Riding the strength of the Tea Party movement and voter angst, Republicans won 62 seats in the 2010 mid-term election, taking control of the House in an election that was viewed as a referendum on the first-half of President Barack Obama’s term. And even though it looks like they will fail to take control of the Senate this year, Aaron Blake, who writes at The Fix over at the Washington Post, reports that Republicans may actually increase their already sizeable majority in the House of Representatives:
The Fix now projects that the 2012 race for the House is likely to be close to a draw, and there is even a fair chance that Republicans will add to their biggest majority in six decades on Tuesday.
In recent weeks, as Mitt Romney has gained a few points in the presidential race, a similar but slight shift has been happening at the House level: The generic ballot has tightened.
While Democrats had built a modest advantage on the generic ballot (a measure of whether people prefer a generic Republican or a generic Democrat) when President Obama built some momentum in September, that advantage is basically gone now.
In part because of this, Democrats have seen their candidates in conservative-leaning districts suffer. Friday, we are moving several red-district Democrats into more vulnerable ratings, including Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.).
And because those seats have shifted, it is no longer a foregone conclusion that Democrats will gain seats this year.
Since coming on the scene in 2009, the Tea Party movement has been maligned or misrepresented by an unsympathetic media. They fawned over Occupy Wall Street, but they quickly fizzled out. But the Tea Party is still around and still having an influence on American politics through backing anti-establishment candidates in Republican primaries.
This is what the movement has become used to since its inception. But in his column at Politico, Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s the Morning Joe, used his column yesterday to rip the media’s treatment of the Tea Party movement:
“Why is the tea party destroying the Republican Party?”
That’s a leading question that I have been asked repeatedly from media pundits and Democratic politicians over the past three years. Over that time, Democratic politicians and media pundits have almost universally accused the tea party of bringing ruin to the Grand Old Party. According to this skewed narrative, Republican leaders were once bipartisan, rational and almost worthy of getting invitations to Georgetown cocktail parties. Now, they are Manchurian candidates held captive by the right-wing beasts whose only goal is to infect the minds of real-life Nick Brodys who dominate the U.S. House.
Sometimes, mainstream publications and Democratic leaders even go so far as to say kind things about Ronald Reagan as a way to attack the tea party. They speak glowingly of Reagan and contrast him with the barbarians who now run the Republican Party. This, of course, conveniently overlooks the nasty attacks Reagan has endured at the hands of those who now cynically praise the 40th president.
Last week, I interviewed Mayor Mia Love, candidate for the 4th district of Utah. I asked her how challenging it is to run for Congress as a conservative black woman.
Today, apparently Democrats are not too happy about Love being ahead in the polls. Police are investigating racial images sent to her office:
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A packet of information sent to Mayor Mia Love’s office that city officials described as racist launched a police investigation Tuesday.
City Manager Mark Christensen described the contents of the thick envelope as “disturbing” and “pretty creepy stuff.” He said it included a picture of Love and her husband, Jason, and a hooded Ku Klux Klan character. There also were pictures of aborted fetuses, he said.
“I couldn’t tell if it was threatening or anything. It kind of shocked me, what I saw,” he said.
Christensen said the city has received others mailings aimed at Love but nothing like the one that arrived Tuesday. He said he turned it over to the police department.[…]
Christensen said the envelope contained fliers, pictures and pages printed from the Internet. He said the city has received mail aimed at Love four or five times before, but the latest envelope caused enough concern to involve police.
We are 47 days away from Election Day. Republicans are trying to excite voters over Mitt Romney, desperately hoping to bring an end to Barack Obama’s political career. And while anything is still possible, it’s not looking good for Romney, who is trailing Obama in 9 of 10 swing states.
And, sure, you can say that’s one specific poll or that it’s a Politico link, a site that doesn’t typically favor the right. But that fact remains – no matter what the polls say – that the Romney campaign isn’t doing well at all lately.
And now, on top of that frustration, a GOP takeover of the Senate, once thought to be highly probable, is in jeopardy.
We should be focusing our efforts where they’ll have the most impact, and given the outlook of the presidential election, it may be time to shift our focus to the Senate.
Of course, I’m not saying we should just concede the presidential election. If you’re in a swing state, it makes sense to focus some time on the presidential election, but if you’re in a decidedly red (or blue) state, time spent helping Senate candidates may be a better choice.
And, yes, we could also argue that Republican activists in non-swing states could be making calls for Romney to voters in swing states just as easily as they could make calls for Senate candidates, but some of these Senate races are closer than the presidential election.
And if Obama is going to be re-elected, which seems likely at this point, Republicans need to have control of the Senate.
Mitt Romney has found himself in a bit of trouble. He spoke at a fundraiser where he claimed 47% of all Americans did not pay taxes and felt entitled to government handouts. This rhetoric has been seized upon by the Obama campaign and its allies to portray Romney as elitist and out of touch. However the image of Romney the elitist is only a small part of the problem he faces. Romney’s overall problem is that he is running a campaign that ultimately stands for nothing and does a terrible job reaching out to ordinary voters.
Even though the economy is in terrible shape with virtually nonexistent growth and unemployment hovering around 8%, Obama has consistently maintained the lead in both the national polls and in the important battleground states. You would think that in terrible economic conditions any challenger would be running stronger against Obama. However, that just hasn’t been the case this year. The American people may not like Obama’s job performance, but right now they do not see Mitt Romney as a viable alternative. They just don’t like the man. He comes off as cold and arrogant to many voters. Winning votes is essentially a sales job and people only buy things from people they like.
After hearing rave reviews from friends who attended FreePAC in July, I expressed optimism that there would be a place for libertarians after we had been all but pushed aside by conservatives. They frequently say they need us and we should go along, but having a prominent role or voice seems is a prospect in which they don’t seem to have much of an interest.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend FreePAC Ohio, the latest of these FreedomWorks’ sponsored events. The day started with strategy and training sessions for activists, this was, as David Spielman put it, a chance for the some 7,000 attendees — a completely packed house — to become “freedom ninjas.”
Speakers touched on every aspect of activism and campaigning, from where to place signs to how to engage independent voters, an important bloc that will decide the outcome of the election in November. Jackie Bodnar and Kristina Ribali, both staffers at FreedomWorks, explained old and new media angles.
Nearly every speaker acknowledged that Republicans are just as much to blame as Democrats for the budget and entitlement crisis that face the United States. One comment was heard a few times throughout the day, both from speakers and on a couple of t-shirts I saw: “Sometimes you have to beat the Republicans before you can beat the Democrats.”
With the 2012 presidential election expected to be close, a lot of attention is being focused on third party candidates. One candidate who has really received a lot of attention as a “spoiler” is Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Republicans appear to be so worried about Johnson that they have been accused of trying to deny him access to the ballot in some states. The perception is that voters who vote for Gary Johnson would normally instead vote for Mitt Romney and therefore split the anti-Obama vote. However, I’m not sure this is necessarily true. I’m inclined to think that a vote for a candidate is a vote for that candidate, not a vote for or against someone else.
Wayne Allyn Root, 2008 Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee and political commentator, resigned this morning from the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) to, according to his resignation letter, “elect good people and change the direction of this country outside of a third party.”
In the letter to the LNC, which is available at Independent Political Report, Root explains that his decision much is not unlike those of previous Libertarian Party presidential candidates, including Ron Paul and David Koch; both of whom left the LP to become prominent Republicans.
When I asked if he was now backing Mitt Romney, Root responded, “I am,” adding, “I don’t deny that Romney and Ryan aren’t libertarians, but Romney is a pro-business capitalist and Obama is a Marxist-socialist.”
“The economy has been trashed. This is about my kids’ future, it’s about my businesses,” said Root. “There is no hope for America if Obama is re-elected.”
Root, who lives near Las Vegas, noted in his resignation letter that he “plan[s] to join Tea Party U.S. Senators like Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee in the near future, representing the great state of Nevada.” It’s obviously too late for him to run this year. It would 2016 before Root could make a run, presumably against Sen. Harry Reid; though Root told me that he believes the Democratic leader will retire.
Bob Barr, a former Republican Congressman from Georgia and the 2008 Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, backed Newt Gingrich during the GOP primary. Barr has indicated that he will support Romney in 2012.
Disclosure: I served as campaign blogger for Barr/Root in 2008.
Michelle Fields, the Daily Caller’s star reporter and a frequent contributor to Fox News, has a great blog post on what is happening to the GOP, and where it is going:
The biggest threat to conservatives right now is President Barack Obama, but the long-term threat to conservatism is an internal threat– young republicans. The RNC is doing everything in its power to prevent them from gaining power, but will it work?
If you were to talk to any reporter covering this year’s election they’ll tell you that most of the attendees at GOP events are over 40 years old. You can’t help but ask yourself “where are the young people?” Well, they’re organizing a libertarian take-over.
Young republicans aren’t on board with social conservatism, instead we’re seeing an unprecedented level of enthusiasm for libertarianism. Many of my conservative colleagues will argue that, “ah, this is just a phase amongst young republicans.” But being socially liberal isn’t a phase. What we’re seeing is a cultural shift that is inevitably going to force the Republican Party to make some major adjustments. For example, take gay marriage— Millennials have grown up a time where it’s no longer taboo to be openly gay. Our favorite films and television shows have gay characters. Some of the most prominent figures in American culture are openly gay. And if you look at the polls, public opinion has moved sharply in favor of gay marriage in recent years with 76% of 18-34 year olds saying that the law should recognize same sex marriage.
With almost a week removed from the shenanigans at the Republican National Convention, many of Ron Paul’s supporters are still steaming. The frustration is two-fold. First, establishment Republicans managed to push through rules changes that effectively disenfranchise grassroots activists. Secondly, votes for Ron Paul were counted as “other” during the nomination process, despite nominating petitions from more than five states — more than the number required under the original rules to place a name into nomination.
Sure, Republicans did pay tribute to Paul on Tuesday evening by showing a touching video on his 22-year career and the respect he’s earned from many of his colleagues. However, the push back against Paul supporters may be something that comes back to haunt Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.
There is now a lot of talk about Paul supporters bolting from the Republican Party over what happened at the convention. While they may be a small number, the Romney-Ryan ticket will need every vote possible to win come November. But in a new video, Julie Borowski passionately urges libertarians and Ron Paul supporters to stick around the GOP, despite the tactics used at the RNC: