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April 18, 2014

Posts in "Democrats"

March 24, 2014

Democrats’ Growing Problems With Independent Voters on the Senate Map

iowa fair036 081511 445x295 Democrats Growing Problems With Independent Voters on the Senate Map

Democrats expect a smooth ride for Braley, but should they? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the nation’s (and news media’s) focus on Malaysian Airlines flight 370 gave Democrats a couple of weeks to catch their collective breath, the 2014 election cycle continues to look increasingly dangerous for President Barack Obama and his party.

The most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal (March 5-9) and CBS News/New York Times (Feb. 19-23) surveys contained little in the way of good news for Democrats — and recent GOP Senate recruiting successes in Colorado and New Hampshire put two more Senate contests into play.

Strategists in both parties agree that Democratic enthusiasm isn’t where it needs to be, especially when compared to GOP voters, who currently look eager to run into a burning building if that is what it takes to express their anger during the midterm elections. Full story

March 10, 2014

Why Polls Still Show Democrats With Higher Marks Than Republicans

pelosi 192 022714 445x310 Why Polls Still Show Democrats With Higher Marks Than Republicans

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Political brands are important. If a candidate or political party has a damaged political brand, it’s harder for them to sell themselves to voters. But sometimes a poll’s top lines can be deceiving, so you need to look a little below the surface to understand what is going on.

Everyone knows that the Republican Party’s brand stinks, and while the Democratic brand is still mediocre, it’s measurably better than the GOP’s.

A Feb. 19-23 CBS News/New York Times poll found that only 33 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the Republican Party, while a stunning 61 percent had an unfavorable view. In contrast, 42 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the Democratic Party, while only 53 percent had an unfavorable view. Full story

February 7, 2014

American Crossroads Preparing to Enter the Game

More than a few Republican operatives have been expressing nervousness about whether American Crossroads, the party’s big super PAC that was so active in 2010 and 2012, will play another significant role this cycle. They note that Americans for Prosperity has been carrying the “outside” load so far against Democratic super PACs and wonder how long that can continue.

GOP worry is likely to increase now that Patriot Majority USA, another Democratic “outside” group will, according to a piece in Politico, begin to air new ads in Senate contests. The Senate Majority PAC and League of Conservation Voters are already airing ads that seek to help Democratic Senate prospects.

American Crossroads showed just $2.7 million in the bank at the end of December, raising questions about whether it, along with its sister organization, Crossroads GPS, can come close to the $70 million they spent in the 2010 cycle and the $100 million they spent during the 2012 cycle on paid advocacy in House and Senate races. (The two groups’ total spending for the 2012 cycle exceeded $300 million, but roughly two-thirds of that was spent on the presidential contest.)

Crossroads contributors apparently have sat on their hands so far, frustrated after promises of Republican victories in 2012 that never materialized. Full story

January 28, 2014

Income Inequality: Democrats Have Some Work to Do

The 14th question of the Jan. 22-25 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll produced a set of responses I didn’t expect.

The poll asked, “When it comes to reducing income inequality between the rich and the poor, do you want to see the government more involved than it currently is, as involved as it currently is, less involved than it currently is, or not involved at all in this issue?”

I assumed that buzzwords like “inequality,” “the rich” and “the poor” would produce an outpouring of support for more government action, especially because the question didn’t mention any costs related to more government involvement. Full story

December 18, 2013

What the New Iowa Poll Reveals About 2016 (Hint: Not Much)

GOP Convention 089 082812 445x301 What the New Iowa Poll Reveals About 2016 (Hint: Not Much)

Santorum narrowly won the Iowa caucuses in 2012. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans’ attitudes toward potential 2016 presidential hopefuls has already received plenty of attention. That’s not surprising, I suppose, given the unquenchable thirst from some about anything to do with the next presidential race.

The survey’s results give us some information — most of it entirely predictable — but the data doesn’t tell us who will win the 2016 Iowa caucuses or the White House a little less than three years from now. Full story

December 6, 2013

What Happened to the Campaign for Primary Accountability?

dw1011180609 440x335 What Happened to the Campaign for Primary Accountability?

The CFPA put Rangel on its “hot seat.”  (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Competitive primaries are raging, but one of the groups that received the most attention last cycle for ousting incumbents is still on the sidelines. So far this cycle, the Campaign for Primary Accountability is nowhere to be found.

After receiving glowing press coverage in 2012, the political action committee has been very quiet this year. Except for a small contribution from the group’s founder and a couple of strongly worded blog posts, the CFPA has been irrelevant thus far, even though primary challenges to House incumbents in Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts and California are well under way.

Full story

December 5, 2013

The Democratic Leadership Council’s Advice for Republicans

If you, like George Santayana, believe that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, you may want to take a look at Democratic Leadership Council founder Al From’s new book, “The New Democrats and the Return to Power,” just published by Palgrave Macmillan.

From starts with his years at staff director of the House Democratic Caucus (under Louisiana Rep. Gillis Long) but focuses on the creation and success of the DLC through the Bill Clinton years. He gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the DLC’s creation and the fight within the Democratic Party to determine its direction. Full story

December 3, 2013

A Traditional Midterm Headache for Democrats

Democrats have had a nice run recently of interesting House recruits and new takeover opportunities resulting from open GOP seats. And yet, it probably won’t matter.

If history is any guide — and it usually is — the president’s recent problems have already overshadowed that good news for House Democrats and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, all but erasing any chances that the party can win back the House next year.

Sure, Republicans could easily overplay their hand, shutting down the government again or otherwise convincing voters that they are a greater threat to the nation’s economic health than are the Democrats. Full story

November 6, 2013

Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

 Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

McAuliffe, left, and Christie won last night. (Getty Images)

Tuesday’s election results offer something for everyone.

Democrats can look at Virginia and conclude that Republican “extremism” on social issues like abortion, contraception and guns, combined with the deep divisions that appeared in the Alabama 1st District GOP primary results, continue to offer them opportunities for 2014 and virtually guarantee victory in 2016.

Republicans can look at the tightness of the Virginia contest and conclude that the unpopularity of Obamacare strengthens their hand for 2014 and will be an albatross around the neck of the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Full story

October 28, 2013

6 Democratic House Candidates With Plenty of Potential

bilbray kohn003 101013 212x335 6 Democratic House Candidates With Plenty of Potential

Bilbray will try to unseat Heck in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In this political environment, not having an extensive legislative record can be an asset. Not surprisingly then, three of six Democratic House candidates I interviewed recently have never before sought elective office, and a fourth was elected as a judge, not a legislator. (I will discuss a seventh Democratic hopeful, Martha Robertson, in a separate column.)

Considered as a group, the half-dozen hopefuls deserve to be mentioned in any discussion of Democratic House takeover opportunities in 2014. The only question is how many of them will continue to be in the conversation one year from today. Full story

October 22, 2013

‘The Political Middle Has Disappeared’

A terrific post-shutdown “after action report” by Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who is one-half of the bipartisan polling team that conducts the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, includes one slide (No. 7) that I found particularly instructive.

Titled “the political middle has disappeared,” it shows the ideological distribution of Republican and Democratic members in the House in 1982, 1994, 2002, 2011 and 2012, based on National Journal ratings.

In 1982, only a handful of Republicans were more conservative than the most conservative Democrat and only a handful of Democrats were more liberal than the most liberal Republican. Because of that, a stunning 344 members of the House rated between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat.

By 2002, most Democrats were more liberal than the most liberal Republican, and most Republicans were more conservative than the most conservative Democrat. Because of that, the number of members in the “overlap” dropped to 137 members, and in 2012 only 11 members fell in that “political middle.”

That single slide doesn’t explain all of the gridlock but it helps explains why the parties can’t work together and why Washington can’t run smoothly in an era of divided government. Full story

October 16, 2013

For GOP, the Damage Is Undeniable

Cruz042213 445x305 For GOP, the Damage Is Undeniable

The Cruz wing of the GOP doesn’t really believe in negotiation, which, at its core, requires compromise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The deal to open the government and raise the debt ceiling may be done, but the damage to the national Republican Party is considerable.

One GOP consultant — who clearly hails from the more conservative end of his party — didn’t hold back recently in slamming the “no compromise” conservatives who led House Republicans off the political cliff with a government shutdown and by flirting with a debt default.

“We will be weaker when we negotiate with Democrats next time, and we proved that President Obama doesn’t need to negotiate with us,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

The problem, of course, is that the Ted Cruz/Ted Yoho wing of the party doesn’t really believe in negotiation, which, at its core, requires compromise. And while they don’t like compromise, they are particularly unwilling to negotiate with a president they regard as illegitimate and at war with fundamental American values. Full story

October 11, 2013

Is Cruz Causing a Democratic Wave? Maybe, but Don’t Jump the Gun

cruz101113 445x296 Is Cruz Causing a Democratic Wave? Maybe, but Dont Jump the Gun

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Last week I observed that I hadn’t yet seen “compelling evidence” that a Democratic political wave could be developing. I can no longer say that after seeing the recently released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

That highly regarded poll showed Republican numbers have taken a considerable hit because of the shutdown and the media coverage around it. The GOP’s 24 percent positive/53 percent negative image obviously is a red flag, especially compared with image numbers for the Democratic Party (39 percent positive/40 percent negative) and President Barack Obama (47 percent positive/41 percent negative).

The NBC/WSJ poll’s version of the generic ballot, which asks respondents about their “preference for the outcome of next year’s congressional elections,” shows a substantial shift from an insignificant 3-point Democratic edge (46 percent to 43 percent) to an 8-point Democratic advantage (47 percent to 39 percent).

Respondents split evenly in June on the role of the government, with 48 percent saying that government “should do more to solve problems” and 48 percent saying that government “is doing too many things.”  That has also changed, with 52 percent now saying that government should do more and only 44 percent saying that it is doing too much.

I haven’t mentioned the poll’s shutdown “blame” question because I have serious concerns about its wording. Full story

October 7, 2013

Shutdown Fever: Is the House in Play Now?

On Sunday, a Huffington Post headline screamed what most Democrats were hoping: “GOP In Grave Danger Of Losing House In 2014, PPP Polls Show.” Of course, anything coming from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling and MoveOn.org Political Action, which paid for the surveys, must be taken with at least a grain of salt.

PPP isn’t your typical polling firm. Its surveys often are intended to boost Democratic recruiting, fundraising or prospects. In this case, the “polls” were almost certainly commissioned to create a narrative about the political repercussions of the shutdown and the nature of the midterms.

It’s no coincidence, then, that the PPP memo accompanying the results, written by Jim Williams, observes, “The surveys challenge the conventional wisdom that gerrymandering has put the House out of reach for Democrats.”

Not surprisingly, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out multiple fundraising emails in the hours after reports of the PPP polls surfaced, and dozens of Democratic candidates and liberal groups did the same.

That’s the standard modus operandi these days on both the right and the left: have a sympathetic media organization or polling firm assert some alleged finding, and then have fellow travelers cite the initial report to try to raise cash or create momentum. It is becoming (yawn — excuse me) a little trite. Full story

September 26, 2013

OMG!!! A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. Or Maybe Not

boehner080713 445x305 OMG!!! A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. Or Maybe Not

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Once again, Henny Penny is running around to warn us that the sky is falling. A government shutdown is only [fill in the blank] days, [fill in the blank] hours and [fill in the blank] minutes away. The countdown clock shows the seconds ticking by. The end is near.

Well, maybe that’s true. Maybe the government is going to shut down. The national parks will close. You won’t be able to renew your passport, making it impossible for you to flee to some enlightened land where the government is still open and operating normally. You’ll have to re-schedule your visit to the Washington Monument. (Actually, it is closed for repairs anyway, so don’t blame the shutdown, if there is one.)

Or maybe all of the coverage is just a wee bit exaggerated and premature. Maybe the government won’t shut down at all.

Pardon my blasé attitude about it all, but I’ve seen this movie before, and unless they changed the ending — and it certainly is possible they did — I’m not getting too excited yet. Full story

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