Dec
18
2014
4

Barack Obama not yet understanding that he needs to be irrelevant to 2016.

Well, I don’t need him to be irrelevant.  But you know what I mean.

This should be fascinating to watch: “In recent weeks, Democratic operatives have begun to voice concerns that the 2014 midterms made plain the limits of an approach that failed to reach beyond minority groups or those who are reflexively liberal. And yet what should come next is not yet totally clear.” Largely because it’s essentially futile.  The Democrats will not have control over their message in 2016, because in our system a sitting President has tremendous power to define for the public what his political faction does or does not care about.

And the bear is loose:

[Barack] Obama feels liberated, aides say, and sees the recent flurry of aggressive executive action and deal-making as a pivot for him to spend the last two years being more of the president he always wanted to be.

I don’t often feel sympathy for my opposite numbers – and, in fact, in this case I still don’t.  But if I were to feel sympathy, it’d be in the way that they’re going to have to spend the next two years going Never mind Barack Obama without actually looking like they’re going Never mind Barack Obama.  Because while Barack Obama’s popularity generally is in the toilet*, it’s noticeably better among Democratic primary voters. Which means that the Democrats can’t actually tell Barack Obama to sit down and shaddap.

In case you’re wondering: yes, normally second-term Presidents don’t need to be told this.  Generally speaking the sitting President gets out of the way as gracefully as possible so that the eventual nominee from their party can get on with the remarkably difficult task of winning three elections in a row.  Fortunately (for my side), nobody bothered to tell Barack Obama that. Or maybe he doesn’t care.  Or – and this would be the best answer – the man still hasn’t come to terms with the limits to his competence, and Obama thinks that he can (chuckle, snort!) help

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: If Barack Obama thinks that what was going this session was ‘deal-making’ (instead of, say, ‘trying to work around an over-rated Harry Reid’), we will probably find next year to be quite amusing, in its way.

*I should note, by the way, that his reputation will recover, post-Presidency.  That’s what typically happens.  Don’t get bent out of shape over it, because doing so won’t affect the process and you’ll just be there in the dark chewing bitter bones, as the Elves might say.

Dec
13
2014
9

The Left’s plan to retake state legislatures through targeted character assassination.

(H/T: Instapundit) There are several amusing things about this article from the Washington Examiner on the topic of what the Left hopes to do towards state legislatures in the upcoming election cycle:

“We’re working with David Brock and Media Matters and American Bridge who have trackers that we can send out to monitor the debate on some bills that you all might be running,” Nick Rathod, executive director of SiX [a liberal group trying to get state legislatures back], said. “I think in many legislatures my understanding is that a lot of legislatures stream their floor debates but don’t necessarily transcribe it or capture it in any kind of way. And so we want to start capturing them on that. I think we know, someone’s going to say something about black people. Someone’s going to say something about women. Someone is going to say something.”

In no particular order: (more…)

Dec
12
2014
5

Actually, it’s the *conservatives* who can make better plays to the middle in 2016.

As in, they can do it and still get elected.

Allahpundit is raising an excellent point, here:

Why would a center-right voter prefer Jeb Bush to Scott Walker? We all do understand, I hope, that Walker will be running basically as a centrist, yes? …I think he’s going to run as a similar sort of pragmatist as Bush — lots of talk about jobs and education, squishy on immigration, socially conservative but low key about it, and if tea partiers start getting restless with him, he’ll pull the ol’ “remember the time the unions spent millions to recall me and I kicked the sh*t out of them?” card. And then everyone will quiet down.

(more…)

Dec
07
2014
1

Why the Democrats stupidly wrote off Louisiana too quickly.

As you no doubt know, the Democrats got their clocks cleaned last night in two House seat runoff elections and one Senate one.  The question is, could they have done better? – Actually, no, the question is, could they have done much better?  …And the answer may indeed be ‘yes’ in both cases.  Please note: a lot of this is going to be a discussion on how much or how little the rubble might have bounced, so keep that in mind.

Let’s start with the Senate race. All numbers here from AOSHQDD: they’re not the certified results, but they’re going to be fine for this analysis.

 Election  Runoff  LA-SEN
    619,397     561,099  Democrat
    603,045  -  Cassidy
    202,554  -  Maness
    805,599     712,330  Total GOP
 1,424,996  1,273,429

The total drop-off for that election was 91% for the Democrats, 88% for the GOP, and 89% overall.  In other words: the Democrats managed to retain more of their Election Day voters than the Republicans did.  Mary Landrieu still got destroyed in the general because the people who voted for Rob Maness clearly decided to show up for Bill Cassidy, too.  This was not particularly contested by Sen. Landrieu, probably because she had limited resources and clearly decided that she needed to boost her own side’s turnout more than she needed to depress her opponent’s turnout. Considering that Sen. Landrieu’s base was mostly African-American – a demographic that’s hard to get to turn out, historically – she didn’t actually do a bad job. (more…)

Dec
04
2014
4

Preparing the battlespace for a Democratic failure in 2016?

Dang, but those grapes look really sour.

Think of the billions the parties must raise to elect a president in 2016. Consider the millions of paid and volunteer man-hours that will be devoted to this enterprise. The White House is the center of the partisan political universe, and Democrats and Republicans alike measure success or failure by their ability to win and hold the presidency.

Instead, maybe they ought to hope they lose. The surest price the winning party will pay is defeat of hundreds of their most promising candidates and officeholders for Senate, House, governorships, and state legislative posts. Every eight-year presidency has emptied the benches for the triumphant party, and recently it has gotten even worse.

Don’t get me wrong: Larry Sabato has a point.  But it’s just as easy to say that the American people tend to be on an eight year cycle of Throw The Bums Out, with the bums switching off on a regular basis.  Of course, when you put it that way then the efforts of people like Larry Sabato – and, to be brutally honest about it, myself – start looking a good deal less relevant…

Nov
30
2014
3

I actually think that these kids at Occidental really learned something.

I mean, it is funny, in a not-nice way:

…but there’s actually a life lesson here. (more…)

Nov
25
2014
5

Chuck Schumer quietly starts distancing Democrats from Obama for 2016.

I’m just going to summarize it: Senator Chuck Schumer today ever-so-casually indicated that working first on Obamacare was a mistake; that, in fact, Congress should have instead worked on pretty much anything else besides Obamacare; and that Sen. Schumer himself opposed starting first on Obamacare, but all those Obama supporters in the Obama administration were so adamant that Obamacare be put in place right away.  Also: how about that absent-from-the-Obamacare-debate Hillary Clinton, huh?  You know what her middle name isn’t?  That’s right: Obamacare.

I’m being mean, I know*.  But if Chuck Schumer is useful for any one thing it’s in determining just how toxic a politician and/or government program can be.  Based on this article, Barack Obama and his signature** political accomplishment are quite toxic indeed.  And it’s not even 2015 yet!  If Barack Obama’s a lame duck now, imagine how useless he’s going to be a year from now***. (more…)

Nov
17
2014
1

How the GOP used social media to outsmart anti-free speech laws.

Looks like the NRCC was on the ball this cycle.

Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.

Translation: they probably didn’t, which CNN will concede later. Moving on…

…The groups behind the operation had a sense of humor about what they were doing. One Twitter account was named after Bruno Gianelli, a fictional character in The West Wing who pressed his colleagues to use ethically questionable “soft money” to fund campaigns.

A typical tweet read: “CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52–>49/476-10s.” The source said posts like that — which would look like gibberish to most people — represented polling data for various House races.

(more…)

Nov
13
2014
6

The Democrats are keeping their leadership cadre. …Bless their hearts.

Chris Cillizza is not quite gobsmacked:

Nine days ago, Democrats lost (at least) eight of their seats and their majority in the Senate.  On the House side, the party dipped to at their lowest level — in terms of raw number of seats held — since World War II. How did the party react to this rejection from the American public? By preparing to re-elect every single one of their top Congressional leaders, of course!

…but he can see gobsmacked from where he currently sits.  Basically, the Democrats are not going to change their leadership cadre.  This despite the utter disaster that befell the legislative branch of their party last week, mind you; and it’s not just that the Democrats lost the Senate and got rocked back on their heels in the House. It’s that Democrats in the state legislatures likewise got hammered.  I don’t believe in permanent Republican majorities than I believed in permanent Democratic ones, but one of the major things standing in the way of a new Democratic majority is their leadership cadre.  Robert Tracinski over at the Federalist noted that the Democratic party’s recruitment successes collapsed when it became clear that all those new, shiny Red State Democrats were there to rubber stamp urban liberal Democratic agendas. As long as the people who support that agenda still run the Democratic party, moving the needle again is going to be hard for the Democratic rank-and-file. (more…)

Nov
11
2014
12

Who *will* we get as a nominee for 2016?

I understand Allahpundit’s concern, here:

Nominate a guy like [Ted] Cruz and he can spend the entire campaign pandering to the middle since conservatives feel 100 percent sure he’ll govern as a conservative in office. Obama benefited from the same logic on the left six years ago: He could reassure Rick Warren and evangelicals that he believed in traditional marriage with nary a peep from his progressive base because none of them thought he was serious. He was a loud and proud liberal, no matter he said in his attempt to get elected. He’d support gay marriage later even if he couldn’t support it sooner. Cruz will have that same advantage from the right. Will anyone else have it, though? Even conservative candidates like Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, I think, might feel pressure to out-Cruz Cruz in the primaries by tacking further right than they’d prefer. I’m not sure anyone except him is above suspicion by grassroots righties.

…but he’s forgetting one important mitigating factor.  There are, in fact, two ways to reassure the conservative base that Candidate X is reliable: (more…)

Nov
10
2014
2

Ten bad assumptions about 2014.

Oh, trust me, there are more.  But these are the ones that most immediately come to mind. Also note that I’m not going to saturate this with links; this is an almost-casual observation/recap, not a would-be public policy paper.

  1. The polling.  This has been commented on, over and over and over again: and I’m only adding it because otherwise somebody will say But, Moe: what about the polling? – But, yeah, the polling was all over the map, with the exception of some of the local pollsters.
  2. Primary results are not diagnostic.  You know why I didn’t sweat WI-GOV?  Because Scott Walker did almost as well in the 2014 primary as he did in the 2012 recall primary.  FL-GOV?  Because Rick Scott did well there, too.  Those surprisingly strong for Republican California results?  All hinted at in the primaries.
  3. The Democrats had a plan.  I don’t know about the rest of the VRWC, but whenever I saw a mock-worthy Democratic fundraising email I always had the thought What if this is part of a clever strategy that we’re not seeing? in the back of my mind,  …Turns out that it wasn’t, unless of course “Get your heads handed to you in 2014″ is part of an even longer game.
  4. The Democrats had learned from their victory.  This is kind of related to #3, but the difference here is that you can still win without a plan, if you have an organization.  The Democrats thought that they had one, but what was on the box was not the same as what was actually in the box.
  5. The electorate is in an anti-incumbent mood.  The electorate almost never is, honestly.  It just changes its mind on a regular (but not quite predictable) basis about which party it hates more, and spanks that party accordingly.  This year it was the Democrats’ turn in the barrel.
  6. The Republicans had not learned anything from their defeat. Every article made about improved Republican turnout and voter outreach programs assumed that the GOP would need to catch up with the Democrats.  And that may, in fact, still be true… in the sense that the GOP in 2014 may still not be up to the standards of the Democrats in 2012.  However, it’s fairly clear that they were certainly past the standards of the Democrats of 2014.
  7. Buying airtime at the end of the election cycle is not cost-effective.  Well, it’s certainly not cost-effective if you lose.  But if you’re in a tighter race than people think because of #1 and #4, and you’re willing to pay out extra… yeah, it can have its points.
  8. [Insert favorite superstition here].  There were a bunch of these. “Democrats always win incumbent Senate races.” “Turnout will save us.” “What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is negotiable.” “There are blue states and red states, and never the twain shall meet.” To paraphrase Bob Heinlein: if you can’t express it with an equation, it’s not a fact.  It’s an opinion.  We had a lot of opinions this cycle.
  9. Long-term demographic trends have any meaning whatsoever right now.  This was mostly seen with the perennial Hispanic voter debate.  It will be relevant in 2024 or 2034 whether or not the currently extrapolated trends on population makeup and partisan makeup are accurate.  But for right now they’re not – and the Democrats couldn’t draw on presumed future support, either*.
  10. Dice have a memory. This applies to both sides, including the Republicans: because let me tell you something.  A day will come when the incumbent President’s party will clean up in the sixth-year midterm election, whether or not the President is popular.  Or that incumbent Senators will be able to distance themselves from an disliked President. Or any of the other rules of thumb that haven’t been tossed in the wastepaper basket yet.  And I absolutely assure you that the GOP winning big this year does not give them some sort of mystical protection from future failures. Especially if the Republicans try to rest on their laurels: complacency kills electoral careers faster than almost anything else I can think of**.

I think that covers it, for right now.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*The so-called ‘woman gap’ is a slightly different situation, because (in my personal opinion) it is noticeably more accurate in Presidential years than it is for midterms.  This cycle it didn’t really have that much of an impact.

**Almost.  Taking pictures of your genitals and showing them to people on the Internet is actually hubris, which is even worse than complacency.

Nov
05
2014
3

Vermont gubernatorial election is going to the legislature. With any luck: hijinks will ensue.

Hee.  Vermont’s gubernatorial election is going to the legislature:

Under the Vermont Constitution, candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and treasurer are required to win a minimum of 50 percent plus one to be elected directly. If not, the race is decided by the Legislature.

In the history of Vermont, 23 previous elections for governor have gone to the Legislature, which nearly always gives the election to the candidate who won the most votes. There have been three exceptions, the last one in 1853.

And Peter Shumlin didn’t get the votes, so there you go.  This actually happened to Shumlin in 2010, too: so he’s probably assuming he’s a shoo-in.  But if I was a troublemaker in Vermont, I’d be getting the GOP delegation to go to the Progressive delegation and ask if they can think of a Democrat not named Peter Shumlin that would be acceptable to them. Solely because you take your pranks where you can get them – besides, it might even work.  Probably not, but either way you’d get people in the Vermont state legislature screaming at each other for a week, which is not an insignificant thing to pull off.

Moe Lane

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