Wednesday, October 29, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Kudos To Cuomo and Christie

A few days ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (a Democrat)
and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (a Republican) ordered
that air passengers originating in Ebola-stricken countries who
landed at New York and New Jersey airports would be subject to
quarantines of 21 days.

This was opposed by the Obama administration, and both
governors were subjected to severe criticism by the Old Media
which has consistently deferred to the president and his policies.

In fact, the action of Governors Cuomo and Christie was a
much-needed temporary response to the international health
threat which, if not contained, could become a worldwide
pandemic.

The first person quarantined was a nurse who had cared for
Ebola patients in West Africa, and had a temperature recorded
when she first landed in the U.S. She subsequently was
determined not to have the virus, and Governor Christie
released her. She is now in her home state of Maine.

The criticism of the two governors has been obviously
political. Governor Christie especially is a potential candidate
for president in 2016, and the liberal media has been for months
relentless in its efforts to discredit him.

A quarantine is an extreme measure that should only be used
when there is a clear and present danger. It is very inconvenient
for those quarantined. But it is only 21 days, and considering
its ravaging of West African nations, it seems a necessary
action at this time, especially for those who have had direct
contact with the disease. Voluntary or self-quarantines apparently
have not worked. Even medical personnel who should know
better have failed to observe the required protocols.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in contrast to his boss,
President Obama, supports the 21-day quarantine. U.S. Army
troops, including a general, who were sent to West Africa are
now in quarantine before returning to the U.S.

If these actions by the governors and the defense secretary seem
by some to be an over-reaction, they are at least on the side of
prudent caution.

The measures for quarantine can be adjusted so that persons such
as the nurse can be released. Governor Christie did this. Neither
he nor Governor Cuomo should be reproached for their serious
efforts to reassure the public and provide proper protection to the
general populace.

They, in fact, deserve public praise for taking charge at a time when
others were supposed to lead, and did not.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 27, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Those Gathering Waves

An unusual storm over the Atlantic has been forming now for
weeks, and like its climate cousin the hurricane, it makes its
way ashore on its own timetable. These great storms are always
unpredictable, and sometimes they do not come to land, but
spend themselves at sea. It is not a Pacific storm this time; the
west coast states of California, Oregon and Washington will not
discern it, but folks who live there will likely be reading about it.

One of America’s greatest writers, Herman Melville, wrote many
epic novels about the sea and about its storms. But this storm is
not about sailors and ships at sea, and it does not appear on
conventional radar or sonar. Its isobars are unrecordable by
weather forecasters On the American east coast, there are
already signs of this storm, but no definite evidence that it will
make landfall first at Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia or
Florida, if at all.

Unlike official storms, it does not yet have a name, but if it does
come ashore, it will surely have many names.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


Friday, October 24, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: If There Is a "Wave," What Might Happen?

I am writing this BEFORE the votes are counted on
election day; in fact, I am writing this several days
beforehand. I am NOT predicting any of the outcomes
discussed here; I am only suggesting what might happen
if the much-discussed political “wave” does occur (or
does not occur) on November 4.

I want to point out that political waves come in various
sizes. Furthermore, it is quite possible that there will be
no true wave this cycle, only a typical election in which
the party holding the White House loses some seats in
the U.S. house and senate.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, there IS a wave.

If there is a wave, its intensity and impact will depend on
how emotionally motivated significant numbers of voters,
most of them independents or non-party-affiliated, are on
election day. This general group usually make up most of
the so-called undecided voters, especially those who make
up their minds at the very end of the campaign, and then
go to the polls.

At this late date, it is very difficult to imagine a scenario in
which “wave” voters would turn to Democratic candidates.
If there is a wave in 2014, it will be most likely a conservative
and/or anti-Obama wave.

Currently, not taking into account a wave, there is a general
consensus that Republicans will pick up 5-7 U.S. senate
seats, 5-10 U.S. house seats, and that Democrats will gain a
net of 3-4 governorships. That would be a decent night for the
conservative party, but no wave. If the Democrats can hold
GOP gains in the senate to five or less, it would actually be a
relatively good night for the Democrats.

A true “wave,” in my opinion, would require many more
undecided voters to vote Republican, and many Democrats to
stay home. A true wave would produce a net gain of 8-10
Republican senators, 11-15 Republican house members, and
close to a draw in net new governors. A “tsunami,” on the other
hand, would bring in 11-15 new GOP senators, 16-25 new GOP
house members, and the surprise of some net gains in GOP
governors.

The “tsunami” scenario in 2014 seems unlikely with about
two weeks to go, but a more modest “wave” does not.
Considering the Democratic advantages of cash and their
get-out-the-effort, a more modest “traditional” mid-term
election with only some congressional gains for the GOP, and
Democrats picking a small number of governorships is also
quite possible.

I want to repeat what I have said now for many months. Any
kind of true wave, moderate or heavy, does not appear visible
until either just before election day, or when the vote is counted.
Waves are almost always late-breaking. Not only that, waves
can peak too soon or, as in the 1968 presidential election, not
reach their peak in time for the actual voting. (“President”
Hubert Humphrey could have lectured on that scenario!)

This discussion is obviously speculative. Even with only days to
go before election day, the dimensions of the 2014 cycle are
unclear. Waves are relatively rare electoral occurrences. When
they do happen, however, they often bring surprises and great
shock in their wake.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Obama On The Ballot

In President Obama’s own and unambiguous words, he and
his administration are on the ballot on November 4.
Democratic Party strategists shuddered when he said it,
but this time there was “no walking the statement back,”
as they say in DC lingo. Mr. Obama and his wife on the
campaign trail have repeated it since again and again.

This is as it should be in the national mid-term of a
president’s second term. It gives the American electorate
an opportunity to pass a judgment on the accomplishments,
or lack of them, and a final chance to either encourage more
of the same or to put a brake on policies and a direction they
do not like.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved

Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: 1918 Mid-Term Elections Deja Vu?

On November 5, 1918 American voters went to the polls for
the mid-term elections during President Woodrow Wilson’s
second term. Six days later, World War I would end. In that
month a worldwide pandemic of “Spanish” influenza was
raging.

In 1913, a constitutional amendment changed the election of
U.S. senators from election by state legislators to direct
election by all state voters. The first national direct election
of senators had occurred in 1914. The senate, because of its
constitutional powers of confirming presidential appointments
and its role in foreign policy was the key election that year. The
Democrats had 50 seats, the Republicans had 46. Control of
the senate was crucial to the direction of post-war foreign
policy, control of the U.S. supreme court, and the outcome of
the 1920 presidential election that would follow two years later.

When the votes were counted, the Republicans had picked up
a net of six seats, and had control of the senate 52-44. (There
were only forty-eight states in 1918, and thus only ninety-six
senators.)

A year later, President Wilson suffered a stroke in office, and
his wife became the de facto president. In 1920, Republicans
won the presidency, and held the White House for the next
twelve years. (Ironically, the defeated Democratic vice
presidential candidate in 1920, Franklin Roosevelt, would win
back the White House for the Democrats in 1932.)

The circumstances of 1918 are very different from those of 2014,
although there is the curious coincidence of an international
pandemic occurring during both years. For example, in 1918
the Democratic senators from the South were segregationists.
Most black voters voted for Republicans, as they had since the
Civil War. In 1918, women did not have the right to vote.
Democrats had blocked this for decades. Historically, the
Republicans were the champions of women's rights, and the
election of 1918 made possible the passing of a constitutional
amendment in 1920 giving U.S. women the right to vote.

What is similar, of course, is the vital question of who controls
the U.S. senate, and the implications for the next presidential
election.
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Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Fair Warning

In a race-by-race analysis of the national mid-term elections
sent to current subscribers to this website (directly to their
e-mail addresses) earlier today, I suggested that the past week
was generally good to the Republicans, but that a true picture
of the final outcomes is not yet in sight.

No political party easily gives up the powers that they have,
and the Democrats are particularly “ferocious” in this cycle
to keep control of the U.S. senate, and to make gains in their
number of governors of the states.

I have been stressing, despite the voter momentum to the
conservative party this cycle, that the liberal party has serious
cards to play, and that they are, and will continue, playing
them right up to election day. These include much more
campaign funds, reliable constituencies, and a proven and
effective ability to get out their vote. Republicans this cycle
have outfunded the Democrats only in the gubernatorial races
(thanks to having more incumbents and the efforts of
Republican Governors Association chairman Chris Christie).

The structure of the congressional map, as well as the GOP
trend this year, ensures mostly good outcomes for the
conservative party in U.S. house races, despite the Democrats’
financial advantage in these races. The Democrats have now
pulled their ads in many of the races where they hoped to defeat
incumbent Republicans, and reallocated those funds to saving
vulnerable Democrats.

It is in the U.S. senate races where Republicans must most be
wary, and not overconfident, with just under three weeks to go.
The Democrats know where they still have opportunities, both
to save their own vulnerable incumbents and to possibly pick
off an incumbent GOP senator or two. They have the money and
they have the technology to make a successful last stand.

As in some house races, Democrats have redirected their efforts.
They appear to be conceding Colorado and Kentucky, but there
are several senate races where heavy advertising and aggressive
get-out-the-vote efforts might yet save the political day for them.

Just as, following the 2004 election when Republicans had the
better ground game, the 2014 mid-term elections are a challenge
to the opposition party to adapt to a new election landscape
featuring early voting, looser voting rules, high-tech voter I.D
methods, and new political media/communication venues.

Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic party
nomination in 2008 in part by embracing the then new election
landscape, and he defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 in part because
the Republicans had not learned the lessons of 2006, 2008 and
2012.

The conservative party has had fair warning.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Ground Game, Ground Game, Ground Game

There are now less than four weeks to go until election day,
Nominees have been chosen. Initial TV and other media
ads have been run. Campaign strategies are being carried out.
TV debates between the candidates have begun. What remains
to be done?

A very great deal, and it can be summed up in one short phrase:
ground game.”

The ground game is the unglamorous and most labor intensive
side of a political campaign. It consists of the time-consuming
work of identifying a candidate’s most likely voters, keeping in
touch with them by phone, with mailings and the internet, and
then creating an effective organization that makes sure they
get to the polls on election day.

It is not a casual effort. It requires large numbers of
carefully trained and prepared volunteers or paid staff, and in
2014, it also requires up-to-date technology and techniques.

Since 2006, the national Democratic Party, and most of the
state Democratic Parties, have clearly had the better ground
game. I think the liberal party’s ground game made the
difference in the 2012 presidential election on behalf of their
ticket. Even though the Democrats don’t have a presidential
candidate running in 2014, and despite the fact that their own
presidential incumbent has become quite unpopular, they will
conduct a massive and effective ground game in most areas of
the country this year.

Although it is undeniably a cycle favoring Republicans, the
conservative party would make an enormous mistake if it does
not achieve a very serious catch-up in its ground game in the
closing days of the 2014 national mid-term elections. So far,
all polling shows a higher intensity for Republican voters this
year, and some Democrats are demoralized by the performance
of President Obama, but that does not mean that most Democrats,
effectively identified and prodded by their party’s ground game,
won’t go to the polls and vote for Democratic candidates.

A so-called political “wave” could help Republicans, especially
Republican U.S. senate challengers, this cycle, but if there is not
a truly effective GOP ground game in the competitive senate,
house and gubernatorial races, the Republican Party, its
candidates, and its aspirations will fall short on election day.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.