The Republican Losing Streak

Politico points out how bad the Republican losing streak is in special elections:

Lost amid the Republican euphoria surrounding Tuesday’s elections is this inconvenient fact: The GOP just got its clock cleaned, again, in another high-stakes House special election.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since Republicans have lost 20 of the past 29 House special elections, dating back to January 2003. And in perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the trend, the GOP lost its fifth consecutive competitive special election in Republican-friendly territory.

On top of it, the Republicans not only lost but wound up with a civil war in their own party.

Dueling Health Care Plans

There was a lot of reaction to both the Democratic and Republican health care plans today. The tea baggers protested once again against what they have been misled to believe to be the Democratic Plan. Two groups which really understand both the issue and what is actually being proposed issued endorsements.  I received a two page fax from the American Medical Association this afternoon endorsing the House plan.The fax praised the plan for expanding care, reforming the insurance markets preserving patient-physician decision making, investing in quality care, prevention, and wellness, and repealing the flawed formula for calculating Medicare payments.

Obama discussed the significance of this endorsement saying members of the AMA “are men and women who know our health care system best and have been watching this debate closely. They would not be supporting it if they really believed that it would lead to government bureaucrats making decisions that are best left to doctors.  They would not be with us if they believed that reform would in any way damage the critical and sacred doctor-patient relationship.”

On this topic, the fax from the American Medical Association said:

Preserving the power of patients and their physicians to make health care decisions–rather than insurance companies or government officials–is of paramount importance to all physicians and to the AMA. While H.R. 3962 includes a number of new government oversight bodies, the AMA has not identified any new authority that would overpower the relationship between patients and their physicians. Furthermore, expanded coverage and choice should help empower patient and physician decision making.

He also gave one reason why so many physicians are endorsing health care reform:

They’ve seen what happens when patients can’t get the care they need because some insurance company has decided to drop their coverage or water it down. They’ve seen what happens when a patient’s forced to pay out-of- pocket costs of thousands of dollars that she doesn’t have, to get the treatment she desperately needs. They’ve seen what happens when patients don’t come in for regular checkups or screenings because either their insurance company doesn’t cover them or they can’t afford health insurance in the first place. And they’ve seen far, far too much of their time spent filling out forms and haggling with insurance company bureaucrats. So the doctors of America know what needs to be fixed about our health care system.  They know that health insurance reform would go a long way toward doing that.

Obama is certainly right on that. All the scare stories raised by the right wingers are nothing compared to the horror stories we see every day under our current system.

The other key endorsement came from AARP. Obama commented:

When it comes to the AARP, this is no small endorsement,” he said. “For more than 50 years they have been a leader in the fight to reduce the costs of health care and expand coverage for our senior citizens. They are a nonpartisan organization and their board made their decision to endorse only after a careful, intensive, objective scrutiny of this bill.  They’re endorsing this bill because they know it will strengthen Medicare, not jeopardize it; they know it will protect the benefits our seniors receive, not cut them.

The Republicans felt they had to come up with a counter plan rather than vote against the Democratic plan without having anything. What they came up with was worse than no plan. Ezra Klein reviewed the Congressional Budget Office’s evaluation of the plan noting how it compared to the Democratic Plan: “The Democratic bill, in other words, covers 12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than the Republican plan.”

The Republican National Committee announced plans for a twelve hour online town hall to “explain the democratic health care bill.” Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Hari Sevugan issued the following response:  “We’re planning a twelve second town hall to explain every last detail of the GOP health care plan.”

Democratic Turn Out

I’ve argued many times that the Republicans have a short term advantage in off-year elections due to being far more motivated to turn out. Larry Sabato points out how the Republicans were more energized to turn out than Democrats:

Turnout played a huge role in the outcomes in both NJ and VA, with Republicans showing up in droves and Democrats going fishing, at least to some degree. In Virginia, one result of absentee Democrats was the lowest voter turnout for a gubernatorial election in the state’s modern two-party history (1969 to 2009). The 2009 turnout of 39.8 percent of the registered voters was the lowest in forty years. Even with all the population growth since 2005, the absolute voter turnout in 2009 (1.97 million) fell below that of four years ago (2.0 million). And the electorate was barely more than half that of 2008 (3.7 million). Astounding.

One reason Democratic turn out was far lower than in2008 is that Obama was not on the ballot, and this will be the case again in 2010. One solution would be to try to nationalize the election, and First Read reports that this is being considered:

In Axelrod’s interview with one of us, he talked about the Democrats’ turnout problem on Tuesday, and he claimed that if they nationalize 2010, they won’t have that problem. Translation: The White House is going to take a page from the 2002 White House playbook, which is to nationalize the midterms and try and do it on your terms. The downside of trying to AVOID nationalizing 2010 is what happened in Virginia — the base doesn’t show up, etc. So if the White House wants to minimize losses in 2010, then it has to get as many of their 2008 voters to the polls. And that means the president has to be front and center. Axelrod made that crystal clear in his interview.

This might help reduce losses, but this will also mean that Obama’s reputation will be far more on the line than it was this year. They won’t be able to excuse losses as events in local elections. Even if this gets out more Democratic voters, this still leaves Republicans with an edge in 2010. Nationalizing the election will motivate even more Republicans as well as Democrats to turn out.

Democrats also face the historical trend for the winning party in a presidential election year to lose in the next Congressional elections. Many recently elected Democrats are also faced with the task of defending seats which have historically been held by Republicans. While long term trends, both in terms of  declining party identity and national demographics, do not look good for the Republicans, short therm they are well positioned for a dead cat bounce next year.

Triple X Home Movie Leads to Settlement of Prejean Suit


Carrie Prejean has already stimulated controversy over semi-nude photos which she attributed to the wind blowing away her clothes and unintentionally exposing her breasts. I imagine that if conservatives can believe the statements of people like George Bush and Sarah Palin, along with the arguments of other creationists and global warming deniers, they might even believe this. TMZ now reports that an XXX rated home video of Prejean has surfaced, leading to a settlement in her suit against the Miss California USA Pageant:

Carrie Prejean demanded more than a million dollars during her settlement negotiations with Miss California USA Pageant officials — that is, until the lawyer for the Pageant showed Carrie an XXX home video of her handiwork.

The video the lawyer showed Carrie is extremely graphic and has never been released publicly. We know that, because TMZ obtained the video months ago but decided not to post it because it was so racy. Let’s just say, Carrie has a promising solo career.

We’re told it took about 15 seconds for Carrie to jettison her demand and essentially walk away with nothing. As we first reported, the Pageant is paying around $100,000 to her lawyers and publicist — a fraction of her bills. She pockets nothing in the settlement.