Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson: "I Never Get Into Politics"

That’s what the late King of Pop told Ebony magazine back in 1992 - he just wasn’t political. Of course, by the end of his life, it wasn’t quite by choice. In 2004, for example, the Congressional Black Caucus wouldn’t even meet with him when he asked.

As USA Today reported at the time:

"They had turned down his request to attend its meeting Wednesday, saying they were too busy dealing with legislative issues affecting black Americans."

No wonder his friend, the Rev. Al Sharpton, said yesterday that many who were lionizing him in death wouldn’t even go near him for the past seven years.

But in his glory days Michael was a more visible figure, greeted by and playing for presidents. He received awards and honors from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He played the Clinton Inauguration alongside Bob Dylan, Elton John, and Stevie Nicks.

But despite a DNC fundraising concert he played in 2002 (where he helped raise $2.5 million for voter registration efforts) Jackson never did get very partisan. Of the two icons that passed away yesterday, it was Farrah Fawcett who actually contributed to a political campaign.

Of course, that didn’t stop the 24-hour “all politics all the time” news networks from covering Michael’s death as the only story last night.

What else are we looking at?

As it turns out, the Mark Sanford press conference on Wednesday had one noticeable mishap. The conservative Fox News identified him as a Democrat in their coverage. We wish we could say it was a normal error, but given their track record in journalism, it’s hard to be sure.

The conservative interest group, Club for Growth, is running a new campaign against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). Although they need approval from the FEC first, they’re trying to get their members to demand refunds for their Specter contributions. Specter’s GOP opponent, former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) is a former president of the Club for Growth.

It’s well known that Washington DC can get way too hot during the summer, and the White House Press room can be the most heated place in the city. So White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cooled off yesterday by allowing members of the press corps dunk him for charity.

It was all part of the White House luau yesterday, where President Obama had members of Congress over for quite the picnic.

Finally, don’t forget to take part in our survey: Who Are You Looking At in 2012! Tell us who you think will be the Republican nominee to take on Obama. Email your thoughts to It’s fast, easy, and fun - but your predictions are due Monday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Sanford Supporters Are Saying

A few quotes from the wall on the “Mark Sanford for President 2012” group on Facebook:

“Sorry but I cant be a part of this anymore.”

“…If you can't be trusted by your wife, why should I trust you as president? The libs are gonna eat this up. I am really blown away by this...I really thought he had more integrity than that.”

“Thanks for nothing [expletive]. You screw every principle of the party.”

“Damn you”


“He was out cheating on his wife. Leaving this group now....”

And from multiple fans: “See ya”

A lot of them also say they’re now looking at former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-NV), a libertarian-minded fiscal hawk who’s getting some notoriety from the Ron Paul folks.

Then there was the blogger at who last night could only say “Well, I was wrong about Sanford, that’s for sure. I’ll post more later tonight…I’m going to take some time to clear my mind.”

If anyone still thinks the “Mainstream Media” (or “Drive-By Media” if you’re a Rush Limbaugh fan) is particularly brutal to Republicans, just look at how average folks using “New Media” are reacting.

By the way, don’t forget to participate in our post-Sanford-scandal survey: Who Are You Looking At in 2012!

Who Are You Looking At in 2012?

It’s been quite a week or so.

First Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) admitted he had an affair last year and he resigned his post as Chair of the Senate GOP Policy Committee. Then yesterday it turned out that Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R-SC) bizarre disappearance was due to an affair with a woman in Buenos Aires.

Just like that, two major contenders for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination are almost definitely out of the running.

So who’s left to take on President Obama?

We want to know who YOU think will be the Republican nominee in the next presidential contest!

Email us at with the name of the GOP candidate you think will face Obama (barring any more sex scandals) and a short analysis that explains your prediction.

Then we’ll post the results on Monday right here at WAYLA so you can see what other political enthusiasts are thinking.

It’s fast, easy, and fun - so why not?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is Bachmann Underestimating the Availability of Public Information?

Our colleagues at 3rd Coast Research, a Democratic consulting firm based in Chicago, recently did a great blog post on Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) comments on the U.S. Census.

In a recent Washington Times article, Rep. Michele Bachmann said that she was so worried that information from next year's U.S. Census will be abused that she will not fill it out beyond very minimal information. She said, "I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that." Bachmann added that the questions in the Census survey had become "very intricate, very personal."

So 3rd Coast Research completed a hypothetical census survey for the Congresswoman using publicly available information. Overall, they were able to answer 80% of the census survey for Bachmann with sources such as Lexis Nexis, the Almanac of American Politics, and Google.

Additionally, they found that an additional 5% of the survey could have been completed if they had bothered to make the 391 mile trip from Chicago to the Washington County Assessor office in the Twin Cities suburb of Woodbury (something they would have certainly done if they were working for Bachmann’s opponent). And using interviews and court record requests, they easily could have obtained much more useful information on the Congresswoman.

As 3rd Coast points out

The process used to complete the survey is standard in any opposition research process, and has no doubt been repeated for Rep. Bachmann several times.

Not only was it ridiculous for Bachmann to assume that her privacy would be better protected if she answered only a few questions for the Census, but it was a very telling simulation on the availability of public information.

Furthermore it demonstrates just how effective and important opposition research is for a campaign. It’s typically not too difficult to collect and can go a long way towards better knowing your opponent. Using the information can be helpful, depending on what you reveal, but in order to even make that decision you must have the research done first.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Will Be the Political Impact of Sanford’s Disappearance?

Today WAYLA reports on local politics from South Carolina.

As you may have heard by now, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) is missing - or at least was missing and will resume his duties tomorrow.

Apparently he left South Carolina on Thursday after losing his battle with the State Legislature to block stimulus funds from being spent. Sanford has long argued that South Carolina should not accept money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

So without telling his family, security detail, or Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, Sanford left for the Appalachian Trail to hike and “write something”.

The Vote Blog at the Christian Science Monitor also pointed out that Sanford’s disappearance to the hiking trail coincidentally happened during Naked Hiking Day - when some hiking enthusiasts go nude for the summer solstice. We won’t make any speculations as to that coincidence.

His wife also told the press yesterday that she was not worried and Sanford just “wanted some space to get away from the kids.”

He had no communication with anyone in South Carolina until today. Finally, law enforcement officials (or someone) tracked his cell phone and found it was somewhere outside Atlanta. Then he called his Chief-of-Staff today to “check-in” and the Chief-of-Staff presumably told him what a panic he had stirred.

Now the Los Angeles Times is asking “did the governor’s walk in the woods doom his presidential hopes?”

It was definitely a strange thing for a sitting governor to do: taking off without telling anyone exactly where he was going or for how long. Also strange is the fact that he was trying to “get away from the kids” during Fathers Day Weekend.

As one blogger wrote today:

“A governor cannot just disappear. He has a state to, you know, govern…[that’s] especially important if Sanford is serious about having presidential ambitions. A president cannot just leave suddenly, to go on a hiking trip. Can you imagine the ads his opponents will run? Images of people in a panic, ‘where is Sanford??’ followed by a shot of Humpty Dumpty Sanford taking a hike, with a silly grin on his face.”

We couldn’t agree more - regardless of whether or not you think it was a bad decision because he was neglecting his duties, you have to agree it was a dumb move politically. Just like Sen. Ensign’s (R-NV) recent sex-scandal did in his presidential ambitions, this episode of Stanford’s will be impossible to forget. Even if the typical voter forgets (if they even heard about it) political professionals will not.

Also interesting is how this will affect South Carolina politics.

From an article in Politico:

Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, [a Republican], who was elected separately from Sanford, issued a statement to POLITICO after a day of frenzied national speculation about the governor’s whereabouts.

Bauer said he called Sanford’s office Monday and requested an “immediate phone conversation with the governor.”

“That request was denied because the governor’s chief of staff does not know where the governor is, and has not communicated with the governor since he left South Carolina last Thursday,” Bauer said. “I cannot take lightly that his staff has not had communication with him for more than four days, and that no one, including his own family, knows his whereabouts.”

Meanwhile, state Senator Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) told The State that he called the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) [which acts as Sanford’s security service] and confirmed that the governor “has frequently been eluding SLED agents and disappearing at odd times.”

But these GOP reactions have sharp political motives behind them.

From yesterday’s article in The Hill:

Sanford allies say his enemies — most notably Bauer and…Knotts — are simply taking advantage of an opportunity to get under the governor's skin, and that Sanford has a habit of going underground when he takes time away from the office.

Knotts has been a long-time critic of Sanford, and Bauer intends to run for governor once Sanford’s term-limit is up while Sanford appears to be supporting another Republican.

Like in many states - though it is seldom admitted - the dominant party in the Palmetto State is divided into camps. It appears the Sanford Camp of the South Carolina GOP is in a bit of an awkward position after this extraordinary lapse in political judgment.

UPDATE: In another bizarre twist to this story, it turns out that Sanford was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That's right - while everyone thought, and told us, he was hiking in the Appalachian Trail he had actually gone that old South American way.

UPDATE #2: Another shocking twist to this continually developing story. It turns out that Sanford was having an affair with a woman he knew from Argentina!

From Politico:

“I have been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with what started out as a dear, dear friend from Argentina,” Sanford said.

“I’m a bottom line kind of guy I’m just gonna lay it out. It’s gonna hurt and I’m going to let the chips fall where they may,” Sanford said.

Sanford apologized to his wife, Jenny, and his children. “To Jenny, anybody who has observed her over the last 40 year of my life knows how closely she has stood by my side in campaign, after campaign, after campaign,” he said.

“I’ve let down a lot of people, and that’s the bottom line,” he said.

Like Ensign just a few days before him, we can say with virtually-complete certainty that Sanford has truly lost all hope for furthering his political career and making it to the White House in 2012.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Campaign Updates (6/22/09)


Will Marco Rubio turn out to be the GOP’s Barack Obama? Carlos Watson of MSNBC seems to think so, and Rubio could not have asked for a better introduction to a national audience.


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles is expected to announce he will run for governor of California any minute now. He will soon be on CNN’s “Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer. Be sure to watch it.


Entrenched Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) is getting help from his longtime friend, Sen. Ted Kennedy. The new ad Kennedy cut should help with Dodd’s poor standing back home.

Dodd has been speaking on Kennedy’s behalf as the healthcare debate has moved forward in Washington, and the two politicians have been good friends since they entered the Senate together as young men over 30 years ago.


Last week we speculated the likelihood that Iran’s recent elections were fraudulent. At the time we couldn’t find any definitive evidence either way. Now there are new studies out that find certain election results to be more than a little fishy.

The first comes from upcoming NYU political scientists Bernd Beber and Alexandra Scacco who find that the frequencies of certain digits at various polling places in Iran are extremely unlikely to be accurate. Overall, they say that the way Ahmadinejad won only has a one-in-two-hundred chance of being legitimate.

The second study comes from the Institute of Iranian Studies at St. Andrews University in the UK. The most glaring problem they notice is that two entire provinces reported turnouts of over 100% - and they were both Ahmadinejad-supportive.

They also found that…

“In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups.”

Nate Silver at wonders if these new concessions by the Ayatollah's government about voting irregularities are the first sign that Ahmadinejad could get thrown under the bus.