Friday, May 31, 2013

DSCC Getting Its Dream Candidate, Joe Miller, Against Begich In Alaska?


DSCC & Tea Party agree Joe Miller should be the GOP nominee. The GOP... not so much

In the Quinnipiac poll released yesterday, voters across the country were clear that after weeks of intense right-wing propaganda and Establishment media drummed up poutrage, the GOP Scandalpalooza isn't as important to anyone as it is to deranged Republicans. By enormous margins-- 73-22%-- voters said dealing with the economy is a higher priority than the IRS, Benghazi, and Associated Press controversies the congressional Republicans are putting virtually all their energy into.
American voters say 43- 32 percent that congressional criticism of the Obama Administration's handling of the terrorist attack in Libya is 'just politics.' Voters say 44- 33 percent, however, that members of Congress who criticize the way the Obama Administration handled the IRS are raising 'legitimate concerns.' Criticism of the Justice Department's seizure of journalists' phone records also raises 'legitimate concerns,' voters say 37- 24 percent.

...But voters say 73- 22 percent that dealing with the economy and unemployment is a higher priority than investigating these three issues.
And the highest priority for Democrats is working to improve the economy-- especially Senate Democrats. As Greg Sargent pointed out in his Washington Post column yesterday, after reading the same Quinnipiac poll, "a variety of indicators, from rising home prices to buoyed consumer confidence to falling gas prices, suggest that the economy is improving at a stronger clip than previously anticipated."
If the recovery is strong next year, it could help Dems hold the Senate. That’s because, with Democrats fighting on defense across the board, Dem control of the Senate hinges on whether a half dozen incumbents can hang on. And an improving economy can help incumbents. As Amy Walter of the nonpartisan [actually it's extremely skewed towards Republicans but Greg writes in DC so...] Cook Political Report explains:
Good economic times are good for incumbents. After all, voters are more apt to look for change in tough times than they are in good ones. Significant economic anxiety contributed to the “wave” elections of 2008 and 2010. In 2012, the economy improved just enough to help President Obama win re-election.

This year, Americans’ confidence in the economy is as strong as it’s been in years. If that continues, it would probably mean a status quo cycle; which is the best that Democrats could hope for.

Democrats are the underdogs in 2014. They are defending seven Senate seats in deep red states, while Republicans have no vulnerable seats to protect…The best case scenario for Democrats is 2014 to limit their losses. An improving economic outlook could help them do that. The economic environment is much improved from where it was right before Election Day 2010. And, it’s even a bit better than it was in the fall of 2012.
And one of those deep red states with a Democratic senator is Alaska-- and Mark Begich, who has upset his own base with a series of wrong-headed right-wing votes, like backing the NRA demand to kill background checks (which is very popular in Alaska). Alaska is a tough environment for Democrats in statewide races. Obama only drew 41% of the vote there last year, worse than he did in Georgia, South Carolina, or Mississippi. And when Begich first won, in 2008-- with the incumbent Republican embroiled in a series of outrageous corruption scandals on the front pages of every newspaper-- it was a very slim lead: 151,767 (48%) to 147,814 (47%). Two years later, Scott McAdams, the Democratic challenger to GOP incumbent Lisa Murkowski, came in third. Murkowski, who had narrowly lost the primary to a neo-fascist teabagger named Joe Miller, ran in the general as an independent write-in candidate and won with 101,091 (40%), while Miller, the official Republican candidate took 90,839 votes (36%) and McAdams trailed with a mere 60,045 (23%).

Many Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents abandoned McAdams when polls showed he had no chance and voted for Murkowski to prevent the crazed teabagger from winning the seat. Well... the crazed teabagger is back. He wants to Republican nomination again, this time to run against Begich. A recent PPP survey found that Alaska voters are angry at Begich for voting against background checks. But will they vote for a certifiably insane militant gun loon instead?
When we polled Alaska in February Lisa Murkowski was one of the most popular Senators in the country with a 54% approval rating and only 33% of voters disapproving of her. She's seen a precipitous decline in the wake of her background checks vote though. Her approval is down a net 16 points from that +21 standing to +5 with 46% of voters approving and 41% now disapproving of her. Murkowski has lost most of her appeal to Democrats in the wake of her vote, with her numbers with them going from 59/25 to 44/44. And the vote hasn't increased her credibility with Republican either-- she was at 51/38 with them in February and she's at 50/39 now.

Mark Begich is down following his no vote as well. He was at 49/39 in February and now he's at 41/37. His popularity has declined with Democrats (from 76/17 to 59/24) and with independents (from 54/32 to 43/35), and there has been no corresponding improvement with Republicans. He had a 24% approval rating with them two months ago and he has a 24% approval rating with them now.

60% of Alaska voters support background checks to just 35% opposed, including a 62/33 spread with independents. 39% of voters say they're less likely to vote for each of Begich and Murkowski in their next elections based on this vote, while only 22% and 26% say they're more likely to vote for Begich and Murkowski respectively because of this.

Alaska will definitely be a high-profile, high-priority Senate battleground state this year. There's probably no one Begich would rather see as his opponent than Miller.
Apparently, the 2010 loss still smarts. Miller seems almost to be running as much against Murkowski as Begich.

“Though I was labeled an ‘extremist’ by the likes of Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich for telling the truth, both of our sitting senators now routinely engage in such ‘extremist’ rhetoric with respect to federal overreach, government spending, and entitlement reform,” Miller writes on his Restoring Liberty website.

Miller’s political manifesto is straight out of the tea party wing of the Republican Party.

“With the re-election of Barack Obama, our very way of self-government is in peril,” he says. “The Constitution is under attack, the value of human life degraded, religious liberties are threatened, the Second Amendment is increasingly in jeopardy, and the right to protection from unlawful search and seizure is giving way to a virtual surveillance State.”

He warns of a “looming debt crisis” and “the coming downgrade of America’s credit rating.” The US senators he says he most admires: Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah-- those who will “confront President Obama, not one who will cut a deal to negotiate the terms of our surrender to his radical socialist agenda.”

...Earlier this month, a state judge ordered Miller to pay $85,000 in attorney’s fees to the Alaska Dispatch online news organization in Anchorage tied to a 2010 lawsuit to make public Miller’s employment records during his time as a part-time government lawyer. At one point in the dust-up, Miller’s security men at a town hall meeting handcuffed the editor of the Alaska Dispatch.

“Miller’s conduct, which included taking inconsistent positions, failing to disclose information during discovery, and his procedural filing, which the record did not support, all caused unnecessary delay and costs for both Alaska Dispatch” and the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides wrote in her ruling.

Is there any chance that Ms. Palin could jump into Alaska’s 2014 US Senate race? It may be unlikely, but recent polls could tempt the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee.

She enjoys a 62 percent favorable rating among Republican voters in the state, according to a Harper Polling survey earlier this month, and she leads Miller 52 percent to 19 percent in a hypothetical head-to-head match.

Miller, meanwhile, has a 49 percent to 34 percent unfavorable-favorable rating in that poll.
So, will the Democratic base forgive Begich his dalliance with the NRA and his generally conservative Republican voting record? Blue America certainly will not be adding him to our Senate page of endorsed candidates but I suspect that Alaska Democrats will hold their noses and vote for him... IF Miller is the nominee (or Palin). Miller is now publicly embracing the term "extremist" to describe him and his agenda:

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