John Kerry for Secretary of State

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Before I get into my case for John Kerry - and against Susan Rice - as the next Secretary of State (after Secretary Clinton concludes her successful 4 years in the position), let me just make a couple points.First, John McCain and Company (Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, etc.) are completely off the deep end with their absurd, over-the-top, manufactured, ad hominem "case" against Susan Rice regarding the CIA-approved talking points she used for a round of Sunday morning talk shows following the Benghazi attack. My view is that McCain et al. are doing this for purely political reasons, as they must know that there's not the slightest shred of evidence Susan Rice did anything wrong here. The whole situation is beyond absurd, but sadly not surprising for Mr. GETOFFMYLAWN. So, screw McCain, the guy's completely lost it, not even worth listening to at this point (if anything, his opposition to Rice makes me want to SUPPORT her, just because McCain is such a douchebag). Sad; I used to respect him, but since he picked Palin as his running mate, he's been totally wacked out.
Second, let me just make clear that Susan Rice is extremely well-qualified to be Secretary of State. The woman is brilliant, talented, experienced, you name it. That's certainly not the issue here either.
So, why am I urging President Obama to nominate John Kerry, not Susan Rice, as our next Secretary of State? Several reasons.
First and foremost: I'm sorry, but this is not cool. At all.
lowkell :: John Kerry for Secretary of State
Susan Rice, the candidate believed to be favored by President Obama to become the next Secretary of State, holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline. If confirmed by the Senate, one of Rice's first duties likely would be consideration, and potentially approval, of the controversial mega-project....Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.
Beyond that, according to financial disclosure reports, about a third of Rice's personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel -- including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil. Rice and her husband own at least $1.25 million worth of stock in four of Canada's eight leading oil producers, as ranked by Forbes magazine. That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010 -- the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.
Rice also has smaller stakes in several other big Canadian energy firms, as well as the country's transportation companies and coal-fired utilities...
This is deeply troubling, especially given that, "Over the past 18 months, a number of questionable relationships between State Department officials and TransCanada have been uncovered." As Bill McKibben of notes, "The State Department has been rife with collusion with the Canadian pipeline builders, and it's really distressing to have any sense that that might continue to go on."In stark contrast, John Kerry has been a climate and clean energy champion. When the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Kerry for president in 2004, it called him "a man whose unparalleled record on environmental issues has earned him an extraordinary lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), and he is clearly the strongest environmentalist in the field." In endorsing him for reelection to the U.S. Senate in 2008, the LCV touted Kerry's "clear commitment to protecting America's environment through bipartisan action, not mere rhetoric." They specifically pointed to Kerry being an "original cosponsor of the bipartisan Four Pollutant Bill, which would limit mercury, sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide emissions from power plants," as well as "an outspoken proponent for addressing the threat of global warming through national and international efforts."
The contrast between Kerry and Rice on energy and environmental issues would, in and of itself, be sufficient for me to support Kerry over Rice for our next Secretary of State. There are other reasons, however. For starters, I believe that Kerry is superbly qualified to be Secretary of State, given his 25 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (he's now chair). I'm greatly impressed with Kerry's work on nuclear arms control issues, as well as - in his website's words - his work in "Spreading Democracy and Human Rights Throughout the World," "Fighting Global HIV/AIDS," and "Fighting International Crime, Corruption and Drug Trafficking." Clearly, John Kerry has everything it takes to be a superb Secretary of State. I doubt almost anyone would disagree with that.
On that last point, I presume that Kerry would win quick, easy, probably unanimous, confirmation by the U.S. Senate as the next Secretary of State. No fuss, no muss. More importantly, President Obama won't have to spend any political capital on this one, which is important given all the other important issues he's focused on.
The only downside to Kerry becoming Secretary of State, frankly, is political: the possibility that Democrats could lose Kerry's U.S. Senate seat, possibly to Scott Brown. On the other hand, if Democrats come up with a strong candidate, there's no reason to think they can't hold that seat in solid-blue Massachusetts. There's also the possibility  that Brown won't even run for the seat. Plus, even if Kerry's not nominated as Secretary of State, he might be nominated as Secretary of Defense, which would once again open up his Senate seat. So, bottom line, I'm not going to lose any sleep over this one.
Bottom line: Kerry would be a superb choice as Secretary of State, easily confirmed, with no political capital needing to be expended. Susan Rice, in contrast, would be a knock-down, drag-out fight, over a nominee who's certainly not more qualified than Kerry, and who has extensive ties to fossil fuel interests at a time when global warming is arguably THE most critical crisis facing our country and our planet. Is this a no brainer or what?

The Virginia Governor's Race Is Interesting, but Not for the Reasons "The Fix" Cites

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In coming months, we can expect a flood of analysis about the 2013 Virginia governor's race from everyone, their uncle, their aunt, their aunt's brother in law, you name it. Why? First off, the media needs something to talk about, and with the presidential election over, 2013 is shaping up as kind of blah...except for the Cuccinelli-McAuliffe WWE/UFC Death Match®. Second, the two main contenders in this fight are highly "colorful" characters, with equally "colorful" supporters (just on Kookinelli's side alone, can you imagine the parade of right-wingnuts who will be trolling around Virginia next year?), and of course the media loves that too. Finally, with Chris Christie's popularity through the roof, it's unlikely that there will be any serious gubernatorial race in New Jersey to cover, leaving Virginia - conveniently, a crucial "swing state" that just went for Barack Obama once again - as the main draw for 2013.Of course, the fact that everyone and their uncle, aunt, etc. will be writing about the Cuccinelli-McAuliffe showdown also means that there will be a ton of drivel, nonsense, and pablum - much of it written by people who haven't followed Virginia politics and/or don't know the first thing about our state - filling the newspapers and airwaves. Can't wait, huh? Well, actually, you don't have to wait, as it's already begun. For instance, take this new piece by "The Fix", on "How the Virginia governor's race just got very interesting." Let us count the ways this is flawed.
1. The Virginia governor's race didn't "just" get "very interesting." In fact, if anything, it just got LESS interesting, as we now don't have months of Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling pounding the bejeezus out of each other. In the end, it was almost certain to end up as McAuliffe vs. Cuccinelli anyway, so today's announcement by Bolling just moves up the timetable, removes the intra-Republican bloodletting, and changes the main characters over the next few months. But of course the Virginia governor's race was going to be "very interesting" no matter what. No s*** Sherlock.
lowkell :: The Virginia Governor's Race Is Interesting, but Not for the Reasons "The Fix" Cites
2. According to "The Fix," "Neither man could likely win a general election against anyone other than the person he is going to run against next year." That's utterly ridiculous, almost not even worth commenting on it's so silly. So, let's see, Terry McAuliffe couldn't possibly have beaten Bill Bolling? Why not, exactly? And Terry couldn't have beaten any number of Virginia Republicans - "Sideshow Bob" Marshall or any of the many hard-right-wing guys (and they're almost all guys) who fill the Virginia Republican Party these days? As for Cuccinelli, why wouldn't he be able to beat other Democrats? In fact, according to PPP, the Virginia governor's race was likely to be close next year except under one circumstance: if Mark Warner decided to run. Other than that, it's highly likely that this will be a close race next year in our "purple state," with either party capable of winning it. I'm not sure what "The Fix" bases categorical statements like this one on, exactly, but he tends to do it frequently (e.g., his incessant narrative during the recent presidential race that it was a "dead heat"/"too close to call," that Romney had "momentum," blah blah blah).3. Third, what really drives me nuts is the false equivalency being drawn here. Thus, in Cillizza's view, "Cuccinelli will have rock-solid support bordering on fervor from the Republican base while McAuliffe - now that Sen. Mark Warner (D) has removed himself from consideration - should receive similar treatment from the Democratic base." That's completely absurd. As for Cuccinelli, there's no doubt that he'll have "support bordering on fervor from the Republican base" that tends to vote in odd-year elections (e.g., skews older, more right wing, more "Tea Party") because he's a true believer and rabble rouser. But Terry McAuliffe receiving "similar treatment from the Democratic base?" Seriously? Has "The Fix" ever read any progressive blogs? Last I checked, having been DNC chair doesn't make progressives swoon over you. If anything, it's the exact opposite. Don't believe me? Ask Tim Kaine about the tremendous support (not!) he's received from progressive, netroots activists over the years. Ask Terry McAuliffe how much support he got in 2009 from progressive, netroots activists (note: I was an exception to that, supporting Terry over Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran, both of whom I thought were awful candidates). The bottom line is that there is ZERO equivalence between the fervor Cooch will have on the right, and what Terry will get from the "left" (such as it is). That's just corporate media false equivalence run amok.
4. Also silly: "But neither man is a natural fit to appeal to the centrists - fiscally conservative, socially liberal - who populate the far suburbs and exurbs of Washington, D.C. (Prince William and Loudoun counties, we are looking at you) and tend to decide elections in the state."Actually, Terry McAuliffe is socially liberal for the most part but fairly conservative fiscally, so why wouldn't he bet a good fit for Virginia suburbs and exurbs based on ideology? Got me.
5. "...nor will McAuliffe's high-profile defense of all things Democratic during his tenure as the titular head of the party." Yeah, tell that to Senator-elect George Allen. Oh wait, you mean Allen's strategy of relentlessly reminding people that Tim Kaine had been Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and thus a supposed hyper-partisan figure, didn't work? You mean that being a Democratic partisan is NOT the same thing as being far-left or even progressive? Oh, I know, details details, don't mess with the simplistic narrative the corporate media loves so much! LOL
Anyway, other than that, it's a simply brilliant analysis by "The Fix." Well, ok, it's not. At all. Unfortunately, something tells me we're in for a lot more of this silliness in coming months from the usual suspects...

Video: Tom Davis Says "Underclass Minorities" Were Big Reason for Obama Reelection

And Tom Davis is supposedly one of the more "moderate" Republicans nowadays? Wow, this party is FUBAR.

Are We Better Off WITH "Sideshow Bob?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recently, Not Larry Sabato analyzed the Virginia House of Delegates district of Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William/Manassas Park), and concluded that it most resembles New Mexico politically - a solid Obama/Kaine/Democratic district in presidential years. The implication, of course, is that "Sideshow Bob," as I call him (because of his many insane, extreme antics and general tomfoolery) should be one of the top targets for Virginia Democrats in 2013. Of course, that assumes we get our "presidential year" voters out in odd-year Virginia elections, and that's easier said than done. But still, wouldn't it be great to boot Bob for good? Seems like a no-brainer, right?Then I saw this article and it got me thinking, are we actually better off WITH "Sideshow Bob" Marshall in some ways than without him? First, read this from the HuffPo piece:
Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), the author of the state's fetal personhood bill, says he has always been a bit of a thorn in the side of the mainstream Republican Party. But since the 2012 election, he said, the party is "more overtly gun-shy" about dealing with abortion, and the pressure from GOP leadership to back off of his socially conservative agenda is constant."It doesn't happen more than seven days a week, 52 weeks a year," he told The Huffington Post sarcastically in an interview. "Through committee assignments, being shoved aside ... I've had to deal with things the hard way."
He added, "The Republican consultants have advised ducking these social issues for years. The social conservatives don't get any credit when they help Republicans win, but they get blamed by the consultant class when they lose."
First of all, I've just got to say, hahahahahahaha. Poor Sideshow.Second, more seriously, what this tells me is that "Sideshow Bob" is a major problem for Virginia Republicans, one they must expend a lot of energy on to try - and often fail - to keep under control. And why are Virginia Republicans even trying to keep "Sideshow Bob" under control at all? It's not as if they disagree with him on making abortion illegal in most or all circumstances. Since it's not substantive, it must be politics: e.g., Virginia Republicans know that the issues "Sideshow Bob" insists on pushing, year after year, are simply killing them with Virginia women. Perhaps even worse, if that's possible, the "Sideshow Bobs" of the world - add to the long list people like Rick Santorum, Ken Kookinelli, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Dick Black, Eugene Delgaudio, etc. - are generally killing the Republican "brand," making them seem (correctly, as far as I can determine) that they want to be in everyone's bedroom and doctor's office, telling you what you can, and more to the point can NOT, do with your body and your private life. And that doesn't just hurt them with women, but also with a lot of men as well.
So, why shouldn't Virginia Democrats just sit back, heat up some popcorn, and enjoy the "Sideshow Bob" (and Dick Black, Eugene Delgaudio, etc.) Show for many years to come? Only one reason, albeit an important one: these guys do damage, not just to the Republican Party, but to a lot of Virginians (e.g., the heinous "Marshall-Newman" amendment enshrines anti-LGBT discrimination in our constitution). For that reason alone, we should almost certainly toss political considerations aside and do everything we can to boot Bob in 2013. Still, the political part of me keeps salivating at the thought of keeping this clown around for many, many election years to come.

Video: Protege of GOP Big Liar Frank Luntz Announces for Virginia LG

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yet another Republican't announces for Virginia Lieutenant Governor.
Republican businessman and GOP spokesman Pete Snyder formally entered the race for Virginia Lt. Governor Monday with an exclusive announcement on NBC12 First at 4. Snyder, a close ally of Governor Bob McDonnell and wealthy entrepreneur had long been expected to enter an already crowded field. He made it official during a live TV interview.
So who is Pete Snyder? First of all, the guy's a delusional shill for whatever garbage he's told to spew out by his Republican masters (he did a lot of it, including lying through his teeth about President Obama's "you didn't build that" comments, as Virginia Victory 2012 chair this past election cycle). Second, as I wrote in August 2010, the guy's a piece of work in general, including being a protege of Frank "Big Lie" Luntz (among other things, Luntz "renamed the estate tax the “death tax” and told Republicans to lie and call healthcare reform a 'government takeover' of the medical system."). It's not a pretty picture: check out the "flip" for the sordid details.
Next, we get New Republican Media Strategies CEO Pete Snyder. For those of you who aren't aware, Snyder is a big-time Republican (was senior political director for Frank Luntz, polled for Rudy Giuliani, "regularly appears as a conservative commentator and marketing expert on the Fox News Channel"), donor to Virginia Republicans, and "free market" (aka, corporate welfare, trading off political connections) proponent who I hear plans to run for Virginia Lieutenant Governor (or possibly state legislature) in 2013. Given all that, Snyder's speech doesn't disappoint, giving McDonnell credit for singlehandedly producing the (mythical) $400 million not-a-surplus. Following that howler, Snyder proceeds to give shoutouts to his "special people" - Secretary of Commerce, Delegate Dave Albo (R- Booze, Abuser Fees), Del. Barbara Comstock (R-Blinded by the Right), Del. Jim Lemunyon (R-Oakton), and believe it or not Fred "Jew Counter" Malek (also, what on earth are Del. Patrick Hope and Del. Mark Keam doing at this travesty?). Snyder then proceeds to gloss over the fact that the federal government was largely responsible for creating and nurturing the internet and communications infrastructure that makes Snyder's business possible. He even makes a lame, but apparently de rigeur, joke about the internet being created in "Al Gore's basement." Hahahahaha. Ha. Oh, and the whole reason why Snyder's business has expanded is because of (his) "hard work", as opposed to: a) the federal government creating and maintaining much of the technology and infrastructure he uses; b) clients like the warm-and-fuzzy "Clean Coal" crowd (note: I hear they moved their staff way to the right when they got that contract), not to mention the Jack Abramoff/Northern Marianas Islands slave labor/Roy Blunt/Tom DeLay connection). Ee gads. "Hard work" indeed. More like trading off of their ties to powerful, unscrupulous, Republican lawmakers.
Of course, being a right-wingnut and a slimeball is no obstacle to seeking, or even obtaining, the Republican Party's nomination for public office these days. I guess what remains to be seen is whether Pete Snyder will be able to compete with the likes of Corey Stewart, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, Scott Lingamfelter, E.W. Jackson, State Sen. Stephen Martin, Stafford County Board Chair Susan Stimpson, or god knows what other right wingnuts throw their (tinfoil?) hats in the ring. Ee gads.

Audio: Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli Questions Legitimacy of President Obama's Reelection

Per the Virginia Pilot's Julian Walker, it appears that Virginia Attorney General - and 2013 gubernatorial candidate - Ken Cuccinelli has added to his long list of crazy comments, stances, etc. This time, he's questioning the legitimacy of President Obama's reelection, strongly agreeing with a right-wing radio host that Obama "can't win in a state where photo ID is required,...So clearly there's something going on out there." He's also buying into the Big Lie about supposedly widespread "voter fraud." In fact, there's almost ZERO voter fraud in this country, but Republicans have used this made-up/phony "issue" to put into place - or try to, anyway - draconian laws making it harder for American to exercise their right to vote. Disgusting. Of course, this is the same guy who dabbles in "birtherism", who denies climate change, who tries to make it easier for people to discriminate against gay people, who claims that Virginia can disobey federal laws it disagrees with, who believes the government is tracking his kids via Social Security numbers, who talks to a toy elephant named "Ron", etc, etc. What else would you expect from this cuckoo bird?

Despite Plea from Ombudsman, Washington Post Virginia Politics Coverage Continues Collapse

Friday, November 23, 2012

On October 3, I wrote about how, as crucial 2012 and 2013 Virginia elections approached, the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog coverage was collapsing. As I noted at the time, what we've seen the past few months has been a sharp decline in the Post's Virginia politics coverage, certainly in terms of quantity (e.g., a drop of about 70% since February 2012 in the number of Virginia politics articles the Post's been publishing every month) if not in quality (very hard to measure, also subjective, so you'll have to judge this one for yourself).Thus, in July 2012 -- not coincidentally, Virginia politics reporter Anita Kumar's last month at the Post -- the number of articles (94) on the Post's Virginia Politics blog was actually UP 3% year-over-year. In sharp contrast, in August 2012, the number of articles (43) was down 51% compared to August 2011, and also sharply down (-54%) from July 2012. Things perked up slightly in October 2012, with 64 articles, but this was still down 40% year-over-year, despite the fact that there were two marquee races - Obama vs. Romney; Kaine vs. Allen - going on in the key "swing state" of Virginia. Given everything going on leading up to this year's elections, you'd think that Post Virginia politics coverage would have been UP sharply from a year earlier, but instead it was DOWN sharply. Yikes.
Hey, you know things are bad when the Post Ombudsman (Patrick Pexton) writes a columnentitled, "The Post forgets to be local." In that piece, published on November 9, 2012, Pexton called the Post's local coverage "inadequate," especially considering that the competition - Patch and other "suburban weeklies" - were, in Pexton's view (and mine) "inadequate to the task." No argument here (although I'd add that, increasingly, the Moonie Times and even the bat****-crazy Washington Examiner are kicking the Post's butt on Virginia politics coverage).
So, what's happened over the past few weeks since Pexton's column? Has the Post picked up its coverage of Virginia politics and other local news? Nope. Instead, as you can see from the graph, the collapse in the Post's Virginia politics coverage has actually accelerated, if anything. Incredibly, given everything going on in Virginia politics - both related to 2012 and 2013 - there have been just 34 stories posted on the Virginia Politics blog through November 22, 2012, down 69% from November 2011 (note: with 1 week to go, assuming the blog keeps up this pace, the number of posts will be down about 60% year-over-year).
Just for comparison purposes, I've personally posted 105 diaries so far in November. That's more than twice as many articles as the entire Washington Post Virginia Politics blog staff has posted during that same time period! Obviously, other Blue Virginia "front pagers" have posted many more (I haven't counted them all, but let's be conservative and say 150-200 total front-page diaries on Blue Virginia so far in November). So, the fact is that the "amateurs" at Blue Virginia have managed to outproduce the Washington Post Virginia Politics blog, with several paid reporters at its service, by a factor of 3:1, 4:1 or more. What are these people doing over there? Hard to say, but it's certainly not doing much reporting on Virginia politics. #FAIL
UPDATE: I just checked the Virginian Pilot's "Pilot on Politics" blog, which is written by one (1) reporter, Julian Walker. I counted 58 articles in November, or 14 more than the entire Washington Post Virginia Politics blog produced. Wow.
UPDATE #2: I just checked the Roanoke Times "Blue Ridge Caucus" blog, and I counted 91 blog posts in November so far. Much better material, too - more analysis, more photos, more local coverage in general, not so much cookie-cutter/press release stuff as the Post.
UPDATE #3: Believe it or not, there's a major Virginia newspaper with even less Virginia politics coverage than the Post -- the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which has just 15 stories on its "Virginia Politics" blog through today. #evenworsefailthanthekaplanpost

Krugman on the Teapublican Mindset: "If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence"

Sadly, as Paul Krugman correctly points out, it's not just on climate science that the Teapublican'ts follow the mantra, "If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence." It's on everything: Marco Rubio's inability to admit that science has, indeed, figured out how old our planet is (and no, the answer is NOT 6,000 years!); "unskewing" the polls because they didn't believe it was possible President Obama could win reelection; adhering to "the dogma that cutting taxes on the wealthy leads to higher economic growth," etc, etc.As always, I can't even imagine how 47%, or even 4.7% for that matter, of Americans could vote for a party that is so deeply hostile to rationality, to empirical reasoning, to science, to reality itself. I'm sure in part this is a failure of our education system, but what else is going on here? Are these people dumbed down from watching the idiot box (particularly channels like Faux "News") hours a day from an early age? I mean, that could certainly rot people's brains out of their heads. Are certain personality types simply immune to things like facts, logic, and math? All of the above? Any other theories?

Virginia Democratic Congressional Candidates' Performance Relative to Obama vs. Romney

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For whatever reason, election numbers broken out by congressional district are still not available on the State Board of Elections website. Fortunately, David Nir at Daily Kos has crunched the numbers himself and come up with preliminary estimates for Virginia. Those are the numbers I've used for this graphic. Also note that this graph is the Democratic candidate's performance in each district not in absolute terms, but relative to how President Obama did against Willard "Mitt" Romney in the district. Thus, if Obama won a district by 5 points, and the Democratic congressional candidate won it by 2 points, then the congressional candidate "underperformed" Obama by 3 points (5-2). It's really not that complicated, but I think it will become crystal clear as I explain the results by CD.1st CD: President Obama lost this district to Willard by 8 points (53%-45%), while Democratic congressional challenger Adam Cook lost his race to Rep. Rob Wittman by 15 points (56%-41%). Thus, Cook "underperformed" Obama by 7 points. What happened? I'd point to almost total lack of name recognition for Cook, plus a dearth of financial resources to get his name and message out there, plus not much use of social media. Still, I like Adam Cook and think he could be a strong candidate in the future, assuming he addresses those issues.
2nd CD: Barack Obama carried this district a narrow (50%-49%) margin, but much-touted Democratic challenger Paul Hirschbiel ended up losing to Rep. Scott Rigell by 8 points (54%-46%), meaning that Hirschbiel underperformed Obama by 9 points. Why? I'm not sure that it was money, so much as not having a particularly strong or clear message, not focusing on the grassroots, and not using social media. Also, gotta give credit to freshman Rep. Rigell, who appears fairly well ensconsed in this seat for a while. :(
3rd CD: Rep. Bobby Scott romped, actually overperforming Obama's performance relative to Romney in this district. That's probably a combination of Scott's many strengths and a Republican opponent who had nothing particularly going for him (to be charitable).
4th CD: This is a fascinating district, held by an incumbent Republican Congressman (Randy Forbes), but in which Romney managed only a 50%-49% win over Obama. In contrast, Democratic congressional challenger Ella Ward lost the district by a whopping 14 points, thus underperforming Obama by a whopping 13 points. This seems like a district that we could, and should, do better in during future elections, but we'll need a strong (well funded, focused, talented, etc.) candidate for sure.
5th CD: President Obama lost this district by 7 points (53%-46%), while Democratic challenger Gen. John Douglass lost his race against Rep. Robert Hurt by 12 points (55%-43%). Thus, Douglass underperformed Obama by 5 points. I'd point to three main factors: first, Douglass started off completely unknown in the district; second, Douglass initially was running in the 10th CD, but after redistricting was (finally!) completed he ended up in the 5th, meaning he had a relatively late start; and lastly Douglass was outspent significantly by Hurt. Add all that up, and you get the result we see here - despite the fact that Douglass ran an energetic, in many ways impressive, campaign. Bummer.
lowkell :: Virginia Democratic Congressional Candidates' Performance Relative to Obama vs. Romney
6th CD: This is a solidly red district with an entrenched incumbent (Rep. Bob Goodlatte), thus almost impossible for a Democrat to win. In this case, Andy Schmookler ran an energetic, spirited campaign, but he had basically no money to get his name or message out, which clearly is not good news for a first-time candidate (or any candidate). Also, Schmookler built a small grassroots following, but not the "ragtag army" he would have needed to make Goodlatte sweat at all. In the end, Schmookler lost by 30 points (65%-35%), while Obama lost the district by 20 points, so Schmookler underperformed Obama by 10 points. Sigh...
7th CD: Democratic challenger Wayne Powell lost by 17 point to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, but President Obama lost the district by 15 points. So, not much difference between the two, actually. This indicates to me that, all things considered, Powell's campaign wasn't a disaster or anything. Having said that, Powell's strategy seemed to be to try and separate himself from President Obama, and clearly that did NOT work. If it had, then Powell should have OVERperformed Obama, but in the end, he underperformed Obama's margin vs. Romney by 2 points. Meh.
8th CD: Rep. Jim Moran won easily (65%-31%) but underperformed Obama's margin in the district by 3 points. That's not terrible, especially considering the late-breaking scandal involving Moran's son. On the other hand, Moran's opponent was utterly pathetic, a horrible fit for the district. So, one COULD make the argument that Moran should have done better than he did. In the end, it doesn't really matter, but it's interesting to political junkies like me. :)
9th CD: Democratic challenger Anthony Flaccavento lost to Rep. Morgan Griffith by 22 points (61%-39%), but Flaccavento managed to outperform Obama's performance in the district by 6 points, which isn't bad. It will be interesting to see whether Flaccavento decides to give it another shot in 2014.
10th CD: On the one hand, Democratic challenger Kristin Cabral underperfomed Obama's margin vs. Romney in this district by 17 points (note that Obama lost the 10th CD by 2 points). On the other hand, for whatever reason people in the 10th seem to loooooove them some Frank Wolf. Blech, I know, but it appears impossible to convince them otherwise. I'd also note that Obama won this district by 7 points in 2008, while Judy Feder lost it by 20 points, so Feder underperformed Obama by 27 points. So it's all relative I suppose. Still, I wonder if Wolf's lurch to the right in recent years is eroding his support a bit. Not enough to really hurt him, and he's almost undoubtedly safe here until he retires, but still...we'll take crumbs of encouragement at this point.
11th CD: Gerry Connolly neither underperformed nor overperformed Barack Obama's showing vs. Mitt Romney in the 11th CD. Of course, Connolly was facing an unknown and underfunded opponent, so you could argue that Connolly actually should have overperformed, but I'd say that Connolly did ok, especially given that he was basically on cruise control in his safely-drawn, "incumbent protection" district.P.S. See my analysis of social media efforts by Virginia Democratic 2012 congressional candidates. In short, there's a TON of room for improvement in this area, and I'd argue that in this day and age it's absolutely crucial, non-optional, etc. No way you're going to win as a challenger just by the cookie-cutter "strategy" of raising money and saving it all for TV ads at the end. That's a definitely #FAIL.

Former RPV Chair Jeff Frederick Rips Republican LG, AG Candidates

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In his Thanksgiving missive, emailed earlier this afternoon, former Republican Party of Virginia Chief Jeff Frederick has, interesting things to say, as always. After endorsing Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R) for Lieutenant Governor and Del. Rob Bell (R) for Attorney General in 2013, Frederick writes that "be remiss if I wasn't completely candid with you about serious doubts I have about a couple other candidates running for these offices." This is good, and you might want to heat up some popcorn first. Bolding added for your reading pleasure by yours truly. Enjoy! :)
During my time in public office I quickly learned that the real test of one's character and commitment isn't simply what they say. Talk is cheap. Rather it is how one conducts themselves -- and more specifically, what they choose to do or not do when the heat is on. Are they consistent when the pressure is unbearable, or are they quick to sell out to relieve that pressure? Further, in this time when so many politicians say one thing and do another, I think it is instructive to take any and every opportunity to look beyond the rhetoric and try to determine who a candidate really is.There are two people I'd like to warn you about.
I got to know Susan Stimpson (who is running for LG) during my time as RPV Chairman and in the period prior when I was seeking that job. I considered her a friend. Yet, she was a strong ally of Bill Howell (she owes her current elective office to his blessing in her seeking it). When she announced her candidacy for LG and in the subsequent time since, her rhetoric has reflected the exact opposite of the person I knew. Of course, she sounds great now (convenient as she pursues statewide office), but my experience is thatshe is a top-down establishment Republican who is more interested in position and power rather than her recent claims to be about people and principle. It is only because her public record is so brief that she has been so effective at leading others to believe she's something she is not. And, I should mention that she was among the loudest voices in supporting the effort to reverse the will of the grassroots in removing me as state chairman.
Unlike Susan, Mark Obenshain (running for AG) does have a long voting record, and, in all honesty - it's not bad. But for someone who I counted on as a friend and an ally in the legislature, I was shocked to find Mark's name on a letter calling for my removal as RPV chairman. When I called him on it at the time, the best excuse he could muster was that he was now in the state senate party leadership and he had to go along with the other senate GOP leadership in coming out against me. Now, if he's willing to compromise friends and principle because of some "leadership" position, it seems it wouldn't take much for him to "go along" when something of real importance hangs in the balance -- when politics dictates that doing so will further one's ambitions -- and especially for someone who is pursuing a position of even greater leadership.
I hesitated sharing this less-than-positive information with you, but putting aside any personal animosity I may have for these two people, there are few truly defining moments in political careers, particularly young careers. The battle - not for my chairmanship-but for our efforts to create a bottom-up, grassroots controlled, and effective Republican Party of Virginia was one of those watershed moments for our Party and these two people chose to stand with the status quo and the corrupt party establishment instead of the very grassroots they now claim to represent.
Ouch. Oh, and happy Thanksgiving from former RPV Chair Jeff Frederick! LOL

Three NOVA Obama/Kaine Counties that Need to Stop Going "Red" in Other Years

Monday, November 19, 2012

Just 13 days ago, Virginia went "blue" for the second straight presidential election cycle, this time going for Barack Obama (D) over Willard "Mitt" Romney (R) by 4 points, and for Tim Kaine (D) over George Allen (R) by 6 points. In the process, Obama and Kaine carried many of the largest Virginia localities - Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Arlington County, Henrico County, Richmond, Norfolk, Newport News, Albemarle County, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Suffolk, etc. (also Virginia Beach in the case of Kaine; Obama came very close but didn't quite win it).In many of these places, Obama's and Kaine's victories weren't even close, but were by wide margins (e.g., 20 points in Fairfax County, 16 points in Prince William County, 12-16 points in Henrico). Yet what's striking is that, despite the "blue" dominance of most large Virginia localities during presidential years, there are an awful lot of Republicans in power in these same places on county boards and in the Virginia General Assembly. Two localities in particular jumped right out at me for their glaring discrepancies between how they voted in 2012 and who represents them at the county and state levels the rest of the time.
Loudoun County: The Board of Supervisors is ALL Republican (including the rabid homophobic wackjob Eugene Delgaudio), despite the county going by 5 points for Obama and 6 points for Kaine this November. At the state level, it's not so hot either, with one total nutjob Republican (State Sen. Dick Black) and another right winger (State Sen. Jill Vogel), plus a slew of Republicans in the House of Delegates (Thomas "Tag" Greason, Joe May, Jim LeMunyon, Tom Rust, Randy Minchew, David Ramadan). That leaves just two Democrats representing Loudoun County - State Senator Mark Herring, who's running for Attorney General in 2013; and State Senator Barbara Favola, who represents just a tiny sliver of Loudoun County. What on earth is going on here?!?
lowkell :: Three NOVA Obama/Kaine Counties that Need to Stop Going "Red" in Other Years
Prince William County: It's 6-2 Republican on the County Board of Supervisors, despite Prince William County going by a landslide (16 points each) for Barack Obama and Tim Kaine in November 2012. That board is headed up by Corey Stewart, notorious for his "illegal" immigrant bashing, even though Prince William County is now a "majority-minority" county. WTF? And as if that's not absurd enough, Prince William County also has a bunch of Republicans (mis)representing it in Richmond (7 of 8 Republicans in the House of Delegates, including some truly godawful ones like "Sideshow" Bob Marshall (see NLS' excellent analysis of his district), David Ramadan and Jackson Miller; 2 of 5 Republicans in the State Senate, including the extremist nutjob Dick Black).
Fairfax County: The County Board's in pretty good shape, and the State Senate delegation is all-"blue," so that's fine. Still, given that this county went by 20 points or so for Obama/Kaine, Fairfax definitely needs to be a LOT "bluer" than it currently is in the House of Delegates. A few Republicans who badly need to say "sayonara" in 2013 include: Barbara Comstock, Tim Hugo, Dave Albo, Jim LeMunyon, and Tom Rust. So, who do we have challenging these people?
Obviously, this situation needs to change, and it needs to change starting next year! How to do this? First of all, the Democratic "powers that be" all should be busting their butts right now recruiting top-notch candidate to run in every single "Obama/Kaine" House of Delegates district in these three counties. Second, the Democratic "powers that be" need to provide whatever help those candidates need next year. Third, the Democratic "powers that be" need to be developing a plan right away aimed at getting out "Obama coalition" voters (young, Latino, African American, Asian American, women) in "odd-year" elections such as 2013, not just when a presidential or top-notch U.S. Senate campaign like Tim Kaine's swings into town (or in this case, county). Is any of this being done? Got me. Can we win without it? Highly unlikely. Can we win WITH it? Seems like a no-brainer to me. So, what am I missing here?

Offshore Oil Drilling for Virginia: Undead and Ugly

by: ivymain

Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 22:02:41 PM EST

Drilling for oil off Virginia's coast is once again a possibility, popping up like a zombie when we thought it was dead (again). As the New York Times reported recently, "Efforts are focusing on Virginia because the public, politicians in both parties and energy companies all favor opening the waters to drilling."It will be news to many members of the Virginia public that we favor drilling off our coast, but there's no doubt that oil companies are itching to open the Atlantic coast to drilling rigs, and plenty of Virginia politicians make it a talking point. Senators Warner and Webb are on board, as is Senator-elect Tim Kaine. Most famously, Governor McDonnell came into office dreaming of the highways he would build when his tanker ship came in.
For oil companies, Virginia is the thin edge of the wedge. Our share of federal waters is quite small because of the odd way that boundary lines are drawn. Virginia is targeted mainly as a means of cracking the line of resistance created by other eastern states. It's a shame so many of our politicians are eager to help in the cracking.
It used to be that when Democrats and Republicans agreed on something, that improved the odds of it being a good idea. These days, it often just means they are taking money from the same corporations. Money alone may not buy a politician's votes, but it most certainly buys lobbyists access to politicians, and access has a way of producing votes. So perhaps the surprise is not how many politicians have jumped on the drill-baby-drill bandwagon, but how many have not.
Some naysayers, including Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax), point out that drilling off our coast is opposed by the U.S. Navy, which uses most of Virginia's leasing area for its operations. These include testing air and surface missiles and bombs, which traditionally don't pair well with oil rigs and tankers. (On the other hand, the Navy supports offshore wind farms, which would be located away from operations.)
ivymain :: Offshore Oil Drilling for Virginia: Undead and Ugly
Other legislators, like Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Newport News) oppose drilling because of the environmental hazards, and the danger posed to fishing and tourism.Of course, no politician will admit to being unconcerned about the environment, including the ones who are very obviously unconcerned about the environment. This is why they say they support "environmentally safe offshore oil drilling." The phrase is so familiar that we have come to take it for granted, but it actually bears some thinking about. Saying he supports "safe oil drilling" suggests a politician has in mind another kind of oil drilling--the unsafe kind--that he would not support.
But you'd be hard-pressed to find any restrictions on the drilling industry that the drill-baby-drill crowd supports. These politicians considered offshore drilling "environmentally safe" right up to the day millions of barrels of oil began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and causing billions of dollars' worth of damage. Drilling methods haven't changed since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and oil spills have continued to occur in the Gulf and elsewhere.
So let's put in a plug for Truth in Advertising. Politicians, if you think extra American oil is worth the occasional catastrophic oil spill, then say so. Pretending there will never again be another Deepwater Horizon makes you look out of touch with reality, and the fact that a significant proportion of the voters are also out of touch with reality is not an excuse.
If you're okay with drilling, tell us your Plan B for Virginia: how you would deal with the effects of a spill that fouls our coastline, kills wildlife, and contaminates everything that lives in the ocean, over an area that could be hundreds or thousands of square miles. If winds and tides spread the contamination onto Assateague Island or into the Chesapeake Bay, what's your plan?
The folks in our commercial and fishing industries, and all the people who live and work in beach towns, should hear you talk about how confident you are in their ability to get by for a season on government handouts; if there's longer-lasting damage, how maybe they can move to Northern Virginia and work in retail. I'm sure you can make it sound appealing.
And if you can't, then maybe it's time to kill the drilling zombie for good. You may be taking money from oil companies, but your job is to look out for Virginia.

This Cycle's Best and Worst Virginia Polls (and Pollsters)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking back at the 2011-2012 election cycle provides an opportunity for accountability - both positive and negative - for political analysts, candidates, campaigns, pundits, and pollsters. Over the next few weeks, I hope to get to the first four on that list. Today, though, I want to focus on the best and worst polls (and pollsters) of Virginia during 2011-2012. (source)BEST VIRGINIA POLLS AND POLLSTERS OF THE CYCLE (Note: the actual results are available here - Obama 51%-Romney 47%; Kaine 53%-Allen 47%)
1. PPP's November 4 poll had Obama up 51%-47%, which turned out to be the exact results! PPP also had Tim Kaine up 52%-46%, which nailed the 6-point margin exactly. Very, very impressive!
2. JZ Analytics/Newsmax came close to nailing the final results as well, predicting Kaine by 7 points and Obama by 8 points in their final poll of the cycle. Not too shabby, especially when the poll was by the widely-mocked John Zogby, paired with the far-far-far-right-wing-loony Newsmax. Maybe they canceled each other's badness out and ended up with goodness? Heh.
3. The Washington Post's last poll of the cycle, about two weeks out, came close to nailing it as well: Obama 51%-Romney 47%; Kaine 51%-Allen 44%. Nice job!
4. Believe it or not, Rasmussen of all pollsters had Kaine up 7 points a few weeks out. The problem is, Rasmusssen had the race moving towards George Allen in the closing days, with their final poll showing Kaine up just 2 points, and the one before that showing Kaine up just 1 points. Meh.
5. A few other pollsters who did reasonably well in Virginia during this cycle were NBC/WSJ/Marist, Ipsos-Reuters, Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS, and Garin-Hart-Yang (D-DSCC). Nice job, everybody!
1. The most hilariously, outrageously awful pollster of Virginia this cycle was, by far, Roanoke College. Starting off in March 2011, with a poll that can't even really be called "crap," because that's an insult to good fecal material everywhere, is this, this...thing, showing George Allen leading Tim Kaine by - wait for it - 13 points (!!!). Uh guys? Bwahahahahahahaha.
1a. Another truly abysmal Roanoke College poll came on October 31, 2012, just days before the election. In this debacle, Roanoke College had Kaine and Obama both down FIVE points in Virginia, meaning that they missed the final results a few days later by 9 and 11 points, respectively. Wow.
1b. Even more hilariously, that Roanoke College "poll" (using the word VERY loosely) came just a few weeks after another one of their "polls" showed Obama up 8 points and Kaine up 10 points. That's right, according to Roanoke College, there was a 15-point swing towards Romney and Allen in Virginia during October 2012. Seriously, just shut this "pollster" down and spare us all the misery. (Note: I thought about looking at Roanoke College "polls"' internals, but then I thought, why even bother, these polls are so awful it doesn't even matter what the internals are, might as well have just pulled them out of their butts for all they're worth...)
2. Republican hack "pollsters" Wenzel Strategies, Gravis Marketing, McLaughlin, and Pulse Opinion Research/Let Freedom Ring all had George Allen up (from 2 to 5 points) in the closing weeks of the 2012 campaign. Not even close, although not as abysmal as the beyond-laughable Roanoke College.
3. We Ask America had a bizarre poll back in June 2012 showing Allen up 9 points over Kaine. This one's a bit surprising, as Nate Silver rated We Ask America as fairly average. Not this poll, though, which was a major stinker.

Video: Allen and Kaine Senior Advisors Talk Strategy, Money, "Total Crap" SuperPAC ads

Friday, November 16, 2012

Yesterday, I attended a post-election forum ("After Virginia Votes") held at GMU Law School in Arlington between George Allen senior advisor Boyd Marcus and Tim Kaine senior advisor Mo Elleithee. The discussion lasted about an hour, and covered the 2012 Kaine-Allen race, as well as some thoughts on 2013. A few points that jumped out at me from this segment of the discussion (note: I'm still uploading parts 1 and 3; this is actually part 2) are as follows. Note that it got pretty colorful at times, with Marcus slamming his own "team," broadly speaking, in language for more candid than we normally here from political consultants...
1. It's fascinating to me, and not in a good way, that Marcus STILL has no compunction about their wildly irresponsible, false, Big Lie, whatever you want to say, use of "sequestration" to attack Tim Kaine. The fact is, this was a bipartisan effort, supported by Republicans like Bob McDonnell, Eric Cantor, etc., and which Tim Kaine had absolutely NOTHING to do with. The alternative at the time, by the way, was for the U.S. to default on its national debt, which would have been utterly disastrous. Whether Boyd Marcus understands this or doesn't understand this, it really tells you a lot about the Allen campaign.
2. Marcus' whining about a supposed lack of money to run ads  - largely attacking Tim Kaine - is just laughable. Basically, what he's doing is trying to deflect responsibility for his candidate's crushing loss from himself to Allen himself, for not raising enough money. Lame.
3. Marcus' whining about having to go through a Republican primary, against what was in reality a field of nobodys, is also laughable. Excuses, excuses (note: last I checked, Jim Webb went through a brutal primary in 2006, was absolutely broke at the end, and beat Allen anyway - hmmmmm.)
4. After all that, Marcus seems to claim that the ads didn't matter anyway, and that it all came down to "turnout." Huh?
5. Marcus claims the RNC 72-hour model for getting voters out "doesn't work." Marcus says there "was a lot of activity going on...[but] most of it was pretty worthless...not very well done." (note: this sounds to me like more blame-passing and excuses by Marcus)

6. Elleithee says the Kaine campaign had the best fundraising operation in the country, "born out of necessity" (because they knew how much of an "onslaught" they'd be facing from Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity, etc.). It's hard to argue with that, given that - as Elleithee notes - there was over $30 million in outside spending against Tim Kaine; more money against any other candidate in the country except for one: Barack Obama. Wow.7. Elleithee says the Kaine campaign felt at a "distinct disadvantage" in terms of spending throughout the entire campaign. They felt a "little bit better" at the end, but they started spending against Kaine 12 months out.
8. Elleithee argues that the Kaine campaign got more bang for their advertising buck in part by purchasing the ads earlier. That allowed them to lock in better ad placement and better rates, helping to compensate for the massive amount of money against Kaine coming in from outside groups.
9. Marcus correctly points out that the outside groups had to pay more for their ads.
10. Marcus says the outside ads were not helpful. Elleithee says it was "total crap." In fact, Elleithee said he saw the ads and said "THANK YOU, there is no way that ad is going to convince one single voter to vote against Tim Kaine." Marcus says there were a "couple" that were decent ads and "that followed the themes" of the Allen campaign, but "well over half" didn't follow the Allen campaign's messaging and were "not well done."
11. Elleithee says that Allen's refusal to agree to Kaine's offer to try to limit outside groups spending probably ended up helping Kaine in the end. "I was afraid you were going to say yes, because I was counting on these outside groups being as bad as they were."
12. Marcus says they "had no idea what was really going to come in from the outside," that those ads didn't "make it worse" for Allen, it just "was a lot of wasted money." The key, according to Marcus, is having someone in the SuperPAC who actually knows what's going on in the particular state they're running the ad in, not "just somebody sitting in New York who makes an ad."
13. According to Elleithee, some of the best outside group ads were from the RNC and DNC.
14. Marcus says the Chamber of Commerce ads were "just about the worst" of the outside group ads, "really cookie cutter stuff."

Cuccinelli Ally Muses on When Obama "goes to Hell"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

With Republicans, the crazy never ends apparently.
Bob FitzSimmonds, chief deputy clerk of Prince William Circuit Court, made that online comment this week, drawing both agreement and rebuke from Facebook commenters.FitzSimmonds has previously run for the Virginia Senate and more recently won a leadership post on the Virginia Republican Party's State Central Committee -- he's the GOP treasurer -- with the backing of Cuccinelli, for whom he once worked as a legislative aide.
So not surprising...

Quinnipiac Poll: McAuliffe Tops Both Cuccinelli and Bolling by Narrow Margins

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Forget the Warner part, as from everything I hear, he's not going to be a candidate for governor next year (note that only 18% of Virginians want Warner to run in 2013). Instead, let's focus on who the Democratic gubernatorial candidate is actually going to be - Terry McAuliffe. On that front, the news is generally good: McAuliffe tops Bill Bolling by 2 points (38%-36%) among Virginia registered voters (RVs) and bests Ken Kookinelli by 4 points (41%-37%). Of course, these results are among RVs, and usually what happens in off-year elections in Virginia is that the Democratic base tends to show up in relatively lower numbers than the Republican base, compared to presidential years. That's why Virginia's becoming a "blue" state in presidential years, but is still a "purple" state in gubernatorial years and a "red" state in off-off election years (e.g., 2015). Thus, the key for Democrats in 2013 will be to motivate their base to turn out in far larger numbers than we saw in 2009, when the Deeds campaign took the base for granted and hunkered down in "Deeds Country" (which they lost badly regardless - brilliant strategy, huh?).Other findings from the poll that jumped out at me include:
*The vast majority (68%) of Virginians say they "haven't heard enough" of Terry McAuliffe to have a "favorable" or "unfavorable" view. As a political junkie, that once again reminds me that I am not "normal," in that most Virginians don't pay a great deal of attention to politics. We'll see what happens as Virginians become better acquainted with T-Mac, who presumably will be introduced in large part by the highly popular Bill Clinton.
*Also, despite the fact that he's our state's Attorney General, and also has been EXTREMELY (in both senses of that word) high profile, with his lawsuits against "Obamacare," UVA, etc., Ken Cuccinelli is STILL an unknown quantity by 45% of Virginians. We'll see what millions of dollars in advertising letting people know what a far-far-far-right-wing extremist this guy is will do to that number.
*Almost nobody knows who Bill Bolling is, which is not surprising, given how irrelevant he is. I mean, if the Vice Presidency of the United States was once compared to a bucket of warm spit (actually, it was another bodily fluid...yellowish in color), how about the equivalent in Virginia? LOL
*As usual, Mark Warner is by far the most popular politician in Virginia (60%-25%, +35 points approval rating). In contrast, Jim Webb has just a 44%-28% (+16 points) approval rating. My guess is that this is mostly about Warner getting out and around Virginia, while Webb mostly avoids doing so. In terms of their voting records, they're not much different.
*Virginians like Barack Obama, giving him a 52%-44% approval rating. Who doesn't like Obama? Basically, old, white, married, male, born-again/evangelicals. Who likes Obama? Basically everyone else.
*It is utterly absurd that only 29% of Virginians disapprove of Ken Cuccinelli's handling of his job as AG. That number should be 100%, frankly, just on his witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann, let alone on his other wild goose chases and failures.
*Finally, Virginians are optimistic about the next four years with Barack Obama as president, but do NOT trust Republicans in Congress to "make a good faith effort to cooperate with President Obama and the Democrats on issues that are important to you." My fellow Virginians are absolutely right about that one!

Yep, Willard Is as Heinous as We All Thought He Was

No, it wasn't just that Willard was in the heat of a campaign, or that somehow his 47% remarks were taken out of context, or any other possible excuse you can think of. The fact is, the guy's an ignoramus, sociopath, and - as Kos puts it - "as big a dick as always." Check out Willard's latest, from a conference call earlier today with - who else - his big money people, explaining why, in his view, he lost the election (hint: it's not because his party's bat**** crazy, that he was a horrible candidate, that he managed to turn off just about every Latino in the country, etc.).
In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with his national finance committee, Mr. Romney said that the president had followed the "old playbook" of wooing specific interest groups - "especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people," Mr. Romney explained - with targeted gifts and initiatives."In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups," Mr. Romney said.
"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," he said. "Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
The president's health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African-American and Hispanic voters...
Note how Willard slices and dices America, blames everyone but himself for his failings (of which there are too many to count!), and basically demeans anyone who was too stupid (you know that's what he's thinking) to vote for him? Yes, Willard is as heinous as we all thought he was. Thank god he didn't win the election.P.S. Meanwhile, of course, the fact is that the "red states" (and "red" counties within blue states) overwhelmingly are net recipients (aka, "takers") of largesse from the "blue states" (and "blue" counties/cities within red states), which are overwhelmingly net donors (aka, "makers"). Fascinating how that works, huh? Anyway, have fun seceding (more teapublican lunacy - shocker!) and forgoing all that money you guys get from places like Northern Virginia, all you Romney-supporting, dead-ender teahadists out there!

Is This a "Center-Right" Country? The Issue Revisited Following Last Tuesday's Results.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In August 2011, I wrote a blog post refuting Jon Huntsman's argument that America is a "center-right country." In fact, on issue after issue - abortion, energy, environment, food safety, guns, health policy, GLBT equality, taxes/deficit, corporate power, etc. - Americans when asked respond in ways that sure as heck don't sound "center-right." In fact, Americans want to keep their government retirement programs (Social Security, Medicare, etc.), want women to have the right to choose, want GLBT equality, want clean energy, want a healthy environment, want more controls on guns rather than fewer, want limits on the power of Wall Street and corporate power, on and on. In sum, based on their responses to polling questions, Americans are not only NOT center-right, they actually are quite progressive, even if they don't call themselves by that label (possibly because it's been absurdly, relentlessly demonized by the right).Now, after the not-as-close-as-you-think reelection of Barack Obama - a cautious, centrist politician but with progressive instincts, just like the American people more broadly - in addition to Democratic successes in the House and Senate, not to mention passage of state initiatives in favor of gay marriage and marijuana legalization, it's even harder than ever to argue that this is a "center-right nation."  In fact, as Vivian Paige correctly points out, that's nothing more than a myth. So why do Republicans maintain (narrow) control of the House of Representatives? The major reaons: partisan gerrymandering.
lowkell :: Is This a "Center-Right" Country? The Issue Revisited Following Last Tuesday's Results.
No offense to the losers in the House races, but the odds were stacked against you. The lines drawn make it almost impossible for a candidate of the opposite party to win. The most egregious example of this has to be the 3rd district, where the challenger received less than 19% of the vote. The closest contest was in the 2nd district, where the challenger lost by only 8%. The largest number of votes cast occurred in the 7th district, where a highly touted - and nationally recognized - Democratic candidate still managed to lose by 17 points.Partisan redistricting results in fewer competitive races and fewer votes cast; the proof is in the numbers. Ours is not a center-right country nor is Virginia  a center-right state. Our country and our state are center - period. No left or right.
And it's high time that our elections reflect that.
Of course, these labels themselves are a bit misleading, as the political "center" shifts over time. Today, for instance, the Republican Party has moved far, FAR to the right, almost off the John Bircher cliff, while Democrats are mostly in the traditional "center," with no serious Progressive Party (Teddy Roosevelt style or otherwise) in existence. Thus, the U.S. political spectrum is more skewed to the right than it's almost ever been in our history. It's also far to the right of almost any other advanced, industrialized, Western nation. To put it another way: what's "center" in America today would be "right wing" in the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. Yet, as we mentioned above, the American people on issue after issue give answers that can only be described as "progressive." It's a bizarre situation, and hopefully one that's not tenable. Unfortunately, with both Republicans and Democrats having a common interest in keeping their incumbents as safe as possible (we see it here in Virginia, where despite a 51%-53% victory for Kaine and Obama, Republicans hold an 8-3 edge in the state's Congressional delegation), this situation's not likely to change anytime soon. Unless, of course, the people demand it loudly, clearly, and forcefully.  

Long-Rumored DPVA Shakeup Finally Comes to Pass: Brian Moran Out, Charniele Herring In as Chair

There have been rumors floating around about this for weeks (actually, months, come to think of it), butNot Larry Sabato has now officially broken the long-anticipated story of a major post-election shakeup at the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA).
This week, Brian Moran will be announcing his resignation as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.Soon after, Charniele Herring will be announcing her candidacy for the position, with the public endorsements of Moran and Terry McAuliffe.
Mark Warner has consented to McAuliffe picking the new party Chair which means it is certain that he will stay in the U.S. Senate and that McAuliffe will be the Democratic Nominee for Governor in 2013.
Executive Director Dave Mills has already been asked to submit his resignation, and his position is going to be combined with the coordinated campaign director position next year.

Personally, I'm just happy to see DPVA moving on, getting some new leadership, and gearing up for what's going to be a war in 2013 against the uber-villain, Ken Kookinelli. Should be fun!  Also, as much as I haven't been a Brian Moran fan, I must say that from what I've heard, he's done everything asked of him the past few months, and he DID quit his horrible "day job" a while back, so I'm feeling a bit better (less bad?) about him these days. Finally, congratulations to Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), who I'm confident will do an excellent job as DPVA Chair. As 10th CD Chair Charlie Jackson puts it,"I think she does a good job as House Whip. I think she's dedicated, progressive, has built relationships with Dem groups. I hope she can help us focus some more on what happens in Richmond." Oh, and I'd add that if the "powers that be" are wise, they should keep Clark Mercer on as political director, or better yet promote him to executive director. We'll see...P.S. Like Ben, I've also been hearing strong rumors that Mark Warner will NOT be running for governor next year.
P.P.S. Stay tuned for some more interesting 2013-related news tomorrow Thursday! :)

The Election Wasn't As Close As You Think

by: TheGreenMiles

Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:00:00 AM EST

P110612PS-0894Presenting live election returns as a sporting event makes for good television. At 9pm, Barack Obama & Mitt Romney are tied in the popular vote! The Virginia, Massachusetts and Montana Senate races are tied! Who will win? You have to stay tuned to find out!But watching election returns minute-by-minute gives a biased view towards the states and even the precincts that count their votes early in the evening. Watching early totals presents a skewed presidential picture in any year, as California (6.2 million Obama votes) doesn't even close its polls until 11pm ET.
This year the problem was even more pronounced than usual as voters in Democratic precincts faced significantly longer lines than voters in GOP precincts. In 59 voting divisions in Philadelphia, Obama beat Romney 19,605 to 0. That meant Democratic precincts were likely to report results later - and in some cases hours later - than their counterparts in Republican areas. Races thatseemed surprisingly close early on turned out to be the solid Democratic wins everyone but Fox viewers expected.
So how has what we know about the election changed since Tuesday night?
TheGreenMiles :: The Election Wasn't As Close As You Think
  • In the presidential race, the usual California lateness was compounded by slow vote counts in New York and New Jersey, both struggling in the wake of Sandy and both heavily Democratic. While Obama's margin over Romney was around 2 million votes on Wednesday morning, today Obama's lead stands at more than 3.4 million votes - a victory margin a Republican presidential candidate hasn't posted since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
  • "What's going on in Virginia?" was a frequent theme on Election Night, as early returns had both Mitt Romney and George Allen leading. But Obama and Kaine came back as the night went along and now you wouldn't even call the Senate race all that close - Tim Kaine ultimately won by 6 percent (over 186,000 votes). Meanwhile, President Obama won by 3 percent.
  • It was a similar story in other Senate races. In Massachusetts, it took hours for the race to be called for Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but the final results show Warren soundly beating Scott Brown by 8 percent. The Montana Senate race wasn't called until late Wednesday morning, but the final tally has Democrat Jon Tester beating Republican Denny Rehberg by 4 percent - not a blowout to be sure, but much more comfortable than you'd have thought on Election Night. (Side note: How has the media "called" Arizona for Republican Jeff Flake when over a quarter of the ballots, many from Democratic areas, still haven't been counted?)
  • And in the House, while networks raced to declare "PROJECTION: GOP MAINTAINS CONTROL OF HOUSE!" early, today the story is of Democratic pickup. Democrats have already gained 6 House seats and are leading in 4 of 5 uncalled races.
The danger comes when folks start using the election returns to make up their minds about what happened in the election. What you see before 11pm ET isn't a proportional representation of what will happen later in the night - you have to watch those early numbers with a grain of salt. And that salt's just the right color since it's mostly Mitt Romney's angry old white guy America counting the ballots early on.So on future Election Nights, have fun watching the early returns roll in, but don't make up your mind about the results until every vote's been counted.

Nate Silver Ranks the Best and Worst Pollsters of 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

natesilverpollsteraccuracyDoes Nate Silver ever sleep, or even rest? Apparently not. Even after a grueling election season in which he (rightfully) became a superstar, and also somehow found time to write and promote a new book (The Signal and the Noise, which I'm currently reading), he's still hard at work. The latest example: this past Saturday night (as I said, he never rests), Silver posted his rankings of "the 90 polling firms that conducted at least one likely voter poll in the final three weeks of the campaign." You can see those on the "flip."But first, here are Nate Silver's rankings of the "roughly two dozen polling firms that issued at least five surveys in the final three weeks of the campaign" (click on the image to "embiggen!"). As you can see, Gallup wasn't just bad, it was abysmally, disastrously off course - both inaccurate AND wildly biased (towards Republicans). Sadly for Gallup, this election cycle wasn't a fluke; as Nate Silver points out, this debacle makes "three poor elections in a row" for Gallup. So much for being a respected pollster anymore, at least by anyone who knows anything (e.g., not many pundits or much of the corporate media).
Other than Gallup, other godawful pollsters were - shocker - Rasmussen (both inaccurate and heavily Republican biased), Mason-Dixon (inaccurate and Republican biased), and American Research Group (ditto). The best pollsters, interestingly, were ones that much of the "mainstream" media (e.g., the Washington Post, whose own polling unit was mediocre at best) disdain, such as internet pollsters Google Consumer Surveys, RAND Corporation, Ipsos/Reuters, and Angus Reid. Also doing very well were live phone (including cell) pollsters IBD/TIPP, Mellman, CNN/Opinion Research, Quinnipiac, and Marist. Robodialer PPP, which for whatever reason the "mainstream media" insists on calling a "Democratic" firm (do they identify Rasmussen as wildly biased towards Republicans?), turned out to actually have a 1.6-point Republican bias. Pretty funny. Anyway, check out the list of pollsters with a minimum of 5 polls in the last 21 days of the election, and when you're done, head to the "flip" for the longer list, and a few more comments by yours truly (including on the utterly abysmal, laughable, Roanoke College polling unit).
lowkell :: Nate Silver Ranks the Best and Worst Pollsters of 2012
A few more thoughts on these pollster rankings. First, note that almost all the polls had a bias - not towards Democrats, as the crazy "unskewed" folks would have us believe, but towards Republicans! I mean, it's not even close; there is a significant pro-Republican bias, even among supposedly pro-Democratic polling firms like PPP. So much for THAT theory!Second, to quote Nate Silver, "I'm not as certain about the future for automated telephone polls." Instead, surprisingly, it's the internet pollsters of all people who seem to be doing better in this day and age. Fascinating.
Third, one Virginia pollster, Roanoke College, ranks close to the bottom in terms of both average error (they only did one poll in the final 21 days of the election, but man was it a bad one - off by 8.1 points!) and also bias (8.1 points in the direction of Republicans). Ouch. Sadly, this finding isn't an aberration, as Roanoke College's polling efforts have been wildly erratic, with all kinds of "internal" problems, and just a horrible track record in general. In the future, until proven otherwise, these polls should be ignored (along with Christopher Newport University's, not to mention any poll that's conducted over several weeks, as a lot of these college polls are...). Anyway, enjoy the full list, and thanks to Nate Silver for his continued hard (and impressive) work!

Flashback (10/26): Delusional VA Republican Pete Snyder on Romney's, Allen's "Major Momentum"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's so funny to watch this stuff now (it actually was then too, but it's much funnier now). Heck, even at the time, there was absolutely ZERO evidence of "major momentum" for Republicans in Virginia, as "Virginia Victory 2012" chairman Pete Snyder (note: believe it or not, this guy's been talked about as a possible Republican LG candidate in 2013!) claims. It's also hilarious to listen to Snyder on how the first debate supposedly caused a "seismic shift" in the election (because Romney was sooooo awesome at that debate, and Obama was soooo horrible, blah blah blah), but when people saw Romney unfiltered by the "liberal media," they just swooned! LOL. I mean, seriously, how much are they paying Pete Snyder to just say whatever crap they tell him to say? Hopefully a lot!As if all that's not pathetic enough, Snyder - trained under the wing of one of the worst liars in the country, Frank Luntz, natch - proceeds to repeat a few of the pants-on-fire big lies that Republicans loved to trot out in the 2012 campaign, about Democrats supposedly decimating the military, the juvenile/mindless "teleprompter" attack, etc, etc. Again, how does Snyder spew this crap with a straight face, about how Bob McDonnell's been such a great success as governor, with "approval ratings soaring through the roof" (huh?!? based on what evidence?!?). Wow.
Beyond Pete Snyder being a lying liar, the broader point here is that this is the Republican echo chamber in a nutshell. Of course, the video above is from Faux "News," which had Romney supporters so delusional come election day, they truly believed they were going to win, that Pennsylvania was in play (on another show, Snyder actually said that too - lol!!!), that the polls were all skewed, that the liberal media was biasing everything, that hordes of conservative Christians would come marching forth to save the day, etc.
Of course, none of that happened, and instead President Obama won reelection easily (a "landslide" by Republicans' own standards), while Democrats actually GAINED seats in the Senate and the House. So how does all this delusion and utter disconnect from reality (just like they don't "believe" in climate science) serve Republicans, exactly? Not well, that's for sure. But hey, if they want to keep living in la-la-land, wasting hundreds of millions of the Koch brothers/Sheldon Adelsons' money, etc., more power to 'em I suppose.
P.S. One possible consequence of sane Republicans finally waking up from la-la land is a possible GOP civil war. We can only hope...

New Poll: Virginia Voters Strongly Moving to Clean Energy, Away from Coal

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Over at Scaling Green, I posted yesterday about a series of new polls by Public Opinion Strategies which find that "despite the millions of dollars opponents poured into attacks on the [clean energy] industry," voters in key swing states - including Virginia - "support clean, secure, and affordable energy." I thought it would be worthwhile to post some of the key graphics over here at Blue Virginia. Note that Virginians, by an enormous 51-point margin, support using cleaner sources of energy instead of coal. In addition, large majorities of Virginian voters would be more favorably inclined towards a candidate who advocates shifting to clean energy, supports using public money to fund investment in clean energy sources, and favors requiring utilities to generate a greater share of their electricity from wind and solar than from the same ol' same ol' (in Virginia's case, coal).Not that the Bob McDonnells and Ken Kookinellis of the world would ever place what Virginia voters want ahead of what their big donors from the fossil fuel industry want, but in 2013, we'll have an opportunity to replace these dirty energy tools. I urge Democrats to make this an issue in next year's campaigns...