Politics

Rahm Emanuel is Sworn in as Chicago Mayor 5/16/11

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May 16, 2011, 9:02 a.m.

NYC May­or Mike Bloomberg (I) “may have re­peatedly and em­phat­ic­ally ruled out” run­ning for WH ‘12, but the VA Green Party “is pre­fer­ring not to take his word for it.”

The Greens have re­vamped their “Draft Bloomberg” Web­site from ‘08, adding just a few tweaks to turn it in­to a ‘12 push to get the in­de­pend­ent bil­lion­aire to re­con­sider.

VA GP vice chair Gail Park­er: “This is a grass-roots ef­fort to con­vince Mr. Bloomberg to lead in cre­at­ing Amer­ica’s third ma­jor party. Bring to­geth­er in­de­pend­ents, the In­de­pend­ence parties and the vari­ous Green parties.”

The Draft Bloomberg Cmte “is plan­ning to hold a press con­fer­ence” on 10/14 at the Na­tion­al Press Club’s Bloomberg Room. Ac­cord­ing to the Web­site, “Bloomberg will be there to reach out to Greens and ad­voc­ate build­ing rail with Found­a­tion for Amer­ica’s Fu­ture.”

In ‘08, the VA Greens “cir­cu­lated pe­ti­tions” to get Bloomberg onto the WH bal­lot in their state (Ben­jamin, “Cap­it­al To­night,” 10/8).

Re­pub­lic­an strategists and the GOP es­tab­lish­ment wer­en’t breath­ing that much easi­er on Wed­nes­day, the day after Mitt Rom­ney’s pres­id­en­tial primary vic­tor­ies in Ari­zona and Michigan, than they had been the day be­fore. But at least they were breath­ing. Many had been hold­ing their breath after Rick San­tor­um’s wins in Col­or­ado, Min­nesota, and Mis­souri on Feb. 7. (Of course, hold­ing your breath might be bet­ter than be­ing apo­plect­ic, which is what they were after Newt Gin­grich’s 13-point vic­tory in South Car­o­lina.) It’s not that party prag­mat­ists have any par­tic­u­lar af­fec­tion for Rom­ney, but they have grown in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the GOP’s pro­spects in Novem­ber from top to bot­tom. They see a San­tor­um nom­in­a­tion as dis­tinctly un­help­ful and a Gin­grich nom­in­a­tion as an out­right dis­aster. Now, a Rom­ney nom­in­a­tion is once again a lot more likely than not. This race, though, seems destined to go much longer than many of us ex­pec­ted.

It’s hard to get a good read­ing of the polit­ic­al cli­mate. We are a little more than eight months away from the elec­tion. It’s fair to say that the Demo­crat­ic Party and the gen­er­ic “Demo­crats in Con­gress” have bad num­bers in the na­tion­al polls. For the Re­pub­lic­an Party and “Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress,” however, the num­bers are even worse. Wheth­er the gap between the two is widen­ing is open to dis­pute. Re­cent polling by Stan Green­berg’s firm, Green­berg Quin­lan Ros­ner Re­search, for both the Demo­cracy Corps and the Wo­men’s Voices Wo­men Vote Ac­tion Fund sug­gests that the “Re­pub­lic­an brand is in deep trouble.” Green­berg’s polling shows that Demo­crats saw a drop in their num­bers over the course of much of last year, but, un­like the GOP, they have re­covered some­what dur­ing the past three months.

Look­ing at the Gal­lup Or­gan­iz­a­tion’s two Feb­ru­ary sur­veys that tested voters’ fa­vor­able and un­fa­vor­able at­ti­tudes to­ward the parties (the ques­tion wasn’t asked in Janu­ary), the Re­pub­lic­an Party av­er­aged a 42.5 per­cent fa­vor­able and 51.5 per­cent un­fa­vor­able rat­ing, a net minus 9 points. In the three 2011 sur­veys that fea­tured the ques­tion, taken in Janu­ary, April, and Septem­ber, the av­er­age was 44.7 per­cent fa­vor­able and 47.7 per­cent un­fa­vor­able, a net minus 3 points. On a net basis, the GOP brand has dropped 6 points from last year.

Con­versely, in the two Feb­ru­ary sur­veys, the Demo­crat­ic Party av­er­aged a 48 per­cent fa­vor­able and 47 per­cent un­fa­vor­able rat­ing, a net plus 1 point. Its av­er­age in the three 2011 sur­veys was 44 per­cent fa­vor­able, 50.3 per­cent un­fa­vor­able, a net minus 6.3 points. The Demo­crat­ic brand has im­proved 7.3 points since last year.

 

It’s pos­sible that Re­pub­lic­ans will pick up only two seats in the Sen­ate.

Gen­er­ic con­gres­sion­al bal­lot-test meas­ure­ments are all over the map, ran­ging from a wash to an 11-point ad­vant­age for Demo­crats. For some reas­on, the ques­tion al­ways seems to skew 3 or 4 points in fa­vor of Demo­crats. The likely elec­tion out­come is still a net loss of House seats for Re­pub­lic­ans; but pre­dic­tions of a 25-seat net shift in fa­vor of the Demo­crats, which would give them con­trol of the cham­ber, still seem far­fetched to me.

My sense is that some head­winds have de­veloped for Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress, caused by over­heated rhet­or­ic on the pres­id­en­tial cam­paign trail coupled with ac­tions at the con­gres­sion­al, gubernat­ori­al, and state le­gis­lat­ive levels. The ve­lo­city and ef­fects of those head­winds are im­possible to know at this point. The sur­prise re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is sure to give GOP strategists some heart­burn (though, no doubt, some tea parti­ers are say­ing “good rid­dance”). It takes a seat that was very likely to re­main in the Re­pub­lic­an column and po­ten­tially shifts it to the tilt­ing-Demo­crat­ic column. Maine is the 12th-most-Demo­crat­ic state in terms of party iden­ti­fic­a­tion, as meas­ured by Gal­lup last year.

My per­son­al view had been that the most likely Sen­ate out­come in Novem­ber would be some­where between a Re­pub­lic­an gain of three seats, turn­ing the cham­ber’s cur­rent makeup of 53 Demo­crats and 47 Re­pub­lic­ans in­to a 50-50 pro­pos­i­tion (with the ma­jor­ity rest­ing on the out­come of the pres­id­en­tial race) and a six-seat net gain for the GOP, flip­ping the Sen­ate to 53 Re­pub­lic­ans and 47 Demo­crats. The most likely out­come seemed to be a Re­pub­lic­an gain of four or five. In re­cent weeks, my gut has told me that I should drop the pos­sib­il­ity of a six-seat gain and just say a gain of three to five seats for the GOP. With Snowe’s seat in Maine now in play, that seems very prudent. The only ques­tion is wheth­er to drop the floor to two seats, say­ing two to five, com­pared with my three-to-six view in past weeks.

The mag­nitude of the GOP gain will hinge on the out­comes in about four states, with each party cur­rently hold­ing two of the seats. Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bent Jon Test­er in Montana and the Demo­crat­ic open seat in Vir­gin­ia are likely to go wire-to-wire in the Toss-Up column. Scott Brown’s seat in Mas­sachu­setts and ap­poin­ted Sen. Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada for the GOP are also Toss-Ups. To be sure, oth­er seats fall in­to the Toss-Up column: namely, open Demo­crat­ic seats in Hawaii, New Mex­ico, and Wis­con­sin. Sen. Claire Mc­Caskill, D-Mo., is also an ex­tremely vul­ner­able in­cum­bent, al­beit with an un­der­whelm­ing trio of op­pon­ents.

The bot­tom line is not wheth­er Demo­crats will lose Sen­ate seats and Re­pub­lic­ans will gain them, but how many. Demo­crats have 23 seats up (read “at risk”) and the GOP has just 10. Demo­crats have to deal with sev­en open seats to just three for the GOP. Demo­crats have 11 seats in danger, and Re­pub­lic­ans have just three. Can the GOP get the three seats it needs with a White House vic­tory, or four seats with a loss? That is a closer call than it seemed a couple of months ago.

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