Alan Grayson, 2010 and smart fundraising.

Let me begin by saying that I agree with nearly everything that Congressman Grayson said and agree particularly with his comments that House Republicans are Neanderthals. I agree that someone who stands up and defines the Republican House Caucus for exactly what they are is an incredibly valuable thing. But at the same time I worry about campaign giving which depends almost completely on emotional response and which then leaves the donor nearly powerless over what happens to that money and which does nothing to solve what at this moment is the Democrats current biggest problem when it comes to the 2010. It is also important to look into the facts which surround every race, from the money dumped on Congressman Grayson, or Rob Miller who is challenging Joe Wilson in South Carolina’s second district.

For instance, what percentage of Congressman Grayson’s donors knew that he is a massive self-funder who gave himself more than three million dollars for his 2008 race.  This does not automatically mean he should be forced to self-fund forever, or that he isn’t worthy of donations, but it does raise the question  at least slightly.  

When the money simple rains onto incumbents it distorts the system. It is more than likely that amongst the something like 100 democratic candidates running in either  open seats or challenging incumbent Republicans there is another Alan Grayson, or Carol Shea-Porter , or David Loebsack  who given the nature of the race they are running, are only that 100k, or so away from being for real.

As a first step, might I suggest to Congressman Grayson, that in response to the outpouring he has received his campaign committee goes out and finds ten strong house challengers who are progressive champions  and gives them the maximum allowed by law. This will run him at most half, of what he has raised from the progressive blogosphere and will strengthen his influence far more than simply keeping it for more television ads in his own district. If he announces those ten, we can have a multiplier effect, and truly strengthen our hand. It isn’t perfect, but it is a start.  

While this would be a good start is doesn’t address the bigger problem of how dollars often spent in ways which don’t strengthen the progressive movement or deal with the big problems we face.  One such potential instance is the nearly $ 250,000 being spent  on T.V. ads attacking Max Baucus and Olympia Snowe  on Healthcare and the Public Option, by the Progressive Change  Campaign Committee and Democracy for  America.   Don’t get me wrong I want the Public Option but it seems that either efforts are playing into the very same game that we don’t want to play.  

This  is because I don’t think Olympia Snowe will vote for the kind of bill that we want to see. It seems unlikely that she will be truly willing to be the only Republican willing to break with her entire caucus.  While I would love to be able to put her seat into play  in 2012 the total failure to touch her much more conservative counterpart in 2008, it seems like a pretty remote possibility. The White House in searching for Bipartisanship is focusing on her, but when we play along we raise her importance and that is bad.

The Baucus ads are also somewhat questionable, first of all while not facing the voters again until 2014, it is unlikely these ads will have an impact on his re-election efforts.  In general I take him at his word that he supports a public option  but feels constrained by  needing to get 60 votes in the Senate. While I agree this is a somewhat lame answer, the reality is that for rural red state Democrats, in a 60 plus Democratic Senate, the sixty vote rule is the an important defender of their power, and thereby the power of  their States. This is a complicated internal fight, where I agree the White House in facts holds more cards than does either Baucus or Harkin, as does the Progressive Block in the House. Hoping to improve Baucus’s behavior with T.V. maybe a good idea but might not be.

The major problem with issue ads, is that they quickly disappear, and it is very difficult to pin people down on their support for particular legislative tools.  We know, what we mean, but the broader audience probably doesn’t, as can be seen by the very different answers you can get when asking about the Public Option.

The big structural problem.

Going in 2010 we as progressive face a serious structural problem. It can be described best as a Demographic gap, and it something that gets whispered about but never discussed openly nor is much of a cure sought or hope made in that effort. In 2006, which was a very good Democratic year, the gap persisted.  The 2006  electorate was much older and much whiter than the 2008  electorate. It is because of this and this alone that Republicans are in serious contention for making serious gains in 2010, gains which if made will be difficult to change in 2012, because  of the way the Senate Map exists.  On a national level, in 2006, the electorate was 12% under 30.  In 2008, it was  18%.  In 2006 the electorate  was 10% African American and  in 2008 it was 13% African American.  Given how those groups voted in 2008, that amounts to a nearly four point swing to Republicans in 2010 before anyone even changes their minds.

 In two of the three most endangered  Senate  seats, the problem is even worse.  In Connecticut in 2006% the electorate was 8% African American , in 2008 12%, Latino’s were 5% in 2006, and 8% in 2008,  under 30 was 18% in 2008, and 10% in 2006.  In Nevada in 2006 African Americans were 6%, in 2008 10%, Latino’s  in 2006 12%, in 2008 15% under 30, 2006  12%,  2008, 17%.  With the 2008 Electorate, Dodd and Reid are on much firmer ground, with the 2006 electorate they face much scarier races.  


While obviously a win on healthcare with a public option would be very helpful, and might even have some dent on fixing this Demographic problem, this problem needs to be tackled much more carefully, and obviously the formula of the past, particularly relaying on T.V. Ads[ far and a way still the biggest campaign expense for both production, consultant fee’s and of course the air time itself.] is wrong.  We need to experiment in new and different types of infrastructure to tackle this problem, and between Grayson, Miller and the ads on Baucus and Snowe.  The progressive blogosphere spent nearly a million dollars,[depending how you count Miller even more.]  Without spending a dime on the most pressing problem. A million dollars is a lot of money in politics if it is spent wisely, but when it is simply handed over to campaigns with no future accountability, and in potentially inefficient ways, It is a shame because the problems we face from a policy perspective comes from spending advocacy and campaign dollars inefficiently and worse playing the game of those who rig it so we never win.

PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Tight Senate Race, Corbett Leads for Governor

Quinnipiac (9/22-28, registered voters, 7/14-19 in parentheses):

Arlen Specter (D-inc): 42 (45)

Pat Toomey (R): 43 (44)

Don’t know: 13 (10)

Joe Sestak (D): 35 (35)

Pat Toomey (R): 38 (39)

Don’t know: 25 (23)

(MoE: ±3%)

Arlen Specter (D-inc): 44 (55)

Joe Sestak (D): 25 (23)

Don’t know: 28 (19)

(MoE: ±?%)

Quinnipiac (9/21-28, registered voters, 7/14-19 in parentheses):

Dan Onorato (D): 28

Tom Corbett (R): 47

Don’t know: 24

Jack Wagner (D): 29

Tom Corbett (R): 44

Don’t know: 25

(MoE: ±3%)

Dan Onorato (D): 14 (16)

Joe Hoeffel (D): 12 (NA)

Jack Wagner (D): 11 (16)

Chris Doherty (D): 8 (NA)

Tom Knox (D): 5 (13)

Don’t know: 46 (54)

Tom Corbett (R): 42 (38)

Jim Gerlach (R): 13 (15)

Don’t know: 43 (37)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

Lots of data to look at from Quinnipiac, who look at the primary fields in both the Senate and Governor’s races in Pennsylvania as well as head-to-head general election matchups in both races. The Senate race has both Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak neck-and-neck with ex-Rep. Pat Toomey; there has actually been very little movement since the previous Quinnipiac poll in the head-to-heads, although the Democratic primary looks a lot closer (but at this point Specter seems to be bleeding votes to “don’t know” rather than directly to Sestak).

Things look worse in the Governor’s race, where AG Tom Corbett leads both Auditor Jack Wagner and Allegheny Co. Executive Dan Onorato by double digits. In July, everyone was so little-known that Quinnipiac simply asked a Generic D/Generic R question (where “R” won, 38-37), so clearly Wagner and Onorato are underperforming their imaginary Dem colleague. This may, however, be a factor of name recognition, as Corbett is much better-known than any of his competition (he has 43/7 favorables with 49% don’t know, while Gerlach and all the Dems top 70% don’t know). It seems like Wagner (who is elected statewide, and actually had the biggest victory of anyone running statewide in 2008) should be well-known — but setting aside us political junkies, who really knows who their Auditor is (while Corbett has spent years in the spotlight via the Bonusgate investigation)?

There’s one other consideration here, one that cropped up with Quinnipiac’s last poll too: they sampled an equal number of Democrats and Republicans (they may have oversampled to compensate, but they simply don’t provide any more details in the crosstabs as to whether that’s what they did), which is way off from the state’s actual composition. Bear in mind, though, that Nate Silver re-ran the July numbers to correct for that problem and found that it only made a few points’ worth of difference… so at this point, this looks more a case of low-info voters not yet knowing enough about Toomey other than that he’s not Arlen Specter, and not knowing much of anything about anybody other than Corbett in the governor’s race. (UPDATE: In response to questions about the July poll, Quinnipiac said they weighted, but based on ‘party identification’ rather than registration. Assumedly they’re using the same method this time too.)

RaceTracker: PA-Sen | PA-Gov

SSP Daily Digest: 10/1

NH-Sen: ARG, mateys! The New Hampshire-based pollsters find that Republican AG Kelly Ayotte is keelhauling Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes in the Senate race, although with lots of undecideds: 41-34. This is their first look at the Ayotte/Hodes matchup. (UPDATE: Oh, come on… I just noticed that ARG also has Barack Obama’s NH approval at 34/57 and even Gov. John Lynch at 37/40. So take this poll with a mighty hunk o’ pirate salt.) Also today, Ayotte’s primary opposition is lining up. Businessman Jim Bender says he’s forming an exploratory committee, and Ovide Lamontagne is setting up a testing-the-waters 527 to raise funds.

NV-Sen: Former state GOP chair, former one-term state Senator, former co-owner of the Sahara casino, and former Miss New Jersey 1973 Sue Lowden (and former Reid donor, back in the 1980s) is officially in the race against Harry Reid. Democrats are pointing to her close ties to John Ensign, while even tradmed pundits like Chris Cillizza are left wondering if her resume is “somewhat thin” for the task of going against Reid.

VT-Gov: Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie announced today that he will run for the Republican nomination for the open gubernatorial race in Vermont. His previous silence on the issue since Jim Douglas’s retirement announcement had suggested he wasn’t going to run, but now apparently he’s all in. Dubie is socially conservative (at least by Vermont standards), so if he’s the standard bearer (and this probably means that recent party-switching Auditor Tom Salmon, who said he wouldn’t run if Dubie ran, won’t run now) that may improve Dem odds at picking up the seat. Of course, Dem odds mostly turn on what the Progressive Party does.

GA-12: Two developments in the 12th, where Rep. John Barrow is already facing two Republicans (doctor and self-proclaimed top recruit Wayne Mosely, and Thunderbolt Fire Chief Carl Smith). A third GOPer, Savannah party activist Jeanne Seaver, is also getting into the field. And on Barrow’s left, former state Sen. Regina Thomas is considering another primary run. Although Blue Dog Barrow should theoretically be vulnerable to a challenge from an African-American Democrat in this almost half-black district, Thomas pulled in only 24% of the primary vote in a seemingly underfunded and underplanned challenge last year. (H/t TheUnknown285.)

NC-11: This might be a slightly more imposing challenge to Rep. Heath Shuler than the guy who promised to serve only one term: Jeff Miller, a Hendersonville businessman who received a Presidential Citizens Medal for his work taking WWII veterans to Washington DC to see the WWII war memorial. Miller is “contemplating” the race.

OR-05: Sad to say, it looks like we won’t have Mike Erickson to make fun of again next year; the GOP found a somewhat more viable challenger to freshman Rep. Kurt Schrader. State Rep. Scott Bruun says he’ll run; he says he has a “moderate middle sensibility” (which plays well in his wealthy corner of the Clackamas County suburbs, but may subject him to a primary challenge from elsewhere). Bruun ran in 1996 against Earl Blumenauer in the dark-blue 3rd and lost by a wide margin. Getting down into the weeds, his departure also opens up HD 37, the kind of suburban district that Democrats in the state legislature have been vacuuming up in the last few cycles.

PA-04: Disregard what I said yesterday; don’t quite count out state House minority whip Mike Turzai yet. Despite the entry of lawyer Keith Rothfus to the GOP field yesterday, Turzai notified the media that he’s still considering a run against Rep. Jason Altmire, but is currently preoccupied by the budget stalemate in Harrisburg and will decide later.

NY-23: Scozzafava Narrowly Leads 3-Way Race

Siena (pdf) (9/27-29, likely voters):

Bill Owens (D): 28

Dede Scozzafava (R): 35

Doug Hoffman (C): 16

Undecided: 21

(MoE: ±3.9%)

Siena is the first public pollster to look at the confusing three-way race in NY-23, and they find that Dede Scozzafava, the moderate GOP Assemblywoman, has the edge — but it’s certainly not an imposing lead. And with her better known than her two unknown opponents, her opponents may have more room to grow. Scozzafava’s favorables are 33/20 with 47% with no opinion, while Owens is at 23-12 (64% undecided) and Hoffman is at 16-13 (71% undecided).

Siena helpfully provides geographic crosstabs. Scozzafava has the biggest edge in the western North Country (Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties), 53-23-10. (Not coincidentally, that’s Dede’s Assembly district.) Owens has a big edge in the less chilly Madison, Oswego, and Oneida Counties, closer in to Syracuse (30-20-20). Strangely, Owens has only a small lead in what should be his best area, the eastern North Country (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton and Hamilton) — 32-31-18 — as he’s best known for his work to redevelop the BRAC’d former Air Force base at Plattsburgh. If he consolidates his hometown support, he’d be right in the thick of things. (Discussion already underway in conspiracy‘s diary.)

RaceTracker: NY-23

NY-23: Scozzafava leads 35-28-16

Five weeks from election day and Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) leads Bill Owens (D) by seven points with Doug Hoffman (C) trailing in the first independent poll of the special election to replace Army Secretary John McHugh in the House of Representatives for New York’s 23rd District.

The topline numbers from the Siena College Research Institute (LV, 9/27-29, MoE 3.9%) are:

Scozzafava 35%

Owens 28%

Hoffman 16%…

“This is a wide open race. One in five voters is currently undecided. Add to that the fact that one-third of Scozzafava’s current supporters and one-quarter of Owens’s current supporters say they are not very certain of their choice and that they very well may change their minds between now and Election Day.”

I think it fair to say this is a total tossup, particulary with the better known Scozzafava having such a small lead. I will update with more thoughts when I’ve poured over some of the internals.


Looking at the 2008 presidential race in the district we find Obama won Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Madison, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties. McCain carried Fulton, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and Oneida.

The three-way makes it difficult to extrapolate but Scozzafava leads big in the West (which is where her Assembly district is located) matching McCain in Jefferson and Lewis counties but also in St. Lawrence where Obama won big.

On the contrary Owens leads in some of the central counties she represents and which McCain won, namely Madison, Oneiga and Oswego.

The good news is they are tied in places Obama won big – Clinton, Essex and Franklin. As andgarden mentions in the comments Obama is popular in the district so if people there get to know Owens and like what they hear I think there is a good chance he can take this one.

On the flipside McCain did well in Fulton and Hamilton so Owens is overperforming there though I suspect that has more to do with Hoffman taking conservative votes.


Favorables are interesting. Scozzafava clocks in at 33-20-47, favorable, unfavorable, no opinion. Hopefully Hoffman’s kamikaze act helps make people form a negative opinion.

Owens is at 23-12-64 so significantly more room to grow. Hoffman at 16-13-71.

Top issues, economy and health care, unsuprisingly, and the candidates are split.

McHugh’s endorsement would be key according to the numbers but if Obama comes out for Owens is it at all likely he will oppose his new boss? Interesting.

Community Trust

Every community, it goes without saying, is built on trust – and nowhere is this more true than online. In the digital realm, where you can’t see and seldom know the people you’re interacting with, being able to trust the folks on the other end of the line is of the utmost importance. We need to know, as best we are able, that people are who they say they are, that they mean what they say, and that they have the community’s best interests at heart.

Conversely, pretense, hidden agendas, and fabrications can do great damage to a place like this. Without a basic level of trust, an online community loses its credibility, its cohesiveness, and its influence. Both the administrators and the users of this site understand this well, and it’s why we all spend as much time as we do trying hard to preserve the trust we’ve built here.

Because of this fundamental need to maintain trust, in the political blogosphere, we hold campaigns to the highest of standards. Candidates come here seeking our support, our volunteer hours, and our money. These are serious things to ask for, and if you’re going to ask for them, we expect nothing but total scrupulousness.

When a campaign violates this trust, it’s an abuse of our entire community and cannot be allowed to stand. Because of the higher standard we hold campaign officials to, it is our policy to make such violations public when we discover them. And unfortunately, we have discovered another such transgression.

Andrew Eldredge-Martin is the campaign manager for Doug Pike, a Democrat running in Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District. Drew, who has posted here as DrewEM, used sockpuppet accounts to post disparaging remarks about another Democrat running in the PA-06 primary. As it turns out, Drew also used a sockpuppet account at Daily Kos (where I am also an administrator) over the years to comment on two other races he managed, Bob Lord’s campaign against John Shadegg in AZ-03 in 2008, and Chris Carney’s campaign against Don Sherwood in PA-10 in 2006.

Needless to say, this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. If campaign officials have something to say about the very race they’re working on, then it is mandatory that they speak out in their own voice. Pretending to be a disinterested observer, especially for the purposes of spreading negative information about opponents, is a complete violation of our trust. For the most senior official, a campaign manager, to do so is especially unacceptable.

I offered Drew the chance to apologize, and told him I would include any apology in this post. Not only did I never hear back, but it appears Drew used the opportunity to edit the bio and signature line of his sockpuppet account at Daily Kos, in a belated attempt at transparency. This information was not present in the sockpuppet account when we first discovered Drew’s malfeasance.

Because it is our policy to ban those who create sockpuppet accounts, we have done so here. But this should also be a lesson to anyone – and to any campaign – contemplating something similar. We will remain eternally vigilant in policing this site. We will not tolerate this kind of behavior. And we will do everything in our power to ensure that the trust which animates this site remains unbroken.