Drew Miller

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Nancy Pelosi's Genius

Something I just realized, from reading about the tightening results in NY-23 – prior to the two special elections, Pelosi had literally a one vote margin on the health care. From the article:

Before Owens was sworn in Friday, Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat who won a special election in California, was sworn in Thursday. The two gave Pelosi the votes she needed to reach a majority of 218 and pass the historic health care reform legislation in the House.

The bill passed 220-215 late Saturday with the support of only one Republican. The Republican, Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao of Louisiana, said he voted for the legislation only after seeing that Democrats had the 218 votes needed for passage.

This isn’t quite right; with both special election seats vacant, 217 would have provided a majority. If both seats had been claimed by opponents of health care, Pelosi could have held the vote before seating the new representatives. Without their two votes and without counting Cao, this would have left her with exactly 217 votes. Wow.

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Iowa Democratic Party is Hiring!

Are you interested in technology and politics?  Do you want to work in a swing state to help elect Democrats?  Do your friends come to you with their computer problems?  If this sounds familiar, the Iowa Democratic Party wants you.

We are looking for a highly-motivated individual to serve as IT assistant for our coordinated campaign.  While there will be the usual rigmarole of fixing computers and printers, it will  also be a chance to gain experience in micro-targeting, web and cell-based organizing, and more.  If you're interested in innovating at the intersection of politics and technology, you're probably the right person for the job.

We have one position starting mid-February, and another in early May. If you are interested in either, please contact Drew Miller at dmiller@iowademocrats.org.  You may also call the Iowa Democratic Party t (515) 244-7292.

We are also hiring right now for regional field directors (that's what I did last cycle), and Senate and House campaign managers.  At some point in the future we will be hiring for field organizers and summer canvassers, but you're more than welcome to send your resume now.  Email me any questions, or just leave them in the comments!

Obama Organizational Meeting

With Vilsack out of the race now, there is no question that Barack Obama is organizing the hardest of any of the candidates in Story County.  He’s already got one organizer here and they are planning on hiring another, while the most I’ve seen from other campaigns is a regionalish person from Edwards and nobody at all from any of the other campaigns.  I’m at an organizational meeting today to see what the scoop is here.

They hope to have twelve Iowa offices open by the end of March.  They have six regions right now, fifteen field organizers on the ground, and hope to hire a total of thirty-five by mid-March.  Deputy state director Marygrace Galston and Story county field organizer Joe Cupka are here.

Nothing all that exciting to report to be honest, but it doesn’t seem like any of the other campaigns are already this serious in their Iowa campaign efforts.

Richardson Interview, Part 1

I skipped the blogger meeting in Des Moines that idiosyncratic was able to make it to, but I did get the opportunity to interview him on his drive time from Ames to Boone for two house parties.  Richardson’s campaign has been by far the most accommodating in terms of one-on-one contact with the candidate, and I think that’s something that will generate a lot of good will for him.  Kos likes him, he is continually moving up in the Daily Kos and MyDD straw polls, and he is raising at a fairly brisk clip on actblue. 

I’ll have more impressions in one or more posts tonight or tomorrow, but I wanted to post the first half of my interview with the Governor.  A (probably pretty bad) transcript is included in the extended text.  You should see an mp3 player for audio of the interview – let me know if you don’t.  This is my first interview ever, so go easy on me.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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IDP Releases Delegate Selection Process

The IDP has released its draft version of the delegate selection process (pdf) for the caucuses and beyond.  It seems pretty similar to how things worked last time, although it is long and boring so there might be some bombshells in there that my glazed-over eyes didn’t catch.

In section VI, subsection L, it says:

All steps in the delegate selection process, including the filing of presidential candidates, must take place within the calendar year of the Democratic National Convention…

As far as I can tell though the actual timeline starts in October, so I think they must mean a twelve month period rather than a January 1st-December 31st timeline.  There is definitely nothing here that precludes the possibility of the caucuses being moved up to January 7th, and there isn’t much to stop an even earlier date.

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Mike Milligan News

Mike Milligan, Executive Director of the IDP, has been named to Business Record’s 40 under 40 in Des Moines.  And while they have apparently missed out on a synergistic advertising opportunity with Olde English (union made!), Mike managed to get a plug in for his new restaurant.  Shane’s Rib Shack is opening on Thursday, at 12695 University Ave. in Clive.  They have both ribs AND wings, so I am pretty sure I will be living there when I’m not at work.

Health Care Solutions: Conservative or Conservativer?

The Register does a real disservice to its readers by putting up what is essentially a point/counterpoint article between the Cato Institute and The Heritage Foundation.  Both are conservative think tanks, with Cato also having a libertarian twist.  They argue about mandating health insurance, with Cato against it and Heritage nominally for it.

As one of the major universal health care plans to come out of the states (Massachusetts in this case), it is certainly an idea to be debated.  But is it too much to ask that a liberal viewpoint be heard as well?  At the very least, most liberals can agree that such a system should allow people to buy into a government-sponsored program, such as Medicare or maybe some sort of state or federal employee benefits program.  Also, the Heritage foundation plan completely skirts over issues such as mandating community rating or other things that would help people with preexisting conditions or other impediments to quality private health care.  I’m sure we’ll hear a lot about these ideas in the primary, but our biggest paper shouldn’t be cutting out an entire half of the political spectrum on such an important issue.

Election Day Registration

I’ve been down at the Capitol a couple of days this week, lobbying for Election Day Registration.  On Monday the bill passed out of its House State Government subcommittee, where my own Rep. Wessel-Kroeschell headed up the effort.  It passed out of the full House committee on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday I was there to see it pass party-line out of the Senate State Government full committee.  The Republicans were vociferous in their opposition, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to make a big issue out of it.

Today the Register came out in support of same day registration, while a few days ago the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier recycled Republican talking points against it.

The Republicans have basically two arguments they are using against it – We shouldn’t pander to uninformed voters, and it will increase the possibility of fraud.  Both of these reasons are stupid.

The idea that voters unregistered in their current precinct are uninformed voters is obnoxious and insulting.  It assumes a perfect correlation between understanding election law minutia and important decisions, when people who feel very strongly about issues might not know that moving across the state requires them to reregister.  Students, who tend to move almost every year, are especially affected by this.  So are young people in general.  You don’t have to take my word for it though – compare voter turnout in same-day registration state Minnesota vs. Iowa.  Anyone who makes the effort to go to the polls on election day ought to be able to vote – any argument against that is really an argument against American democracy.

The Republican argument of fraud is getting kind of stale, seeing as how they have trotted out for every attempt they make to restrict voting, from cutting poll hours, reducing access to absentee ballots, to forcing every voter to bring a photo ID to the polls.  We haven’t done any of those things, and we haven’t had any voter fraud in Iowa.  Minnesota has had same day registration since 1973, and they haven’t had any fraud.  (There was one case of a developmentally disabled man trying to vote twice – hardly what I would call fraud.)

The fact is, if someone really wanted to commit fraud in Iowa, they could already.  They could vote under the name of someone who has moved out of state, they could register under the name of anyone whose social security number they know and vote for them either absentee or at the polls, and any number of other ways to cheat the system.  The benefit for doing this is so low though (one extra vote) and the penalty so high ($7500 fine and five years in prison per offense) that no one would do it.  While you would only probably be caught using those methods of fraud, you would be GUARANTEED to be caught if you tried to game same-day registration.  You have to show a Photo ID, proof of residence, sign an oath, and fill out a registration form to vote.  If you did this at more than one location, you WILL be caught.  In the event that someone did decide to commit election fraud, there is NO CHANCE that they would try to do it under this system.

Election Day Registration is basically badass, and I believe it will pass on party line votes.  I just wish Republican legislators weren’t all either idiots or liars, and they would either be honest about their reasoning (they hate voting) or they could pass the bill in a bipartisan fashion.

If you are represented by any Republicans, I strongly encourage you to contact them and give them some shit on their talking points.

Darfur Divestment

Tim Gannon (who some might remember from the Blouin campaign) is heading up the state effort to get the major investors in Iowa government – IPERS, 411, the Regents, and maybe a few others.  I was at the Senate state government committee meeting on Wednesday, where the bill was passed onto the floor by a unanimous voice vote.  The house subcommittee hasn’t acted yet, but this is a good amount of progress for this early in the session, and the bipartisan support certainly doesn’t hurt.

The bill would instruct these investors to divest of any direct investments in a small number of offending companies (25 or so), as well as encourage them to move away from mutual funds and other indirect investments that support these companies.

Things are looking pretty positive for the bill, but I encourage you to write or call your Senator or Representative and let them know your feelings on the bill.

Caucus Math

Caucus math is hard.  So I made a spreadsheet to deal with it.  This is based on the 2004 rules, and can’t deal with every situation.  At some point I will probably make a web form to do it.

Interesting thing about caucus math:

There are situations where it will be in your group’s interest to send people to someone else.  If you can make a minor candidate viable in your precinct, there is about a good chance that your making them viable will rob your opponent of a delegate instead of you.

I realize this is not exactly Democratic, but it is exactly the kind of crap that I love.  ๐Ÿ™‚

Caucus Delegates

(Sorry about the delay in blogging – I lost power last night in the middle of a big post.  I called 911 a bunch of times like Governor Culver said, but for some reason they kept saying that I was blocking the lines for actual emergencies.)


A few days ago BH reader desmoinesdem had a great post on MyDD explaining the caucus system to people who don’t understand it.  The numbers from Iowa Progress are off by a little bit though – the central committee this year decided on a total of 2500 for the state convention, rather than 3000.  I’ve posted the projected county-by-county numbers in the extended text.  Note that these are actually state convention delegates, and on caucus night it is actually county convention delegates that are being elected.  That means that each delegate actually elected in a precinct is worth the total number of delegates elected in the county divided by the number of delegates alloted at the state level to the county for the state convention.  If that makes any sense.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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About the Authors: Drew Miller

Drew Miller is an activist from Ames.  He got started in Democratic politics on the Howard Dean caucus campaign in Story County, and worked for the 2004 and 2006 Iowa Democratic Party coordinated campaigns, first as a canvasser and then as a regional field director.  In 2005 he helped manage a city council election in Ames that put the first student ever on the council.  His previous site, DrewMiller.net, was the largest progressive blog in the state until he shut it down for the 2006 campaign.

Email: drew [at] drewmiller [dot] net.

AIM: ItsDrewMiller

Yepsen Back To Being Wrong All The Time

After a pretty reasonable blog post on Vilsack’s exit from the race, Yepsen’s column today on the same subject is back to his classic form.

Geraldine points out some problems with it over at Iowa Progress, and I’ve got a little more:

Why didn’t he take off? The answer may be that in 2008, voters are not be looking for the skills in domestic policy a governor brings to a presidential campaign. It’s the first election since 9/11 in which the country must select a new president, and Americans seem to be be looking for a president with experience in national security or on a broader world stage – not a state capitol.

So Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani has a lot of national security experience?  Other than standing on some rubble on 9/11, the guy has no more (and probably much less) experience than any Governor.  And Yepsen can dismiss Mitt Romney, but most Republicans consider him to be a serious contender.

While Bill Richardson is not in the top tier of Presidential candidates (yet), it’s not like the combined fourteen years total of the three frontrunners shows some dominant foreign policy experience.  Joe Biden and Wesley Clark aren’t getting any traction, and they (along with Richardson) are indisputably the most knowledgeable about foreign affairs.

Beyond that, when have partisans ever favored nominating Governors?  Since 1960, partisan nominations have been won by five Senators (Kennedy, Goldwater, McGovern, Dole, Kerry) and five Governors (Carter, Reagan, Dukakis, Clinton, Bush).  We’ve also seen six elected Presidents renominated, six Vice Presidents nominated, and both unelected Presidents nominated.  Of those VPs and unelected Presidents, five were Senators and none were Governors.

So basically Yepsen is talking out of his ass.  And with an ass that big, you gotta think that ain’t easy.

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Hillary Clinton's Grassroots Fundraising Woes

Last Wednesday, Hillary Clinton kicked off an effort to get one million dollars through smallish online donations.  The first solicitation email came from Bill Clinton on the 21st, followed by James Carville on the 22nd, Madeleine Albright on the 26th, and Bill Clinton again today.  Despite all this, as of this post she is still $100k short.  Now I wouldn’t be surprised if all of a sudden they mysteriously came up with the margin tonight, but I suspect that if Obama tried the same thing he would easily surpass one million.  That is if his basically run-of-the-mill campaign is even willing to take the risk.

(The text of all four emails are on the flip.)

UPDATE:  Their last update was at 11pm EST, and they were still more than 40k short.  I think they made one big mistake that would have definitely meant the difference between hitting their goal and not – they should have had real time updates for the fundraising total.  There is something so much more compelling about clicking refresh and watching something grow; people who donated early might be encouraged to contribute again, and people who have just been refreshing might want to get involved at the very end.  That’s a rookie mistake, Clinton campaign.

UPDATE 2:  Here are some screen captures of the fundraising progress throughout the last couple of days.  It’s a 0.6 meg image, FYI.

Clinton Campaign Response:  I heard from a couple of people from the Clinton campaign, who said that the deadline they had set for themselves was noon Wednesday, and that they reached $1,000,000 earlier than the 11:47 EST time they had marked on their website (11:47 merely being the specific time of their last update).  I got the first solicitation email at 11:21 EST, which is the benchmark I used for this post (although I’m sure they had been sending out emails for a while).  I’m not going to try to dispute their claim, but it would not have been an issue at all if they had updated the total in real time.

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Finally Someone Takes My Polling Advice

I’ve been bitching for a while that all the studies about voting trends for race and gender treat the two purely as disadvantages.  It’s been subtle – a question like “Would you vote for a woman for President?” doesn’t seem inherently biased.  But it is.  When you only measure those who respond negatively to something, you’re treating it as a handicap rather than trying to determine whether it could be a benefit.

Anyway, the Washington Post’s most recent poll actually ran with my suggestion of asking these questions in a “more or less likely” form, and got some unsurprising (to me) results:

By contrast, 13 percent of voters said the would be less likely to support a woman and 6 percent said they would be less likely to support a black — numbers about equally offset by the percentages of people who said they would be more likely to support candidates with those attributes.

Also, at least part of the anti-female vote is coming from people who specifically identify the question with Hillary Clinton, which means the raw number could be even less.  The fact is that, for a qualified candidate, gender and race are no impediments to winning the Presidency.

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Questions For Presidentials

I am trying to put together an interview series of the Presidential candidates for the blog.  What questions would you like to see me ask?  You can leave general questions or candidate-specific ones in the comments.

Vilsack Out

I was on my way to Des Moines when I heard.  I am at his press conference now.  It’s in a 30 by 20 conference room with 7 video cameras and about 25 people here.

I’ve only seen one or two staffers around.  If I were them I would already be at the bar.

Matt Paul is here, along with one other person who looks familiar.  Lots of the camera people are joking around, which is making me sad.  Say what you will about bloggers, but I guarantee the room would be morose right now if it was filled with just them.

His entire field staff just came in.  I know five of them.  This is even more sad.  ๐Ÿ™

He just came in, and is thanking people.  “It is money and only money that is the reason we are leaving [the race] today.”

He mentions iraq as the first issue and his support for ending the war.  Energy, education.  His speech is really good.  He is tearing up a little.  I am too.  Thanks harkin, mauro, gronstal, kibbie, state senate.

1st question – will you endorse?  not thinking about it.

2nd question – yepsen – what changes to campaign finance is needed?  we need a debate about it, because it shouldn’t be a money primary.

Part of why he is dropping out now is to let his staff land on their feet.

No regrets about what he’s done.  Orphan running for president – “That’s what this country is about.”

Tom Beaumont goes back for the last question to harrass him about endorsements again.  I don’t know if I could do news, you have to be such an asshole.

Culver and NH Governor John Lynch to Discuss Caucus

The New Hampshire Union-Leader has word that Culver and Lynch will meet to discuss the very real threat that NH SOS Bill Gardner will move their primary up in front of Nevada (and almost certainly in front of Iowa in the process, since their law says they have to be a week ahead and Nevada is only three days from us).  I’ll save my post on why I hope they do for another day, but it looks like Culver is trying to defuse the situation.

Bill Gardner is an institution in New Hampshire – he pretty much has to be given that he is elected  by the state legislature, which up til recently has been fairly Republican.  His legacy will be the protection of the New Hampshire primary, and he has his hand on the trigger here.  I don’t know what Culver’s meeting with Lynch is going to accomplish given that we already sold New Hampshire up the river during the DNC debate on the primary schedule.  Maybe a new rules delegation and a new commitment to helping our free-living friends will soothe some of the hurt, but it is not going to solve the fundamental problem that we have here.

This article is by John Distaso by the way, who one of my friends in New Hampshire described as “like Yepsen, but good.”  That’s not really relevant, but I haven’t Yepsen bashed in a while.  He must be too busy eating trail mix to piss me off these days.

New Poll

I changed the poll, since I’m sure most of our active membership has already voted on the last one.  Here are the results:

John Edwards

38.3% (18 votes)

Barack Obama

25.53% (12 votes)

Hillary Clinton

12.77% (6 votes)

Tom Vilsack

10.64% (5 votes)

Other

6.38% (3 votes)

Dennis Kucinich   

4.26% (2 votes)

Bill Richardson

2.13% (1 votes)

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On Blackness

Marc Hansen has a great column on the whole ridiculousness of questioning Obama’s blackness.  All the commenters seem to see through the nonsense too, which makes me feel good about Iowa being first in the nation.

Vilsack vs. Social Security

Vilsack’s name has been rattling around the blogs for the last twenty hours or so, hitting Atrios, MyDD, and Matthew Yglesias (twice).  It’s not for anything he’s gonna like though – it’s about comments he made about social security.  Apparently Tommy V. supports price indexing, which is wonk code for significantly cutting the rate of growth of social security.  This has the potential for all kinds of wacky side effects, but basically it screws over working men and women so that we can maintain various tax cuts for the super rich.

Not a very good or very Democratic idea, but it’s also a quick line at a forum and it might not represent the totality of his position.  I called his office to get the scoop about it, but he’s on a plane right now.  Apparently there are plenty of other people inquiring as well, so we should get a clarification soon.

UPDATE:  Vilsack has a blog post up about his views.  It basically says what I expected – that he was just throwing out possibilities and hasn’t come up with a specific plan on social security.  It doesn’t say what I think bloggy people want to hear, though – that he opposes cutting the growth rate of benefits.

New Iowa Poll

Strategic Vision has a new poll out for this month, with no changes at all outside the margin of error.  Edwards is still the frontrunner, and Clinton, Obama, and Vilsack are still all tied for 2nd-4th.  Biden is still the 5th choice, with Richardson making a little bit of headway into 6th.  The most interesting thing by far in the poll is that Republican likely caucus-goers, by a 48-37 margin, support a withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq in the next 6 months.  That eleven points isn’t quite as good as the fifty-five point margin for Democrats, but it still means that basically the entire country is opposed to Bush on this thing.

Live-Blogging Obama

So this is a first for me – I am trying to blog from my phone.  I am at the Obama rally in Des Moines.  Leonard Boswell is here, doing his molest the presidentials thing we have all come to know and have some sort of feelings about.  Obama has picked up a few more staff since I last had heard – another Iowa City coordinated field organizer and one from CR.  It’s nice to see some more Iowa blood on a campaign that has up to this point been better suited for running the South Dakota caucus.

I am having a lot of trouble updating this post from my phone, so updates might be few and far between.  They’ve started removing seats from the back of the venue, but they still have a pretty good crowd.  Nowhere near Ames levels though!

The godawful annoying folk singer is now singing a song called, as best I can tell, “How Long Do I Have to Wait?”  We’re about 7 minutes past when they were supposed to start, and I’m wondering how long I’ll have to wait for him to stop playing.

Obama enters to “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim…  Or at least that’s what we all thought.  Turns out that there is a big miscue and he’s not going to be out for 2 more minutes.  Luckily it’s a long song.  (One of my friends wonders if it is for a smoke break.)

He’s out now – was late because he was “calling his daughters.”  Yeah, more like dropping them off at the pool.

I would say pretty close to 1500 people are here right now,  give or take a couple hundred.

The first guy to get up for an Iraq applause line was wearing an Urlacher jersey.

“Rule number one:  Only I am allowed to make speeches.”

First question is from an Iraq vet – who is actually pissed off about alimony!  I doubt he is really a vet at all.  What is up with these people?  At least he didn’t bring a balloon full of purple powder.

Second question – Obama makes a joke about him being from Chicago one second before the guy says his mom died of cancer.  Question is what will he do about cancer.

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Iraq Withdrawal What?

One of the nearly universal assumptions being made right now about a speedy withdrawal/redeployment/whatever from Iraq is that it would leave the country in even more severe chaos than it is in now.  Leaving aside for a moment the fact that keeping a presence there has already proved itself a good way to consistently increase the level of violence in the country year after year after year, I think we should be skeptical of the idea that leaving will make things worse.

The source of my skepticism?  The Iraqi people.  According to the seemingly reputable World Public Opinion, 71% of Iraqis would like us out within a year.  If you take the Kurds out of that equation (fair since many of the redeployment proposals maintain a presence in northern Iraq to protect them), that goes up to something like eight in ten.  Are eight in ten Iraqis morons?  Do they prefer increased bloodshed?  Are they too simple a folk to understand the situation in their own country?  Or is their opinion correct that our presence provokes more violence than it quells?

The people who started peddling the “descent into chaos” line are the same ones who said that we would be greeted with bread and roses.  I think it is important that we carefully consider any of their assumptions, even ones that seem self-evident at first glance.

Cynicism and Iraq

It seems that each Democratic candidate is trying to put a different spin on their position on Iraq.  The Register report from the Scott County Red, White and Blue Dinner had some quick coverage of Biden, Edwards, and Vilsack:

– Vilsack called on Congress to stop the flow of war money.

– Edwards suggested a troop limit of 100,000.

– Biden said Iraq’s government should be federalized to separate the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis and let peace take root. He said a withdrawal of U.S. troops now would result in chaos, but “we should be drawing down troops, not escalating.”

Edwards’ position isn’t really all that different from any of the people who oppose the escalation (except for being completely unbound from political reality) but the way it is stated makes me kind of uncomfortable overall with this focus on stopping the “surge” – what about the 140k odd troops out there right now?  If you don’t think adding 20k-30k more troops is going to help (and I don’t, either) why isn’t there more focus on not leaving the rest of our guys out there with their dicks hanging out?  (Man, imagine if Obama had said that.)

I realize that incremental approaches are sometimes all you can do.  I realize that the President is ultimately the commander in chief, and no matter how incompetent he has proven himself, he still gets to give the orders.  But it seems to me that there is just too much step-by-step bullshit going on and it is starting to piss me off.

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Direct Quote

From a Rudy Giuliani email to me:

Dear Drew,

My hero Ronald Reagan once said, รƒยขรข,ยฌร…”The future belongs to the free.รƒยขรข,ยฌรฏยฟยฝ

I’m guessing this is from after the Alzheimer’s had set in pretty bad.

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Union Endorsements

Obama is skipping the Nevada AFSCME forum this month, but attending the SEIU one in March.  Could this have to do with AFSCME President Gerald McEntee’s Clinton connections?  While AFSCME is the bigger union in Iowa, SEIU is substantial too, and is much more up for grabs this time around.

Edwards also has some ins with the UFCW and UNITE-HERE – two CTW coalition unions that have a strong presence in Nevada – but he doesn’t seem to have strong labor support in Iowa.

I think what you’re likely to see this year is another one where union support splits amongst several candidates.  This hurts labor overall.  Instead of creating a clear consensus candidate, it makes it look like decisions are being made for political reasons and reduces both intra- and inter-union support for the endorsed candidates.

Boswell Back on the Frontline

The DCCC Frontline program is basically all about protecting vulnerable incumbents.  Perennial member Leonard Boswell is back on this year, and is the only Rep. from Iowa listed.  Notably missing from the list are Carol Shea-Porter from New Hampshire and Nancy Boyda from Kansas.  Here’s the whole thing:

Representative Jason Altmire (PA-04)

Representative Michael Arcuri (NY-24)

Representative John Barrow (GA-12)

Representative Melissa Bean (IL-08)

Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03)

Representative Christopher Carney (PA-10)

Representative Joe Courtney (CT-02)

Representative Joe Donnelly (IN-02)

Representative Chet Edwards (TX-17)

Representative Brad Ellsworth (IN-08)

Representative Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08)

Representative Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20)

Representative John Hall (NY-19)

Representative Baron Hill (IN-09)

Representative Paul Hodes (NH-02)

Representative Steve Kagen (WI-08)

Representative Ron Klein (FL-22)

Representative Nick Lampson (TX-22)

Representative Tim Mahoney (FL-16)

Representative Jim Marshall (GA-08)

Representative Jerry McNerney (CA-11)

Representative Harry Mitchell (AZ-05)

Representative Christopher Murphy (CT-05)

Representative Patrick Murphy (PA-08)

Representative Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23)

Representative Heath Shuler (NC-11)

Representative Zack Space (OH-18)

Representative Tim Walz (MN-01)

Representative John Yarmuth (KY-03)

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Iowa Caucus Polling Average

I’m skipping ARG polls for my average, because they are awful.

Taking only those from the last month (just Zogby and Strategic Vision), the average is:

Edwards – 24.5

Clinton – 19.5

Obama – 17.5

Vilsack – 12.5

Biden – 4

No one else had poll results for both.  It is interesting that Biden has seemingly positioned himself at the top of the second tier.

If you go back to the Research 2000 poll (pdf) (taken before either Obama or Clinton announced) the polls don’t change that much:

Edwards – 23.7

Obama – 19

Clinton – 16.3

Vilsack – 12.3

Right now Obama and Clinton are fighting for 2nd place in Iowa.  We’ll see which one can break away from that first.  Edwards is coasting on residual support from 2004, and will need to raise some money and start getting some organization set up in Iowa if he wants to both hold those people and generate new supporters.

Those Crazy Van Fossens

While neither Van Fossen was targeted by the Iowa Democratic Party in the last election, Elesha Gayman still managed to defeat Jim (with strong labor support), and Jamie held on by fewer than 600 votes.  Now lesser known Ron Van Fossen, Davenport alderman, is in hot water.  If the charges of wife beating hold up, I’m sure he won’t be sticking around for his next election in 2009.  Even if they don’t, last year’s OWI and the increasingly negative connotation with his last name ought to be enough to keep him from running.

Now we just need to get rid of Jamie and we will soon have a Van Fossen-free Iowa.  I think that’s perfectly doable.

Obama Wasted

Haha, I wish.

Seriously though, the flap about Obama’s comment here in Ames about the lives of 3000 troops being “wasted” is ridiculous.  It’s absurd because he was not only right, he was too kind.  For the lives of our troops to be wasted, the war in Iraq would have to be a zero sum game – we would have to be no better off no than when we were when we pre-emptively initiated it.

We’re not.  We’re a lot worse off.  90% of Democrats and the vast majority of Americans recognize that.  I’m willing to acknowledge that is wasn’t the most couth statement that he could have made, but it’s not like he was wrong.  I really wish the media would cover this objectively – “was he right or wasn’t he” rather than the whole “did it offend people or didn’t it” narrative that they seem to be adopting.  Maybe offending people isn’t the worse thing someone can do while trying to lead a country out of a tragedy.

Obama in Ames

Barack Obama is coming to Ames, by way of Springfield, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and (maybe) Iowa Falls.  Ames is going to be the big event of the tour, and I am helping give away tickets for the  event in the Iowa State Memorial Union.  In just under an hour we’ve given away 232 tickets at this one location.  That is about 182 more than I expected.  Students are stoked for this guy.

Boswell Hates America?

So Hillary Clinton might not be able to sing all that well, but at least she isn’t talking during the  national anthem.

P.S.  She is still, sadly, a better singer than I am.

Statehouse Gossip

This isn’t quite a “Meet your legislature” quality post, but here’s what I’m hearing about some legislative Republicans:

David Deyoe:  Dumb.

Polly Granzow:  Drunk.

Pat Grassley:  Likes to hit on 17-year-old pages.  Also dumb.

Vilsack's Staff

During the early stages of the caucuses we see a lot of names of various “nice catch” staffers, but unless you are even more of an IDP molester than me you probably don’t know what they look like.  So imagine my surprise when Tom Vilsack put his January staff meeting online!  My connection at the hotel here is too slow for me to actually watch it, but I was able to see that Jesse Harris apparently lost his razor.  Let’s see if this sucker works:


     

   

I found it on Myspace – it apparently still isn’t on the Vilsack website.  I dig the semi-exclusive content, especially from my top 8 buddy Vilsack.  I also definitely dig giving the staff some face time.  I hope other campaigns follow suit!

UPDATE:  It’s now on his website, too.  I guess there aren’t any perks to being top eightsies.  ๐Ÿ™

Attacks

When candidates are attacked unfairly, it makes me much, much more supportive of them.  By the end of the 2004 campaign Dean was like a god to me, thanks to all the ridiculous smears peddled by the other campaigns and usually repeated verbatim by the media.  This time around, it looks like Obama is heading down that track.

In addition to the factually wrong smear from the previous post here, Obama is getting attacked for not being black enough (because he hasn’t suffered the drawbacks of slavery, having instead benefited from his father’s privileged life as a Kenyan goat farmer).  Or for apparently not being black at all.  Or for changing names and combining characters in his first book, after he said he was doing exactly that in the introduction to said book.

The main thrusts of these articles are all insulting, but it’s the tone of the last two and the throwaway lines that bother me the most.  One example:

And then there’s his support for ethanol, which, strangely enough, comes mainly from corn-rich Iowa — site of the first presidential caucus, if I’m not mistaken.

Or it could be that he’s from Illinois, which is 2nd in overall corn production in the country.  These people don’t know a damn thing about the guy and still feel qualified to attack him.  Well fuck em, it only makes me like him more.

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Upcoming Events

As you can see, there is now a calendar on the left side of the page.  If anyone officially from the campaigns wants to get in touch with me about being able to put events up on it, it would make my life a lot easier.  ๐Ÿ™‚

For Those Coming From MyDD

In response to this:  Clinton actually did buy ads in Iowa – check out Political Forecast right now.  This site just doesn’t have any ads.  Crazy, I know.  There isn’t like a blanket policy against advertisements, I just haven’t set any up yet.  I can eat a $15/month fee from soapblox though, and I don’t want to mess up the aesthetic of the site.  ๐Ÿ™‚

Boooooooooooooring

This is pretty much the steroids/Mars part of the state of the union, where Bush brings up a bunch of shit that no one cares about.  Seriously, Baby Einstein?  It’s also kind of sad that they could only get a benchwarmer for their little immigration blah blah.

Quartet

Quartet?  What the hell is that?  Considering Bush was a cheerleader in college, I am guessing he played the viola.

Pelosi

Pelosi is on a mission to show off that she is not decrepit like Dick Cheney.  She has shot out of her seat every time, while Dick Cheney looks like he could use a cane.

The Terrorists

“They are against almost every principle of civilization.”  Yeah, remember that time where Osama Bin Laden put out that video tape decrying agriculture and the city-state?  I am pretty sure bartering is outlawed in the Koran too.

Chuck Grassley

Chuck Grassley just got his first erection in ten years with that renewable fuel goal.  Archer Daniels Midland finally got their money’s worth with him.

The State of the Union

Should I watch it, or Veronica Mars?  The fact that this is a tough decision bothers me.  I just really don’t give a shit what Bush has to say any more.

Clinton's Women

Former LG candidate Andy McGuire is on board with Hillary Clinton.  So is somehow-related former state chair and Congressional candidate Sheila Riggs.  Obviously Bonnie Campbell is on board.  Also involved is Kim Pieper, the campaign manager for Selden Spencer and former finance director for Mike Blouin’s gubernatorial campaign.

While it jumps out at me that Clinton seems to be running a Y chromosome-free campaign here, after some consideration (on a blog?  wtf?) it is most likely a combination of self-selection and me being a man.  Vilsack’s high-level staff, for example, is really dude-heavy – TPM lists one female and eleven males.  That’s pretty typical – Edwards has three females and thirteen males, and Obama has six and fifteen.  Hillary is actually the most gender-balanced nationally, with somewhere between eleven and thirteen females out of twenty-three total.  These lists aren’t comprehensive or 100% accurate, but they do give a broad view on things.  I imagine that Hillary will end up having a pretty well-balanced staff in Iowa too once she starts staffing up for real.

And what is up with all these other guys?  Can’t find any chicks to hire for senior staff?

Hotties

One of the thing that irritates me most about political coverage is how ugly candidates are covered as though they are totally foxy.  John Kerry was described as handsome all the freaking time in 2004, despite the fact that he looks like a painting that has been rained on.  Seriously, the man has more jowl than Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd combined.  When I was working on the Howard Dean campaign, I came up with a joke about him:  “John Kerry walks into a bar.  Bartender says, ‘Why the long face?’”  And I wasn’t the only one.

So anyway, now they are doing the same thing with Obama.  I like Obama.  I think most women would probably like Obama, too.  But Barack Obama is not a hottie.  He is a skinny guy with really big ears and a big mouth, and he smiles with his eyes almost shut, which makes him look like an anime character.  He’s not totally uggs like JK, but he’s basically average looking, and I say this as a skinny guy with big ears.  I realize DC is Hollywood for ugly people, but our standards could still be a little bit higher.  John Edwards actually is really hot, so it’s not like the media can’t write it about somebody.

I don’t think this matters much in the grand scheme of things – Goofiness hasn’t been much of a barrier to the Presidency, and in fact seems like an asset if you look through the history books.  (At least the kind I like, with lots of pictures and not very many words.)  Looks don’t really matter much to me either; I did support Howard Dean, who can most accurately be described as looking like a miniature lumberjack.

And don’t get me started on the Republicans.  I could write a whole post just on Duncan Hunter, the Representative from What The Fuck Is Wrong With Your Eyebrow.

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Gender and the Presidency

Another day, another study that purports to show that Americans won’t support a female candidate.  Once again this only focuses on the negative, failing to take into account that some people (like me) might be MORE likely to vote for a woman.

And while it’s hard to judge a study from a press release, the basic methodology seems totally sketchball.  Basically they asked a control group whether four things made them angry (gas prices, athlete pay, ceo pay, and pollution), then asked another group whether a woman serving as president bothered them, followed by all those other statements.  Overall anger went up by a lot, so they conclude that about a quarter of the population gets upset by the idea of a woman being president.

Might I suggest that the word pissing people off is not “woman,” but “president”?  I know I get pissed off when I think about the current president.  Besides that though, the introduction of politics at all into things might tend to make people more angry.  Maybe people aren’t personally upset about those issues, but do expect the government to do more to try to solve them.  Maybe they are libertarians and just get mad when you mention the government.  (Okay, libertarians are mad about everything either way.)  This just doesn’t seem like a study that pinpoints much of anything, and it shouldn’t be played up as proof that Americans are secretly sexist.

Poop Jokes

So we occasionally get crap in Iowa for electing guys with awkward and suggestive last names (Vilsack, Loebsack), but we really have nothing on New Hampshire.  With their Senate race on the short list of our best pickup opportunities, 1996 candidate Dick Swett is considering throwing his hat in the ring.  I am not making that up.  If only he were a U.S. citizen, Labour MP Ed Balls could make him his running mate for the oval office (or I guess any of these people would work…  at least the living ones).  I think a Balls/Swett ticket would produce the highest youth voter turnout EVER.

The Five Day Work Week

…is completely imaginary for people working on campaigns.  But it’s a new mark in vigor for the US House and Senate, where Republicans are both complaining about the rule change and complaining about it not being vigorously enforced.  Ted Sporer, the Polk County Republican Chair, is the most hilarious member of the latter camp, complaining about a supposed campaign promise that was apparently made on December 5th, 28 days after the election was held.  Apparently he has a problem with Democrats only working four days in a couple of the early weeks, (and he might also have a problem with the Martin Luther King Holiday).  Surprisingly enough,  I couldn’t find ANY complaints about the standard Republican 3-day workweek, or the fact that the House this session worked the fewest number of days in at least the past 60 years.

But anyway, the most important effect of the five day work week in Congress is to really put the screws to the Republicans who have gotten fat and lazy in the majority.  It’s surely no fun to work three days a week when you are powerless, and it is going to be even less fun doing it for five.  Republicans like Tom Latham, who have never experienced life in the minority, might find it such a shock that they don’t feel like raising a million dollars to be ignored for two more years.  Here’s hoping for serious earmark reform too, so that it becomes harder for appropriations committee members (like Latham) to buy their elections through pork.

Iowa Democrats Lost Congress?

While Democrats picked up two new seats to claim a majority of Iowa’s Congressional delegation, the overall congressional vote was tilted in the Republican’s favor – they won 520,798 votes (50.6%) to our 490,476 (47.7%).  This margin represents less than the margin in just Congressional District 5, but that margin is slated to move on over into at least one of our competitive districts in six years.

A similar result can be seen in Indiana, where Democrats lost the statewide congressional vote while picking up three seats to bring them to a majority.  The only other state with as dramatic results as Iowa and Indiana is New Hampshire, but considering they won their only two Congressional seats, they obviously managed an overall majority as well.  It might just be the fact that Democrats were doing so poorly before the election that the races they weren’t able to compete in – CD 4 and 5 here and 4, 5, and 6 in Indiana – overwhelmed the results of what were targeted, competitive races on both sides.  We’ll get a better idea in 2008, when Republicans are the ones trying to pick off our seats.

Welcome to Bleeding Heartland!

It’s about time Iowa had a true community-based blog – one where commenting is not the beginning and end of reader interaction.  On Bleeding Heartland everyone is able to write their own diary, meaning more and better content and a more diverse representation of views from around the state.  The commenting system is also a big improvement over anything else available.  So create an account, write a diary, and let us know what is going on in your corner of the state.