California Regenerated

William Bradley serves up an expansive campaign diary style recap of Jerry Brown's win against Whitman in California. 

...the story as told in the cut-back conventional media is on the under-cooked side.

Which is not surprising, since virtually all the state and national press early on anointed Whitman as an unstoppable high-tech juggernaut of a campaign run by the best consultants in the business. Up against poor old Jerry Brown and his ragtag little band. When in reality, it was Ali-Foreman '74 all along, with what I called Brown's Zen rope-a-dope approach unfolding as anticipated.

Jerry Brown ended his campaign and began his gubernatorial transition in the place where he regenerated as a political figure: Oakland. If you want to understand the stunning Brown comeback, you'll understand the significance of Oakland as its nexus.

... In all, a fitting symbol of regeneration both for a city and for a politician...

One race I couldn't help myself from following.  In ways, the archetypal battle between the corporate-backed superfunded candidate who wanted to "run California like a business," and the quirkly, admitedly flawed underdog, speaking often about "rebirth" and "renewal" in a decidedly hokey fashion. 

No doubt my impression is oversimplied, but I'm certain the conventional wisdom circulating about the race misses the mark much further.

CA Democratic Party fundraiser Wade Randlett, for example:

Brown beat back the national conservative wave with a message that "I will be a frugal governor who will make hard decisions, who won't tax people without their approval," Randlett said. "It was a moderate, centrist message" that exit polls show played especially well with Latinos and women voters in California.

Party conditioning at it's glaring worst.  Any Democrat who won in 2010 obviously ran center, with a moderate message.

But Brown only tracked center on two points: promising "no new taxes (without public approval)" and endorsing pension reforms, vaguely stating he would like "other concessions" from unions as well.  Outside of that, Brown ran more often as a progressive.  More from Bradley:

"I want the people of California to know we will have times that are tough, maybe a year more," Brown cautioned his excited supporters in his victory speech. Then he gave the uplift. "I take as my challenge a common purpose based on a vision of what California can be. I see California leading in renewable energy, public education and an openness to every person."

Brown beat back the "national conservative wave" by saving his money until the end, running smart -- The Twins! -- and -- whether he truly will be as Governor or not -- walking and talking like a progressive, without apology.  No doubt he did appeal to moderates in contrast with Whitman's reach for the Tea Party on issues like immigration and social services, but to say this was the deciding factor in Brown's successful campaign largely ignores the majority of what was presented to California voters on the ballot.

Brown didn't win the middle by speaking to them only as a moderate.  He won them by default while campaigning foremost for his base, careful not to throw them to the wolves in search of centrist appeal.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure...

 

 

California Regenerated

William Bradley serves up an expansive campaign diary style recap of Jerry Brown's win against Whitman in California. 

...the story as told in the cut-back conventional media is on the under-cooked side.

Which is not surprising, since virtually all the state and national press early on anointed Whitman as an unstoppable high-tech juggernaut of a campaign run by the best consultants in the business. Up against poor old Jerry Brown and his ragtag little band. When in reality, it was Ali-Foreman '74 all along, with what I called Brown's Zen rope-a-dope approach unfolding as anticipated.

Jerry Brown ended his campaign and began his gubernatorial transition in the place where he regenerated as a political figure: Oakland. If you want to understand the stunning Brown comeback, you'll understand the significance of Oakland as its nexus.

... In all, a fitting symbol of regeneration both for a city and for a politician...

One race I couldn't help myself from following.  In ways, the archetypal battle between the corporate-backed superfunded candidate who wanted to "run California like a business," and the quirkly, admitedly flawed underdog, speaking often about "rebirth" and "renewal" in a decidedly hokey fashion. 

No doubt my impression is oversimplied, but I'm certain the conventional wisdom circulating about the race misses the mark much further.

CA Democratic Party fundraiser Wade Randlett, for example:

Brown beat back the national conservative wave with a message that "I will be a frugal governor who will make hard decisions, who won't tax people without their approval," Randlett said. "It was a moderate, centrist message" that exit polls show played especially well with Latinos and women voters in California.

Party conditioning at it's glaring worst.  Any Democrat who won in 2010 obviously ran center, with a moderate message.

But Brown only tracked center on two points: promising "no new taxes (without public approval)" and endorsing pension reforms, vaguely stating he would like "other concessions" from unions as well.  Outside of that, Brown ran more often as a progressive.  More from Bradley:

"I want the people of California to know we will have times that are tough, maybe a year more," Brown cautioned his excited supporters in his victory speech. Then he gave the uplift. "I take as my challenge a common purpose based on a vision of what California can be. I see California leading in renewable energy, public education and an openness to every person."

Brown beat back the "national conservative wave" by saving his money until the end, running smart -- The Twins! -- and -- whether he truly will be as Governor or not -- walking and talking like a progressive, without apology.  No doubt he did appeal to moderates in contrast with Whitman's reach for the Tea Party on issues like immigration and social services, but to say this was the deciding factor in Brown's successful campaign largely ignores the majority of what was presented to California voters on the ballot.

Brown didn't win the middle by speaking to them only as a moderate.  He won them by default while campaigning foremost for his base, careful not to throw them to the wolves in search of centrist appeal.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure...

 

 

Bipartisanship: Independents Couldn't Care Less

Writers at The Democratic Strategist have embarked on a breakdown of the composition of the 2010 electorate, questioning the oft-repeated, little supported meme that Democrats lost big on Nov 2 for moving "too far left," against an electorate moving center-right.

Connecting two of the most recent posts on Ruy Teixeira's data crunching conclusions offers a glimpse at the reality slaughtered by what is passing elsewhere for post-election analysis.

First, Andrew Levinson on the shift of "moderates" to "conservative":

During the early, pre-9/11 era, not all of George W Bush's supporters considered themselves conservatives. Many considered themselves moderates. They would express this by saying things like "I usually vote Republican but I consider myself a political moderate and not a hard-core conservative. In 1992 I supported Bush senior, in 1996 I supported Bob Dole and In 2000 I supported George W. Bush because he seemed like a moderate too".

Since Obama's election, however, as the political debate has become deeply polarized with charges of socialism and fascism leveled against Obama, these same people can no longer accurately express their feelings about politics by calling themselves "moderate Republicans". They are now more likely to use the word conservative to describe themselves rather than moderate because the latter term does not adequately convey a clear rejection of Obama's agenda. In actual conversation this "moderate Republican now turned conservative" view is expressed in phrases like "Oh, I'm not a tea party person but I'm really a pretty conservative person in a lot of ways, you know, and I just don't support a lot of those these things Obama's doing."

Second, Ed Kilgore on "true independents":

...true independents tend to vote against the party in power when the economy is bad, regardless of the perceived ideology or partisanship of the party in power. It happened in 2006 and it happened again in 2010. Arguing, as some have done, that the answer for Democrats is to "move to the center" and find some way to work with Republicans makes sense only if such steps contribute to an improvement in the performance of the economy. If they don't, then it's not the right direction to take, particularly if you consider the costs in terms of sacrificing progressive policy goals and making the Democratic elements of the electorate unhappy precisely on the eve of the cycle when they can be expected to return to the polls.

The two takeaways here:

Despite the self applied "moderate" label, these "shifting" voters were just Republicans by another name.  At some point, they simply stopped labeling themselves "moderate."  The change from "middle" to "right" happened in poll responses, not voting habits, and within the confines of Republican voters, not the electorate at large.

Second, "true" independents don't care about bipartisanship, the process, or (surprise!) even intra-party leadership battles.  Many of them fail to even identify policy as Democratic or Republican policies.  They identify policy as effective (something changed for me) or ineffective (nothing changed for me).

Overall ideology hasn't changed much in the past few years, and it's important to understand, especially as a challenge to the idea that the midterms were a warning for Democrats to tack right in response. 

So no evidence of a shift in the electorate, and the swing-voters of 2012 will be just like the swing-voters of every election.  They don't care if the parties work together, and they certainly don't care if the Obama alienates his base in order to prove his commitment to bipartisan policy.  What they care about, as always, are the policies that brought results.

Kilgore quotes The Monkey Cage's John Sides:

Here's a counterfactual to ponder. What if Obama and the Democratic Congress had rammed through a $2 trillion stimulus, failing to garner a single GOP vote, but then the stimulus somehow reduced unemployment to 6%? Do you think independents would be offended by the lack of bipartisanship?

Nope, they'd be singing the Democrats' praises, all the way to the 2012 voting booths.

What Happens When You Reject The FDR/LBJ/CLINTON Coalition For a Fluky Personality Cult

 

 

There’s Gotta Be a Morning After

  • Barack Obama is a wretched excuse for a president and leader of the Democratic Party. Nevermind this nonsense about a blanket “anti-incumbent” fevah. This was a repudiation of our party’s leaders and their policies. Instead of offering voters anything in the way of changed course—mortgage moratorium? Timothy Geithner’s head?—the White House decided to essentially ride out the clock. The thing about congressional politics is this: most representatives are hack politicians—one way or the other. Not every Democrat that voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, corporatist health care “reform,” etc., was Barney Frank or Obama. That is to say, left-wing agents of finance capital. The vast majority of these folk merely toe the line. Consequently the onus is on this president and he sacrificed a great deal of decent people last night. Many of them would have been willing to go down for a hell of a lot more than Mitt Romney’s health care plan. This man has to go.
  • A Republican rout of 60+ seats in the House of Representatives will probably retire Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mrs. Pelosi was—nay, is—a tough broad, a trailblazer and a savvy operator. Over the past two years, her considerable talent has been in the service of either flawed or outright failed policies and that’s regrettable. I continue to regard Mrs. Pelosi as a relatively decent establishmentarian who would have been fantastic if given a real Democratic president on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Grandpa Edwin is Governor of California again. Ironically, I suspect the failure of Proposition 19 will engender the least bit of griping from the progressive base. For all intents and purposes, ganja is already legal in the Golden State. There isn’t much either Gov. Brown or a Gov. Meg Whitman could have done to arrest the systemic problems the state faces otherwise, so it’s a wash.
  • Florida’s Marco Rubio bested both Charlie Crist, the orange governor who pole-vaulted to independence, and Rep. Kendrick Meek, the good guy. Once again President Obama disgraced himself. (Granted, Mr. Meek was an early, enthusiastic and loyal supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008.) There wasn’t any reason to believe Marco Rubio would lose in either a two- or three-way race and many of us said so. Kendrick Meek may be a meek, small-time politician, but there’s no reason why Gov. Christ had to siphon as many Democratic votes from the Democratic nominee as he did. Meek’s supposed vulnerability was an entirely self-fulfilling prophecy. Barack Obama’s condescension towards the only possible black U.S. senator—aren’t we supposed to care about that kind of thing?—was stunning. “Don't say I never gave you anything,” Obama quipped after buying Kendrick Meek a sandwich while in town for a token visit.
  • In 1952 Barry AuH2O ousted Senate Majority Leader Ernest McFarland in Arizona. Harry Reid managed to avoid the same fate. This is a crowning achievement, to be sure, but pales to the point of transparency in comparison with him making a liar out of Jack Landsman. The latter was quite certain the harlot from Reno, Sharron Angle, would dispatch Mr. Reid electorally. Guess that “2nd Amendment” solution is back on the table, eh?
  • What else can possibly be said for our patron saint Russ Feingold—murked last night by a random reactionary named “Johnson” or some such? Ultimately Sen. Feingold has no one to blame but himself. In conservative districts around the country, numerous Democrats took the extraordinary step of running against their own House speaker or professing support for John McCain in 2008. And it was necessary. For his part, Russ Feingold should have thrown in with the left opposition to Barack Obama months ago. Obama and Feingold are not the same kind of liberals, but he nevertheless allowed himself to be caricatured as such. Instead of going out like a boss—a fitting end to the lone dissenter against the Patriot Act in October 2001—Russ Feingold went out like a punk, carping about outside expenditures, as if anyone cared about process. I want to believe he’ll be back in some fashion or another.

Diaries

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