Democratic campaign strategists searching the blogs for tips on how to respond to the GOP’s Swift Boat 2 scam will find plenty of good ideas — if they look in the right places. Here are three for openers:
Start with this short and sweet response from Ohio’s Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown, quoted here in an Associated Press wrap-up:
The people who should apologize are George Bush and Mike DeWine for sending our troops into battle without body armor and without examining the cooked intelligence.
Leftcoaster Steve Soto has an eloquent litany of sharp retorts in his post “Look In The Mirror For Apologies Mr. Bush.” For instance:
As long as the White House is demanding apologies, let’s all get in the spirit. Mr. Bush, you should apologize for making a joke about not finding WMDs, as thousands die in Iraq for your lies. But why stop there?
Mr. Bush, apologize for letting Osama Bin Laden escape at Tora Bora in December 2001, and for encouraging the Pakistanis to back away from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in September in Waziristan.
Mr. Bush, apologize to our troops for sending them into harm’s way through a campaign of lies and public disinformation, and then joking about it as the soldiers died for your mendacity.
Mr. Bush, apologize to our troops for using them in a war that had nothing to do with those who attacked us on 9/11, and for knowing you were lying about this at the time.
…Mr. Bush, apologize to the troops for their inadequate veterans’ benefits, why their families have to go on food stamps, why their families have to send them flak jackets, and why you don’t attend the funerals of those killed in action.
And do check Simon Rosenberg’s perceptive take at the New Democratic Network’s NDN Blog. The whole thing is very good, but we’ll just offer a sample here:
Within several hours of John Kerry’s slip of the tongue, the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, found time to rush to the mikes to somehow, perhaps, to change the subject from how badly they’ve botched just about everything.
As James Carville said “Kerry may have blown a joke. Bush has blown a war.”
I’m not really worried about the Kerry remark. Yes the right-wing spin machine will grab and toss it hard into the debate. Yes the news organizations will oblige, and pick it up for a day or so. But at the end of the day, the uncommon good sense of the common people will prevail. For they have already decided that this election will not be about nothing, but will be about the future of our country.
It rocks on, so read it all.
There are no polls that specifically address which party is ahead in all races in the 50 state legislatures. But it seems reasonable to assume that Democratic candidates for state legislature will benefit if there is a big blue wave in congressional elections. The balance of power in the state legs may be closer now than it has ever been, as Kirk Johnson explains in “Democrats Are Seen to Gain in Statehouse Races” in today’s New York Times:
Republicans control both chambers in 20 states, Democrats in 19. One state, Nebraska, has a nonpartisan legislature, while the parties split control in the remaining 10 states…What makes the races even more suspenseful is that the parties have not been so even in decades, if ever. Of the 7,382 statehouse legislative seats across the country, Democrats hold 21 more than the Republicans, a margin of less than half a percent.
In 17 of the 46 states that will elect some or all of their state senators, a shift of only three seats would alter party control in the senate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 12 state houses, a shift of five or fewer seats would tip the balance.
Prospects for Democratic candidates are very good, with one caveat. The Republicans are outspending them in state legislative races 2-1. Those who want to see more women in government have a singular opportunity to make a difference by making a contribution to Democratic campaigns, since Democratic women in the state legislatures outnumber Republican women nearly 2-1. If the blue wave rolls over the state houses, more women will advance to leadership positions — and later to congress.
A new Associated Press/America Online poll indicates that 43 percent of likely voters “check the Internet for political updates about campaigns and candidates.” According to Will Lester’s AP report on the poll:
The most popular destinations are the news sites, such as those run by newspapers, networks and newsmagazines, with nine of 10 in the online political audience saying they go there. Just over one-third go to candidate’s sites and almost half check out political sites.
According to Lester, the poll also found that the political web-surfers tended to be more male (40 percent of males vs. 30 percent of females); younger (40 percent of those under age 50, vs. less than 20 percent of those over 65); and more educated (over half of those with college degrees, vs. one-third of those with some college and one out of six with a h.s. education.)
Despite the growing influence of the internet as a source for political information, TV still gets the overwhelming share of political ad dollars, and likely has more influence with working class voters. A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted April 7-9 found that 45 percent of respondents watched TV news every day, and another 19 percent said they watched news program several times a week.
Few considerations generate more concern in the final days of political campaigns than decisions made about buying TV ads. And if you thought ad-buys were largely determined by poll-margins in particular races, you would be wrong.
For example, the cost of ads is a major factor in ad-buys. In their WaPo article “As Elections Near, Dueling With Dollars,” reporters Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza, explain the calculations DCCC ad-buyer John Lapp has to make in allocating his $60 million budget:
In Washington’s 5th District, Lapp is running ads hitting freshman Rep. Cathy McMorris despite the strong Republican tilt of the district. That’s because ad time in the Spokane media market, which covers almost the entire district, is relatively inexpensive, allowing the DCCC to fund a week of ads for just over $300,000. It is a cheap bet, even for a long shot.
But Lapp is not running ads against Rep. Jean Schmidt (Ohio) who, despite woeful reelection numbers, benefits from the high price of television time in the Cincinnati market. This decision could save Schmidt’s job, strategists in both parties say.
That’s a shame. other considerations include the intensity of local issues and the opportunity to run an especially powerful message. Then there is the obligation the DCCC has to fund ads for candidates they encouraged to run, regardless of their poll numbers. Democratic ad-buy decisions are made even more difficult in a growing playing field. Says Lapp “Republicans are playing a game of whack-a-mole while we are expanding the number of races in play by the day.”
In such an environment, some bad ad-buy decisions are inevitable. Fortunately, rank-and-file Democrats can help keep them to a minimum by making contributions to the following links, so we don’t have to leave potential winners out on a limb:
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
If there was ever a time for true blue Democrats to take action to make Congress more responsive, that would be today.
A new poll by the Center for Rural Strategies, conducted 10/22-24, reports big gains for Democrats among rural voters. According to the CRS press release:
The poll of rural voters in 41 contested congressional districts found that likely voters preferred Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 13 points, 52 percent to 39 percent. In mid-September, the same population of voters was evenly split between the two parties at 45 percent each.
In contested Senate races in states with significant rural populations, rural voters preferred Democrats by 4 points, 47 to 43 percent, reversing the 4-point lead Republican Senate candidates held among rural voters in mid-September. But those results fall within the poll’s margin of error.
Bill Greener, a Republican strategist and consultant on the poll, had this to say about the poll:
The numbers in this poll have to be disturbing to any Republican involved in the upcoming election…Republican success has relied on strong support from rural voters, and this survey indicates we don’t have that support today.
Another consultant to the poll, Democrat Anna Greenberg, cited a “perfect storm” of issues benefitting Democrats, including the Iraq war, economic problems in rural communities and a “muddling of moral values” resulting from the Foley scandal/cover-up.
Harold Ford has already won. Even if he loses the TN Senate race by a small margin, he has accomplished something important in demonstrating that African American Democrats can be highly competitive in state-wide races in the south. The critical lesson for Dems is that there is a lot to be gained from putting more resources into developing Black candidates in the south.
There are a lot of good articles about the Ford phenomenon out there, and one of the best is Salon‘s “How Would Jesus Vote?” by Michael Scherer, illuminating Ford’s brilliance in mining the vote of religious conservatives in the state that has “the most white evangelicals in the nation.” Also read the Wall St. Journal‘s “Republicans’ Hold On the South Gets Test in Tennessee” by Corey Dade and Nikhil Deogun, which explains Ford’s success in terms of the Volunteer State’s demographic transformation. Here’s just one interesting graph from the WSJ piece:
By one demographic factor, Mr. Ford should be far behind in the polls. Tennessee has one of the lowest African-American populations in the South — about 16%. Logically, that should put African-American candidates at a disadvantage for statewide office because they can’t count on a massive bloc of votes to give them a head start in a statewide election. But political scientists say the reverse may be true: In states with smaller black populations, whites don’t feel as threatened and the state isn’t as polarized. For instance, African-Americans make up a very high percentage of Mississippi and Alabama — 36.5% and 26%, respectively — and black voters tend to vote Democrat while white voters go for Republicans. The “blacker” the state, the larger President Bush’s margin of victory in 2004.
For more on the purple south emergence, check out Chris Kromm’s “Future of Congress to Be Decided in the South?” in Facing South. On a related issue, Ian Urbina reports on concerns about Black turnout in today’s New York Times — an important but much overlooked topic in midterm coverage thus far.
by Scott Winship
If they’re from Alexandria or Falls Church (outside DC) or Charlottesville (home of UVA), forward them this link: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/10/24/111047/27 and tell ’em to call their local elections board.
I’m more optimistic about chance to regain the Senate than Chris Bowers is — Webb is within the margin of error of most polls, and this race could be key to control of the Senate. It’s really important….
Lest we get carried away with irrational exuberance in the wake of the GOP meltdown, Chris Bowers takes a sobering look at Dem chances of winning a Senate Majority on November 7 in today’s MyDD. Bowers averages the five most recent polls for key Senate races in his article “Control Of The Senate Still a Longshot” and sees tough odds against a Democratic takeover. According to Bowers averages, Dems are ahead 5.8 in R.I.; 5.4 in MT and 3.6 in NJ, but lag by 1.4 in MO, 1.6 in VA and 2.8 in TN.
Other than that, he sees the Democratic prospects as bright:
I do still hope for a pickup of four or five seats in the Senate, taking control of the House, winning the majority of Governors, and doing some real damage in state legislatures.
Obviously Dems still have a fighting chance, and winning five of six key races is not impossible if the big blue wave materializes. Plus, the polls could improve over the next 13 days. Otherwise, winning majorities of the House, governorships and state legislatures is not a bad consolation prize.
In his L.A. Times article “Latino and Black Voters Reassessing Ties to GOP,” Peter Wallsten reports on the exodus of African American and Hispanic conservative voters from the G.O.P. According to Wallsten, a growing number of leaders in both constituencies have articulated a sense of being taken for granted by Republican leaders. With respect to African American conservatives:
Complaints among black pastors who had been courted by the White House — while less pronounced than those of Latino leaders — have been fueled by a tell-all book by former White House aide David Kuo. The new book says that Bush, referring to pastors from one major African American denomination, once griped: “Money. All these guys care about is money. They want money.”
…The Rev. Eugene Rivers, a Boston Pentecostal minister and one of about two dozen black clergy invited to a series of White House meetings with Bush, said Friday that black leaders had been wooed with assurances that their social service groups would receive money from the president’s faith-based initiative. But, Rivers said, the bulk of the money had gone to white organizations, leaving black churches on the sidelines.
The GOP’s rift is also widening with Latino conservatives, who are disturbed by the Republicans’ mixed messages on immigration and who share the Black conservatives’ concern about the GOP’s ethics problems and the Foley cover-up:
A survey released this month by the Latino Coalition found Latino registered voters supporting Democrats over Republicans 56% to 19% in congressional elections. “If Republicans nationally get 25% of the Hispanic vote, it would be a miracle,” said Robert de Posada, the coalition president…
The Latino backlash has grown so intense that one prominent, typically pro-Republican organization, the Latino Coalition, has endorsed Democrats in competitive races this year in Tennessee, Nebraska and New Jersey….The Latino Coalition, for example, has endorsed the presumed Democratic presidential front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), in her reelection bid this year.
The aforementioned Kuo book, “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction,” has alienated white conservatives as well, with its depiction of top White House aides “embracing religious conservatives in public while calling them “nuts” behind their backs.”
by Alan Abramowitz
The new issue of Barron’s Magazine, always a model of objective journalism, has a cover story by Jim McTague that argues that reports of a coming Democratic victory in the 2006 midterm elections are greatly exaggerated.
A lot of McTague’s “analysis” appears to consist of little more than wishful thinking. For example, he predicts that Rick Santorum, who has been trailing Bob Casey, Jr. in every poll in the last six months, will win reelection in Pennsylvania thanks to a late surge in support from the western part of the state and that Mark Kennedy will defy polls showing him trailing by double-digits to defeat Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota.
Beyond wishful thinking, McTague’s argument that Republicans will keep control of the House and Senate rests almost exclusively on the fact that most endangered Republican incumbents have raised more money than their Democratic challengers and, in both 2002 and 2004, the candidate who spent the most money in a House and Senate race almost always won.
But there is a fundamental flaw in this argument: 2002 and 2004 were not wave elections–elections in which there is a strong national tide. In wave elections lots of incumbents lose even though they outspend their challengers. This is what happened in 1974, 1980, 1982, and 1994. In 1994, for example, 26 of the 34 Democratic incumbents who lost their seats outspent their Republican challengers. On average, losing Democratic incumbents outspent their Republican challengers by a margin of $969,000 to $663,000. Republicans also won 14 of 25 open seat races in which the Republican candidate spent less than the Democratic candidate.
Using the the relative size of the candidates’ campaign warchests to predict election results in a wave election can yield highly misleading result. If a strong Democratic wave hits the House and Senate on November 7th, as now appears likely, many Republican incumbents will lose despite outspending their Democratic challengers.