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March 1, 2015

Posts in "Column"

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 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 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

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

November 24, 2014

What Did — and Didn’t — Surprise Me This Cycle

Every election cycle is filled with twists and turns, upsets and surprises. And every cycle is filled with goofy arguments, warnings about things that never happen and unsurprising outcomes that surprise only the politically uneducated.

For me, the biggest surprises included Dave Brat’s primary upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Thad Cochran’s win in the Mississippi Republican Senate runoff and Larry Hogan Jr.’s victory and margin in Maryland’s gubernatorial race.

Primary upsets happen, in part because reliable polling is so scarce. Without it, local observers have to rely on anecdotal evidence, which often is unreliable. But the idea that some underfunded college professor might deny renomination to Cantor, whatever his flaws and vulnerabilities, struck me as somewhere between silly and delusional.

Apparently, I was the one who was delusional.

Full story

November 17, 2014

Lessons for Democratic Strategists From 2014

Ralph Reed

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

You could feel it from Day One of this cycle. Senate Democratic strategists knew they were smarter than their Republican adversaries. They’d out-think them and out-work them.

Incumbent Democratic senators who run good campaigns rarely lose, I was reminded. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who had been appointed to his seat, won a tough race in 2010. So did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. And Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill did the same in 2012.

This cycle, vulnerable Democratic incumbents in red states such as Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana had great political names and deep connections to the voters. They knew how to win, just like Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana did two years ago. (Of course, Heitkamp and Donnelly won in a presidential year, with its different dynamic.)

How many times did I hear or read that Sen. Mark Pryor was no Blanche Lincoln? That comment was meant to highlight Pryor’s political strengths, but also to throw Lincoln (who lost re-election in 2010) under the bus so party strategists didn’t have to look at why she lost and how hostile the Arkansas terrain has become for any Democrat.

“They have their own brands,” I heard repeatedly about Pryor and Sens. Mark Begich in Alaska and Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana from Democratic operatives and journalists.

But, Bennet, Reid and McCaskill were victorious because the GOP nominated horrible candidates against them, not because the Democratic candidates had such untouchable brands, Democratic strategists had unique insights or party operatives knew how to win tough races. Full story

November 5, 2014

2014: Plenty of Surprises, but None Totally Unexpected

Yes, that was a wave. A big one. In many respects, it was a wave that was larger and more damaging to Democrats than in 2010.

Republicans now have more House seats, more Senate seats and more governorships than they did after the humongous GOP wave of 2010. They now have the governors of Maryland and Massachusetts, a post-Great Depression record of House seats and, finally, control of the Senate.

I didn’t expect these congressional Democrats to have close races: Maryland’s John Delaney, California’s Jim Costa, Connecticut’s Jim Himes and New York’s Louise M. Slaughter. The same goes for Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

And then there were the margins. Full story

November 3, 2014

Republicans (Still) Poised to Pick Up 6 to 8 Senate Seats

Tom Cotton

Cotton chats with supporters during a campaign rally in Mountain View, Ark. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Almost two months ago, on September 8th, I wrote that while the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings projected Republican Senate gains in the five to eight seat range, I was “expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.”

“But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain,” I added.

Now, eight weeks later, it certainly looks as if Republicans will win the Senate.

Though I had not at all expected it, that September column ended up burning bridges to two Democrats on whom I had long relied for their political savvy and expertise. Their reactions, however, told me that I was more likely to be right than wrong. Full story

October 28, 2014

A Nerve-Wracking Finish for Democrats

Steve Southerland

Gardner seems to hold a slight edge in Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

How big of a year is this going to be for Republicans? It’s still hard to tell, one week before voters go to the polls for the midterm elections.

But it could be bigger than you think.

Republicans have a plethora of House and Senate opportunities, and given President Barack Obama’s standing in the polls and the generic ballot question — which favors the GOP narrowly — the upcoming midterms could be surprisingly reminiscent of 2010.

But it’s also a little odd that Republican candidates in so many places are struggling to pull away from their Democratic opponents, given Obama’s weakness and the terrible news — Vladimir Putin and Ukraine, the Islamic State terror group and beheadings, Ebola and terrorism in Canada — that has arrived on an almost daily basis for the past few months.

Our outlook for the Senate has changed only modestly since the Rothenberg Political Report issued specific guidance about the fight for the Senate in our newsletter more than a year ago. Full story

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