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    2016 Election Tag

    Democrats trotted out a stunning lack of self-awareness at the House Democratic Caucus retreat in Philadelphia today, continuing their emphasis on "middle class politics" and testing the waters with a messaging strategy that will likely drive their 2016 campaigns. From CBS News:
    “To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country,” said Biden. “And they’ve been really tough for our party. Just ask [former DCCC chair] Steve [Israel],” continued Biden. “They’ve been really tough for our party. But together – and together — we made some really, really tough decisions — decisions that weren’t at all popular, hard to explain.”
    Together! TOGETHER, damn you! It's telling that Biden focuses on the "together" aspect of the fact that Democrats did a terrible job---if Obama goes down, they're all going down with him? Is that the goal? The past six years have been tough not because people don't understand what's happening in this country, but because they can see it reflected in their lives, and their pocketbooks, and they don't like it.

    Now that Romney has released a statement to his supporters announcing that he won't be running in 2016, the next question is, to whom will he throw his support and his proven ability to raise money? Many conservatives have long excoriated Romney for not being conservative enough---or not being conservative at all. But I've long thought that his instincts were actually more conservative than he allowed himself to be while the governor of the deep blue state of Massachusetts (although I agree that he's certainly not as conservative as someone like Ted Cruz.) But those wondering about Romney's present intentions might want to pay particular attention to this part of his message:
    I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case. I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president. You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country. But we believe it is for the best of the Party and the nation... I believe a Republican winning back the White House is essential for our country, and I will do whatever I can to make that happen...

    By now we're all aware that the race for 2016 started before the ink was dry on the race for 2014. Even before President Obama delivered his already-partially-failed State of the Union slate of promises, we knew that he was going to attempt to pivot away from his party's disastrous performance in the midterms with a renewed commitment to populist platitudes; what we didn't know is whether or not his oft-divided party would follow his lead. Follow his lead they have, according to statements from high-ranking Democrats gathered this week in Philadelphia to talk strategy. From AP's Big Story:
    Their newly appointed chief of messaging, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, said House Democrats are "absolutely unified on three essential messages going forward. And it's middle class, middle class and middle class." Israel acknowledged that Democrats talked a lot about the middle class in last fall's elections. But world calamities distracted voters, he said, and Democrats failed to show that their economic policies would directly benefit working class families. Riffing on a campaign line of President Bill Clinton in 1992, Israel said the Democrats' new theme will be, "It's MY economy, stupid." Many Republicans scoff at Democrats' talk of better messaging. "Updating the packaging doesn't help if the product is still lousy," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
    Fortunately for Representative Israel, most of voting America isn't yet paying attention to the fact that he's mistaken global calamities for the ones Democrats caused at home. If they were, they'd be calling him on it, because even people who don't live in our political bubble know that the rebel siege on Ukraine isn't responsible for skyrocketing health care costs and larger grocery bills.

    As the race for 2016 shifts into gear, old conflicts are reemerging between Hillary Clinton supporters and Team Obama; this time, it's over access to Obama's massive email lists. Amie Parnes and Niall Stanage of The Hill reported:
    Obama, Clinton tensions build over email lists ahead of 2016 New tensions are emerging in the relationship between allies of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. At issue is the fate of the political equivalent of gold dust — the enormous email list, comprised of many millions of supporters and donors, that the Obama team has compiled over the course of his two presidential campaigns. The Clinton camp would dearly love to get its hands on the list, but there is no promise as yet that the president’s aides will comply. There are “large concerns” about the lists among Clinton supporters, one Hillary ally told The Hill. To the Clintons and their friends, it’s near unthinkable that a Democratic president — who has plenty of reasons to want a member of his party to succeed him — would withhold such a valuable commodity. But Team Obama has long believed that the president’s support is built upon the bedrock of his personal qualities rather than mere party identification. His people are loath to be seen as treating the passion of his supporters in a cavalier fashion. “There’s a lot of data — voter data, massive email lists — that Obama built and there are a lot of people who want to make sure that he spreads that wealth,” the Clinton ally said. “They want to make sure he doesn’t take it in a suitcase back to Chicago and move on. No one wants to see it disappear or have it used just to build a library.”
    Democrats are probably hoping everyone has forgotten how ugly the conflict between Hillary and Obama became during the 2008 Democratic primary. There's plenty of evidence that the rift never healed.

    Former Governor and possible presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had some strong words for the Obama family in defense of traditional values and responsible parenting---and of course, they're making waves all over the media. From AP:
    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has accused President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, of double standards in parenting, saying in an interview published Tuesday that the first family shelters its daughters from some things but allows them to listen to the music of Beyoncé. While promoting his new book, the former Baptist pastor told People magazine, "I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything - how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school ... and yet they don't see anything that might not be suitable" in Beyoncé's lyrics. He also said Beyoncé's choreography is "best left for the privacy of her bedroom." In his book, Huckabee describes the Grammy Award-winning Beyoncé's lyrics as "obnoxious and toxic mental poison." He also accuses Beyoncé's husband, rapper Jay-Z, of "exploiting his wife" like a "pimp."
    The problem with what just happened here has less to do with whether or not Beyoncé is a good role model, and more to do with what we allow to become part of the narrative in the run up to the next election cycle. (And yes, I realize we're always considering the next election cycle. That's how you win elections.) There is an important difference between Huckabee's narrative, and the narrative of the conservative movement at large; this difference requires all those who aspire to positions of leadership in the movement---or in the country---to make an important decision the minute they decide to throw their hat in the ring. Whose narrative is more important---mine, or the the people's?

    Between the President's executive orders, a spiraling health care delivery infrastructure, and a bloated welfare state, candidates gearing up for a run in 2016 have no shortage of material for stump speeches and e-mail blasts. But, as anyone who has looked at the data from previous cycles knows, some issues move voters to the polls, while others move voters to remain on the couch rating movies on Netflix. Willingness to prioritize issues has been a problem for the right at least as long as I've been involved in politics. We worry that strategically promoting, say, conservative economic policies, means that we're somehow downplaying the importance of other issues such as abortion, immigration, or the country's whirling moral compass. I don't have a solution to this problem; but as a strategist, when it comes to choosing which issues to throw on the front burner during a political campaign, I look to the data. A new poll by Gallup rounds up the top concerns of Americans in 2014, and offers valuable insight for those looking to get an early start on platform building. 2014 was unique in that over the course of the year, four issues dominated the conversation enough to break double digits in the percentage of people who thought that particular problem was the nation's most troubling. Gallup explains how the numbers have shifted:

    2016 is still quite a way off but that hasn't stopped speculation about the chances for each of the major parties. Bill Barrow of the Associated Press looks back at the last few elections and raises an important question for the next one:
    Can GOP shatter 'Obama coalition' in 2016? Republicans crowed in 2004 that freshly re-elected President George W. Bush had established a "permanent governing majority" for the GOP. Eight years later, Democrats were touting the enduring power of the "Obama coalition" to keep their party in the White House. But Democrats couldn't sustain that coalition for this year's midterm elections, leading to Republican gains in Congress, governorships and state legislatures nationwide. "The notion of demographics as destiny is overblown," said Republican pollster and media strategist Wes Anderson. "Just like (Bush aide Karl) Rove was wrong with that 'permanent majority' talk, Democrats have to remember that the pendulum is always swinging." So how will it swing in 2016? Is the path to 270 electoral votes so fixed that one side just can't win? Does Obama's unpopularity carry over into the next race for the White House? Or will an increasingly diverse electorate pick a Democrat for a third consecutive presidential election for the first time since Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman won five straight elections from 1932 to 1948?
    Again, it's still early. Neither party has even begun the primary process. Still, when it comes to the so-called Obama coalition, Democrats are going to realize that their coalition and Obama's are two separate things.

    Greg Abbott won a decisive victory in Texas' recent gubernatorial election, but he'll have some big shoes to fill come January. Outgoing Governor Rick Perry may be stepping down from his post at the Texas capitol, but he's nowhere near close to making his exit from the national stage. In addition to forming a PAC, courting conservatives, and brushing up on his foreign policy credibility, he's taking time to detail the hard work and conservative policies that were passed under his watch that converged to create "The Texas Miracle." From Fox News:
    "Governor Perry established in the national mind that Texas is the place for jobs and freedom where entrepreneurship thrives and the American dream is alive," said Cal Jillson, SMU political science professor and author of "Lone Star Tarnished." Indeed, Texas under Perry has outpaced any other state on the employment front, creating three out of 10 of all U.S. jobs. Forbes magazine recently named Texas as the leading state for economic climate and future job growth while Chief Executive Magazine readers have named Texas as the number one state to do business for 10 years running. Over 100 of America's top companies -- including AT&T, Fluor, Dell and ExxonMobil -- are based in Texas. Toyota, Apple, Charles Schwab and SpaceX are expanding operations in the state. Perry has crisscrossed the globe with missionary zeal, from Beijing to London, touting a flourishing Texas brand that looks a shade brighter against the national economy. Texas, in turn, is America's top exporting state averaging more than $1 billion in exports every working day. "I was always intrigued with economic development and an economic climate that frees people," Perry said. "It was innate, something I derived from watching people I admired like my father, and it wasn't something I read or studied in school."

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) had some strong words for fellow senator Rand Paul (R-KY) over his libertarian take on the end of the Cuban trade embargo. So strong, in fact, that Paul decided to take the fight to the internet. During his Thursday night appearance on "The Kelly File," Rubio had this to say about Paul and his anti-embargo cohorts:
    "Like many people that have been opining, he has no idea what he's talking about," Rubio said Thursday night on Fox News's "The Kelly File." Earlier on Thursday, Paul had voiced support for Obama's surprise move on Wednesday to open an embassy in Cuba as well as ease economic and travel restrictions. "The 50-year embargo just hasn't worked," Paul said. "If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn't seem to be working, and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship." ... "Look, Venezuela's economy looks like Cuba's economy now," Rubio said. "You can't even buy toilet paper in Caracas. And there's no embargo on Venezuela. What Venezuela has in common with Cuba, is they both have adopted radical socialist governmental policies. "And I would expect that people would understand that if they just took a moment to analyze that, they would realize that the embargo is not what's hurting the Cuban people," Rubio added. "It's the lack of freedom and the lack of competent leaders."
    Not to be outdone by a fellow prospective presidential contender, Paul took to Facebook for what many are now calling an ill-advised rant: paul-on-rubio The trolling continued on Twitter:

    Alison Lundergan Grimes was to be the Wendy Davis of Kentucky. And you know what? It worked. She was crushed by Mitch McConnell. Now Grimes is lashing out, trying to prevent Rand Paul from being able to run for both President and Senate on the same ballot. From ABC11, Grimes pledges legal challenge if Paul attempts simultaneous races:
    Six weeks after she lost her own bid for the U-S Senate, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-Kentucky) tells WHAS11 if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) tries to appear on the same ballot for both Senate and President in 2016, she will challenge him in court. "The law is clear," Grimes said. "You can't be on the ballot twice for two offices." Kentucky Democrats are not cooperating as Paul considers mounting simultaneous campaigns for Senate and President. Democrats maintained control of the Kentucky House in last month's election, a roadblock to legislation favored by the Republican Senate to remove the prohibition. House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) declined to consider a Senate bill to that effect earlier this year. Paul may challenge the law in court as the Republican Party of Kentucky also discusses whether to hold a presidential caucus rather than a primary, which would allow Paul to follow the letter of the law by not appearing on the primary ballot, twice.
    Now, I understand, Grimes is just standing up for principles. Like when she wouldn't reveal, ahem, whether she voted for Obama:

    Jeb Bush broke the right wing internet this morning when he tweeted this: He also took to Facebook to detail his reasoning and offer an explanation of what actions he's taking as of right now:
    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday. Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren. We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football. We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States. In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America. Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I’ll be in touch soon. Onward, Jeb Bush

    The past few days may have been chock full of more strategy-derailing posturing and political theatre than we wanted or deserved, but hidden between the folds of intra-party fighting was a nugget of relevancy that we should dust off when we resume debates over who deserves to serve as our next post-cycle whipping boy Presidential candidate. Senator Marco Rubio (F-FL) took to the Senate floor for a palate cleanser on foreign policy, and it was impressive. The video below is 43 minutes long, but hit play and let it serve as background sound for your Sunday afternoon internet binge:

    Democrats speak out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to campaign finance laws. They say they want big money out of American politics but they'll stop at nothing to raise big money to install Hillary Clinton as America's next president. Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon reports how that goal may have resulted in a violation of law:
    Pro-Hillary PAC Accused of Illegal Activity in FEC Lawsuit An anti-Hillary Clinton PAC filed a lawsuit on Thursday to compel the Federal Election Commission to determine whether the pro-Clinton Super PAC Ready for Hillary is violating campaign finance laws. The Stop Hillary PAC originally filed a complaint with the FEC in January, claiming that Ready for Hillary may be illegally conducting authorized campaign activity on behalf of Hillary Clinton. According to the complaint, Ready for Hillary used an email list owned by Hillary Clinton’s Senate committee to send out fundraising letters. Ready for Hillary also allegedly sent out the solicitations using the email address [email protected]—a website that the complaint says is owned by Clinton’s authorized committee. The Ready for Hillary email stated “now is the time to get our support for Hillary organized and ready for 2016,” according to the lawsuit.

    One of Hillary's problems is the perception of inauthenticity, someone who will assume whatever persona she needs to assume at any given moment. Like when she assume a southern accent. So what do Hillary supporters at Stand With Hillary do to convince the public Hillary is authentic? Create the most inauthentic video ever created in the history of the human race (h/t @MichelleMalkin / Twitchy):

    The reality of campaign politics is that there is no standard for rhetoric. You punch low, you punch high, and you start punching before you have specific people you're tasked with punching. Some progressives, however, are jockeying for early bids to lead Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign, and are using fellow Democrats' low blows against Republicans---and each other---to improve their chances. ABC News has received copies of e-mails from the "Mook Mafia," a list serv run by 34 year old Democrat operative Robby Mook, who many believe could be slated to lead Hillary's campaign team. via ABC News:
    Copies of a cache of the emails obtained by ABC News, and revealed publicly for the first time, show Mook and Marshall demonstrating an aggressive tone in rallying their friends behind political causes, in exchanges that are often self-mocking and sometimes border on being profane. They include rallying cries to, in Mook’s words, “smite Republicans mafia-style,” and, to quote Marshall, “punish those voters.” Mook sometimes calls himself “Deacon” in the emails, while Marshall, now a senior White House aide, refers to himself as “Reverend” in many of the exchanges. ... The private emails were provided to ABC News by a Democrat on the listserv who has worked alongside Mook and Marshall on previous campaigns. The person who provided the emails is, like the vast majority of those on the listserv, supportive of Hillary Clinton, but does not support the idea of Mook or Marshall holding leadership roles in a second presidential bid. They were provided on the condition of anonymity. That the emails are emerging publicly reflects the ferocious intra-battle to populate the top positions of an expected Clinton campaign.

    2014 has been a great year for Republicans: we maintained the House, took back the Senate, made inroads with new voters and solidified the voting base, and sent the mainstream media spiraling. Good for us. Now it's time to get back to work. If this were a sane world, we'd be justified in resting on our laurels for the next few months; but this is politics, there are no laurels, and we're all still so hopped up on caffeine and victory that we might as well ride the lightning while its flashing. Especially since Democrats are. Groups like Battleground Texas may have suffered crushing defeat in the midterms, but they're not going to let the loss of fluff candidates like Wendy Davis derail their mission. Organizing for Action has a new video out, aimed at reaching the very demographics they lost ground with in 2014:
    OFA is a movement of millions fighting for real, lasting change. This isn't for everyone — we're community organizers, and we're proud of it. If you’re someone who'd rather get involved than sit back, if you refuse to be cynical about what we can get done together, then you should be part of this. Let's go.

    When my friends and I first signed up for Facebook back in 2003, I don't think any of us had any idea how the platform would grow and monetize itself over the next decade. What was once the anti-MySpace is now arguably one of the most powerful tools political campaigns and marketing firms have on hand to help push their brands. Political advertising on Facebook ebbs and flows with the cycle, but Facebook has developed and implemented a new way to read user data that will help their team make Facebook ads even more (creepily) specific. "Sentiment analysis"---or, reading a user's feelings on a particular subject based on what they write---is desperately tricky to get right, but if Facebook can do it, everyone from marketing and political consultants to media outlets will be able to gauge reactions on hot button issues simply by looking at a "sentiment analysis." Experts predict that this type of digital strategy could end up outpacing TV and radio as the primary platforms for regional analysis. From Buzzfeed:
    Facebook is on the cusp — and I suspect 2016 will be the year this becomes clear — of replacing television advertising as the place where American elections are fought and won. The vast new network of some 185 million Americans opens the possibility, for instance, of a congressional candidate gaining traction without the expense of television, and of an inexpensive new viral populism. The way people share will shape the outcome of the presidential election. Even during the 2014 midterms, which most Americans ignored, Facebook says it saw 43 million unique individuals engage in the political conversation. Now a rawly powerful video may reach far more voters in a few hours than a multimillion-dollar ad buy; and it will reach them from trusted sources — their friends — not via suspect, one-way channels.
    Is this new big data push a substitute for traditional polling, though? Experts say no:
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