Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

Posts in "Democrats"

July 28, 2014

So You Want to Be a Political Handicapper? 2014 Edition

The thought of three candidate interviews over a four-hour period invariably fills me with dread.

The chance of all three congressional hopefuls being thoughtful, reasonable and personable — and having a good chance of winning in the fall — is relatively small.

But sometimes the unexpected happens. And on July 16, I had the pleasure of interviewing three quality candidates. Full story

July 15, 2014

Fight for the Senate Still Very Much Up in the Air

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Hagan is a Democrat from North Carolina. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The bottom line looks about the same in the fight for control of the Senate in November — but some of the pieces of the puzzle have moved around dramatically over the past few months.

Republicans need a 6-seat gain to take over the Senate next year. Three Democratic-held Senate seats continue to be headed to the GOP: Montana and open seats in South Dakota and West Virginia.

Most Democrats are pessimistic about all three, though some party insiders continue to hold out hope that appointed Montana Sen. John Walsh can close his early deficit against his Republican challenger, Rep. Steve Daines. If that should happen, of course, national Democratic money could flow into the race. But for now, Daines appears to have a clear advantage.

From that point on, things get a bit dicier for Republicans. Full story

July 7, 2014

Could Upbeat Economic News Help Obama, Democrats?

Last week’s news that the U.S. economy gained 288,000 jobs in June seems to confirm the upbeat economic assessments coming from many of the nation’s economists and Wall Street analysts.

The question is whether the data and increased optimism one might hear on CNBC will have an effect on the American electorate and alter the current trajectory of the midterm elections.

On a fundamental level, anything that improves overall sentiment about the direction of the nation is good news for President Barack Obama, and anything that is good news for Obama is good news for Democratic candidates around the country.

Good news could generate enthusiasm among base Democratic voters and, possibly, increase the chances that swing and independent voters won’t see the midterm balloting only as an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo and the president’s performance.

Full story

May 19, 2014

The Long Lost Tale of Phil Maloof

Wilson Maloof 06 22 98 445x299 The Long Lost Tale of Phil Maloof

Maloof, left, battled Wilson in the 1998 special election. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Most readers know that Nathan Gonzales and I, along with our friends from Roll Call, interview at least 150 candidates for Congress every election cycle. I have been doing it for many years.

Not every hopeful passes through our offices, of course, and many candidates have won elections without ever subjecting themselves to an interview. There is no ring that needs kissing here.

But many candidates seem to think that it’s something they should, or even want to, do. A young Illinois legislator named Barack Obama came by twice. House candidates Paul D. Ryan and Kirsten Gillibrand came in for interviews, as did Senate hopefuls John Edwards, Ted Cruz and Erskine Bowles. I have interviewed both long shots and prohibitive favorites, candidates who looked like winners and those who didn’t.

I have interviewed so many hopefuls that when a candidate doesn’t come by, especially if there has been some buzz about the him or her being sheltered and not doing many interviews with seasoned political reporters, I invariably think of Phil Maloof.

Full story

April 22, 2014

Obama’s Foreign Policy Impacts 2014 Elections — Really

No, I am not going to try to make the case that foreign policy will be at the forefront of this year’s elections, or that international issues are a high priority for most Americans. They aren’t.

But foreign policy could have an indirect yet significant impact on the midterm elections, making the issue more relevant than you otherwise might assume.

The growing perception that President Barack Obama over-promised and has under-delivered on international issues could add to the already hardening perception that his presidency has not been an unadulterated success. And that’s not good for vulnerable Democrats as the elections approach. Full story

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?

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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

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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

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