Democrats vs Republicans: Who is Winning in the 17 Most Important States (Part II)
Continuing my last article, what impact does the image and organizational power of the local party have on mobilizing voters and attracting them to vote Democrat or Republican? Will President Obama and Mitt Romney overshoot or under perform their poll numbers come November? Using Google search and poring over local political blogs, I will try to classify the type of state parties, as devised by Politico’s Charles Mahtesian, into four categories, and we will get an idea of how local politics will change come November and how the electoral college may add up for the presidential race. Without further ado, here are six more states:
Michigan: GOP Functional, with ineffective leadership.
The Republicans control the Senate, the House, as well as the governor’s seat and have driven a fantastic amount of legislation to change how things are done in Michigan. Despite the anger these changes create, Governor Rick Snyder has managed to stay relatively independent, signing bills conservatives like and supporting issues they don’t, helping him defeat an effort to recall him. Unfortunately, the rest of the party is in trouble. They’ve taken hits thanks to Thaddeus McCotter’s resignation; Pete Hoekstra’s ability to shoot himself in the foot; and numerous other shenanigans. The base is divided after the GOP House passed a bill supporting unions, and the Tea Party movement itself has seen better days. While the Democrats have had issues with not providing enough support for their candidates in the past, and may face issues with some incumbent vs. incumbent primaries, unions and other liberal constituencies are motivated this year. Topping it all off, the party benefited greatly from a redistricting plan that increased the number of districts favorable to them. The Dems are strong enough to take back at least the house and if President Obama puts in the effort, may see even more gains.
Minnesota: GOP Basket Case without Money
While some insist on putting Minnesota in the swing-state category since the GOP took over the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years, the local party is in a tailspin that will take years to recover from. The current legislative session has been one of the most combative and least productive in years, causing a temporary government shut down and dissatisfaction with the incumbents. The GOP leadership was decapitated last December after the House Speaker was caught having an affair with one of her staffers – who just so happened to lead the party’s communication efforts and is now suing for reimbursement and threatens to out every other legislator and staffer in the statehouse who has had an affair – causing both to resign. The Party Chairman was also forced to resign after accounting problems were discovered that left the party $2 million in debt, not including fines, which to the GOP’s further embarrassment almost saw it evicted from their headquarters after they couldn’t make the rent. The loss of the party’s A-team, combined with internal struggles between the establishment, Ron Paul supporters, and social conservatives like Michelle Bachmann (or Allen Quist, her mentor) will limit its performance. Conversely, the Democratic Party is comparatively problem-free. Senator Amy Klobuchar is a shoo-in for reelection, and Governor Mark Dayton, once rated one of the nation’s five worst Senators, has proven to be a surprisingly effective and popular leader. Even if former governor Tim Pawlenty is nominated as Romney’s vice president, the question is not if the GOP will lose Minnesota, but how badly.
Missouri: Democrat’s Functional, with ineffective leadership
The GOP is doing pretty well in Missouri. Despite the government being split between the GOP dominated legislature and Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, they still managed to get nearly half their agenda through and are facing the unusual problem of having recruited too many candidates for office. While this has caused some rather ugly primaries for the governor, Lt. Governor, and Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seats, they’ve avoided deeper divisions by defeating an attempt by Ron Paul partisans to dominate the state convention, and the Tea Party groups have grown weaker along with their candidates. Conversely, the Democrats are on the defensive after redistricting pushed some of their incumbents to face off and after a former Democratic governor was charged for embezzling money for party funds. To top it off, they did not recruit enough candidates this cycle, leaving five state senate and 52 state House races uncontested. While both parties are well integrated with their national counterparts and the presidential campaigns, special interest groups are pouring money into the state, making the Dems’s inability to compete across the whole state is a major hurdle to overcome. While Sen. Claire McCaskill faces weak opponents, and the Governor’s seat is likely to stay Democratic, President Obama will need to fight hard if he hopes to win.
Nevada: GOP Basket Case, without Money
The Nevada GOP is in bad shape. The party has been wracked with internal conflict between establishment conservatives and Ron Paul supporters, with the latter electing the ethically challenged Michael McDonald as state chairman. Consequently, donors inside the state have refused to give to such a struggling organization and the Democrats have been out raising it nearly 2 to 1. Furthermore, while money has been flowing in to the Democrats from national party groups like the DNC and DSCC, the national GOP groups refuse to fund the local party. Any money that does go to the state goes to establishment Republicans working for Mitt Romney, a shadow GOP group called “Team Nevada.” While Team Nevada is composed of veteran activists who might be able to turn the tide against President Obama’s reelection campaign, the future of the state party is dark if the official organization and shadow organization can’t be reconciled. This isn’t to say that the Democrats are going to win the Senate seat given the ethics charges leveled against Rep. Shelley Berkely, but things are looking good elsewhere.
New Hampshire: GOP Functional, but with Ineffective Leadership
The state GOP made large gains in 2010, but seems to be slowly coming apart at the seams. House Speaker Bill O’Brien had been an effective legislative leader driving the GOP agenda of spending cuts and low taxes against the Democratic Governor, but has recently lost control over his chamber after leading a failed drive to pass right-to-work legislation. Since then, the statehouse has been noted more for antics, crazy legislation, and scandals that saw the resignation of one of the Speaker’s aides and the House Majority Leader. With the Speaker’s popularity dropping, the Democrats are trying to tie every Republican to him. Moreover, the state GOP has seen conflict between its Tea Party and establishment wings, which eventually saw Tea Party-aligned Chairman Jack Kimball forced to resign last winter over poor fundraising and leadership. While the state Democratic Party is having its own issues, especially an internal debate over taxes that may cost it the gubernatorial race, the narrative for the GOP is not trending in the right direction going into the election, and it’s making the pols nervous.
North Carolina: Democrats Functional, with Ineffective Leadership
Much to the headache of liberals nationwide, the local party of the state they are holding their national convention in is imploding. After numerous scandals, Governor Beverly Perdue decided against running for another term. The state party chairman, David Parker, is under severe criticism for his handling of a sexual harassment accusation against the party’s former executive director, but continues on in his position after party activists refused his resignation. Conversely, the state GOP is on a roll achieving its social policy goals - having passed an amendment against gay marriage and reduced funding for family planning services – and has lately been raking in money from wealthy donors. That said, the Dems still have an 800,000 voter lead in the registration rolls, and the GOP has passed extraordinarily controversial measures and is seeing some divisions over an intraparty fight between Richard Hudson and Scott Keadle for a Congressional seat. While it likely won't be a fantastic year for Democrats, they may at least take back the House.