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News from the Votemaster

NH Attorney General Kelly Ayotte Will Run for the Senate     Permalink

Republicans finally got a lucky break when New Hampshire Attorney General, Kelly Ayotte (R) decided to resign her office to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). Ayotte was the only Republican with any name recognition at all still left to oppose Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) who is the probable Democratic nominee.

Still, Ayotte has her work cut out for her. For starters, although she is Attorney General, in New Hampshire AGs are appointed by the governor. Ayotte has never run for public office before so she will have to learn about campaigning fast. Second, in recent years New Hampshire has become increasing Democratic. Currently, the governor, one senator, and both representatives are Democrats, the Democrats control both houses of the state legislature, and both John Kerry and Barack Obama carried the state. Third, although Hodes got off to a slow fundraising start this year, he pulled in $725,000 in the second quarter of 2009. This will be one of the marquee races in 2010 and both the DSCC and NRSC are expected to pour money into the state.

Franken Sworn In     Permalink

Democrat Al Franken was sworn in yesterday as a U.S. senator. The Republicans immediately began running ads saying that whatever happens from now on is the Democrats' fault, since they can ram anything they want through Congress. Harry Reid's reaction was that nothing changed since he can't control his caucus. In reality, Reid is right and getting conservative Democrats to support the climate change bill and health care reform will be a huge challenge for him.

Palin Revisited     Permalink

There has been a ton written about Sarah Palin's resignation in the past few days. The dominant view (Charlie Cook being an exception) is that she is scheming to run in 2012 but her unorthodox move will backfire against her. With a bit of reflection, there is perhaps another story line. The main thing to consider is that she really disliked being governor. She refused to live in the governor's mansion in Juneau and instead lived at home in Wasilla, a suburb of Anchorage 600 miles from the capital. She had endless fights with the Republican-controlled state legislature and has been the subject of over 15 ethics probes and has spent over $500,000 of her own money (which she doesn't have) on lawyers defending herself. The bottom line is that she really hated the job so once she had decided not to run for relection in 2010, why stay at a job that is no fun at all?

Palin is also an impulsive person. She makes decisions on the spur of the moment without carefully weighing the pros and cons. Unlike Mitt Romney, who probably has an Excel spreadsheet with a row for every day from now until the Iowa caucuses in January 2012 listing precisely which Iowa villages, hamlets, and farms he is planning to visit that day and what he is going to say there, Palin is probably now focused on making a lot of money in the next 18 months so she can at least afford running in 2012, if she decides to do so. After all, in 2011 she probably won't have an income and it is hard to run for President and charge for your campaign speeches. She needs to make a few million this year and next even to seriously consider running. An upcoming book and paid speeches will fill the bill nicely.

Her resignation speech was rambling to the point of being incoherent. It is very unlikely she has a master plan at all. She just didn't like the situation she was in and wanted to get out of it and who knows what comes next.

Many pundits have said she wants to carry the conservative banner and that she is a female Ronald Reagan. I don't think that is true. She is a female George Wallace--an angry representative of the lower middle class who feels put upon by elites. She went to six third-tier colleges before managing to graduate and clearly resents people like President Obama who sailed through Columbia and Harvard Law School and surrounded himself with experts from the Ivy League and M.I.T. While she didn't single out pointy-headed intellectuals as the cause of the nation's problems, when listening to her, one feels she easily could and would probably like to except she is smart enough to realize that doing so would cause them to heap even more scorn on her--and she has incredibly thin skin for a politician, constantly blaming the media and hostile (often Republican) politicians for her problems. Her motto is: "It's not my fault."

George W. Bush was no intellectual himself by a long shot, but one didn't feel any rage in him. After all, he went to Phillips Academy, Yale, and Harvard, and was the son of a President, grandson of a senator, and brother of another governor, not exactly prime white trash material. Nobody would mistake him for a downtrodden and scorned worker barely hanging on and feeling the powerful didn't give a hoot about him. And he knew very well that had he been named Smith instead of Bush he would never have been governor of Texas, let alone President. For all her faults, Palin pulled herself up by her own bootstraps and was elected governor of a state by fighting her own battles. Nobody gave her anything. This makes her a fighter to her admirers, who don't give a damn about her IQ, her diplomas, or even her lack of knowledge of government. There is a lot of class resentment here and graduates of fancy universities can't understand why anybody would fall for what they see as a complete nincompoop. She represents Joe Sixpack a lot better than Joe the Plumber, who simply caught a lucky break when John McCain acquired him as his new best friend.

Whether she runs for President in 2012 probably depends on how well she likes her new life--once she figures out what it is. There are plenty of politicians who could have run for President and didn't, for example, Gov. Mario Cuomo (D-NY) in 1992 and Al Gore in 2004 and 2008. Palin may decide she likes being a speaker and class heroine and making millions of dollars a year and would prefer doing that until her 15 minutes of fame are up. She probably doesn't know what she is going to do in 2012 yet. God will tell her when he's ready to do so.

A Gallup poll taken July 6 shows that 70% of Americans say that their view of Palin is unchanged by her resignation, with 43% willing to vote for her and 54% not willing to vote for her in 2012. She is popular with Republicans and unpopular with Democrats (surprise) but independents, who hold the key to any election, want her to leave the national stage 55% to 34%. Fixing that without alienating her base will be hard.

Intrade on 2012     Permalink

No doubt Palin's decision about running in 2012 will depend in part on whether she thinks she has a reasonable chance of winning. What do other people think about any Republican's chances in 2012? Polls and examining goat entrails are two ways of devining the future. Online political betting sites are another. Here is the Intrade chart for the Democrats to win the White House in 2012. Gamblers put the probability at about 70%.


What about individual Republicans' chances of getting the nomination? Here are the charts for Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty.

Intrade Romney

Intrade Palin

Intrade Huckabee

Intrade Huckabee

Other Republicans potentially in the running are Bobby Jindal (but after his disastrous speech earlier this year, very unlikely) and Newt Gingrich (too many marriages, so also very unlikely). Romney is the clear favorite at the moment. But that could change at the drop of a hat.

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