Campaign 2024, Politics

Kevin McCarthy’s Deal With The Devil Comes Due

In order for Kevin McCarthy to win his position as Speaker of the House after 15 ballots, McCarthy had to make a deal with the devil—he had to agree to ridiculous concessions that would give the most radical members of the House the power to force his hand on key issues. McCarthy was narrowly able to avert a government shutdown earlier this year, but now the GOP’s Caucus of Crazies have demanded that McCarthy launch a politically disastrous attempt to impeach President Joe Biden. McCarthy, with his Speaker’s chair turned into a Siege Perilous, has acquiesced to the insane demands of the most radical members of his caucus.

The claim is that President Biden has fostered a “culture of corruption.” The problem with this claim is that there is precisely zero evidence of it. Yes, his son Hunter Biden was clearly trading on his family name. However, that may be unethical, but it is absolutely not illegal. If you think that Jared Kushner got his $2 billion payout from the Saudi Royal Family on the basis of his business acumen, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. There is simply zero evidence that Joe Biden did anything wrong other than have a son with some very deep personal problems. The claims that President Biden somehow received a “bribe” or that he interfered in Ukraine on behalf of Burisma are both completely false. There is no evidence of either, as a GOP probe already determined. But the lack of evidence has not prevented the GOP from desperately trying to find a pony in that giant pile of right-wing horseshit.

Logan Roy from Succession saying "you are not serious people"
As Logan Roy from Succession might say, the GOP is not made up of serious people.

Ultimately, a clearly politically-motivated impeachment is a gift to President Biden. The impeachment investigation is likely to go nowhere. It it is not at all clear that McCarthy would have enough votes in the House to actually impeach Biden. Any impeachment would be DOA in the Senate. Instead, impeachment will demonstrate to independent and swing voters that the GOP is just not a serious party. Impeachment is a distraction, a base play for a base that is already shrinking. A serious GOP would be thinking of ways to win back the suburban voters that it lost during the Trump years. Issues like crime and inflation may not be quite as powerful as they were when the GOP’s “red wave” turned into a ripple, but at least they are real issues. Trying to paint Joe Biden as some kind of nefarious crime lord is just ridiculous. Voters did not care about Hunter Biden in 2020, and they’re not going to care in 2024.

Kevin McCarthy made a deal with the devil to become Speaker of the House, Not giving the radicals like Marjorie Taylor Green and Matt Gaetz the impeachment they demand mean losing his position as Speaker. But giving them what they want might well do the same. There are enough GOP candidates that won districts that were Biden leaning that will be made incredibly vulnerable by this quixotic impeachment campaign to swing the House. The problem with deals with the devil is that the devil always wants his due. Kevin McCarthy is finding that out the hard way.

Campaign 2016

Who Is To Blame For Trump?

At The Federalist, Ben Domenech persuasively argues that the failures of Barack Obama led to the rise of Donald Trump:

It is no accident that President Obama’s America has given rise to Donald Trump. It is an America that is more tribalist, where people feel more racially and religiously divided; more politically correct, where people feel less free to speak their minds; and it is an America where trust in the nation’s elites, whose skills are credentialed but unproven, are at historic lows.

That is all true. American institutions are seen as failing—and often are failing—because those running those institutions have bought into the left-wing mindset. The academy is devouring itself in a furor of radical leftism. The press, with a few exceptions, is monolithically left-wing. Government exists to feed itself, not to serve the public. It is true that if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

Time and time again, conservatives have embraced people with few qualifications other than they tell conservatives exactly what they want to hear.

But that’s not the sole reason that Trump, a man who is neither conservative nor a patriot, is leading the GOP field. Conservatives cannot blame Trump on Obama or the media—Trump’s supporters are supporting him of their own free will. They are choosing to embrace a man who routinely spits on basic conservative and even American values. Yet no matter how idiotic Trump acts, they still support him.

We Have Met The Enemy, And It Is Us

Conservatives must accept the hard truth that Donald Trump is a monster of at least part of our making. Yes, he’s a reaction to the failures of Obama’s left-wing agenda. But time and time again, conservatives have embraced people with few qualifications other than they tell conservatives exactly what they want to hear. Sarah Palin showed immense promise when she was initially picked as John McCain’s VP—but she flamed out in a spectacular fashion not only due to a hostile media, but because she was woefully unprepared. From there, the GOP has embraced candidates who have little experience but throw more chum in the water than Shark Week: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin, Ben Carson, the list could go on. These candidates enjoyed fame not because they were qualified for public office, but because they told conservative activists what they wanted to hear.Donald Trump is just that trend taken to its inevitable extreme. Trump is playing on the crudest themes possible—hatred of immigrants, fear of terrorism, economic insecurity. He’s taken the traditional Democratic playbook of using fear to whip up partisan fervor and has taken it to the right.

Yes, Ben Domenech and others are correct in stating that Trump is a reaction to seven years of failure and a President who seems blithely disinterested in fundamental American values. Someone like Trump was going to inevitably come along. But that doesn’t mean that a significant plurality of the GOP had to embrace such a toxic buffoon. Instead, major figures like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingram have embraced Trumpism. Even though Trump routinely flouts basic constitutional principles—like calling for Bill Gates to shut down the Internet—he gets a pass because he’s against Obama and the mainstream media. For more, National Review‘s Charles C. W. Cooke has an excellent piece on the many ways that Trump shreds the Constitution in favor of his own brand of dime-store authoritarianism.

That’s simply no reason to support a candidate. Trump is not qualified for office—he speaks with the intellectual fluency of a 12-year old. He has no clue about world affairs. It’s one thing to be rude and abrasive, but Trump takes that to a pathological extreme. Trump is likely to abandon every single one of his newfound “principles” once he gets the power he seeks. Conservatives who embraced him in this race would be the first ones he would screw over if, God forbid, he were to come anywhere near the White House.

We didn’t have to fall for this. As conservatives, we not only should stand for a smaller government, we should be standing for quality government. That means we should be holding our political leaders to the highest standards possible. The office of the Presidency should represent the best of the American people. Yet conservatives would further diminish the Presidency to carnival barker in chief just because it would give the media and the left-wing establishment a poke in the eye.

It’s Time to Get Serious

I hate to agree with the left-wing media—but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Trump is a danger. He is a danger to the nation and to the Republican brand. No doubt many in the left-wing media are pushing the GOP to reject Trump precisely because they know that will make them less likely to do so. But no matter what the left-wing media thinks, conservatives are bound by morality and principal to act.

Conservatives must reject Trump, and moreover they must reject the empty populism that Trump represents.

It is a choice of one or the other. Either we as a political party and a movement stand on behalf of enduring American values or we stand with Donald Trump. Because America’s values are in democratic pluralism, and Trump stands for dividing the country by race and religion. America’s values are with free enterprise, and Donald Trump is the poster boy for the same kind of crony capitalism that has ruined this nation. America’s values are based on personal responsibility and individual morality. Donald Trump is an amoral, areligious, and irresponsible blowhard with a thin skin. Put bluntly, Donald Trump is a whiter, blonder Obama.

If the Republican Party and the conservative movement embraces Donald Trump, it will destroy itself on the altar of Trump’s insatiable egotism. We will have demonstrated that we don’t really have principals—we’ll fall for any old huckster who tells us what we want to hear. The future will belong to the left, and President Hillary Rodham Clinton will take this country so far from its founding principals that it may never be able to recover.

We can’t blame the media for our embracing Trumpism. We can’t blame Obama for embracing Trumpism. The blame lies with us and our unwillingness to put principals ahead of pissant politics.

If Trump takes the entire conservative movement down with him—and he has every ability to do that—we will have no one to blame but ourselves.


Predictions 2012

It’s time to close out 2011 and ring in the New Year, 2012. And as I do every year, it’s time for some predictions for the new year. So here, in no particular order, are my predictions for 2012:

  • Mitt Romney will be nominated as the GOP’s candidate in 2012. He will defeat President Obama by a small margin, but by a large margin in the Electoral College. Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida will all shift to the GOP column on Election Night.
  • The GOP will retake the Senate as the Democrats lose seats in North Dakota, Nebraska, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Virginia. The GOP will hold their margin in the House.
  • Unemployment will remain between 7-8%, and the number of discouraged workers will continue to cause problems. Efforts to spin the economy as recovering by the Obama White House will sound painfully out of touch.
  • The Eurozone will collapse in 2012 as Greece is unable to maintain its austerity package. Greece will leave the Euro and redenominate its debts in drachmas. Following that Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland will all threaten to leave the Euro, leaving the future of the currency in doubt.
  • Apple will release an iPad 3 with a Retina display as well as an iPhone 5 with a new form factor. They will sell like hotcakes. Apple will not sell a TV, however.
  • Iran will continue to threaten to close off the Strait of Hormuz, but will not actually try. Sanctions will serve to weaken Ahmadinejad and internal corruption will cause a new round of riots in Tehran and other major cities.
  • Iraq will fall into civil war, with the Shi’ites fighting the Kurds and the Sunnis. President Obama will do nothing to help the Iraqis, but will blame everything on Bush.
  • China will face a banking crisis that will spread throughout Asia. Along with the problems in Europe, the global economy will take yet another beating.
  • “The Avengers,” “Hunger Games,” and “Prometheus” will do well with both audiences and critics, but amount of total box office receipts will continue to decline as even more people discover that it’s cheaper and easy to stay home and watch Netflix.
  • SpaceX’s first resupply mission to the ISS will be a complete success, just as heads start rolling at Russia’s Roscosmos. As Russia’s Soyuz launcher starts having more and more technical issues, NASA will fast-track plans for private companies to lift astronauts to the ISS.
  • On December 21, 2012, the universe will end when the Mayan god Kukulkan descends from the heavens and decrees an end to all existence. Unfortunately for Kukulkan, he arrives in the middle of a Lady Gaga concert, where a blood-soaked feathered serpent would attract little notice. Disgusted by everything, he figures that non-existence would actually be better than what we have, so he ascends back up into the heaven and has a few too many glasses of wine with Zeus and Thor as they complain that no one actually believes in them any more.
Campaign 2012

The Inevitable Mr. Romney

Nate Silver, the political oracle behind Five Thirty-Eight argues that Mitt Romney is becoming close to the inevitable GOP nominee in 2012—and while Silver notes that Romney certainly can lose, there’s no one else in the field that has the staying power to take him down. Even though the GOP isn’t in love with the idea of a Romney candidacy, no one has been able to mount a serious, long-term challenge to Romney.


The past few months of the 2012 campaign has seen a dynamic between Romney running slow but steady, with a series of putative challengers rising and falling. At first, Michele Bachmann was looking like the anti-Romney, until the GOP electorate realized that she was great as an ideological happy warrior, but has no appeal outside her base. Congresswoman Bachmann is a solid and principled conservative, but she is no the sort of person who can win in a national election. So she peaked early and has not regained momentum since.

Then the GOP electorate moved on to Rick Perry—until Governor Perry opened his mouth and made a fool of himself. One bad debate performance is not necessarily enough to doom a candidacy, but a series of them made it clear that Perry was not remotely ready for prime-time. If Perry can’t win over a friendly audience, he would have zero chance against Obama. What momentum Perry had after announcing was quickly diminished as Perry proved himself unprepared and prone to embarrassing verbal gaffes.

Then came Herman Cain, the next flavor of the week. Cain made some bold policy moves with his “9-9-9? plan. But his bold policies had no chance of working in the real world. Then Cain, like Perry, demonstrated that he was criminally unprepared for the task of running for President. (Yes, Mr. Cain, you should know something about those countries with “-stan” at the end if you want to be taken seriously as a candidate.) Then a drip of scandal turned into a torrent, as numerous women accused Cain of having affairs with them—and while a few anonymous allegations don’t count for much, a flood of them with details do. In the end, Cain was forced to leave the race in relative disgrace.

The last flavor of the week has been Newt Gingrich—who unlike Cain and Perry is an intellectual force to be reckoned with. But as brilliant as Newt may be, he is equally undisciplined. His attack on the judiciary was intended to be red meat for the conservative base, but it was deeply irresponsible and not at all in line with constitutional conservatism. Newt has taken many of the same positions that Romney has, and to call him the conservative alternative to Romney is a joke. Newt may be a great thinker who does well in debates, but he would likely implode long before mounting a challenge to Obama.

The rest of the field also underwhelms. Santorum’s last electoral experience was a double-digit blowout loss, and he has little appeal outside hardcore social conservatives. Jon Huntsman is running in the wrong party’s primary. Ron Paul is, to put it charitably, an isolationist conspiracy-mongering nutball.

By nothing more than default, Mitt Romney is the only candidate left on the field that is not damaged goods in some form or fashion. But the question then becomes, is Romney an acceptable candidate for the GOP nomination in 2012?

The Case For Romney

John Hinderaker at Power Line makes the case for Romney as the 2012 GOP nominee:

In electing a president, we are choosing someone to run the Executive Branch. A leader, to be sure, but not a speechmaker, a bomb-thrower, a quipster, a television personality or an exemplar of ideological purity. At this point in our history, the United States desperately needs a leader who understands the economy, the world of business, and, more generally, how the world works. We have had more than enough of a leader who was good at giving speeches and was ideologically pure, but who had no clue how the economy works or how the federal government can be administered without resort to graft and corruption. It is time for a president who knows what he is doing.

Hinderaker gives four arguments why Romney is the strongest candidate in the race, and the candidate most likely to beat President Obama, including the fact that in a time when the United States is badly in need on a turnaround, who better suited to fix our national problems than someone who has years of experience turning around failing companies?

On the other side, John Hawkins provides 7 reasons why he believes that Romney’s “electability” is a myth.

Hinderaker seems to have the better of the arguments here. What we do know of Romney’s general-election prospects come from early polling—and of the early general-election polls, Romney runs ahead of the rest of the Republican field in key states like Ohio. What candidate has a chance of doing better than Mitt Romney at this point? Gingrich? Paul? Perry? Santorum? Does anyone believe that anyone else in this field has a credible shot at taking on Obama and winning?

Romney’s conservative bona fides are constantly questioned, but Gingrich is no less an “establishment” figure and has departed from conservative orthodoxy just as much as Romney. Romney may not be every conservative’s ideal candidate, but he’s the most conservative candidate with a realistic prayer of winning.

A President Romney is not going to veto a conservative Congress’ budget cuts. A President Romney would not dramatically increase the size and scope of the federal government—certainly not when paired with a conservative Congress. A President Romney is a step forward for the nation—four more years of President Obama would be a disaster at a time when fiscal discipline is no longer optional.

Mitt Romney has a compelling narrative going into 2012: the turnaround artist for a country that faces bankruptcy. While the Republican Party should listen to Hawkin’s arguments against Romney’s electability and start working on contingencies to address them, the fact remains that Romney has the best chance to beat President Obama in 2012. He’s the only candidate that has a realistic chance to beat the President this year and restore some semblance of fiscal sanity to the Executive Branch.

And that is ultimately why I believe than Romney will be the 2012 nominee for the Republican Party. At the end of the day, the one thing that Establishment Republicans and conservative activists all want is to unseat President Obama. Romney is the one that is most likely to do it, and the GOP electorate has run through all the alternatives in the hopes of finding a more conservative challenger. At the end of the day, Romney has survived while others have faltered, and he is the candidate best positioned to take on the President and beat him.

Finally, the next four years will be crucial for the future of this country. While every election is tagged as the “most important” election ever, the stakes continue to get higher and higher for this country. Say what you want about Romney, he has years of experience in the private sector taking failing organizations and turning them into profitable and efficient ones. Taking on the U.S. government will be orders of magnitude more difficult than that, but Romney’s experience is relevant to the challenges ahead. We may not be getting our dream candidate, but we never were going to get that. Romney is conservative enough to be acceptable, is effective enough to run a disciplined campaign, and is smart and tough enough to lead this country. In the end, that is what matters.

Political Philosophy, Politics

Reagan At 100

This Sunday marked what would have been the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President and the “Great Communicator.” Reagan’s Presidency still shapes American politics even though he left office over 20 years ago. Conservatives continue to idolize him, and even liberals (including President Obama) try to take on his mantle from time to time.

But why? What is it that made Reagan stand out?

The Great Communicator

Reagan had one of the rarest gifts: the ability to take complex political philosophy and communicate it clearly and effectively. Take Reagan’s 1964 masterwork A Time for Choosing:

Even though this speech is over 40 years old, it still stands the test of time. It encapsulates the heart of conservatism as a political philosophy in a way that is clear and straightforward. Reagan had a singular talent for taking complex political ideas and distilling them down to their essentials. Few politicians have such a gift. He didn’t need to rely on the cheap political tricks that have become a standard in political rhetoric. He was a master political communicator, and there are only a few who come close.

But what sets Reagan apart from the rest was that he was not only a great communicator, but he was a man of ideas. Far from the “amiable dunce” that was portrayed in the media, Reagan’s voluminous writings and notes from his radio addresses show that Reagan had a mind like a steel trap. He was fascinated with the details of public policy and how policies effected everyday Americans. From health care to taxes, Reagan spend years studying the details of public policy.

And there is a lesson there: Reagan did his homework. It’s not enough to be a skilled communicator: in order to be a truly effective President, you have to know the issues. Reagan had years of experience: as Governor of California, as a radio host, and as political candidate. He was able to explain the issues so clearly because he understood the issues himself in depth.

The Liberator

But ultimately, Reagan was more than a political icon. He was one of the instrumental figures that helped end the Cold War. It’s easy to forget that even in the 1980s, many in the West thought that the Soviet Union would be with us for decades longer. But Reagan spent much of his life fighting the evils of Soviet Communism. He had the moral integrity to call the Soviet Union what it was: an evil empire. Just as now, the foreign policy establishment didn’t have the courage to stand up for principles of human rights. But Reagan pushed on regardless.

And this tenacity helped fell an empire:

When Reagan told Gorbechev to “tear down this wall” it sent shock waves through the Iron Curtain. Ironically, the State Department, and even some in Reagan’s own Cabinet thought that those words should have been removed. But Reagan insisted they remain, and a seminal moment in Cold War history was born.

It isn’t fair to say that Reagan singlehandedly won the Cold War. But he was instrumental in the process of tearing down the Iron Curtain. The Soviet Union may have collapsed from its own internal contradictions—Reagan was right that Marxism-Leninism would be consigned to the ash heap of history—but it could have lingered on for decades.

The Optimistic American

But ultimately what made Ronald Wilson Reagan such a lasting figure in American politics is that he embodied the optimism of a nation. He saw America as that shining city on hill, and it came through in every speech. Reagan wasn’t a cynic who saw political power as its own end. He wasn’t another self-serving politician. He was an optimist who believed that America’s best days were still ahead.

And that is why Reagan is remembered so fondly today, even by his former critics.

Today, more than ever, we need leadership possessed of Reagan’s optimism and spirit. In a time when many Americans are worried about the state of the economy, the state of the world, and feeling like the American dream is slipping away, Americans are looking for someone who still sees this country as that shining city on the hill. They are looking for someone who still sees America’s best days ahead—and for whom that isn’t just an applause line.

There are few in politics that combine Reagan’s essential optimism, his knowledge of the issues, and his ability to reach out to the average American. Many have been called the next Reagan, but so far none have lived up to the reputation of the 40th President of the United States. Reagan’s cowboy boots are not easy to fill.

One hundred years after his birth, Reagan remains the paragon of modern Presidents, an almost legendary figure. But we should be careful not to let Reagan the legend overwhelm Reagan the man. There is much to be learned from Reagan’s career and Presidency, but in the end future leader should not ask “what would Reagan do” but “how would a leader like Reagan apply enduring principles to the problems of today?” (Which doesn’t exactly fit on a bumper sticker.)

So, even though it’s late, happy birthday to President Reagan. May his optimism inspire the next generation of American politicians to carry forward the principles that he defended in an amazing political life.

Campaign 2010, Politics

Election 2010: Liveblogging The Results

Tonight looks to be one of the most exciting elections in recent memory, as the GOP appears to be headed for some impressive electoral gains. But will the Democrats be able to hold off the GOP wave? Will vulnerable Democratic incumbents survive in close races, or will a legion of underdog Republicans prevail? Who will control the Senate? What surprise results await us tonight?

I will be liveblogging tonight’s election results – at least for a while. There’s no need to refresh your browser – new entries will pop up as they are posted. You can also follow my Twitter feed for more election updates. For political geeks like myself, this is going to be one very interesting night…

10:29 pm

Kristi Noem has a narrow lead over Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin in SD. In ND, Earl Pomeroy was pummeled by Rick Berg. The Dakotas appear to be reflecting their Republican orientation in these House races. But watch Noem. In 2002, John Thune narrowly lost to Tim Johnson because of Democratic votes in the reservations of western South Dakota.

10:26 pm

Nate Silver is seeing a 75-seat GOP gain in the House as a possibility. I don’t think it will actually be that high, but even a 60-seat swing is a big move. Remember, the 1994 Republican Revolution was a swing of 54 seats. Tonight’s results are bigger than ’94, at least on the House side.

10:22 pm

Pat Toomey looks like he will win. Same for Mark Kirk in IL. That gives the GOP another 2 Senate seats. It also means that President Obama’s old Senate seat is now occupied by a Republican. Schadenfreude, baby…

10:17 pm

Bobby Schilling has defeated Phil Hare in IL-17. This is one of the more symbolic races of the night. It was a district that went for Obama by a significant margin, and Hare hasn’t run a competitive race in years.

10:11 pm

Ugh, a power outage may delay results in the Nevada Senate race.

10:09 pm

Unsurprisingly, California is looking to be a Democratic blowout. Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman spent millions to win, but the simple fact is that anyone with half a brain has already fled California for greener pastures. California’s likely to become a Greek-style economic basket-case in the very near future.

10:04 pm

Looks like Toomey was able to pull it out, running ahead of Sestak by about 32,000 votes. I am surprised that it was that close, especially when the other races were such blowouts for the GOP.

9:21 pm

The PA Senate race is looking dire for the GOP. Pat Toomey has been consistently ahead in the polls, but is not pulling ahead. If Toomey loses, that will be quite a shock.

9:19 pm

It’s looking like Ron Johnson will defeat Russ Feingold in WI. This was not a race that was on the radar screens of political pundits a few months ago. It goes to show what kind of a wave election this is.

9:18 pm

It’s interesting – the House is a bloodbath for Democrats, but the Senate is looking rocky for Republicans. CO and IL are both not looking good for Republicans.

9:06 pm

The Senate race in CO is looking bad for the Republicans. Ken Buck made a lot of stumbles in that race, and that may be hurting him in key districts.

9:04 pm

I love all the announcements that John Thune is projected to win in SD-Sen. Thune was unopposed.

9:01 pm

The Star Tribune has declared Betty McCollum the winner in MN-04. Her opponent, Teresa Collett was a professor at my law school. It’s too bad she lost, as she is smart as a whip and would make an excellent elected official. Sadly, MN-4 and MN-5 would elect a dead rat if it had a D next to its name.

8:53 pm

The early Senate returns in CO, IL, and PA are all leaning Democrat, but that’s probably due to reporting from larger urban areas.

8:49 pm

The next set of interesting elections will be the WI Senate race, where Russ Feingold is likely to lose, and the IL Senate race, where Republican Mark Kirk is doing well in key districts.

The chances of a GOP Senate are basically nil right now, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting Senate races out there tonight.

8:41 pm

I’m embarrassed for VA-08. Jim Moran amply deserved to lose. So military service is not public service? Really? Really?!

8:40 pm

Christine O’Donnell is giving her concession speech. I’m sorry, but the woman is just vapid. Should be talking about Senator Castle tonight.

8:31 pm

Sadly, Sean Bielat wasn’t able to defeat Barney Frank. He was always a longshot, but it would have been nice to see Frank out of office.

8:28 pm

Marco Rubio looks very Presidential tonight.

8:22 pm

In NH-01, Carol Shea-Porter has lost. The GOP is definitely steamrolling the House vote tonight.

8:20 pm

Joe Manchin is speaking in West Virginia. He may be a Democrat, but he will be a VERY conservative Democrat.

8:18 pm

CNN says that the GOP will win at least 50 seats tonight. Could it get up to 60?

8:15 pm

Fox News has also called the House for the GOP. Again, no surprises there.

8:13 pm

I’m watching the SD-AL race closely. Moderate Democrat Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin is in a close race with Republican Kristi Noem. So far Herseth-Sandlin is ahead, but by only 3%.

8:10 pm

NBC is predicting that the GOP will retake control of the House.

The question isn’t whether the GOP will take the House, but just how many seats they will pick up.

8:07 pm

Rand Paul is giving his victory speech. Will he give a shout-out to Aqua Buddha?

8:03 pm

A bunch of projections are coming in. No surprises there. The GOP gains one more Senate seat as John Hoeven is elected to the ND Senate seat.

8:01 pm

VA-02 goes to the Republicans. Another sign of a big night for the GOP.

8:00 pm

The polls in Minnesota are about to close, along with 13 other states.

7:54 pm

Alan Grayson has lost to Daniel Webster in FL-08. Grayson was the one who said the the Republican’s plan for health care was to have people die faster. Good riddance to him.

The GOP gains in the House are looking very impressive.

7:47 pm

Todd Young defeating Baron Hill in IN-09 is another sign of a big night for the GOP. My 55-seat prediction might very well be on the low side.

7:46 pm

More good news for the GOP. Rick Boucher has been defeated in VA-09. So far, most of the House races are going towards the GOP.

7:40 pm

I said that if WV goes to the Democrats, it probably means that the GOP can’t take the Senate. And the networks are starting to call the WV Senate race for Manchin. Both CNN and NBC have called it for Manchin.

But in good news for the GOP, the Republicans have won in IN-08, another bellwether race for tonight. The Senate may be out of reach, but this could be a very good night for the GOP in the House.

7:36 pm

Fox News has called the VA-05 race for the Republican. This is one of the bellwether races tonight. The Democrats had spent a lot of time and money supporting Tom Perriello, and it didn’t prevent him losing.

7:34 pm

CNN is also calling it for Blumenthal in CT, and Richard Burr in NC. Neither of these races are a surprise. Linda McMahon ran a competent campaign, but she had a tough job in convincing voters to elect a former wrestling CEO and Republican in a deep blue state. Even Blumenthal’s fabrications about having served in Vietnam wasn’t enough to sink him.

7:31 pm

Also, in SC01, Tim Scott, an African-American Republican has won.

In the least shocking moment of the race. CNN has called the AR Senate race for John Boozman. Blanche Lincoln was a dead woman walking since the health care vote. Good riddance to her.

7:30 pm

Sandy Adams beat out Suzanne Kosmos in FL-24. Good, Kosmos was one of the incumbents I was hoping would get soundly trounced.

7:23 pm

Still looking at the VA races, which will be bellwether races for GOP control of the House.

7:08 pm

Marco Rubio won in FL – which means that the GOP has another major star in its ranks.

7:07 pm

Christine O’Donnell is not a witch; she is toast, however.

6:55 pm

Unsurprisingly, Rand Paul won in KY. There’s no shock there.

Word is that the exit polls are not showing good results for the GOP in the WV Senate race. But after 2004, putting faith in exit polls does not seem wise.

6:52 pm

WV Senate is too close to call. WV is a bellwether race for this evening. If Raese pulls it out, the Republicans will be having a very good night.

6:50 pm

It’s official — Rob Portman is the next US Senator from the state of Ohio.

5:45 pm

Polls have closed in parts of KY and IN. There are some key races in those states, although the Senate races in both are almost surefire GOP wins. Rand Paul is well ahead in the KY race, and Dan Coats will cruise to the Senate against Brad Ellsworth.

Campaign 2010

Predicting The GOP Sweep Of 2010

LIke most political junkies, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the polls—and the polls are showing that this Tuesday will be a very bad day for the Democratic Party. Here are some quick-and-dirty observations on what to expect tomorrow:

The House

This is looking to be a year much like 1994, when the GOP took 54 House seats. The averages are all showing around a 50 seat gain for the GOP this year. But this is not a typical mid-term election. This is a potential wave election, and there are races that are normally not even remotely competitive that suddenly are down to the wire.

Take a race in my own backyard – the 8th District in Minnesota. Incumbent Jim Oberstar has been in Congress since the Cretaceous Period, and usually gets well over 60% of the vote. But this year, he’s running dead-even with this Republican challenger, Chip Cravaack. This same basic scenario is taking place across the country—the 17th District of Illinois where Phil Hare may well lose, the 1st District of Maine where Chellie Pingree is in trouble, the 3rd District in Nevada where Dina Titus is down by 10 points according to a recent Mason/Dixon poll. It’s one thing for a few vulnerable incumbents to be taken down in a midterm election—but this year features a whole slew of Democrats who are not in good shape.

I’m predicting a gain of about 55 GOP seats—one more than 1994. And that’s just going by the polls. My gut says that the polls may be understating GOP gains. Nate Silver of The New York Times gives 5 reasons why the “super wave” scenario could be right. I’m not willing to go out on a limb and say that this will be that kind of electoral tsunami—but it’s well within the range of possibility.

The Senate

My head says that a GOP takeover of the Senate is unlikely—but my gut says that it’s possible. There are a few races that are sure-fire GOP takeovers. In order for the GOP to take the Senate, they need to pick up a total of 10 seats and secure all their seats. At this moment, there are no GOP seats likely to flip. Republican candidates are virtually assured wins in North Dakota, Indiana, and Arkansas. (3). Based on the polls, Sharron Angle will narrowly defeat Harry Reid in Nevada. (4). Pat Toomey looks to have secured a decent lead in Pennsylvania. (5). Colorado is going to be close, but it looks like Ken Buck will pull out a win. (6). In a normal year, Russ Feingold should be safe. This year, a virtual unknown rode from an op-ed on health care to the U.S. Senate. That gives Wisconsin to the GOP—which seems amazing, but the polls are clear. (7). That leaves the GOP with another three seats to take the Senate.

Illinois is close, but it seems like Mark Kirk has what it takes to win, especially in a GOP year like this. That gives the GOP a total of 8 seats.

Delaware is not a pickup opportunity. Christine O’Donnell won’t even get close, even if she doesn’t get utterly blown out. Castle would have easily won. Same with Connecticut: Linda McMahon has the money, but she just can’t close the sale, even against a highly problematic Democratic candidate. California is proving to be another disappointment. For all of Carly Fiorina’s money, she can’t seem to pull ahead of Boxer. While a Fiorina win is not impossible, it seems highly unlikely. California has become a Democratic stronghold. The sensible people have already left.

So where can the GOP get those next two seats? Watch for West Virginia first. If the GOP takes the West Virginia race, that will be a sign of a huge night for the GOP. Gov. Joe Manchin was expected to walk away with the race—but GOP challenger John Raese has made this a close race. If Raese can pull off a win, that will put the GOP well on track to retake the Senate.

The next race to watch is on the other end of the country. Dino Rossi has run his share of close races in Washington, but has always seemed to fall just short. But this year may well be different. If this year will really see a major GOP sweep, Rossi may be that last vote that gives Republicans control of the Senate.

The Eastern Seaboard will be a good bellwether for the state of the race. If Pat Toomey wins decisively in Pennsylvania, and Raese wins in West Virginia then it will be a very good night for the GOP. If Manchin wins in West Virginia, the Democrats will probably retain the Senate.

My guess is the GOP win a total of 8 seats: ND, AR, IN, PA, IL, CO, WI, and NV. But WV is a wildcard: the polls give a slight edge to the Democrats, but this political season seems more likely to create an upset than others.

The Lowdown

Every poll is showing this to be a major GOP year. There are years that confound the polls, but the evidence that there will be a massive pro-Democrat groundswell that will counter the GOP momentum is lacking. If the polls are to be confounded, it’s more likely in under-predicting the GOP’s gains.

Campaign 2010, Politics

Desperate Democrats Replay the GOP’s Failed 2006 Strategy

The New York Times has an article on how the Democrats are planning to attack the Tea Party this fall. It’s a classic campaign of FUD—Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The Democrats want to try to paint the Tea Partiers as a bunch of extremists nutjobs in the hopes that the voters associate Republicans with the Tea Party.

The problem with that strategy is that it doesn’t work. Barrage after barrage of ads against Sharron Angle in Nevada have only managed to put the race within the margin of error. And Angle is an extremely unpolished candidate who’s made several unforced errors early in her campaign. In Kentucky, the Democrats tried to attack Rand Paul along similar lines—and he is safely ahead. It’s not as though the Democrats are trying a new strategy—they’ve been playing the “extremist” card for this whole cycle. And where has it gotten them?

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) looking unhappy

Despite painting Sharron Angle as an extremist, Harry Reid still is within the margin of error.

There’s an underlying reason why this strategy has and will fail: this is a referendum election. Some elections are referendums on the ruling party, others are status quo elections. In a referendum election, the electorate displays their disgust with the ruling party and is in a “throw the bums out” mood. In a status quo election, voters are happy and don’t want change from the status quo. Different strategies are effective for each.

The last referendum election we had was 2006, when the American people signaled their disgust with the state of the Republican Party. And what was the GOP strategy in 2006? Going on the attack and painting Democrats as extreme. Read this with the above NYT article and see how similar they are: it’s almost eerie.

Both the 2006-era GOP and the 2010 Democrats are making the same mistake: playing a strategy for a status quo election in a referendum election. Right now, voters are angry at the state of the country and angry at the Democratic Party. That’s showing in nearly every poll. So why are the Democrats going on the attack? Do they think that they can channel that anger towards the Republicans? Because that strategy never works. In a status quo election, you can use fear of change to get the electorate to reject the opposition’s message. But this does not work in a referendum election—voters who are angry at you are not going to be swayed by fear of the other side.

Referendum elections are like firestorms—one you’re in one, the only strategy that will save you is not to have played with matches in the first place. The Democrats are copying the failed strategy of the GOP in 2006—and for the same reasons. They don’t have a popular record to run on, so they’re hoping that they can scare voters away from giving them an electoral drubbing. But Americans may not particularly care for the Tea Party, but they really hate the state of the country. And the electorate’s disgust with the Democrats is trumping their concerns about the Tea Party. Because the Tea Party has thus far avoided wading into social issues and has kept their message targeted on fiscal restraint, the Democrats’ fear campaign just isn’t gaining traction.

That isn’t to say it will never work. There are races where such a strategy can have some effect. Harry Reid’s battle against Sharron Angle is one such race. Certainly Christine O’Donnell’s record of nutty views and numerous gaffes will ensure that she has roughly zero chance of taking Joe Biden’s old Senate seat. There may be a few House races here and there where that comes into play—but not enough to blunt GOP momentum.

The Democrats are showing desperation with this strategy, just as the GOP did in 2006. The fact that the Democrats are going after the Tea Party is not a brilliant electoral calculation, it’s a sign that they’re out of ideas. There’s nothing new about that strategy, and the Democrats have been trying it for nearly a year now. When you start seeing campaigns praying that opposition research and negative ads will work, it’s a sign of a campaign that’s scrambling to stop the bleeding. And that is exactly what the Democratic Party is trying to do right now. Perhaps they should ask the Republicans how well that strategy worked out for them four years ago.

Campaign 2010, Politics

Christine O’Donnell’s Pyrrhic Victory

So, you managed to get Christine O’Donnell the Republican nomination. Which means that the DE Senate seat she’s running for will go to the Democrats.

If you believe that we need to end the disastrous policies of the Obama Administration, reduce spending, and stop government overreach, then the best way of doing that is to see the Democratic majority in Congress go away.

And that means being strategic about selecting candidates.

I’m sorry, but with due respect to Ms. O’Donnell, she doesn’t have a shot in hell of winning. Her negatives are through the roof, she has no relevant experience, and other than saying the right things to conservatives, she’s got little going for her. Her record is, to be blunt, atrocious. Her record on her own finances should be sufficient to disqualify her—the Democratic attack ads practically write themselves. She will lose to Chris Coons, and she will lose by double digits. One can come up with all sorts of scenarios in which that doesn’t happen, but none of them are remotely likely.

The Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and Sen. Jim DeMint have pissed away a very winnable Senate seat. That means that the chances of GOP takeover of the Senate have gone from a relative longshot to roughly nil.

Yes, it’s fine to prefer the more conservative of two candidates. But that must be balanced with the understanding that if the more conservative candidate has no shot at actually winning, the effect of voting for that candidate is the same as voting for the Democrat.

In short, by voting for Christine O’Donnell, the conservative, the Tea Party has voter for Chris Coons, the radical left-wing liberal.

So far, this strategy has turned two sure-fire GOP pickups into two likely GOP losses. We could have picked off Harry Reid this year, but now the Nevada Senate race is a toss-up at best. We could have picked up a seat in Delaware, but that’s not going to happen.

Politics isn’t about being ideologically pure, it’s about being ideologically pragmatic. You don’t win a game of football by trying to throw Hail Mary passes every play, you win by moving the ball. Mike Castle may have been a squish, but he would have helped us move the ball in a more conservative direction. And when we had built up enough strength, found an acceptable conservative candidate, then it would have been a smart time to replace Castle.

The Tea Parties need to learn from the netroots, as painful as it is to write that. In 2006 and 2008, the netroots endorsed a whole slew of right-wing Democrats. Was Jon Tester a committed left-wing liberal? No. But he could, and did, win in a conservative state. Same with Jim Webb in Virginia—and many issues he could be considered a DINO. But the netroots supported him. When the netroots went for ideological purity above all (see Ned Lamont versus Joe Lieberman), they lost.

In fact, see Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Sen. Brown is conservative on many issues, but is not a perfect conservative. But the Tea Party still supported him, because he was the best alternative. Sen. Brown is as conservative a candidate as can win in Massachusetts, and had the Tea Party ousted him with some fire-breathing conservative stalwart, we’d be talking about Sen. Martha Coakley right now.

The goal should be to elect as conservative a candidate as possible that can still win. Christine O’Donnell may be conservative, but she simply cannot win the Delaware Senate race. Instead of moving the Senate in a more conservative direction, the Tea Parties have torpedoed the chances of a GOP takeover of the Senate.

No doubt some principled conservatives are celebrating what they see as a victory tonight. But for principled conservatism, it’s a Pyrrhic victory.

Addendum: At the same time, let no one think I’m a fan of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). So far this cycle they have managed to back several losers, including turncoats Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist. The goal is to elect the most conservative candidate likely to win. And sometimes a conservative challenger like Pat Toomey or Marco Rubio can win. The NRSC is the flip-side of the Tea Parties in this regard, and neither side can truly claim superiority over the other. It isn’t just about electability, and it isn’t just about ideology. It’s about selecting the candidate with the right mix of both for the race. Neither side really seems to understand this principle.

Update: Castle won’t endorse O’Donnell. Mike Castle’s political career is likely over—he’s 70 years old. He can choose to go out with grace and dignity, or end a long career on a sour note. It is sad to see him choose the latter. Yes, Ms. O’Donnell is a terrible candidate, but she is the candidate that the voters chose. Rep. Castle should show respect to that choice and do what he can to help O’Donnell win, even if that outcome is unlikely.

Campaign 2010, Politics

A Few Words On The Senate

Nate Silver is at his new digs over at The New York Times, and he has his forecast for this year’s Senatorial races. The short version: say hello to 6-7 new GOP Senators: and that doesn’t include the possibility of pickups in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, etc.

Silver also finds that the possibility of a Republican Senate takeover is not that far off:

The Democratic majority is in increasing jeopardy in the Senate, according to the latest FiveThirtyEight forecasting model. The Democrats now have an approximately 20 percent chance of losing 10 or more seats in the Senate, according to the model, which would cost them control of the chamber unless Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, who is running for the Senate as an independent, both wins his race and decides to caucus with them.

In addition, there is an 11 percent chance that Democrats will lose a total of nine seats, which would leave them with 50 votes, making them vulnerable to a defection to the Republican Party by a centrist like Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut or Ben Nelson of Nebraska. On average, over the model’s 100,000 simulation runs, the Democrats are projected to lose a net of six and a half Senate seats, which would leave them with 52 or 53 senators. (Even though the G.O.P. primary in Alaska remains too close to call, that outcome is unlikely to alter the model.)

I wouldn’t go so far as to predict that the GOP retakes the Senate this cycle: while a 20% chance is better than none, it’s not likely. But some of the polls in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Washington show a possibility of the GOP taking those seats—and if that happens, then it’s sayonara to Democratic control of Congress.

All the signs point to this being a “wave” election—and even a 7-seat loss is more than typical for a midterm election. But if this wave is as big as it could be, then the Democrats are in deep trouble. Their House majority is likely to fall, and if they lose the Senate, Obama becomes a lame duck.

In the end, gridlock is the best thing that could happen to this country. If no major bills can be passed, much of the uncertainty that’s killing the markets will be lifted. If businesses can be safe in knowing that there won’t be a major regulatory overhaul (like cap-and-trade/tax) they will be more likely to start expanding again. Divided government helped the US in the early 1990s, and while Barack Obama isn’t the triangulating centrist that Bill Clinton was, a Republican Congress will at least curb some of Obama’s excesses.