The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

A Lengthy Debate Is Useless If It Isn’t Honest.


President Obama, yesterday:

The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.

We had a year-long debate, Ed. I mean, go back and look at your stories.The one thing we can’t say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the United States of America, or that it was not adequately covered.

As the Washington Post notes, “Gruber is well-known in health-care circles as one of the intellectual godfathers of Obamacare and the very similar law in Massachusetts (sometimes called Romneycare)”, and was paid $400,000 by the Department of Health and Human Services. So Obama hides behind the fact that Gruber was a contractor; what’s more, if Gruber were not a central figure in the creation of Obamacare, why is he speaking at all of these health care industry conferences?

Obama insists the debate about Obamacare was “lengthy,” which is not the same as saying it was honest. In fact, that’s the point of Gruber’s controversial comment — that all of that lengthy debate included writing the bill ”in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes” in order to ensure that lengthy debate wasn’t an honest debate — because they knew they would lose an honest debate! “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay. So it was written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in — if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in sick people get money it would not have passed. Okay.”

The Gruber/Obama philosophy is to lie to ensure that no one knows what is actually going to be enacted into law; thus the amount of time spent debating is moot. As he put it so bluntly, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical in getting the thing to pass.”

It is not exculpatory to insist you spent a whole year lying to us.

Tags: Barack Obama

Obama Is Now Washington’s Most Powerful Obstructionist.


In light of overwhelming public opinion like this opposing Obamacare, doesn’t President Obama seem… obstructionist?

Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama’s pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn’t change after the ACA was passed.

The current 37% [approval] comes on the heels of last week’s midterm elections, in which Republicans won full control of both houses of Congress. Already, party leaders are discussing efforts to repeal the unpopular law.

Repeal is highly unlikely, given Obama’s veto power, but the law’s new low in approval — and new high in disapproval (56%) — could potentially have an impact on its future. The president himself has acknowledged he will consider modifications to the law, which could include repealing the tax on medical devices.

Here’s the Republican Party, promising to pass legislation reflecting the will of the people, and one extremist is blocking enactment of the popular will. Isn’t this an “unyielding consistency and a complete disconnect with the wishes of all except the most vocal part of their base that enforces extremism”, as was claimed about Republicans?

Isn’t the refusal to go along with the majority on Obamacare, or threatening to veto the Keystone Pipeline, or an executive branch effort to regulate the Internet without legislation, or an insistence upon an unpopular deal with Iran a form of ”sabotage governing“? Doesn’t it amount to “a refusal to govern“? Isn’t this “doubling-down on opposition, and refusing to budge“?

Of course, of course, it’s different when he does it.

President No.

Tags: Obamacare , Barack Obama , Keystone Pipeline , Iran


Talking 2016 on the NR Post-Election Cruise...


From the first post-cruise edition of the Morning Jolt

What (Some of) You Missed on the National Review Post-Election Cruise

Beats a polar vortex, doesn’t it?

A bit of 2016 talk from our recently-concluded cruise…

Allen West pointed out you don’t often see two presidential candidates from the same state competing against each other for long – their bases of support among donors, activists, and volunteers usually overlap and they can’t sustain two candidates simultaneously.  At this very early date, the potential Republican 2016 field includes two candidates from Florida (Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio), two from Texas (Ted Cruz and Rick Perry) two from Wisconsin (Scott Walker and perhaps Paul Ryan).  

Ned Ryun, founder of American Majority and CEO of Voter Gravity, mentioned Carly Fiorina’s name more than once as possible figure on the 2016 GOP ticket.

West named Ohio Gov. John Kasich as a potential presidential candidate who could come on strong; Ryun could not suppress his sense that Ohio conservative grassroots activists have some serious gripes with Kasich.

John Fund pointed out that there’s actually several mini-primaries playing out in the coming year: the money primary, the staffing primary (who can build a national network of supporters), the consultant primary (who’s hiring the campaign managers, ad men, pollsters, organizers, and so on, with big wins under their belt from previous cycles), the ideas primary, and for lack of a better term, the “voice of social conservatives” primary.

I asked my panel of Ryun, West, Eliana Johnson, Guy Benson and Fund to name the 2016 Republican ticket. Most hesitated to make a public prediction, but said it was likely to be a governor and someone who had demonstrated an ability to win in blue or purple states. When I declared, tongue-in-cheek, that ticket had already been decided in advance and that the correct answer was Scott Walker-Susana Martinez, the audience seemed pretty darn pleased by that combination.

Most of the NR cruisers I spoke to expressed overwhelming hesitation about Jeb Bush —and maybe hesitation is the kind way of putting it — out of concerns of the dynasty argument and his stances on a path to citizenship and Common Core that are at odds with many in the grassroots.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said his organization has the largest and most far-reaching operations in Florida. “If the Republican candidate doesn’t win Florida in 2016, he doesn’t win the presidency,” he said.

Bing West thinks that someone in the Obama administration’s national security inner circle will leave in the not-too-distant future, perhaps Chuck Hagel or Susan Rice.

Jay Nordlinger: “Ralph Reed is like the Dick Clark of the conservative movement – we get older, but he looks the same, decade after decade.”

Our Kathryn Lopez, who is roughly as Latina as Elizabeth Warren is Native American, revealed she was invited to a White House Cinco de Mayo celebration, presumably entirely because of her surname.

Jumping off a John Fund comment, I don’t see how Hillary Clinton can be the first woman president when Valerie Jarrett has been running the country for six years.

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez revealed that in his cartoons of President Obama, he usually includes ashtrays and cigarette boxes, and when he draws Obama sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, the photos on the desk are all of himself.

If you didn’t go on the cruise and find yourself wishing you had, the next one is from July 18-25, 2015, departs from Seattle and sails to Alaska. Our guest speakers already include retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann, pollster Pat Caddell, economist Art Laffer, author Andrew Klavan, Townhall’s Katie Pavlich and of course a large gaggle of NR editors and contributors, including me.

Tags: 2016 , Allen West , Carly Fiorina , Jeb Bush , Scott Walker

Chelsea Clinton, ‘Woman of the Year,’ ‘Mom of the Year’


You may recall one of my persistent gripes is the media’s insistence that we treat Chelsea Clinton as if she’s some sort of extraordinary achiever, when in fact she’s “a young woman whose adult life consists mostly of stepping through doors opened by her parents’ power and meandering through the highest levels of high society without actually doing much.” Our one glimpse of her in a public role was her widely-panned, $600,000-per-year, part-time work as an increasingly infrequent NBC News correspondent; she’s also been the keynote speaker at SXSW and was named assistant vice provost at New York University at age 30, before finishing her dissertation.

This week Chelsea Clinton honored as one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year,” and Katie Couric decreed, “I think it’s safe to say, probably a ‘Mom of the Year.’” As Carmine Sabia notes, she’s been a mom for six weeks. 

Enough, already.

Somewhat ironically, back in 2010, I was one of the few on the Right urging others to stop complaining about her lavish wedding, contending, ”Bill Clinton’s out of office and nobody elected Chelsea to anything. Chelsea’s never claimed to be a woman of the people, or salt of the earth, or humble or anything. For most of her adult life, she’s lived her life and avoided the public spotlight.” Now Chelsea Clinton is in the public spotlight and we’re being instructed to think of her as extraordinary, without any good answers about what she’s done, or what she would have done, without her father’s name or her mother’s influence.

Tags: Chelsea Clinton

Joe Wilson’s ‘YOU LIE!’ Wasn’t Wrong. It Was Prescient.


President Obama, back in September 2009: “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.: “YOU LIE!”

Fact-checkers: How terrible Wilson shouted this! “Obama can make a pretty thorough case that reform doesn’t apply to those here illegally.”

Fast-forward to 2014, and lo and behold, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell “called for extending Obamacare benefits to DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants.”

Burwell was speaking on a public Google hangout with prominent Latina bloggers to promote Saturday’s opening of the Obamacare enrollment period when she shifted to her thoughts on immigration reform.

“DREAMers are not able to be covered in the marketplace. And this is an issue that I think is more than a health care issue — it is an immigration issue,” Burwell said in response to a question about whether families with mixed immigration statuses can get coverage.

“And I think everyone probably knows that this administration feels incredibly strongly about the fact that we need to fix that. We need to reform the system and make the changes that we need that will lead to benefits in everything from health care to economics to so many things — a very important step that we need to take as a nation.”

Only legal immigrants are eligible for Obamacare benefits, but liberal and pro-immigration groups have asked that Obamacare benefits be extended to illegal immigrants as well. Several groups have also advocated for the Obama administration to mandate Obamacare exchange eligibility for DREAMers, a term used to describe  illegal immigrants who are granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.

Wilson wasn’t wrong. He was prescient.

Tags: Joe Wilson , Barack Obama , Obamacare , Illegal Immigration


Quick Update: AP, NBC News Call Dan Sullivan Winner in Alaska


Greetings from the National Review cruise, where Gloat-a-Thon 2014 is in full effect.

This morning the Associated Press and NBC News have called the Alaska Senate race for Republican Dan Sullivan, giving the GOP a 53rd Senate seat. But Senator Mark Begich has not conceded.

The AP reported, “it became evident Tuesday when the state began counting about 20,000 absentee and questioned ballots that Begich could not overcome his opponent.” With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Sullivan leads by 7,911 votes, about 3 percentage points.

According to the state’s Division of Elections, November 14 is the deadline to receive absentee-by-mail ballots postmarked within the United States; on that date they will update their numbers with those ballots. November 19 is the deadline to receive absentee-by-mail ballots postmarked outside the United States.

(As of 2012, 22,438 active-duty military personnel lived in Alaska.)

The state aims to have its election certified by November 28.

Tags: Dan Sullivan , Mark Begich , Alaska

Ed Gillespie Concedes Senate Race; Margin at 16,700 Votes


So close, and no shame in this defeat.

Gillespie is holding a press conference, and he just declared, “The margin is now more than 16,700 votes — larger than it was on Election Night. Obviously it did not move in our direction. I called Mark Warner to congratulate him on his reelection.”

Gillespie began the race 32 points down, and was outspent two-to-one.

He added, “If I thought there was any conceivable way” to make up the margin in a recount, he would pursue that option. But “in my mind and in my heart, I know a change in outcome” is not coming.

In other news, “Ed Gillespie for Governor 2017″ is off to a terrific start.

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner , Virginia

The Constitutional Idea that Could Guarantee a GOP Win in 2016


Maine and Nebraska do not allocate their electoral votes in the presidential election by “winner take all.”

These states allocate two electoral votes to the popular vote winner, and then one each to the popular vote winner in each Congressional district (2 in Maine, 3 in Nebraska) in their state.

Starting in January, Republicans will hold state legislative majorities and the governor’s mansions in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and Nevada. If some or all of those states passed laws allocating their electoral votes by districts, all of these purple-to-blue states would allocate their electoral votes in a way that would make it extremely likely for Republicans to win at least half of them. And without half the electoral votes in those states, it would nearly impossible for the Democratic nominee to win.

For example, Barack Obama won Ohio twice, and because he won the popular vote in 2012, won all of the state’s 18 electoral votes. Under the district system, if the Republican presidential nominee wins all of the U.S. House districts in Ohio currently held by the GOP, he would get twelve electoral votes and the Democrat would get only six.

In Michigan, Obama won all 16 of the state’s electoral votes; if the Republican 2016 nominee won all the currently GOP-held House districts, he would get nine and the Democrat would get seven.

Of course, by doing this, states would become much less decisive in the presidential race.

Any state’s change to this more proportional system would be entirely constitutional. When Barack Obama won one of Nebraska’s electoral votes in 2008, no one on the Democratic side complained.

So . . . should Republicans pursue this course?

Pretty tempting map, huh?

Tags: Presidential Elections , Electoral College , 2016

McConnell: I’ll Back a Rand Paul Presidential Bid


A couple of conservatives who are fans of Rand Paul and not such big fans of Mitch McConnell wondered why Paul had worked so hard to ensure McConnell’s election, endorsing him way back in March 2013 and pulling out all the stops in both the primary and the general election.

One obvious reason is that by helping out early and often, Rand Paul has a lot more influence with McConnell in the new GOP Senate majority than he would have had otherwise. The flip side is that had Paul endorsed Matt Bevin, a victorious McConnell would have a lot of ways to hinder Paul for the next six years.

And now a less obvious reason reveals itself:

McConnell also is intrigued by Paul’s plans for 2016, when Kentucky’s junior senator faces re-election to his Senate seat while potentially running for president.

It’s a safe bet that Paul won’t be the only member of McConnell’s GOP caucus who considers trying for a move to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Does that require a tricky balance?

“(It’s) not tricky at all,” McConnell said. “Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul. We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”

For president?

“Whatever he decides to do,” McConnell said. “I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that. But he’ll be able to count on me.”

If you’re running for president, it’s good to have the Senate majority leader as a key ally.


Tags: Rand Paul , Mitch McConnell

The DSCC Decides the Louisiana Runoff Isn’t Worth $1.8 Million


One portion of the final Morning Jolt until November 17:

Surrender, Surrender, but Don’t Give a Seat Away

The DSCC abandons Mary Landrieu:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has canceled its advertising reservations for Sen. Mary Landrieu ahead of the December runoff in Louisiana.

The committee canceled all broadcast buys planned from Monday through Dec. 6 in the state’s five major media markets, three sources tracking the air war told POLITICO. That’s about $1.6 million worth of time. The DSCC is in the process of canceling an additional $275,000 in cable placements, according to buyer sources.

This is not such a crazy response to Tuesday’s disastrous results for the DSCC. It’s not like control of the Senate is at stake anymore, and she’s got a serious uphill climb. The good news for her is that she was at 40 percent in the polls and finished with 43 percent on Election Day. The bad news is that Republican Bill Cassidy was at 34.5 percent in the polls and finished with 41.9 percent. Republican Bill Manness got 13.7 percent.

Inevitably, someone will wonder, as Hugh Hewitt did yesterday, whether the National Republican Senatorial Committee should still spend $2.3 million on broadcast ad time in Louisiana over the next month. They should cancel only if they’re completely confident of victory on December 6 — and they shouldn’t be — and only if they feel like Republicans have too many Senate seats.

The Jolt will resume the Monday after the National Review Post-Election Cruise.

Tags: DSCC , Mary Landrieu , Bill Cassidy

The GOP’s Limited Ability to Win Over Those Who Vote Libertarian


A Virginia Democrat laughs on the Washington Post op-ed page:

Robert Sarvis received 2.4 percent of the vote; without him (or another Libertarian of similar stature) on the ballot, most of those votes would likely have gone to Republican nominee Ed Gillespie. And Mr. Gillespie, not Democratic incumbent Mark Warner, would be smiling as the hairbreadth winner.

Third-party candidacies are often ego trips, pure and simple. But in races as close as this one has been, they can be consequential. It seems only fitting that we Democrats stop licking our bruises long enough to say thanks to Mr. Sarvis.

The “Libertarians, without a candidate of their own, would otherwise vote for Republicans” theory is not so sound, and it’s not a factor Republicans should base a strategy on.

Those willing to vote Libertarian — as opposed to those who describe themselves as libertarian or having some libertarian views — are usually deeply attached to policy positions that are still pretty unpopular to Republicans as a whole — oftentimes (though not always) a quasi-isolationist or outright isolationist foreign policy, drug legalization (often well beyond marijuana), and gay marriage. Many (but not all) Libertarians oppose restrictions on abortion, habitually offer long diatribes about the Federal Reserve and the Gold Standard, and in some quarters, an inability to discuss U.S. foreign policy regarding Israel without lapsing into conspiracy theories and uglier sentiments.

What’s more, a lot of self-identified Libertarians see their policy differences with Republicans as key to their political identity; otherwise, they would be Republicans. To many Libertarians, the difference with Republicans is the point.

Nor is there much evidence that Libertarians fear that their vote will elect a Democrat. For all of of the alleged or potential flaws of voters who choose Libertarian-party candidates, they’re usually not stupid. They know their guy is in the single digits in the polls. They’re not voting in order to vote for a winner, and hearing Republicans complain that the Libertarian cost them the victory doesn’t make them feel guilty or a sense of regret. They may feel a bit of vindication in that result.

For much of autumn, polls suggested that North Carolina Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh would win a margin that was greater than Kay Hagan’s margin over Republican Thom Tillis. As it turns out, Haugh’s 3.7 percent was greater than Tillis’s margin over Hagan.

Most recent Republican campaigns, from the Romney-Ryan ticket to Ed Gillespie, did not explicitly or vocally run on the positions that most irritate Libertarians — a “let’s invade everywhere” foreign policy, support for the war on drugs, opposition to gay marriage, or leading cheers for the Federal Reserve. For those who have chosen to vote Libertarian in recent cycles, it’s not enough for a Republican to merely be quiet about the topics where Libertarians and Republicans disagree or deemphasize those issues; the disagreement itself is a deal-breaker.

If Republicans really fear that Libertarians are going to cost them future elections, it may be simpler to get states to pass changes to election laws like the one in Georgia, requiring the winner to get more than 50 percent of the vote, and force voters to decide between the two major-party candidates in runoff elections.

Tags: Republicans , Libertarians

An 18-Year-Old State Lawmaker Is . . .


Is newly elected 18-year-old West Virginia Republican state delegate Saira Blair . . . 

A) a heartwarming, inspiring story of a young woman making a difference, a sign of a rising wave of Republican Millennial women . . . 

B) a tribute to nepotism, as she is the daughter of West Virginia state senator Craig Blair, who served in the House of Delegates from 2003 to 2011 . . . 

C) Both.

Our Tim Cavanaugh reports on her defeated opponent in the Corner.

Tags: State Legislatures

Actual Post Headline: ‘Smugness Was Lousy Election Strategy for Democrats’


Most newspapers printed the morning after Election Day are “put to bed” before all the votes are counted and races are called, so they can only give a partial view of how the night went for each party. But by the time the Thursday papers are put together, the picture of the election is much clearer. And they are, in a year of a Republican landslide, absolutely delicious.

For example, now he tells us:

Yeah, knowing what we know now, the next time a campaign strategist says, “Hey, let’s be smug this year!” the candidate should reject that proposal.

The real problem for Democrats is that “smug” isn’t really their strategy; it’s how they emotionally react to their conclusion that their viewpoint is better, more moral, smarter, wiser, fairer, more sensitive, more compassionate, and so on than the opposition. It’s not a campaign issue; it’s a character issue.

Tags: Democrats , Media , Election

Stop Kidding Yourselves, Media. The Midterms Are Not Good News for Hillary Clinton.


From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Stop Kidding Yourselves, Media. The Midterms Are Not Good News for Hillary Clinton.

Remember how the media often covers major events through the lens of, “but what does this mean for Obama?” Out of all the possible angles or ways to frame a story, national press habitually views major events, legislative fights, foreign-policy crises, and national controversies as if they’re all plot twists in an episode of The West Wing and particularly good or bad turns of fortune for the president — as opposed to how these events impact the nation as a whole.

Get ready for two years of, “But what does this mean for Hillary?”

The Washington Post: “Why the Senate GOP takeover might actually help Hillary Clinton”

Yahoo: “How Hillary Clinton Won the 2014 Midterms”

Part of that Yahoo piece:

In the last six elections, 18 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have voted for the Democratic candidate every single time.

This means that Clinton, assuming she’s the nominee, will start out with 242 electoral votes in 2016; she’ll need only 28 of the remaining 183 tossups to win the election.

Yes, but that was every bit as true before the midterm elections as it is today. That doesn’t make her the winner, as the headline asserts.

Let’s get something clear: Watching your party get stomped like a narc at a biker rally* in a midterm election is not something that helps a party’s presidential frontrunner. In theory, the Republicans’ belly-flopping in the 1998 midterms helped convince a lot of GOP thinkers that the next nominee had to have no tie to Washington or Congress, which helped set the stage for George W. Bush. But it’s not like a good midterm election for the GOP that year would have ruined Bush’s odds of winning the nomination or the presidency.

America is not happy with Washington, and it is particularly furious with the Obama administration and Democratic-party governance as a whole. Republicans are now governors of 31 states. There really isn’t a way to interpret that as a vast, national yearning for “President Hillary Clinton.”

Looking back at the past four cycles — 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 — we see a coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics, young voters, gays, and single women that comes out in droves in the years Obama is atop the ticket . . . and doesn’t come out in any other circumstance so far. Will those groups come out in huge numbers for Hillary Clinton? It’s an open question. Perhaps the single women and gays do, but the African-Americans and Hispanics don’t. The Millennials seem particularly iffy.

Does the Democratic base come out just in presidential years? Or just in presidential years with a rock-star, pop-culture celebrity candidate like Obama? Or just for Obama himself? If you know the answer to that question, you know who will win in 2016.

Whether she likes it or not, Hillary’s odds of election are tied greatly to how the country feels about the current president. If he’s thriving — with a Republican Congress — maybe she’ll be able to run as the natural successor. But, more likely, if there’s gridlock, she’ll have to either explicitly run against his vetoes, creating more tension within the parties, or agree with them and become a vote to continue the status quo of gridlock.

GOP adviser Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said the notion that an all-Republican Congress is good for Clinton will not bear out.

“I don’t buy it,” he said, because Congress will pass legislation that Obama will then veto, and that will not leave Clinton much running room. “What’s she going to say? ‘I would have vetoed it, too, so I’m going to be the third term of Barack Obama’?”

It’s possible — in fact, pretty likely — that two years from now, voters are disappointed, frustrated, or angry with the results of a government run by President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker John Boehner. How that translates to a national appetite for Hillary Clinton isn’t quite clear. She’s old, a Washington fixture since 1993, a thoroughly uncreative policy thinker, closely tied to both the D.C. Establishment and Wall Street, and a key player in an administration foreign policy in a world on fire.

In other words, there’s an excellent chance that 2016 is yet another year where the American electorate wants change — and it’s going to be exceptionally difficult for her to position herself as the candidate of change.

She did benefit from 2014 in one way, however.

Maryland electing Larry Hogan their next governor — by 5 points! — ruins the presidential ambitions of Martin O’Malley. But you know what had already ruined the presidential ambitions of Martin O’Malley? Martin O’Malley.

*Thank you, Dennis Miller.

“Great night, everybody! Let’s do this again soon!”

Tags: Hillary Clinton , 2014 Midterms

Former Warner Strategist Attributes Virginia’s Close Vote to . . . Racism


A statement from Ed Gillespie:

It’s a testament to our volunteers and their incredible efforts that we were outspent two-to-one and yet the most recent unofficial tally has us separated by less than a percentage point out of more than two million votes cast. Now we owe it to the voters of Virginia to respect the canvassing process that is underway to get an official result. We will be watching the results closely so that we can ensure Virginians have confidence in the accuracy of the results. It was an honor to run, and I will respect the decision reached by Virginia’s voters.

His campaign offers this “background”:

There are three stages of vote counting before there is an official tally in Virginia:

The precinct returns are counted and informally reported to the local electoral board In the days that follow, the local electoral boards meet to canvass the results, and rule on any provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are those votes cast whose validity has not been determined Each locality sends the results to Richmond, and likely on Nov. 25th, the State Board of Elections will meet to formally tally and announce the results A recount cannot be requested until after the State Board of Elections tallies and announces the results.

There are not automatic recounts in Virginia. If the vote difference is 1 percent or less, a candidate can ask for a recount. If the vote difference is 0.5 percent or less, the state will pay for a recount.

In the “appalling, yet predictable” file:

This year, the senator saw his support in rural Virginia drop off sharply. He had forged ties to Southside and Southwest even before he ran for governor, earning goodwill in the economically depressed regions as a job-creating entrepreneur. Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, a Democratic strategist who helped craft Warner’s rural strategy for his gubernatorial run 13 years ago, attributed that drop to antipathy toward the president, in part racially motivated.

“It breaks my heart to say it, because these are my people, but racism was a huge factor in this,” he said. “I think in many areas of rural Virginia, racism is still prevalent, and they dislike Obama more than they like Mark Warner.”

That’s the only possible reason rural Virginians could be souring on Mark Warner? Really? Racism drove white Virginians to vote against a white senator?

Tags: Mark Warner , Ed Gillespie , Virginia

The Politics of Division Come Back to Bite Democrats


To echo Ramesh and Jonathan Chait…  Since 2008, Democrats have built their policies, identities, and electoral strategies on an appeal to African-Americans, Hispanics, young voters, gays, and single women.

A side effect is that the party has spent little time or effort even considering how to appeal to whites, men, seniors, and married women.

When those demographics show up at the polls in big numbers, as we saw in 2008 and 2012, the Democrats enjoy big, big wins. When they don’t, as in 2010 and 2014, they lose by disastrous margins.

Just because you’re not going to appeal to every demographic equally well doesn’t mean it’s wise to write them off. And for the Democrats, it’s particularly unwise to write off the demographics who are the most reliable voters and most likely to show up in non-presidential election years.

The knee-jerk claim that those who disagree with a particular policy are part of a “war on women”? The exhausted, cynical accusations of racism in every conceivable policy dispute? The constant insistence that those concerned about border security are driven by xenophobia and hatred? All of that has a cost. After 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared, rural America was “becoming less and less relevant.” Less relevant to the country as a whole or to the world? Or just less relevant to Democrats?

A crazy idea for either party: Try to devise policies that benefit as many Americans, in all kinds of different demographic groups, as much as possible. Just try it. Let’s see how that goes.

Tags: Democrats

Man, Did Battleground Texas Fail This Year.


Battleground Texas — the well-funded effort by liberal organizations to duplicate their previously (briefly) successful efforts in Colorado and turn the state of Texas into a competitive or Democrat-leaning state — will probably never go away entirely.

But after last night, liberal donors may start to ask what the heck they’ve gotten for all their efforts. Not only did every Republican win every statewide race last night; at this hour, no Democrat hit 39 percent in any statewide race. The political world is laughing at Wendy Davis’s 38.88 percent this morning, but that was the best performance of any Democrat running statewide. Yes, the Democrats’ candidate for Senate, David M. Alameel, was always a longshot, but he’s at 34.3 percent. Jon Cornyn’s opponent back in 2008, Rick Noriega, won 42.8 percent.

The Democrats ran a man named Sam Houston for state attorney general and he’s at 37.98 percent.

In 2010, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White won 2.1 million votes against Rick Perry.

This year Davis won 1.8 million votes.

Game Over.

Tags: Battleground Texas , Wendy Davis

Where Things Stand in Virginia This Morning


Some quick points on where things stand in Virginia:

With 2,548 of 2,557 precincts reporting — 99.65 percent — Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark Warner has 1,067,342 votes; GOP challenger Ed Gillespie has 1,050,534 votes.

In Virginia, there are no automatic recounts.

Only an apparent losing candidate can ask for a recount, and only if the difference between the apparent winning candidate and that apparent losing candidates is not more than one percent of the total votes cast for those two candidates.

With Warner at 49.11 percent, and Gillespie at 48.34 percent, Gillespie may (and almost certainly will) request a recount if the margin remains the same.

The losing candidate can request the recount only after the counties submit their final results and they’re certified, which occurs in about two weeks or so.

Virginia had a statewide recount just last year in its attorney-general race. Republican Mark Obenshain trailed Democrat Mark Herring by 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast. But the recount process found more and more Democratic votes, and when the lead grew to more than 800 votes, Obenshain conceded.

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner , Virginia

November 4, 2014: The Red Election


Selected highlights from the post–Election Day Morning Jolt:

Kind of beautiful, isn’t it? It’s everything we wanted to feel in 2012 and didn’t get to enjoy.

You’ve heard of the “Red Wedding” from Game of Thrones? This was the “Red Election.” Or you could just call it, “America’s correction.”

Almost every Democrat in a big race went down last night, and a lot of them went down by a lot.

Charlie Crist in Florida. Kay Hagan in North Carolina. Mark Udall in Colorado. Bruce Braley in Iowa. (By 8 points!) Mark Pryor in Arkansas. (By 16 points! A rout!) Michelle Nunn in Georgia. (By 8!) Allison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky. (By 16 as well!) Mary Burke in Wisconsin. Pat Quinn in Illinois. Martha Coakley in Massachusetts. Anthony Brown in Maryland. So-called “independent” Greg Orman in Kansas. (Lost by 11!)

And maybe Mark Warner in Virginia.

Some key lessons:

The 2008 and 2012 election results revealed an Obama coalition, not a Democratic coalition. The Democrats’ “coalition of the ascendant” — African Americans, Hispanics, young voters, unmarried women — will NOT show up for just any Democrat. We saw this in 2009 and 2010, and then the Democrats went back to the lab and revised their get-out-the-vote tactics and terrified the heck out of Republicans.

The big story in the 2012 post-mortems was the Democrats’ fascinatingly ruthless micro-targeting, data-driven messaging and get-out-the-vote effort that changed the makeup of the electorate on Election Day from what Republicans expected. It was a nightmare scenario for the GOP; the opposition appeared to have effectively figured out a way to manufacture more voters when they needed them.

Democrats do not have a button that they press to ensure big turnout among demographic groups that usually support the party. They failed to push it in some key places, and may have lost Virginia, lost Maryland, and failed to sufficiently mobilize these voters in any of the key races, other than perhaps New Hampshire.

Maybe Barack Obama isn’t this figure who helped Democrats how to win national elections. Maybe he was just a cult of personality who had just enough gas in the tank to get over the finish line in 2012.

He didn’t usher in a Permanent Democratic Majority, as so many liberals believed, and as so many conservatives feared. He may end up leaving his party in as bad a condition as he’s leaving the country.

At some point during the evening, NBC News’s Chuck Todd said Democrats will not win back the House until 2022 at the earliest. Republicans are likely to get 54 seats, maybe 55 if Ed Gillespie wins in a recount. Republicans had a phenomenal year in the governor’s races, only losing Pennsylvania.

In a perfectly symbolic revelation, we learned Daily Show host Jon Stewart didn’t vote. He said he moved, and just never got around to looking up his polling place. Later on, he said he was kidding and that he did in fact vote. But the exit polls indicated Stewart’s young audience didn’t vote in significant numbers. They’ll laugh at Republicans night after night, but they won’t show up in off-year elections.

Sometimes the polls really are skewed. Really. Time to order some servings of crow for myself. A few days ago, I wrote this . . . 

The great revelation of the phenomenally popular Nate Silver is his observation that the polls — particularly the state poll averages — are usually right. Right before Election Day 2012 I went through the recent history of polls, and there were some glaringly bad cases, such as Zogby’s results in 2004 and the mess at Research 2000. But pollsters have attempted to account for low response rates, the possibility that some groups may be less inclined to talk to a pollster, cell-phone-only households, and so on. Conservatives — probably including myself in the past — may have developed a too-skeptical view of modern polling, and built the habit of looking for reasons they could be wrong, rather than recognize that the election isn’t going the way we hoped.

The notion that the polls are usually right, and the bigger the lead, the more certain they are, is pretty obvious. If you lead by 4 points or more, you’re in really solid shape. If you lead by 2 to 4 points, you’re in pretty good shape, but not quite a lock. If you lead by 0 to 2 points, it’s shakier.

. . . and then late on Election Night, Nate Silver concludes . . . 

The pre-election polling averages (not the FiveThirtyEight forecasts, which also account for other factors) in the 10 most competitive Senate races had a 6-percentage point Democratic bias as compared to the votes counted in each state so far.

We aren’t counting Alaska, where polls haven’t closed yet. We also aren’t counting Virginia, which is much closer than expected. But Mark Warner’s close call makes more sense now given the margins we’re seeing in other states.

The bias might narrow slightly as more votes are counted; late-counted votes tend to be Democratic in most states. Still, this is a big “skew,” and it comes on the heels of what had been a fairly substantial bias in the opposite direction in 2012. The polls — excepting Ann Selzer’s — are having some problems.

So my gut feeling about the polls in 2012 was correct for 2014, and my gut feeling for the polls in 2014 was correct for 2012.

It’s a Ronald-Reagan-Riding-a-Velociraptor kind of a morning.

Tags: 2014 Midterms

AP Declares Larry Hogan Winner in Maryland


And now we reach the point in the evening where we wonder if we’re dreaming:

Tags: Maryland , Larry Hogan


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