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April 18, 2014

Posts in "DSCC"

April 14, 2014

The War of Obamacare Anecdotes in the 2014 Elections

A couple months ago on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, I said that I thought the 2014 elections would be driven by anecdotes related to the Affordable Care Act. I think a pair of ads in two of the most competitive Senate races in the country could be a pretty accurate roadmap for the debate that is coming over the next six months.

Last week in Alaska, an outside group called Put Alaska First went on the air with a new, 30-second television ad, “Beat,” featuring cancer survivor Lisa Keller talking about her struggle to gain insurance coverage and thanking  Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, for his fight against the insurance companies.

Full story

February 10, 2014

DCCC Is 2013 Fundraising Winner, but DNC Drops the Ball

A look at the end-of-the-year financial reports of the two House campaign committees, two Senate campaign committees and two national party committees makes it pretty clear which ones have something to crow about and which have some explaining to do.

The big winner is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC, chaired by New York Rep. Steve Israel, brought in almost $76 million last year, ending December with more than $29 million in the bank.

It was a remarkable showing, given that Democrats are in the minority and there was only a brief chance, in October, that they could regain control of the House in 2014.

Full story

November 26, 2013

Open Your Mind to the Possibility of Another Midterm Mess for Democrats

Democrats might want to consider opening their minds to the potential of another midterm nightmare.

I remember dozens of conversations with GOP candidates and strategists prior to the 2012 elections. Republicans simply couldn’t wrap their minds around the possibility that 2008 could ever be repeated. That failure in comprehension contributed to inaccurate polling and wrong assumptions as the two electorates ended up being remarkably similar.

Now, I’m starting to feel a sense of deja vu when talking with Democrats. Anytime 2010 comes up in a conversation, it is quickly dismissed as an aberration. Most Democrats can’t even imagine another election cycle where President Barack Obama is as unpopular and as much of a drag on Democrats as he was in his first midterm.

But I’m not sure we can rule out the possibility that next November will be a very bad year for Democrats. Full story

September 26, 2013

Tennant Not a Game Changer Yet for West Virginia Democrats

A few weeks ago, Democrats didn’t even have a warm body in the West Virginia Senate race. So getting Secretary of State Natalie Tennant to run for the Senate was quite a catch.

But even though Tennant is a credible statewide elected official, she starts as a significant underdog in the open-seat contest.

Convincing her to run must have been quite a challenge. After coming up short in her gubernatorial bid in 2011, Tennant had her sights set on running for governor again in 2015. Like Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Tennant must have believed that switching course was her best next move.

There were some nuggets of information that may have encouraged Tennant to make the jump.

Before Tennant’s announcement, an Aug. 15-22 poll conducted by R.L. Repass and Partners for the Charleston Daily Mail showed her trailing Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito narrowly 45 percent to 40 percent. And Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III’s ability to win 60 percent in 2012 while President Barack Obama received 36 percent was also probably an encouragement.

But that understates her challenge. Full story

September 24, 2013

5 Things Winning Candidates Say

After the overwhelming response to “6 Things Losing Candidates Say” and its successor, “4 More Things Losing Candidates Say (Readers’ Edition),” I decided to try to turn it around and point out some common themes from winning candidates.

Of course these phrases don’t guarantee success — a candidate’s party and the partisanship of the state or district will be a larger determining factor. But these sayings reflect an attitude and approach that will often set up a candidate for success.

1. “I like to ask people for money on the phone six hours a day.” Everyone wants to give a stump speech. But fundraising is a cold, hard reality for the vast majority of congressional candidates. Unless a candidate is personally wealthy and can ask, “How much should I make the check out for?” he or she will spend hours on the phone every day, asking people for money. And after they finish their call time, they’ll go to a fundraising event that night. Raising a million dollars is the bare minimum for a competitive congressional race these days, and that won’t happen by just shaking hands at the county fair. Full story

August 16, 2013

3 Key Factors Each Party Is Banking On for a Senate Majority

The Senate playing field is starting to solidify, and the fight for the majority looks like it will be decided in about a dozen states. But even though the fields of candidates are still taking shape in some of those contests, both Republicans and Democrats are banking on some macro-factors that will affect races at the micro-level.

Democrats are counting on three trends to boost their effort next year:

1. History will repeat itself in GOP primaries. This isn’t all that big of a stretch considering Republicans handed five Senate seats to the Democrats over the past two election cycles because weak GOP nominees have thrown races away. This cycle, GOP primaries in Kentucky, Alaska, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina could affect the party’s prospects next November.

Of course, just because it has happened in the past, doesn’t mean it will happen again. And some of this cycle’s GOP primaries are in states that Republicans probably won’t need to win to get to the majority, including Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota.

2. Democrats will be able to boost turnout to presidential levels or beyond. This is a big question mark. Democrats are looking to mobilize young voters and minority voters next year to lessen the impact of a traditional midterm electorate that is older and white and usually benefits Republicans. Full story

August 13, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Montana Senate

daines 011 030513 445x285 RATINGS CHANGE: Montana Senate

Daines is seriously considering a bid for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A month ago, Stuart Rothenberg made the case for why the Montana Senate seat remained a pure tossup. But now that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer is not running on the Democratic side, and Rep. Steve Daines is likely to run on the GOP side, Republicans should start this open seat race with a very narrow advantage.

First, a quick look back at Rothenberg’s description of the political landscape in Big Sky Country: Full story

No, Really: It’s Still Too Early to Judge Senate Races

“The GOP needs to gain three or four seats to win control (depending on which party controls the White House), and already five Democratic-held Senate seats are no better than toss-ups. The Democratic outlook would improve markedly if the party could swipe a couple of Republican seats next year, but with only 10 GOP Senate seats up, there are few opportunities.”

Just a little more than two years ago, that is how I began my assessment of the Senate battlefield in the Aug. 1, 2011, edition of the Rothenberg Political Report ($).

“For now,” I continued, “Republicans are putting enough Democratic seats into play to put control of the Senate in doubt in next year’s elections.”

Of course, the roof ultimately fell in on GOP hopes of taking back the Senate last cycle. Instead of gaining seats, the party suffered a net loss of two seats.

Once again this cycle, the Senate is broadly “in play,” as five Democratic seats are no better than tossups and there are few Democratic takeover opportunities of GOP-held seats. But that is where this year’s political version of Groundhog Day stops. Full story

August 2, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Maine Senate

collins 185 052313 445x296 RATINGS CHANGE: Maine Senate

Collins is a safe bet for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Democrats float the idea of a Republican senator joining President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, it usually means they know they can’t defeat the incumbent in an election.

Democrats appear to have thrown in the towel on defeating Republican Sen. Susan Collins in Maine. When party strategists discuss offensive opportunities, it is usually limited to the open seat in Georgia and challenging Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Full story

July 8, 2013

Rating Alison Lundergan Grimes’ Chances in Kentucky

mcconnell002 0621131 445x300 Rating Alison Lundergan Grimes’ Chances in Kentucky

McConnell has a challenger for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Does the candidacy of Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, change McConnell’s re-election prospects? The answer depends on whether you think she will be 2014’s version of Linda Lingle or Heidi Heitkamp.

Lingle, a former two-term Republican governor of Hawaii, was unable to overcome her partisan label in a state that President Barack Obama won with more than 70 percent of the vote. While Lingle ran almost 10 points ahead of Mitt Romney in the Aloha State, she got buried in her bid for the Senate in 2012.

On the other hand, Heitkamp, a Democrat and former North Dakota attorney general, ran almost 12 points ahead of Obama in the Peace Garden State, enabling her to squeeze out a very narrow Senate victory. Full story

July 1, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Massachusetts Senate

gop rally120 102012 445x296 RATINGS CHANGE: Massachusetts Senate

Brown’s home state of Massachusetts is no longer competitive. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After three consecutive competitive Senate elections in Massachusetts, it looks like we’re in for a dry spell.

Rep. Edward J. Markey, a Democrat, won the June 25 special election by a convincing 10 points, and there is little evidence he will be vulnerable when the seat is up again in November 2014.

Even though the situations are not completely analogous, former Sen. Scott P. Brown’s 2010 special election victory followed by his 8-point loss in the 2012 election demonstrates the difficult task ahead for the GOP in the Bay State. Full story

June 3, 2013

New Jersey Senate Remains Safe for Democrats in Long Term

christie014 1206121 445x300 New Jersey Senate Remains Safe for Democrats in Long Term

The New Jersey Senate seat will stay in Democratic hands in the long term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For the first time in more than 30 years, there will likely be a Republican senator from New Jersey.

But unless New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, pulls a rabbit out of the hat, it’s likely that Republicans will have the seat only briefly — from six months to as long as a year and a half, depending on what Christie does and how the state law is interpreted. Full story

May 14, 2013

A GOP Senate Switch in South Dakota Looks More Likely

Former Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s announcement that she is passing on a Senate race in 2014, combined with secondhand reports that U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson (son of retiring South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson) has also decided against a Senate bid, must have put big smiles on the faces of Republican strategists.

It’s early in the 2014 election cycle, but these developments in the Mount Rushmore State definitely affect the two parties’ prospects. The GOP now has an advantage in the contest.

Former GOP Gov. Mike Rounds is already in the race. But the lack of a big name Democratic standard-bearer could encourage the state’s at-large congresswoman, Kristi Noem, to enter the Republican primary.

Noem would be a formidable fundraiser, and conservative support might well coalesce around her.

Some Republican insiders are even speculating that Herseth Sandlin passed on the Senate race in the hope of getting Noem to run for the Senate, allowing the Democrat to jump into the race for her old House seat.

Democrats won’t be without a credible Senate candidate, however. Rick Weiland, a former aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, has announced his candidacy and has already won the support of his former boss.

But Weiland’s record of success in running for federal office isn’t good. He lost by about 20 points in 1996, when he faced Republican John Thune in an open House seat contest after Tim Johnson had decided to run for the Senate. Weiland then lost a Democratic primary to Herseth in 2002, when Thune left his House seat to run for the Senate. (Thune lost that race by 524 votes to Johnson but came back two years later to defeat Daschle.)

I remember Weiland, and he wasn’t a bad candidate. But that’s not the same thing as saying that he has Herseth Sandlin’s demonstrated skills or Brendan Johnson’s obvious asset (his family name) in a general election, especially during a midterm election with Barack Obama in the White House.

Bob Burns, a South Dakota State University political science professor, is quoted in an article in the Argus-Leader questioning whether someone like Weiland could win, or whether Democrats needed a moderate like Herseth Sandlin.

Without Herseth Sandlin, Democrats’ prospects of retaining this seat sink. A formal announcement from Brendan Johnson that he isn’t interested would be another blow to Democratic hopes. But even now, Tim Johnson’s South Dakota Senate seat looks increasingly likely to switch parties next year.

April 23, 2013

Baucus Exit Turns Montana Senate Race Into Tossup

Baucus042313 445x289 Baucus Exit Turns Montana Senate Race Into Tossup

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The announcement that Montana Democrat Max Baucus is retiring shakes up the fight for the Senate in 2014 more than a bit.

Baucus has been mentioned as a GOP target, but only a second-tier one, far behind Republican opportunities in two open seats — West Virginia and South Dakota — and against two Democratic incumbents, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana.

But an open seat in Montana catapults that contest into the top tier as a potential Republican takeover opportunity. Full story

March 22, 2013

Mixing Apples and Oranges in West Virginia

Hoping to hang on to retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s open seat, Democratic strategists are passing the word that attorney and energy company executive Nick Preservati is looking closely at the 2014 Senate contest in West Virginia.

National Journal’s Hotline on Call describes the possible Democratic candidate as “a wealthy, pro-coal, pro-business Democrat in the style of SenJoe Manchin,” the state’s junior senator who is best known for his opposition to the Obama “cap and trade” plan and his support for gun owners’ rights.

I know nothing more than that about Preservati, and he could turn out to be an interesting option for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which, after all, would be happy to have a fighting chance to hold the Senate seat in next year’s midterm elections.

But there are lots of reasons to be skeptical, at least at this point. Here are just two.

First, Democrats have the same problems in West Virginia these days that Republicans have in Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Hawaii. It is called partisanship. Full story

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