By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

All politics is (still) local (II)

New York Times columnist Gail Collins: “We have a dramatic saga story line brewing here, and I do not want to mess it up by pointing out that Obama’s party won the only two elections that actually had anything to do with the president’s agenda.”

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  1. lkcape

    Keep trying to polish the apple, Dan.

  2. Dunque

    Yeah, I was going to call it whistling by the graveyard but you are spot on, lkcape.

    If these were the only elections that had anything to do w/the President’s agenda, not sure why he bothered making 5 trips to New Jersey.

    Apparently he felt it was important even if Gail Collins didn’t.

  3. Dunque

    As I pointed out in another thread here the main danger to President Obama’s agenda is that centrist Democrats are going to read the tea leaves and hold back on the President’s agenda.

    Harry Reid, hardly a centrist, is already saying maybe health care won’t come up until 2010. In an election year, with the results of the large state governorship races in their minds, does anyone really think they are going to go out on a limb for the President?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Democrats lose two gubernatorial races: that counts. Democrats win two congressional races: doesn’t count. Got it. Thanks for your insight.

  4. Dot

    Obama went to New Jersey five times because New Jersey is an important fundraising state. Even if Corzine was a lost cause, Obama, as party leader, has to put in the effort to keep his bona fides with NJ Democrats. It really isn’t that hard to figure out, and the willful naivete shown by conservative commentators is wearing thin.

  5. lkcape

    Here are some lessons for both parties…that Dan and Ms. Collins elect not to see:

    1) No amount of star power is going to help a candidate with a poor message.

    2) No amount of star power is going to save a power-house candidate who has lost the confidence of his constituency.

    3. The American electorate is still divided…about equally across the political landscape.

    4. The center right is where the independent voter is.

    5.Star power is unable to sustain a base on emotion alone.

    6. The economic well being of the electorate is of prime concern.

    7. You can try to spend your way to elective office, but you might get embarrassed or may not win.

    8. While 60% of the people did not consider the President’s involvement important to their vote, 40% did, and 2/3 of those voted against the President’s chosen candidate.

    Now, what the parties do about these, only time will tell.

    But I would venture that the willingness of the conservative Democrats elected in 2008 to toe the party line may be sacrificed on the truly divisive issues.

  6. mike_b1

    There is no, none, zip, zero, zilch data to support your assertion that “The center right is where the independent voter is.”

    In fact, it’s the opposite.

    Keep dreaming.

  7. lkcape

    Mr. B1… Before you flap you fingers, you may wish to read some of the less processed polling data.

    You may find that YOUR statements are no longer operative.

    But puff your pastry any way you can…

  8. Nial Liszt

    Gallup has some data for ya, Mike:

    “True to their nonpartisan tendencies, close to half of political independents — 45% — describe their political views as “moderate.” Among the rest, the balance of views is tilted more heavily to the right than to the left: 34% are conservative, while 20% are liberal.”

  9. Dot

    Until further notice, i.e. the 2010 House elections, “The center right is where the independent voter is” is simply wishful thinking. The 2008 election proved otherwise, and seeing as how Obama was constantly described as being a radical liberal, one does wonder how he even got elected, especially since conservative hindsight is telling us that McCain was too moderate. So, a moderate Republican candidate couldn’t win even with the electorate squarely center-right? What’s even more fascinating is that there isn’t actually a center-right party in this country, given the ideological purge going on in the GOP. So go ahead and look at polls. I’ll look at actual election results for my information about where the American electorate stands.

  10. lkcape

    You may wish to modify your conclusion, Dot, as time progresses. What the recently elected Democratic representatives in the House.

    With their votes, they may well say something very different than what you postulate.

    As for the GOP’s ideological purge?

    The elections in 2009 show that they should be cautious in how far they push that envelope.

  11. Dunque

    Dan – Your favorite argumentative tactic is to create a straw man out of someone else’s posting and then knock it down in your preferred smug, sarcastic mode.

    No one is saying the Democratic congressional wins don’t count. What is being said is that the gubernatorial races of two large states in which the President implored voters to take his side can fairly be construed to be some reflection of the President’s performance.

    If you want to instead say that a race where a candidate who dropped out at the last minute still had her name on the ballot and the 3rd party candidate projected the gravitas of Mr. Limpet is more important than the Governorships of large states, that’s your prerogative.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Dunque: If you want to overlook the local conditions that made both Democratic and Republican wins possible Tuesday night, be my guest. Corzine has been deeply unpopular for a very long time. Corzine has presided over a cesspool of corruption, and he was running against a guy who prosecuted corrupt politicians. The idea that even the most ardent Obama supporter could be persuaded to switch his vote from Christie to Corzine just because Obama told him to is laughable.

      I don’t know as much about the Virginia race, but the Democrat has been pretty universally described — for many weeks now — as a terrible candidate.

      It’s hardly a straw-man argument to point out that you like to claim local conditions are responsible when Democrats win but Obama is to blame when they lose. You’re the one who keeps saying it. I’m just pointing it out. The truth is that there were specific, local reasons in every race we’re talking about, most definitely including NY23.

  12. mike_b1

    Dot nailed it. This is no different than the cold feet some people got after the so-called Republican Revolution led by Newt Gingrich. And voters remember how that turned out: War and debt…debt and war.

  13. lkcape

    You may wish, Mr. B1, to look carefully as to where this nation is now headed under your beloved Dear Leader.

    More war. More and MUCH MORE debt.

    It still doesn’t change the reality that the nation is divided roughly 50-50 with the independent now moving to the right.

  14. mike_b1

    Sure thing, lkcape: You break something, I spend money to fix it, and somehow that’s my fault.

    Because that, my pale-faced friend, is exactly what is happening.

    How embarrassing for your side that every major association is coming out in favor of Obama’s policies. Again.

  15. Newshound

    From Jack Welch – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, blasted the Obama administration and Congressman Barney Frank saying Democrats’ actions to restructure the entire economy are “insane.”

    “I hope that the New Jersey and Virginia governor’s race will put some realism into this administration,” Welch said.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Newshound: Here’s Mark Zandi, a prominent economist who was an adviser to John McCain during the presidential campaign:

      The Great Recession is over. The nation’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent during the third quarter, proving that the longest, broadest and most severe American downturn since the 1930s has finally given way to recovery. It is no accident that the recession ended just as Washington’s fiscal stimulus program began providing its maximum impetus to the economy. If the financial crisis had been allowed to continue unchecked by aggressive government action, we would not yet have reached a turning point.

      Zandi is now calling on the government to do more, citing the “fragile” nature of the recovery.

      As for Welch, he is complaining about the extremely mild regulations that Democrats are considering to prevent the worst financial meltdown since the ’30s from happening again. Of course, Welch is the guy who transformed GE from a company that made things into essentially a glorified financial-services firm. Here is a pretty cool story from ProPublic with the headline “How a Loophole Benefits General Electric in Bank Rescue.”

      Theodore Roosevelt knew what to call people like Welch: “malefactors of great wealth.”

  16. Dunque

    Once again, Dan, you re-state a point I never made.

  17. Dunque

    Gold medal for missing the point, Dan. You’re saying the congressional races can be counted as the only reliable indicators of the public’s perception re: President Obama’s performance. I’m saying you can’t count those and not ignore the results of the elections for Governor in two large states.

    • Dan Kennedy

      You’re saying the congressional races can be counted as the only reliable indicators of the public’s perception re: President Obama’s performance.

      Precisely the opposite of what I said. I said, “All politics is (still) local,” I, II and III. Here’s what I wrote in the first one:

      The idea that Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia amount to some sort of repudiation of President Obama is just as silly as the notion that Obama’s endorsement was a key to Democratic victory in a congressional race in upstate New York.

      Got it?

  18. lkcape

    White-faced friend? A racist comment?

    Now, now, Mr. B1.

    You know better than that.

    Race has nothing to do with this discussion. You know, I know it, and everyone else knows.

    So what’s your point?

  19. mike_b1

    Welch is also the guy who oversaw one of the largest migrations of manufacturing from the US shores. He pushed that for the benefit of his own bank account. And now he thinks he knows how to fix the economy?

  20. Newshound

    Dan – yes – Jack Welch with board approval pledged the entire manufacturing machinery that built great jet engines and locomotives and much more to borrow the entire value of the company to deploy in a financial segment at higher interest rates, thus most appealing profits and fame for glorious success.

    Neither he nor Mr. Paulson, nor Mr. Geitner, nor Mr. Summers, nor Mr. Frank and almost everyone else in the world could predict the depth of this near economic collapse. I think they and most all of us could predict a strong chance of a lumpy and bumpy future the way things appeared to be going but very, very few knew or were suspicious to believe our own intuitiveness that the bottom was so far down and we were going to be there.

    Welch has a point to be concerned . . . what has happened is frightening and there is a lot of fear out there in the government-finance world, but Congressman Frank I think is sincere and darn smart and I think he is on society’s good side.

    Everyone with investments along with college endowments are viewing portfolios that declined in market value at the tune of about 33%, but not Mr. Frank. He was invested 100% in municipal and similar bonds and many people with investments certainly could envy his easy approach, whether by insight or otherwise, especially last March.

    Still, this is what people are saying, this is what people are fearing and when it comes to economic predictors many, perhaps rightfully, don’t know who to believe these days.

  21. lou

    As someone who suffered ad nauseum through the Virginia campaign ads, I’d like to point out that McDonnell ran a centrist campaign in NoVa. Deeds ran an awful, terrible, incompetent campaign. He never came out with anything to tell you why you should vote for him, only why you shouldn’t vote for McDonnell.

    And McDonnell ran effective defense over his Liberty U thesis, with one ad featuring his daughter, the Iraqi War veteran. Another featured women who worked with him, vouching for his pro-working women creds.

    It had nothing to do with Obama. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

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