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Thursday, March 16, 2006
Money Down the Drain
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:50 am

Via the AP: Harris Sticks With Fla. Senate Bid

Rep. Katherine Harris will fight rather than quit her U.S. Senate campaign, saying she’ll spend $10 million she inherited from her father to revive her bid, which has been set back by her ties to a bribery scandal.

Somehow I don’t think that that is going to be money well spent.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Florida Masochist linked with Still in it
Friday, March 10, 2006
Rascist or Just Silly?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:21 pm

Perhaps I am out of touch, but the following anti-Harold Ford website, sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Fancy Ford, comes across to me as an attempt to paint Ford as an out-of-touch, wealthy partier. (In fact, the very first thing that “Fancy Ford” brought to mind was “Fancy Feast” cat food).

However, many seem to see it as a racist attempt to paint Ford as a pimp (see: Jesse Berney, Joshua Micah Marshall, MyDD, and Atrios).

I always find these kinds of accusations interesting, because the underlying argument (or, in some cases in the pieces linked to above, overt assertion) is that the GOP is a bunch of racists, yet it is (in this case, at least) the Democrat-allied commentators are the one’s who automatically see this as a race attack-that any attempt to paint Ford as wealthy and over-indulgent means that he is being portrayed as a pimp. In short: who exactly is saying the wealthy + black = pimp?

Indeed, the “fancy” label makes me think more of accusing Ford of being effete or effeminate (not straight up homosexual, however, given the Playboy Bunnies being prominently featured on the first page of the site), rather than being a pimp.

The totality of the site seems aimed at saying Ford is a hard-partying rich boy and therefore not the kind of person who should be in that august body, the US Senate, where only hard-partying old men should apply, I guess.

On balance, the site strikes me as silly and I have a hard time thinking it will sway any voters.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
More on Delay
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:24 am

From the Houston Chronicle: Troubles don’t hurt DeLay in 22nd District

DeLay won 62 percent of the vote in the 22nd Congressional District, which covers parts of Harris, Brazoria, Fort Bend and Galveston counties, according to the totals from 97 percent of precincts.

[…]

In second place with 30 percent of the vote was Tom Campbell, former general counsel for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Lawyer Mike Fjetland and former teacher and oil industry credit manager Pat Baig each took less than 5 percent.

62% is quite solid, although it is his worst showing since 1986:

• 1986-1994: Unopposed

• 1996: 80 percent of vote

• 1998: Unopposed

• 2000: 83 percent

• 2002: 80 percent

• 2004: Unopposed

Still, 62% is quite good, especially with multiple opponents, one of which was quite credible.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
DeLay Wins Handily
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:24 am

Via the AP: DeLay Wins Texas Republican Primary

Here’s the link to the official totals.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2006
On the Mid-Term Elections and the Democratic Plan (or Lack Thereof…)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:38 pm

James Joyner comments on a spate of stories (here, here and here) on the question Do the Democrats Have a Plan? and the issue of who has the upper hand in the November election.

Much is made (and James comments upon) the lead that Democrats have in the generic partisan preference poll question at the moment.

Of course, all that is well and good, but Matthew Shugart noted the other day the real question of significance in all of this:

“Would you like to see your representative in Congress be reelected in the next congressional election, or not?”

And the answer:

Yes 59%, No 28%

The same poll gave the Democrats a 9-point edge in the generic “which party do you prefer” question.

It is often forgotten, even by political analysts who should know better, that people tend to dislike congress, but love there own member of congress. As such, any poll that attempts to capture generic sentiments about congress should keep this fact in mind.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

ProfessorBainbridge.com linked with How much trouble is the GOP in?
Saturday, March 4, 2006
DeLay’s Primary Challenge
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:42 pm

Via the AP: DeLay Faces a Rare Primary Challenge

Two of DeLay’s Republican opponents, Mike Fjetland and Pat Baig, are considered long shots. So DeLay has aimed most of his political vitriol at attorney Tom Campbell, who was general counsel for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration under President George H.W. Bush and who has worked on the campaigns of several top Republicans.

Campbell has gone straight for DeLay’s ethics jugular. In one television ad, he contends DeLay was distracted by his legal troubles. In another, residents of DeLay’s district repeatedly describe Campbell using the word “integrity.”

“Mr. DeLay is unelectable and Republicans in our district have a choice. They can either elect a conservative that doesn’t carry the baggage Mr. DeLay carries or one that Nick Lampson has the ability to beat,” Campbell said. “It’s time for Mr. DeLay to come home.”

This is all quite fascinating, and we will know quite soon (this coming Tuesday: March 7th) how it will play out.

I cannot locate any polling number on the district, but did find this tidbit from a CQ Politics: TX 22: GOP Loyalty to DeLay Will Face Test on Tuesday

Even at the height of his political clout, DeLay did not always receive universal support in his primaries: Fjetland challenged him twice previously, taking 17 percent in 2000 and 20 percent in 2002.

At a minimum one would think a run-off quite likely.

And in their version of the story, ABC news makes the following incorrect observation:

There is a quirk in Texas election law: Registered Democrats can vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary for or against DeLay. But with turnout expected to be as low as 10 percent, the DeLay camp is not overly concerned about Democratic mischief.

One does not register one’s party affiliation in Texas, and the state has open primaries-nothing quirky about that. The only time that a Texas voter’s registration indicates party affiliation is after they vote in the primary. (Note this graphic of a Texas Voter Registration Certificate, and note the vertical line in roughly the middle of the picture where the poll worker stamps “Democratic” or “Republican” after one votes in the primary so that a vote cannot vote in both).

For the election geeks in the audience, here’ the Harris County sample ballots (GOP and Democratic), including the District 22 race with DeLay and friends.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Sunday, February 26, 2006
More on Election Season
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:01 pm

Via the AP: 36 Governor Races Bound to Redraw Politics

Democrats are in good position to gain states, at least on paper. Republicans need to defend more of the 36 executive mansions up for grabs — 22 to just 14 held by the Democrats. Tough contests already are shaping up in big-population states including California, New York, Florida and Ohio, all now held by the GOP.

Open seats provide the best opportunity for a party switch and Democrats have only one to defend, while term limits or retirements mean Republicans are leaving eight seats open (New York, Florida and Ohio are amomg them).

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The Joys of Gerrymandering
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:28 pm

Via Reuters Carefully drawn political maps help incumbents

While technically all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs in November, handicappers expect a mere 33 to be competitive, in part because many incumbents already have picked the voters they hope will return them to office.

Across the country, lawmakers will run for re-election in bizarrely shaped congressional districts carefully drawn to include voters who support them and exclude those who don’t.

First off: it is ridiculous that only 33 of 435
(7.6%) of seats in the House are competitive.

Second: without getting any deeper into the first point, the fact that there are only 33 competitive seats means that simplistic analysis of how there will be change to the partisan make-up of the Congress as the result of some single issue or event simply isn’t looking at the situation realistically.

Third: as the story notes, there are protections beyond gerrymandering that protect incumbents:

Redistricting reform alone won’t make House races more competitive, experts say, because incumbents would still enjoy huge fund-raising and name-recognition advantages over most challengers.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Fruits and Votes » Blog Archive » Maybe as few as 33 US House seats competitive linked with [...] erg Shugart @18:32 Planted in: USA, Plurality, ELECTORAL RULES, 2006 elections PoliBlog notes a Reuters report: “handicappers expect a mere 33 [House districts] to be [...]
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Line of the Day
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:36 am

“The electorate’s dyspeptic mood about the nation’s politics reflects the fact that, as is frequently the case, the party in power in Washington has done much to earn a rebuke but the opposition party has done nothing to earn a reward.”-George F. Will

To which I say: yup.

The whole piece (which discusses gerrymandering and campaign finance reform) is worth a read.

h/t: OTB.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Swann Has His Work Cut Out for Him
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:05 pm

Via the AP: Pa. Gov. Rendell Leads Challenger Swann

The Quinnipiac University poll showed Rendell leading Swann 48 percent to 36 percent. The poll numbers are consistent with recent polling by the Connecticut-based university: Rendell led in February 2005 by 50 percent to 34 percent, and in December by 48 percent to 35 percent.

Independent voters preferred Rendell over Swann, 49 percent to 31 percent. Rendell was more popular among Democrats, 74 percent of whom supported him, than Swann was among Republicans, who had 64 percent support. Rendell also scored higher with Republicans, at 22 percent, than Swann did with Democrats, at 15 percent.

Republicans were divided over whether Swann had the “right kind” of experience to be governor — 32 percent said he did not, versus 31 percent who said he did. However, only 10 percent of Republicans said they would vote against Swann because he has never held public office.

The poll surveyed 1,045 registered Pennsylvania voters by telephone and had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

If I were Rendell, I’d be feeling pretty good about my chances for re-election.

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Thursday, February 9, 2006
PA Gov Race: One Step Closer for Swann
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:06 am

Via the AP: Bill Scranton Exits Pa. Governor Race.

Scranton was Swann’s main (only?) GOP rival in the race for the nomination.

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Monday, February 6, 2006
President Carter’s Son to Make Senate Bid
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:34 pm

Via the AP: Son of Ex-President Carter Seeks Nev. Seat - Yahoo!

Democrat Jack Carter, the son of the former president, kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign Monday by calling for a return to “our American values.”

Carter, a 58-year-old investment consultant in Las Vegas, is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. John Ensign in his first bid for elected office.

Interesting.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Reed’s Co-Partisans Ask Him to Withdraw
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:33 pm

Via the AJC: Republican senators urge Reed to quit race

Twenty-one Republican state senators on Friday called for Ralph Reed to withdraw from the contest for lieutenant governor, declaring that his ties to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff could jeopardize the re-election of Gov. Sonny Perdue and the rest of the GOP ticket.

“For the good of the Republican Party, for the good of Georgia, we encourage Ralph Reed to withdraw from this race,” stated the petition signed by the senators, all of whom support Reed’s GOP rival, state Sen. Casey Cagle of Gainesville.

Reed rejected the petition as a useless stunt, and expressed confidence that his record and ideas would prevail.

Wow. I should think having around 2/3rds of the Republican contingent involved would qualify as more than a stunt.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Friday, February 3, 2006
The Mayoral Race in New Orleans
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:47 am

Via the NYT: New Orleans Facing Election and New Order

Mitch Landrieu, the state’s lieutenant governor and son of the city’s last white mayor — Moon Landrieu, who left office in 1978 — is expected to announce any day his entry into a race that will help define a radically reshaped city.

Among other opponents, he will face Mayor C. Ray Nagin, whose popularity here and elsewhere has withered under criticism of his performance during Hurricane Katrina and his recent remarks about the future racial makeup of the city.

Of course the burining question is: who would want to be Mayor of New Orleans?

And regardless of the demographics, or the diaspora of the city’s citizens, one would have to think that Nagin would be quite vulnerable to electoral defeat. With Landrieu running it is probably a good idea for the Mayor to start updating his resume.

And Nagin sounds a bit too much like someone with a vested interest in calling doubt upon the process:

“I’m all for having elections, but I want to make sure that they’re fair elections,” the mayor said on Wednesday. “And the fact that, as mayor of the city of New Orleans, I still do not have the FEMA list that will allow me to communicate with my citizens who are spread out over 44 different states to at least let them know that they can come back causes me to pause as far as whether we can have fair elections or not.”

The tone has a certain Third World quality when spoken by the person who has the most to lose if the process goes forward.

Further, the idea that the dispersed citizens of New Orleans are all still of a mindset as to be thinking about mayoral elections, or that they are all going to be coming back, is an incorrect one. While I am sure that there are people who are still planning on coming back, the bottom line is that every day that they are somewhere else, doing whatever they are doing in building new lives for themselves, the chances decrease significantly that they will ever move back to New Orleans.

The time has come to start working with whom and what are in the city, rather than taking a mindset of waiting for some mythic Return to the Way it Was, because that isn’t going to happen.

If anything, whatever return that there is going to be is going ot take time and the people who are living there now deserve the normal electoral process, not democracy in limbo.

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Interpreting the “Surprise” Election of Boehner
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:30 am

From today’s NYT, A Cry of Concern by Republicans at Voter Unease

The surprise election of Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio as House majority leader was a cry of concern by an entrenched Republican majority, acutely worried that voter unease about corruption and partisan excesses could threaten its control of Congress this November.

Surprise? Well, maybe it was because I was deluged by e-mails from Boehner’s office. but it always seemed to me that Boehner had a chance. For that matter, many members keep their votes to themselves, and with three candidates running there was always a real chance that Boehner could win.

Yes, Blunt was the favorite, but it never seemed to me that he was the prohibitive favorite. Now, if Shadegg had won, that would have been a “surprise election.”

Indeed, this strikes me as a story where the reporter has his thesis-this is about House Republicans being afraid of losing the majority-and then works hard to create the needed dramatic narrative to fit it.

Of course, I do agree that this selection is about distancing the party from the DeLay/Abramoff/lobbyist problems that the party is experiencing. But that is hardly news.

But, if the thesis is that House Republicans ran scared away from Blunt to Boehner, then surely the vote totals should have been more lopsided-and more to the point, Blunt should never have been the frontrunner in the first place.

It isn’t so much that I disagree with the basic argument laid out in the piece, as I find the tone and emphasis a bit over the top.

For example, while the following is true, it oversimplifies the situation:

After 12 years of Republican control of the House, the White House views House Republicans as vulnerable to precisely the wave of voter discontent that gave them control of the House in the first place in 1994.

Yes, the Rep majority is probably as vulnerable as it has been since they took control in 94 (although 98 wasn’t pretty for them), and, as such, they clearly need to work to change some of their practices and their image. Having said that I continue to maintain that the corruption theme is going to insufficient in and of itself to dislodge the current majority party. The scandal has not risen to the necessary level in the public consciousness, and, far more importantly, the House races are local races, and most of the House seats are in safe districts.

For the scandal issue to truly propel the Democrats to the Majority something is going to have to emerge of a dramatic nature that is both simple to understand and that tars only the GOP-and it is going to have to be salient to the districts where GOP Reps are vulnerable.

I know that the Democrats are looking for a 1994 scenario, but the conditions are not present for that to happen, and it appears unlikely that they will emerge.

I am not saying that it is impossible for the Democrats to retake the House, just that at this point I still think it unlikely.

I do think that they will pick up at least one seat in Texas: the one belonging to Tom DeLay (indeed, the Reps’ best chance of holding that seat will be if DeLay leaves the race or loses the primary).

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