Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 23, 2014

Posts in "Republicans"

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

April 1, 2014

Senator Thad Cochran, Underdog?

Forget about Matt Bevin’s challenge to Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky Republican primary or Milton Wolf’s bid to knock off Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts in that state’s GOP contest. The Senate primary to watch is Mississippi’s.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel has the best chance of any anti-establishment Senate hopeful to knock off an incumbent, and the defeat of six-term Senate veteran Thad Cochran would send shock waves through both the national media and the Republican Party.

Cochran, the first Republican popularly elected to the Senate in the state’s history, is an institution in the Magnolia State and has the support of most Mississippi GOP officeholders, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and former Gov. Haley Barbour. And Barbour’s nephew, Henry Barbour, is running the super PAC established to get the senator re-elected.

Cochran, 76, is in trouble — in deep trouble — primarily because of changes in the Republican Party. But it’s also true that the senator, and his campaign, didn’t start his re-election effort where they needed to be. Full story

March 24, 2014

Democrats’ Growing Problems With Independent Voters on the Senate Map

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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 25, 2014

There’s No Good Time for the GOP on Immigration

boehner 009 020414 445x305 Theres No Good Time for the GOP on Immigration

Boehner has said he’s not inclined to take up immigration in the House this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill apparently have already decided to punt rather than push ahead with their own immigration proposal, but that hasn’t stopped the chatter from the sidelines, especially from those who don’t like the leadership’s decision.

Liberal columnist Greg Sargent and conservative icon George Will both agree that Republicans are crazy to put immigration reform off until after the midterms.

Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza laid out the political argument for Republicans not kicking the can down the road on immigration in his Feb. 9 article, “Why Republicans Shouldn’t Wait to Pass Immigration Reform.”

It’s a reasonable case, based on the timing of the dynamic of the 2016 presidential contest, the nation’s changing demographics and the GOP’s intense dislike of President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Full story

February 20, 2014

How Jamestown Associates Adapted and Prospered

You probably think the recent spat between the National Republican Senatorial Committee (and really the entire GOP establishment) and Jamestown Associates, a GOP consulting firm, is interesting because it reflects the fissure in the Republican Party. But after covering campaigns for decades, I think it’s also a fascinating story of how a media firm has evolved and adapted to a changing political environment.

In late January, the Club for Growth announced that it was adding Jamestown to its media team and planned to use the firm in Mississippi, where the club is supporting state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s challenge to veteran Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, and in Nebraska, where the group is backing Ben Sasse’s bid for the GOP Senate nomination.

The club’s statement wasn’t shocking, of course, since Jamestown had already done work for the Senate Conservatives Fund in Kentucky (supporting the primary challenge of Matt Bevin to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell), and been blacklisted by the NRSC and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

For years, certainly throughout the 1990s, I viewed the New Jersey-based Jamestown as a regional consulting firm that worked mostly with moderate or even liberal Republicans running in the Northeast. Now it has become a national firm (with offices around the country) that will be one of a handful of firms promoting anti-establishment libertarian and tea party hopefuls this cycle. 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 17, 2013

How the Calendar Will Influence GOP Senate Primaries

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Cornyn’s primary is first on the 2014 calendar. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Stories about Republican primaries are all the rage, and we’re still nearly three months from the first actual election. But in all of the analysis of vulnerable senators, voting scorecards and outside groups, it’s important to remember the calendar and how primary results could affect subsequent races.

It’s possible that a snowball effect could work for or against tea-party-aligned groups next year, depending on the outcomes.

The first Senate primary contest will be March 4 in Texas. Rep. Steve Stockman’s last-minute challenge to GOP Sen. John Cornyn got plenty of media attention. But unless Stockman can find a pot of gold (worth at least $10 million or so) at the end of a rainbow, Cornyn will cruise to victory. 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 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

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