The Strategic Failure of the Obama campaign

We are one week into Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan. A number of polls are coming out telling a variety of stories about what it means. But one thing is clear: Barack Obama’s campaign has had several significant strategic failures this summer. And they failed to define Paul Ryan out of the gate with their Mediscare tactics. And they failed to define Mitt Romney this summer with a huge campaign spend.

The Obama campaign hoped to use the summer to define Mitt Romney. They spent $25 million in May ads. Obama spent $58m in June. What effect did it have? At the end of July, Purple Strategies, a bipartisan polling firm, found (PDF) that Romney has pulled ahead of Obama, even as Obama’s favorability ticked up slightly. Obama’s out of control campaign spending yielded nothing, just like his out of control government spending yielded nothing.  Politico even described that poll as giving the Ryan pick a small bump for the Romney campaign.

But then the bombshell came. After a week of Mediscare attacks on Paul Ryan, they were not able to dislodge seniors in Florida. According to a poll, reported by the Palm Beach Post:

But two Florida polls conducted since Ryan’s selection suggest that voters who are 65 and older support Ryan and his budget plan more than younger voters do. A third Florida poll released this week doesn’t include an age breakdown, but finds the state’s voters agreeing more with Ryan’s description of his budget and Medicare plan than with Democratic criticisms that it would “end Medicare as we know it.”

The challenge for the Obama campaign is that if they can’t scare older voters away from Republicans with dishonest attacks on Paul Ryan’s proposal to save Medicare, then they are trapped. Paul Ryan turns out to be a big win. He is a candidate who is deeply connected to the industrial midwest which will be the swing region of the country this election. The Purple Strategies poll found that he helps most in Ohio. He will also help with young voters disenchanted and under-employed by the failure of the Obama economy.

So the Obama campaign has failed in the two main tests. They hugely overspent Romney to disqualify him. They failed. And they have tried for three years to attack Republicans with the Ryan budget. And the polls in Florida, the place that should be most vulnerable to attacks, show that that failed.

Chicago, you have an emergency.

Another businessman for the Senate: Tom Smith

One upside of President Obama’s hostility to business is that business leaders like Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin have come forward to share their experience. Tom Smith, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania is one of them. He is endorsed by Pat Toomey. He is up against Bobby Casey, a career politician son of a career politician. But at least his dad was willing to stand up to his own party …

Consider helping Tom Smith and sending another businessman to the Senate to replace the son of a politician.

Looking downballot in Massachusetts: Tom Keyes

For the next several months, we are going to be focusing, naturally, on the Presidential race, Senate races, House races, and governor’s races. However, what happens down ballot is important too. And there is a lot of hope down ballot when we look around the country. Over the next several months, I hope to highlight races in unexpected places where Republicans can put points on the board.

Let me give you one example in the most unlikely of places, Massachusetts, where Republican Tom Keyes has a good shot to take out Senate President Therese Murray. This won’t happen the same way that the previous three Massachusetts Speakers lost their jobs, through indictment, but through the ballot box. But don’t be surprised if a little corruption is in the mix here too.

So the first question is, why do we think it is possible? The answer is simple. In 2010, Keyes got 48% of the vote while being outspent 10-1, and that is before we count the independent expenditures from the Democratic party at the last minute to bail out one of their leaders. Normally, I would analyze that a Republican would under-perform 2010, but Massachusetts in 2012 could be different. Why? Because Mitt Romney and Scott Brown are on the top of the ticket.  Furthermore, this district has historically been a Republican district. It is represented by three Republican State Representatives, a Republican County Sheriff and a Republican District Attorney. So the math makes it possible.

Then there are core bread and butter issues. Simply put, a 20-year incumbent has gotten a little arrogant in driving the liberal agenda. During the debate on the budget, she ruled that tax cuts amendments were not in order because a $32 billion budget bill wasn’t a “money bill,” breaking long-standing precedent. In her world, $32 billion is not money, and Republican ideas don’t even deserve to get debated. She even said it was “her duty” to not allow Republican tax amendments. This combines a broader tax record of raising sales taxes, alcohol taxes, etc.

That sort of arrogance matches the way that she has run the Senate, turning a blind eye to corruption and violence in her caucus. The most astonishing was the case of a committee Chairman who had been indicted of sexual assault and sexual accosting. He eventually plead guilty and left the Senate. She refused to strip him of his committee chairmanship — and the bonus he gets with it — , even though he didn’t enter the state house  after his indictment. she said, “….” And he is only one of three Democratic state Senators to go to prison under her leadership, along with Dianne Wilkerson (bribery) and Anthony Galluccio (hit and run accident under the influence).

Did I mention a straight-forward corruption scandal? She’s got that too: the Probation Department scandal.  Right after the 2010 elections, a report was released about how legislators were getting their friends hired by the Probation Department.  Two months ago the U.S. Attorney indicted three Probation Department officials.  Murray was repeatedly mentioned within the indictments. Here’s how Commonwealth Magazine described it:

Murray, who took over as Senate president in mid-2007, is referred to in four instances in the indictment, with references to supporting candidates for probation jobs. The indictment says Murray had her hand in the hiring of Patrick Lawton, a politically connected member of a prominent South Shore family whose father and grandfather were judges, as a probation officer in Plymouth Family and Probate Court; the hiring and later promotion of Antonio Mataragas, a probation officer in Peabody District Court who made campaign donations to Sen. Fred Berry; and two probation officers in Plymouth District Court, including Melissa Melia, whom the indictment describes as “an acquaintance” of Barnstable District Attorney Michael O’Keefe.

Being true to form and as arrogant as possible, she defended the patronage scandal by saying  “that’s part of what we do.”

One of the lessons of the last couple of years is that the American people want to show these kind of arrogant, self-dealing political leaders the door. Help Tom Keyes show this one the door.


Obama sells out American values and interests in Russia

I applaud House Speaker John Boehner for his letter to President Barack Obama on Russia. I also applaud him for holding fire on Obama while he was abroad at an important security summit. It much more clearly articulated Obama’s shocking behavior with respect to Russia than any other criticism to date:

The Russian government has not lived up to its obligations to support the world community in reining in the rogue nations of Iran, Syria, and North Korea.  On the contrary, Russia has at times offered support for these dangerous regimes.  And it is increasingly evident that Russia is intent on expanding its boundaries and power through hostile acts – including invading a neighboring American ally.

But there’s a broader point here. When Obama told Medvedev to be patient until after the election, he was abandoning our Ambassador and Obama’s friend, our national security and that of our allies, human rights in Syria, and our respect for democratic values. Indeed, he was abandoning his own dignity and that of our country.

What do I mean?

A month ago, two things happened with respect to Russia that should force us to fundamentally reevaluate our relationship with the country. Just a month ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Russia “despicable” for defending the butcher of civilians in Syria at the UN Security Council. And the state run media compared our ambassador, Obama’s long-time ally, to a pedophile.

This ambassador isn’t just some diplomat. McFaul was an Obama advisor during his campaign and a member of the National Security Council. This was a personal insult to our Ambassador, the President of the United States, and the United States itself. Instead of defending his own friend and Ambassador, Obama goes supine and offers Russia concessions.

In fact Putin’s whole election campaign was a nationalist attack on the United States. The attack on McFaul was part of a strategy. So after months of attacking the United States and our ambassador, to win an election, Obama offers concessions.

These weren’t just any elections. These are to a government whose end is in sight after astounding levels of fraud. In the December elections, Putin’s party, United Russia engaged in “ frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including several serious indications of ballot-box stuffing,” according to the OSCE. Hundreds of thousands of protesters entered the streets to object to the debasement of democracy. About Putin’s own election, the OSCE said, “There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.”

Obama’s offer of “flexibility” was made in spite of personal insults,  insults to our country, and insults to our values. Hopefully Americans will realize the consequences of this foreign policy that takes neither ourselves nor our allies seriously.

Never let it be said that Obama takes governing seriously

Last night President Barack Obama spoke at two “star-studded” Hollywood fundraisers. And, according to Politco, he noted to a group of people who make their quite nice livings in theatrics that “people … like … poetry” rather than the “prose” of governing.

Mentioning former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s quip that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose, Obama said he’s written more of the latter than the former in his first three years in office. ”We’ve been slogging through prose for the last three years,” he said. “People, they like the poetry.”

Monday night, I did a radio show opposite a Democrat. The Democrat made very clear that he viewed the budget that the President released on Monday as an entirely political document. It made no claim to solving any long-term problems faced by the country. According to this consultant, the primary purpose of the budget was to make an argument about “fairness” and “who should pay.”

We are in the midst of poetry, I fear. And, as President Obama once said, it is all “just words.”

White House advises Senate to not lead in an election year

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) asked Ben Bernanke at the recent Senate Budget Committee if the lack of Presidential leadership was hurting the US economy. He asked, “I’m afraid President Obama has just been phoning it in here the last couple years in terms of our debt and deficit issue. … Can you speak to how harmful that is in terms of economic growth?”

Now Bernanke can’t answer these sorts of things straight away. But he basically got there. Here’s what he said:

Well Senator, I’m not going to comment on parliamentary maneuverings, but Senator Wyden made exactly the same question. You know, is uncertainty about the future of the tax code, government programs, and so on a negative for growth? I think it is because firms like to have certainty, like to be able to plan. And again I would take on the same responsibility as a regulator, that we need to make regulations as clear and as effective as possible.

So he’s saying that firms like to have certainty and that as a regulator, Bernanke wants things to be clear and effective. Today Jake Tapper asked Jay Carney about this. Should Senate pass a budget? Does the President have an opinion on this? Turns out that the answer is no

TAPPER: The White House has no opinion about whether or not the Senate should pass a budget? The president’s going to introduce one. The Fed chair says not having one is bad for growth. But the White House has no opinion about whether –

CARNEY: I have no opinion — the White House has no opinion on Chairman Bernanke’s assessment of how the Senate ought to do its business.

I think it is worth recalling why the Senate stopped passing budgets. Because they are politically difficult, and being accountable is hard in an election year. The Senate last passed a budget on April 29, 2009. They didn’t work on a budget in 2010. Why? Because a budget requires taking responsibility for the fiscal state of our country. And it was clear that the 2010 election was going to be rough for Democrats. So what did they do? They ducked. They dodged all responsibility. Republicans were willing to do it in the House, but the Senate was not. They didn’t even bring a serious budget to the floor and haven’t since.

And since the Republicans have been able to put their ideas up for inspection by the American people. See the Ryan Budget. Republicans are willing to fight an election on ideas and tell the American people what sacrifices will need to be made to address our fiscal crisis.

But now, not only is the Senate failing the American people, but President Obama is helping the Senate in dodging this responsibility. The fact is that he has no opinion on running the country like an adult. He has “no opinion” about giving business certainty.

Thank you Ron Johnson for asking the question and getting the clarity on this from Chairman Bernanke. And thank you to Jake Tapper for asking the White House if they are interested in leading.

They aren’t.


Absentee ballots and campaign shakedowns in Miami

So, I confess, I had to look up who Luther Campbell was, aside from a guy who came in fourth in a race for county mayor in Miami-Dade County. He was a somewhat high-profile music promoter, fronting for groups like 2 Live Crew. But it is his electoral experience, as described in his column in the Miami New Times, that draws our attention today. He describes some of the more ugly experiences that someone like him has when trying to put together a campaign in Miami and the strange offers he gets:

The only way to get that many absentee ballots is by hiring brokers who charge candidates thousands of dollars to deliver bundles to the county elections department. The brokers are the ones responsible for dead people voting in the ’80s and ’90s. Now they go around strong-arming the elderly residents at assisted living facilities or fooling them with free breakfast at the local IHOP. The brokers also pay off preachers so they can set up shop inside houses of worship to sign up absentee voters.

I saw it firsthand when I ran in the recent county mayoral race. One guy, who I won’t name, guaranteed he could deliver thousands of absentee ballots in North Miami and North Miami Beach for $3,000. I took a pass. It showed on Election Day. I had more early and Election Day ballots than absentee votes.

Sure would be neat if he said more about this. We know that this problem isn’t necessarily unique to south Florida, as there were a bunch of arrests in more rural north Florida earlier this month. One wonders if these are the sorts of “manufacturing ballots” stories that former Rep. Artur Davis was talking about in neighboring Alabama.

NYT Editorial Page Editor struggles to examine the record on voter fraud (UPDATED)

For a number of reasons, I tend to avoid claims of media bias, as I am often reminded of Silberman’s Law, from Rumsfeld’s Rules, that notes that we often overstate “conspiracy,” while “underestimat[ing] incompetency and fortuity.” However, I have trouble explaining this one any other way. The New York Times editorial page editor, Andy Rosenthal, says, “A half-dozen times or so I’ve asked followers of my Twitter feed for examples of voter fraud – particularly of a scale that would justify erecting barriers against whole groups of voters. Haven’t gotten any.” Now, this was the first that I had heard of it because, well, I don’t follow Mr. Rosenthal. However, I am not convinced that I will start following him, as he seems unequipped with the basic tools of research.

Now, like Mr. Rosenthal, I do get frustrated with discussions of election fraud that don’t detail specific convictions. And while I believe that ACORN-style registration fraud is a real problem, I try to avoid discussing it. After all, we should lead with our strongest argument.

So let’s review some recent convictions, just to remind ourselves that election fraud happens, it is well documented, and it sways elections:

  • My favorite example is the 2003 East Chicago (Indiana) Democratic mayoral primary. There were 32 convictions. The election results were also thrown out by the Indiana Supreme Court. Note that that last link is to a story in the Chicago Tribune, my home-town paper, that discusses the conviction of the “reform” candidate in that election, with the splendid sentence, “On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced former Mayor George Pabey to five years in prison, the third consecutive East Chicago mayor to come to grief in a federal courtroom.” This case galvanized support for a voter ID law in Indiana that was eventually argued in the US Supreme Court, where the opinion upholding the law was written by former Justice Stevens. Some noted at the time that Justice Stevens, who was normally a reliable liberal vote, grew up in Chicago.
  • Then there’s another favorite case, that of Ophelia Ford. Mrs. Ford is the sister of former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Sr., sister of former State Rep. John Form, now serving time in federal prison for bribery, and the aunt of former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., now a New York resident, and, undoubtedly, a subscriber to the New York Times. In this case, Mrs. Ford, a Democrat, defeated an incumbent Republican by 13 votes. The local newspaper, the Commercial Appeal, smelled something and dug. In the end, the State Senate vacated the election on a vote of 26-6, and three people plead guilty to felonies. In that case, the judge noted that the guilty plea actually prevented a full record of the fraud from being documented. But the guilty pleas did involve both dead and moved people voting.
  • Closer in both time and space to the New York Times, there is the ongoing investigation of the Troy City Council race from 2009, which I have written about in the past. The city clerk has plead guilty.
  • I also noted a series of convictions in Alabama that may have triggered the recent op-ed by former Alabama Representative Artur Davis backing voter ID laws.
I hope that Mr. Rosenthal looks through these records, all reported in the local newspapers. I think that it is fair to say that you can only deny that voter fraud exists if you willfully ignore it. Like the New York Times editorial page did when it wrote up all the new voter ID laws, but conspicuously ignored the case of Rhode Island, where the Democratic African-American Speaker and the only African-American in the State Senate were the co-sponsors of the new voter ID bill.
UPDATE: Mr. Rosenthal has said on twitter that he will respond. I look forward to the discussion.

FBI arrests 8 in Florida for absentee ballot fraud

I have been writing up a storm about absentee ballot fraud in various places around the country. Today, the FBI arrested eight people in Florida who appear to have committed some pretty severe fraud in a 2010 School Board election in Madison,. The violations are pretty straight-forward, but also pretty brazen.

Read the story:

The investigation revealed that Johnson and her husband, Ernest Sinclair Johnson, Jr., approached voters and obtained their agreement to vote, after which the voters were asked to sign an “Absentee Ballot Request Form.” Without the voters’ knowledge or consent, an alternate address was handwritten on the form, causing the ballots to be mailed to a third party rather than directly to the registered voters. In 2010, Florida law required ballots to be sent to a voter’s registered address unless the voter was absent from the county, hospitalized, or temporarily unable to occupy their residence. The Johnsons retrieved the ballots from the third party locations, brought the ballots to the voter, waited for the person to vote, and then returned the ballots to the Supervisor of Elections. In some instances, the voters were only presented with the absentee ballot signature envelope to sign and never received the actual ballot to cast their vote.

Among the people arrested was the Madison County Supervisor of Elections, who appears to have known about all of this. The list of arrests is actually pretty striking:

  • Abra “Tina” Hill Johnson, 43, was charged with 10 counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, and two counts of absentee ballots and voting violations.
  • Her husband Ernest Sinclair Johnson, Jr., 45, was charged with 11 counts of fraud in connection with casting votes, one count of corruptly influencing voting, and one count of perjury by false written declaration.
  • Jada Woods Williams, 34, Madison County Supervisor of Elections, was charged with 17 counts of neglect of duty and corrupt practices for allowing the distribution of these absentee ballots, contrary to Florida state statute.
  • Judy Ann Crumitie, 51, charged with four counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities.
  • Laverne V. Haynes, 57, charged with two counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, two counts of perjury by false written declaration, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities.
  • Ora Bell Rivers, 41, charged with seven counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, three counts of perjury by false written declaration, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities.
  • Raven Simona Williams, 20, charged with two counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, two counts of perjury by false written declaration, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities
  • Shalonda Michaelle Brinson, 36, charged with nine counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, and one count of provided a false report to law enforcement authorities.
Good thing that the FBI doesn’t believe the left’s claim that voter fraud doesn’t exist.

Indiana GOP goes after election fraud; 65 indictments in southern Indiana

Two weeks ago, we noted a Chicago Tribune story about fraud by either the Indiana Democratic Party or the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns in the 2008 Democratic Primary in Indiana. Now Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb is doing what I urge GOP chairman to do: document all the fraud that actually happens on the ground and the convictions that occur. I always like to point to the 32 convictions from the 2003 East Chicago Democratic Mayoral primary because the election was overturned, and we have testimony under oath of how the various sides try to cheat each other.  One example was sort of boring. In 2010, a Muncie city councilman who had been on the city council since 1987 was convicted of mishandling absentee ballots. But the tastiest was a new one.

Mike Marshall, who is running GOTV for the re-election of the Democratic mayor of Jeffersonville, right across the river from Louisville, just got indicted on 65 counts of absentee ballot fraud, along with his son and another guy. Now it wasn’t on behalf of the Democratic mayor. Mr. Marshall was responsible for a huge chunk of campaign expenditures:

Marshall was one of several people that Galligan personally thanked during his victory speech on primary night in May. According to the latest campaign finance reports, filed Friday, Galligan’s campaign paid Marshall’s business, North Vernon-based At Your Service Co., more than $52,710.23 through the year  — almost a third of the campaign’s total expenditures.

“He was in charge of getting out the vote,” Galligan said. When asked to elaborate on what those duties entailed, he referred questions to campaign manager Phil McCauley.

Get out the vote, eh? Well, it turned out that they knew about one allegation of the vote being gotten out improperly.

Republicans in Jennings County challenged several absentee ballots that were submitted in 2010, according to Negangard. Democrats subsequently ran an advertisement in the North Vernon Plain Dealer accusing the Republicans of trying to deny those absentee voters their constitutional rights. One of those voters identified in the ad was a Marine named Ben Cook, who later signed a sworn affidavit stating he’d never cast a ballot. That initiated the larger investigation.

It looked like the Dems improperly voted a Marine, depriving him of his rights. And once they investigated, they found enough material to indict on another 64 charges. Sounds more like a modus operandi than an isolated incident.

H/T Rick Hasen