MT-Sen: Tester’s Popular, But Rehberg Leads by 2

Public Policy Polling (11/10-13, Montana voters):

Jon Tester (D-inc): 46

Denny Rehberg (R): 48

Jon Tester (D-inc): 48

Steve Daines (R): 37

Jon Tester (D-inc): 46

Neil Livingstone (R): 35

Jon Tester (D-inc): 42

Mark Racicot (R): 49

(MoE: ±2.9%)

It’s a bit of a mixed bag for Jon Tester. He’s leading his announced opponents — ’08 Lt. Gov. nominee Steve Daines and “crisis management” CEO Neil Livingstone — by double-digit spreads, and his job approval rating is 50/40, a spread so healthy that PPP is calling him one of the most popular Senators in the country. However, if current Rep. Denny Rehberg took the plunge, Tester would be in for a real challenge. (And an even bigger challenge if John Cornyn somehow managed to lure ex-Gov. Mark Racicot into the race, but that seems unlikely.)

Rehberg has until March 2012 to decide on the race, which buys him plenty of time to assess the situation — and given the B-grade level of Livingstone and Baines, he’d have a good shot at clearing the field, too, unless one or both of them decides to run as an out-and-proud insurgent teabagger.

70 thoughts on “MT-Sen: Tester’s Popular, But Rehberg Leads by 2”

  1. I thought he was pretty out there… Am I wrong?

    Whatever the case, it’s not the end of the world for Tester. Far from it! In fact, these numbers look much better than I had feared.

  2. Despite Tester being a split Senator (representing a state that went for the other party’s presidential candidate) and having won only barely despite a good year for his party and against a corrupt asshole, Rehberg is only leading within the margin of error.

    Could change.  Rehberg does have the benefit of party (I’m going to assume Montana goes red again in 2012) and experience, but would he give up a safe seat for a tossup?

  3. I won’t count him out because Cornyn pulled a couple of rabbits out of his hat in 2010 (Hoeven, as well as Castle and Crist, who obviously didn’t work out but were considered A-listers when Cornyn brought them in.) But is a governor who has been out of office for a decade really better than an incumbent Congressman? If I were Cornyn, I’d almost prefer Rehberg because he’s proved every 2 years he’s capable of winning the state.

  4. By 2012, The National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. Every vote would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    Now 2/3rds of the states and voters are ignored — 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states, and big states like California, Georgia, New York, and Texas.  The current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states, and not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution, ensure that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.  Voter turnout in the “battleground” states has been 67%, while turnout in the “spectator” states was 61%. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–‘that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a states electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado – 68%, Iowa – 75%, Michigan – 73%, Missouri 70%, New Hampshire 69%, Nevada 72%, New Mexico 76%, North Carolina 74%, Ohio70%, Pennsylvania-78%, Virginia-74%, and Wisconsin-71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska-70%, DC-76%, Delaware-75%, Maine-77%, Nebraska-74%, New Hampshire-69%, Nevada-72%, New Mexico-76%, Rhode Island-74%, and Vermont-75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas-80%, Kentucky-80%, Mississippi-77%, Missouri-70%, North Carolina-74%, and Virginia-74%; and in other states polled: California-70%, Connecticut-74% , Massachusetts-73%, Minnesota-75%, New York-79%, Washington77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), The District of Columbia (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These seven states possess 76 electoral votes–‘28% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


  5. but it is a republican leaning state with a lot of indies.  honestly, i’d say this is pretty good for him.  or did you mean baucus with his 38-53 (i think, it’s something like that) favorables?  if so, then yes, it was probably his shepherding the bill through congress that really hurt his popularity.  also worth mentioning, baucus has not faced a difficult race since 1996 when he barely edged rehburg.

  6. and he’s still at a positive approval rating, isn’t the obvious answer to spend some time in the state explaining why he voted for it and trying to bring people to his side? If he’s already pretty popular, which it looks like he is, he has an in with the crowed, so unless he truly screwed up explaining his vote, he’d probably go a few points higher and make it less of an issue. He has a lot of time ahead of him, too, so he can perfect his message.

    I’d suggest something similar to any person who might be vulnerable in 2012, especially Webb, McCaskill, and Ben Nelson, but not all of them will have the great starting point Tester has. Perhaps there’s even more of a reason for them to get to work.  

  7. Tester’s numbers aren’t horrible – but he’s still an incumbent and as of now he’s still losing to two potential quality candidates.

    If Tester was on the ballot this year the Republicans and Republican-backed groups would have been pouring hundreds of thousands into the state to tell everybody how Tester voted on HCR.  In state like Montana in a climate like this, there’s absolutely zero question that it would have sunk him.

    I have no idea what the national climate will be like in 2012.  At this point it was expected that Democrats would have GAINED seats in the senate this past cycles instead of losing seven (6 on Election Day + Scott Brown).  But there’s nothing in this poll that would or should scare Rehberg away.  

  8. I’m not sure whether alcoholism is an ethical issue, but …. Whether it’s falling off a horse in Kazakhstan, or running aground in a party boat so spectacularly that the boaters have to be hospitalized, it’s a fairly open secret that Rehberg likes the drinky drinky. To me, this kinda makes it surprising that he’s not in Boehner’s inner circle.

    Source: http://voices.washingtonpost.c

  9. Not to mention that Rehberg may as well be an incumbent given that he’s the at-large congressman. Those are numbers that suggest he can win if he fights for it, but is Rehberg up to a fight?

  10. the Governor’s race, which Rehberg could probably cruise to.

    If I were the DSCC, I’d be paying people to accost Rehberg in the street and whisper sweet nothings into his ear about how “Governor Rehberg” is what Montana really needs.

  11. He’s have plenty of preparation time and plenty of outside help.

    Now I am not saying it’s going to be a slam dunk, but I’d put money on Rehberg over Tester.

    First of all let’s look at 2008.  Yes, Obama only lost MT by 2 1/2 points but that’s deceptive because Ron Paul got over two points in Montana as well.  Assuming the GOP strategy will be to paint Tester as a lackey of Obama (and that WILL be the GOP strategy) you can’t tell me that any Paulites are going to be happy with a Dem plan to expand the government’s role in HC.  The conservative vote in MT in 2008 was 52-48.

    Also, I’m of the opinion that too many folks put too much weight on Obama’s numbers in 2008. McCain ran a really really shitty campaign.  He made very little attempt to GOTV and ceded too much ground to Obama.  Bush (or say, Romney) would never let this happen.  Bush won the state by 21 points.  I don’t buy for a second that Montana is a swing state.  Certainly it wouldn’t be if the GOP put minimal effort to organize and GOTV.  Things haven’t changed that much since 2004.

    And Tester, frankly, never ran a campaign where he didn’t have a strong wind at his back.  The 2006 campaign had very little to do with him.  It was much more focused on Conrad Burns and his alleged corruption and the national climate against Bush, congressional scandal and the war.

    We’ll see how well Tester does when he has to defend his record in a state Obama couldn’t carry when he had sky-high popularity.

  12. Per Wikipedia, St.Sen. Greg Barkus was the driver and Rehberg was a passenger. The Congressman’s blood alcohol was 0.055, below the legal limit but still enough to impair you. The horse incident, however, was indeed all Rehberg.

  13. but since there are no firm registration numbers, which is different from other states, it’s not entirely clear what sort of base we are working from. We aren’t entirely in the dark, but we do have less information than we could if Montana was a party registration state.  

  14. Montana is one of the few non-southern states where the D registration keeps increasing. A lot of northern California retirees are moving to western Montana. One of my professors (American University) is a pollster and he told us Montana and Washington keep increasing likely D voters when most of the surrounding region is going more and more independent.

    I’m saying all this because for the most part 2008 exit polls will slant more Democratic than 2012 exit polls (but considerably less R than 2010) and the 33-33-35 number would probably be off by a couple of points in any other state. I think MT might be 35-30-35 by the time 2012 rolls around.

  15. Racicot is 64 years old and hasn’t run a campaign since his 1996 gubernatorial race, not to mention he’s making good money as a lobbyist. Rehberg on the other hand could be talked into running for Governor, which means more power, no more long plane rides back and forth, and also an easy opening at Baucus’s seat in either 2014 or 2020 depending on when he retires.  

  16. that Racicot hasn’t run a campaign since 1996, and during that campaign the Democratic candidate died of a heart attack a month before the election and his no-name LG had to replace him as the gubernatorial candidate.  

  17. approval consistently during his whole second term and the last year of his first term. And before that he was at around 70%.

  18. approval consistently during his whole second term and the last year of his first term. And before that he was at around 70%.

  19. Obama’s not going to lose Montana by anywhere near the 20 points Kerry did, and I have no idea why you assume Obama’s going to do worse in 2012 than he did in 2008, Reagan didn’t after the disaster that was the 1982 midterm elections, and the economy wasn’t that great under Saint Ronny.

  20. any sort of ground game in the state like he did in Ohio? Or did Obama, for that matter? I don’t recall of any effort comparable to the ones in the usual swing states on either side in either 2004 or 2008. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some presence in the state by Obama, but I can’t believe he had anything remotely similar to what he had in the others.

    I’d be also curious to see how effective your suggested strategy, which I agree will probably be the strategy, will end up being. Are Montana voters unaware that Tester voted for all of the big pieces of legislation except for TARP? If they are aware that he voted for the stimulus and ACA but still like him now, what good will it do them to remind them?  

  21. The 2006 elections was on Burns age. I remember because they never quit running the ad of him falling asleep durring a committee hearing. Mind you, I’m 22 and I fall asleep in 1/2 of them too.

  22. In fact, except for Woodrow Wilson, every single president that won a second term increased their electoral vote count the second time around. And Wilson was a special case because his first win came in the three-way race where a narrow plurality allowed him a massive landslide. Plus, even Wilson increased his popular vote, both in terms of percentage and absolute vote.

    So put another way, you could say that every single president to win a second term increased either their electoral vote total or their popular vote percentage.

    Now, it’s entirely possible that Obama will win reelection by a smaller margin than in ’08, but historically speaking, by far the most likely outcomes are that (a) he wins reelection by a BIGGER margin than ’08 or (b) he loses reelection. For him to win reelection by a smaller margin would be very unusual.  

  23. I’ll readily concede that we can’t know what will happen over the next couple of years – but unless unemployment numbers improve, Obama’s fortunes aren’t going to improve either.  

    In 1984 there was measurable improvement in unemployment numbers over 1982.  The White House says that unemployment is still going to be at 9 percent in 2012.  Now that’s straight from the horse’s mouth.  And if it’s true, then Obama is not going to fare as well as he did in 2008.

  24. Link:


    I bet you most Montana voters ARE unaware that Tester voted for most of the initiatives in the last congress.  Most people don’t pay attention to these sorts of things until a competitive election cycles gets to be in full swing.  There was no large alotment of campaign commercials in Montana this cycle because there weren’t any seriously contested races.  If PPP or some other pollster asked, “Did Jon Tester support health care reform?” – a majority of registered voters would say, “I don’t know.”

    You could be right that Tester could make his case to the public and they’ll support him.  If Tester was a senator from Washington or Oregon he’d probably be able to make that case effectively.  I suspect though that the more attention is focused on his votes on controversial legislation the worse it will be for him.  

  25. No well known Presidential contender is close to that.  Obama would be a clear favorite over three of the four leading Republicans now.

    I have a hard time thinking Rehberg would take him on with these kind of numbers.  He can keep his House seat without breaking a sweat, and would be the favorite for Gov.  Why choose the toughest race (in a year where he will likely be saddled with a Prez candidate with no appeal to the state).

  26. If Obama is at 45 percent approval on Election Day (we have no way of knowing now whether he will be or won’t be) then any Republican challenger except Sarah Palin is going to beat him.

    Even in the very poll being cited on this page Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee (both far from ideal candidates) are ahead of Obama by double digits.

    45 percent approval nationally means that Obama will be in the 30’s in MT.  All that Rehberg or anyone else would have to do is tie Tester to Obama and the Democrats.  SInce Tester essentially votes like a mainstream Democrat, he loses in that case.

  27. Why make such stuff up?  Romney and Huckabee are beaten badly by Obama in Virginia.  They aren’t leading Obama!

    It’s a lead pipe cinch that a 45 approval rating for Obama will win reelection, given that all his opponents are below 40.

    Unless the Republicans nominate someone other than their leading four canidates, they have no chance to beat Obama short of some dead boy, live animal scandal… and even then Huckabee, Gingrich and Palin have no chance of ever being President of the United States.

  28. Assuming Obama is going to have a 45% approval on election day is just as bad as assuming Obama is going to win a huge blow-out.

    There’s a better chance that Obama has approvals in the 50s than the 40s if the economy improves even a little bit.

  29. Not at all.  We’re talking about Montana.  And again, this poll shows Huckabee and Romney both leading Obama by double digits.

    And if Obama is at 45 approval on Election Day – his opponent isn’t going to be below 40.  The election will be a referendum on Obama.  All that the GOP needs is a warm body.

    Virginia is a totally different case than Montana.  That state is undergoing a rapid demographic shift and has a bloc of black voters that are naturally inclined to vote for Obama.  

  30. And also while that one poll shows differently, look at all the exit polls… Obama is less unpopular than the Republicans.

    There are two key points… Obama crushes in Virginia, which is no better than the #3 “extra state” that Obama would win if he is reelected (he doesn’t need to win it, but if he does Ohio and Florida will also likely be won first… even though he doesn’t need them either to get to 271).

    Second, your ideas about popularity are just plain wrong.  It is a cinch that unless some now unknown Republican is involved, BOTH presidential candidates will have under 50% approvals.  And that means, 45% will likely win.  

    Jerry Brown won by 10% with something like 40% approvals.  Poltics in America these days is mostly two under 50% candidates facing each other.

  31. Jery Brown won with 40 percent approvals in California .  California is far less sympathetic to Republicans than the nation as a whole.

    I’m well aware of the electoral college.  Bush almost carried Wisconsin in 2004 and did carry Iowa.  Republicans made massive gains in the Midwest this year.  Texas is getting four more votes.  Georgia is getting one more.  Utah is getting one more.  Combine electoral college changes with increased GOP strength in the Midwest – and there are other paths to victory for Republicans, even if Obama and Co. are able to get every black voter that exists to the polls in the state of Virginia.

    And if CNN polling is right and Huckabee and Romney are ahead of Obama (or will be) by 8 and 5 points respectively, the GOP will FIND a way to 270.  The fact that such flawed candidates are leading Obama is a testament to his electoral weakness.

    Second, your ideas about popularity are just plain wrong.  It is a cinch that unless some now unknown Republican is involved,

    Then how is that Republicans now lead Obama in some national polling?

    Additionally in 2006 – who the hell (besides political junkies like us) even knew who Obama was?  There are infinite combinations of candidates and paths to 270 – provided the president has somehwat less than majority support.

  32. similar, I’d say it comes down to turnout. I would think he’s not going to lose any of the Kerry states unless he’s losing the election in the end, so all of he has to do is try to get voters out in those states, plus Iowa, Nevada, and at least two of these three states: Colorado, Virginia, and New Mexico. Then he wins.  

  33. Obama losing CO, NV, NM, WI, IA, IN, OH, PA, VA, NC, FL, and NH.

    Keep in mind, Dukakis lost by 7, but was slaughtered in the electoral vote count b/c he lost by low single-digits in IL, PA, MD, CA, MI, CT, and MO. Had he won those, his electoral count would look similar to Obama’s under a 7-point loss.

  34. If the Republican candidate is leading by eight points nationwide, he or she would almost certainly win. But virtually nobody attacking Romney or Huckabee right now. Hell, Huckabee has a television show that isn’t that far off from “Oprah,” and while I would never vote for the guy, I don’t dislike him. He comes across well on camera. Those polls that show him, or Romney, leading Obama are illustrative, but hardly a sign of the end of the world.

    You also have to remember that Obama won most of those Midwestern swing states by double digits. He might not win Wisconsin by 13 points or Michigan by 16, but he can lose a lot of support and still win those states comfortably.  

  35. about what voters know and what they don’t know.

    As far as your link, I don’t deny that McCain made no attempt in the state. But what I want to know is whether there was anything remotely similar to what we saw, adjusted for the size of the state, in Ohio, Indiana, or Colorado on behalf of Obama? If there was, that explains most of his votes compared to what Kerry got. But if there wasn’t anything outside of what he did during his one or two trips to the state during the summer and his campaign’s efforts during the primaries, then something else explains his campaign’s end result. McCain actually got slightly fewer votes than Bush did four years earlier, while Obama got substantially more votes than Kerry did, so my guess is that there was certainly some positive effect from the primary activity but also more organized activity from Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups in the state. That is, if there wasn’t anything significant in the form of a formal effort from Obama. I’m trying to find out more about this, but detailed accounts aren’t exactly plentiful.

    Whatever else you want to say, but unless any sort of involvement on behalf of Obama is likely to hurt Tester, which is far from clear, there’s no reason Democrats shouldn’t try to flip the state if their fund raising is strong. It can’t be expensive to send up a campaign in the state and then advertise. It’s probably going to help more than hurt if it simply drives Democratic-leaning voters to the polls.  

  36. besides Romney the other three stooges have no shot in Ohio, and the old folks are going to be scared by some of the social security bluster in congress the next two years.  Virginia and Florida are close though.

  37. to think that Obama will lay as low as humanly possibly until the State of the Union speech in January but then come out swinging, such as he does, especially if the Bush tax cuts expire. (If they do, I would be astonished if a new call for middle class tax cuts only wasn’t a big focus of the speech.) Perhaps the plan is to let some anger subside and then look like he’s coming out strong, which could draw more people to his side.

    In other words, the plan is to let him try to go no lower than he is now by staying out of the picture, and then try to see if a strong performance at the state of the union speech can be part of a slightly rising tide that lifts him to at least 50 percent.

  38. Selling what ever it is they want to push. I’m actually more confident in that with Plouffe moving into the WH. Having said that if the economy keeps pace with the gains from October things will be absolutely fine.

  39. He will likely break all records in terms of fundraising and you can only spend so much in any state before you get to saturation point. I would really like to see some sort of effort in the states he lost by anything up to ten points. That would be MO, MT, GA, ND, SD, AZ and SC. Texas is just outside that but some serious effort has to be put into Latino outreach in the state and 2012 seems as good a time as any to start.

  40. I would be not optimistic if he runs. But still Tester can survive.

    At same time I think Rehberg is not as competitive, he has high chance of lose if something in the economy improve a little, then it would be logical if he runs for Governor.

  41. He’s 62, not a big deal but 2 years younger.

    Racicot could be the Dan Coats of 2012. 62 is average* for the Senate, he’d make more of a killing after being in the Senate for 12 years (and still not 80) and I think the only reason he never ran for Senate before was because he always thought he’d be named AG by Bush. The guy could easily raise the $ needed from his RNC contacts alone and Tester isn’t a scary opponent. Then again if he’s waited since 2001 why not wait until 2014, when he’ll be facing a really weak, really insider’s insider in a non-presidential election?

    According to the Congressional Research Service the average Senator is 63.1

    Then again, maybe you’re right about age. I looked at average age now but wikipedia has senator’s age by when they first took a senate seat and only 8 took office at the age of 63 or older. But one of them is Frank Lautenberg who retired for 2 years (01-03) and was first elected at age 58 in 1982 and both Ronald Burris and Daniel Akaka were appointed by Governors. That means only 5 current US Senators won election at the age Racicot would be in 2012 (Bunning 68, Risch 66, Sanders 65, Cardin 63, and Manchin 63).

  42. that he should at least look into setting up a strong organization into all of those states. Some of them are probably so cheap to spend money in that he could realistically fund his campaign’s organization over the course of one week’s fund raising.

    Texas is intriguing. Like I’ve said many times, it has a pretty big pool of voters, four to five million, that simply don’t show up and a few million more that aren’t registered. I want to think that there’s a way to tap into these potential voters. You don’t have to even get half of them to make a pretty massive difference.

    I don’t want to venture a guess as to how much it would cost to register one or two million voters in a single state. I figure it would be in the tens of millions easily, but at the same time, it would probably benefit House candidates, the Senate candidate, and candidates for local offices in addition to Obama himself. It would also force the Republicans to start dropping millions into the state. Unless we are talking something truly massive on the order of $200 million, I hope the campaign definitely considers it. If it would cost, say, $50 million, I’m reasonably confident that a sizable portion could be raised by simply imploring the big money donors. And once the ball started rolling, it might not be too hard to convince his small scale donors to make up the rest. Hell, if you can get just 100,000 of those donors to give $250, you’re already half way there.

  43. … he said they seriously considered contesting Texas but ultimately decided against it because of the expense.  

  44. His problem is that he is a big government tax raising guy.

    His saving grace is that his tenure as governor will be well into the rearview mirror in 2012, and that I think he can do a better job at rallying the social conservative types without having to put in too much effort into it and alienating the suburban economic conservative types.

  45. it would be far easier for him to run away from raising taxes than it would be for him to shed other qualities that are undesirable to the Republican base. Also, I might be remembering this incorrectly, but Huckabee’s a Fair Tax guy, and isn’t that pretty well liked among people like Grover Norquist?

    I’m more curious to see how Romney plays his association with his health care plan in Massachusetts. What else can he do besides advocate killing at least part of it, if not all of it, not only in Massachusetts but anything similar at the federal level–i.e. the Affordable Care Act? If he does that, what will he run on? And what will his reasons for reversing what is supposed to be his signature achievement be?

    I want to believe he can’t make it work, but I never want to underestimate how craven a politician can be and how dumb and lazy our press can be. But if he’s able to wiggle his way around the issue by pretending there’s some huge difference between what he proposed and what Obama proposed, my head might explode.  

  46. Rick Perry and Mitch Daniels probably have less character flaws than Huckabee, but Perry keeps saying he’s not running and Daniels has no name recognition.

    Huckabee sort of relies on Obama to fill in the economic argument for him, but I suppose the other 2 do as well to a lesser degree.  

  47. I should really read it, because I am dying to find out more about this.

    Anyway, I could understand that argument under two circumstances: the cost was truly enormous, far surpassing what the campaign would have to spend in Florida, and/or they weren’t sure if the fund raising pace would keep up.  Was the fund raising what they thought it would be? He didn’t come close to maxing out his donors in the sense that they could have given him $1 billion and still not come close to hitting the legal limit, although everyone wasn’t going to give the maximum amount. But did the campaign hit its targets for what it set out to do? I have to think it did, or that if it didn’t, it didn’t fall far short.

    Will he be able to rack up huge fund raising totals this time around? I would think so, if only because the eventual Republican nominee is likely to scare the crap out of the Democratic base. Assuming the cost isn’t something really incredible, like $150 million, I hope the campaign seriously considers contesting the state. Unless there’s some clear reason why it wouldn’t work, which is far from clear, there’s no reason not to, unless they can’t get the funding. Is it really that difficult for the administration to secure an initial investment of, say, $10 million from big money donors? Hell, aren’t there a bunch of rich Democrats in Texas itself? And, well, you know what I think at this point…

  48. I guess it’s possible that the pool of registered voters who aren’t active is no different than those who are consistently voting, but I find that hard to believe. If it’s different, is the lack of voting simply because nobody is talking to these people and mobilizing them?

    I’m curious, how often do Democrats, and also Republicans, have active ground games in the state like what we saw with Harry Reid in the last election? What did Bill White have, for instance? I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both sides weren’t doing what campaigns in other states do. Maybe the Republicans don’t need to do it because of the natural red leanings of the state, but if the Democrats aren’t even trying, one has to think their total would improve just by spending some money on getting out the vote. And if the Republicans aren’t used to doing it, we could gain a leg up on them by doing it.

    I don’t know if Obama could win Texas right now, but why won’t the Democrats make an investment in the Senate race? What did Rick Noriega and Barbara Ann Radnofsky have in the form of support from outside groups or the state and national Democratic parties? They were surely obliterated when it comes to fund raising, so I doubt that was much of a help.  

  49. who I’d rather Obama run against. If it’s Palin, I’m pretty sure he’d be reelected even if unemployment is still over nine percent, because she’d be that bad of a candidate. I guess you could say the same about Huckabee or Romney, although they wouldn’t be as bad and their lack of quality would result from different flaws.

    I guess I am most worried that someone who seems pretty innocuous like Thune or Daniels or maybe Pawlenty gets the nod and invokes the Reagan argument of whether the country is better off than it was four years ago. Thune has been sticking in my head, because a lot of people in D.C. seem to have a hard on for him already. A casual glance at Thune’s record indicates he’s pretty damn conservative. I wonder how Hispanics in the Southwest will react once they realize he supporting building a fence and essentially closing the border. Will women react poorly to his harsh anti-abortion stances? And will educated individuals react to his global warming denials? I don’t know that much about his record, but unless he’s able to capitalize on any economic troubles the country is having, my guess is that any strategy that would give him a chance would be turning out the base even more than usual. Assuming he has any chance to convince people he’s not extremely conservative, will trying to tack center kill his turnout amongst base voters?

    I guess you could say I am not really sure how well any of them will be able to thread that needle. After all, what are you supposed to say when someone like Bob Bennett loses his chance for reelection because he’s not conservative enough and/or sat down with Ron Wyden to try to work out a health care plan? The presence of dead on arrival candidates like Rick Santorum actually pleases me quite a bit. I hope that he gets a spot and forces these guys to make more and more outrageous statements to play to the base, which will only hurt him in the general election.  

  50. But I caution that I haven’t read the book and what I said is based on hazy recollections of reviews I had read at the time it was released. So I might be remembering wrong.

    In any event, if they had contested the state, they probably could have kept it close, but I’m skeptical they could actually have won it in the end, and it would have sucked a LOT of money that otherwise went towards winning Indiana, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, for example.  

  51. Elections are always referendums on the current people. The ‘choice’ argument rarely works.

    IMO its basically a 2 step process.

    1. Does the challenger possess basic credibility?

    2. Do we dislike the current guy enough to toss him out?

    One thing I notice is that each President tends to be the opposite of the guy who preceded him, with the exception of Bush I. You see that for the last few cycles.

    I don’t think the Republican Party can win in 2012; you’re pretty much relying on Obama to lose it. The same was true in 2004 in the other direction. I don’t think Huckabee and company is much better or worse of a candidate than John Kerry was.

    Here’s a pretty good article.


    The root of the problem for the President is that in most of these swing states there aren’t enough minority voters and progressives to allow a Democrat to win without substantial assistance from white working class or suburban voters, especially since rural voters have been pushed solidly into the Republican camp (at least for now). The more the President alienates working class and suburban voters, the harder it becomes for him to win.

    I think that’s most true. Around here, places like Bucks County (51% Kerry) and Delaware County (57% Kerry) just went Republican at the congressional level.

  52. idea if something like this would be effective, but why can’t they get started in the second half of 2011 or in January of 2012 in trying to register voters? In another post, someone mentioned registering and turning out American Indian voters in states like the Dakotas. It’s hard to do for a few reasons, mostly geographic but some technological, but I don’t think that would be the case in a state like Texas. My guess is, registration efforts would take place mostly in the southern part of the state, where there’s a huge and growing Hispanic population, and in the big cities, like Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and so on, and their surrounding areas. Why not hire a relatively small number of people at first and then add them as the efforts gain steam and election day gets closer, and then adding a significant amount in the beginning of the summer? At first, would this really cost that much? To be general with the numbers, 50,000 people donating $50 per month from January to April would generate $10 million. And as I keep saying, at least part of that could be offset from large donors kicking in some of the money.

    Assuming he isn’t polling at 40 percent nationally heading into next year, I really hope the administration does something like it. If it looks like a fool’s errand, we will know early on, and we can move on to juicier targets; but if not, we will started working on something good that will reap enormous benefits. You can make this argument for Texas, but for other states as well.

    Anyway, in a few weeks, when I have a little more time, I will definitely pick up that book.  

  53. I’d do the COMPLETE opposite and not mention it once. In 2 years health care won’t be voters #1 issue. Most major issues have 1 year relevance? Maybe year and half. 2 years is forever in politics (Obama was untouchable 2 years ago).

    Health Care killed Dems this year because of all the horror stories from the right. But in 2 years when we still don’t have death panels or arrest people for not buying HC and the benefits start kicking in, the popularity will start to rise, to the point where the issue is more or less equal polling wise.

    Tester should use his committee assignments to help win re-election. Appropriations means bringing back money to the state which gives you bonus points, double when the economy is where it’s at. Use Indian Affairs and Veteran Affairs to make common sense legislation that is popular back home (like Vets don’t pay taxes while serving or for 5 years after). And then hope that the Dems stand up on an issue like START where everyone who is serious in the field is 100% in line with Obama’s positon (including tons of Republicans).

    These 3 things plus a good voter outreach program (and a bounce from Obama running) should help Tester cruise against any non-top A candidates.

  54. My point was, voters might be skeptical, but unless it’s a lopsided 95 percent against, only a few minds need to be changed for it to be a plus, or at least not a negative. And since he’s personally popular, he’s got an in to try to talk to people, many of whom are open to being persuaded.

  55. My point was, voters might be skeptical, but unless it’s a lopsided 95 percent against, only a few minds need to be changed for it to be a plus, or at least not a negative. And since he’s personally popular, he’s got an in to try to talk to people, many of whom are open to being persuaded.

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