There is one Republican who is poised to do exceedingly well on Tuesday – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. We’ll see what plays out, but if it goes as expected, Arnold will win big over the Democrat.
It is very important to be clear on what this means. From my perspective, it’s because Arnold represents a creature we have not seen in a long time – a progressive Republican.
He started out as a mushy moderate in the 2003 Recall Election that started him out. He then tacked hard to the right and championed a conservative agenda in the 2005 special election for initiatives – where he got clobbered. But in the last year he has now tacked to the other side and become a champion for a range of progressive policies that originated with the progressive Democrats that run the state legislature.
The success of this formula, particularly in the context of a repudiation of conservative Republican politicians and policies, will have a big impact on the next wave of Republicanism to evolve in the coming years.
The San Francisco Chronicle had a front page story this morning that comes closest to articulating this framework, though reporter Carla Marinucci still dances around the edges. Here’s how she leads off the story:
If the Republican Party, as predicted, takes a serious swamping Tuesday across the country, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may look not only like a prescient politician who rode the wave -- but like one who's now poised to generate one himself.
Even before Tuesday's vote is tallied, "Arnold has become the New Republican -- someone who talks fiscal conservatism and put together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans," said GOP strategist Ed Rollins. "Certainly, he can become a very significant role model."
Should he win re-election -- and polls put him in a commanding lead -- Schwarzenegger's bounce back from unpopularity a year ago will show how California "has always been a trendsetter,'' Rollins said. Politically, "it's always two to six years ahead of the rest of the country.''
Rollins gets the new wave part, but muddles the mix of what Arnold represents. Marinucci then gets everyone else’s take on what Arnold means and the story goes into a “he said, she said” balanced piece that can tie newspaper stories up in knots.
But the general thrust of the piece is pointing to Arnold as a sign of new wave Republicans. And that much is true.
However, the piece begs the question about where the really interesting story now lies. Not in Republicans who are desperately taking Democrats’ progressive ideas to appeal to the electorate, but on the front edge of that progressive movement.
The real story of the next couple years is going to be how progressives drive the new agenda that needs to fill the gaping void the conservatives are leaving. As the Chronicle story puts it in the end with a quote from Democratic strategist Chris Lehane:
The political question isn't "does Arnold provide a road map to the future,'' Lehane said, but now that Schwarzenegger has "tacked to the left and taken many of their ideas, are Democrats going to create a new vision for the party and seize the opportunity?''
An NDN analysis of the 7 most recent national election polls show Democrats with a striking 12 percentage point average lead in the generic Congressional ballot. This 12 point lead is almost double the 7 point advantage Republicans had in the days before the 1994 election in which they won the Senate, and gained a net of 52 seats in the House.
The two newest polls released by CNN and Fox News show Democrats with 13 and 20 point generic advantages respectively, among likely voters, sternly repudiating any argument that the race has “tightened” in recent days.
Generic Congressional Vote
11/01 - 11/05
11/04 - 11/05
11/03 - 11/05
11/02 - 11/05
11/01 - 11/04
ABC News/Wash Post
11/01 - 11/04
11/02 - 11/03
11/01 - 11/03
Beyond the national polls, Republican weakness is best seen in what is happening today in Florida. The President’s last major event of the campaign is in a hard Republican area of the state, Pensacola, where there are no competitive Senate or House races. Republican Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist even announced yesterday he wouldn’t be able to join the President. So who will be on stage with President Bush today in Florida? Their failed Senate candidate, Katherine Harris, the architect of the electoral debacle in Florida in 2000, and now a national embarrassment for the GOP. What a remarkable ending to this amazing election year.
Bottom line: look hard at the last minute data, and the only responsible conclusions are that Democrats hold a historic generic Congressional advantage. There is no reliable evidence of any late breaking Republican trend. And Tuesday is looking very bad indeed for those in power.
The Nation Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is in big trouble. They've admitted to making at least 200,000 harassing phone calls to New Hampshire residents. Under state law, delivering prerecorded political messages to numbers on any federal do-not-call list is punishable by a fine of $5,000 per call.
Some reports claim that New Hampshire law states otherwise; in fact, N.H. Rev. Stat. § 359-E:7 provides:
A telemarketing sales call shall not include a call made: . . . (e) On behalf of a political campaign, except that a call made on behalf of a political campaign by a vendor using automatic dialing equipment shall be deemed a telemarketing sales call under this chapter.
and N.H. Rev. Stat. § 359-E:11 provides:
If, after investigating the complaint, the department finds that a person has violated any provision of this subdivision...the department shall impose a civil penalty of $5,000 for each violation.
The blogs this weekend have been full of talk of over-the-top phone calls coming from Republican groups. Josh Marshall at talkingpoints memo has done a particularly good job collecting the stories, including how the NRCC had to stop their calls in NH. And the Times details how an outside Republican group is taking what are often called robocalls to a new level:
"New Telemarketing Ploy Steers Voters on Republican Path
An automated voice at the other end of the telephone line asks whether you believe that judges who “push homosexual marriage and create new rights like abortion and sodomy” should be controlled. If your reply is “yes,” the voice lets you know that the Democratic candidate in the Senate race in Montana, Jon Tester, is not your man.
In Maryland, a similar question-and-answer sequence suggests that only the Republican Senate candidate would keep the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In Tennessee, another paints the Democrat as wanting to give foreign terrorists “the same legal rights and privileges” as Americans.
Using a telemarketing tactic that is best known for steering consumers to buy products, the organizers of the political telephone calls say they have reached hundreds of thousands of homes in five states over the last several weeks in a push to win votes for Republicans. Democrats say the calls present a distorted picture.
The Ohio-based conservatives behind the new campaign, who include current and former Procter & Gamble managers, say the automated system can reach vast numbers of people at a fraction of the cost of traditional volunteer phone banks and is the most ambitious political use of the telemarketing technology ever undertaken.
But critics say the automated calls are a twist on push polls — a campaign tactic that is often criticized as deceptive because it involves calling potential voters under the guise of measuring public opinion, while the real intent is to change opinions with questions that push people in one direction or the other.
The calls have set off a furor in the closing days of a campaign in which control of Congress hinges on a handful of races...."
This Reuters story shows YouTube/Google’s strategy for mobile devices more clearly than anything I’d seen publicly before…They plan to have the full service mobilized by end of 2007. And folks thought viral video was a factor in this years election, just wait for 08:
“Chad Hurley, YouTube chief executive and co-founder, told an advertising conference that offering video services on mobile phones was a key opportunity for the company.
“Within the next year we hope to have something on a mobile device, it’s going to be a huge market, especially for the video mind-set we’re dealing with, it’s a natural transition,” said Hurley…
In May, YouTube launched its YouTube To Go service to enable users to upload clips directly from their mobile phones to view on the Web site on their personal computers.
Already many of the clips seen on YouTube are captured by users with their cellphones. A new mobile service could enable users to share videos with others in the YouTube community directly via their phones.”
As I wrote yesterday, if this is cause for celebration in Washington then it shows how little we have to show for the lives lost, money spent, roads not taken and prestige squandered in Iraq these past four years.
There is a quiet desperation emanating from the White House these days.
In one of its final desperate acts before the Tuesday elections, the White House is pointing to a slight improvement in some last minute economic news to argue that the economy is going well. The problem with this argument is that most Americans don't believe it.
In the latest CBS/New York Times poll, Bush's economic performance rating was 38% approve, 54% disapprove, down from 43/51 this time two years ago, when in theory the economy was not doing as well. And in a Washington Post poll from last week fully 74% of Americans say their personal economic circumstances have either stayed the same or declined in recent years. Pulling these two stands together this means even though we have been in a sustained economic recovery that has brought a strong stock market, record corporate profits, significant GDP and productivity growth somewhere between 3/5s and 3/4s of Americans do not believe the current economy is working for them.
At NDN's Globalization Initiative, we've been writing a great deal about why most Americans feel the economy isn't working for them - simply put, it isn't. The income for an average family in the Clinton era climbed by more than $7,000. In the Bush era it has declined by over $1,000. That's whats driving the poll numbers. People feel like it was easier to get to ahead in the Clinton days, when Democrats were in charge. And it was (for more on the performance of the Bush economy vs the Clinton economy visit here.)
Figuring out how to restore broad-based prosperity is one of the central governing challenges of our time, and one we've been working a great deal on in recent years. While we should be pleased with today's numbers on income and unemployment, we also have to understand that there are many signs of economic danger ahead, and finding common ground between Bush's view of the world and the world the rest of us live on economic policy will be as tough as finding a working path forward on Iraq and foreign policy. But that doesn't mean we all aren't going to try.
While progressives may have found their voice on Iraq, we have not yet found our voice on the economy. In poll after poll, voters have made it clear that they believe the economy is as central a concern as Iraq, and give the President similarly failing grades on the economy as they do on Iraq. As vital as it will be for us to help steer a new and better course in Iraq next year, we will also have to be doing a great deal of work to find a new path on a whole basket of economic issues to clean up the mistakes and address the issues not addressed in the age of Bush.
We begin this final weekend with two new, remarkable stories that show what is at stake in Tuesday's elections. A new Vanity Fair piece has two of the War's neocon architects opening up on Bush and the "failure" in Iraq; and on Monday, four leading military newspapers will publish a joint editorial calling for Rumsfeld to step down.
Driving this unexpected criticism is the growing sense of how out of control and dangerous Iraq has become for our security interests. As the now famous NIE from earlier this year reported Iraq is now fueling the spread of global jihadism, not containing it, meaning, to paraphrase Bush, our time in Iraq is making it more likely we will be fighting them here than over there.
The "blowback" now inevitable from Iraq is why the historical analogy America needs to be focusing on is not Vietnam, but the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. In that lost war the global Soviet brand was significantly damaged, a new generation of jihadists including Bin Laden where born, and the Soviet pull out left behind a nation that became the global breeding ground for jihadism which is still a virulent force in the world today.
My own sense is that the charade of the Saddam verdict tomorrow will only help to reinforce what a farce our occupation of Iraq has become, and why so many seem in open rebellion against the majority party these days. What is the positive spin from the Saddam verdict? That we got him again, and we were right to go into Iraq? We all know the guy was a bad guy, and essentially he had been tried and convicted in our minds along time ago. But that is not the issue now, and trumpeting his demise again will only reinforce how little we have to show for the money, the lives, the time and prestige we've lost in our time in Iraq.
The Times has an important story today detailing the extraordinary impact DVRs are having on television:
..."Only 52.7 percent of DVR users who watched prime-time shows on CBS tuned in during the live broadcast in the last week of September. An additional 19.4 percent of viewers watched their recorded CBS shows later that day; about 8 percent one day later; 7 percent 2 days later; nearly 4.7 percent tuned in after 3 days; the rest watched even later.
Until yesterday Nielsen planned to release commercial ratings for DVR viewers based on three lengths of time: viewers who watched the original broadcast; viewers who watch either the original broadcast or who watch it later the same day; and those who watched it within a week.
TV networks would like all viewers who watch the program within one week to be counted, but ad agencies say many of their commercials are time-sensitive because they feature sales or events planned within a few days..."
The implications for all this for politics are very significant. By 2008 DVR penetration in the US is expected to be a third of all television households, which may translate into as many as half of all voters. We've already seen an extraordinary migration in recent years from broadcast to cable, as only about 45% of anyone watching TV at a given time today are watching the traditional over the air live broadcast television networks. With this trend continuing, and DVR penetration at least doubling in the next 24 months, it is reasonable to assume that only a third of all TV viewers by 2008 will be watching live, over the air broadcast networks at any given time.
The debate detailed in this story is whether the owners of television will allow Nielsen to track how people watch TV commercials. The current system allows tracking of the watching of the show itself. But with half of all consumers in this study watching a recorded version of the program, allowing of course for the skipping of the TV ads, it becomes essential to understand whether in the watching of these shows folks are watching ads any longer, and which ads they are watching.
As Alan Wurtzel, chief of research at NBC says in the piece, “As the DVR penetration increases, the way people watch TV is simply going to change,”
Those using only broadcast - which is still the pre-eminent way people in politics spend their money - will clearly be at a tremendous disadvantage. As I wrote yesterday, it is clearly time for a big re-think of how we do media on the progressive side.