Sep 27, 2010

Every Monday morning, Fix blogger Chris Cillizza discusses who made news over the weekend and previews the week ahead for Congress, the Obama administration and the world of politics.

Good morning everyone!  Sorry to be a few minutes late...but let's do it.

Why does it feel like Wisconsin has swung so far away from the Democrats? They stand to lose Feingold's Senate seat, the governor's race, two congressional seats, the state house, and state senate. Unemployment is only 7.9 percent there, far below the national average.

Wisconsin, like the rest of the upper Midwest, has moved away from Democrats -- due in large part to dissatisfaction with the political status quo.

And, while unemployment -- as you note -- is below where it is in the rest of the country, there still seems to be a sense that the establishment has failed the state.

Remember that Wisconsin has always rewarded politicians with a bit of a populist streak -- in that way it's like Minnesota -- and so Feingold's initial success was built on the idea that he was not of or from Washington.

He's now been in Washington for 18 years, which makes that argument harder to sell. And, Ron Johnson, his Republican opponent, has never run for any office before.

Halloween is 34 days away, and I need some good ideas for a political costume. I think the two most popular costumes will be John Boehner (spray on tan) and Christine O'Donnell (just dress up as a witch). But I need something more original than those. Ideas?

There can be only one true Halloween costume for political junkies: Dale Peterson.

Get a cowboy hat and a BB gun and every once in a while yell out: "WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT".

Alternative costume: Phil Davison. Dress in a dark suit and white shirt and just keeping saying: "I have been a Republican in times good and I have been a Republican in times bad...and I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR MY TONE."

The Redskins are in for a long year. Its time to get rid of both Portis and Haynesworth

Um, I think you wondered into the wrong chat.

But, since we are on the topic: Thank you Joe Flacco for deciding to return to form in Week 3 -- thereby saving the Fix fantasy football team from total annihilation.

How is Strickland making up ground? Is it Dems coming home or are the ties to Wall St. hurting Kasich with independents? More importantly, is this a theme Democrats can use in Ohio and Pennsylvania or is it specific to Strickland-Kasich?

I think the idea that Kasich was ever up 17 points -- as the Quinnipiac poll showed -- was a bit far fetched.

Most people I talk to who have seen private campaign polling in the race say it is a 4-7 point lead for Kasich, which is consistent with most though not all of the public polling.

Strickland has closed a bit thanks to an onslaught of TV ads hammering Kasich for the time he spent on Wall Street after leaving Congress.

Remember that Kasich's lead was built in August when the Republican Governors Association dominated the TV airwaves with ads hitting Strickland for the job losses in the state in the last four years.

Now that Strickland is at spending parity -- or better -- statewide, his numbers are coming back.

This is going to be a close one.

Looks like Alex Sink has a bit of a lead- if you believe the polls. More importantly- how about the little trivia nugget that Sink is the great-grandaughter of one of the famous Siamese Twins (true story). Seriously, Sink hasn't gone real negative yet- will she hit Scott hard with the medicare fraud problem?

Democrats feel very good with where they are in this race. Scott emerged very damaged from the primary race against Bill McCollum and has a relatively short period of time to re-shape his image before the fall election.

What Scott has on his side is money -- lots and lots of it.

Neither Scott nor Sink is a world-beater as a candidate but today you have to give the Democrat the edge.

Do you think the GOP is surprised with the amount of criticism about the Pledge from people in conservative circles?

Not sure.

Anytime you put out a document like that, it immediately becomes a target. That's why there was so much internal debate within the GOP about actually putting out the "Pledge".

My guess is that Republicans believed -- and believe -- that while they would take hits for the Pledge it was still the right move because they have to show voters that they have a plan to govern in order to close the deal this fall.

It's a risk, for sure.

What would be included in wearing a Chris Cillizza costume, besides the computer and sledgehammer

Catholic field hockey shirt, glasses and a massive amount of coolness -- and you can't buy that at some costume shop!

If you can't find the "coolness",  douse yourself with a gallon or so of Drakkar Noir; you will then be Chris Cillizza circa 1991.

What's your take on this season of AMC's "Mad Men"?

Um...this is embarassing....not sure the right way to say this...I don't watch "Mad Men".

I know, it will stun you that a guy so hip as me doesn't watch.  It's hard to get one's mind around.

But, I feel like I am too far behind to start watching now. Or, is this a "Wire" situation where I need to go back and start at season one on DVD.

Is "Mad Men" un-missable?

Fix super-producer Andrea notes that the Chris Cillizza costume needs a pumpkin spice latte to round it out. Well played!

Maybe it's me, but there a lot of the talking heads saying that the Pledge of America was a bad idea since it fit into "Our Ideas vs. The Ideas" narrative that the Democrats wanted.

I mentioned this in my Friday chat -- now coming to you from Northside Social in Arlington! -- but I think the Republican calculation was based on GOP pollster Glen Bolger's contention that this is an 80-20 election.

It's 80 percent about Democrats and 20 percent about Republicans. The Pledge is aimed at fulfilling that 20 percent -- showing voters that Republicans are serious about governing.

I notice that there's been a modest, but perceptable, narrowing of the party gap on the generic ballot trend on Pollster.com, which I tend to value more than individual polls, which have their eccentricities. Assuming the trend is real, what might it be reflecting--reactions to some seriously loony Republican candidates, undecideds starting to pay attention and making up their minds, or what?

I think Democrats are feeling better about where things stand than they did a month ago but there is LOTS of conflicting data out there.

Politico's poll this am had Republicans +4 on the generic, for example.

Is it all histrionics about Colbert's testimony or are people genuinely upset? I'm not sure why he had to be in character and overshadow his other eloquent points.

I am not sure how Elmo got into this question but I can tell you that Fix Jr. just nodded approvingly.

Same line would also work for John Boehner!

"Desperate times call for what......YES, who said that??? Desperate measures!"

Truer words were never spoken. When I run for office, my slogan will be: "Chris Cillizza, because desperate times call for desperate measures."

Like Joe McCarthy? Guess the mistakes of history have to be relearned every 50-60 years, huh?

I was waiting for the Joe McCarthy reference....

Hey Chris, Do you think Chet Edwards D-17 Texas will get re-elected this November? He is a lone Dem in a very red area of the state, and his recent endorsements/voting record makes him more of a Republican lately anyway. Just curious as to your thoughts. -Curious Texan

I think that Chet Edwards is a terrific politician who has held that VERY Republican district much longer than anyone thought he would.

I also think that this may be the worst national political environment in which he has had to run.

Edwards could do everything right and still lose due to the demographics of that district.

Saw a GREAT tv ad this weekend from Sestak. Short, stark comparison. In the primary he seemed to lay low til the last 4-6 weeks and then finish strong. Any chance he could do the same in November?

Democrats hope so.

There's a general consensus that Sestak is down between 4-7 points at the moment to Toomey.

Sestak has shown an ability to come from behind in all of his past political campaigns including his primary upset of Arlen Specter earlier this year.

I don't underestimate Sestak's political abilities. But, this is a tough environment for him to run in Pennsylvania as Democrats nationally including President Obama are not all that popular.

Do you think that folks who are benefitting from the first round of changes in health care thanks to Obama-care will really want to vote for a House or Senate candidate who's committed to repealing those changes?

We'll find out.

My guess is that Republicans will spend 80 percent of their time talking about the economy and 20 percent talking about health care in the final five weeks of the campaign.

Spending and deficits are major problems for Democrats -- particularly among independent voters -- so I would think Republicans will do everything they can to stay focused on that on the campaign trail.

Do you think it will help, hurt or have no significant effect on the Stewart/Colbert dueling rallies next month?

Little effect either on the rallies or on the election.

Colbert is a performer and that's what he did. That anyone thought he would do anything else is amazing to me.

Didn't see that coming...

Yeah, remember that he lost the Republican primary and was running on the Conservative line only.

So, he wasn't going to be winning the election. Still, a rapid rise and fall for the Long Island Congressman.

But, but, but... weren't those chiefly caused by 8 years of a Republican President? (Not something completely reversible in 2 years under a Democrat)

Obviously, that's the counter argument. The issue is where voters come down on the issue. Only 36 days now!

Thanks for joining me!

Don't forget...I chat three times a week now. 30 mins on Monday and Wednesday and the full hour on Fridays!

Come for one, stay for all three!

In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he writes "The Fix," a politics blog for The Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.

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