GIF Awesomeness from the LATimes - How the election results rolled in last night.
Trolling the archives for previous campaigns’ Newt Gingrich coverage, we came upon this Style front from 1994. Please note that Arianna Huffington is considered a “spiritualist.” Also, the novelist Tom Clancy is in there for reasons that are not immediately clear.
Newt’s ‘94 brain is described thusly: “It is a soup with a base of practical politics and business management bromides, flavored with traditional ‘family values’ and spiced with a bold dash of futuristic techno-babble.”
The opening graph of Gordon Brown’s political epitaph should read “O! what a fall was there, my countrymen;…”
What a fall, indeed. Gordon Brown began his premiership with an approval rating above 70 percent, and his leadership over the Labour party ended as one of the most unpopular figures in Britain. This titanic shift in opinion was due to many factors beyond Brown himself; but first the man, himself, must be examined.
1) Brown himself - He’s not a likable figure in an age of mass media. He’s a technocrat, a bureaucrat, someone who cares more about policy than appearances. His own image is that of an extremely uptight, yet disheveled, professor. He doesn’t smile unless forced to by Peter Mandelson’s electric shock machine. He’s been known for withering criticisms and abject abuse of staff for, what he considers to be, shortcomings.
2) He couldn’t win - His administration was marked by a failed bombing of a Scotland airport, massive floods from the worst rains in a generation, increased participation in an American/NATO mission in Afghanistan, bank failures, market collapse, significant increases in unemployment and a budget crisis. Anyone of those situations would have been enough to tank your average PM, but still Brown held on.
3) Hotmail plot - No, this isn’t 1998. Yes, in 2009, a plot to topple the PM - still Gordon Brown - was dubbed the Hotmail plot, because the e-mail address used to help orchestra the failed coup was from Hotmail. Seriously. The plot failed because it never gained the critical mass necessary to topple Brown. Still - a Hotmail plot a decade after Hotmail was replaced by GMail has to be worth notation somewhere.
4) Peter Mandelson - Twice removed from Government because of scandal, Mandelson managed to save Brown from Blairite insurrection and also managed to hold his government together, with what many describe as dark powers. Mandelson is one of the main reasons that Brown didn’t fall to the coup attempt and led Labour into the election. Less popular than Brown himself, frequently parodied by BBC programming as the “Darth Vader” of British politics (and much worse), Mandelson held the ticket together as Labour entered this election and should be partially responsible for its outcome.
It was a disastrous outcome that could have been much worse. Brown was head of a Labour ticket that managed to lose more than 90 seats, the worst outcome for Labour since the 1931 election. Yet, Labour’s, vast plurality of seats heading into the election, made it difficult for any party to secure a true Parliamentary majority.
Furthermore, Labour managed to survive a Liberal Democrat onslaught and remain the second party in Britain’s two party system. With a hung Parliament and electoral uncertainty, Brown decided to make his final move, the only move he had left - to resign. And thus, he managed to find a way to fall on his own sword while giving Labour its best chance to remain in power.
To call it selfless would be to ignore the self interest that govern most things politics, yet, there was a certain symbolism to the move - Brown will resign so his party can move on with a possible LibDem coalition. Brown won’t be a part of it, but if Labour somehow manages to remain in power, it will be because of him - the man who could have been Labour’s future leader, all those years ago.
Quickly, a hung parliament is a parliament where no party has been able to gain 50%+1 majority in seats in the House of Commons. No one party has been able to claim this.
The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats ran on messages emphasizing change, as a slap against the Labour Party which has been in power for the past 13 years. Still, Labour was able to hang onto more seats than expected and deny the Conservatives the ability to gain the majority. Complicating this math even more, none of the three major parties have enough seats to form a coalition to secure a majority government.
Questions for the next couple of days?
-Is there a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who didn’t perform as well as to be expected? Would the Liberals be open to such a deal, being tied in government to the clear losers of this election? If such a coalition is formed, does Gordon Brown remain Prime Minister? (The answer to the latter-most question is probably not).
-Does David Cameron attempt to form a minority government? With a minority government, the Tories (Conservatives) would be forced to attempt to negotiate a majority, individually, for each vote. If they fail to find a majority for a vote, and the vote goes ahead, the Government collapses.
-Does the Queen intervene? The Queen can intervene by breaking precedent and picking the government she thinks would be strongest. This would be unheard of in the modern era. Also, the Queen could call for a “national” government, which would involve all three parties in a coalition to address a key issue of the day. The last national government was just after the end of WWII.
The BBC is still providing live election coverage as of 8:35BST (7:35GMT). Watch it here.
While this election marked the first time British party leaders had ever engaged in an American-styled Presidential Debate, the content and performances were sourced straight from the floor and backbenches of the House of Commons.
Not since the advent of focus group tested answers have American political debates been this interesting. See, here in America, our debates have been ruined by consultants and focus groups. These consultants put together focus groups that say undecided voters don’t really like conflict or clash - they want the candidates to be “likable” and “friendly” and someone “they can have a beer with” - all of which are very important criteria for deciding the leader of the free world. So what we end up with here in America are politicians who make mealy mouthed statements and are afraid to go on the attack, or to openly challenge their opponents or even directly address their opponents.
These three debates, between the leaders of the three major political parties in Westminster, were like something you’d expect out of the most idealistic episodes of the West Wing. It was like Aaron Sorkin managed to put a vision of what his political wetdream would look like on stage, but in real life.
For instance, there was a substantive 15 minute exchange on immigration. David Cameron, for the Tories (Conservatives), blasted the Liberals (or LibDems or Liberal Democrats) for their plans to grant amnesty to as many as 600,000 illegal immigrants in Britain. Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, shot back by arguing the Tories immigration policy was a lack of an immigration policy and said amesty would make it easier for police to track down the real criminals who are exploiting immigrants. Gordon Brown, Labour’s leader, attacked both the Liberal’s amnesty and the Tories lack of specificity - but he was rebutted by both opponents who claimed British immigration system was a mess as a result of 13 years of Labour mismanagement.
The candidates specifically addressed each other, identifying both person and party. They posed questions to each other and cut each other off if they didn’t think they were getting an answer.
There was almost 30 minutes of the debate spent discussing how bank regulations should be tightened and how taxpayers’ money should be recouped from various banking bailouts. There was significant time spent debating what the Government’s roll should be in encouraging the rebuilding of Britain’s, once vaunted, now almost non-existent manufacturing sector. Tax policy debates also consumed considerable time - what taxes should increase and what taxes should be cut and how the current tax structures be made more equitable. There were no sophomoric “all taxes are evil” or “all spending is sacred” styled statements.
I was surprised by how rational and civil such intense exchanges on policy could be. No one was called a socialist or a communist (although that might be because those really aren’t viewed in the same pejorative fashion as they are in the States) or Fascist (which is still an insult) or accused the Government of attempting to strip its citizens of its rights, or asserted that the leader of another party was born in a foreign land and wanted to surrender to the Muslims.
Issues were crystallized. Positions were challenged and clarified. Holes in proposed policies were exposed. And the viewers came away significantly more informed about the leaders of the parties they will probably vote for, come Thursday.
Think about it this way, when was the last time you watched an American Presidential debate and found it genuinely informative? When was the last time, for example, a question about public schools generated a discussion that went beyond a simple regurgitation of the talking points?
The British took our format, did democracy proud, and shamed us in the process. They showed what a real debate looks like. I just hope, during the next Presidential election cycle, we get something more than dueling press statements from behind podiums. Chances are, we won’t. But then, as a 49ers fan, I’ve got this streak of eternal optimism.
It’s everything you ever wished an American presidential debate could/would be. There’s actual policy debate, actual clash between candidates. It’s a debate where they answer the QUESTIONS!
Bang it here to watch it. (That’s a PTF homage, people.)
Say you’re a political junkie who’s been living in a cave, under a rock, beneath the sea. Someone told you it was prime real estate. I understand. You’ve managed to regain your interest in politics and want to know what the hot primary races are - because, it’s not like there’s cable in that cave, which is buried beneath the rock located under the sea.
Arkansas Senate Race - This race continues to become more interesting as time wears on. Bill Halter is challenging Blanche Lincoln from her left, and with the support of the base of the national Democratic party.
Lincoln (pictured above with John Podesta) managed to enrage labor unions with her refusal to support health care reform, anger environmentalists by joining GOP efforts to overturn EPA regulations on greenhouse gasses and seriously annoyed the Arkansas NAACP with her refusal to recommend African American judges from Arkansas to the Federal Bench. If you’re running in a Democratic primary, even in Arkansas, getting those groups mad at you is a great way to ensure a challenge from your base. And, Bill Halter is giving her a run for her money.
From the Tolbert Report:
In the Democratic Primary, we are moving the rating from “Leans Lincoln” to “Toss Up.” Two major developments have contributed to this ratings change. First, with a third candidate D.C. Morrison pulling in support of around ten percent, it is more than likely that this race will go to a run off election in June. In order to avoid this, Sen. Blanche Lincoln or LG Bill Halter would have to win by a wider margin than Morrison receives in the May primary. And if this election does in fact go to a June runoff, it is anyone’s to win but probably favors Halter.
Second, the debate performance of Halter over the weekend along with his overall campaign strategy is likely to cause the race to continue to narrow going into the primary only three weeks away. With as many as one in four voters undecided in the latest poll, an effective message this late in the race matters. If Halter continues to have as good a performance over these last three weeks as he has had this past week, it is quite possible he will catch her by May 18.
One more fun fact - If neither Lincoln or Halter clear 50% in the upcoming primary, which isn’t a given because of a third candidate who’s drawing about 10% of the vote, there will be a runoff in early June.
Florida Senate Race - It’s hard to believe that less than six months ago, Charlie Christ was almost 50 points ahead of Marco Rubio. Now he’s almost 30 points behind Rubio in the upcoming GOP primary. Christ has been buffeted by the challenges many moderate Republicans have faced over the past few years - an increasingly conservative base in the GOP and an inability to connect with the needs of those more conservative voters.
A stiff primary challenge was one of the reasons Arlen Specter left the GOP and became a Democratic Senator. Anyways - back to Florida, where rumors out of Christ’s camp seem to indicate that Christ will fire paperwork to run as an independent in the next couple of weeks.
From First Read, NBC’s Political Newsletter (have I said how much I heart Chuck Todd?)
From NBC’s Domenico Montanaro
Charlie Crist is expected to announce his Senate plans Thursday.
"Speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Crist said, ‘I’d like to wrap it up,’" AP reports. “Asked what has changed that’s making him consider an independent run, Crist quietly responded, ‘I don’t know.’”
Adam Smith at the St. Pete Times also floats this possibility:
"Another key date for Charlie Crist’s senate deliberations June 18. Why? Because that’s the when ballots are printed for the Aug. 24 primary. One option not yet off the table is for Charlie Crist to qualify for the Republican primary and spend the next seven weeks pounding on Marco Rubio and/or praying for more dirt to emerge on the Miami frontrunner. If it still looks bleak by then, Crist could drop out of the race in time to have his name removed from the ballot. He wouldn’t have to face an electoral loss and he wouldn’t be accused of betraying his party."
Unlike many of the other morning political newsletters, First Read actually bothers to pay attention to state politics. These state primaries are going to play an important role in determining how issues are framed going into the November elections. So thanks, First Read, for actually covering politics outside of the beltway.
*** Super Senate Tuesday (debate wrap): The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Friday’s Lincoln-Halter debate: “Halter said he thinks it was unseemly for Sen. Blanche Lincoln to accept contributions from Goldman Sachs, since it represents ‘the very folks you’re supposed to regulate.’ Lincoln countered that she no longer is accepting contributions from Goldman Sachs and that she recently presented the ‘toughest reform bill on Wall Street that anyone has seen.’ Halter also said Friday he would have voted against the $700 billion bailout of the nation’s banks that Lincoln supported in 2008.” The AP covers the second Lincoln-Halter debate on Saturday. “Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter exchanged some of their most heated charges on unions and negative campaigning.” And here’s the write-up on Friday’s Grayson-vs.-Paul debate: Paul called Grayson a liar for telling voters he’s pro-choice, and Grayson called Paul a hypocrite for campaigning against federal earmarks while taking money from people tied to companies that have received them.”
Hot Springs Village, Ark-
Arkansas is a state that doesn’t usually get much attention politically. Politicians in Little Rock usually don’t have the flair for drama or the predisposition for indictments they’re counterparts in Louisiana (Edwin Edwards, Huey Long) and Texas (Tom DeLay - Indicted, Tom Craddick - drama) have. The last major scandal in Arkansas politics that caught national attention was Whitewater - a scandal is better known for the Starr Report and Monica Lewinsky than the questionable land deals and futures trades that sparked the investigation.
It’s not often Arkansans get to see a full-throated primary flight between a sitting incumbent and challenger with a chance in hell at winning. It’s the kind of spectacle the primary fight between Lt Gov. Bill Halter and Sen. Blanche Lincoln promises to provide. This fight is garnering national attention.
There is a political opening for Halter to run against Lincoln from the left (yes, such a thing exists in Arkansas) - the Democratic base isn’t happy with Lincoln. The NAACP has aired their grievances in public, releasing a letter which blasted Lincoln for a lack of African Americans on her list of recommendations for judicial appointments. Labor unions, which had given $250k to Lincoln during her 2004 nomination, are mad enough to write a $3 million check to Halter - her opponent. Lincoln managed to infuriate environmental groups by attempting to block efforts by the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
Halter managed to raise almost $5 million in just the first two days after the launch of his campaign, negating the incumbent’s war chest. Lincoln’s response to this attack from the left has been to move to the center. This would be the natural and probably correct impulse if this were the general election, but she’s running in the Democratic primary and her strategy of distancing herself from the base will only fuel Halter’s rise.
Her first ad consisted of her talking about major Democratic initiatives she didn’t support and ended with the tag-line “I don’t answer to my party, I answer to Arkansas.” Again, that’s a halfway decent strategy when you’re running in a general election, in a year where anti-incumbency sentiment rules the day. But, she still has to win the Democratic Primary and issuing an ad that includes the closing statement “I don’t answer to my party…” probably isn’t the best way to make the party activists who participate in the primary process very happy.
Lincoln is making the same mistake that Kay Bailey Hutchison made while running against Rick Perry. Political candidates from both parties attempt to fire up their party base during a primary or caucus. Moderates/independents/centrists don’t participate in the party process and usually don’t vote in primary elections. Because turnout for primaries tends to be low, victory is usually contingent upon getting your supporters to the polls. Party activists, who are usually ideologically aligned, are much more likely to turn out. Perry won because he was able to fire up the Republican base. If Bill Halter can fire up the Democratic base, he stands a good chance of knocking off Blanche Lincoln in May.
Lincoln’s campaign is worried - they went up with the first negative ad of the race earlier today. One of the cardinal rules of political conventional wisdom is “thou’t who goes negative usually does it because they’re concerned. Thou’t who goes negative first, usually does it because they’re flat out worried.” There hasn’t been any polling leaked by campaigns or released by independent pollsters since Halter entered the race, but it’s clear Lincoln’s campaign doesn’t like the way they feel the ground shifting.
Rick Perry v. Bill White - The result has been the probable outcome of Primary Day for at least a couple of months now. It’s no surprise but it’s still shocking. Who would have thought that the most popular politician in the state, Kay Bailey Hutchison, wouldn’t be able to slow Rick Perry’s run for an unprecedented third term? Who would have thought that Bill White would have emerged unscathed from a Democratic primary where his opponent dumped millions into the race?
But here we are, with the result that was expected, sitting with jaws slackened and eyes wide with amazement - we are about to witness the first truly competitive gubernatorial election in two generations. Not since a Rangers owner, most famous for trading Sammy Sosa, took on Ann Richards has there been an election so open for contest.
Rick Perry only won 39 percent of the vote when he was re-elected in 2006. Tonight, he struggled to get 51 percent of his party to nominate him for a third term as Governor. Debra Medina made Perry tack further to the right in order to keep the GOP’s base on board with him so he could fend a challenge on his relative left from Hutchison. Still, Perry is the man who has been written off more times than people can count. He wasn’t supposed to win in 2006, but he ended up trouncing Chris Bell and Carole Keeton Strayhorn in a four way election. Allegations of corruption and cronyism have dogged his administration and the scandal involving the execution of an innocent man would have sent a lesser politician to the locker room. But Perry fought on to win.
Bill White, emerged from his race unscathed as the very popular former mayor of Houston. With the Democratic Party solidly behind him (taking more than 75 percent in the primary) and his reputation as a pragmatist intact, White is well positioned to give chase to the political moderates in Texas. Winning over conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans will be key to any White win come November. His track record in Houston suggest he may be capable of generating substantial support in those key voting blocks.
So - Newsboys, break out those notepads. Publishers, start regretting the decisions to close those Austin bureaus. This is the kind of race that is going to move papers and make history.
— Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison - As recounted by an aide to Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News who then retold it to Chris Matthews on Hardball. The remark was made after she first learned of Perry’s comments in favor of secession on April 15, 2009
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