Sunday, March 23, 2014

Some housekeeping

The links at the top of the page are updated now so you should be able to view the full archive of this blog.  Well, except definitions. This is a part of a larger project I am doing.

Showdown in Colorado

One of the Senate seats that the Republican Party thinks can be competitive is the Senate seat in Colorado.  Senator Mark Udall (41% approve/40% disapprove) is running for re-election.  Udall is one of the more moderate Senators in the Senate during his first term as Senator.  In 2012, Colorado voted for Barack Obama at about the same rate as the nation did, 51-46 compared to 50-47 nationally. Udall won election to the Senate in 2008 with 53% of the vote.  The combination of the Presidential party generally losing support during non-Presidential years and the general rightward shift of the electorate during mid-term elections, it's easy to see why Republicans think that this is a potential pickup for them.

There are two Republicans, at this point, competing for the Republican nomination in this race.  The choices are between U.S. House of Representative Cory Gardner (CO-4) and State Senator Randy Baumgardner.  Gardner is the heavy favorite to win the nomination.  In a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, they found that in the Republican primary 44% of primary voters named him as their preference for the nomination compared to Baumgardner's 15%.  But still, Baumgarnder has vowed that he will not drop out of the race for the favored Gardner.

Gardner, according to GovTrack, is ideologically around the same mark as Representative Kristi Noem (SD-0) and Stephen Fincher (TN-8), indicating that he is a rank and file Republican by their standards.  23% of Coloradans view Gardner favorably compared to 25% who view him unfavorably.  Gardner's favorability is bolstered by Republicans, 38/10.  Even among independents, Gardner has a +5 net favorability (22/17).  Those who identify as Democrats view Gardner unfavorably 8/46. The key number in there is the relatively low name recognition with Republicans and Independents.  Udall has about 80% favorability among all groups.

In a head to head matchup between Gardner and Udall, it is going to be a close election.  Udall is up by 2 points, 42-40.  If we look at it by party id, we see the following:


Democrats
Republicans
Independents
Mark Udall
85
12
30
Cory Gardner
9
73
38
Not sure
6
14
32

Gardner has a slim lead with independents with Udall holding a much higher name recognition.  This is a much more competitive election than I initially thought it would be. Gardner would be hurt with independents with a typical Republican primary.  But because a number of Republican primary candidates have dropped out prior to the primary, Gardner is in a much better position to win in 2014.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Republican National Committee continues to press Baumgardner to drop out of the primary, as it will help their Senate chances. 

Udall voted for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and it might be hurting him some.  34% of Independents in Colorado view the law favorably.  29% of Independents view the implementation of the law at least somewhat successful.  66% of Independents view the implementation as unsuccessful.  As we've seen with other states over the months, the law is continuing to gain approval and more people view the law as being successfully implemented as more time passes.  It is entirely possible that by November the lead Gardner has with Independents will disappear because of the continual march of approval for the ACA.  

This election will hinge on how independents vote in 2014.  Every weapon in the arsenal for both parties will be on display during this election.  I think the Senate election slightly favors Udall because of how people are viewing the ACA as time moves on. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Surprise, Arizona

In November of this year, Arizona will elect a new Governor. Incumbent Jan Brewer (44% favorable/ 42% unfavorable) is term limited and cannot run, again. Because of the Conservative leaning of the state, it is widely assumed that the next Governor of Arizona will still be a Republican.  Public Policy Polling (PPP) recently did a poll in Arizona to see how the election is shaping up out west.  Slightly off-topic, but have you ever noticed that when we talk about the location of states, we refer to the west as out west, the south as down south, the north as up north, and the east as back east?

The Republican Primary will be where all of the drama is.  There are a number of candidates who have declared their candidacy.  The list of candidates and their net favorability as found by PPP are in parentheses are as follows: Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett (-12), Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey (-9), former General Counsel and Executive Vice President of GoDaddy Christine Jones (-6), State Senator Al Melvin (-16), former CEO of Indian Medical Center John Molina (-5), former U.S. Representative Scott Smith (+2), and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas (-16).  The Democratic Party only has one real candidate in former Chairman of Arizona Board of Regents Fred DuVal (-1).  In hypothetical matchups, DuVal hovers around 35% or so of the votes, reaching 40% against Thomas.  He is currently trailing Smith and Bennett in these matchups.  In each of these matchups, over a third of Mitt Romney voters in 2012 are not sure of who they would vote for in 2014, compared to about 20% of Barack Obama voters.  Additionally, more Republicans are unsure of who they would vote for in these matchups than Democratic voters.  Based on these numbers, it's pretty clear that whoever wins the Republican primary will start with a significant edge for being elected to the Governor's mansion.

Since we're wanting to know who the Republican nominee is going to be, I'm going to turn my focus to the data on the Republican primary voters.  The net favoraiblity of the candidates with Republican primary voters are in the table below:

Ken Bennett
+5
Doug Ducey
+3
Christine Jones
-4
Al Melvin
-7
John Molina
-3
Frank Riggs
-2
Scott Smith
+9
Andrew Thomas
-6

The next table is the name recognition of the candidate.  This is just simple addition of the favorable and unfavorable ratings to give a total name recognition.

Ken Bennett
31
Doug Ducey
25
Christine Jones
20
Al Melvin
17
John Molina
15
Frank Riggs
14
Scott Smith
25
Andrew Thomas
40

Here is what PPP found for the preferences for the Republican nominee of the primary voters:

Ken Bennett
20
Doug Ducey
6
Christine Jones
16
Al Melvin
1
John Molina
1
Frank Riggs
1
Scott Smith
12
Andrew Thomas
9
Someone else/not sure
34
A quick glance at the two tables before this one, you see that either Ducey is underperforming or that Bennett is overperforming.  Additionally, Jones has a much higher ranking in the preferences than you would expect just based on favorability numbers and name recognition. This last table should clear up some of the confusion as it is the breakdown of the GOP primary voters on ideological factors and their preferences.


Very liberal (1%)
Somewhat liberal (7%)
Moderate (23%)
Somewhat conservative (39%)
Very conservative (31%)
Ken Bennett
0
24
10
21
24
Doug Ducey
0
20
4
6
7
Christine Jones
18
8
23
13
15
Al Melvin
0
4
0
0
2
John Molina
0
10
1
1
0
Frank Riggs
0
0
2
1
2
Scott Smith
0
9
16
10
12
Andrew Thomas
0
4
8
13
6
Someone else/Not sure
82
22
38
35
32
Jones is still the biggest surprise on here.  Her name recognition and net favorability among the various ideological groups is not very high.  Jones owns a 5/11 among somewhat conservatives compared to Smith who has a 20/5 but still outperforms him among the somewhat conservatives.  So, let's look at it another way.  

Among the very liberal, Thomas has the highest name recognition and net favorability (+27) but returns no votes for the GOP preference.  The somewhat liberal Ducey has the highest net favorability (+40) and Thomas has the highest name recognition (55).  The moderates see Smith most favorably (+5) and Thomas as the most recognized (43).  The important somewhat conservative category thinks Smith is the most favorable (+15) and Thomas, again, has the highest name recognition (40).  The nearly equally important very conservative group likes Ken Bennett best in terms of favorability (+21).  Thomas, as always, with the highest name recognition (37).

That's a long way of saying I'm not sure why Jones is outperforming the peripherals for being the GOP choice in the Arizona gubernatorial race.  I would expect her to regress.  It may be that there is a social desirability bias to have a female in the Governor's mansion that I have not accounted for.  

At any rate, I think Bennett is the favorite for the nomination.  Because of Smith's popularity among the somewhat and very conservative branches of the Republican Party has a pretty good chance of defeating Bennett in the primary.  The underlying numbers suggest Ducey has a shot, as well, if he is able to snag a few votes from the somewhat and very conservatives after Smith and Bennett split the votes, as he has a solid chance with moderates. I think that is a long shot.  Bennett, Smith, and Jones will be challenging for the Republican nomination.  If there really is a social desirability bias, Jones could be the nominee despite what the underlying numbers suggest. 




Sunday, March 16, 2014

North Carolina's Primaries

North Carolina has one of the most competitive Senate seats up for grabs in 2014.  Because of that, they have at least one fun primary in 2014.  Let's look at the other ones, real quick and fire up the prediction machine.

North Carolina 1st Congressional District: Democratic Incumbent G.K. Butterfield is running for re-election.  He is facing the same challenger he disposed of in 2012, Dan Whittacre.  Whittacre probably doesn't stand much of a chance against Butterfield in the primary, Butterfield has been the Representative since 2004. Butterfield also won about 75% of the vote in the general election in 2012.  The Republican candidates vying for the nomination to run against Butterfield are Arthur Rich and Brent Shypulefski.  Rich ran for the Republican lieutenant Governor candidacy in 2012 but lost in the Republican primary.  I think Rich has the name recognition to have a good shot of winning the candidacy.  But Shypulefski is running as the outsider candidate, already.  It's possible that he could pull off the upset of Rich in the primary.

North Carolina 2nd Congressional District: This one could potentially be fun.  The 2nd District could be a close race.  Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers won this district in 2012 with about 56% of the vote.  The Democratic primary sees former singer Clay Aiken, businessman Keith Crisco Sr., and former candidate Toni Morris battling to be the Democratic nominee.  Crisco has raised over $100,000 in his bid to be the nominee.  Aiken's financial disclosures haven't been released and Morris has not raised very much.  I think Aiken's potential name recognition will be the one that wins the day to be the Democratic nominee.  Frank Roche, meanwhile, is challenging Ellmers in the Republican Primary.  Just browsing his website, he wants to end political correctness.  I assume he is saying this non-ironically.  As much as I would love to see him attempt to end political correctness by committing a series of political gaffes while running for office, I think Ellmers is pretty safe. But this is one district that will get a closer look as we get closer to the primaries and into the general election.

North Carolina 3rd Congressional District: This one was going to be interesting until potential Democratic candidate Jason Thigpen decided not to run.  There is only one filed Democratic candidate in this conservative district.  Republican incumbent Walter Jones has two challengers.  Jones was outraised in the 4th quarter by Taylor Griffin.  It's possible that Griffin would be able to beat Jones in the primary, but I think Jones is still the favorite.  At least for now.  This is a primary worth re-visiting, if only because it is a de facto general election.

North Carolina 4th Congressional District: There is only one candidate running for each party's nomination.

North Carolina 5th Congressional District: Incumbent Republican Virginia Foxx declined to run for the competitive Senate seat and instead decided to focus on winning re-election to the House.  Foxx has raised a large amount of money and will survive her primary challenge from Phillip Doyle.  Foxx won nearly 58% of the vote in 2012 and should be favored to win re-election.  There are four Democratic candidates challenging to face Foxx.  The candidates are Josh Brannon, Michael Holleman, Will Stinson, and Gardenia Henley.  Henley tried to run for governor in 2012 but lost in the Democratic primary.  Holleman and Stinson are failed candidates for the State House of Representatives and Board of Commissioners, respectively.  Brannon initially filed to run for the State's House of Representatives before choosing to run in this election, instead.  None of the Democratic candidates inspire much confidence or Google searches.  It's kind of depressing. But oh well. We'll look at it again, later.

North Carolina's 6th Congressional District: Longtime Congressman Howard Coble decided that he would retire instead of running another election.  The Republican primary should be pretty competitive with eight people filing to run.  Based on name recognition and fundraising prowess, I would say Phil Berger Jr is the favorite for now.  But never discount the impact of the Religiou Right on primaries, Mark Walker, a paastor, should be able to win those voters.  Bruce VanCannon is a former Democrat who "converted" to the Republican Party and has been able to fundraise at an acceptable level.  Don Webb also brings something to the table.  Jeff Phillips could end up being the darkhorse, he mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge in the past.  For the Democratic side, it appears that former UNC general counsel Laura Field is the early favorite.  County Commissioner Bruce Davis could be a formidable foe, but he has not filed his fundraising with the FEC, so it's hard to say for certain.  But this one will be fun to watch.

North Carolina's 7th Congressional District: Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre announced that he would not run for re-election in 2014.  McIntyre had won election by about 600 votes in 2012.  Because of the close election and the fundamentals of the district, he was listed as top competition in 2014 by the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.  Jonathan Barfield, New Hanover County Commissioner, is the only Democratic candidate filed.   David Rouzer, former State Senator, who ran in 2012 narrowly lost to McIntyre in 2012, has filed to run again.  He is the current leader in fundraising and is considered the favorite for the nomination because, in part, of his name recognition.  Woody White, a New Hanover County Commissioner, is also running for the Republican nomination.  He secured the endorsement of a group fighting illegal immigration.  Chris Andrade seems like he will be more of a moderate member of Congress if he runs.  I think Rouzer is the man for now.  But this will be a primary and general election to watch for the rest of 2014.

North Carolina's 8th Congressional District: There is only the Republican incumbent running in the Republican primary and one Democratic candidate running in the Democratic primary.

North Carolina's 9th Congressional District:    Incumbent Republican Robet Pittenger is being challenged on the right by TEA Party candidate Mike Steinberg.  Pittenger is feeling the heat, at least a little bit, as he has sent out fundraising letters out stating that Western Civilization hangs in the balance.  There are not any Democratic candidates who have filed to run.  I suspect Pittenger will get re-elected but Steinberg will put up a fight.  It should be interesting to watch.

North Carolina's 10th Congressional District: Incumbent Republican Patrick McHenry is running for re-election.  He is opposed in the Republican primary by Richard Lynch.  Lynch ran to be the nominee in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District but lost in the primary after receiving 1% of the vote.  McHenry should get the nomination pretty easily.  After getting elected with 57% of the vote in 2012, McHenry should get re-elected easily.  There is one candidate filed to be the Democratic nominee, Tate MacQueen.

North Carolina's 11th Congressional District: Republican incumbent Mark Meadows is running unopposed in the Republican primary.  For the Democratic primary, there are two candidates running,  There is fireman Keith Ruehl and Democratic candidate Tom HIll from 2012 who came in third place in the Democratic primary.  I'm not sure who will win this primary.  I assume it will be Hill.  Whoever wins the Democratic nomination likely doesn't stand much of a shot in this heavily Conservative district.

North Carolina's 12th Congressional District: This is a very heavily Democratic district.  There are seven people running for the Democratic nomination and basically the Congressional seat.  The two favorites are State Representative Alma Adams and State Senator Malcolm Graham.  According to an internal poll for the Adams campaign, she was winning with 26% of the vote, Graham was at 19%, no other candidate was above 10%.  The plurality of voters (29%) were undecided.  But this will be a fun primary to watch.  There is only one Republican candidate who has filed.

North Carolina's 13th Congressional District: Republican incumbent George Holding is running for re-election and will be the Republican nominee.  Virginia Conlon and Brenda Cleary are running for the Democratic nomination.  At this point, I would think that Conlon is the favorite to secure the nomination.  Not that it matters much, in this Republican district.

U.S. Senate

Kay Hagan is running for re-election in 2014.  She has been targeted heavily by the Republican National Committee and is seen as one of the most vulnerable members of the Senate.  The Republican primary should be an interesting barometer of how much power the TEA Party still has in nominating politicians.  The two main challengers are Thom Tillis and Greg Brannon.

Tillis has been endorsed by a number of state legislators both in the North Carolina House and the North Carolina Senate.  Tillis started off as the heavy favorite to win the nomination as he is the Speaker of the House for the Republican led North Carolina House of Representatives.  But over the last few months, whatever momentum Tillis had, he lost.  He is now running neck and neck with Brannon.

Brannon has received the endorsements of Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Thomas Massie, and FreedomWorks.  These are some of the biggest names in nominating Republicans.  Brannon will be able to consistently show that he is the "true Conservative" in the race.  During the 2012 presidential election, Brannon stated that there was no difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  But Brannon faces his own obstacles.  He has a couple of skeletons in his closet, regarding a civil jury issue.  Additionally, the TEA Party has lost support nationally.

Tillis's main goal for the primary should be to show that he is the best option for defeating Hagan.  He should hammer the point and idea that non-traditional candidates are the reason why the Republican Party does not control the Senate.  But if the advertisements and constant stories about Hagan being vulnearable work the way they are supposed to, it could end up hurting Tillis.  People will then believe that anyone can beat Hagan in a general election.  If that is the case, they will look toward someone who is even more in line with their values.

I think Brannon will end up being the nominee.  Brannon, a physician and TEA Party activist, sees himself as the North Carolina version of Rand Paul.  This will definitely help.  But this primary will be one of the most watched ones in the country, for good reason.  




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Primarily Indiana



On May 6, 2014, there are three state primary elections.  One of these states is Indiana.  Indiana will be one of the more boring states to watch.  The only statewide elections are the Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and State Auditor.  I’ll run through the primary elections and try to predict who will win.  At the end of election and primary season, I will post my predictions to see how I did.  I’ll put them in a chart before the actual primary election.   But without further adieu, I will roll out the prediction machine.

Federal elections

Indiana’s 1st Congressional District: One of two districts held by a Democratic incumbent in Indiana.  It is the most boring primary elections in the state.  There are only two filed candidates for the district, one for each party.  So, there is no need for a prediction for this district, in primary season.

Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District: This is going to be a hotly contested election in the general election, but the primary election will not nearly be as exciting.  Incumbent Republican Jackie Walorski won the election in 2012 by less than 4,000 votes after losing the district in 2010 by less than 2,500 votes.  She is running unopposed in the primary.  The Democratic side of the primary has four candidates filed.  But really the contest will be between former Notre Dame administrator Joe Bock and former Democratic primary candidate Dan Morrison.  Bock is the front-runner and so far, has not agreed to be a part of the debate the local news station is trying to put together.  Bock has already gotten the endorsement of the mayor of South Bend.  Bock will be the heavy favorite and I expect him to win the primary with 60-70% of the vote.  Morrison is likely to get about 20-30% and the other two candidates will split the remainder of voters. Prediction: Democratic Party winner: Joe Bock

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District: Republican Marlin Stutzman is the incumbent for this Conservative district.  He won the 2012 election with two-thirds of the vote and will easily cruise to re-election, provided he wins the primary.  It seems unlikely that the two challengers Mark William Baringer and James Mahoney III have the financial backing to make it a challenge. Mahoney is running to the left of Stutzman while it is unclear of the political leanings of Baringer.  Stutzman will survive the primary.  I would imagine that Mahoney comes in second.  Meanwhile, the Democratic primary will be deciding who they will sacrifice in a loss to Stutzman.  Justin Kuhlne is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination.  It seems like he should be able to defeat the other two challengers although it is pretty clear that he will only receive about 25-30% of the vote come November. Prediction: Republican Party winner: Marlin Stutzman Democratic Party winner: Justin Kuhlne

Indiana's 4th Congressional District: This is another boring one as Republican Todd Gokita has more than enough money to survive a primary challenge from Kevin Grant.  Grant has made it easier by saying that he will defeat Gokita without raising a cent.  Good luck with that.  The Democratic Party is a collection of people who don't stand a chance in the general election.  But it will end up being John Dale vs. Jeffrey Blaydes.  Dale has more than 5 times as many Facebook likes than Blaydes #analysis.  Prediction: Republican Party winner: Todd Gokita Democratic Party winner: John Dale

Indiana's 5th Congressional District: Incumbent Republican Susan Brooks won the election in 2012 with nearly 60% of the vote.  She seems pretty safe for re-election.  David Stockdale is trying to lead the fight for liberty against Brooks by challenging her in a primary.  Brooks favors raising the age of retirement, a non-starter politically, unless you're in House of Cards.  While his staunch defense of the 2nd Amendment will play up to some of the primary voters, I think Brooks is pretty safe.  I'd imagine that the split in the primary ends up being 55-60% Brooks.  There are three Democratic candidates vying for the nomination on the left.  Shawn Denney, Allen Davidson, and David Ford are the candidates.  Right now, Denney is the slight favorite but Davidson and Ford could easily win, as well.  Right now, it would be tough to project Denney getting more than 45% of the vote.  So, this one, I'll be re-visiting up until May 6.  Prediction: Republican Party winner: Susan Brooks Democratic Party winner: Shawn Denney, right now

Indiana's 6th Congressional district: Republican incumbent Luke Messer does not have a challenger in the primary.  This means he probably won't have much of a challenge being re-elected, as he won his district with 60% of the votes in 2012.  As for the Democratic nomination, Lane Siekman would appear to be the favorite for the nomination.  The other two candidates probably don't have the name recognition to compete with Siekman.  So, this one is easy, for now.

Indiana's 7th Congressional District: Indiana's other Congressional district that is represented by a Democrat, seems pretty safe for the incumbent.  Carson is being challenged by three candidates but none of them appear to be a serious threat.  Carson won the general election with 63% of the vote in 2012 does not appear to have a strong challenger for the general election, either.  There are 5 Republicans battling it out for the nomination.  Catherine Ping and J.D. Miniear attempted to run in 2012 but lost in the primary to Carlos May.  Wayne Harmon, Erin Magee, and Gordon Smith appear to be trailing the two front-runners.  If I was a betting man, I'd bet on Ping being the nominee this time around.  But this could be a Republican primary worth watching.

Indiana's 8th Congressional District: A competitive Congressional District in Indiana? Why I never.  Incumbent Larry Bucshon won the 2012 general election with 53% of the vote.  The Club for Growth announced that they would target Bucshon in 2014 and called him a Republican in Name Only.  Enter Andrew McNeil, who thinks America has been destroyed by enemies within.  He also calls the debt immoral.  Despite that, the Club for Growth has not backed McNeil, yet.  If they do, McNeil stands a shot in the election.  But otherwise, not really a chance.  Tom Spangler is the only Democratic candidate filed for the election.  

Indiana's 9th Congressional District: After re-districting, Republican Todd Young was helped immensely.  The Hill estimated that he was the 10th biggest beneficiary.  But another estimated found that the district was now 53% Republican.  Either way, Young was able to win the 2012 election with 55% of the vote.  Young is being primaried but it does not appear to be a very serious challenge.  He may have a problem with the general election.  Bill Bailey is probably the favorite right now for the Democratic nomination.  James McClure Jr. is the other strong challenger to the nomination.  Either one could put up at least a little fight to Young's re-election.  

I'll re-visit the prediction machine as we get closer. 



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Millennials and the Republican Party

I am going to have a much more in-depth research project that will be posted on the new Pew Research Center's study on millennials.  But this will be a fairly short post.I will ultimately have a much longer piece offering bigger conclusions.

After the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party made all the right moves to convince people that they were going to re-evaluate how they reached out to voters.  They performed an electoral autopsy to find out why in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections the millennial generation had contributed to one of the largest age gaps in history.

About 50% of millennials identify themselves as independent but they tend to vote Democratic.  Nearly 50% of millennials state that they lean Democratic compared to 34% who state that they lean Republican.  This is going to be a problem for the Republican Party unless they can convince these voters on a number of issues.  The autopsy was supposed to reveal a way for them to reach out to this key constituency.

Unfortunately, their autopsy would have to ultimately conclude that younger voters are more liberal than the Republican Party believes.  It's really not surprising that millennial voters line up with the Democratic Party on a number of issues.  Most people already knew this.  The biggest supporters of same-sex marriage are younger (Pew Research found nearly 70% millennials support same-sex marriage).  Legalization of marijuana also skews to the younger generation (again, nearly 70% of millennials support same-sex marriage).  Even more news that wouldn't be shocking, the biggest supporters of the path to citizenship for immigrants are also the millennials.

These are all pretty quick fixes.  There are conservative arguments to be made in favor of same-sex marriage.  Including that marriage will help children grow up in more stable homes.  The path to citizenship was part of the Gang of Eight's immigration reform bill that helped push Marco Rubio into the national spotlight, before his support for the bill disappeared. The biggest voice for reforming drug laws and possibly legalizing marijuana laws has been CPAC straw poll winner Rand Paul.  There's a larger problem for the Republican Party for the millennial generation.

But what is troubling for the Republican Party, is that millennials do not agree with them on the proper role of government.  53% of millennials believe that the government should be larger offering more services compared to the majority of the population of the other generations that believe the government should be smaller and offer fewer services.  This trend is more seen in non-white millennials, 71% of non-white millennials believe that there should be a bigger government offering more services.  This is the growing population of the electorate.  Republicans are going to be on the wrong side of this.  A bigger problem in 2014 and 2016 is that the majority of millennials believe that it is the government's responsibility to provide health insurance for all.  A majority of Americans thought the same thing until about 2009, but that's another post, entirely.

So, what can the Republican Party do to win the millennials?  The first option is to simply ignore the millennials and focus instead on restricting voter access.  Based on the efforts of the GOP in various states, this way seems to be the most popular.  There are numerous legal ways of restricting voter access including populating the airwaves with non-stop attack or negative ads.  Negative ads depress voter turnout dramatically, especially among the young.  The second option is to maintain mid-term dominance.  Thanks to gerrymandering, decreased voter turnout, and massive campaign contributions the Republican Party will be able to win in mid-term elections and maintain the House of Representatives.  But without focusing on these issues, the presidential election will elude them.  Unless you believe rightly or wrongly that the era of sustained presidential success is over.  Since World War II, the party that had a two-term President has lost the ensuing election except in 1988 with George H.W. Bush.  The third option is to continue to address these issues with key legislators.  This strategy is being used currently with Rand Pal serving as the drug guy, Rubio was the immigration guy, Rob Portman will likely be the same-sex marriage guy, and so on.  But this doesn't address the fundamental issues that are hurting the Republican Party.

At some point, they have to challenge the Democratic Party on the issues.  A majority of millennials believe that there should be more programs that help the younger generation.  I do not know what services they may offer.  But something that would help is a stronger student loan bill that would rival Elizabeth Warren's bill.  Another thing that would help is to send federal grants to states for community colleges and state universities for job training programs and employment assistance.  These programs would not interfere with the belief of the Republican Party of government getting in the way for jobseekers.  This would actively help those seeking employment to find jobs after being educated and would ultimately cut federal spending on TANF, unemployment, Medicaid, etc.





Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Psychic politicians

Kansas and Arizona introduced controversial legislation in their respective state legislatures, in case you crawled under a rock the last couple of weeks.  If you did that, I'll sum up.  The bills were introduced so that businesses could discriminate against the LGBT community and those they could assume to be LGBT under the guise of religious freedom, provided that they object to their lifestyle and/or marriage.  Businesses are people, too, right?  So, of course they need religious freedom.  Ultimately, the bills failed.  Kansas's version fell apart in the state's Senate while in Arizona, it took Governor Jan Brewer to finally agree with the Chamber of Commerce and veto the bill.  But that's not what I want to talk about.

Some of the people defending the law believe that these laws are necessary because serving the LGBT community, even if it violates your personal religious beliefs, is sort of like slavery.  Other people who are defending the law are trying not to have their own personal beliefs seep through.  The idea is that the state legislators are elected to represent the people of their community.  Even if we disagree with the laws that they try and pass, we have to respect our democratic institutions.  Although, some may not use the word democratic in a positive light.  ANYWAY, the point is that the legislators are going to try and represent the people they are elected to, the best way possible.

Representatives of the state may believe that they are doing the best possible job representing their constituents but they might be wrong.  Politics is very often not about what you think but rather what you think others think.  Kansas's bill overwhelmingly passed the state's lower chamber.  Yet, according to a poll done by Public Policy Polling (PPP) only 29% of Kansans support the bill while 59% oppose the bill.  When we look at it along party lines, we see 80% of Democratic Kansans oppose the bill and 61% of Independents oppose the bill.  Even 44% of Republican Kansans say that they oppose the bill compared to 40% who support it.  We would have to assume that there is a large amount of the population lying about their true feelings, if you believe that Kansans really support the bill.

In Arizona, we find similar figures.  22% of Arizonians supported their version of the bill (SB 1062) while 66% opposed it.  Even more telling, 72% of Arizonians supported Governor Brewer's decision to veto the bill while only 18% opposed her veto.  86% of Democratic voters opposed the bill and 64% of independent voters opposed the bill.  51% of Republican voters opposed the bill compared to 34% who supported it.  Nearly 90% of Democratic voters supported Brewer's decision to veto the bill, while two-thirds of both Republican and Independent voters supported the decision.

Knowing all of this, the question that is raised is why do these legislators think their constituents want this bill?  The short answer is we're not psychic and we assume the ones talking the loudest are actually representative of the whole population.  Currently, about 53% of the population favor allowing same sex marriage compared to 41% who oppose it.  But that's not what we think others think.  A little over one-third of Americans (34%) believe that the majority of Americans favor same sex marriage.  About half of the population (49%) believe that the majority of Americans oppose same sex marriage.  These findings are interesting considering the majority of polls since 2012 show that the majority of Americans favor same sex marriage.

We're even worse when it comes to people that we think that we're closer to. Consider the following: 59% of white mainline Protestants believe their fellow congregants are mostly opposed to same sex marriage; yet, only 36% oppose same sex marriage.  57% actually favor same sex marriage.  Among Catholics, 73% believe that the majority of their fellow church (or is it mass?) goers are mostly opposed to same sex marriage.  But actually a slight majority 50% support it while 45% oppose same sex marriage.

I think we are, in part, allowing those who speak the loudest to dominate what we think is public opinion.  This isn't a problem for most of us, as we do not occupy positions of power.  But legislators do hold some power and they are constantly swayed by those who are speaking the loudest.  That's not all.  Legislators have often gotten their spot because they were active in their political community.  In conservative Arizona and Kansas, it is highly probable that the legislators believe that the opinion on LGBT issues is closer to their ideas than what it is in real life.  When these legislators hear the shouts from the anti-LGBT crowd, their position is re-enforced.  All of a sudden, it's just a matter of fact that public opinion is on their side.  Everyone wants to be right; it is easy to be convinced your side is the popular side.  But it's not always the case.  Just because you hear the loudest shouts from people doesn't mean that is how everyone feels about issues and we should stop pretending it is.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Working and organizing in the South

In 2013, Tennessee added 31,000 union members.  This was the largest percentage increase in union membership in the country in 2013.  The increase also represented a 25% increase in the number of workers joining unions.  But two other stats, Georgia and Alabama, increased their union members by more total people.  They added 38,000 and 37,000, respectively.  The increases were a little more than 22% in these states.  This increase was  only possible because of a decrease in union jobs from 2001-2010.  Tennessee and Georgia decreased their union members by nearly 50% in those years.  Despite the gains in Tennessee, only 6.1% of employees in Tennessee are unionized, well below the national figures of 11.3% of employees being unionized.

Labor experts do not expect these gains to continue.  Many believe that the effort has only been successful because of the historically low union participation rates in the south.  Dr. Barry T. Hirsch, the chair of the American Workplace at Georgia State University was quoted in a Times Free Press article saying, "when you start with a lower base of union membership, it's obviously easier to get big percentage gains when you add members."  Another contributing factor is that manufacturing and construction, two industries usually tied with high union participation, have significantly grown in the years since the recession.

But the factor that labor unions would like to focus on, is that employees are being disrespected, underpaid, and are finally aware of it.  Maybe the Republican talking point that we are focusing too much on income inequality is starting to get to employees.  Ethan Link, the program director for the International Union of North America's Southeast Laborers' District Council, was quoted in an article published by The Tennesseean driving this point home.  He said,"I don't think you can underestimate from the workers' standpoints how attitudes have been changing.  People don't always join unions when times are hard or wages are down.  They join unions when they see inequality or disrespect."  But even if they see inequality or disrespect, unions face a unique problem in the South.

Because the South has traditionally had low union participation, many workers there did not grow up with a union member in their household.  Because of this, many workers have negative views on unions or know very little about them.  It's easy for anti-union politicians to capitalize on this ignorance by heavily linking unions to the Democratic Party.  This is not an unfair tactic for anti-union politicians.  Unions are some of the biggest supporters of the Democratic Party.  Political contributions from unions nearly all go to the Democratic Party.  In areas like the South, this is a widely held belief and one that will not go away easily.  The southern states in the United States votes strongly Republican and ties to the Democratic Party are not going to be popular, regardless of what is happening.  But what is unfair for anti-union politicians is to say that the union dues are used primarily for political purposes.  In truth, the vast majority (close to 80%) of union dues stay within the local organization.  They typically cover organizing expenses, administration expenses, attorneys to assist in negotiations, training, research, and accountants.  Anti-union politicians usually brush the broad failure of cities such as Detroit over all unions.  Detroit also has another meaning in the South, where the decline of Detroit is linked to racial reasons and the fear of racial minorities.

Erik Loomis, labor historian, blogged at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, that the south is difficult to organize, due to "a combination of ideas of self-reliance, the fact that unions are seen as something with northern Yankee ideas, the impact of evangelical religion, and a culture that united rich whites and poor whites through racial solidarity."  We saw the difficulty of organizing in Tennessee with the United AutoWorkers (UAW) and Volkswagen's efforts to unionize their workforce.

Volkswagen invited the UAW to help unionize their workforce to help create an American version of the German works council.  This, already, may have hurt UAW's effort.  During a Congressional hearing on the impacts of mini-unions on the workplace, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation's attorney argued that employers actually enjoy having a union because they are only required to negotiate with the union.  The union then has a monopoly on the workers there.  Some people may believe this.  This may impact the organizing efforts.

State Senator Bob Corker announced that the Tennessee State Legislature would withhold any tax incentives for Volkswagen if the plant was unionized.  These tax incentives would hurt Volkswagen and could potentially force the company to relocate the plant.  The politicians in the state legislature were so potentially terrified of having a unionized workforce, that they would rescind favorable incentives for the company to eventually hurt the union.  This scorched earth tactic was particularly effective.  Workers did state that they were influenced by these threats.  The UAW has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over this interference in an effort to toss out the vote and allow for a new election.  The NLRB has not ruled on how they will handle it.

The head of the Center for Worker Freedom, wrote a series of opinion pieces in Chattanooga and tried to hold numerous rallies against the efforts to unionize.  Despite loudly denying that the anti-union activists coordinated their efforts to stop the efforts of the union, they were found to share information, articles, and opinion pieces.  This may not seem like much but the UAW has filed this as part of their complaint to the NLRB, saying that it unfairly affected workers' opinions.

Now politicians are going a step further to potentially punish unions.  State Representative Jeremy Durham has introduced a bill that would deny 1st Amendment rights of free speech to citizens who picket.  Durham stated that the reason for his law would be to have a preemptive strike against unions because they are adding too many members.

Union organizers in the South face a number of obstacles if they would like to organize the South.  We saw these efforts in full display over the UAW's efforts to unionize Volkswagen's plant.  But there are still some challenges that can easily be rectified, if the unions wish to.  They need to spend money on providing information to workers to fight the misinformation.  While union participation for the South will likely continue to be low, the information can help change people's opinions of unions and make it easier to unionize later.  This will be a long battle for unions if they want to organize the South, but one that looks to be worthwhile if they want to rapidly increase union participation in the region.  But this is going to be an uphill climb, one likely without the benefits seen in 2013.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Better know a politician: Matt Moore

Name: Matt Moore

Political party: Democratic

State: Alaska

District: Alaska's At-Large Congressional District

Current position: N/A

Future position: Moore is running against Don Young for Alaska's At Large Congressional seat.

Previous position: Candidate, Alaska State House of Representatives, 2004, 2010
President, Basher Community Council, 2000-2004
Vice-President, Basher Community Council, 1998-2000

Previous election: N/A

Future election: See future position.

Polling:
General election, Public Policy Polling
02/01/14

Don Young (R): 50%
Matt Moore (D): 22%
Other/Not sure: 28%

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments

  • Wants to develop low-cost energy alternatives for Alaskan communities
  • Would like to invest federal dollars to these energy alternatives (wind, solar, and geothermal energy)
  • Would like to increase solar and wind power and see the United States use 30-40% renewable energy consumption
  • Invest in infrastructure to transport liquefied natural gas to the lower 48 or to other countries
  • Enact and enforce regulations prohibiting ships from dropping untreated waste into Arctic waters
  • Invest federal dollars in communities most affected by drilling
  • Protect Alaskan fisheries
  • Protect military installations in Alaska
  • Supports expanded prohibitions against workplace discrimination
  • Wants to expand affordable child care opportunities
  • Reform the way the military responds to sexual assault
  • Pro-choice
  • Expand programs in rural areas to help women who are suffering from domestic abuse
  • Work with the VA to develop and implement programs to combat suicides by veterans
  • Reform the VA to expand coverage to more veterans
  • Supports Obamacare
  • Would like to reform Medicare reimbursement to doctors so doctors don't turn away Medicare patients
  • Would like additional health care reform
  • Would like Medicare to be able to negotiate lower drug costs
  • Looks to Finland as an example for education
  • Would like to increase teacher pay, better trained, and the quality of teachers

Better know a politician: Daniel S. Sullivan

Name: Daniel S. Sullivan

Political party: Republican

State: Alaska

Current position: N/A

Future position: Sullivan is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Alaska in 2014.

Previous position: Attorney General, Alaska, 2009-2010
Chairman, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, 2010-2013

Previous election: N/A

Future election: Sullivan will be running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2014.  If he wins, he will face incumbent Senator Mark Begich in November.  If he loses, he will be a potential candidate for Senate and Governor for years to come.

Polling:
Republican Primary, Public Policy Polling
02/01/14

Daniel S. Sullivan: 30%
Mead Treadwell: 25%
Joe Miller: 20%
Other/Not sure: 25%

General election, Public Policy Polling
02/01/14

Mark Begich (D): 41%
Daniel S. Sullivan: 37%
Other/Not sure: 22%

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments

This section is left blank as of now.

Better know a politician: Joe Miller

Name: Joe Miller

Political Party: Republican

State: Alaska

Current position: N/A

Previous position: Candidate, Republican Party, U.S. Senate, Alaska, 2010
Candidate, Republican Party, U.S. House of Representatives, Alaska's At-Large District, 2004

Future position: Miller is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate election in 2014.

Previous election: 2010, U.S. Senate, Alaska
Lisa Murkowski (R): 40.0%
Joe Miller (R): 35.5%
Scott McAdams (D): 23.5%
Other: 1.2%

Future election: Miller faces Daniel S. Sullivan and Mead Treadwell in the Republican primary for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate election in Alaska.  If he wins, he will face Mark Begich in the general election.  If he loses, it is likely that Miller will continue to insert himself as a potential candidate in Alaska elections for years to come.

Polling:
Republican Primary, Public Policy Polling
02/01/14

Daniel S. Sullivan: 30%
Mead Treadwell: 25%
Joe Miller: 20%
Other/not sure: 25%

General election, Public Policy Polling
02/01/14

Mark Begich (D): 45%
Joe Miller (R): 25%
Other/not sure: 30%

Fundraising, 2014 cycle:

Raised: $62,622
Spent: $257,699
Cash on hand: $231,705

Issues/positions/accomplishments

  • Believes most problems in America have been caused by judicial activism
  • Strict constitutionalist
  • Opposes abortions in every case except when the mother's life is in danger
  • Pro-life
  • Opposes stem cell research
  • Supports balanced budget amendment
  • Supports repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
  • Opposes affirmative action; supports repealing affirmative action programs
  • Supports constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriage
  • Supports the death penalty
  • Opposes federal hate crime legislation which demand stricter punishment for hate crimes
  • Supports mandatory sentencing for drug offenders but supports less prison time for non-violent offenders
  • Believes federal funding for education is unconstitutional; would eliminate the Department of Education
  • Supports expanding nuclear energy technology (except no federal funding for it)
  • Wants to develop hydroelectric projects
  • Believes that manmade climate change science is inconclusive
  • Wants to make sure people stop "cramming animal rights agenda" onto Alaskan dog racing
  • Wants to increase campaign donation limits and wants to deregulate corporate donations
  • Wants to increase transparency in government
  • Would like to identify constitutionality in every bill
  • Given an A by the NRA
  • Supports conceal-carry
  • Opposes the assault weapons ban
  • Supports the repeal of Obamacare
  • Supported Ted Cruz's stance to shut down the government to defund Obamacare
  • Wants to increase missile defense and intel spending
  • Seen as strong anti-amnesty legislation for immigration
  • Supports the line-item veto for the President
  • Opposes the federal farm subsidies
  • Opposes federal minimum wage
  • Opposes unemployment benefits
  • Supports the repeal of the 17th Amendment, returning Senate elections to state legislatures
  • Opposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare for current enrollees, although supports the eventual privatization of both.  Would also eliminate the federal government from providing Social Security
  • Stated East Germany did an effective job handling immigration

Better know a politician: Mead Treadwell

Name: Mead Treadwell

Political party: Republican

State: Alaska

Current position: Lieutenant Governor of Alaska (2011-present)

Future position: Treadwell is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Alaska.

Previous position: Deputy Commissioner of Alaska's Department of Environmental Commission, 1991-1994
Member of the Arctic Research Commission, 2001-2009

Previous election: Treadwell was elected along Sean Parnell in the 2010 gubernatorial election in Alaska.

Future election: Treadwell will be running in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Alaska in 2014.  If successful, he will face Mark Begich in the general election.  If he loses either in the primary or in the general election, Treadwell will likely be a contender for the gubernatorial or Senate election in 2018.

Polling:

Republican primary, Public Policy Polling:
02/01/14

Daniel S. Sullivan: 30%
Mead Treadwell: 25%
Joe Miller: 20%
Other/not sure: 25%

General election, Public Policy Polling
02/01/14

Mark Begich (D): 43%
Mead Treadwell (R): 37%
Other/not sure: 20%

Fundraising, 2014 cycle:
Raised: $605,933
Spent: $521,129
Cash on hand: $94,803

Top contributors, 2014 cycle:
GCI: $10,200
Fairweather LLC: $6,200
JPMorgan: $5,850
Carlile Trucking: $5,200

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments

  • Pro-life
  •  Supports the Hyde Amendment making sure federal dollars do not support abortion
  • Supported parental notifications for minors getting abortions
  • Strong supporter of 2nd Amendment rights
  • Believes we should address school shootings through mental health initiatives
  • Supports the repeal of Obamacare
  • Supports "traditional marriage" between one man and one woman
  • Supports additional oil pipelines
  • Supports additional energy exploration in Alaska
  • Promises to combat the Obama's administration's efforts to reduce the size of the military