Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.> more ... (0 comments)
One of the big elections this year is going to be for the Virginia Governorship, which is a race that I’ve been fairly confident that Democrats will win. But the odds will be measurably improved of that if spurned non-wingnut Republican Bill Bolling decides to mount an indy bid against Ken Cuccinelli, and news that his people might be gathering signatures and recruiting ticketmates is a clear indication this is no mere thought-experiment for him. If it happens, it will be yet another example of the Tea Party pissing away a winnable seat, though then again, if the GOP had gone with Bolling, it’s not impossible to imagine Tea Party types being enraged at having one of their guys getting taken down, leading to a perhaps identical result.
One of my longstanding beliefs is that the conservative coalition is in a state of unstable equilibrium. On the surface, it looks coherent and unified enough. But that’s only because of how much effort is being expended to keep the whole thing from falling apart. In a stable system, all these primaries and recriminations and propaganda would simply not be necessary. I’m not in denial that the stable equilibrium point in this country is a bit right of center for the most part, at least at the moment, but it is movable. Just not through sheer willpower alone.
I'm happy to see some items like this one, pushing back on the notion that Democrats are destined to have big losses in two years:
Only three of the last seven two-term presidents who were in office for both midterms had a bad second midterm in both chambers — George W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt. Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan both lost control of the Senate in their second midterms but actually performed better in the House the second time around.
None of this is to say that Obama has a good chance at his party winning back the House for the final two years of his term in 2014. In fact, over the past century, only one president’s party has gained seats in the sixth year of his presidency — Clinton. (He only gained five seats in the House and the Senate stayed the same.) [...]
But the idea that there is something perilous about the sixth-year midterm, as opposed to the second-year midterm, isn’t really borne out by the numbers — particularly in the House. And if anything, the fact that Obama sustained huge losses in 2010 suggests his worst midterm is behind him, and the itch has been sufficiently scratched.
This is one of those anecdotal stories that bugs me. If you look at all the two-term presidents we've had since FDR (this won't take long, because not many actually served two full terms) and try to explain the "six-year itch" for each of them, here's what you get:
- Bill Clinton: didn't have one. Democrats did well in 1998 and Clinton would have won another term if possible.
- G.W. Bush: had a disastrous itch thanks to Iraq and other factors, like corruption/scandal.
- Ronald Reagan: had a bad one, due to Iran-Contra and a general sense he wasn't really up to the job anymore. Also, while the economy was recovering, it was still particularly awful in rural areas. Which is how we got Tom Daschle, among others.
- Dwight Eisenhower: another diastrous sixth year, but this was due to a recession also, particularly in rural areas.
- Harry Truman: pretty bad sixth year, due to Cold War setbacks, corruption/scandal and limpid economy.
- FDR: suffered bad losses in his sixth year due to his meddling with the Supreme Court and a noble but doomed effort to make the Democratic Party less racist , won a third term in 1940 anyway.
The thing about the "six-year itch" is that it assumes all of these are somehow connected, that there's some sort of inevitable trend to them. But as Blake argues, there isn't one, and plenty of presidents (*coughcough Carter) exhausted their goodwill within four years. Others, like Roosevelt, Clinton and arguably Reagan, were still in good enough shape to run again. There's nothing magical about the number six. This list doesn't have a coherent theme running through it, other than that if you're a Republican and you preside over a rural recession, you're in for a pretty rough time at the ballot box. In some cases, the president's party lost because of military mistakes. Other times, like FDR and Woodrow Wilson, bad political decisions are to blame. Or it could be economics. Or, perhaps something that hasn't come up yet. Or nothing! This is such a small dataset that any grand theory extracted from it is going to be crude, and would have to have outliers. In scientific terms, this is a non-publishable finding.
This is how I see it: Barack Obama seems to run a pretty tight ship in his White House, so serious scandals are less likely, though obviously always possible. The economy is visibly starting to recover, which could obviously stop any time, but we're starting to get into the time period after a financial crisis where even the most stubborn economies start to bounce back (cf. Reinhart-Rogoff). Obama intends to scale back Afghanistan operations in 2014. I don't expect big gains in 2014, because the rare times the presidential party has done that in a midterm (like 1934 and 2002) clearly had more to do with frazzled, dumbfounded opposition than with the strength of the president's popularity, but I hardly see the makings of a rout there. Midterms are usually about voters letting off steam, how bad the circumstances are usually predict how much is let off. Holding all else equal, if trends continue 2014 should probably see some nominal Senate losses for Democrats as well as single-digit House gains, as Democrats are pretty close to their floor in that chamber and there are more vulnerable Republicans than Democrats remaining there. The one area where we could see significant turnaround is for governors: most of the 2010 class of "Red Squad" governors are quite unpopular, today's batch includes John Kasich and Nikki Haley, remarkably. Rick Snyder is also busy immolating himself politically. The sheer number of Tea Party governors who face significant obstacles to another term is staggering, and it includes Rick Perry, Rick Scott, Tom Corbett of PA, Paul LePage of Maine, and possibly Nathan Deal of Georgia. Add in the steep climb Ken Cuccinelli is going to face to hold onto the Virginia statehouse, and it's very plausible that a lot of prominent GOP talent will be wiped out in 2014. Though obviously much depends on the quality of opposing candidates, perceptions of the economy, primary challenges, etc.
This is just amazing:
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a close Romney ally, said it was “offensive” for Democrats to say they’re better for women on reproductive rights. Speaking with reporters at the Republican National Convention, Haley said Democrats drawing attention to the pro-life plank in the party’s platform are merely “distracting” from Obama’s record. Asked if the platform does indeed call for a total ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, Haley replied, “I have no idea. I haven’t been paying attention.” The platform endorses the Human Life Amendment, which would give constitutional rights to fetuses, and thus equate abortion with murder.
I’ve read this paragraph about five times now, and I’m just amazed that a person with a presumably functional brain could get this out without shuddering and collapsing. Haley thinks that Republicans ought to be offended that Democrats are asserting their superiority on matters of reproductive rights? What kind of apology might she be looking for? (“Sorry for reading your platform before you did?”) And the second graph is about as confusing:
Women are not one issue voters, we care about the economy,” she explained. ”These debates [abortion] that you fellas keep talking about, that the Dems keep talking about, is just not where women are… The only people that are saying that the Democrats are the better party for women are Democrats. And they think if they say it enough, we’ll believe it, and that’s probably about as offensive as it gets,” Haley added.
Perhaps she didn’t get the memo that the economy is out, and divisive culture war skirmishes are in when it comes to the Romney campaign, so this is entirely pret a porter.
This gets back to one of my ongoing fixations: minority (and women) Republicans with power who nonetheless try to assert leadership over their own cohorts. Just like Michael Steele during his RNC salad days, and one or two brief moments of Herman Cain’s presidential bid, this sort of leadership campaign just doesn’t work from within the confines of a high-profile Republican position. Steele’s sad antics showed someone desperate to exercise some form of cultural leadership in a context that wouldn’t allow it substantively, and his symbolic outreach (“hip hop conservatism”) was hilariously inept. Cain at times flirted with being angry about the lot of black people in America before inevitably remembering his role as the validator of white rage, and then he had to walk it back. Haley here seems to be trying to demonstrate gender leadership, trying to tell women that social issues don’t matter as much as having firm economic management (from her point of view, anyway). But she can’t do it without jettisoning, well, almost all women. The idea that women don’t care at all about debates concerning their own bodies is a bizarre one. I’m guessing, for example, that quite a few of them are behind Todd Akin’s precipitous collapse in Missouri. The problems here–insulting the audience’s intelligence, feigning ignorance of the party’s platform (or actually being ignorant of it, which is worse for someone opining on the issue for the press), throwing around inflammatory terms with no basis while dismissing legitimate concerns–display an incredible lack of sensitivity to what women outside beet-red states think about these issues, and really more of a contempt for all that to boot. Which is to say that Haley is a politician for the 27%, and no one else. Only she doesn’t really realize it.
Either that, or she’s just Christine O’Donnell in an elaborate disguise. Which I’m not prepared to rule out at this point. I realize that “rising star” Republicans at this point just mean younger, not as white, and perhaps female Republicans with the exact same beliefs, rather than “demonstrating enormous promise as a potential political leader in the future,” i.e. the actual definition of the term. Republicans keep finding more of the former, but the latter remain to be seen. Haley barely held on to win an election in South Carolina, and if she’s the future of the GOP, then there’s no future.
There’s been scant polling in the district, but a June survey commissioned by her Democratic challenger, Jim Graves, found Bachmann with a dangerously narrow lead. “Bachmann’s unsuccessful bid for president had a clear and negative impact on her standing among voters in the new Minnesota 6 CD. She received low marks on both her job performance and personal favorability,” pollster Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner found. The survey found her leading Graves by just five points and under 50 percent, even though her name ID was almost 100 percent in the district and Graves is mostly obscure.
In an interview last month, Graves pointed out to Salon that Bachmann has benefited in the past two cycles from third-party challengers who have disproportionately syphoned votes from the Democratic candidate. Minnesota Public Radio political writer Bon Collins called Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson – who took over 10 percent of the vote in 2008 — “Michele Bachmann’s best friend” because he paved the way for her reelection. Bachmann won by just three points that year. In 2010, her margin was bigger, but it was a wave election for Republicans and Bachmann had managed to avoid major controversy ahead of the election. That year, Anderson, who ran again, took about 6 percent of the vote.
This year, there is no major third party candidate, giving Bachmann her first head-to-head race since her election. Tom Horner, a former gubernatorial candidate from the Independence Party, which has mostly gotten on board with Graves’ campaign, told the St. Cloud Times that the lack of a third candidate is significant. “I think that’s going to make a huge difference. It’s the opportunity to compare and contrast two candidates, head to head,” he said.
Add this in with the real possibility that Paul Ryan gets unseated (grown larger by his selection as the GOP VP candidate, which will inevitably take his attention away from the district), and the serious challenge faced by top hatemonger Steve King in a new swing district, and it’s entirely possible that the big Tea Party figures of this Congress could mostly be gone next year. Wonder what that would look like.
Hard to believe this guy was considered for Attorney General of the United States in 2008:
Artur Davis, the former Alabama Democratic congressman who recently announced his rebirth as a Virginia Republican, appeared before the Northern Virginia Tea Party on Monday, delivering a speech that referenced Ronald Reagan and Rosa Parks, while congratulating the Tea Party on their success over the past few years.
“I want to submit to you that in the last 100 years, no political organization, in the history of this country, has done more to shape or influence politics as quickly as y’all did.” Davis said. “You know, my kinfolk from the South in the civil rights movement changed the country. But even the civil rights movement did not figure out how to win elections and turn a country around as quickly as you did.”
This is a flawed comparison. The civil rights movement was a social movement that spent decades trying to allow a marginalized group of people to exercise their rights. The Tea Party was an electoral movement dedicated entirely to defeating Democrats, to stymie Barack Obama’s agenda and ability to govern. Both were largely, though not entirely, successful. I’m sure Tea Party supporters would disagree, but they’re just wrong objectively. I suppose the argument that the Tea Party was intended to defend freedom (their conception of it, anyway), but in actuality it was a reaction to the failures of Bush, the election of Obama, and the declining prospects for Republicans electorally. It made few specific complaints, many of which were highly opportunistic (“spending” is unabashed theft and evil, unless those dollars are going to defense contractors or Koch oil ventures as subsidies), was dedicated to militant opposition to every Obama initiative regardless of whether Republicans had supported it earlier, and offers no solutions to the sudden dearth of “freedom” other than voting Democrats (and, to a lesser extent, moderate Republicans) out of office. The Tea Party is, as it has been, a phony social movement, hyped by interested parties with an agenda, legitimized by the mainstream media, and funded by the very same people who funded the Bush Republicans that they now claim to hate. It’s possible to argue that it was a genuine movement that got hijacked by the Kochs, Dick Armey, FOX, and so forth, but it wasn’t that for long.
And this is entirely unsurprising:
During the well-received remarks, Davis argued that “2012 is a 1980 kind of moment.” In 1980, Davis said, “they told us the Europeans and the Asians were the wave of the future. They told us that our young people wouldn’t know times like we did before.” [...]
“Ladies and gentlemen, in 1980, one man, from a small town in Illinois, said I know what they say, I hear the doubts in the wind, but I will not be bowed,” Davis said. “This man, who was supposedly old and faded, issued the same call that a 43-year-old named Jack Kennedy issued in 1960, and said that we can do better.”
…and then Davis voted for Carter. I’m guessing. Maybe he did vote for Reagan and his entire Democratic career was merely convenient, but I doubt it. Republicans are always desperate to find minority faces to put out there so they don’t come across as the old, white party, even if the people elevated are less than qualified (see: West, Allen). Someone with some actual political skills? Woulda been governor for real if he’d been a Republican from the beginning. Does anyone really buy this stuff as anything other than opportunism? And is he suggesting that Mitt Romney is old and faded? He left something dangling there.
All in all, Davis hits all the cliched notes that one would expect him to hit in a stump speech as a Republican. The linking of the party with a civil rights history that it rejected long ago, and that with new voter restrictions it has decided to reject once again. Then there’s the bizarre implication that JFK would be a Republican if he were around today. Why this point keeps recycling around Republican circles I’ll never understand–the substance is that Kennedy cut taxes, but he also tried to create new single-payer health programs and institute civil rights. It definitely feels like something Baby Boomer Republicans circulate to tie into Kennedy’s glamor, which is a little pathetic, as well as to “prove” that Democrats moved to the left since then. It seems pointless to me, since the last thing Kennedy is known for is his policy positions, and his hawkishness nearly destroyed the world. But whatever. And then there’s the Reagan worship, which is so utterly worn out by this point. To be sure, Republicans’ fantasy Reagan has supplanted the real one in the public’s imagination. But ultimately it does Mitt Romney no favors to make the comparison, it just reminds people of how much less smooth and sincere Romney is compared to Ronaldus Magnus, in much the same way the eye-rolling JFK comparisons made John Kerry look like more of a dork in 2004. Republican voters know they don’t have a Reagan on their hands, Art.
I was never all that impressed with Davis when he was a Democrat, because I saw him as slick but empty. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he’s no different as a Republican. But he takes to it better, ascribing social justice implications to the GOP’s ongoing quest for more power. Typically, party-switchers don’t fare well under these circumstances, but there are exceptions. Like Reagan.
It might not be a majority view, but I do think that in the long-term, Citizens United will not be a benefit to the Republican Party. Right now, everyone is focusing on the dazzling money totals, but what comes up less often is just how repellent the politics of the people bankrolling the money are to the general electorate. All the money in the world isn’t going to make Joe Sixpack hate Social Security as much as David Koch. But it can make GOP politicians hate it just as much, which will in turn make the public hate them. That process is only 2/3 complete on the national level because the GOP is not in full control and the economy is still lousy, so it hasn’t sunk in just how non-mainstream the Koch-lovers are. But a lot of states have gotten a full taste of Koch-based politics, and it hasn’t gone down well. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has compiled some generic ballot numbers for state legislatures, which I figured I’d pass on:
- Colorado: D 47% – R 40%
- Iowa: D 44% – R 39%
- Maine: D 51% – R 37%
- Michigan: D 50% – R 35%
- Minnesota: D 48% – R 36%
- New Hampshire: D 47% – R 41%
- New York: D 54% – R 37%
- North Carolina: D 46% – R 41%
- Pennsylvania: D 47% – R 42%
- Wisconsin: D 48% – R 41%
The caveat is that they don’t include specific information on who did all the polls, only some, so some might be partisan-aligned pollsters that shade things. But they do identify Michigan, Minnesota and New York with pretty reputable pollsters (PPP and Siena), so we can tentatively conclude a few things.
First thing, the states where Republicans have acted in just about the most autocratic, brazen fashion tend unsurprisingly to have been where they suffered enormous blowback. Michigan is probably number one on the Republicans Gone Wild meter, and this allegedly swing state is eager to change its representation on a state level more than all but one state. (I’m sure that sweeping statewide abortion ban is going to fix all this, right?) Tea Partying Minnesotans shut down the state government for weeks, and now the state’s voters want to shut them down. Wisconsin speaks for itself, and Maine seems to be eager to see an end of abrasive Tea Party rule too. The Democrats’ leads in the other states tends to be modest, presumably because Republicans don’t wield total power there and haven’t been able to show their true nature. Then there’s New York, which just seems like normal partisan tendencies asserting themselves.
Now, of course, it is early, and the money will come. But it will at least have to overcome an enormous deficit in certain states. The more power the Teabaggers have, the more the public winds up hating them. And wiping out Teabaggers in these states only depletes the other side’s farm system, so they don’t have players ready to be called up.
If you are interested, the DLCC’s donation page is here. I’m a monthly contributor myself. It’s a great way of making your money count more in politics.
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