Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Democratic Woes Worsen

The other day, I laid out the case for a Republican tidal wave in November. We now have new evidence to add to the pile. Indeed, things are not looking good for our donkey friends on any front. After a panicky weekend of stories about the effects of the faltering economy on Democratic prospects, we now get evidence of anger and chaos.

1. Chaos: Yet Another Bad Strategy
I’ve mentioned before that the Democrats are having a problem finding a strategy they can use to attract voters. They wanted to sell the Stimulus, but it went bust and made people insanely angry at the level of debt the Democrats piled onto the country. They wanted to sell the improving economy, but it didn’t improve. They had a jobs bill that didn’t create any jobs. They wanted to trumpet ObamaCare, but the people hated that. They wanted to rely on Financial Reform, but that’s a snoozer. They tried scapegoating Bush, but that’s not getting traction either.

And Obama is no help. In fact, he’s become so unpopular that Democrats won’t even be seen with him anymore, e.g. Russ Feingold who vanished off the face of the Earth when Obama came to Wisconsin the other day. Add in the BP thing, the McChrystal thing, the Arizona thing, the corruption thing, and you’ve got a serious problem with coming up with a message.

So what’s a Democrat to do? Well, the new plan is to turn the election into a race on local issues, i.e. avoid national issues entirely. But of course, there are two problems with this. First, they haven’t done anything better locally than they’ve done nationally. Secondly, midterm elections have always been a referendum on the incumbent party. Running on local issues just won’t work.
2. Anger: Fund Raising Blues
The Democrats three biggest sources of funds are lawyers, bankers, and unions -- in that order, and their biggest treasure trove of financing comes from New York. But things are going wrong for them in New York. Indeed, there have been several articles lately talking about how dire the Democrats’ relations with Wall Street and New York have become. Said one anonymous Democrat: “Clearly, it's an extremely difficult environment out there.”

There are three issues going on here:

First, many bankers are upset about being demonized by the Democrats during the Financial Regulation debate. Indeed, many banks have decided to sit out this fundraising cycle. Key Democratic supporter Goldman Sachs, for example, has refused to host or attend any fundraisers for Democrats. Said one banker:
“The fact is that the ink is not even dry on [financial regulation], and everyone in town is still getting fundraising requests from members of the conference committee and all sorts of other people who were beating up on Wall Street. It’s unseemly at best, and right now we are just not inclined to say ‘yes’.”
Said another:
“Sometimes their chutzpah just has no bounds. People like [Gillibrand] who didn’t stand up for us at all during the debate are certainly going to feel some pushback.”
Secondly, Jewish donors are upset at the way Obama treats Israel. Several off-the-record comments have confirmed that most of these donors have closed their checkbooks to the Democrats and, more significantly, a large number of them, who have previously said “I've never written a check to a Republican in my life,” are suddenly attending Republican fundraisers.

Third, Obama’s style has become a problem. Just as Obama treats everything American (or British) with disdain, he’s treating New York donors with disdain. This is something they aren't accustomed to. In fact, in the past, they had the Clintons who pandered to their every whim. Said one Washington Democrat:
“For the Clintons, these donors were part of their social circle. They vacationed with them, they had dinners with them. That's not the case for Barack.”
No, it's not. Obama has shown no interest in mixing with these people. Moreover, not only is he not showing them the love the Clintons did, he's actively attacking them:
“They were coddled and worked very hard. Now, they're not just told they're not needed but that they're part of the problem.”
And this disdain is hurting other Democrats as well, who are discovering that Obama's contempt is affecting their fundraising as well: “Obama doesn't care about [these donors], and it trickles down to the rest of the system.”

So how are the Democrats responding? Like they always do. . . by publically blasting the contributors. Said one Democrat, “The New York donor community is all ego driven,” and these complaints are simply from people who are upset about “not getting invited to movie night at the White House.” Way to improve relations!
3. The Unforgiving Public
Finally, the anti-Democratic-incumbent wave continues. Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was supposed to have an easy re-election. Apparently not. Two polls this week show that Feingold is only 2% ahead of his challenger (45% to 43%), Ron Johnson, a relatively unknown businessman from Oshkosh with no prior political experience.

What’s worse for Feingold, his approval ratings are equal to his disapproval ratings at 42%. Anything less than 50% support for an incumbent at this stage, usually spells disaster as undecideds tend to break for the challenger.

Add in Toomey’s growing lead over Sestak, and it suddenly looks like the Republicans might capture the Senate after all, especially with the excitement edge benefiting Republicans.

All of this is simply more evidence of what is becoming an obvious trend. The Democrats are in trouble. The polls say it. The MSM’s defensiveness says it. The Democrats’ panic says it. And now the Democrats’ donors are saying it. And the Democrats don’t have a clue how to respond to any of this.


Joel Farnham said...


Funny, a year ago, this was supposed to be the Democrats time and that they will rule in perpetua because they had the "One". They had all the answers.

Let us hope and pray that the vote counting machines work correctly.

Joel Farnham said...


One question, now the pundits, on our side, are warning that the lame-duck Congress is willing to pass all manner of stupid laws to get even with the electorate. Do you think we face that possibility?

StanH said...

It’s no question the democrats are screwing the pooch, my concern is our team. It is imperative that our team exploit the liberal’s disorder, with a positive, yet, go for the throat message. I understand coming out to early with your campaign theme, but it’s imperative to not allow the other side define your team.

As an aside, I understand the Republicans are having their own troubles raising money, with the Tea Party, etc.

USArtguy said...

This is all well and good, but I have the impression the Republicans feel they don't have to do anything and they'll just get swept in. As bad as it may be for the Democrats, they still have plenty of people who will vote for them no matter how insane they appear to everyone else. November is only 4 months away and the Republicans need to start vocalizing reasons to the masses (who don't pay much attention to politics but vote anyway) why they should elect them.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Yep, times change. And I think the answer in all honesty is that the problem for the Democrats is their philosophy. I think the public basically leans toward the Republicans and the last two elections were about punishing them.

The public was willing to risk a few years under the Democrats to make that point. And the Democrats blew it by not acting like rational moderates. Instead, they ran wild with the idea that they are the new majority party. But that's not what the public wants.

On a last minute push, they might try it, but self-preservation is kicking in for the "moderates." I don't see them agreeing to anything. Look at how quickly the unemployment benefits and jobs bill just went down in flames.

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, I agree. I said in one of the comments yesterday that historically, parties who don't have an agenda tend to get nothing after the election. The reasons are that there is nothing to unify them and nothing to hold their members accountable to. Also, it's harder to get the public to support your agenda after the election if they aren't prepared for it before the election because their expectations might not be the same as your agenda.

In that regard, I promised yesterday that I would put together what the Republican Agenda should be for 2010. I'll put that together and publish it Sunday night (4:00 pm).

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, It's my understanding that the Republicans actually aren't having problems as a party, BUT certain Republican organizations are having problems. The candidates themselves seem to be doing extremely well, as are conservative Republican organizations. The main party itself apparently is in trouble.

In terms of message, I think our side needs to be careful here. This election will be a referendum on the Democrats unless we give them an opening to paint us as extremists. I would suggest laying out an agenda (see my comment to USArtguy) and then using a strategy that is essentially: "We know we were wrong, but we've changed -- see our agenda, and look at how horrible the Democrats have been. You need us to set the country on the right track."

Joel Farnham said...


As a regular here at Commentarama, I would like to proffer two and only two ideas towards your Republican Agenda.

First: Get rid of the Czars, because it adds unnecessarily a buffer of bureaucracy.

Second: Get rid of the private plane for Speaker of the House. They are only needed for the President and Vice, and who knows how many drunken deals were created during the flights Nancy Pelosi held?

As in keeping with Commentarama's well known and well established rules, Use them, don't use them, ignore them and have fun.

I have other ideas, but those are just off the top of my head. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I agree about the czars. In fact, that was one of the first things on my list -- right after debt reduction.

I also agree about curtailing the plane, though I would include that as part of a larger "More Ethical Congress" plank, which would include various things like independent audits, an independent ethics oversite committee and the such.

Save your other ideas until Sunday. Maybe we can get a big discussion going about what everyone would add or subtract from the agenda I put forward. That would be very interesting to hear from everyone.

Maybe we can even put together a poll afterwards.

MegaTroll said...

This is all good news. And I'm looking forward to your Sunday post. I'll draw up my own list and then compare it to yours. A vote would be kind of neat too.

AndrewPrice said...

Mega, I'm looking forward to it myself.

As for this article, yeah, I think this is all just more evidence of what is becoming increasingly clear -- the Democrats are in serious trouble. EVERYTHING is pointing in that direction.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: The only thing I can add is what we've actually said before. Our worst enemy right now would be overconfidence. Things are going our way, the public is angry, and Democrats keep shooting themselves in the foot. It's our election to lose, not theirs to win.

By the way, I still think that the Republican intransigence on unemployment benefits is a bad idea. Yeah, I understand the principle. But right now, unemployment works for the party that creates jobs. But if the public starts to sense that Republicans don't care about those suffering unemployment through no fault of their own, we're going to lose votes we ought to be gaining. Punishing those who are enjoying not having to work also punishes the far larger work force that hates having to wait for a government check (which they and their employers already paid for) and wants nothing more than to get back to work. But for now, they have to pay their bills and feed their families.

Joel Farnham said...


I would accept the unemployment benefits extension, if after November, the RNC goes public with a very sincere apology to the TAXPAYING portion of the United States. Explaining why and when it will stop then propose legislation to extend it..... and stick to the end date!!!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think you're right on the politics of the unemployment benefits. I think the best thing to do is to link it with a demand for deficit reduction and then pound home the message:

"We want to help the unemployed, but we need to offset it by cutting wasteful spending, why won't the Democrats agree to that?"

And then after the election, we should scale back the benefits as part of an actual stimulus bill.

Anonymous said...

Joel: I agree that the benefits have to end, and not too far down the road. The problem is twofold at the present.

Most of the recipients who have been cut off have been paying into the fund (along with their employers) for so many years that their benefits have been well-earned. But the good old government(s) have already spent the money on other things. If the Republicans take over, and succeed in turning the economy around, unemployment benefits will run out about the time the money originally put in has been exhausted. But good economic policy will already have put those back to work who were never looking for a "free ride" in the first place.

The second prong is that good people who have lost their benefits really don't care about the debate over whether the extended benefits are paid out of current funds already collected or future funds (more debt). Sure, I agree that there's plenty to pay for the benefits already set aside in multiple government tax-grabs, but principle doesn't pay the bills.

Neither "current income" or "future income" to pay for extended benefits will solve the ultimate problem--job creation. I think the Republicans need to get the extension through, with current funds if possible, with future funds if necessary. But more importantly they need to win elections to improve the economy, and right now they're losing potential voters who just want to go back to work but feed their families in the short-term.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I wouldn't issue an apology, but I wind them down as part of an actual stimulus bill. That way we could set the wind down for six months out and we could claim that our bill would create jobs for those people in the meantime.

That's easier for the public to swallow without us being labeled as "abandoning" the unemployed.

I would also use the opportunity to reform the whole system as well by cutting out seasonal employees and allowing a scale down of benefits if people take lower paying jobs (to encourage taking any job rather than waiting for the perfect job), etc.

Joel Farnham said...


This is a tough one no matter what is done. Un-employment benefits are paid by the employee while employed and should be honored. Unfortunately, it is about to be tapped out. Still, it was intended only to ease the pain until a new job comes along.

Wouldn't it be ironic, if one of the first bills Obama vetos is an extension of unemployment benefits from a Republican Congress?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, It is a tough one because the politics of it is bad either way. On the one hand, you are a heartless jerk who wants to leave people in the streets without jobs. On the other hand, you're a reckless spender who wants to reward the lazy.

The best strategy is to find a way to appear to help people as you in fact trim the benefits.

Also, you're point about a veto brings up a good point. This is the sort of thing you can attach to another bill to force Obama's hand. That is also good politics.

CrispyRice said...

Speaking of Democrat desperation, I heard this morning that some liberal group is actively encouraging their minions to go to every Republican speech they can and video tape them. They're apparently hoping for any sort of slip-up or comment that they can paint in a negative way and make a story out of. No positive plans of your own, eh guys?

I'm also with ArtGuy and definitely the the Republicans need an agenda. I look forward to reading your thoughts on it, Andrew!

Anonymous said...

Andrew: We must have been typing our replies at the same time--but you got there ahead of me. It's one thing to appear to the public to be the fiscally-responsible father, quite another to come off as Simon Legree. It's simple good sense that unemployment benefits can't go on forever, otherwise it's just another welfare program. Republicans could be heroes by getting the extension through while at the same time demanding accountability somewhere else (like using current rather than future funds, or cutting frivolous spending).

But the reality is, unemployment among people who really want to work is high, and it's still five months from the time we can regain fiscal responsibility by throwing the spendthrifts out. Meanwhile, the unemployed who want to work still have no jobs, and the Democrats are destroying their chances of getting them. For most of the unemployed, this is a "prepaid" safety net that the government has played political football with. Time for the adults to take over.

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, That's part of politics these days -- looking for the great soundbite to use as a hit piece. But the total reliance on it is, as you say, just another sign of how desperate things have become for the Democrats.

And they really don't seem to get that this election is not about the Republicans, it's about the Democrats. They can't win this by pointing at the flaws in their opponents.

I'll do my best on Sunday. Bring your own list too, we can all compare notes.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, All true. There are not enough jobs at the moment and the Democrats are only making it worse. Right now is not the time to be seen as the people who want to cut off unemployment benefits.

But we can (and certainly should) use that to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: Well said. The Democrats have every intention of turning the Great Recession into the Not-So-Great Depression, even if some of them don't entirely understand that they are doing that. Republicans should be trumpeting this, not having insider intellectual debates over it.

Unemployment benefits are not that significant an issue considering the size of the debt the Democrats are putting us into. But it's a huge issue for the working Joe who now has no job and can't get an extension on his unemployment benefits. This is politics, pure and simple. And if the Republicans do the right thing for all the wrong reasons, we lose a major potential voting bloc. Even if they are holding up the extension for good reasons, timing is everything. And this is exactly the wrong time to be doing that.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Agreed, especially since there are better ways. Like I said above, Republicans should link their agreement to reductions in things people hate, e.g., "waste" in other parts of the budget and deficit reduction.

There will be a much better time to trim these benefits in the near future.

Ed said...

You just keep the good news coming! Nice work!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed, I call them like I see them.

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