Monday Reads: Campaign DynamicsPosted: October 26, 2015
This year has been a very odd one in politics and we’re not even close to the first vote being cast in a primary. Rumors about Jeb Bush ending his campaign abound and two absolute nitwits lead the Republican field. It looks like Louisiana–deep red since Dubya purged the Katrina flooded parts of New Orleans–might have a Democratic Governor. Gallup Polls finds that U.S. support for the Tea Party is at an all time low. Things get curiouser and curiouser as the year winds down. I’m trying not to be hopeful because politics and the American electorate almost always disappoint.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of conservative Republicans were supporters in the earliest polls. About four in 10 (42%) still support the Tea Party, but the 21-percentage-point drop since the 2010 polls is second only to the plunge in support from Republican leaners (independents who lean toward the GOP). A majority (52%) of GOP leaners, a key source for Republican votes, were supporters in the 2010 polls, but a 29-point drop has left only 23% still supporting the movement.
On the other side, liberal Democrats were the strongest opponents (61%) in the two 2010 polls, and their opposition was almost as high (59%) in the two most recent polls.
A few groups that were more likely to be supporters than opponents in 2010 have since switched sides, including those 65 and older, and those who are married.
While support for the Tea Party has not increased among any major subgroup since 2010, opposition to it has gone up among one — those with postgraduate education. In the earlier polls, 36% of this group opposed the Tea Party, and that number has grown to 53%. Meanwhile, opposition has dropped in a few groups — 18- to 29-year-olds, those with low incomes and unmarried females — because more in these groups no longer have an opinion about the Tea Party.
A virulent strain of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which scientists and Republicans thought had been wiped out at the end of the last century, is now afflicting millions of conservative Americans. Some Republicans so detest Hillary Clinton they are badly underestimating how likely she is, at this point in the campaign, to be America’s 45thpresident. Their denial is just as strong now as it was a month ago, before Clinton began a run of political victories that have enhanced her prospects, all while the roller derby/demolition derby that is the Republican nomination contest has continued to harm the GOP’s chances of winning back the White House.
To be sure, nothing ever happens in a linear or tidy fashion with the Clintons; she is certain to add more chapters to the Perils of Hillary saga before Election Day 2016. Bernie Sanders could still upend her in Iowa, New Hampshire, or both, which could throw the nomination battle into unadulterated bedlam. Even if Clinton is nominated, a strong Republican candidate could absolutely defeat her next November, with victory as simple as the party putting forth a nominee who is more likeable to voters and better on television. Indeed, many elite and grassroots Republicans believe Clinton’s personality, which they can’t stand, will keep her out of the Oval Office no matter what.
But October has been good to Clinton: a glittering debate performance, the decision of potential rival Joe Biden not to run (greatly simplifying her path to the nomination), the vanquishing of Republicans during her daylong Benghazi hearing, and a solid turn at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night. All have improved Clinton’s odds of cruising into the White House twelve months hence, and have thrown into sharper relief some of the advantages she has had all along.
To state the obvious, Clinton faces two tasks to become commander-in-chief: get enough delegates to beat Sanders and then sew up 270 electoral votes. The more easily she can complete her first mission (especially compared to the wooly nomination battle of her eventual Republican opponent), the more easily achievable will be her second goal.
Author Mark Halperin lists her advantages following the above brief analysis. Folks are still talking about the “likability and relatablity” factor which drives me nuts. BB found an article on Salon about the BernieBot Dude Bros and their furious fist waving about the girl power displayed on the weekend with the ultimate Girl Power symbol at Hillary’s Rally, Katy Perry.
Fighting against sexism and breaking the glass ceiling of the White House was a major theme of the Clinton campaign in Iowa. Bill Clinton gave a wonky, rambling speech at the Clinton rally before the dinner, but when he joked that he’s “tired of the stranglehold that women have had on the job of presidential spouse,” the audience cheered.
During her speech at dinner, Clinton largely ignored Bernie Sanders, but she did make room for one dig insinuating he is sexist. “Sometimes when a woman speaks out,” she said, “some people think it’s shouting.”
She didn’t call Sanders by name, but it was a clear reference to Sanders suggesting that Clinton was shouting too much on the issue of gun control. It struck many people as an ugly double standard, since Sanders’s standard speaking voice is shouting. The moment even worked its way into the “Saturday Night Live” skit about the debate when Kate McKinnon, playing Hillary Clinton, says, “God, it must be fun to scream and cuss in public,” to Larry David’s Bernie Sanders. “I have to do mine in tiny, little jars.”
The dig clearly stung, as Bernie Sanders immediately went out on Sunday talk showsto deny Clinton’s insinuation that gender played a role in his remarks about “shouting” during the debate.
From the female-heavy crowds that turned out to support Clinton in Iowa, it seems the strategy is working. And not just on older women, either. Girls, from little kids to college aged women, were out in force for Hillary Clinton in Des Moines over the weekend. Moms with daughters, both little girls and teens, were a dominant force in the crowd. Glitter, unicorns, and Disney princess memorabilia was on full display at the Clinton rally.
Girl Power is playing a totally different role in the Louisiana Governor’s race All of David Vitter’s hooker activities are burbling to the surface. It appears the campaign hired Private detectives to chase down the
rumor that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office might have the birth certificate of the alleged Vitter/Cortez Child. Additionally, Vitter was in a car accident the day of the election and the head of his Super Pac as driving the Vehicle. That ought to be a good indication of the sham that is Citizen’s United.
We thought we wouldn’t have Sen. David Vitter to kick around anymore? Good lord, this is quite a story. If you know politics, you know you can’t put anything past the novelesque and often delicious nonsense that goes on in Louisiana. But this is good stuff even for the Big Easy and it brings in the mix of malevolence and desperate incompetence of Fargo. Anyway, let’s go to the tape – literally.
Vitter is running for Governor down in Louisiana, the open primary is actually today. But Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand (because of course that would be his name) is a GOP powerbroker in the Greater New Orleans metro region. And he’s not supporting Vitter. And of course Vitter doesn’t like that.
Apparently Normand holds a weekly get together with other political players at a Cafe in Old Metairie once a week to talk political business and gossip – because of course he does. On Friday morning Normand was meeting with his buds when he noticed a kid at the adjoining table – later identified as 30 year old Robert J. Frenzel of Dallas – apparently recording their conversation. Normand asks whether Frenzel was recording their conversation; Frenzel denies it. But of course, Frenzel, rattled, fumbles his iPhone or some similar recording device long enough for Normand to see the recording app open on the screen. A short while later Normand comes back to snap a picture of Frenzel at which point Frenzel bolts out of the Cafe at high speed and makes a run for it – with the Normand political crew in hot pursuit (one imagines, all a generation older than the presumably still spry Frenzel).
Please stop for a moment and try to work up a good visual image of all this in your head.
So, that’s the drama, but here’s the kicker. Will Vitter be investigated for being too cozy with his Super Pac?
The same day that the coffee shop incident happened, David Vitter was in the area and was a passenger in a Mercedes-Benz which was involved in a minor car accident. According to local sources, David Vitter was quickly whisked away in another vehicle by a staffer and the driver of the Mercedes was cited for improper lane usage. The driver was 36-year-old Courtney Gaustella Callihan, the wife of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank. Their home address is also listed as the address for Fund for Louisiana, the Super PAC backing Vitter, according to documents filed with the FEC.
Louisiana Voice and other sources noted a potential legal issue last year when Fund for Louisiana held a campaign event for David Vitter, called Bayou Weekend.
Courtney Guastella Callihan — Callihan’s wife — is listed on invitations as the contact person for the Bayou Weekend. She also served as Vitter’s campaign financial director, a dual role that blurs the distinction between her function with the Super PAC and Vitter’s Senate campaign. Citizens United legalized independent groups raising unlimited funds but it did not legalize politicians establishing dummy organizations to evade campaign finance laws. (Source)
So it would make sense that David Vitter would want to leave the scene, due to the fact that Courtney Guastella Callihan is possibly connected to a Super PAC that is supporting his gubernatorial campaign. News reports list her name as Courtney Guastella, but fail to mention her married name which ties her to her husband – or the fact that her home address is the same as Fund for Louisiana. If these connections are true, along with a possible investigation into his spying on private individuals, it’s likely that David Vitter could find himself in serious legal trouble. Granted, the rules governing the actions of Super PACs are so loose that Vitter could have found a way to do this without breaking the law. The problem for Vitter is that it is especially hypocritical considering the fact he went after Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s campaign for allegedly coordinating with his own Super PAC in photos apparently taken by a private investigator.
Meanwhile, the new Republican establishment candidate, Marc Rubio, is said to have the worst voting record in the Senate. It seems he doesn’t do his job because he hates it and it’s the Presidency or nothing now. Gee, don’t you wish you could just not do your job, get paid, and be up for a big promotion?
Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore.
“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”
This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust.
“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,” Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes.
Just 24 hours after Jeb Bush downsized his campaign to fit his struggle in the polls, Bush tells America if they want to elect Trump, go right ahead. Jeb Bush has better things to do than sit around and be demonized.
Speaking in South Carolina today, Jeb Bush said (via CNN’s Jake Tapper), “If this election is about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, then I don’t want anything, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people literally are in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I’ve got a lot of really cool things I cold do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.”
There’s an unappealing Romneyesque entitlement overtaking Jeb Bush’s message (whatever that message is supposed to be— and that is really his problem, he has no message other than a drab calling card for tax cuts for his friends and family because it worked so well under his brother). Jeb Bush sounds petulant that Republican voters are rejecting his pedigree and place. If a Bush wants the White House, they get it.
If this sounds clueless and out of touch, Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer wrote an insightful piece for the New York Times on the Bush family grappling to understand Jeb’s failure to dominate the GOP primary. Ultimately, however, they still believe they will be attending Jeb’s inauguration in January of 2017
I’m not sure if this is the old fox and grapes fable, but given his lackluster and dull performance to date, I’d say Jeb should probably hang it up and get on with those better things. The problem is that Ben Carson appears to have mental health issues and Trump is a bloviating pretensious gasbag that shouldn’t be in charge of anything important.
I guess I am hoping all this adds up to the inevitable President Hillary Clinton but I’ve experienced way too much in my life to expect things to go smoothly and without the eternal cold blast of misogyny fucking things up.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?