Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 28, 2015

Posts by Stuart Rothenberg

198 Posts

February 25, 2015

Remembrance of Shutdowns Past

Elections 2016

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans scored big gains in the 2010 and 2014 elections because both of those midterms were about President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Democrats had successful elections in 2006, 2008 and 2012 primarily because they made those elections about the GOP and George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

You might think politicians from both sides of the aisle would understand that a political party does best when it makes the national political discussion about the weaknesses, failings and shortcomings of the other party. Full story

February 23, 2015

Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton Face Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the economy is a decisive topic in many presidential elections, national security looks increasingly likely to become a top issue in next year’s contest. And if that happens, it could dramatically affect both the direction of the race for the Republican nomination and the party’s prospects in November.

While the economy’s slow recovery hasn’t yet produced solid wage growth or the sort of good, full-time jobs that many had hoped for, President Barack Obama’s job approval numbers on handling the economy have started to climb. Full story

February 17, 2015

Past and Precedent: What Makes This Mississippi Special Election Interesting

You might think the best way to understand Mississippi’s upcoming 1st District special election to fill the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s seat is to examine the 2008 special election in the same district. After all, that previous special election to fill the seat left open by Roger Wicker’s appointment to the Senate happened less than seven years ago.

If you think that, you are wrong. Full story

February 12, 2015

Why Early Senate Polling Is Usually Useless

Elections 2016

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I never pay too much attention to early polls, since snapshots of a race more than 18 months before Election Day can be misleading.

And political parties ought to be careful about crowing too loudly about early polls for fear someone will look too closely into them. Full story

February 10, 2015

Is Ben Carson Really a Viable Presidential Candidate?

Elections 2016

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just because something has not happened before doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future.

Barack Obama and Barry Goldwater proved that point, and Hillary Rodham Clinton could soon be added to the list. Could Ben Carson, as well? Full story

February 3, 2015

Not Your Father’s (or Grandfather’s) GOP Field

Elections 2016

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

None of the top-tier GOP contenders for the party’s presidential nomination have formally entered the race yet, but it’s already clear the field will be unique in the party’s modern campaign history.

Most Republican fields since 1952 have begun with between two and five serious contenders for the nomination. This cycle’s field is almost certain to be both larger and better credentialed, creating a very different race that will end in Cleveland at the party’s national convention in July 2016. Full story

January 27, 2015

First Look: Can Democrats Win the Senate in 2016?

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Republicans, the fight for control of the Senate in 2016 is all about playing defense.

Unlike 2014 (and 2018), the Senate races of 2016 offer few, if any, opportunities for the GOP as the election cycle begins. The map strongly favors Democrats and suggests the possibility of considerable Democratic gains. Full story

January 21, 2015

Why Hillary Clinton Should Fear Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If Hillary Rodham Clinton does not run for president in 2016, I’d certainly put my money on Sen. Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic nomination. And I think Warren might be able to give Clinton a run for her money if the freshman senator would challenge the former secretary of State.

No point in speculating about a Warren candidacy anymore, you think? Yes, the Massachusetts Democrat has said that she isn’t running a number of times, most recently in a Fortune interview. Why not simply take her at her word? Full story

January 15, 2015

Why Democrats Can’t Count on Voters Blaming a ‘Republican Congress’

Rothenberg Political Report

When voters are unhappy, they are much more likely to take out their anger on the sitting president than on Congress, Rothenberg writes. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Most emails I receive are fundraising propaganda easily ignored, since they aren’t strong on accuracy or thoughtfulness. Instead, they merely seek to incite and anger — and to get people to open their checkbooks to stop the forces of evil.

But the Monday email I received from the Progressive Majority Action Fund, which defines itself as a “nonprofit advocacy group that helps turn grassroots activists into progressive champions,” wasn’t like that. It was a “messaging” memo to ask friends, and apparently journalists, to use the words “Republican Congress” each and every time they refer to Congress. Full story

January 13, 2015

Can Democrats Win the House in 2016?

Rothenberg Political Report

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats have a better chance of winning control of the House next year than they did at any time in 2014. That’s true even though they now need to gain 30 seats, almost twice what they needed last year.

No, I’m not suggesting Democrats will win the House in 2016. Far from it. Right now, you’d need a magnifying glass, probably even a microscope, to find the party’s chances of taking control. Full story

January 8, 2015

Will Improving Economy Help Obama’s Case on Keystone?

Mitch McConnell

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Events matter in politics and, for a change, they potentially seem to offer a bit of aid and comfort to President Barack Obama in his upcoming battle with the Republican-controlled Congress.

After an impressive across-the-board victory that included a new Senate majority, gains to the party’s House majority and wins at the state legislative level, Republicans are poised to confront the White House over the Keystone XL pipeline. Full story

January 5, 2015

Can Jeb Bush Win the GOP Nomination?

Jeb Bush

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I was surprised at the steps that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has taken toward entering the GOP presidential race.

I expected family considerations and his aversion to a nasty and prolonged race for the nomination to keep him out of the contest. Certainly, he’d like to be president, and there are plenty of reasons to believe he could be a thoughtful leader. But does he really want to put himself and his family through the meat grinder of a presidential campaign? I was skeptical.

Full story

December 15, 2014

Jury Duty in Today’s America

While most of America was still talking about what happened in Ferguson, Mo., and turning to law enforcement issues in Cleveland and Staten Island, New York, I spent the better part of the week of Dec. 1 in a courthouse in Rockville, Md.

I never expected to be selected to sit on a jury, let alone one where the defendant was charged with first degree rape. I also didn’t expect to hear some shocking information after the case ended.

No, my case did not involve a racially-charged act that tore apart a community. Though the rape was extremely violent, no lives were lost. There were no videos of the rape or of the police response, no national media attention to the case.

Still, as a member of a jury charged with determining guilt or innocence, I, like most members of juries and grand juries, felt an important responsibility to evaluate the evidence dispassionately and come to the correct conclusion. 

Full story

By Stuart Rothenberg Posted at 7:37 p.m.
Column

December 9, 2014

Mary Landrieu’s Loss and the End of Ticket Splitting

Ben Carson

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu’s defeat in the Dec. 6 runoff certainly was no surprise. If anything, it seemed inevitable since the evening of Nov. 4, when it became clear a Republican rout was underway and Democrats would lose control of the Senate.

But the veteran Democrat’s defeat is another reminder we have entered a period of parliamentary elections, where the parties stand for starkly different ideological agendas and where ticket-splitting, which follows from individual evaluations apart from party, is relatively rare.

In the end, the “Landrieu brand” in Louisiana did not matter any more than the Pryor brand mattered in Arkansas or the Begich brand mattered in Alaska. Party labels mattered far more than the individual names of the candidates. Voters in all three states saw the incumbents’ Democratic label, and that made their decisions easy. Full story

December 2, 2014

Rothenberg’s End of the Year Awards for 2014

Ralph Reed

Braley is a nominee for most over-rated campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Well, we’ve made it through another strange political year — and let’s face it, they are all strange — so it’s time for me to devote another column to picking the best, the worst and the weirdest candidates, campaigns and outcomes of the year.

As always, I will select a few nominees and offer my own winner. If you don’t agree, feel free to send an email complaining to someone else. Just not me.
Full story

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