The Fix Live

Feb 07, 2014

The Fix's Chris Cillizza discussed the latest in political news.

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Good morning everyone!

It's Friday! A clean debt ceiling looks more likely. An immigration bill looks less likely. And we are one week closer to the season premiere of Game of Thrones. Life is good.

Fix drink: Caramel macchiato

Fix food: blueberry oatmeal

Fix Soundtrack: "Perils from the Sea" by Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle

Let's do this thing.

Your pick for worst week; A) Denver Broncos B) Red Hot Chilli Peppers C) Jay Len

None of the above!

But, by the end of the chat, I think I will be able to tell you who won.

If you write something decent, you get tons of praise, usually from at least one side and your horserace colleagues. If you write something terrible, you become a story, people defend you, and you keep your job because you generate traffic.

Shhhhhh. Don't tell anyone.

Also, the underlying assumption in this "question" is that my work varies from "decent" to "terrible."

So the latest news from OMB says that 23 million people will be laid off from their jobs over the next 10 years because of the high cost of Obamacare. How can anyone supporting the ACA ever win another election?

Count how many vulnerable Democrats run ads defending Obamacare from Labor Day on.

If you're the Shaheen campaign, on a scale of 1-10, how concerned should you be about Scott Brown entering the New Hampshire Senate race?


Without Brown, it's not likely she faces a real race. With him, it's a race that costs millions and could be close.

That said, I think Shaheen is in ok shape actually. If Brown runs, it's an uphill race.

Do you think Thom Tillis the GOP nominee in North Carolina, or does someone else end up with the Senate nod?

I think it's likely Tillis is the nominee since he is the best known and will be the best financed. That said, a low turnout primary (like this will be) poses all sorts of unpredictable elements for a candidate running as the establishment pick.

I fully expect 2014 to favor Republicans and I expect the GOP to win a majority in the Senate. Yet, then I see the polls out of Kentucky showing the race a dead heat. Is this conservative angst against Mitch McConnell, where they'll come home before election day, or could McConnell see his party win a majority, but at the same time be sent on his way by Kentucky voters?

There are remarkable similarities between where McConnell stands today and where Harry Reid was in Nevada in 2010.

Both are well known and not very well liked. Neither is a gifted campaigner. Both are incredibly Machiavellian (and we mean this as a compliment).

The lone difference we can see is that Reid was running in a swing state in a bad year for Democrsts while McConnell is running in a  Republican leaning state in a year that, at least right now, looks like a good  one for the GOP.

And, Reid won.

Is there anyone in the Senate today who is luckier than Chris Coons? He was supposed to be the sacrificial lamb against Mike Castle, an institution in Delaware politics, who was looking for a capstone to his long political career with a term in the Senate. Instead, Tea Party angst got him a fourth-tier candidate who had no chance of victory. And now he's finishing out Biden's term and likely to cruise to another term.

I do think Coons is the president of the "right place, right time" caucus in the senate.

But, how about Reid who probably couldn't have beaten anyone other than Sharron Angle in 2010?

Or Claire McCaskill who was a goner until Todd Aiken opined about his beliefs on rape?

Or Joe Donnelly who had no chance of beating Dick Lugar but didn't have to?

For the record, none of this is to demean these members. Luck is a massive part of politics.

How much danger do you think Mark Udall is in out in Colorado? It seems like Democratic fortunes are fading there after having a run of success between 2006-2012.

If Republicans could find a real candidate, that would be my sleeper race of the election. But, they haven't. And it's not.

according to a poll out this a.m. from crossroads, in a two-way race landrieu trails cassidy, 45-44. her favorable/unfavorable is 40/51, and obama's is 40/54. is the race in the lean R category yet?

Nope. That poll, which was done by a Republican firm, show the race statistically tied. And, we've got a long way to go before the (likely) December runoff between Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy.

A Bluegrass Pole shows Grimes with a 4 point lead over McConnell. In a recent article you wrote that the unpopularity of the President would cause the loss of Senate sets in Alaska and other read states. Does this mean that Grimes really has a 15 point lead when you factor in the President's popularity in Kentucky?

I think that poll shows that:

1. People don't like McConnell

2. People don't know Grimes

3. Choosing between someone they don't like and someone they don't know, they go with someone they don't know.

Here's Grimes' issue: McConnell and conservative groups are going to spend millions to define her (negatively) in the eyes of voters.  Can she hold a lead after that onslaught?

Conventional wisdom has Gov. Chris Christie being less and less of a viable candidate for 2016 as scandals deepen. What's your take on whether he and his LG survive to complete their terms in NJ?

As of today, i think he survives without much trouble and I am not at all convinced that his 2016 chances have somehow been extinguished either.


How big is the 2016 field going to be for the GOP? Christie, Paul, Ryan, Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Walker, Jindal, Perry, Pence, Kasich, Santorum, and Huckabee have all indicated at least some interest in running. And that doesn't even get into the gadfly candidates like a la Herman Cain in 2012. If the field is 10, 12 or more, will debates start excluding some minor candidates?

I don't think Huck runs. I could see Rubio not running. Same with Kasich. And Cruz.

I think the only for sures at the moment are Rand, Christie and Jindal.

But, I agree with your basic premise that without a clear frontrunner (and there isn't a CLEAR one right now) the field could be quite large.

Can you think in American history of a major political party presidential nominee that began his campaign while under both federal and state investigations and his poll numbers tanking? Perhaps Governor Christy is in some kind of denial and would be better off spending his time trying to keep his current job. At what point does Mr. Christy become such a liability to Republicans they are forced to let him go as RGA chief, effectively ending his presidential bid?

If more comes out that suggests (or proves) he knew more than he is letting on about the lane closures.

Unless and until then I don't see how Christie gets forced to step aside.

Could you explain again about how over rated the Seahawks are?

Um, no. No I can't.

Last week you said Christie was more likely to win the White House in 2016 than to resign/be impeached as governor. Care to change your prediction?

Nope.  But thanks for asking!

Look, I think if more comes out that directly links Christie to the lane closures, all bets are off. But as of right now, this is not a series of events that will make him resign of be impeached.

You sort of have to pick the Broncos, don't you? I Mean.....that was pathetic.

It was really really bad. Only thing worse was HBO's decision not to run "True Detective".

Curling > Speed Skating. Whats your go to Winter Events? PS. Did you hear they were out of pillows?!

AGREE. I love me some curling. I am also big on biathlon.

Given Charley Crist's problems as a candidate, do you see anyone else coming up on the Dem side? (*Dunk City, but you knew that)

No. I think he is going to be the nominee. I am amazed at that fact but Crist has two things no other "Democrat" in the state does:

1. universal name ID

2. The ability to raise tens of millions of dollars.

I watched the documentary on Netflix, and, like you, enjoyed it. My question is...isn't it typical for a candidate's speechwriters to have both victory and concession speeches ready ahead of time? Why was Mitt clacking out his own on his laptop as his defeat became more and more apparent?

Well, I think he/they didn't want to think about the possibility of losing, which i get.

I loved that doc. Here's what i wrote after seeing it:

Let's say the Republicans win the Senate this year. How many seats do they need to have a realistic shot at holding it in 2016?

VERY tough for them to hold it unless they get a 2-3 seat majority this year. The 2016 class is the 2010 class -- which was a really good year for Republicans.

Among the very tough holds for the GOP:

Mark Kirk (Ill.)

Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)

Pat Toomey (Pa.)

RonJon (Wisc.)

What do you think are the chances that the conventional wisdom of who's going to emerge as the clear frontrunner for both D's and R's is completely and totally wrong and that we're going to look back and say "we didn't see that person on our radar at all in 2014".

Absolutely posssible.

But remember that by this point in the 2008 cycle, we knew that if Barack Obama ran, he would be formidable. And while Giuliani led in most polling on the GOP side at this point, most people assumed the nomination would come down to McCain and Romney -- which it did.

Exactly - this is how we execute "Don't Re-elect Anybody '14"

Don't blame me. I voted for Ron Swanson.

The political train wreck in New Jersey is one of the most extraordinary things I've ever seen. "David Wildstein was reprobate punk, which is why I decided to create a $150,000 job for him at the Port Authority."

That's my issue with Christie's throwing of Wildstein under the bus. Dude, you appointed him.

I agree with you that unless there's a smoking gun he finishes his term in Jersey, but there's so much tape on him now that I just don't see how he can be taken seriously as presidential material. He's either an incompetent manager or more vindictive than Nixon.

Fair enough.

How, if at all, does Mitch Landrieu's recent reelection as Mayor of New Orleans help or hinder his sister Mary's reelection campaign for the Senate from Louisiana?

I don't think a ton. I do think it sets Mitch Landrieu up nicely to run for governor in 2017 though...

NRCC released a couple polls yesterday, including one showing Steve Israel himself in danger. This seems like a harbinger of a mini-repeat of 2010, in which congressional giants who were thought untouchable (Jim Obserstar, Ike Skelton) are taken down by a wave. Obviously the field is smaller but there seems real potential for health care to expand the map. Am I wrong?

Well, my guess is that they threw Israel's district into that poll just to mess with him. Hard for me to imagine Republicans spend a bunch of money in his seat. 

Duhhh, how can the Broncos be considered to have had the worst week in Washington, when they're not in Washington?


Plus we have "F@#% the EU!"

Chris, I asked the question last week about Hillary's potential to expand the 2016 map for the Dems. (As a caveat, I respect and often agree with your analysis - just think you were uncharacteristically dismissive here.) If polls show her in-range of competitive in places like WV, KY - why wouldn't they invest money there, and force the GOP nominee to defend what had been a safe state for several elections in a row? And that's not even factoring in the Big Dog's prior success among white, working-class voters. You can say it's not the '90s anymore, but that cuts both ways (i.e. Clinton hatred in 2016 won't be what it was in '96). Thanks.

You know what? After that chat I heard from a few D strategists who insisted Hillary COULD be competitive in KY but not WV. Working on a Fix post now exploring that.

Apologies for being dismissive.

There are possibly two reasons Grimes is leading McConnell by 4: 1. She is well-liked. He is not. 2. The ACA has actually had a good roll-out with the state exchange and people are liking what they are getting.


I live in Illinois. I get the feeling Kirk won't even run (even though he's said he will). He is a career pol (he was a staffer for his predecessor). Every vote should be seen as an audition for lobbyists.

If he runs, he will be the most vulnerable Republican Senator in 2016. Illinois is such a Democratic state.

If Walsh is made a senator, it's probably more beneficial than harmful, correct? I read fix Sullivan's take and agree, but there seems to be a minor crowd who think having a record to run on would be worse. granted he couldn't cast himself as quite the outsider or draw on the imagination of voters on what he might do, but still it seems like the benefits, fundraising, recognition, the fact that the worst an incumbent's ever done in an election is a lot higher than the worst a challenger's ever done, outweigh the costs.

I think, in general, that's true.

While being an incumbent isn't the political boon it once was, I think Walsh needs that perch to overcome the state's less-than-you-might-think Republican lean.

Hi Chris -- thanks for taking questions today. The media has taken some hits for reporting on the "disastrous for Obamacare" data contained in the CBO report that came out this week, when the reality of what the report said was a lot more nuanced. Do you think the media was a little too anxious to pounce for the sake of getting the scoop? And, at the risk of sounding like a journalism professor, how does the media balance getting the news out quickly with making sure all the facts are understood first?

Hold on. I need to get out my "Jump to Conclusions" mat out.

Assuming he can keep his dad's voters together, what steps does Rand Paul need to take to expand his electoral coalition for the GOP primary?

1. Find a way to keep the establishment from aggressively working against him.

2. Find enough major donors to help hium get from $50 million (what his dad raised) to $75-$100 million range

3. Hope the party's libertarian strain is real, lasting and growing.

Soooo, you are saying you really do vote after all?

In my mind.  Which is also where I get lost.

Over/under 2017 for him becoming a Republican?


I think if Republicans take over the Senate this fall, they will aggressively court Manchin to switch.  My guess is he won't but they will likely incetivize him with committee slots etc. And it wouldn't hurt his chances of getting reelected in West Va. In fact, it would likely help them.

Does The Fix offer one?

Wait, Werth has a gnome?! [Angrily calls WaPo PR department to ask when the Fix car wrappers are going go be done.]

Chris, you are not Italian-American. You are half Sicilian. Quit trying to pass for an Italian-American.

Whoa. Shots fired.

Debating how to attach some kind of concession to the debt limit . . . Not going to pass immigration legislation . . . Are the Republicans snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

I think if you talked to the GOP's smartest political minds, they would tell you that all they want is to get to Labor Day with Obamacare as the main issue on the minds of most of their base voters.

To do that, though, they need to navigate this political minefield on immigration and the debt ceiling.

a ham sandwich needs a little mayo, that's all I'm sayin'.


I pu mustard on ham sandwhiches. Like all real Americans.

It's 2014. Two years is... what's the term? A lifetime in politics. Plenty of time for voters to forget (and they will), plenty of time for Christie to do things that make him very popular.

Yup. That's why, if bridge-gate doesn't get any closer to Christie, it winds up being a bump -- albeit a major one -- in the road.

I see no reason to believe she would be competitive anywhere Obama wasn't unless there are demographic changes to help her, ala Georgia. But to suggest that she could compete in a state like Kentucky, or let alone West Virginia, when she holds the exact same positions as Obama on cultural and energy issues is ludicrous.

This will all be revealed in my post.

I do think some people confuse how strongly Clinton ran against Obama in the WV and KY with the idea that she is somehow beloved there. 

The dscc still isn't satisfied with weiland, which is understandable, but who else do they expect to run? Every top dem turned them down, isn't it time for them to board the weiland express or give up the seat?

I am not sure. That one, along with West Virginia, seem to be to keep moving away from Democrats.

If Sink loses to Jolly come next month, which is looking a lot more possible than it did a few weeks ago, that would obviously be a death blow to any chance of competitiveness in the House, correct?

Well, I think it would make it tougher for Democrats to sell the "we can take back the House" line to their activists, donors and members.

But, in truth, no matter what happens in Florida next month, it's still hard to see how Democrats get back to the majority.

Isn't part of Christie's problem with throwing David Wildstein "under the bus" that probably a lot more voters were nerdy in high school than were the cool athlete/class president type, so they naturally sympathize with Wildstein and may perceive him as being targeted by a big bully (a bad thing)?

I thought his dismissal of Wildstein in high school was, by far, the weakest part of that press conference.

And then came the memo where he bashed Wildstein for stuff he did in high school.

I mean, come on.

CHRIS, STOP OVER-DOING IT ON THE SENATE IN 2016. Sorry, had to get that out of my system. Seriously though, if you just look at the states in which Republicans have to compete in 2016, then it may appear bleak for them. But the incumbents they have in those states are far stronger, savvier, and better funded than a lot of others, correct? Only through willing ignorance of that fact can one arrive at what seems to be the Fix conventional wisdom that the Senate GOP is toast in 2016.


But Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire nd Ohio in a presidential year are tough holds for ANY Republican incumbent.

Joe Biden, right? He got to go to Philly and play with a new giant train. That's a big ****** deal.

AND he made clear he wants to run for president in 2016!

You've completely ignored it but Boehner served up a gift for the DCCC. What better way to argue against kicking out Republicans than to have the Speaker say he can't pass bills because he can't trust the President? So the House won't pass anything? You think people like gridlock?

Midterm elections, traditionally, wind yup being about the president not the minority party.

By election time, most people will have sorted out their own health coverage issues, and things will be what they are, and everyone will have adjusted. Isn't it a risk to put all ones eggs in the "ACA will fail" basket since there is no way that once people have coverage, they are going to be OK with starting over again, so it becomes less of an issue.

Not really. Because the Republican base hates the ACA and always will. No matter what happens.

And... he has a name that makes him sound like a politician in a Batman movie. So there.

Um, ok.

Will there be political blowback against Jay Leno's praise last night for the Tonight Show being a union show, where workers do good work and receive good pay?

Wait, Jay leno was still on late night TV?

I have a really hard time picturing the Republican base embracing his more "out there" libertarian views, let alone many Democrats or Independents.

Maybe not. But I think the GOp nomination in 2016 comes down to Rand Paul and an establishment candidate.

Can't think of any reason why he shouldn't run in 2016. Is this wishful thinking or magical thinking?

Here's a reason: He trailed Hillary Clinton by 61 points in a WaPo-ABC poll released late last month.

Interesting tidbits - of the past 100 years Republicans have only won 4 elections out of a possible 32 (or 12.5%). Only two Republicans have won those elections - Conrad Burns (3) and Thomas Carter (1). Baucus' Class II seat has not elected a Republican in the past one hundred years.

Terrific stats.

I think we tend to assume Montana is a Republican stronghold and, as those numbers suggest, it's not.

Nobody cares about baseball anymore or the Winter Olympics. The country likes football, East Coast is obsessed with Yankees and Red Sox. People like the Summer Olympics, not the Winter Olympics.

Ok. This is in response to what exactly?

Would he really do better against Hillary in 2016 than he did against Obama in 2012 if he were to run again? Though I would love to see Bill Clinton in a First Lady shootout with Ann Romney!

Probably not.

Look, Mitt Romney isn't running. 

I personally still think Christie has a lot more game than most these day, but the biggest competition I see for him is Scott Walker, who looks like he'll win in Nov. The rest of the field are garden gnomes without the charm (and I don't see Jeb getting in). Do you agree that Walker is the big Rep sleeper here?

Walker is the fav (I think) to be the establishment candidatet challenge Rand. I also think Christie Rubio and Jindal could occupy that slot.

That's all I have time for folkss! I am off the chat next week but back at it Feb. 21 (the day after my birthday!)

See you then. And SPREAD THE WORD!


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 sons.
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