The Campaign Spot

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

Come on, New Hampshire. Let’s Make Sam Wang Eat a Bug.


CNN, out today:

A new CNN/ORC poll shows a statistical dead heat between New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her GOP opponent Scott Brown, with Shaheen at 49 percent, Brown at 47 percent, and a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percent.

ARG, out today: Jeanne Shaheen 49 percent, Scott Brown 48 percent. 

Come on, New Hampshire. Let’s make Sam Wang eat a bug.

Tags: New Hampshire , Jeanne Shaheen , Scott Brown

There’s Good News for Oregon Republicans, but Not That Good News


Your friendly neighborhood Oregon-trotting campaign correspondent, in a piece written Tuesday night:

Could Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, a three-term Democrat, lose his bid for reelection because of scandals involving his fiancée? After Kitzhaber survived a cavalcade of embarrassing and expensive failures of state government, could he lose to Republican Dennis Richardson because of the Oregon first lady’s consulting business?

A new Survey USA poll, released Wednesday:

With each passing hour bringing new revelations about Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s fiance, Cylvia Hayes, KATU-TV and SurveyUSA attempt here to break the Oregon electorate into 4 quadrants. The question asked of voters paying close attention to the governor’s election and who are following news stories about Hayes, was this:

Which of the following best describes you?

38% were going to vote for Kitzhaber and will still vote for Kitzhaber.

37% were going to vote for Richardson and will still vote for Richardson.

18% were going to vote for Kitzhaber but now will vote for Richardson (disproportionately young, male, independent, liberals).

1% were going to vote for Richardson but now will vote for Kitzhaber.

6% overall, and, importantly, 9% of Democrats, are not sure what to do.

As the pollsters note, it is possible this poll reflects people saying they’re going to switch to Richardson, to express their disapproval of the Kitzhaber scandals, but that they won’t actually carry through with it. And importantly, the above numbers do not reflect the results of their entire sample, just the sub-sample of registered voters paying close attention:

SurveyUSA interviewed 950 Oregon adults 10/20/14 and 10/21/14. Of the adults, 856 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 60% (514 voters) are paying a lot of attention to the race for Governor. Of those paying attention, 79% (407 voters) are following stories about the fiance, Hayes. The poll’s essential question was asked just of the 407 qualified respondents. This may or may not directly overlap the universe of Oregon’s likely voters in 2014.

Remember, Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, so the definition of a “likely voter” in Oregon should be broader than in other states.

Dave Weigel scoffs at the notion that the first lady’s scandals could cost Kitzhaber reelection when voters yawned at Cover Oregon. He’s partially right in the sense that this is still a deeply Democratic state, and Kitzhaber’s head-to-head numbers against Richardson have been way better than his job-approval numbers. But the crunchy, progressive, quinoa-microbrew Oregon voters might have been able to explain away the Cover Oregon debacle as well-meaning incompetence. Oregon’s first lady, Cylvia Hayes, doing well-paid consulting work for groups with business before the state gives off a whiff of corruption, which probably strikes a significant number of voters as a different, and more serious, governing sin.

Kitzhaber is still the favorite, but Oregonians’ patience with him is clearly being tested, and there’s a deep vein of pent-up frustration for Richardson to tap.

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Dennis Richardson


The Simple Closing Message: Americans Deserve Better Than This


Recent events tied a bow around a simple, powerful, and true closing message for Republicans running for Congress this year: The American people deserve to be treated better than the way their government treats them.

People who like their doctors and health insurance deserve to keep them. Our veterans deserve care in a timely manner. The American people deserve the truth about illegal immigrants released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They deserve straight answers from the Centers for Disease Control, and when a promise is made, it should be kept. Americans deserve a secure border, and when there is overwhelming support for restricting flights from countries with severe Ebola outbreaks, the option deserves careful consideration, not arrogant dismissal.

Americans of all political stripes deserve to be treated equally in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, with no special targeting based upon political views. Our ambassadors and those serving our country overseas deserve protection when they ask for it. If American taxpayer money is going to be used to save a car company, the people deserve to know whether that company is making unsafe cars.

They deserve to send and receive e-mails, texts, and calls without the National Security Agency peering over their metaphorical shoulder without a warrant. They deserve a director of national intelligence who does not lie in testimony to Congress. For the amount of money we spend on gathering intelligence, we deserve better performance — or for an administration to act upon that intelligence more promptly. In a dangerous world, we deserve leaders who don’t fool themselves into thinking jihadists on the rise are just “the JV team.” They deserve a Secret Service that takes its job seriously and corrects its mistakes.

The Republican party and its candidates are not perfect. But the vast majority of its candidates bring a righteous anger to these unacceptable failures of the federal government and the culture of complacency that is flourishing within the federal bureaucracy.

Democrats, as the party of government, have proven themselves all too willing to avert their eyes from the problems of government, to excuse or explain them away, or to announce some bold-sounding reform that never gets seriously implemented and is eventually forgotten. They’re all too enthusiastic about nodding in agreement to bureaucrats’ excuses that their failures can be solved with a bigger budget. They’re all too likely to believe that appointing some other D.C. staffer in a special czar position will suddenly create accountability, honesty, and diligence. They’re all too inclined to accept passive-voice “mistakes were made” explanations with blame assigned to “systemic” failures instead of particular individuals who failed to perform their duties, meet their responsibilities, and act with integrity.

For all the flaws of Republicans, we know that when confronted with a failure of government, their first response will not be “How can we protect the president?”

The American people deserve better from their government. And for now, the most effective tool to put unresponsive bureaucrats on the hot seat of public hearings, and wield the potential punishment through the appropriations process, is a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

You could say it’s time to pull the weeds out of Washington.

Tags: Barack Obama , Congressional Republicans , Bureaucracy

Obama Administration Released Illegal Immigrants Charged With Homicide


The opening section of the Morning Jolt spells out why Republicans would be fools to even consider any “comprehensive immigration reform” in the lame-duck session . . . or before the end of the Obama administration, really . . . 

Obama Administration Released Illegal Immigrants Charged With Homicide

This administration lies, and lies, and lies:

New records contradict the Obama administration’s assurances to Congress and the public that the 2,200 people it freed from immigration jails last year to save money had only minor criminal records.

The records, obtained by USA TODAY, show immigration officials released some undocumented immigrants who had faced far more serious criminal charges, including people charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.

The release sparked a furor in Congress. Republican lawmakers accused the Obama administration of setting dangerous criminals free. In response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had released “low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal records,” a claim the administration repeated to the public and to members of Congress.

The new records, including spreadsheets and hundreds of pages of e-mails, offer the most detailed information yet about the people ICE freed as it prepared for steep, across-the-government spending cuts in February 2013. They show that although two-thirds of the people who were freed had no criminal records, several had been arrested or convicted on charges more severe than the administration had disclosed.

Notice how many advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” will ignore this inconvenient story and continue insisting the administration can be trusted to sort through the 11 million or so illegal immigrants and sort out the ones who are a danger to Americans.

This is actually the administration’s second lie on the matter:

The director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, said his agency had released 2,228 illegal immigrants during that period for what he called “solely budgetary reasons.” The figure was significantly higher than the “few hundred” immigrants the Obama administration had publicly acknowledged were released under the budget-savings process. He testified during a hearing by a House appropriations subcommittee.

The allegedly cruel, xenophobic, and ignorant border-security crowd said that if we stopped deporting children who came to the United States illegally, it would create an incentive for more of them — and this summer they were proven right. Those same critics, mostly but not entirely on the right, argued that the administration saw illegal immigrants as a source of future votes, and put that goal over all other priorities and considerations. For this claim, they were mocked and derided; administration defenders insisted our government would never do that.

Shortly after his administration told this lie, Obama went to Ohio State and told the graduates to “reject” cynical voices telling them that government was the problem, that it was incompetent, and that it couldn’t be trusted.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama

West Virginia Democrat, Managing Election Laws, Violates Own Rules


Of course:

The state’s chief election officer may have violated state election laws when she brought a group of supporters to the Kanawha County Voters Registration Office today.

On Wednesday, the first day for early voting in West Virginia, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is running for U.S. Senate, led a group of supporters down Court Street to cast their ballots and proceeded to stump on the building’s front steps, an activity her office’s voting guide describes as “prohibited.”

Laws are for the little people.

In the photo above from the Charleston Daily Mail, Tennant campaigns
on the front steps of a voter-registration office.


Tags: West Virginia , Natalie Tennant


Updated Early Vote Numbers for Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and Louisiana


The Colorado secretary of state announced today that 332,050 Coloradans have cast ballots already, and out of that total, 145,824 are registered Republicans, and 105,401 are registered Democrats. That translates to a 43.9 percent to 31.7 percent advantage for the GOP.

In 2012, as Barack Obama was winning the state 51 percent to 46 percent, Republicans led the 1.7 million mail ballots cast in 2012 by 37 percent to 35 percent. So Republicans should be expected to lead, but a 12-point lead is better news than a 2-point lead.

In Florida, the news is also good for Republicans, but the figures could change quickly: 559,133 registered Republicans have voted early or absentee, 421,425 registered Democrats, and 198,423 independent or other. That translates to a 47 percent to 36 percent advantage. The Miami Herald summarizes:

History aside, the advantage is with Gov. Rick Scott right now for a simple reason: More of his people are voting. And the fact is, Democrats pride themselves on doing well in early voting. And they’re losing it at the moment. The big test comes Saturday and Sunday, the first full weekend for early voting, when Democrats tend to flock to the polls.

In Iowa, the GOP and Democrats are nearly tied in the number of returned absentee ballots — a mere 170-vote difference in favor of registered Democrats, with 238,147 ballots returned.

If Democrats want good cheer, they can point to Louisiana, where 20,760 of the first 38,620 ballots were cast by registered Democrats, and only 12,883 by Republicans. But this partially reflects the heavy partisan divide in the state’s registration; Louisiana has an electorate consisting of 47.1 percent registered Democrats and 27.5 percent registered Republicans, while having a GOP governor, one GOP U.S. senator and one Democratic one, and five Republican members out of six in the state’s congressional delegation.

Also note that those 38,000 ballots represent a small fraction of the expected total vote; back in 2010, with a less competitive U.S. Senate race, more than 1.2 million ballots were cast.

Tags: Early Voting

What Does the GOP’s Big Lead in Nevada’s Early Vote Mean?


The early-vote figures in Nevada look phenomenally good for Republicans and phenomenally bad for Democrats. While Republicans may hope it’s an early indicator of a wide-ranging national wave in favor of the GOP, there are some factors there that are unique to Nevada.

For starters, this year Nevada doesn’t have a big statewide race with the high stakes and drama of 2010’s Harry Reid–Sharron Angle showdown. And the Democrats effectively conceded the governor’s race against Republican Brian Sandoval, as little-known Bob Goodman, a former Nevada state economic developer, will be the token opposition in this race.

But Jon Ralston, the foremost journalist covering Nevada politics, thinks this is something bigger that merely a state Democratic party feeling the blahs.

“Yes, the Democrats conceded the governor’s race,” Ralston said. “Yes, they always knew it was a tough year with no [big race at the] top of the ticket. But I don’t think anyone expected how tilted it has been so far. The GOP is 10 points over registration; Democrats barely holding theirs. If that keeps up, it will be a disaster for the Democrats on Nov. 4.”

And while the gubernatorial race wasn’t expected to be competitive, Nevada Democrats had high hopes for the lieutenant governor’s race — as Sandoval is believed to be a potential Senate candidate in 2016 against Harry Reid. A Democratic lieutenant governor would make that decision much harder for Sandoval. The current lieutenant governor, Brian K. Krolicki, is term-limited; GOP state senator Mark Hutchison is competing against Democratic assemblywoman Lucy Flores.

Democrats currently hold most of the other statewide offices — secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and controller.

Ralston warns that the Democrats “could lose every statewide race and sure things such as Rep. Steven Horsford in the fourth Congressional District could be in jeopardy — that’s why Crossroads just dumped a million bucks on TV here to hit Horsford.” State assemblyman Crescent Hardy is running for the Republicans in that district.

Ralston cautions that Democrats could still turn it around, with 10 days of early voting left, and Election Day. But in Nevada more than half, maybe 60 percent, will vote early; in 2012, 60.9 percent of votes were cast early at polling places and another 8.4 percent were absentee.

“The problem is Dems running statewide will not be able to bank the firewall of votes in Clark County to hold off losses in rural and Northern Nevada,” Ralston says. “For example, they had a 25,000-vote lead after early voting in Clark four years ago. Right now, GOP has a slight lead. I have never seen that.”

Nevada Democrats are experiencing what a lot of Democrats across the country are finding — that without President Obama on the ballot, or a Republican figure to turn into a convenient bogeyman to their base, a lot of rank-and-file Democrats just aren’t that motivated to vote.

Ralston concludes with one other thought: Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s turnout machine in 2010 dispelled the forecast of the late polls showing Angle ahead. This year, he, his top staff, and his allied Super-PAC are way more focused on preserving his Democratic Senate majority than on helping Democrats in his home state.

The NRSC’s headache is an opportunity for Nevada Republicans.

Tags: Nevada , Harry Reid

Multiple Shooting Attacks in Ottawa, Canada?


This morning, the world watched with anxiety about reports of a shooting at a war memorial and then at the Parliament building in Ottawa, Canada. Now there is word of three separate shootings at three sites in the city — which appears to dispel the notion that this is the work of one disturbed individual.

According to the CBC, authorities say “two or three suspects are still at large.” While initial reports can be erroneous, multiple shootings at government targets suggest a coordinated terror attack.

Americans are feeling great anxiety these days; a terrorist attack on the capital of our northern neighbor would only worsen that anxiety.

Tags: Terrorism

The Easy Way for Republicans to Count to Six


In today’s Morning Jolt:

The Easy Way for Republicans to Count to Six

The Republicans need to pick up six Senate seats to control the chamber. Let’s count to six.

The GOP wins Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. One, two, three. I know there are some folks spinning the chances of Republican Mike Rounds losing in South Dakota, but he has yet to trail a poll.

Four: In Arkansas, the latest poll puts Republican Tom Cotton up by 8 points. Pryor has not led a poll this month.

Five: In Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan has not trailed in any poll since early August.

Six: In Colorado, Cory Gardner led nine of the last ten polls. Tuesday the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling released a survey putting Gardner up by 3 points, Udall only leading women by 4 points, and “Udall continues to struggle with his approval numbers, as only 37% of voters think he’s doing a good job to 52% who disapprove.”

Let’s add another. Seven: In Iowa, Joni Ernst led five of the last six polls, and the sixth is a tie.

We’ll get to some of the other Republican pickup opportunities in a moment, but let’s take a look at the big three seats they’re defending.

Kentucky: Democrats are excited by a Survey USA poll — conducted over a weekend — putting McConnell up by just one point. But the last time Survey USA polled Kentucky, at the beginning of the month, Alison Lundergan Grimes led by 2, so this survey represents movement in the GOP direction. That poll was the only one in the past 15 surveys to show Grimes ahead.

Kansas: Democrats were so, so, so excited about this race, and admittedly, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is not out of the woods yet. But he’s led three of the last four polls, and the one that had him trailing was PPP. That survey noted, “By a 52/35 margin, voters in the state would rather Republicans had control of the Senate than Democrats. And among those who are undecided there’s a 48/25 preference for a GOP controlled Senate.”

Georgia: Keep in mind, if no one gets 50 percent, this one goes to a runoff. You know how many times a poll has shown Democrat Michelle Nunn with 50 percent? Try none. (For what it’s worth, Purdue hit that level of support in a few polls.) In 2008, Democrats cheered that their Senate candidate, Jim Martin, kept Saxby Chambliss from hitting 50 percent and forced a runoff. But then, in the December 2 election, without Obama on the ticket, Chambliss won big — 57 percent to 42 percent. This year’s runoff election in Georgia would be held January 6, 2015! How confident should Democrats be that they could sustain enthusiasm for several months?

None of the Democrats’ pickup opportunities look like sure things right now. Could Republicans lose one of those seats? Yes. Could they lose two? Conceivably, but unlikely.

So let’s imagine the bad scenario, where Republicans lose Kansas, and Georgia, and subtract two. We’ve gone from seven to five.

Back to the Republicans’ pickup opportunities.

Louisiana: This one is almost certain to go to a runoff. Mary Landrieu is polling exceptionally badly for an incumbent in the first round — 36 percent, 41 percent, 36 percent – and Republican Bill Cassidy is winning all the runoff polling.

Add a Louisiana win, and Republicans go from five to six — controlling the Senate again.

Then there’s North Carolina, where Kay Hagan keeps leading by a small margin. Maybe that $6 million in television ads from the NRSC does the trick and Tillis wins.

Then there’s New Hampshire, where Jeanne Shaheen’s hanging on, leading by three here and there, trailing by one over there. Scott Brown traditionally outhustles his opponents, and maybe he gets a bit of momentum in these final weeks.

So in the worst-case scenario, losing Georgia and Kansas, and not winning North Carolina or New Hampshire, the GOP still picks up Senate control by winning the runoff in Louisiana.

Somebody’s in a good mood this morning.

Tags: Senate Elections , Senate Republicans

‘A Vote for [Democratic Candidate Here] Is a Vote for Obama’s Failed Agenda.’


More ads unveiled today:

Freedom Partners Action Fund, a free-market Super PAC, is launching a $6.5 million ad campaign designed to deliver a clear closing argument that a vote for the Democratic candidate in several states is a vote for President Obama’s failed agenda. The ads will air in Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, and online in New Hampshire . . . 

The ads all involve the general theme that the incumbent hasn’t earned the vote of the state, and tie the Democratic candidate to Obama, but they tailor their criticism to the particular flaws of each Democratic candidate. Here’s the one hitting Bruce Braley in Iowa:

The one hitting Mark Begich in Alaska:

The one hitting Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire:

The one hitting Kay Hagan in North Carolina:

Tags: Barack Obama , Kay Hagan , Bruce Braley , Jeanne Shaheen , Mark Begich

The Brutal Ads of 2014 Appear


Lots of new campaign ads unveiled this morning.

That nutty liberal group that ran an ad blaming Republicans for the Ebola outbreak is now running an ad claiming Joni Ernst is responsible. The group’s release boasts, with perverse pride, “In launching this effort, we are the first major progressive group to directly blame GOP budget cuts for the nearly 4,500 deaths caused by the Ebola crisis.”

Meanwhile, Conservative War Chest is unveiling a hard-hitting ad comparing the foreign-policy crises of today to the crises of the 1970s and other dark chapters of recent American history, complete with an image of Ground Zero after 9/11 — “Here’s what every American needs to know about why liberals can’t protect them or their children . . . ” The group is running versions of the ad in North Carolina . . . 

. . . and, curiously, Minnesota . . . ​

Tags: Campaign Ads , Ebola , National Security , Al Franken , Kay Hagan

Kay Hagan, With Tiny Lead, Chooses to Skip Debate


Senator Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina, chose to not appear at tonight’s debate against Republican Thom Tillis.

“Senator Hagan declined our invitation.”

For this decision, she was ripped by . . . Rachel Maddow, who describes the race as “basically tied” — Hagan has enjoyed a shrinking lead in recent weeks.

Maybe she had a cocktail hour to attend; that’s what kept her from an Armed Services Committee classified hearing on ISIS.

Tags: Kay Hagan , North Carolina , Thom Tillis

Latest AP National Poll Is a Nightmare for Democrats


This new poll from the Associated Press is about as dire a poll as Democrats could imagine two weeks before Election Day.

Democrats are more trusted than the GOP on just two of nine top issues, the poll showed. 

The economy remains the top issue for likely voters — 91 percent call it “extremely” or “very” important. And the GOP has increased its advantage as the party more trusted to handle the issue to a margin of 39 percent to 31 percent.

With control of the Senate at stake, both parties say they are relying on robust voter-turnout operations — and monster campaign spending — to lift their candidates in the final days. But the poll suggests any appeals they’ve made so far haven’t done much to boost turnout among those already registered. The share who report that they are certain to vote in this year’s contests has risen just slightly since September, and interest in news about the campaign has held steady.

Now brace yourself:

The GOP holds a significant lead among those most likely to cast ballots: 47 percent of these voters favor a Republican controlled-Congress, 39 percent a Democratic one. That’s a shift in the GOP’s favor since an AP-GfK poll in late September, when the two parties ran about evenly among likely voters.

Women have moved in the GOP’s direction since September. In last month’s AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

The gender gap disappearing almost entirely would be a shocking development; at this point, it’s just one poll, but it’s something to look for in future polls. Democrats can console themselves that this is a national poll, and the biggest fights of the midterm — the Senate races — are occurring in about a dozen states. Having said that, almost all of those states are Republican-leaning ones that Romney won. If the national electorate is sour on Democrats, it’s extremely difficult to envision a scenario where Arkansas’s Mark Pryor hangs on despite the pro-GOP atmosphere, and Alaska’s Mark Begich, and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, and so on for the other endangered red-state Democratic senators. One or two might survive, but the rest . . . 

The polls are grim, Mr. President.

Tags: Democrats , Associated Press , Polling

What’s Wrong With Oregon Republicans?


Also in today’s Jolt:

Another Un-charismatic, Underachieving Partisan Democrat Coasts to Reelection

I know what you want to hear. You want to hear that Republican Monica Wehby has a shot at winning Oregon’s Senate race.

She’s trailing most polls by 10 to 20 points, so . . . sorry, no good news here.

You may ask, “What’s wrong with Oregonians?” Maybe a fair question is, “What’s wrong with Oregon Republicans?”

A pediatric neurosurgeon and mother of four, she appealed to moderate Republicans fed up with Obamacare and big government.

But polls now put Wehby behind by 10 to 15 percentage points.

A poll released last week showed only 52 percent of Republicans plan to vote for Wehby, while 22 percent said they’re still undecided.

The talk of a potential GOP upset here in Oregon earlier in the year wasn’t just hype; incumbent Democratic senator Jeff Merkley has genuinely “blah” numbers for a guy asking for another term. The percentage of Oregon voters who approve of the job he’s doing is usually in the low 40s, and the percentage who disapprove is in the mid-30s. He has mind-bogglingly low name ID for an incumbent U.S. senator; as noted yesterday, “Senator Merkley was recognized by 46 percent as his party’s candidate.” It’s as if he’s been in the Witness Protection Program.

Merkley is not a whirling dervish of raw political charisma, nor an unstoppable vote-accumulating machine. In 2008, Barack Obama received 1,037,291 votes in Oregon — 56.7 percent of the vote. That year, in his first statewide bid, Merkley won 864,392 votes, or 48.9 percent of the vote — 3.4 percent more than the incumbent Republican senator he beat, Gordon Smith. He underperformed the margin projected in most of the final polls.

Back in July, George Will wrote a column that made Republicans’ hearts skip a beat, declaring, “Senator Tom Coburn is retiring, but another doctor may be coming, straight from the operating room to her first elected office.”

The editorial board of the Oregonian, the state’s largest newspaper, chose to not endorse a candidate this year. They concluded Merkley was a shameless partisan hack, and then detailed the personal scandals in Wehby’s past years that made them deem her unworthy of support:

The collapse of Wehby’s campaign has been almost painful to watch. First was the late-breaking revelation this spring of a 911 call made in 2013 by estranged boyfriend Andrew Miller, who reached for the phone as Wehby entered his house without permission. He accused her of stalking him. Shortly thereafter, Oregonians learned that Wehby’s ex-husband had called the cops on her in 2009. According to a police report filed two years earlier, her ex accused her of “ongoing harassment.”

The incidents raise obvious questions about judgment and self-control, but just as significant are questions about anticipation. Did Wehby and her campaign really think these episodes wouldn’t come to light? If so, they were shockingly naïve.

Oregonians don’t expect such shocking and unnerving revelations from a potential senator. They expect it from their state’s first lady.

A lesson: In the lazy Democrat media’s template, every Republican is either dumb, evil, or old. Because they can’t portray a pediatric neurosurgeon as dumb, they’ll paint her as evil or a variant of it, crazy. Because we all know how ruthless and black-hearted those pediatric neurosurgeons are, right?

So what should we expect in November? Recent history suggests flawed Democratic candidates can coast along, relying on the Oregonians’ voting habits’ being set on autopilot — particularly in the state’s most populous counties.

Yesterday we discussed how it’s difficult, and perhaps impossible, for a Republican to win statewide in Oregon when they’re getting blown out in the state’s largest city, Portland. It’s not that Republicans need to win the land of microbrews, mustaches, fig-and-gorgonzola pastries, and a general hipster culture that’s convinced it’s still the counterculture no matter how widespread and popular it gets. But a winning GOP candidate would need to keep the margin manageable so the Republican margins in the rest of the heavily rural state could put him or her over the top.

Four years ago, in the previous midterm of the Obama era, longtime incumbent Ron Wyden ran for reelection. He was challenged by Jim Huffman, law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland. While his fellow Republican Chris Dudley came within 1.5 percent in the governor’s race, Huffman lost by 18 percentage points.

In 2010, Democrat John Kitzhaber won 198,157 votes here to Dudley’s 76,915 in Multnomah County, which includes Portland. That year, Wyden won 212,371 votes to Huffman’s 56,513 — an even more lopsided 76 percent to 20 percent margin. (And Huffman lived and worked in Portland!)

Tags: Oregon , Monica Wehby , Jeff Merkeley

Can This Really Be Wendy Davis’s True Goal?


Every once in a while, when a celebrity within the conservative movement hints at a presidential campaign, cynics will chuckle, “He’s really running for a Fox News gig.” In late 2011, four names mentioned as potential GOP presidential candidates were under contract with Fox News: Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. Santorum and Gingrich ran, and won several primaries.

Down in Texas, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is concluding her doomed campaign with increasingly embarrassing over-the-top attacks on Republican Greg Abbott — as NRO Cruise guest Guy Benson summarizes her argument, “He’s confined to a wheelchair, but cares not about people with disabilities. He’s married to a Latina, but may oppose interracial marriage.” Why the last minute, ultra-low mudslinging?

And now the Democrats begin to live with candidates who appear to want to win a cable-news contract more than they want to win actual votes. If this is true . . . how do all of her donors feel? How do Texas Democrats feel about her using their gubernatorial nomination as an $11 million audition tape for MSNBC?

We hear a lot of voices lamenting our nasty political environment, and uglier, harsher public discourse. If this campaign, with this tone, gets Wendy Davis an MSNBC gig, who is really responsible for the tone of our debate?

Was she playing a different game all along?

Tags: Wendy Davis , Texas , Greg Abbott

NRSC to Democrats: Just Try to Defend Picking Klain for Ebola Czar!


The Tuesday Morning Jolt features my last update from Oregon, a surprise about who’s paying the minimum wage in Kentucky, and then this news from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, seen here first:

NRSC to Senate Democrats: Just Try to Defend Picking Klain for Ebola Czar!

This morning the National Republican Senatorial Committee is hitting this year’s crop of vulnerable Democrat incumbents for meekly acquiescing to President Obama’s naming Ron Klain — as Andy McCarthy summarizes, a “sharp-elbowed Democratic political operative with no medical expertise” — as the “Ebola czar.”

Here’s the Mark Begich version:

Unfortunately, Mark Begich (D-AK) not only refuses to hold the Obama Administration accountable for the slow response to Ebola entering our borders, but it appears that he has taken his marching orders from the White House on a serious matter of public health. Instead, Begich’s Washington allies have resorted to spreading false and debunked claims, blaming others for the Administration’s failures. President Obama’s choice of Ron Klain as Ebola Czar is indefensible, yet Mark Begich once again refuses to hold the White House accountable.

“It is absurd that President Obama believes that a partisan lobbyist with zero medical experience should lead the national response to the Ebola epidemic, but Mark Begich is nowhere to be found,” said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. “Mark Begich apparently believes that a partisan Washington lobbyist like Ron Klain is an appropriate choice for this position, which speaks to his lack of judgment and his refusal to stand up to President Obama’s poor decisions — even on matters of public health and safety.”

Will this make a big difference in the coming midterm elections? If nothing else, we may get some amusing moments of watching these Democratic senators trying to explain why Ron Klain is such a terrific guy for this job.

We know Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas greets questions about Ebola with a lengthy “uhhhhhhhhh,” and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado is having a tough enough time with any questions as is these days.

Tags: Ebola , NRSC

Michelle Obama, Proud to Support What’s-His-Name


Iowa’s Republican party welcomes Michelle Obama back to Iowa. The last time she was there, she spent a lot of time encouraging voters to support “Bruce Bailey” for Senate — a less than ideal endorsement for candidate Bruce Braley.

“It’s not often that we agree with Michelle Obama, but per her advice everyone should visit,” said Republican Party of Iowa spokesman Jahan Wilcox. “ is the perfect site to learn about the congressman’s support for Obamacare, cap-and-trade, and the rest of his job-killing policies that are hurting Iowans.”

Should have moved quicker on that URL, Congressman!

Tags: Michelle Obama , Bruce Braley

After Wheelchair Ad, Wendy Davis Polls at 32 Percent


Wendy Davis, defending her infamous “wheelchair” ad, a week ago:

The important thing about this ad is that voters now see Greg Abbott for who he is and of course in an election that’s entirely the point.

She was right! A new poll out this morning:

As early voters head to the polls for a landmark election in Texas, a new survey conducted for KHOU-TV and Houston Public Media shows Republican Greg Abbott with a commanding lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for governor.

Abbott’s supported by 47 percent of likely voters surveyed for the poll, compared to Davis’ 32 percent. Another 15 percent were undecided.

The 32 percent in that poll is tied for her lowest total in a poll in 2014. Good work, ma’am.

Tags: Greg Abbott , Wendy Davis , Texas

Maybe All Those Obama Supporters Left the Iron On


Says it all, doesn’t it?

This is Maryland. Maryland. Obama won this state 62 percent to 36 percent. And even here, the magic is gone; the report says the crowd started leaving while he was still speaking.

Think about it — these are people who drove out to attend the event who chose to leave early.

Tags: Barack Obama , Maryland

How Do You Turn a Blue State Like Oregon Purple?


From the Monday edition of the Morning Jolt:

How Do You Turn a Blue State Like Oregon Purple?

If you want to talk about an overlooked all-time woulda-coulda-shoulda race that haunts the Republicans, let’s take a look at Oregon’s gubernatorial election in 2010.

The Democratic nominee was former governor John Kitzhaber, making a comeback bid after serving as in the office from 1995 to 2003. During those terms he fought with a Republican-held state legislature and famously declared, six days before the end of his second term, that the state was “ungovernable.”

The Republican nominee was former NBA star Chris Dudley, who spent a good portion of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers. He founded a charity, had charisma, and seemed like about as a good a candidate as Oregon Republicans had any right to expect.

The good news is Dudley won 694,287 votes, more than 100,000 votes than the last Republican gubernatorial candidate. That got him . . . 47.7 percent to Kitzhaber’s 49.2 percent — the closest any Republican had come in the last seven gubernatorial elections.

But there are no silver medals for coming in second in a governor’s race. Dudley moved to San Diego. In his third term, Kitzhaber went on to set up the abominably wasteful Cover Oregon system, which paid $305 million to Oracle for a web site that didn’t work.

Cover Oregon is, arguably, the single most expensive and most embarrassing failure of any state in recent memory. As HBO’s John Oliver mocked, “That has got to be a bitter pill to swallow for the people of Oregon — or it would be, if they could get the pill, which they can’t, because their [stinky] web site is broken.” In midsummer, a poll of the state found 20 percent thought Kitzhaber deserved “all” of the blame for Cover Oregon, 19 percent said “most,” and 37 percent said “some.”

But not a single big-name Oregon Democrat dared challenge Kitzhaber this year. Okay, correction — a guy with a big name, “Ifeanyichukwu Diru” challenged him, but he had no experience and almost no money. Even then, he won 9 percent against Kitzhaber in the primary.

This year, aiming to derail Kitzhaber’s ambitions for a fourth term — Republicans are running a candidate with no glamorous NBA career, 65-year-old state representative Dennis Richardson — a veteran and successful lawyer.

One poll had Richardson within 7 percentage points, but another one shows him trailing mightily — 50 percent for Kitzhaber, just 29 percent for Richardson. Note this depressing statistic:

The poll found that voters in general aren’t paying much attention to this election.

66 percent of respondents couldn’t name the Republican candidate for Governor, Dennis Richardson. And 59 percent couldn’t name the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Monica Wehby.

Governor John Kitzhaber did a little better; 62 percent could name him as the Democratic candidate for governor, but 38 percent couldn’t. Senator Merkley was recognized by 46 percent as his party’s candidate.

As I mentioned Friday, this is an example of “Set It and Forget It Leftism.” Dear Oregonians, I get it. Your state is gorgeous. If I had one of the world’s biggest bookstores, huge farmers’ markets, endless chefs experimenting with all kinds of local produce and seafood, an exploding menagerie of breweries, wineries, distilleries, and seemingly limitless mountains and rivers to explore, I might not be that interested in politics, either. But come on. Check in every once in a while.

The last time a Republican won a statewide race in Oregon was 2002 — Senator Gordon Smith. It is a depressing possibility that the GOP either cannot win, or faces enormous obstacles to win in the higher-turnout circumstances that occur when a state allows citizens to vote by mail. Oregon went to a complete vote-by-mail system in 1998, after growing use throughout the 1980s and 1990s.


A ballot box in downtown Portland’s Pioneer Square.

Like most other states, Oregon consists of heavily Democratic cities and heavily Republican rural areas. Check out how the Kitzhaber-Dudley vote split by county:


The northwestern corner is Astoria, the three blue ones in a line are Portland, its suburbs, and Hood River; along the coast is Lincoln County, which has Newport; and Lane County, which includes Eugene and Springfield. The little wedge sticking down from the north is Hood River County, which is not heavily populated and not quite heavily Democratic; in 2010, Kitzhaber won, 4,778 to 3,414. Once you drive out of Portland, on U.S. Route 30, it takes you up into the mountains overlooking the Columbia River, and RICHARDSON FOR GOVERNOR signs aren’t hard to find on the front lawns along the road. Signs for Kitzhaber are rare.

There are 3.8 million people in Oregon; 2.3 million live in the Portland metro area. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to win Oregon if you’re going to get blown out in Multnomah County, which includes Portland. In 2010, Kitzhaber won 198,157 votes here to Dudley’s 76,915 — 70 percent to 27 percent — rolling up a 121,242 vote margin. Kitzhaber’s final statewide margin of victory was 22,238.

Back in September, Richardson got a bit of help in advertising downtown:

The eye-catching, building-sized campaign ads have popped up across the Portland over the past few weeks.

They’re black and white and get right to the point — at least for those in the know:

“The bridge?
The website?
Rudy Crew?
The Elliott?
4 more years???”

The minimalistic message cost $200,000 and was a gift to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Dennis Richardson from Seneca Sustainable Energy, one of the companies owned by the Eugene-based timber family led by Aaron Jones. His three daughters, co-owners of Seneca, recently contributed a combined $100,000 to Richardson’s campaign against Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber.

That ad referred to a quintet of scandals and missteps by Kitzhaber. A new sign is more direct:

That sign is posted at the extremely busy intersection of Burnside and 4th Avenue, right around the corner from the wildly overhyped and overrated Voodoo Doughnut, perhaps the Mecca of Portland hipsters. Will it do any good? Or will enough progressive-minded Portland residents simply feel sufficiently unenthusiastic about Kitzhaber to not vote for him this year?

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Chris Dudley , Dennis Richardson


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