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November 04, 2009

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Obama did much better in 08 running a progressive campaign in Virginia than Deeds did this year running away from progressive issues like the public option and reducing carbon pollution. Obama offered hope, vision, and leadership. Granted I didn't follow the campaign closely, but Deeds seemed to be running on his opponents sucky college thesis. Furthermore, calling his opponent fat didn't work for Corzine. And, Bloomberg almost shot himself in the foot blanketing the city with negative mailers.

I'm not really offering this as informed comment because I'm sure there are issues I'm overlooking and doubly sure it's an oversimplification, but perhaps part of the lesson is anti-negative campaigning and pro-progressive vision: i.e., it's the HOPE stupid.

Of course, it is entirely possible that Deeds lost by trying to run away from Obama as fast and asa far as possible and possible ended up to the right of McDonell.

Or, since the only two races that really had a national impact to them NY-23 and CA-10 ended up with Dems winning including one who ran more to the left than the previous resident of the office and by a much larger margin than anyone expected, that the governor races really indicated that the residents of those two states were upset with what the current governors had done and wanted a switch.

The point is that anybody trying to read anything from these elections as a statement one way or the other is playing a fool's game.

Seems we agree on points 3 and 4.

Any thoughts on two other elections, in Maine and Houston?

since the only two races that really had a national impact to them NY-23 and CA-10 ended up with Dems winning

That was my take as well. Governors don't have a lot of impact on national politics, although it's clear some would like to. I think that's a major reason Obama didn't affect those races -- the "all politics is local" took over.

No, the real bellwether was the Missoula city Council elections.

Pace Ambinder, surely another alternative is occurring to moderate Republicans who can envision themselves suffering the fate of Scozzafava: switch parties.

Any thoughts on two other elections, in Maine and Houston?

I'm very disappointed in the result in Maine. I don't know enough about the Houston race to comment, except that it is a good thing that being gay is increasingly regarding as a political nonissue.

von: Any comment on the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" referendums that got defeated in Maine and Washington?

And what do you think of them, anyway?

Thanks von.

I was reading this post, nodding along with all the parts that made sense to me (most all of it), till I ran aground on

her stamp of approval is an aegis against Hoffman-lites

I have no clue. None. Is it a pun I'm not seeing?

"The point is that anybody trying to read anything from these elections as a statement one way or the other is playing a fool's game."

Maybe.

But as a liberal Democrat, I hope the Obama Administration views yesterday's gubernatorial losses -- especially in New Jersey, where the President campaigned for Corzine -- as a wakeup call.

I am thoroughly unimpressed with President Obama, especially his handling of the economy, especially his handling of the home foreclosure crisis.

Obama has been a very good President for Goldman Sachs, a very bad president for those of us who are 30 days past due on our mortgage.

Foreclosures continue to rise. And unless you have experienced one or are on your mortgage company's radar screen for one, you can't imagine the stress and depths of despair accompanying this predicament.

Clearly, the President does not.

Among other things, I suspect the voters in New Jersey -- a state whose demographics are more like where I live in Newark, Del., very much a kind of suburb of Philadelphia -- voted for change.

I suspect they, like myself, are very disappointed and displeased with the change, or lack thereof, Obama has delivered.

I was subjected to a day of TV "news" "ana;lysis" today--my elderly client sits in front of the squawk box with the volume up so loud that I can't avoid hering it even when cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

I think that BTFB's point is a very good one, in a way. I think that he is right that those who are really being hurt will show their disatisfaction at the polls. (I think he is putting too much of the blame on Obama and not enough on blue dog Dems, however)


But dissatisfaction due to failure to deliver will be a potent force in the next election cycle especially if the blue dogs and coprporate Dems succeed in sabotaging health reform.

None of this was discussed by today's pundits. No, they were all about how Pelosi said this and Cantor said that. Some just mentioned Cantor.

And my heart really goes out to you, Bedtime. I can think of few things more stressful than the possible loss of one's home.

FWIW, I didn't mean to suggest the four were mutually exclusive: To the contrary, the idea was to pick four different claims that all make at least some sense depending on which race(s) and level of generality you pick as representative.

To the contrary, the idea was to pick four different claims that all make at least some sense depending on which race(s) and level of generality you pick as representative.

"The America people reject Barack Obama and obviously want true conservative leadership" makes sense only to those who consider it the sort of truth declared by every drop of water and grain of sand.

I think a significant contributing factor for the Hoffman defeat was his publicly shown total disinterest in the local issues ("just parochial"). He did not live in the district in the first place and his interview for the local paper turned out to be a disaster. He obviously did not even take a few minutes to look into that day's edition of the paper or he would have been able to answer most questions. And afterwards he complained that he did not receive the questions in advance. That alone should have guaranteed a crashing defeat in any local election independent of his or his prospective constituents' political views.
The "lesson" should be that a candidate should at least try to pretend to give a digestive final product about the people. That Hoffman still got 45.5% of the vote (instead of just the inevitable 28% zombie* vote) is more ominous. But the voter turnout was just 19.4% of the population (I have no numbers on eligible voters), so the right seems to have been better in mobilizing their base zombies.

*defined as voters impervious to information running contrary to their pre-programmed political bias (in the US overwhelminglgly right, in Europe stronger left than right)

FWIW, I didn't mean to suggest the four were mutually exclusive: To the contrary, the idea was to pick four different claims that all make at least some sense depending on which race(s) and level of generality you pick as representative.

That may have been your intent, but it wasn't very well communicated in the post. I think that the natural reading is that you are setting up supposedly exclusive positions. For instance, I don't know how you read items 1 and 2 as anything other than exclusive, regardless of the level of generality you adopt ("The America people reject Barack Obama and obviously want true conservative leadership" vs. "The American people obviously want old-fashioned economic conservatives who are moderate on social issues"). Same for 1 and 3, and same for 1 and 4.

Of course, that's my point: One of these views is exclusive of the others. If conservative Republicans are correct that this election shows that the America people "want true conservative leadership", then moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, and liberal Democrats have drawn the wrong conclusion. (I get that you're not arguing that all or even most conservative Republicans feel this way, but I have heard this talking point repeated by some conservatives. I think it's worth treating as a serious claim.)

von: I think it's worth treating as a serious claim.

Of course you do: where would moderate conservatives be if they didn't treat the maniac conservative nutjob talking points as "serious claims" rather than manic squirrelcrap from which they urgently need to distance themselves before they get the stinky stuff all over them?

Why should 'true' and 'moderate' be mutually exclusive? Traditionally conservative should be synonymous with 'all in moderation'. OK, we are talking about the Party of Palin and the Rabble of Rush...

I am getting wildly frustrated with the headlines that keep pooping up on Google News. Before the election, it was NY-23 24/7. It was the single most significant election in terms of national politics, yet the stunning Democratic victory there is being completely ignored in favor of the prevailing narrative of Democratic losses. NY-23 was huge because it graphically demonstrated the fundamental weaknesses of the "resurgent" far right. You can't sell their brand of Southern-fried bull to flinty New York North Country Yankees (the Fred Thompson ad they ran up there was a comical classic of cornpone condescension). Should the Republicans fail to get the Palin wing under control, the party will continue its inexorable retreat to the Deep Southern edges of American politics.

Today is Guy Fawkes Day.

I give the Capital Hill Police and the U.S. Government permission to do whatever it takes to defend us today as the enemy descends on Washington D.C. to "scare" the Democrats.

Don't be scared, ladies and gentleman.

Shoot first in self-defense. Maybe Doug Hoffman will try to take his seat regardless of the election results.

Erick Erickson at Redstate is calling for a death panel for President Obama.

I will note that the civility around Obsidian Wings has improved greatly in recent weeks.

Too bad about the rest of the country.

I have a problem with: "The America people reject..."

No, those states or districts made decisons. None were reflective of the country as a whole.

Hoffman-lites <=> Hoplites?

I am getting wildly frustrated with the headlines that keep pooping up on Google News.

Typo of the day IMO.

Thank you, Phil. That's one typo I'm happy to have made.

So, confirmation bias is alive and well. I had a coversation with my boss yesterday during which he stated that it took six years for people to get fed up with Bush and vote Republicans out of office, but less than one year for the same thing to happen since Obama took office. So a couple of governors in two states that have had lots and lots of Republican governors is the same thing as what happened in the '06 congressional elections? Okay, boss. Shakin' the tree, boss. Oy vey.

What I don't remember is how, in 2001, when the Dems won those two governorships that had been occupied by Republicans, it was described as a repudiation of Bush's policies. And remember, that was shortly after 9/11 when Bush's ratings were at an all time high.

And I don't think you can draw much of anything out of the race. How do you reconcile Scozzafava's endorsement? Or, as Hartmut points out, Hoffman's apparently forgetting that all politics are local? (not that I think that Hartmut's "zombie" analysis is correct, although it was entertaining). And putting Scozzafava in the "moderate Republican" category is a stretch, IMHO. These factors seem to me to make it hard to judge whether the "run to the middle" CW had anything to do with NY 23.

"I think that BTFB's point is a very good one, in a way. I think that he is right that those who are really being hurt will show their disatisfaction at the polls. (I think he is putting too much of the blame on Obama and not enough on blue dog Dems, however)"

I wanted to weigh in last night and appreciate von putting up a post on Tuesday's elections. Couldn't stick around because of a little thing called Game 6 of the World Series (those damn Yankees . . .).

To wonkie's point about the dissatisfied and disaffected, I think the polling in Virginia and New Jersey showed that by how Independent voters went Republican by more than a 2-1 margin.

And how many Democratic voters registered their displeasure by simply not showing up?

If I lived in nearby New Jersey, I am not sure what I would have done. But I could see myself voting for Christie. Living in the Philadelphia media market, Corzine's barrage of negative ads were a complete turnoff. Was he hiding something? What in the hell did he stand for? With two eyes of my own, I didn't need a 30-second ad telling me Christie was fat.

Christie is a moderate Democrat that even Northeasterners can live with.

Clearly, all the talk of the death of the Republican Party was exaggerated -- or at least Obama and the Democratic Congress have done their best to give them new life.

Much like Corzine, I'm left to wonder about President Obama: What does he stand for?

Obama says he is for gay rights, for example, but he has done nothing to enhance them. I wonder if he even knew about the Maine proposition.

On the foreclosure issue that hits so closely to home with me, I see Obama supporting Wall Street on this one. We bailed the banks out and they are reporting record profits. Their health seems to concern the President.

But what about homeowners? Forget about a taxpayer bailout. When we gave the banks a bailout, how hard would it have been to require, among other things, that they re-do a certain percentage of mortgages for homeowners who applied for such relief?

Living on the financial edge and trying to be proactive, I applied for a loan modification with Wells Fargo last spring. I never got a response.

Then, recently, months later, Wells Fargo gets in touch with me and tells me I need to re-apply, never explaining what was wrong with the original application.

The timing couldn't have better. I am, finally, 30 days past due on my mortgage.

So I get a call from Wells Fargo yesterday, requesting proof of income for the past 30 days for my wife. Yet I included the 10 most recent pay stubs of hers, with mine, in the packet they received last week. Um, we don't know about that, the clueless phone rep told me.

Incompetence? Fraud? I don't know. I do know Wells Fargo has shown no sense of urgency in this situation.

I can't remember the last time I heard President Obama talk about the foreclosure crisis. I know he hasn't given one of his signature speeches on the subject, which is probably just as well since, in my opinion, those speeches only offer false hope.

Foreclosures, unemployment, personal bankruptcies -- all on the rise.

Voters vote with their pocketbook. We all know that. We don't vote on Nobel Prizes or how popular our President is abroad. We vote on whether we can put food on the table and a roof over our heads, simple things, really, simple things the White House seems to have forgotten.

This is why I don't get the "blue dogs" and the rest of the "moderate" Democrats who slowed down the stimulus and cut aid to states and other effective parts. And are slowing down action on everything possible. They talk and act like they're scared of being seen as "too liberal", but their actions keep making it more and more likely that their party, and they, are going to get blamed for not doing anything, and lose power.

Are they stupid? Do they figure they, personally, are safer this way? Would they rather big big-shots in the minority than part of a majority that's gotten stuff done?

Seriously, I don't see how the "I cut $X from the stimulus that could have saved the jobs of teachers, and kept colleges from imposing "temporary" fees and kept people hired at the unemployment offices so it doesn't take three hours to process" is a winning sales pitch.

People want things fixed, and if the programs WORK, and things get better, the party that did those things will get credit. If they don't work, in large part because they were delayed and sabotaged to seem "moderate", then the party that didn't get things done will get the blame. Including the Blue Scaredy-cats.

von,

What this shows is that the "pundit's fallacy" isn't confined to pundits. It is hard to assert "X is the right public policy, even though most of the American public don't think so." Most people think the median voter thinks like them, even though she demonstrably doesn't. Nate, above, gives an example from the left.

Pithlord: Perhaps the "median voter" doesn't judge politicians by the results of their actions. Perhaps the median voter is deciding on completely different issues. But I'm not sure how saying many voters vote based on how they personally are affected is assuming "most people think like [me]". I'm decidedly partisan, yes, partly due to the fact that the "conservative" solutions flat out don't work, but also because of my ideals and values.

So if you could explain how saying that politicans hurt themselves and their party when they make it look like they won't or can't do anything in response to a crisis is an example of "the pundit's fallacy", I'd appreciate it.

There's also a difference between people supporting a policy before it's been implemented, and people judging how that policy works based on its implementation and being run. I didn't say most voters think like me or anything of the sort, I said "Things are bad, and if they keep screwing around and delaying and hurting projects that could help the economy and jobs picture, they and their party are going to be hurt by that economy and jobs picture."

"Christie is a moderate Democrat that even Northeasterners can live with."

Correction: Should read -- "Christie is a moderate Republican that even Northeasterners can live with."

I think that from yet a different angle, von, the latest elections are more a repudiation of monied politicians than anything else.

Bloomberg spent $100 million for a third term as NYC mayor? That much bought Corzine a US Senate seat AND the Governor's office, one time each. Bloomberg's victory is really a narrow escape from fail.

Most people think the median voter thinks like them, even though she demonstrably doesn't. Nate, above, gives an example from the left.

Not at all- at least, I didnt read it that way. He isn't complaining that the Blue Dogs aren't liberal enough, he's complaining that they are endangering themselves (and, I think, implicitly wondering what their motivation is- post-Congressional lobbyist careers? Ideology? Genuine stupidity?).
Given the Democratic majorities, any legislation that passes is going to lean left, perhaps even more left than the more centrist Blue Dog would like. But she's got a choice- let than change occur and live with the consequences, or stop the change, and live with those consequences.
Now, Dem bill might be a disaster, and lead to the BD's downfall. But, as Nate points out, inaction and the perception that problems aren't being solved is almost certain to lead to their downfall.
It's like a game of blackjack- you've got 15 and the dealer has 17; you know that hitting is a bad choice, but it's clearly better than standing pat...

Me, I think it's this- they're hoping to have their cake and eat it too. They're hoping that changes get made over their protests, then they can take credit for their party doing what worked, take credit for opposing what didn't work (perhaps even the same thing, to different audiences), and leave their prospective opponent with as little ground to stand on as possible.

I'm with Slarti. The Corzine and Bloomberg situations do seem to signal a strong anti-Wall Street vibe.

Strangely, no politician has picked up on this populist sentiment.

But then, that would be a tricky tightrope, railing against the very interests that are some of your biggest campaign donors . . .

Bloomberg spent $100 million for a third term as NYC mayor?

That's not bad for four years of being the mayor. In New York, $100 million doesn't even pay for four years of a third baseman.

btfb, slight correction. Obama during his campaign stated that he was open to civil unions for gays but opposed gay marriage. Thus his not commenting on Maine is not a broken promise (Washington State is a different thing though).
I think that I am on record that I will give Obama the benefit of the doubt until healthcare reform is done (or done in). If he does nothing between that and the midterms then I'll join the chorus of "Promisebreaker!".

Hartmut: I appreciate the correction and distinction. It's not my intention, however, to play the gotcha game with President Obama or brand him a flip-flopper. Rather, I'd like to see him enact a stronger sense of governance, do something or a series of somethings with conviction.

As wonkie alluded, the Blue Dogs have been real obstructionists in trying to get healthcare reform done.

But I also question the path Obama has taken.

His goal of bipartisanship was worthy. But he definitely clinged to that goal too long. Not only that, he looked stupid and weak thinking he'd win over the very Republicans who were sabotaging him.

Now, the longer this thing goes on, the greater its chance of dying under its own weight.

And back to my contention about the outcomes in Virginia and New Jersey showing symptoms of dissatisfaction with the job Obama and the Democrats have done: If you don't think that is so, ask the 10.2 million people in the country who are unemployed.

In New York, $100 million doesn't even pay for four years of a third baseman.

Oh, good point.

But there aren't all that many people who derive as much pleasure from watching Bloomberg be mayor as from watching baseball.

Thank you, Carlton Wu.

bedtimeforbonzo: Isn't it 10.2%, not 10.2 million, which would be something like 3% in a country of 300 million?

back to my contention about the outcomes in Virginia and New Jersey showing symptoms of dissatisfaction with the job Obama and the Democrats have done ...

Not in Virginia. The outcome was attributable to a poor Democratic candidate. Obviously, the unemployment rate is affecting people's views on a lot of things too, but that doesn't account for Virginia.

Don't remember whether anybody already mentioned it: Virginia has the habit for a long time now to always vote against the party holding the White House in elections for governor. It would have been significant, if the voters had broken with that habit in favor of the Democrats.
As for Bloomberg and his millions, it will have more longterm significance what the SCOTUS decides about limits on campaign donations. If, as is to be expected, the decision is to make any limits or regulations unconstitutional on that then finally it will be the 1-dollar-1-vote republic so long awaited.

I think that the next election is going to be hard on incumbent governors of either party. Every race will have its quirks and idiosyncrasies but the pattern that I think will emerge is a throw-the-current-office-holder out pattern. It is also notable that the Repblican who won in Virginia ran on nuts in bolts local issues and played down his extremism.

Could someone please remove the spammer bilal in this and other threads?!

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