Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Sep 09, 2014

The Fix's Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly politics chat series.

It's our last primary day of 2014, so let's get to it!

Because it's never too early, your best educational guess on the front runners for veep in both parties are?

Rubio and Deval Patrick or Martin O'Malley.

Rothenberg said at least 7 seats for Republicans. I assume that means he sees the GOP winning SD, WV, MT, LA, AR, AK, and NC from the Democrats. Think he'll be right?

I think the GOP is probably a favorite in AR, AK and NC, but winning all of them? That's tougher.

Also, I wouldn't assume those are the seats he means. The GOP could very well lose NC or AK and still win a state like Iowa. They aren't THAT far apart.

Newest poll put Udall up 6 in Colorado. Is the personhood stuff really hurting Gardner that much?

I think it hurts him, for sure. But as I wrote earlier this week, Gardner's personal numbers aren't tumbling as much as someone like Grimes and Pryor.

That said, he's been sustaining these attacks since he got in the race, and he's in about the same position -- 38 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable -- as someone like Grimes. That's personhood, IMO.

Do you think we get the Reid/Sandoval race in 2016 in Nevada?

I have said before that I think Reid is likely to run and Sandoval is likely to run. But the odds that both will run -- I see that as less than 50/50. I think Sandoval getting in makes Reid less likely to run and vice versa.

But it would be SO much fun.

More likely to switch parties after the 2014 election -- Manchin or King?

GREAT question.

Manchin makes more dense ideologically, but King has said pretty clearly that he might just choose whichever side is in the majority.

That said, I doubt either of them do it -- unless they think they have real trouble in their 2018 reelection bids (which seems unlikely, for now).

Also, Manchin could just up and run for governor again. Being a Republican wouldn't help that.

Does she call it quits in 2016? She hasn't been raising money, and her priorities (e.g. climate change) are not likely to move forward with a GOP-controlled House. Do you think she would throw her support to Kamala Harris, someone else, or stay neutral?

Anytime someone's fundraising falls off a cliff like hers has, that's a pretty good indicator of retirement. It would be one thing if she hadn't been raising good money before, but she was, and California is very expensive.

Any opinion? What impact will this have on November's elections?

See here:

Clearly, the little guy was expressing his distaste for Obama's foreign policy using a physical metaphor, and his brazen act will sweep the country.


If Scott Walker loses this year, how does that change the 2016 presidential race for the Republican nomination?

Probably not appreciably, besides taking out someone who probably would have gotten some GOP establishment support. Good for Christie/Rubio crowd.

Chances he gets removed from the ballot? What percentage do you see him taking if he stays on?

From what I've heard from election lawyers, it's unlikely a court would overrule the Kansas secretary of state -- especially given the law seems reasonably clear.

If he stays on, I think he takes 5 percent or less. Why do I think that, I'm glad you asked. See here.

Six points seems like a big difference. Is it safe to assume this was an outlier?

Most polls have shown Udall with a lead, so I'm not sure this is a big surprise.

Colorado is tough for the GOP because it's vote-by-mail. Without that, I think Udall would be favored by less.

Care to predict what will happen in KS? I live across the state line in MO, but I'm so curious to see if Brownback and Roberts can hold on.

I would have said before a couple days ago that Roberts was probably still the favorite, but he keeps stepping in it when it comes to his residency issues. His campaign has just been so lackluster.

As for Brownback, automated polling has consistently showed him as an underdog. And it's easier for Democrats in a non-federal race.

Any truth to the rumors that Ray Rice is under consideration to become the next Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska?

Given the lack of vetting apparently done by Gov. Heineman's team, it cannot be ruled out.

Is Terri Lynn Land the candidate to finally end the Michigan GOP's losing streak?

It could happen, but probably not. Spencer Abraham is probably safe.

Does it matter if the Democrats lose the Senate? Nothing gets done without 60 anyway, right? They just have to learn how to be as obstructionist as Boehner is in the House.

There's a lot of truth to this. The counter-argument, though, is that the GOP can force votes on stuff like border security and Keystone XL, which likely have 60 votes but which Harry Reid won't allow a vote on -- and thus won't go to Obama's desk.

Putting those things on his desk makes the decision Obama's rather than Reid's. And people are more likely to apply pressure on the former case.

At least, that's how the logic goes.

So I gave money last week to the Born Fighting PAC of Webb's and, from its web site, had a link to his appearance on Iowa public TV. He did a half hour with three reporters and if he's not a man running for President, I don't know who is. I am biased, but given the state of international affairs, I think a decorated combat veteran who served in defense roles in Republican administrations and was in the Senate-- and whose PAC page talks about the need for economic fairness--could find a lot of support in the electorate. I know I would support him and, compared to most Americans, I'm an ultra liberal.

It's possible, but Webb is not the most personally compelling guy. Compelling bio -- yes. Compelling personality -- no. And presidential politics is a lot about the latter.

I expect he would get real support, but I don't think he's the most obvious case of presidential timbre.

What do you think Tierney's chances of losing the primary are? Also do you think the recent polls showing Moulton has a better chance of winning the November election against Tisei have played into his momentum?

I think you might still give a very slight edge to the incumbent, who from what I hear has run a pretty good campaign -- all things considered. 

As for general election considerations -- I don't think they factor in much unless there is a HUGE difference between the two potential nominees. I'm not sure that's the case here. An open seat opens the door to Tisei about as wide as Tierney's issues do.

Has President Obama vetoed anything in his 6 years? Nothing comes to mind.

He had a fully Democratic Congress for two years and has had a Democratic Senate for all six. So he hasn't really needed to veto anything.

But he did veto two bills -- one in 2009 and one in 2010. More here.

Is it crazy to think she could win the nomination if Hillary didn't run? I don't think Elizabeth Warren is running in either scenario so it'd be McCaskill vs. Biden vs. O'Malley.

I think Gillibrand is a much more obvious non-Hillary candidate than McCaskill is. But McCaskill certainly has strengths.

Where can I bet against him? His MA win was a fluke (no turnout, terrible opponent). Shaheen can walk and chew gum at the same time. No way he wins.

You probably wouldn't get very good odds at this point. Shaheen is the clear favorite, but if this becomes a GOP wave, she gets swept out.

A couple recent polls have shown Braley with narrow leads. As he really begins to hammer Ernst and paint her as an extremist, does he take control of this race?

If Ernst isn't yet leading, I'm not sure what is going to give her the edge. Braley has had all kinds of bad press.

But perhaps the race hasn't really come into focus just yet for most people (fact check: true). Braley started with an edge, and it's maybe still a slight one.

Obviously Orman can't win this race with just Democratic voters. So does he draw more from conservative/Tea Party types disenchanted with Roberts not being conservative enough or does he draw more from moderate conservatives who are upset with Brownback-type conservatism (and who in the past have supported Democrats like Kathleen Sebelius)?

I think Roberts's campaign, if it knows what it's doing (and, as noted before, the jury's out) will cast Orman as the Democrat. If it can't do that effectively, he might steal votes from all manner of folks.

Hey Aaron - The IL-SEN race (Durbin v. Oberweis) is emerging as my 'curious sleeper' of the cycle -- it's not that I expect Durbin to lose in a state as blue as IL (unlike the IL-GOV race, where Quinn looks likely doomed), it's that his reelect numbers are remarkably softer than might be expected given his lack of scandal & state lean. Any significance to this? Reflective of trend in downballot IL races? National trend? - Jeff B@AoSHQ

Durbin's numbers have indeed been worse than most people realize -- likely because they haven't been as bad as Blagojevich or Quinn. But for a guy who took two-thirds of the vote in 2008, a 50 percent approval rating isn't great.

Any senator with those kinds of numbers and an opponent with some money (which Oberweis has) is going to look less-than-strong. But, as you said, actually losing is another matter entirely. And given Oberweis's track record (five statewide losses), it's just very hard to see him winning.

Does Cord Patterson have a cool nickname yet?

I wish I could get excited about the Vikings right now, but the NFL is doing a great job of losing me as a fan. I honestly could stop watching today and be OK with it.

We've been hearing this for months now. When will we know?

Waves don't generally reveal themselves until a couple days before Election Day -- if even that early.

Assuming the GOP takes the senate, is Mitch the only choice. Or is there someone that nobody is talking about?

I don't think we see a real leadership race. You don't throw out your leader when you just took the Senate.

If Orman announces he'll caucus with Republicans if elected, he'll win.

Makes sense. But at that point, would Democrats just cast ballots for Taylor's non-candidacy in protest? 

Did anyone doubt there'd be an uptick in support for action after the beheading videos? Why were reporters pointing to polls that generally mentioned "involvement" when obviously Americans were going to want to confront ISIS?

No. The calculus certainly changed with that, no doubt. But you also can't totally discount the fact that people don't want to get involved internationally. It's going to continue to depress support for boots on the ground and basically anything beyond airstrikes.

So it's not like it doesn't still matter.

You've discussed this on The Fix before, but do you have any particular added insight into the rather shocking collapse of FitzGerald vs. Kasich in OH-GOV? Kasich barely turned out Strickland in 2010, then saw his fav/unfav collapse in the wake of the collective bargaining reverse. OH is the quintessential swing state on the statewide level. How could Kasich have such a solid upper hand given such circumstances? Is it merely the two scandals (driver's license, parking lot w/woman) that have undone FitzGerald, or is it something more? Most curious race of cycle, IMO. -Jeff B@AoSHQ

I'm pretty sure Fitz was likely to lose even before his scandals popped up. His fundraising was lackluster and Kasich has sufficiently returned to people's good graces through some deft politicking.

But also -- I wouldn't discount Kasich upending Strickland in 2010. It is VERY difficult to beat an incumbent governor, no matter the year. Only 34 have lost in the general election since 1984.

With 2015 right around the corner, will this Congress get anything done? And if not, will anyone care? I assume it'll be full speed ahead once Hilary, Jeb, Rand, etc make their announcements.

There's a lot of truth to this. It's also the last two years of a lame-duck presidency, in which things don't generally happen.

Wouldn't Dems rather have a moderate Republican than enable a conservative to get reelected?

That's the thing. Roberts isn't exactly a tea partiers/huge conservative. If Orman said he's caucus with Republicans, it would be because he was going for the conservatives who voted for Milton Wolf.

But that's an awfully tricking thing to do.

What am I missing in this announcement which seems to have last for 5 hours?

I couldn't tell you. All I know is that, whatever is being revealed, I will purchase it in about 11.5 months when the price comes down.

The day after the election, President Obama does what on immigration? Stop deportations? Legalize children? Blanket amnesty? That's why you get the big bucks at WP, to answer questions like these. Thanks for doing these chats!

I love these chats!

If I had to guess, he would legalize people who have been here X number of years and have put down roots, so to speak. I don't think he stops deportations altogether. And children is an easy thing to do -- politically.

Has Sen. Pat Roberts ever had to work for an election? It sounds like he's never had to get into the mud before.

In 12 federal elections, Pat Roberts has never taken less than 60% of the vote.

So there's your answer.

Big issue with you and the fix writing that the GOP's "non interventionist moment" is over because of support for destroying ISIL. 1) there still exists widespread opposition to a ground war, both in Iraq and all around, 2) limited strikes against a target as radical and dangerous as ISIS isnt in conflict with non-interventionism (see rands op-ed), and 3) Iraq is still identified in alot of people's minds as a Republican War and thus it's natural Republicans have a special internal rule for dealing with it

This is all totally fair.

At the same time, the poll I referred to here wasn't about any specific issue -- either ISIS or Iraq -- it was a very general question about whether the U.S. should be more or less active internationally. I think the fact that the GOP's push for action increases when there are imminent issues overseas shows that the GOP's hawkishness never really left. It just hid.

Is there a threshold where Andrew Cuomo looks weak for the General? What other races should we watch tonight?

Two key GOP House primaries in NH tonight. Both races very competitive.

My favorite, though, is the three-way Demoratic primary for Rhode Island governor. Raimondo, Taveras and Pell is a very compelling race that didn't get publicity because it's Rhode Island.

Way more great questions than I could get to this week. But let's do it again 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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