Archive for December, 2011
After three years being “nice” and trying to work with the Republican opposition, and being constantly rejected and repudiated, President Barack Obama is set to run a campaign reminding us of Harry Truman in 1948, when the odds were heavily against him, and yet he defeated not only Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey, but also regained both houses of Congress for his Democratic Party!
Truman gave the Republican 80th Congress “hell”, campaigning against their negativism, and looking back, that 80th Congress accomplished more than the 112th Congress has done!
Even if one argues that the Senate is Democratic controlled, the reality is that the Republicans, utilizing the filibuster or the threat of it, and have effectively controlled the Senate as well as having actual control of the House of Representatives.
Obama’s change in strategy seemed to have started in Osawatomie, Kansas, when he invoked Teddy Roosevelt, who used the Presidency as a “bully pulpit”!
Obama will now combine TR’s “bully pulpit” with Truman’s “give them hell” and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s welcoming of the opposition of conservatives and the wealthy in his 1936 campaign. And Obama can also invoke FDR complaining about the Republicans attacking his dog Fala in 1944, as now they have attacked the fact that Obama spent an hour shopping for his dog Bo!
So, President Obama, use the campaigns of TR in 1904, FDR in 1936 and 1944, and Truman in 1948, and the GOP will not recover from such an assault!
The Iowa Caucuses, which have existed since 1972 for the Democratic Party and competitively for the Republicans since 1976, have been largely a “waste of time” as far as picking future Presidents, and even Presidential nominees.
At least, the Democrats have chosen Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama, with Carter, Clinton and Obama going on to the White House.
But the Republican Caucuses have been much less successful and representative of what happened. Only Bob Dole in 1996, and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 have gone on to be the nominee, and only Bush being elected and reelected. There was no actual vote between Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan in 1976, and Reagan lost in 1980 and ran unopposed in 1984, and the same for George H W Bush in 1988 and no opposition in 1992.
The point is that the Iowa Caucuses gain an inordinate amount of attention, but only maybe a bit more than 100,000 people participate, far fewer than a primary in percentage of voters, and therefore, it has never been seen as a reliable barometer of who a future Presidential nominee or winner might be!
So don’t tend to think that the results in Iowa will matter, as the New Hampshire primary has ALWAYS been a much better barometer for the fortunes of Presidential candidates, since it emerged in 1952.
The Democrats face a major problem in 2012 regarding their control of the United States Senate.
With only 53 seats, including those of Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont; with 23 seats to be defended as compared to 10 for the Republicans; and with seven Democratic incumbents retiring, it will be a massive challenge to avoid losing the Senate, and also to avoid a major GOP landslide leading to their dominance over the Senate for the long term future.
Along with Senator Lieberman, the following Senators are retiring: Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Jim Webb of Virginia.
Only two Republican Senators are retiring: Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona.
The other 24 seats are being defended by incumbents–8 Republicans, 15 Democrats, and Independent Bernie Sanders.
Some of the seats for the Democrats are considered “safe”, but among those worrisome are: Bill Nelson of Florida, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
The Republicans in trouble include: Richard Lugar of Indiana, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Orrin Hatch of Utah. Ironically, it is the Tea Party Movement which threatens the nomination for another term of Lugar, Snowe, and Hatch, who otherwise would probably be cinches for reelection, but if they lost the primaries in their states, the seats could go Democratic. Brown has a tough competitor in Elizabeth Warren in an extremely heavy Democratic state, which sees many “insulted” that a Republican, admittedly moderate, took over Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Heller in Nevada has the tough Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who represents much of Las Vegas, the bulk of the population of the state, opposing him in a difficult battle.
While a major victory by either candidate for President could turn the tide for other Senate seats, it is extremely unlikely that the Republican nominee could win by enough of a landslide to take away more Democratic seats, but an Obama landslide, not out of the realm of possibility, could have a dramatic effect on the final Senate totals.
The point is that IF the Republicans won all seven Democratic seats in danger and kept all their seats, they would have 54 members of the Senate to 45 Democrats and one Independent (Sanders).
On the other hand, IF the Democrats kept all their seats and won the five contested GOP seats, the Democrats would have 58 seats including Sanders, and the Republicans would have 42 seats.
So the swing of seats from 53-47 Democratic could be as much as 58-42 Democratic or 54–46 Republican. So the range could be 12 seats, and remember that this third of the Senate would remain there for six years, so whichever party gains seats could be dominant for the long term.
Of course, in theory, every seat defended could be victorious, but also the odds that all seven retired seats for the Democrats would go Democratic is very problematical. So in actuality, IF all seven Democratic seats went to the Republicans, it could be a true disaster as then at a maximum, there could be a division of 61-39 Republican in the Senate.
On the other hand, if the five contested GOP seats went Democratic plus the two retiree seats, and everything else worked out for the Democrats, highly unlikely, then they could have a 60-40 Democratic Senate!
So therefore, the swing could be seven maximum for the Democrats from what they have now, while the GOP could gain fourteen maximum.
In either case, there would be such dominance that it would affect the Senate for many elections to come, no matter what happens in 2014 and 2016, and affect the agenda of the next President in a positive or negative way!
Many Hispanics and Latinos are unhappy with President Barack Obama, due to the deportation policies of the administration, seen as considerably tougher than under George W. Bush; and to the continuing economic difficulties faced by them, a higher unemployment rate than whites.
But yet, it seems clear from a survey of the Pew Hispanic Center that Hispanics and Latinos will back Obama by 2-1 over any Republican opponent.
The reason is the constant anti Hispanic and anti Latino statements of Republicans running for the Presidency, and the Republican membership of Congress.
Also, jobs, education and health care matter most to Hispanics and Latinos, and on all three, the GOP is seen as unfriendly and antagonistic to the values and concerns of those groups.
John McCain received 31 percent of the Hispanic and Latino vote in 2008. George W. Bush had done better, with about 40 percent. It seems clear that whoever the Republican nominee is, he is unlikely to get much more than 20 percent, if that.
And only Cuban Americans are likely to vote in the majority for the Republican nominee for President, while Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and other Central and South American Hispanics will certainly back Obama overwhelmingly!
Congress is supposed to represent “us” and be the “voice” of the people, but there is a disturbing trend regarding acquisition of wealth that should trouble all Americans.
It used to be that “average” Americans, meaning people NOT millionaires, could be elected to Congress, and that they would “serve” the nation without expectations of becoming rich from their service.
Now, nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires, and their assets have increased by two and a half times from what it was twenty five years ago, while the average assets of Americans have remained stagnant.
The average net worth of members of Congress in 1984 was $280,000, while now it is $725,000. Meanwhile the average net worth of Americans remains at $20,000! These figures do not include home equity, but even that is way down for average Americans after the real estate crash beginning in 2006!
If the American people believe that Congress is only there for the wealthy and powerful, it will cause fewer to vote, which is exactly what the wealthy and powerful want!
This situation is a danger to American democracy, a crisis for our long term future!
It is clear that the Republican Party is trying to keep control of Congress and regain the White House by appealing to white voters of all economic classes by stealthily promoting fear of immigrants, Hispanics and Latinos, and African Americans, and trying to take away voting rights from the poor, the elderly, college students, as well as minorities.
This is a very troubling strategy, as it promotes a “them” versus “us” mentality which does not serve the nation well, as the reality is that the future of the nation is that the white population is declining in percentage, and by the mid 2040s, will be a minority.
So the need to adapt and appeal to nonwhites of all backgrounds is essential for the political health of the nation in the future. Instead, the GOP is acting as if it is the old Southern Democrats of the segregation era, or the Confederate mentality of the Civil War era.
This is ugly, dangerous, poisonous and reprehensible as the future cannot be stopped, and instead must be confronted! So a return to moderate Republicanism of the Nelson Rockefeller-William Scranton-Henry Cabot Lodge-Charles Percy-Mark Hatfield-Charles Mathias etc variety is essential and soon!
Barack Obama seems extremely likely to win the entire Northeast from Maine to Maryland and Washington, DC in 2012, with possibly New Hampshire and Pennsylvania as exceptions. So that would be 112 electoral votes, or without Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, 88 electoral votes.
He is expected also to win the Pacific Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington as well, which would mean 74 electoral votes.
In the Midwest, Illinois is a certainty, and the upper Midwest seems strongly Democratic too, including Michigan, WIsconsin, and Minnesota, which means these four states are together a total of 56 electoral votes.
So far, that adds up to 218 electoral votes, without New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and with them, it is 242, 28 short of the number needed, 270 electoral votes, to win the Presidency.
So what is needed to guarantee an Obama victory?
1, The state of Florida with 29 electoral votes would put Obama over the top with all of the above states, and add Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, all with growing Hispanic and Latino populations, and supportive of Obama the last time, and you get 26 electoral votes, to replace a possible loss of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
2. Another scenario is to win Ohio and Missouri, the two states most representative of the winning Presidential candidates, with Ohio being with the GOP nominee every time he has won in US History, and Missouri wrong only twice on the Presidential winner since 1900–1956 and 2008–with their combined 28 replacing Florida or Iowa and the three Southwestern states.
3. Another strategy is to try to win in Georgia and Arizona, along with Missouri, three states won by John McCain in 2008, but all susceptible to moving to Obama with growing Hispanic and Latino populations. This way one gains 37 electoral votes, replacing either Florida OR Iowa and the three Southwestern states.
4. Also, if Obama wins Virginia and North Carolina, he wins 28 electoral votes and does not need Florida, OR Ohio and Missouri, OR Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado!
The point is that Obama has many scenarios to win, and it is very hard to imagine that all of the above combinations of states will go to a Republican party as right wing and divided as it now is, demonstrated even more by the debacle over the middle class tax cut continuation, leading to a split between Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
So Obama supporters need to work hard, but the future looks bright!