Monday, September 28, 2009

Congressional Redistricting Outlook

With congressional redistricting on the horizon it is worth looking at the landscape in context of the importance of the 2010 state legislative and gubernatorial elections in the 22 states that could see apportionment changes.

Gainers, in two sets, include: Most Likely Gainers: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Nevada, and Utah; Potential Gainers: Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington.

Losers, in two sets, include: Most Likely Losers: Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Potential Losers: Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and California (more likely to not see a change – significant because it will be the first time since statehood that CA does not gain a congressional seat).

The purpose of the U.S. Census as it relates to congressional redistricting is to define which states gain, lose or stay unchanged in their congressional district apportionment. As the decennial census has not yet occurred a precise projection cannot be made, but the states above are the likeliest to see changes in apportionment.

This begs the question of potential outcome based on which political party controls the governorship and state legislature in each state. This makes the 2010 election cycle extremely important to the future prosperity of each political party. Below is the current breakdown, but may see changes after November 2010.

Current governorship breakdown in these states is 10GOP/12Dem. The GOP controls seven of these state legislatures, the Democrats control 11, and four are split.

Arizona: Gov: GOP; State House/Assembly: 35GOP/25Dem; Senate: 18GOP/12Dem. AZ draws congressional lines via a bipartisan commission so a two seat gain will be a wash.

California: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 28GOP/50Dem/1IND/1 Vacancy; Senate 15GOP/25Dem. In the likely event the governorship changes hands and if the state gets an apportionment change it will favor Democrats.

Florida: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 76GOP/44Dem; Senate 25GOP/14Dem. Likely apportionment pick-up for GOP.

Georgia: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 105GOP/75Dem; Senate: 4GOP/2Dem. Likely apportionment pick-up for GOP despite only a narrow advantage to the GOP in the gubernatorial contest.

Illinois: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 48GOP/70Dem; Senate: 22GOP/37Dem. GOP would lose a seat.

Iowa: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 44GOP/56Dem; Senate: 18GOP/32Dem. Redistricting map is computer generated so the lost congressional seat will likely produce a competitive swing district.

Louisiana: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 50GOP/52Dem/3IND; Senate: 17GOP/22Dem. Hurricane Katrina dramatically altered this state’s politics for Democrats, who will likely lose a seat.

Massachusetts: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 16GOP/143/Dem/1IND; Senate: 5GOP/5Dem. A win-lose for Democrats as they control everything and will lose a seat.

Michigan: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 43GOP/67Dem; Senate: 21GOP/16Dem/1 Vacancy. GOP would likely lose a seat from a redrawn competitive congressional district.

Minnesota: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 47GOP/87Dem; Senate: 21GOP/46Dem. Democrats likely pick-up the governorship and would redraw two GOP districts into one, so GOP loses a seat.

Missouri: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 74GOP/89Dem; Senate 23GOP/10Dem/1 Vacancy. If MO loses a seat it would be to the detriment of the GOP.

Nevada: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 14GOP/28Dem; Senate: 8GOP/12Dem/1 Vacancy. If Democrats win the governorship the likely outcome is a Democrat pick-up of one congressional seat.

New Jersey: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 31GOP/48Dem/1 Vacancy; Senate: 17GOP/23Dems. As it looks that the GOP could win the governorship but not the Assembly the GOP likely loses a congressional seat.

New York: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 41GOP/109Dem; Senate: 30GOP/32Dem. CD-23 (Rep. McHugh’s old seat) special election is critical as it could mean Democrats lose a State Senate seat (as the likely Democratic congressional candidate is a Democratic State Senator), as is the Democrat’s weak hold on the governorship. The state loses a congressional seat and the loss could go against either party.

North Carolina: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 52GOP/68Dem; Senate: 20GOP/30Dem. A congressional seat pick-up in this state favors Democrats if it happens.

Ohio: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 45GOP/53Dem/1 Vacancy; Senate: 21GOP/12Dem. Democrats have a narrow advantage in the gubernatorial contest. If the Democrats retain the governorship and the state loses two seats it is a wash.

Oregon: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 24GOP/35Dem/1 Vacancy; Senate: 12GOP/18Dem. If OR gains a seat it will favor the Democrats as they are likely to retain the open gubernatorial contest.

Pennsylvania: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 99GOP/104Dem; Senate: 30GOP/20Dem. The gubernatorial contest is currently a toss-up and Democrats have a very narrow advantage in the State House, making for a potential GOP congressional seat gain – but an equal chance for a GOP loss.

South Carolina: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 72GOP/52Dem; Senate: 27GOP/19Dem. If SC gains a congressional seat it would favor the GOP.

Texas: Gov: GOP: house/Assembly: 76GOP/74Dem; Senate: 19GOP/12Dem. TX is likely to pick-up three congressional seats, maybe four. Either way the majority (either two or three) of these seats go to the GOP.

Utah: Gov: GOP; House/Assembly: 53GOP/22Dem; Senate: 21GOP/8Dem. A GOP congressional seat pick-up.

Washington: Gov: Dem; House/Assembly: 34GOP/64Dem; Senate: 18GOP/1Dem. WA has a chance to see a congressional seat gain, but it is unlikely. If there is a gain it will favor Democrats.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The GOP and the Second Amendment

As the Republican Party attempts to rebuild it will have to navigate the coalitions that tend toward its support. The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment lobby are such coalitions. The GOP, to its detriment, is loath to insult this lobby for the sake of electoral practicality.

The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” For the Republican Party this should not be about citizens buying weapons but one of states’ rights, as reference to “the people” is a reference to self-government. Such a position satisfies GOP principles and keeps it within the bounds of common sense.

The intent of the Second Amendment is to protect from the tyranny of the federal government and foreign invaders. The context is the American Revolution. The weaponry of that day was far different from the weapon technology of today. That conflict featured muskets and cannon. The rationale of the Second Amendment is to provide deterrence to a standing federal army when there was no significant gap between the weapon technology of the army and what was common in the 18th Century American home. Further, the assumption of the time was that a standing American army of 30,000 would be no match for state militias numbering 500,000.

This past August saw armed protestors, at least one with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, attending events featuring President Obama. These protestors were operating within the rule of law. However, the symbolism of the semi-automatic weapons was a dull annunciation of their opposition to President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation. One can only deduce that these protestors were symbolically saying that they would bring a gun to a pen fight.

Setting aside reality to host the armed protestors’ extravagant exaggeration that the debate over healthcare reform could culminate in armed conflict on America’s streets; let’s instead examine how that armed conflict would unwind. This also requires a suspension of belief that the general public would idly allow such a gathering storm to reach critical mass. To carry forth this fantasy one must also allow the assumption that America’s military personnel and key federal government officials would act in conspiracy to unilaterally take to America’s streets to violently quash their fellow citizens, armed or not. In the end, even the best shot with an AR-15 is no match for the best armed and trained military in the world.

Nor should it be ignored that the National Guard is a state militia, nullifying the claim by the National Rifle Association that the Second Amendment is violated when the federal government passes laws regulating the sale of weapons to private American citizens.

The Republican Party is so anxious about its relevancy and winning, generally and particularly in the 2010 midterm elections, it has long abandoned all common sense relating to gun ownership. When extremists bring weapons to a public meeting the GOP has the opportunity to condemn the provocation. In doing so the GOP would edge toward the mainstream and provide a precedent to America’s moderate and independent voters to see it as rational and not captive of the extreme right. This can be done without violation of its republican principles if only there were the courage.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Most Vulnerable Democratic U.S. House Members in 2010

Democratic U.S. House Representatives who got less than 55% of the vote to win in 2008 are going to be top of the GOP’s 2010 midterm election target list. This list is below.

Some of these 30 congressional seats are located in areas of the country where it will be very hard for the Republican Party to win unless it tones down the extreme right rhetoric and rebuilds the moderate GOP brand. New England and the Mid-Atlantic are prime examples where there are 10 (or 33%) potential pick-ups from the list below.

The struggle between the Republican campaign professionals and the ideologues will be the back-story for the GOP going into the 2010 mid-term elections. For ideologues the campaign process is about adherence to conservative Republican doctrine and – sometimes – inflammatory claims for the sake of controversy. For consultants it is about winning so that the GOP does not become utterly irrelevant – which to some extent is about protecting and sustaining their business model. In between is the solution, but the divide may as well be interstellar for the likelihood of there being any sign of compromise from the hard right wing.

Many ideologues will argue that flexibility on doctrine will be unnecessary as the senior citizen and independent voter revolt against Pres. Obama ‘s healthcare reform will be enough to carry the day. How seniors and independents feel about healthcare in the fall of 2010 is unknown and that is not a strategy for long-term GOP growth.

However, voter discord over the Obama Administration's bailout and stimulus programs presents the GOP with an opportunity to seize the fiscal responsibility mantle. This discord pits the "have littles" against the "have nots" and is a breach in the Democratic Party's lines that the GOP can leverage in 2010.

At the same time the GOP needs to demonstrate tolerance and empathy to those demographics that currently see it as rigid and unwelcoming. This can be done through legislative initiatives and candidate recruitment, which will enable the Republican Party to walk the talk. An important round of candidate recruitment for the 2010 election is on the door step and the GOP gets to decide its future.

Of this list of 30 Members of Congress 73% are freshmen. McCain won 11 (37%) of these congressional districts with 50% or greater. This list does not include NY-23, a traditionally Republican seat, as it is currently open and awaiting a special election.

The list below is color coded to denote freshman, 1+ Term and 3+ Term incumbents and includes the Democratic incumbent’s 2008 election percentage and McCain’s performance in the 2008 presidential election in that congressional district (McCain 50%+ districts are in red).

AZ-08 Giffords 55%; 52%
CA-11 McNerney 55%; 44%
FL-22 Klein 55%; 48%
ME-01 Pingree 55%; 38%
NC-08 Kissell 55%; 47%
NM-01 Heinrich 55%; 39%
NY-25 Maffei 55%; 43%
OR-05 Schrader 55%; 43%
VA-11 Connolly 55%; 42%
MS-01 Childers 54%; 62%
OH-16 Boccieri 54%; 50%
WI-08 Kagen 54%; 54%
AZ-05 Mitchell 53%; 52%
TX-17 Edwards 53%; 67%
AL-05 Griffith 52%; 61%
FL-08 Grayson 52%; 47%
MI-09 Peters 52%; 43%
NH-01 Shea-Porter 52%; 46%
NJ-03 Adler 52%; 47%
PA-03 Dahlkemper 52%; 49%
PA-11 Kanjorski 52%; 42%
VA-02 Nye 52%; 48%
CT-04 Himes 51%; 40%
ID-01 Minnick 51%; 62%
NY-24 Arcuri 51%; 48%
NY-29 Massa 51%; 50%
OH-01 Driehaus 51%; 44%
AL-02 Bright 50%; 63%
VA-05 Perriello 50%; 51%
NY-20 Murphy 50%; 48%

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Geoffrey Raymond on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer

A great segment on Lehman Brothers featuring my talented cousin and his Annotated Fuld.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Is Anybody Surprised Ridge's Terror Alert Controversy Sells Books?

Secretary Tom Ridge (R-PA) has disavowed his book's jacket cover and denied he caved to political pressure to heighten the Department of Homeland Security's "terror alert" on the eve of the 2004 presidential election. Something stinks here.

As an author published by a significant house, Simon & Schuster, I know something about the book publication and promotion process Mr. Ridge has just experienced. After the book is written the publisher puts some pressure on the author to make the book jacket as salacious and controversial as possible - as that is what is going to get attention and sell the product. The author has plenty of say and approval of the book jacket. Ideas on what the book jacket should read are cooked up and kicked around, as is artwork (artwork for a Ridge book most likely never deviated from the traditional photo of thre author). Throughout this process the author - Ridge in this case - has the opportunity to say no to those ideas they don't like.

I was not thrilled with my book jacket cover but in the end decided that it was the best effort to make the book appealing to buyers because it adhered to the facts in the book. My literary agent hated the artwork and I was unsure so more artwork was created until I concluded the original idea offered by S&S was the best one and I chose to use it on my book jacket's cover.

To the point; something stinks about Ridge's recantation of his book's jacket. Ridge had all the power to nix the language on the book jacket cover that hints that he broke to the Bush White House's pressure to up the terror alert going into the 2004 election. So there are really only two conclusions the observer can make: 1) Ridge has taken so much heat from former Bush WH officials about disclosing such a repugnant truth that he has back-peddled; or 2) Ridge caved to pressure from his publisher to print the salacious book jacket in the interest of selling more books. Either way, Ridge comes away looking weak and easily strong-armed.

The more plausible explanation about the book cover is that the publisher used nuance to create controversy. The book cover reads: "He (Ridge) recounts episodes such as the pressure that the DHS received to raise the security alert on the eve of the '04 presidential election." Pressure is not qualified to mean political or any other defined pressure, but surely intimates that it was political pressure to create the controversy.

However, Ridge does write in the book that, ""There was absolutely no support for that position (to raise the terror alert) within our department. None. I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?'" This is a reasonable question for a politician to ask themselves. It does seem plausible that political pressure was applied, as the Bush White House was largely about making policy decisions through the political prism. Ridge's response to this after the book was published is that he made the decision to raise the alert and did not factor politics; a tough position to square with the statement in the book.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

GOP 2010 Pick-Up List:U.S. House Democrats in McCain 50%+ Districts

As the Republican Party begins to boil down its pick-up prospects for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, the congressional districts where Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) won by a margin of 50% or greater in the 2008 presidential election is a place to start. This list is below.

Another criterion for targeting the best Republican opportunities is where the Democratic congressional candidate got less that 55% to win their 2008 election. That list will follow.

The list below is of the 47 Democratic congressional districts where McCain won by a margin of 50% or greater. Of the 47 Democrats on this list 13 (28%) are freshmen and 11 (23%) have won two elections and are in their third term. The rest are firmly entrenched incumbents (23, or 49%) with three or more consecutive terms in Congress. This last group will be the hardest for Republicans to defeat in 2010. Winning any of these seats, especially the entrenched Democratic incumbents, will depend on candidate recruitment and fundraising – both by the candidates, the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee. Needless to say, viable challenger candidates to the entrenched Democratic incumbents are unlikely.

It is a reasonable assumption that of the list of 47 Democratic House Members only 24 present a potential challenge opportunity. Given that the GOP needs 39 seats to take control of the House it is unlikely that Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) expectation to win control will materialize.

However, this past August saw a great deal of grassroots displeasure over healthcare reform. This instructs the GOP that there is a wave to be caught and ridden onto the shores of the 2010 mid-term election. The problem for the GOP is that the protest over healthcare reform cannot be controlled as it is largely organic, even though there have been Republican efforts to encourage the growth of the movement. By being organic it means that those unhappy with healthcare reform cannot necessarily be corralled to help the GOP pick-up congressional seats. That said, if the energy of the healthcare reform protests carries into November 2010 many voters will cast ballots for Republican congressional challenger candidates in dissent of the Democratic majority in Washington, DC.

The list below is color coded to denote Freshman, 1+ Term and 3+ Term incumbents and includes McCain’s performance in 2008 in that congressional district.

MS-04 Taylor         67
TX-17 Edwards      67
OK-02 Boren         66
TN-04 Davis          64
AL-02 Bright          63
ID-01 Minnick        62
MS-01 Childers      62
TN-06 Gordon       62
AL-05 Griffith         61
LA-03 Melancon    61
MO-04 Skelton      61
AR-01 Berry          59
VA-09 Boucher      59
AR-04 Ross           58
MD-01 Kratovil     58
UT-02 Matheson    57
WV-01 Mollohan   57
GA-08 Marshall     56
TN-08 Tanner        56
WV-03 Rahall        56
KY-06 Chandler    55
PA-04 Altmire        55
AR-02 Snyder        54
AZ-01 Kirkpatrick 54
FL-02 Boyd           54
PA-10 Carney        54
ND-AL Pomeroy    53
SC-05 Spratt          53
AZ-05 Mitchell       52
AZ-08 Giffords       52
NC-07 McIntyre    52
NC-11 Shuler         52
OH-18 Space         52
FL-24 Kosmas       51
IN-08 Ellsworth      51
NY-13 McMahon  51
NY-29 Massa        51
PA-17 Holden        51
VA-05 Perriello      51
CO-03 Salazar       50
CO-04 Markey      50
IN-09 Hill               50
MN-07 Peterson    50
NM-02 Teague      50
OH-06 Wilson       50
OH-16 Boccieri     50
PA-12 Murtha       50