Primaries Are Often Good!

I'm not from Ohio and don't know enough about what is going on there to go far too out on a limb, lest it break off.

We must never forget that principles and results are more important than politics.  There are plenty of Dem. politicians who I don't like but who get results -- the problem is that I really can't say that, yet, about the current leadership crowd.  

I do think the Dem. leadership is being shortsighted in, apparently, adopting a policy that primaries are bad and all sorts of manipulation is justified to avoid primaries.  Regardless of what is right according to some sort of moral judgement, I just think it is poor political judgement.  This comes from a party leadership that does not exactly have a good record over the past 10 years or so.  Tom DeLay was a skunk, but until he went too far with ethics he was darn effective.  Who among the Dems. is effective?  Time will tell.

Case 1: Wisconsin 1988, a 3 way primary for the US Senate between Rep. Jim Moody, Millionaire Businessman Joe Checota and State Senator Russ Feingold.  Who raised & spent the most money? Checota & Moody by a LONG shot.  Who won, Feingold and he has held the seat ever since in a swing state.  The "kingmakers" of the time wanted Feingold out, if they had got their way a Republican would probably hold the seat today.

Case 2: 2002 Maryland, the primary was to succeed Gov. Paris Glendening, a not terribly popular two term incumbent who could not run for another term.  The establishment choice was Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert Kennedy.  Popular Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley badly wanted to run.  The party establishment put HEAVY pressure on O'Malley to forego it.  O'Malley bowed to the pressure.  Townsend proved to be a poor candidate -- she had never had to run in a contested primary.  She would have been a stronger candidate had she beaten O'Malley.  Conversely, most observers believe O'Malley would have beaten current GOP Governor Bob Ehrlich.  O'Malley is trying again in 2006, he has a tough primary.

Case 3 2004 Presidential -- the strategy was get the primaries over ASAP and unite quickly behind the (fairly narrow) winner of Iowa & New Hampshire.  Kerry had other problems but this strategy was flawed -- for more reasons than I have time to write about.

A great Dem. leader who had his own problems with the grassroots of his time said that "It's better to have 'em inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in." That was Lyndon Johnson.  Increasingly, netroots activists are being forced outside of the tent of Democratic politics.  Somebody needs to make it a bigger tent, even if there are a few primaries.

Howard Park

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ARG Polls 2008 Dem Primaries in NH and SC (and others)

American Research Group has the first primary polls for the Democratic nomination in 2008 from New Hampshire and South Carolina (and a few other, less important states). The results are not really surprising:

                    NH     SC
Clinton         32     30
Edwards        9     15
Gore              5      8
Kerry             7      4
Clark             2      7
Warner         2      2
Biden            2      1
Feingold        2      1
Bayh             1      1
Richardson    1      -
Unsure       31     36

What sort of opportunity does a non-Clinton have to emerge?

                     NH    SC
Clinton           32    30
Non-Clinton    37    34
Unsure           31    36

There does appear to be an opportunity for a non-Clinton to emerge. However, such an opportunity is a narrow one, and probably won't happen in a crowded field.

As Scott pointed out on the Republican side, these polls do not tell the entire story. Influential party activists on both sides will go a long way toward reshaping the standings of the field. In particular, it would seem that Feingold, Clark, Warner and Edwards have significant potential for upward movement, considering the esteem in which they are held among the activist base. Gore would have much of the same if he ever made any indication at all that he would run for something in 2008.

Of course, a lot also depends on who runs. Right now, I can't see any possible path for Biden, Kerry and Daschle (and Vilsack). All of the others remain in long-shot status against Clinton, although some are more longshot than others. If Clinton doesn't run, ala Gore not running last time, the field become wide open.

As for the poll, I wish they had done favorable and name recognition numbers instead of trial heats. We would have learned a lot more if the poll had been conducted that way.

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MyDD Conversation with MD-Sen Candidate Ben Cardin

This morning, I spoke with Democratic Congressman Ben Cardin (D-MD), one of of two leading contenders for the Democratic senatorial nomination in the Maryland (the other being former Congressman Kweisi Mfume, who we have also invited to speak with MyDD).

Cardin and I spoke about a number of topics, including ethics reform, healthcare, the Murtha resolution, and domestic wiretapping. You can listen to the interview here (warning: a 14.3 megabyte mp3) or read the rush transcript below.

Jonathan Singer: In President Bush's most recent budget, it appears that he has indeed stuck in his plan to partially privatize Social Security. Do you think that the Democrats - you in Congress - will be able to stop it?

Ben Cardin: First, I'm not surprised by what the President has done. He is committed to privatizing Social Security. He's made that clear. This is an area he wants to make progress, and he will not deter. He's going to continue to use every effort to start down the path of privatizing Social Security.

The budget that he has submitted starts to spend taxpayer money - actually goes into debt - in order to start the privatization by setting up these private accounts. I personally do not believe that the Congress will approve it. I think that the President took his case to the American people last year and they resoundingly said no. Whether they were older people or younger people, they understood that you don't strengthen Social Security by taking money out of it.

So I believe that we will be successful, the Democrats, in blocking the efforts in 2006, but that's not the end of it. We still have to stay very strong in our opposition.

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RI-Sen: Brown ties Whitehouse in primary, both Dems make big move on Chafee

Finally, another poll from Rhode Island. And it is a very interesting one too:The survey was conducted Feb. 4 to 6 at Brown University by Darrell M. West, director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions and the John Hazen White Sr. Public Opinion Laboratory. It is based on a statewide random sample of 785 registered voters in Rhode Island. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

If the general election were held today, Chafee has an advantage of 40 to 34 percent over Whitehouse (compared to his lead of 38 percent to 25 percent in September). If Brown is the Democratic nominee, Chafee's lead is 38 percent to 36 percent (compared to 41 percent to 18 percent in September).

If the Republican nominee were Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, Whitehouse is ahead by 44 percent to 29 percent (up from the 35 percent to 25 percent lead Whitehouse had in September). If the nominees were Laffey and Brown, Brown has an advantage of 47 percent to 24 percent over Laffey (up from 30 percent to 26 percent in September).

In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Brown is the choice of 31 percent of the 323 voters who indicated they were very likely to vote in the Democratic primary, while 25 percent say they prefer Whitehouse, 0 percent say they plan to vote for Carl Sheeler, and 44 percent are undecided. The margin of error in this likely Democratic primary sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points. In September, Whitehouse had an advantage of 32 to 16 percent over Brown. Wow. Brown clearly has a lot of mo' on Whitehouse, and both Dems are closing hard on Chafee. In the Republican primary, I am cheering for Laffey, who would clearly have no chance in the general. Even if Chafee wins the primary, both Brown and Whitehouse are in a strong position to take this state.

This poll adds Rhode Island to the "already competitive" column for Dems, making five total. If Dems can come up with one more of these, then a takeover of the Senate becomes a possibility.

CT-Senate: Lieberman's Number Sunk During 2003 Campaign for President

Sign Up for Ned Lamont now

From the subscriber section of polling report (sign up here), check out these long-term trends in Lieberman's approval rating in Connecticut according to the Q-poll:

Quinnipiac University Poll. Jan. 4-9, 2006. N=1,369 registered voters statewide. MoE ± 2.7 (for all registered voters).

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joseph Lieberman is handling his job as United States senator?"

              Approve      Disapporve      Unsure
1/4-1/9         62            24             13

Looks pretty solid, right? Well, if you go back over the last two years, it is pretty solid:

             Approve      Disapporve      Unsure
Jul            67            23             11
Mar           67            22             11
Feb         69            20             12
Jan          73            15             12

              Approve      Disapporve      Unsure
Nov           71            23             12
Sep          66            22             12
Aug           66            20             13
Jun             66            15             12
May             63            24             14

Lieberman's approval rating does seem to be slowly sinking from its high point in early 2005, but certainly not at a rate that will make him vulnerable within the next few months. For Lieberman to be in trouble, there needs to be another catalyst that would cause his numbers to drop at a faster rate.

Ladies and gentlemen of the netroots, that catalyst would appear to be an actual campaign. During 2003, when Lieberman was running for President, it would appear that the larger news profile that came with him running for President caused his numbers to sink rapidly:

              Approve     Disapporve     Unsure
11/03           52            36           12
10/03           54            34           12
7/03            51            33           17
4/03            53            25           22
3/03            60            28           12
9/02            58            29           13
7/02            64            26           10
5/02            65            23           10
2/02            64            21           15
12/01           71            19           10

Before he ran for President, Lieberman's approval rating was in the high sixties. However, during his campaign, it crated into the low fifties. The more people saw of Lieberman, the less they liked him. Those of us who closely watched primary polls in 2003 saw this happen in state after state. In almost every state, Lieberman started with a big lead. However, as the campaign went on, he crated and eventually fell behind almost every other candidate in almost every single state. The more people saw of him, and the more people saw alternatives to him, the less they liked Lieberman.

Given all of this, I submit that Lieberman's approval rating is very soft. If he were subjected to an actual campaign, I am confident that his numbers would take a sharp, sudden tumble.

I know we can give Lieberman a real campaign, too. Already Democratic committees in Connecticut are rebuking him. MoveOn might come in with a million dollars. We need to provide the 1,000 volunteers that will push Lamont past the exploratory phase. Sign Up for Ned Lamont now. Watch Lieberman's numbers tumble when he is finally exposed to sunlight.

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