Politics

N2K: Cook Predicts Little Change in the House in 2012

Add to Briefcase
Feb. 22, 2011, 2:37 p.m.

“Less bad is nev­er good enough”

RENO, Nev. — If Demo­crats have proven any­thing over the last sev­er­al years, it’s that they have be­come ad­ept at cap­tur­ing spe­cial-elec­tion con­tests that they have little busi­ness win­ning. But in two spe­cial elec­tions next week, Demo­crats could fi­nally get some very bad news.

In con­tests in Nevada and New York state, Demo­crats find them­selves on the de­fens­ive. And per­haps most omin­ously for a party that is pre­par­ing to de­fend the White House in just 14 months, Pres­id­ent Obama is play­ing op­pos­ing, and telling, parts in each race: He is an ever-present al­batross in a red Nevada dis­trict and is vir­tu­ally ab­sent from the con­ver­sa­tion in a much blu­er dis­trict that lies with­in the New York City lim­its.

In Nevada, Demo­crats once had high hopes of pick­ing off a seat va­cated when Rep. Dean Heller ac­cep­ted an ap­point­ment to the Sen­ate. Heller’s former dis­trict, which touches urb­an Clark County, in­cludes the state’s rur­al areas and Washoe County, home of Reno and Lake Tahoe. The dis­trict leans Re­pub­lic­an; in 2008, Sen. John Mc­Cain won it by less than 1,000 votes, and al­though Demo­crats con­tested the seat in 2006, Heller won by 5 points.

Demo­crat­ic hopes res­ted with the pro­spects of a win­ner-take-all elec­tion that could have split the vote between sev­er­al Re­pub­lic­an con­tenders and al­lowed Demo­crat­ic state Treas­urer Kate Mar­shall to win with a plur­al­ity. But a judge nixed that pos­sib­il­ity and re­quired each party to pick a single nom­in­ee.

On Tues­day, Mar­shall will face former state Sen. Mark Amod­ei, a can­did­ate with plenty of flaws. Oth­er con­tenders who sought the seat be­lieved they could con­vince Re­pub­lic­an voters that Amod­ei’s votes in the state Le­gis­lature made him a tax-hiker, a line of at­tack that Mar­shall has picked up in tele­vi­sion ads. But Mar­shall’s at­tacks, primar­ily tar­get­ing Amod­ei’s sup­port for House Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ry­an‘s plan to over­haul Medi­care, have failed to gain any trac­tion.

Part of the reas­on, ob­serv­ers say, is Obama’s low pop­ular­ity in the dis­trict. The pres­id­ent’s stand­ing among in­de­pend­ent voters has eroded to such a de­gree that Amod­ei has run ads show­ing Mar­shall and Obama re­cit­ing the same lines. “When the dis­trict is so anti-Demo­crat­ic, you don’t want to be run­ning on the Demo­crat­ic play­book,” one Mar­shall ad­viser said.

Demo­crats are por­tray­ing the race as bey­ond their grasp, but they’re pleased that Re­pub­lic­ans are spend­ing money to de­fend the seat; the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee has laid out about $600,000 on the race, and the con­ser­vat­ive group Amer­ic­an Cross­roads has poured in an­oth­er $250,000. The Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee’s in­vest­ment has been lim­ited to a few field staffers dis­patched from Wash­ing­ton. In truth, the party has all but giv­en up on win­ning; early-vot­ing num­bers show a slug­gish Demo­crat­ic turnout, sug­gest­ing that Amod­ei is en route to a big win.

The spe­cial elec­tion in New York to suc­ceed dis­graced ex-Rep. An­thony Wein­er may be more troub­ling for Demo­crats. Sev­er­al private polls con­duc­ted for Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans alike have shown the race with­in single di­gits. A poll con­duc­ted for Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate Bob Turn­er showed the con­test tied, while a DCCC sur­vey showed Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee Dav­id We­prin lead­ing by 8 points. In either case, that is far too close for a dis­trict that gave Pres­id­ent Obama 55 per­cent of the vote and reelec­ted Wein­er by wider mar­gins.

Demo­crats are quietly rais­ing the alarm and bring­ing in big names to help We­prin’s cam­paign. Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, who once held the Queens and Brook­lyn-based dis­trict, cam­paigned with We­prin earli­er this week; Gov. An­drew Cuomo has said he will do so at some point be­fore Tues­day’s elec­tion. Obama’s cam­paign has e-mailed its list of sup­port­ers, ask­ing them to call and ring door­bells on We­prin’s be­half.

But We­prin him­self has been loathe to em­brace Obama. “I’ve nev­er met Pres­id­ent Obama. [Turn­er] is run­ning against me,” he told the New York Post this week. We­prin ad­ded that he is “”very strongly against [Obama] on some of his policies.” Even Cuomo tried to put some dis­tance between We­prin and Obama: “There are two names on the bal­lot and neither is Obama,” the gov­ernor told the New York Daily News.

Even though this is New York City, Obama’s rat­ings are suf­fer­ing. The poll con­duc­ted for Turn­er’s cam­paign by the Re­pub­lic­an firm McLaugh­lin & As­so­ci­ates pegged Obama’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ing at just 40 per­cent, with 54 per­cent dis­ap­prov­al.

Al­though Obama may be un­pop­u­lar, Re­pub­lic­ans are tak­ing care to stay un­der the radar. The NR­CC has re­fused to say how much it is in­vest­ing in the race, be­cause any as­so­ci­ation between the na­tion­al party and Turn­er’s cam­paign will do more harm than good. In­stead, Re­pub­lic­ans are dir­ect­ing their mem­bers to give to Turn­er’s cam­paign and con­trib­ut­ing through the New York state Re­pub­lic­an Party. If We­prin does pull out the win, Re­pub­lic­ans will likely blame a flawed can­did­ate.

In both cases, the of­fi­cial line is that Obama isn’t an is­sue. “There is noth­ing these Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates can do to hide their ex­treme agenda — from slash­ing Medi­care to pro­tect­ing tax loop­holes for com­pan­ies that out­source jobs — and that’s what these races are about,” said Jesse Fer­guson, a DCCC spokes­man.

Demo­crats have had im­press­ive suc­cess in the past half-dec­ade in win­ning spe­cial elec­tions. Over that time, they have picked off five Re­pub­lic­an-held seats, while Re­pub­lic­ans have won only a single Demo­crat­ic seat, and then only be­cause a win­ner-take-all race di­vided Demo­crat­ic votes. But thanks to Obama’s dis­mal poll num­bers, Demo­crats won’t have that same kind of suc­cess on Tues­day. In fact, if things go wrong, it could be Re­pub­lic­ans who start brag­ging about mak­ing in­roads in places they shouldn’t oth­er­wise be able to reach.

What We're Following See More »
ANNOUNCED BY SCARAMUCCI
Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is New Press Secretary
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
SAYS IT WAS “AN HONOR”
Spicer Staying on Through August
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
FIRST IN WEEKS
On-Camera Press Briefing Today at 2
7 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
HE LASTED SIX MONTHS
Sean Spicer Resigns
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

He resigned this morning, "telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director." Per Politico, "chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon" were opposed to the appointment, while "Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell" were supportive..."Another White House official said Spicer was gracious while breaking the news of his departure, offered some praise for Scaramucci, while saying he would help with a transition."

Source:
STAFF IS PUSHING BACK
Trump Wants Scaramucci to Helm WH Communications
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump is expected to announce that Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci will be White House communications director, according to two sources familiar with the planning. Trump has left the role open since Mike Dubke resigned in May, and the President has vented frequently to his friends about the performance of his press operation." According to NBC News, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus are resisting the move.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login