Carte Goodwin, the D.C. Earthquake and more -- Live Fix with Chris Cillizza

Jul 16, 2010

Every Friday, The Fix goes live, as Chris Cillizza discusses the latest news about Congress, the Obama administration, upcoming elections and all the latest political news.

The breaking news out of West Virginia this am is that Gov. Joe Manchin will appoint Carte Goodwin, his former general counsel, to the remaining four months of the late Sen. Robert Byrd's term. Of course, Manchin is expected to announce his own candidacy for the Senate seat this fall very soon.

Other important notes: soundtrack for this chat is John Prine's Pandora station.  Already downed a cranberry muffin and caramel vanilla latte from Greenberry's. And, Robert Gibbs won the Fix's Worst Week in Washington.

With that business out of the way, let's chat.

I've read articles suggesting that losing one or both houses of Congress might actually bolster Obama's 2012 re-election chances (in that it would provide an outlet to some of the anti-incumbency brewing in the electorate). Do you think the president's political staff might actually favor such a scenario, or do you think they're more worried about potentially massive gridlock from a partisan and divided government? On the same note, do you think the White House would suffer more from the loss of the Senate or of the House?

There is, without question, discussion about that in Washington.

I think you can argue it either way.

On the one hand, if Democrats lost control of one of the chambers of Congress this fall it would allow Obama to run against Republicans in a meaningful way in the runup to 2012. As it is now, Obama is trying to put some of the difficulties in the country on Republicans but because the GOP doesn't control anything in Washington -- and people know it -- that's a harder case to make. 

Those who advocate this approach point to 1994 -- when Bill Clinton lost cntrol of Congress but then proceeded to win re-election easily in  1996.

On the other hand, Republican control likely means subpoenas and gridlock in Washington  -- making it harder for Obama to get anything meaningful done in the final two years of his first term.

seats are in play, How is this a bad thing? Why did the House democrats take this as defeatist? It's so weak, I mean, don't they know that they are running for election and people are trying to defeat them? What am I missing?

What Gibbs did was acknowledge the obvious.

It's no secret that the House could switch this fall. There are lots and lots of vulnerable Democratic seats -- well more than the 39 Republicans need to take back the majority.

But, Gibbs is the official mouthpiece of the White House so him saying it publicly made for panic among House Democrats.

The White House spun Gibbs comments -- to your point -- as setting the stakes...making clear to people that Republicans genuinely could win and trying to show voters what that would mean.

f the GOP does not gain much ground in the Senate (let say they net 2 or three seats), how will the Party react...I mean, if they lose races such as NV and KY, which should have been easy wins? What do you think the reaction within the Party will be? And 2012, should be a better Dem year with Obama on the ballot...if things end up better by then.

I think a two seat Senate gain for Republicans would be viewed as a major disappointment and would likely result in some calls for a change in the leadership of the Senate.

That said, I don't think two seats is at all likely. North Dakota is a pickup and Delaware, Indiana and Arkansas are all tilting for Republicans.

And, remember that in terms of sheer numbers, Republicans have a VERY good cycle coming up in 2012 with lots and lots of opportunities.

Obama on the top of the ticket will help some Democrats running in Democratic-leaning states but could hurt the likes of Ben Nelson of Nebraska among others.

How do you like the nickname of Luke Skywalker Dave Kindred gave you in his book? Why Luke? Do you carry around a lightsaber? Have you had inappropriate thoughts about your sister? (if true, please don't say yes).

1. I don't have a sister (or a brother).

2. I am not sure why he chose that other than that he had already described David "Dean" Broder as a "Yoda".

3. I always wanted to be Han Solo. But, let's be honest, I am more C-3P0. Neurotic worry wart.

Indiana has been pretty quiet. Is this going to be one of the races that won't kick into high gear until late? Also, Ellsworth seems to have a money edge and might get the NRA endorsement, yet he seems to still be trailing. Is this simply because of Coats's name recognition?

Well, Coats outraised Ellsworth in the 2nd q but, thanks to the transfer of cash from his House account, Ells worth still has a cash edge.

I think the reason Coats is favored is that indiana is quite a conservative state -- despite the fact that Obama carried it in 2008.

Ellsworth is the best candidate Demiocrats could put forward and Coats has been an uneven candidate and will have to answer for his past work as a lobbyist.

But, Indiana has moved strongly away from Democrats over the past 18 months so Coats has to be favored.

I think Feingold is one of the most underestimated politicians. Every time the Republicans think they have him, he wins. That is why I ask you this question: How much trouble is Feingold really in?

TOTALLY agree (as do many smart Republicans.)

Feingold is a strong fundraiser, votes smartly given that he represents a swing state and, most importantly, isn't afraid to throw punches in the context of a campaign.

Republicans are high on Ron Johnson and his personal wealth makes him interesting.  Plus, the state's economy isn't in great shape and Republicans seem likely to win the governor's race.

Feingold is no easy target however. If he loses, it's likely Republicans retake the majority.

Have you read yet that "Beavis and Butt-head" might be returning with new shows on MTV (guess there is more to tell in their story)?

WHAT?! This is HUGE news. I LOVED that show. 

Now, if we could just resurrect "Ed" -- the greatest canceled show of all time -- I will die happy.

Also, less than nine hours until "Friday Nights Lights" tonight. Already getting excited.

Can Melancon win?

Sure. But it won't be easy.

Louisiana, like Indiana and Arkansas, has moved strongly toward Republicans of late.

And, Sen. David Vitter is a very good fundraiser.

Of course, he also has major issues -- 2007 prostitution scandal, a serious primary challenge -- that will likely complicate his chances.

Melancon is a steady if unspectacular candidate. He continues to struggle to raise money in the race too.

If Vitter implodes, however, Melancon is without questions a viable alternative. Short of that -- and a Vitter implosion is not entirely out of the question -- it's hard to see how Melancon winds up on top.

When I look at Charlie Cook's list of House seats up for grabs, I'm struck by the number of House Democrats representing Republican districts, according to his PVI formula. How come there are seemingly so many more GOP-leaning seats?

There are 49 (I believe) seats currently held by Democrats that McCain carried in 2008.

Why? Democrats won lots and lots of swing and Republican leaning districts in 2006 and 2008 thanks to widespread distaste toward George W. Bush.

With Bush gone from the political scene now though, some of those seats are likely to snap back to their normal voting patterns.

How many is the question.

Hey Luke, does the cash difference (10M) in the Cali Senate race matter? Won't Fiorina just spend more of her personal fortune?

It does matter some but less than it would if Fiorina couldn't self fund.

The central question in that race is just how much money Carly is going to give. She is no Meg Whitman --$70 million plus of her own cash into the gov race already -- but does have significant wealth.

But, she said at the start of the campaign that she wouldn't be spending that much of her own money on the race. But, what does that mean in raw numbers? And does the fact that she is in a dead heat with Boxer change Carly's willingness to spend out of her own wealth?

Sorry.. no FNL tonight - will return next Friday with a new one.


I had forgotten. Lame.

Regarding the previous poster's question, even if the GOP wins in say Indiana and Arkansas, they could still lose MO & OH fairly easily, leaving them with a net gain of two, right? And in any case, if they fail to take out Reid, there is no denying that was a missed opportunity.

Fair point.

I think Dems best chance to pick up an R seat is in Missouri followed by Kentucky and then Ohio. (All three are open seats.)

Does Vitter make it out of the primary? Obviously he has gobs of money, but is his baggage just too much to overcome?

Barring some other major revelation, I think so. The guy running against him -- Chet Traylor -- has been in the race for a week or so and the primary is August 28.

Traylor can, however, make Vitter's life uncomfortable by airing the personal foibles of the incumbent.

Did you hear or feel it this morning? I woke up and was a bit puzzled by the unbelievably loud noise. Couldn't figure out what it was.

TOTALLY. It woke me up. Mrs Fix and Fix Jr slept right through it though.

To quest your FNL fix, have you ever considered interviewing Buzz Bissinger? That is one interesting, opinionated person.

I have not. Good idea.

My goal is to get a cameo as the "intrepid reporter looking into corruption with the West Dillon Panthers program".

How much time is left on Gov. Manchin's term? Would Goodwin be interested in running for governor - assuming he made a deal with the governor not to run for the Senate? Thanks.

Manchin would be term limited out in 2012 (he was re-elected to a second term in 2008).

Not sure about Goodwin's intentions once his Senate term runs out but I would bet he is interested in public life -- and four months as a Senator will help raise his profile in the state immensely.

The governor's race in 2012 will be a good one. My guess is that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) takes a pass on running against Manchin this fall and instead starts preparing for a run for governor.

If the newly-reengaged Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston manage to land a TV "reality" show, do you think the public seeing their antics will help or hurt her mother's electoral potential for 2012?

I can honestly say I have no idea.

With Schumer and Cuomo on the ballot in New York, will that staunch some of the potential losses among New York House Democrats, since those two appear likely to run up the score in their respective races?

Maybe. But Cuomo and Schumer will primarily clean up downstate and most of the trouble for Democrats in the House is Upstate.

I think the fate of people like Arcuri and the Massa open seat is more dependent on whether there is any sense Upstate that the economy is getting better.

C-$: Have been gone for a few weeks, am sure my presence was missed! Two things. Not sure if this was covered. However, as the guy who more than a year ago said in this very chat that I considered you to be the homeless man's Bill Simmons I had to ask about the fact that he retweeted/responded to one of your tweets a few days back. Does this means Cillizza-Simmons contact has been established? Will you now be writing a morning update column replete with dozens of footnotes and references to arcane indie-bands and 1980s popculture? My politics query: everyone said my girl Blanche Lincoln was dead, then she beat bill there are no republican polling numbers coming out of AR...its been well over a month....I read that as a sign that she has resurrected herself a bit. Shes like a southern Bob Smith! Rising like lazarus

1. I actually have chatted with Sports Guy. He rocks. Great dude and a pioneer in doing the sort of thing I do -- and aim to do.

2. Make sure to read his piece on THE DECISION. The best assessment of what was wrong with it I have seen.

3. I never count incumbents out and Lincoln blew Rep. John Boozman's doors off on the fundraising front over the past three months. But, it's a tough state.

4. Bob Smith lost the primary in 2002 to John Sununu!

Mitch McConnell recently stated the GOP got its "groove" back. I must have missed something since most polls do not hold the GOP in high regards. Is filibustering and saying no to everything am electoral strategy?

Republicans place a big bet on the idea that the American public wants a check and balance on the Obama Administration and that by opposing the policies coming out of the White House, the GOP will be that check and balance.

If you look back at the 2006 election -- the last midterm -- Democrats really didn't run on much of an agenda (they had a "Six for '06" plan but no one knew what it was). Instead, they ran on the idea that a vote for a Democrat was a way to send a message of displeasure about President Bush.

It worked. Republicans are hoping for a replay -- in reverse -- this fall.

Biggest fundraising surprise you have seen so far in the last period which had to be reported by last night?

Not sure if these are surprises but they are ones that I thought we damn good.  (Make sure to check out my column in Monday's paper for a full look at fundraising winners and losers.)

1. Marco Rubio

2. Barbara Boxer

3. Sharron Angle

4. Pat Toomey

5. Rob Portman

I want to know where they sell the type of pants that John Daly is wearing.

You HAVE to root for Daly to be in contention over the weekend. He is, by leaps and bounds, the most interesting golfer on the tour these days.

How well known in West Virginina is Carte Goodwin and what are his electoral chances looking like?

Not well known.

And, his electoral chances are zero. He is being put into the seat as a placeholder/caretaker. He won't run in the special election that is now likely for this November.

Is it new tonight? My Tivo says no...

Your Tivo is, sadly, right.

What are Manchin's chances? I know he is popular, but Dems don't seem real popular at the moment.

He is VERY popular. And, though you are right that West Va isn't all that friendly to Democrats at the moment, it's hard to beat something with nothing.

With Capito expected to take a pass, there isn't a serious Republican waiting in the wings. Manchin could well waltz into the Senate this fall.

Chris can you give us an update on how you like your iPad? I'm trying to write a book on Politics (that might make your top book list one day ;-) I'm wondering how it is to use as a word processor - who better to ask than an ace political reporter!

I. Love. It.

Not sure if you can use it as a word processor -- my sausage like fingers make the touch-typing kind of tough. But, it is an amazing device -- so amazing that I am getting rid og my iPhone and its TERRIBLE cell coverage.

And, speaking of the iPad, anyone have good app recommendations? Email me at

"Loudmouth Golf" is the brand name. He didn't pay me, so there's no link. My wife's gonna make me a matching vest to wear over a t-shirt for that West Virginia Wedding look.

NICE. And appropriate.

are they surprising because of how much $ or how little $?

How much. All five of those people absolutely killed it -- in a good way -- on the money front.

Disappointing: Lee Fisher (ohio), Melancon (La.), Giannoulias (Ill.)

I'm a Chicago sports fan who will be moving to DC soon. Rank the popularity of the local teams in 5 years. My guess is Redskins, Wizards, Nats, Capitals. Agree or disagree?

YES ! Love this.

1. NCAA Champion Georgetown Hoyas

2. Skins. Nothing will ever change the fact that this is a football city

3. Nats. Strasburg. new stadium. Politics nerds are a lot like baseball nerds. Natural constituency.

4. Wiz: I personally am excited for the Wall era.

5. Caps: Hockey. Eh. Though Ovechkin is amazing

Chris - how do you like it - do you use it to type your columns?

I do not. Still the reliable macbook pro. But I do a lot of email on it.

You tweeted "How Jan Brewer won (on immigration)" Ever wonder that if you were around in 1963, you might have written on "How George Wallace won (on segregation)" did ride segregation into popularity in his home state. This is too harsh, but c'mon, there's objective and equivocation is one thing, but... well I'll stop myself. I do think you're a good person, but hope you remember the "objectivity" was behind the BS reporting during the segregation rights.

The post to which the tweet referred was about how Brewer has used the immigration issue to go from also ran to clear frontrunner.

I pass no judgments in the post -- or now -- on the rightness of the Arizona law. Not my job. 


But, I can say without question, that Brewer's signing of the bill saved her political career.

Is he done and if he is, who will replace him?

I think McInnis -- who has been dogged by plagiarism revelations -- is going to try and stick it out through the Aug. 10 primary.

If he manages to win the primary and then steps aside that is the best solution for establishment Republicans who then can replace him on the ballot with someone less damaged.

It's not clear that McInnis can win the primary though and, if he does, whether he would be willing to step aside.

Chris, you'd better go back and check attendance records. Caps are a 100% sellout for every home game at Verizon Center, beating the Wizards attendance stats hands down.

Have to agree, Chris. Go Caps!


But the question was in 5 years. And the Wiz had NOTHING this year. Next year they have a national sports sensation in John Wall.

Sorry, I just wanted the chance to say "Joementum" again. I don't really see how a GOP win in the fall is good for the GOP. Obama's already passed HCR, finreg, a gigantor stimulus, Ledbetter. He doesn't have much left on his agenda, except for climate and the Iraq/Afghanistan pullouts (which are both going along mostly as scheduled). All the GOP can do if they gain a majority is hope he forgets to veto their bills, and in 2012, Obama can run on the "They were obstructing me" platform. But if they lose in 2010, both Congress and the WH look better for them in 2012 as they can run as Washington outsiders (everyone loves an outsider, until they realize it's insiders who bring money back home).

First of all, great use of "Joementum".

Second, I think you touch on an important point. There is a huge difference between the political outlook for Democrats in 2010 (not so good) and Obama in 2012 (not nearly as bad).

That's part of House Democrats' frustration with the White House. They believe Obama and his senior staff are worried only about getting him re-elected and not about the party's majhorities in Congress.

That's all folks. I am off to finish the Friday Line ranking the top 10 Senate races of the 2010 cycle. Stay tuned for that!

And, remember to spread the word on the Live Fix chat. Your talking point: "If Weingarten and Hax are sick, it's not bad."

That is all.


In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza 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 son.
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