Showing posts with label FEC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FEC. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2008

And on the Seventh Day, the Blogger Rested

Fine, a slowdown in the campaign, at least in terms of contests, equals a slowdown in blog output. Well, it's either that or fatigue. To quote Grandpa Simpson (see below), "a little from column A, a little from column B." Regardless, there has been some action worth noting on the trail and beyond over the last couple of days.

McCain continues to battle the FEC over the issue of the loan he took out last fall to keep his campaign afloat. The kicker is that now the DNC is involved; writing letters to the FEC calling for action. Good luck to the DNC on that one. Aren't Senate Democrats holding up those FEC commissioners' confirmations in a standoff with the White House? The "all bark and no bite" FEC is even more toothless now that it is stuck in limbo, biding its time until a full slate of commissioners can actually do the work of upholding the very law John McCain helped to create. Funny business, this politics.

In other McCain news, he's old, but not any older than Bob Dole would have been had the former Senate majority leader won in 1996. [Of course McCain is trying to avoid bottoming out financially during the summer months like Dole did. Repeating the summer of 2007 would be bad enough for the presumptive Republican nominee.] The age issue is working its way into the VP discussions surrounding McCain though. Regional balance has been a longstanding consideration in the running mate calculus, but age balance is an altogether different factor. Dole's choice of Kemp in 1996 is an obvious example and Bush's decision to go with Quayle in 1988 is similar in some ways. One could potentially argue that Eisenhower choosing a younger Richard Nixon fits this category as well.

The reverse scenario, where a relatively young candidate choses someone with more experience, has also popped up historically. Kennedy tapping Johnson in 1960 comes to mind. Age though wasn't the main consideration there. The Austin to Boston axis, usually a balance among the Democratic leadership in Congress during the period, was at play with this tandem as well. The two also finished one-two in the primaries (non-binding) and in the convention brokering that year. So age may not have been the top concern in 1960. George W. Bush selecting Dick Cheney could also fit into this category. A failed run for Congress and a long period outside of the public sector followed by six years as Texas governor, left the younger Bush vulnerable to the inexperience label. Cheney's time in Congress as well as his stints in the Ford and (first)Bush administrations helped Bush shed that label. And of course, if Obama is to become the Democratic nominee then age may again be a factor.

Speaking of VP speculation, here's the latest from The Fix. And here's the view from a political science perspective.

On the Democratic side, the race is still on and getting somewhat petty/nasty in the lead up to the Ohio-Rhode Island-Texas-Vermont round of contests on March 4. The Clinton folks are fighting Obama's momentum and the perception that it's over (Of course, that's the media killing Clinton and lauding Obama or so goes the charge.). Tightening poll numbers in the largest of those states (Texas and Ohio) are not helping that effort. The head-to-head match ups against McCain aren't either (Clinton and Obama). The Clinton anger has turned to sarcasm has turned to negative photos of Obama in a whirling dervish of ploys for votes in the two March 4 prizes (Sorry Rhode Island and Vermont. Bigger is better. Just ask North Dakota how Super Tuesday went with California hogging the late night spotlight.). All this before tomorrow night's debate in Cleveland. That should make for an interesting last tussle before the contests next week.

Meanwhile, Ralph Nader has thrown his hat in the presidential ring once more
. His appearance on the Meet the Press was an interesting one. He shrugged off worries that he would siphon off votes from the Democrats in November countering the 2000 election argument by citing research by Solon Simmons (see citation below). [The main finding there is that Nader forced Gore to take more progressive stands, actually gaining votes in Florida as a result.] Nader also mentioned that if the Democrats can't landslide this cycle, then they should pack it up as party. That sentiment has made the rounds and there is a grain of truth to it. One thing I'd like to add is that with enthusiasm so high on the Democratic side, is Nader's potential impact not muted anyway. [Here's the transcript of that MTP interview.]

Simmons, Solon. 2004. “One Man in Ten Thousand: Ralph Nader takes on the Presidency.” Wisconsin Political Scientist, Vol.10, No.2

Saturday, February 23, 2008

On Debates and Lobbyists

During the last two days the Democratic debate from Texas and the McCain-Iseman New York Times story have been the dominant news items within the [American] political world. FHQ made the decision to take the "take a step back and reflect" approach to both before jumping to bloggy, insta-reactions (not that anyone does that). And the question that pops into my head applies to both items: Did either event fundamentally change the outlook of the race for the White House?

The McCain campaign seems to have shifted the scrutiny back to the New York Times (the timing of the story, why it was sent to press with the information they had, etc) instead of inviting further scrutiny upon the relationship between McCain and lobbyist, Vicki Iseman. And the Times has never been a friend to the Right; conservatives actually came to McCain's defense on this one. So McCain seems to have avoided the firestorm on this one. While it may come back to haunt him later, the campaign's attention may be better spend on the financial situation it finds itself in vis-a-vis the FEC. That he may have to take matching funds during the primary period, hamstringing the campaign in the waning months of primary season, may potentially be the more damaging than the "scandal." Bob Dole's 1996 presidential bid comes to mind. His campaign's inability to compete during the summer months (because it had accepted matching funds and was out of money) put the former Kansas senator at a decided disadvantage as the race transitioned into general election mode.

On the Democratic side, Thursday's debate did little to alter the course of the race, despite how the candidates tried to spin it afterwards. Clinton and company still continue to be perplexed by Obama's ability to ward off nearly every attack as "the politics of the past." The message of change (one that focuses on changing the divisive politics of the past) is one that has taken root among a majority of Democratic primary/caucus voters so far and it is one that makes Obama almost impervious to attack. He will always have that Reaganesque, "There you go again," statement to fall back on. "That's just the politics of the past." That message resonates with voters or at least has so far. And given the how the debate went, has that changed? What we are left with is the wait and see game. Wait until March 4 and watch as the poll margins in both Texas and Ohio close between the two remaining Democratic contenders. Here's the latest from Real Clear Politics:


Monday, December 24, 2007

Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean that the Campaign is on hold

Actually, since I've been traveling (or preparing to) for the last couple days, the little bits of news from the trail have been piling up. It was a bit of a bummer to wake up this morning and find the map of campaign stops blank. I guess the candidates have to take a break sometime, but their recent blitz has taken its toll on voters in New Hampshire. Here are some things that have happened in the last few days:

1) The Campaign Discussion Group Committee of Seven has picked a Clinton-Romney match up for the general election.* The Clinton political machine wrapped up a 5-2 victory over Obama on the Democratic side while Romney was only able to secure a plurality for the GOP nomination. Guiliani was a close second with two votes and Huckabee and McCain got one vote apiece. Depending on when the group reconvenes for pre-/post-Iowa discussions, I thought it would be interesting to hold another "primary" online to allow those who were unable to participate last Friday to weigh in and to see if those who did, changed their minds (Fine, let's put it in the vernacular of the season: flip-flopped). I'll make a stand-alone post later in the week, so stop by and give us your choice for each party (given up-to-the-minute information) and a reason(s) for that choice in the comments section.

2) In the post below, Rob points out that Guiliani can get by on name-recognition alone (probably the only candidate on the GOP side that can make that claim). Adam Nagourney at the New York Times puts together a nice piece here concerning Guiliani's recent issues. The prevailing sentiment from that article is that Guiliani perhaps peaked too early; a charge that could be levied against any of the top four Republican candidates. But as Chris Cillizza put it in putting together his rankings of the candidates, someone has to win the GOP nomination.

3) Paul (via Audrey Haynes) just sent over the results of a Pew Research poll looking at the dynamics of the races on both sides. And given the gap in candidate satisfaction among each party's voters, it should come as no surprise that Democratic voters, are more prone to shifts based on personal or tactical errors while those on the GOP side are focused almost completely on the ideological differences among their candidates. Republicans just don't know their candidates as well as they have in the past (That and there's no "heir apparent" for them this time around.).

4) This from today's AJC isn't news so much but it does reflect the prevailing thinking among the members of the group: that the GOP nomination is the one more likely to go to and be decided at the convention (or past Super Tuesday).

5) Finally, I think we'll all find it interesting that the FEC is stuck in limbo this holiday season as a standoff between the White House and Senate continues over nominees to the commission. The effect that having only two of six members in position will have on the commission and the role it plays in the primary campaign is unknown, but it is a piece of information to file away for a later time.

As always the comments section is open to any and all comers. So have at it.

* The Committee of Seven reserves the right to change its mind at any time and for any reason. And with less than two weeks until Iowa, those changes may come more often than not.