Netroots Alliance

The Progressive Caucus Ponies Up

41 members of the Progressive Caucus in the House have given $160,000 to 13 candidates.  Here are their choices:

Phil Hare (IL-17)
Bruce Braley (IA-01)
Patricia Madrid (NM-01)
Angie Paccione (CO-04)
Jerry McNerney (CA-11)
David Roth (CA-45)
Tony Trupiano (MI-11)
Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
John Hall (NY-19)
Mazie Hirono (HI-02)
Charlie Brown (CA-04)
U.S. Representative Julia Carson (IN-07)

The traditional lack of organization within the progressive caucus showed that this group hadn't been serious about power in its own right, relying on Nancy Pelosi's machine to do the right thing rather than considering supplementary help.  The caucus has just one staffer, for instance, and little in the way of communications infrastructure.

It's good to see this changing and the progressive caucus becoming more willing to engage in electoral politics on a more ideological basis.  The forerunner to the modern right-wing was something called the 'Conservative Caucus', a national political group in the 1970s run by Jesse Helms that he built into a major political force for conservatives.  

Traditionally it's been activists that have carried the progressive banner, working from the outside to move politicians.  That progressive politicians are beginning to build political machinery is a very good thing for Democrats.

House Forecast Update

The new House forecast is up. I am not sure if I will do one or two more of these, but probably just one more before the election. I'll post that one on Monday, November 6th.

I have changed the ratings system a tad. I have finally managed to remove the "toss-up / lean Dem" category, which was probably more confusing than anything else. Everything in that category has been moved to either "lean Dem" to "toss-up." Making that change has caused me to downgrade the forecast form a Democratic pickup of 24-29 to a Democratic pickup of 21-26. This is because "lean" seats in my formula go 67-75% for the party toward which they lean. "Toss-ups" are split evenly, and "likely" seats go 85-90% for the party for whom they are likely. Overall, I think my system finally makes sense, and that 21-26 is a good estimate.

Here are the seat-by-seat changes, not counting those that were formerly in "toss-up / lean Dem":
  • FL-16 downgraded from "lean Democratic" to "toss-up."
  • AZ-01 downgraded from "toss-up" to "lean Republican"
  • MN-06 downgraded from "toss-up" to "lean Republican."
  • CA-11 upgraded from "lean Republican" to "toss-up"
  • FL-22 upgraded from "lean Republican" to "toss-up."
  • KY-04 upgraded from "lean Republican" to "toss-up."
  • OH-01 upgraded from "lean Republican" to "toss-up."
  • VA-02 upgraded from "lean Republican" to "toss-up."
  • OH-02 downgraded from "lean Republican" to "likely Republican"
  • OH-12 upgraded from "others" to "lean Republican"
  • FL-24 upgraded from "others" to "likely Republican"
  • WA-05 upgraded form "others" to "likely Repbulican."
Read the entire forecast here. By my count, we have managed to put 81 Republican-held seats into play, with 62 of them being both serious and quite competitive. Mission accomplished on the fifty-state strategy and broad-based attack that Stuart Rothenberg once so roundly mocked for. Now, the only thing that remains is to get as active as possible over the next six and a half days, and then take over the House.

Strength Sells. Show Some.

To those people who are running scared about John Kerry's misstatement, I have a simple message.  Get some integrity.  John Kerry served in the military and put his life on the line for this country.  He is one of the only sitting Democratic Senators to genuinely oppose this war by taking on his colleague, Senator Lieberman.  He has done a huge amount for candidates this cycle, and will do more in the future.  And yesterday, he misspoke - any one of us could have made that mistake.  The fact that it's a controversy is actually not John Kerry's fault, it's yours.  You bear the responsibility of buying into the fallacy that gaffes like this matter.  You bear the responsibility of equating a slip of the tongue to a war that has killed hundreds of thousands.  

And let's be very clear about the politics.  This gaffe doesn't matter.  No one is going to change their mind about the war because of John Kerry's mistake.  What does matter is your reaction.  The press has set up the rules so that if you're on offense you're winning and if you're on defense you're losing.  It honestly doesn't matter if you, say, attack 9/11 widows or say that someone is faking Parkinson's disease.  It's just offense/defense.  Reporters have decided that printing reactions is their job, and that's life until their circulation drops to the point where they can no longer pay themselves to live in a dreamland composed of their own heroism at reprinting press releases.  And let's be honest and not pretend like this is Kerry's fault; a gaffe like this was inevitable, and if Kerry hadn't said it the Republicans would have manufactured something else.  It's what they do, people.  Come on.

So all of you who have decided that it's good politics to throw Kerry under the bus are both disloyal and strategically short-sighted.  I hope you reconsider your approach, or at least use this as a learning experience.  Let's highlight two candidates and how they reacted, both in red areas.

First is netroots candidate Eric Massa, who is using the gaffe as a way to illuminate his strong character.

Congressional candidate and 24-year Navy veteran Eric Massa today responded to the current flap over Senator John Kerry's remarks about the war in Iraq, and to a request from his opponent, incumbent Randy Kuhl. The Kuhl campaign this morning called on Massa to disavow Kerry's remarks, and to return any money donated from Kerry's Political Action Committee.

Massa said, "Randy Kuhl's so-called challenge is nonsense. Our fighting men and women in Iraq are the finest force in the world, but they're stuck with weak and dishonest civilian leadership. Randy Kuhl has done nothing to support the troops, and just toes the Washington line about 'staying the course.'  General John Batiste characterized Kuhl and his position as 'uninformed' and 'lacking moral courage.' Enough said."

Massa added, "George Bush and John Kerry and Randy Kuhl have had their chance and failed to bring home either victory or the troops. It's time for a change down in Washington, and change is coming on Tuesday."

And now let's go to the opposite extreme, to Harold Ford of the Connecticut for Ford party, who is throwing Kerry under the bus.  Now before I get the 'circular firing squad line', let me point out that Harold Ford is explicitly running against the Democratic Party, and so a blog post against him from a liberal Democrat like me (if it does anything at all) can only help him.  Since he thinks that the Democratic Party and its base are poisonous, he can use me to triangulate and prove that he is anti-government, anti-gay, pro-life, and pro-war.  He can gay-bait away against a cowardly opponent and assume that his obviously corrupt family doesn't matter.  That's fine.  Use this post, Ford, to prove to people like Glenn Reynolds that you are more like him than me.  Of course, Glenn Reynolds after all the handwringing and compliments, voted against you, but hey, he did say that you deserved the vote that he didn't give you.  You don't need to thank me for pointing out that you are in fact out only for yourself, and are openly and consistently disloyal to the Democratic Party in the waning days before the election.  You're busy enough as it is.

Or let's go to Sherrod Brown, who said.

Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat leading in late polls in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, said Republicans are merely trying to change the subject. "The people who should apologize are George Bush and Mike DeWine for sending our troops into battle without body armor and without examining the cooked intelligence," he said.

That's strength, and that's precisely why insiders didn't want to support Massa until it became screamingly obvious that he was running a great campaign.  Massa has been against torture and against the politicization of 9/11, using all the arguments that DC cowards are afraid to use.  And it's working.  Charlie Brown came out against a gay marriage ban against John Doolittle in a super-red district, and it's working.

The insiders hate this, and they hate us. They throw us under the bus all the time, just like they do it to John Kerry. Go through the Actblue pages of the Senate Democrats - it's not a surprise to me that the Senate Democrats are salivating at Harold Ford's candidacy, while the DCCC waited until last week to add Massa to their Red to Blue list (which if I were a cynic I might suggest was done so that the Red to Blue list could have a higher batting averate post-election, but I'm not a cynic so clearly this was done because his district just became viable.)

Anyway, the point is that loyalty works.  Loyalty sells.  Strength works.  Strength sells.  Show some.

Jim Webb: They're not fighting for you, I will

Jim Webb's campaign is taking Virginia by storm.

Check out these headlines today:

Register & Bee: DANVILLE - Democrat Jim Webb talked about the country's disappearing middle class Tuesday when he visited a group of United Steelworkers union members who work at Danville's Goodyear plant and have been on strike since Oct. 5. "There aren't enough people in the U.S. Congress who are looking after the working people," said Webb, who is challenging U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., in Tuesday's election. "You've got my loyalty." Webb's message seemed to impress Brady Gibson, who has spent the past 29 years working at Goodyear and plans on voting for the Democratic Party during this election...

Times-Dispatch:: DANVILLE -- Democrat Jim Webb brought his message of economic populism to striking union workers at the Goodyear plant yesterday. Webb, his shirt sleeves rolled up, told more than 50 striking workers and supporters that he would offer a voice for working people in the U.S. Senate. He said that one of the greatest problems facing this country is the economic split along class lines, with corporate profits at an all-time high while wages remain stagnant. "You'll get two things out of me if you support me -- you're going to need a voice, not only in Congress, but somebody who will sit down and try to speak reasonably with the companies," Webb told the crowd at a brief mid-afternoon appearance, where he shook hands and greeted well-wishers....

The last four polls:

   *   CNN, 10/29: Webb (D) 50%--46% Allen (R)
    * Rasmussen, 10/29: Webb 51%--46% Allen
    * Zogby Internet, 10/29: Webb 51%--47.2% Allen
    * DSCC internal, 10/29: Webb 47%--43% Allen

If you are in DC or Virginia, please Volunteer on Webb's site to help over the weekend, and get Monday and Tuesday off to help too. I can't wait to vote for Webb.

Working for America...and Candy

I dropped in the AFL-CIO's Working America canvassing office in Cincinnati yesterday. Working America is the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, which means it includes millions of non-union members who are now affiliated with the union.

Their focus is on issues such as health care costs, outsourcing, federal budget cuts, and the minimum wage and not political parties. However, the candidates on the right side of these issues in Ohio all happen to be Democrats like John Cranley (OH-01), Victoria Wulsin (OH-02), Sherrod Brown (OH-SEN), and Ted Strickland (OH-GOV).

Despite the rain on a Tuesday, spirits seemed high at the Working America office as canvassers filed in for their daily briefing. Maybe it was because there was only a week until the election...but it was probably mostly due to the fact that it was Halloween. Halloween for canvassers is something of godsend because because 1) it's right before an election, 2) everyone is home, 3) everyone is expecting people to knock on their door, and 4) there's candy (mmm...candy).

What is it about the Republican denial of reality?

John Kerry says he's sorry, but Tony Snow ignores it and says Kerry must say he's sorry.
Via TP:

This morning on MSNBC, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) apologized for his comments on Monday. "Of course I'm sorry for the botched joke," he said, calling his comments "pretty stupid."

About hour later, Tony Snow said the following on CNBC:

   All you have to do is say, I apologize. I said something, it came out wrong, I'm sorry. And instead, what Sen. Kerry has done, is he's tried to whip it into a big thing...

That's exactly what Kerry has said. According to the White House, the story is over.

Update (Chris): The reason Republicans are running with this and denying reality is because they can. They asked us to apoligze, and like good puppies, we did. Now, are we surprised that they want us to apologize more? And what are we going to do in response to Snow's attack--keep apologizing? Wouldn't surprise me if we did. Democrats are once again showing weakness in the face of attack, an eagerness to apologize for calling the right-wing names, and a willingness to close Daou's triangle on themselves. Just look at the latest AP headline:
Some Democrats join Republicans in pressing Kerry for apology
Game over. So much for showing strength in the face of attack. Once again, we are weak, divided, and grovelling for forgiveness from the unforgiving Republican Noise Machine. The triangle is officially closed on this now. Well done, Democrats. My only remaining hope is that this story goes away quickly.

Another Brilliant VoteVets Ad

VoteVets, which produced and aired this terrific ad earlier in the cycle, now offers another very powerful ad.

All I can say is wow. This is exactly the type of response that the Democratic Party and all of its surrogates should have offered when the RNC's "be afraid" ad was first unveiled. But better late than never...

Rothenberg's note on the Independents

This is right-on:

Obviously, if conservatives and Republicans stay home on Nov. 7, it will be a long, long night for the GOP. Republican candidates in all kinds of districts would be in trouble -- even if those districts gave President Bush 65 percent of the vote two years ago.

But even if Republicans turn out, GOP candidates could find themselves in hot water in dozens of districts that they ordinarily should hold. That's because independent voters are not acting the way they normally do.

Independents may not turn out at the same rate as strong partisans in midterm elections, but for dozens of Republicans trying to hold their seats in a potentially strong Democratic wave -- particularly those running in marginal districts -- independents will be plentiful enough at the polls to separate winners from losers. In Connecticut, for example, independents (unaffiliated voters) constitute a plurality of all state voters.

Normally, independents break roughly evenly between the two parties. In the 2000 presidential election, independents went for then-Texas Gov. Bush over Al Gore, 47 percent to 45 percent. Four years later, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) bested Bush 49 percent to 48 percent among independents.

This year, that's not close to being the case. "There just aren't any independents this year," joked one Republican strategist I talked with recently. "There are Republicans, Democrats and soft Democrats."

In poll after poll, independents are behaving like Democrats, whether it is in their distaste for Bush and the GOP-run Congress or in their vote choice in dozens of races around the country.

Nationally, a recent Cook Political Report/RT Strategies survey found a mere 33 percent of independents approving of the job Bush is doing. Those same independents favored Democrats, 49 percent to 30 percent, on the generic ballot. A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found Democrats with a 9-point generic advantage among independents.

In a recent Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. survey of Ohio's gubernatorial race, independent voters broke for Democrat Ted Strickland over Republican Ken Blackwell by an astonishing 22 points -- 51 percent to 29 percent.

A recent series of Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg surveys in Senate races found the same thing. In the Virginia Senate race, Jim Webb (D) held a 9-point advantage among independents over incumbent Sen. George Allen (R). In Ohio, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D), the challenger, held a 12-point lead over incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine (R). And in Tennessee, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) held a 10-point lead over Republican Bob Corker among independents.

More on this post I made last week about Independents and this historical shift that's occurred.