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Washington Report – Oct. 24, 2015

24 Oct 2014

Washington Report – Oct. 24, 2015


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This week’s Washington Report! To sign up for the direct email, click here.

 

FOUR WAYS 2014 ELECTION IS LIKE 2010…OR NOT … ONE NEGATIVE AD EVERY MINUTE …  SENATE-MAJORITY MATH … SENATE INTELLIGENCE … WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD … WHEN YOU NEED A FRIEND IN WASHINGTON, GET A DOG … and other news of the week.

Enjoy the weekend!

Best,

Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Alan MacLeod, Steve Moffitt, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala, Kate Venne, Kathryn Wellner, Maggie Moore and Ross Willkom)

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SECOND-TO-LAST FRIDAY BEFORE THE ELECTION, that’s right.

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DEMOCRATIC TELEPHONE Huddle, “Republicans are delighted about the lack of coordination between the White House and congressional Democrats during the midterms (His policies are on the ballot, Senate Democrats support his agenda, etc.). The L.A. Times dives in: “White House officials argue that Obama is doing all he can to help struggling Democrats. He’s raised millions for campaign committees, delayed controversial elements of his policy agenda and tailored his message to cater to their political needs, they say …Privately, the president’s advisors are frustrated by the media’s rush to see a gaffe where the White House sees smart politics. If Obama isn’t sticking to his allies’ message, it’s because it’s a losing message, they argue.”

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OBAMA, OBAMA OBAMA, OBAMA OBAMA Politico “… in red states once assumed to be safe for the GOP, like Kansas and South Dakota. Republicans there are doing everything they can to tie independents to President Barack Obama and national Democrats, a national effect that is now being employed essentially everywhere by the GOP.”

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FOUR WAYS 2014 ELECTION IS LIKE 2010 … OR NOT The Fix, “Everyone wants to know the answer to the following question: Will the 2014 midterm election on Nov. 4 be a repeat of the 2010 midterms, in which the GOP made huge gains? There are indeed plenty of indicators suggesting we’re in for another 2010 … and several more that suggest that it’s not quite there. Here’s the yes-it’s-2010 arguments and then the no-it’s-not-2010 arguments, one by one.

Why it’s 2010 all over again:

 1) The GOP’s enthusiasm advantage on three different measures tracked by Pew is very comparable to 2010.

2) Obama is even more of an issue this time.

3) The GOP holds very similar leads to where it was in 2010 on most almost every key issue. 4) Republican voters are quite interested in seeing their party in power.

Why it’s not 2010:

1) The GOP’s generic ballot lead isn’t as big as it was in 2010.

2) While the GOP holds 2010-like leads on issues, Democrats are viewed even more as the party of empathy.

3) Anti-incumbent sentiment is more even between the two parties.

4) While both parties were viewed similarly on the eve of 2010, today the GOP is in worse shape

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60ee0c0a2393c8c866aae3a0_280x157WHAT’S GOING ON IN KENTUCKY? The Fix, “One week after going off the television airwaves in Kentucky, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is now back up with ads in the race, a reversal that has led many to wonder what exactly is going on in the Bluegrass State. Seeking answers to that question, a half-dozen (or so) strategists in both parties who are closely following the race  … painted radically different views of the race and suggested that one side is going to be very right and the other very wrong in 12 days’ time. EVERYONE AGREES: 1.  Going dark on television, even while still spending money on get-out-the-vote programs, is typically not a good sign for a party’s prospects in a race. 2. Mitch McConnell has led Alison Lundergan Grimes in 14 of the last 15 publicly-released polls and has a 4.4 point edge in Real Clear Politics polling average. 3. Very few of those polls suggest McConnell is in entirely safe territory; he sits somewhere between 44 and 47 percent in most. [Here’s where] the agreement ends. REPUBLICAN VERSION McConnell has been ahead steadily for quite some time. His lead had begun to widen since he and Grimes debated Oct. 13 and he is now rapidly approaching 50% in a slew of internal Republican polls. Grimes’s negatives are now at parity — or worse — with McConnell’s, and she is starting to run low on money. DEMOCRATIC VERSION McConnell, they argue, has never been able to put Grimes away despite massive spending by his campaign and aligned super PAC. The DSCC’s decision to go off the air for a week was a reflection of a very tough national map for the party, not a reflection on Grimes’s chances.   McConnell’s standing in polling — 46.6% on average in all of the Real Clear Politics data — affirms that people still aren’t sold on him. His negatives remain extremely high and voters are looking for a reason to vote him out.  They see this race like the one in Kansas, where Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is struggling to overcome independent Greg Orman.  In each case, the incumbents are badly wounded; the only question is if they can be finished off. GOOD NEWS FOR US POLITICAL JUNKIES Kentucky’s polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern time on election night — one of the earliest poll closes in the country. So, by 10 p.m. or so on the night of Nov. 4, we will know who was right in their view of the race. That’s only about 297 hours from now.

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ONE NEGATIVE AD EVERY MINUTE IN NORTH CAROLINA The Fix: “NC has earned a few distinctions: It’s the lone Democratic-held red state (out of seven) in which Republicans have yet to take the lead. It could soon become the most expensive Senate race in history, even adjusting for inflation. Republican Thom Tillis has faced more money ($26 million) spent on negative ads against him than anyone else — at least from the money we can track And as the Center for Public Integrity’s Dave Levinthal notes, the North Carolina Senate race is without equal in that regard to nastiness. MOST STUNNING STATISTIC Tar Heels last week endured more than 10,800 U.S. Senate election-focused TV ads that featured at least some content that tarred and feathered either incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan or Republican challenger Thom Tillis. That’s more than one negative TV ad every minute from Tuesday, Oct. 14 to Monday, Oct. 20, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of preliminary data from Kantar Media/CMAG, an ad tracking firm. No other U.S. Senate race — even the bitter contests in Kentucky, Iowa and Georgia — has experienced such sustained vitriol during the 2014 election cycle.”

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COLORADO SENATE “For weeks, Rep. Cory Gardner (R) and Sen. Mark Udall (D) have been statistically tied in polls of the Colorado Senate race, with Gardner in the lead but well within the margin of error. Now a new poll, taken over the last four days, shows Gardner leading by seven points. According to the USA Today/Suffolk University poll, Gardner is at 46 to Udall’s 39 percent.

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KANSAS AND GEORGIA CHANGE THE EQUATION ON SENATE-MAJORITY MATH Cook Report, “The prospects remain very tough for Democrats to hold onto their majority in the Senate, but there is a new scenario emerging—albeit still unlikely—that is turning the majority math a bit on its head. … Given that Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take the majority, the question has generally been whether Republicans just need to knock off six Democratic seats to get to 51, or if they will need to gross seven seats in order to net six. Now there appears to be a real question as to whether Republicans may need to gross eight seats in order to net six, covering for the potential loss of not just Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas but an open seat in Georgia as well. Though things don’t look quite as hopeless for Roberts as they did a few weeks ago, the incumbent’s poll numbers are said to be awful. … Republicans are also getting heartburn from the race for the open Senate seat in Georgia. Though the computer models have long given the GOP a huge advantage in the state—one was giving Republicans over a 99% chance just a week or two ago—this was always likely to be a very, very competitive race (between Michelle Nunn, CEO of a non-profit and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn and Dollar General CEO David Purdue, which is why The Cook Political Report has rated it as a ‘Toss Up’ since March. MONTANA AND WEST VIRGINIA Against this backdrop, Republicans still have open Democratic seats in Montana and West Virginia in the bag. While Gov. Mike Rounds in South Dakota is giving the GOP a case of acid reflux on a number of levels, in the end the party appears likely to pick up that seat as well. Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), and Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) are all locked in uphill contests. While none should be considered politically dead in the water, each faces ugly headwinds. Landrieu’s last stand is likely to be in a December 6 runoff election with Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Republican who is most certain to emerge from the state’s novel “jungle” primary. With REPUBLICANS ADVANTAGE in each of these six Democratic-held seats, the thinking has been that the GOP might need only to either beat Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, or win the open seat in Iowa—both of which look to be no worse than 50-50 for Republicans—to offset a GOP loss in either Georgia or Kansas. THE FACT IS … this fight has a lot more uncertainty than the computer models suggest.”

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Killer anecdote alert: (In Kansas) “Their bitter 55-minute debate had just ended. Greg Orman walked across the stage, looked Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in the eye, shook his hand and smiled. ‘You said, ‘Harry Reid’ 38 freaking times,’ Orman, running as an independent, told Roberts. (Mike Allen)

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2014 WILL BE THE MOST EXPENSIVE MIDTERM ELECTION. EVER. The total price tag for the 2014 midterms — an election which almost no one is paying attention to — will be nearly $4 billion, according to projections released Wednesday by the Center for Responsive Politics. That would make it the most expensive midterm election in history and set the stage for a 2016 presidential contest that could approach double-digit billions in spending.

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A GOP SENATE WOULD BE INTEL ALLY Politico, “Republicans are promising to confront the Obama administration at every turn if they win the Senate, fighting environmental regulations, health care reform and presidential nominees. But they aren’t vowing to be especially tough on the CIA or transform the broader intelligence community. In fact, the GOP is pitching itself as a more suitable partner for CIA Director John Brennan and the NSA than the Senate Democratic majority, which has sparred with them over data snooping and adherence to congressional oversight. WHO WOULD RUN THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE? Sources say the leading contender for chairman is Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), a low-key but blunt hawk who is close friends with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). If he becomes the panel’s leader, he’ll try to clear the slate after conflicts between current Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Brennan over the CIA’s intrusion into Senate files and the release of a long-awaited report on Bush-era interrogation policies.”

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INTELLIGENCE CONTRAST The past two years have strained the Senate Democratic majority’s relationship with the intelligence community, from data mining to the CIA’s interrogation report to the CIA’s intrusion into Senate files. So while Republicans are vowing to take on the Obama administration at every turn, the intelligence community isn’t likely to be one of their main leverage points. Sen. Richard Burr, the leading contender to chair the Intelligence Committee in a GOP Senate, said he’s past the drama with the CIA: “Dianne may have some problems with it but I think we’ve gotten a full accounting of what happened … there’s some mistakes but I don’t think it’s the first director that’s made mistakes.”

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77525e090761c40d65be1f04_280x175WISCONSIN GOVERNOR RACE USA Today: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke remain locked in a dead heat, a new poll shows. Walker is leading Burke 47% to 46% among likely voters, with 6% undecided, well within the margin of error for the Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College poll. WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With Bill Clinton campaigning in Milwaukee Friday and President Obama appearing next Tuesday, Mary Burke is counting on both men to help spur turnout in the state’s biggest city. Democrats don’t win close elections in Wisconsin without running up the score in Milwaukee. But this city has produced substantially fewer votes for governor than it has for president in recent decades. Burke’s chances of defeating Republican Gov. Scott Walker hinge, in part, on changing that. City of Milwaukee turnout was 72% of voting-age citizens in the 2012 presidential race, but only 47% in the 2010 midterm. So even though the city voted overwhelmingly Democratic in both cases, Milwaukee’s value to Democrats was far greater in the presidential race. The party’s winning margin in the city was 90,000 votes in the 2010 governor’s race but more than 170,000 votes in the election for president two years later. The difference between those two figures — about 80,000 votes — is the equivalent of almost 4 percentage points in a typical midterm election. …The key measure on election day won’t be Mary Burke’s share of the Milwaukee vote, which will be large under any circumstance. The key measure will be how many Milwaukeeans turn out to vote.”

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NO CHANGE IN POLICY Morning Defense, “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says there’ll be no change to the U.S. strategy in Iraq and Syria, despite the fact that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “has controlled and still does control a significant amount of ground.” WaPo, “The Pentagon chief’s defiant remarks come as Kurdish fighters continue battling ISIL for control of the Syrian town of Kobani near the Turkish border. And they follow a WaPo story in which anonymous U.S. officials criticized the Obama administration’s strategy of training Syrian opposition forces to defend territory from ISIL – rather than to reclaim lost ground.” CHOKE OFF ISIL’S FUNDING: The terrorist group has “amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace” and now generates tens of millions of dollars a month, said David Cohen, Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.” Cohen said ISIL raises funds through a number of activities, including oil smuggling, kidnapping, selling women as sex slaves, robbing banks and forcing businesses in areas it controls to fork over cash. Unlike core Al Qaeda, Cohen said, ISIL is not heavily dependent on deep-pocketed donors – making it more difficult to cut off the group’s revenues through sanctions on individuals. Blocking ISIL’s funding sources, he said, will require a number of steps, including continued military strikes on oil refineries the group controls and an effort to regain territory held by ISIL to stop its extortion of local businesses.”

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OCO FOREVER Politico, “The prospect of a long-term supplemental war budget is gaining traction as the demand for U.S. military forces remains high – but analysts expect strict rules on how those funds are spent. Congress and the Pentagon have long been preparing to phase out the war spending account – known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds – to reflect the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But even as those wars end, new issues have become larger and more pressing. … Already the war against ISIL has cost $424 million, the Pentagon said this week, and the Defense Department and White House have promised a lengthy campaign.”  Mackenzie Eaglen of the conservative American Enterprise Institute: “There’s not a single reason for any party – including the White House, Congress or the Pentagon – to want to see OCO go away.”

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6bd7d90b7390b75667d03e7f_207x280“WHEN YOU NEED A FRIEND IN WASHINGTON, GET A DOG” (sometimes attributed to Harry Truman) Hurricane and Jordan are ready for action again after tangling with the latest White House fence jumper. Hurricane is a 6 year old black Belgian Malinois who enjoys playing with his Kong toy; Jordan, is a 5 year old black/tan Belgian Malinois who enjoys walks around the White House.  Both dogs were treated by a veterinarian after the incident and are back at work, the Secret Service said. (Note:  These dogs can run 25 mph. My springer spaniel Truman is in awe.)

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“I WAS … THE FIRST PERSON TO HAVE THEIR REPUTATION COMPLETELY DESTROYED WORLDWIDE VIA THE INTERNET”– How Monica Lewinsky Changed Politics” The Fix: “Monica Lewinsky is back. She opened a Twitter account Monday morning.  And then she delivered a speech at the first-ever Forbes “30 under 30” event in Philadelphia. Lewinsky, in her remarks at the Forbes summit, was focused heavily — as her quote above suggests — on the influence of sites like the Drudge Report and the rise of the social media news cycle. Lewinsky is right. The story of her affair with the president of the United States, which turned Matt Drudge and his eponymous Web site from a nobody into a household name, was the first massive political story of the emerging Internet era of journalism.  … the Lewinsky story’s impact is significantly wider than that.  Lewinsky — and all that came from the way that episode was covered and felt in politics — represents a critical moment in both the polarization of the country and the line between the personal and the political in media coverage.”

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BEN BRADLEE WashPo: “The most compelling story of Mr. Bradlee’s tenure, almost certainly the one of greatest consequence, was Watergate, a political scandal touched off by The Post’s reporting that ended in the only resignation of a president in U.S. history. But Mr. Bradlee’s most important decision, made with Katharine Graham, The Post’s publisher, may have been to print stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration went to court to try to quash those stories, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the New York Times and The Post to publish them. Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post newsroom for 26 years and guided The Post’s transformation into one of the world’s leading newspapers, died Oct. 21 at his home in Washington of natural causes. He was 93. PHILOSOPHY ““Hire people smarter than you are” and encourage them to bloom.”

“One of those guys you’d take a machine-gun bullet for”( H/T Ward Just, report-turned-novelist) RIP Ben.

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