Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Did We Learn Anything About November From Yesterday's Primaries?


The DCCC found something to run on that probably won't mean much as most voters decide who to pull the lever for-- nor will it get many people out to the polls-- the Republican tax bill. But Dan Sena, executive director of the DCCC, is all over it. He hired the over-priced Democratic polling firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, to reassure him that more people oppose the GOP tax bill than favor it. That's what the graph up top shows-- 50% oppose it and 41% favor it. I hope that gave Sena district by district breakdown too, because this national polling doesn't mean a hell of a lot.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner certainly know how to wrap this stuff up in shiny, colorful paper and put a bow on it. "The dropping popularity of the tax bill," they sent in their memo, "is no surprise considering that voters do not expect to benefit from much of the trillion-dollar tax bill, which reflects the reality that the vast majority of the bill’s tax cuts flow to the wealthy and large corporations. This drop in support is also consistent with the fact that Republicans have dramatically decreased their promotion and advertising of the tax bill since it was signed into law. Reuters reports that Republicans are not talking about this unpopular piece of legislation in their districts. In the special election in Pennsylvania, Republicans stopped all advertising on the tax bill in the final weeks-- after Congressman Conor Lamb successfully push backed on the realities of the bill. Republicans did not even attempt to sell the bill in a too-close-for comfort special election in Arizona... [T]he DCCC’s latest national polling provides several key metrics on the national environment when comparing Democrats in Congress versus Republicans in Congress.
Asked which group would “stand up for people like me,” Democrats in Congress have a 9-point advantage (54-45%).
Voters believe Republicans in Congress are more likely to “enrich themselves and their friends at the expense of taxpayers,” by a 14-point margin (56-42%).
Voters believe Republicans in Congress are more “out of touch with people like me,” by a 10-point margin (54-44%)
While many voters believe the economy is improving, this does not translate to a Republican advantage: voters divide evenly between the parties (49-50%) on who they trust more to handle jobs and the economy.
So how will this impact Republican incumbents? Let's take a look at two races-- a Senate race in Texas and a House race in Kentucky. JMC Analytics and Polling released their own poll yesterday for Texas Republicans. And while Greg Abbott would be reelected with double digit majorities, not so for Senator Ted Cruz. His lead over Beto O'Rourke is just 7 points-- 47-40%. His unfavorables (42%) are also higher than his favorables (44%). Beto's favorables are much bigger than his unfavorables-- 35% to 20%. He has a lot of ground to make up though. 44% either have no opinion of him or have never heard of him.

Cruz trails in Austin and El Paso and Dallas/Ft Worth is a tie. The worst news for Cruz is that among Independents, he trails O’Rourke 38-45%.

The DCCC would love to win KY-06. The Lexington-centered district has an R+9 PVI and Trump "only" beat Hillary there 54.7% to 39.4%. Obama did better than her both times he ran. She was the wrong candidate for the district, although in Fayette County-- which is the only county in the district with a significant population-- Hillary and Bernie both had way more voters than any-- or even all-- of the Republicans.
Hillary- 20,014
Bernie- 17,048
Cruz- 4,330
Trumpanzee- 3,727
Rubio- 3,320
• Kasich- 3,266
Going into the KY-06 primary, none of the candidates looked any good to me-- which means none of them looked like they would add anything worthwhile to Congress. McGrath looked like a collection of identity politics bullshit looking for a career with an excellent video someone made for her. Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington, looked worse-- a mixed up gay conservative Blue Dog. Two wastes of House seats. By the May 2 FEC reporting deadline she had spent $1,727,325 and Gray had spent $876, 368, including on a terrible negative ad, accusing her of not living in the district while she was in the service. That may have lost him the race. And that whole Blue Dog thing. Party bosses, and especially the DCCC, love those Blue Dogs. When will they ever learn that Democratic voters don't? Amy beat Gray 48,859 (48.7%) to 40,684 (40.5%) in a 6-canddiate race. Andy Barr, the Republican incumbent also had a primary. Amy drew considerably more voters than he did. A National Journal story worth looking at, before the votes were cast:
Mark Nickolas, the campaign manager for Kentucky congressional candidate Amy McGrath, took a late flight on April 25 to have breakfast the next morning on Capitol Hill with a top political strategist at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The contested primary was more than three weeks away, but the conversation centered on general-election strategy: how McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, could best take on Republican Rep. Andy Barr in November.

It was a meeting that would have been unremarkable, except that it signaled a stunning reversal by the same national Democrats who recruited Lexington Mayor Jim Gray into the primary in December, four months after McGrath launched a credible, well-funded campaign.

“They thought they had a better option,” Nickolas said. “I wanted to show them that they made a mistake, and I think I succeeded at it.”

That behind-the-scenes maneuvering, which incensed McGrath’s team and instantly relegated her to underdog status, led to a multimillion-dollar primary battle. Top Kentucky Democrats watching the race now say McGrath is at least slightly favored in Tuesday’s primary against the well-known and wealthy mayor of the district’s largest city who boasts high name ID from a 2016 Senate run.

Though Gray started as the overwhelming favorite, McGrath has since caught him in internal polling, outpaced him in total TV ad spending, and built a formidable ground game in the district’s rural counties to counter his support in the major cities.

“He’s underestimating me,” McGrath said in a Monday phone interview between campaign events. “I just think the DCCC sometimes is disconnected with real America. It’s sad that they recruited him, but we’re going around them.”

In what is perhaps an acknowledgement of McGrath’s late surge, Gray, after largely ignoring her for much of the nearly six-month primary, released an eleventh-hour attack ad Friday that accused her of being a carpetbagger. The spot drew public criticism from veterans’ groups and Rep. Ted Lieu of California, a DCCC vice chairman.

“At the moment, she’s got the momentum,” said Terry McBrayer, a former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman who is friendly with both candidates. “The big question is whether he can pull it off and stop that. His name recognition is better, but she’s gained name recognition in a big way.”

McGrath’s insurgent campaign stayed largely positive, using her compelling history-- as the first female Marine to fly in an F-18 fighter jet in combat-- to tap into a national donor base and raise her profile. Eventually she won tacit support from a Democratic establishment that initially insisted that her opponent would be the stronger foil against Barr.

McGrath retired from the Marines to run for Congress only after receiving assurances from Gray in the spring of 2017 that he was not interested in running. But the committee repeatedly urged Gray to enter the race, according to multiple sources, hoping to capitalize on his high approval ratings and ability to self-fund-- much to the chagrin of prominent Democrats allied with McGrath who warned the committee that it was creating an unnecessarily costly contest.

At the start of the primary, McGrath and her allies made no secret of their disdain for the DCCC’s meddling and hit Gray as a pawn of the establishment. Her campaign even considered going nuclear on the national party that burned them. It spent $17,000 to film a video on Nickolas’s Woodford County farm where McGrath, direct-to-camera, bashed “party bosses for choosing the same, old, unelectable candidates.” But her campaign team scrapped it.

Initial polling indicated that there was a hunger in the district for someone with her background and message, a political outsider and military veteran. Still, McGrath started out with 44 percent name ID, while Gray had 92 percent.

By February, Nickolas watched with apprehension as the DCCC tore into Texas congressional candidate Laura Moser, whom it deemed unviable in the general. He initiated contact with the committee-- for the first time since Gray entered-- and shared recent internal general-election polling to blunt that argument against his candidate. McGrath trailed the incumbent by 4 points, while Gray was up 2 points, though less than half the electorate was familiar with McGrath.

Nickolas asked the campaign pollster, Fred Yang, to brief the DCCC political team on the full findings, which he did in a mid-March phone call. The committee acknowledged that McGrath would be a credible nominee, according to a source familiar the call.

Tensions continued to thaw; Jason Bresler, the DCCC’s political director, texted frequently with Nickolas during the past couple of months. And in May, McGrath received donations from Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel and from Rep. Cheri Bustos’s leadership PAC. They are the first members to contribute since Gray entered the race, according to McGrath’s campaign.

When reached for comment, DCCC spokesman Jacob Peters said: “It is common and expected for us to be in regular contact with Democratic campaigns running in targeted districts. Rep. Andy Barr is one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country.”

Privately, some Kentucky Democrats attribute McGrath’s rise, in part, to a series of missteps by the Gray campaign. Though he has personal wealth, he invested relatively little in his campaign and let McGrath outspend him on the air every week in April. In fundraising emails, Gray trained his focus on Barr, rarely using a primary threat to persuade donors to write checks.

But Jamie Emmons, Gray’s campaign manager, disputed that narrative.

“Of course, we took it seriously, we raised and spent a million-and-a-half dollars. That’s a very serious primary,” Emmons said, adding that the campaign’s recent internal polling showed Gray in the lead.

Multiple internal polls conducted as late as early March showed McGrath trailing Gray by more than 30 points. Then, an April internal poll by McGrath’s campaign surprised even her staunchest allies—she led Gray by 7 points, a swing of more than 50 points from its December primary poll. Her name ID shot up nearly 40 points to 83 percent, and her favorables more than doubled to 64 percent.

It was the results of that poll that precipitated Nickolas’s meeting with the DCCC.

“Conventional wisdom tells you Jim Gray should be winning and winning big,” said a national Democratic source based in Kentucky granted anonymity to speak candidly. “David and Goliath is what this is. It should never have been happening.”

McGrath and Gray spent more than $550,000 apiece in April alone. If she wins Tuesday, McGrath admitted she will start with very little in her campaign coffers, but said the fierce primary battle helped hone her skills.

“It’s kind of like you do the minor leagues before you get into the major leagues,” she said.
Time for the DCCC to stop recruiting the damn Blue Dogs already? Past time, way past time.

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At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

further proof that your epiphany is looooooooooong overdue.

At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DCCC is winning more than they are losing to progressives. The handwriting IS on the wall, yet too many still pretend to be unable to read it. The GOP will hold the House, and Trump will escape his legal woes and run again.

At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most voters won't know how the tax bill affects them until well after the midterm election, and they will forget by the 2020 election. This is not the issue the democrats are looking for.

At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

most voters in this shithole are incapable of knowing whether they are or are not alive.


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