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“Not A Great Sign”: Christie Sinks To Embarrassing New Low In 2016 Poll

Since shortly after the 2012 presidential election, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has made it very clear that he plans to run for the White House in 2016. But according to a new survey, Republicans would rather he stay in the Garden State.

That’s the takeaway from a CBS News poll, released Sunday, which asks Americans who they would — and would not — like to see run for president.

Republicans are intrigued by several potential candidates. They agree 59 to 26 percent that Mitt Romney should launch a third presidential bid — a much warmer reception than he’s received from party insiders — and 50 to 27 percent that former Florida governor Jeb Bush should try to become the third member of his family to win the White House. Former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee also polls well, with 40 percent wanting him to run and 29 percent hoping he declines.

But Republicans are much more sour on Christie: Just 29 percent want to see him join the race, while 44 percent disagree. Only former Alaska governor Sarah Palin polls worse, with 59 percent urging her to stay out of the race and 30 percent hoping she jumps in.

Considering that Christie has been traveling the country in a highly publicized shadow campaign, while Palin has been filling her days with impeachment calls and incomprehensible rambling, that’s not a great sign.

It’s not just national Republicans who aren’t crazy about a potential Christie campaign; his own constituents don’t seem very enthused by the idea, either. A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released last week found that 47 percent of New Jersey voters disapprove of Christie’s job performance, compared to just 39 percent who approve. Furthermore, voters agreed 53 to 32 percent that Christie is more concerned with running for president than being governor, and an overwhelming 72 percent said that Christie’s gubernatorial decisions are influenced by his presidential ambitions.

Previous polls have found likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton walloping Christie in New Jersey in a hypothetical presidential matchup.

According to the CBS poll, Democrats are much more excited for a Clinton campaign than Republicans are about Christie; 85 percent of Democrats want Clinton to run for president, while just 11 percent want her to pass on the race.


By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, January 19, 2015

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Tiresome Assertions”: More Revisionist History About Clinton And Obama

I briefly mentioned Michael Gerson’s “Are Democrats Stuck in 1979?” column yesterday, but wasn’t in a big hurry to smack it down. It’s precisely Gerson’s history as the rare conservative willing on occasion to criticize his party’s extremism that probably makes this sort of claim that the other side is even more extreme inevitable.

But some editor or maybe even a history-conscious intern might have warned Gerson that choosing 1979 as the mythical apogee of Democratic liberalism was a bad idea. That’s a year in which a Democratic president began to prepare for a re-election campaign by pushing for a balanced budget and a big increase in defense spending, even as liberal icon Ted Kennedy headed for a humiliating defeat in the primaries.

In any event, here’s the tiresome assertion that really annoys me as a veteran of the New Democrat thing:

President Obama has now effectively undone everything that Clinton and the New Democrats did in the 1980s and ’90s.

Gerson’s not real specific about this claim, though I assume part of his argument would involve resuscitating the Romney-Ryan campaign’s lie that Obama had “gutted” welfare reform. But what else?

Since Gerson appears to assume that Clinton was strictly about appropriating conservative themes, I guess he cannot come to grips with the fact that the Affordable Care Act was based on the “managed competition” model that a lot of New Democrats preferred to Clinton’s own health care proposal, or that Obama’s “cap-and-trade” proposal was relentlessly and redundantly promoted by the New Democratic think tank the Progressive Policy Institute. Just about everything Obama has proposed on tax policy, education policy, infrastructure policy, trade policy and even national security policy has been right out of the Clintonian playbook. Has Gerson noticed that Obama’s not real popular with people on the left wing of the Democratic Party?

Well, never mind; I guess the Obama-the-lefty construct, threadbare as it is, was necessary for Gerson to set up the heads-we-win tails-you-lose proposition that HRC needs to move the Democratic Party to the right or accept that “the political achievements of her husband [have] been washed away.” I do believe Obama was the first Democrat since FDR to be elected twice with a majority of the popular vote; that ought to count for something.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, January 7, 2014

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Bill Clinton, Conservatives, President Obama | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Peacock Festival”: The Perilous Base-Courting Phase Of The 2016 Primaries Begins

Now that Christmas has triumphed yet again in the War on Christmas, taking place as scheduled, we can turn our attention to the presidential primaries. After all, the Iowa caucuses are only 401 days away. For quite a while yet, the candidates are going to spend their time figuring out how to bring base voters over to their side (and you should probably steel yourself for 500 or so repetitions of “It’s all about that base, ’bout that base” jokes from pundits showing they’re down with what the kids are into these days).

Here’s Anne Gearan in today’s Post:

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for president, is working hard to shore up support among liberals in hopes of tamping down a serious challenge from the left in the battle for the 2016 nomination.

Clinton has aligned herself firmly with President Obama since the November midterms on a range of liberal-friendly issues, including immigration, climate change and opening diplomatic relations with Cuba. In an impassioned human rights speech this month, she also condemned the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation tactics and decried cases of apparent police brutality against minorities.

The recent statements suggest a concerted effort by Clinton to appeal to the Democratic Party’s most activist, liberal voters, who have often eyed her with suspicion and who would be crucial to her securing the party’s nomination.

But the positions also tie her ever more tightly to a president who remains broadly unpopular, providing new lines of attack for the many Republicans jostling to oppose her if she runs.

And here’s a story from Mark Preston of CNN:

The first votes of the 2016 campaign won’t be cast for another year but there’s already a race well underway: The Christian primary.

Republicans are actively courting white evangelical and born again Christian voters, knowing they will be crucial in early-voting states such as Iowa and South Carolina.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is urging people to join him next month in Baton Rouge for a day of fasting, repentance and prayer focused on the future of the United States.

On the same day, another gathering will take place in Des Moines, where at least five potential GOP presidential candidates will address Iowa voters on “core principles” that include “social conservatism.”

Later in the story, Preston notes that if Christian conservatives fail to unite behind a single candidate, their power will be diluted and a more “centrist” candidate could get the nomination. Which is both true and false. That could be the series of events, but we shouldn’t be too quick to assign causality (and there are no “centrist” GOP candidates, only some with weightier résumés who the establishment thinks have a better chance of winning; the ideological differences between them are somewhere between tiny and nonexistent). The truth is that the party’s born-again/evangelical base almost never unites behind a single candidate. The only time it has happened in recent decades was in 2000, when George W. Bush easily beat a weak field of opponents.

But there’s no doubt that the courting of the base will indeed occupy much of the candidates’ time. One common but oversimplified narrative has it that they have to do so in order to win the nomination, but it will cost them in the general election. The truth, however, is that this is a much greater danger for the Republicans than the Democrats.

To see why, look at what Clinton is up to. She’s coming out strongly in support of some moves the Obama administration has made recently and talking more about things such as inequality. That will warm liberal Democrats’ hearts, but will it actually hurt her in the general election? It’s unlikely, because her position on all these issues is widely popular. Are voters going to punish her for advocating an end to the Cuba embargo, which 68 percent of Americans believe should happen? Or a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which is supported by about the same number? Or some set of populist economic policies, when around two-thirds of Americans say government policies favor the wealthy? Some issues, such as police practices, may not be so clear-cut, but on the whole the things Clinton is saying now are unlikely to turn up in attack ads in October 2016.

The story isn’t quite the same on the Republican side. Christian conservatives actually have relatively few policy demands, and most of them are already covered by what any Republican president would do anyway (such as appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade). What they do demand is a demonstration of affinity and loyalty. They want to know that a candidate loves them and will be there for them throughout his time in the White House.

The danger for Republican candidates is that in the process of showing love to the base, they alienate other Americans. There’s no reason a candidate couldn’t do the former without doing the latter, if he exercised enough care. One area where it may be impossible is same-sex marriage, where the more conservative evangelical voters are still firmly opposed (though those attitudes are slowly changing), while most Americans are in favor. But what those voters mostly want is to be convinced that the candidate is one of them: that he sees the world the same way they do, loves what they love and hates what they hate. In theory, even an allegedly “centrist” candidate can accomplish that. But so often in the process of this courting, they end up looking like either panderers or extremists; that’s what happened to John McCain and Mitt Romney.

In the end, base voters in both parties want to be won over. They don’t want to go into the general election having to support a candidate they can’t stand. They may approach the courtship looking reluctant, but they’re still hoping that there will be a marriage at the end of it. And they don’t need to be convinced that their nominee is the best candidate they could ever hope for — they just want to decide that he or she is good enough. If the candidate loses, they may say afterward, “Well I never liked him anyway.” But in the meantime, getting enough of their votes in the primaries doesn’t depend on being the most religious (for the Republicans) or the most populist (for the Democrats). The question is what you do to make yourself good enough.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, December 26, 2014

December 29, 2014 Posted by | Base Voters, Election 2016, Presidential Primaries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bushleaguer”: You Can Expect A Jeb Bush Presidency To Be A Lot Like His Brother’s On Climate Change, Only Worse

Evidently, Jeb Bush is no longer on speaking terms with his father and brother.

The former Florida governor and (God help us) would-be GOP presidential candidate still insists that there’s room for skepticism on the issue of climate change. As Grist’s Ben Adler observes:

…Bush [simply] doesn’t believe in [human-caused] climate change! In a 2011 interview with Fox News, Bush said, ‘It is not unanimous among scientists that [climate change] is disproportionately manmade. … What I think on the left I get a little tired of is the sanctimonious idea that somehow ‘science’ has decided all this so therefore you can’t have a view.’

…[Y]ou could expect a Jeb Bush presidency to be a lot like his brother’s on climate change, only worse. Bush is even starting out this campaign to the right of where Mitt Romney was on climate science at this point in the last cycle. In 2011, Romney was chastised by the right-wing media for accepting climate science, even though he didn’t propose to do anything about the problem. Rush Limbaugh said that stance meant ‘bye-bye nomination,’ but Romney still won it, in part by later disavowing climate science.

History shows us three things about Jeb Bush: He is no moderate, he is not too moderate to win the nomination, and the Republican primaries will drag him further rightward.

Neither George H. W. Bush nor George W. Bush governed as climate hawks during their administrations; the former had a radical climate-change denier, John Sununu, as his chief of staff for the first three years of his administration, while the latter infamously censored and edited climate science reports to appease the fossil fuel industry (the late whistleblower Rick Piltz exposed Bush’s machinations in 2005). Still, Bush 41 and Bush 43 at least publicly acknowledged that human-caused climate change was real and a potential problem.

By denying human-caused climate change, Jeb Bush is, in essence, calling his father and brother liars. Is this really the sort of message he wants to send to the public?

Jeb Bush insists that he is a pro-lifer; this is supposedly why he stuck his nose into the Terri Schiavo case years ago. However, his continued refusal to recognize the reality and risk of climate change—which will take lives if carbon pollution is not addressed—exposes him as a complete fraud and someone unworthy of even being a presidential candidate, much less President. I know she’s not perfect, but if a denialist demagogue like Jeb is her opponent on November 8, 2016, then I’m absolutely ready for Hillary.


By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 28, 2014

December 29, 2014 Posted by | Climate Change, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Uh Oh”: With GDP Growing Strongly, Republicans’ Economic Dilemma Gets More Complicated

We got the latest quarterly economic growth numbers today, and they’re pretty striking:

The U.S. economy grew at its fastest rate in more than a decade between the months of July and October, helped by a surge in consumer spending, according to government data released Tuesday morning.

The Commerce Department said gross domestic product growth hit an annualized rate of 5 percent in the third quarter, revised upward from the previous estimate of 3.9 percent. Not since 2003 has the economy expanded so quickly.

The third quarter performance, coupled with 4.6 percent growth in the second quarter, amounts to the best sign since the Great Recession that the U.S. recovery has hit its stride.

The simple way to look at the political implications of these numbers is to say that it’s good for Democrats, since there’s a Democrat in the White House. And though it’s extremely unlikely for growth to stay over 5 percent for any length of time — it’s been 30 years since we had more than two consecutive quarters at that level — if both growth and job creation remain strong for the next two years, it’ll be somewhere between difficult and impossible for a Republican to win the White House in 2016, since the state of the economy swamps every other issue in presidential campaigns.

That’s the simple way to look at it, and it’s not wrong. But there’s another layer to the state of the country’s economy that could make things more complicated for both parties. It has to do with the difference between the two numbers that get the most attention — job creation and GDP growth — and the rest of how Americans experience their economic and working lives.

If you listen to the way President Obama talks about the economy these days, you’ll notice that he always says both that things are going well and that “we have more work to do.” It’s a way to assure people that he understands that they don’t feel secure and that many may not have gotten back to where they were before the Great Recession. On the other side, for a long time Republicans would say, “Where are the jobs, Mr. President?” But they can’t say that anymore, nor can they complain about growth being weak.

The economic debate of 2016 will start in about a year from now. While there could certainly be a downturn between now and then, let’s assume for the moment that the momentum continues. How could Republicans make a case that although growth and job creation are strong, all is still not well? Even if that’s what Americans feel, it would be a difficult case for Republicans to make, because those top-line figures are what they generally point to when they discuss the economy. What else can they build their case on? They aren’t going to talk about the stock market or corporate profits, not only because those have both performed spectacularly during the Obama presidency, but because they know that ordinary people don’t much care.

And they aren’t going to talk about the things that really make people worried. The most important fact of the American economy in the past few decades may be its failure to produce rising wages, but that’s not something Republicans are particularly concerned with. Their economic focus is usually on business owners — the taxes they pay, the regulations they have to abide by, and so on. Even if you believe that helping those owners is the best way to help the people who work for them, you’re going to have a hard time finding Republicans who want to talk about something like wage stagnation.

And the arguments Republicans always make against Democratic proposals aimed directly at workers, like increasing the minimum wage or expanding health coverage, are that the proposals will cost jobs and hinder growth. So they can’t turn around and say, “OK, so growth and job creation may look good, but the real problem is what people earn and how they’re treated on the job.” That’s just not in the Republican DNA.

If there’s an accompanying problem for Democrats, it’s that voters could look at the Obama years and say that yes, it’s now a lot easier to find a job, but the jobs don’t pay what they should or offer the same security and dignity they used to. The American economy is a much crueler place than it once was, and two terms of a Democratic administration haven’t done enough to reverse that evolution.

That could be a genuinely biting critique. But fortunately for Hillary Clinton (or whoever the 2016 Democratic nominee is), Republicans are the last ones who are going to make it.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect; The Plum Line, The Washington Post, December 23, 2014

December 26, 2014 Posted by | Economic Recovery, Economy, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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