Sunday, October 06, 2013

Will The GOP Shut-Down-The-Government Strategy Further Decimate California Republicans?


Trends start in California

Obama beat Romney 6,493,924 (59%) to 4,202,127 (38%) in California. Obama won every county with a substantial population except Orange and Riverside-- and Riverside was a 49-49% tie. Of California's 53 congressional districts, Obama won 41 districts (including 3 with Republican congressmen, Jeff Denham, David Valadao and Gary Miller) and of the 12 Romney won, Obama was within striking distance in 3, all occupied by GOP congressmen who are Boehner loyalist committee chairmen, Darrell Issa, Ed Royce and Buck McKeon. There were 7 districts where Romney failed to even get 20% of the vote. Could it get even worse for Republicans in California? You bet it can-- and it is. For example, a poll released this morning by PPP shows that if the election were held today, an unnamed Democrat candidate would beat Miller 48-39%.

That has a lot to do with why very conservative Establishment hack Devin Nunes has been railing against teabaggers in general and against Ted Cruz in particular. Nunes would like to run statewide and he sees the GOP brand continuing to crumble in a state where there's already been a lot of crumbling.

An even vaguely competent DCCC would be working not just to beat Gary Miller, Dave Valadao and Jeff Denham, in the districts Obama won, but would be working on one or two-cycle strategies to rid Congress of-- for starters-- McKeon, Issa (whose districts Obama won in 2008) and Royce.

In his article about how the shut down heavy the pressure is on moderate Republicans, Joe Tanfani, writing for the L.A. Times, doesn't even mention any California moderates, primarily because there are no California moderates. All of them are conservatives, either crazed teabaggers like McClintock and La Malfa, or somewhat more more mainstream or Establishment conservatives like Kevin McCarthy and Paul Cook. So L.A. Times readers are stuck trying to relate to obscure Republican backbenchers they never heard of in New Jersey and Pennsylvania like Jon Runyan, Frank LoBiondo, Charlie Dent, Pat Meehan, Jim Gerlach, and Mike Fitzpatrick.

The Miami Herald ran with a story about the woes a few California Republican congresscritters are facing-- 2, Valadao and Denham, in the San Joaquin Valley. Even wingnut Tom McClintock (the only Californian on the list of the 32 right-wing extremists who forced the shut down), in one of the state's reddest districts is feeling the pressure from angry constituents.
Carolyn Botell, administrator of the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce in Groveland, Calif., said in an interview Friday that local businesses have been “financially devastated” by the combination of the government shutdown and the earlier Rim fire that burned more than 256,000 acres. Botell said businesses are “definitely seeing less people,” although she added there are “a lot of people coming in who don’t know about the situation.”

“One of the questions my visitors ask me is how long will this last,” Botell said, “and I just tell them I have absolutely no idea.”

During the last federal government shutdown, in 1995-96, vocal complaints from Yosemite-area communities helped persuade the region’s then-congressman, George Radanovich, to eventually repudiate the shutdown tactic. Like other lawmakers at the time, he came around to the view that national parks should be immune from shutdowns.

McClintock’s office did not respond to multiple queries Friday.

On Wednesday, though, he and other House Republicans passed a funding bill that would selectively reopen the National Park Service, while leaving other public lands agencies closed. House Republicans have been passing a number of similarly selective funding measures, while seeking to maintain leverage in efforts to delay or change the Affordable Care Act.

…“I tried everything I could to steer us against this strategy,” Nunes said in an interview Friday. “It’s going to end badly for some in my party.”

On Capitol Hill, the term of the week is “clean CR.” This refers to a continuing resolution, or funding measure, that is free of Republican attempts to defund, delay or take some other action related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats are using the “clean CR” option as an attack line on Republicans, including Denham and Valadao. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday declared in a statement that Denham “won’t budge from his reckless shutdown, voting in lockstep with his Republican leadership to refuse to end the shutdown.”

Denham, in an interview, countered that he’s been joining House Republicans in passing individual funding bills, which he blamed the Senate for blocking. He insisted that a bill to reopen the entire government should rightly be paired with provisions delaying or changing the Affordable Care Act.

“The problem is, Obama has been picking and choosing which parts of this law to implement,” Denham said. “It’s unfair to my district.”

Valadao, likewise, said an interview Friday that he supports the House Republican leadership, which has so far been adamant about combining anti-Affordable Care Act provisions with any long-term government funding bill. Valadao said he’s been hearing from many valley residents who share his concern about the new health law; at the same time, he said he’s willing to consider new directions.

“I’m going to keep my options open,” Valadao said. “We have to sit down at the table and talk.”
Friday night Alan Grayson appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher and helped explain to TV viewers what their father's Republican Party has turned into. "There are really 3 Republican parties: there are the corporate shills, there are the religious fanatics and then there are the freedom fiends, the ones who want to make sure you have the right to sleep under a bridge.” Our old friend Joshua Holland has been trying to explain the Republican mindset that is causing so many problems for so many of the ones who don't live in the Old Confederacy. He laid it all out for Bill Moyers:
It’s widely understood that the government has been shut down by a relatively small number of Republican lawmakers who represent deeply red districts. They’re insulated from public opinion at large. They don’t fear a general election loss to a Democrat; they’re motivated by avoiding a primary challenger from their right flank.

So to fully understand what’s driving the Republican Party’s brinkmanship, one has to look at the motivations of its base voters-- how they see the world around them. This lies at the heart of what’s happening in the Capitol today.

Democracy Corps-- a Democratic-leaning polling firm-- released a study this week based on a series of focus groups they conducted with loyal Republican voters. They divided them up into three sub-groups which together represent the base of the party. Evangelicals represent the largest group, followed by Republicans who identify with the tea party movement. “Moderates,” the third group, make up about a quarter of the party’s base, according to the pollsters.

Fear of a changing society is one thing that unites all three factions. The battle over Obamacare, write the study’s authors, “goes to the heart of Republican base thinking about the essential political battle.”

They think they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support. It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegals; but insuring the uninsured dramatically grows those dependent on government. They believe this is an electoral strategy-- not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican Party may be lost, in their view.

And while few explicitly talk about Obama in racial terms, the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities. Their party is losing to a Democratic Party of big government whose goal is to expand programs that mainly benefit minorities. Race remains very much alive in the politics of the Republican Party.

They worry that minorities, immigrants, and welfare recipients now believe it is their “right” to claim [public] benefits. Tea Party participants, in particular, were very focused on those who claim “rights” in the form of government services, without taking responsibility for themselves.
They are also unified in their belief that Obama is a usurper who has hoodwinked the public into re-electing him by hiding his true beliefs, which are essentially Marxist. They also think that Democrats have won the major political battles of our time because Republican legislators in Washington didn’t put up a fight.

But there are also deep divisions within the base, according to the analysis. Evangelicals still focus overwhelmingly on social issues. They think gay rights are the biggest threat to our society, but they also worry about the loss of what they see as an idyllic small-town culture. They feel besieged as the cultural ground shifts beneath them, and see themselves as a beleaguered, “politically incorrect” minority.

Tea partiers display a libertarian streak, and are far less concerned with social issues. They are staunchly pro-business. But there’s an easy alliance between these two groups -- which make up well over half of the GOP base-- because Evangelicals think the tea partiers are fighting back, and vice versa.

Both groups displayed a high level of paranoia, according to the researchers who conducted the study. They noted that this was the first time, in many years of conducting focus groups, that participants worried that their participation might trigger surveillance by the NSA or an audit by the IRS. In addition to thinking that Obama is a liar, and a covert Communist, these two groups were also more likely to express the belief that he is secretly a Muslim.

The moderates were, as one might expect, quite different. Like the tea partiers, they don’t worry as much about social issues. Their concerns are traditionally conservative-- they worry about excessive regulation and taxation. They have a hard time taking Fox News seriously, and hold a deep disdain for the tea party faction. They are also keenly aware of their waning influence within the coalition.

Moderates are not so sure about their place in the current Republican Party. They worry about the ability of Republicans in Congress to make government work. They believe the party is stuck, not forward-looking, and representative of old ideas. They worry about the Republican Party’s right turn on social and environmental issues-- which makes it difficult, especially for young moderates-- to view the Republican Party as a modern party.
Unlike the tea partiers and Evangelicals, the moderate faction desperately wants lawmakers in Washington to find a common middle ground. They are less likely to worry about unauthorized immigration than the rest of the base, and some went so far as to speak positively about immigrants’ contributions to our society and economy.

Climate change is another dividing line between moderate Republicans and the hard-right. GOP moderates may be unsure of the science on climate change, but they don’t reject it out of hand, and some are legitimately worried about the effects of a changing climate.

In this, they stand out from the Evangelical and tea party wings. The study’s authors write:
Moderates are not even in the same conversation as Evangelicals who deeply doubt scientists writ large and Tea Party Republicans who are consumed by the big government and regulations that inevitably result from climate science.

Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans share and are consumed by skepticism about climate science-- to the point where they mistrust scientists before they begin to speak.
The whole study is fascinating. You can read it here.

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At 5:25 PM, Anonymous me said...

When counting California republicans, you left out Dianne Feinstein.


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