Lots of things going on this week, many of them unpleasant. Forgive me for keeping it (relatively) brief again.

In the wake of bin Laden mania a lot of other news has fallen by the wayside, and I think more attention should be paid to the result of the special state legislative election in Wisconsin's 94th Assembly district. It's not often that an off-year special election for a vacant seat in the state house merits discussion, but given the recent events in Wisconsin it is worth noting that Democrat Steve Doyle won a seat held by Republicans since 1994.

My first reaction to The Walker Plan earlier this year was "Well I guess whoever the GOP nominates in 2012 can forget about Wisconsin." Wisconsonites are hard to rile but a mass of energy once riled (Minnesotans fit that description as well, for the record). Anything other than a strong backlash against Republicans in next year in Wisconsin will be a real surprise. The special election result and the increasing momentum of the efforts to recall Republican Senators support the argument, although as always we should be careful to note that much can change between now and November 2012. For the sake of argument, however, let's assume for a moment that Wisconsin is indeed a dead zone for Republicans in 2012. Adding it to the list of states that no moderately informed observer believes Obama (or any Democratic presidential candidate for that matter) can lose, we get:

242 Electoral Votes

That would mean Obama starts from a position where adding one additional state could be enough to secure victory. Granted, the states he would need to get over 270 are all tough battlegrounds – Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, etc. – but a potential Republican challenger would have to be intimidated by the idea that Obama begins the race within spitting distance of 270 barring a complete meltdown of some kind. Maybe that is why a GOP primary debate scheduled for May 2 had to be rescheduled to Sept. 14 due to lack of confirmed candidates. Except for the ones who have no chance of winning (Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, etc.) candidates have been hesitant to make things official. It doesn't mean Obama is a shoo-in, but you can bet that a lot more candidates would be "in" at this point if they expected a race against Obama to be easy – or anything short of a long struggle with long odds.

41 thoughts on “LACK OF WILLING DONORS”

  • Something that isn't made enough of is that there are two kinds of presidential elections – open seat and re-election. Re-election races are almost always won by the incumbent, and they are often blowouts. I think of most presidencies as 8-year terms, with an easy-to-pass vote of confidence at the midpoint. I can think of only three failed re-election bids in the last hundred or so years – Hoover 1932 (Depression), Carter 1980 (Cold War, stagflation, Iran, southern strategy), and Bush 1992 (which in retrospect seems more like a Perot-aided anomaly). Ford 1976 doesn't count on the technicality that he never elected – and still, he only barely lost, after the Nixon pardon, fall of Hanoi, major inflation, and seeming mental incapacity (Poland is Soviet-occupied? Really?)

    The blowouts are more common – !984, 1972, 1964. It's a measure of how tepid Clinton's support (and how flukey his 1992 win) was that he couldn't quite get to 50% in 1996, and the fact that Dubya came within a single (rigged) state of losing in 2004 shows how deeply unpopular he was ever in the middle of a shooting war.

    I'm sure this is why there aren't a whole lot of decent candidates rushing to challenge a weak Democratic incumbent – it's just darn hard to beat a sitting elected President. I figured this was why Bobby Jindal signalled early on that he was sitting out this cycle; he was laying low for 2016, and I don't think he's the only one. So the only people in the Republican race right now are the freak-show types who treat a Presidential run as an opporunity to promote themselves, set up lucrative speaking gigs afterwards, hawk books, and fundraise to pay family members as "campaign consultants". Presidential campaign as pocket-filling gravy train – the Alan Keyes way!

  • Are we sure that Pennsylvania and Maine are both solidly blue? I defer to your superior knowledge on the American electoral landscape, but I thought PA was typically a pretty tight battleground. I could very easily be wrong there, though.

    Maine on the other hand is probably going to be a surprise. They've elected a Chris Christie clone up there. While LePage has made an ass of himself on a couple of occasions, Mainers don't seem all that opposed to what he's doing.

    Also, wouldn't any Republican candidate also start off with roughly 200+ electoral votes? Nothing about the map you posted is specific to President Obama – any Democrat could reasonably hold those states. It comes down to Florida, Ohio, Nevada, etc., every year, doesn't it?

  • PhoenixRising says:

    I enjoyed that summary of Ford's shortcomings so much that I hate to do it, but you meant Sai Gon. That said: he didn't know Poland was a Soviet client state? Srsly? I was but a wee one, not yet following politics…but I'm pretty sure that was taught at my church preschool. Cleveland Catholics didnt forget the old country back then.

    Pretty sure that Watergate was also a factor in the wholesome Georgia Baptist farmer getting to 270, though.

    Is anyone but me at all worried about a Tea Party candidate pulling a John Anderson? Or is that a sign that I should get something checked out?

  • PR, if I'm remembering correctly, he got confused in a late-campaign debate with Carter and denied that Poland was a member of the Warsaw Pact and under Soviet domination. This reinforced the impression that Ford was a nice guy, but mentally unsuited to be President, someone who played a little too much football without wearing a helmet, as they said. He was basically an affable, caretaker type, no threat to anyone, the consensus pick to replace Agnew as Nixon's VP. His goof over Poland was enough to give Carter the slim victory he earned in 1976, or at least that's what the narrative usually shows.

  • Another sign that Wisconsin will (hopefully) be solidly blue in 2012 is the result of the Kloppenberg/Prosser State Supreme Court race. Even if the recount affirms Prosser's victory, that an incumbent 12-year veteran of the court came within a hair's breadth of losing to the Democratic challenger doesn't bode well for Republicans trying to carry Wisconsin next year.

  • I'd say that the OHs are more than a little peaved with their R's after Kaisch's little foray into Overreachistan. He'd been considering putting his little pet project into the budget, to avoid it getting referendumed this year which would put it on 2012's ballot right in the middle of… Oh gee… And we wonder why the serious contenders are staying home.

    The big worry is will the Ds will do dumbass stuff like those in Massashotthemselves. Last thing they need is the unions supporting a vaguely viable independent. Leave it to the Ds to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and just to be sure beat it with a stick.

  • Maine's fine. LePage won in a three way race.

    But Pennsylvania could be more competitive than usual if the economy in that state doesn't rebound some. OTOH, turnout in Philly and Pittsburgh will be huge for Obama. But I agree that the Ohio GOP is also setting themselves up for a backlash.

    I'm still trying to figure out who my fantasy GOP candidate is.

    Man, would I love Mark Perry to get into the race.

  • Will y'all tolerate my theory yet again? I have kept quiet now for a month or two on this. But, Ed, you have brought up the subject.

    The T party is going to turn on the Rs because they have not delivered, are slow delivering, and will not deliver on their 2010 promises.

    In the Trog circles I run in the Rs are mostly regarded as gutless, spineless, etc.

    It is starting to happen as we speak. The true believer group (mostly Freshmen) is separating themselves from the leadership. Look for them to vote 'no' on the debt limit increase unless they get huge concessions on spending.

    I know that many here think that the T's are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rs or the eeeevil Koch Bros.

    I think not. Paul, the Elder, wiil generate a lot of division this time as the Ts likely coalesce around him or someone like him.

    Further, President Obama will likely win because 'you can't beat something w/ nothing' I see no enthusiasm for Snow White nor any of her little friends.

    Again, apologies all around…I'll try to restrain myself for awhile.


  • Major Kong says:


    I don't think the Koch brothers are evil, just amoral.

    But then, so's a Great White Shark, and both will eat you just as quick.

    It's nothin' personal, just business.

  • @PhoenixRising:
    I think bb is right here – the GOP will ultimately pay a price for exploiting the Tea Party fad. Mainline Republicans won't give teabaggers the absurd cuts they want, and the 'baggers have already alienated moderates and independents by supporting the myopic overreach of Scott Walker and pals. They were powerful in 2010 because the Democrats were weak and no one turned out – as far as swinging major elections, they're a spent force.

  • If the U.S. dollar collapses, Obama's safe election could turn into the Alamo, although Republicans might be seen as more discredited then Democrats. I am wondering at what point the electorate will look seriously at third party candidates or politicians such as Kucinich or Paul.

  • @bb:

    The problem I see with it is that the only thing the teabaggers (I refuse to call them the Tea Party until I see people throwing something of theirs of value into the ocean in protest) accomplish is splitting the Republican vote. Anybody that would vote with that block was already voting Republican, it's not like someone of a decidedly left-leaning ideology will suddenly decide that "Republican, except more extreme" is better than "Republican" with respect to their own views.

  • Monkey Business says:

    Considering the situations in Ohio and Florida, if the GOP's relationships with the voters in those states continue to deteriorate, this thing could be over before it gets started.

    It's a bad cycle to be a GOP Presidential Candidate.

  • @Edward:
    It wouldn't be someone with Kucinich's or Paul's crank baggage, but there's a golden opportuniuty for the right candidate with a good sales pitch and planetary balls. Perot almost did it in '92. No one really likes either of the major parties.

  • acer: It wouldn't be someone with Kucinich's or Paul's crank baggage, but there's a golden opportuniuty for the right candidate with a good sales pitch and planetary balls.

    My two favorite words for that scenario: Russ Feingold.

  • "It's the economy stupid" People vote with their wallets. We have had endless hours of negative talk about the economy, which is not nearly as fragile as the prognosticators have been telling us. A deflated dollar is not a collapsed dollar, not by a long shot. However, the talk heads will not stop talking. And they hate to say anything positive.

    While the President has far less control over it than he is given credit for, he is still to blame when unemployment is not at 3% and gas is over $2.00 a gallon. Say what you want about radical groups on either side, the allegiance free decide every election.

    Obama can lose in 2012.

  • @Geds: While an excellent idea on paper, Feingold would most likely only succeed in splitting the vote and we'd end up with a nut job in the House.

    Of course what would be interesting is if (as in yeah as if…) tRump, threw his hat in the ring as an independent as he's (was it a promise, proposition or a threat?)ed to do. Plus the Obama, the sad sack of an R, and a viable 2nd Independent (eg. Feingold). So a four horse race.
    That would distract the crazies enough on one side, and allow for a more sensible outcome. Right now voting is a fear of I may not like the Weimar Republic we've got, but I sure can see that the alternative is beyond frightening

    @John: While the fleabaggers are for the most part nut cases (eg. Bachman, Pallid), occasionally one does make some sense. Eg. Certainly, Paul the younger was calling BS on the main stream for their lack of resolve on not going far enough on the budget. What is an issue he wants on the table? The place we all agree that the greatest sink hole in the budget is, *military spending*. He's gone on the record time and time again that until military spending is on the block everything else is tinkering on the edges and wasting everyone's time. *Still* wouldn't vote for him though.

  • Monkey Business says:

    If the United States is in a weak Weimar Republic era, I'm content with that, because as we all know, the follow-up to that is Nazism.

    For clarity, I'm not calling the a GOP and Tea Party run government a bunch of Nazis.

    Just implying it.

  • Chicagojon says:

    Guess what — you just drew the 'Kerry map'* or what I like to call the 'as long as the "as long as Democratic candidate can stand up and not drool (much) they will most likely win these states" map

    In the US 1-party system for the foreseeable future (call it 12-16 years) I think it's always going to be 47-49% for the loser and 48-51% for the winner with the same 220 'guaranteed' blues (I don't trust PA that much…WI & OH has shown us what happens when people think that small government will be good government — I wouldn't be surprised to see this happen to PA) and the ~200 'guaranteed' reds unless one of the parties puts up a clearly inferior ticket (thanks McCain/Palin!).

    *Kerry even won NH! Of course even more douchebag Libertarians have moved in since then so I'm sure they're red for the near future.

  • "What we have here is failyuh to communicate."

    Strother Martin as The Chain Gang Prison Camp Warden in 'Cool Hand Luke.'(1967)

    John: I did such a poor job. My whole theory is that the T-party is nothing but a guaranteed splitter of the Rs. I have rambled on in that vein for the better part of a year.

    For the record, the current Tea Party is an acronymn for Taxed Enough Already (T.E.A.) Nothing to do w/ throwing stuff in the Harbor (unless you may feel they are throwing BS.)


  • @bb: Ah, I was thinking it was more in the vein of supplanting the Rs, rather than splitting. I see we think similarly on that topic, then.

    As for the backronym of "Tea" — that may be so, but calling themselves the Tea Party is a pretty deliberate reference to the Boston one. I don't begrudge people their political views, but I do wish that if people were going to pattern themselves after an event where people actually did make personal sacrifices in the name of rebellion against an actually tyrannical governing body *from overseas*, they should at least show some respect for it by making their own sacrifices.

  • Fifth Dentist says:

    "they should at least show some respect for it by making their own sacrifices."

    They did make sacrifices. While attending teabagger rallies some of them didn't eat for a whole hour or more! And they had to drive their Hoverounds, like, a really long distance. Or something.
    Um … USA, USA, USA!

  • @acer,

    I think you are right that people are ready for something different, although how scared are the Democrats and Republicans?

    A big problem for independents is exposure. Jesse Ventura's campaign took off after a televised debate he participated in but the presidential debates are very difficult to qualify for.

    By the way I like Rep. Kucinich. In what way is he a crank?


    Your comment reminded me that Feingold may have lost because of the new campaign finance rules allowing greater corporate contributions; that is another obstacle for independents.

  • thrashbluegrass says:


    TEA = Taxed Enough Already is an after-the-fact cooptation of the word as an acronym , (called a "backronym" here on the intertruck), and really goes to show how out-of-touch those using it are with the objective reality of historically low rates of income taxation.

  • That's okay, because you're probably going to see the same thing happen with the GOP unless they can get Obama to become an official Republican. There's no there there as far as the GOP goes; it looks like Sarah Palin is the only viable candidate from here, but the GOP leadership is enough of a he man woman's hater club that they'll dig up the corpse of Ronald Reagan just to find someone who can defeat her in the primaries.

    No, you'd need to find Obama in bed with a live boy or dead girl ((tm) Edwin Edwards) before the GOP has any chance of winning the 2012 election. And even then it's a pretty slim chance.

  • Of course you realize, this means .. that you've pretty much guaranteed that Obama will lose. I don't see how, yet, but tempting fate is tempting fate.
    As for the beard-stroking musings on the "We don't really know what we're mad about, but we're mad as Hell about something that we can blame on them damn Liberals!" Tea Party folks, I'm so glad to hear that next year they're all going to vote Democratic (or perhaps just stay home and shriek at the TV) in order to punish the Republicans. I thought that was something only unprincipled Liberals did to their nominal representatives, but if bb says it, who am I to disagree.

  • Monkey Business says:

    The best case for Obama in 2012 looks something like this.
    – Reading the proverbial tea leaves, moderate, electable candidates stay out of the race.
    – The Republicans are forced to choose between ideologues, Barry Goldwater style.
    – During the Primary, the base gets super involved, and forced the candidates to support a bunch of positions that are absolutely indefensible in the general election.
    – Obama moves slightly left to placate the liberal left, while continuing to be a centrist.
    – During the campaign, something happens, whether it's a big personal victory for Obama (closing Guantanamo, leaving Afghanistan, etc.), or a scandal involving the other candidate.
    – Obama destroys Candidate (R) during the debate.
    – Obama cruises to an easy re-election.

  • "Obama moves slightly left to placate the liberal left," magical unicorns float down on rainbows, etc etc.

  • Well, it's not as if the man hasn't left a whole bunch of room for tacking slightly to the left. And if the past few years have shown, the American left doesn't really care all that much about results as long as the rhetoric is soothingly progressive.

  • Mind you I'll vote for Obama before I vote for [deranged GOP candidate]. Which just perpetuates the problem. Maybe if progressives showed up at town halls waving guns and illiterate signage, they would take us more seriously.

  • JohnR:

    I think T -party people will vote for Mr O when pigs fly (first class, no less.)

    I believe the establishment Rs will give in and you will have your dream candidate per Monkey Biz above or they won't give in and the Ts will go off the reservation with a third party candidate (Papa Paul?)

    Heads Pres O wins, tails Pres O wins.

    I am not the oracle of GA, so feel free to disagree, but be sweet!


  • All the cops and firefighters I know (a bunch) swear they have been solidly R for ever but will never vote R again. They are part of the 300k highly motivated public employees who are pretty angry at the Rs here in OH. Hard to see how OH goes red this time. But I am no expert when it comes to this stuff.

  • All the cops and firefighters I know here in OH (a bunch) swear they have been solidly R for ever but will never vote R again. They are part of the 300k highly motivated public employees who are pretty angry at the Rs here in OH. Hard to see how OH goes red this time. But I am no expert when it comes to this stuff.

  • SaminMpls says:

    Ed's scenario gives Obama 242 and the GOP has 179 without assigning any of the 117 votes removed from Obama's total. According to, the GOP must win Florida in all 38 possible winning combinations.

    If they lose Ohio they can only also lose Nevada or Iowa or New Hampshire. And if they lose North Carolina, they can only also lose Indiana or a combination of New Hampshire and either Nevada or Iowa.

    Who would you send out from the GOP, Daniels with Rubio as VP?

  • mother earth says:

    Bright….shiny…..objects. People in the South have been voting against their own economic interests since Reagan. Why? Guns, god and gays. Works like a charm every time. Distractions. Never mind the economic policy of the party you are supporting is turning you into Wal Mart land, every day low paying jobs with no benefits, these are GOD'S candidates. Works every single election.

  • Frankly, given the way it appears the GOP is punting this election, it can be fair to say that they DON'T want to win this election. And why would they – they seem to be doing a pretty good job getting what they want out of a centrist president and a wishy-washy Senate.

    There are a lot of other things going for the GOP in the current situation, too. They get all sorts of money and support by advertising that President Obama is either a socialist bent on taking over the country OR a wet noodle that can't seem to get anything done. Additionally, why would they want to take over this economic situation?

    The GOP has got it pretty good under President Obama, why would they want to change things now? 2016 is when the GOP rolls out their big guns (Daniels, Rubio, Pence, JEB). Maybe we should start thinking about who the Dems can counter with. Unfortunately, the cupboard looks a little bare…

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