Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bay State Update

Following up on last week's article about two Massachusetts Congressional hopefuls: in Massachusett's 9th district, incumbent Democrat Bill Keating has finally agreed to debate his Republican challenger, John Chapman.  The two will face off in three debates next week.  Keating and Chapman are also engaged in a battle of endorsements.  The Boston Herald has come out in Chapman's favor, while Keating has won the support of the Cape Cod Times, a major regional newspaper in the 9th.

The latest poll of the 9th shows the race within the margin of error (though it does give Keating a slight edge).  This race has started to garner national attention.  Keating is a tough campaigner, but time will tell if he's able to resist overall national trends.

Meanwhile, in the Massachusetts governor's race, a series of recent polls suggests that Republican Charlie Baker may be picking up momentum in the race.  According to RealClearPolitics, Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate, has not led in a single poll released in the last week and a half, and a new Boston Globe poll has Baker up by 9 points.

Economy Still Matters

At NRO, I look at the decision by some Democrats to turn to economic populism as a last-ditch electoral defense.  Noting that many aspects of the president's record have actually undermined the working class, I suggest that Republicans need to make their own case for economic growth for the middle:
Despite all these obstacles, Democrats may be able to use populist messaging to push themselves over the finish line in a few close races. President Obama’s reelection campaign depended upon a combination of class warfare, withering personal attacks upon Governor Romney, and appeals to demographic polarization (such as the “war on women”). Some Democrats seem to hope that the White House’s 2012 playbook can be useful in 2014. Josh Kraushaar noted last week that some Democrats are turning with at least modest success to economic issues in places as disparate as Illinois, Massachusetts, and Georgia. This success should remind Republicans of the need for the GOP to offer its own message of economic advancement for the middle class.Luckily for many Republican candidates, pundits and politicians alike have taken a renewed interest in broad-based economic prosperity. Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, among others, have emphasized pro–middle-class messages and policies. The recent policy publication Room to Grow is full of market-oriented suggestions for improving the standing of the economic middle. Beyond debates about the minimum wage, Republicans can emphasize the importance of a vibrant economy, in which incomes of all types can grow. They could argue on behalf of a tax-reform agenda that has benefits for middle-income families. They could defend an energy policy that fuels economic growth and makes energy more affordable for consumers. In contrast to the prevailing doctrine of Too Big to Fail, Republicans could argue for reform that would create a more diffused and market-oriented financial system. In place of the White House’s anti-market and anti-worker immigration agenda, Republicans could argue for an immigration policy that affirms the dignity of all workers and increases economic opportunity for native-born Americans and immigrants alike (so GOPers would be better off not calling for a further increase in guest-worker programs). In addition to criticizing the shortcomings of the ACA, Republicans can lay out their proposals for making the health-care system more affordable and more efficient. Instead of pitting Americans against one another through class warfare, Republicans can defend broad-based economic opportunity, where Americans can work together for the enrichment of all.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Economic Message Still Matters

Josh Kraushaar has an interesting article up exploring how some Democratic candidates---in states ranging from Illinois to Massachusetts---are attacking their Republican opponents on the issue of outsourcing.  These attacks might not always be fair, but they do suggest the importance of Republicans continuing to develop an economic message that tells voters that the GOP and conservatives can put forward economic policies that will work for the average American.

Races in the Bay State

Over at NRO, I look at two Massachusetts races where GOP congressional candidates may be coming closer to their Democratic opponents.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GOP Advantage in Iowa and Colorado

Quinnipiac has a couple polls out today.  In the race the race for the retiring Tom Harkin's Senate seat, Republican Joni Ernst leads Democrat Bruce Braley 50-44.  Much of the polling taken in late August or early September suggested that this race was nearly tied, with Braley having a slight edge.  We'll have to see if this is a sign of the momentum shifting.

In the Colorado governor's race, Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper lags his Republican challenger, former Congressman Bob Beauprez, by ten points (40-50).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sessions Strikes

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions's recent speech attacking the special interests backing the White House immigration agenda continues to reverberate through the media.  Defending the interests of the average American worker played a major role in his remarks:
In effect, the entire Senate Democratic conference has surrendered the jobs, wages, and livelihoods of their constituents to a group of special interests meeting in secret at the White House. They are surrendering them to executive actions that will foist on the nation what Congress has refused to pass and the American people have rejected. They are plotting at the White House to move forward with executive action no matter what the people think and no matter what Congress — through the people’s House — has decided.
Politico reports that “White House officials conducted more than 20 meetings in July and August with legal experts, immigration advocates and business leaders to gather ideas on what should be included in the order.”
So who are these so-called expert advocates and business leaders? They are not the law-enforcement officers; they are not our ICE officers; they are not our Border Patrol officers; they are not the American working man and woman; they are not unemployed Americans. They weren’t in the room. You can be sure of that. Their opinions weren’t sought.
See also these points by John Hinderaker.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Divisions in America

Earlier this week, I wrote up some thoughts on Joel Kotkin's new book, The New Class Conflict, for NRO:
What do government-induced spikes in energy prices, ideological purges at major American universities and companies, and the “Life of Julia” slideshow from the 2012 Obama reelection campaign have in common? According to demographer Joel Kotkin, aspects of class politics in the contemporary United States explain these three things — and many more. In his latest book, The New Class ConflictKotkin turns his demographer’s eye to the crisis of the middle class in the 21st-century United States. Kotkin argues that the hollowing out of the middle class is a central political, economic, and social issue of our time, and the disruption brought about by the crisis of the middle class could scramble the political coalitions of both Republicans and Democrats.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Executive Action Delayed

Fearing a backlash, the White House has decided to delay announcing any executive actions on immigration until after the midterm elections in November:
Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president's decision before it was announced, said Obama made his decision Friday as he returned to Washington from a NATO summit in Wales.
They said Obama called a few allies from Air Force One to inform them of his decision, and that the president made more calls from the White House on Saturday.
The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year.
Proponents of executive action like Frank Sharry have expressed their frustration with the White House for refusing to act.  Meanwhile, skeptics of executive action (such as Mark Krikorian) have argued that the president is trying to avoid democratic accountability by not announcing his decisions on unilaterally rewriting immigration policy until after the midterms.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Five Sleepers

In addition to the Senate races that generate most headlines (such as Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina), James Hohmann draws attention to five races that could get very interesting.  Hohmann suggests that analysts should keep an eye on Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, New Jersey, and Kansas.  Four of those five (excepting Kansas) would be Republican pick-ups.

UPDATE: Hohmann's piece has proven somewhat prophetic, as Kansas has now indeed become more interesting.  The official Democratic candidate has dropped out, throwing his support to former Democrat (and current independent) Greg Orman, a businessman who is challenging incumbent Republican Pat Roberts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Executive Options

At NRO, I look at some of the potential options that President Obama may be considering for his executive orders on immigration:
The president’s rumored decision to legalize and grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants has dominated media discussions of the administration’s potential executive fiats on immigration. However, decisions to revise the legal-immigration system could also be consequential. The prospect of the legalization of illegal immigrants combined with a revision of the legal-immigration system suggests that the Obama administration’s potential executive orders on immigration would go far beyond tiny administrative tweaks and minor exertions of prosecutorial discretion; they might instead be major and unilateral revisions of U.S. immigration policy.
You can read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shaheen Turns

Facing an increasingly competitive Senate reelection race against Scott Brown, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen appears to be trying to put some distance between herself and the president's rumored executive actions on immigration, according to the Boston Herald:
Shaheen “would not support a piecemeal approach issued by executive order,” said her spokesman Shripal Shah, adding the Granite State incumbent “believes Congress must address our broken immigration system with a comprehensive fix.”
Shaheen, who had previously voiced a wait-and-see approach to the impending executive action from the president, joins a number of at-risk Democrats who are urging the president to leave immigration reform to lawmakers.
Other Democratic Senators who have spoken against President Obama going it alone on immigration include Kay Hagan (NC), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Mark Pryor (AR).  The bipartisan drumbeat of opposition to executive overreach grows.  (See also this AP story on how the administration is trying to justify issuing executive orders that the president himself admitted until a few months ago that he did not have the power to issue.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Media Criticism of Executive Supremacy Growing

Over at the Corner, I offer a round-up of some of the recent media criticisms of President Obama's potential executive orders on immigration:
Throughout the summer, numerous voices across the political spectrum have warned against President Obama taking sweeping executive action on immigration. While the New York Times editorial board has endorsed executive supremacy on immigration, many other publications have been more skeptical, fearing the constitutional as well as immediate practical implications of the president going alone on immigration policy. The Washington Post argued earlier in August that Congressional resistance “doesn’t grant the president license to tear up the Constitution” and warned against ramming through immigration reform via an executive order, points echoed by Charles Lane and Jonathan Chait (neither of whom are exactly fire-breathing right-wingers).
You can read the rest here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Activists Rally for Executive Action on Immigration

A couple news stories today suggest that some activists are hoping for the president to act unilaterally on immigration and other matters over the next week or so.  The Hill notes that Congress has been left out of the loop in White House deliberations on executive action:
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), said in an interview on Friday that he expects that, now Obama is back from vacation, “there’ll be some additional consultation with members of Congress, specifically CHC, [about] what we’re looking at.”
He said nothing had been scheduled, however, adding that since Congress left for the August recess, he’s had “really no indication” of what the administration is thinking.
Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), one of the major proponents of executive action and the Gang of Eight's approach to immigration legislation, is raising expectations, telling the US to "get ready" for big action.

After a troubling few weeks for the White House, perhaps allies of the administration are trying to offer a few trial balloons about a further expansion of executive authority.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Middle Class Still Struggling

The Upshot draws attention to a new report suggesting that the median household income has, when adjusted for inflation, fallen about 3% since the middle of 2009.  And it is has fallen even farther from where it was in the early 2000s.  In 2000, the median household income was well over $56,000 in 2014 dollars; it is now below $54,000.  Stagnating---and outright declining---incomes may cause many American families to be pessimistic about the economy.

Granite State Closing

A new WMUR Granite State poll shows that Scott Brown may be closing the gap between himself and incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.  Shaheen now leads 46-44 (within the margin of error); an earlier WMUR poll had Shaheen with a 12-point lead.  Guy Benson and Michael Warren suggest that Brown's attacks on Shaheen over her support for the Gang of Eight bill and over President Obama's rumored unilateral action on immigration may be part of the reason for this shift.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Americans Wary of Executive-First Strategy

A new poll put out by Kellyanne Conway suggests that Americans do not want the president to go it alone on immigration.  According to this poll, only 21% of Americans would prefer President Obama to act alone on immigration.  Even 56% of Democrats do not want the president to change immigration policy unilaterally.

Contrary to the White House and the Gang of Eight, 75% of Americans think that employers in need of workers should raise their wages and improve working conditions in order to attract workers; only 8% say that these employers should be able to bring in foreign workers to fill job openings.  Americans of all types agree that the government should work to protect the interests of American workers.

Michael Warren has some more points about this poll here.

Government by Secrecy

As President Obama contemplates using radically expansive executive authority on a host of issues, the New York Times focuses on how an executive-first government structure could lead to increased secrecy.  On immigration, the Times reports that the administration's debates have "been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors, where lobbyists and interest groups invited to the White House are making their case out of public view."

And it looks as though the administration is aggressively looking for areas in which to expand its executive authority:
On a host of issues, the list of requests is growing. Technology companies would like Mr. Obama to provide more visas for their workers, or at least more flexibility for them and their families as they await green cards for permanent residency. Consumer groups and organized labor want the Treasury Department to act on its own to limit financial incentives for companies that move overseas for tax breaks and stop so-called inversions...

The go-it-alone approach has left the administration — which claims to be the most transparent in United States history — essentially making policy from the White House, replacing congressional hearings and floor debates with closed meetings for invited constituencies. ​
It seems as though some at the Times could be becoming aware of the deeper Constitutional implications of unchecked executive authority.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kay Hagan on Amnesty

Matthew Boyle reminds us that, back when she was campaigning, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan (D) said that she was against "amnesty" and emphasized the importance of border security.  Boyle finds that her record might not live up to these campaign-trail promises.