Just the facts. That’s all I’m going to give you here — no blame game. No names.
Largely because I don’t want RNC people calling and crying and trying to spin me when all I’m doing is pointing out some facts.
It has been suggested that the reason the GOP didn’t take more Senate seats is because of conservatives. The facts show otherwise.
What the facts show is that while you and I are focused on the most House pickups since 1948, we probably should have made even bigger House gains. Likewise, we probably could have taken the Senate. Losing the Senate had nothing to do with conservative candidates and everything to do with GOTV.
Success has a way of covering up problems.
You can decide who to blame, all I am doing is giving you the facts.
First, consider this: A number of Republicans underperformed their polling by several points. Typically, polling leans slighting Democrat, so for the GOP to underperform that much indicates a real problem.
Now, consider this: Washington State and Colorado did not have gubernatorial contests. They were two of the closest Senate races. Well, okay, Colorado did, but not with the Republican being competitive. In other states, the race was so lopsided that last minute resources did not have to be spent on gubernatorial contests in several states.
The RNC did not have a 72 hour program this year. Instead, the RNC relied on the Republican Governors Association’s get out the vote program.1
Guess what? Neither Washington State nor Colorado saw the RGA pouring significant sums into a GOTV program because in Washington there was no race and in Colorado the Republican was toast and everyone knew it.
In New York, the RGA spent no money and we have seen the GOP lose some House races narrowly. In Arizona, the RGA spent only $500,000.00 and we saw some House races go down in flames. The story played out across the nation. Where the RGA did not put a pile of money in, the Republicans had no significant ground game and lost races narrowly.
More troubling, even when the RGA did pour money in, there was no high level coordination for a last minute get out the vote program. The RGA program is largely an absentee ballot program, not a “get people to the polls” program — that requires the GOP’s highly praised and highly successful 72 Hour program.
Except this year they did not use it.
Consider this from the Nevada GOP’s website; it is an article from Roll Call:
Since the Senate adjourned Sept. 29, high-ranking Democratic staffers have hitched up with campaigns in West Virginia, Nevada and other battleground states, while many GOP aides are nervously idling in Washington, D.C., frustrated with their party’s decision to suspend its last-minute get-out-the-vote deployment.
“We will lose races because of this,” said one senior Senate GOP aide, referring to the Republican National Committee’s inability to coordinate the traditional 72-hour GOTV effort for House and Senate races. Though its name implies a three-day deployment, in past years Capitol Hill staffers left as soon as Congress adjourned in order to help in tight races.
To recap: The GOP lost a significant number of very close House and Senate races. What do they all have in common? They were in states that the RGA was not heavily invested in and the RNC did not deploy a 72 Hour program to get people to the polls.
In addition, there was the $8 million last minute sum put into California by the National Republican Senatorial Committee instead of offsetting the ground game in Washington and Colorado that the RNC did not fund.
These are just the facts. You decide who to blame.
What’s my point? It’s simple. While Republicans relish having the Democrats keep Nancy Pelosi around, the Democrats are doing the same with Republicans who keeping around some of their leaders. Our success last Tuesday is covering up some very fundamental and institutional problems that will hurt us in 2012.
As I write this, Mitch McConnell is privately trying to get enough votes to kill an earmarks moratorium among Senate Republicans. The measure is sponsored by Senators Coburn, Cornyn, DeMint, Ensign, and Enzi, along with Senators-Elect Ayotte, Johnson, Paul, Rubio, and Toomey.
Senators McConnell, Inhofe, and others say earmarks make up a very small part of the budget and to get rid of them would put all the power in the hands of the Obama administration. These two points sound good, but they miss the point. It is always helpful to be reminded of why earmarks are so bad.
And we should call on Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans to join the House Republicans in stopping earmarks.
For self-described conservatives, it is easy to be pro-life, pro-troops, and pro-tax cuts. In most races, that is not how you separate the wheat from the chaff. You separate them on the basis of their belief in limited government—in short, do they think that government should do stuff. Period. And there is no better bellwether of politician’s proclivities toward limited government than whether they request and defend earmarks.
I know, I know. Many defenders of the Republican establishment don’t want us to talk earmarks. Earmarks are not the problem! They amount to such a small portion of the federal budget. Earmarks are the only way to deal with an intransient bureaucracy. They divide Republicans when we should be focused on battling the Obama Administration’s liberal agenda. Earmarks are the only form of constitutional spending and need to be defended no matter how unpopular. Its about the CONSTITUTION—didn’t you know??
The arguments are many, but they are all full of holes.
Yes, earmarks amount to a small percentage of the budget and compared to the enormity of the entitlement crisis of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid they are miniscule. But as Jeff Flake and Tom Coburn have said before, earmarks are the gateway drug to higher spending. If a politician thinks his reelection bid is in jeopardy because he won’t be able to deliver a bike path or high-speed rail project to his district, it is inconceivable to think that that same politician will sign up for allowing people to redirect their FICA taxes to personal accounts or slow the growth of Medicare. Earmarks erode the ability to say no to more government, and they corrupt often-good politicians with the enjoyment and the power of directing other people’s money to those who come to them and ask. And at times, earmarks directly enable increased government when they are used to buy lawmakers off. It is standard procedure for powerful Chairmen to demand that anyone with earmarks in a bill vote for the overall bill lest the projects get struck. Look no further than the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase.
Yes, earmarks afford lawmakers with an avenue to trump some nameless bureaucrat from sending all the federal dollars somewhere else, but then why are you so set on federal dollars flowing to your district? If you believe in limited government, why do you want your district to get its “fair share”? Let’s take the most conservative of earmarks—highway projects. For instance, a vital bridge or intersection that will alleviate traffic. Never mind that the federal interstate system has long been built, but highway funding could be devolved to the states so that the vast majority of districts (305) are not donor districts, meaning they contribute more in gas taxes than they get back. The whole point of the high way program is now to earmark and to give federal lawmakers power to direct taxpayer dollars. But do you think this sort of federalist argument would be made by an earmarxist? No, they would be spending their political capital getting theirs too.
Yes, Congress does have the power to spend money, but the vast majority of earmarks are spent on completely unconstitutional projects and activities. Lets take some of the earmarks requested by Senator Jim Inhofe (who we hear has been on quite the war path lately in defense of earmarks). Did the Founders really envision the federal government paying for developing curriculum in the Tulsa public schools for students at risk of dropping out ($195,000) or a river ferry boat program in Oklahoma City ($1.7 million) or an “engineering incubator” in Norman ($137,200)? What clause of the Constitution do those fall under exactly?
Yes, earmarks are “divisive” and making it an issue is bound to put many Republicans in a difficult spot. Sorry, but that’s really not my concern. After all the attention paid to earmarks over the last few years, if politicians are still earmarking—not matter how “transparent” (the ready-made reform for any earmarxist)—they can’t say they were not forewarned. In fact, they very likely think they can get away with it. Also, a Republican Congress isn’t worth having if its not going to a conservative one, filled with men and women who believe in limited government and can say no to those who come to the federal government asking for more. Do we really want to spend all this time and effort working to get so-called conservatives elected who fail us yet again?
Of course not. So let me say it. Earmarks are certainly not the only issue, but they are the most telling as to whether Republicans really have learned their lesson in the minority. Here is what I suggest:
- Do not accept the conservative bona fides of any politician who has failed to take the moratorium or who argues for them.
- Do not allow any politician to speak to a tea party rally unless they have taken such a pledge.
- Criticize any “agenda” or any “contract” from any Republican leader or Republican entity which doesn’t include an immediate, unilateral earmark moratorium.
It is time to purge the earmarxists from the conservative movement.
<p>From Plumline 11/8, they had heard Republicans were going to go after faulty science behind global warming. Not to worry, they caved. After all this, the GOP will not touch the crime. Plumline says, “What a relief.” 2 sources say it’s not at all on the table, via Joe Barton’s spokesman, and via a ’senior GOP leadership aide’ who says<br />
the ‘leadership is cool to the idea.’ “A spokesman for the leading Republican on the committee that would undertake such hearings tells me that isn’t the plan. And a senior GOP leadership aide says the leadership is cool to the idea.
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas (the same dude who apologized to BP) is in line to be the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A committee spokesman, Larry Neal, emails that global warming science won’t be the focus of upcoming hearings. Rather, Barton wants to hold hearings to try to get the Environmental Protection Agency to study the impact action on global warming will have on jobs.” After all this, this was the main reason to get the democrats out, and they sell out the entire country on day 1. This proves we do not exist for them.
There are a few dumb things I heard last night that need to be put down quickly.
First and foremost was a silly discussion across several news networks that the race for GOP Conference Chair in the House between Jeb Hensarling and Michelle Bachmann was a race between the tea party and the establishment.
To say that Michelle Bachmann is of the tea party and Jeb Hensarling is not is to say that Minnesota is a state and Texas is not.
It is absolute and utter nonsense. This contest is not in the least bit a race between the tea party and the establishment and the only people who think it is are the people who’ve sat inside Washington, D.C. all year licking their chops waiting for a Republican Civil War.
This. Is. Not. It.
This is a matter of who would be the best face for the GOP to explain their positions to those not of the GOP and Tea Party. It is also a matter of showing the GOP is serious about cutting spending. That is why Jeb Hensarling will probably get it.
We all know and love Michelle Bachmann, but while she is one of the best at firing up the base, she is not necessarily the best at explaining GOP policy to a media typically hostile to the GOP.
The other dumb thing I heard last night was from Charles Krauthammer. God bless him, I like Charles, but this was just dumb.
Krauthammer last night on Fox News was venting about Jim DeMint and explaining that the future of the GOP was Marco Rubio, not Jim DeMint. He was scornful and dismissive of DeMint.
The problem, of course, is that but for Jim DeMint there would be no Marco Rubio. It was DeMint standing up and fighting the NRSC on Marco Rubio’s behalf that got Marco Rubio elected.
Ever the myopic sage of conventional wisdom on inside baseball matters, here is what Charles Krauthammer said on May 12, 2009:
BAIER: There is the Republican race for Senate, the seat of retiring Senator Mel Martinez in Florida. Charlie Crist has 60-plus percent approval ratings, and he is running against a 37 year old former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. And you will see the battle as it is waged there in Florida.
Let’s bring back our panel — Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: If you have a governor with, as you say, 60 percent approval, who has a really easy shot at retaining the seat for the Republicans, I don’t see how the Republicans have any choice but to support him and support him strongly.
The argument against him ideologically is he supported the stimulus package. Look, if Washington is offering to fly helicopters over your state and dropped dollar bills, I don’t see how any government will deny them over-flight rights.
So I do not understand exactly why Republicans are going to be so ideologically fastidious as to say you have to be a movement conservative.
I would — the Republicans ought to be spending money in places like Connecticut, where Chris Dodd is very weakened by a lot of scandals surrounding his finances, and support somebody like Rob Simmons, a former congressman, who is going to be putting up a very strong race against him next year.
KRISTOL: I think given that the mood it in 2010 will be pretty antiestablishment, anti-Washington, I think some of these challengers have a pretty good shot. I think Rubio has a real shot against Crist. I would prefer him personally. I think he could win a general election.
Charles’s statement last night sure is a change from a year ago. And it is a change ignorant of the fact that Rubio’s win would not have happened but for the man he attacked last night as irrelevant — Jim DeMint.
While the RNC is pushing back against people like me for pointing out they did not mount a good GOTV effort because they sabotaged their 72 hour program, they’ll have a hard time pushing back against Haley Barbour.
Barbour has, a bit surprisingly, gone on the record to say that the RNC’s get out the vote (GOTV) efforts were sub-par. Given just how effective the Republican Governors Association was last week, it’ll make any sort of push back against Barbour difficult.
Well that’s up to the Committee, and I will say that this time the RNC was not able to do what they’ve often done in the past, and the Governor’s Association, the Senate and House Campaign Committees, and others had to scramble around and increase their gathering of resources beyond what normally would’ve been the case because the RNC was not able to do what it had done in the past.
But this is the tip of the iceberg. I’m told by several people close to multiple 2012 contenders and also some present elected officials that Republican committeemen began receiving phone calls at the end of last week making the case that it is time for a change at the RNC.
In fact, after reading my post from yesterday, one potential 2012 contender emailed me directly and said I could quote him as long as I didn’t use his name:
Whoever the nominee is [in 2012] will control the RNC, but until that point someone needs to be there who everyone has confidence in. That person is not there now.
If the RNC does start looking, have I got a suggestion for them.
Stephen F. Hayes, over at the Weekly Standard, has written some more about things he left out of his original article on Marco Rubio. It included this bit.
Rubio also mentioned others whom I did not include in my original story – for reasons of space. He noted: “Jeff Miller endorsing us in Florida was a big deal.” He mentioned Jeb Bush Jr and George P. Bush. He spoke of “the Freedom Works guys and Dick Armey.” Rubio noted the early support of several Florida lawmakers, too. Rubio also spoke of the important contributions of Erick Erickson and RedState. “RedState. I mean Erick Erickson – they were on board early. I neglected to mention that. When the NRSC made the decision to go against me, Erick Erickson unleashed the hounds. They created that whole ‘not one red cent’ effort. And it really kind of became a rallying cry nationally.’” In particular, I regret leaving out Erickson because Rubio really singled him out for praise.
That’s very kind of both Rubio for saying it and Stephen for printing it.
Today, in the Washington Post, Dana Milbank takes on Governor Rick Perry and his new book, Fed Up. Now you would think that in a 200 page book that deals with countless issues – including Perry’s bold but accurate claim that Social Security is bankrupt and that the members of the Supreme Court serve as the “Grand Ayatollah’s” of the Constitution – he might get past one line about how much salt we can put on our food. But, no – THAT is what bothered him.
Perry’s book is officially due out next Monday, so we’ll have a more detailed review forthcoming. But let’s take a quick look at this “controversy.”
In a litany of complaints about intrusive government, the Governor says the following:
We are fed up with being overtaxed and overregulated. We are tired of being told how much salt we can put on our food, what windows we can buy for our house, what kind of cars we can drive, what kinds of guns we can own, what kind of prayers we are allowed to say and where we can say them, what political speech we are allowed to use to elect candidates, what kind of energy we can use, what kind of food we can grow, what doctor we can see, and countless other restrictions on our right to live as we see fit.
So, Dana Milbank seems bothered because the regulation in question about salt is actually about processed food and not how much salt you “can put on” your food. Really? This from the guy who claimed that Fox News only had one Democrat on for election night coverage, when in reality there were numerous.
Milbank points to Politifact’s determination that the allegation that the federal government can tell us how much salt we can put on our food is false. But what Milbank doesn’t note is that even Politifact acknowledges that the FDA sponsored an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report called “Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States,” and that the April 20 report recommends the FDA “expeditiously initiate a process to set a mandatory national standard for the sodium content of foods.”
Politifact gets hung up on the fact they are “studying it” and that there isn’t actually someone in our homes telling us how much we can “sprinkle.” Seriously?
Has anyone not heard of a turn-of-phrase?
Fine – change it to “how much salt we can consume in our foods” and it’s hard to say the federal government is not involved in that process – whether there are regulations in place yet or whether there are just studies. Excuse conservatives for wanting to kill this stupid idea in the cradle.
More importantly, excuse me for spending even a waking moment on what Dana Milbank has to say…
Your must read of the day.
This is a terrific profile of Nick Ayers, the Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association. Before Nick, the RGA spent 100% of its budget every cycle. Not any more. And the thing I like is that I know Nick and I know Nick is a conservative — not just conservative, but *a* conservative. He's in it to win, but he's got principles backing him up.