Fundamental divergence; oddity or realignment

There have been two interesting news stories on elections in the past week as well as an interesting inside baseball geek out concerning how to model and predict Senate elections that could be either interesting outliers, or harbingers of change.

The two interesting stories are the Democratic Parties of Kansas and Alaska happily seeing their preferred candidates for Senate and Governor respectively drop out of the race. There were no mysterious revelations of hookers, blow, green balloons, or toe tapping in the restroom. There were no plane crashes, there were no children of the candiddates being diagnosed with cancer.

Instead, the candidates dropped out in Kansas and formed a fusion/unity ticket to allow independent candidates who are polling well to be the primary opposition to Republican incumbents in deep red states. The basic thrust is that Senator Roberts and Governor Parnell are reasonably unpopular with the general electorate but could very easily cobble together a coalition of 43% of the voters. 43% is usually more than enough to win a plurality in a three way race, while 43% is a big loss in a two way race. The bet is that the independent candidates have a much higher probability of putting together a plurality or even better a clear majority coalition against the incumbent.

The basis of the bet is that both independents are former Republicans who look at the deep-red strains of the Republican Party and think they are sufficiently bat-shit insane that it was worth running against Republican incumbents. In Kansas, this has been a long tradition where the electorate has been split into nearly even chunks of Teabaggers/extreme conservatives, moderate Republicans and then a wide array of Democrats of various flavors. Democrats could win state wide office with good candidates who could pick up a good chunk of the moderate Republicans who were momentarily disgusted at the Teabaggers. It is a long and successful strategy. Democratic success in Alaska in the past generation has either counted on a felony conviction (later overturned) or a split Republican Party for any state wide wins.

If Democrats can successfully engage in a strategy of being the party of the sane and continue to pick up former Republicans (such as John Cole) without losing significant elements of the current Democratic base, is that the start of a realignment?

The other big, and geeky debate that I’ve been paying attention to has been the poll aggregating and prediction site differentials. Read more



President Obama’s Dilemma

I didn’t see the president’s remarks live yesterday, but I did read a transcript. Apparently, the remarks disappointed some liberals, including Booman, for one, and a bunch of people on Twitter.

But I think Ezra Klein has it right here:

If Obama’s speeches aren’t as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better. It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals. And in a country riven by political polarization, widening that divide can take hard problems and make them impossible problems.

As inspirational as he can be, President Obama has always been pragmatic, which is certainly a desirable quality in a leader, though it’s a characteristic that has to be balanced with vision. As Klein observes, before he became president, Obama was inspiring to people because they thought he really might be able to bridge political and racial divides.

I don’t know if Obama himself ever really believed that, but if so, he was quickly disabused of that notion when the GOP started acting like a sack full of paint-huffing honey badgers on January 20, 2009. Some of us got mad at him for continuing to reach out to the most floridly insane and traitorous Congress in the post-Civil War era on issues like the budget and healthcare.

But blaming the president for insufficient speechifying on the issues Ferguson raises ignores what he’s up against. My guess is he’ll thread this needle at some point with actions behind the scenes and words too, managing to inspire those of us who want to see real changes without riling up the significant portion of the country that is either batshit crazy or indifferent.



No Victor, No Vanquished

T. Friedman of the NYT published a column that didn’t suck. That’s because instead of giving us yet another dreary round of “how the 1% interprets cabbie chatter,” T. Friedman stood back and let someone else do the talking, and the speaker was President Obama.

Some excerpts after the jump. Read more



Beware of Trolls Bearing Concern

On Friday, David Frum, the former GWB speechwriter who invented the phrase “axis of evil” to sell his boss’s pointless war, published a piece in The Atlantic chiding Hillary Clinton for playing the victim card. He cites as evidence quotes cherry-picked from a recent interview Clinton did with Christiane Amanpour and also HRC’s supposed obsession with the non-existent “whitey tape,” as reported by rancid horserace hacks Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in “Game Change.”

The day after Frum’s piece ran, the NY Post released an excerpt of Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas,” a title from wingnut screed factory Regnery Publishing, which publishes titles like “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” by Dinesh D’Souza, “The Case Against Barack Obama,” by David Freddoso and “Crimes Against Liberty,” by David Limbaugh.

In its inimitable style, the NY Post titled its sneak-peek “The feud between the Obamas and ‘Hildebeest.’” It contains stunning insights into the enmity between the first couples, such as that Bill Clinton hates President Obama “more than any man I’ve ever met, more than any man who ever lived” and that when President Obama and Mrs. Obama had the Clintons over for dinner at the White House, the president ignored his guests to play with his BlackBerry instead.

Steve M at No More Mr. Nice Blog reviewed the NY Post preview of “Blood Feud” yesterday and noted that “[w]hat Klein seems to have written is a bad pulp novel, disguised as non-fiction, made up exclusively of right-wing gossip, right-wing talking points, and right-wing punch lines.” He’s right; it’s a steaming load of anonymously sourced horseshit, just like everything Regnery publishes.

I’m not someone who wants to coronate Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee for 2016. I want to see a vigorous debate in the primary that brings liberal issues to the fore, and I’m hoping a viable candidate whose platform more closely matches my views emerges — just as Obama did in 2007 to capture my support. I would prefer that this happens after we retain the Senate and make gains in the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

But damned if we Democrats should allow wingnut concern trolls like Frum, Klein and Halperin to shape our views on any candidate — or anything at all. They are cynical, lying hacks, so why should we believe anything they say? What this recent emergence of high-profile wingnut concern trollery tells me is they think they’ve found a wedge to exploit. We shouldn’t let them.

Like many Obama supporters, I was pissed off at some of the Clintons’ tactics during the endless 2008 primary. But the Clintons and Obamas sure seemed to bury the hatchet and work together after that. Even if they despise one another (and there’s no credible evidence of that that I’ve seen), they made the calculation that working together was the best thing for the party because a feud would play into the Republicans’ hands. It was true in 2008 and 2012, and it’s still true today.

The piece by Frum and the latest Regnery Publishing bilge are cynical attempts to divide Obama supporters from a possible Democratic nominee, just as John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin was a cynical attempt to peel off HRC-supporting Democrats in 2008. It should fail just as hard.



A win on voting rights

Good work:

In May, the Democratic National Committee and Ohio Democratic Party asked the U.S. Southern District Court to make permanent a 2012 ruling that county boards of election must allow early, in-person voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day.
The summary judgment issued Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus orders Husted to set business hours for the three days prior to Election Day “to preserve the right of all Ohio voters to cast his or her vote with said hours to be uniform throughout the State and suitable to the needs of the particular election in question.”
The Obama Campaign sued Husted and the state of Ohio in 2012, alleging the change violated Ohioans rights to participate equally in elections. The courts sided with the plaintiffs, concluding it was wrong to treat some voters (non-military) different than others (military). The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a request for an emergency stay, and Husted released new hours including the weekend voting days.
The 2012 case remained open and Wednesday’s summary judgment makes the ruling permanent.

You all remember Judge Economus from the 2012 election. He doesn’t fool around:

A federal judge ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted on Wednesday to personally appear next week at a hearing about his reluctance to restore early voting the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.

Mr. Husted was reluctant. It just didn’t feel right to him to follow that order in 2012. He did, eventually, comply with the order and today makes that 2012 order permanent – unless Republicans change the voting laws again which they probably will.

Early voting is convenient and people really like it and it makes for better election administration because it takes some of the crush off election day. That’s also why Republicans oppose it.



Good news everybody

Via Politico:

More than one million Americans signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act during the first three weeks of December, including 500,000 through the federal exchange, President Barack Obama announced Friday.

The Obama administration says nearly 3.9 million people have qualified for coverage through the health care law’s Medicaid expansion.

The numbers released Friday cover the period from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 and underscore a pattern of Medicaid outpacing the law’s expansion of private insurance.

Big h/t to BrainWrap and his team at Daily Kos

The Medicaid number will grow substantially as the December numbers have not been reported.  Plenty of people are going to healthcare.gov and finding out that they are Medicaid eligible either through traditional pre-PPACA Medicaid or through expansion Medicaid in the non-IGMFY states.

The Exchange number will grow substantially over this weekend as well.  The procrastinators are hitting a hard deadline to choose a plan and they don’t even have to come up with the money for another week or two.   I will make a $10 dollar donation to the RNC if there are not 150,000 new enrollments between the state exchanges and healthcare.gov between 12:01AM EST 12/20/13 and 11:59PM 12/23/13  EST.  If that number is met, my $10 is going to Planned Parenthood instead.

I work in a non-expansion state.  My company runs a Medicaid managed care plan.  New enrollment is above typical pace at this time of year as people who were eligible but never signed up for Medicaid are signing up from the Exchange.  On the private insurance Exchange side the pace of tiny niggling glitches, fixes and tweaks that we have to make on our systems have been expanding geometrically in the past two weeks as enrollment is coming in.  And that enrollment is at a scale  where there are a sufficient number of odd cases to find glitches that weren’t discovered in a six month testing cycle.

There is a very good chance that on January 1, 2014 seven or eight million people will have health insurance that they otherwise would not have had.

That is a win and I’ll celebrate that while I enjoy my Christmas bonus of Glen Livet 21 tonight.

Richard +1



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Schadenfreude At Its Richest

Via Dave Weigel, who says:

Netflix just debuted the trailer for Mitt, its documentary about Willard M. Romney’s failed White House bid. And while it doesn’t contain any revelatory information about the Romney campaign, the trailer does show a side of the ever-composed candidate the electorate rarely saw in 2012.

You can’t help feeling a little sorry for the guy…

To quote one of my favorite movie characters, “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney was a terrible Massachusetts governor with a deeply weird and creepy view of his fellow citizens, and his family gave every indication of sharing the same repulsive oligarchial ideas.

Not sure I could stand to watch more than a trailer’s worth of The Romneying: #Fail2012, except possibly as an emetic, but it does give me the warm fuzzies that at least this Banana Republican isn’t in charge right now.
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Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln Romney, what’s on the agenda for the evening?