Early polls historically identify top-tier and include eventual winners of GOP and Democratic Presidential primaries.

March 26, 2013

Early polls historically identify top-tier and include eventual winners of GOP and Democratic Presidential primaries.

Everybody’s favorite witch Nate Silver suggests that pre-midterm Presidential polling may not be terribly predictive of the winner of the next Presidential primary. However early polling has generally given us a good idea of the makeup of the field. Moreover don’t look for anyone who isn’t already in the poll to come out of nowhere and grab the nomination in 2016 – it hasn’t happened in the primary-era.

So odds are we’ll find our two candidates from among those currently showing up in the polling (click through the link above for the full list.)

The most striking thing to me is how well Elizabeth Warren is polling at the moment. I love Sen. Warren’s economic populism but boy I could very easily see such an outspoken Ivy-league liberal losing pretty badly to a Rubio or Christie in 2016. She’s the new George McGovern.

The fact that Sarah Palin and Allen West are currently polling higher than Bobby Jindall on the GOP side is also terrible (and WTFhillarious) news for the Lousiana Governor.

In any case it is looking more and more likely that, as in 2008, the President will not be an early backer of any candidate. There will be no chosen successor from his own party so it’ll be another wide open primary season on both sides. I’m looking forward to it already.

Updated 2012 GOP nomination odds

March 24, 2011

There are, so far, zero officially declared candidates but that’ll change in the next month or so. Here’s a run-down of where I think the odds are on the probables and possibles.

Mitt Romney – even money. Romney has spent years developing local support in the early primary states. Strongly pushing his message that Obamacare is not Romneycare. He’ll have lots of money and lots of insitutional support and the inside track in New Hampshire.

Mike Huckabee – 3/1. The winner of the 2008 Iowa Caucus is waiting to enter the race so he can continue his job on Fox News. However if the newly arisen international issues are still prominent come debate time his lack of foreign policy expertise may become a big liability.

Tim Pawlenty – 4/1. Mr. Boring is a safe choice if nobody else looks promising. May have an inside shot in Iowa due to his being the ex-governor of a neighboring state.

Haley Barbour – 5/1. It’s still not clear he can overcome his liabilities. He’ll do well in the old south but beyond that…

Newt Gingrich – 9/1. Pretty much nobody likes Newt. He’s the finest policy mind in the field but that won’t get him far. His best chance is getting nominated from the floor in a brokered convention.

John Huntsman – 12/1. He’d be 25/1 if he didn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars of personal wealth to throw behind his candidacy. But right now he’s unknown to 95% of the voters so once he leaves his post as ambassador to China he’s going to need to get himself out there in a big way and fast.

Mitch Daniels – 20/1. Daniels would be 4/1 if he runs but I don’t think he will. It doesn’t look like he’s up for the reality of running and may just want to sit back and perhaps hope for a VP slot.

Chris Christie – 25/1. Christie would also probably be 4/1 if he ran but he has said time and time again that he will not run in 2012. If he continues to get credit for being the bold leader of New Jersey and loses at least 30 pounds he may be a good shot for 2016.

Sarah Palin – 30/1. Palin’s favorable/unfavorable ratings are becoming more lopsided by the day. She will run but it’s unclear how disciplined her candidacy will be. And if she can’t expand beyond her core supporters she will never run more than a weak second in most of the primaries.

Jim DeMint – 35/1. Dark horse who seems to be throwing around the idea of running. Will have to fight (with Palin and perhaps Bachmann) for Tea Party support if he does. He won’t run.

Rick Santorum – 40/1. Sorry fecal matter lube man, you’re dropping out after Iowa.

Michelle Bachmann – 40/1. I think she’s preping to run only if Palin doesn’t. Palin will.

Herman Cain – 45/1. Will add some color to the debates and never finish above fourth in any primary.

Donald Trump – 60/1. Ugh.

The importance of Congressional moderates or why I’m considering voting for the re-election of Sen. Scott Brown

March 16, 2011

Crazy, right? But maybe not.

Reason #1: This disappearance of the centrist Senator is bad for America.

As we all know the Senate fillibuster has gone from a last ditch effort that required physically occupying the stump and talking non-stop to a tactic where any Senator simply tells the majority leader “I fillibuster this” and a cloture vote is automatically required. No Mr. Smith Goes to Washington/Strom Thurmond vs. Civil Rights acts of physical endurance necessary.

This rule as it is currently used means that every piece of legislation must have 60 votes and pass cloture to pass the Senate. My my perspective neither party will have such a majority in the forseeable future. Bi-partisanship is necessary for any bill to come out of the Senate. And yet bipartisanship is exactly the thing that is dying more and more every two years on Capitol Hill.

Look at National Journal’s 2010 voter ratings. Look at the 10 most moderate Republicans and 10 most moderate Democrats. Half of those who occupied the center in 2010 will be gone come the start of the new legislative session in 2013:

Retired in 2010: Judd Gregg, Kit Bond
Retiring in 2012: Joe Liberman, George Voinovich, Jim Webb

Defeated in 2010: Blanche Lincoln, Robert Bennett (lost to Tea Party challenger in Primary), Lisa Murkowski (she squeaked by with a write in after loss to Tea Party challenger)

50/50 chance for re-election in 2012: Ben Nelson, John Tester and Claire McCaskill (rode in on the anti-Bush tsunami of 2006), Olympia Snowe and Dick Lugar (they’ll surely face a dangerous Tea Party candidte in the primary) and Scott Brown

The center has been shrinking for both parties since the Civil Rights issue began pushing southern Democrats into the GOP.

Across the aisle friendships are now historical relics and gridlock has become the rule. Moreover the voting public has also become much more hardened in their partisan views to a large extent because of how partisan and one sided their “news” has become. More and more people get all of their “news” about politics and policy from the blatantly partisan outlets on cable TV (Fox News and MSNBC and to a lesser extent The Daily Show) or the internet (Salon.com, The Huffington Post and DailyKOS among others.) As a result voters have become much less open to contrary opinions – it’s no longer point/counterpoint. It’s this point is right and here’s why the other guys are assholes. Voters have become much more likely to see the other side not as fellow patriots with thoughtful ideas that should be considered in a respectful manner but rather as anti-American zealots who hate your way of life and hate America.

If Republicans like Scott Brown do not have a chance to make a real political career in the Senate other similar GOP centrists won’t even bother running. The GOP will move further to the right and barring large 60+ seat Democratic majorities nothing of any importance will pass the Senate. Big issues that require swift and decisive legislative action will bog down in the Senate and our country will fail to adequately adjust to the ever changing world.

Reason #2: The parochial interests of Massachusetts

Scott Brown is one of the most powerful Senators in DC. He has been since his swearing in. And it’s solely because of his centrism and willingness to be open to negotiating with the Democratic majority. In all likelyhood the Democratic challenger he’ll face in 2012 will be a true ideological successor of Ted Kennedy whose long-term future is to become Bernie Sanders or Pat Leahy – a liberal stalwart who is never invited to the negotiating table when important legislation is being discussed because they are always a safe “yes” vote for the Democratic leadership.

A free agent like Brown can ensure that Massachusetts’ interests are always taken into account in every important (aka controversial and difficult to pass) bill. Because everybody hates pork and specific give-aways to certain states only when that state isn’t theirs, right?

Moreover, as a Democrat, I can take pleasure in the fact that every six years the RSCC will need to flood money into Massachusetts to get Brown re-elected just so he can vote against the GOP leadership 50% of the time when it counts.

Somebody needs to talk me out of this or you may find me secretly donating to Scott Brown’s re-election campaign next year….

Never too early for some 2012 GOP Presidential candidate talk, right?

November 5, 2010

The midterm election is done with. What does that mean? Time to start thinking about 2012: A Presidential Odessey. Er…election. So we all know that Obama will run again barring something catastrophic. But the big mystery is who will the GOP nominate?

It became clear on Tuesday that the base of the party isn’t ready, at this moment anyway, to elect some “lame-stream” Republican but things may change in two years. I think the power of the Tea Party will probably be reduced quite a bit after seeing what it’s like to have two years of government doing absolutely nothing. A more compromising, center-left candidate will have a better chance than they would today. But they’re still the base and they’ll still be pissed.

So here are my initial odds for the GOP Prez nomination in 2012 based upon very little but my own amateur insight.

5 to 1 – NJ Governor Chris Christie – A very popular guy from a blue state. The GOP may be ready for someone who can make deals and actually make things happen. If he’s nominated I think Obama’s in some trouble. On the downside – ok, I’ll say it. Christie is fat. Americans like their in-shape handsome presidents. We haven’t voted in a less than attractive President since Nixon. And he’s going to look even fatter next to wiry rail thin Obama. Christie does have some time to get in better shape though.

5 to 1 – Mitt Romney – If the economy is still in the shitter he’ll make a good argument that he can manage the economy. However he reeks of mainstream GOP, helped pass the Massachusetts model for the hated Obamacare bill and is a Mormon, which many fundamentalist Christian’s do not even consider Christian. He continues to build a good organization in the early states, however, and will have a great chance to win some, especially New Hampshire.

5 to 1 – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels – I and most others know very little about him now but he continues to be a popular outsider choice among those in the know.

6 to 1 – Sarah Palin – She’s almost definitely going to run. She’s extremely popular among the base and, at this point, is probably seen by a plurality of Republicans as the leader of her party. She is, however, seen as unqualified by many Republicans. She resigned the only major office she ever held. She has national unfavorables in the 60% range. She is pretty much completely unelectable on a national level. It’s Obama’s dream to run against her in 2012 – she won’t even make it a race.

9 to 1 – Missippi Governor Haley Barbour – The head of the Republican Governor’s Association is a respected insider candidate who just helped a bunch of Governor’s mansions go red. He’s one of the most respected minds in the party. The problem is he reeks of the Old South. He was once a lobbyist for Big Tobacco. The next Republican president is going to need to take some big swing states and I don’t see a good old boy like Barbour having any sort of mass appeal in places like Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, etc. Pretty darn unelectable.

12 to 1 – Former Congressman Newt Gingrich – I’m really not sure Newt will even run. This is really a shot in the dark as I really have no idea what Republican voters will think of him.

12 to 1 – Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty – He’s had a hard time getting publicity while the Tea Party has been the ones occupying the zeitgeist but he has plenty of time to get himself out there. He strikes me as sort of the Bob Dole of 2012 – the ho hum dull safe guy who won’t really get anybody excited. Didn’t work so well for Dole in ’96.

4 to 1 – The Field. I don’t see a strong front-runner in this group and wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like LA Gov. Bobby Jindall, new FL Senator Marco Rubio, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence or even somebody like Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann came out the winner. So I’m making “the field” the favorite. However, as you see above, I’m not giving anybody who is currently a sitting Congressman or Senator much of a chance. The next two years will be a do-nothing Congress so there will be precious few real “accomplishments” for anybody to run on.

Who have I left out? Any dark horse candidates you think may show up?

How did I do with my predictions?

November 4, 2010

Pretty freaking good if I don’t say so myself! (predictions in italics)

Massachusetts elections and ballot measures

Massachusetts Governor:

Patrick (D): 48
Baker (R): 43
Cahill (I): 5

Hit! Acutal results were 48/42/8

Massachusetts House – 10th District:

Keating (D): 52
Perry (R): 47

Hit! Actual results were 47/42 – same 5 point margin that I predicted but I didn’t realize all the Independent candidates were there too!

Massachusetts House – 4th District:

Frank (D): 56
Bielat (R): 42

Hit! Actual results: 54/43 – I predicted a bit of a bigger win but Barney still pulled it off. Also his victory speech was both arrogant and hillarious! He’s far from a humble man.

Question #1 – Eliminate the alcohol tax:

No: 52
Yes: 48

Miss! Was actually 52/48 approve. Boo!

Question #2 – Housing development issue

No: 55
Yes: 45

Hit! 58/42 defeated.

Question #3 – Sales tax reduction

Yes: 50.4
No: 49.6

Miss! Of course I really didn’t think this would pass but I was still afraid. Acutally defeated 57/43.

National Picture

The final tally in the Senate will be 51 Dems, 48 GOP and 1 I (good old Socialist Bernie Sanders)

I forgot about Joe Liberman in my predictions (he’s officially an Independent now.) The only real question about this number now is Patty Murray and if she loses I’ll have hit it right on the mark: 50/48/2

The house will be 230 GOP, 205 Dem

I underestimated the bloodbath for the Dems. They’re probably going to end up with less than 200 seats when all the counting is done.

Alaska Senate:

Miller (R): 37
Murkowski (Write In): 31
McAdams (D): 24

Miss! I had no idea how crazy this race was. Looks like Murkowski is going to pull it off something like 41/34 for Miller/24 for McAdams. A very very successful write-in campaign! Well done Lisa – stick it to the Tea Party! Sarah Palin will be sad about this result.

Arkansas Senate:

Boozman (R): 55
Lincoln (D): 43

Hit! Big loss for Lincoln – 58/37

California Senate:

Boxer (D): 52
Fiorina (R): 47

Hit! Fiorina got less votes than I thought she would: Boxer wins 52/43

Colorado Senate:

Bennett (D): 51
Buck (R): 49

Hit! Though it was very very close: 48/47 win for Bennett.

Connecticut Senate:

Blumenthal (D): 52
McMahon (R): 46

Hit! Blumenthal pile-drives McMahon and wins 55/44. McMahon spent a lot of her own money to lose this big: $400/vote in the primary and about $100/vote in the general.

Delaware Senate:

Coons (D): 58
O’Donnell (R): 40

Hit! Got this one almost exact! Coons wins 57/40.

Illinois Senate:

Giannoulias (D): 50.3
Kirk (R): 49.5

Miss! Kirk squeaks by 48/46.

Kentucky Senate:

Paul (R): 51
Conway (D): 49

Hit! But I missed the percentages by a lot. Paul won big 56/44.

Missourri Senate:

Blunt (R): 53
Carnahan (D): 46

Hit! Blunt won 54/41

Nevada Senate:

Reid (D): 52
Angle (R): 47

Hit! My underdog prediction was right and I hit the 5% margin too! Reid won 50/45.

New Hampshire Senate:

Ayotte (R): 53
Hodes (D): 46

Hit! Ayotte wins in a landslide 60/37

Pennsylvania Senate:

Toomey (R): 51
Sestak (D): 49

Hit! Got this one exactly 51/49!

West Virginia Senate:

Manchin (D): 52
Raese (R): 48

Hit! Manchin wins pretty handily 53/43.

While West Virginia still continues to trend solidly Red in Presidential they continue to send their pro-coal, anti-environment gun loving Democrats to Washington. Except, of course, Jay Rockefeller continues to be one of the most liberal Senators yet keeps winning re-election to WV. Somebody explain it to me!

Wisconsin Senate:

Johnson (R): 50.5
Feingold (D): 49.2

Hit! Wasn’t even this close. Johnson wins 52/47.

Governorships

California Governor:

Brown (D): 53
Whitman (R): 46

Hit! Brown demolishes Whitman 54/41 and becomes the chief executive of the failed state that is California. Good luck there Jerry! It still baffles me that Meg Whitman spent $150 million of her own money in a failed attempt to be at the head of the catastro-fuck that is California right now.

So, I did really well! Looking back why didn’t I do a prediction for Washington Senate? Who knows. Looks like Murray will probably pull it out though.

Final tally: 17 hits, 4 misses

The “Lets see if these other patetic bums can fix this mess” midterm

November 3, 2010

So yesterday the American people spoke. They said “throw out the bums” and gave the GOP as 60 seat majority in Congress. And they also gave the GOP a mandate. What was demonstrated is that americans are a bunch of spoiled children – a bunch of Veruca Salt’s whining “But daddy I want it and I want it now!”

Based upon what I’m reading exit polls say large amounts of people want the government to legislate to create more jobs. But at the same time large amounts also want smaller government. They want to reduce the budget deficit. But at the same time they do not want tax increases and do not want reductions in Medicare, Social Security or, really 99% of the current Federal budget. They want the GOP to come in with a magic wand and bring us all back to 1998 when the world was safe, we all had jobs, the tech bubble provided enormous Federal budget surpluses and everything was hunky dory – so much so that the country had the luxury of having their top priority freak out about the President getting a bee-jay.

You know what? 1998 was unsustainable. So was 2005. That was the height of the party but now it’s the next morning we’re still lying on the cold tile in front of the toilet fighting off the dry heaves. There is no hair of the dog to make it all better.

But the thing is people don’t even like or trust the Republicans either. To paraphrase Pres. Obama and Slate columnist John Dickerson America gave the GOP the keys back but it was more of an “ugh, you try to drive this thing” than a “I have full confidence in your ability to operate this vehicle.”

Huge amounts of Democrats (and many Republicans) who had the courage to do the right thing and prevent the US economy from freezing up to the point that it fell to pieces in Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 were rewarded for their courage with losing their jobs – replaced by opportunists who played on the inherently confusing nature of macroeconomics to make simpler points like “she sold us out to Wall Street” and “the stimulus didn’t do anything.”

My prediction for the next two years is zero significant legislation passed. None. The democrats had a hard enough time passing anything with a 59-41 Senate and a 75 seat majority in the house. In fact I think we’ll be lucky if there’s not brinksmanship regarding the Federal budgets such as we saw after the Gingrich revolution in ’94. As someone who works with Social Security benefits on a daily basis I’m starting to think about what we’re going to do when the Federal government shuts down and the Social Security checks don’t come one month. I think it’s going to be a pretty dark couple of years.

In a couple of days (once all the votes are counted) I’ll revisit my predictions (see previous post) which seem pretty good so far.

Mid-term predictions

October 27, 2010

We’re less than a week from the mid-term elections. Here are my predictions.

Massachusetts elections and ballot measures

Massachusetts Governor:

Patrick (D): 48
Baker (R): 43
Cahill (I): 5

The kerfuffle with the defecting Cahill staffers hurts Baker’s messaging and Patrick wins pretty easily.

Massachusetts House – 10th District:

Keating (D): 52
Perry (R): 47

Perry is not able to overcome the historical Dem nature of the district. The fact that he lied about one of his underling cops sexually assaulting a young girl right in front of him won’t help either.

Massachusetts House – 4th District:

Frank (D): 56
Bielat (R): 42

The “Barney Frank is a dancing queen” ad won’t win the race for Bielat.

Question #1 – Eliminate the alcohol tax:

No: 52
Yes: 48

Question #2 – Housing development issue

No: 55
Yes: 45

Question #3 – Sales tax reduction

Yes: 50.4
No: 49.6

And with Question 3 passing Jeff is forced to forego a vacation this spring and instead sock away money for fear of losing his job as the state budget is gutted and his state funded employer threatens layoffs. Vote no on Question 3 folks!

National Picture

The final tally in the Senate will be 51 Dems, 48 GOP and 1 I (good old Socialist Bernie Sanders)

The house will be 230 GOP, 205 Dem

Alaska Senate:

Miller (R): 37
Murkowski (Write In): 31
McAdams (D): 24

Murkowski will almost pull off her write in campaign.

Arkansas Senate:

Boozman (R): 55
Lincoln (D): 43

California Senate:

Boxer (D): 52
Fiorina (R): 47

Colorado Senate:

Bennett (D): 51
Buck (R): 49

Connecticut Senate:

Blumenthal (D): 52
McMahon (R): 46

Delaware Senate:

Coons (D): 58
O’Donnell (R): 40

Sorry to see you go Christine – you were fun while you lasted.

Illinois Senate:

Giannoulias (D): 50.3
Kirk (R): 49.5

The mob banker squeaks one out.

Kentucky Senate:

Paul (R): 51
Conway (D): 49

Rand Paul in the Senate. Seriously – it’s gonna happen.

Missourri Senate:

Blunt (R): 53
Carnahan (D): 46

Nevada Senate:

Reid (D): 52
Angle (R): 47

Incredible – Harry Reid has more lives than a cat!

New Hampshire Senate:

Ayotte (R): 53
Hodes (D): 46

Pennsylvania Senate:

Toomey (R): 51
Sestak (D): 49

West Virginia Senate:

Manchin (D): 52
Raese (R): 48

Manchin replaces Blanche Lincoln as the ultimate Democrat in name only in the Senate.

Wisconsin Senate:

Johnson (R): 50.5
Feingold (D): 49.2

Bad year for Feingold to be up for re-election.

Governorships

California Governor:

Brown (D): 53
Whitman (R): 46

$150 million cannot buy you an election in CA it seems.

The GOP adopts the Tea Party rhetoric but not their goals

September 27, 2010

House Republicans released their Pledge to America last week – a platform statement they hope will help them regain Congressional majorities in November. John Boehner says it contains bold new ideas. And indeed it does. It suggests that all bills coming out of Congress explicitly reference the part of the US Consitution that gives Congress the power to take the referenced action. It suggests requiring any Federal regulation that effects $100 Million or more of the economy to be approved by Congress, not just enacted by the Executive.

The problem is that, when it comes to the real meaty substance of this document, it’s the same old stuff. Cut taxes and cut spending, but don’t touch entitlements (Social Security, Medicare) and don’t touch defense spending. Their suggestions are that the budget can be balanced by trimming away at Non-defense, Non-Disgressionary spending: they’re expempting what would be $2.848 trillion or 80% of the 2010 Federal budget.

Conservative New York Times editorial writer (and author of a very amusing memoir about being a Harvard student in the late 90s, early 00’s) Ross Douthat calls bullshit.

The Tea Party is asking for real spending cuts and real deficit reduction. The Pledge to America is giving us more of the same that we’ve seen from the GOP ever since the 1990’s – lip service to spending cuts but no substantive follow through. Tax cuts, unfunded government programs, wars of choice overseas and a real reluctance to make the hard choices that could really lead to a deficit reduction, to say nothing of paying down the national debt.

To their credit, the House Republicans don’t invoke starve-the-beast in their 2010 pledge, or pretend that renewing the Bush tax cuts would single-handedly push the nation into the black. But their fiscal vision practices the same kind of free-lunchism that the Tea Party supposedly abhors: it promotes low taxes without coming close to identifying the spending cuts required to pay for them.

There’s a sound political rationale for this, of course. Reducing spending is always difficult, and a Republican Party coasting toward a midterm victory has little incentive to stake out controversial positions. And as everybody knows, the only way to really bring the budget into balance is to reform (i.e., cut) Medicare and Social Security, a topic that nobody in Congress — save the indefatigable Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan — is particularly eager to touch.

But that means that the pledge is ultimately less about the triumph of the Tea Partiers, and more about their potential co-option by Republican politics as usual.

Damn straight, but what Douthat seems to miss is that the Tea Party isn’t really ready to make the sorts of big cuts that would be required. It’s full of “keep government away from my Medicare” complainers who want to cut services but only if they don’t effect them. They’re a vision of the naive political understanding that permeates America – people want to have their cake and eat it too.

Most Americans can’t even be bothered to keep on top of their own financial life and follow a personal budget – it’s no wonder that they have no idea of the real hard choices and cuts that would need to be made to truly realize a vision of a balanced budget, no less surpluses to pay down the national debt. And the GOP is perfectly willing to feed this delusion so long as it gets them elected. The problem is going to be that in another two or four or six years the Tea Partiers are going to realize that their Republican saviors were just as cowardly about the tough economic decisions as the Democrats are and the “throw the bums out” mantra will return. This political season, during which the public disapproves of both Congress and the President just indicates the truth about the electorate in 2010 – they live in a fantasy world where they can get everything they want, low taxes, good services, a robust war on terror, without having to pay for it.

If Tea Partiers want real spending cuts and deficit reduction the bottom line is they are looking for magicians, not politicians.

A look back at Jeff’s prediction from November 12, 2008

August 13, 2010

Was I right or was I right?

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday, 59 percent of those questioned think that Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches will be good for the country, with 38 percent saying that such one-party control will be bad.

First of all, the most striking thing is that I guarantee that nowhere near 59% of the country actually agrees with most of the core ideas of the Democratic Party: what happened last week was more a repudiation of the GOP than a true realignment of the electorate towards the Dems.

This is the same sort of mindset that leads Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, to fire the old and hire a new head coach for his football team every year: the idea that if we can just get the old guys out everything is going to be hunky dory.

This is the poll that portends the Democratic losses that will inevitably come in the 2010 mid-term elections: people think miracles can happen if only they can get new people in office.

The truth is that while things will change, two years from now we will likely still be in Iraq, perhaps just getting out of a recession if not still in the throes of such and will still be fighting in Afghanistan.

So enjoy this mandate that you’ve won, Obama, cause it’s not goanna last too long. Not long at all.

Are America’s rich now liberals?

August 13, 2010

Bringing this blog back to life for a moment to address an interesting issue.

In his article for Slate James Ledbetter addresses the assertion in a new book I really want to read that the rich in America have pretty much all become limousine liberals: the rich have abandoned the GOP. Ledbetter argues that while the rich have increasinly become supporters (both vocally and financially) of the Democrats, the fact is the Democrats politics regarding financial matters (free trade, welfare, etc) have become almost indistinguishable from the GOP’s. Essentially the centrist goals of the Democratic Leadership Council, the Democratic party of Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform and fiscial conservativism, have succeeded.

However, most of his examples of this demonstrate an acute ignorance about the changes that have occurred in the Democratic party over the last 20 years. Most of his examples involve organized labor. The Democratic party of FDR and LBJ had it’s strongest power base in labor unions, but as the economy has changed, manufacturing has died the new Democratic party of Barack Obama finds it’s power base in the educated urban upper middle class (and those who culturally identify with this group.) And the money comes from the educated urban upper middle class individuals whose prowess in the post-industrial knowledge economy had made them billionaires. And this current base (coastal latte liberals and what I call hybrid limousine liberals) understands that globalization, outsourcing, free trade, low tarrifs and the other boogey men fought tooth and nail by Big Labor, are good for their busines and the American economy. The current Democratic party still relies on labor unions for oganizational purposes and in places where the new economy has left behind (the Rust Belt) but those unions no longer steer the ship of the overall party.

Now here’s my theory:

The distinction Ledbetter fails to make is that there are (at least) three types of rich people: the superrich like Gates and Buffett who have become liberals due to social conscience and, frankly, will never ever feel economically insecure. And there are the two types of sort of lower-class rich (salaries between $500k and 2 mil/year and net worths below $20 mil): the solidly liberal post-dot-com knowledge economy people (sort of the Mark Zuckerberg type) and what have become the new financial base of the Conservative right and the GOP: the middle America small business “rich” – the type who own a medium sized small business, maybe a few hardware stores or a small supermarket chain. The first type has been educated and culturally attuned to the social liberalism of the coastal University and sort of middle of the road policies of Clinton and the DLC while the second is more a product of the typical Horatio Alger rugged individualism, pull yourself up by your bootstraps (financially conservative, anti tax, anti gov’t intervention, anti welfare) mentality. I feel like this is an important politcal distinction that’s still only gradually being accepted by pundits but it is one that is key and really defines much of the current political landscape.

Just my $.02. What do you think?


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