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How GOP Wins In 2014 Could Set Up ‘Rude Awakening’ In 2016.


 

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WASHINGTON — A veteran Republican digital consultant warned Thursday that a successful election this fall could set back the Republican Party’s efforts to modernize its approach to campaigns.

Michael Beach, co-founder of Targeted Victory, spoke at a gathering of technology, business and campaign executives and consultants, organized by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and the Internet Association.

Beach, who came up through the ranks of Republican campaigns at a time when the GOP was ahead of Democrats in terms of voter targeting, said his party has actually gone backwards in technological terms over the last few electoral cycles — in part because the midterms have been “wave” elections, in 2006 for Democrats and in 2010 for Republicans.

The tea party wave of 2010, Beach said, “was great for Republicans, [but] it was the worst thing that ever happened to our profession because it just reinforced bad habits.”

“All you had to do was be standing after the primary and you won,” Beach said. “We could have done anything in ’10 and won. We could have done leaflets.”

As a result, Republican consultants and operatives did not focus on the tech advances that were being made in politics. President Barack Obama’s team had pioneered new uses of digital campaigning in 2008, and Democrats built on that experience for the next four years, while Republicans insisted that high unemployment and Obama’s unpopularity would be enough for another GOP romp in 2012.

“Senate races we worked on in ’12 were worse than the ones we worked on in ’10,” Beach said.

Republican campaign sophistication has atrophied since Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and other GOP operatives were the first to “micro-target” voters, using a vast array of data about the electorate. President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004 was the pinnacle of the Rove-Mehlman machine’s efforts, but Republicans have since slipped backwards in many ways, Beach said.

“In 2004, you knew how many votes per precinct you had to get in order to win that state,” said Beach, who worked on voter turnout in the crucial state of Ohio that year. “Ask a campaign now how many votes they need per precinct, and you won’t find anybody [who knows] because it’s like, ‘We’re either going to win or lose based on a tidal wave.'”

The wave elections in 2006 and 2010 reinforced the impression among many Republicans that diligent, labor-intensive work on identifying, persuading and turning out voters is less important than the overall political climate.

Following Obama’s win in 2012 over Mitt Romney, due in part to a campaign that identified new voters through state-of-the-art data analytics and modeling, and turned them out with aggressive and precise recruitment, Republicans said they were going to catch up to Democrats.

The problem, Beach said, is that the same dynamic that shaped 2010 and 2012 is gearing up for the 2014 and 2016 elections.

“Guess what ’14’s going to be? I believe a tidal wave,” Beach said. Many political observers believe Obama’s declining popularity and widespread dissatisfaction with Obamacare is going to hand control of the Senate to the GOP as well as increase the party’s majority in the House this November.

If that happens, Beach said, “It’s just going to reinforce more bad habits.”

Republican consultants, he said, will observe the results and say, “‘Oh, ’12, that was just an outlier. We don’t need younger voters.'”

And that, he said, will only set the party up for a bad result in the 2016 presidential election.

“For us, I think it’s going to be a rude awakening in ’16,” Beach said.

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Obama to Delay Obamacare Again to Help Democrats in Midterms.


Image: Obama to Delay Obamacare Again to Help Democrats in Midterms

By Melanie Batley

The Obama administration is expected to announce another delay to the implementation of Affordable Care Act to allow insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet Obamacare’s minimum coverage requirements.

The move would prolong the one-year “keep your plan fix” so as to avoid another wave of health policy cancellations which could hurt Democrats just weeks before the November midterm elections,The Hill reports.

“The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day,” The Hill said. “The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the chamber.”

The fix had been put in place late last year after an uproar erupted when millions of people discovered their existing plans were being cancelled under Obamacare despite the president’s repeated assurances otherwise.

The administration has yet to confirm the policy change, but insurance sources told The Hill that a public announcement would be “imminent.” The newspaper reports that it is unclear how long the extension would be, but one source believed it could last until the end of Obama’s second term and possibly beyond.

This latest move would follow numerous other delays unilaterally decided by the president.

In July, the president announced a one-year delay until 2015 of the employer mandate which would have required businesses to provide health insurance to employees by Jan. 2014 or face a tax penalty.

In February, Obama changed the deadline again, moving it to 2016. The move provoked widespread criticism among Republicans who renewed their criticism that the healthcare law is a “train wreck.” 

Veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove commented at the time that the decision was a politically calculated strategy to save Democrats in the run-up to the elections.

“The president didn’t want another avalanche of cancellations before this fall’s midterm election,” Rove said, adding that if millions lose their insurance plans shortly before the election, “the consequences would be disastrous for the president’s popularity, and that of the congressional Democrats who loyally voted for the Affordable Care Act, sight and text unread.”

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Poll: Democrats Trail in Senate Races.


Republicans are in a better position than Democrats in the 34 states with Senate races in this year’s midterm elections even though Democrats poll better on some key issues, a new poll finds.

In those states, 50 percent of registered voters say they would vote for the Republican candidate versus 42 who would vote for the Democratic candidate, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey was taken Feb. 27 through March 2 of 1,002 adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Voters favor Republicans even though 68 percent of Americans say that the Republican Party is “out of touch with the concerns of most” Americans, according to the poll.

They also trust Democrats more on handling middle class issues, healthcare, immigration, and energy, while the two parties are fairly evenly divided on taxes, the economy, and the federal budget deficit.

However, neither President Barack Obama nor his party could get a majority of Americans saying that they were concerned with the problems that face average Americans, a sign that they are not happy with elected officials.

Obama still has a negative approval rating at 46 percent. And a majority of Americans are still not happy with how Obama has handled the economy and the rollout of Obamacare.

According to the poll, 36 percent of respondents say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports Obamacare and 34 percent say they are more likely to vote candidates who favor the law.

Seventy-two percent say the economy is “not so good” or “poor.” While a majority of Americans say that the economic recovery has begun, only 18 percent say it’s a strong recovery, and 40 percent say it is weak.

When it comes to immigration, the survey found that 38 percent of Americans were less likely to support a candidate who favors a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and 30 percent were more likely to vote for candidates who do.

Americans are split on which party they favor in the House, with 46 percent of registered voters saying they plan to support the Democrat and 45 percent saying they would vote for the Republican.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Courtney Coren

Obama to Offer New Tax Breaks for Workers in Election Year Budget Pitch.


President Barack Obama will propose an expansion of popular tax credits for middle class and working poor Americans on Tuesday in a fiscal 2015 budget designed to serve as a blueprint for Democrats in this year’s congressional elections.

The budget, which would also create automatic retirement accounts known as IRAs for some 13 million workers, has little chance of getting enacted.

But it codifies the president’s policy priorities ahead of the November race, in which Democrats hope to keep control of the U.S. Senate and Republicans hope to expand their majority in the House of Representatives.

The budget signals a shift away from last year’s emphasis on deficit cutting to a more pronounced focus on poverty reduction, a legacy-oriented goal the president is highlighting as he faces less than three years left in office.

Obama will unveil the document during a visit to a local elementary school at 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT).

His proposal would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, a government anti-poverty measure that is meant to encourage low-income Americans to work. The expansion would cover some 13.5 million people who do not have children.

It would also make the program available to younger workers who are not currently eligible, the White House said.

The expansion, which would cost $60 billion, would be funded by closing loopholes such as the tax break for “carried interest,” profits earned by wealthy investors who run private equity and other funds.

The budget also puts an emphasis on saving for retirement. It proposes to create automatic Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) for those who do not have access to savings plans sponsored by employers.

“About 13 million workers would begin contributing to retirement savings through auto-IRAs as a result of this proposal,” the White House said.

 

The White House signaled last month that its new budget would not extend the olive branch to Republicans that was offered in its proposal a year ago.

Officials said the president would drop a suggestion to change how the government calculates inflation for Social Security and other federal benefits that could have led to income drops for older Americans.

The change, which was unpopular with Obama’s base, was meant to show Republicans the president was serious about deficit reduction. But the White House did not feel Republicans responded with a similar concession and dropped the idea.

Instead, the 2015 document will include proposals to boost spending on infrastructure projects, job training, and preschool education programs – all Democratic priorities.

It expands a tax credit to help parents pay for childcare, benefiting 1.7 million families, and makes permanent a tax credit related to paying for college educations.

“The president’s budget will show in real terms the choices we can make to expand economic opportunity and strengthen the middle class,” the White House said.

The budget outlines how some $1.014 trillion will be spent on government agencies’ discretionary programs ranging from the military to national parks. That level, roughly in line with this year’s cap of $1.012 trillion, was set by a recent budget deal hammered out by lawmakers.

That figure is less than a third of the approximately $3.5 trillion the government is likely to spend next year. The rest will be paid out automatically through federal benefits programs that mostly care for the elderly and poor, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

NYT/CBS News Poll: GOP Has Edge in 2014 Midterm Elections.


The Republican Party is the favorite among Americans in an early look at the 2014 midterm elections, with a higher percentage of people saying they would back the GOP over the Democrats.

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted Feb. 19-23, 42 percent of people say they plan to support the GOP in November, compared to 39 percent who say they will back the Democrats. Republicans, according to the survey, are benefiting from the support of independents.

“Even though the [Republican] party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions…Republicans hold their edge despite the fissures in their party,” the Times reported.

The survey of 1,644 also found that 59 percent of respondents are disappointed with the Obama presidency, compared to 40 percent who are satisfied.

The president’s approval rating has also dipped 4 points since last month to its worst standing in the past two years, with the exception of a CBS News survey in November just after the botched roll-out of Obamacare.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed disapprove of the job the president is doing compared to 41 percent who approve.

“Such ratings amount to an early political alarm for Democrats on the ballot this year. When a party controls the White House, its performance in midterm congressional elections typically tracks closely to the popularity of the sitting president in the fall,” the Times says.

A massive majority of Americans are also deeply dissatisfied with Congress with 79 percent saying they are unhappy about the way things are going in the nation’s capital, including three in 10 who say they are angry, CBS News reports.

A majority of Americans surveyed also said they want both parties to do more to address the concerns of the middle class, reduce the budget deficit with both tax increases and spending cuts, and let illegal immigrants stay in the country and apply for citizenship, according to the Times.

The poll also indicated that that the Affordable Care Act appears to have solidified some opposition to Democrats, while historical trends such as an older, whiter midterm electorate are also favorable to Republicans, the Times reports.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Melanie Batley

As We Await Jega’s Imperfect Elections In 2015 – By Peter Claver Oparah.


By Peter Claver Oparah

I don’t know what was probably on the mind of Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently when he warned Nigerians not to expect a perfect election from his INEC in 2015. I am yet to fathom what message he wanted to send by that apparent admittance of failure before he sets out to deliver what Nigerians have rightly termed a crucial election that will make or mar the fragile country. It is not as if most Nigerian expected a perfect election; not from INEC and most certainly, not from Jega’s INEC that delivered an untidy farce in 2011 and had been delivering more egregious parodies in states it had conducted elections since that sordid show in 2011. Perhaps the high point of Jega’s incapacity to conduct elections in Nigeria was the November 16, 2013 tragedy in Anambra State which merely worked from an answer to a pre-determined question. The nationwide condemnation trailing that anti-climactic election jolted Jega, first to admit the infractions that besmirched the so called election while curiously approving the outcome (as is traditional with his questionable objectivity) and now, to seek to prepare us for the worst in 2015.
Yes, Jega wants to lower the high expectations Nigerians have built for a credible election in 2015.  Yes, he wants to pre-offload the seeming massive umbrage that awaits him should he play a predictable script of mismanaging the 2015 election to favour those that tele-guide him on the job. Yes, Jega was creating a convenient alibi for the predicted failure his INEC plans to shock Nigerians with in 2015 but I don’t think we should allow him such a cheeky escape route. Come to think of it, when did Jega wake up to the reality that his INEC cannot deliver a perfect election after he reveled in the syndicated applause that attended his abhorrent conduct in 2011? When did he wake up to realize that indeed, his INEC, with its present composition and carriage cannot be trusted to deliver an election that will even compete within the regional standard obtainable in West Africa? I ask the last question because Nigerians, I know, will certainly hail Jega and swathe him in flamboyant allure should he deliver an election that nears the standard obtainable in Ghana or even Benin Republic.

After his appointment, Jega was to embark on an expensive voter registration exercise that involved the capturing of the personal data of eligible Nigerian voters. From its face value, that looked a sure bet towards dealing with the virus of multiple thumb printing, which riles the country’s electoral process. It also stood to verify the authenticity of declared results for whenever the thumb printed votes come in contact with the captured data of voters, there is bound to be a scientific filtering to separate the actual votes from the fake votes. What should shock Nigerians was the first observation from curious Nigerians that there was no central server to store the cumulative data captured all over the country. That meant there was no base for the expensive data Jega captured at every polling booth in Nigeria. Also the deliberate manipulation of the voters’ register, as seen in the elections in Ondo, Anambra and Delta Central Senatorial constituency points to the fact that the data that were collated has been seriously compromised and cannot be trusted to form the cornerstone of credible election in Nigeria. Again, there was no known relationship between the data captured and the votes cast. On election day, one needs to present merely his temporary voters card for possible identification and nothing more. What really was the essence of the thumb print that was central to the voters’ registration? With this lacuna, desperate politicians were to corner all the ballot papers and in some cases, one person thumb printed as much as twenty booklets and all were accounted as real votes in the 2011 sham of an election. This was the magic behind the history-breaking 90 to 99 per cent votes the PDP appropriated in the South East and South South States in 2011.

Jega is being clearly mischievous by his latest warning to Nigerians not to expect a perfect election in 2015 and every Nigerian must tell him in unmistakable terms that we expect nothing more than a perfect election from him. If he cannot deliver, let him quit in time for the country to have for herself an election umpire that is ready to claim responsibility for his actions. Yes, let it be clear and candid that we will not accept any more of Jega’s farces again. I can attest that Jega’s INEC cannot conduct a credible election because Jega is too indebted to those that appointed him than disappoint their schemes to corner every election in Nigeria by hook or crook.

It has been the mantra of those that support the entrenchment of fraudulent elections in Nigeria to argue that there can no prefect election. Again, they freely charge that election losers in Nigeria can never accept defeat. These positions have been proven false by the conduct, outcome and reactions that trailed the June 12 1993 presidential election. Truth is Nigerians know a credible election when they see one and whenever it occurs, even losers will accept the outcome. Perfectness is a relative word and that elections are deemed perfect does not mean it is free from error. Nigerians know this and when they demand a perfect election, they want an election with minimal errors and not one that is deliberately schemed as a farce. A bigger truth is that apart from the 1993 presidential election, all other elections held in Nigeria have been mere concoctions put in place to dupe the electorates and further the ends of corruption and bad governance.

As it is now, Jega’s INEC is fully packed with leading PDP members. The rest are mere nominees of the PDP and President Jonathan. One wonders how a credible election can happen with the upper deck of INEC populated by members of a political party that had sworn to retain power till eternity through every available means. The process and procedures of elections are mere malleable tools at the hands of the PDP to arrive at pre-ordained ends. No foundation for credible election is built on such partial foundation and that is one of the burdens Jega carries and why Nigerian elections remain perpetually shambled with deliberately erected bulwarks stalking it at every end.

But this country has a well thought out report on electoral reform, as recommended by the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Panel. The panel is comprehensive enough as to remove most of the bulwarks that stand between Nigerians and credible election in its report. For understandable reasons, the ruling PDP sabotaged the report because while it stands to guarantee a free, independent and credible electoral organ and process, it threatens the plot by the PDP for perpetual fiefdom. The party rather prefers a system where we wobble through highly manipulated elections, executed according to its wills and by people of questionable integrity and party mercenaries. It rather prefers a situation where it enters the game both as a player and referee. It is within this pliable template that we locate Jega, his shoddy conducts so far and his frustration that gave vent to the recent warning. The question every Nigerian, especially the opposition must ask is whether we must continue to endure the process that threw up Jega and makes room for all his failures and still threaten us with future failures?

Methinks every Nigerian must rise up and tell Jega that we expect him to conduct a credible election in 2015 or find the exit door, if he feels he cannot guarantee that. We have collectively borne the brunt of fraudulent elections far too long that we cannot put up with another deliberately fabricated ruse in 2015. In fact, he should muster the courage and tact to steer off the way so as to enable the country address its electoral woes by strictly applying the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel Report. This must be made clear to Jega and the opposition should ensure that Jega is perpetually kept on his toes so as not to once again, dump another electoral charade on the country’s doorstep in 2015.

Peter Claver Oparah
Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: peterclaver2000@yahoo.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Mitt Romney: Hillary Clinton — Not Bill — Is the Issue in 2016.


Former President Bill Clinton “breached his responsibility” and embarrassed the United States while having an affair with intern Monica Lewinsky while in office, former candidate Mitt Romney said Sunday, but he doesn’t think his issues are relevant to a potential campaign for Hillary Clinton.

“She has her own record and her own vision,” Romney told NBC’ “Meet the Press” host David Gregory Sunday.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who is a likely candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016, is leading a charge against the Clinton campaign by calling the former president a “sexual predator,” saying the affair shows hypocrisy in the Democrats’ accusations that Republicans are spearheading a “war on women.”

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But Romney said it is not Hillary Clinton’s job to explain her husband’s actions, and the Republican Party and its presidential candidates would be better off focusing on her history as a New York senator and as secretary of state.

“I think Hillary Clinton if she becomes the nominee will have plenty to discuss about her own record,” said Romney. “I don’t imagine that Bill Clinton will be a big part of it.”

He also acknowledged that while Bill Clinton was in office, the nation enjoyed economic prosperity, but the former president’s private life and mistakes embarrassed the nation.

Romney insisted again on Sunday that while he’ll support the GOP candidate who is matched up against Clinton or whomever the Democratic nominee turns out to be, he won’t be the one seeking the nomination.

The former Massachusetts governor has sought the presidency twice, but now thinks “by and large people who lose a presidential race, well, they step aside.”

But even though he isn’t planning another presidential run, Romney said, that doesn’t mean “I’m going to quit fighting for the American people.”

In other discussions on the show, Romney said he does not believe security concerns about the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, were overblown, but the games have proven so far to be safe.

“I think Russia has shown not only through the application of their security forces, but also through their intelligence work, that they have the capacity to keep the games reasonably safe,” said Romney, who is credited with bringing the 2002 winter games to Salt Lake City in 2002.

Meanwhile, the former governor continued his complaints about Russia’s more-than $50 billion budget for the games, saying the Olympics can be held for as little as $2 billion. Countries hosting the games should instead spend their billions on efforts to fight poverty and disease, he said.

“That’s what we really ought to be using those resources for, as opposed to wasting them, in many cases, to show off a country or, I think more cynically, to show off the politicians in a country,” he said.

Romney, who wrote an opinion piece for USA Today this past week about curtailing the Olympic costs, said Sunday that the International Olympics Committee should step in to curb the costs.

Despite his concerns about the costs, Romney still calls hosting the games “a great experience.” He is an adviser to a possible bid from Boston to host the 2024 Olympics, and limits on spending could help that city, or cities in other parts of the world compete with countries such as Russia, where billions of government dollars can be promised.

But in the United States, the Olympics are funded, for the most part, by private donors. sponsorships, broadcast revenue and tickets, Romney said in his opinion piece.

Politicians such as Russian President Vladimir Putin think it’s worth it to spend extravagant amounts of money to promote themselves on a world stage, said Romney, and “the politicians who take this money and spend $50 billion to host the world for TV appearances, they think it’s worth it or they wouldn’t do it.”

Romney also discussed the issue of same-sex rights in Russia and the United States, reiterating that he believes marriage is “a relationship between a man and a woman” and the “ideal” for raising a child is with a father and mother.

“If gay couples want to live together, that’s fine,” said Romney, while acknowledging it’s too soon to determine if same-sex marriages are having a negative impact on the country.

In addition, he doesn’t think Republicans or other should worry about who has won or lost the fight on gay marriage.

“You have to stand behind your principles,” said Romney. It continues to be an issue that people find relevant and important … I do think it’s best decided by the people than by the courts.”

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By Sandy Fitzgerald

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