If you want to see why Senate Republicans are acting like sociopaths by putting financial reform at risk, just take a look at the Cook or Rothenberg House ratings. Rothenberg, for example, moved 44 seats toward the Republicans on Friday.
These moves are mainly driven by the release of first quarter fundraising numbers on April 15, which showed that Republicans are out-raising Democrats in key House races. Democrats won a lot of tough seats in the last election. Those incumbents need a lot of money to defend those seats, both for media buys and get-out-the-vote. In some key races, that’s not happening.
The audience for tea party rhetoric, and for Mitch McConnell’s endless filibusters, is Republican donors. If those people are convinced that the yahoo base will turn out in force, and that the rest of Obama’s agenda can be stopped, they’ll give big. Republican donors know that Republican control of the House, coupled with a constant filibuster in the Senate, will mean endless votes on HCR repeal, passage of watered-down financial “reform”, and little else.
The failed Obama presidency was a joke a few months ago. The bad spelling and general stupidity of a retrograde 18% of the population has been quite amusing recently. I’m not laughing right now.
Gee, a political strategy based on keeping your base enthusiastic? Hoocoodanode?
Certainly explains why Obama is caving on that $50 billion bank fund in the Senate financial reform legislation this morning.
The more the GOP fights, the more they raise. And the more Obama folds to try to appease them, which only makes him look weaker and convinces the GOP that Obama will not defend his agenda and that it can be overturned…giving the GOP even more fundraising power and depressing the Dem base.
There’s your GOP plan for the rest of the year folks, and Obama’s playing right along.
I simply have a hard time believing the House will flip. I understand it’s a possibility, but I don’t get why people would be responding positively to Republicans, even in purple to slightly red districts. Maybe in some districts, but in enough to flip the House?
What’s giving me hope? The fact that there have been some generic polls that show the Democrats even or actually ahead, plus the probability that they will do something to fuck it up, as they usually do. Besides that, I read somewhere that the Republicans are more motivated, but because there are fewer of them, it more or less evens out. But at the same time, I really, really get nervous when I read that they think the loses could go as high as 70 seats or something like that.
It’s my considered opinion that early polling is less than useless. Keep in mind that the same pollsters and pundits told us for months on end that Obama wouldn’t beat Hillary, wouldn’t win the election and that health care reform would never pass. Plus, fundraising is cyclical.
I wouldn’t freak out this early in the game. Long way to November.
If they can get their base juiced up, so can we.
Of course, their base is constantly trembling on the brink of madness and feels outrage when their quarter won’t go in the parking meter, so they have a bit of an advantage when it comes to getting people freaked out.
Paging Dr. Dean!
Apparently, ignorance really is bliss. Imagine how much happier I’d be if I hadn’t read that.
@Libby: I agree that early polling is useless. Rothenberg and Cook look at other factors in their ratings, including fundraising. Cash is a huge leading indicator, and it’s pointing Republicans’ way.
Okay, folks. The Repubican supporters have more money than we do but there are more of us.
“Don’t mourn. Organize.” [was that Big Bill that said that?]
We The People actually took possession of the presidential election in 2008. We can do something similar there.
Maybe that’s true, but it’s not that bad for the Democrats. And then there’s this, from the article:
c u n d gulag
My part-time job is polling for a mostly Republican outfit.
We do exclusively land-line calls. In almost 6 months of working 2 evenings and a weekend day every week, here’s a rough guess as to the number of people that I’ve talked to:
1, maybe 2, in their 20’s.
3 or 4 in their 30’s.
A little more that a dozen in their 40’s.
Dozens in their 50’s.
And the bulk of the people who agree to take the political polls are 60+. And I can’t tell you how many dozens were in their mid-to-late 70’s to mid-80’s.
Does that explain to anyone the reason that some of the polls appear to trend to Republicans?
It’s because of this that I distrust polls that are land-line only. When everyone had a land-line phone, that type of poll was pretty accurate. But when the majority of people you reach, and who then agree to take the poll, are older Americans, you tend to get skewed results.
You need a mix of land-line, cell, and internet polls to get a truer opinion.
Sadly, some of those still tell a story of a large number of Republicans winning. Just not as many.
What are the numbers for the DCCC and DNC? Didn’t they raise a ton of money after HCR passed? I really wish we didn’t have this kind of horse-race crap happening this early in the year. Chris Matthews was concern trolling this the other day with Cook, and it only feeds the narrative that Dems are in trouble.
Here we go again. “How has Obama failed you today?” We heard this all through the HCR process, and yet he didn’t fail. People who didn’t live through the Clinton years, or weren’t paying attention, don’t seem to realize what a monumental achievement this was — something that Clinton didn’t come close to accomplishing.
Obama is shaping up to be one of the greatest presidents in history. His base depresses itself, willfully and obstinately.
If enough Americans are stupid enough to let those assholes back to power, well, People get what they deserve.
@mistermix: Wasn’t it only a week or two ago that the Dems were reported as winning the fundraising game? You have to keep in mind that the media is hopelessly unreliable too. I’m at the point that I don’t believe most of what I read on first reports. Most of it changes within 48 hours. The rest of the analysis is usually contradictory. Scan Memeorandum on any given day and you’ll see headers claiming exactly opposite assertions.
Truman was at the end of his presidency when I was born. Lived through a lot of administrations. The electorate gets more fickle and uninformed every cycle. Sadly, it seems whoever delivers the last great soundbite, all to often wins regardless of the value of their positions.
Amen, Amen. All those “progressives” don’t even understand how good they got it now. But they will. It’ll be too late of course, but they will.
Perhaps if we didn’t engage in so much navel-gazing and concentrated on beating back the tide of pig-ignorant 23%’ers? Honestly, stop bitching about how Obama didn’t give you your pony and get out there.
@Libby: Fundraising numbers for House and Senate candidates for the first quarter were released on April 15. That was the first checkpoint for those races since January 15. Republicans are doing better than expected, so that’s why we see the downgrades.
@arguingwithsignposts: The DCCC is doing well, but they will never raise enough money to deal with all the defending that Democrats need to do this cycle. That’s why individual race fundraising is a key indicator of how a district is going to go.
Two sides: generic is, well, generic. And the gooper challengers have to have something to offer.
OTOH, in N. Ohio the challenger for the seat of Dem freshman John Boccieri has been airing unanswered radio ads for months. The RNC has run down cash early, but it’s going to good use.
He may have said it at some point, but the quote originated with union organizer Joe Hill about a hundred years ago.
I agree, the problem isn’t Obama, it’s the fecklessness of the House and Senate in the face of Republican obstruction that is depressing the base,(and that includes me)
Case in point — the 18 billion UI extension that was held hostage by the ‘Pukes for almost a month. The Democratic response was “Oh well–cant very well disrupt Senate comity over a couple hundred thou
workers without unemployment insurance or COBRA benefits, can we.
Oh and give up our holiday– no way!”
Until they figure out that we need them to fight for us, the base isn’t going to fight for them.
Joe Hill was the fellow that wrote songs and was executed. Right?
Maybe this will make the worriers feel a little better. Fresh off Twitter, biggest fundraiser in the House, Alan Grayson and done with only small donations. 800K for the quarter.
Everything changes, sometimes even for the better. :)
The failed Obama presidency was a joke a few months ago.
Yes and no. Some of us make a middle-class living (not in US currency, natch) looking six inches ahead of our untied shoelaces. Nobody calls you names when you’re right all the time… don’t make me repost inauguration night predictions, because it would hurt everyone and benefit nobody.
Here’s a freebie, because nobody pays attention until and unless it costs them money, anyway: past performance is a pretty good indicator of future results. Really. It’s absurd what people have to fork over in order to believe it in every single case, but there it is.
In the interest of looking like a lunatic: the continued grounding of air traffic in Europe could turn out to be a real problem. It’s a pain in the ass at the moment, but it will develop into serious trouble in less than a week. You wouldn’t BELIEVE what this wisdom costs the punters, with the value-add of a few graphs and a spreadsheet-cum-relational-database. No, really, you’d stand and stare. Have one on me.
Charlie Cook is not credible.
He’s been the drum-beater on the loss of the House majority since August. As soon as shouty teabaggery grasped the media’s attention, Charlie grew Very, Very Concerned. As soon as the first white guy shouted “Freedom!” Charlie was talking about stunning losses for Democrats.
The similar period of time for the ’06 midterms would have been August 2005. Between the first stirrings of major public discontent with Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, Charlie had no similar concern about the Republicans losing a much smaller majority.
The loss of the House wasn’t taken seriously in any corner of the MSM until the summer/early fall of 2006, and all of them dismissed the possibility of Republicans losing the Senate until about a week before election day.
Charlie Cook is not viewing this objectively. He has been cheerleading for Republican gains for the past 9 months. Rothenberg is a different story. He follows the narrative shaped by men like Cook, but he never dares push it himself. Rothenberg’s Reports might as well just read “Me Too!”
In other politics news, a new generic congressional ballot poll was released today and OMG THE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLYTIED WITH THE GOP! Are the Dems in danger of losing every House seat and being summarily executed by Wolf Blitzer? Up next, we’ll have Charlie Cook with some surprising predictions.
@c u n d gulag:
Interesting post…What worries me most is whether young and mid-aged people will come out and vote in November…Low turnout can be a killer…The administration and the Democratic party have to do some serious reaching out to these groups. And progressive and community groups have to get energized.
@Libby: The early polling is less an issue than the disparity in raising money. Money can make a huge difference, especially as the Goopers more or less control the media otherwise. No, money is not everything, but it is a worry, especially in off-year elections when turning out voters takes more time and money.
@Zandar: As much as I hate to see it, this is right. Obama just validated McConnell’s false “tax payer bailouts” meme, and you just need to click on the article to see McConnell’s predictable response: “”I appreciate the Obama administrations recognition of the need to substantively improve this bill, and I hope we can work with them to close the remaining bailout loopholes that put American taxpayers on the hook for financial institutions that become too big to fail.”
Translation: Obama validates his opponent’s talking point, gets zero votes in return and a demand that he further water down the bill. And what do we get? Now, we have to pay the bill for dismantling failed institutions… meaning that McConnell can just turn around and say the same thing before with a slight scrap of credibility.
Obama is a terrible negotiator and leader. Just absolutely terrible, and this is just the newest example of what a fuck up he is.
@jwb: A lot can change in six months. The daily media circus will drive you crazy if you let it get to you. The long view is better for my blood pressure. YMMV. :)
I love me some Alan Grayson. If more were like him, the Dems wouldn’t be worrying so much.
@Violet: Funny isn’t it. Showing spine generates enthusiasm. Hoocoodanode?
Marc Ambinder and Sabato think that Cook is trying to compensate for missing the 2006 House change. Evidently that really shook Cook up. Sabato thinks the GOP will gain 27 seats right now. I don’t know how accurate he is, however. He seems to feel a lot of it depends on Obama’s approval rating in the Fall and money.
While I do believe that the Democrats are in trouble, I think that too many believe that the mid-terms to be a forgone conclusion. People need to realize that the 2008 election changed everything we cannot assume whatever happened in the past will be true for this election cycle or future ones.
Let’s wait to see what happens on the Dem side this quarter before making any predictions. I bet Dem supporters were keeping their checkbooks closed until they saw the outcome of the health care reform fight.
@Micheline: That’s my own feeling.
We have huge honking variables marked “financial meltdown,” “Republican brand-toilet,” (haven’t been in play since the ’30’s) and “African American President,” (new one!) that makes me distrust the blithe “it will go along as it has for decades” thinking.
I am not a professional, but I think House races are local races, and if you want an endangered incumbent to win the best way is to organize actual voters locally. I think donations are great if you live in a safe district and want to help out an endangered seat.
It’s more satisfying, too. You can have an effect in your small portion of the larger whole, and that’s really all one person can do.
I personally just find this larger “wave” theme overwhelming.
I don’t know what to do with that. I have to look at it one at a time.
c u n d gulag
@Annie: You’re right, that’s going to be the key.
Our job is to help get OUR voters out. We may have to drive some of our people to the polls. The conservatives will put wings on their rabid monkey’s and they’ll fly there.
BTW- if the poll includes a section that asks where people get their news, and FOX and Rush or Glenn are their choices, I can fill out the rest of the poll for them. They NEVER deviate from the talking points. NEVER!!! I have yet to hear ONE original thought coming from someone who says they use the above as their news sources.
I would like to amend Sanayana’s great maxim: ‘People who are too stupid to remember the past from 2 years ago, SHOULD BE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT!’ Sadly, a lot of us will be lost in the ‘tsunami of stupid’ that will come over the land…
Yup. Because real negotiation and leadership isn’t getting 80% of what you want in a bill or convincing people to do that which they’d rather not do, it’s demanding all 100% of what someone else wants to make sure no one yells at you on the internet.
Look, I’m not saying Obama “failed” anyone.
I’m saying the correct response to a bully is not to cower and give him your lunch money, it’s to stand up to the asshole.
The GOP raised the stakes and said all 41 Senators will filibuster.
The White House raised THAT bet by then saying if the bill WAS weakened, Obama would veto it. That was the correct response played by a strong President holding a strong hand. The American people overwhelming are on Obama’s side here.
But less than a few hours later, Obama is already backpedaling on that position of strength in order to appease the GOP (which we all have learned from the last 16 months is pointless, they will vote against it every time) and worse, to appease the banksters Obama is trying to regulate.
If I see Obama pull shit like that, I’ll call him on it. Every. Single. Time.
Obama was never behind the 50 billion dollar fund. I think he’s made it perfectly clear what he wants in the negotiation: derivatives regulation.
It’s more important than setting up a wind-down fund anyway, and since House Democrats seem to be incapable of defending their own idea, again, I don’t know why he’d die on that hill.
It’s not his priority. If they want it, they should have jumped out ahead of the Frank Luntz talking points. They didn’t.
@Napoleon: The fund isn’t needed. You’d be amazed at the savings you get when new regulations dictates that you can tell the shareholders and executives at large financial instituions that fail to go fuck themselves. If these regulations were in place (with or without the ‘fund’) , TARP would have never happened.
Yeah, that was my point, but I had to be an ass in expressing it. ;)
I’m not even sure the “Wind down” fund was such a good idea- it sounds nifty, making the firms pay into it, but Mark Warner kept going on and on about how small an amount of money it was that I got to wondering if it’s big enough to really make a difference.
Either way, you’re right that Obama never made the “Wind Down” Fund a big part of his plan, so I don’t know if I really consider him “giving up” on something he never really pursued.
This kinda happens all over. Obama’s such a friggin’ ink blot that people just assume they know exactly what he wants in a bill (and it’s usually pretty close to what THEY want). So, when he doesn’t pursue it, they figure he must’ve folded to Republican pressure on it.
This isn’t to defend those things as POLICY CHOICES- it may very well be the wrong move (as it was for the amount of the stimulus, the PO, etc). But let’s call the problem what it is, one of policy analysis, rather than bad negotiating. If only because a policy argument is more likely to get through to the people the White House listens to.
We’re buying into the rightwing frame and it’s only mid-April? I count six-and-one-half months until the November elections. Over half a year out. Six months ago, did you think that HCR would ever pass? Seriously people, I don’t need to hyperventilate this early, but a 70 seat flip is unprecedented, and it ain’t gonna happen. If we believe what the chattering classes tell up–Oh! Dems are in trouble!–then we’ll internalize too and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. But right now I don’t see anything out there to make me think Pelosi will lose the gavel. Reid might lose his seat, and good riddance, but the Dems won’t lose the Senate. If Obama can cram through financial regulations through the filibuster of the Senate, Repubs are going to lose even more steam.
I hate the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, but I was listening to it yesterday anyway when Brooks and Shields were on. Basically, Brooks blunted stated that the only strategy left in the entire Republican juggernaut is to stall, stall, stall. Right or wrong be damned. Turned out swimmingly for them on HCR. I bet Reid and Obama can peel off a couple of votes for cloture for financial reform. McConnell might be able to keep a tight leash on his caucus, but not all of them are going to like November if their challenger hammers them over the head for coddling Wall St.
The Grand Panjandrum
I’m just glad this blog doesn’t waste its time covering the horse race aspect of politics all of the time. It gets fucking tedious. What with two wars, a recession, reforming the worst practices of the bankstas, the upcoming battle over Supreme Court nominee, and right wing nuts ranting about “watering the tree of liberty” seems like we have bigger battles to fight today than worrying about an election 6 1/2 months away.
Shorter me: Patience Grasshopper. Obama-Fu is strong.
@colby: Exactly. Obama is a stupid guy, weak, and a fuckup, That’s why he’s the first black President of the USA, the Democrat to win major HCR and the signer of the largest public works bill in 50 years. He just keeps fucking up as a bunch of people who never won an election or managed a business concern keep explaining in simple terms on the Internet.
This is a replay of the HCR debate. The wind down fund = the public option. The difference is that having a robust public option in HCR would have made a very significant difference from a policy perspective, whereas in this case it is derivatives regulation that is the key policy area. Zandar is correct that the optics are bad for Obama on this, but by this time I think we have to resign ourselves to the problem (if it is one) that Obama really doesn’t care all that much about optics if he can get the policy he wants, or something reasonably close. That is just how he rolls. If we want a President whose top priority is publically humiliating the GOP rather than trying to negotiate with them, we need to elect somebody different next time.
Me, I’m sort of happy to be getting good policy outcomes. In the long run that will deliver more satisfaction than the short term pleasure of humiliating the GOP. 10-20 years from now nobody but hardcore politics geeks will remember the details of any of this stuff, and most especially not who won the week back in mid-April 2010 (popquiz: who won the media for the week, back on April 17, 1990? Can anybody tell me from memory, without googling it?) , but we will be living in the world shaped by the policies which Obama and the Congressional leadership delivered on.
As for the top-level post, I agree with BB #24. Charlie Cook has in my memory always been something of a right wing concern troll – a much more subtle one than most, but one nonetheless. I don’t doubt the fundraising numbers (if nothing else, much of the middle class Dem donor base is likely to be experiencing dramatically lower disposable income because of the recession, compared with the 06 and 08 election cycles), but as usual Charlie is taking something and interpreting it to the max if it looks good for the right, which is something he never does going in the opposite direction.
I felt so much better after reading this headline,
“Dick Morris predicts Republican landslide.’
Can someone point out one thing this twit has said in the past 3-4 years that turned out to be right?
(In the 2008 campaign: Condaleeza Rice will run for President, Hillary will win the nomination, Undecideds will side with McCain, Sarah Palin’s selection will end up as a big win for John McCain.)
And he thinks Palin is ‘brillant.’ Case closed.
Obama continues to look weak and cave. If only he would listen to the brilliant advice of people who understood John Edwards was the best candidate.
I dunno, I think there are some key differences here (the PO was a much better idea, it was clearly traceable to Obama, and it was only dropped after it was absolutely clear it couldn’t get through the Senate), but overall your analysis is right: Obama doesn’t much care about the “Wind Down” fund, so it’s hard to see that as a “cave” unless we’re just reflexively supposed to defend all that which the Republicans attack (though now that I think about it, that’s a policy I’m willing to entertain…)
I wouldn’t worry too much about the optics; his veto threat and weekly address seem to be sucking up all the oxygen (I wouldn’t even know about the “Wind Down” Fund move without BJ, and you’ll forgive me if this place isn’t my major source of breaking news), and the SEC complaint really couldn’t have come at a better time.
My mantra since 2008 has been that Obama can get what he wants through Congress (at least THIS Congress), the problem, when there is one, is what Obama wants. I remain convinced that that’s the case.
“Don’t mourn. Organize.” [was that Big Bill that said that?]
That was Joe Hill, not Big Bill
My analogy is based on the idea that the wind down fund looks poised to become a bright shiny object that Obama’s critics on the left will become fixated on out of all proportion to its significance from a long term policy standpoint when the other parts of the solution are taken into account, and we’ve seen this movie before.
Sadly, it seems that every political debate over policy in this administration is doomed to turn into a cross between Waiting for Godot and Star Wars: Episode I.
I agree with everything you wrote. Obama is not going to vanquish old foes or settle scores, and he refuses to focus on “optics”. It sucks sometimes, but it’s what he is.
I knew the compromise on the wind-down fund was going to be seen as a cave, and I also knew no one was going to pay any attention to whether the wind-down fund was 1. a priority for him, or, 2. his idea.
I listened to how the press were portraying the fund: Democrats in the House did not even manage to get the fact that it is PAID BY BANKS out there. They lost in the first 12 hours. How many times are they going to put a plan out and then act shocked and hurt and surprised when Republicans seize on one provision and lie about it?
@Vince CA: VinceCA has made some very good points in his post. A couple of other observations.
1. Remember last summer – 2009? And all the protests and demonstrations at Congressional town halls? Remember the “pundits” decrying the death of HCR? No one wanted HCR? All the carrying on about “death panels” and other nonsense?
Did HCR pass seven months later? Um, yes, I think it did. It might not be as “progressive” as some Dems wanted, but it passed and will hopefully be amended somewhat in the future. Why did those badgered Dem representatives do the right thing and vote for HCR? Maybe because they realised that the noisy opposition they were getting was not quite representative of THEIR constintuents.
2. There are more than a few seats we will lose that we probably shouldn’t have won in the first place. We probably will lose some of those, no matter how much money we pour into them. We may also win back a couple we shouldn’t have lost – like Cao in LA. That’s the way it is in politics.
3. Just WHO/WHAT candidates will Republicans be putting up in their races? Will the Republicans field a semi-normal candidate while the far-Right puts up a third candidate in some races that will split the vote and give the race to the Dem? I don’t think we can really say much about races until we see who the candidates are. And how many there are. Are the “pundits” predicting Republican victories based on the usual paradigm of a race consisting of two “normal” candidates, one Democratic and one Republican? ‘Cause I think THAT paradigm shifted last year with all the crazies invading the Republican party.
4. Also, there’s an old political saying that everybody hates “incumbents” but most people like their own.
5. Nothing matters at the end of the day like “voter turn out”. This election, much like the one in 2008, will depend on Dems and Independents getting inspired and getting out to vote. The message that Dems should be spouting over and over again is that THIS President and THIS Congress are tackling the major problems that are facing this nation. (Some of the Dems think the government is not being “progressive” enough, but fuck that. Basically, Obama and crew are doing a good job.) Democrats have been bad on “message discipline” in the past, but now we have to get together and stress the good that the Obama administration has done and why we need a Democratic majority in Congress.
6. The economy will play a major part in the election. Hopefully Democratic “messaging” will get out to the voters that it would/could have been far worse with out the intervention that was done. We are NOT going to get out of the woods here in one year.
Voters have to be asked “do you want to put the Republicans back into power? The one’s who caused this mess in the first place”?
The past shows that we will lose seats but hopefully we can keep that down to a small number.
You shouldn’t be laughing. There’s been a ton of smug self-congratulation among Democrats ever since the tea partiers started waving mis-spelled signs. Big mistake.
Democrats delude themselves that just because their political opponents are ignorant foolish troglodytes, the populace won’t elect those opponents. Democrats made the same fatal mistake back in 1980, when the ignorant foolish troglodyte Ronald Reagan ran for president…and won by a landslide.
I think it’s about time for the President to do an evening presser. He hasn’t done one since the Gates kerfuffle last summer if I recall correctly and hammering Wall Street and mentioning Republican obstructionism in his opening remarks would be a big help.
Aren’t big losses what the hippies are hoping for?
They could hardly conceal their glee when Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s seat.
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: The concern isn’t about the political merits of the fund (though I thought it was a decent idea). The concern is that conceding McConnell’s point validates the perception that this is an “infinite bailout” bill in the eyes of journalists and less informed voters.
My sense is that Corker worked to include the fund purely to provide a flimsy foundation for Luntz’s talking points, but the bottom line is that giving it up:
(a) weakens the bill (if only in a marginal way)
(b) wins exactly 0 Republican votes
(c) encourages Republicans to refer to anything they don’t like as a “bailout”
(d) signals to the media (who were promisingly dismissive of this talking point) that there may, in fact, be “two equally valid sides to the argument” when, in fact, there is not
Yeah, you’re probably right. It’s gonna be even odder, though, given that the “Wind Down Fund” (hereafter the WDF, ’cause it sounds more important) wasn’t something progressives focused on before now, nor something that fits seamlessly into liberal ideology (to the extent that one exists) like the PO did.
But if you don’t think that’s actually gonna stop the Firebaggers, I rather agree.
There’s nothing wrong with mocking and dismissing the Teabaggers. The notion that the Teabaggers are persuading people and are responsible for the Democrats’ declining ratings is a myth made to prop up exciting media analysis and give producers an excuse to load their programs with right-wing talking points.
Tea Party is a euphemism for the Republican base. There’s nothing more to it, and if you think they’re persuading independents over to their view point, you don’t know the psychology of the independent swing voter.
The independent swing voter doesn’t respond to ideological arguments. Their decision process proceeds like this:
(1) evaluate tangible conditions informing my quality of life
(2) vote for or against incumbent accordingly
There’s nothing more to it, and if the economy recovery continues at a decent pace, the Democrats will be fine. If it doesn’t, they would lose to the Raccoon Corpse and Sewage Sipper Party if that’s how our political coalition broke down.
@phoebes-in-santa fe: Thanks Phoebe! Just my observations for seeing this happen every-friggin’-election. We get our underpants into a bunch over something said by people who are paid to make Dems look like shi.t. Sometimes it works, witness 2004 elections. Sometimes it fails spectacularly, like 2006 and 2008.
At this point, I’m not buying @mclaren‘s argument that Dems lost in 1980 because the party assumed that the Thugs were troglodites. That’s a rightwing frame. “Lefties think we’re idiots, so vote for us!” Sheesh, I don’t think they’re idiots, cynical, of course, and there are some dummies, but the major players are smart cookies who know exactly what they’re doing, even Bush II.
I think the reasons why Reagan was a successful candidate have more to do with powerful financial backing, massive charisma, and media and message control unseen at that point in modern presidential elections.
A group that represents 18% of the electorate isn’t going to swing 40+ Congressional seats and 10 state-wide Senate elections. Especially when they were already in the tank for the GOP in the first place.
The Tea Party movement is an organized white male tantrum over their crushing electoral defeats post-2006.
Considering the Citizen’s United decision I expect corps to pour money into gooper races. I don’t think you can make any judgements based on traditional gooper financial reports.
VoteVets has some kickin’ commercials on MSNBC regarding the Iraq War and the role of green energy.
I hope they are not just preaching to the choir on this. That’s exactly the kind of commercials that should be running.
I just paid a mort o’ money to take myself, spouse, and two children to see the President speak in Boston. It was great. We stood for literally four hours, without break, to see him speak for maybe thirty minutes. It was great. He was on a roll, having just come off the BFD of HCR. Here’s the thing. He said, very charmingly, that the democrats and the pundits were always complaining that this or that would be bad for the polls and he knows it. Because he has pollsters. He has pollsters telling him how things are going to play all the time, before he does them. But he doesn’t swing that way. He does what he thinks is right. Blah blah blah.
I love the guy, personally. And so far he’s been successful, after a fashion–but this is wrong. I’m not saying he should govern by polls, or work to appease the morons, or me (or me as a moron). But when every two year election cycle is vital–when you are dealing with a broken congress in which every seat can become an important swing vote–you’d better by god care about how your grand gestures play to the cheap seats. You’d better want to get the punters excited *even if* they tend to get excited by cheap and shiny things.
This continued iteration of contempt for actual voters and their (sometimes foolish or sometimes erroneous) concerns by bloggers is neither here nor there. The people who insist that Obama can’t make a mistake and can’t overestimate his own luck aren’t doing any of us a favor. Obama’s voters were happy when HCR passed. Very happy. And they gave money and recommitted to getting involved. Oddly, that happened at the same time that Obama revved up his old machine and began to turn to the voters and activists at the local level and ask them to get involved.
In the struggle over the financial bill we are going to see the same dynamic. People like Zandar who point out that *we know how this plays out can we please get a jump on things* aren’t traitors, they are just rather clear sighted. We want Obama to fight harder, and more publicly, and more agressively *because we think its good politics* not because we think its therapy or righteous or anything. Voters are disengaged, feel disenfranchised, and are being lied to. Obama is trying hard to get around “the filter” with his speeches but he sometimes fails to grasp the simple fact that to a largely non literate, inattentive, debased public grand gestures and big acts are necessary and must be trumpeted. Obama is a personally modest guy, that’s a bug, not a feature.
The radical right has been backed into a corner and is fighting very hard and a lot can happen in six months. So they may yet lose. On the other hand, Democratic activists are demoralized by the compromises on health care, especially on women’s rights, by the compromises on civil rights and torture, by the likely compromises with the much-hated financial services industry, and by the likely compromises on the environment. The Democrats are reduced to tossing their liberals sops as a strategy: things of real value, like bike lanes and LGBT hospital visitation rights, but much less than was promised and hinted at during the 2010 elections. To survive, I think the Democrats will have to rebuild their activist base from moderate conservatives, and I do not see how that can be done in six months.
Personally, I do not have the heart to work for a conservative party, though I have and will vote Democratic until a plausible liberal opposition comes along.
@aimai: Great post, as usual. Do you have your own blog?
Let’s see, what does this remind me of? Oh yeah. This quote:
Obama caves and moves to the right on issue after issue after issue, but it’s the base’s fault because they just can’t see how great he is. Right.
“The similar period of time for the ‘06 midterms would have been August 2005. Between the first stirrings of major public discontent with Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, Charlie had no similar concern about the Republicans losing a much smaller majority.”
This is exactly right, and something that everyone seems to have forgotten.
Indeed, the narrative at the time was that the “success in Iraq” had Republicans so “fired up” that they would turn out in record numbers, and Democrats were so demoralised by being “proven wrong” about Iraq that they would stay home. Cook bought in to this narrative wholesale.
In early 2008, the Republicans were again cast as “wildly enthusiastic” over their war hero candidate, while Democrats were demoralised and in disarray – plagued by (fictional) PUMAs.
The parallel between “then” and “now” is eerie.
Contempt for voters, kraw?
Obama can’t make grand popular gestures without alienating his conservative supporters in Congress, especially in the Senate.
I think you’re putting too much into that “I don’t pay attention to the polls” thing. Of course he, and every other politician, looks at the polls. (Although Axelrod said they don’t pay attention to the daily tracking polls and I believe that.) I do think they are looking more long-term, though. Obama has said publically that he doesn’t know how passing HCR plays politically but it’s the right thing to do. Yet during a meeting a day or two later with Congressional Dems he contradicted himself and said that passing HCR would help them and himself politically. Not passing HCR would basically put an end to his presidency getting anything done.
I do think the president risks sounding arrogant when he talks this way but I think his point is that you do what’s right because it is right, not because it is poll-tested or driven.
Salt and freshly ground black people
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I thought that Obama never supported the wind-down fund in the first place and it wasn’t in the original white house financial reform proposal. I don’t see how it is a cave for him to eliminate something he never wanted but congress did.
@Salt and freshly ground black people:
In this instance I thought we were talking about the optics. As head of the Democratic party, Obama is expected to stand up for whatever democrats want – and if he has other ideas, then optical problems ensue. Hence my throwaway remark about how every policy debate seems to degenerate into a mashup of Samuel Beckett and George Lucas. It is, if you prefer, a recipe for problems (not to mention bad mixed metaphors).
By “the base” you mean white, fringe left Naderites, yes?
@Cacti: Right. The reason that the Democrats are lagging the Republicans in both fundraising and voter intensity is all because of “white, fringe left Naderites.” You just keep right on telling yourself that.
Hey, great, another round of leftier-than-thou onanists complaining that Obama isn’t doing the Very Important Thing they didn’t know existed until two days ago but is now the ultimate test of progressive credibility. Concerned firebagger is concerned.
Thanks, WereBear, for cheering me up on a lovely warm and sunny Spring weekend. I needed that. Your remarks were just what the good Dr. Dean ordered and it does no good to get in a blue funk so early in the season. Yeah, the Gop’ers are motivated because they have jacked up the fear and anger, plus they lie every which way to zero. Funny how so many voters don’t see that!!. Too many years of preconditioning by talk radio and Fox News, I guess.
Exactly this, people keep trying to perceive Obama as a type of President which he isn’t, he doesn’t worry about weekly battles, about “optics” on policy (like when he never shut up about how the HCR bill was essentially the GOP’s 94 proposal), and he isn’t a firebrand populist.
Deal with it, and stop acting surprised when he lops the head off of some issue that is being bandied about online as the best thing since sliced cheese (hint: what is the best policy and what can get through Congress are usually two very different things).
Sure thing, NR.
And you keep telling yourself that reason Obama won places like Indiana and North Carolina was because of the netroots.
@NR: So…what do YOU think non-white voters are thinking and feeling?
I hope all the democrats and republicans remember, Obama goes after his opponent before anything gets started to make himself appear better than anyone else. He did this in Chicago, he did it to Hillary and he will do it again. He wins dirty! Not on his merits!!1
BB: You might want to get your facts straight. I was the first major independent analyst to say that the House was likely to flip from Republican to Democrat, at that was in the first week of August 2006
when the Democratic wave was first emerging.
( see http://www.cookpolitical.com/node/2345 ),
In fact there was very little talk of a Democratic takeover of the House until after I wrote that column. Your revisionist history needs revisioning.
We began seeing such a trend again in August of last year and the data is certainly showing that we were on to something.
Compensating for this?
August 5, 2006
Was anyone else saying or writing this at that point? No.
Wrong history again.
LOL!!! Yeah, that’s it. The only reason the Democrats might lose 44 seats in the House is because of… fundraising. Its not that everyone hates the policies of the Democrats, its that they just don’t have enough money.
Now I’ve heard it all.
Why did it take you so long to see the Democratic wave in 2006?
You’ve been pushing the republicans will retake congress in 2010 for months, now. Yet in 2006, when the Dems need far less gains to capture the House, you didn’t see it coming until 3 month prior to the election.
Don’t you see how a viewer can be skeptical when, on one hand Charlie has been pushing the Dems face massive losses, 12 months before the 2010 election — yet on the other hand Charlie said the GOP would lose the House in 2006, but he only started saying that a mere 3 months before the election, and even then (in August), he said GOP losses would mount to less than 20 seats.
Don’t you see who others can look at that wonder at the disparity?
Waves develop when they develop. You can’t see a wave develop before it exists. The Republican wave in 1994 didn’t develop until that summer. There were some early warning signs in late Spring, but it wasn’t clear there was a wave until after the crime bill before the August recess.
The Democratic wave of 2006 didn’t develop until that summer. This wave began developing last summer, you could see the data moving over the summer and fall, the bottom fall out in the Virginia gubernatorial race (New Jersey might have happened anyway), the Massachusetts Senate race, on and on. But the deterioration, whether you want to look at the President and Dems dropping sharply among independents last summer. My larger point is that the same diagnostic indicators that suggested Republicans were in trouble in 2006 began manifesting themselves last summer. Though I started my newsletter in 1984, the first true wave election that came along was 1994, we saw a wave, I gave it the tsunami label, but we underestimated the size of the wave by sticking to the race-by-race, micro-political approach. Once a wave hits a certain level, that kind of analysis doesn’t work. We changed how we approached wave elections in 2006 and our projections were right on the money. We are applying the same standards and approach this year.