About the Blog

I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

--To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
--To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
--To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges. This blog is on the open Internet, so post nothing that you would not want a potential employer to see.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Campaign Finance Hypocrisy

Going back to campaign finance, this article in Politico is about how Democrat donors are as secretive as Republican donors. The author writes that the Democrat attack on the Koch brothers is hypocritical because many of its donors are also shrouded in mystery. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tech and the Future

An overview of the Obama organization:
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."

Some pointers from an alum:

Learn statistics and coding

Test assumptions. In Inside the CavePatrick Ruffini quotes a senior member of the Obama digital team saying "“We basically found our guts were worthless."

Think probabilistically, change the culture. Again, from Patrick Ruffini:
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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Turnout, Targeting, Technology, and 2014

There was not a lot of ticket-splitting in 2012.

At The New York Times,UCLA's Professor Lynn Vavreck explains:
[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.

Brits Adopt US Politicos, Campaign Strategies

From POLITICO: In the UK, both the Labour Party and the Tories have poached two leading US political consultants to adapt their messaging strategies and help them win. This is notable for several reasons. For one, they chose David Axelrod and Jim Messina...two Democrats who had helped Obama win his 2 presidential elections. It is telling that both parties chose Democrats to help rebrand their party and their major candidates. These choices evidence that political consultants, not candidates, are driving elections more than ever--and not just in the US. Finally, British politics are different from politics in the US, of course, so we will have to see how the consultants' strategies translate.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Turnout and Targeting

Different definitions of turnout:
Voter Turnout

Demographics of the vote


Educational Attainment:

Less than 9th grade.....37.1
9th-12th grade............38.3
High school grad.........52.6
Some college..............64.2
College grad...............75.0

Race and Ethnicity

Targeting and Claritas clusters

Sunday, April 20, 2014

SNL's "New Republican Party"

Someone just sent me this video, and I thought you'd all get a kick out of it!

Last Assignment

Pick one:
  • In the prologue to The Victory Lab, Issenberg writes:  "Electoral politics has quietly entered the twenty-first century by undoing the greatest excesses of the late twentieth."  What does he mean? How might a critic disagree?  Which side would you take?  In your answer, draw upon Issenberg and other course readings, as well as any additional sources that might be appropriate.
  • The 2016 presidential campaign may pit a Clinton against a Bush.  Based on what you have learned in the course, tell how will the party politics of 2016 differ from that of the last Clinton-Bush race, in 1992. In your answer, consider PIE, PO, PIG, POG, and campaign technology.  Which side gains the most from the changes?

The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page. 
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style. Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 11:59 PM, Monday, May 5. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jeb Bush-Worst Candidate?

An interesting article related to our conversation about Jeb Bush as a 2016 candidate in class today. The author discusses the hurdles that Jeb faces on two fronts: his inexperience with presidential campaigning (he hasn't been in the campaigning "game" for 12 years), and his centrist policies amidst a Republican party that is characterized by its extremes. Even though this article found itself on the front page of Buzzfeed (bookended by "14 Insanely Rad Yearbook Photos" and "17 Baby Elephants Learning How to Use Their Trunks"), it does highlight the influence of party politics on potential presidential candidates.


Parties and Policy

 The reaction to the "Read My Lips" reversal


The Tea Party and Institutional Memory

Bill Sponsorship and Election Strategy

Politico reports:
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?"
"Barack Obama."
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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

McCutcheon, Bundling, Parties in Government

Review:  FECA limits

The McCutcheon case:

Expert reactions

Political winners and losers



Gingrich, Wilson, and Responsible Parties

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.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Individual Campaign Contribution Limits

In a 5-4 vote the Supreme Court struck down individual campaign contribution limits on the grounds that such limits violate the 1st Amendment.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his opinion, "This Court has identified only one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances: preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption. We have consistently rejected attempts to suppress campaign speech based on other legislative objectives. No matter how desirable it may seem, it is not an acceptable governmental objective to ‘level the playing field,’ or to ‘level electoral opportunities,’ or to ‘equalize the financial resources of candidates…’ The First Amendment prohibits such legislative attempts to ‘fine-tune’ the electoral process, no matter how well intentioned."

See more at Politico or Scotus Blog.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Vincent Gray Upset in Mayoral Primary


Impact of Gaffes on Voters

FiveThirtyEight has an interesting article about the impact of gaffes on voting and campaign finance. Nate Silver says that gaffes impact the media audience but not necessarily voters. According to him, Romney's "47 percent" comment only had a 1 percentage point swing in favor of Obama. But like Prof. Pitney said in class, even 1 percentage point is significant in such elections. 

Jimmy Carter & Religion

We talked Monday about Jimmy Carter and religion, and I think this Colbert Report episode (here and here) provides interesting (and funny) insight into the role social gospel is still playing in his life. His new book, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power" is about how much of women's suffering at the hands of religion comes from false interpretation of religious texts (it's also his 28th book!). He also says he'll convert to Catholicism if the current Pope remains and a female priest asks him to join. Carter also wrote the Pope a letter about his book and "he said that he agreed with many of the things I told him about, which he already knew I'm sure, and he said that in his opinion in the future years, women needed to play a much greater role in the Catholic Church than they were playing now or have played in the past."

I'm struggling to find a shorter clip of the portions I'm talking about, but the entire episode is worth a watch in your spare time. Here is an article about it as well. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The GOP's Advantage in House Races

This Huffington Post article talks about how recent strategic gerrymandering by the Republicans will likely help their chances in the fall. One of the most interesting points is that its been easy for the Republicans to gerrymander districts to be strongly Republican since the Democrats tend to center in urban areas.  

Madisonian Politics and Party Factions

  • Ideas
  • Interests 
  • Institutions
  • Individuals
Reviewing the polarization story:
Voting on the Floor
Alex Roarty writes at National Journal (compare to Connelly, ch. 2):
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.

Democrats Demographic Troubles

The Wall Street Journal and the Pew Research Center released several statistics on the 2014 midterms putting Democrats behind Republicans in several key demographics including millennials and independents. However, the biggest problem for the Dems appears to be President Obama's approval rating is 44%, the same as Bush's approval rating in 2006 when the Reps lost Congress.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Another Hit for Christie's Presidential Chances

Chris Christie's office released an internal review earlier this week that found the governor had no knowledge of the events surrounding "Bridgegate". Unfortunately for Christie, the report received a lot of criticism for being sexist toward former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly. As the article explains, "the report commissioned by Mr. Christie and released Thursday doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous, weeping frequently and dependent on men for approval and stability." The report brings up personal events, including a breakup, and calls Bridget Anne Kelly "emotional". The same report later mentions Christie crying during a press conference, but presents that incident in a positive light.

The report and its elements of sexism could be damaging to Christie, particularly because he polled well among women even after "Bridgegate". It also allows reporters and Democratic strategists to continue talking about Bridgegate, even though Christie hoped the report would give him a fresh start.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This FiveThirtyEight article reminded me of our class conversation about presidential coattails. Specifically, the article says that gubernatorial politics are becoming increasingly nationalized and more closely resemble presidential races. This is a shift away from the historical emphasis on local politics.

"Voters are likely to see them as Democrats and Republicans first, and as individual candidates a distant second. In recent years, gubernatorial elections have become increasingly nationalized, to the point where voting patterns in these races bear a striking resemblance to those in presidential races. If we look at all sitting governors, just 15 of the 50 lead states that were won by the other party in the last presidential election."

This Ad Has an Opening Line that You Will Never Forget

And see Colbert's take.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GOP Leads On Enthusiasm

CBS conducted a poll and found that GOP voters were more enthusiastic about the midterm elections than Dem voters.


Senate Dems Unveil Plan to Keep Senate Blue

This CNN article outlines the Senate Democrats' new plan to keep the Senate. They argue the ACA is not a priority to most voters, but also admit they cannot run from the law--instead, endangered Dems are taking a "fix it, don't end it' approach. They also hope voter frustrations are with "a system that makes it hard to get ahead, especially middle class voters," not the ACA itself. 

21 of 36 currently-Democratic seats are up for reelection. Half of these are in Republican or swing states.

"Why Ted Cruz is the real-life Frank Underwood"

Pretty funny/interesting article for the House of Cards fans...

"But to come to that conclusion is to miss the rationale behind his actions entirely. The shutdown fiasco was Cruz's most Underwoodian moment, because he must have known all along that his gambit never would have worked. The only possible benefit could have been to Cruz himself.

Perhaps more than anyone in Washington, Cruz understands the revolutionary dynamic of politics in the age of social media. Why follow the traditions of the Senate — spending a decade or more learning its labyrinthine rules, rising slowly through its ranks of seniority, deferring to party leadership at every step — when instantaneous communication and mobilization allows a smart, impatient politician to go over the heads of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to appeal directly to the restive Republicans masses, both to flatter them and convince them that he and he alone is their champion and savior?"

Research Assignment

Pick one:
  • If you are taking part in the legislative simulation, analyze your experience. Consider your senator's place in the party system.  Is that senator a party loyalist or maverick, a leader, loner, or follower?In this light, how well did your positions and goals match those of your real-life counterpart? What methods did you use? In the circumstance that you dealt with, would your counterpart have done the same? How did the simulation both resemble and differ from the real world?  
  • The Connelly book came out in 2010.  Write an postscript.  Explain how events since then have either confirmed or disconfirmed the book's major arguments.  You may also consider whether the past four years have raised relevant questions that the book did not consider.
  • Appraise President Obama's performance as leader of the Democratic Party.  What were his goals for the party?  In light of political and institutional constraints, how well did he perform?
  • Write a memo to Mitch McConnell or Harry Reid.  Explain what he can do during the coming months to maximize his party's chances in the 2014 midterm election.
  • Write on another topic of your choice, subject to my approval.
The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. 
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style. Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays (in Word format) to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 5 PM, Friday, April 11. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Presidents, Judges, Legislators, and Polarization

State Governments

I need your help, NAME

Name, this one's easy:

Chances are, you know someone who needs to get covered -- maybe it's a family member, a friend, a coworker, or a neighbor.

Forward this email to them today. Tell them it's the last call to sign up on the health insurance marketplace for 2014, and this is where to get started:


For anyone who wants the peace of mind of having health care, or who wants to take advantage of the financial assistance available to millions of uninsured Americans, there's no time to wait. The deadline is March 31st.

I'm counting on people like you, and groups like OFA, to spread the word.

Pass along the link above, and help someone you know get covered. Just hearing it from you will mean a lot. And it means a lot to me to know there are folks like you out there doing your part.

Thank you,

Barack Obama
Contributions or gifts to Organizing for Action are not tax deductible.
This email was sent to: email.
If that is not your preferred email address, you can update your information. We believe that emails are a vital way to stay in direct contact with supporters. Click if you'd like to unsubscribe from these messages.
Organizing for Action, P.O. Box 66732 Washington, D.C. 20035

Clinton's Party Networks

From Buzzfeed, a story that continues to illustrate how everyone is connected:
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 .

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Partisan Politics and The Supreme Court

In relation to Tuesday's reading --

UC Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chermerinsky recently wrote an op-ed calling for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turned 81 this past weekend, to retire this summer. Chermerinsky argues that Ginsburg's retirement would allow Obama to appoint another liberal justice to the Court before the 2016 election. If Ginsburg waits until 2016, Senate Republicans could delay the confirmation process until the new president takes office. If Ginsburg waits until 2015 and the Republicans win a majority in the Senate, the nomination could be filibustered.

Although Ginsburg has denied that she will retire, Chermerinsky's op-ed sparked debate regarding whether or not a justice should retire for ideological reasons.

Op-ed here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nate Silver Scares Democrats with Senate Predictions

Political elections guru and statistician Nate Silver predicted Republicans would gain exactly 6 seats in the upcoming elections, just enough to regain control of the Senate house.  Guy Cecil (executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) deemed Silver's predictions worthy of an official statement that downplays Silver's sources.

Link Here:

Party in Government I

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!
Hill leadership

Presidential leadership
State Governments

Monday, March 17, 2014

Following Up On the Growth and Opportunity Project

From the March 17th edition of Politico's Playbook, the RNC is launching a six-figure cable and digital ad buy to mark the one-year anniversary of its Growth and Opportunity Project. The campaign is focused in states with 2014 Senate races and tested well in focus-groups with women, bilingual voters and disaffected Obama voters. The first ad of the campaign features individuals from demographics that the Growth and Opportunity Project indicated the Republican Party needed to reach out to, including young women, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Readier for Hillary

At Time, Mark Halperin writes that the pro-Hillary Super PAC Ready for Hillary has ramped up its campaign activity. The Super PAC, which includes some former Obama campaign officials, sent volunteers to Iowa Democratic county conventions to solicit voter contact information. Furthermore, Ready for Hillary has been fundraising by asking supporters to donate $20.16 and is organizing a high roller dinner with contributions ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. Unsuprisingly, Halperin notes that the PAC's host committe includes many loyalists and lobbyists long connected with the Clinton network. On the tech side, Ready for Hillary is redesigning its website to make it social media friendly and easier to connect with core liberal constituencies.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tea Party pushes back against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

This is more based on our discussion last week but I thought it was an interesting read, and it includes campaign tactics, a PACs influence on these tactics, and the Tea Party. This article discusses comments recently made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell regarding his Tea Party supported challenger and the Tea Party as a whole. Tea Party groups responded aggressively, and McConnell's campaign organizers realized he made a mistake in saying this; one of his spokeswomen commented that McConnell is actually a big fan of the Tea Party, and was actually attacking the Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC that is allegedly more interested in attacking Republican's to raise money rather than "actual conservative governance".

Parties, Conventions, and the General Election Campaign

Review: The nomination contest and the general election campaign
Convention moments
Worst Convention Ever

GDP Growth and forecasts

Strategy: The Message Grid

Classic Campaign Messages

Pew Finds that Young Adults are Optimistic and Liberal

According to a Pew Research Center poll released over the weekend, Milennials are more optimistic and liberal than other generations. They are also less religious, less likely to refer to themselves as "patriotic," and more likely to vote Democratic than older Americans. Their liberal beliefs translate into a greater acceptance of gay rights and an activist government. The LA Times also summarizes the research

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The GOP Calls in Twitter and Facebook

The GOP reached out to Facebook and Twitter to advise them on their social media presence for the midterm and presidential elections. 

"Seymour and Greenberger suggested campaigns would be well served by investments in staff to maintain social media accounts, so followers' responses don't go unaddressed."-- another skill one of us could bring to a campaign! 

Article here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oppo and Conventions

From POLITICO Playbook - POLITICO.com:
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.

The Republican Primary in 2016

This article discusses three previous presidential candidates and their chances for the nomination in 2016, touching on Huckabee's (lack of) fundraising ability, Santorum's motivation of the religious right, and Rick Perry's debate mistakes.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

HRC's K Street Network

The following excerpts nicely illustrates the "network" theme of our course.  Click the link for the full story.  Throughout the excerpts, I have included links to other items with more information on political networks.

Kevin Bogardus reports at The Hill:
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

Monday, March 3, 2014



Final words on voting rules

Types of primaries

The blanket primary and California Democratic Party v. Jones.  Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia said:
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

McCaskill plays in the 2012 Missouri Republican primary:

Turnout -- presidential primaries

Is caucusing easy? HRC says so:


 Actual video:


Sunday, March 2, 2014

IRS Reconsiders Political Activity

The IRS is reconsidering what qualifies as "political activity." They may begin to classify voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote drives, and events with political candidates as political activity. This would affect groups like Crossroads GPS. It would ALSO apply to nonprofits with genuinely no political agenda, like college campuses.

Parties as Networks: The Case of Kentucky

At The Huffington Post, Paul Blumenthal writes:
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. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

How Democratic or Republican Is Your Name?

Clarity Campaigns has a fun widget that lets  you see how Democratic or Republican your first name is.

Click here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Scott Walker busted for breaking campaign rules...while running for college president

As we just finished up our own round of student elections, the Huffington Post reports that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker broke his college's rules for campaigning for president of Marquette University's student government back in 1988.

The HuffPo piece links to a picture of an old article from the Marquette student paper that Walker was found guilty of campaigning before he registered as a candidate. I wonder if the oppo researchers at the Golden Antlers will find some similar illegal activity in this round of ASCMC elections.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Nation Builder

Linked above is a short informative article about Nation Builder and their founder Jim Gilliam.
NB a LA based startup which attempts to bring organizing into the hands of the masses.
As the internet plays a bigger and bigger role in campaigns Nation Builder offers a cheaper more accessible version of campaign platforms. They are also hiring in LA, for all seniors that are interested!

Party Registration, Party Identification, and Party Alignment

Party registration is not the same as party identification

Twenty-one states do not even provide for party registration: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Twenty-nine states and DC do register by party.

Party change over time: another look at the cinematic map


Party identification and demographics

The party bases:

Party identification and issues

The Heritage Foundation's shift from policy to politics

I thought this article was an interesting example of how partisan outside groups adjust to fit the needs of the party. In the past year, the Heritage Foundation has increased the size of its 501(c)(4) counterpart, Heritage Action for America. By putting more emphasis on Heritage Action, the Heritage Foundation has shifted its operations toward politics and away from policy. Advocates, including Heritage President Jim DeMint, argue the change is necessary to get Republicans on the same page, advocating a similar platform, and to attract young people to conservatism. At the same time, several top scholars and administrators on the 501(c)(3) side have left in the past couple months (including - for those who did the DC Program - Matthew Spalding). The article suggests that the resignations could indicate dissatisfaction on the policy side.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Democrats' would-be Karl Rove

"Messina’s experience makes him extremely well-suited to become the left’s leading big-money man and shadow party boss...

Rove declined to comment on the comparison between him and Messina."

This article illuminates the somewhat messy connections between traditional party structure and candidate/cause-focused campaigning in the age of outside money. 


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:

1.  Be careful what you post on Facebook.
2.  Don't doubt for a second that oppo guys working for Wolf's opponent, incumbent Republican Pat Roberts, found this stuff.
3.  Be aware of how you look on video.  The footage below is ... well, see for yourelf.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

House of Cards and Campaign Finance

Politico posted an article entitled, "What House of Cards gets wrong about money in politics," listing three major reasons why the international money laundering scheme in season 2 (without trying to give away too much of the plot) isn't that realistic. It offers another way of understanding some of the campaign finance laws that we studied last week.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Second Essay Assignment

Pick one:
  • Pick any Super PAC that was active in the 2012 cycle.  (You may find a list here.)   Follow the money.  In what kinds of races did the super PAC participate? Who were the major donors to the PAC?  Why did they give? Be especially alert to organizations that provided money:  where did they get their money?
  • Analyze how House of Cards depicts party organization, party in government, and partisan outside groups.  Explain how this depiction both resembles and departs from real life.  Why do you think the makers of the series present parties this way?
  • Pick any potential 2016 presidential candidate -- other than Hillary Clinton. (You may find a list here.) Explain that person's advantages and disadvantages in seeking the party nomination.  In your answer, do not rely exclusively on current news stories.  Instead, draw on data on public opinion and campaign finance, as well as the history of recent nomination contests.  Under what circumstances would this person be a real contender?
  • You may write on another topic of your choosing, subject to my approval. 

The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page. 
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style. Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 5 PM, Friday, March 7. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jon Stewart Follows Up on Nick's Post

I don't know why the colors are weird, but Jon Stewart did a bit on ambassador appointments. Thought everyone would enjoy this!

More on the Money Trail

The Big Picture

Types of Advocacy Groups

America Rising:  an LLC and Super PAC  -- relaunched website

Super PAC Reform in the NY Times

Today the NY Times has an editorial  on Super PAC reform. A new bill, the Empowering Citizens Act, has been introduced by Reps. David Price (D-NC) (this is the Rep. former President Gann knows from Duke) and Chris van Hollen (D-MD). It would limit the spending of Super PACs clearly aligned with campaigns. It should probably be noted that both of their districts are pretty safely Democratic right now.

The bill would create a public funding system similar to the presidential one for congressional races. It would also allow parties to coordinate with campaigns to make unlimited expenditures, to decrease the power of Super PACs, as long as the party self-imposed new contribution limits of $1,250. It also prohibits candidates from fundraising for Super PACs and treats Super PACs for specific candidates as coordinated expenditures.

A New Case Against Contribution Limits

This isn't a new article, but it's worth bringing up in light of this week's topic. The article reviews McCutcheon v. FEC, a case heard in the Supreme Court this past October. McCutcheon (joined by the RNC) argues that the individual aggregate donation limits are a violation of the First Amendment. The court will issue a decision within the next few months, and it will be interesting to see what happens.


Monday, February 17, 2014

The Perks of Being a Bundler

In class today, we talked briefly about bundlers who get around campaign finance limitations by combining the individual contributions of many people and organizations and funnel them to a campaign. A graphic at Slate shows that in his second term, Obama has already nominated 23 bundlers to ambassadorships and cushy diplomatic posts. If Romney had won, maybe Kravis could have been the Ambassador to Fiji.

AFP fails in Iowa local elections


Follow the Money

In the 2011-2012, the FEC-reported cost of federal campaigns was about $9 billion.

That sounds like a lot of money ... until you realize that the total is less than half of what one corporation -- Procter and Gamble -- spent on advertising during the same period.


FEC limits and special party rules

Outside spending: an overview

Following the Money

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

The Dark Money Churn