The New York Times has the big Senate story Thursday on Democrats’ plan to make the midterm electorate more friendly. It’s also another signal to allies about why the party needs help on TV.
— The DSCC will run a $60 million field operation, using a staff of thousands to find, register, and turn out eligible but irregular voters in 10 states. If this was easy, it wouldn’t be interesting, but it might be the best path forward for Dems. The voters are out there: It took over 2 million voters to win North Carolina in the 2008 and 2012 elections, but Sen. Richard Burr (R) won in a relative landslide with fewer than 1.5 million votes in 2010.
— The “Rising American Electorate” on which Democrats rely so heavily (minorities, young people and unmarried women) turns out in droves in presidential years and grows each time, but it lags 10 years behind in midterms: RAE turnout in the 2010 midterms basically matched its 2000 presidential turnout. This turnout project is Democrats’ attempt to build a time machine for the midterms.
— Don’t miss an important subtext in the NYT, where Senate Dem strategists again not-so-subtly call for help in the TV war. AFP has already spent $27 million, most of it against Democratic senators, and the media has been full of appeals for big Democratic donors to step up. DSCC director Guy Cecil saying he’s “not willing to sacrifice the turnout operation” looks like another nudge for help on the airwaves.
The early TV battle right now is catching eyes now, but field programs will play a critical role later. Democrats will hope they have money behind both.
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"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.