It Won’t Be For Lack of Trying

Since the DC media has determined that the Senate is lost, I thought I’d pick a local race that I know a little bit about to explain how things aren’t quite that dire.

Rick Weiland is running for Senate in South Dakota. Rick is a political veteran (he was Daschle’s state director), so it’s worth looking at his campaign for a smart approach to winning in what’s become a very red state.

First, recognize that Rick has a huge task ahead of him. He’s running to replace the last Democrat in federal office in the state, retiring Senator Tim Johnson. Johnson has an interesting personal story: in 2008, he ran after recently recovering from a stroke and subsequent brain surgery that left him with severe physical and speech limitations, which he worked hard to overcome. Facing an incumbent with that story is tough as a challenger, so Johnson’s opponent was second-tier Republican in a year where the state was carpeted with Obama volunteers who relentlessly canvassed and re-canvassed possible voters.

2014 will not be a year like that. Weiland will probably face popular former governor Mike Rounds. Weiland’s not a household name. South Dakota was one of the states that rejected Medicaid and tried to push a partial expansion, which the evil Obama administration rejected. The legislature is beet red and spends most of its time inventing new ways to ban abortion, there is one Democrat in constitutional office (elected PUC Chairman Gary Hanson), and the Governor has been a Republican since the late 70’s.

Nevertheless, Weiland is running a good campaign. He’s visiting every town in the state (a mammoth task). He’s made a bit of a virtue of necessity by picking campaign finance reform as a key issue, which will allow him to paint Rounds as the species of carpetbagger who is beholden to out-of-state money. He will no doubt run as good a campaign as a Democrat can in that state. My old man, who has seen a lot of Democrats come and go, attended one of Weiland’s town visits and was impressed by Weiland’s energy and commitment.

This is the effort that Democrats are putting into a race that’s pretty much been ceded to whoever wins the Republican primary by the national media. Winning the morning at Politico is not going to translate into an easy Republican victory in South Dakota.






46 replies
  1. 1
    Elizabelle says:

    Good on you for spotlighting Weiland’s campaign.

    Volunteers from all over the country can help him. A knock on the door beats an attack ad funded by the Koch Brothers and their ilk more than you would think.

    Even a personal handwritten note (we don’t have an election for Senate this year, but you do, and here are some of the important issues our Senate needs to address …) Or a phone call.

    That’s what the conventional wired for Republicans media does not want you to know.

    Yes we can, even when the odds seem tough.

  2. 2
    cmorenc says:

    Are the Democrats at-risk for losing the Senate? Yes. NEVERTHELESS, for the GOP to pull that off, they need to win not just the seemingly low-hanging fruit in deep-red states such as the S.D. Senate seat, but they have to:
    1) sweep all the close races for seats held by Dem incumbents (just because e.g. N.C., La., Ak, etc. are pickup opportunities for the GOP doesn’t mean they’ll sweep all the coin-toss seats;
    2) hold both close races in Ga and Ky that are winnable by Dems.

    The Dems may well come out of 2014 holding onto only a one or two-seat majority, but that will be enough to hold the fort until 2016, which is vastly better political terrain for the Dems. 2014 won’t be another “wave” election like 2010, barring a big change that severely depresses dem turnout beyond normal.

    ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT 2014 is that this may be the GOP’s last chance to fortify their position before the coming demographic tide begins to flood them out toward indefinite minority status.

  3. 3
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cmorenc: But wouldn’t it just be easier to throw our hands up in the air and panic?

  4. 4
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Easier, yes. Productive, no.

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    @cmorenc:

    Astute comment.

  6. 6

    The cosseted denizens of the MSM live in a bubble. I would take any CW spouted by them with a grain of salt. Early in 2008, 9/11 Giuliani and Hillary were supposed to be nominees and Obama was not black enough to get the black vote.

  7. 7

    We need to take a deep breath and relax, like zen cat here.

  8. 8
    Tenzil Kem says:

    Thank you for the on-the-ground update! Is the independent candidacy for former Senator Larry Pressler likely to be much of a factor in this election?

  9. 9
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Let’s be clear why Democrats are in trouble: Obots can’t be bothered to vote when Obama isn’t on the ticket. They’ll yell about how they are the most loyal Democrats ever but they’re just a cult of personality. They’ll spend every waking moment fantasizing about enacting revenge on all those “purity leftists” who don’t fawn over Obama but those purity leftists will be voting in November. Meanwhile, the Obama constituencies will let us down once again.

  10. 10
    evolved beyond the fist mistermix says:

    @Tenzil Kem: I would guess not but I’d like to see how Larry polls. I guess he has a clever ad out harkening back to his singular achievement of not taking an ABSCAM bribe, but other than that he’s been out of the state for a good long time. My guess is that Larry might pull some Republican cross overs who might have voted for Weiland, unfortunately, since he’s positioning himself as a moderate.

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: In SD the reason that Democrats are in trouble is that the state is rural, white and old, the key Republican constituency. Weiland will carry Sioux Falls, the most “urban” part of the state, and the question is how badly he’ll thump Rounds in that city. If he really wallops him, he might have enough votes to outweigh the rurals.

    As far as the Obot v Firebagger stuff, if you’re an involved Democrat in SD, you fucking vote. The ones who don’t vote are not politically engaged enough to be either Obot or Firebagger.

  11. 11
    hitchhiker says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:

    Let’s be clear why Democrats are in trouble

    No, sorry. Democrats have the presidency until January 2017. They have the senate until January 2015 at least, which is 9 months from now. They hold policy positions favored by majorities nationwide. They’ve successfully written an expectation that healthcare is a right into law, and they’ve decoupled health insurance from employment.

    They’re not “in trouble.” This kind of story is just something for the WA DC watchers to write about. It’s one of the reasons they’ve become so irrelevant to people who aren’t them.

    Being in trouble means something besides “in 9 months you may have to give up some of the power you’ve enjoyed for the last few years but you can probably get it back two years later so don’t sweat it.”

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The Village’s prognostication is based on Kkkarl Rove’s infamous “math”. This is as good a predictive medium as anything coming out of the mouth of Bill Kristol.

    That having been said, still need to fight in every race to put egg on the faces of Villager vermin. Not that it will phase them in the least, mind you. Heck, I don’t even think a long line of tumbrels will cause them to rethink their ways, even for a brief time.

  13. 13
    Tommy says:

    @Elizabelle: Oh the handwritten note. I do web sites and social media for a living. I recall my father sending me letters and how much I liked it. So I went and had some cards printed. I send them with a note to my clients and they are stunned. Nobody sends letters anymore. Something that only takes me a couple minutes seems to build so much good will.

  14. 14
    Uncle Cholmondeley says:

    Holy cow, I didn’t realize that Larry Pressler was running again (I missed mistermix’s update in December, apparently). I have a vague memory that Spy magazine once listed him as one of America’s Dumbest Senators.

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Uncle Cholmondeley: That was before the advent of such sooper-geniuses as Inhofe and Coburn.

  16. 16
    gogol's wife says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I know. This morning the NYTimes has a headline about how much money the Koch brothers are throwing around. I had a moment of panic, then I remembered how I panicked about all the money that Sheldon Adelson was throwing around. Remember him? I didn’t think so.

  17. 17
    gogol's wife says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:

    Do you have any facts to back up this assertion?

  18. 18
    gogol's wife says:

    @hitchhiker:

    My husband really thinks the ACA is actually going to help Democrats, contrary to the story being pushed by the MSM. I hope he’s right. He usually is.

  19. 19

    @gogol’s wife: Wasn’t Adelson, Gingrich’s sugardaddy?

  20. 20
    McJulie says:

    The media and pundits are pushing a “dems in trouble” narrative because it creates conflict. There doesn’t have to be any other reason.

    (Although I think there is another reason: they are uncomfortable with all the “Republicans are crazy and doomed” narrative-building, because they have been trained since the 80s to identify with the Republicans, so they feel a push to counter that.)

    Once you pick a narrative, though, it’s easy to argue in favor of it. I remember how the meme during 2012 was that the presidential race was oh-so-very “winnable.” But if you followed Nate Silver, that was never true — Romeney was obviously never going to win it. “Winnable” was just the narrative description they embraced, and their embrace of it was what made it seem plausible.

    I also vividly remember the 2006 mid-terms, where Karl Rove had “the math.” But he didn’t have the math. With that election, he revealed himself to be like one of those CEOs who gets hailed repeatedly as a genius right before his company goes under. He never had a secret to success. He just got lucky for a while.

    So, anyway, I’m not convinced. But what I don’t know is if narratives like this, especially so far in advance, help or hurt our cause. Do people get motivated, or resigned?

  21. 21
    Tommy says:

    @gogol’s wife: I think in the long run. Not the short term. The example I’d use is Kynect. The KY health exchange. The news story was interviewing folks. When told about Kynect they were all in. Then exchange Kynect for Obamacare and they turned off. Hated the idea. Even the concept.

    The hate for Obama. The hate for anything we do is staggering. I feel like Obama could give every American a million dollars and they’d still find a way to be mad about it, cause Obama did it.

  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    @Tommy:

    Handwritten is a nice touch. And the USPS appreciates it!

    @gogol’s wife: I think fuckhead is snarking.

  23. 23
    Elizabelle says:

    @McJulie:

    Bingo. We have a winner.

    But I do worry that “the Dems are in trouble” and “Dems are screwing up again, why can’t they lead?” does demoralize some voters.

    It certainly is bad information to be laying about for low information types who scan headlines.

  24. 24
    Uncle Cholmondeley says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well, you are right of course.

    I actually found that issue of Spy (“Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington”) on Google Books. You can read about Sen. Steven Symms (R-ID) and how he showed up in the Senate drunk once and also taunted his cancer-stricken former Democratic opponent.

    Larry Pressler did make the list.

  25. 25
    KG says:

    @McJulie: the political media tell stories. Stories require conflict, conflict drives rating, ratings determine advertisement rates, ad rates determine profits, and as we know: CREAM. It’s got nothing to do with who they identify with – seriously, Republicans are convinced the media is biased against them. 2000 was the ideal situation for the media, the election was too close to call, the House and Senate both had wire thin margins. There’s a billion billion stories for them there. Just like in sports, close games are interesting, routs are boring

  26. 26
    Elizabelle says:

    @gogol’s wife: I think your husband is right, and that ACA could be a positive.

    News has to get out person to person, though, because the MSM environment is of no help.

    If the GOP pushes an Obamacare horror story, they’re there. The correction in a later story: the parade has moved on.

  27. 27
    KG says:

    @Tommy: giving everyone a million dollars would just crash the economy because of hyperinflation (see! Glen Beck was right!)

  28. 28
    Anoniminous says:

    @cmorenc:

    Good comment.

    We gots to get knock, knock, knocking on voter’s doors.

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    @KG:

    The media likes conflict you say?

    Exhibit 1: WashingtonPost.com this very minute: top of the page: 2 photos under the masthead:

    Michelle Obama, smiling in an evening gown. China’s first lady, smiling in a beautiful suit.

    Has Michelle Met her Match?

    Michelle Obama and China’s first lady Peng Liyuan, a famed folk singer, finally meet. Will they get along?

  30. 30
    Cervantes says:

    Thanks for this post.

    Nevertheless, Weiland is running a good campaign. He’s visiting every town in the state (a mammoth task). He’s made a bit of a virtue of necessity by picking campaign finance reform as a key issue, which will allow him to paint Rounds as the species of carpetbagger who is beholden to out-of-state money. He will no doubt run as good a campaign as a Democrat can in that state. My old man, who has seen a lot of Democrats come and go, attended one of Weiland’s town visits and was impressed by Weiland’s energy and commitment.

    A popular former governor can hardly be dismissed as a certain species of carpet-bagger.

    Good to hear that Weiland is making a strong effort. I’d be interested to know a few things: (1) What effect is his effort having on his prospects? (2) Is his effort (or can it be) designed to make things easier for other Democrats present and future? And (3) Is he getting the help he wants (if any) from the national party or other similar groups? (I’m not saying the first two questions are answerable at this point.)

    Thanks again.

  31. 31
    Tommy says:

    @Elizabelle: Of the ten thousand or so things I wish I knew if they get along doesn’t make the list. But it would seem editors think something else.

  32. 32
    cmorenc says:

    @Elizabelle:

    @gogol’s wife: I think your husband is right, and that ACA could be a positive.

    News has to get out person to person, though, because the MSM environment is of no help.

    What the MSM nearly always fails to mention is that the various polls which have consistently shown more people “disapproving” the ACA than “approving” it is that a substantial-enough portion of the “disapprovals” is by people who don’t think it failed to go far enough, or want its flaws fixed rather than see it repealed. When examined in that light, it’s clear that the portion of people supporting repeal are decidedly in the minority. THE REAL ELECTORAL PROBLEM however, is the asymmetry in motivation to turn out between the vocal minority and the true majority on this issue. If the GOP succeeds in turning out their voters in sufficient disproportion to ours, they win. What really happened in 2010, which was a “turnout” election rather than any sort of true “realignment” election, which fortunately for the GOP coincided with once-a-decade post-election congressional redistricting. In a “realignment” election, a significant part of the electorate switches fundamental political allegiances; in a “turnout” election, a significant part of the electorate increases or decreases motivation to actually vote rather than changing their likely allegiance if they did turn out.

  33. 33
    chopper says:

    @Elizabelle:

    what are they getting at here? “two women in the same room? of course they’ll start fighting! bitches, amirite?”

  34. 34
    Cervantes says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    I had a moment of panic, then I remembered how I panicked about all the money that Sheldon Adelson was throwing around. Remember him?

    Confucius says “Remembering is for those who have forgotten.”

    Recently at Yeshiva University in New York, Adelson gave a talk in which he and the moderator — a rabbi infamous — exchanged pleasantries about lobbing nuclear bombs at downtown Teheran. The president of the university was there and did not say a word against these monsters. Moves are afoot to talk some sense out of him — but I suspect he likes buttered bread too much.

    Oh, you asked about crosswords: I don’t have as much time for them as I’d like but I still do the one in the London Times and the one in The Nation pretty regularly. Harper’s often has good puzzles. Let me know if there’s some type in particular you’re looking for.

  35. 35
    Feebog says:

    Avery nice summary of the ND race. I have read similar analysis on other blogs, I.e. Uphill battle, but don’t write it off. The four key races, as I see it are AK, LA, NC And MT. Assuming loses in WV, SD and AR (Pryor is toast, he is running the same kind of losing campaign as Lincoln) we need wins in at least two of those states. The wild cards are KY and GA, pull off wins in both of those states and it becomes almost impossible for the GOP to win the Senate.

  36. 36
    gogol's wife says:

    @Cervantes:

    If you can do the London Times you’re a better man than I am. I’ve never seen the ones in The Nation or Harper’s. I like lots of verbal ingenuity and semi-obscure references (but not references to obscure rappers or names of computer operating systems, of which there is entirely too much in the NY Times). I really like acrostics, but those are still good in the Sunday NY Times magazine.

    I once got my hands on a collection of very old NY Times Sunday crosswords. They were deliciously difficult, with long quotations from forgotten works of literature.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @chopper: It’s like getting Krystal and Alexis Carington within 2 light years of each other. A cat fight is bound to break out, much to the delight of onlookers.

  38. 38
    Ian says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
    It’s neither the Obots or the firebaggers. Both are actually regular voters, their desires to form a circular firing squad not withstanding.

    The problem is the squishies. People who lean toward the Democrats but often only are bothered to vote in big presidential years. The republican base votes similar in both off years and presidential years. Our base is much broader and much less enthusiastic about voting (and now faces huge obstacles towards voting).

    The trick is to convince people that its worth coming out to vote for us. How we can do that is a book long discussion.

  39. 39
    evolved beyond the fist mistermix says:

    @Cervantes: The point is to cast him as someone who is beholden to out-of-state interests. “Carpetbagger” is the wrong word but I couldn’t think of a better one, so “species of carpetbagger” was the best I could do. Suggestions? It’s a good anti-incumbent campaign strategy if you consider Rounds as a sort-of incumbent.

    As for your other questions, I haven’t looked at his FEC reports but my guess is that he won’t be rolling in Democratic cash. Too many fights to fight this cycle.

  40. 40
    Cervantes says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    I’ve never seen the ones in The Nation or Harper’s. I like lots of verbal ingenuity and semi-obscure references

    I used to love Frank Lewis in The Nation.

    Harper’s publishes word puzzles generally, not only (or even usually) crosswords.

    The Guardian offers lots of crosswords.

    If you are open to cryptics, the New Yorker published a book of them you can try (they’re not as pushy as the ones in the Times of London).

    The Financial Times makes its puzzles available. Most are cryptics but you might like the ones marked “polymath.”

    I really like acrostics, but those are still good in the Sunday NY Times magazine.

    I’m far too lazy to do acrostics; glad you have ones there that you like.

    I once got my hands on a collection of very old NY Times Sunday crosswords. They were deliciously difficult, with long quotations from forgotten works of literature.

    Yes, I found the NYT puzzles generally good prior to Will Shortz stepping in.

  41. 41
    gogol's wife says:

    @Cervantes:

    Thanks!

  42. 42
    Cervantes says:

    @evolved beyond the fist mistermix: I remember Weiland was mentioned in a NYT article earlier this year re the minimum wage. Has this issue been working for his campaign since then?

    Also, have the national Democrats or Obama taken positions or made statements that have hurt his campaign?

    To be clear: I do not expect Weiland to win. Romney carried SD by close to 20 points, as I recall. Still, anything’s possible; I see he’s fighting the good fight and deserves support.

    Oh, as for how to portray his opponent’s dependence on out-of-state money … Could one not say that he’s running to be the Senator from [Wall Street or some such]?

  43. 43
    jefft452 says:

    @evolved beyond the fist mistermix: “As far as the Obot v Firebagger stuff, if you’re an involved Democrat in SD, you fucking vote. The ones who don’t vote are not politically engaged enough to be either Obot or Firebagger. ”

    Well said!
    The only thing I nit pick on is that this is true nation wide, not just SD

  44. 44
    DeniseJK says:

    Correction– Gary Hanson on the PUC is a Republican. The Democrats hold no constitutional offices in SD.

  45. 45
    Cervantes says:

    @DeniseJK: Right.

    In fact, there are two Gary Hansons in SD politics: Gary W. is a Republican and Gary D. is a Democrat.

  46. 46

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