Blog Posts by Holly Bailey

  • 2010 campaigns cost $4 billion, and other fun election facts

    randronpaulWith some exceptions--in Alaska, Minnesota, Arizona and elsewhere--the 2010 midterm elections are finally over. Republicans took control of the House and made some gains in the Senate—though not enough for the majority. Depressing Democrats even more: The GOP won control of 18 state legislatures Tuesday. That means Republicans will be in charge of redrawing of half of the nation's congressional boundaries in next year's pivotal redistricting debate.

    What else happened Tuesday? Here's a breakdown of election 2010 facts you may have missed:

    • The 2010 campaign was by far the most expensive midterm election in history. While we won't have the final numbers until January, spending estimates last month put the price tag at roughly $4 billion—more than what was spent in the 2004 presidential election.

    [Rewind: Relive election night with The Upshot's live blog]

    • Of that total, at least $293 million was spent by outside groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and conservative groups (dubbed by some the "shadow GOP") like the American Crossroads operation headed up by former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, that's the most ever spent on a midterm election and less than $10 million shy of what was spent during the '08 presidential election.

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  • Republicans take aim at cost of Obama’s trip to India

    obama singhIs President Obama's trip to India really going to cost $200 million a day?

    That's the number making the rounds among the president's conservative critics, including potential 2012 Obama challenger Mike Huckabee and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), as the president takes off Friday for a 10-day trip to Asia.

    Huckabee made the claim to Fox News on Tuesday night (citing "reports") and in the social media sphere. "Reports say that Obama's trip to Mumbai, India tomorrow will cost taxpayers $200 million dollars a day - come to think of it, that's much less than Obama's been spending here," Huckabee wrote in a Facebook message Tuesday night (misstating the day of Obama's departure). "So maybe it's not a bad thing he's leaving."

    [Rewind: White House reconsidered plans to visit temple over Muslim rumor concerns]

    On Wednesday, Bachmann repeated the claim on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "Within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day," Bachmann told Cooper. "He's taking 2,000 people with him. He'll be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending. It's a very small example, Anderson."

    The only problem: The claims appear to be wrong.

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  • Harry Reid trashes the media’s obsession with polls

    reid pollsBasking in the glow of his re-election win in Nevada, Senator Harry Reid is all love these days, going so far as to tell reporters that he has "great respect" for Sharron Angle, a rival his campaign repeatedly derided as  "crazy" and "pathological."

    But Reid hasn't forgiven all when it comes to one thing: The media's coverage of polls in the race, especially ones that showed him narrowly losing to Angle.

    Per the New York Times' Adam Nagourney, Reid let loose yesterday on what he believes is the media's over-reliance on "false and misleading" polls. "I've been wanting to say this for some time: We've got to do something about these misleading polls," the Senate Majority Leader told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. "They are all over the country, they are so unfair, and you just gobble them up — no matter where they are from. You just run with them as if they are the finest piece of pastry in the world."

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  • Despite mixed record, Palin talks up her 2010 impact

    palin impactSarah Palin is wasting no time talking up her successes on Election Day--even though only half of the candidates she endorsed managed to win--and many of them were running in contests that already strongly favored the GOP.

    The former Alaska governor and possible 2012 GOP presidential hopeful posted a political video on her Facebook page late Wednesday featuring footage of eight Republicans she endorsed who won their races on Tuesday.

    The Web ad, called "Together," knits footage of Palin rally attendees with candidates including Nikki Haley, who won South Carolina's gubernatorial contest; and Kentucky's Rand Paul, Florida's Marco Rubio and New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, all of whom won their Senate races.

    [Video: The preview for Sarah Palin's new reality show]

    "This is our movement," Palin says in the voice-over. (She is not shown in the 70-second video.) "This is our morning in America. We're going to stand up and speak out, and it may take some renegades going rogue to get us there. It may take folks shaking it up. We've got to do this together."

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  • Other 2010 losers: Self-funding candidates

    whitman spending

    Here's another lesson of the 2010 election: Money doesn't always buy votes — at least that's usually the case. With two major exceptions — Republican Rick Scott in Florida's open-seat governor's race and GOP nominee Ron Johnson, who defeated incumbent Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold — most self-funding candidates lost big in Tuesday night's results.

    According to the Center for Responsive Politics, of the 58 federal candidates who contributed at least half a million dollars to their own campaign,  fewer than one in five won. On the state level, comprehensive stats are harder to come by, but self-funding statewide candidates suffered major losses.

    That includes former eBay chief Meg Whitman, who spent more than $160 million on her bid to become California's next governor, including a record-breaking $141.5 million of her own money. But she lost by nearly 8 points to Democrat Jerry Brown, who spent just $25 million. According to preliminary numbers, Whitman spent roughly $52 for every vote she got in the race, compared with the $6.50 that Brown spent on average.

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  • Obama on Democratic losses: ‘It feels bad’

    Click to see more photos of President ObamaClick to see more photos of President Obama

    A noticeably somber President Obama acknowledged that his party took a "shellacking" at the polls Tuesday night, telling a White House news conference that he takes "direct responsibility" for the frustration voters feel, particularly on the economy.

    [Related: How the economy will swing 2012 elections]

    Yet Obama repeatedly refused to say that historic GOP gains across the country were a widespread rejection of the policies his administration has pursued. Instead, the president argued that voters were more angry at the lack of progress in crafting effective policies, and the perception that business as usual in Washington wasn't changing. "We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn't change how things got done," the president said, promising to "work harder" to build consensus with Republicans.

    The election, Obama said, "underscores for me that I have to do a better job."

    Obama's message wasn't so different from George W. Bush's in 2006, when the then-president went before reporters after Democrats took control of Congress and admitted his party had suffered a "thumpin'." Like Bush, Obama echoed the opposing party's call for "greater civility" and pledged to work together.

    [Rewind: George W. Bush resents Kanye West rant]

    "I've been willing to compromise in the past, and I'll be willing to compromise going forward," the president said.

    Watch the video:

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  • John Boehner, verklempt speaker-in-waiting

    tearful boehner

    If there's one thing we know for sure about John Boehner, it's that he's rather emotional. The would-be speaker of the House burst into tears when speaking to the Republican faithful at a victory party Tuesday night marking the GOP's gains in Congress. But it was hardly the first time Boehner has wept in a public forum.

    As the Washington Post's Paul Kane noted in a profile of Boehner last week, the GOP leader is "prone to tears," a tic that "drives him crazy, but he can't help it." Boehner is known to cry on the House floor. He's cried in private GOP member meetings.

    It's a major stylistic difference between him and current Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has a tough-as-nails reputation even among her own Democratic allies. Perhaps no other politician in Washington has been more noticeably weepy, with the possible exception of former President George W. Bush, who also publicly teared up several times while in office. (Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, would also choke up and mist over on occasion, but generally stopped shy of openly crying.)

    "There are just some things that tug at me," Boehner told the New York Times last month. "There are times here when we have been involved in some big fights and you get tired and the emotions move up closer to the edge of your skin."

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  • Boehner now has the toughest job in Washington

    boehner speaker

    It would be easy to cast President Obama and the Democrats as the big losers after Tuesday's election results. But there's a flip side to what happened on Election Day: Presumptive House Speaker John Boehner now has the toughest job in Washington.

    That's because the epic wave of voter discontent enabling the GOP to regain majority control of the House and make serious inroads in the Senate wasn't an endorsement of Republican policies. Rather, Tuesday's votes were largely a referendum against Washington and the politics of the status quo. While the GOP benefited from widespread disillusion, voters remain just as unhappy with Republicans as they are with Democrats, telling exit-poll interviewers that they view both parties with almost equal disgust.

    Many Republicans acknowledged the electorate's dour outlook in their victory speeches Tuesday night. "We make a great mistake if we believe tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party," Marco Rubio, a tea party favorite who won Florida's closely watched Senate race, said Tuesday night. "What they are is a second chance -- a second chance for Republicans to be what they said were going to be not so long ago."

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  • Bush calls Kanye West’s criticism over Hurricane Katrina the lowest moment of his presidency

    bush nbcFollowing the New York Times' scoop on George W. Bush's upcoming memoir, NBC is out tonight with excerpts of an interview Matt Lauer conducted with the former president set to air next week.

    Among other things, Bush says the lowest moment of his presidency was when rapper Kanye West declared in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that "Bush doesn't care about black people." "That 'he's a racist,' " Bush told Lauer. "I resent it, it's not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency."

    Bush writes, per Lauer, that he can barely think about the moment "without feeling disgust" and that it outranks people criticizing him for the war in Iraq or his efforts to cut taxes to benefit the rich.

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  • In new book, Bush admits he considered replacing Cheney

    bush and cheneyFormer President George W. Bush says in a memoir scheduled to be released next week that he considered dumping Dick Cheney as vice president ahead of his 2004 re-election campaign, to prove that he, not Cheney, was running the show.

    That's according to an advance copy of Bush's book, "Decision Points," obtained Tuesday by the New York Times' Peter Baker. Per Baker, Bush writes that it was actually Cheney who raised the idea of quitting the ticket. But the former president admits he took Cheney's idea seriously, in part because he was resentful of the common perception that Cheney was actually running things at the White House, and Bush was essentially working for him.

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