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Ask Aaron: The week in politics

May 06, 2014

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

Welcome back to the chat.

It's primary day. Let's do this...

I'd imagine that each party will elect a candidate who will undoubtedly be touted as a 2016 VP candidate if and when they win e.g. Marco Rubio and 2010. Who do you see being such candidates in both parties this time around?

I think on the Democratic side, there will continue to be buzz about Cory Booker, who was just elected last year (technically not 2014).

On the GOP side, Dan Sullivan and Tom Cotton seem to be the GOP's star candidates so far, but I'm not sure either of them will be immediately cast into the veepstakes.

Thoughts on her making it into the runoff? Finally seems to be getting some momentum and endorsements. Still needs money.

If it happens, I will happily remind people that I called it a while back.

Money matters a whole lot more when there are 2 candidates in a race. This race is so jumbled that I think it matters less. Being the lone female candidate and getting the tea party support (Tea Party Express today) helps a lot. Handel is in good position, though it's hardly a done deal.

How big of a disappointment to the establishment will it be? And who will be more responsible-Hagan's Reid/McCaskill-esque meddling or Paul/Lee's attempt to prop up Brannon?

I think Paul's last-minute trip probably got some tea party folks to take a second look at Brannon, who hasn't had much money to wage an ad campaign.

I think Democrats would probably get more credit for forcing a runoff, though. They have certainly spent money trying to push things in that direction.

What is the point of the Election Lab if it doesn't take into account polling yet? Just a general overview of a generic Senate race? Also, does it appear biased to you? Only an 87% chance of an incumbent Democrat winning in Mass?

(Here's the link to our new Election Lab forecasting model.)

Some of the numbers are definitely funky, and that has a lot to do with a relative lack of data. Once we start seeing more fundraising numbers and other metrics added in, you'll see things look a little closer to conventional wisdom.

I think this will be a really cool tool once we get a little closer to the election.

I just think we should all be aware it exists.

It is perhaps the most underrated 'do in Congress.

Just look at it:

What do you make of the Democrats really outnumbering Republicans as journalists poll? How many independent journalists actually lean one way or the other? Isn't this further evidence of the media's possibility for bias that keeps hampering the GOP?

I don't think any of us would pretend like there aren't more left-leaning journalists than right-leaning journalists. It's been that way for a long time now -- though, as Chris's post notes, not to this extent.

I think it's important to note that you can certainly have your own personal opinions and be a very objective journalist, but this report will do little to convince anybody that the media doesn't lean liberal. We as journalists need to be continually aware of the fact that our profession includes many more people who sympathize with one political party more than the other. (Not to mention we live in a very left-leaning portion of the country.)

He polls very nicely among Republicans, though few think he will run. What percentage chance do you give him of entering the race? How much of an impact would he have? His natural constituency of social conservatives is still pretty important within the GOP.

I still think he's a less than 50-50 shot to run.

If he ran, he would certainly compete with the Cruzes and the Rand Pauls in Iowa and South Carolina and probably do quite well.

I think his appeal is pretty limited and he'll struggle a lot like Santorum did in states that don't fit the right mold. Not to mention Santorum would probably be in the race too, cutting into Huck's voter base.

Which Show Me Stater is more likely to end up on a national ticket: Jay Nixon or Clare McCaskill?

I think Nixon is a bit undersold as a potential VP pick, but it's still very unlikely.

McCaskill I don't really see either.

Both are much more likely as Cabinet picks, in my opinion.

Both strike me as high floor, low ceiling candidates. Clear constituencies within the GOP, but limited ability to expand beyond them.

I can certainly see that point. Most agree it applies to Huckabee.

Paul, at the least, has attempted to expand his brand to libertarians, social conservatives, Christians, minorities, etc. But I still think, if/when he runs, there will be a very significant segment of the party that will be quite wary of him.

Do you really see Santorum seriously competing with him? Huckabee is (1) more charismatic and (2) as a Southern Baptist, more naturally attuned to the evangelical constituency. Huckabee certainly polls a lot better than Santorum.

I wouldn't say Santorum would necessarily compete with him, but he would certainly draw some support that otherwise would be very likely to go to Huckabee. That's all I was trying to say.

Sometimes I don't know whether he is running for president or just auditioning for a show on Fox. His appeal seems intense, but limited. His poll numbers have been falling ever since the shutdown ended.

I have been somewhat surprised that he hasn't caught more fire. This was the biggest conservative crusader in the news for a while, and he's got an great profile as a candidate. Yet he's not really that close to folks like Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan.

Maybe he's still relatively unknown to average people? It's still quite early.

As I recall, your colleague Gene Weingarten said some years ago that journos are more likely to lean liberal since their jobs requires them to objectively evaluate all the angles. Rather less room for strongly held religious beliefs, for example.

This would suggest that liberals have fewer strongly held political beliefs than conservatives. I'm not sure that's the case.

I've always thought jobs like journalism, government service and teaching had more appeal to the political left than the political right. These are jobs that tend to appeal to people with a certain set of values that I think just happen to align more with one side of the spectrum.

Who do Republican insiders see as the most "electable" potential nominee? The least?

I think the most electable would be someone like Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan or Scott Walker. Least would be Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum.

Do you think it's fair to say that as of now, Hillary Clinton is running for president, but won't actually announce that she's doing so for quite some time, and, if things go badly for her in some way, may still drop out of the race before she ever announces that she was in it?

I think that's somewhere close to the truth. I don't know that she's actively lining up donors (that would find it's way into the news) or something like that, but I think that she will run if she's still riding high and is healthy.

I think, by the way, we could say the same of Rand Paul and Chris Christie. They'll run unless they have a really good reason not to (and even then, they still might).

What we do is donate to the journalists instead of people running. We can be like other places with a bunch of different parties. You can be A Bull Moose Democrat or Bull Moose Christian Democrat. I'm a Tee Party Golf Whig!

This is what America's political system needs: More money for journalists.

Can someone resize that image? Like, a lot?

Done. Hit refresh.

If he loses to Udall, what's the next step for him?

There will still be a great opportunity to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in 2016. And given the shallow GOP bench in Colorado, if Gardner acquits himself well, I don't think he'll be banished be any means.

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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