The Campaign Spot

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

The Mutual Pessimism of Democratic Elites and Conservative Grassroots


From the first Morning Jolt of Election Week . . . 

The Odd Mutual Pessimism Between Democratic Elites and Conservative Grassroots

Rarely have we seen an election cycle where the Democratic elites and most of the mainstream media seem convinced a Republican landslide, or near-landslide, is imminent, while a lot of Republicans and conservatives aren’t so sure.

The signs of doom for Democrats are piling up like delayed flights in a thunderstorm . . . 

The Washington Post’s Election Lab calculates there’s a 96 percent chance Republicans will control the Senate. (They calculate a 99 percent chance of winning the House.) They project GOP wins in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, and Louisiana; Democrats hold on in North Carolina and New Hampshire.

Nate Silver and the FiveThirtyEight crew give Republicans a 73 percent chance of winning a majority in the Senate. The New York Times gives the GOP “just” a 68 percent chance of winning a Senate majority.

The pollster for the Des Moines Register looked at Republican Joni Ernst’s 7-point lead in her poll unveiled Sunday and concluded, “This race looks like it’s decided.”

The early vote in Colorado shows that of the 1.1 million votes cast through Friday, 41 percent were by Republicans, 32 percent by Democrats, and 25 percent by voters not registered with either party. That’s a 104,000 vote margin that Mark Udall and John Hickenlooper have to overcome — not impossible, but a very tall order.

NBC News:

Just days before the midterm elections, Republican Senate candidates are in strong positions in three key Southern states [Kentucky, Georgia, and Louisiana] putting the GOP well within striking distance of regaining control of the upper chamber, according to brand-new NBC News/Marist polls.

Up in New Hampshire:

According to the survey, Brown’s at 49 percent and Shaheen’s at 48 percent. Brown’s one point margin is well within the poll’s sampling error, meaning the race is deadlocked. About three percent of those questioned said they were unsure or preferred someone else.

“This race is a complete toss-up,” said Wayne Lesperance, Professor of Political Science at New England College.

John Harwood of CNBC:

Dems haven’t given up hope of holding Senate but play seems to be Doug Flutie ricochet to Franco Harris bouncing to David Tyree-helmet-catch.”

Chicago Sun-Times: “With only two days to go, Democrats slipping in Senate contests.”

How intense is Democratic panic? Today the New York Times op-ed page features a piece entitled, “Cancel the Midterms.”

And yet, go to the comments section of Campaign Spot or any other political blog covering the elections, and you’ll find at least one guy saying some variation of “Eh, it doesn’t matter, the Democrats will just find a trunk full of extra ballots at midnight and steal the election.” Does voter fraud exist? Sure. Does it exist on a scale large enough to swing elections? Sure, particularly really close elections. Does this mean that the entire process of elections is a futile, rigged exercise, where conservatives would be better off staying home in silent protest? Heck no!

If there’s fraud, conservatives are better off showing up and going to the polling places to witness it — or serving as poll watchers whenever and wherever possible. If the voting machines are turning Republican votes to Democratic ones, then you have to show up and attempt to vote “Republican” to catch it!

Are these people with some sort of trauma from the 2012 results? Congenital pessimists? Or Democratic operatives attempting to depress the opposition?

This isn’t an insane reaction, mind you; conservatives have been disappointed on Election Night before and it will inevitably happen again some year. There are certainly some races that came along and surprised Republicans — they probably thought Thom Tillis would have an easier time getting a consistent lead in North Carolina, and Pat Roberts’ problems against the so-called “independent” in Kansas presented another tripwire. Things can and will go wrong.

But there are signs of . . . progress, to use an ironic term. From Harwood’s column:

In response, Democratic candidates lean on fundamental shifts in their party’s direction on social issues. But Republicans have deflected their “war on women” attacks more effectively than before.

There will be a lot of “lessons” to come out of this election cycle, but that may be one of the biggest.

Tags: 2014 Midterms , Polling

Expect an Anti-Obama National Electorate on Tuesday


Tuesday’s midterms feature statewide and district races, not a true national election. That’s about the only silver lining for Democrats:

Tuesday’s electorate is likely to be even less fond of the president: 53 percent of likely voters see Obama unfavorably, while 43 percent give him favorable marks. The poll finds those with strongly held views of Obama are most likely to turn out to vote. Strongly unfavorable ratings for Obama outnumber strongly favorable by 36 percent to 24 percent. Roughly three-quarters of those who have strong impressions of the president — positive or negative — say they are certain to vote, compared with half of those who have “somewhat” favorable or unfavorable views of the president.

Republicans lead on the generic ballot among likely voters, 50 percent to 44 percent.

Tags: Polling


Iowa Pollster: ‘This race looks like it’s decided.’


Good Sunday morning, Iowa voters!

Joni Ernst has charged to achieve a 7-point lead over Democrat Bruce Braley in a new Iowa Poll, which buoys the GOP’s hope that an Iowa victory will be the tipping point to a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate.

Ernst, a state senator and military leader, enjoys 51 percent support among likely voters. That’s a majority, and it’s her biggest lead in the three Iowa Polls conducted this fall. Braley, a congressman and trial lawyer, gets 44 percent, according to The Des Moines Register’s final Iowa Poll before Tuesday’s election.

“This race looks like it’s decided,” said J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the poll for the Register. “That said, there are enormous resources being applied to change all that.”

Some Republicans have been concerned about the early vote trending in favor of Democrats — a 7,000-vote lead, compared to an 18,000-vote lead four years ago, with less competitive races — and various other polls showed a close race.

For what it’s worth, the Iowa Poll’s final results have been strikingly close to the margins on Election Night the past two cycles. The final Iowa Poll in 2012 gave Obama a 5-point lead. He won by 5.2 points.

The final Iowa Poll in 2010 showed heavily favored incumbent senator Chuck Grassley head by 31 points. He won by . . . 31.3 points.

The final Iowa Poll in 2010 for the governor’s race showed Terry Branstad winning by 12 points. He won by 9.7 points.

Tags: Iowa , Bruce Braley , Joni Ernst

Colorado Republicans Now Lead by 104,000 Votes


Happy November 1st, All Saints Day. The latest numbers from the Colorado secretary of state indicate that 371,190 registered Democrats have voted, 475,600 registered Republicans have voted, and 290,600 unaffiliated voters have voted.

That is a 104,410-vote advantage for Colorado Republicans, with more than 1.1 million votes in already. Turnout is expected to be at, or slightly above, 2 million. In the 2010 Colorado Senate race, 1.7 million people voted, but the new vote-by-mail system is expected to increase turnout.

Tags: Colorado , Cory Gardner , Bob Beauprez

Could the GOP’s Larry Hogan Really Have a Shot in Maryland?



Really? The Cook Political Report thinks there’s a shot Republican Larry Hogan wins in Maryland? Other than a Baltimore Sun poll putting Democrat Anthony Brown up by 7 points, the polling hasn’t been that close.

Hmmm, continued:

In Montgomery, almost 5.6 percent of 635,000 eligible voters cast their ballots at nine early voting locations, for a total of 35,444 early voters. That is significantly below the statewide average: Throughout Maryland, about 8.3 percent of the state’s approximately 3.7 million voters cast their ballots early, according to final figures published today by the state Board of Elections . . . 

While Democrats hold a nearly 3-1 registration edge in Montgomery, the ratio of Democratic vs. Republican turnout in early voting was far narrower this year — and may indicate greater enthusiasm this year within the GOP ranks. Among registered Democrats, the percentage of early voters was just under 6.9 percent, as compared to 5.1 percent among Republicans and about 3 percent for so-called unaffiliated — independent — voters.

While Republicans in Montgomery are far outnumbered by their Democratic counterparts, the county still has the third largest number of registered Republicans of any county in the state: 121,500. If Hogan is to achieve his publicly stated goal of garnering 40 percent or more of the vote in Montgomery (Republican Robert Ehrlich captured 39 percent in winning the governorship in 2002), he must turn out his GOP base on Election Day, as well as a significant share of unaffiliated voters.

But . . . 

Democrats voting early this year outnumbered Republicans, 189,175 to 87,035. The ratio was slightly larger than the advantage that Democrats hold in party registration in the heavily Democratic state. But Republicans were slightly better represented compared to four years ago. This year, 28,328 unaffiliated voters also voted early.

Tags: Larry Hogan , Anthony Brown , Maryland


Martha Coakley, a Masterpiece of Bad Campaigning


Wow. Martha Coakley, never change. You are so bad at this, you are actually fun to watch:

My favorite is:

Martha Coakley: I don’t anticipate that we will raise fees.

Moderator: But it’s not a solid promise?

Martha Coakley: Well, I — is Charlie pledging? Are you deciding that, in blood, that you’re not going to raise fees?

Charlie Baker: I’m not going to raise fees.

Martha Coakley: Then I’m not going to raise fees, either.

At least she’s honest:

Moderator: Should illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses in the state?

Martha Coakley: I don’t know yet.

Tags: Martha Coakley , Charlie Baker , Massachusetts

Don’t Count on Lower Turnout In a Louisiana Runoff


Louisiana’s Senate race is likely to go to a runoff after Tuesday night.

Incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu has led a lot of the pre-runoff polling, but by increasingly small margins, and with a percentage of the vote that’s particularly ominous. Anywhere else, if you’ve been in office and only 36 percent of the likely voters say they want to vote for you, that means you’re toast. Yet it’s quite possible that on Election Night, a finish in the high 30s would make Landrieu the “frontrunner,” and off into a runoff with Representative Bill Cassidy, who is polling in the mid-30s.

The bad news for Landrieu is that she trails Cassidy in all head-to-head polls since July. If there is a runoff, it will be held December 6.

One would expect that the turnout would be lower in the runoff, but past Louisiana elections show a quite mild drop-off. Back in 1996, Louisiana held its “jungle primary” election September 21, with the runoff in November. Landrieu had only 21 percent of the vote in the first round, but won with 50.17 percent in the runoff. Turnout jumped from 1.2 million to 1.7 million that year, as one would expect, as most people think of Election Day as the first Tuesday in November.

In 2002, Landrieu won 46 percent in the first round against multiple Republican opponents, and then won 51.7 percent in the runoff against Suzanne Terrell. Turnout dropped by only about 10,000 votes, from 1.24 million to 1.23 million.

Then in 2008 — helped along by the Obama wave — Landrieu won outright in the first round, 52.1 percent to John N. Kennedy’s 45.7 percent. That year she never trailed in the head-to-head polling.

Still, Louisiana has drifted in a more Republican direction in recent cycles. Romney won by 57 percent to 40 percent in 2012; Bobby Jindal won the governor’s race with 65 percent in 2011, Senator David Vitter won reelection with 56 percent in 2010, McCain carried the state with 58 percent in 2008, and Jindal won the governor’s race with 53 percent in 2007.

Georgia is the other state requiring a winning candidate to get 50 percent. Neither Republican David Perdue nor Democrat Michelle Nunn has hit 50 percent in recent polls. In 2008, Georgia’s Senate race went to a runoff, and turnout dropped from 3.7 million on November 4 to 2.1 million December 2; Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss won.

Tags: Mary Landrieu , Louisiana , Bill Cassidy

To Be Honest, I Thought It Was an Obvious Point


MSNBC quoted me approvingly. My credibility’s shot, isn’t it?

Tags: Something Lighter

Time for Every Democrat to Panic!



The New York TimesNate Cohn says,

In Iowa, the overall early vote is nearly tied in a state where Democrats usually fare well in the early vote. . . . The challenge for Democrats will be making sure that their voters from 2010 ultimately turn out: 42 percent of the Iowa voters who requested but have not returned their absentee ballots are registered Democrats; just 28 percent are registered Republicans.

The last two polls in Colorado had Cory Gardner ahead, and the GOP advantage in the early vote is three times what the state saw in 2010, when Democrat Michael Bennet barely won the Senate race!

The last three polls in Colorado showed Bob Beauprez leading or tied with incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper!

Tom Cotton has led every poll this month in Arkansas!

Vox Populi has David Perdue ahead of Michelle Nunn by 5 points in Georgia!

Republican Nathan Deal has led the past five polls in Georgia!

What’s more, earlier in the week,

a Georgia judge denied a push from civil rights groups to force the state’s secretary of State to add 40,000 recently registered voters to the rolls, a setback for groups working to register minority voters that could have a big impact on Georgia’s hotly contested races next week.

Mary Landrieu’s at 36 percent in the most recent poll, and almost certain to go to a runoff in Louisiana!

Yesterday American Research Group showed Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown tied in New Hampshire!

Greg Orman’s lead over Pat Roberts in the RealClearPolitics average is just 1 point out in Kansas!

Kay Hagan’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average is just 1.6 points!

The Tampa Bay Times poll has Charlie Crist and Rick Scott tied in Florida!

Alison Grimes hasn’t led Mitch McConnell in a single poll this month in Kentucky!

Republican Charlie Baker has led the past five polls in the governor’s race in Massachusetts!

Mia Love’s ahead in that House race in Utah!

In USA Today’s survey,

significant parts of the coalition that re-elected Obama two years ago are poised to stay home. In the poll, just 7% of the likely voters are under 30; those younger voters made up 19% of those who cast ballots two years ago, according to surveys of voters as they left polling places. In contrast, the proportion of voters 65 and older has risen to 27% from 16% in 2012. Conservatives made up 35% of the electorate then; they are 41% of today’s likely voters.

Tags: Democrats , 2014 Midterms , Polling

Time for Every Republican to Panic!



Nate Cohn of the New York Times: “Democratic efforts to turn out the young and nonwhite voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections appear to be paying off in several Senate battleground states.”

Ipsos has Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley tied at 45 percent each in Iowa!

The WMUR Granite State Poll has Jeanne Shaheen leading Scott Brown 50–42 percent among likely voters in New Hampshire!

Elon University has Kay Hagan ahead by 4 over Thom Tillis in North Carolina!

McKeon & Associates shows Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn 3 points ahead of Bruce Rauner in the governor’s race in Illinois!

USA Today has Democrats leading the generic-ballot poll among likely voters, 43 percent to 42 percent!

Republicans are going to lose everything this year! Panic! Panic! Head for the hills! Head for your stockpiled bunkers! You should have listened to those commercials telling you to buy gold! The end is near!

He’s coming to get us!

Tags: Joni Ernst , Thom Tillis , Bruce Rauner

Coming to North Carolina: An Attack Ad Against the Media


From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

It’s Come to This: Attack Ads Against The Media

A two-minute television ad?

Conservative War Chest unveiled its final ads of the 2014 midterm elections, with different ads running in North Carolina and New Mexico.

A new 2-minute TV ad airing in North Carolina asks voters to make the election a referendum on the “corruption of American journalism.”

“Conservatives can never gain final victory until they confront the problem of news organizations who are the real opposition party in America,” said Mike Flynn, spokesman of Conservative War Chest. “This content-heavy spot puts before the public case studies that establish these organizations as partisan not journalistic organizations that are dedicated to activism, not the fearless pursuit of the truth.”

Conservatives will relish every second of the ad hitting the New York Times, MSNBC, George Stephanopoulos, the critics of Sharyl Attkisson, and so on. But will it change a mind, or influence the decision of a North Carolina voter who wasn’t already going to vote for Tillis? Or is this the kind of argument against the media that the Right needs to make outside the realm of blogs, articles, and so on?

Here’s the group’s explanation of the New Mexico ad buy . . . 

Flynn also revealed that the Super PAC was “doubling-down” on its ad buys in the U.S. Senate race in New Mexico.

“We were the first outside group to hold U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) to account for his extreme liberal agenda and its threat to national security,” Flynn said. “Many pundits laughed that we were engaging with New Mexico voters, but since then the polls have tightened.”

“Tom Udall has spent his entire adult life in the family business of liberal politics,” Flynn said. “His family’s policies were wrong in the 1970s and they are devastatingly wrong today.”

Flynn said his group was increasing its buy behind its groundbreaking, 2-minute “Blame America First” ad, which details the national security failures of radical liberal policies like those espoused by politicians like Udall.

The group is also launching its ad highlighting the liberal “war on Hispanic dreams and values.”

Flynn said, “New Mexico has a proud Hispanic legacy stretching back generations. They understand that the liberal policies of taxes and regulations stifle dreams of economic growth. Their alliance with social issue extremists insults Hispanic values.”

As noted earlier, Allen Weh has improved his standing, but still trails significantly. New Mexico is a pretty consistently Democratic state, which is not to say that Republicans always lose in a landslide. In 2012, Heather Wilson lost the New Mexico Senate race, 51 percent to 45 percent, to Democrat Martin Heinrich. No one is going to argue that incumbent Democratic senator Tom Udall is a whirling dervish of raw political charisma, and the political environment is not good for Democrats. But there are no cases of an incumbent blowing a seven-point lead in a statewide race in the final week since 1998.

Tags: North Carolina , Media , Campaign Ads

Biden’s Holding a Fundraiser for Braley Tonight


Really? Vice President Joe Biden is holding a fundraiser for Bruce Braley tonight, in New York City?

Isn’t it a little late in the cycle for fundraising? Aren’t campaigns in the fund-spending stage?

Note that the best way the Democrats could use Biden was in a New York City fundraiser, not on the stump in Iowa. . . . Of course, last time Biden went to stump for Braley in Iowa, he said, “The middle class is still in trouble. You don’t have to know the numbers, you can feel it. You can feel it in your bones.” A bit off-message if you’re trying to tout how Iowans need Braley in the Senate to keep the current administration policies in place.

Does this mean that they think Braley is one of the Democrats with the best chance to win? Or the one who needs the most help?

Tags: Joe Biden , Bruce Braley

UPDATED: Registered Republicans Have 94,000-Vote Edge in Colorado’s Early Vote


Democratic firm Public Policy Polling just unveiled a survey in Colorado, conducted for the League of Conservation Voters, showing Republican Cory Gardner and Democratic incumbent Mark Udall tied, with 48 percent each.

This is a surprise, as most polls of this race showed a solid Gardner lead. Just this morning, Quinnipiac unveiled a poll showing the Republican ahead by 7 points and Rasmussen had Gardner up by 6.

One other piece of evidence casting doubt on the race’s ending with the candidates neck-and-neck: a good chunk of the state’s vote is already in — 905,500 ballots, or probably close to half the vote.

Registered Democrats returned 294,648 of these ballots, or 32.5 percent; registered Republicans were 379,250, or 41.8 percent.

A candidate whose party is outpacing the competition by a 9.3-percentage-point margin, with 40 to 45 percent of the ballots counted, is in a pretty nice spot. Not rock-solid locked up, but in a nice spot.

Also note that we’ve heard quite a bit about Democrats’ better-than-ever vote-targeting and get-out-the-vote efforts, and Republicans undoubtedly remember 2012 quite well. But if Democrats have a great get-out-the-vote system in Colorado, we haven’t seen it yet.

UPDATE: The Denver Post releases a poll showing Gardner up by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent. They have him up by 3 points among those who have already voted. The survey also shows Gardner ahead by 7 points among independents.

ANOTHER UPDATE: If the 84,000-vote advantage of yesterday wasn’t enough to cheer Republicans, here are today’s numbers: 1,038,023 votes, 336,908 Democrats, 431,711 Republicans. A 94,803-vote margin.

What’s Separating the GOP’s Leading Candidates from the Trailing Ones?


Sean Trende sounds the alarm for Republicans that even with some good polls floating around, they’re underperforming:

In this sense, I think the large number of undecided voters — who almost certainly disapprove of the president by large margins — are a potential red flag for Republicans. At this point, what more can Republicans do to convince them to make up their minds? Mark Warner has been stuck in the high 40s/low 50s for several months now. In theory, Ed Gillespie should be making a race of it by now. Yet he remains mired in the high 30s (although he has closed the gap somewhat). There seems to be a substantial chunk of the Minnesota electorate that isn’t prepared to commit fully to Al Franken, yet isn’t excited about Mike McFadden.

If these voters ultimately opt disproportionately to stay home, it would transform an electorate where the president has a 42 percent job approval into one where he has a 46 percent job approval. This probably wouldn’t be enough to save the Senate: Democrats who trailed would still lose, albeit by small margins. But it would probably cap Republican gains in the House, and would probably transform an opportunity for a huge GOP night in the Senate into a modest wave of six or seven seats.

Is this what separates the GOP candidates with solid and consistent leads from the ones without? Is it that these low-motivation, Obama-disapproving voters see something in Cory Gardner in Colorado, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, and perhaps Joni Ernst in Iowa that they don’t see in Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Terri Lynn Land in Michigan? Or Gillespie and McFadden? Or Pat Roberts in Kansas and Scott Brown in New Hampshire? Yes, they’re all different candidates, running in different states and in different electorates.

Presuming Election Day follows the current polls — and obviously, polls in close races can be wrong — some will shoehorn the evidence to fit a narrative that “authentic conservatives” like Gardner, Cotton, and Ernst won while “establishment Republican” candidates like Tillis and Land lost.

To do this, you have to really blur your definitions of “establishment” and “conservative.” Gardner was first elected to office in 2005, and Cotton is a congressman.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to classify a first-time candidate, like Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby, as part of any “establishment.” Georgia GOP Senate candidate David Perdue has never run for office before — but he’s been a successful executive, so Georgia Democrats are running the Romney playbook against him. (If you’re a successful businessman, do Obama-disapproving, low-motivation voters automatically perceive you as part of an “establishment”?)

And the man everyone classifies as part of the “establishment” — Senator Mitch McConnell — is looking pretty solid in Kentucky.

The shortest explanation is that the GOP Senate candidates who are doing best are just plain good candidates: good life experiences and résumés, good on the stump, good on television, good in debates, good at the little stops shaking hands and meeting people, and (mostly) good in interviews. Chalk it up to charisma, chalk it up to instinct, chalk it up to luck — and perhaps note that it helps to have a flawed opponent.

Life for Republicans would be a lot easier if nomination of an “authentic conservative” — or, for that matter, an “Establishment Republican” — guaranteed victory on Election Day. Unfortunately, the candidates in either category have to be good at campaigning.

Tags: Senate Republicans , 2014

A Good Morning for Charlie Crist, Cory Gardner & Tom Cotton


The good news for Democrats this morning:

A jump in support from independent likely voters in the Florida governor’s race leaves Democrat Charlie Crist with 43 percent, inches ahead of Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott with 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has 8 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

The good news for Republicans this morning:

With strong support from men, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, leads U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, 46 – 39 percent among likely voters, with 7 percent for independent candidate Steve Shogan, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Another 7 percent are undecided.

The other good news for Republicans this morning:

The 16th annual Arkansas Poll found an electorate more pessimistic about the direction of Arkansas and more optimistic about their personal future. Likely voters prefer Republican candidates, although a record significant gap divides male and female voters. Among very likely voters, Tom Cotton, the Republican candidate, maintains a significant lead over Democrat Mark Pryor, at 49 percent to 36 percent.

The ominous news for the country as a whole this morning:

The air strikes already ordered by President Barack Obama are supported by 76% of the public, a CNN/ORC International survey of 1,018 adults, conducted Oct. 24-26, found.

However, only 48% of those polled say the U.S. effort is going well — while 54% say they’re confident the strikes will degrade and destroy the military capability of ISIS. That figure is down from 61% last month. . . . Only 32% said they believe Obama has a clear plan for dealing with ISIS. Meanwhile, 59% said further acts of terrorism in the United States are likely over the next several weeks.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Cory Gardner , Tom Cotton

Hillary, Not That Invested in Saving Democrats This Year


From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Hillary, Too Busy Preparing to Pose for Vogue to Tape Ads for Vulnerable Democrats

There are a lot of reasons why Hillary Clinton is more vulnerable as a 2016 presidential candidate than the conventional wisdom thinks — although I suppose the conventional wisdom might be catching up.

Bloomberg News observes:

Though she’s traveled the country for Democrats, headlining rallies from Colorado to North Carolina, Clinton has not lent any of her star power to any televised campaign ads. It’s a strange discrepancy: While Clinton is one of — if not the most — requested surrogates for Democratic congressional campaigns, many seem far less seem eager to put her in their television ads.

Even the spot for Grimes, a long-time family friend of the Clintons, was online-only — a far less expensive proposition for a campaign than actually buying time to place an ad on television. And it used footage captured two weeks ago at a rally Clinton held for Grimes in Louisville, rather than any new video . . . 

Hillary Clinton’s spokespeople refused to comment on her ad appearances, or lack of them. But people close to the former first couple say they’ve been turning down requests from candidates to star in ads, fearing that if they cut a spot for one, they’d have to do them for everyone who asked. Those people say former President Bill Clinton is annoyed by several unauthorized usages of his image in ads.

So what is Hillary doing with her time these days, instead of cutting ads?

Is Hillary Clinton about to make her return to the cover of Vogue? Confidenti@l has learned that the presumed presidential candidate and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour visited Michael Kors’ studio for a fitting. We’re told the power trio huddled in Kors’ office at his Bryant Park HQ, studying a “rack of clothes.” Clinton (l.), who was with longtime aide Huma Abedin and a person our spy describes as a “huge bodyguard,” has graced the cover of the fashion bible once before. She was on the December 1998 cover, in velvet Oscar de la Renta, as First Lady in a shoot by Annie Leibovitz. Last year at an opening for a de la Renta retrospective at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., Wintour said, “All of us at Vogue look forward to putting on the cover the first female President of the United States.”

Democrats are on the verge of an awful midterm election, gobs of Democrats are hanging on by their fingernails, and Hillary’s getting ready to pose for Vogue. If you’re one of those dedicated, door-knocking, flyer-distributing rank-and-file grassroots Democrats, how does it feel to have a front-running nominee who’s less dedicated to electing members of your party than you are?

Like the giant speaking fees (for Chelsea too!), the gargantuan wealth built during a life in “public service,” and the backslapping deals at the Clinton Foundation, these little anecdotes add to the narrative that the Clintons are dedicated first and foremost to “Clintons Inc.” and to others — even political allies — second.

What’s working for Hillary this coming cycle is that it’s hard to see any of her potential rivals turning into the next Barack Obama. Even if there’s an argument to be made to Democratic presidential primary voters that Hillary is too old, too establishment, too tied to Washington, too tied to the Obama administration’s failures, not sufficiently connected of the party’s vengeful populist id the way Elizabeth Warren is . . . who, other than Warren, could come along and play Obama next year? Martin O’Malley? Brian Schweitzer? Joe Biden? Come on.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Senate Democrats , 2016

‘Bibles and guns brought us here, and Bibles and guns will keep us here.’


Zach Dasher, that is one heck of an ad:

“Hey, Louisiana. Bibles and guns brought us here, and Bibles and guns will keep us here. Zach Dasher believes in ‘em both.”

Dasher has a bit of an “in” with his endorser; his maternal uncles are Phil and Si Robertson of the Duck Dynasty A&E television series. Dasher is running in the fifth congressional district.

Tags: Zach Dasher , Louisiana

While You Were Out, the Republican Wave Hit


Naturally, while I’m on a train with spotty wi-fi, the entire midterm-election landscape changes.

Okay, slight exaggeration, but some big news broke in the past few hours.

Every conservative you know is already buzzing about the Marquette Law School poll, putting Republican incumbent governor Scott Walker ahead, 50 percent to 43 percent over Democrat Mary Burke among likely voters. As we see on the Sean Trende chart, in recent cycles, a candidate with a 7-point lead, 7 days from Election Day, went on to win . . . 100 percent of the time. Perhaps Walker will be the big exception.

It’s pretty clear that in a cycle with some big gubernatorial races — Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist in Florida, Bob Beauprez vs. John Hickenlooper in Colorado, Bruce Rauner vs. Pat Quinn in Illinois — the Wisconsin race had the biggest ramifications for 2016. Obviously, Walker is often mentioned as a potential GOP presidential candidate. And while liberal groups and unions may have failed in their recall-election effort, derailing his reelection bid would be a strong signal to other governors that public-sector-union pension reform and other parts of the Walker agenda could cost them their jobs.

You’ll recall that on that Sean Trende chart, a 4-percentage-point lead is when candidates’ chances for victory on Election Day hit 80 to 90 to 100 percent. Good news for Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, whom Quinnipiac puts ahead by 4 points.

Also exciting Republicans from Quinnipiac, a poll from out in Colorado showing Beauprez ahead by 5 in the governor’s race.

Wait, there’s more. A Monmouth poll of Georgia’s races shows Republican David Perdue ahead, 49 percent to 41 percent, in the Senate race — close to the 50 percent threshold — and the GOP gubernatorial candidate, Nathan Deal, ahead, 48 percent to 42 percent. (Some are arguing that the proportion of African-Americans in the sample of that poll is too low.)

But just in case you’re feeling too good, Greg Orman continues to hold a small lead in the Kansas Senate race . . . 

Tags: Scott Walker , Joni Ernst , Bob Beauprez

Double-Check Your Final Ballot When You Vote!


Stories like this are just pouring gasoline on a fire:

The [Maryland Republican] party said Tuesday that it has received complaints from about 50 voters in 12 Maryland counties who say machines at early voting centers “flipped” their Republican votes to count toward Democratic candidates.

Marsha Epstein of Pikesville said she ran into the problem when she went to vote at the Reisterstown Senior Center’s Hannah More campus. She said she tried to vote for Republican Larry Hogan for governor but the machine recorded a vote for Democrat Anthony G. Brown.

Epstein said she pointed out the problem to an election judge, who told her to try again.

“I had to do it three times to keep it on Hogan,” Epstein said. She said she had no problems voting in the other races on the ballot. Voters from Howard and Harford counties called The Baltimore Sun to report similar problems.

William Childers of Havre de Grace said something similar happened to him when he cast his ballot Sunday at the Higher Education and Technology Center in Aberdeen. He said his vote for Hogan registered without a problem but when he tried to vote to re-elect Republican Rep. Andy Harris, that line lit up temporarily but then switched to Democratic challenger Bill Tilghman.

Maryland Democratic Party spokesman Jared Smith and Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said they were not aware of any similar concerns being raised by voters on their side.

I’ll bet.

State elections board officials said they had received reports that fewer than 20 machines statewide had displayed votes for candidates other than the ones the voters selected. Deputy administrator Nikki Baines Charlson said 12 had been tested and no problems had been found.

“These units are back in service because they couldn’t replicate it no matter how hard they tried,” Charlson said.

Another five were not tested because there was only one reported problem, she said. In three cases, Charlson said, machines were removed from service because of calibration problems — the place a voter touched did not line up with their intended votes.

As for the machines with only one reported problem . . . if there is a calibration error — and we’re assuming it’s only a “calibration error” — how can the elections-board officials know if other people had the same thing occur to their vote and didn’t notice?

But relax, Republicans. We’re only hearing stories about this happening in Maryland. And Illinois.

In this case, all turned out well for Jim Moynihan, who is running for State Representative in the 56th District.

Moynihan alerted an election judge and was allowed to cast a correct ballot on the first day of early voting in Illinois.

“He did what he is supposed to do by contacting the election judge,” said Cook County Clerk spokeswoman Courtney Greve.

The machine was taken out of service and Moynihan’s initial Democratic votes were never registered.

The issue is hardly widespread, with only 5 out 35,000 voters in suburban Cook County so far experiencing any issue, Greve said.

Again, even if the reports of machines switching votes are rare, how many are noticing? And elsewhere in Illinois:

Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney addressed concerns about her handling of absentee ballots after a judge ruled in her favor Monday.

Kinney’s office has been the target of a Republican Party attack that not only is she opening ballots early and counting them but that her voting machines are calibrated in such a way that switches votes from Republican to Democrat.

Rock Island County Circuit Judge Lori Lefstein denied the GOP’s emergency injunction on the counting of absentee ballots.

“There is nothing wrong in this office,” Kinney, a Democrat, said afterward.

Republican Bobby Schilling’s spokesman Jon Schweppe said he heard from 20 voters last week who tried to vote for a Republican when the Democratic choice was selected on the machine’s touch screen. Schilling is running against Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos.

Dave Weigel makes the argument this is not as nefarious as some believe:

Like every vote-rigging story, this led to a bureaucrat huffing about a “calibration error.” Occam’s razor: That’s what it is. If you’re going to rig a machine — and, for the record, you should not — you will not rig it to reveal its trickery while the voter is still watching. NBC’s briefly popular Heroes made this clear, revealing the wisdom of vote-rigging after the voters have left and the machines can be tampered with, preferably through the use of undetectable powers.

When will voters stop worrying about partisan forces stealing their elections? Likely never. Conspiracy theory research is clear about this; trust in the “establishment” is low, trust in government is lower, and voters are very willing to believe the worst about the people who want to run them. Until their candidates win. Then the election was probably fair.

I’d just note that recent experience tells us that it’s not unthinkable for government officials to behave in simultaneously malicious and incompetent manners.

Tags: Elections

‘War on Women’ Rhetoric Sounds Silly During an Actual War


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Now Added to the Anxious Pre-Election Landscape: Explosions, Hacking

American Electorate Status: Freaked the heck out. Next status: Private Hudson’s “Game over, man, game over!”

Freak-out Factor One:

An unmanned rocket that was to resupply the International Space Station blew up Tuesday night a few seconds after lift-off from Wallops Island, Va.

The Orbital Sciences rocket rose a short distance from the launch pad and then exploded in a ball of orange flame.

NASA confirmed that all personnel were accounted for, and there were no injuries in the explosion. However, it appeared that the explosion caused substantial damage on the ground in the launch area.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known. But at lift-off, rockets are filled with highly volatile fuel.

CNN quoted a launch director as saying that the spacecraft contained “classified . . . equipment.” A crawl on the network’s coverage reported that the director had described the items as “crypto-equipment.”

Watch the video; the onlookers scream when they see and hear that secondary explosion. It’s probably an unfortunate tech failure inherent to the difficulties of getting enormous amounts of rocket fuel to ignite and generate thrust in the right way at the right time; launching a rocket is . . . well, rocket science.

But you know what was going through the minds of those people in that crowd: They hit us again.

Freak-out Factor Two: “Suspicious cyber activity has been detected on the computer network used by the White House and measures have been taken to address it, a White House official disclosed on Tuesday.”

So, is it easier to sneak into the White House, or the White House servers?

CNN’s Jim Acosta quoted a White House official: “Our computers and systems have not been damaged, though some elements of the unclassified network have been affected.” My, that’s a generic term and passive voice.

Freak-out Factor Three: Probably nothing . . . but we don’t know if the government is showing all of its cards in what it knows about ISIS, potential “lone wolves,” and/or other Islamist extremists in our midst. And that’s perfectly fine.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced heightened security measures at federal buildings in the District and nationwide, citing the recent shooting at the Canadian Parliament and threats from terrorist groups to attack the homeland.

DHS officials emphasized that the step was precautionary and not based on any intelligence about a specific terrorist plot. Rather, they said, the shootings in Canada and other events such as the ongoing U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria dictated that more security would be a wise measure. The increased security started over the weekend but was only announced Tuesday because of its sensitivity, they said.

Is it any wonder that Democrats “war on women” rhetoric sounds increasingly silly to the electorate, at a time when Americans sense that they are in an actual war with terrorists and others who seek to harm them?

Tags: War On Women , ISIS


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