Elections

Progressives Just Lost a Fight On the Budget. So Why Are They So Happy?

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
O ver the weekend, the "Cromnibus" budget was passed by a coalition that included the GOP leadership and the Obama White House. Neither conservative Republicans nor liberal Democrats were happy with what was in it. So why is it that the conservatives are feeling bitter and betrayed, while the liberals seem positively elated, despite the fact that they both lost? We don't need to work too hard to understand the conservatives' reaction. The budget doesn't stop President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, and Republican leaders decided not to force another government shutdown in a vain attempt to do so. As usual, the conservatives are convinced that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are wimps who do nothing more than bide their time between capitulations. But what explains the liberal reaction? For the first time in this presidency, liberal Democrats feel as though something like a coherent bloc, outside of and sometimes in opposition to the White House, is beginning to form...

Rick Perry: Tan, Rested, and Ready

Rick Perry throwing gang signs with some shady character. (Flickr/Ed Schipul)
Philip Rucker of the Washington Post got some quality time with Rick Perry, and came away with the conclusion that in contrast to the Yosemite Sam we all mocked in 2012, the new Perry "comes across as studious, contemplative and humble." And Perry agrees: "We are a substantially different, versed candidate," he says, though we are apparently not so humble as to realize that speaking in the first person plural is a little weird. But Perry is in a period of intensive presidential campaign preparation, which includes boning up on both presentation and policy: This week, Perry began intensive news media training, as advisers staged mock on-camera interviews with hostile questioning. Perry also has been working with speech coaches at Podium Master , a GOP firm run by an alumnus of the Royal Shakespeare Company, to improve his presentation skills. Perry's advisers acknowledge that he will have little margin for error in next fall's debates. In 2011, he imploded at a debate by forgetting the...

Can Democrats Win In the South by Being More Liberal?

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
I t isn't accurate to call Mary Landrieu "the last Southern Democrat," as one headline after another put it in the days leading up to and following her defeat in Saturday’s runoff election in Louisiana. While it's true that Republicans now control almost all the Senate seats, governorships, and legislatures of the 11 states of the old confederacy (the exceptions are found in Virginia and Florida), there are quite a few Democratic elected officials left in the South—but few of them were elected statewide, and a large proportion of them are black. For years, Democrats have tried to hold on in the South by appealing to the white voters who have steadily drifted away from them. That strategy has failed. Their future in the South—and they can have one—would start with black and Latino voters and work outward from there. It would be almost the exact opposite of how Democrats have been running statewide in recent years. No one expected Landrieu to hold on for a third term in the Senate,...

Does Jeb Bush Understand His Party?

Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Can Jeb Bush avoid becoming the Jon Huntsman of 2016? You might remember Huntsman—affable fellow, ran for president in 2012? When he first joined the race, Huntsman got a lot of positive press coverage and even some praise from liberals. Here was a former governor who was certainly conservative but also seemed willing to work with Democrats, who disagreed with President Obama on many things but didn't hate him, and whose willingness to renounce past flirtations with sanity and pander shamelessly to tea partiers was minimal. And of course, his candidacy went nowhere. And now we've got Jeb Bush, who has a well-known name, the affection of corporate America, and maybe the best shot of anyone at becoming the "establishment" candidate. The problem is that he's not willing to give up his support of comprehensive immigration reform or Common Core educational standards, making him suspiciously moderate in primary voters' eyes. And as the Wall Street Journal reminds us, he even refuses to take...

Jim Webb's Nostalgia For a Pre-Diversity Democratic Party

Flickr/Donkey Hotey
Jim Webb wants to know: can Democrats be the party of white guys again? OK, so that's not entirely fair. But it isn't that far off. Here's the message Webb is giving as he begins his presidential maybe-candidacy: Former senator and potential presidential candidate Jim Webb told an audience in Richmond on Tuesday that the Democratic Party has lost white working-class voters by becoming "a party of interest groups." "The Democratic Party has lost the message that made it such a great party for so many years, and that message was: Take care of working people, take care of the people who have no voice in the corridors of power, no matter their race, ethnicity or any other reason," Webb said. "The Democratic Party has basically turned into a party of interest groups." This isn't a new critique, and there's a lot of truth there, as long as you define "interest groups" as groups of people. The evolution that Webb is lamenting here is essentially what has happened to the Democratic party...

The Carson Campaign Is Coming

I have heard your entreaties, and I reluctantly accept. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
So in the latest CNN poll of Republicans on their preferences for the 2016 presidential primary, Mitt Romney comes in first, which isn't surprising since people remember his name. A little more odd is the fact that Ben Carson—retired neurosurgeon, habitué of conservative confabs, and courageous warrior in the battle against the "PC police" who claim that when you compare being gay to pedophelia and bestiality, it's kind of uncool—comes in second. But as Mark Murray of NBC points out , there's a simple explanation for why Carson polls ahead of more experienced politicians: Carson is a paid contributor to Fox News, which means that Republican primary voters see him on their teevees all the time. And Carson is actually putting together a staff and preparing for a run, which leads to the obvious question: In just what way will his candidacy crash and burn? Actually, I don't think it will. I think Ben Carson is in this for the long haul. It's not that he has a chance at winning, because he...

How Obama Boxed In Republicans With His Immigration Order

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) President Barack Obama shakes hands with people in the crowd following his remarks on immigration reform at Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011. I f there's an elected Republican who thinks it wasn't a bad idea for President Obama to take executive action on immigration, he or she has yet to make that opinion known. Not surprisingly, the 20 or 30 men (and one woman ) hoping to get the GOP nomination for president in 2016 have been particularly vocal on the topic. But while thunderous denunciations of the Constitution-shredding socialist dictator in the White House may seem to them today like exactly what the situation demands, before long they're going to be asked a simple yet dangerous question: If you become president, what are you going to do about it? Although they haven't actually answered that question yet, their feelings have been unambiguous. Ted Cruz said Obama has "gotten in the job of counterfeiting...

To Save the Right to Choose Nationwide, Reproductive Justice Advocates Need a Southern Strategy

A new amendment to Tennessee's Constitution lays a framework for ending abortion rights. If allowed to stand, women and girls in poor communities will suffer the most. 

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Signs outside a polling place support different opinions on an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee. The amendment would expand the power of legislators to pass more abortion regulations. T his past Election Day, the people of Tennessee awoke to a state in which the right to an abortion is no longer secure. Amendment 1 to the state constitution could mean that politicians soon vote to take away the right within the state. The passage of Amendment 1 gives politicians far-reaching power to restrict many forms of birth control and abortion. Most ominously, if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned, the passage of Amendment 1 lays the groundwork to eliminate all abortion access in Tennessee. In the run-up to the election, anti-choice politicians in the state masked their strategy to eliminate abortion access by framing their position as an issue of free speech, saying the voters had been silenced by a decision by...

In Early Polling, God Remains Undecided On Pick For 2016 GOP Nominee

I believe those are Iowa caucus voters behind him. (Flickr/Sebastian Bergmann)
Had you asked me which of the 20 or so potential Republican presidential candidates would be first to claim that his candidacy was endorsed by God himself, I would have said Ben Carson, who has the necessary combination of deep religious faith and self-aggrandizing nuttiness. And today we learn that while the creator of the universe is still mulling his options, he's not exactly giving Carson a no : In an interview on Thursday with Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, Carson said he felt the hand of the Lord pushing him toward the White House. "Has He grabbed you by the collar yet?" host David Brody asked. "I feel fingers," Carson said. "But, um, you know... It's mostly me." Admirably modest and self-aware, I'd say. But I still bet that eventually Carson will announce that he's received a signal from above that the campaign is a go. If and when he does, he'll surely have some competition, that is if 2016 is anything like 2012. In case you don't recall, God was awfully busy...

Hillary Clinton's "Connection" to White Voters: What Could It Possibly Be?

One of these things is not like the other. (White House photo by Pete Souza)
In an interview published yesterday at Talking Points Memo, Mitch Stewart, an adviser to the nascent Hillary Clinton quasi-campaign, argued that Clinton could expand the map of states that Barack Obama won, putting more places in play. The reason, he said, that "Secretary Clinton has more appeal than any other Democrat looking at running is that with white working-class voters, she does have a connection." The idea of Clinton's "connection" to the white working class is something you hear now and again, and I think it's worth examining in some detail. Because it raises some uncomfortable questions that I doubt the Clinton campaign wants to confront. Something tells me she isn't going to be putting "Hillary Clinton: A Democrat, But White!" on her bumper stickers. But that's the essence of what we're talking about about here. It seems like a long time ago now, but during the 2008 primaries things got extremely racially charged for a while, at a time when the Clinton campaign was...

The 2016 Republican Primary Is Getting More Interesting All The Time

Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Is it wrong of me to feel a little giddy thinking about the 2016 Republican presidential primaries? It is going to be a hoot and a holler, and with the midterms now behind us, potential candidates are moving quickly. The latest is a certain smooth-talking Baptist minister from Arkansas who is guaranteed to liven up the proceedings : Advisers are already scouting real estate in Little Rock, Ark., for a possible presidential campaign headquarters. Huckabee is scheduled to spend part of November holding private meetings with powerful GOP financiers in Las Vegas, New York, and California, gauging their interest in being bundlers for his possible campaign and asking for pledges of five-to six-figure donations to his aligned organizations. And he is planning two strategy sessions in December, in Little Rock and Destin, Fla., near his new Gulf Coast home, to discuss timing, potential staffing, and an opening pitch to voters. In January, Huckabee will publish "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,"...

Congressman From Goldman Sachs Vying to Lead Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) U.S. Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut, shown here at a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence regarding NSA surveillance in Washington, Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Himes, who is close to Wall Street financiers, is vying to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . A fter the Democrats' drubbing in the 2014 midterm elections, there have been fervent debates about whether the party should embrace an economic populism to tap pocketbook frustrations—or move further to the center in the hopes of capturing more independents. One thing the Democrats did throughout Obama's nearly six years was move closer to Wall Street—from the economic team Obama appointed, to the administration's premature embrace of deficit reduction promoted by financial moguls, to a bailout plan that shored up the biggest banks rather than breaking them up. It was this coziness with big...

This Year's Biggest Spenders

Flickr/Ervins Strauhmanis
The Center for Responsive Politics is out with what I assume are final numbers on spending in the 2014 election , and it's some eye-popping stuff. The headline is that the North Carolina Senate race between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis did indeed turn out to be the most expensive in history, with an amazing $116 million spent overall, $84 million of which was from outside sources. This tops the previous record-holder, Hillary Clinton's 2000 race, in which $70 million (or $97 million in today's money) was spent. Let's take a look at the top ten: There was $709 million spent on these ten races. You'll also notice that Republicans won seven, Democrats won two (New Hampshire and Michigan), and there's one (Louisiana) to be decided in a runoff. Much of that money went down the toilet via television ads, but if you're a Democrat you're hoping that at least some of it went into building an infrastructure that could form the basis of future campaigns. And what about the House? Here are the top...

Exit Polls and the Extrapolation Mistake

Not looking too busy. (Flickr/Stephen Velasco)
Talking about turnout in the 2014 election can look an awful lot like making excuses for the Democrats' loss, which I wouldn't want to do. Democrats don't need to feel better about what happened last Tuesday. They ought to feel bad, not just over how their party performed but about the very real consequences to people's lives that might occur as a result. But now that the data are coming in, we're seeing just how it was Republicans won. It wasn't because they did such a terrific job of persuading people to support their dynamic agenda for change, it was because their voters came to the polls and the Democrats' voters didn't. That was made possible by the fact that turnout overall was so abysmal. According to the United States Election Project, turnout this year was 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population, the lowest of any election since 1942. Among those who did vote, exit polls showed that Republicans outnumbered Democrats 36 to 35 percent, with the rest calling themselves...

Can Democrats Get to a True Blue Majority?

These two are totally not speaking to each other. (Flickr/Beverley Goodwin)
Everyone knew that the 2014 Senate election was going to be a tough one for Democrats, in large part because they were defending more seats than Republicans, and many of those seats were in red states. And of course, Democrats lost all the close races, with the exception of the one in New Hampshire. This is going to have an effect on the Democratic caucus in the Senate that we haven't really been talking about since last Tuesday: it's going to make it more liberal. In fact, the red state Democratic senator is a nearly extinct species. Look at the incumbents who lost: Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Mark Udall in Colorado, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, and possibly Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, who is headed for a run-off. That's three red-state senators, and two from swing states. Democrats also lost vacated seats in Iowa (swing), Montana (basically red), South Dakota (red), and West Virginia (red). If Landrieu loses, there will be no more Southern Democratic senators...

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