washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Month: September 2011

Chaos Week For the “Daddy Party”

The campaign of the swaggering front-runner for the presidential nomination is suddenly a mess. Mitt Romney’s running a really nasty attack ad against Perry which ought to cost Mitt dearly with Hispanic voters if he is the nominee. Chris Christie says he’s not running, but is wondering if not running is “arrogant” and “egomaniacal” of him, and is reconsidering. Now Mike Huckabee is also reconsidering his non-candidacy, or at least considering a reconsideration.
For dessert, Florida’s decision today to hold its 2012 primary on January 31 in defiance of national party rules has thrown a huge monkey-wrench into the nominating contest calendar, probably moving everything up about a month. And on top of everything else, conservative opinion-leaders who are supposed to keep Republicans obsessed with the task of nominating the strongest possible candidate to face the president next November just can’t keep themselves from saying out loud they think Obama’s toast and they can nominate any damn lunatic they want.
Regular readers know I like to mock the idea so many Democrats and MSM types have of the Republican Party as a highly disciplined, hierarchical “daddy party” where everybody knows his or her place and everybody follows orders. This week ought to take care of that stereotype for a while.
UPDATE: Huckabee’s PAC says reports of his reconsideration of non-candidacy are bunk. Too bad. But if there is indeed a group of panicky ideologues roaming the landscape looking for a new, pure candidate to run against Romney and Perry, how long will it be before you-know-who hears her name on the restless wind? After all, if Krauthammer is right and any old Republican can beat Obama, why not St. Joan of the Tundra?

Herman Cain: Man with the Plan

This item is cross-posted from The New Republic.
Former pizza magnate Herman Cain’s upset victory in the September 24 Florida Republican straw poll, and his subsequent rise to a competitive third place position in at least one national poll, are being generally interpreted as a function of GOP voter unhappiness with previous “top-tier” candidates (Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and arguably Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul). In particular, Rick Perry’s series of ever-deteriorating debate performances have apparently made more than a few conservative base voters restless, creating at least a temporary opening for the smooth and genial Cain, who has always been popular with the Tea Party crowd.
But something a bit more profound than happy feet (and the perpetual desire to refute “liberal media” claims of latent racism) may be driving Republicans in Cain’s direction. His relentless advocacy of a comprehensive overhaul of the federal tax code, bearing the catchy moniker of “9-9-9,” is getting serious attention in the conservative chattering classes. That’s happening for two pretty obvious reasons.
First, the increasing nastiness of the Romney-Perry competition, and perhaps even some fatigue with the entire field’s monotonous Obama-bashing, has created a natural desire for a more positive campaign focused on what Republicans propose rather than what they oppose. As conservative opinion-leader Erick Erickson argued after Cain’s Florida straw poll win:

They voted for Herman Cain because he is not running against Barack Obama so much as he is running for an America he believes in and that other people can get excited about. People love Herman Cain’s optimism. They love his vision. They love his 9-9-9 plan.
The last is key. Herman has an articulated, easy to remember plan for economic recovery in his 9-9-9 plan. Quick! What is Mitt Romney’s plan? Jon Huntsman’s? Rick Perry’s? Michele Bachmann’s? They all, more or less, have them, but they are not readily memorable or easy to understand.
Herman Cain is consistently conservative, he is running for something, not against someone, and he is the most optimistic candidate on stage.

Second, Republicans are sensitive to Democratic claims, amplified recently by Barack Obama’s attacks on Republican obstructionism, that their party has no real plan for reviving the economy. Obama’s consistent lead in the polls against all the Republican candidates (with the occasional exception of Mitt Romney) even as his approval ratings sink has to be alarming to conservative elites who are smart and honest enough to acknowledge that the president is beginning to succeed in his efforts to make 2012 a “comparative” rather than a “referendum” election. Hence, even for Republicans who don’t take Cain seriously as a viable presidential candidate, praising him for being a candidate of great substance with very specific plans for the economy is good for the cause.
The plan itself is a variation on the “Fair Tax” concept, which would replace existing payroll and income taxes with a flat national consumption tax. This hardy perennial of conservative tax schemes, which experts, even on the right, tend to deride as impractical and impossibly regressive, remains popular with the conservative rank-and-file. Cain has long been a Fair Tax fan, and frankly describes 9-9-9 as a way station to ultimate establishment of a Fair Tax.
Specifically, 9-9-9 would replace the current federal income, estate, and payroll taxes with a 9 percent corporate tax, a flat 9 percent income tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. So it would simultaneously achieve a number of conservative goals in tax policy: abolition of the “death tax;” elimination of progressive income tax rates; and a general shift from taxes on income to taxes on consumption. A friendly Washington Times guestimate suggested that 9-9-9 would “only” reduce current total federal revenues by about $360 billion. Whether that’s accurate or not, by eliminating the earned income and family tax credits, and by imposing a national sales tax, Cain’s plan would without question boost taxes on the working poor to a very significant extent. The impact of a national sales tax on already-struggling state and local governments that rely on the same type of taxes is impossible to calculate, but would be considerable as well.
And that helps explain a third and less obvious appeal generated by Cain’s 9-9-9 plan: It uniquely scratches an itch among conservatives for a tax code that not only reduces taxes on businesses and high earners, but also demands more from those “lucky duckies” (as the Wall Street Journal once famously called them) at the bottom of the income scale who don’t currently pay income taxes. Those who watched Rick Perry’s August announcement speech in South Carolina may recall the odd moment when the Texan paused in the midst of a tirade against taxes of any kind to rail at the “injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.” This reverse-class-warfare battle cry has also been a staple of Michele Bachmann’s rhetoric. So now comes a candidate with an actual “plan” to accomplish this purpose–with the added bonus that he happens to be an African-American, providing protection against liberal suspicions that conservatives are turning the working poor into the “welfare queens” of the 21st century.
Of course, none of these attractions are enough to make Herman Cain the Republican presidential nominee. He doesn’t have a lot of money or organization; has less experience in public office than Sarah Palin; has been known to commit gaffes and exhibit ignorance of foreign policy; and has yet to get the kind of scrutiny and criticism that has already knocked Rick Perry down a notch or two. But his current bout of popularity is not just a matter of conservatives punishing Rick Perry for his bad debate performances or his criticism of his rivals’ “heartless” attitudes towards the children of illegal immigrants. At the moment, Cain is the man with the plan.

TDS Co-Editor William Galston: Why the Electoral College Won’t Help Obama

This item by TDS Co-Editor William Galston is cross-posted from The New Republic.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal this week, Gerald Seib rightly reminds us that presidential campaigns are won and lost state by state in the Electoral College, not in the nationwide popular vote. (Once in a while, this turns out to be a distinction with a difference; just ask not-quite President Gore.) Based on state results from the past five elections, Seib argues that the Electoral College gives Democrats a distinct advantage: They’ve won the same 18 states plus the District of Columbia, totaling 242 electoral votes, in each of those elections, compared to only 13 states with 102 votes for the Republicans. I can’t argue with Seib’s math, but the question is whether it leads all the way to his conclusion.
Strictly speaking, one party enjoys a structural advantage in the Electoral College if its popular votes are distributed more efficiently than the other’s. If so, that party should be able to win an Electoral College majority with less than 50 percent of the two-party popular vote. We can test that proposition by applying the vote efficiency metric to the actual 2008 results.
In 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 365 electoral to 173. Now let’s do an alternative history based on two assumptions: (1) the two-party popular vote was evenly divided; and (2) Obama’s margin of victory in each state was reduced by the same amount–7.26 percentage points–yielding an equal division of the popular vote. Under that scenario, Obama would have lost five states that he actually won–Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, which total 86 electoral votes–but still would have prevailed in the Electoral College, 279 to 259. That would seem to validate the hypothesis that Democrats enjoy a structural edge: They get 10 more votes than an even split would yield.
But not so fast: The 2008 presidential election was the last to be carried out based on the 2000 census, and the distribution of electoral college votes did not reflect population shifts that had occurred in the ensuing years. The 2012 presidential election, on the other hand, will reflect those shifts, and it makes a difference. Reapportionment shifted six electoral votes from Democratic to Republican states. If we rerun the 2008 election with the 2012 electoral vote allocation plus an even split of the popular vote, Obama wins by a very narrow margin–273 to 265. So the current Democratic structural advantage is four electoral votes–not nothing, but not much either. The probability that Obama could win reelection without a majority of the popular vote is extremely–vanishingly–low.
Readers who haven’t lost patience with this jeu d’esprit might be interested in the end of the story. Given the assumptions underlying the math, the state that Obama carries most narrowly and that puts him over the top is … Colorado, which he would have carried by 1.7 points–50.0 percent to 48.3 percent–with an even division of the popular vote that reduced his margin in every state by 7.26 percent. (For the mathematically challenged: subtract 3.63 percent from the 53.66 percent of the vote Obama won in Colorado in 2008 and add it to McCain’s 44.71 percent.) Indeed, Seib singles out Colorado as a state Obama must win in the event that he loses Ohio, and David Axelrod has publicly identified that state as a key electoral template for the president’s reelection campaign.
Now back to the real world. The last Democrat to win the White House without carrying Ohio was John F. Kennedy, who pulled off the feat with 73 electoral votes from south of the Mason-Dixon line and another 26 from the border states of West Virginia, Missouri, and Arkansas. Obama’s likely haul from that territory: zero. And as Seib points out, the president is facing an uphill climb in much of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region–including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, all of which went his way by larger margins than did Ohio. (For more evidence, see the latest Pennsylvania survey, which finds that 54 percent of registered voters disapprove of Obama’s performance and 51 percent don’t think he deserves reelection, while it has him running even with Romney in a state he carried by 10.3 points in 2008.) In short, the president won’t have the luxury of building his campaign on a solid-blue foundation of 242 electoral votes in 2012.
So what does this all mean? Barring unlikely circumstances, the core challenge facing the Obama campaign is not to execute a thread-the-needle Electoral College strategy. It is rather to spend the next thirteen and a half months giving the people credible reasons to believe that the economy will fare better in a second Obama term than it did in the first.

Latino Voters Increase in Key Swing States

Jonathan Weisman’s report on “the surging Hispanic population in several states that figure to be crucial to the outcome of next year’s election” in the Wall St. Journal comes as welcome news to President Obama. As Weisman explains:

In Florida, the nation’s largest presidential swing state, the voting-age Hispanic population grew by nearly 250,000 people between 2008 and 2010, census data show. By contrast, the voting-age white population grew by 30,400.
Nevada added more than 44,000 voting-age Hispanics over the same period, more than double the increase of 18,000 voting-age whites. And in New Mexico, the voting-age Hispanic total rose by more than 36,000, outpacing the growth among whites of just over 19,000.
Mr. Obama won all three states in 2008–and two-thirds of Hispanic voters nationwide…He won North Carolina…by more than 14,000 votes. About 54,400 additional voting-age Hispanics have come to the state between 2008 and 2010, census data show.
…The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that Latinos made up 7% of voters in 2010, the highest percentage for a nonpresidential election since the bureau began collecting such data.

As one of the impressive companion graphics to Weisman’s article, the WSJ provides an instructive chart “Targeting the Hispanic Vote, State-by-State,” which anyone interested in Latino voter turnout should peruse for a few minutes.
Maria Cardona’s HuffPo article cited in J.P. Green’s Wednesday post addressed some of the GOP’s huge liabilities in campaigning for Latino votes. Weisman adds,

Mr. Obama may have one thing going for him: By huge majorities, Hispanic voters favor immigration bills that have languished since the Bush administration, and they largely blame the GOP for their failure, according to a new poll of Hispanic voters by Resurgent Republic
…Many Latinos read the GOP’s call for tough illegal immigration laws as an affront…Republican front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have sparred at debates over a law the Texas governor signed granting in-state university tuition to illegal immigrants.
Mr. Romney has called the law a magnet for illegal immigration. When Mr. Perry suggested at a recent debate that the law’s critics had no heart, the backlash among conservative voters was harsh.

And according to a Republican-commissioned poll,

Resurgent Republic asked Hispanics in Florida, Colorado and New Mexico whether they agreed that the best way to improve the economy was to increase government investment in job training, education and infrastructure, or by reining in government spending, lowering taxes and reducing excessive regulations.
In Colorado, a swing state, 56% sided with more government spending, as Mr. Obama has proposed, while 37% sided with less government, as Republicans propose. In Florida, the spread was 52% to 40%. In New Mexico, it was 59%-30%.

But there are also serious problems concerning Latino support for the President, as Wesiman explains. According Wall Street Journal/NBC News surveys, Obama’s August 2011 approval rating was down 14 percent among Latinos since June 2009. And some swing states have added more whites than Latinos. Further:

…Hispanic unemployment stands at 11.3%, higher than the 9.1% rate for the nation as a whole. And the president has failed to deliver a promised overhaul of immigration laws that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Weisman reports that the GOP is already running ads in Spanish on TV and Radio.
Dems have set up phone banks in NM and NV and canvassing in Hispanic suburban neighborhoods. President Obama spoke at a heavilly Hispanic Denver high school and the White House has already conducted an on-line roundtable on issues of concern to the Latino community. Weisman reports that “his re-election campaign is recruiting Latino neighborhood captains, canvassing coordinators, phone-bank hosts and data-management coordinators.”
Weisman didn’t discuss the possible effects of GOP voter suppression initiatives, like new identification requirements in some states, which will likely reduce Latino votes. Dems hope the laws will backfire and energize Hispanic voters to support Democratic candidates across the ballot.

Christie, Obama and “Class Warfare”

It’s not often these days that you read a newspaper editorial worth republishing. But Newark’s Star-Ledger, which obviously follows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pretty closely, provided a tart and important response to Christie’s blast at the president for “class warfare” during his Ronald Reagan Library speech earlier this week. It’s worth quoting at length:

Clue phone for the governor: America is not demoralized by the notion of increasing taxes on top earners. Polls show that big majorities support the idea. Some even show that most Republicans do.
And the reason is not that rich people are evil. Obama never suggested that. And few Americans think that.
The reason is that we need the money. We are entering a period of national sacrifice and most feel it should be shared. Obama is drawing a line on that, saying he’d veto big cuts in middle-class programs such as Medicare unless Republicans agree to this shared sacrifice.
It’s remarkable that Christie can look across the American landscape today and conclude that our priority should be to protect the interests of those at the top of the pyramid, the one group that is doing okay.
What about the middle class? Their productivity at work is rising steadily, feeding growing corporate profits. But their incomes are dropping like rocks. And poverty is surging.
It is not class warfare to point out these facts. It is class warfare to ignore them while fending off any attempt to ask more from top earners.
It is especially galling to hear this from Christie, who raised taxes on the working poor by cutting their tax credits. Are they better able to take the blow?

Pols like Christie cannot have it both ways. They cannot thrill centrist pundits by calling for “shared sacrifice” and then turn around and insist that means imposing still more sacrifices on the low-to-moderate income Americans already being buffeted by the Great Recession, while insulating the wealthy, who are doing extremely well at the moment, from any “sacrifice” on grounds that they need to be rewarded for having, as Christie puts it, “achieved the American dream.”
If Christie really wants to show some courage in attacking “class warfare,” he could take a few shots at those Republicans who deeply resent what Rick Perry has called the “injustice” of the working poor not owing federal income taxes. So long as conservatives think “shared sacrifice” means making the tax system even more regressive even as economic inequality reaches unprecedented levels, they truly do need a “clue phone” from the real world.

The Agony of GOP Elites

This item is cross-posted from The New Republic.
Until just last week, things were looking up for Republicans, with Obama’s approval ratings sinking and the GOP nomination process settling down to a choice between two potentially formidable candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. But after the demolition derby of “P5”–the series of candidate events in Orlando including a candidates’ debate, a state straw poll, and several speaking opportunities–fear and panic have gripped elite GOP circles. Indeed, what’s been revealed is that the two front-runners are locked in an increasingly savage competition that exposes both of their vulnerabilities. Perry, the red-hot bullet in many recent polls, stumbled his way through Orlando and left in considerable disarray. The long-awaited Florida straw poll turned into a rout for former pizza magnate Herman Cain. And time is truly running out for any last-minute establishment savior to enter the race, while the possibility most mentioned, Chris Christie–who left the door to a late run open just a bit after his Ronald Reagan Library speech this week–has his own baggage to handle, including heterodox positions and his own recent assessment that he is not ready to serve as president.
These current events leave GOP elites in quite a bind: Do they hope Perry recovers his debating mojo in the next candidate forum, on October 11 in New Hampshire, and resumes his earlier march through Iowa and South Carolina to the nomination? Or should they instead conclude that Romney was right in gambling that conservative activists would eventually tire of complaining about the Massachusetts health plan or his increasingly distant record of flip-flops on abortion and gay rights? In either case, they’ve got to decide fast, as a protracted fight will surely hurt the eventual nominee down the road while diverting attention and resources from the cause of defeating Barack Obama.
The Perry-Romney decision is a tough call for Republicans, to be sure. Misgivings about Romney are deep-seated, and transcend any particular issue. Elites will not soon forget his disastrous Iowa loss in 2008 to the lightly-regarded, underfunded Mike Huckabee, or the suspicion that Romney’s Mormon faith will act as a permanent millstone on his ability to attract conservative evangelical voters. And it’s hard to overcome the nagging conviction that today’s GOP base is not in the mood to nominate anyone who is considered moderate, or who evokes anything other than horror and post-election Canadian travel plans among Democrats. Michele Bachmann perhaps captured this conservative zeitgeist best during the Orlando debate, when she described Obama as a sure loser and suggested Republicans could go ideologically hog wild without fear of any consequences.
But elite reactions to Perry’s Sunshine State meltdown were authentically shrill. Most significant, perhaps, was that of RedState’s Erick Erickson, who provided the venue for the Texan’s carnivorous presidential announcement speech in August:

Rick Perry stands on the precipice. He is about to fall off … . [A]nother performance like last night could push him off the edge of support among people who want an anti-Romney alternative, but who really want to beat Barack Obama even more.

And Michelle Malkin, another conservative opinion-leader who could never be described as a Romney-loving squish, observed: “Perry said he’s in favor of making English the official language of the U.S. Perhaps he should concentrate on mastering it before the next debate.”
What most fed the harsh judgments of Perry in Florida is that he stumbled at moments when he should have been thoroughly scripted and rehearsed: his incoherent effort to blast Romney as a flip-flopper, and his halting, defensive efforts to defend himself on Social Security and immigration. On this last subject, he managed to make his terrible positioning worse by suggesting that critics of the Texas DREAM Act were heartless, if not bigoted–the kind of talk considered offensively slanderous in Tea Party circles. If he’s this bad on the predictable stuff, what would happen to him in a debate with Barack Obama? Elites are prone to worry about this kind of thing. They also might well worry about whether the powerful Perry campaign organization, led by the supposed strategic genius Dave Carney, is in fact built on feet of clay. After hyping the Florida Straw Poll for weeks as a major milestone of the 2012 race, Perry skipped town before the final speeches and was absolutely demolished by Herman Cain. When you are outworked by a candidate who was earlier written off for the languorous pace of his appearances in Iowa, your campaign is no juggernaut.
To be sure, while there are reasons for GOP elites to worry about both of the front-runners, there is also no guarantee that either will self-destruct. CNN’s first national poll, taken after the week of Florida events, shows relatively little movement other than a mini-surge for debate stars Cain and Gingrich and serious declines in support for Bachmann and Paul. And before long, the “invisible primary” dominated by elites will give way to the actual caucuses and primaries where voters–albeit activist-dominated base voters–begin to take over. But until a clear consensus emerges, insiders will be forced to watch in horror as Team Romney derides Perry as unelectable, and as Team Perry attacks Romney as an “Obama-Lite” RINO, with both sides hemorrhaging money and Democrats taking careful notes.

Political Strategy Notes

Jim Hightower takes a disturbing look at “The Corporate Takeover of the 2012 Presidential Election” at nationofchange.org. Hightower notes that “Corporate hucksters, intent on political profiteering, are setting up dummy funds with such star-spangled names as Make Us Great Again and Restore Our Future….These groups can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money…As of August, more than 80 percent of the money in Super PACs backing Republican candidates had come from only 35 people writing six- and seven-figure checks.”
In his post, ‘Decision Season” at The American Prospect, Scott Lemieux considers the political and legal ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act — during the peak of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Steven Shepard reports at National Journal’s Hotline on Call that President Obama is holding a slight lead over both Romney (+2 percent) and Santorum (+3 percent) in a new Quinnipiac University PA poll, with a 6 percent edge over Perry. The poll also found that 52 percent of respondents want PA to keep its winner-take-all electoral vote allocation, with 40 percent favoring the district allocation scheme proposed by the GOP.
The Rude Pundit has the snark chops needed to put into perspective bloated MSM coverage of Chris Christie’s non-announcement, while all but ignoring the Occupy Wall Street protests.
John Paul Rollert posts on “The Hardy Myth of ‘Job Creators‘” at Salon.com, and offers some interesting observations about the elite group of folks the GOP argues should be exempt from taxation. During the Clinton Administration, notes Rollert, “…Higher taxes on the “job creators” proved no obvious hurdle to economic growth — the economy grew for 116 consecutive months, the most in U.S. history — it did cut the deficit from $290 billion when Clinton took office to $22 billion by 1997 and helped put the country on a projected path to paying off the national debt by 2012.”
Conversely, Brian Cooney’s “GOP in Denial: Tax Cuts Do Not Increase Revenues” in the Lexington (KY) Record brings the numbers that show Republican tax cuts are no panacea for joblessness: “In 2008, tax expert David Cay Johnston reported that “Total income was $2.74 trillion less (in 2008 dollars) during the eight Bush years than if incomes had stayed at 2000 levels.” The average family lost $21,000 during this period…The government didn’t do any better. According to the Washington Post, by 2011 the Bush tax cuts had cost, in lost revenue, $2.8 trillion…In September, 2009, the majority staff of the Joint Congressional Economic Committee reported that the Bush economy had the slowest job growth of any administration since Herbert Hoover.”
The Campaign for America’s Future presents “A Contract for the American Dream,” a 10-point agenda to restore America’s economy leading up to the October 3rd “Take Back the American Dream” conference.
We’ve reported on a couple of the unintended beneficial consequences of the ‘Citizens United’ decision, none of which offset the huge damage the ruling does by giving corporations carte blanche in supporting Republican candidates. But In These Times has an article “Corporations Are Not People: A Movement Builds to Fight Corporate Rule and Amend the Constitution,” by Joel Bleifuss, reporting on the emergence of a multi-faceted campaign to address the injustices of the ruling.
Far be it from TDS to gin up paranoia about the integrity of America’s vote-counting systems. But do read Elinor Mills’s “E-voting Machines Vulnerable to Remote Vote Changing” at cnet.com, or at least this graph: “The Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne Laboratory, which is a division of the Department of Energy, discovered this summer that Diebold touch-screen e-voting machines could be hijacked remotely, according to team leader Roger Johnston…As many as a quarter of American voters are expected to be using machines that are vulnerable to such attacks in the 2012 election.”
For a motherlode of clever quotes about economic inequality and greed, check out inequality.org, featuring such pearls as Matthew Arnold’s “Our inequality materializes our upper class, vulgarizes our middle class, brutalizes our lower class” and Robert Lear’s “You have to pay your CEO above average or you’re admitting you have a below-average CEO.”
Speaking of economic inequality, E. J. Dionne, Jr. has a WaPo column explaining “Why Conservatives Hate Warren Buffet,” Says Dionne: “No wonder partisans of low taxes on wealthy investors hate Warren Buffett. He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax.”
At commondreams.org, Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson takes a look at the latest messaging advice from GOP wordsmith guru Frank Luntz. Grayson has some fun with Luntz’s penchant for euphemisms and suggests some new ones: Vampires are “blood recyclers” and nuclear war is “1000 points of light.” Riffing on Luntz’s “You don’t create jobs by making life difficult for job creators,” Grayson explains that “job-creators” is Republican-speak for “greedy, soulless multinational corporations who don’t give a damn about you.”
Kyle Kondik argues at Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball that Dems’ prospects for retaking control of the House of Reps depends on President Obama’s re-election, and he rolls out charts assessing the most competitive House races. If you wanna help, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s ‘Drive to 25’ campaign accepts donations here and ActBlue’s progressive House candidates can be supported here.

Will Christie Stoop to Conquer?

Every Democratic political junkie ought to take the time to watch a replay of Chris Christie’s speech at the Ronald Reagan Library last night. It was a serviceable speech, which didn’t offend any conservative ideological pieties and stopped just short of giving Republican members of Congress part of the blame for the country’s problems.
But the interesting thing was less the speech than the ensuing Q&A, in which Christie got to show off his wit (a rare commodity in a GOP currently dominated by Mitt Romney and Rick Perry), and the audience got to show off its desperation for a new presidential candidate.
Just watching, you could sense the entire room holding its breath as a questioner practically got down on her knees to beg Christie to run for president. She didn’t quite come out and say the current field is composed of bozos who couldn’t beat Obama, but that was the clear implication. If there is an “electability caucus” in the GOP, it was heavily represented at the Reagan library last night.
Contrived or not, the question and its supplicatory tone put Christie in the enviable position of responding that it would be “egomaniacal” of him not to think about the wants and needs of people like the questioner. Should he now choose to repudiate a year’s worth of denials and jump into the race, he can be expected to claim that turning his back on so many supplicants would have been arrogant, and that aspiring to become the most powerful person in the world is an act of humility! Pretty amazing, eh?
If he does run, Christie is going to have some real issues with past positions offensive to conservatives, as noted by Mike Tomasky today. He’d have to get a campaign together in record time, particularly since Florida Republicans appear poised to push the start date for the formal nominating process up until the very beginning of 2012, if not earlier. Candidates already in the field will go to unholy lengths to keep Christie from crashing the party. And you can expect a lot of people from New Jersey to come forward with less than flattering information about life under a Christie administration.
In some ways, Christie’s appeal is very similar to that of Rudy Giuiliani’s at the beginning of the 2008 cycle–except that Rudy got into the race at the very beginning, and was much better know nationally. And you saw how that turned out.
More than likely, Christie won’t run, and will use this moment of national attention to keep himself on the “mentioned” list for every appointed position within the power of a Republican president for years to come. But the apparent panic which is leading a lot of big-shot Republican donors and pols to come beg him to run is a phenomenon that is interesting in itself.

GOP on Track to Deepen Latino Vote Loss in 2012

Yesterday TDS flagged a HuffPo post, “No Casa Blanca for the GOP” by Maria Cardona. It’s too good of a piece to let it go at that, so here’s a bigger bite in hopes of encouraging more Democrats to read it:

As a Latina…I find myself scratching my head and wondering whether the GOP candidates even know – or care – there is a powerful and growing Latino voting population in critical swing states that hold the key to any Republican who wants to work in the Oval Office.
During the last several GOP Presidential debates, I sat dumbfounded on several instances where the GOP candidates were unwilling or frankly, unable to even articulate a single thing they would do to capture the Latino vote. When that question was posed at the GOP Tea Party debate, not one candidate mentioned how they would create additional jobs for Latinos, or create additional economic opportunity. Instead, they tripped over each over trying to see who could use the phrase “government dole” more times, and who would do a better job of keeping the “illegals” out. It was downright offensive.

Cardona analyzes some election and polling data, and finds the GOP in big trouble with Latinos:

Matthew Dowd, a Republican pollster said in 2004 that if George W. Bush did not garner at least 40% of the Latino vote in that year’s election, he would not be elected. He got exactly that. So imagine if in 2004, the required GOP Latino vote share was 40%, in 2012, after an explosion of growth around the country and in key battleground states that percentage has got to be at least 44 or 45% if not more. But for the sake of keeping things statistically correct, let’s stick with 40%. In a few recent polls by Latino Decisions, a polling firm specializing in polling Latinos, the vote share for the Republican Party does not break 19%. That is a 21 point, jaw-droppingly huge gap the Republicans need to bridge in order to have a prayer of winning the White House in 2012.

Cardona has more to say about GOP cluelessness and/or indifference regarding priorities of Hispanic voters:

…If you look at the recent history of GOP candidates across the board and how they have run their campaigns, it seems the truth is much more disturbing….On every single issue that is important to Latinos – jobs, education, health care, small businesses, Social Security, and yes, immigration, the GOP presidential candidates are on the complete opposite side.
On jobs, the GOP candidates would drastically slash budgets and programs that would help keep Latinos employed or help the millions of unemployed Latinos across the country. On education, the GOP candidates would slash education investment and Pell Grants which have given hundreds of thousands of Latino students the chance to go to college. The GOP candidates would all repeal “Obamacare,” when it has provided 9 million Latinos health care coverage who didn’t have it before. We already know what the GOP wants to do with Social Security – if they are not calling it a Ponzi scheme and saying it is unconstitutional, they want to privatize it and put it in the hands of Wall Street. Social Security kept 20 million Americans out of poverty including almost half of Latino seniors.
On immigration, what Republicans don’t understand is what Latinos hear when GOP candidates say “We are for legal immigration but against illegal immigration.” When the GOP makes this statement, they normally follow it up with something like “we need to secure the border first.” To Latinos, this is code for “We will never support a path to legalization for the millions of ‘illegals’ who are here.”

As Cardona explains, “Again, the GOP is playing to their base, offering extreme right-wing platitudes and no real solutions, and continuing to alienate Latinos in the process. This is not a policy answer to the more than 12 million undocumented immigrants who are here and are not going anywhere anytime soon.”

TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira: Obama Jobs Plan Has Strong Public Support

Republicans continue to bash away at President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act. But they haven’t made a dent in public support for the plan, as TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira explains in this week’s edition of his ‘Public Opinion Snapshot’:

In the recent CBS/New York Times poll, respondents supported cutting taxes for small businesses by 81-14; supported spending money on infrastructure such as bridges, airports, and schools by 80-16; supported cutting payroll taxes by 56-30; and supported providing money to state governments to prevent layoffs by 52-40.

As for funding the American Jobs Act, the poll indicates Americans are in solid agreement with the President:

Moreover, they support one of President Obama’s chief ideas for funding action on jobs. By 56-37, they agree that those earning $250,000 or more should pay more in taxes.

And another poll indicates that the President has considerable latitude to do even more:

Finally, by an overwhelming 63-18 in a recent Marist poll, the public thinks President Obama’s proposals do not go far enough. Clearly, the public believes the time for action has arrived.

The Republicans will no doubt keep plugging away with the negative spin. But the public clearly isn’t buying it, and Dems should benefit from the inescapable conclusion that only one party is offering constructive action.