- The peculiar cycle of Senate elections
- Republicans threw away seats in 2010 and 2012
- This time, they might not.
To really understand what happened behind the scenes at the Obama campaign, you need to know a little bit about its organizational structure. Tech was Harper Reed's domain. "Digital" was Joe Rospars' kingdom; his team was composed of the people who sent you all those emails, designed some of the consumer-facing pieces of BarackObama.com, and ran the campaigns' most-excellent accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, video, and the like. Analytics was run by Dan Wagner, and those guys were responsible for coming up with ways of finding and targeting voters they could persuade or turn out. Jeremy Bird ran Field, the on-the-ground operations of organizing voters at the community level that many consider Obama's secret sauce . The tech for the campaign was supposed to help the Field, Analytics, and Digital teams do their jobs better. Tech, in a campaign or at least this campaign or perhaps any successful campaign, has to play a supporting role. The goal was not to build a product. The goal was to reelect the President. As Reed put it, if the campaign were Moneyball, he wouldn't be Billy Beane, he'd be "Google Boy."
Often, people get excited about being “data-driven” but only go part way. If you’re asking for a “data driven” ad buy to women 35 to 49, how do you know women 35 to 49 are the right target? Did you test it? The reason you collect data is to optimize based on probability. Instead, try placing an ad designed to reach individuals with a score of 70 or more on your persuadability model. The targeting itself also needs to be done probabilistically.
The culture shift needed in politics is not one of technology. Everyone loves technology and wants more of it, because it lets you to do whatever you’re doing more efficiently. The problem is that what you’re doing could be the wrong thing. Applied the wrong way, technology helps you run very fast in the wrong direction.
[O]nly a small percentage of voters actually switched sides between 2008 and 2010. Moreover, there were almost as many John McCain voters who voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2010 as there were Obama voters who shifted the other way. That may be a surprise to some, but it comes from one of the largest longitudinal study of voters, YouGov’s Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project (C.C.A.P.), for which YouGov interviewed 45,000 people at multiple points during 2011 and 2012.
The results clearly show that voters in 2010 did not abandon the Democrats for the other side, but they did forsake the party in another important way: Many stayed home.
Top Democrats are putting something special together for their Senate colleagues in tough races this year: a vulnerable-incumbent protection program.
At-risk senators will get to beef up their back-home cred by taking the lead on bills and amendments tailored to their campaigns. And they won’t be stuck in the back row at news conferences but will be in front of TV cameras and taking center stage during Senate debates.
It’s all part of an effort to blunt a furious Republican midterm campaign centered on attacking President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Senate who supported his signature health care law.
Leaders are coalescing around giving Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor the lead on a bill to protect the Medicare eligibility age, which has become a key issue in his race. Kay Hagan will tout her fight for long-term unemployment benefits rejected by the GOP-dominated North Carolina Legislature and her likely opponent, statehouse Speaker Thom Tillis. And leaders hope to give Jeanne Shaheen a triumph on energy efficiency, a bipartisan breakthrough that would play well in purple New Hampshire.Similar things happen in state legislatures Journalist Todd Spivak recalls how Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones promoted the career of a young backbencher over a decade ago.
Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama's. He became Obama's kingmaker.
Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city's most popular black call-in radio program.
I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:
"He said, 'Cliff, I'm gonna make me a U.S. Senator.'"
"Oh, you are? Who might that be?"
Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills
It is probably also this lack of leadership which gives to our national parties their curious, conglomerate character. It would seem to be scarcely an exaggeration to say that they are homogeneous only in name. Neither of the two principal parties is of one mind with itself. Each tolerates all sorts of difference of creed and variety of aim within its own ranks. Each pretends to the same purposes and permits among its partisans the same contradictions to those purposes. They are grouped around no legislative leaders whose capacity has been tested and to whose opinions they loyally adhere. They are like armies without officers, engaged upon a campaign which has no great cause at its back. Their names and traditions, not their hopes and policy, keep them together.
Bracing for a rough midterm-election outcome, Democrats aren't waiting until Election Day to start blaming one another for the party's problems. Anticipating the possibility that Republicans will flip the Senate, the finger-pointing game is already underway between the party's warring factions.
Earlier this month, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas argued liberals had successfully purged so-called squishy moderates from the Democratic Party's ranks—even if those same lawmakers had helped the party retain conservative-leaning Senate and House seats. From the middle, the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way has become more outspoken in criticizing progressive leaders, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for advocating an agenda that will compromise the party's ability to attract moderate voters.
The public spats between outside groups are nothing compared with the private finger-pointing over who could be responsible if Republicans ride a political wave this year. The moderate wing is prepared to blame the party for avoiding centrist initiatives like free-trade deals and entitlement reform, while the Left will argue party leaders didn't do enough to protect benefits.
In the network of outside groups coalescing around Clinton’s possible candidacy, Brock is the common link. While running his research-focused group, Brock sits on the board of Priorities USA Action, the super PAC planning to fund Clinton’s campaign with high-dollar contributions, and he serves as an advisor to Ready for Hillary, another PAC set on building Clinton a vast list of supporters... Brock is also friends with a number of prominent donors these days, including Steve Bing and Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the people closest to Hillary Clinton.Read the full article here .
But whatever the distinguished few may have been, it is the substance and mass of the body which constitutes its character and must finally determine its direction. In all bodies, those who will lead, must also, in a considerable degree, follow. They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, and disposition, of those whom they wish to conduct: therefore, if an assembly is viciously or feebly composed in a very great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree of virtue as very rarely appears in the world, and for that reason cannot enter into calculation, will prevent the men of talent disseminated through it from becoming only the expert instruments of absurd projects!
EXCLUSIVE : Las Vegas is one of the RNC's finalists for the 2016 convention, and plenty of Republicans are calling it the favorite, based on the hope that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson would contribute generously, obviating the financial worries that plague most host committees. But Playbook has learned that American Bridge, the Democratic tracking and opposition research outfit founded by David Brock and run by Brad Woodhouse, plans to devote up to three dozen trackers with video cameras to Sin City if the GOP picks it. American Bridge has committed to deploy what a source called a 'tracking operation on steroids' to cover the plethora of venues sure to attract Republican politicians and operatives.
Per a Democratic source: 'American Bridge's plans would scatter trackers with video cameras from one end of the Strip to the other and would include a rapid response war room in the city to turn the footage into instant products -- even potentially television ads -- exposing whatever activities and hypocricies they catch on film. ... American Bridge's efforts ... would be looking to capture everything from the late night carousing of politicians to simply filming candidates who claim to be the bastion of family values entering and exiting bars and casinos.'
--AMERICAN BRIDGE has already opened a website that promises: "[I]f the RNC does choose Las Vegas, this is the site for all the action. What happens in Vegas... will go right here." www.sincitygop.com
--OTHER OPTIONS: Vegas is one of the RNC's eight finalists, along with Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Phoenix and an intriguing three-way Ohio contest among Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. As an indication of the effort the cities put into their pitches, the political heat that Kansas City deployed for its presentation Monday to the RNC's site selection committee included Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); Linda Bond, fundraising consultant and wife of former Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.); and Jack Oliver, KC2016 national finance co-chair, former RNC deputy chairman, and now senior policy adviser at Bryan Cave Strategies.
Hillary Clinton’s K Street network is preparing for a White House run in 2016.
With Democrats in Congress already anointing Clinton as the party’s standard-bearer, lobbyists are pledging their allegiance and making clear they will do whatever they can to help the former first lady become first in command.
Many of the lobbyists helped Clinton with her last run for the White House in 2008 and say they are willing and eager to jump back on the train.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” said Steve Elmendorf, president of Elmendorf Ryan, when asked if he would support a Clinton run. “To me, it’s not even a close call. … Among Democrats, there’s no one else as well-positioned to win as her.”
Lobbyists are often crucial players in a candidate’s campaign, offering valuable political advice, strategy and policy expertise. They also serve as donors and bundlers of the cash needed to fund a national campaign.
Lawyers and lobbyists gave more than $18 million in campaign contributions toClinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Elmendorf is among a number of prominent fundraisers on K Street who could help build a Clinton machine. Tony Podesta, chairman of Podesta Group, is anothercampaign rainmaker who is expected to support her if she runs.
In addition, a number of lobbyists and consultants have already taken formal positions with the “shadow campaign” that is being waged in Clinton’s name.
In January, Priorities USA Action announced that Jonathan Mantz of BGR Group would become a senior adviser. The super-PAC, which was created for President Obama’s reelection campaign, is retooling in anticipation of a Clinton bid.
Mantz was the national finance director for Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Jay Dunn, a senior managing director for FTI Consulting, was Mantz’s deputy in 2008, and lobbyists consider him a likely Clinton backer in 2016.
Another prominent K Street supporter is former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who is an adviser to the super-PAC Ready for Hillary, which is already on the ground in primary states like Iowa and South Carolina.
“She [Clinton] is perhaps inevitable because of her enormous skills and experience. … Only she can make the decision, and she hasn’t yet. So we will just have to wait and see, but for many of us, she’s the one,” said Tauscher, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department with Clinton.
Tauscher is not a registered lobbyist, but she is a strategic adviser at Baker Donelson
In concluding that the burden Proposition 198 imposes on petitioners' rights of association is not severe, the Ninth Circuit cited testimony that the prospect of malicious crossover voting, or raiding, is slight, and that even though the numbers of "benevolent" crossover voters were significant, they would be determinative in only a small number of races. But a single election in which the party nominee is selected by nonparty members could be enough to destroy the party. In the 1860 presidential election, if opponents of the fledgling Republican Party had been able to cause its nomination of a pro-slavery candidate in place of Abraham Lincoln, the coalition of intraparty factions forming behind him likely would have disintegrated, endangering the party's survival and thwarting its effort to fill the vacuum left by the dissolution of the Whigs. Ordinarily, however, being saddled with an unwanted, and possibly antithetical, nominee would not destroy the party but severely transform it. "[R]egulating the identity of the parties' leaders," we have said, "may ... color the parties' message and interfere with the parties' decisions as to the best means to promote that message."California's Top-Two Primary
Steven Law, the head of the Crossroads groups founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, has declared that reelecting Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this year is a top priority. It's paramount to Crossroads' 2014 efforts to win back GOP control of the Senate and fight off the insurgent tea party. And for Law himself, who used to work for the Republican Senate leader, it's "personal."
Yet other than a web video attacking would-be challenger Ashley Judd in early 2013, Crossroads has not run any ads to support McConnell.
Instead, two local groups -- Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a brand-new super PAC, and the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a repurposed nonprofit -- have spent more than $2 million to boost McConnell in his contests against tea party challenger Matt Bevin and Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state.
Behind the scenes, Crossroads' strategy becomes clearer. Deep connections between the Rove organization and the two Kentucky groups show that, despite their locally flavored names, the real power behind the latter groups emanates from the offices of Crossroads-linked consultants in Washington and Virginia.
Both pro-McConnell groups rely heavily on Crossroads' list of elite political consultants. Law sits on the board of Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, which -- according to Scott Jennings, a former McConnell aide hired to advise both pro-McConnell groups -- "makes decisions for the organization, including how to expend funds."
And the majority of the money reaching Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, which as a super PAC must disclose its donors, comes from Crossroads' donor network.In 2010, NPR posted a chart of the Crossroads network. Take a look.
U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf posted a collection of gruesome X-ray images of gunshot fatalities and medical injuries to his Facebook page and participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage.
Wolf, a Johnson County radiologist anchoring a campaign for the Republican nomination with calls for federal heath care reform, said in an interview the medical images were legally uploaded to public social media sites and other online venues for educational purposes. They also served, he said, to demonstrate evil lurking in the world.
However, Wolf and others viewing these Facebook postings relentlessly poked fun at the dead or wounded. The gunshot victim, Wolf joked online, wasn't going to complain about the awkward positioning of his head for an X-ray. In a separate Facebook comment, Wolf wrote that an X-ray of a man decapitated by gunfire resembled a wounded alien in a “Terminator” film and that the image offered evidence people “find beauty in different things.”
Wolf declined in an interview with The Topeka Capital-Journal to clearly answer questions about whether he continued to place images of deceased people on the Internet. He asked to keep copies of the Facebook posts shown to him, but when denied, he walked away.
"I'm not going to play these kinds of gotcha games," he said.Three takeaways: