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Is Rahm’s Luck Running Out?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:46 pm - November 2, 2009.
Filed under: 2009 Elections,Obama Hopenchange

Politico has a fascinating story of the lengths to which Democrats went to secure Dede Scozzafava’s endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens in the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district tomorrow.  The effort in involved the White House Chief of Staff, New York State’s senior senator, the Speaker of the New York Assembly, the chair of the state Democratic Party and other heavy hitters.  They even dispatched a Long Island Democratic Congressman to the district to meet with the one-time Republican candidate.

Yet, if the latest polls are to be believed, it doesn’t seem to have made much difference.  One poll has the Conservative up by 5 points.  Another has up him by 17.

And this must be causing a lot of angst in the West Wing.  Because it’s pretty clear that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was behind his boss’s choice to tap then-Congressman John McHugh as Army Secretary, making his seat ripe for Democratic picking:

Obama won NY-23 last year by five points. So in an open seat race this year, a Democrat should have a good shot. Indeed, that’s precisely why Obama plucked the popular Republican incumbent from the seat to be his Army secretary — Rahm thought it was a likely pick-up. 

With Dede’s endorsement, that task seemed easier.  But, should the Democrat now lose, the White House will have major egg on its face, particularly as Administration officials decrying Hoffman’s success as a sign of the extremism of and rise of the “absolutists” in the GOP.

Seems citizens of this district won by Obama prefer extreme absolutists to the Administration’s man.

Rahm Emanuel may be crowing about locking down the Scozzafava endorsement, but he may not realize  that people don’t always respond to the type of back room political deals he orchestrates.  Chicago politics don’t play all that well in rural strongholds.  Just by securing a candidate’s endorsement doesn’t mean you win all her voters.

His strategy of padding the Democratic majority appears to be backfiring.

Of course the polls could be wrong.

Democrats Making Robocalls for Daggett in New Jersey

If Republicans did this, it would make headlines all over showing the kind of dirty politics these angry white men play in order to keep their hold on power.  Jim Geraghty reports that, “Democrats have so much of a vested interest in independent Christopher Daggett splitting the anti-incumbent vote that they are putting resources into promoting him.”

The Democratic State Committee now admits paying for a robocall to Somerset County voters that slams Republican Chris Christie and promotes independent gubernatorial candidate Christopher Daggett.

A Democratic spokeswoman says the party’s chairman, Joe Cryan, was not aware of the robocalls when he denied that the state committee had anything to do with them yesterday afternoon.

If this gets out, it can only help Chris Christie, but the question is whether or not New Jersey (as well as Philadelphia and New York) media will pick this up.

This news merely confirms something I mentioned as just reported in a previous post.  Seems like Democrats are pulling every tactic from their bag of tricks to pull out a victory in the Garden State.  And Obama’s right there elbow-to-elbow with the New Jersey Governor who has presided over a meltdown of his state’s economy since taking office four years ago.

Guess that “new kind of politics” Obama promised in his campaign last year is just making Chicago politics national.

UPDATE: “It speaks volumes that the Democratic party in New Jersey feels the best use of their resources is to promote a third-party’s candidate instead of their own.”  Ditto that.

The Remarkable resilience of Reaganite Ideas of Reform

As I will doubtless repeat ad nauseum in the coming days in response to the endlessly biased coverage of the Tea Party movement and the related grassroots enthusiasm for Doug Hoffman’s Conservative candidacy in New York’s 23rd congressional district. the one thing missing from (most) media coverage is an appreciation for the resilience of the ideas which animated the rise of Ronald Reagan, an opposition to the seemingly endless growth of the federal government.

Even Barack Obama recognized the resilience of Reagan’s ideas.  He regularly reminded voters that he supported a “net spending cut,” emphasizing, in the third debate, his concern for fiscal prudence:

What I want to emphasize, though, is that I have been a strong proponent of pay-as- you-go. Every dollar that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches.

Seems, however, that when GOP county leaders in upstate New York were looking for a candidate in the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district, they attributed Obama’s election not to his campaign rhetoric, but to his actions once in office.

Which leads me to repeat the question I asked in my very first post on this election: Do GOP Leaders Get that Fiscal Conservatism is a Winning Issue?

Dede, Rudy, Federal Spending, Tea Parties & the GOP Future

For the left to spin the Scozzafava meltdown as a sign of  Republicans making moderates feel unwelcome in the party, they must ignore several facts about her nomination and the support she received from local and national units of the GOP.  After county GOP chairs in upstate New York tapped the liberal Assemblywoman as the Republican candidate, the RNC and NRCC readily rallied to her cause, sending in money to the campaign and staffers to the districtsd.

The GOP sunk nearly one million smackers into her campaign coffers.

So, clearly the party establishment was really to rally round a “moderate.”  It’s the grassroots that revolted.

But, would the grassroots have revolted had Ms. Scozzafava been a “moderate” of the Giuliani school, liberal on social issues, conservative on fiscal and national security ones?  Or, how would a Cheney-like candidate have fared, conservative on all issues, but gay ones?

Having followed the tea party movement and participated in some of its rallies, I believe we’d be looking at an entirely different race today had Dede Scozzafava been a “moderate” of the Giuliani-Cheney school.  Had she embraced the ideas of the tea party protests and stood strong against the spendthrift “so-called stimulus,” the tea party activists wouldn’t have protested her candidacy.

As I’ve said before, it’s the federal spending, stupid.

As goes Maine. . .

Maine is no longer the bellwether she once was in the Nineteenth Century, but should voters in the Pine Tree State vote down a “citizens’ veto” of legislation recognizing gay marriage (that the elected legislature passed and the elected Governor signed), it could signal a shift in popular attitudes toward gay marriage.  To be sure, few polls have shown any significant trends in favor of gay marriage in the past three or four years.

However, the recent Gallup poll showing that Americans are becoming increasingly conservative also found that attitudes toward gay marriage “have stayed about the same since 2008.”  There may  not be a movement toward state-recognized same-sex marriage, but there certainly isn’t a return to the overwhelming opposition we saw in the 1990s.

I had assumed that, without a state Supreme Court decision for gay marriage opponents to rail against, citizens of Maine would not feel disenfranchised by their state’s manner of recognizing same-sex marriages and they would veto the veto.  The polls though show a very tight race, with the latest indicating a narrow victory for Question 1, “which would reverse the state’s law legalizing same sex marriage

At 51-47 it’s within the margin of error but there has been slight movement in support of the question since a PPP poll two weeks ago showed it knotted up at 48.

As Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling wrote, “It’s just going to come down to which side does the better job of getting its people out.”  I don’t know what kind of ground game those opposing the initiative have put together.  If it’s anything like their efforts last fall in the Golden State, things don’t look good for those who seeking to uphold the legislature’s action.

Given the number of signatures gathered by opponents of the legislation (they gathered twice as many as needed), those favoring Question 1 clearly are fired up and are certain to vote.

All that said, I don’t have much information on the ground game of those opposing the initiative.  If they’ve learned from the mistakes made last fall in the Prop 8 battle in California, then we’re in for a long night in the Pine Tree State.  We could see the first defeat of a measure seeking to limit marriage (for state purposes) to its traditional meaning.

But, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Democratic Shenanigans in New Jersey

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 10:40 am - November 2, 2009.
Filed under: 2009 Elections

While most polls show the race for New Jersey Governor to be neck and neck, Public Policy Polling has Republican Chris Christie leading incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine 47-41:

Corzine had pulled to within a point of Christie on our poll three weeks ago after trailing by as many as 14 points over the summer, but his momentum has stalled since then and Christie’s built his lead back up to 4 points last week and now 6.

If Corzine’s momentum has stalled, then perhaps even multiple visits from the president couldn’t push him across the finish line.  He’s been helped by the failure of his challenger to make the case for his candidacy, with “only 40% of voters” thinking Christie “made a strong case for why he should be elected Governor,” including 27% of those backing the Republican.

It is that failure which has allowed independent Chris Daggett to run as well as he has.  Sometimes, I wonder, if Corzine set him up as a stalking horse in order to divide the opposition vote, a clever strategy for an incumbent with an approval rating below 40%.  Seems a lot of people in the Garden State have similar thoughts.  One of our readers linked an article making just that point. There’s even a report than a New Jersey Democratic State Committee is paying for “robocalls” for Daggett.

Couple this with Democrats asking the New Jersey Secretary of State to ignore mismatched signatures on absentee-ballot requests and you find the incumbent playing some pretty hardball politics in anticipation of Tuesday’s contest.  These are just a few signs of their determination to keep Obama’s man in Drumthwacket.

If come Tuesday night, it’s a close race, with no clear winner declared long after polls have closed, you should be able to eventual outcome.  But, no one will ever know who won the plurality of votes.  We will know one thing–that the Democrat will have won even as majority of voters did not want him to renew his lease on that celebrated mansion.

The Day Obama Became “Old News”

In his July 4 post, Roger Simon wrote, “Obama is already over.”

In six short months the now-spattered bumper stickers with “Hope and Change” seem like pathetic remnants from the days of “23 Skidoo,” the echoes of “Yes, we can” more nauseating than ever in their cliché-ridden evasiveness.

When I read that piece, it struck that I had felt something similar, only that I would have used a different expression, calling the president “old news.”   To be sure, there were some moments in the transition as he tapped to a bevy of moderate Democrats for top jobs in his cabinet and Administration, he genuinely seemed to be the “new kind of politician” he billed himself on the campaign trail.  I now believe he sealed the fate of his Administration two days after his election, the day he announced the appointment of hard-charging Democrat and left-wing firebrand Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff.

No one interested in governing from the center and reaching across the partisan divide would have tapped such as committed partisan as his top White House aide.  And while there may be some moderate faces in the Administration, most of policies have come from the liberal wish lists accumulated over the past four decades.  Perhaps building on a point Michael Barone first made nearly eight months ago, Daniel Henninger noted last week that, in a world of increasing choices, the Democrat favors a one-size-fits all approach to health care reform.

This, he found, is starting to make the Administration “look totally out of sync with the new zeitgeist, the spirit of the age(more…)

AP Spins Scozzafava Withdrawal to Fit Its Preferred Narrative

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:00 am - November 2, 2009.
Filed under: 2009 Elections,Media Bias

AP (or Yahoo!) editors seem to have pulled their headline for an article on Dede Scozzfava’s withdrawal from the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district from a left-wing blog: “Future of GOP and moderate Republicans uncertain,” with “reporter” Valerie Bauman asking in the first paragraph, “Are moderates welcome in today’s Grand Old Party?”

Note what Ms. Bauman leaves out in the list of issues which caused rank-and-file Republicans to turn on the eventual turncoat:

During the campaign [Scozzafava] failed to connect with voters, party officials or, perhaps most important, campaign donors, largely because of her support for abortion rights, same-sex marriage and union rights. That opened the door for Hoffman, who took every opportunity to remind people that Scozzafava was not the kind of Republican they wanted representing their interests in a Democratic-led Congress.

Not once does she mention the “stimulus” and reduces the issue “card check” to “union rights.”   Seems like someone is trying to make the Conservative candidate appear a bit troglodytic.  Nowhere does this “reporter” provide any evidence of Ms. Scozzafava’s record in the New York General Assembly, treating the ex-candidate like a moderate when she voted like a liberal.

Ms. Bauman’s bias shows either a determination to denigrate the conservative candidate or an ignorance of the resonance of the spending issue.  Or both.  And either reason should disqualify her from securing a job with a news organization concerned about even-handed political coverage.