Blog Posts by Holly Bailey

  • 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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  • 2010: a campaign year driven by conflicted emotions


    No matter the final outcome of tonight's election results, the 2010 midterm contest is likely to be remembered as another vindication of the "angry" U.S. voter looking to shake up the status quo in Washington. But this tumultuous election cycle suggests that the American electorate is actually acting out of a more complex range of emotions than simple anger. "Anxiety"and "unease" are far less catchy terms for the voting public's mood -- but they seem a better way of evoking the sense of apprehension that is likely to accompany many voters to the polling booth today.

    Two years after Barack Obama was boosted into the White House on a message of change and hope, it's not exactly news that the national outlook has soured. Voters are struggling with historic unemployment numbers and a troubled economy that has affected virtually everyone in America.

    And over the same period, that anxiety has found increasingly sharp expression on the campaign trail. On the right, of course, economic woes have helped stoke the meteoric rise of the conservative tea party, which looks to gain a significant foothold in Congress tonight after mounting a passionate -- and yes, at times angry -- campaign against Obama's Washington and the status quo.

    "You blew it, President Obama," Sarah Palin, a leader of the movement, said on "Fox News Sunday." "We gave you two years to fulfill your promise of making sure our economy starts roaring back to life again -- and instead I believe things are getting worse."

    [More coverage: Sarah Palin: 'You blew it, President Obama' ]

    On the left, meanwhile, many among Obama's 2008 progressive base of supporters also share mounting anger and disappointment. Those voters tend to be disenchanted by the president's failure to deliver fully on the vision of change that propelled him to the presidency. "Democrats are dissatisfied because they expected a miracle," says Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who predicts low voter turnout. "They have a John Wayne problem. They expected everything to be fixed in an hour and a half. So they're not coming out."

    [Election Day: Five absolutely partisanship-free voting tips]

    In both cases, though, it's easy to overstate anger -- and to downplay the deeper frustrations voters on both sides of the partisan divide feel about a change-resistant status quo in our national politics. As much as anything, Republicans are poised to capture significant gains in Congress today because of the pervasive sense that the present alignment of power in Washington may well cause the state of the country -- and especially of the economy -- to get worse before it gets better.

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  • Steele defends Palin against her enemies (and his)

    steele and palin

    Sarah Palin may be at odds with GOP establishment leaders in Washington, but she does have at least one ally inside the Beltway: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

    Steele, who has drawn flak from leading Republicans for the RNC's lousy fundraising numbers this cycle, has emerged as a key Palin defender in recent weeks. He's one of the few Republicans in Washington who has been willing to campaign alongside the former Alaska governor. And he was the only GOP official quoted speaking favorably of Palin in a Politico story Monday about Republican establishment types working to undermine a potential Palin 2012 presidential bid.

    "I think the Washington establishment needs to settle down a bit and get ready for what's about to hit them come January, when a significant number of grass-roots congressmen and -women show up and are not prepared to play this game the way they're used to playing it," Steele told Politico. Asked if Palin is electable, Steele replied, "Sure, why not?"

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  • Outside GOP groups already planning for 2012 elections

    roveElection 2010 isn't over yet, but outside conservative groups collectively known by critics as the shadow GOP are already looking ahead to the 2012 campaign.

    As the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg writes Monday, two of the biggest groups—American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS—signaled to donors last week that they plan to continue their advertising assault against Democrats almost immediately after the midterms.

    That push will begin with the upcoming lame duck session of Congress, which is expected to take up a long-expected vote on extending the so-called Bush tax cuts. From there, the groups, which were founded with help from Bush strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, plan to raise and spend millions of dollars targeting Democrats in the new Congress.

    All of that is leading up to the 2012 race, in which the groups plan to spend millions opposing President Obama's re-election bid. "It's a bigger prize in 2012, and that's changing the White House," American Crossroads Chairman Mike Duncan tells the Times. Duncan formerly headed the Republican National Committee.

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  • Democrats buy last-minute ads to attack Murkowski

    alaska dsccDo Democrats think Scott McAdams has a chance of winning Alaska's Senate race?

    As first reported by NBC's Chuck Todd, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is spending cash this weekend on last-minute ads aimed at taking down incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is waging a write-in candidacy in the race. The DSCC's last-ditch outlay has yet to show up on the Federal Election Commission's list of independent expenditures. But Politico's Shira Toeplitz quotes an official at Anchorage's KTUU-TV who puts the ad buy at $165,000.

    That's not a huge amount of cash, comparatively speaking--but it is a notable expenditure, considering that Democrats originally had no plans to spend any money at all on the race. The payout comes as Democrats are increasingly worried about hanging on to their Senate majority.

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