What’s crackin Dems,
On an initial welcome, HEALTH CARE!
Welcome back to school, and welcome back to Election Watch with Matt and Bridgit! Today we take a look at Missouri, where four-term Republican Senator Kit Bond is retiring. Missouri has become one of the most competitive states politically of late, with John McCain defeating Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election by less than 4,000 votes, which comes out to less than .14%. In addition, Missouri has voted for every single victorious Presidential candidate since 1964, except for, of course, this past election. Currently, Missouri’s other Senator is Claire McCaskill, a first term Democrat who won election in 2006.
Neither party’s primary appears to be very exciting, but let’s begin with looking at the Democratic candidate. Robin Carnahan, the current Secretary of State of Missouri, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Carnahan comes from the most famous political family in Missouri; her father was a two-term Governor of Missouri, and was elected a United States Senator posthumously following his plane crash during the campaign. His wife, Jean Carnahan, filled his seat for two years before a special election outed her. In addition, Robin’s brother, Russ, is a current U.S. Representative, also from Missouri, and her grandfather also served as a Congressman and Ambassador to Sierra Leone. Robin Carnahan is wildly popular in Missouri, winning reelection to the Secretary of State job in 2008 with 62% of the vote, receiving over 1.7 million votes, the most votes ever cast for a candidate in Missouri history.
The Republican side of this election does have a primary, but one candidate has certainly been labeled the front-runner. Roy Blunt, a current seven-term incumbent Congressman from Missouri, has stormed to a virtually insurmountable lead over his two opponents. Blunt is the former Acting Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, stepping in for Tom Delay when he was removed from office. Blunt has also served as the Republican Whip, being replaced only in this Congress by Eric Cantor. Blunt has been the subject of ethics violations while serving if the House, having been named in CREW’s “Crew’s Most Corrupt,” and he has been linked to Jack Abramoff, a man convicted on multiple counts of fraud. Blunt’s other opponents are James H. Schmidt, a police officer, and Chuck Purgason, a current State Senator in Missouri. Neither of these two men appear to have any chance of defeating Blunt.
Virtually every political website has this as one of the three most competitive races in the nation this year, with polls indicating an absurdly close race. The most recent poll, conducted by Rasmussen on March 9, had Blunt 6 points ahead of Carnahan, with 12% undecided. However, earlier polls had Carnahan up by virtually the same amount. Opposition to health care reform is higher in Missouri than it is nationally, which might account for Blunt’s recent rise. In any case, this is sure to be an exciting and hard-fought contest, with one of the most powerful Republicans in the House running against a popular Democrat with strong family ties to the Senate. It is sure to be a race to watch! Hopefully our girl can turn this red seat back to blue.
Next Week: New Hampshire (Let’s take back the Northeast!)
I don’t always get political, but when I do, I prefer the Democrats. Stay liberal my friends.
By James Downie
Well, that whole health care thing is (basically) over. That didn’t take long, did it? Okay, fine, the whole process was a fourteen-month death march for many Democratic partisans. Still, there were still some valuable lessons to draw for the future.
Nancy Pelosi Is A Brilliant Speaker: Many a Democrat seemed ready to give up in despair after Scott Brown’s special election to the Senate. Not Nancy Pelosi. On the eve of Brown’s electon, the speaker told reporters, “”Whatever happens in Massachusetts, we will have quality, affordable health care for all Americans, and it will be soon.” Within the week, she was backing reconciliation as a winning strategy, and her work for every last vote this past weekend paid dividends with hours to spare (including Bart Stupak’s better-late-than-never defense of the bill on the House floor, which made for great televison). By the way, while Pelosi comes out of this shining, the weekend didn’t help Rahm “let’s go incremental” Emanuel.
Polls Can Be Deceptive: All through the debate, opponents of health reform pointed to many polls suggesting that a majority of Americans were opposed to the bills. Those stats provided nice GOP talking points, but Democrats shouldn’t worry too much about them, for two reasons. First, as Nate Silver pointed out in December, much of the opposition actually came from the dissatisfied left; this remained true through the weekend. Second, numerous polls that went deeper and actually explained the bill to voters found that support noticeably improved after respondents heard the actual changes. Going into November, Democrats can be confident that voters will respond favorably once their representatives get a chance to explain the reforms.
This Ain’t 1993: Recalling the failure of Bill Clinton’s attempt at health reform, the GOP went all out again in opposition. In retrospect, even a quick look at the differences between 1993 and 2010 makes one wonder why they felt that would be a winning strategy. For starters, Bill Clinton was elected with less than 45% of the vote in a three-way race, and his House majority was tired and corrupt, whereas Barack Obama was coming off of the biggest Democratic victory at the polls since 1964. Conversely, while Obama had much more political strength to draw on, his health care reform is far more moderate than Clinton’s. As Jon Chait outlines over at The New Republic, Obama’s bill not only occupies the middle of the road when one breaks down the polls, but also counts Romneycare in Massachusetts and the 1993 Republican alternative to the Clinton plan among its chief inspirations. Combine those two, and it’s hard to understand why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell thought they could win.
Welcome to Election Watch 2010: Spring Break edition! This is Freshman Rep Matt reporting from beautiful Southern California, where it is a balmy 81 degrees (go ahead and hate me). Today we will be examining the convoluted race for Arlen Specter’s seat in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, as of late, has been trending towards the Democratic Party. It went for Obama with over 54% of the vote in 2008, and currently has a Democratic Governor and two Democratic Senators. In addition, the state’s House of Representatives is controlled by the Democrats, although the state Senate is controlled by the Republicans. Nonetheless, one must take Pennsylvania as a place where Democrats would be favored, especially since the state has not voted for a Republican Presidential candidate since 1988. Despite these positive signs, many political observers have labeled this seat as a toss-up, one that the Republicans could easily snag.
This reason that this race is so interesting is because no one is quite sure what to make of Arlen Specter, the incumbent. He was first elected to the Senate in 1980 as a Republican, and is currently serving his fifth term in office. Although he identified as a Republican, his liberal views on abortion, immigration, and the environment kept him out of the conservative wing, and he was widely known as a moderate. In April of 2009, Specter, fresh of his controversial vote to support the $800 billion stimulus plan, switched parties to become a Democrat, giving the party its coveted 60th vote. Since then, Specter has voted fairly consistently with his new party, although he retains his Republican ideals with regards to gun rights and foreign policy. In appreciation for his switch to the Democrats, Specter is now endorsed by President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Only one Democrat has mounted a serious primary challenge to Specter, and that is Representative Joe Sestak. Sestak, however, has yet to make a serious move up the polls, and has consistently trailed Specter by at least 15 points. When the primary comes on May 18, it is highly unlikely Sestak will be able to take Specter down.
The Republican side of this election is almost as bland. Four people have formally declared for the race, but the frontrunner at this point is Pat Toomey, a former Congressman who almost defeated Specter in the 2004 Republican primary, losing by only 1.7% of the vote. He is virtually a lock to win the nomination from his party, and no polling has been done to put him against other Republican candidates. It is when Toomey is put against Specter that the race becomes exciting. Polls have shown the race sliding back and forth as of late, and it seems that national political feeling is almost dictating the race. Specter’s age and health has become a factor in the race, as he is 80 years old and has revealed that he is fighting Hodgkin’s disease. Specter and Toomey have already begun fighting each other on the airwaves, with Specter attacking Toomey’s support for deregulation and other deep conservative values.
There is no question that this is going to be an interesting race, considering Specter and Toomey have gone at it before. However, if Specter can prevail with just Republicans voting, one must assume that he has a good chance with his own (albeit new) party voting in addition. If Specter is able to harness his popularity as moderate and swing votes from Republican voters, he should be able to win handily. We can only hope.
Next Week: Missouri (Can Democrats grab a Red Seat for themselves?)
I don’t always get political, but when I do, I prefer the Democrats. Stay liberal my friends.
by James Downie
To be honest, in its eight year run in the White House, the Republican Party did not demonstrate the greatest grasp of truth (truthiness, on the other hand…). But hey, squeaking to 270 in presidential elections has made both parties claim bizarre things (on the Democratic side, see JFK’s use of the entirely nonexistent missile gap in the runup to 1960). Yet, if the past few days are any guide, the fragile relationship between today’s GOP and basic facts seems to be at an all-time low.
The cabinet official: The former Treasury Secretary released his memoir this week, ready to reshape the narrative of the financial collapse to his liking. As Simon Johnson points out over at TNR, though, it doesn’t take long to suspect something’s a little off on his narration. According to Paulson, ““I was convinced we were due for another disruption” while working in government, yet he never did anything to forestall it while working at one of Wall Street’s most powerful banks. He also leaves out his $100 million bonus for moving from Goldman to Wall Street, and claims at the end that ““the Wall Street I knew had come to an end,” even though every behavioral indicator seems to indicate Wall Street’s well on its way back to its bloated best. It really says everything about today’s leaders that, since Paulson “keeps no notes and never uses email,” he can say pretty much whatever he wants.
The “pundit”: Glenn Beck – you knew the blackboard blowhard would make an appearance. His latest claim, from yesterday’s edition of his radio show, is that the census’s questions on race are an attempt to “increase slavery.” Somehow, according to Beck, the race question was in evidence in 1790 to count the slave population as 3/5ths, and now it is being used to funnel government towards minority programs. “At least in 1790, they were doing it to slow the South down on slavery,” he told his listeners, “To try to stop it as much as they can. Today they are asking the race question to try to increase slavery. No way, don’t answer that question.” Not only is the historical analogy completely wrong (the 3/5ths clause was inserted to get the South to sign that Constitution Beck claims to care so much about), but Beck’s suggestion not to answer the race question would lead to his listeners to being undercounted, strengthening those minority programs he hates. Whoops.
The wonk: Finally, GOP congressman Paul Ryan – considered one of his party’s brightest policy minds – last month released his own budget roadmap, which he claimed would balance the budget and lower taxes…at the same time! Conservatives everywhere squealed with delight. Unfortunately, as Matt Yglesias highlighted today, there are two rather major problems with this promise: first, it wouldn’t balance the budget, instead pushing government debt to Greece-levels and beyond (sidenote: the CBO didn’t catch this when they scored Ryan’s plan because they had to take his estimate at face value. What the?). Second, in an admirable trick, despite cutting taxes overall, only the top 10% would pay fewer taxes under Ryan’s plan. The top 1% would pay 15% less while the bottom 20% were paying 12% more.
Still, it’s nice to see party members that deserve each other.
Yesterday during the marvelously warm afternoon, members of the Activist Council’s Students Advancing Marriage Equality (SAME) marched in the St. Pat’s for All parade in Sunnyside, Queens. The St. Pat’s for All parade was created as an all-inclusive alternative to New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, which excludes LGBTQ groups from registering to march. Along with members from MENY (Marriage Equality New York), we voiced our support for equal marriage rights for all couples. Notable attendees included Lieutenant Dan Choi, Assemblyman José Peralta, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. (Click image to see in full-view.)
Sophia, Marilyn, and Noah were interviewed by various news sources, including NY 1. (Click for news link.)
Happy early St. Patrick’s Day!
With equal love,