Who says that the tea parties aren’t winning elections?

Over the weekend, Politico ran a story by Alex Isenstadt about the "failures" of Tea Party candidates. This article reads more like DC-based myopia. Movements don’t transform at the federal level or statewide level first. Simply creating the network with the skills to execute huge campaigns is hard and takes time.

The place to go to see the successes are things like county parties, congressional district conventions, state legislative, and municipal seats. Those are races where a little bit of money and a little bit of energy go a huge way. They are also races with relatively low name ID. And they are the entry-level races for future leaders.

One of races that showed me that something was going on was the November election of Dan Halloran to the New York City Council. He is also the chairman of the New York chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus. (recall that RLC is the branch of the Ron Paul movement that believes in integration with the GOP party infrastructure)

Similarly, anyone who has been following local party politics knows that tea party supporters and Ron Paul and RLC organizations have had a huge impact on local party organizations. I wrote about this in response to Ken Cuchinelli’s crushing convention victory to become the Republican nominee for Virginia’s Attorney General.

It is easy to miss what is going on in American politics and to the American right if you focus on Washington.  It isn’t happening in Washington. What is happening will lead to the Washington-based leadership being overturned by a generation of new leaders.

 

0
Your rating: None

Who says that the tea parties aren’t winning elections?

Over the weekend, Politico ran a story by Alex Isenstadt about the "failures" of Tea Party candidates. This article reads more like DC-based myopia. Movements don’t transform at the federal level or statewide level first. Simply creating the network with the skills to execute huge campaigns is hard and takes time.

The place to go to see the successes are things like county parties, congressional district conventions, state legislative, and municipal seats. Those are races where a little bit of money and a little bit of energy go a huge way. They are also races with relatively low name ID. And they are the entry-level races for future leaders.

One of races that showed me that something was going on was the November election of Dan Halloran to the New York City Council. He is also the chairman of the New York chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus. (recall that RLC is the branch of the Ron Paul movement that believes in integration with the GOP party infrastructure)

Similarly, anyone who has been following local party politics knows that tea party supporters and Ron Paul and RLC organizations have had a huge impact on local party organizations. I wrote about this in response to Ken Cuchinelli’s crushing convention victory to become the Republican nominee for Virginia’s Attorney General.

It is easy to miss what is going on in American politics and to the American right if you focus on Washington.  It isn’t happening in Washington. What is happening will lead to the Washington-based leadership being overturned by a generation of new leaders.

 

0
Your rating: None

Who says that the tea parties aren’t winning elections?

Over the weekend, Politico ran a story by Alex Isenstadt about the "failures" of Tea Party candidates. This article reads more like DC-based myopia. Movements don’t transform at the federal level or statewide level first. Simply creating the network with the skills to execute huge campaigns is hard and takes time.

The place to go to see the successes are things like county parties, congressional district conventions, state legislative, and municipal seats. Those are races where a little bit of money and a little bit of energy go a huge way. They are also races with relatively low name ID. And they are the entry-level races for future leaders.

One of races that showed me that something was going on was the November election of Dan Halloran to the New York City Council. He is also the chairman of the New York chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus. (recall that RLC is the branch of the Ron Paul movement that believes in integration with the GOP party infrastructure)

Similarly, anyone who has been following local party politics knows that tea party supporters and Ron Paul and RLC organizations have had a huge impact on local party organizations. I wrote about this in response to Ken Cuchinelli’s crushing convention victory to become the Republican nominee for Virginia’s Attorney General.

It is easy to miss what is going on in American politics and to the American right if you focus on Washington.  It isn’t happening in Washington. What is happening will lead to the Washington-based leadership being overturned by a generation of new leaders.

 

0
Your rating: None

The problem with Recovery.gov isn’t the data, it is the politics

The White House has gotten a black eye for two key problems with the Recovery.gov stimulus database. The first problem was that the numbers of jobs were bogus. The Washington Examiner has concluded that at least 10% of the jobs were fabrications. The second problem was that the data about congressional districts were clearly garbage.

But I am not here to rehash this. There is a legitimate problem with the data. But the data wouldn’t be such a big deal if the White House hadn’t tried to politicize the data and claim victory.

Recovery.gov is a tremendous success for the transparency movement. Politicians lie. A key goal of the transparency movement is to give the people the power to keep the politicians accountable. And that’s what this has done.

Here’s what happened: The White House shared the data and lied about what it showed. And the data has been used to hang them.

First, let’s go to the stimulus bill itself. Congress demanded that the White House report jobs created or saved numbers:

(8) The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

But that legislative langauge says that "[t]he website shall provide a link to estimates" … "by the Act". The bill doesn’t require a per-contract or a per-district accounting of jobs.

So what’s happening? The White House quickly learned that the stimulus bill was going to be a hot potato. So they started to use Recovery.gov to give them (and their Democratic allies in Congress — recall no Republicans voted for this) cover.

Let’s be clear what happened here: the White House politicized this data. And now they are getting hung with the politicization of it (not the bad data).

And this goes to the deeper point. Check out this story from the Washington Post from October 30th, the weekend before election day:

Reports to be released Friday on the government Web site Recovery.gov are expected to show that the $150 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package have created or saved about 650,000 jobs, White House officials said Friday morning.

White House officials said the reports — which were filed by state and city governments and other recipients of stimulus grants and loans — will confirm their recent estimates that the $787 billion package passed in February has so far saved or created about a million jobs, putting it on track to match their estimates of 3.5 million jobs created or saved over the three-year span of the stimulus. That calculation is based on the fact that today’s reports do not include much of the package’s spending — tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to strapped states, which injected tens of billions more into the economy and, in the case of the state aid, forestalled layoffs of state workers.

The White House clearly leaked this information the weekend before election day to claim victory based on garbage data. Furthermore, they claimed that Recovery.gov confirmed their previous assessments, and didn’t come to any new conclusions based on data. 

Fifteen days earlier, based on partial data, the White House also claimed victory based on incomplete data, using the same number. From the Hill’s Walter Alarkon:

"All signs — from private estimates to this fragmentary data — point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

That same 1m had been their talking point for a while. In September the White House said:

This analysis indicates that the ARRA and other policy actions caused employment in August to be slightly more than 1 million jobs higher than it otherwise would have been.

In May, they said:

Our finding was that the ARRA would increase employment relative to the baseline in this quarter by approximately 3.5 million

Six months later, the White House was repeating these same numbers even though they had data to prove it false. That’s the problem.

0
Your rating: None

The problem with Recovery.gov isn’t the data, it is the politics

The White House has gotten a black eye for two key problems with the Recovery.gov stimulus database. The first problem was that the numbers of jobs were bogus. The Washington Examiner has concluded that at least 10% of the jobs were fabrications. The second problem was that the data about congressional districts were clearly garbage.

But I am not here to rehash this. There is a legitimate problem with the data. But the data wouldn’t be such a big deal if the White House hadn’t tried to politicize the data and claim victory.

Recovery.gov is a tremendous success for the transparency movement. Politicians lie. A key goal of the transparency movement is to give the people the power to keep the politicians accountable. And that’s what this has done.

Here’s what happened: The White House shared the data and lied about what it showed. And the data has been used to hang them.

First, let’s go to the stimulus bill itself. Congress demanded that the White House report jobs created or saved numbers:

(8) The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

But that legislative langauge says that "[t]he website shall provide a link to estimates" … "by the Act". The bill doesn’t require a per-contract or a per-district accounting of jobs.

So what’s happening? The White House quickly learned that the stimulus bill was going to be a hot potato. So they started to use Recovery.gov to give them (and their Democratic allies in Congress — recall no Republicans voted for this) cover.

Let’s be clear what happened here: the White House politicized this data. And now they are getting hung with the politicization of it (not the bad data).

And this goes to the deeper point. Check out this story from the Washington Post from October 30th, the weekend before election day:

Reports to be released Friday on the government Web site Recovery.gov are expected to show that the $150 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package have created or saved about 650,000 jobs, White House officials said Friday morning.

White House officials said the reports — which were filed by state and city governments and other recipients of stimulus grants and loans — will confirm their recent estimates that the $787 billion package passed in February has so far saved or created about a million jobs, putting it on track to match their estimates of 3.5 million jobs created or saved over the three-year span of the stimulus. That calculation is based on the fact that today’s reports do not include much of the package’s spending — tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to strapped states, which injected tens of billions more into the economy and, in the case of the state aid, forestalled layoffs of state workers.

The White House clearly leaked this information the weekend before election day to claim victory based on garbage data. Furthermore, they claimed that Recovery.gov confirmed their previous assessments, and didn’t come to any new conclusions based on data. 

Fifteen days earlier, based on partial data, the White House also claimed victory based on incomplete data, using the same number. From the Hill’s Walter Alarkon:

"All signs — from private estimates to this fragmentary data — point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

That same 1m had been their talking point for a while. In September the White House said:

This analysis indicates that the ARRA and other policy actions caused employment in August to be slightly more than 1 million jobs higher than it otherwise would have been.

In May, they said:

Our finding was that the ARRA would increase employment relative to the baseline in this quarter by approximately 3.5 million

Six months later, the White House was repeating these same numbers even though they had data to prove it false. That’s the problem.

0
Your rating: None

The problem with Recovery.gov isn’t the data, it is the politics

The White House has gotten a black eye for two key problems with the Recovery.gov stimulus database. The first problem was that the numbers of jobs were bogus. The Washington Examiner has concluded that at least 10% of the jobs were fabrications. The second problem was that the data about congressional districts were clearly garbage.

But I am not here to rehash this. There is a legitimate problem with the data. But the data wouldn’t be such a big deal if the White House hadn’t tried to politicize the data and claim victory.

Recovery.gov is a tremendous success for the transparency movement. Politicians lie. A key goal of the transparency movement is to give the people the power to keep the politicians accountable. And that’s what this has done.

Here’s what happened: The White House shared the data and lied about what it showed. And the data has been used to hang them.

First, let’s go to the stimulus bill itself. Congress demanded that the White House report jobs created or saved numbers:

(8) The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

But that legislative langauge says that "[t]he website shall provide a link to estimates" … "by the Act". The bill doesn’t require a per-contract or a per-district accounting of jobs.

So what’s happening? The White House quickly learned that the stimulus bill was going to be a hot potato. So they started to use Recovery.gov to give them (and their Democratic allies in Congress — recall no Republicans voted for this) cover.

Let’s be clear what happened here: the White House politicized this data. And now they are getting hung with the politicization of it (not the bad data).

And this goes to the deeper point. Check out this story from the Washington Post from October 30th, the weekend before election day:

Reports to be released Friday on the government Web site Recovery.gov are expected to show that the $150 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package have created or saved about 650,000 jobs, White House officials said Friday morning.

White House officials said the reports — which were filed by state and city governments and other recipients of stimulus grants and loans — will confirm their recent estimates that the $787 billion package passed in February has so far saved or created about a million jobs, putting it on track to match their estimates of 3.5 million jobs created or saved over the three-year span of the stimulus. That calculation is based on the fact that today’s reports do not include much of the package’s spending — tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to strapped states, which injected tens of billions more into the economy and, in the case of the state aid, forestalled layoffs of state workers.

The White House clearly leaked this information the weekend before election day to claim victory based on garbage data. Furthermore, they claimed that Recovery.gov confirmed their previous assessments, and didn’t come to any new conclusions based on data. 

Fifteen days earlier, based on partial data, the White House also claimed victory based on incomplete data, using the same number. From the Hill’s Walter Alarkon:

"All signs — from private estimates to this fragmentary data — point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

That same 1m had been their talking point for a while. In September the White House said:

This analysis indicates that the ARRA and other policy actions caused employment in August to be slightly more than 1 million jobs higher than it otherwise would have been.

In May, they said:

Our finding was that the ARRA would increase employment relative to the baseline in this quarter by approximately 3.5 million

Six months later, the White House was repeating these same numbers even though they had data to prove it false. That’s the problem.

0
Your rating: None

Impact of NY-23 on the 2012 Presidential race

 Today’s Washington Times has a story by Ralph Hallow about NY-23. One of the things Ralph discussed was Newt Gingrich’s struggles with the race. He quotes Newt:

He said Mr. Hoffman’s "rise is a result of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, the Club for Growth, Gov. [Sarah] Palin and [Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and virtually the entire national conservative movement joining with Mike Long, whose Conservative Party, a very established organization, which won its first big race 39 years ago."

It is striking to me that Tim Pawlenty is the only presumptive 2012 candidate in that list, unless Sarah Palin really gets in, but there are no indications that she is. After a Presidential primary in which Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee fought out for the conservative mantle (to a stalemate, I might add), they both were absent from this battle.

You see, NY-23 is the first big fight of the 21st century for the conservative movement. It is important to remember that this movement is about moving the to the right by moving its governing coalition to the right. That means, by definition, the Republican Party because it is the vehicle of the center-right coalition in American politics. There can be no doubt that, whatever the result on Tuesday or afterwards, that the leadership of the GOP has been chastened. Marc Ambinder’s analyzes the race and concludes that Scozzafava’s social liberalism was necessary to create the conditions on the ground for the Conservative Party to reach out to national groups. However, ultimately, the Club for Growth, responding to her positions on card-check, the stimulus, etc., funded Hoffman and really made this happen. In other words, the two key components of the conservative movement came together in perfect complimentarity.

So we have the definitional fight for the conservative movement, post-Bush. And only Pawlenty shows up at the fight? But for the movement, the question is as much "are you with us on the fight" as it is "are you with us on issues". Let’s consider how this impacts Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, both of whom declined being in the fight over the last several weeks.

Let’s take Huckabee first. Mike Huckabee not only didn’t endorse Doug Hoffman, Huckabee took $20,000 away from Hoffman’s GOTV effort (which tells me that he isn’t running, but …):

Huckabee, who according to Upstate Committee sources is receiving a five-figure fee in excess of $20,000 for his appearance, has refused to personally endorse Hoffman, who is pro-life and signed the "no-tax" pledge in August before his announced candidacy, and has informed Hoffman that HuckPAC will not support him either. Some Conservative Party officials believe Huckabee’s fee is intended for his PAC. Ironically, the dinner is held to honor conservatives who exemplify conservative principles.

This offers a(nother) critique of Huckabee from the movement perspective. Huckabee is particularly vulnerable here. In 2008, no electorally significant critique damaged Huckabee within his base of evangelical voters. Why? I think that Ramesh Ponnuru nailed it in a discussion of Romney’s campaign:

Romney’s problem was not that he is a Mormon. It was that he is not an evangelical. A strong plurality of evangelicals “would have backed Huckabee against anybody — Mormon, Buddhist, or Catholic,” says another former Romney adviser. “They were voting for one of their own.” To attribute Romney’s loss in Iowa to anti-Mormon prejudice from evangelicals, he says, is like attributing Romney’s victories in Utah and Nevada to Mormons’ hostility to people from all other faiths. But this adviser reaches the same conclusion as his colleagues who blamed anti-Mormonism: Romney should not spend as much time and resources on Iowa next time. 

In other words, the options for Huckabee voters were to go to Romney. Not going to happen. But guess what? Tim Pawlenty is an evangelical. Indeed, during the VP speculation in 2008, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody argued, "Pawlenty may be the one guy to help McCain with working class moderates AND socially conservative Evangelicals." So he can genuinely compete with Huckabee or someone similar to his right.

Ramesh notes that Romney ran as the candidate of the conservative movement (and I would point out that Fred Thompson’s candidacy was about the fundamental mismatch of Romney the man and Romney the candidate of the movement):

All these advisers may, however, be looking at Romney’s options too narrowly. Romney’s strategy in the last campaign was not to run as the social conservatives’ candidate. It was to run as the movement-conservative candidate. Throughout the primary he claimed that he best represented what he called “the three legs of the stool” holding up conservatism, with the legs representing conservative positions on social issues, economics, and foreign policy. The attempt to rally his party’s right made a certain strategic sense. Giuliani and John McCain started the primary season with higher profiles than Romney and, in different ways, represented the party’s left wing. Running to the right thus presented Romney with an opportunity.

Romney, in not playing in NY-23 has, in some important sense, laid the groundwork for a(nother) criticism of him as the candidate of the conservative movement. How can he be the candidate of the movement but duck out on the first major fight of the movement. (2nd, if you count healthcare, which doesn’t cut nicely for Mitt…) Can he really run from the same location that he had earlier? No. This suggests that he is taking the route that Ramesh almost recommends by moving to the left end of the party and/or the establishment. (I distinguish between these)

This time Romney could follow a different path. There are no prospective McCains or Giulianis, no heavyweights from the left or even the center of the party. Instead of running as the movement conservative in the race, Romney could run as a party-establishment candidate who is acceptable to the Right. That strategy wouldn’t require him to move left on the issues. But it would entail, among other things, taking fewer jabs at the other candidates for not being conservative enough (jabbing them for having bad ideas would still be in season). It would entail advertising Romney’s conservatism less. The policies could still be conservative — but he would promote them as good ideas more than as conservative ones. 

 I don’t know how this plays out. Romney running from establishment/left of the party, and Pawlenty running to the right? Perhaps. There’s another angle that Ramesh notes:

To be a strong candidate, finally, Romney has to address one weakness that has not gotten much attention: his lack of appeal to middle-income and low-income voters. The exit polls from the primaries tell a consistent story. In Iowa and Florida, he won pluralities only among those voters who made more than $100,000 a year. In New Hampshire, voters had to make more than $150,000 before they started favoring him. Michigan, where Romney’s father was governor, was the great exception: Romney won among every income group above $30,000 a year. If Romney can’t find an economic message and a way of making it that appeals to middle-class voters, he may as well save his money and not bother running.

Again, we have Pawlenty’s strong suit: reaching out to the middle class and working class.

The field is set. A working-to-middle class Midwestern candidate with strong evangelical roots running against a white-shoe Northeast wealthy candidate with strong western roots. This will be an interesting battle.

5
Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Impact of NY-23 on the 2012 Presidential race

 Today’s Washington Times has a story by Ralph Hallow about NY-23. One of the things Ralph discussed was Newt Gingrich’s struggles with the race. He quotes Newt:

He said Mr. Hoffman’s "rise is a result of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, the Club for Growth, Gov. [Sarah] Palin and [Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and virtually the entire national conservative movement joining with Mike Long, whose Conservative Party, a very established organization, which won its first big race 39 years ago."

It is striking to me that Tim Pawlenty is the only presumptive 2012 candidate in that list, unless Sarah Palin really gets in, but there are no indications that she is. After a Presidential primary in which Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee fought out for the conservative mantle (to a stalemate, I might add), they both were absent from this battle.

You see, NY-23 is the first big fight of the 21st century for the conservative movement. It is important to remember that this movement is about moving the to the right by moving its governing coalition to the right. That means, by definition, the Republican Party because it is the vehicle of the center-right coalition in American politics. There can be no doubt that, whatever the result on Tuesday or afterwards, that the leadership of the GOP has been chastened. Marc Ambinder’s analyzes the race and concludes that Scozzafava’s social liberalism was necessary to create the conditions on the ground for the Conservative Party to reach out to national groups. However, ultimately, the Club for Growth, responding to her positions on card-check, the stimulus, etc., funded Hoffman and really made this happen. In other words, the two key components of the conservative movement came together in perfect complimentarity.

So we have the definitional fight for the conservative movement, post-Bush. And only Pawlenty shows up at the fight? But for the movement, the question is as much "are you with us on the fight" as it is "are you with us on issues". Let’s consider how this impacts Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, both of whom declined being in the fight over the last several weeks.

Let’s take Huckabee first. Mike Huckabee not only didn’t endorse Doug Hoffman, Huckabee took $20,000 away from Hoffman’s GOTV effort (which tells me that he isn’t running, but …):

Huckabee, who according to Upstate Committee sources is receiving a five-figure fee in excess of $20,000 for his appearance, has refused to personally endorse Hoffman, who is pro-life and signed the "no-tax" pledge in August before his announced candidacy, and has informed Hoffman that HuckPAC will not support him either. Some Conservative Party officials believe Huckabee’s fee is intended for his PAC. Ironically, the dinner is held to honor conservatives who exemplify conservative principles.

This offers a(nother) critique of Huckabee from the movement perspective. Huckabee is particularly vulnerable here. In 2008, no electorally significant critique damaged Huckabee within his base of evangelical voters. Why? I think that Ramesh Ponnuru nailed it in a discussion of Romney’s campaign:

Romney’s problem was not that he is a Mormon. It was that he is not an evangelical. A strong plurality of evangelicals “would have backed Huckabee against anybody — Mormon, Buddhist, or Catholic,” says another former Romney adviser. “They were voting for one of their own.” To attribute Romney’s loss in Iowa to anti-Mormon prejudice from evangelicals, he says, is like attributing Romney’s victories in Utah and Nevada to Mormons’ hostility to people from all other faiths. But this adviser reaches the same conclusion as his colleagues who blamed anti-Mormonism: Romney should not spend as much time and resources on Iowa next time. 

In other words, the options for Huckabee voters were to go to Romney. Not going to happen. But guess what? Tim Pawlenty is an evangelical. Indeed, during the VP speculation in 2008, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody argued, "Pawlenty may be the one guy to help McCain with working class moderates AND socially conservative Evangelicals." So he can genuinely compete with Huckabee or someone similar to his right.

Ramesh notes that Romney ran as the candidate of the conservative movement (and I would point out that Fred Thompson’s candidacy was about the fundamental mismatch of Romney the man and Romney the candidate of the movement):

All these advisers may, however, be looking at Romney’s options too narrowly. Romney’s strategy in the last campaign was not to run as the social conservatives’ candidate. It was to run as the movement-conservative candidate. Throughout the primary he claimed that he best represented what he called “the three legs of the stool” holding up conservatism, with the legs representing conservative positions on social issues, economics, and foreign policy. The attempt to rally his party’s right made a certain strategic sense. Giuliani and John McCain started the primary season with higher profiles than Romney and, in different ways, represented the party’s left wing. Running to the right thus presented Romney with an opportunity.

Romney, in not playing in NY-23 has, in some important sense, laid the groundwork for a(nother) criticism of him as the candidate of the conservative movement. How can he be the candidate of the movement but duck out on the first major fight of the movement. (2nd, if you count healthcare, which doesn’t cut nicely for Mitt…) Can he really run from the same location that he had earlier? No. This suggests that he is taking the route that Ramesh almost recommends by moving to the left end of the party and/or the establishment. (I distinguish between these)

This time Romney could follow a different path. There are no prospective McCains or Giulianis, no heavyweights from the left or even the center of the party. Instead of running as the movement conservative in the race, Romney could run as a party-establishment candidate who is acceptable to the Right. That strategy wouldn’t require him to move left on the issues. But it would entail, among other things, taking fewer jabs at the other candidates for not being conservative enough (jabbing them for having bad ideas would still be in season). It would entail advertising Romney’s conservatism less. The policies could still be conservative — but he would promote them as good ideas more than as conservative ones. 

 I don’t know how this plays out. Romney running from establishment/left of the party, and Pawlenty running to the right? Perhaps. There’s another angle that Ramesh notes:

To be a strong candidate, finally, Romney has to address one weakness that has not gotten much attention: his lack of appeal to middle-income and low-income voters. The exit polls from the primaries tell a consistent story. In Iowa and Florida, he won pluralities only among those voters who made more than $100,000 a year. In New Hampshire, voters had to make more than $150,000 before they started favoring him. Michigan, where Romney’s father was governor, was the great exception: Romney won among every income group above $30,000 a year. If Romney can’t find an economic message and a way of making it that appeals to middle-class voters, he may as well save his money and not bother running.

Again, we have Pawlenty’s strong suit: reaching out to the middle class and working class.

The field is set. A working-to-middle class Midwestern candidate with strong evangelical roots running against a white-shoe Northeast wealthy candidate with strong western roots. This will be an interesting battle.

5
Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Impact of NY-23 on the 2012 Presidential race

 Today’s Washington Times has a story by Ralph Hallow about NY-23. One of the things Ralph discussed was Newt Gingrich’s struggles with the race. He quotes Newt:

He said Mr. Hoffman’s "rise is a result of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, the Club for Growth, Gov. [Sarah] Palin and [Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and virtually the entire national conservative movement joining with Mike Long, whose Conservative Party, a very established organization, which won its first big race 39 years ago."

It is striking to me that Tim Pawlenty is the only presumptive 2012 candidate in that list, unless Sarah Palin really gets in, but there are no indications that she is. After a Presidential primary in which Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee fought out for the conservative mantle (to a stalemate, I might add), they both were absent from this battle.

You see, NY-23 is the first big fight of the 21st century for the conservative movement. It is important to remember that this movement is about moving the to the right by moving its governing coalition to the right. That means, by definition, the Republican Party because it is the vehicle of the center-right coalition in American politics. There can be no doubt that, whatever the result on Tuesday or afterwards, that the leadership of the GOP has been chastened. Marc Ambinder’s analyzes the race and concludes that Scozzafava’s social liberalism was necessary to create the conditions on the ground for the Conservative Party to reach out to national groups. However, ultimately, the Club for Growth, responding to her positions on card-check, the stimulus, etc., funded Hoffman and really made this happen. In other words, the two key components of the conservative movement came together in perfect complimentarity.

So we have the definitional fight for the conservative movement, post-Bush. And only Pawlenty shows up at the fight? But for the movement, the question is as much "are you with us on the fight" as it is "are you with us on issues". Let’s consider how this impacts Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, both of whom declined being in the fight over the last several weeks.

Let’s take Huckabee first. Mike Huckabee not only didn’t endorse Doug Hoffman, Huckabee took $20,000 away from Hoffman’s GOTV effort (which tells me that he isn’t running, but …):

Huckabee, who according to Upstate Committee sources is receiving a five-figure fee in excess of $20,000 for his appearance, has refused to personally endorse Hoffman, who is pro-life and signed the "no-tax" pledge in August before his announced candidacy, and has informed Hoffman that HuckPAC will not support him either. Some Conservative Party officials believe Huckabee’s fee is intended for his PAC. Ironically, the dinner is held to honor conservatives who exemplify conservative principles.

This offers a(nother) critique of Huckabee from the movement perspective. Huckabee is particularly vulnerable here. In 2008, no electorally significant critique damaged Huckabee within his base of evangelical voters. Why? I think that Ramesh Ponnuru nailed it in a discussion of Romney’s campaign:

Romney’s problem was not that he is a Mormon. It was that he is not an evangelical. A strong plurality of evangelicals “would have backed Huckabee against anybody — Mormon, Buddhist, or Catholic,” says another former Romney adviser. “They were voting for one of their own.” To attribute Romney’s loss in Iowa to anti-Mormon prejudice from evangelicals, he says, is like attributing Romney’s victories in Utah and Nevada to Mormons’ hostility to people from all other faiths. But this adviser reaches the same conclusion as his colleagues who blamed anti-Mormonism: Romney should not spend as much time and resources on Iowa next time. 

In other words, the options for Huckabee voters were to go to Romney. Not going to happen. But guess what? Tim Pawlenty is an evangelical. Indeed, during the VP speculation in 2008, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody argued, "Pawlenty may be the one guy to help McCain with working class moderates AND socially conservative Evangelicals." So he can genuinely compete with Huckabee or someone similar to his right.

Ramesh notes that Romney ran as the candidate of the conservative movement (and I would point out that Fred Thompson’s candidacy was about the fundamental mismatch of Romney the man and Romney the candidate of the movement):

All these advisers may, however, be looking at Romney’s options too narrowly. Romney’s strategy in the last campaign was not to run as the social conservatives’ candidate. It was to run as the movement-conservative candidate. Throughout the primary he claimed that he best represented what he called “the three legs of the stool” holding up conservatism, with the legs representing conservative positions on social issues, economics, and foreign policy. The attempt to rally his party’s right made a certain strategic sense. Giuliani and John McCain started the primary season with higher profiles than Romney and, in different ways, represented the party’s left wing. Running to the right thus presented Romney with an opportunity.

Romney, in not playing in NY-23 has, in some important sense, laid the groundwork for a(nother) criticism of him as the candidate of the conservative movement. How can he be the candidate of the movement but duck out on the first major fight of the movement. (2nd, if you count healthcare, which doesn’t cut nicely for Mitt…) Can he really run from the same location that he had earlier? No. This suggests that he is taking the route that Ramesh almost recommends by moving to the left end of the party and/or the establishment. (I distinguish between these)

This time Romney could follow a different path. There are no prospective McCains or Giulianis, no heavyweights from the left or even the center of the party. Instead of running as the movement conservative in the race, Romney could run as a party-establishment candidate who is acceptable to the Right. That strategy wouldn’t require him to move left on the issues. But it would entail, among other things, taking fewer jabs at the other candidates for not being conservative enough (jabbing them for having bad ideas would still be in season). It would entail advertising Romney’s conservatism less. The policies could still be conservative — but he would promote them as good ideas more than as conservative ones. 

 I don’t know how this plays out. Romney running from establishment/left of the party, and Pawlenty running to the right? Perhaps. There’s another angle that Ramesh notes:

To be a strong candidate, finally, Romney has to address one weakness that has not gotten much attention: his lack of appeal to middle-income and low-income voters. The exit polls from the primaries tell a consistent story. In Iowa and Florida, he won pluralities only among those voters who made more than $100,000 a year. In New Hampshire, voters had to make more than $150,000 before they started favoring him. Michigan, where Romney’s father was governor, was the great exception: Romney won among every income group above $30,000 a year. If Romney can’t find an economic message and a way of making it that appeals to middle-class voters, he may as well save his money and not bother running.

Again, we have Pawlenty’s strong suit: reaching out to the middle class and working class.

The field is set. A working-to-middle class Midwestern candidate with strong evangelical roots running against a white-shoe Northeast wealthy candidate with strong western roots. This will be an interesting battle.

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Virginia argues that they don’t need to send out military absentee ballots in time to vote

Last year, we covered some of the problems in the counting of military absentee ballots in Virginia, as did others. This problem has not gone away. It has just moved. The day before election day 2008, the McCain campaign filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia to force Virginia to count military absentee ballots that came in after election day. McCain lost Virginia by more than enough votes, but the case went on with the Department of Justice replacing the McCain campaign.There were filings last month and will likely be a hearing this month. So what?

The Virginia State Board of Elections argued in their most recent filing that they have no legal obligation to send out military absentee ballots in a timely manner. Restated, the State of Virginia has argued in a federal court filing that they can legally send out absentee ballots to active duty soldiers the day before an election. Restated again, the Democratic Chairwoman of the Virginia State Board of Election (appointed by the Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine, in his capacity as Virginia Governor) Jean Cunningham just claimed a legal basis for massively raising the barrier to voting for soldiers at war.

Really. Read on for details.

The details of the legal proceedings are at the invaluable Election Law@Moritz. Let’s start with the most recent filing on behalf of the defendant

There is no federal statute that requires States to mail absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters a minimum number of days before an election. The Complaint in Intervention is based entirely on a “determination” by the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense that such ballots be mailed at least 30 days before an election, and a “recommendation” that States allow 45 days for round-trip mailing of absentee ballots.

This is remarkable, and the implications of this should be understood. First of all, some counties in both Virginia and New Jersey haven’t sent out absentee ballots yet in violation of their own laws. Whether due to maliciousness or simply being overburdened and understaffed is always up for debate. If Virginia prevails, there would be a legal argument for putting the ballots of active duty military at the back of the bus, as it were.

Second, this whole debate concerns only federal elections. States have to pass laws that allow for military voting in non-federal elections. I do not believe that either state has done that. Virginia’s filing notes that many of these questions are irrelevant in many ways because of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, but their flier on military voting notes "Virginia allows you use the FWAB as an absentee ballot for Federal Offices only". In other words, not state and local elections. In fact, state laws have to do more to let active duty military vote in state elections.

Third, if ballots were even to be sent out in a reasonable time, a question is them getting back in time. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Dan Boren, Sen. John Cornyn, and Sen. Mark Begich have a proposal to have DoD pay for ballots to be returned by express mail, but Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi are blocking consideration in the House, even though it passed the Senate last year

In discussing last year’s issues, Marc Ambinder noted, "Democrats insist they’re biased towards access… so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?"

Good question.

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