Tag Archives: republicans

election 2018: the battle for texas.

O'Rourke vs WeaselOf all the battles currently taking place among the 35 Senate seats up for grabs on Nov. 6, it’s the Battle for Texas that’s grabbed the most national headlines. Republican incumbent Ted Cruz is running for re-election against the national liberal heartthrob, Beto O’Rourke. Challenger O’Rourke hauled in more than $38 million from July – September, more than triple Cruz’s meager $12 million.

Despite all the attention, all the money and all the love from national liberals, Real Clear Politics has O’Rourke trailing anywhere from 5 – 9 percentage points behind Cruz. Surprised? Don’t be. No Democrat has won a senate election in Texas since 1988. With the exception of the city of Austin and Willie Nelson, Texas is deep, deep red.

Now, normally, I trust what the polls tell me. Yes, even in 2016, when the national polls were accurate (they were). The only reason I wonder if the current polls are tracking correctly is because O’Rourke is pulling MASSIVE numbers at his rallies. He is igniting audiences all across Texas unlike most politicians. In some small way, it’s highly reminiscent of Obama’s 2008 campaign and, yes, Trump’s 2016 run. If elections were won and lost on enthusiasm alone, O’Rourke would clearly have this one in the bag. But that’s not how it works. Looks can be deceiving.

Remember all the electricity and excitement around Bernie Sanders in 2016? He didn’t lose his primary bid because of rigged elections as many opined (without merit). In many cases, he lost because he ran a national campaign strategy without motivating enough people to register to vote for him when it counted. After all, Sanders was trying to appeal to voters who reject party labels. That’s a tough needle to thread when winning requires voters to declare a party when voting in a primary or caucus.

O’Rourke doesn’t have those same problems, though. This is not the primary. It’s the real deal. And it would appear the Cruz-O’Rourke Battle Royale has cheesed up the voters. The Houston Chronicle reported last month the Lone Star State’s voter rolls are up to 15.6 million people, a 1.6 million increase over the 2014 mid-term elections. And then there’s this:

“That includes nearly a 400,000-person increase since March, election records show. To put that number in perspective, from 2002 to 2014, the state added just over 100,000 voters a year, on average.”

That’s why I wonder if the tracking polls are missing something. It’s not as though Texas Republicans ever have trouble turning out the vote. Cruz won his seat comfortably in 2012 with more than 56 percent of the vote. He defeated Paul Sadler by more than 1.2 million votes. Of course, 2012 was a presidential election year and more than 7.5 million people voted in that particular senate race. By contrast, Texas Republican John Cornyn defeated Democrat David Alameel in 2014 (midterm) by a similar margin, but fewer than 4.5 million Texans voted in that election. How many voters will turn out three weeks from today?

Perhaps past is prologue here, though. Are there enough Democratic Party voters in Texas to unseat Ted Cruz? Better question: will they all vote? After all, midterm elections rarely turn out the vote like general elections. And Democratic voters are known to skip elections, unlike Republicans.

For O’Rourke to prove the polls are wrong, he would probably need to garner most of those 1.6 million new voters; a feat that is not likely. Perhaps it’s my own wishful thinking that refuses to concede just yet, but I’m hoping Beto O’Rourke can shock the world on Nov. 6, though the odds are long and time is running out.

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super tuesday, episode iii.

20140207091635-VoteForTheOtherGuy_indiegogo_cropToday is Super Tuesday, Episode III: Attack of the Drumpf. Unless there’s a big shakeup in Florida, the Republican nomination could be well in hand for a certain orange bully. The Democratic side is significantly more interesting, in the sense that nobody trusts any of the polling data after Michigan last week.

Here’s what I think is going to happen today…

First, for the Republicans
Although the races are going to tighten up, Trump will win Illinois, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina. John Kasich is going to win his home state of Ohio, thus, keeping himself alive in the hopes of a brokered convention. Cruz may steal a state (Missouri?), but Trump will still widen his lead.

The real news is it becomes a three-horse race, as Marco Rubio is going to lose his home state and be out of the running.

If Trump does, in fact, win the winner-takes-all state of Florida, he will essentially be daring the Republican Party to not give him the nomination.

This soap opera is far from over.

Speaking of Soap Operas, the Democrats!
Races in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio have tightened, so don’t be surprised if Sanders grabs one or two of these states. Clinton has a three-point lead in Illinois and Sanders is up by 1 point in Missouri. Both are well within the margins and could go in either direction. I think Sanders steals one or both.

Ohio is a bit of a wild card right now, if you ask me. Current polls show Clinton leading by 14 points, but I don’t trust it after Michigan last week. My gut tells me Clinton wins Ohio as well as Florida and North Carolina.

What does that mean for Sanders? Simple: not dead yet. Clinton will likely widen her delegate lead (actual delegates, so enough with the super delegate whining already, Bernie Bros!), but Sanders will still have enough in the tank to keep the campaign going.

While the Republican primaries are providing more salacious TV, the Democrats have a bit of a civil war brewing, too. It’ll be interesting to see how party leadership on both sides strives to achieve unity heading into November.

In the meantime, enjoy the drama. Tonight is going to feel as close to November election coverage as we’re going to get.

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super tuesday of reckoning.

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Super Tuesday is upon us and it’s going to be fairly straightforward. This Super Tuesday is going to be a day of reckoning where the frontrunners pull ahead and don’t look back. Who’s going to win? You already know, but let’s go through this pointless exercise anyway; just for fun. Before we start, let’s recap where we are, with the delegate count.

Republicans
Trump: 82
Cruz: 17
Rubio: 16
Kasich: 6
Carson: 4

Needed to win: 1,237 (out of 2,340)

Democrats
Clinton: 546
Sanders: 87

Needed to win: 2,383 (out of 4,132)

The parties’ headcounts are slightly different, but you get the point. Now, I have no idea how the parties decide which candidate gets how many delegates if they win. Not every state is “winner takes all.”

Republican Super Tuesday States
A total of 594 delegates are up for grabs today. If one candidate scores decisive victories in most of the states, he will be the likely nominee. Yeah, you know what that means: Trump. He won’t win Texas, but here’s how the day should break down:

Super Tuesday Republicans

Democratic Super Tuesday States
Things are more interesting on this side of Super Tuesday, but only in a handful of states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oklahoma. We already know Sanders will win Vermont by the wides of margins. He is currently holding a slim lead in Oklahoma and we have no idea what’s happening in the caucus states of Colorado and Oklahoma. Everything else? Clinton. Period.

Super Tuesday Dems

Yes, I do think Sanders will win Minnesota. Call it a hunch, based upon Minnesota’s very liberal nature.

Will those three states be enough to keep Sanders competitive? Doubtful. Massachusetts is the state he really needs, and Clinton is pulling away from him.

Is it Over Yet?
After Super Tuesday? Probably not, but the results are nearly imminent. Trump and Clinton will take commanding leads, while the cast of also-rans will spin it as though they’re still in it. That may be true on the Republican side, if the also-rans drop out and throw their voters behind a single candidate.

On the Democratic side, Sanders supporters won’t give up, despite what could be pretty stark horizons. Nevertheless, Super Tuesday is Clinton’s to lose. While losing three states isn’t preferred by any candidate, the reality is Clinton has locked down support in delegate-heavy states.

Conclusion
Get ready for Trump vs. Clinton rhetoric, from now until November.

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elections lack of voting has consequences.

sadsnyder.jpg

Elections have consequences. People get the government they deserve.

These two cliches have been playing in my head for the past few years as I watch my birth state of Michigan suffer under the rule of Gov. Rick Snyder. It was no surprise the Republican handily won the gubernatorial election in 2010 after eight relatively lackluster years with Democrat Jennifer Granholm running the state.

What is a surprise is Snyder was re-elected in 2014.

Rick Snyder: The Fiefdom Governor
The “tough nerd” showed his true colors almost immediately. Included in Snyder’s first budget, shifting tax burdens away from businesses and onto pensions in the name of “economic growth.” He also expanded the emergency manager powers, which has turned into the hallmark of Snyder’s reign as Michigan’s governor.

Since Snyder took office, he’s implemented emergency managers 15 times, typically in predominantly African-American populated cities, such as Flint, Detroit and Benton Harbor. That’s more than Michigan’s previous two governors combined.

How’s that working out? Well, we already know what happened in Flint. Benton Harbor has been in a nonstop battle over a golf course; a battle that was exacerbated by the installment of an emergency manager (by Granholm, in April 2010) who stayed until March 2014, nearly the entirety of Snyder’s first term. And it was under Snyder that the controversial golf course project was launched.

Detroit was taken into bankruptcy under Snyder’s appointed manager, Kevyn Orr, and the results are…well, it depends on whom you ask. Did Orr save Detroit or kick the can down the road? The million dollar question: did emergency managers actually affect long-term, positive solutions that couldn’t be accomplished through elected government in those cities?

Lest we forget Snyder’s use of emergency managers includes his support for a 2012 law expanding emergency manager powers, despite being rejected by Michigan voters. Of course, Snyder and his allies enacted this piece of legislation after he was re-elected; after the will of the people was recorded on this matter…and promptly ignored by the governor. That is an absolute fact.

Lack of Voter Turnout = Rick Snyder’s Re-election
Shady work on the emergency manager laws notwithstanding, it’s not as though Snyder waited until his second term to spring his ultra-conservative agenda on Michiganders. The expansion and usage of emergency managers happened in his first term along with killing tax breaks for pensioners to make up for giving tax breaks to state businesses.

So how did a guy who is clearly a hardline conservative manage to win re-election in a state that hasn’t gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988? Simple: voter turnout, or lack thereof.

Turnout for Michigan’s 2014 gubernatorial election was 41.6 of the voter-age population; its lowest since 1990. By contrast, 66 percent and 63 percent of voting-age Michiganders turned out to the polls in 2008 and 2012, respectively. It doesn’t take a mathematician to glean from this all those Obama voters—who are typically Democrats—stayed home in 2014 (and 2010, really, when voting-age turnout was 42.9 percent).

Check out this article at Drawing Detroit. A county-by-county review of voter turnout in 2014 yields a troubling reality: less than 40 percent of voting-age adults came to the polls in 13 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Even worse, all but one of Snyder’s emergency managers have been implemented in four of those 13 counties: Berrien County (Benton Harbor), Genesee County (Flint), Muskegon County (Muskegon Schools) and Wayne County (Allen Park, Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park).

Drawing Detroit.jpg

Graphic courtesy of DrawingDetroit.com.

According to U.S. Census data, these four counties account for more than 25 percent of the state of Michigan’s voting age population, yet more than 1 million people in those counties did not exercise their rights to vote. A shade more than 128,000 votes separated Snyder from his second term as governor and unemployment. Suddenly, that figure seems ridiculously small when you consider the number of people who didn’t vote.

Elections Have Consequences
Given what has happened in Flint, it’s difficult to look at the 2014 election results and realize the consequences were dire. In addition to Snyder’s re-election, Republicans also gained four State Senate seats to push their majority to 63 – 47. Big deal, right? Well, considering two of those elections took place in low turnout counties and the results were separated by 547 and 58 votes respectively, I’d say the results are most definitely a big deal.

Every Four Years Ain’t Cuttin’ It
A common refrain this election year is “the system is rigged” against the middle class, college students, women, etc. Sadly, many of these same people shouting about the “rigged” system have only themselves to blame. Voters ages 18 – 29 are among the loudest voices in 2016, as they were in 2008 and 2012. But something happens between presidential elections and mid-term elections that renders this voting bloc MIA. In 2014—an election year with the lowest voter turnout since WWII—14 million fewer 18 – 29 voters turned out at the polls.

No, college student. The system isn’t rigged. The system is largely ignored. By your peers. That’s why your issues are not top-of-mind the same way health care and social security are mainstay political issues. You don’t get to complain about a rigged system if you’re a half-time participant in the process. If you only show up once every four years, you just might be getting the government you deserve.

According to BallotPedia.org, Michigan does not allow for: early voting, online voter registration, same-day registration or “no-excuse” absentee voting. Some might argue these factors present barriers to voting and they’d be correct. However, there is no direct, causal relationship between these barriers and low voter turnout. Look at the state of Illinois, by comparison. It allows for early voting, online and same-day registration as well as no-excuse absentee voting and its turnout was lower than Michigan’s in 2014.

In the end, it’s incumbent upon the voters to motivate themselves to get to the polls on Election Day.

You Get the Government Someone Else Thinks You Deserve.
Given what’s happened in Genesee County, specifically, I’d never blame the voters or non-voters for the failings of its state government. However, it’s plain to see if you don’t vote, you get the government someone else thinks you deserve. There’s only one way to reverse this trend.

Vote.

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political analysis: spitballing 2016.

The presidential elections in 2008 and 2012 were truly contrasts in styles for the Democrats and Republicans. Democrats opted for the young, charismatic and relative outsider to Washington politics while the Republicans nominated more establishment-style candidates. Yes, by 2008, John McCain had completed his metamorphosis from maverick to establishment. In 2012, the GOP tried to avoid an establishment candidate, but just couldn’t help themselves. While the Democrats naturally backed their incumbent president, Republicans piled onto the Mitt Romney train. And piled it into a tree.

Neither race was terribly close and, right on schedule, everyone is sick and tired of the two-term president and is already looking ahead to the next presidential election. Here’s where things are getting interesting.

If an election were held today, it would appear the parties have pulled a switcheroo on the country. Right this moment, “tea party” darling Rand Paul is looking like the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination. And who are the Democrats looking to? The establishment candidate (Hillary).

It’s way too soon to tell, but it’s clear both Paul and Clinton are rosining up their bows for a presidential race. What’s fascinating to me is Paul, the outsider, is starting to veer to the middle as fast as possible. He’s welching on his past statements that irked the GOP leadership while earning the admiration from conservatives who feel betrayed by their party.

On the other hand, you’ve got Hillary Clinton—a candidate with more inside track than Secretariat—throwing bombs at her former boss Obama while she’s out on her charade of a book and speaking tour.

The outsider is trying to be bland while the insider is trying to be iconoclastic. You’d think they were following polling data or something.

It’s a long way to 2016. I’m still waiting to see how many upstart Democrats and Republicans throw their hats into the ring and stir up trouble for the top contenders. Truth is, it’s a wide open race and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see both Paul and Clinton <i>not</i> win their party nominations.

I could easily see former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer or even Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren testing the Democratic waters. Schweitzer would be a great choice to nullify any NRA chatter out there. Warren is the favorite politician of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, but I’m not sure she’s ready for the national stage.

On the Republican side? Ohio governor John Kasich or former Florida governor Jeb Bush wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Kasich would make the most strategic sense. Bush might carry the same sort of baggage as Hillary: voter fatigue with their last names. I’ve heard some talk about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence running, which is laughable to me. There isn’t a bigger airhead, an emptier suit, a less imaginative prospect out there. Pence is a joke and would probably embarrass himself on the national stage.

I know what you’re thinking: where’s Chris Christie? He’ll test the waters, but his candidacy will stall and never make it out of Iowa. For better or worse, the George Washington Bridge scandal will hang around his neck like an albatross.

Nov. 8, 2016 is more than two years away. We’ll know more about a year from now who’s running. When that time comes, we’ll revisit my pre-pre-season predictions and see if I was right or wrong.

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my (unsolicited) advice to republicans.

It’s been a couple days now for Mitt Romney supporters to absorb the loss on Tuesday night. Even though all the major polls were showing a slim lead for Obama, I get the impression they thought they had it in the bag. The conservative finger pointing has already started. Who’s getting most of the blame? A hurricane; followed by a Republican governor.

Republicans believed beyond a doubt that Hurricane Sandy stemmed Romney’s momentum, giving Obama a surge and handing him the election. They also believe Chris Christie sold out Romney in the process, costing Romney votes. Both charges simply do not add up. It’s true Romney got a surge after the first presidential debate on Oct. 3. But that momentum had already stopped well before Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, more than three weeks after that debate. Romney had zero momentum at that point.

The charge that New Jersey Gov. Christie’s open embrace of President Obama damaged Romney’s chances is also false. Christie did what any politician should do in that situation: lay politics aside and address the emergency. That’s what he did. That’s what Obama did. What did Romney do? He staged a “relief” event in Ohio where props were already bought ahead of the event. You can’t blame Chris Christie for doing his job.

The reality is Barack Obama won re-election because the Democrats had a much stronger ground game than the Republicans. The Democrats protected all but one swing state. The Democrats also understood the necessity of winning the women and minority votes better than the Republicans. Truth be told, I think the Obama camp plotted this outcome back in 2009, with Health Care Reform. They adopted Romney’s plan, knowing he’d be the likely candidate in 2012, thus limiting his ability to use it against Obama. He tried, but it didn’t resonate with voters.

Once Republicans come to grips with the losses on Election Day, they’ll need to stop and take a long, hard look in the mirror and make some changes. Here’s my unsolicited advice to them.

1. Ditch Fox News.
This is a bad relationship for Republicans. Oh sure, Fox News makes them feel good and tells them what they want to hear, but that’s the problem. It is an echo chamber. It’s fine if conservatives want to consider Fox News home. But for Republican politicians and strategists, it’s time to step away from the echo chamber of dunces who ignored every bit of real math so they could float the narrative of a Romney victory. Walk away, Republicans. They burned you. They burned you bad.

2. Divorce Yourselves from Social Conservative Issues.
The days are over when Republicans could use abortion and gay marriage to curry support. What Republicans sacrifice in supporting these issues far outweighs the gains. Being pro-life is not inherently bad. But being pro-life to the point of passing restrictive laws that limit women’s health care and contraception choices is draconian. It is not anti-Republican to suggest keeping government out of people’s health decisions or marriages. Besides, the electorate is already there. Republicans are the ones who are behind. What was a successful wedge issue in 2004 is an albatross in 2012. Yes, the times they have a-changed.

3. Pass the DREAM Act.
Unless the Republicans open the door to Latino voters, they will continue to shrink until they’re a tiny, provincial group of old, white men. Immigration reform is critical, and the DREAM Act was a viable, sensible first step. Yet Republicans refused to reach across the aisle even on this. How’d that work out for you?

4. Ignore Grover Norquist.
No one would argue tax increases are popular. No one would argue tax increases are always the answer. But to stake out the most extreme position on taxation as your starting point has not only damaged your party, it has damaged this country.

5. Support Marijuana Legalization.
There is no doubt in my mind if Republicans push this cause, their ranks of young voters would increase exponentially. It’s also the right thing to do. Americans are ready for legalization for numerous reasons. The GOP would be cutting edge if they led the charge.

6. Stop Being Hostile to Social Programs.
I understand people’s frustration with abuses to the system. But those abuses happen at the top as well as the bottom. And corporate welfare is much more costly, than those phantom individuals Republicans point to as “welfare queens” jobbing the system. Rather than insist on eradication of social programs outright, take a kinder, gentler approach. Talk about the rampant abuses of the system and reform them. But here’s the radical idea: start at the top. Address corporate welfare abuses first, then address abuses at the bottom. This also means dropping drug testing requirements for welfare recipients. You can’t honestly call yourself the party of smaller government when you’re adding a costly layer of government that is intrusive of one’s right to privacy as well as being a solution without a problem.

7. End Voter Suppression.
The jig is up, Republicans. Everyone’s wise to the game and now it’s time to work with Democrats to really and truly make voting more accessible and more efficient. This is one of government’s jobs and it shouldn’t be in the business of limiting voting. When you look at the current population, compared to even 10 years ago, it’s evident that voting has to change. You can’t expect a system that worked in, say, 1976 to achieve the same results in 2012 when you have 40 million more people going to the polls. Once again, arithmetic leads to that conclusion.

Look, I know it’s a lot to consider, but it’s not like I’m asking Republicans to abandon their core beliefs of smaller government, pro-business and lower taxes. But it’s time to rethink the effectiveness of leading with your most extreme positions and politicians. The voters have clearly spoken. They don’t dislike Republicans, but they sure aren’t crazy about people like Todd Akin, Michelle Bachmann, Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh and Allen West.

The sooner you move back into reality, the better. Otherwise, with every step to the hardline, you’re just making it that much more challenging to change the electoral map.

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compromise = rich get richer. no, really!

In case you missed it, the so-called “compromise” in Washington D.C. last week works out like this: if you are a six-figure earner, you will get more money in your wallet. If you’re still unemployed (and a lot of you are) you will still be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Now here’s the funny part:
• Cost of the new round of tax cuts: $800 – $900 billion over the next two years
• Cost of 13-month extension of unemployment benefits: $60 billion

Who’s getting the most benefit from this compromise? Not the middle class, unless you lost your job. And will these tax cuts turn into more jobs? Don’t hold your breath.

If you make less than $108,000 a year, sorry, you pay the freight. If you make more than that, which is about the top 15 percent in the nation, you just got a sweetheart of a deal from your US government, at the expense of the other 85 percent of us. You’re welcome.

The rich just got richer. No, really. They did. The fact that the Democrats had to give away $800 billion to listen to that idiot in search of a village Michelle Bachmann and other Republicans bitch about the extensions of unemployment benefits is insulting. It’s no longer a metaphor. The people who own the yachts are bitching about the price of gas while getting a fat subsidy from Uncle Sugar. But what do they cry about? Having to help people who can’t find a job in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In addition to the $1.3 trillion Federal deficit—TRILLION! That’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it—we just added another $960 billion to it with this “compromise.” The funniest part of all is all the GOP bitches about is tax-and-spend liberals and creating a welfare state with unemployment benefits, which amounts to 6.25 percent of this “compromise.” The Republican Party could wallpaper their offices with $100 bills they made off selling the ‘tax-and-spend liberal’ lie, to say nothing of how George W. Bush and his Republican Congress grew the debt.

How do Republicans get away with it? By screaming from the top of their lungs the problem is earmarks and frivolous spending. They scream discretionary spending needs to be slashed. But they don’t tell you the whole story, do they?

Where do we spend the most of our discretionary money? Department of Defense. By a long shot. DoD receives more than $663.7 billion in discretionary spending. Who’s in second place? Department of Health and Human Services…you know, that evil group led by Kathleen Sebelius forcing government-run health care on Americans (another lie) that has all the neocons and teabaggers fuming. HHS gets $78.7 billion. If we want to have a real conversation about cutting spending we have to stop allowing the GOP to treat fat weapons systems contracts as sacrosanct.

News flash, ladies and gentleman: the elephant in the room IS the elephant in the room! The Republican Party has tilted the playing field so steeply in their favor that everyone forgot the rules.

How did this happen? The American people voted against their self interest in November, that’s how. Think about that. Six-figure earners just got a tax break as we’re still languishing in the worst recession since the Great Depression and all Republicans can bitch about is a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits for people who are still out of work.

All right, 15 percenters, you win. But now it’s up to you. You got your sweetheart deal from Congress. Where are the jobs?

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