The Campaign Spot

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

Blue Oregon . . . Strongly Opposed to Driver’s Permits for Illegal Immigrants


Something to keep in mind for future immigration debates: Oregon — deep-blue, heavily Democratic, crunchy, progressive, let-me-pour-you-another-organic-quinoa-microbrew Oregon — appears set to decisively reject a proposal to provide driver’s permits to individuals who cannot prove legal residence in the state.

The driver cards would be issued by the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division. As with a driver’s license, the recipient would have to pass the state’s written driver knowledge test and behind-the-wheel driver test, provide proof of residence in Oregon for more than one year, proof of identity and date of birth.
Unlike a license, the recipient would not have to prove legal U.S. residency.

The pro-measure Yes on Oregon Safe Roads political action committee has raised about $421,000, a relatively small amount for a statewide campaign. Meanwhile, the main opposition group has raised just over $37,000.

Despite the lop-sided fundraising, recent polling suggests the ballot measure will lose, heavily. Sixty percent of likely voters polled by Oregon Public Broadcasting earlier this month said they firmly or tentatively opposed a driver card. Only 31 percent firmly or tentatively supported the measure, OPB said. The margin of error was 4.3 percentage points.

It appears a wide swath of the population does not like the idea of giving driver’s licenses to people in the country illegally. Even if someone doesn’t necessarily approve of mass deportation, they may be wary — or downright staunchly opposed to the idea of changing existing laws to make life easier for illegal immigrants.

You may recall that journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is not in the U.S. legally, recieved his first driver’s license in Oregon, applying there because the requirements for proof of residency were least strict in that state at the time. The state changed its laws in 2008.

Tags: Oregon , Illegal Immigration , Driver's Licenses

A Partisan Staffer With No Medical Background Is the New ‘Ebola Czar’


Meet the Obama administration’s new “Ebola czar”:

A former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and also to then-Vice President Al Gore, Klain is currently President of Case Holdings and General Counsel of Revolution, an investment group. He has clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and headed up Gore’s effort during the 2000 Florida recount.

The man has no medical background. His Twitter feed suggests that his preeminent skill is rooting for Democrats.


Tags: Ron Klain , Ebola


Oregon and Our Future of ‘Set It and Forget It’ Leftism


From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Oregon: Our Progressive Future of Corrupt Government and Oblivious Voters

Greetings from Portland, Oregon — the state with the most egregiously failing Obamacare exchange in the country, now set to reelect the governor whose administration oversaw that disaster and wasted all that money.

Okay, the CBS News/New York Times poll, conducted from September 20 to October 1, has Governor John Kitzhaber only up by 7 points against Republican Dennis Richardson. So it’s not a rout, and it’s not a slam-dunk. But Kitzhaber’s heavily favored.

Richardson is now focusing heavily on the scandals surrounding Oregon’s “First Lady”, the governor’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.

The Oregon Republican Party filed a state ethics complaint on Wednesday naming Gov. John Kitzhaber, his fiancée Cylvia Hayes and his political consultant Patricia McCaig.

It’s the second complaint filed with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission this week naming Kitzhaber and Hayes.

The governor made his own request on Monday, asking the commission for advice on whether the first lady is considered a “public official” and subject to state ethics laws. He also asked for guidance on whether Hayes’ private consulting work conflicted with her role as the first lady and self-described advisor to the governor.

In addition, Hayes admitted in recent days that she married an immigrant as part of a visa-fraud scheme in 1997 and had a role in an illegal marijuana-growing operation around that same time.

Richardson probably has to try to make the most of the stories surrounding Hayes, as it’s undoubtedly the biggest news to come out of the Oregon governor’s mansion in years. But the more salacious aspects probably generate some sympathy for Governor Kitzhaber; his fiancée hid a criminal past from him.

But it seems like relatively small potatoes compared to a state-exchange site that never worked properly, never enrolled a single citizen online (everything had to be done with pen and paper), and cost, oh, $305 million.

And the bad news for Oregon’s attempt at health insurance just keeps piling up.

A Klamath Falls woman who applied for health coverage through Cover Oregon says the insurance exchange mailed her the personal information of other applicants.

Ann Migliaccio told The Associated Press that she received documents last week containing the names and birth dates of two applicants from Hillsboro. She says the documents did not include Social Security numbers.

This is the 18th low-level security breach in the past six months, Cover Oregon officials said. They say the information inadvertently shared in these breaches included addresses, names, dates of birth and internal Cover Oregon IDs, but no Social Security numbers.

And piling up:

More than 12,000 people who purchased policies through Cover Oregon could owe money at tax time because of errors in tax credits issued by the health exchange.

The figure is updated from an estimate of about 800 people that exchange officials shared with the Legislature last month, only to realize they’d got it wrong.

A more recent internal staff estimate released under Oregon Public Records Law found errors in 12,772 policies, or 38 percent of those who received tax credits.

Portland intrigues me. If you are one of those despairing conservatives who think that the United States of America is caught in an inescapable whirlpool of progressive-driven decline, our future is probably going to look something like Portland.

And at first glance — or at least a visit — the progressive utopia of Portland has its upsides. The ludicrously restrictive zoning laws kept farmland close to the city, so there’s always plenty of locally grown food, produce, and so on for the run-amok foodie culture. There’s plenty of green space and parks. (Our old friend Mark Hemingway wrote one of the definitive takedowns of modern Portland.)

But the upshot of Oregon’s failed insurance exchange, and the seeming lack of any lasting public outrage, is the confirmation that a key element of modern progressivism is never, ever, ever getting upset about government spending if it’s done with the right intentions.

What’s revealing is how “progressive” does not necessarily mean “follows politics or news coverage of government at any level.” There’s a lot of “set it and forget it” Leftism going around. Because you would figure that any self-designated True Believer in the Power of Government to Improve People’s Lives would be breathing fire over something like this. Because all Cover Oregon’s debacle did was make a lot of money for Oracle, and whoever got the contract for those silly singing television commercials. Think about it — big, incompetent government, paying a fortune to a big, incompetent or insufficiently-competent corporate contractor, and most of the lefties in Oregon yawn or just shake their head in mild disapproval.

The formula here — a governing class, cozy with certain big, corporate contractors, coupled with a tuned-out electorate that reflexively elects and reelects the proper names from the progressive class — turns representative government into a giant con. The funny thing is that the stereotypical leftist from, say, the 1960s was extremely suspicious of the government, but that suspicion focused upon the military, the “military-industrial complex”, the intelligence agencies, the police . . . the spiritual and ideological children of those 1960s liberals walk around with enormous faith that the government knows what it is doing and it can be trusted with ever-more amounts of tax money.

Isn’t there any suspicion left over for state health and human services and insurance administrators? Any anger to spare for governors remaining oblivious at best to serious problems within their administration?

Some of these folks can summon skepticism about childhood vaccines, but not the Obamacare insurance mandate.

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Dennis Richardson , Obamacare

Ed Gillespie Will Run Plenty of Ads in the Next Two and a Half Weeks


We’re at the time of year where every little decision is interpreted as a significant indicator of what will happen on Election Night. But Politico should have known better than to run a story with the screaming headline, GILLESPIE OFF THE AIR THIS WEEK, only to note . . . 

Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie has gone dark on Virginia television, three sources tracking the airwaves told POLITICO. An adviser to his campaign says they plan to go back up on Saturday.

Eric Wilson of the Gillespie campaign stated, “Since we went up on TV, we always switch off TV for a day or two between rotating new messages in.” You can argue whether that’s wise or not, but it’s not exactly unheard of — and how likely is it that the deciding factor in this race will be whether Gillespie is running ads on a Thursday night and a Friday night in mid-October? Tomorrow night the hipsters are out, and the families are at high-school football games.

And Gillespie’s campaign manager Tweets:

For a long stretch, Ed Gillespie trailed by a lot (20 points or so) and this race wasn’t competitive. Now the Republican is down only about 10 points, and now we learn Warner may have offered a job to a lawmaker’s child in an effort to influence a state legislator:

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said Monday that while he “brainstormed” with a son of former state senator Phillip P. Puckett about “possibilities that his sister might want to pursue,” he did not and would not offer a job to the daughter of a state lawmaker. 

As the Post reported Friday, Puckett’s son told federal investigators that Warner discussed the possibility of several jobs, including a federal judgeship, for Martha Puckett Ketron in an effort to dissuade her father from quitting the evenly divided state Senate.

Those allegations don’t mesh well with his “I’m a good guy who puts Virginia first” messaging. Also remember that Republicans can overperform their final polls here — last year, Ken Cuccinelli finished five percentage points ahead of his final RCP average.

Ed Gillespie is still an underdog, but this is a race to keep an eye on in the final weeks.

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner , Virginia

Republicans Doing Just Fine in Early Vote in N.C., Iowa, Florida


Rmmember when the rest of the country laughed at Floridians for not being able to correctly fill out a ballot? A lot of Floridians — particularly Republicans — have gotten the early-voting part down:

More than 683,000 absentee ballots were cast as of Thursday morning, and Republicans continue to hold a solid lead over Democrats in returns, 48-35 percent.

That’s not huge news, in that Republicans typically overperform in absentee-ballot casting while Democrats do the same when it comes to early in-person voting. But Democrats have been expected to close the gap with Republicans in ballots cast. Instead, the margin has increased, to 13.7 percent.

Throw in the news from Iowa . . . 

. . . and North Carolina . . . 

. . . and it looks like reports of the Republican demise in early voting have been greatly exaggerated. Love it or hate it, early voting is a big part of the process now:

Tags: Early Voting , Iowa , North Carolina , Florida


Is 2014 Going to Be a ‘Wave’ Election? Sort of.


The past week has seen indisputably good news for Republican Senate candidates in Colorado and Iowa . . . and then some somewhat ominous news in Georgia, and perhaps Kansas and South Dakota.

Periodically, I’ll hear someone say, “If Republicans are winning in Iowa and Colorado, they’ll win in Georgia and Kansas.”

Eh . . . probably. Maybe. Sometimes you hear the inverse, that “if Republican Senate candidates aren’t winning in a landslide in red states like Georgia, Kansas, and South Dakota, it’s not a wave election.”

Even in a “wave” election, the party enjoying the wave loses some races, and it often includes at least one or two statewide races that they “should” have won.

Was 2010 a wave election? With Republicans gaining 6 additional Senate seats, 63 U.S. House seats, and 8 additional governor’s mansions, and adding more than 660 state legislative seats across the country, most observers would say yes. It was enough of a “wave” or pro-GOP year for Republicans to win Senate races in traditionally “blue” or purple states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, but . . . Republicans also lost Senate races in Nevada and Colorado. In California, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman didn’t perform much better than past losing GOP statewide efforts. Republicans picked up some U.S. House seats in New York, but their statewide candidates for governor and both Senate races lost handily. Democratic incumbents like Ron Wyden in Oregon, Patrick Leahy in Vermont, and Patty Murray in Washington won reelection without breaking a sweat.

Democrats were elated with most of the 2012 election results . . . but a few competitive Senate races didn’t break their way. Republican Dean Heller survived in Nevada by a percentage point as Obama won the state, and Jeff Flake hung on in Arizona. Democrats managed to reelect Jon Tester in Montana and elect Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota while Romney was winning those states, but couldn’t elect Bob Kerrey in Nebraska.

The short answer is, candidate quality and campaign quality matter. Sometimes the national mood generates a wind at a candidate’s back and it’s good enough to get them over the top. But a campaign that counts on that is usually going to be disappointed.

Right now, 2014 looks like it’s going to be similar to 2010, a “regional wave” election. Notice that three GOP Senate pickups are in the bag (Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia) and two more are looking pretty likely (Arkansas and Alaska). Then there’s Iowa and Colorado, both looking good for the GOP. Louisiana’s certain to go to a runoff, and that looks really good for Cassidy.

Now look at Democrats big three hope states. In Kansas, “independent” Orman has only led one of the last four polls vs. Pat Roberts, and it’s by PPP. In Georgia, Nunn’s led only one of the past ten polls, and that one was conducted on a weekend. In South Dakota, the Republican candidate has never trailed. None of them are safe bets for Democrats.

Add it all up, and you have a Republican gain of eight seats.

This doesn’t even count North Carolina, where Hagan’s lead is shrinking or New Hampshire, where Scott Brown led the last poll.

So by that measure, it looks like a wave election. But even then, there’s a catch — if the GOP sweeps all of the above races, they’ll have won in only three states that Romney lost — Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

The forecast is for a mild elephant stampede.

Tags: 2014 Midterms

When the Obama Administration Has Lost Jay Carney . . .


Wow. Please, Democrats, keep insisting that a ban on nonessential travel from the three most Ebola-stricken countries is a bad idea. Because you won’t believe who is urging a change in policy:

Former White House press secretary Jay Carney suggested Thursday that the White House take “substantive actions” in fighting Ebola, including putting in place flight restrictions.

“I think substantive actions need to be taken, and they may involve flight restrictions, they may involve moving all patients to specific hospitals in the country that can handle Ebola, and I think those would be wise decisions to make,” Carney said on CNN.

He continued, “I’m not an expert, but I think that would demonstrate a level of seriousness in response to this that is merited at this point.”

Polling indicates that broad, bipartisan majorities support restricting flights. A few House Democrats support the restrictions, but many others don’t.

Tags: Ebola , Jay Carney

Heck of a Week for Cory Gardner So Far


Remember when it wasn’t clear that Cory Gardner was the favorite in the Colorado Senate race? Back on . . . Tuesday?

This morning, “Gardner took 47 percent and Udall 41 percent in the Quinnipiac University survey of likely voters.” Eight of the past nine polls in Colorado show Gardner ahead.

Last night, in the final debate, Democratic senator Mark Udall was asked, “What’s the biggest non-issue in your mind that Congress keeps debating needlessly?”

He answered, “Benghazi.”

It’s not that Gardner needed any further help motivating his base, but Republicans are likely to rage over Udall’s answer, contrasted with Gardner’s response, that “the families of this country deserve an answer on Benghazi. I think it’s outrageous that people died and Senator Udall is refusing to provide answers for this country.” Udall said the biggest non-issue is GOP skepticism of renewable energy.

In a nice bit of irony, last night Udall accidentally called Gardner “Senator.”

Gardner debuted a new ad, declaring, “When my party is wrong, I’ll say it. When something is wrong, I’ll fix it.”

Finally, today a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on Ebola. Gardner will be there.

Tags: Cory Gardner , Mark Udall

The CDC Needs an Ebola Plan that Accounts for Human Errors.


From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself. Well, That and Ebola.

Fear is not always a bad thing*. Fear can be useful. Fear is an indicator that we care about something and fear losing something. Fear can be a powerful motivator to action.

For weeks, officials at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Obama administration have told us that we have the very best people in government and medicine working on the problem of Ebola. They told us that they would “stop it in its tracks.” They assured us they could handle this. Anyone who said otherwise was fear-mongering.

Now they’re admitting to us they “dropped the ball.”

In the case of Amber Vinson, the Dallas nurse who flew commercially as she was becoming ill with Ebola, one health official said “somebody dropped the ball.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Vinson called the agency several times before flying, saying that she had a fever with a temperature of 99.5 degrees. But because her fever wasn’t 100.4 degrees or higher, she didn’t officially fall into the group of “high risk” and was allowed to fly.

Thus, we see the familiar pattern, from the VA scandal, from, from insurance cancellations, to our foreign-policy crises. Someone notices a problem. The government assures us they’ve got this under control. People outside government publicly express doubts. Government officials scoff and dismiss the critics. And then the critics turn out to be a lot more right than the government admitted.

Rick Wilson’s chilling — and at least somewhat prescient — little story on Twitter from late July stands out for his main point that in a crisis, human beings make mistakes. That is not avoidable, no matter the preparation, the amount of resources, or the leadership. It’s baked in the cake. So a realistic plan has to have contingencies to deal with those inevitable human errors.

So far, it seems that the Centers for Disease Control designed and implemented a plan that would have worked . . . as long as no one made any mistakes.

If the screener at the Liberian airport where Duncan got on the plane had detected an elevated temperature, or he had not lied in his answers on the questionnaire, as Liberia’s government claims, the plan would have worked.

If he had clearly communicated that he had recently been to West Africa, and the hospital had clearly understood, the plan would have worked, or at least worked better.

If the first nurse indeed made (some yet undetermined) error in removing her protective gear, then yes, the plan could have worked better.

If the second nurse had not made the decision to get on an airliner while “being monitored,” and chosen to get onto a return flight with a 99.5-degree fever, the plan would have worked better.

And then the CDC “dropped the ball,” telling her it was okay to get on that flight.

The problem is that human beings make mistakes, and because of a variety of psychological factors — including fear and denial — they sometimes get worse at assessing risk and reward in circumstances like this one. Even people with a background in medicine and knowledge of the virus take risks that seem unacceptable to others. Nurses get on airplanes. The NBC News medical correspondent goes out for soup.

President Obama canceled his fundraising event and economy speech scheduled for today.

* A counter-argument from Paul Atreides: “Fear is the mind-killer.”

Tags: CDC , Ebola

New Ad: ‘Bruce Braley Insulted a Lot of Iowa Farmers.’


Today Freedom Partners Action Fund unveils another ad in Iowa, hitting Democrat Bruce Braley for comments he made at a fundraiser that insulted farmers by suggesting to the donors that without his election, they might have to deal with “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. FPAF states the ad purchase is approximately $1.2 million.

Tags: Bruce Braley , Iowa , Joni Ernst

A Tough Ad Aims to Persuade Hispanics in Colorado


If you’ve ever wanted to see a conservative group fighting for the votes of Hispanics . . . check out this ad — running in both English and Spanish — from the group Conservative War Chest. The group, which also ran the “Gang of Five” commercials earlier in the year, is running the ad in “a heavy rotation” starting today on Telemundo and Univision in Colorado.

The Spanish-language version:

Is this ad over the top? Or exactly the kind of direct sales pitch conservatives have failed to make in the past?

Tags: Mark Udall , Colorado , Cory Gardner , Hispanics

A Familiar Pattern Continues


Today the Centers for Disease Control admitted that the second Dallas health-care worker who was found to have the Ebola virus should not have boarded a commercial jet, particularly because she had a fever of 99.5 degrees when she boarded the flight. The CDC said it wanted to speak to the passengers who were on her flights.

At this moment, you may recall that August 29, President Obama assured us, “our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.”

Or you may remember CDC director Tom Frieden pledging, “We will stop it in its tracks.”

This is a familiar pattern of statements and behavior from this administration, but with much higher consequences. We’re always being assured that the situation isn’t as bad as it looked.

August 9: “Because Israel is so capable militarily, I don’t worry about Israel’s survival.”

In May, “Our ability to mobilize international opinion rapidly has changed the balance and the equation in Ukraine.”

In January, he scoffed, that ISIS is the “JV squad.”

Back in September 24, 2012, he assured us that Benghazi terror attack was a “bump in the road.”

June 8, 2012, the private sector is “doing fine.”

People who already have health insurance “don’t have to worry.”

High gas prices and increases in the unemployment rate are, similarly, just “bumps in the road.”

Sometimes the assurances use the same trite terms . . . 

“The system worked,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano after the attempted bombing of a flight over Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009.

“The system worked,” said Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health after the first nurse tested positive for Ebola.

Tags: Barack Obama , CDC

Time for the House to Vote on Ebola Travel Restrictions


Last week 27 Congressional lawmakers, including three Democrats, wrote a letter asking the president to direct the CDC, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol and other relevant agenciesto begin “more active screening of travelers from affected countries in West Africa.”

In addition, the letter urged Obama to “consider a possible quarantine for anyone who has traveled to the affected countries during the dormancy period, aside from responsible health and military personnel who have been sent there to fight the disease.” In addition, “we ask the State Department to impose a travel ban and restrict travel visas issued to citizens of the West African countries experiencing this epidemic, until such countries have defeated the epidemic. Such a ban should be instituted by suspending earlier-issued visas until further notice, halting the issuance of such visas, and denying entry to the nationals of such counties upon presentation of a passport from those countries at our ports of entry.”

The current approach isn’t working. We can’t get Americans to honor their own restrictions; why are we so certain that citizens of other countries are going to honor their restrictions? In the past two days, we’ve seen an NBC News medical correspondent break a quarantine because she wanted to go out for soup and one of the medical personnel who treated the initial case in Dallas, who also contracted Ebola, fly to Cleveland and back.

Why not reconvene the U.S. House of Representatives and pass either legislation or a “sense of the House resolution” calling for the administration to impose these new travel restrictions? Yes, members are out on the campaign trail right now, but for most, this is probably the best use of their time.

Get back to Washington, take the vote, see if the Senate does the same and see how the administration responds.

Forget your political opponent for a bit and think about this opponent.

Tags: Ebola , House of Representatives

Obama Cancels Fundraiser for Meeting on Ebola


And you thought nothing could get President Obama to cancel his attendance at a Democratic Party fundraiser!

The White House has announced that President Barack Obama has cancel his Wednesday trips to Connecticut and New Jersey. Obama plans hold a meeting with the Cabinet about Ebola.

On the one hand, good. On the other hand… just how bad is the situation if it’s enough to get Obama cancelling partisan political events?

Tags: Barack Obama , Ebola

Why the Third-Party/Independent Candidates Will Probably Fade


In the House of Representatives elections in 2010, there were 44.8 million votes cast for Republican candidates and 38.9 million votes cast for Democratic candidates — a 51.7 percent to 44.9 percent split.

Put another way, 96.6 percent of the votes cast went to the two major parties.

The final generic ballot average on RealClearPolitics that year was 50.7 percent to 41.3 percent — in the general ballpark.

Notice that the two major parties made up 92 percent of that final polling average but 96.6 percent on Election Day. The folks who answered either “I don’t know” or third-party options made up 5 percent in Gallup’s final 2010 poll, 6 percent in Reuters-Ipsos, 10 percent in Pew Research, 10 percent in Rasmussen, 6 percent in CNN, 13 percent in Fox News, and 8 percent in the ABC News/Washington Post poll.

And then they were 3.4 percent on Election Day. Some of those undecided or third-party backers end up not voting. Some shift to one of the two major parties.

Right now, the RCP average on the generic ballot is 46.3 percent for Republicans to 43.9 percent — meaning the two major parties make up 90.2 percent of the vote.

We hear a lot about how Americans are angry at Washington, angry at both parties, more open to third-party or independent candidates than ever before, and so on. But history suggests that as Election Day approaches, some portion of the people telling pollsters that they are going to vote for the third-party or independent candidates will end up backing either the Republican or the Democrat. Maybe some of these people feel afraid they’ll be “wasting” their vote, or they begin to feel more strongly about their preference between the two leading candidates. There’s a long history of independent or third-party candidates underperforming on Election Day in the not-so-distant past: Chris Daggett in New Jersey, Tom Horner in Minnesota, Tim Cahill in Massachusetts. Robert Sarvis in Virginia last year. Gary Johnson’s presidential bid in 2012, polling at 5 percent in CNN’s final poll, 1.2 percent on Election Day.

This morning NBC News released a new national poll — with an ominous 666 likely voters — and found 46 percent of likely voters prefer a Republican-controlled Congress, versus 44 percent who want Democrats in charge. But again note the 10 percent undecided or choosing another party’s candidate. It is extremely unlikely that the third-party or independent candidates will get 10 percent of the vote nationally on Election Day. (Individual races are a different story, obviously.)

But two figures in this poll jump out. First, “Republicans have more interest in the upcoming elections (59 percent say they’re very interested) than Democrats do (47 percent).” This is in the 13th paragraph, but it seems like a useful indicator that there’s a big difference in the motivation level of the parties’ bases.

Why do Democrats have less interest in the midterms than Republicans? How about because Obama’s not on the ballot? And how many Democrats are really “reliable Obama voters,” not “reliable Democratic voters”?

The second most interesting factor is spotlighted in a separate piece by NBC News:

Many voters are tuning out the elections that take place less than three weeks from now. According to the poll, high interest in the midterms has dropped from June (when it was 51%) to now (50%) — when interest in previous election cycles has always increased in the months leading up to Election Day. Let it sink in: INTEREST IN THE ELECTION ACTUALLY DROPPED as the midterms drew closer. It’s truly a stunning trend. This lack of interest is especially true among political independents (only 35% of them have high interest), and these are the people who typically have to be energized for a party to make wave-like gains in an election.

If the Republican base is more motivated than the Democrat base, and independents are particularly unmotivated, what happens?

They also conclude:

When reporting on Kansas and South Dakota, realize that this isn’t some quirk in just one or two states. This is simply what happens when you give a cranky electorate a viable independent vehicle.

Evidence that there is a growing appeal for someone OUTSIDE the two parties has been in our polls for the last few years. And 2014 could be the culmination of that growing antipathy toward both parties.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. One major objection to that analysis, is that in Kansas, the Democratic Senate candidate dropped out. Democrats who were left without a candidate are undoubtedly providing a big chunk of “independent” Greg Orman’s support — which is not the same as “growing appeal for someone OUTSIDE the two parties.” And for all the talk about South Dakota, note that Republican candidate Mike Rounds has yet to trail a poll, and that the “independent” option, Larry Pressler, was a Republican senator for three terms.

Tags: Polling , Third Parties

The Coming Effort to Persuade You That You Really Like Hillary


In the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Coming Attempt to Persuade You That You Really Like Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is already making a preemptive strike against any critical media coverage in the coming years:

Hillary Clinton, eyeing a second presidential bid and constantly at the center of intense press coverage, lamented Tuesday that modern media scrutiny has made it more difficult to be a leader today.

“We have created very difficult hurdles for people who want to serve, who believe they can lead, to do be able to do so. And the media has intensified that,” the former secretary of state said at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, sponsored by the tech company Salesforce.

Clinton said she had watched Ken Burns’ documentary on the Roosevelt family, noting that reporters kept hidden Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s handicap. Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio at age 39 in 1921 and was largely confined to a wheelchair as president.

“Instead of, in a democracy, doing what we should to be doing, which is giving people information so they can be decision makers,” Clinton said reporters today are only interested in “the best angle, quickest hit, the biggest embarrassment.”

@Drawandstrike offers a series of Tweets, preparing us for the two years of the media “build[ing] Hillary up into the Awesome Special Champion You Can Trust With Ever-Growing Government Power.”

Every presidential campaign tries to build a heroic narrative around the life story of their candidate. Sometimes the material is there – think John McCain enduring the years of torture as a POW in Vietnam, and not coming out embittered or enraged or broken with despair. Sometimes the campaign has to stretch. I tried to lay out a heroic narrative for Mitt Romney back in August 2012; I think his campaign really didn’t try particularly hard in this area, other than some portions of his convention speech. (He was a young, barefoot, street-brawling vigilante who later in life gave away his inheritance, physically grabbed state officials who tried to skip out on hearings after accidents, and rescued drowning people on his jetski. He’s Ward Cleaver crossed with Bruce Wayne.)

The media tends to do this in a rather ham-handed way. Sometimes it comes in the cookie-cutter “This Democrat in a Red State Smashes All the Stereotypes” profiles. Sometimes it comes in increasingly heavy-handed attempts to persuade you that the offspring of the Chosen Messiah Candidate is particularly special and admirable:

That particular cover story in Fast Company tried to dance around its obvious mission of glamorizing 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.

Over on NRO this morning, I look at the intensely depressed national mood and point out that the country could use someone with a bit of a heroic shine these days.

Tags: Hillary Clinton

Is Joni Ernst No Longer the Underdog Candidate in Iowa?


In addition to Colorado, Iowa is another state where the conventional wisdom may need to change. The political media treats it as a neck-and-neck race or Republican candidate Joni Ernst as a slight underdog. But this morning Quinnipiac finds her up 2, which may not sound like much, and indeed, Quinnipiac’s last poll in late September showed her ahead by 6. But she led in five of the last seven polls over Democrat Bruce Braley, and one of the other two was tied.

And note this detail in Quinnpiac: “By a 47 – 41 percent margin, Iowa likely voters have a favorable opinion of Ernst. Braley gets a split score, with 42 percent favorable and 44 percent unfavorable.”

The favorite?

Tags: Joni Ernst , Bruce Braley , Iowa

Cory Gardner, Leading 7 of the Last 8 Polls In Colorado


CNN, further confirming the notion that Cory Gardner is no longer the underdog in Colorado:

Republican Cory Gardner has opened up a four-point lead in a Colorado Senate race that’s key in determining whether Democrats can hold onto their majority, a new CNN/ORC poll shows.

Gardner held a 50 percent to 46 percent edge on first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in the survey of 665 likely voters, conducted Oct. 9-13. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Gardner has now led 7 of the last 8 polls in Colorado.

CNN also finds the Democratic incumbent governor, John Hickenlooper, ahead by one point in the governor’s race.

Tags: Cory Gardner

Grimes, Davis, and the Great Democratic Rural Hopes


It is the time of year when leaves fall from the trees and races fall from the national committee’s priorities list.

Republicans went through their sad moment a few days ago when the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled their ads from Michigan, an ominous indicator for former secretary of state Terri Lynn Land. If the NRSC is going to spend an additional $6 million trying to help Thom Tillis in North Carolina, those resources have to come from somewhere.

Now the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is pulling the plug on its television ads in Kentucky, to help Allison Lundergan Grimes: “The DSCC had not reserved time for the final three weeks of the race and, as of today, is no longer on the air.”

Grimes follows a long and not-so-proud tradition of Democratic candidates running in traditionally red states who were heralded by the national media as signs of a changing era, helping usher in an era of a permanent Democratic majority. Call them the Great Democratic Rural Hopes. The national media loves to write these sorts of stories. They’re usually pictured on a farm or at a state fair. The headline is some variation of, “You may think that [insert Southern or Midwestern state here] is Republican territory. [Insert candidate name here] is about to prove you wrong.”

The glowing profiles go on to showcase how the candidate grew up on a farm, goes to church, wears cowboy boots, offers some kind of pro forma claim to want a more efficient government, and then veers into standard anti-corporation populism. Their campaign commercials feature them shooting a lot, but they’re often leaving some wiggle room for the nebulous “common-sense gun reform.” If they’re not managed by “Mudcat” Saunders, they’ve at least read his book.

Sometimes the Great Democratic Rural Hopes go on to win. Sometimes they have decent careers. Very rarely do they genuinely signal a shift in a state’s identity, and quite often they end up flopping, a greater indicator of what the national media wants to see in these states than what’s actually going on.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore technically qualify as Great Democratic Rural Hopes, although the irony is that Arkansas and Tennessee shifted more to the Republicans after 1992.

A reasonably successful Great Democratic Rural Hope includes Mark Warner in Virginia, and we can put former senator Jim Webb of Virginia and Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius in the “somewhat successful” category. (The cabinet is where rising stars go to disappear, isn’t it? Has anyone seen Julian Castro lately?) North Carolina’s John Edwards certainly got this treatment. Georgia governnor Roy Barnes was set to get this until he lost his reelection bid in 2002.

Every once in a while, you see a Blue State Republican get roughly the equivalent coverage — Scott Brown, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie — although in the case of Christie, the profiles tend to emphasize how moderate and sensible and centrist this Republican is compared to all of those scary, extremist ones elsewhere.

Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis also got the treatment this year. This year Alison Lundergan Grimes raised more than $11 million; Davis raised more than $13 million. Lucky for Republicans that media hype helped persuade Democratic donors to give money to their longshot campaigns instead of races where it could have made a bigger difference.

Tags: Alison Lundergan Grimes , Wendy Davis , DSCC , Red State Democrats

The Left, Hoping the Lack of a Surgeon General Becomes a Huge Issue


Since the Ebola outbreak began to dominate the news cycle, you’ve heard liberals contending that the lack of a surgeon general is some sort of major impediment to the U.S. government effort to control the disease. As the Washington Post summarized,

Vivek Murthy, the president’s nominee to be the next surgeon general, was too politically outspoken for some. He was an Obama supporter and an advocate for Obamacare. But he also said gun violence in America is a public health issue. So senators, including some Democrats, withheld support.

Today on Ronan Farrow’s MSNBC program, the host invited former surgeon general Richard Carmona, who served under President Bush, on the program. The former surgeon general offered a bluntly harsh assessment that Murthy was “a young man who has great potential, but just a few years out of training, with no public health training or experience” and “a resume that only stands out because he was the co-founder of Doctors for Obama.” Carmona made similar comments on Fox News a few days ago.

“So substantive objections as well as well as partisan ones,” Farrow said quickly, moving on from the interview.

Later in the program, Farrow asked Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News whether Republicans would pay a price for opposing Murthy.

Farrow: Both Ted Cruz and Rick Perry oppose that nomination of Dr. Murthy. Tell me, how have Senators Cornyn and Cruz’s opposition played politically? Is that something that could backfire when we’re in the midst of this Ebola response that would seem to necessitate a surgeon general being in place?

Slater: Not likely, Ronan. Not here in Texas. Let me tell you, this is a political no-brainer for a Republican in a state like Texas — you vote for an Obama nominee, even in a crisis situation, a difficult like this, you vote against the NRA. The NRA wins every time. So don’t look for Cornyn or Cruz to be rallying around a new surgeon general, unless it’s someone the NRA doesn’t oppose.

Naturally, a few minutes later, Farrow asked Slater, “Looking at this nationally, how likely do you think it is that Ebola will become a political football heading into the midterms?”

Tags: Surgeon General , Ebola , Texas , Ted Cruz


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