GOP Path Back Requires a Culture Shift

Jon Ward notes Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential election “forced the GOP to recognize that its support is built on a shrinking base of aging, ethnically monolithic, and geographically isolated voters — while the Democrats have amassed a coalition of growing and engaged constituencies. As one very senior Senate Republican aide put it to me, the party can’t win national and statewide elections just with ‘older white people’ anymore.”

“The path back for Republicans, and for conservatives more broadly, is as much cultural as it is tactical. Tactically, they need better candidates, and younger, more diverse people at all levels: political consultants, field operatives, grassroots volunteers. But to attract organic support from young people, women and minorities and continue harvesting new faces, conservatism needs an attitude adjustment: get hungry, get humble, and get to know more people who aren’t like you.”


The GOP’s Reason for Hope in 2014

Thomas Schaller: “Turnout rates historically move in tandem, with higher turnouts in both presidential and midterm cycles during the 1960s steadily declining before ticking up slightly during the past decade. So it’s instructive to pair midterm turnouts with either the preceding or subsequent presidential cycle. And in which recent midterms was drop-off greatest compared to the preceding presidential cycle? The 2010 and 1994 cycles — the most successful cycles for Republicans in the past six decades. The GOP captured both chambers of Congress in 1994, and in 2010 flipped the House and made key Senate gains that might have been still greater had Republican primary voters not nominated far-right candidates in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada.”

“It’s no mystery why Democrats generally perform better in presidential years while Republicans tend to excel in midterm cycles: Lower midterm turnouts tend to skew the electorate toward older, white and/or more affluent voters. Given the growing cleavage in recent decades between partisan preferences of white and non-white voters, cyclic differences in racial composition are particularly important.”


Ryan Hasn’t Ruled Out Presidential Bid

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told the Wisconsin State Journal that he hasn’t ruled out running for president in 2016.

But he added, “I’ve decided not to decide.”

“For now, Ryan said he and his family are enjoying settling back down in his hometown, Janesville, after traveling around the country last year while he was the Republican vice presidential hopeful and running mate to Mitt Romney.”


Fighting Obama

Fortune: “As President Obama approaches his second inaugural, one thing has become clear: The 2008 peacemaker politician has emerged as a skilled guerrilla warrior. If Bill Clinton’s tactical legacy was disarming his opponents by stealing their ideas — welfare reform, ‘personal responsibility,’ cutting spending — Obama’s may be his skill at dividing to conquer his Republican foes.”

“Conservatives were once the reigning champs of honing in and exploiting an opponent’s weakness. Under this President, Lee Atwater’s Sun-Tzu quoting descendants have met their match.”


Who Will Replace David Plouffe in the White House?

Politico: “In reality, no one. But there are a few emerging clues on staffers who would assume Plouffe’s multiple roles as the top in-house adviser on communications, messaging, political strategy and freelance Obama-whispering. Think Plouffe-by-committee.”

“Several administration officials tell me that current Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer… is likely to get an enhanced role sometime soon, and would possibly take over the messaging, comms and sounding board role that Plouffe occupied… It’s less clear who will take over the other half of Plouffe’s brief — since Obama shuttered the White House political office halfway through his first term.”


Three Illinois Lawmakers Face Criminal Charges

The AP reports that three sitting Illinois lawmakers are currently facing criminal charges.

“Illinois is no stranger to dramatic headlines about the nexus of politics and crime in its highest offices — most recently former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s conviction for attempting to sell Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. But experts and capitol veterans can’t recall a comparable circumstance for state legislators since the early 1970s, when several were rounded up in a bribery trial involving cement trucks.”


Democrats Prefer Booker in Primary with Lautenberg

A new Fairleigh Dickinson poll in New Jersey finds Cory Booker (D) leading Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in a Democratic U.S. Senate primary, 42% to 20%.

Booker’s favorable rating also beats Lautenberg, 66% to 45%.

Said pollster Krista Jenkins: “These numbers suggest that some difficult days may lie ahead for the incumbent senator should he seek reelection. Senator Lautenberg’s unfavorables, coupled with voter preferences for Booker as the Democratic standard bearer in the general election, complicate the landscape for this living legend amongst New Jersey politicians.”


Donald Trump Threatens to Sue Bill Maher

Donald Trump tells Extra he will sue comedian Bill Maher if he doesn’t pay up on a bet.

Maher told Jay Leno earlier this week he would offer to donate $5 million to the charity of Trump’s choice if the New York businessman would release his own birth certificate to prove he was not the “spawn of his mother having sex with orangutan.”

Trump says his lawyer provided the proof and now wants the $5 million.


Frank Defends Lobbying for Senate Appointment

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) told Lawrence O’Donnell that the only difference between him and the others who would like to be appointed interim senator in Massachusetts is that “I have said so publicly and the rest are being coy.”

He added “it’s junior high school stuff” for people to criticize him for volunteering himself for that role.


The Democrats’ Real Diversity Problem

Amy Walter: “For all the hand-wringing over the lack of diversity in the Obama Administration’s second term Cabinet, Democrats should really be more depressed about the fact that their potential 2016 field is a lot less diverse than the GOP’s. Take away Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic bench looks more like that picture in the New York Times than it does the picture of Obama’s 2012 voting coalition.”


Did Obama Send Biden In Too Early?

Noam Scheiber says President Obama made a mistake sending Joe Biden to haggle with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) once McConnell’s talks with his Democratic counterpart, Harry Reid, had broken down.

“From my after-the-fact discussions with Democratic aides in the House and Senate leadership, it’s clear that Reid had a plan for resolving the cliff and considered the breakdown of his talks with McConnell very much a part of it. By involving Biden, Obama undercut Reid and signaled that he wanted a deal so badly he was unwilling to leave anything to chance, even when the odds overwhelmingly favored him. It suggested that even if Obama plays his cards exceedingly well in the run-up to the debt-limit showdown, he could still come away with a worse deal than he deserves because of his willingness to make concessions in the closing moments.”


Obama Bungles Second Term Transition

First Read: “The second-term cabinet shuffle has been an unforced error so far. (The reason why the White House is receiving criticism for a lack of diversity is that it has nominated three consecutive white men for cabinet posts — John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and today Jack Lew — but without a high-profile woman or minority thrown into the mix. And that doesn’t include John Brennan at CIA and a likely white male to be the next White House chief of staff.) Indeed, you could argue that the Romney folks thought a lot more about staffing a Romney administration over the next four years than Team Obama did about a second-term administration.”

“In fairness to the White House, its top officials were so focused on the fiscal-cliff talks in the past two months. What’s more, this kind of disorganization isn’t unusual for a second term, especially after winning a hard-fought race for re-election. And finally, it’s a process story. At the end of the day, it’s likely that Obama’s second-term cabinet will have plenty of diversity and top-notch names. But the process hasn’t been pretty. Question for the White House: Why didn’t it have a second-term transition director? Someone whose full-time job was to keep an eye on the optics of how and when to announce, on the leaks etc.?”

But Jill Lawrence says “a confluence of factors is making the frat-house syndrome seem worse than it is.”

Newser: Maybe Obama needs a binder full of women?


Biden Deals Himself Back Into 2016 Contention

Ezra Klein: “In the continuing drama that is the Obama presidency, Biden often appears as comic relief… Yet just a few days before he was giving dating advice on C-SPAN2, Biden again proved himself perhaps the most effective member of the Obama administration. He reprised his role as the White House closer, the guy who can cut a deal with the Republicans after everyone else has failed. In the end, Biden got Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to strike a deal that the White House was happy with. That’s something neither Obama nor Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had achieved. And it wasn’t the first time. Biden also helped close the 2011 deal that lifted the debt ceiling and the 2010 deal that extended the Bush tax cuts in return for fresh stimulus.”

“Biden’s skills as a campaigner are also considerable. According to Nielsen, his speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention won better television ratings than the addresses of either Bill Clinton or Obama (or Republicans Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan, for that matter). His debate performance against Ryan bucked up anxious Democrats and arguably stanched the bleeding from Obama’s hapless initial appearance against Romney.”


Republicans Pledge Tough Hearings for Lew

“Republicans say Jack Lew will have to answer for what they view as the president’s bare-knuckle tactics when Lew undergoes the Senate confirmation process for Treasury secretary,” The Hill reports.

“It is not often that members of the minority party get to grill the chief of staff of a sitting president and there is little love lost between Senate Republicans and President Obama.”


Cuomo Turns Hard Left

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), “who spent his first two years in office establishing himself as a fiscal conservative, turned left in his third annual address to the Legislature, and sought to reclaim the state’s progressive mantle,” the New York Times reports.

Cuomo “had two emotional fulcrums in his sprawling 78-minute address: gun violence and Hurricane Sandy. But most of the speech was devoted to an onslaught of proposals favored by the left wing of his party.”

National Journal: “Cuomo’s aggressive advocacy for some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation is already heightening speculation that he’s seriously thinking about a presidential campaign in 2016.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics

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