Is a conservative, pro-liberty message viable in Maryland?

The question expressed in the title is perhaps the most vital one going forward for Maryland Republicans. Some are already arguing the state is a lost cause, and when your state’s winning Presidential write-in is Santa Claus (yes, Santa was an official write-in candidate so his votes counted) it’s pretty likely that too many expect things from the government.

In 2012 there were two statewide candidates bearing the Republican ticket and two Libertarians. While the circles aren’t perfectly together, if you made a Venn diagram there would be a lot of common ground and that percentage could make a difference someday. So for the sake of this argument I’m adding them together.

  • President: Mitt Romney 971,869 + Gary Johnson 30,195 = 1,002,064 (37%)
  • U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino 693,291 + Dean Ahmad 32,252 = 725,543 (27.5%)

Arguably, of the two Republicans the case can be made that Bongino was the more conservative while Romney was perceived by most as relatively centrist (and the closer he got to the end of the campaign, the more he drifted toward the center.) But in that Senate race there was the third man, and polling suggests that for every two votes he took from Democrat Ben Cardin he took three from Dan Bongino. Add 60% of Rob Sobhani’s total to this mix and you have 984,103. Figure in the 2.7% undervote on the Senate race as compared to the Presidential one and it looks like the current conservative/libertarian ceiling is about 1 million votes statewide.

So let’s say that 1,000,000 is the magic number. If our side had turned out 1,000,000 votes for each past statewide election:

  • The 2010 statewide elections for Governor and Comptroller would have been nailbiters rather than over by 30 minutes after the polls closed.
  • Those elections would have been for an open gubernatorial seat because Bob Ehrlich would have been re-elected in 2006. Michael Steele would have ran this year as an incumbent, and the other two statewide races would have been agonizingly close losses.

You’ll notice that these are gubernatorial cycles rather than Presidential – simply put, 1 million votes in Maryland won’t win in a Presidential year. The only GOP candidate to ever exceed 1 million here was George W. Bush in 2004 and he was running as an incumbent (and still lost big.)

So the trick is getting the same base which comes out to vote in the Presidential election to participate in the gubernatorial ones. But at the same time we have to expand our share of the pie somewhat to be more competitive in Presidential races rather than having GOP campaigns write Maryland off as a lost cause before the campaign even begins.

While there is a share of the electorate which has as its focus a single issue (generally social issues like abortion or gay marriage, although this extends to items like Second Amendment issues or property rights) most people vote their pocketbook and unfortunately they’ve come to grudgingly accept that the government is going to take more out of their pocket regardless of how much they complain. After all, in 2010 – during a TEA Party wave election – Maryland voters re-elected a governor who had raised taxes on practically everyone. But Martin O’Malley successfully pushed the message that “a fee is a tax” and could paint his GOP opponent Bob Ehrlich with the same brush. (O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats then merrily went on to raise many of those same fees.)

Yet at the same time a growing proportion of these voters have become recipients of these same government handouts the increased taxes pay for, creating a situation where redistribution of wealth is the means by which the majority party maintains power. After all, when over half depend on government for their well-being then those in charge of the government tend to stay in charge.

Somewhere we have allowed the opposition to paint us as heartless government cutters. And the other problem is that telling people that “it’s your money” doesn’t work as well when they receive the money from a governmental unit. That doesn’t have to be the ever more ubiquitous EBT card – it can be employment by a governmental unit, whether city hall, the local school, or any of the thousand other bureaus, agencies, or even nonprofits which depend on government grants for their existence. Remember, that cop on the street, your child’s public school teacher, or the lady at the MVA are all government employees, but so is the Salisbury University professor or – indirectly – the grant writer at the nonprofit. Nearly all of them have a vested interest in making sure the taxpayer money spigot remains flowing, because many are scared by the common media narrative into believing the TEA Party is going to leave them high and dry.

Indeed, there are certain cases where they could be correct. But one argument I wish Dan Bongino could have amplified more, because it was effective, ran along the lines (I’m paraphrasing from memory) of being happy to pay for the cop on the street, the public school teacher, or the soldier in Afghanistan – but he drew the line at cowboy poetry festivals in Nevada.

Obviously one can argue the merits of a project which benefits one small area – the drought-stricken farmer in Indiana whose subsidized disaster assistance we criticize may feel the same way about Ocean City beach replenishment here. Moreover, those are small potatoes compared to the huge entitlement spending begging to be cleaned up on the federal level.

But we have to start small and gain trust, particularly when it comes to state politics. For all his tax-raising faults and sacrificing the needs of his state in order to pursue the personal gain of higher office, Martin O’Malley is not an unpopular governor. Arguably this could be due to plenty of help from a sympathetic media, but he’s used the state’s better-than-average unemployment rate (thanks to adjacency to the seat of federal government) to convey the message that all is well. Those who have differing opinions don’t have the same blowtorch to get the message out – 25,000 Facebook followers for Change Maryland is great but hundreds of thousands of Marylanders subscribe to the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. While I wish to have thousands of readers a day and believe my message is worth the readership, I don’t reach that many with this little candle of mine – it’s no blowtorch quite yet. To be quite blunt, if you took the unique daily readership of ALL the political blogs which deal with Maryland politics – even including their attempts at multimedia – and added them all together, you might equal the readership of a regional newspaper like the Daily Times. As it stands at present, we’re the guppies in an ocean of media, and we have to work at expanding that sphere of influence as well.

Yet the very argument we have a winning message remains untested. Perhaps Dan Bongino was a nearly perfect spokesperson for a conservative message, but there were factors which affected his Senate bid: a perceived lack of life and business experience compared to his opponents, and the fact that one opponent ran a populist campaign with non-specific promises no one forced him to flesh out. Rob Sobhani wanted the debates and so did we, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for our state and hard questions weren’t asked.

Yet even if Bongino had ran his 2012 race unmolested, the probability is strong he would have picked up around the same 36 to 37 percent which has seemed to be our ceiling in Presidential years. We have to convince about 300,000 more voters in a Presidential year that – assuming we have a conservative, pro-liberty candidate, of course – it’s in the best interests of both them and succeeding generations to cast their ballot for such a person. In one lump, that seems like a lot, but it really only takes a handful of politically agnostic neighbors or friends per activist to accomplish.

In the near future, 2014 is looming and there are at least four candidates who are looking for conservative, pro-liberty support (although they may or may not necessarily have a compatible message: think Bob Ehrlich.) Yet the same rules apply; as I demonstrated earlier getting 1 million votes in a gubernatorial year keeps us at least close and climbing the ladder for another 100,000 may put us over the top.

Yet we cannot rely on a politician – even one as articulate as Dan Bongino – to deliver our message for us. It’s time for all of us to do our part, even though many of us are still burned out on the lengthy 2012 campaign and the disappointment we feel with the results. Indeed, we lost this time but there’s always the next election. Spread the word that we CAN win!

One happy party

Lost in the post-election hangover and finger-pointing was something which could either be good news or bad news for Maryland Republicans: the Libertarian Party is assured of a place on the 2014 ballot. My friend Muir Boda provides some background:

Election results in Maryland showed positive results for Maryland Libertarians. Muir Boda, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st District received nearly 12,000 votes at 3.8%.  Even more exciting the Libertarian Candidate for President, Governor Gary Johnson, received over 21,000 votes and 1.1% of the vote. This secures ballot access for the Libertarian Party in Maryland through 2016, which will save Maryland Taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, I’m not sure of Boda’s interpretation of the law about 2016, as Maryland election law states on minor parties:

The political party shall retain its status as a political party through either of the following:

(i) if the political party has nominated a candidate for the highest office on the ballot in a statewide general election, and the candidate receives at least 1% of the total vote for that office, the political party shall retain its status through December 31 in the year of the next following general election; or

(ii) if the State voter registration totals, as of December 31, show that at least 1% of the State’s registered voters are affiliated with the political party, the political party shall retain its status until the next following December 31.

Unless the Maryland Libertarian Party can get to and stay at a figure of about 36,022 registered voters (they had 10,682 at last report) my reading of that law means they only have 2014 ballot access.

Boda can boast, however, that he was the leading vote-getter of the eight Libertarians who ran for Congress in Maryland as he received 3.8% of the overall vote. If extrapolated statewide, Boda and his 12,522 votes would have easily topped the actual statewide candidates (U.S. Senate hopeful Dean Ahmad and Presidential candidate Gary Johnson) because neither had topped 30,000 votes as of the last round of counting. The First District has been very libertarian-friendly over the last three cycles, with Boda and 2008-10 candidate Richard Davis getting an increasing share of votes each time. Muir has a chance at beating Davis’s 3.79% in 2010 if he can hang on to his current percentage.

So what does that mean for the Maryland GOP? Well, obviously there is a small but significant part of the electorate which is dissatisfied with the moderate establishment of the Republican party, so much so that they would “throw away” their vote on a third party. Perhaps one factor in this was the fact Andy Harris was widely expected to crush his competition so a Libertarian vote was a safe “message” vote, but I think this 1 to 4 percent of the electorate is just as important as the 3 to 5 percent of the electorate which is gay – and we certainly bent over backwards to accommodate them in this election, didn’t we? (Granted, those two groups aren’t mutually exclusive but hopefully you see the point.)

While I’m discussing my Libertarian friend, I think it’s important to bring up an article he penned for Examiner.com. In that piece, he opens:

The utter failure of the Republican Party to embrace and acknowledge the millions of people that Ron Paul had energized over the last five years not only cost Mitt Romney the election, it may very well hinder the growth of the GOP. This is the result of a political party bent on preserving the status quo and adhering to its very principles.

He goes on to allege that “Mitt Romney did not have to cheat to win the Republican nomination, but he did anyway.”

Besides the fact I think his statement on principles is perhaps not artfully worded – if not for principles, why would a political party exist? – I also think Boda’s article loses a little bit of steam in the middle when he writes about the back-and-forth between the two parties. Republicans and Democrats exist in a manner akin to the way two siblings get along, with the bickering coming to a head at election time, and unfortunately Muir falls into the trap of believing there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.

But his opening paragraph and closing statement are fairly close to hitting the bullseye given the state of the national GOP as it relates to outsiders like the TEA Party. I’ll put it this way: given the general attitude of the mainstream media about the Republican Party, would it have hurt to follow the rules which were originally established and not shut out the Paul delegates? Yes, the convention may have served less as a Romney/Ryan coronation, but with the rules shenanigans that occurred there we had plenty of controversy anyway. I’m sure some percentage of them came around, decided to bite the bullet, and voted for Mitt Romney, but a lot of those folks didn’t vote, didn’t volunteer, and didn’t send in money.

Boda concludes:

The unfortunate truth is that Republicans had their chance to roll back regulations, reform the tax system and address other issues such as Social Security and Medicare. Yet, they became worried more about retaining power and keeping us at war than protecting our liberties.

Now I disagree with the specifics of this passage simply because the entire idea of a political party is “retaining power” and we were warned the battle against Islamic terror would be a long one. But in a sense Boda is correct as the last Republican president – with the help of a Republican-led Congress – worked to expand federal involvement in education (No Child Left Behind) and created another entitlement program with Medicare Part D. In the end, those will be more expensive than the oft-quoted passage by liberals about “putting two wars on a credit card.” Nor should we forget that President Bush had a plan to address Social Security, but demagoguery by Democrats and the AARP (but I repeat myself) nixed that thought.

Of course some are going to say that the idea of a competitor whose party mainly siphons votes from our side should be dismissed. But, unlike some of those in the Maryland GOP establishment, to me it’s principle over party and I’m conservative before I’m Republican. My job is to marry the two concepts together and win the battle of ideas, which in turn will lead to winning elections – even over the Libertarian candidates.

Playing from the inside

In May I did an Examiner piece on the Coalition to Reduce Spending, a group which was co-founded by a former Ron Paul campaign operative with the aim to endorse candidates pledging to (of course) reduce spending.

Well, today I found the following in my e-mail box, with the headline “Johnson, Paul Campaign Talent Combine to Help Liberty Candidates Win.”

Struggling libertarian political candidates and advocacy groups now have a chance to succeed in races where the establishment might otherwise prevail.  Seven of the most successful individuals who have variously worked on the Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Gary Johnson campaigns (among many others) have combined to form Liberty Torch Political Consulting, LLC.  The firm aims to change the outcome of elections around the country and get more freedom-loving candidates elected to office than ever before.

The common name between the two groups is Jonathan Bydlak, who is president of the CRS. I must be on his e-mail list.

Now that’s not to say I have anything against the group; in fact, I’d love to see plenty of pro-liberty candidates win. But it has to be said that this team doesn’t necessarily have a track record of success, unless you consider Gary Johnson’s nomination as the Libertarian candidate a smashing accomplishment. Yes, Ron Paul has been successful in several House elections but he never accounted for a significant part of the presidential vote, nor did Johnson. Only Rand Paul has seen a major electoral success, and that was in Kentucky – not exactly a key swing state. So what would they really bring to the table?

I suppose their apparent focus on winnable local races is a good one, since there are hundreds of local and state seats up for grabs this year. Obviously there’s a significant pro-liberty media presence out there, so local races which aren’t going to be decided mostly on who bombards the airwaves with the most frequent and dirtiest thirty-second commercials will be a natural market for the folks at Liberty Torch. Adding a little national panache to these local races may help tip the scales in a few of them.

While he’s not necessarily the poster boy for pro-liberty followers, the way Scott Brown nationalized a Massachusetts U.S. Senate race seems like a good model to follow – in Maryland, Dan Bongino has taken a few pages from that campaign. Having a broad network in media can help to some extent, as can some creativity and plain talking. But you need to have the boots on the ground, too, and consultants are no substitute for a good candidate. (Notice the two commercials I cited backed candidates who lost their election – one in the primary and one in the general.)

But it’s interesting to see our side playing the same game as the high-powered Beltway politicians play. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

Conservative and Republican reaction to SCOTUS decision predictable

I have seen a lot of disappointment over the last 36 hours or so, as conservatives lash out at a decision they believe was ill-considered. I get a lot of e-mail from numerous sources, so I’ll have several links for you to follow. But I’m saving room for my reaction, too.

And if you’re wondering, I really don’t give a damn about what Democrats are crowing about, because they’re almost always wrong anyway. I don’t have to be fair and balanced here. So I’ll concentrate on some of the Republicans and Libertarians who we can vote for here in our locality.

For example, Mitt Romney promised to repeal Obamacare on his first day as President. While that may seem like a little bit of a stretch, it’s actually possible because Congress is in session a couple weeks before the new President is sworn in. If H.R. 1 in the 113th Congress is a full-blown repeal of Obamacare and the Senate can get past a Democratic filibuster (which some say isn’t possible anyway) they could present to bill to President Romney on January 21, 2013. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

Onetime Republican Gary Johnson agreed, with the Libertarian pointing out:

There is one thing we know about health care. Government cannot create a system that will reduce costs while increasing access.

Johnson also believed the “uncertainty” of the health care law was contributing to the unemployment problem in America.

Turning to our state of Maryland, U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Bongino called the decision “a serious blow to the freedoms of all Americans.” But he implored his supporters:

We can fix this, we will fix this. Get off the mat, there is one more round to fight…

From now until November 6th be a wolf not a sheep. Commit yourself to changing the country for the better and make today nothing but a bad memory.

Similarly, Congressman Andy Harris dismissed the ruling as

…determin(ing) the law’s constitutionality, not whether the law is good policy. Americans have already made up their mind on that issue. A majority favor repealing the law.

The sentiments were echoed by the Maryland Republican Party, where Chair Alex Mooney called yesterday “a very difficult day for all of us.”

I wanted to add one more from a group called the Job Creators Alliance. I don’t recall hearing from them before but it’s a group of CEOs who banded together to advocate business-friendly policy. And Staples founder Tom Stemberg spoke on behalf of the group when he said:

The Supreme Court of the United States has dealt a critical blow to free enterprise. By upholding the mandate as a tax, the Court and this Administration has ensured that taxes will go up for middle class working families and small businesses everywhere. Legal arguments aside, Obamacare is a disaster for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It will result in thousands of lost jobs, increased health care costs and an increased inability for small businesses to provide coverage to employees.

Today’s decision not only leaves the hurdles to job creation that Obamacare posed untouched, but adds additional uncertainty to the economy which will make it much more difficult for our economy to grow.

My reaction sort of falls along the same lines, but I thought I saw a silver lining when the individual mandate was struck down – Congress can’t necessarily compel us to buy a product. But they sure can set up a punishment for not doing so, and that’s the scary part.

However, this goes back to something which was said during the U.S. Senate campaign by Richard Douglas when he argued repeatedly that SCOTUS should uphold the law. Because this has been kicked back to Congress to resolve, it only takes a determined effort by voters to elect enough conservatives to Washington to overcome the kicking and screaming objections by Democrats to overturning Obama’s namesake program. If they can repeal a Constitutional amendment by enacting another one scant years later, Obamacare can be eliminated as well.

Of course, this all depends on electing the right legislators – unfortunately, if the American people are really the “sheeple” some would lead you to believe we are that may not happen. If the same actors remain in place, come 2014 we’ll be on the road to the government telling us just how and when to wipe our asses.

The austerity plan

I’ve been rolling this one in my head for a couple days, and I’ve become convinced of something. Austerity is a dirty word in this country.

This is America, for gosh sakes, and we are entitled to the best of everything, aren’t we? What is this stuff about doing without? That seems to be the response on the lips of millions of Americans, with perhaps the better way of putting it being that we should cut the fat out of government – of course, anything benefiting these Americans isn’t considered fat.

So into the middle of this attitude the local Libertarian Congressional candidate drops a big, fat helping of talk about cutting back. Perhaps the money paragraph in his treatise is this one:

The culture of dependency has nearly destroyed the soul of our country. The welfare state is wrought with fraud and failure. It has deprived generations of their dignity and few ever break out of the cycle. They have become enslaved by dependency and are trapped under the giant footprint of government.

Of course you know Muir Boda is right, but you also know his hopes of being elected on a Libertarian ticket lie someplace between those of being struck by lightning and winning the Powerball lottery. So the idea for Libertarians isn’t necessarily winning elections, but rather to pull the political center in their direction. In that respect they’re acting like the TEA Party to the Republicans and the Occupy movement to the Democrats, borrowing something from both.

And this message is actually at home in the Republican Party; unfortunately too many GOP members of Congress have the same attitude I expressed above. (The incumbent Boda is running against is better than most at resisting this.) They talk in platitudes about reducing government but when it comes to some favored constituency that buck just keeps right on going. One case in point: the farm bill under consideration, which instills yet another program to privatize profits and socialize losses through the “shallow loss” portion of the bill which provides a guaranteed income floor to qualifying farmers. Simply put, it’s not the government’s job to do this and I defy anyone to tell me where this is authorized under the Constitution. It sounds more like something President Obama would write up in an Executive Order.

Boda also points out that there are successful examples of governments which tightened their belts, citing the former Soviet states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia as nations which slashed their spending. Would it hurt America to do the same? The Presidential candidate representing Muir’s party (Gary Johnson, a former governor and originally a 2012 Republican hopeful) is on record that we should immediately cut spending to match revenue. There’s no question that approach is some strong medicine, and across-the-board cuts aren’t always the most prudent.

But Johnson is approaching the situation in the same manner that many Democrats do – demand something extremely off the wall, knowing that a compromise still moves the ball in the right direction. Unfortunately, too many Republicans have mastered the art of ceding valuable ground because they believe that it’s what the public wants; a belief reinforced by Democratic talking points parroted by the mainstream media.

As I’ve said on occasion, why not try something different? We’ve done it the big government way for eighty years and the results seem to be dependence and, over the last four years, a moribund and recessionary economy. I prefer America getting back to its former glory days of kicking ass and taking names – not necessarily on a military basis, but in leading the industrialized world in economic innovation and creating a lifestyle the world hadn’t before seen. Getting government out of the way would help in that respect, and spending less gets government out of the way.

Gary Johnson endorses two Maryland Libertarians

June 3, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · Comments Off 

After being shut out of most GOP presidential debates and barely registering in Republican polls, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson decided last December to bolt the GOP and seek the Libertarian Party nomination, which he received last month. In an effort to build the national party, Johnson took the step to personally endorse a number of Congressional candidates last week and included in those were two from Maryland.

Running in the First Congressional District, Muir Boda has a long family history on the Eastern Shore. Johnson stated Boda’s “consistent stand for civil liberties, less government regulation, and minimum taxes will create a safer America where all can prosper.” Meanwhile, Boda replied that only Johnson stands for a federal government “small enough to fit inside the U.S. Constitution.”

(continued at Examiner.com…)

Odds and ends number 40

It’s no secret that the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is traditionally a slow news week, so this is more of a reminder about a couple upcoming events which will sandwich a somewhat local news item.

On Saturday, January 7th the 18th Annual Rich Colburn Brunch takes place at the Holiday Inn here in Salisbury at 11 a.m. Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis is the master of ceremonies, and tickets are $25 (or 5 for $100.) Colburn noted that, “It is a great honor to again have Sheriff Lewis serve as Master of Ceremonies for this event. Since being elected in 2006, Sheriff Lewis has worked hard to reorganize and restructure the Wicomico County Sheriff’s department.  The dedication he has shown to this community show his commitment to Wicomico County and the citizens who live here.”

If interested, reservations may be made by January 3rd by calling (410) 924-0098.

This is more of a big deal than one may think as Colburn will gain a larger chunk of Wicomico County for his district in the next go-round. Obviously we Republicans are familiar with Colburn from his work in the Maryland Senate, where he’s among the busiest pre-filers in the state – he was first to the post with a bill to allow for a specialized “vintage” license plate similar to one Delaware allows on certain vehicles, which will be SB1 in the 2012 session. Perhaps that’s not a bill of great import, but Rich is one of the harder workers in the body.

The more newsworthy item is the repercussion from Gary Johnson’s withdrawal from the GOP Presidential sweepstakes to seek the Libertarian nomination. Because Johnson is changing parties, Gary’s Maryland campaign director Kevin Waterman had to step down. Since Kevin sits on the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee and party bylaws prohibit publicly supporting anyone but Republican candidates, he decided to resign from the Johnson campaign. In a note I received, Waterman writes:

My decision to step down as state chairman is not an easy one. I fully support Gov. Johnson’s platform and his message of liberty, and it has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as a part of this campaign and to work with all of you. I’m not leaving because I disagree with any of the moves the campaign has made. But I still hold out hope that even if the RNC has proven itself wanting that there is hope of moving the Maryland Republican Party in a more liberty-oriented direction and I can’t continue to work towards that end without remaining within the Party.

Some also paint me as an anti-establishment rebel within the MDGOP fold, and it sometimes drives me crazy when we try the same old centrist approach and wonder why we keep losing in this state. Obviously there are issues that Kevin and I don’t see eye to eye on, but I respect his efforts and think his decision and stated reasons are the correct ones. Indeed, we need to push this state in a more liberty-oriented direction.

And that explains my final item – a new TEA Party group is forming in Worcester County.

On January 13, 2012 their first meeting will be held in the Assateague Room of the Ocean Pines Community Center at 6:30 p.m. with Congressman Andy Harris as their featured speaker. With a mission statement like this…

We exercise, protect, and promote the principles embodied in The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights through attracting, educating, and mobilizing the people to secure public policy consistent with these core values; fiscal responsibility, open and constitutionally limited government, and free markets.

…the visit from Congressman Harris may not necessarily be the slam dunk he thought because of a couple of his votes.

But since Harris won’t have to worry about a third-time grudge match against Frank Kratovil, the atmosphere should be relatively cordial and ripe for a frank (no pun intended) discussion about what will happen in 2012. It’s a conversation which needs to occur for the TEA Party to be most effective.

Crashing the third party

December 21, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics · 5 Comments 

It’s being reported as a done deal, but the official withdrawal of Gary Johnson from the GOP presidential race will likely occur next week. Supposedly he’s dropping out to seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, but apparently that’s not a slam dunk because others covet that ballot spot as well.

Gary had little to no chance of gaining the Republican nod despite his obvious similarities in platform to Ron Paul, a candidate who’s currently near the top of the GOP heap. Running as a Libertarian will get him ballot access in most states and might put the state of New Mexico (which went for Obama in 2008 but was thought to be a good chance for a GOP pickup) back into the Obama column. While it’s only five electoral votes, that may tip the balance in a close election.

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Johnson the turncoat?

November 26, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

This isn’t a completely unexpected development, as it echoes the path Ron Paul once took.

But according to this story I found on Politico, Gary Johnson isn’t ruling out a third-party run, probably as a Libertarian. Obviously he’s frustrated that he hasn’t been involved in many GOP debates and can’t make any headway in the polls because of that.

And in all honesty, he’s probably just as good a fit as a Libertarian as he is a Republican. In fact, there have previously been GOP candidates who have jumped into a third party when their path to the nomination was blocked – Alan Keyes in 2008 and Pat Buchanan in 2000 are two recent examples.

The question, of course, is what sort of impact Gary would have on the general election should he receive the Libertarian nomination. Normally the Libertarian gets a percent or two of the national vote, and if Johnson stays within the polling range he’s exhibited in seeking the GOP nod he’ll probably get in that range nationally. But the question is who he’d get the votes from?

If the Republicans nominate Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich it’s possible Johnson may draw support from disgruntled Republicans who don’t like the party’s nominee, which could hurt their Presidential bids. But nominating a candidate like Herman Cain or perhaps Rick Perry won’t help Johnson much because conservatives will stay with the GOP. Instead, Johnson may appeal to some independents who aren’t enamored with Barack Obama but like Johnson’s reformist mantra without the social conservatism the GOP tends to favor.

There’s little doubt that Gary Johnson doesn’t have a path to victory within the Republican Party, so the question is whether he would actually play a true maverick and attempt to bring his message to the voters in a different fashion. With the advent of the new media, he may pull off the role of spoiler.

When do the candidates drop out?

November 19, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

We’re just 45 days out from the Iowa caucuses (believe it or not) but there are still ten serious candidates seeking the GOP nomination.

I bring this up because, in the 2008 cycle, we had already lost a few people when they realized the money wasn’t going to be there or they had no path to victory. This is going to be true among probably six or so of the 2012 contenders, but they soldier on regardless.

Perhaps this is because the person who was counted out a month ago may make a meteoric rise in the polls based on a campaign plank, a great debate performance, or just the fact they were viewed as the hot new item in public perception. Thus far, this phenomenon has benefited several candidates: Herman Cain (twice), Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Newt Gingrich. Even Tim Pawlenty had his turn, although once his down cycle arrived (at the peak of fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann’s cycle at the Iowa Straw Poll) he decided to exit the race. Way back when, before the race had really jelled together, Jon Huntsman had a turn at the wheel too. But by the time he actually announced that support was gone.

On the other hand, one has to wonder if the turns will ever come for guys like Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer, or Rick Santorum. They continue to suffer from abysmally low poll numbers, and the question is now getting to be whether they’ll have the money or manpower to get their message out before it’s too late.

And you’ll notice I didn’t mention Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. It’s because both seem to have a narrow strata of support which ranges in the low twenties for Romney and right around ten percent for Paul. They don’t seem to deviate much from those plateaus, which begs the question of whether the field is too crowded for them right now. Presumably they can tread water until some of the bottom-feeders finally exit the scene.

I’m going to do a poll for a few days and see what you think will be the result of the coming shakeout. I think it’s interesting to speculate who just doesn’t have the horses to continue on.

A secondary election day

I always thought it was the Tuesday after the first Monday, but today was quite the election day on three different fronts.

One election I participated in was a straw poll held at the MDGOP Fall Convention over the weekend, with the results tabulated and announced today. (My analysis comes after the jump.)

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Cain surges in polls: is he the anti-Romney?

October 14, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

According to a new Rasmussen Poll, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are now virtually tied on the top of the Republican presidential heap as both garnered 29% in the sampling. And the new number three is Newt Gingrich, who gets 10 percent while former frontrunner Rick Perry has slipped all the way back to fourth, at nine percent.

It’s interesting to note the history of how this race has gone. Mitt Romney has always seemed to have his 20 to 30 percent support and that number doesn’t seem to waver regardless of who’s in the race; it’s enough to keep him on top or a close second in most polls.

But the role of portraying that “other” contender seems to change on a cycle of about a month or two.

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