Terence Samuel

Terence Samuel is a Prospect senior correspondent and the author of The Upper House: A Journey behind the Closed Doors of the U.S. Senate, published in May by Palgrave Macmillan. Follow him on Twitter.

Recent Articles

Westward, Vote!

Ohio schmohio. If you want a real fix on where this election is going to be decided, pay attention to where House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is spending her time next week: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Except for New Mexico, where Al Gore won by a whopping 366 votes in 2000, these are the new battlegrounds, where past may not be prologue. Suddenly, red states like Nevada and Colorado are up for grabs. Pelosi, who has been on a tireless crusade to return Democrats to power in the House of Representatives, knows where the openings might present themselves. “There are a lot of opportunities for us in the West,” says Kori Bernards, communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who will make the western swing with Pelosi. “We have good candidates in high-Democratic-performing districts who can put us closer to taking back the house.” House Democrats have said all along that what they need to win control is for John Kerry to create a small...

Last Resort

A few months ago I got on an elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building with retiring GOP Senator Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois, the man whose decision not to seek re-election set off what has been one of the weirdest election contests in recent memory. Lamenting the lack of diversity in his party, and what that portends for its future success, Fitzgerald summed up his concerns this way: "You know what the problem is with the Republican Party? Not enough white people." His clear implication was that the demographics were trending against Republicans, and that something had to be done to attract more voters of color to the GOP banner. It is the kind of talk that got him in trouble with GOP leaders at home, some of whom threatened to challenge him in a primary if he sought re-election. He did not. And the follies began. First, a black guy no one ever heard of named Barack Obama surged to a primary victory win when the deep-pocketed front-runner self-destructed after allegations that...

Guns of August

The next urgent issue facing the Kerry campaign is how to survive August, because it ain't gonna be no walk on the beach. This is traditionally a quiet time in presidential campaigns, but the Bush camp, still looking for an effective way to disqualify the Democratic nominee in the eyes of voters, will open up its big guns in an effort to take Kerry out. After five months of trying, the Bush operation has yet to convince voters that Kerry is an unacceptable replacement for Bus. The flip-flopper thing worked some, but not well enough. And the “Massachusetts liberal” slur may not carry the sting it once did. Add to that the fact that the Kerry Democrats conducted their Boston love-in in a way that made them seem not only happy, but competent, too. So watch August turn into a brawl full of fury. “We are up against the most liberal Democratic ticket in 20 years,” says Bush-Cheney spokesman Terry Holt. “It is going to be an unusually contested month,” promises Kerry campaign manager Mary...

Fireworks on Tuesday

BOSTON -- At the corner of Summer and Washington streets, a block away from the Boston Common, which by Saturday was already teeming with the Democratic hordes, I saw a man wearing a blue Nader baseball cap, with a blue Nader button to match. Except for the obvious recklessness of the act, the man seemed otherwise normal, but I could not help thinking, “Something is going to happen to this guy.” It was a passing thought, but it reinforced a feeling I've had for a while now that something truly unexpected will happen at this convention. The scouting report is that conventions have devolved into gargantuan pointlessness. There is no drama, no debate, no news, no point. The networks are bailing almost completely. And, frankly, it is hard to argue that there is any great value to these events anymore. We know the nominee, we know the running mate, we know what the pictures are going to look like when Senators John Kerry and John Edwards stand next to each other and raise their arms in...

Swingers

The political bigheads all over the country are sifting through the available evidence, trying to determine if this election is one that will turn on swing voters and swing states or on which side can better turn out its base. It may come as a surprise to some that it can't be both. But that's what the punditry is for, to keep you apprised of the overtones and undercurrents not obvious to the ordinary eye. So consider yourself informed: The debate is starting to rage -- turnout or swing, base or persuadables? With the gazillion of dollars being spent in 18 swing states from Maine to New Mexico, we know that at least television-ad buyers on both sides believe it's going to be the season of the swingers. The problem, however, is that there are fewer and fewer of them, spread over more of more states. There may, in fact, be more swing states than swing voters. In very short order, the number of swing states has gone from five -- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, Florida, Ohio -- to a...

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