Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Nov 19, 2013

Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly Post Politics chat series.

Hey all, and welcome to the latest Ask Aaron live chat.

We're taking your questions on everything from Obamacare to the new Washington Post-ABC News poll to Rob Ford (if you must).

So what's on your mind?

All the polling and when push comes to shove, candidates who have wanted to expand Medicaid have won. This is a big thing, right?

I'm not sure how big the sample size is on this question. I assume you're referring to Rep.-elect Vance McAllister (R), who won a Louisiana special election over the weekend running against Jindal's decision to turn down the expansion.

Beyond that, I'm not sure we can definitely say this is a huge issue in elections. But it definitely polls well, and Jindals recent struggles appear to have plenty to do with that decision.

If Liz Cheney loses this Senate primary, is her nascent political career over? If she does try to run for something else, does it have to be in Wyoming, or can she pick a new state (I think she lived a long time in Virginia)?

I don't think one loss is the end for anybody. Heck, basically every recent president has a loss under his belt over the course of his career.

I do think she's probably committed to Wyoming at this point. Hard to run somewhere and lose and then go somewhere else. At least Scott Brown won in Massachusetts.

On the plus side, at least he's not a natural-born US citizen, so can't run for US President (assuming Ahh-nold doesn't get the Constitution amended to the contrary).

I'd be more worried about him running for governor of my former home state, Minnesota. Ventura-Franken-Ford seems like a natural progression.

Maybe I'm just a partisan Republican, but it seems every time there is a close recount, the Democrats always miraculously find the needed votes to pull ahead (MN 08' senate, Washington gov race in 04' come to mind). I assume there is a rational explanation for this.

A quick look back (based on FairVote's data):

Bush lost 1,200 votes in 2000 but still won.

Coleman lost 440 votes and had the outcome reversed.

McDonnell gained a few votes in the 2005 VA AG recall and won.

Rossi lost a few hundred votes and had the outcome reversed in 2004 Washington governor's race.

It does seem the GOP loses votes in big-time recounts. Whether there's something nefarious, of course, is another question. The sample size is just very small.

Chances she pulls out a victory look slimmer by the day. What the heck was she thinking getting in?

Given the anti-incumbency that exists these days, I'm not sure I blame her. That said, I don't know that we've found Enzi's one glaring flaw that will lead people to oust him.

And as we've seen, Cheney certainly has her own issues.

If your choice for mayor was between Rob Ford, Bob Filner, or Anthony Weiner who would you vote for?

A true Sophie's Choice. Maybe Ford, just for the entertainment value? (Plus, he still has his supporters, unlike the other two.)

Does Gov. Christie attacking his party indicate a stategy or is he basically a loose cannon? With the party primaries a few years off doesn't it give his white hot campaign plenty of time to cool down ?

I think it's his strategy to be the tough-talker that gives his party the clearest shot at regaining the White House. I also think he's got some core beliefs that he's not going to budge on.

He's basically going to say, 'If you guys want to win, nominate me. If you don't, good luck.'

There have been some polls that have showed him vulnerable for the 2014 race. I had assumed he was almost a sure bet for reelection. where do you see the race standing now?

He was never completely safe, by virtue of being in a traditionally blue state. And even though he won his recall pretty easily, it's been proven that it's more difficult to recall incumbents than defeat them in a normal election (it's a higher threshold).

I think Walker is still favored, but there's still 12 months until Election Day. Much depends on whether Democrats can actually nominate a strong candidate against him. Keep an eye on Mary Burke.

Really? Rob Ford smoked crack. Filner harassed countless women. Weiner, while creepy, never broke the law.

Fair point.

Does Ken Cuccinelli actually turn around and run against Mark Warner next year? Are we overestimating Warner's popularity post-Obamacare? Russ Feingold lost in a bad year for Democrats somewhat unexpectedly (it didn't start looking like a race until June or July 2010). If Cuccinelli loses to Warner, is that the end of his political career?

Mark Warner ain't Feingold. While Feingold wasn't expected to lose in 2010, he had never taken more than 55% of the vote before, and it was a TERRIBLE year for Democrats.

If 2014 turns out to be that bad, then maybe we see Warner in trouble. But 2010 was historically bad, and there's no evidence we're headed for a repeat in 2014.

Cuccinelli would be better served waiting for Kaine to come back around in 2018. That time off would help his image too.

When the Fix cancels a chat, that's when one of you all should jump in. You know, usurp the throne and all.

Next time...

I have no doubt about the personal views of the Cheneys, but what are the odds the public discussion was coordinated to help Liz Cheney in anti-SSM Wyoming?

I don't think so. Even if the Cheneys thought this would help somehow, it casts their family in a terrible light.

Plus, all of this -- I think -- actually raises questions about whether Liz Cheney is sincere in her opposition to gay marriage. And her comments from 2009 suggest she's hardly an absolutist on that front.

Susana Martinez looked like an up-and-comer for the GOP. But there has been little talk about her since the initial buzz. What gives?

She has  said she's not going to DC, period, because she takes care of her developmentally disabled sister, and she doesn't want to separate her sister from her family.

I tend to take her at her word.

Can you see him being the frontrunner to get the Republican Nomination for Governor in 2017? The Republicans don't seem to have much of a bench.

I think he's certainly in the mix. And you're right about the GOP bench. Even in the congressional delegation, I'm not sure there's an obvious answer.

If Clinton doesn't run... Am I crazy?

Yes. Political newcomers don't run for president and win -- unless they were generals.

Perhaps areas with less reliable voting infrastructure are areas that lean democratic. That would explain it without resorting to conspiracy theories. Once you go back and do a more careful job trying to puzzle out the questionable undervotes, you end up with more votes for the Dems.

That's one theory.

Other than Republicans winning the White House, 60 Senators, and keeping the House in 2016, there is nothing they will be able to do to overturn the law, is that correct?

Unless they start getting Democrats to vote for repeal. I know that seems like "of course it won't happen," but once these members start fearing for their careers, they'll vote how they have to.

Even my more conservative friends are surprised at the stand she has taken on this if only because you never throw your family under the bus to score political points. Although I can't help but think it was rather genius of the opposition to run the ad criticizing her on the issue because she would have to do just that. It's a lose lose situation for her. Although she might have gained some more respect if she had just said, "no comment - I love my sister, full stop."

I don't think no-commenting on gay marriage would fly in a Wyoming GOP Senate primary. A July PPP poll showed 82% of Republicans there opposed gay marriage.

I have nothing against Hillary, I'm just not a huge fan of hers. Please tell me there are other Democrats I can support in 2016.

Of course there are. It just depends on whether they run and whether they actually have a chance.

I tend to think that somebody will give her a run for her money. There have been very few coronations in open presidential primaries.

I am a paralegal downtown at a law firm. If my attorney asks me how the client's project is going, I am to give him a truthful answer -- 'we got X done, but are having issues with Y,' so that when the client calls for a status, my attorney knows what he's talking about. So who decided to NOT inform Obama that the Web site was a disaster at the beginning?

A great question. Especially given Obama was out there comparing the Web site to Amazon, etc. You have to think there would be somebody who knew what was happening who would urge him to tone it down, or at least slow-roll the ease of using the Web site. Apparently that didn't happen or that message didn't make it's way to Obama's desk.

This is one of the most troubling unanswered questions about this whole matter.

My favorite part of the Ford meltdown was he compared himself to Kuwait , and the Toronto City Council to Saddam. Good to see him have perspective.

I'm not sure how you can pick one favorite moment. I keep expecting Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck to jump out from behind the curtain.

What has Martin O'Malley been up to?

Not sure but his numbers aren't great. A recent poll showed his approve/disapprove at 48/48. That's not great in a clearly blue state.

I think that Post's politics section should have covered Martin Bashir's unacceptable personal attack on Sarah Palin. She is a former vice presidential candidate and remains a powerful force on the right. You ignored this, and I think that you should have covered it.

Has he decided he had his one chance at the gold ring, and is not going to go through the grind of trying to become President?

I think he knows that he doesn't have to do much right now, so he's just biding his time. I still consider him a potential player in 2016.

Well, if you don't mind citing to the competition, at least one writer at Politico.com thinks the whole Liz v. Mary Cheney feud wont make any difference at the polls.

That could very well be. Where it potentially damages Liz Cheney, I think, is if it causes conservatives to be suspect about her opposition to gay marriage, and also if it feeds the idea that she's an opportunist doing whatever it takes to win office (i.e. the carpetbagging charge).

We probably will never know for sure.

What was with them last week? Landrieu is running for reelection in a red state. Why did they speak out?

Merkley may be slightly concerned about his 2014 race. He just got an opponent with a pretty solid profile -- a pediatric neurosurgeon named Monica Wehby-- who could take advantage of Obamacare continues to be an albatross.

As for Feinstein, it almost seems to me like she's not terribly happy with the administration right now. Maybe because of the NSA stuff.

Thanks everyone for turning out!

We'll see you next Tuesday at 2.

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake covers national politics at the Washington Post, where he writes regularly for the Fix, the Post's top political blog. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron and his wife, Danielle, and dog, Mauer, live in Northern Virginia.
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