Time for Consolidation (i.e., I’m still posting, but not *here*)

December 30, 2014

Parting is “such sweet sorrow;” luckily I’m not actually doing that.

However, as you, dear reader, have probably noticed, I’m not very good at maintaining several blogs at once these days. For that reason, I have decided to consolidate my posting to the Bearing Drift blog (where I’ve been posting since 2010 or so). Therefore, for the foreseeable future (i.e., until something remarkably unexpected happens to BD), I will no longer be posting here.

Still, the things that drove me to start this blog eight years ago will still have me posting over there…so feel free to follow me over.

Stimpson is in

December 2, 2014

As my friends at VV note, Susan Stimpson is challenging Speaker Howell for the Republican nomination for Delegate from District 28.

Here’s why she should win.

Why I would support Susan Stimpson against Bill Howell

November 12, 2014

There are whispers up in Stafford that former Board Chairman Susan Stimpson is considering a primary challenge against Speaker Bill Howell. At present, that might seem odd, but by Primary Day her victory (if it comes) could very well be the best news Republicans have.

As Board Chairman and Member, Stimpson built a record that earned my endorsement for Lieutenant Governor in 2013 (details here). That race was run in the shadow of Bob McDonnell’s transportation tax hike (or, as I’ve called it, Plan ’13 From Outer Space), and it is that tax hike that has led me to hope Susan runs and wins…but not for the reasons most think.

Contrary to what many believe, the argument over that tax hike isn’t quite over, in part because the tax hike itself hasn’t been fully implemented. Given the latest from Mr. Leahy, we can be pretty certain that the wholesale tax on gasoline will increase this January. Given the near complete lack of price elasticity for gasoline below $4/gallon (above that price and it’s a very different story), that means gas prices will jump in January as Republicans argue amongst themselves about whom to blame for it (the leadership of the General Assembly or the leadership in the House of Representatives).

In other words, 2015 will dawn to see Republicans arguing amongst themselves and trying to deflect blame for yet another tax increase…and voters in “off-off-year” elections have been very cruel to tax-hiking Republicans. In 2007, voters reacted to the Republican-drafted HB3202 by handing the State Senate to the Democrats and cutting the GOP’s House majority in half. Four years later, most of Virginia simply went status quo – except for Spotsylvania County, which turfed three incumbent Supervisors in the midst of a local tax revolt, padded up a huge margin for Bryce Reeves in the process, and thus flipped the State Senate practically by itself.

How will these voters – the most continuous, and thus the most knowledgeable, of the electorate – react to another Republican tax increase? To ask the question is to answer it…unless Republicans themselves show they’ve gotten the message. In other words, if Bill Howell doesn’t retire on his own, Republicans in eastern Stafford will have to do it for him.

That may sound ruthless, in no small part because it is. I’ve crossed swords with Howell in the past; that didn’t stop me from noticing when he steered his caucus away from a tax hike in the summer of 2008. I also think his effort to stop Medicaid expansion is underestimated.

However, the Senate majority is at stake again, and we can’t risk voter anger over the last phase of Plan ’13 From Outer Space. Susan Stimpson would be an excellent Delegate, and her nomination would show Virginia voters that the Republican Party is ready to move on from its recent tax-hiking past.

That’s how I see it.

Barack Obama…doesn’t get it either

November 10, 2014

Friday, I discussed how Rep. Steve Israel pretended that last week’s election never happened regarding immigration policy. Last night, the president followed suit (NRO The Corner):

Discussing on Face the Nation his interactions with House speaker John Boehner, the president says he told Speaker Boehner, “John, I’m going to give you some time, but if you can’t get it done before the end of the year, I’m going to have to take the steps that I can to improve the system.”

There it is, “before the end of the year.” In other words, before the new Representatives and Senators elected last week can take office.

Putting aside what one thinks about S.744 (the Senate immigration bill, which has problems noted by many, including some opponents of immigration restrictions), or whether the president has the power to “take the steps that I can to improve the system” (depends on the steps), the arrogant refusal to listen to the voters is stunning.

Yes, John Boehner, in his role as Speaker, refused to take up S. 744. The president and his fellow Democrats spent the next 16 months asking voters the send the Speaker a message. Instead the voters sent him reinforcements.

Clearly, the American people were less sanguine on S.744 then the Senators who voted for it.

This also reveals that Israel’s comments were not a one-off, but rather a vocalization of the Democrats’ strategy for dealig with the election defeat – ignore the American people until the bitter “end of the year.”

Steve Israel…doesn’t get it

November 7, 2014

In response to his party’s caucus shrinking to its lowest number in over 80 year, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY, outgoing Congressional Campaign Chair) revealed a tone-deafness that, if shared by the rest of his caucus, could lead to even further shrinking.

Israel parroted the usual line we hear on the left these days – that the winning Republicans should “come into the middle” and work with Democrats (NROThe Corner), never mind that if voters had wanted Congress to be more amenable to Democrats’ wishes, they would have elected more actual Democrats.

Where Israel really goes off the rails is his insistence that the lame-duck Congress short-circuit the election (which at least in Louisiana is still ongoing) on “immigration reform” (same link):

Israel brought up corporate tax changes and, pointedly, immigration reform as issues on which the two parties can compromise.

“There really shouldn’t be any paralysis on this,” he said, noting that a Senate immigration bill has passed. “Let’s just pass it in the House,” he urged.

Let’s unpack this ass-hattery slowly.

First of all, there are good reasons why someone on either side of the argument on illegal immigration would have serious problems with the Senate’s immigration bill, chief among them the horrendous economic assumptions that “justify” it.  More to the point, a lame-duck session of Congress passing that bill would be a complete insult to the voters.

Lest we forget, John Boehner’s refusal to bring up the Senate immigration bill for a vote was one of the chief complaints thrown at him by the president, Senate Democrats, and just about everyone to the left of center in America. They hoped voters would send Boehner a message. Instead, voters sent him reinforcements.

Mitch McConnell was one of the 32 Senators who opposed the bill. Voters sent him reinforcements, too – eight so far, with perhaps one more coming in Louisiana.

Finally, of the 68 Senators who voted in favor of S.744, 5 Democrats lost their seats to Republicans (with one more, Mary Landrieu, likely to suffer the same fate), 4 have retired (3 of them Democrats to be replaced by Republicans), and one – Marco Rubio – has repudiated his vote. Even assuming no one else would vote differently (highly unlikely, especially given that McConnell will be more accommodating of amendments as Majority Leader), the bill could easily fail a cloture vote in the 2015 Senate. Whatever the voters of 2014 wanted, it sure wasn’t the Senate’s immigration bill.

Then again, Israel is trying to close his eyes to the voters anyway (same link again):

“In this election, one-third of voters chose a Democrat or Republican,” Israel said. “The other two-thirds just want us to get things done.”

Um…with all due respect, Steve, you don’t know what the other two-thirds want because they didn’t bother to vote.

If Israel (and the president) are any indication, the Democrats have decided that the non-voter is their perfect blank slate, upon which they can force any assumption and in whose they can put whatever words they like. That is a surefire recipe for a Republican president the next time actual voters get their say.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon

A tale of two electorates? Maybe Not.

November 7, 2014

Even before the Democrats witnessed the extent of their wipeout on Tuesday, they were telling themselves (and everyone else), that their defeat was baked in due to the nature of the midterm electorate. The average midterm voter was older and whiter – and to many Democrats, that’s enough to ensure complacency about 2016.

Curious as to the numbers, I compared the 2012 and 2014 exit polls, not just for the ethnic and age distribution, but for how voters within those groups voted. They should give the Democrats some pause.

Yes, the white vote rose (slightly) from 2012 to 2014, while the African-American and Hispanic vote fell slightly, but Republicans also did better within the minorities who voted. The African-American Republican vote rose from 6% to 10%; among Hispanics, the number rose from 27% to 36%. The greatest shift came among Asian-Americans, which were actually the Republicans worst ethnic result in 2012 (26-73). In 2014, Asian-Americans actually went narrowly for the GOP (50-49), a two-decade first.

The age numbers tell a similar story: while voters under 30 were a smaller slice of the whole electorate in 2014, the GOP deficit within the group was cut in half. Among voters between 30 and 44, Republicans nearly tied (they were 7 points down in 2012).

How important are these shifts? To find out, I took the aforementioned ethnic results from 2014 and plugged them into the 2012 exit poll. The result: an electorate that looked like 2012 but voted like last Tuesday…would give the Republican nominee for president a 3-point edge in the popular vote. That would have been enough to flip seven states and 99 electoral votes.

Of course, that didn’t happen in 2012, and there’s no guarantee it happens in 2016. However, it should remind Democrats (and Republicans) that demography isn’t destiny if the people don’t cooperate.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Tax issue helped Republicans expand the wave election (too bad Virginia Republicans took it away from Gillespie)

November 5, 2014

Disaffection with the president was a major driver for Republican success in last night’s election – of that there is no doubt. That said, the extent of success was greatly helped by…wait for it…taxes.

We begin with the epicenter of the tax argument: Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback’s tax reduction were supposed to be his own worst enemy – a political millstone that might not only drag him down, but Senator Pat Roberts, too. Instead, Roberts won going away, and Brownback not only won re-election, but came within 100 votes of an absolute majority (a Libertarian nominee took 4% of the vote). AP (via the Lawrence Journal-World), explains why in their exit poll analysis:

TAX CUTS: Roughly half of the voters said that tax cuts Brownback pushed had mostly helped Kansas, while about two in five said they had hurt.

So the tax cuts broke roughly 10 ten points in Brownback’s favor, contrary to the conventional wisdom…not that this is any surprise to me.

In the rest of the country, the tax issue popped up in referenda. John Hood (NRO – The Corner) has the details:

It’s worth noting also that conservatives won all of the nation’s big fiscal-policy referenda this year, beating a gas-tax hike in Massachusetts and business-tax hike in Nevada, while winning tax limitations in Tennessee, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

Note the states listed: Massachusetts also elected a Republican Governor. In Georgia, both Republicans (Purdue for Senate and Governor Deal for re-election) managed to avoid runoff and win outright (yet another “surprise” for the chattering classes). Finally, of course, Wisconsin re-elected Governor Scott Walker with unexpected ease.

Finally, there is Maryland, where I must spend two nights a week for work. As such, I saw every add Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (D) put up in his race to succeed his previous running mate, Governor Martin O’Malley. Brown’s ads ran the gamut of positive and negative, hard-hitting issue ads and soft-touch personal ones. By contrast, I only saw one ad for Republican Larry Hogan – an ad that tried to squeeze in all of O’Malley’s tax increases in 30 seconds (practically one per second), along with a promise to give taxpayers a rest if he (Hogan) won.

In fact, Hogan did win.

Similarly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn used major tax increases to keep his state government afloat. Despite being in the president’s home state, Quinn lost to Republican Bruce Rauner last night.

Again, anger and disaffection with the president was the big driver here, but voters especially rewarded Republicans where they could also take advantage of the tax issue…

…which makes one wonder what could have happened in Virginia had Republican Ed Gillespie not had the headwinds of tax-hiking Republican Bob McDonnell to face.

I’m just sayin’.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon


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