Happy New Year!
Casual Soapbox is a blog, the purpose of which is to provide me with a venue to expound upon politics, popular culture, religion, humor, and any other topic that boils my blood. I'd love to say I have big plans for this site, but I don't, except to bloviate pompously, deprecate myself and others, practice my verbal skills, and pathetically imitate popular people I admire. So, if any of that appeals to you, this blog's for you!
He's just this guy, you know?
|Republican Seats||Sabato||Cook||CQ Politics||MyDD||Casual Soapbox|
|IN-Lugar||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R|
|ME-Snowe||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R|
|MS-Lott||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R|
|NV-Ensign||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R|
|TX-Hutchison||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R|
|UT-Hatch||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R|
|WY-Thomas||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R||Solid R|
|AZ-Kyl||Likely R||Leans R||Likely R||Likely R||Leans R|
|VA-Allen||Leans R||Leans R||Leans R||Leans R||Leans R|
|TN OPEN||Tossup||Tossup||Leans R||Tossup||Tossup|
|PA-Santorum||Leans D||Tossup||Leans D||Leans D||Tossup|
|Democratic Seats||Sabato||Cook||CQ Politics||MyDD||Casual Soapbox|
|WI-Kohl||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|NY-Clinton||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|NM-Bingaman||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|ND-Conrad||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|MA-Kennedy||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|HI-Akaka||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|DE-Carper||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|CA-Feinstein||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|FL-Nelson||Solid D||Solid D||Likely D||Solid D||Solid D|
|CT OPEN||Solid D||Solid D||Likely D||Solid D||Likely D*|
|WV-Byrd||Solid D||Likely D||Solid D||Solid D||Solid D|
|VT OPEN||Likely D||Likely D||Likely D||Solid D||Solid D|
|NE-Nelson||Leans D||Leans D||Leans D||Solid D||Likely D|
|MI-Stabenow||Leans D||Leans D||Likely D||Likely D||Leans D|
|WA-Cantwell||Leans D||Leans D||Leans D||Likely D||Leans D|
|MD OPEN||Leans D||Leans D||Leans D||Leans D||Leans D|
|MN OPEN||Leans D||Leans D||Tossup||Likely D||Leans D|
Jon Kyl (R) 48%
Jim Pederson (D) 43%
Republican incumbents are in trouble not because they are incumbents, but because they are Republicans.
This election isn’t really about agendas. Sure, Democrats have something called their “New Direction,” but most voters aren’t regarding November primarily as a choice between two visions or two ideologies. No, it’s about sending a message to the president and to Congress that they aren’t happy — specifically with the Iraq War, but more generally as well.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman is quite correct when he says Republicans will do better when the election is a choice rather than a referendum. Unfortunately for him, that’s not likely to happen until 2008.
So what about the defeats of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Reps. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and Joe Schwarz (R-Mich.), and even Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski (R)? The answer is simple. Each lost for specific reasons, not because of a trend. It isn’t their incumbency that unites them. They lost because of their own voting records and style.
While it is true that voters are not particularly impressed with Congress in general or either of the two major parties, the midterm elections have developed into a referendum on the president. Republicans may well succeed in minimizing the damage in November by localizing elections and re-electing incumbents, but there is no indication that voters will send a message of dissatisfaction with all incumbents in the fall.
That means that all but a handful of Democratic House incumbents can rest easy.
Chafee (R) 54%
Laffey (R) 46%
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) 45.2%
Barbara Ann Radnofsky (D) 36.8%
Rick Perry (R) 30.7%
Chris Bell (D) 25.3%
Kinky Friedman (I) 22.4%
Carole Keeton Strayhorn (I) 11.1%
NEW YORK - Brad Pitt, ever the social activist, says he won't be marrying Angelina Jolie until the restrictions on who can marry whom are dropped.
"Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able," the 42-year-old actor reveals in Esquire magazine's October issue, on newsstands Sept. 19.
ABC/Disney plans to memorialize the fifth anniversary of 9/11 with a fictional docudrama called "The Path to 9/11". Written by an avowed right-wing activist, this work of fiction directly contradicts the accepted record of the 9/11 Commission Report. President Clinton and former administration officials were denied an advance copy; Rush Limbaugh and obscure right-wing bloggers saw it last week. ABC plans to distribute this docudrama to 100,000 educators across the country. We've set up this site to encourage ABC to change its strategy...
In his statement Friday, Rodriguez said that “running for Congress takes considerable resources,” adding, “On Wednesday, I considered whether I should continue this race.” But, he said, he subsequently received “an outpouring of support” — “my phone has not stopped ringing” — from constituents “who have been asking me to continue and be their voice,” and that he would stay in the race on behalf of these backers.
The contest marks a second comeback bid for Rodriguez, who previously represented the adjacent 28th District from 1997 to 2005. Rodriguez lost his seat to Democrat Henry Cuellar in the 2004 primary and lost again in a primary rematch this March.
Dropping out and jumping back in to any race doesn't look good. It makes a candidate look indecisive and strange. I like Ciro Rodriguez a lot. I think he was a great congressman. And I think he's good on the issues. But I don't know about this... I remember another Texas politician who did an in-and-out routine like that: Ross Perot in 1992. He lost.
Bill Nelson (D) 57%
Katharine Harris (R) 34%
MT-Sen: Tester (D) 47% Burns (R) 44% - Democratic pickup
PA-Sen: Casey (D) 49% Santorum (R) 40% - Democratic pickup
OH-Sen: Brown (D) 46% DeWine (R) 40% - Democratic pickup
RI-Sen: Whitehouse (D) 42% Chafee (R) 40% - Democratic pickup
MO-Sen: Talent (R) 47% McCaskill (D) 45%
TN-Sen: Corker (R) 46% Ford (D) 42%
VA-Sen: Allen (R) 48% Webb (D) 42%
AZ-Sen: Kyl (R) 48% Pederson (D) 37%
MN-Sen: Klobuchar (D) 49% Kennedy (R) 40%
NJ-Sen: Menendez (D) 43% Kean (R) 40%
WA-Sen: Cantwell (D) 51% McGavick (R) 40%
Where’s Osama? The mastermind of the September 11 attacks is still at large five years later. This is a colossal failure Democrats have hesitated to point out relentlessly for fear that, were Osama bin Laden suddenly captured or killed, Bush and the Republicans would enjoy a huge partisan windfall. But they would anyway, so why hesitate? Democrats should do as the Republicans would: Wait until two or three weeks before the election and start asking why Osama bin Laden remains on the lamb. (The Bush-Cheney campaign held its 2004 closing message -- that America had not been attacked since 9/11 -- in reserve until the very end of the election.) Democrats might enlist folks like Wes Clark or Max Cleland to put the GOP on the defensive during the closing moments of 2006 by calling for a renewed international manhunt and asking repeatedly, “Where’s Osama?” It’s a question few Republican incumbents want to answer in the closing moments of Campaign 2006.
There was no tax cut. The Democratic critique of Bush’s tax policy is three-fold: One, the richest sliver of the population received the bulk of the cuts; two, lost revenues have increased the national debt; and, three, any windfalls the middle classes enjoyed are more than offset by rising health care costs, new state taxes and “fees,” higher consumer prices, and so on. Simply put, Democrats argue that Americans didn’t get much of a tax cut, what they got didn’t lessen their financial burdens, and they or their children will have to pay it back with interest. In a country where most Americans pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes, a concise and electorally audacious way to attack the Republicans on taxes is to assert, simply, there was no tax cut. Democrats could invite voters to pull out their federal tax forms from recent years and search for the savings. Most won’t find much, and those who do already overwhelmingly vote Republican.
Health-coverage solidarity. Instead of using the congressional health care plan, Ohio Representative and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ted Strickland pays for his own health insurance, because he believes it’s wrong for constituents who are either uninsured or under-insured to pick up the tab for his coverage. Would any congressional candidate dare criticize Strickland’s personal ethic? Members of Congress enjoy steady pay raises and cushy benefits at a time when millions of Americans are experiencing stagnant wages and higher costs for health-care coverage -- if they are insured at all. To signal solidarity, Democratic incumbents and challengers should join Strickland in pledging to refuse the government’s health package, beginning January 2007, until they can fix the nation’s health care system. The vast majority can afford private insurance anyway.
Sponsor a New Orleans precinct. Hurricane-devastated New Orleans has almost the exact same number of precincts (443) as the combined number of House districts (425) and key, Republican-held Senate seats (seven) with a Democratic candidate filed to run in 2006. Some precincts suffered relatively mild damage from Katrina, others were devastated, but all were affected. To personalize the criticism of the administration’s bungled Katrina response, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee should familiarize each candidate with the specific details of the plight and progress of one New Orleans precinct. Americans wear colored bracelets to express solidarity with countless causes, so why not get Democratic nominees to wear Mardi Gras-inspired, gold-green-and-purple bracelets, each with the number of the precinct the candidate and her district are sponsoring? This would not only bring the nation’s commitment to rebuilding New Orleans into high relief, but every candidate would have a specific story to share and a vested stake in the city’s revival after re-taking majority control.
Fiscal lapel pins. Sadly, when Democrats on the Hill want to communicate, they still rely on the three P’s -- press release, press conference, and (National) Press Club event. In the age of the Blackberry, this is akin to using rotary phones. Rather than issue another white paper about Republicans’ fiscal chicanery which a few national reporters and a handful of voters will actually read, Hill Democrats should come up with three or four key numbers that epitomize big-government Republican budgeting: 0, for the number of spending bills Bush has vetoed; 4, representing the number of times the government has raised the national debt ceiling; or perhaps 300, for the billions of dollars thus far spent in Iraq. Take these numbers, put them on understated lapel pins, pass them out to every congressional candidate … and wait. National beat reporters and the local media will soon take notice. What they’ll discover is another neat visual, like the bracelets, around which to build a story about how Democrats across America are calling the Republicans to the mat for their fiscal recklessness.
Someone needs to explain to me how Democrats plan to nationalize this election against Republicans without identifying themselves as Democrats. I might also need a refresher course on how people are going to develop a better image of the Democratic Party if our own candidates refuse to identify themselves as Democrats. As a third request, I would like someone to explain to me how Democratic congressional challengers plan to win without people being willing to press the "Democratic" button on November 7th. Virtually no challengers are going to manage higher name ID than incumbents this cycle, so in order to win back Congress we are going to have to rely on large numbers of people being willing to vote for the Democratic Party itself, rather than individual Democratic candidates. Not only is that never going to happen if our own candidates refuse to self-identify as Democrats, we can also see from Republican quotes that avoiding partisan self-identification altogether is exactly what Republicans want in this cycle. We can't win back congress unless we are willing to be partisans.
"I don't think the question any longer is can Democrats win control of Congress, it's can Republicans do anything to stop it?" said Amy Walter, House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report newsletter. "All the factors and issues are pushing so strongly against Republicans."
"It's too late to fix the national mood -- it's not going to be fixed," said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. "The major issues are not playing well for Republicans this year, and Republicans are not playing well with America this year."
"This looks like a classic sixth-year election," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who called the president's low approval ratings, hovering at about 40 percent, "the single best indicator for any mid-term election."