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tv   American Politics  CSPAN  September 5, 2010 6:30pm-8:00pm EDT

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that say that sort of thing? >> members of congress are free to speak on that sort of thing. >> the fleet is always getting old. they have gone through a major recapitalization. they are much more modern now than they were 15 years ago. but there are areas where they need a lot of help. the inland waterways, everything in cleveland and on the great lakes and on the mississippi, they are 35 years old. the eyes packers are falling apart. we are a lot closer -- the icebreakers are falling apart. we are a lot closer to renting something russian. >> the coast guard became part of the home and security department after the terrorist attacks. why does it come back to the discussion of whether it should be severed from homeland
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security? why did that come into debate? >> the coast guard is a law enforcement agency. they have legal authority. they are also a search and rescue group. they have so many more missions than anybody else put together. that has been one of their problems throughout their existence, finding a good home for them. maybe this will work or maybe not, but that is a question that people are beginning to ask. >> thank you for being on "newsmakers." >> thank you. president obama travels to milwaukee tomorrow to talk about the u.s. economy at the latest afl-cio labor day event.
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follow the people and events that make history online at the c-span video library. the transfer of a canal, the impeachment of a president, the events of 9/11, watched what happened as it happened, all free any time. it is washington your way. now there is a discussion on the midterm elections. speakers include jonah goldberg. it is part of a conference by the american political science association. this portion is just under an hour and a half. [applause] >> thank you, gene. is a pleasure to be here. people are looking for big
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republican gains in the midterm elections. low approvals of congress, presidential ratings, a bad ratio of what is called the " right track/wrong track" poor economic conditions and poor perceptions of the economy by voters, an advantage by republicans issue-by-issue on each of the issues that are pulled at the moment, which is a dramatic change from two years ago and four years ago, and sea- by-seat, there is a lot more honorable democrats then bolar republicans. it would seem to be likely -- there is a lot more vulnerable
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democrats than vulnerable republicans. no two elections are ever the same. there are limits to any attempt to find analogies. of course, we are handicapped at this moment by the minor detail of not knowing the actual result. [laughter] that imposes a further limit on our ability to strike analogies. on the other hand, you can identify certain patterns and you can put elections into meaningful categories and at least identify what some of the possibilities are. these categories for this process can tell us something about the strategic challenges facing each party and possibly even some effect on the next presidential race. what are the possibilities?
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it seems to me there are three main possibilities to think about. one of them would be a parallel with elections like 1946, 1994, or, if you want to go back further, maybe even 1984 or the 1930's. these were cases where there were big gains by the opposition party, big enough that they ended up being swept into the majority. 1930 is a little complicated. but we can leave it at that for now. the opposition party has a big year and they came -- and they became the majority. what happened? they gained some power, even though the president was of the other party. they were still able to pass some legislation. sometimes it was over the president's veto and sometimes not, sometimes with his cooperation. this included a relief bill after 1930. the taft-hartley act after 1946
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on welfare reform. simultaneously and connected to the fact that they have new power was the fact that they had additional responsibility and were perceived as having some responsibility for governing. this made them a target or a potential target in a way that they were not before. the question in this instance, the really big question would be, if the republicans gain enough seats to gain a majority in congress, can obama adjust? can he make the shift that might be necessary to deal with that new situation? if you look at the four instances that i mentioned, in two of them, 1946 and 1984, the opposition party gained a majority in congress but lost the presidency. but then they won control of
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congress again. they build an enduring majority that defined american politics for some time after that. what was the difference between these? partly, it depended on the conditions. that was a very important factor. the depression of 1984, the great depression made it likely that the opposition party would win the presidency, no matter what congress did. but there were other factors, including the skills of the new majority, their aptitude in trying to share in government, and also the adaptability of the president. everybody knows that harry truman and bill clinton confronted congress and made a lot of hay out of those confrontations. but would people oftentimes forget is that both of those presidents gave a lot of ground.
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it was sometimes not voluntarily, but, in bill clinton's case in particular, he made a concerted effort to move toward the republicans and sometimes even substantively. he confronted part of the time, but he was also flexible and was able to declare the area of big government being over, and was able to sign a welfare reform. they were able to endorse the idea of a balanced budget. hoover and grover cleveland, on the other hand, were much more rigid. they were not able to make those kinds of accommodations to the new majority. can obama make those kinds of accommodations? we do not know. i have a suspicion, based on his conduct so far, that he may not be as adaptable as bill clinton. he may be more rigid than bill
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clinton and not able to make the kind of adjustments that clinton made. the second possible set of analogies would be something like 1938 and 1966, where the opposition party made a very big gains, but not quite enough to be aimed majority -- to be a majority. they started with a fewer than 100 seats in the house. what was the result of this? they had very little power, in a positive sense, to pass legislation. that was either for reasons of good government or to embarrass the president somehow. they also have little responsibility and were not as big a target for the president. these elections did change momentum -- the momentum of the political environment a little bit. they gave the opposition party extra energy.
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and they definitely had the effect of stymying the president. in fact, there are a lot of possible dates that you could pick for this. but if you to pick a date for the new deal era as a policy -- of when policy making ended, a plausible date would be 1938 and 1966 because of the way those midterm elections change to the partisan balance and the sense of political momentum as well. sometimes, in these cases, the opposition party that has made new games wins the next presidential election. sometimes it does not. but they tend to be more competitive and energized in either case. finally, there is a said a possible examples which republicans will not want to dwell on and democrats will grasp onto as strongly as
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possible. these are cases in which there were expectations of big gains at some point, not too far in advance of the election. but they did not actually materialize. i am thinking particularly of 1962 and 1998. in 1962, in the late summer, republicans thought they might be able to gain 30 seats or 40 seats in the house, that they might be able to really challenge democrats in congress on the basis of the broad perception of the country that kennedy was not dealing with cuba firmly enough. in the late summer of 1998, there were hopes by some republican strategists that they could gain as much as 30 seats in congress on the basis of the scandal. in the end, that did not happen.
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they gained four seats in the house and lost three in the senate in 1962. in 1998, they gained nothing in the senate and lost five seats in the house. in most cases, this was a strategic defeat. republican morel was shaken. democrats were energized rather than -- republican morale was shaken. democrats were energized rather than shaken. the lesson for republicans, i think, is do not take anything for granted. the table may be set, but that does not mean that there will be served. you have to actually win the seats when the time comes to it. i would also say that democrats should not take too much of glee from these possible exceptions, these examples, where the hope
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for or expected losses did not come into being. why? because these two cases were situations in which the table was not really set the way that is now or in some of the other elections. the economy was doing fine for the most part. presidential approval was high. the republicans did not have advantages on a broad range of issues. they were hoping that a single issue would be the silver bullet that would bring them big gains. it turned out that even its intervened, in some cases their own miss steps intervened, and the single issue that they relied on was turned upside down. it worked against them rather than for them. the key is that it was not just any crisis that save the the democrats. it was not just any event that saved the democrats. it was a crisis or event that undercut the actual basis for
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the expectation that they might lose a lot of seats. what would happen if the administration announced on october 20 that we had captured osama bin laden? it could help the democratic case. presidential approval would undoubtedly go up a bit for the first time. but i am not convinced that it would fundamentally change the dynamic of the race. the selection does not seem to be about osama bin laden. -- this election does not seem to be about osama bin laden. some event that would convince a large number of americans that the health care reform was a stroke of brilliance, it is hard to say what that event would be between now and november 1.
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a discovery by someone in the office of management and budget that there was an accounting error -- [laughter] and the national debt was actually $1.30 trillion and not $13 trillion. those are things that could seriously disrupt the dynamic today because it would undercut the basis of the dynamic. you could never be sure until the votes are counted what will happen. there are situations where people think they will met -- make big gains and do not. without making too firm of a prognostication, i would be somewhat surprised if some of these things materialize to disrupt the dynamics underway right now. thank you. [applause]
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>> first, i want to say how excited i am to be here. the claremont panels are sort of famous amidst all of the stuff that apsa. there is a meeting in the catacombs that initiative this. [laughter] all like andrew busch, i am not apologize. i like anybody else on this panel, i am not an academic. -- i am not a path colleges. all like -- unlike andrew busch, i am not a pathologist. unlike anybody else on this panel, i am not an academic.
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at this point, it would not make sense to go through the terrible numbers that the democrats and the obama administration are looking at. i think the model in the white house these days is "fear not for the worst is yet to come." it seems to me that there are two separate arguments going on right now in the liberal- intellectual world about what is going on. there's one set of people who are defending obama. there is another set of people defending liberalism. they have investments in one or the other. in the case of obama, everyone is saying, "ok, he has gotten a lot of stuff done." he is more popular in the parallels of 1992. others say that obama is fine,
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but there's a problem in communication. both arguments are deeply flawed. in washington right now, there has been this boom lit to find hopes in comparing obama to ronald reagan. the republicans got drug in the midterm elections. but, by 1984, he was doing great and sailed through re- election. i find the comparison flawed in a number of ways. chief among them is that this recession is very different from that recession. what an enormous concession even trying to make that comparison is. when barack obama came into office in 2008, the intellectual climate fought -- from paul
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krugman and an article said that we were about to embark on a 30-year progressive era. it was time for a new new deal. that fundamentalism had been discarded by george bush. those of us -- had been discredited by george bush. many thought that george bush spent money like he was a pimp with a week to live. there are comparisons to herbert hoover. but even herbert hoover was knocked like herbert hoover. i see no reason why i can bring it up. that prediction that was deeply held by an enormous number of
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very serious people, both in academia and journalism, that we were on the brink of a new new deal has been authoritatively and objectively debunked. fdr, we have to remember that fdr and the new deal were very popular for quite a long time until 1938. it was in policy-making mode. in 1932, i think fdr gained 90 seats in the house and 13 seats in the senate. in the off-year election of 1933, which nobody talks about, pro-fdr/pro-new deal candidates won. in 1934, rather than lose seats, fdr built on that and gained even more seats and again in 1936. from the scott brown election
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and new jersey and virginia, from these elections we have already had, no such parallel has already taken place. we already know that the popularity of the new new deal simply is not there in practical and objective terms. even if the rosy scenarios that have karl rove chuckling and i do not come to be, everybody agrees that the democrats are going to lose a significant number of seats in the house and the senate. how significant? that is for the pathologists to predict. that fact, in and of itself, proves that the climate is very different than it needs to be to support the idea that we are entering a new new deal. the fact that these predictions
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so omnipresent out in the political and intellectual culture says something about why obama and the democrats have so fundamentally overreached. they thought it was true. they were working on an understanding of the political climate that actually did not track with reality. a very good explanation or one of the reasons why democrats so overreached came from j cause, someone who does political analysis. he pointed out that, in the 1960's, the committee chair, the democratic committee chairs were almost universally to the right of the rank-and-file of the democratic party. now it is the reverse. from charlie rangel to nancy pelosi to henry waxman on down, they are to the left of the
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average democrat. they are also very old. this was their moment to so listen -- they saw this as their moment to solidify and get their legacy work done in this public stage or mortar coil or -- or mortal coil or whatever. there were guys in a public bureau who were going to vote out harry blackmun. -- henry waxman. obama understood that part of it when he outsourced his agenda to congress. what immediately happened was that the american people said, wait a second, this is not what we voted for. we voted to have washington change, but you have empowered one of the most entrenched
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constituencies parties in the united states to dustoff ideas that go back 30 years, 50 years, even 70 years. there is a piece in of a white time magazine" -- there is a piece in "time machine" about obama in indiana. people in indiana say they feel betrayed. this is not what they expected. that, more than anything else, is probably what is fueling things, never mind the economic climate and the stimulus. i think the stimulus was the original sin of the obama administration. if they come out with a stimulus package that bought off 10% of the republican caucus, back then, the obama popularity was at 70%.
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i spoke with consultants about it at the time and they were terrified that obama would give the republicans what they were asking for. if they had done that, then the recovery would have gone bipartisan -- or the lack of recovery. we call it the black of winter. republicans could not run against it in the midterm elections. instead, it was so greedy and so full of the agent wish list products that republicans felt they had to vote against it. not only did they vote against it, making it a partisan endeavor, they voted a against a popular president and successfully. it seems to me that, in the
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1930's with the new deal, for good or bad, you had the sense that these sort of top-down status progressive policies, whatever label you want to put on them, were a necessity for the poor, for the average man. now there is a real sense that these big ticket items, the new trade, are things that a prosperous society would pay for because they are indulgent. but when times are tough, these things seem like they're not worth the resources or the money. there is a funny irony to all of this. these are economic arguments that i am abiding by. to some extent, the irony here is that obama is less than the new fdr and might turn out to be the new hoover. people forget that the reason
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hoover became hoover is because his policies failed to end the great depression. when fdr came into office, he could say, i have to try something new. even though what he tried was more like a continuation of what hoover was doing. politically, it seemed like the turning of the page, a new deal. my biases are obvious. i'm hoping it will turn out that this incredible explosion in spending and direction to economics, because they are failing, may turn out to discredit these things, giving republicans an enormous opportunity in the history of any god they will blow to past economic policies that would increase the stature for
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them for time to come. [applause] >> thank you. it is always good to follow jonah. as we are doing our panel's, we are all moving down slowly until we fall off the end. i would like to pick up where he left off. he left off on some broad perceptions of liberalism. i'm struck by the moment we are in right now based on those comments. it is thought that we must remember -- this is best done by analysis done by people in this room. scholars from claremont and others, going back to scholarship that grew out of the
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--0's, like forced mcdonald like forest mcdonald and were gone carried jackman. that would explain the moment we are in today. those views do not dominate political science as a very quick look of the schedule of the political science proves. the left has long maintained that this state is inevitable. why is it that progressivism, progressive movement, the new date, the great society especially finally has gone nuts over the love affair of the american founding?
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republicans came to set to this argument. most democrats rallied around the view. the responsible thing was stewardship with of the modern state. but there was never a serious questioning of its direction. politics have always seen the ebb and flow between progress and change on the one hand and consolidation of the status quo. no real change in the liberal project. all we had to do was wait for the next wave of liberal reform. who was it to be? jimmy carter? no. bill clinton? then the watershed election of 2008. a funny thing happened on the way to the revolution, the left, overreading the election, gave rise to this deeply unpopular overreaching agenda.
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since this is a political science foundation, i have data. a colleague of mine looked at exit polls after the 2008 election. exit polls are very accurate. people have just voted. they asked, how do you define yourself? as a liberal or conservative? the gap is outlined in this chart. red is conservative. the gap -- a dark red is a gap of over 16 points between self- identified conservatives and self-identified liberals. this is after the election polls. the only places where it is over 10% of liberal self- identification is in a few northeastern states. it gets worse over time. if you look at a similar poll -- this was done by gallup over the course of the month of june and released at the end of august.
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it asked the same question. it turned out there were conservative majorities in every state -- all 50. the only place where there was self-identification of more liberal stand conservatives is the district of concern -- is the district of columbia. [laughter] i will leave it at that. large numbers of the american people identify themselves as conservative. broadly speaking, twice the amount of liberals. moreover, what is interesting is that these voters who are attending this direction are being brought together by a new cluster of issues that heretofore were not thought to debt, spending- a de , the role of government, the loss of liberty. things that did not have a bullet point to concentrate the
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public's anger. this sharpens a trend that has been ongoing. one researcher who follows poles pointed out that in 1958 when the american people were asked if the government was trusted to do the right thing, 71% said always or most of the time. that number held throughout the 1960's. by 1978, two years before ronald reagan, it had plummeted to 40%. by a margin of 50% to 38%, americans prefer smaller government and fewer services to larger government and more services. in the last year-and-a-half, that margin has moved from 5 points to a gap of 20 points. one of my favorite polls -- sterol talking about these broad polling numbers -- since we are
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all talking about these broad polling numbers -- 61% believed it does not. 18% are not sure or do not care. [laughter] as james madison said in the federalist papers, they deserve their change. what is interesting is that 63% of the political class think the exact opposite. they believe that the government has the consent of the government. only 6% believe -- of the mainstream agrees with that view. the progressive income -- the progressive transformation is perhaps incomplete. is it possible that they are coming to wake up to what is going on? we add the conflict of tipping points about debt, spending, taxation, moral issues,
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bailouts. it is a moral issue for most people. there is something about the united states -- its politics are unique. most of the time, issues are shoved to the background. policies are local. a handful of policies rise to the national agenda. everyone's a while it looks back and takes a longer view -- every once in awhile it looks back and takes a longer view. this election has not been nationalized. it has been "foundationalized." the conventional wisdom is that a serious political realignment, bringing together politics with some understanding of the principles of the declaration and the constitution, is no longer possible. we seem to be seeing some indications of that possibility. is it possible anymore in the modern era? this growing divide betweene dividese and popular opinion -- between politicalese and popular
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opinion is becoming increasingly clear. they have increasing disdain for middle america, while those americans cling to their declaration of independence. the democratic party shows no evidence it is capable to accommodate that opinion. witness the fact that the health care votes before scott brown's elections were followed by a the him and forcing it through by -- by a vehement forcing it through by a minimum majority votes. they may be ready to embrace some serious enforce limits on the state. this is an historic opportunity for conservatives to the opportunity to challenge those who seek to conserve these principles, to turn this public health the sentiment -- the tea party movement -- which stands against a partisan agenda to
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turn it into a federal and enduring political opinion about the future, nature, and purpose about the constitutional government. we must make a very compelling argument -- and narrative -- a narrative and find a new direction for the country. we need to establish new policy. that argument, in turn, needs to become the agenda of the republican party. decisive and divisive -- forcing a choice. can they do that? i have my doubts. party members have looked low with the general ballot looking very good. only a few months ago, nearly half of the voters believe that people randomly selected from the phone book to do as good a job as the current congress. perhaps william butler was right in the first place appeared to go back to what i said at the very beginning -- in the first
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place. to go back to what i said at the very beginning, we need principles -- we need to relate to the principles that the american people still hold. it requires prudence and statesmanship. the kind of things that we have been talking about, places like aremont institution study and the heritage foundation. this is not a libertarian moment in my opinion. this is an american moment. people are going back to their instinct. it is a teaching moment. what happened in the 2000 elections is not known -- 2010 elections is not known, but the american people are poised to make a very and 4 decision -- very important decision. what is interesting is the strength and clarity of the
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founders' argument. it is given temporary expression and brought to decision. that might well be the fuel for establishing a new governing coalition, which in turn might well undermine the very foundation of the unlimited administrative state. at the very least, it would be a monumental step on the long road back to a limited government. thank you. >> [applause] >> i want to start with the report from the "new york times ." politicians of both parties share of like-minded view of the electoral landscape. the prospects for democrats at all levels are bleak. the only unknown is just how bleak. that was from september 4, 1994. i start with that to make a point.
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one of the commentaries you have heard recently is -- one of the big differences between 1994 and 2010 is that the democrats are ready. they know what is coming. guess what? they knew in 1994 what was coming. granted, it was not until the final days that they realize that republicans would go over the top and win an actual majority in the house. but they knew they were in for a very big hit. when a landslide is about to happen, there is very little that you it can do that you. trust me on this -- that you can do to stop it. trust me on this. when you see those mud balls rolling down the hill, all you can do is run away and screen like a chicken -- scream like a chicken. what were the signs 16 years ago and how do they relate to what
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we see now? a lot has been made about the victories in new jersey and virginia. we had victories in new jersey and beijing for the republicans in 1993 -- in new jersey and virginia for the republicans in 1993. kay bailey hutchison -- we tend to forget some years later that was really attention-getting, a seat that had been in democratic hands for some time. we have totally forgotten this, but it was very significant, the victory of ronald lewis in kentucky of a seat that had been in democratic hands since reconstruction. a fairly obscure republican candidate won it, which led bill clinton, according to george stephanopoulos, to say, "it's nazi time out there."
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clinton was not as tolerant of dissent in private as he was in public. what other parallels do we have? lots. in 1994, you had an unpopular president. at this point, barack obama is doing slightly better than bill clinton was in early september of 1994. not by much. the trajectory, very broadly considered, is similar, starting off pretty high and going down. congressional approval is somewhere in the vicinity of approval of athlete's foot. really low. it is very difficult to get anybody to say they approve of congress. this does not translate, necessarily, into an embrace of the republican party. gallup has the numbers just out of those who are intending to vote republican.
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48% -- it is more a vote for the republican candidate. 44% say it is more a vote against the democratic candidate. it is really close. a lot of the republican support is not earned. it is against the democrats, not necessarily for the republicans. the challenge for the republicans, as tom hanks said in "saving private ryan," is "earn it." they have scandals. the similarity is just theory. they had a series of scandals in 1994: 80 in the chairman of the -- 1994 culminating ain the chairman of the ways and means committee -- guess what, chile -- charles rangel is now the face. that is okay with republicans.
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in 1994, democrats made a really dumb political mistake. there was not a lot they could do to stop the mudslide, but they could at least limit the damage. they made it worse. they went after the christian right. they went after christian conservatives. vic phase deal -- vic fazio talked about the fire-breathing christian right. that was very stupid. they were trying to hold onto a bunch of seats in the south where, the christian right was very popular. guess who a lot of people in the south voted for? this time out, they are making not an identical but fairly similar mistake -- going after the tea party movement. they're using the derivative term "teabaggers" and that is stupid.
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if they want to hold on to the majority, they have to hold on to seats held by people like bobby bright in alabama. if they want to hold on, they need to hold votes from people who like the tea party movement. if you want to turn this into which was between democrats and the tea party movement, those folks are going down. stupid, stupid, stupid -- this is political malpractice on the part of many democrats. similarities and differences. differences are pretty important. some of them work to the republican favor and some do not. differences that worked in favor of the republicans -- the economy. in 1994, the economy was not doing all that badly. on september 2, 1994, almost exactly 16 years to the day, the labor department reported unemployment was 6.1%. this morning, it was reported at 9.6%. that is a difference that is
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really hurtful for the democrats. the economy is much worse. another advantage that the democrats had in 1994 cuts both ways. it was a champion fund-raiser for both the democratic and republican parties. he was a great fundraiser for both republicans and democrats. the checks would pour in. who do they have? what enemies? mitch mcconnell? he puts in mind what russell baker said about scoop jackson. if he gave a fireside chat, the fire would go out. and john boehner? the only way to arouse people against him is if there is some
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hidden prejudice against orange people. [laughter] so, you know, lots of luck with that. a couple of the advantages the democrats have -- a fund- raising. in 1994, the republicans, at the national party level, did have a significant advantage in fund raising. this time, the national party committees, the democrats have a significant fund-raising advantage. that will help them hold onto some seats they might otherwise lose. this is partly mitigated by some of the republican outside groups like american crossroads, republican governors association that might offset some of that advantage. this will help democrats hold at least a few of the seats that are on the bubble. you cannot ignore that element in the election. a much bigger disadvantage for
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the republicans is, in 1994, nobody remembered what a republican majority looked like. in 2010, everybody remembers and the memories are not entirely pretty. there is a record that democrats can rob -- grab onto and run against. even people who are sympathetic to republicans have to say, ya eah, it is not all good. that is a bit of a burden for republicans. the biggest difference, i think, is what comes after the election. again, i'm harking back to matt's point. the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product is three times larger than it was in 1994. there are some very serious and sobering decisions that lie ahead that are going to take the kind of political courage that
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congressman paul ryan has shown to the question is whether colored -- has shown. the question is whether other republicans can come up with real solutions that will have a real effect on the deficit. if they can do that, who then they can earn victory. if they cannot, they will not. [applause] >> thank you and the afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. let me speak institutionally just for a second to note that this afternoon's panel is one of 15 organized at this year's american political science association's convention. let me thank our associate or doing a great job in putting these panels together -- for
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doing a great job in putting these panels together. [applause] oscar wilde said there are two kinds of tragic stories. one is about people who do not get what they want and the other is about people who do. in november, 2008, american liberals got what they wanted. the clearest signal since 1964 that the nation's voters were prepared to offer reliable, durable majorities to the advocates and protection it -- advocates and practitioners of activist government. in a post-election cover story for "time" magazine, he wrote that barack obama's majority looked every bit as dirty as fdr's new deal coalition. -- as sturdy as fdr's new deal coalition. he said, taking aggressive action to stimulate the economy,
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regulate the financial industry, and shore up the american welfare state will not abide obama's political coalition, but the other side's. 22 months later, liberal assessments of the political landscape are as morose as the ones after the election were triumphant. in june, 2010, a centrist think tank contracted with a polling firm that had worked on the obama campaign to assess americans' attitudes on economic policy. the survey of likely voters found 54% favored cutting taxes for business as a way to stimulate the economy, compared to 32% in favor of making new government investments. among voters who identified themselves as independent, the
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gap was even wider. 60% to 28%. 55% of all respondents agreed -- american companies are the backbone of the u.s. economy and we need to help them grow whether they are large or small. by comparison, 37% agreed with the statement, "large companies have too much power, hurt the middle class, and government needs to keep them in check." comparably, solid majority stake higher priority to reducing the federal deficit by either tax cuts or more government spending on research, new technologies, or infrastructure. among independents, nearly twice as many, 47% of to 25% considered republicans rather than democrats serious about deficit reduction. according to the summary, the deficit is a trump card in conservative -- and the conservatives currently holds it.
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-- hold it. he called this person news for democrats. the great bottom-line hope was that obama was going to restore trust in government and prove it could solve problems. that has not happened. he contends that it is not just the third-wave pool, but a lot of other surveys that are ominous for the democrats' chances in the 2010 elections. the real story is that the larger war against conservatism waged as the party of government raison d'etre is being lost. as we sit here, a few miles from capitol hill, the 2010 elections are 60 days away. democrats would, at this point, be thrilled if they lost only 25 seats in the 25and four -- in the house and four in the senate. that is at the low-end of
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everyone's expectations. it would leave democrats relieved on election night, but confront them with the big problem the next morning. whether democrats actually lose in the midterms matters less than commentators assume. even if they cling to their congressional majority, president obama will not be able to muster the 60 votes needed to surmount republican filibusters in the senate. what ever happens, he will be forced to negotiate with an emboldened republican -- whatever happens, he will be forced to negotiate with an emboldened republican constituent. it is a less-democratic congress. two of the things will happen on the morning of wednesday, november 3. the argument over why the
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winners of the 2006 and 2008 elections did so much less than they expected to restore trust in government and prove it could solve problems. second, the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns will begin -- really begin. the first will have a big impact on the second. each party will explain its goals going forward to the 2012 elections. it will be a theory of what the republic will demand and when it cannot tolerate. a series of electoral setback confronts every political party or movement with the same dilemma -- do we, on the one hand, recommit to our agenda and worldview, then that we can once again secure majorities on that basis, or do we construe
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these electoral defeats as evidence that the public is implacably resistant to least some parts of our enterprise? for the sake of the goals we can effect, we must jettison or reformulate the ones we cannot. after 1984, democrats -- 1994, democrats did, in a conflicting and halting manner, recalibrate some parts of their message and mission. unable to reach a consensus about how much revision was truly necessary, they won back and white house with the nominee exceptionally gifted at conversing -- at convincing adversaries who disagree with or detested one another that he agreed or sympathize with both or all of them. as the late michael kelly wrote in 1994, the president's essential character flaw is not dishonesty so much as ahonesty.
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[laughter] bill clinton means what he says when he says it, but tomorrow he will mean what he says when he says the opposite. [laughter] clinton was capable of sending different signals to different constituencies, not only on consecutive days, but in consecutive sentences. in the 1996 state of the union address, he said the era of big government is over, but we can go to the era of fending for yourself. one of the reasons bill clinton coasted to reelection the year he gave that speech is that americans are optimistic about navigating a middle way between big government and spending for yourself. receptive to the comforting suggestion that doing so will not require any stark, painful choices. republicans did not get their contract renewed by voters in 2008 partly because too many americans were apprehensive
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about fending for themselves in the severe economic downturn. now, the democrats face a hard election. growing numbers of voters regard the obama-reid-pelosi agenda as the democratic effort to stipulate the government of big government being over is itself over. the democrats are in more danger than seems possible -- than seemed possible in 2008. the stimulus, the bailouts, health care reform, and the federal deficit projected to average $1 trillion per year for the coming decade -- it all adds up to quite a bit more audacity than many americans had hoped for or prepared for. in the 1990's, a government divided between a democratic president and a republican congress could temporize past hard choices between big government and funding for
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yourself with the help of a booming economy and declining defense outlays of the post-cold war era. the challenges boys by the coming era will be much harder -- poised by the coming era will be much harder. no one expects a surplus to conveniently materialize. the need to fashion a government that capably does what we want and no more than that at a cost we are willing to pay will not just make new demands on elected officials, but on american citizens generally to work through how much -- how we wnat resolve ourto concerns about big government and funding for ourselves. thank you. [applause]
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>> thank you very much, panelists. bill, i would like to ask the first question. that is, if, in the future, we face divided government and all americans will be called upon to think about how they can win their way to a middle course, how do you do that when you have to political parties that are so divided and so much at loggerheads with each other? i wonder if you might speak to that. >> i do not know how or if you do that. it has recently been pointed out that, according to the ratings of some groups, we are at an interesting new point in american politics, at least on capitol hill. for apparently the first time, the most conservative democrat
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in the senate is nevertheless still to the left of the most liberal republican. ben nelson. so there was a moment before the monica lewinsky scandal discussed in a fine book, "the pact," where newt gingrich and bill clinton, in secret meetings, talked about a coalition that would effect -- affect serious reform. they understood there would be taking political risk that the most conservative elements of the republican party would be angry and the most liberal elements of the democratic party would be very angry. they had enough sway that
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they could hold some of the more intractable members in between and get compromise done. that sort of comity is probably not present today. it might be made up for by a sense of growing panic about the deficit that political ideologies can not make up for. >> do you panelists have commons for each other? comments for each other? >> one thing that has been lost is an inability to talk about principles and policies in the same voice. the idea of having policies that are steps toward going someplace and actually laying that out. one of the reasons why paul ryan's roadmap for america and
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is interesting is the concept, not the details. here are the steps we might take to get somewhere. we need to have that conversation and we are not having it appeared the divide -- we have these principles -- having it. the divide -- we have these principles which are very divided. parties have trouble doing this. they wanted about short-term policies and which are narrow, or broad the rhetorical, which means they mean nothing. how do you relate them? that is the missing piece. >> i want to add a narrow political. you raise the possibility of whether obama can do what clinton did in 1994 -- after 1994 in a deal with the republicans -- and deal with the
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republicans. this is much-discussed. there is an argument that it would be great for the republicans to take over congress, because it would give him a foil to work against and allow him to triangulate. all that stuff. there are strong arguments. one of the problems with that is that, in 1994, bill clinton had not pass his agenda. barack obama has. this is one of the reasons for so much griping from the left. they are so whiny and sour grapy. ha so, the things -- so the things that are up for negotiation are, what parts of your agenda are we going to dismantle? that is very problematic for,. it could be that we have -- for him. it could be that we have all of this adjudicated in the next
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presidential election. >> one difference is that barack obama has never been beaten by a republican. bill clinton had. bill clinton knew how to bounce back after that defeat. if the republicans win this time, the president will have a very steep learning curve. >> not only that, but unlike bill clinton and jimmy carter, former governors of southern states, barack obama has never really had to deal, in his political career, with conservative constituents or voters or arguments. it was not a factor in being as state senator from the south side of chicago. it mattered not at all in the walkover election for the illinois senate seat in 2004. that sort of arsenal of instinct and understanding that clinton could bring to the situation in 2004, it is not going to be there.
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it will be harder. >> thank you. >> i have a question. >> could you make your way to the microphone? >> sure. on the historical level, this may be a landslide year for republicans. i went up -- i would like you to address the local or micro level. each of these 435 elections are really individual elections as well as the senate elections. they may have local -- local issues may have an impact as opposed to just a national, which you all seem to have solidified in favor of the republicans. >> do you know all 435? >> in order, start with -- [laughter] >> that is a good point.
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every congressional election is a combination of what goes on at the national level and the local to the local things are local issues. there is a specific candidate -- and local things are local issues. there is a specific candidate. voters do not vote for parties but for candidates. you have to have good candidates. republicans have had pretty good candidate recruitment, though there are some seats where they may not win seats that they could have won. when people were making their decisions about whether to run, the conditions were not as favorable as they are now. we do not necessarily have the first tier candidates always coming forward. what tends to happen is the importance of the local factors and a national factors working in oscillation against each
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in oscillation against each other. if there is no overriding national issue or concern, then the local factors become much more important. there are elections like that. 1990 was like that. there really was not an overwhelming single national issue or set of national issues. the budget agreement had just been signed. some republicans were upset. we had troops in saudi arabia in desert shield. in a lot of ways, it was a much less nationalized election. those were not relief to those -- those with -- those were fought out district-by-district. there was nothing national going on. it was not enough to override local concerns.
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i do not think this is that kind of election. there will be cases where local issues override the national, but few of them than in other -- fewer of them in other circumstances -- a van in other set -- fewer of them than in other circumstances. >> the pennsylvania was a good teaching moment. >> the candidates was not an incumbent -- the candidate was not an incumbent and he ran against health care reform. he was in a unique situation. he was in a spot where democratic candidates could have rightfully voted against health care. they may improve their situation by focusing on local things. it is not a strategy that most incumbents are able to follow. >> if you look at the seat-by-
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seat polls, they are running in tandem with the aggregate numbers. a lot of democrats are in trouble who did not expect to be in trouble a short time ago. the orange county representative is running just even with her opponent. that is a case where it illustrates local factors. republicans were very smart in running someone who is a vietnamese american with a very strong local appeal. >> this is a question for john m. -- for jonah. you talked about the predictions of having another 30-years of progressivism. what is it that was so different about the new deal and that time from 1932 to 1936 that allowed
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roosevelt to be so popular and continue for a very long time, compared to where obama and the democrats are today? that is to say, it seems like the same kind of rhetoric. very similar kinds of programs, but further on. in 1936, the unemployment rate was very high. it did not come down all that much. national debt was rising. the deficits -- there was a lot of deficit spending. what has been the difference between then and now that has caused this to be so unpopular from almost the very beginning? >> it is a great question. i am sure others will have a better answer than mine. part of it is just -- someone was saying earlier about how the republicans had it is amended because people remember what it is to have -- had an advantage because people remember what it is like to have a republican majority.
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in 1932, we really did not have anything that you could call a state in the sense of a european style big state. wilson and those guys tried to create one. it was not nearly as large in scope and penetration. we have had 70 or 80 years of ever-growing state. the simple problem is -- i love how democrats are talking about how they are the party of new ideas, yet they are a cargo cult to an administration from 1932. a lot of these things do not seem like diaz to voters. we have this education in effect -- do not seem like new ideas to voters. we have this education the fact -- a fact -- education effect. it has been tried before.
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it does not work as well with the electorate. this is a huge blown opportunity by obama. he could have had a massive stimulus that still spend money on all sorts of things, but it could have been structured in a way that did not seem like it was rewarding the old bulls in congress. instead of seeming like new ideas, it was this placating of people with old ideas and old wish lists. if we wanted to send a signal of trying something new, we could have done that with that huge amount of money they had to spend. i think they poisoned the well for themselves by st. nancy pelosi, harry reid, what do you have lying around that you want to fund? that took all of the new fresh thinking that obama had telegraphed to people that was going to be coming. >> i would add another thing, if
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i may. earlier on, we have a positive example of the social democracies. we could always look to europe and say we are never as advanced as they are. now we have greece. that brings home the people that there are really cost -- concrete costs to going down the road that nobody foresaw. >> the new deal was explicitly sold as an attempt to europeanize the american economy. he spent an enormous -- he spends an enormous amount of time denying that he is trying to do that because americans see that now as a bad thing. per capita gdp in france is something like 30% lower than the united states. they do not see that as progress. >> professor? >> 6 to 12 months ago, i think there was a fair amount of comment in the conservative
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press that, if health care reform passed, it was going to be a kind of tipping point and have very severe, long-term consequences in terms of putting a lot of people in health care industry and ordinary people, in terms of health care, into the government in a way that would make it very hard for them to withdraw and make it very hard for conservatives and supporters of limited government to really compete politically. now, if the republicans get control, they cannot repeal health care reform. they could decline to fund it. these are going to be very tricky waters. if they do try to repeal or just throw the monkey wrench into the machinery, i do not think anybody can predict how the
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politics will play out. jonah goldberg said somewhat facetiously, history does not indicate that they will do a very good job of this. i really do not think history indicates they will do a good job. i agree, as some of you have said, that obama also has a very tricky game to play, but so did the republicans. one other bloomy thing -- gloomy thing. there are some long-term demographics that are very difficult for the republican. there is an increase in hispanic voters, a dwindling of the reagan democrats. maybe a young cohort that is more liberal than the population as a whole. it may be that -- it seems to me that, from the standpoint of
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republicans, this has been a very optimistic panel. if you look down the road, there are some real difficulties. >> i think the advantage of the health care debate, which i think is to the republican advantage, is that they made the mistake of playing it out over time. there is this long window of being implemented. the window is not close. the numbers are going against it in terms of popular opinion. that gives them some running room. the fact that we now, in debating it through the 2012 presidential election -- that could work to their advantage. a lot of the most onerous aspects of the bill come in prior to a lot of its benefits. a lot of taxes began prior to its benefits. as it is implemented, that plays to their advantage.
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the first piece of legislation has to be on this issue. if there is an issue around which you can rally and build consensus, it has to be, what is your alternative? there are a lot of good ideas out there. a good plan can be constructed. reform -- defund it and replace it with something more friendly to a decentralized system. there are many great state plans, including those put together by governors who will run for president. when you are in these moments, there are increasingly divisive -- and they are increasingly divisive and increasingly close. you have to make those hard decisions. in terms of the longer term demographics, i would just remind us that you need to make arguments to people. if you look at the youth vote
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and where it has been tracking in a lot of the polls, it is following the same pattern. it is not locked into the obama administration'. it might have been a twitter to him, but it was not alignment. i see that as more of an opportunity than a problem. one of his biggest failures will to be have not -- will be to have not locked in that demographic. >> yes, please. >> earlier this year, there was a strong narrative about this anti-incumbency sentiment and a did not play out in the primaries in the first part of the year. -- and it did not play out in the beginning of the year primaries. how will that play out in the coming election?
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>> the vast majority of incumbents are going to win re- election. even in an anti-incumbent year, a great majority of the incumbents win the election. the question is whether that number is above 90% or more like 80% or 85%, even 75% is huge. that is enormous. that will lead to a historic change in the house of representatives. incumbents retain a considerable advantage. sometimes the press over interpret individual races. one income and winds, so much for anti-incumbency -- one incumbent wins. ha-ha, so much for anti- incumbency. >> i would add one thing.
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incumbents can be very risk averse. this can have a big impact on the operation of congress and the behavior of particular members, even if they do not lose. there will be quite a few who will lose and quite a few who will go down to 55%. it will be interesting to see how it changes. >> paul? >> [inaudible] you know when you are in trouble if they start writing your obituary already. there seemed to be two narratives that i have noticed. one is that the democrats are in trouble because obama was not partisan enough and the krguman v -- krugman view that the
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stimulus needed to be twice what it was and we would be just fine. do you know anything more about the manner in which the democrats and liberals are beginning to assimilate what looks like this year -- a historic d feetefe -- defeat for them? >> the last box you check when you are looking for an explanation for some unpleasant but for results is, maybe we were wrong about something. [laughter] it is a two-part thing. you are all familiar with what is called the fallacy -- howell raines fallacy. if you convince yourself that x is a good idea, there is no distinction between that and
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distinguishing whether people are in favor of that idea. there is a gathering sense that an electron rebuke is in the oral rebuke ist wor in the offing, people will sit back and say, since there cannot be anything wrong with our ideas and the american people must really want what we have been selling them and we're not closing the deal, it is proper the salesman who is not -- it is probably the salesman who is not what he was cracked up to be. one blog listed possible explanations for the answer the question, how is it that the obama team seemed so sure footed in the months leading up to november, 2008, and so much less adroit since then? there'll be much speculation.
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the most interesting possibility he offered was that the obama campaign was never really quite as nimble as it seemed. it inherited its good results as a result of the bad efforts of hillary clinton and john mccain, so it really only needed to be the best of those three campaigns and that was not setting the bar very high. >> and the bush administration. [laughter] i have a couple other points. the most telling result in death -- in democratic primaries was in iowa. the winners came in in the exact reverse order of their experience. chris dodd, richardson, all those guys trailed behind. that was the sign that this was going to be a major-change election.
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one thing i think that people do not appreciate is a big chunk of the tea party motivation is a delayed backlash against the bush administration which feeds into this narrative. it is a libertarian case about how there was more continuity between hoover and fdr then there was a break. a lot of people on the right, whether they were correct or not, believe there was more connection between compassionate conservatism and changes can believe in -- changed you can believe in. the argument is that it is hard to disentangle because many on the left are so deeply invested in proving that the keynesian theory of how to get out of this thing is correct. their argument will be, whenever lobbyists have this maxim that when it rains -- you can take credit -- eventually the economy
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will turn around. they will say, see? the stiumu -- stimulus worked. until the data becomes irrefutable, you will hear and not -- you'll hear a lot of noise from the left about who is to blame. >> another thing that struck me about the difference between 1994 and 2010 -- i do not remember that in 1994 there was a force that, like the tea party movement, nominated some candidates who took what looked to be winnable -- easily winnable republican races and turned them into very close races. i am thinking particularly of sharron angle in nevada, rand paul. he is up a little bit.
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had been nominated three grayson -- grayson, he would be up by 20 points probably. how much does that lower the number of seats republicans are likely to pick up this time? >> may be less than you think. one analogy that has been raised -- if you look at some other republican senators elected in the 1980's, these were not the sharpest minds in the drawer. you had paula hawkins of florida. her initial splash in washington was a denunciation of food stamps at a luncheon at which she served steaks. she was not clear on the concept of public relations. a wave can wash up a lot of people on the shore.
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i want to interject one thing this is -- one thing, a historical pattern factual. suppose something has happened and john mccain had actually won in 2008. what kind of election would we be facing today? i do not think anyone can seriously argue that the economy would be substantially better. john mccain, and often economy, and in this counterfactual, i bet we would be talking about speculation about the absolute demise of the republican party. if things work out as forecast, i think every republican in the party should send a thank you card to barack obama. >> on the pope of the tea party, it is assumed as they are completely separate 0-- on the point of the tea party, it is
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they arethat a a completely separate. there are all liars -- there are outlayiers. there will bring enthusiasm and -- that will bring enthusiasm and turnout. there is no identified, high- profile tea party candidate. the general effect is extremely important, very different from 1994 and even prior to that. >> a lot of the candidates that people think are stumblebums could be very effective legislators. he was regarded as a one-turn wonder, elected in a fluke election --


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