Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Here's a good analysis by Michael Barone explaining just why Democrats might be in trouble in 2010:
"Polls in House races almost always show incumbents ahead of challengers, because incumbent members of Congress are usually much better known than their opponents. An incumbent running below 50 percent is considered potentially in trouble; an incumbent running behind a challenger is considered in deep doo-doo. In 1994, I wrote an article in U.S. News & World Report arguing that there was a serious chance that Republicans could capture the 40 seats that they needed then, as now, for a majority in the House. It was the first mainstream media piece suggesting that, and it appeared on the newsstands on July 11. I cited as evidence five polls showing incumbent Democratic congressmen trailing Republican challengers. None of those Democrats had scandal problems; all five lost in November. Today, a lot more Democratic incumbents seem to be trailing Republican challengers in polls. Jim Geraghty of National Review Online has compiled a list of 13 Democratic incumbents trailing in polls released over the last seven weeks. They're from all over the country: one each from Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota; two from Virginia; three from Pennsylvania. Most if not all of these incumbents are personally attractive, hardworking and ethically unsullied."

Rays 7, Tigers 4: Tampa Bay is a very good club, they're at home, and the injured Tigers just keep...finding ways to lose.
A's 3, Rangers 1: on this one, just tip your hat to A's starter Trevor Cahill; he has 10 wins now, and held the potent Rangers to just 2 hits.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday's wash

A columnist today asks an interesting question: every poll shows that the American people don't have confidence that our economy will improve, nor do they trust Congress or the president. But why not? An idea:
"To do the task justice would require at least as many pages as some of the bills Congress passes, but that itself is a place to start -- mention of a debt-stimulating stimulus bill over 1,000 pages long, of a topsy-turvy health-care remake over 2,000 pages long and of a recent financial-regulation mishmash also over 2,000 pages long....Members of Congress maybe have some study-guide notion of what's in these bills, but no grasp of all the possible catastrophes hidden in multiple unread clauses. Passing them is therefore akin to the blindfolded racing of a bus down a busy highway. The public -- the passengers -- knows even less, of course, and has to guess at what might happen to it. At least some of the devilish details do emerge in time, and so you learn that even if an $862 billion stimulus was defensible in theory, the political handouts got out of hand, virtually ensuring any assault on the recession would be feathery at best."

So bills that are passed don't do what they say they will do. Sometimes they do just the opposite. That leads to cynicism, and as someone who does a lot of teaching, I can tell you--cynicism among young people concerning government is as high today as its ever been. The election of President Obama hasn't changed it. Nor is this cynicism new. It's been around since Vietnam, when our leaders lied to us about various aspects of that war. It's been around since Watergate. but now it's worse. And again, despite all the high hopes of 2008...President Obama hasn't changed it. At all.

It just so happens that victor Davis Hanson of NRO spoke to this question too on this day, and adds:
"...the voters in 2008 did not vote for liberal change, but for change from the costly and lengthy Bush wars, deficits, spending policies, and immigration proposals. Obama voters were also motivated by a desire to elect our first African-American president, fear over the September 2008 financial meltdown, a lackluster McCain campaign, and the strange perception that Obama was a centrist.

Since his election, Obama has outdone the average Bush deficits by a factor of four or five. His brief “stimulus” became the prelude to a gorge-the-beast reordering of American society. Meanwhile, after demagoguing as a candidate everything from Guantanamo to Iraq, Obama in office has kept in place almost every major security protocol that Bush had established. He has broken his promises to close Guantanamo, try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, and pull out of Iraq. This has meant alienating his shrinking base while being exposed as a hypocrite to suddenly wiser and less forgiving independents....after ramming through his health-care bill without either bipartisan support or public approval, Obama is polling badly on just about every hot-button issue. The electorate simply does not want cap-and-trade, amnesty, more deficits, and higher taxes. Rather, it prefers to produce more oil and gas, and more hydroelectric and nuclear power; it wants to follow the Arizona immigration model; it wants to cut spending; and it wants to balance the budget."

Obama and liberals simply misread the electorate; they misread the meaning of the 2008 election.

First Read defending the Obama admin--again:
This time Chuck Todd et al on MSNBC's "First Read" give the administration's side on the question of whether it is "overexposed":
", Obama tapes his appearance on "The View." That appearance -- plus even his new video on Web MD explaining the health-care law and how to use HealthCare.Gov -- has once furthered a narrative that the president is overexposed. (If you'll recall, we had this same discussion last year after Obama went on Leno, etc.) There is a potential danger here, and it does highlight the fact that there really isn't another key spokesman in the administration to talk about the economy or health care. But as the White House reminds us, the media world is now so diffuse (TV, newspaper, Web, cable Twitter, Facebook) that Obama has to do more than his predecessors ever did. That's the reality. So while folks INSIDE THE BELTWAY believe he's over-exposed, and those folks that watch a lot of cable TV might believe he's overexposed, ask the working parent of two if they think the same thing."

Yes, sure guys, and there's nothing wrong with asking that question of a working parent of two...nor is it wrong to give the administration's side of things (though you might 'fess up once in a while and admit that's what you're doing).
But here's the thing: we can make a pretty good guess of what the working parent of two thinks of Obama, and guess whether he or she is a tiny bit sick of him. Know how? CHECK THE POLLS!!!! Obama's approval ratings have been sliding for months. That's usually not a sign that the White House's approach to communicating with the public is working too well. Is overexposure their only problem? I doubt it. But it could well be part of it. O, Chuck and friends, how could you not have thought of this???

Rays 3, Tigers 2: Justin Verlander pitches well. The Tigers must have thought they were in a good spot--9th inning, down by 1 run, but the bases loaded and Miguel Cabrera at the plate. But he hits a grounder on which the Rays' Evan Longoria turns a great double play...that's baseball.
Rangers 3, A's 1 (10 innings): again the story is Cliff Lee. 9 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts, 1 run allowed...and eating up innings, saving the bullpen. What an acquisition for this team, which right now has the best pitching it's had perhaps ever.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Rays 5, Tigers 0: all you need to know about this game is that the Tigers have been so depleted by injuries they had to start 4 rookies. And so they were no-hit last night; they simply had no shot. Matt Garza of the Rays, who threw the no-hitter, is very, very good, however; make no mistake about that. I'd forgotten that he was the MVP of the AL Championship series...

Some political news, none of it particularly good news for Democrats---
First, consumer confidence drops:
"Americans' confidence in the economy eroded further in July amid worries about a job market that has proven stubbornly stagnant. The report raised concerns about the overall economy and the back-to-school season."

There are also some cracks in President Obama's Hispanic support:"President Barack Obama's once solid support among Hispanics is showing a few cracks, a troubling sign for Democrats desperate to get this critical constituency excited about helping the party hold onto Congress this fall. Hispanics still overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party over the GOP, and a majority still think Obama is doing a good job, according to an Associated Press-Univision poll of more than 1,500 Hispanics. But the survey, also sponsored by The Nielsen Company and Stanford University, shows Obama gets only lukewarm ratings on issues important to Hispanics — and that could bode poorly for the president and his party....For a group that supported Obama so heavily in 2008 and in his first year in office, only 43 percent of Hispanics surveyed said Obama is adequately addressing their needs, with the economy a major concern. Another 32 percent were on the fence, while 21 percent said he'd done a poor job."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday's musings

Polling news:
Arizona Republican Senate primary--sure looks to me like John McCain will survive the primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth.

Missouri U.S. Senate race--there, Republican Roy Blunt looks to be in decent shape.

Arizona immigration law: do you think that law remains popular in Arizona? Ever since Governor Jan Brewer signed it into law, she's zoomed to a 20 point lead in the polls in the governor's race.

As for the Republican campaign this fall, this is encouraging:
"In a reprise of a long-ago clash between Democratic presidential candidates, House Republicans contend that they can answer the mocking challenge “Where’s the beef?”
The GOP response: Create incentives for new jobs, cut federal spending and clean up Congress. Although the specifics remain a work in progress, Republican leaders are inching toward a substantive campaign agenda after a behind-the-scenes battle over how specific the policy proposals should be."

But the proof will be in the pudding. I note that Republicans are against, right now, a grand rollout of new ideas a la the Contract with America of 1994. I can see the desire not to be seen as copying from something done 16 years ago. But remember-the Contract was the right thing to do, worked. Republicans need some kind of grand entrance for something, whether they call it a "contract" or something else. And it should signal real change in a conservative direction.

Hmmm...from Chuck Todd et al from MDNBC is their "First Thoughts" section:
"The AP runs this quote from Washington state Senate candidate Dino Rossi (R): "The idea of dragging home pork is an old-school measurement of a senator,’ said Republican Dino Rossi… ‘And right now, with Republicans and Democrats alike doing that, it's bankrupting America. There's nothing in the Constitution that says the job of a senator is bringing home pork." Rossi’ quote raises an important question: If a senator or member of Congress isn’t supposed to bring home the bacon, then what is his/her job? To simply cast votes? Sit at committee hearings? Wage ideological fights?"

Er--well, sure, Chuck and others, I'll be glad to take a crack at that one: yes, one of their jobs is indeed to "cast votes"---informed votes, which show a knowledge of the issues; votes about which the congressperson can then keep his or her district informed. And yes, wage "fights"--if the fight is an important one, over a crucial issue, if the fight is worth having. Many of us believed the "fight" over ObamaCare was a pretty important one, and yes, it involved "ideology", I guess, but that didn't make it bad or unnecessary. Let's ask you guys some questions: do you think most big fights in "congress" are "ideological fights"? Do you think ideological fights are necessarily bad? Do you really think the most important thing a congresscritter should do is "bring home the bacon", i.e. money and projects? If so, where does that end, and how will we ever slow down spending and/or reduce the national debt???

Tigers 6, Blue Jays 5 (2nd game of DH): the Tigers had a tough weekend. They only split 4 games with Toronto; and lost key players to bad injuries. But rallying for 4 runs in the 8th inning to win the nightcap shows they do have some toughness. But all this bad luck makes it real tough to expect Detroit to continue to contend this year...
Rangers 6, Angels 4: but the Texas Rangers had a great weekend. They took 3 of 4 from the Angels, the team chasing them in the AL West. Starting pitcher Tommy Hunter has now won 8 starts and lost none. Josh Hamilton is hitting .357 with a lot of RBIs. The Rangers allowed only 6 runs to the Angels in their 3 victories...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Tigers 4, Rangers 1: Detroit gets a much-needed win. The key for them was starter Max Scherzer, who held the Rangers to 1 run over 7 innings (though it took him over 120 pitches to do it). The Tigers will need a lot more games like this. The Rangers however end a 7 game road trip to Boston and Detroit with a strong 5-2 record...

Hmmm...Roger Simon, a very cynical though canny political columnist and observer at The Politico, argues that Sarah Palin is actually doing much better than many people think:
"Today, Palin is going around the country endorsing and making speeches for Republican candidates with some success. Tuesday night in Georgia, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who was endorsed by Palin, got 34 percent of the vote, while former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, endorsed by Newt Gingrich, got 23 percent of the vote."

That's very interesting evidence there. That's not the first candidate whom she's endorsed who has won. She does connect very well with the base of the GOP. Could she be a serious threat for the 2012 Republican nomination? I have to admit, thanks to the bashing in the media she'd taken, and to the clips from some of her interviews which, let's face it, didn't make her look so good, I doubted 2012 was in the cards (though I thought 2016 was still a possibility). But she's hung her hat on a few good issues, and done a brilliant job of keeping her name out there. We may need to re-think 2012...

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul continues to lead in the senate race there by 8 points. That's significant--his libertarian leanings and his statements coming from that led him to take a tremendous bashing in the news media weeks ago, but he had an 8 points lead in the race about a month ago...and still does. Seems to me to be good news for him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Rangers 8, Tigers 0: the Rangers are clicking on all cylinders. The Tigers aren't. It's hard to understand what hits this team when the second half of the season comes. Meanwhile Ranger starter Tommy Hunter is 7-0 and pitching very well. Ranger pitching remains the key factor in this team's surge into first place in the AL West.

By the way, you know that financial regulatory bill that President Obama will sign into law today?
It's over 2300 pages long. And liberals try to deny that government is excessively bureaucratic and full of red tape. Right...

As for Republicans in 2010--I agree with Victor Davis Hanson:
"Republicans will shortly need to stand for something more than just being against much of the Obama agenda. Only a superior and detailed alternative can win more lasting support than just a midterm correction. Obama, after all — with nationalized health care, amnesty, cap-and-trade, financial overhaul, government absorption of private enterprise, takeover of the student-loan industry, and gorge-the-beast deficits that will ensure a generation of higher taxes — at least seems to have some sort of plan to change America. The absurdity of $1.5 trillion annual deficits is easy to run on; but where in the budget should we freeze or cut spending? To restore fiscal sanity, we need details rather than vague promises to reduce red ink to a particular percentage of GDP. Is there to be an across-the-board spending freeze or targeted cuts? How much, if at all, does defense get cut? If it does, where and how? some point, blanket Obama-bashing without a comprehensive alternative will turn stale. Critics of Obama — if they are to be taken seriously — will have to be about more than not being Obama. Instead, conservatives must identify exactly how to undo the Obama agenda — and do so in a way that does not earn them the disdain that the Republican Congress earned between 2001 and 2006, and the Republican administration between 2005 and 2009. We need some notion of a contracted agenda, so that conservative voters can hold conservative politicians to account in this age of anti-incumbency. Voters wanted closed borders, balanced budgets, ethical members of Congress, and less government between 2001 and 2006. They believed that all of that had been promised — and then were sorely disappointed.
...In short, conservative voters want to see something specific — as much to keep their own honest as to defeat the other."

Read his whole piece.
And I'm convinced that more specificity will help Republicans, not hurt. Remember the Contract with America for 1994; it gave Republicans something to run on. They couldn't simply be called a party of no. Democrats are trying to use that argument against the GOP now. We can take that argument right away from them.

Some more good news for Republicans lately, in the meantime.
In Ohio, conservative challenger John Kasich leads incumbent Ted Strickland in the governor's race.
Don't forget how important Ohio is as a swing state.

Quinnipiac has Republicans leading on the 2010 generic ballot by 5 points.Kind of makes one wonder about that big lead Gallup gave Democrats the other day...
And it only gives President Obama a 44% approval rating.

A new poll in Nevada gives Harry Reid only a two point lead over Sharron Angle.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Rangers 8, Tigers 6 (14 innings): the season might be ending for the Tigers; a lot of bad luck coming their way. In this one, Brandon Inge broke a finger and will be out at least a month. For the Rangers, again to me the story is their bullpen, with Matt Harrison (among others) shutting the Tigers down for over 4 innings.

Here's another reason why conservative Pat Toomey has a great shot to beat Joe Sestak for the US Senate--Sestak doesn't look like a very smart politician:
"After the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released an ad accusing Sestak of voting “100 percent” with Nancy Pelosi, Sestak howled that this was a lie. He voted with her 97 percent of the time. Hmmm....Representative Sestak displayed the same unwise litigiousness after a group called the Emergency Committee for Israel ran ads calling attention to his poor record on support for Israel. Sestak’s lawyers contacted Comcast and insisted that the ads be pulled. In so doing, he has invited closer examination of his record....It is false and “offensive,” Sestak’s lawyer argues, to say that the congressman “raised money for an anti-Israel organization that the FBI labeled a ‘front group for Hamas.’” Oh, did Sestak not deliver the keynote address at a fundraiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)? Well, yes he did, admits the lawyer, “but during a portion of the event explicitly free of fundraising.” Please. People paid $50 to attend the banquet and hear a speech by Congressman Joe Sestak. That he didn’t personally solicit funds is irrelevant."

Polling news--
In Arkansas, incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln trails her Republican opponent for the US Senate by no less than 30 points.

On the other hand, when it comes to the generic ballot, Gallup suddenly has Democrats out to a 6 point lead, while Rasmussen has REPUBLICANS up by 9. Wow! Who's right?

My guess is those are both outliers and that maybe the GOP leads by 1 point or so. But again, that's a huge piece of good news for Republicans, given the advantage the party will have in enthusiasm and intensity this year.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday's musings

Indians 7, Tigers 2: the lost weekend. The Tigers get swept 4 straight games by the lowly Indians. Two trends continue: one, that the Tigers can do little on the road. Two, that rookie pitcher Andy Oliver as a starter isn't working out. He's 0-4 and in this particular start what did him in was 5 walks.
Rangers 4, Red Sox 2: but things went much better for the Texas Rangers, as they won 3 of 4 over the weekend, including yesterday's game. Obviously the Red Sox have many injuries. But still, Ranger pitching has been solid all season including this past weekend, as they held Boston to run outputs of 2, 4, 3, and 2. C.J. Wilson yesterday struck out 10. The Rangers lead the AL West by 4 and 1/2 games.

According to a new Rasmussen poll, conservative Republican Pat Toomey continues to look good in that Pennsylvania Senate race.

But one worries that Republicans aren't offering enough of an alternative vision to the Democrats in this sycle. More on that as the week progresses...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday's fish fry

President Obama's approval numbers continue to slide:
"Most Americans see little benefit from the federal government's economic stimulus plan, as President Obama's job performance rating drops overall, and hits a new low among Democrats. A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that 43 percent of voters approve of the job Obama's doing, matching a previous low in early April. Two weeks ago 47 percent approved, and a year ago 54 percent of voters approved. His highest approval thus far was 65 percent in January 2009. Some 48 percent of voters disapprove today, which also matches a previous high negative rating....The president's rating has been hurt by declines not only among independents, but also among his party faithful. The poll finds 76 percent of Democrats approve, which is the lowest positive rating he's received among this group. Two weeks ago 84 percent of Democrats approved. Obama's highest approval rating among Democrats was 93 percent a year ago May."

What interests me there are two things. First, it's remarkable how unpopular is not only Obama's health insurance plan, but also now the stimulus package. It's really quite stunning---both these things passed with great fanfare, both have been defended by Obama and Democrats over and over again publicly, both led the establishment news media to assure us that, inevitably, the American people would love them...and yet now, to both, the American people are saying, no thanks.

Many continue to argue that Obama's low approval numbers show that he and the members of his administration aren't good salesmen. But I think that the American people know very well what the stimulus and health reform plans were. They just don't approve of them.

Other polling news--
In the state of Washington, Democratic incumbent senator Patty Murray is still in trouble...vs well-known Republican Dino Rossi.

In Wisconsin, fellow incumbent Dem Russ Feingold might just be in trouble too.

The Fox News Poll has Republicans leading Democrats by 4 points in the 2010 generic ballot.

I suppose the only negative news today for Republicans is the new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll, showing Harry Reid leading Sharron Angle by 7 points in the senate race there. That poll may be accurate. I wonder, though. While Reid's numbers in the poll are consistent with other polling data, Angle's seem to be outliers...many polls have her at least in the mid-40s; this one only at 37%. Seems odd. We'll want to see what other polls say.

Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: the Rangers had a terrible pre-All-Star-break weekend, losing 4 straight to Baltimore. But they seemed re-energized last night. Key: starting pitcher Tommy Hunter, who's now 6-0 and, in general, throws strikes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

So Politico today runs a long article on the mistakes, problems, trials and tribulations of the Obama presidency, focusing especially on why the Left is so disenchanted with the president. Much of it will not surprise. But I found this nugget interesting:
"In what would surprise media critics outside Washington, many reporters don’t much like Obama or his gang either. They accurately perceive the contempt with which they are held by his White House, an attitude that undoubtedly flows from the top. Insults and blustery non-responses, f-bombs flying, are common in how West Wing aides speak to reporters. In a transactional city like Washington, personal relations usually only matter at the margins. But in a poor political climate those margins can be important, and there’s no mistaking that across the capital there are many people who seem to be enjoying the president's travails, and cheering whenever he takes a cream pie to the face. As individuals, most of the people who work in this West Wing are plainly decent and hard-working folks, who say the modern media echo chamber leaves them no choice but to be aggressive. But collectively Obama has recruited a team with an uncommonly brash personality."

Translation: Obama and his team are arrogant. They think they know best. So get out of the way. They think they can run over people, that they should run over people. Happens to our liberal friends far too often...

Polling news:
So did you know that Harry Reid's son is also running for statewide office in Nevada? He is...for governor. Interestingly, his father's name is so toxic right now in Nevada that Mr. Reid doesn't use his last name in his campaign ads and such; instead he just uses his first name, Rory.

But it's not helping much--he trails by over 20 points.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday's wash

In polling news, here's some bad news for Republicans--Rubio still trails Crist in Florida, according to Reuters/Ipsos.

But overall, the news is good. Note for example that there is some good news--Rasmussen has Angle leading Harry Reid in Nevada.

And that ABC News/Washington Post poll of yesterday had Republicans, in the generic congressional ballot, with a pretty healthy 4 point lead (early ABC polls had had Democrats doing much better).

And meanwhile, polls continue to show that ObamaCare remains unpopular--usually only about 40% approving, while 50% or more disapprove.

Democrats aren't happy, and appear to be turning on each other. Just ask White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:
"Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs' careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs' unwelcome handicapping of House races. "How could he [Gibbs] know what's going on in our districts?" Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. "Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House."

Of course, the question how Gibbs could know what's going on in Democratic-leaning or other districts is simple. He can read polls...
And as Chuck Todd et al at MSNBC note:
"Here is where Pelosi and her allies are coming from: Some folks -- though definitely not your authors here at First Read -- are just waking up to the news that the House is in play after Gibbs’ statement, and that is spooking Dem donors. On the other hand, Pelosi blasting Gibbs only extends this story another day."

That's what happens to politicians when things start to look bad for them: they get hot, they get bothered, and they make tactical mistakes, as surely this leak from the Pelosi camp is...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

President Obama's approval numbers continue to plummet, according to an ABC/Wash Post poll:
" Nearly 60 percent of American voters say they lack faith in President Barack Obama, according to a public opinion poll published on Tuesday. The results of the Washington Post/ABC News poll are a reversal of what voters said at the start of Obama's presidency 18 months ago when about 60 percent expressed confidence in his decision making."

His overall approval rating stands at just 43%. No need to overly fear him, Republicans...
Some in the reporting today harp on the fact that Obama still has higher numbers than congressional Democrats or Republicans. But, folks...right now, doesn't matter. In the 2010 elections, voters will have to choose, not between Obama and a Republican, but between a Democratic congressional/senate candidate and a Republican. And voters who are unhappy and want change aren't likely to vote for a representative of the party in power. There's plenty of time, meanwhile, for Republicans to get in better shape for 2012, when Obama will be on the ballot...

Meanwhile, even Democrats and liberals in the blogosphere admit that ordinary Dem voters just aren't getting enthused:
"...the White House and Democrats have been engaged in a full-blown effort for weeks now to persuade voters that the midterm elections could represent a return to GOP rule. The White House and Dems have made this case every which way: They've charged that Republicans will again rule as stooges of Big Oil and Wall Street. They've claimed that Republicans will rain a blizzard of subpoenas on the White House if they take control of Congress. They've framed the elections as a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and those that are getting us out of it. And so forth. Yet rank and file Dems don't appear to care that much. The latest polling shows that the "enthusiasm gap" remains the same, with Republicans far more excited about voting than Dems are. In other words, Dem scaremongering about the GOP takeover doesn't yet appear to be revving up Dems to turn out this fall."

There's certainly plenty of evidence that's the case.
In California, a state the Democrats have dominated in recent years, new polls (by SurveyUSA) show Republican Carly Fiorina leading Barbara Boxer in that state's senate race...
And Meg Whitman leads Democrat Jerry Brown in the governor's race.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday's musings

White House spin?:
Over the weekend, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had something to say:
"White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs apparently made the biggest political news over the weekend, when he suggested on “Meet the Press” that Republicans could win back the House in the fall. “I think there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control… This will depend on strong campaigns by Democrats. And again, I think we've got to take the issues to them.” Gibbs, though, was just stating the obvious."

Yes, he was, Chuck Todd. But it's still interesting that he said it. Usually press secretaries don't suggest that much of anything good will happen to the other party. But Gibbs did. I say, be careful. Seems likely to me that Gibbs and the Obama White House could be trying to spin expectations--for the Republicans. Sell the idea that the GOP will take back the House. Of course, Republicans would have to win 39 seats to do it. Say they come up one seat short; they win 38 seats but the Democrats retain control. The White House could then try to sell it as a victory of sorts. Beware of the expectations game...

Meanwhile, in Maryland, yet another poll puts Republican challenger Robert Ehrlich ahead of incumbent Dem governor Martin O'Malley. Maryland is usually very much a Democrat-leaning state...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Here's a significant window into the thinking of Democratic strategists in 2010:
"Of all the problems Democrats face this fall, none may be more challenging than trying to win back the support of independent voters. President Obama has been going backward with independents for more than a year, and the Democrats stand to suffer the effects in the November elections. The Gallup organization reported this week that just 38 percent of independents now approve of the job Obama is doing, the lowest point in his presidency and down from 56 percent a year ago. Top Democratic strategists are gloomy enough about the prospect of turning those voters around quickly that they believe the more important priority for the next four months is to maximize turnout among the new voters who backed Obama in 2008. Those new voters may be receptive to partisan appeals. Whether that will help with independents is another question."

Er, no, it's not merely "another question." Rather, it's an easy question to answer--and the answer is, no, they won't. The Democrats are largely giving up on independents in 2010. Republicans therefore have to continue to work hard and drive home their advantage with them--and win big this year.

Meanwhile, even polls affiliated with the Democrats show the Republicans leading the generic congressional ballot for 2010 (and by 6 points, no less).

The only thing one has to worry about with a poll like that is that perhaps Democrats seek to motivate their donors and their base by suggesting they trail in the polls more than they actually do.

Of course the big story today is LeBron James, and his decision to leave Cleveland and go play with the Miami Heat.

And all in all, it's not a story that's left a good taste in my mouth. Did LeBron have the RIGHT to make his deal and go where he chose? Of course he did. That's the essence of liberty and within the NBA it's a right the players won through hard bargaining. I don't begrudge him that. And yes, Cleveland Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert made himself look like an angry, vengeful, half-crazy jilted lover with his roaring rage at LeBron's departure. But don't let that make LeBron into a sympathetic figure, folks:

1] I mean, did he HAVE to drag this "Decision" out, build up a false sense a drama, cook up a TV special on it, and thus rub Cleveland fans' nose in it? James has claimed since the decision to be a big believer in loyalty, but hey--he's from Ohio, fans there were loyal to him, but he's leaving.

2] He's leaving a place at which he had unfinished business. He played well for the Cavs and accomplished a lot there. But he promised to win a title, yet didn't. Can anyone imagine Michael Jordan bailing on Chicago without having won a title? LeBron claimed, in making his decision, that now he won't have the "pressure" of having to score 30 points a night, given that he's joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Strange--neither Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird, or Michael Jordan ever complained or ran from such pressure. Isn't it a sign of a great player to embrace such pressure?

Most experts are stressing that the Miami Heat winning a championship this season is not a done deal. They're right; the Heat have only two other players under contract and won't have the money to do anything other than sign journeyman players at the NBA minimum. Meaning they won't have much bench help or a huge supporting cast. So Maybe LeBron and D-Wade and co. won't succeed.

How many of us would be sad to see that? I'm betting not too many. On the other hand, how many will be watching this season to see how the Heat perform? Quite a few--and in that sense, LeBron and David Stern and the entire NBA have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: good for Tiger starter Max Scherzer; he's now won 4 straight starts. Going down to the minors a few weeks ago helped him. The Tigers are very comfortable at home; they've won 30 games and lost only 12 at home. That's the best home record in the AL. They'll need that comfort zone; the Twins come in starting Friday for a 3-game series...
Rangers 4, Indians 3: again, the key to this game was the Ranger bullpen, which pitched 3 shutdown innings , allowing only a walk and no hits, once the Rangers had rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take the lead.

Polling news--
Some decent news for Republicans today.
In California, a Field poll has Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina by only 3 points. A close race this far out, with Boxer's numbers having tumbled for several months in a row now...all that points to this being yet another winnable race for the GOP.
In Florida, meanwhile, Rasmussen now has Marco Rubio with a slight lead over Charlie Crist in the senate race there. That race however remains obviously very tight. Remember this, however: the Rubio campaign really hasn't been running ads for a couple of months. They're saving their ammo until the fall. Perhaps numbers will move then.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Tigers 7, Orioles 5: the keys to the game--Johnny Damon had the walk-off home run to win the game. He's only hitting .271 this season, but he's dangerous and an important weapon in the Tigers' lineup. Note too that the Detroit bullpen allowed only 1 earned run in over 3 innings of work. And Ryan Perry pitched well; he'd been sent down to Toledo some weeks ago for ineffectiveness, but perhaps he's finding it again.
Rangers 12, Indians 1: good to see the Rangers' offense get back in gear, led by the usual suspects--Hamilton, Guerrero, etc. C.J. Wilson gave the Rangers yet another quality pitching start.

Polling news--
Gallup now has President Obama's approval rating only at 44%.

And that shouldn't surprise us--there's the oil still spilling, a slow economy, an unpopular health care measure, now a lawsuit against a popular Arizona anti-illegal-immigration law.

Some argue that the Arizona law will benefit Republicans now, but hurt them later with the growing number of Latino voters. I'm not so sure. I think more and more, the perception will grow...even among Latino voters!...that a secure border is a good thing; that people who want to come here should come here LEGALLY, and that legal immigration is a good thing. I don't buy the argument that just because a person is Latino, that therefore he or she will forever be OK with illegal immigration, and always remember that is what we are talking about here--ILLEGAL immigration, lawbreaking.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Tigers 12, Orioles 9: so the Tigers are home again, playing some of baseball's, er, lesser teams right now (the Mariners and Orioles), and have won 3 of 4. All good. Maybe Brandon Inge is getting hot; he had 4 RBIs yesterday, and Brennan Boesch didn't have a hit but walked 4 times--that shows he's not over-anxious, has a good eye, is willing to take a walk. Only bad news is that young Tigers' starter Andy Oliver got shelled, and you want to see Tiger starters get more consistent.
Indians 9, Rangers 3: the Rangers are slumping a bit; they've lost 5 of 7, and had a young, inexperienced pitcher going last night. Meanwhile the Indians have won 7 of 9. It all added up to a Rangers loss...

In California, even's "First Read" agrees that Republicans have a chance in the California gubernatorial race, given the missteps of Democrat Jerry Brown's campaign:
"Although Jerry Brown (D) is slightly leading Meg Whitman (R) in the race for California governor, according to polls, state Democrats are voicing their concerns that Brown’s campaign hasn’t been active enough in defending Whitman’s TV air assault. The Los Angeles Times: “The combination of Whitman's wealth and a distinct lack of energy by Brown is making California Democrats nervous about their candidate's prospects in the fall. ‘If you're going to run for governor, you have to do what it takes. You can't tell yourself or tell everyone else there is some special way for you to do this that is completely outside the norms that apply to everyone else,’ said Democratic strategist Garry South.” It's somewhat surprising that Brown is allowing himself to get out-maneuvered on the new media front and with this new news cycle given that Brown had been notable for being an early adapter for populist campaign tactics, like, for instance 800-numbers back during his '92 campaign when that was still "quaint" and intriguing. Brown's campaign today looks like a relic and is making it easier for Whitman to paint him as someone from the past."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Not-so-good economic news for the Democrats:

"The U.S. economy created a modest 83,000 private sector jobs in June, adding to concern that the economic recovery is tepid at best and highlighting the political danger to President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats heading into a tightly contested midterm election cycle in which control of the House and perhaps the Senate are at stake. The unemployment rate ticked down slightly from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent....The president, in comments after release of the figures, chose to highlight "the sixth-straight month of job growth in the private sector" and the nearly "600,000 jobs created this year," a "stark turnaround," he added, from the massive monthly losses during the recession."

It's tepid, and everyone knows it. This kind of stagnant growth reminds of how the economy was performing in 1994. And we all know how Republicans did that year.

And I'm amazed at the rather pathetic spin job President Obama tries to do here. 600,000 jobs? Really? He knows, and anyone paying any attention to politics and the economy knows, that over half of those jobs he touts are TEMPORARY jobs, created by the Census! They'll be gone before you know it. Our economic woes, it appears, won't.

So Republicans for now continue to be in decent shape.
In polling news, here's more evidence of that, more signs of the times:
In 2006, the Democrats regained control of the Maryland governorship, with Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley solidly defeating Republican incumbent Robert Ehrlich. Most therefore assumed that, in crab state politics, Ehrlich was done. Maryland tends to be a Democrat-leaning state anyway, so it was expected that O'Malley would have a long gubernatorial tenure.

Note also that Republicans continue to have a huge advantage in voter enthusiasm:

"The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party’s voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign. Moreover, more Republicans than Democrats are now paying close attention to election news (64 percent vs. 50 percent)."

That's from the very nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

And all of this news should only heighten GOP enthusiasm...

Nope--Ehrlich will run this year to reclaim his old position.
And guess what--a poll today shows him leading O'Malley by 3 points.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Twins 5, Tigers 1: ho hum, the Tigers go to Minnesota and once again lose a series. I can't remember the last time they won a series there. Keys: this was a bad pitching matchup--Tiger rookie Andy Oliver vs solid Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey. The Tigers made a couple of more errors--they've made 55 errors this year, second most in the league. Detroit had a soft schedule earlier this month, and took advantage of it. But in the past 9 games, the schedule got tougher. Guess what--the Tigers went only 3-6. The Twins remain the team to beat in the AL Central.
Rangers 6, Angels 4: big win for the Rangers. The obvious key: Vlad Guerrero, who's just doing ridiculous things in his return to Anaheim--2 home runs last night, 4 hits in all, and for the series as a whole he has 3 homers and 6 RBIs. That, plus more solid work from the Rangers bullpen, allowing only 1 run over 5 innings, added up to a victory.

Polling news--
Gallup has good news for Republicans concerning independent voters:
"By an average 10 percentage-point margin since March, 45% to 35%, independent registered voters have consistently preferred the Republican to the Democrat when asked which congressional candidate they would vote for in their district. Independents' preference for Republicans has been generally consistent over this time, with the gap in favor of Republicans increasing slightly since March, from 8 to 12 points."

That's certainly consistent with all the different polling I've seen.
In other polling news:
Rasmussen now has, in Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey out to a 6 point lead over Democrat Joe Sestak, 45-39. A number of Democrats in the past several weeks have criticized Sestak's campaign operation...
And only 28% of respondents see this country as being on the right track. 66% see us as being on the wrong track. Wow...