Saturday, September 02, 2017

Voters Behave Differently During Wave Elections-- As We're About To See Next Year


Progressive Democrat Marie Newman is running against Blue Dog Dan Lipinski

One of the hardest tasks in politics is primarying an entrenched incumbent. Some of Blue America's grandest days was helping reformers oust corrupt conservative Democrats Tom Holden (PA), Al Wynn (MD) and Sylvestre Reyes (TX), launching congressional careers for, respectively, Matt Cartwright, Donna Edwards and Beto O'Rourke. This cycle our Primary A Blue Dog ActBlue page already has 4 candidates-- Tim Canova, who is running for Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Florida seat, Hector Morales, who is primarying Gene Green (TX), Marie Newman, who is running for the Chicagoland seat occupied by Dan Lipinski and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is primarying Joe Crowley, Congress' most corrupt Democrat and the Pelosi/Hoyer heir apparent. And we're vetting several others.

Friday morning, Sarah Bryner reported for the Center for Responsive Politics that 2018 is shaping up to be a year with far more incumbents being challenged than normal. Many entrenched members from both parties are in seats that are either so red or so blue that the only thing incumbents have to fear is a primary. Take Crowley's Queens/Bronx seat and Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's seat as examples. Neither of these guys should be in Congress-- each is intensely corrupt and even more intensely third-rate-- but each has a practically unassailable partisan district. Crowley's seat had a D+26 ranking in 2014. Today it is even bluer with a D+29 PVI. McCarthy's Bakersfield area seat was R+16 in 2014 and is now slightly less red at R+14, but still the reddest district in California. Crowley, who was given his seat by his sleazy predecessor, Tom Manton, in 1998, has never faced any serious opposition, neither from a Republican nor, until now, in a primary. The Republican vanity candidate who ran against him last year, Frank Spotorno, spent $96,104.15 to Crowley's $3,135,513.46 and won 17.1% of the vote-- 147,587 to 30,545.

CA-23, McCarthy's district will eventually turn blue, but it's possible that could be close to a decade away. McCarthy has held the seat since 2006 with no serious opposition. After winning reelection with between 100% and 73% every year, in 2016 he faced a dedicated progressive, Wendy Reed, who is challenging him again this cycle. In 2016 Reed managed to drag his winning percentage below 70% for the first time ever, a considerable accomplishment when you consider he had the full backing of his party, while she was ignored by her party. And, yeah, he outspent her $18,747,738.07 to $40,357.40.

In wave elections, though-- and 2018 is certainly looking like we will have a tremendous anti-Trump/anti-Ryan tsunami-- money isn't as meaningful as it is in normal election cycles, when the (non-self-funding) candidates who spend the most generally win. In the Democratic wave election of 2006 and the Republican wave election of 2010 people just wanted to vote against the party in power and in 2006 entrenched Republicans were beaten by Democratic challengers with a fraction of the campaign cash in the incumbent's hands. And the same thing happened in 2010 when under-financed GOP challengers ousted powerful, well-funded Democrats who outspent them by 3, 4 or 5 times! Challengers still need money be competitive... but not nearly as much as they would need in a non-wave cycle.

Bryner wrote that last cycle 97% of House incumbents were reelected but that "early signs in 2017 point to many incumbents facing better funded challengers than they have seen in years... 212 incumbents are facing a challenger who has filed a financial report with the Federal Election Commission. While this number still represents fewer than half of all incumbents, it is much higher than at a similar point in 2013, when only 95 incumbents had a challenger lined up. Facing a challenger with even a small amount of fundraising at this point in the cycle is an indicator of a tough re-election bid, although in 2013 these early challengers had no more success at taking down incumbents than people who entered the race later did. So far, this cycle more closely resembles the 2010 midterms, when the Democratic majority in Congress faced far more early challengers than did Republicans, than 2014, when the two parties were roughly equal. However, the absolute number of challengers in 2017 is much higher than at the same point in 2009."

The Republicans, given their control of the presidency, should expect midterm losses. And, based on the challengers lining up, Republicans appear to be at a disadvantage. Republicans face fewer challengers, proportionally, from their own party than do Democrats, but they also face far more opposite-party challengers. Most Democratic incumbents have no challenger at all.

Three incumbents who won with token or no opposition in 2016 are facing challengers who have raised more than $50,000. Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL-03) ran unopposed in the 2016 general and with only token opposition in the primary-- his district, on Chicago‚Äôs south side, is heavily Democratic-- but his primary challenger this cycle has outraised him in donations from individual donors.  Marie Newman has raised $120,812 from individuals, with $32,542 coming from donors giving less than $200. This might seem like a good sign for Newman, but Lipinski-- like many incumbents-- enters this re-election bid with a hefty war chest.
A reminder: When Dan Lipinski inherited his father's Southside Chicago district in 2004, he hadn't lived in Illinois in 15 years. He was a Tennessee conservative-- eventually he even voted for Tennessee Blue Dog Jim Cooer as Speaker instead of Nancy Pelosi-- but returned "home" to hold the family fiefdom. It's widely acknowledged that his corrupt father manipulated and subverted the Democratic process to get him into the seat. Lipinksi Sr was the most conservative Democrat in the Illinois delegation; Jr has proven to be even worse-- opposed to progressive health care... homophobic, anti-Choice, and with a disgraceful voting record that no representative from a solidly blue district should have.

Goal ThermometerBlue America has been hoping for a viable candidate against Lipinski every cycle since he started voting as a Republican. (And, by the way, ProgressivePunch rates him an "F" and so far this session his crucial vote score is 34.29. Half a dozen Republicans have had better voting records this cycle than Lipinski! As we mentioned back in March, Marie Newman, a former Bernie activist, has decided to take up the unenviable task of primarying an entrenched incumbent. Judging how the Democratic establishment tried to destroy Donna Edwards, Matt Cartwright, Beto O'Rourke, Hilda Solis and Eric Swalwell when they primaried corrupt conservative incumbents, Marie is going to be in for a rough time. But helping end the disgusting mess that is Dan Lipinski's contemptible career is something worth getting behind. We have a new ActBlue page especially for progressive Democrats taking on reactionary incumbents from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Please consider tapping on the thermometer on the right and contributing what you can.

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At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

voters will vote either for pure evil (R) or smiling evil (Democrap) again. Just like every election since the DLC morphed the Ds into the hideously corrupt cluster fuck they are.

Once over, the D voters will go back to sleep and feel good about 'winning' and the R voters will seethe with hate and renew their energy for death and destruction.

I don't see anything different about that.


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