybe it’s the driver.”
Crossroads GPS is using the issue against Pryor:


American Crossroads and Braley's Schedule

The Weekly Standard reports:
American Crossroads, the pro-Republican super PAC, has a new ad Tuesday running in Iowa that targets Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley. The ad focuses on Braley's absence from 75 percent of the House of Representatives' veterans' affairs committee hearings. On the day of one 2012 hearing investigating claims of long wait times at VA hospitals, Braley attended three separate fundraising events.

See a similar ad from Crossroads GPS.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Latino Vote and Senate Tossups

President Obama has broken his promise to act on immigration before the fall election. Pew reports:
President Obama has delayed any executive action on immigration policy until after this year’s midterm elections. The president noted that part of the reason for this decision was to “make sure we get it right.” Meanwhile several analysts have said that any executive action might energize conservatives and jeopardize the Senate’s Democratic majority given the number of Democrats at risk in toss-up states, most of which have few Latino voters.
Last June, the president said that he was going to do what he could before the end of the summer with his executive powers to fix the nation’s immigration system since Congress had failed to pass any immigration reform. Among the many possible actions the president has been considering is deportation relief for some of the nation’s 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants, something which Latinos said was a greater priority than creating a pathway to citizenship, according to a Pew Research Center poll of Latinos last fall.
Latinos make up 5% or less of eligible voters (U.S. citizens ages 18 and older) in eight of the nine states with toss-up Senate races (as indicated by Real Clear Politics,FiveThirtyEight and CNN). The one exception is Colorado, where Latinos are about 14% of eligible voters.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Meh Economy and the Election

This was not a good jobs report. Certainly not one that suggests a shift into a higher growth gear. The Two Percent-ish economy crawls on. The US economy added 142,000 jobs in August — much less than 225,000 expected — as the unemployment rate ticked down to 6.1%. But the jobless rate fell only because the labor force shrank by 64,000, notes economist Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics. The alternative household survey found employment increased by only 16,000 last month. Also, payroll gains in June and July were revised lower by 28,000, although those downward revisions were all in government. Private payrolls were actually nudged up, according to RDQ Economics. And consider: There are just 1.2 million more private jobs today than January 2008 despite 15.6 million more non-jailed, non-military adults. While the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.1 percentage points over the past year, the employment rate is up just 0.2 points.
One more thing: Wages are still a problem, with average hourly earnings up just 2.1% the past year.
Not that the number should be so surprising. The anemic economy is generating jobs at the top and bottom, not so much in the middle. “Average is over” as economist Tyler Cowen has put it And data yesterday from the Federal Reserve show that while income rose by 10% for the most affluent 10% of American families in 2010 through 2013, incomes were flat or falling for everybody else.
 People have noticed.  Pew reports:
For Americans, jobs are only part of the economic picture: 56% say their family’s incomes are falling behind the cost of living. That is about as many as said their incomes were falling behind in October 2008 (57%), during the Wall Street financial crisis.
And 45% say they have experienced one or more serious financial hardships – such as a job layoff, an inability to pay for health care or trouble with a collection agency – over the past year. Among those with low family incomes (less than $30,000 a year), fully 66% have confronted at least one serious financial problem.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted August 20-24 among 1,501 adults finds that 33% say there are plenty of jobs available where they live, while 58% say that jobs are difficult to find. The share saying jobs are available has ticked up from 29% in July and 27% in April. Nearly two years ago, in December 2012, just 22% said there were plenty of jobs locally.
But the public’s views of the national economy – both current and future – remain bleak. Just 21% rate economic conditions as excellent or good, while 79% say they are only fair or poor. That is up modestly from earlier this year; in January, 16% expressed a positive view of economic conditions.
And so, Jackie Calmes writes at The New York Times:
With Friday’s disappointing jobs report for August, Democrats can pretty much give up any remaining hopes that voters will shake their gloom about the economy before this fall’s midterm elections.

After six consecutive months of monthly job gains exceeding 200,000, the Obama administration and Democratic candidates across the nation had harbored some optimism that the political climate might become less negative for their party if growth on that scale continued. It did not, despite analysts’ predictions of up to 250,000 new hires.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Obama Botches Immigration Politics

At  The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza writes:
President Obama's decision to delay any executive action regarding the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country until after the election represents both a bow to political reality and a yet another reminder for the beleaguered president of the dangers of setting self-imposed deadlines. 
This is a political crisis -- as it relates to the timing of a decision -- that is entirely Obama's own creation.  Back on June 30 in a statement delivered in the Rose Garden at the White House, he uttered these words: 
I have also directed Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Holder to identify additional actions my administration can take on our own, within my existing legal authorities, to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.  If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours.  I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay.
At the same paper, Ed O'Keefe reports:
“The announcement is pretty shameful and once again demonstrates that for Obama, politics comes before Latino lives,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of, a Los Angeles-based Latino advocacy group. He said Obama had “raised the hopes of millions of Latinos across the country by promoting anticipation for an executive action, only to smash them for perceived political gain.” 
Frank Sharry, the founder of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy organization that has worked closely with the White House on the issue, warned that Democrats “can expect a pretty strong reaction from immigrants and their allies. 
So Obama loses all around.  Supporters of more liberal immigration policy are angry at a broken promise.  Opponents say that he still plans post-election amnesty.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Legacy Candidates, Legacy Policies

Michael Barone notes that many leading Democrats are legacies:
  • Governor Jerry Brown, son of Governor Pat Brown;
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo, son of Governor Mario Cuomo;
  • Senator Mark Pryor, son of Senator David Pryor;
  • Senator Mary Landrieu, daughter of Mayor Moon Landrieu;
  • Senator Mark Begich, son of Representative Nick Begich;
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wife of President Bill Clinton
He could also have mentioned candidate Michelle Nunn, daughter of Senator Sam Nunn.

He notes that Democratic policies on entitlements and other issues are also legacies.
Every political party has its grizzled veteran officeholders and succumbs sometimes to the temptation to champion antique policies and talking points that poll well rather than innovative policies better suited to new times. But Barack Obama’s — and Hillary Clinton’s — Democratic Party, stung by the electorate’s ingratitude for its economic policies and Obamacare, seems to have jumped into a “Back to the Future” DeLorean and steered half a century back in time. 
Who would have thought “hope and change” meant Industrial Age big government for the individual-choice-oriented Information Age?

Obama Approval Falls in Blue States

Gallup reports:
As a key U.S. Senate race unfolds in Iowa, President Barack Obama's declining job approval rating may be one factor making it such a close battle. Obama's approval rating among Iowans for the first half of the year stood at 38%, five percentage points below the national average and the lowest rating Gallup has measured in Iowa during his presidency. The Senate race pits current Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley against Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst. Several polls show a close race -- perhaps closer than many analysts would expect, given Ernst's relatively unknown background as a new state senator versus Braley's background as a four-term U.S. Representative.
Field reports:
There has been a sizeable decline in President Barack Obama’s job approval rating among California voters over the last few months.
A statewide Field Poll completed last week found that almost as many Californians now disapprove of the job the President is doing (43%) as approve (45%).
This reading is the poorest appraisal of the job performance that Obama has received of his presidency and is in sharp contrast to the 62% favorable perception that California voters had of him at the beginning of his second term. Most of the recent decline in the President’s approval ratings has occurred among subgroups of voters who had been among Obama’s strongest supporters in prior polls.
The survey also finds that a majority of voters in this state continue to have a negative view of the overall direction of the country. Fifty-one percent of California voters believe the U.S. is seriously off on the wrong track, while only about one in three (36%) feel the country it is headed in the right direction.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Outside Spending Goes Red

With prognosticators giving even odds that Republicans will take over the U.S. Senate after this November’s elections, outside groups are taking notice. Almost 52 percent of ads aired in favor of Republican candidates have been sponsored by interest groups, and that figure is 40 percent on the Democratic side. Groups have spent an estimated $97 million on advertising in Senate races this election cycle, which is up from the estimated $78 million spent to this point in the 2012 election cycle.
A Wesleyan Media Project analysis, in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics, reveals that over half (56 percent) of the group-sponsored ads aired so far are “dark money” ads (those from sponsors who do not have to disclose their donors) , which have aired at an estimated cost of over $68 million (Figure 2). In Senate races, 57.5 percent of interest group airings were sponsored by 501c3, 501c4 and 501c6 groups, sometimes referred to as social welfare organizations, which are not required to disclose their donors. Although dark money ad airings make up a smaller proportion of all interest group advertising this cycle compared to last, the total volume of dark money airings has increased in U.S. Senate races from 106,137 at this point in 2012 to 124,281 so far in 2014.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Scandalabra and the Wiped Blackberry

Josh Hicks reports at The Washington Post:
Congress had little opportunity to debate the Internal Revenue Service’s missing-e-mail controversy while on break during the past month, but lawmakers will have plenty to talk about when they return next week.
One question likely to come up is why the IRS wiped out Lois Lerner’s Blackberry shortly after congressional staffers interviewed the then-IRS official about the agency’s suspected targeting of conservative groups.
So far, the IRS has offered no answers.
The issue came to light last month after U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the IRS to explain its efforts at recovering emails that were lost when the former official’s hard drive crashed in 2011.

Kashkari v. Brown and CTA

Seema Mehta reports at The Los Angeles Times:
A day before Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and GOP rival Neel Kashkari face off in their only debate, the Republican on Wednesday attacked the incumbent over his longtime ties to the state’s most powerful union, the California Teachers Assn.
The move foreshadows what is expected to be Kashkari’s line of attack at an event in which the struggling candidate needs to make a mark to change the dynamics of a race strongly weighted in favor of Brown.

“Jerry Brown has revealed where his loyalties lie,” Kashkari says in an eight-minute Web video about the state’s schools and CTA. “Not with the civil rights of poor kids, [but] with the union bosses that have been funding his political career for 40 years.”

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

American Crossroads v. Landrieu

Aaron Blake writes at The Washington Post:
As our own Philip Rucker first reported last week, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is the latest senator to be confronted by questions about just how much she actually lives in her home state.
Where Landrieu differs from others who have faced similar questions, though, is that she has routinely worked on issues important to the District of Columbia. Hence, there are a whole bunch of news clips talking about her focus on D.C. -- which isn't exactly helpful for her very difficult reelection race.
American Crossroads is up with a damning new web ad splicing together many of these clips. It ends with a particularly devastating quote from embattled/outgoing D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D), who appears to describe Landrieu as "the senator representing the District of Columbia until we become the 51st state of the United States..."
YouTube took it down because of a copyright claim by Fox News, but it is still up at the Post:

At the Christian Science Monitor, Peter Grier writes:
Maybe now is a good time to repeat some of the relevant conclusions from George Washington University political scientist John Sides’ classic 2012 round-up of what we do and don’t know about political advertising, whichappeared in two parts in the New York Times 538 data-based blog back prior to the 2012 vote:
1. Campaign ads matter more when candidates are unfamiliar. (That doesn’t hold in this case, does it?)
2. Campaign ads work when you can outspend the other person. (That may or may not occur in Louisiana this fall.)
3. Campaign ads matter, but only for a brief time. Their effect decays within days.
4, Negative ads work, or they don’t work. Nobody really knows. Go figure.