Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Jul 08, 2014

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

Welcome to Ask Aaron. After a week off, we're back and better than ... well, we're back anyways.

So ask away!

Does she really think she's helping the case for impeachment or is she just thinking about herself and getting her name in the media and maybe send out some fundraising emails?

Here's my post on this today.

I try not to impugn anybody's motives since I can't tell what they're really thinking. But I would say that, in this case, 99 out of 100 GOP strategists would caution their party against going down this road.

This clearly isn't about helping her party.

Isn't it time for a new picture of you?

I don't want you all to see how I've aged in the last four years. But I will consider it...

So I guess the RNC just decided to be as boring as possible?

When it comes to conventions, boring can be good. I don't think the GOP wanted this to be in the home of Cliven Bundy or in Texas, the land of Ted Cruz.

The Fix just posted about on Facebook about the dastardly use of the same knife to spread mayo and mustard. Do you have any condiment you'd like to diss in this forum?

I know this will earn me enemies, but I've never met a tapenade that I liked.

Do you see the discontent among grassroots conservatives negatively impacting Cochran's re-election? Do they stay home in sufficient numbers to make it a race, basically?

I just don't see it. It was a maybe with McDaniel, but these voters will want to vote in other races (congressional, etc.). The idea that they'll abstain from Cochran en masse or vote for Childers doesn't make sense to me.

Can Braley hang on for four and a half more months and manage to not squander this seat? And if Ernst wins, how big of a steal would gaining Iowa be for GOP majority aspirations?

An Ernst win would be massive for Republicans. It takes a lot of the pressure off of beating all four red-state incumbents -- Begich, Landrieu, Hagan and Pryor.

Also -- I don't see Braley as still "hanging on." I think he's got a toss-up race and he needs to reassert his lead.

2014 is the first cycle where you have near uniform support for gay marriage by candidates running for office in the blue states. How long will it take before the flood gates start to open on candidates, especially Republicans, in swing states?

I still think it will be a little while. Americans support gay marriage, but the middle is still pretty squishy, and the conservative base remains pretty strongly against it.

If you're a swing state/district Republican, I'm not sure you worry too much about being anti-gay marriage hurting you in the general election -- at least not yet.

Why do Republicans keep talking about it? Do they realize its not an easy thing to do and has only happened twice in our country's history? Not counting Nixon, since he resigned before he was to be impeached.

The Republican Party has a portion of its base that is not concerned about what's best politically for their party or what's most politically feasible. They are concerned with doing what they think is right, period, full stop.

That's why this impeachment thing could catch on.


What do you believe will be the big issues in 2016 Presidential race? Immigration? Economy? Foreign Affairs?

Immigration and foreign affairs are pretty low priorities for the vast majority of Americans. I think they matter to certain voters but don't matter to large swaths of the electorate right now.

On immigration, the issue is important but not immediate. I don't think there are a bunch of swing voters basing their vote on it just yet.

And on foreign affairs, I think it feeds the narrative of Obama's lack of leadership skills. But are people voting strictly on his handling of Iraq, etc. I don't think so.

It's the economy and Obamacare.

I actually agree that gay marriage won't hurt GOP candidates for a while. Firstly, it's much more of a philosophical debate that affects few people on the whole. Secondly, it remains basically unaffected by federal elections. Would you agree that climate change is much more potentially harmful to Rs, as it both affects all voters and can be affected by federal elections?

I don't see an appreciable difference between the two, electorally speaking. Climate change is a very low priority for Americans -- even ones who believe that it needs to be addressed. Just 34% of Americans think they will see serious effects of global warming in their lifetime.

Yes, it has the potential to impact everyone, but in politics, it's about what impacts people in the very near term -- and this doesn't really qualify.

If he actually does go ahead with it, can people sue the House Republicans for not doing their job? This immigration crisis can be Exhibit #1

I'm no lawyer, but I don't think not passing legislation is something the courts would issue judgment against. The Constitution is much more concerned about the limits of executive/judicial/legislative branches and doesn't really say much about Congress needing to address issues that are important to Americans.

If "it's the Economy, Stupid" why are all the channels screaming stupidly about the Speaker suing the President? Why can't the Democrats get some credit?

I think it's important to note that Democrats aren't claiming any big victories on the economy just yet. There's a reason for that; it's because they know the recovery is still shaky and lots of other measures still aren't looking great.

If 200k-plus jobs created continues for the next four months, then they will be trumpeting it.

I have noticed that several right leaning pundits and GOP operatives start voicing concerns about the Arkansas and NC senate races. If the GOP does not win those seats, is it still realistic that they can win the Senate?

I think there are starting to be questions about how good of candidates Tom Cotton and Thom Tillis are. 

The GOP can certainly win the majority without those seats (especially if they win in states like Iowa and Colorado, for instance), but it becomes much harder. These are certainly seats that they were counting on being majority-makers.

And predictions on who will be in the finals?

I'm going all South America: Argentina and Brazil.

Will the Democrats choose Columbus for their convention? Is the media going to be "Buckeyed Out" by the end of this?

Columbus is a pretty fun town. I do not know many people who are excited about Cleveland.

Has the Mayor of Cleveland guarenteed that the river will not catch on fire during the RNC Convention?

I assume this would be part of their pitch.

Aaron, Why is this ranked as one seat most likely to switch to the Rs? Given MT's voting history, it would seem that Walsh could at least make it competitive.

It's rated high because relatively few seats generally switch hands. I would say that the two ranked above it -- SD and WV -- are strongly leaning toward the GOP. The ones below it -- AR, NC, AK -- are somewhere closer to toss-ups.

Montana fits nicely in between. It's not a done deal, but the GOP clearly starts out with an advantage.

I would suggest to Palin that she wait until the GOP takes both house of Congress before we talk impeachment. With a fully Republican Congress, there might actually be some traction.

Even then, I just don't see it. Only 30% of the American people supported impeaching Bill Clinton, and the issues at hand here are much more difficult to understand.

Republicans in Congress are not going to vote en masse for impeachment based on what we know today. They're just not.

Thanks for responging. Have now read your article - very interesting comments. Do people really honestly belive that impeachment has any sort of sucess? What world are they living in if they think they will win. They can't even articulate any detailed 'high crimes & misdemeanors' that the president has committed. Political mistakes, yes, but notning even verging on illegal.

Here's my take on this:

We don't doubt that there are impeachment supporters out there, but polling suggests that the American people set a pretty high bar for impeachable offenses. Even in the case of Clinton, polls at the time showed that the American people were pretty clearly against impeachment. A CBS News/New York Times poll on the eve of the vote showed 64 percent wanted their member to oppose impeachment, while 30 percent were in favor.

Despite this, the House voted to impeach him on two counts — perjury and and obstruction of justice — while declining to do so on other counts.  And there were even Republicans who voted against their party; five voted against impeaching him for perjury, while 12 voted against impeaching him for obstruction of justice.

If 30 percent of the country currently favored impeachment, there would indeed be pressure on House Republicans,  who would be concerned about facing primary challenges if they voted against articles of impeachment. Such is the nature of the GOP today, and that shouldn't be discounted.

But it seems pretty unlikely that GOP leaders, wary of another Clinton-esque fiasco, couldn't pick off 7 percent of their caucus.

And indeed, we would think that at least 7 percent of House Republicans would be more concerned about a pro-impeachment vote hurting them in the general election than an anti-impeachment vote hurting them in their primaries.

Who will Brett Favre endorse next?

Wrangler 5-Star Denim?

Who will the RNC field? Marco Rubio? Jeb Bush? Is Sarah making a play?

This is the most wide-open race we've seen in a long, long time

A Quinnipiac poll today showed seven candidates clustered between 8 and 11 percent of the vote. Nobody was above them. That's just amazingly crowded.

I second your motion. I keep trying to like it and it just never works for me.

Olives are the devil's fruit.

Hi Aaron - Should reporters be asking all R candidates for office if they support impeaching the POTUS? How would the answer to this question play with the primary and general electorate? Thanks.

I don't think we're to the point where this is on the tips of everyone's tongues. But if the movement grows beyond Palin and the others, other Republicans will be forced to answer that question and pick a side.

Opposing impeachment will irritate the vocal base, and supporting it could hurt you in the general election. They'd rather just not talk about it.

Rand Paul – libertarian; Rubio, Jeb, Walker – establishment; Cruz – Tea Party; who is the favorites of the still sizable interventionist/military (NeoCon?) wing of the party? They hate Paul, but I’m not sure who they like?

I think Christie has been positioning himself as their guy -- especially his criticism of libertarians and other critics of NSA surveillance.

Rubio has aligned himself a lot with the McCains of the Senate, too. So he's definitely a potential hawk in the 2016 field.

Republicans have at least a 40% chance or so of winning ten seats (SD, WV, MT, AR, AK, NC, LA, CO, IA, MI). With even a slight shift in the national winds between now and November, it surpasses possible and becomes probable that they could pick up all ten. Do you foresee any events that could shift the landscape that much?

I'm not sure I agree with that 40% math in all of these states -- particularly MI and CO.

But you make a good point. The GOP has so many seats on the board that they can come up short in some of their better chances and still pull off the 6 seats they need. And it wouldn't take a whole lot for this to turn from a 5- or 6-seat gain into a 10- or 11-seat gain. If the national wave was as big as 2010, we're probably talking double digits.

It occurred to me recently that the Democratic party has always had this weird ability to keep together a coalition of groups that, on paper, should conflict with each other. (Pro segregationist Southern WASPs and Northern Catholic, immigrant, and minorities during the New Deal is a good example). Now they have this again with working class socially moderate minorities and upscale socially liberal whites. Care to shed any insight into why Democrats are so much better at building more durable and diverse coalitions than the GOP?

I think the reasons the Democratic coalition has worked better are: 1) They're coalition agrees in general on most economic issues, which are really the core of American politics right now, and 2) They, for whatever reason, don't have a base that is spoiling for a fight with the establishment.

I think part of the growth of the tea party has to do with the huge increases in spending under George W. Bush and GOP-led Congresses. I'm not sure I see a similar impetus for Democrats to revolt against Obama and the Democratic establishment.

Thanks to everyone for coming out. We had a record-high turnout today, and the questions just keep getting better and better.

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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: