A Gallup poll released last week shows a rarity -- a majority of Americans polled say that they would prefer a generic Republican to a generic Democrat for Congress.
This a rare event in American politics. Most of the times in the past when this reversal has occurred were in 1994 (when Democrats lost 54 seats and control of the House) and 2002 (when, despite the usual trend of the party in the White House losing seats, Democrats actually lost 6 seats) -- two strong Republican years. Most importantly, Republicans are winning independents, 52% to 30%. As recently as July, that margin was 43% to 42% for the Republicans. So 12% -- one out of 8 -- of the Democratic-leaning independents are now leaning Republican. At this point, a year out, the Gallup poll just polls registered voters. But because Republicans tend to have higher turnout numbers than Democrats, the trend may only end up looking worse.
The Pittsylvania County Star-Tribune reported on Friday afternoon that the Danville Tea Party was planning a rally on Saturday, November 14 (tonight, as I am writing this) at which they would burn Tom Perriello and Nancy Pelosi in effigy. They were going to call it their "Fired Up for Freedom" rally.
In their edition this morning, though, the Danville Register & Bee reported that the Tea Party Tom-burning was scheduled for November 21 -- next Saturday -- and that the press release had been sent out with an embargo date of November 20.
The news release had an original embargo of Nov. 20, meaning the media couldn't report it until that date. However, another news organization broke the embargo Friday afternoon by posting the story online.
Local Tea Party chair Nigel Lawson had sent out a press release telling the media about their Tom-burning so that the media would be there and ready to write the story, but they didn't want the word to be publicly released until next Friday. But they didn't count on the Star-Tribune apparently misreading the press release.
When the Register & Bee ran the story about the Tom-burning, reaction from Danville residents, as expressed on the comments page of the website, was probably best summed up by this comment:
It makes all of us look like fools.
Our community leaders need to come together as one to prove that we are not.
Well, apparently the Tea Party people heard the message. Tonight's e-mail from their leaders says
Patriots, Nothing will be burned at our upcoming bonfire except an occasional hotdog.
No explanation was offered as to what happened to cause the Tea Party folks to reconsider.
Republicans seem to regard the health care reform debate as an opportunity to keep flogging their tort reform horse. They, of course, regard the health care reform bill, HR 3962, as being a hostage of the (cue the scary music) trial lawyers (kill the scary music). That is hardly news. But here are a few little details that may just drive home the point...
Probably 60 to 70 people turned out for the Americans for Prosperity's attempt to intimidate Tom Perriello today. They first off-loaded their bus about four blocks away, perhaps in an effort to keep us from noticing it. But then they pulled the bus right into Tom's parking lot. Bill Hay, leader of the local Tea party organization, spoke to his crowd, and introduced someone whose name I did not catch, who proudly said, "I'm from North Garden. There are no outsiders here." He said this, standing in front of the Americans for Prosperity bus with Alabama license plates.
There were between 80 and 100 pro-health care people there, shouting "Thank You Tom" in front of Congressman Perriello's office. We didn't have their bullhorn, but we had noted jazz trumpeter John D'Earth and a friend who was playing a snare drum. John played for much of the hour or so that we were there, including "When the Saints Go Marching In," which someone altered so that the line was "Oh, I want to be in that number, when we finally get health care."
Ultimately, the AFP'ers hopped into their bus and left, as the Democrats chanted, "Who paid for your bus? Who paid for your bus?"
Seeing the bus, I realized why the Tea Party folks have had to schedule their rallies as they have -- 10:00 AM yesterday in Martinsville, 1:30 PM in Danville, 5:30 PM in Farmville, 10:00 AM today in Charlottesville. They can't do two of them simultaneously, because they only have one bus.
The Tea Party people say that they are going on to Northern Virginia, where they are going to visit Gerry Connolly's office, I assume this afternoon. I don't have the schedule, but hopefully someone up there does.
Hope that you guys in NoVa can turn out to show the media and the astro-turf specialists what "Real Virginians" think about health care.
This rally really exposed the true nature of the whole Tea Party movement. The Tea Party folks are essentially funded by Americans for Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity is essentially funded by Koch Industries. I talked about Koch Industries here yesterday.
From Americans United for Change, an ad thanking Tom Perriello for voting for the health care reform bill. I haven't yet seen it on the air.
Today and tomorrow, the Tea Party folks will be protesting at Tom's District offices. This afternoon they went to Tom's Danville office, and they were met by a number of loyal Perriello supporters with "Thank You Tom" signs. See WSET's story on the confrontation here. Danville Democratic Chair Sheila Baynes is the person who stands up for Tom to the reporter. Other Tea Party protests were expected at Martinsville and Farmville; I have not heard anything about how they went. There is one scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10 AM in Charlottesville.
In 1964, Lyndon Johnson reacted to the ambiguous information coming from the Tonkin Gulf (only later did we learn how completely it was misread) by ordering air strikes on North Vietnam, and eventually troops to South Vietnam. His reason, according to White House insiders like Bill Moyers, was that he was concerned that the political columnists like Joseph Alsop would call him weak if he did not respond in force. He was worried that they would ask, "Does LBJ have what it takes?" LBJ was determined that Alsop, Walter Lippmann, and the other columnists would not be able to question his manhood.
45 years later, David Brooks is trying the same thing. In his op-ed last week in the New York Times, Brooks raises the question that he says is in the minds and mouths of unnamed retired military officers --
Lieutenant Governor candidates Jody Wagner and Bill Bolling had what will probably be their only face-to-face debate at Roanoke College in Salem, VA, last night, and judging by the Roanoke Times article and the Richmond Times-Dispatch article, it must have seemed pretty petty at times.
Jody came out swinging at Bolling over his 6% attendance record; Bolling had two responses. First, he said, he had to preside over the Senate, and that meant that he couldn't go to all these meetings. (Most of the meetings were NOT during the legislative session; I'll get the breakdown in another post.) Second, he said, Jody only went to 50% of her meetings, and to none of the meetings of the Transportation Accountability Commission herself. So there!
Let's look at the last response for a second. The Transportation Accountability Commission was established in December, 2006, by order of Governor Kaine. See the press release announcing its creation and the Executive Order creating it. Jody was, as Secretary of Finance, an ex officio member of the TAC. In its final report, the TAC made many recommendations of things that needed to be done or fixed in transportation planning, but the TAC was NOT intended to talk about finance. The TAC was not supposed to -- and didn't -- discuss how to pay for the recommendations. If they had been talking about how to finance the road needs, Jody, as Secretary of Finance, should have been there for. But they weren't talking finance, so she didn't need to be there.
Been spending some quality time with today's campaign finance reports (courtesy of www.vpap.org )--
For cash on hand only:
McDonnell leads Deeds in cash on hand, $4.5 million to $2.8 million. That is not a terribly important number, because either national party could decide on a moment's whim to dump millions into the race, to either catch up (Deeds) or to blow out the other (McDonnell).
For LG, Bolling leads Wagner, $1.2 million to $880,000. The difference between the candidates is the $360,000 that Bolling's PAC, Building a Better Virginia, gave to his campaign in July, 2008, to start the campaign.
For AG, Shannon leads Cuccinelli, $1.4 million to $935,000. Of course, Shannon got off to a great start with $660,000 from his House of Delegates campaign account.
In the House of Delegates races, here are a few key "in play" seats:
Virginia Supreme Court Justice Barbara Milano Keenan has been nominated by President Obama to the Virginia vacancy on the Fourth Circuit. Her nomination was backed by both Senators Webb and Warner, and there have not been any red flags raised about her candidacy. She would be a solid, if unexciting, choice for the Fourth Circuit. The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee will be webcast live tomorrow (Wednesday, October 7) at 4 PM -- go to http://judiciary.senate.gov/he... and click on the button for "Webcast".
Meanwhile, Governor Kaine is anxious to be able to move quickly if she is confirmed. He has already asked for volunteers, and has expressed his intent to use his power to make a temporary appointment immediately. The choice would have to be confirmed by the General Assembly when it reconvenes in January, and obviously one of Governor Kaine's concerns is that the choice be someone who could be confirmed. Note that if Governor Kaine's choice were NOT confirmed, and no agreement was reached by the General Assembly, it would fall to the next Governor to make another interim appointment.
I'm not sure this helps anything. I have liked the ads being run that tie the thesis -- or the manifesto, as I would rather call it -- to actual votes. But this ad doesn't show McDonnell acting in a way, or saying something, that is inappropriate for a political candidate.
I guess it's still a "try to get Democrats to care" spot.
According to a new poll by Rasmussen out today, McDonnell has a 9% lead over Deeds, 51% to 42%. This is essentially halfway between the PPP poll (5%) and the Survey USA poll (14%) that came out yesterday. The publicly available data does not include the demographic information to let us see whether their sample is as skewed to the Republicans as the Survey USA poll.
The publicly available data from their poll has some interesting details:
If Deeds got all of those who regarded Barack Obama's job performance positively, he'd win -- 52% to 48%. If he got all of those who regarded Kaine favorably, he'd win 59% to 42% (there is another 2% who say they aren't sure how they felt about Kaine's performance, which adds up to 103% -- go figure).
Survey USA has a poll out last night that shows Bob McDonnell up, 55% to 41%. Margins are similar for the LG (Bolling 54% to Wagner 41%) and Attorney General (Cuccinelli 53% to Shannon 42%).
So how does Survey USA get McDonnell up 14% and PPP's poll, also out yesterday, puts it at 5%? Different expectations of turnout, primarily.
Survey USA's poll shows an electorate that is 37% Republican, 32% Democratic and 29% independent (not sure where the other 2% goes). PPP's sample is 37% Democratic, 29% Republican and 34% other.
If you are looking for the reason as to why Survey USA is 10% more Republican that PPP, consider that Survey USA's sample is 13% more Republican than PPP's sample.
The Survey USA sample voted for McCain, 51% to 44%; the PPP sample voted for Obama, 48% to 45%. Virginia went for Obama, 53% to 47%.
There is no question that if the 2008 electorate shows up, the Democrats can win. There is also no question that if the folks who show up are the Survey USA sample, Democrats cannot win statewide.
Which gets us back to the same question that we have wondered about since June -- who is excited? Which party will get its people to the polls?
Obviously, there is still persuasion to be done. Undecideds and independents need to see why Creigh Deeds is the better choice. But the real job is to make sure that Democrats vote. No news here... just more confirmation of what we have all been saying for months.
A new Public Policy Polling poll is out today -- Bob McDonnell leads Creigh Deeds 48% to 43%. The same poll a month ago showed McDonnell up 49% to 42%.
The poll's details show a few things that are both cause for concern and cause for a little optimism.
First, McDonnell is favored by 96% of the Republicans; Deeds is favored by 82% of the Democrats. 53% of the undecideds are Democrats compared to just 7% who are Republicans, a fact that PPP calls "a strong indication that the race will tighten up further."
A caveat -- I am not a finance guy, so these are just my thoughts as I look at some of the sources that the Republicans have cited in support of the notion that privatizing ABC would help fund transportation.
Bob McDonnell is pushing the notion that we should sell off ABC stores to raise $500 million over 10 years for road construction. See his funding proposal. I am not necessarily sticking up for having government-run ABC stores; that presents policy issues that I don't want to get into here. But any analysis of the numbers behind McDonnell's claim that we might realize $500 million from privatizing ABC stores shows that his claim is ludicrous. If the idea has merit, it is NOT to raise more money for transportation.
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