Saturday, October 18, 2008

Paul Ryan is Running for Congress

While the Presidential race takes the most political air time in the Milwaukee area, one cannot ignore the recent Paul Ryan for Congress ads. Below is an example of one of his new TV spots.

Rep. Ryan has been seen as a rising star for the GOP in Washington, but is running TV commercials for what should be a safe seat. His challenger, Marge Krupp, has not raised a tenth of what he has raised this term*, and he is a well positioned incumbent.

So why is Ryan including TV time in his campaign?

It has long been rumored that Ryan will seek candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2012 for Herb Kohl's current seat. Kohl is expected to retire after this term and an open seat would be the best shot for Ryan running for this higher office. The Janesville Republican might even be considering a run for Governor or challenging Sen. Russ Feingold in 2010.

By advertising for his House campaign in the Milwaukee media market, Congressman Ryan may be trying to get valuable face time with swing voters in a very populated area of the state.

Of course, this is all speculation - as it is impossible to say exactly what Ryan's intentions are. But it is more than likely that he is keeping a watchful eye on the future and planting the seeds of a campaign for a statewide race.

*Information provided by Diana Marrero of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

NYC and the Heated Term Limits Debate

The debate over term limits in New York City is one that has been fought for nearly two decades. There have been two referendums on the issue - both of which overwhelmingly supported limiting the terms for the Mayor and City Council Members.

Now Mayor Michael Bloomberg has put it before the City Council again, where 35 of the 51 members are due to lose their seats because of term limits after the 2009 city elections.

At a public hearing Thursday - which lasted 10 hours - New York City residents voiced their disapproval. Annette Keehner, a broker's assistant called it "a scam and a charade." Brooklyn writer Michael Bouldin said "this is an agreement between billionaires and they cannot do this without a third referendum. It would be a slap in the face to voters." And a former police officer said the end of the term limits would mean "dictatorship and tyranny."

Bloomberg argues that it is too late for another referendum on the issue, and must be voted by a simple majority on the City Council. Speaking on Bloomberg's behalf, attorney Anthony Crowell argued "the financial crisis threatens many of the gains we've made as a city" and that the billionaire and former trader was best equipped for handling the troubles on Wall Street.

Not persuaded to support the proposed change, New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman wrote a critical editorial Thursday comparing Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (who supports the change) to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"Both the mayor and the speaker bristle at suggestions that theirs is "a backroom deal." They may be right. Who knows what room the deal was made in? But they definitely have, shall we say, an understanding."

Of Bloomberg's supporters, waving signs supporting an end to term limits, Haberman writes "everything about them screamed rent-a-crowd" and refers to them as "minions."

But the Mayor has picked up the support of fellow billionaire Ron Lauder, who used his wealth to bankroll the term-limit referendum "yes" campaigns in the 1990s. And while he does not quite have the majority of the City Council supporting his position, Bloomberg is lobbying the entire Council and may well be able to swing some votes.

What factors will influence the City Council's decision?

35 of the 51 City Council Members are about to lose their seats due to term limits, and that will obviously be a factor.

But the term limits are significantly popular in New York City. By supporting the bill before the chamber, the members would be less likely to win a third race for City Council. Would they really want to spend the time, money, and energy trying to win a third race after such an unpopular decision? Perhaps more importantly, do they want to risk their political futures when running for higher offices?

We will have to wait and see.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Who Has The Better Ground Game in Wisconsin: Republicans or Democrats? By Sara Rogers

Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change is running an unprecedented field operation in Wisconsin. Thousands of volunteers, a real focus on peer-to-peer contact and offices located in traditionally “red” counties are only a few of the ways that the campaign is sharing Sen. Obama’s vision for change to voters across the state.

More than 50 offices around the state serve as organizing locations for the thousands of volunteers, including more than 2,500 Obama Organizing Team members who donate at least 10 hours of their time each week. These offices are found in rural and traditionally Republican areas, many of which have never seen a Democratic campaign office and are constantly filled with eager volunteers making phone calls and picking up canvassing lists to knock on doors in their communities. People who can’t make it to offices are able to participate by printing out call lists at home or neighbor-to-neighbor canvassing lists from online databases that list undecided voters in the area.

Whatever the method, volunteers are talking to hundreds of thousands of doors, giving one-on-one attention to undecided voters, clearly explaining that Barack Obama is the only candidate who offers the real change America so desperately needs. This one-on-one contact echos what we in the labor movement have been emphasizing for the last couple of election cycles, knowing how incredibly effective it is to have face-to-face conversations at the worksite and in our communities.

The campaign is also relying heavily on peer-to-peer organizing, with volunteers reaching out to people who share their interests and talking about the choice in this election. Issues important to seniors, farmers, sportsmen, students, women, veterans, people of faith, and other groups within the state are being addressed on personal levels, showing an incredible commitment to talking to voters about the issues they care about most. All are included in Sen. Obama’s plans for America, and the Wisconsin ground troops are letting them know.

All of that organizing has set the stage for an incredible get out the vote (GOTV) effort around the state, which is beginning to ramp up for the final weeks of the campaign. Tens of thousands of shifts are being filled to make sure everyone who is able to vote can make it to the polls on or before Election Day. Wisconsin’s early vote has also begun, and the campaign is organizing events where voters can cast their ballots at their local clerk’s offices between now and Nov. 4.

On Election Day, look for this incredible grassroots organization to put Senator Obama over the top as Wisconsin issues a resounding call for change from the past eight years of failed Bush-McCain economic policies.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Post-Debate Ads

You know that technology is pretty incredible when you can watch a debate that ends at 9:30 PM (CST) and see brand-new post-debate presidential campaign ads by 9:30 AM the next day. And on your computer, no less!

Both ads - one from the McCain campaign, the other from the Obama campaign - deal with the question of McCain's pro-Bush record. Although polls and focus group results* show that Obama clearly won the debate according to undecided voters, McCain did get the memorable line of the night.

"I am not President Bush," he told Sen. Obama. "If you wanted to run against President Bush you should have run four years ago."

Trying to drive that point home, the McCain campaign released this ad today.

As he did during the debate, Obama disputed the difference between Bush and McCain with this ad - also released today.


The McCain ad is successful in so far as it is positive. The negative ads he has run against Obama over the last several weeks have hurt his own image more than that of his opponent.

However, the ad fails to address how McCain will do the challenging tasks he promises to do. While they may not all understand or memorize those specifics, voters tend to appreciate hearing them.

The Obama ad could be a classic. It has the awkward images of McCain's facial expressions last night, gives verifiable information, and ends with McCain proudly admitting to the charges against him - charges he is now trying to play down, both in the debate and now on TV commercials.

Obama may have handled the debate well, but he is handling the post-debate climate even better.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Early Voting Trends Favor Obama

According to a new SurveyUSA poll, Sen. Barack Obama is performing considerably better among early voters than Sen. John McCain in several swing states.

Here are the results:

New Mexico

Overall Trend: Obama +6%

Electorate Voting Early: 10%

Trend among Early Voters: Obama +23%


Overall Trend: Obama +4%

Electorate Voting Early: 12%

Trend among Early Voters: Obama +18%


Overall Trend: McCain +11%

Electorate Voting Early: 18%

Trend among Early Voters: Obama +6%


Overall Trend: Obama +10%

Electorate Voting Early: 14%

Trend among Early Voters: Obama +34%

North Carolina

Overall Trend: McCain +5%

Electorate Voting Early: 5%

Trend among Early Voters: Obama +34%

Not only are these positive results in general, but they wildly surpass typical Democratic performance in early voting.

According to a study by Kate Kenski at the University of Arizona, early voters leaned Republican in both 2000 and 2004; with Bush earning 62.2 percent of their votes against Al Gore, and 60.4 percent against John Kerry. In the past, early voters have also tended to be older than the voting population as a whole and more male than the population as a whole, factors which would seem to cut against Obama or most other Democrats.

This is an enormous credit to the Obama Campaign, which has recently been leading a mass effort to encourage supporters to vote early. This week, for example, former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry has been stumping around Wisconsin to get Obama supporters - particularly college students - to vote early.

Their efforts appear to be paying off.

So how does early voting help the Obama campaign?

As points out:

Now certainly, early voters tend to be your stauncher partisans rather than your uncommitted voters -- just 1-2 percent of early voters in 2000 and 2004 reported that they would have voted differently if they'd waited until election day. So it's unlikely that John McCain is actually losing all that many persuadable voters to the early voter tallies.

The real advantage of having supporters vote early is that the campaign can focus more time and energy on supporters that vote less frequently (because they are less politically engaged) in the final 72 hours.

So have early voting laws made October a month long GOTV period? It would certainly appear so, as this tactic is sure to be used in presidential campaigns to come. The Obama campaign deserves a nod for their skills and foresight throughout this unusually long election cycle - but perhaps for this moment more than any other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Palin Problem

While she started off as a great selection for Senator McCain, Governor Sarah Palin has been become consistently more burdensome for the GOP ticket. A recent ABC News poll shows that only 39% of Americans feel she is qualified to be President - significantly lower than it was only a month ago. And while her selection gives the Republican ticket a 6-point boost, it is only half of the boost that Senator Biden has given to Obama's prospects.

There is no question that Palin has helped McCain with the conservative base of the GOP. But following a month of damage - particularly in the Katie Couric interviews where she failed to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade, and defended the claims that she has foreign policy experience due to Alaska's proximity to Russia - she has taken a slide in popularity.

Now things look even more dismal for her. The recent "Troopergate" investigation found that she and her husband Todd acted unethically in firing Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. Monegan resisted pressure to fire State Trooper Mike Wooten after his bitter divorce with Palin's sister.

By the looks of it, it was more than a bitter divorce. Wooten is a likely alcoholic who used his taser on Palin's nephew and made threats against the family. While firing Monegan was technically legal, the personal nature of the case demonstrates an "abuse of power" according to independent investigator Stephen Branchflower.

So how will this effect the Presidential election?

The impact this will have on the McCain-Palin campaign is yet to be seen, but they are already on the defensive. Campaign spokeswoman Meg Stapleton decried the investigation as "a partisan-led inquiry run by Obama supporters."

The Alaska State Legislature now has the grounds for reprimanding or even censuring Governor Palin - but the prospects of such action are unlikely, especially before November 4th.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Will this election be decided by unmarried women? By Kelly Fero

Pundits have taken great delight during recent election cycles in declaring it the year of the soccer mom or the Nascar dad or some other moniker picked up by the media in a kind of national political shorthand. This year, the chattering classes are focused on the youth vote because so much interest has been generated that new and younger voters are registering in record numbers. And that’s great.

But the fact is, this could be the year of the unmarried woman.

This group of solid middle-class women who earn about $35,000 a year as teachers or nurses or other hardworking folks make up about one-quarter of the voting age population but have traditionally underperformed at the ballot box. Some are divorced mothers struggling to raise their children on their own. Others are coming up against glass ceilings in the workplace. All of them are anxious about the direction of the country in general and the current financial crisis in particular.

During this spring’s primary, for example, unmarried women comprised as much as one-third of the Democratic turnout in Texas (where women overall made up 58 percent of the total turnout). If unmarried women return to the polls next month, they will be a powerful voting block that could put Sen. Barack Obama in the White House and Democratic candidates in offices from Congress to state representative to county sheriff.

According to one recent poll in national battleground states, there is a 30-point “marriage gap” among women, with older married women leaning toward Sen. John McCain while unmarried women strongly support Sen. Obama, providing the Democrat with the edge among women overall.

If unmarried women match their turnout in the 2006 Congressional elections — 34 percent, a full 10 points higher than their percentage of the voting age population — they will elect the next President and reshape the political landscape for years to come.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where is the GOP going wrong?

Leaders in the Republican Party are expressing concerns about the prospects of a McCain-Palin victory 23 days from now. Some, including Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) and former Governor Tommy Thompson (R-WI) even show reluctance towards campaigning for their side of the Presidential ticket.

So where is the GOP going wrong this year? The simple answer is "everywhere".

While much of Sen. Obama's success over Sen. McCain has been attributed to tough economic times, one cannot ignore the simple fact that the McCain team is failing to run as smart and strong of a campaign that Karl Rove used to conduct for President Bush and his GOP Congressional allies.

One key reason is a lack of cohesive message. As Saul Anuzis, the Chair of the Michigan GOP noted, "You're starting to feel real frustration because we are running out of time. Our message, the campaign's message, isn't connecting."

The most glaring problem is a lack of consistency with the message of the McCain campaign. Daily Show host Jon Stewart humorously pointed it out this week when Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin complained about government being the problem instead of the solution, and later demanding more government oversight.

Consistency has not been the only problem. In many cases, McCain was vague on how to handle the financial crisis. When his solution has been clear, he has faced avalanches of criticism. For example, when McCain introduced his plan to buy up bad mortgage-backed securities at tax-payer expense at the recent Town Hall Debate, his conservative base was infuriated.

Beyond the problem with message, however, is a frequent lapse in sound judgment within the McCain-Palin campaign. Perhaps the best example in recent days was the decision to have Palin drop the puck at a Philadelphia Flyers game this weekend.

The fans boo her. It should be no surprise, as Philadelphia fans have also booed Beyonce and thrown snowballs at Santa Claus. Yet the schedulers for Gov. Palin still thought this was a good idea. The stadium actually had to turn the music up to drown out the booing. Below is another shot.

Karl Rove never would have let this happen. But the campaign advisors this time around do not seem to have his wits. The failures of this year's Republican ticket really do demonstrate the difference a smart and strong campaign makes for an election.