Kinzinger Tops Polls in 11th District (Good Illinois Pickup)

From the Adam Kinzinger for Congress campaign (11th District)…

Adam Kinzinger is currently holding townhalls across the district and after Wednesday night, he will have held 11, Debbie Halvorson, who voted yes for healthcare, has held zero. This is the first poll conducted on the Congressional Level after the Healthcare vote.

NRCC Memo Adam Kinzinger currently leads on the ballot test 44%-38% over Congresswoman Halvorson, with 16% of voters undecided. Among high interest voters (8-10s), Kinzinger’s lead improves to 49%-35%, with 13% undecided.

On the generic Congressional ballot test, the generic Republican candidate enjoys a ten point advantage in the district (43%-33%, with 21% undecided).

Voters in the district are unhappy with the job President Obama is doing, as 45% approve of the job he is doing, and 52% disapprove. Nearly four in ten voters (38%) strongly disapprove of the job the President is doing.

Congresswoman Halvorson’s image stands at 33% favorable/31% unfavorable. Her challenger, Adam Kinzinger is still relatively unknown, with a name ID of 50% and an image of 19% favorable/5% unfavorable.

Congresswoman Halvorson’s re-elect stands at 31% total re-elect to 44% total new person, with 24% of voters saying they do not know if Halvorson deserves to be re-elected. Such a low reelect score shows that Halvorson is in a precarious position for a first term Member of Congress. Results from Public Opinion Strategies:

Key Findings 1. Voters in Illinois’ Eleventh Congressional District are ready to elect a Republican candidate and disapprove of the job President Barack Obama is doing.

On the generic Congressional ballot test, the generic Republican candidate enjoys a ten point advantage in the district (43%-33%, with 21% undecided).

Voters in the district are unhappy with the job President Obama is doing, as 45% approve of the job he is doing, and 52% disapprove. Nearly four in ten voters (38%) strongly disapprove of the job the President is doing.

2. Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson’s image is polarized and her re-elect score is poor.

Congresswoman Halvorson’s image stands at 33% favorable/31% unfavorable. Her challenger, Adam Kinzinger is still relatively unknown, with a name ID of 50% and an image of 19% fav/5% unfav.

Congresswoman Halvorson’s re-elect stands at 31% total re-elect to 44% total new person, with 24% of voters saying they do not know if Halvorson deserves to be re-elected. Such a low re- elect score shows that Halvorson is in a precarious position for a first term Member of Congress.

Her position further weakens with high interest voters – the 70% of the electorate who describe their vote interest as an eight, nine, or ten on a scale from one to ten. Among these voters, Halvorson’s re-elect score stands at 30% re-elect to 48% new person.

3. Adam Kinzinger leads Congresswoman Halvorson on the Congressional ballot test.

Adam Kinzinger currently leads on the ballot test 44%-38% over Congresswoman Halvorson, with 16% of voters undecided. Among high interest voters (8-10s), Kinzinger’s lead improves to 49%-35%, with 13% undecided.

The Bottom Line Adam Kinzinger is in solid position to win, and Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson is on very shaky ground to be re-elected on Election Day. The political environment is against Halvorson, as voters in the 11th Congressional District prefer a Republican candidate on the generic ballot test and disapprove of the job President Obama is doing.

Halvorson has a polarized image, has an upside down re-elect score, and trails Adam Kinzinger on the Congressional ballot test. Halvorson trails by a larger margin on the re-elect and Congressional ballot among the voters most interested in the election. Adam Kinzinger, with an issue-oriented campaign, can defeat Congresswoman Halvorson on Election Day.

Methodology Public Opinion Strategies conducted a telephone survey among likely voters in Illinois’ 11th Congressional District on March 21-22, 2010. The survey was completed among 400 likely voters and has a margin of error of +4.9% in 95 out of 100 cases.


Fire Nancy Pelosi

Well done, RNC.  

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2012 and the 2010 Presidential "Permission Threshold"

A Tale of Two Brackets

It is an axiom in presidential politics that national polls are meaningless (ask Rudy Giuliani) -- the states select party nominees, and the states elect the president.  However, since large slices of the political establishment buy into national polls, a candidate's standing there affects his or her ability to raise money and gain attention that can be translated into votes in the critical early primaries.

The national polls fall into something larger and deeper, though.  The rank a candidate holds in national polls is far less important than which of two brackets the candidate falls into: Bracket 1) the top three who net double digits, and Bracket 2) everybody else.

Who says that the tea parties aren't winning elections?

Over the weekend, Politico ran a story by Alex Isenstadt about the "failures" of Tea Party candidates. This article reads more like DC-based myopia. Movements don't transform at the federal level or statewide level first. Simply creating the network with the skills to execute huge campaigns is hard and takes time.

The place to go to see the successes are things like county parties, congressional district conventions, state legislative, and municipal seats. Those are races where a little bit of money and a little bit of energy go a huge way. They are also races with relatively low name ID. And they are the entry-level races for future leaders.

One of races that showed me that something was going on was the November election of Dan Halloran to the New York City Council. He is also the chairman of the New York chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus. (recall that RLC is the branch of the Ron Paul movement that believes in integration with the GOP party infrastructure)

Similarly, anyone who has been following local party politics knows that tea party supporters and Ron Paul and RLC organizations have had a huge impact on local party organizations. I wrote about this in response to Ken Cuchinelli's crushing convention victory to become the Republican nominee for Virginia's Attorney General.

It is easy to miss what is going on in American politics and to the American right if you focus on Washington.  It isn't happening in Washington. What is happening will lead to the Washington-based leadership being overturned by a generation of new leaders.


2010: Beat the Arrogant Establishment

After the March 2nd Texas primary, CNN proclaimed "Tea party changes tone, but not outcome of Texas primary." Politico's Jonathan Martin asks, "Is the tea party movement a paper tiger?" Locally, a San Angelo, Texas paper framed the result as "GOP incumbents held seats against Tea Party."

This is a classic straw man, and a dramatic misreading of the tea party's political objectives. 

Somehow, national media types got it into their heads that the tea party movement was the magic elixer for the kinds of unknown, underfunded and largely unskilled candidates who run in every race to claim the mantle of "tea party candidate" and knock off incumbents. A perusal of the Texas results at the Congressional level shows that the over/under for random, unknown unchallengers (a/k/a "tea party candidates") to incumbents was about 14%. This is basically the "none of the above" vote that materializes in every primary. When a prohibitive frontrunner has a semi-credible challenger, the frontrunner usually wins 70-30. Even when the challenger is unknown or unacceptable, 15 or 20 percent is doable. Convicted felon Lyndon LaRouche got that in some Democratic primaries against Bill Clinton in '96. 

Beyond that, the subtext is also that the tea party empowers uniquely conservative candidates, with Rubio/Crist as the model for every primary in the country. 

Again, no. 

It's clear that there is a lot more primary activity than there was in '06 and '08, largely because the prospects of getting elected as a Republican this year are so good. And in those primaries, proclaiming oneself a "tea party candidate" is about as fashionable as proclaiming oneself a "social media expert."

Going state by state and district by district, the case for conservative ascendancy in primaries is muddled at best. For every Rubio/Crist, there is a Mark Kirk walk-in-the-park. The '08 primaries showed that Republican primary voters are if nothing else pragmatic. 

A few basic misconceptions underlie the expectation that the more conservative the primary candidate, the better their chances are at winning. And the main one is that conservatives are uniquely advantaged this year because the tea parties show the party is moving right. 

This notion would require one to believe that the grassroots base of the GOP -- not its leaders, but its base -- was somehow un-conservative prior to '09 and '10. There's no evidence for that. Fueled by Rush Limbaugh and talk radio, 1994 was a conservative year. In fact, 1994 probably marked the end of the shift in the ascendancy of conservatives over moderates in Republican grassroots politics, a shift that started with Goldwater. Ever since '94, the ideological change within the Republican Party has been marginal at best.

What has changed in the last two years, is that Republicans are now unshackled from having to defend the Bush Administration and the mood of the country, and inside the Republican Party in particular, has grown more solidly anti-establishment. Those changes alone can explain the emergence of the tea party movement. 

While the case for conservative ascendancy in primaries is muddled, what isn't muddled is this: run as the milquetoast candidate of the arrogant establishment, and you lose. 

Practically every electorally relevant example points in this direction. 

NY-23? Check. 

Florida Senate? Check.

Massachusetts? Check. 

Texas Governor? Check. 

In Texas, the tea party candidate was not Debra Medina. It was Rick Perry, whose political fortunes were revived around the Tax Day tea parties last year. That points to a movement that is much more broadly relevant than the marginal nutjob candidacies that media is holding up as an example of the movement's failures. I know that one can point to Medina strength among the organizers -- and I've certainly played up the role Ron Paul's brigades have played in that effort -- but there is a convincing case that the rank-and-file attendees and their compatriots who followed from the radio dial or Fox News were solidly with Perry. And that's who matters when delivering votes in a primary, as opposed to a straw poll. 

But more importantly, the movement was aligned against Kay Bailey Hutchison, who barely disguised her sense of entitlement at holding not one, but two statewide offices. Strike one was trying to elbow aside Perry with a blatant "It's my turn" appeal not to run again, and then going ahead with a challenge. Strikes two and three were the Texas Two-Step around resigning her office, which, quelle surprise, will likely end up with Hutchison holding on to public office against her word. 

The KBH fall is of a piece with the staggering fall of "All About Charlie" Crist, who ran on a sense of entitlement before he finished the job voters elected him to do. Only a few words need to be said about Charlie Crist: pride before the fall. 

And NY-23 was a similar case of an arrogant establishment attempting to oppose its will against that of primary voters, and getting pwned in the process. 

Do you see a pattern here? 

Yes, each of these cases was one of a "conservative" beating a "moderate" -- but each also had the essential ingredient of a particularly noxious stench of self-entitlement on the part of the losers. 

As ever, public servants need to place the emphasis on the latter part of that title: servant. Those advantaged by a long career of winning elections need to be particularly humble and even servile to the will of the electorate, especially in this environment. Votes cannot be assumed. They must be earned. 

There is no easy template for tea party victory in a Republican primary. Saying you are Marco Rubio does not make you Marco Rubio. Rubio's success is due as much to Crist's arrogance and the movement-like aura Rubio has been able to build around himself as it is to a simple ideological contrast. Those whose job it is to run and win elections quickly learn that attributes -- those pesky personal qualities like honesty, integrity, intelligence, and authenticity -- matter a whole lot more than issues, even in primaries. This is not diminish the importance of principle but to acknowledge the reality that it alone is not enough, and having a good, plausible candidate, campaign, and message still matters a whole lot. 

Dude, Where's My Health Care Bill?

The Los Angeles Times reports today:

The fate of healthcare legislation turns on the endgame skills of two Democrats who bring vastly different assets to the task: President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi....Under the Democrats' strategy, the House would pass the Senate's version of the bill. Then both chambers would approve changes under the budget reconciliation process, which could pass the Senate with a simple 51-vote majority. Democrats hope to finish by the end of the month.

 This is a complete delusion. In the immortal words of Jesse Montgomery III, "No and then."

There will never be any reconciliation process. The White House is desperate for any bill to pass so that they can then immediately pivot to anything else (probably jobs). No intelligent person believes, that after the House passes the Senate bill, that there will be any serious push to pass a reconciliation bill. It would be the exact same as completely starting over on health care. And the White House has been very adamant that that is the last thing they plan to do.

The White House is trying to frame this "last" push for health care reform as an up-or-down vote on health care. But we already have an up-or-down vote set up in the House. The Senate is irrelevant. Conservatives shouldn't even entertain the possibility of the Senate passing a reconciliation bill until that bill exists. And right now, it doesn't. Not in the House. Not in the Senate. Nowhere.

So when the President campaign for "his plan" across the country this week, be sure to ask him, "Dude, where's my health care bill?"

John Boehner's attempt to override the will of Alabama's 5th Congressional District

As I've noted on two separate appearances on the Rachel Maddow Show, the Alabama Tea Party movement clearly hasn't been usurped by the Republican Party.  Right now, Tea Party activists in north Alabama are leading a bipartisan fight over House Minority Leader John Boehner's scheduled appearance in Huntsville to support recent party swapper Parker Griffith.

A modest proposal to the federal government

This is a bold idea from Utah Republicans.

We propose a modest experiment. As Utah state leaders, we are greatly concerned about the unprecedented expansion of the federal government over many years, and the enormous debt levels being left to our children and grandchildren. We believe the federal government is attempting to do far more than it has the capacity to execute well. [...]

We'd like to relieve some of their burden. We don't believe that 535 members of Congress and the president can educate our children, provide health care, pave our roads and protect our environment as well as the nation's 8,000 state legislators and tens of thousands of local officials.

So please, let us help. Let's select a few programs -- say, education, transportation and Medicaid -- that are managed mostly by Utah's government, but with significant federal dollars and a plethora of onerous federal interventions and regulations.

Let Utah take over these programs entirely. But let us keep in our state the portion of federal taxes Utah residents pay for these programs. The amount would not be difficult to determine. Rather than send this money through the federal bureaucracy, we would retain it and would take full responsibility for education, transportation and Medicaid -- minus all federal oversight and regulation. [...] [T]oday the federal government operates like an old-fashioned mainframe computer, pushing one-size-fits-all mandates out to the states. We believe there is value in intelligent decentralization.

This would be a great agenda for the Tea Party activists.  It combines limited federal government with increased State, local and personal responsibility.  For that matter, it should be a great experiment for the empiricists and policy wonks - both left and right - who want better data on which systems work and which do not.

Let's hope some Republicans will have the courage of their convictions to put political capital behind this idea.  This would be a good agenda item for Tea Party activists to demand of Republicans.

Paul Ryan Exposes ObamaCare Accounting Gimmicks

The video speaks for itself. Paul Ryan exposes the accounting fraud used to make the Senate Bill "deficit neutral".


Putting Conservation Back Into Conservatism

[Blogger's Note: I began this sometime last fall before COP15, but lost track before the holidays; despite my time management ineptitude, these topics are still as timely as ever.]

James Murdoch, son and heir-apparent to conservative media magnate Rupert Murdoch, argued near the end of 2009 in the Washington Post that conservatives and conservationists make natural allies...or at least they ought to. It's a refreshing read, too, because with both major parties playing Alinsky politics it's easy to forget that, aside from the sum of our available natural resources, our future economic growth and cultural-historical legacy are on the line. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a fisherman since I could hold a rod and reel, I'm a habitual recycler-reuser-reducer, I really appreciate having had the good fortune to visit some really cool places during my short time thus far on the planet, and I firmly believe that there's an economic opportunity here - involving the free market - that we don't (or shouldn't) want to miss.

Follow me: author David Pink argued in one of his books that right-brained people will rule the world one day. Certainly we can't get along without the analytical types, but it's the creative ones - the technological innovators - that have ushered man through various epochs across time and which policy makers seem to agree are the backbone of the American economy (this, by the way is true; small firms' marginal costs of production are lower than those of larger firms). Pink's argument goes something like this (and I'm paraphrasing here, not directly quoting):

Raise your hand if you own an iPod.

Lots of you? Good. Keep your hands up.

Now, keep your hands up if you knew you wanted one before they ever had been invented.

No more hands? I didn't think so.

How could you possibly know you'd want a thing before it came to be? It's the people thinking about what you want before you know you want it who really transform society - these are the people that reshape and redefine paradigms in a society.

This argument extends to green products, technology, and sustainable services. Glenn Beck may have assassinated Teddy Roosevelt's character on live television at CPAC this year, but like my good friend J.R. Lind (@jrlind on Twitter) at Nashville Post Business once reminded me, sustainability is good business. Something tells me ol' Teddy would be awfully proud of today's Republican Party if they could find a way to get on board with sustainability-as-economic-policy ethos. It's just going to require re-framing the debate to some degree.

Personally, I liked the way President Obama put it in his State of the Union address:


I don’t like the way the President and progressive Democrats are going about shaping and “solving” the problem…but I liked the way the President put it: whether or not the science is settled is not the chief issue here – there’s an economic opportunity to be had, and in the wake of an unemployment around 10%, it’s time for the Congress to act. We on the Right agree that bad science should not inform policy, but it’s equally important to remember that policy activists and elected officials are NOT scientific experts (unless by coincidence), and to paraphrase Dr. Richard A. Muller, PhD (Physics) the falsification of one area of data does not discredit an entire theory en masse. The Right is terrified that going green will mean capitulation to a radical socialist agenda [sic]; the most devout opponents of anthropogenic warming theory will reject any and all green movements. Of course, new regulatory schemes should be opposed, but it’s possible to look at conservation through our own lens.

Republicans won a major concession in the State of the Union, when President Obama included nuclear energy in his energy strategy. Nuclear power plants will help provide safe, renewable energy, and will create some jobs. Wind and solar will take a similar nibble out of the jobless numbers – but wind turbines are expensive and inefficient, and solar panels will get more expensive before they get cheaper.

The Right needs to go further. Falling back on small government and low tax rhetoric, too, simply won’t fill the bill – the average American doesn’t take our high polemic seriously anymore (beyond sharing our disdain for the sitting Democratic government – we should recognize that this could only be temporary). Republicans have plenty of momentum in their favor, and, like Rep. Paul Ryan, can seize this opportunity before sliding backward into campaign mode this year. Here’s the good news: it’s entirely possible to be green and pro-business all at once.

The government contracting apparatus provides the perfect setting for a pilot program to see the benefits of sustainability, with minimal impacts to the private sector. Last fall, President Obama signed an executive order establishing sustainability goals for greening up facilities and processes across the federal government, including prime and subcontractor goods, facilities, and practices. Contracting and procurement reform in this area – since it has to take place anyway in order for businesses to comply with as-yet undetermined standards and definitions – is our chance to establish a tiered, incentive-based approach to green business. Rather than allowing the federal government to bludgeon businesses everywhere by standing up new regulatory apparatuses with cap-and-trade schemes, the Right should prop up a reformed procurement system which gives preference in the awards process to contractors who meet certain tiered sustainability goals.

This is also a nice way for traditionally pro-Big Business Republicans to throw a nice-sized bone to small businesses, since the marginal costs of pollution abatement are lower for small firms than they are for large firms; the costs of risk-taking in green innovation are also smaller. The conclusion of this policy approach is a set of sustainability practices in the contracting environment (no pun intended) which can be voluntarily extended into commercial markets by companies who see real long-term benefits from sustainability in procurement space – just like John Q. Public who never knew how awesome the iPod would be before it was invented. Small businesses thrive, costs are lowered, small and large businesses collaborate, and the government is largely kept out of interfering with commercial markets – we merely reform a legacy process for the purpose of achieving a policy objective that has several fringe benefits. There are long-term political benefits to this strategy as well, as there is clearly a well-expressed demand for green products and investments/practices.

We – and certainly I – are a long way off from having an exhaustive, comprehensive approach for going green, framed within the context of our own ideological narratives. But it’s not altogether impossible with a little bit of creative thinking. We don’t have to agree on the science of global warming, but we should probably start from the same basic assumption that sustainability is good for business. Finally, we need to remember that we have a real chance to wrestle this issue away from the Left, but we have to act quickly and intelligently, and remember that committing to this policy arena is not capitulation if we come to the table with our own detailed approaches. Here’s hoping we have a champion on to take the reins and lead the Right into a new era.

Cross-posted at

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