Contact: John N. Davis, 919-696-3859; email@example.com
“That’s the great risk Republicans run, assuming that because they’ve been given all the power they can do what they please without regard to the fact that we are a perfectly balanced state,” says John Davis, an influential nonpartisan political consultant.
GOVERNING Magazine, July 2014
John Davis Political Report
The Best of 2014
NOTE: Subscribers receive report one week before posting here.
Women and Blacks Down on Democratic Party: According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted October 9-12, 2014, the Democratic Party has the worst Favorable (39%) to Unfavorable (51%) impression among Americans since 1984. What is most surprising, is that the downward spiral is driven by the disaffection of women and Black voters.
- Among African-Americans, the positive image of the Democratic Party has declined by 17 points (82% to 65%) since August
- Among women, the positive image of the Democratic Party has declined by 13 points (from 54% to 41%) since August
Democrats were already struggling against midterm election year odds of low turnout among their most loyal constituencies. Now, a dramatic disaffection of their most loyal constituencies.
As to what is behind the loss of favor for Democratic leadership? According to Gallup, voters simply trust Republicans more than Democrats to handle the most important problems of the day like jobs and the economy, ISIS, foreign affairs, the federal budget deficit, and the way government works. The only top issue voters prefer Democrats to manage is equal pay for women.
Republicans on Track to Neutralize the Democrats’ Ground Game
If there is a game changer in the 2014 general election it is likely to be a superior GOP ground game that neutralizes the digital voter communications and turnout advantage Democrats established in 2008 and 2012. That potential is the result of an early commitment by the RNC to an in-house tech incubator called Para Bellum Labs, complete with 50 geeks and the best hardware and software money can buy, along with the allied support of organizations like Americans for Prosperity, who have committed tens of millions of dollars just to a ground game in 2014.
Of course, the Democrats are not ignoring the opportunity in 2014 to keep their digital advantage. They are operating under an umbrella called Project Ivy, scaling the highly successful Obama data-mining, contact and turnout operation to campaigns like North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race. And, there are many allied groups from unions to Planned Parenthood spending tens of millions of dollars to turn out African-Americans, single women and young voters.
Never doubt the ability of Democrats to turn out their voters in 2014.
Never doubt the ability of Republicans to match or surpass the Democrats’ turnout in 2014.
On Monday, September 22, 2014, the latest statewide poll of likely voters, released by High Point University, showed the race where it was in January, virtually tied with Hagan at 42% and Tillis at 40% (6% for Libertarian Sean Haugh; 12% Undecided or won’t say).
Key Question: So why is Kay Hagan struggling to seize a commanding lead in the race with Tillis despite a year-long fundraising and spending advantage? Because by an overwhelming margin, likely North Carolina voters disapprove of the job she and President Obama are doing.
- President Barack Obama’s Job Approval is 38%; Disapprove 57%
- Senator Kay Hagan’s Job Approval is 39%; Disapprove 50%
Historically, midterm elections are a referendum on the White House. With North Carolina voters having such low regard for the White House, ads saying “Hagan votes with the President 95% of the time” are keeping her disapproval numbers high and her potential for victory low.
Ultimately, this race will end in a tie with turnout operations determining the winner.
Nothing chills political fundraising more than the intimidating word from the majority party leadership that anyone who supports a certain candidate can forget the majority party’s support when they need help with their legislation.
You can rest assured that Democrat U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has put the word out to the political investor crowd that anyone backing North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis against North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan in the U.S. Senate race can forget his support.
However, with most of the major national pundits saying that the next U.S. Senate Majority Leader is more likely to be a Republican, Sen. Harry Reid’s intimidation is greatly weakened.
Further, you can count on likely Republican U.S. Senate leaders to put the word out that in 2015, the GOP majority leadership will remember only those who supported Thom Tillis in 2014.
Here is what the leading pundits are saying:
All political pollsters agree that the response of voters to the question, “If the election were held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democrat for Congress?” … also known as the Generic Congressional Ballot question … is one of the best predictors of which party has an advantage during any given election year.
According to the new bipartisan-led national George Washington University Battleground Poll, the GOP has a 4-point lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot at the fall 2014 starting gate.
- GOP has a 16-point lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot in the states where there is a competitive U.S. Senate race (like North Carolina)
- Independent voters are trending GOP 41% to 26% Democratic; 33% undecided
- Republicans lead among Middle-Class voters by 11 points
- GOP has a 12-point lead among those “extremely likely to vote” (51% to 39%)
- 69% of Republicans are “extremely likely to vote;” 57% of Democrats
There has been a dramatic loss of political momentum among North Carolina Democrats since 2008, the election year when historic voter registration and turnout accomplishments led to Greensboro Democrat Kay Hagan’s win over Elizabeth Dole for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
From January 1, 2008 through August 30, 2008, North Carolina Democrats registered a net gain of 171,955 new voters. This year, from January 1, 2014 through August 23, 2014, Democrats have suffered a net loss of 4,122 voters.
In 2008, Democrats had all of the power in North Carolina; the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tem of the Senate. Today, all of those positions are filled by Republicans. Today, the North Carolina Democratic Party has been abandoned by most of its financial backers from the past. Party leaders are in disarray, struggling to regain their footing.
There is so little respect for the North Carolina Democratic Party that the Wake County Democratic Party Federal Campaign Committee has managed the $1,631,025 statewide turnout operation, with most of the money from the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Kay Hagan’s political fortunes are certain to be impacted negatively by the loss of standing and resources of the North Carolina Democratic Party. The loss of momentum and enthusiasm this year when compared to 2008 is undeniably devastating.
Unless they can regain their 2008 momentum, Thom Tillis will defeat Kay Hagan this fall.
The best hope for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and all North Carolina Democrats 2014 is to pull off a surprise surge in turnout during the Early Voting period of October 23 – November 1. They are clearly on that track, and it’s all being run out of the Wake County Democratic Party.
Since March 2014, the Wake County Democratic Party Federal Campaign Committee has received $1,631,025, and has spent $1,563,534, almost all on “Office Rent” at 24 county headquarters around the state and “Salary” expenses for over 100 employees.
- Just in the month of July, the Wake County Democrats received $585,487
- Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee contributed $523,067of the July total
- DSCC has contributed $1,345,559 to Wake County Democrats since March
So what are Wake County Democrats doing with $1,631,025? You can get a good idea by taking a look at the July Disbursements, Wake County Democratic Party Federal Campaign Committee, which shows what was spent from July 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014.
A new NPR (National Public Radio) poll released June 19, 2014, shows Pres. Obama’s Job Approval at only 38% among likely voters in the 12 states with competitive Senate races (which includes North Carolina). Perhaps more indicative of who is likely to have a political advantage this Fall are the survey responses by Independent voters that relate to whom voters trust by issue:
- On the Economy, 48% of Independent voters trust Republicans; 28% trust Democrats
- On Healthcare, 44% of Independent voters trust Republicans; 35% trust Democrats
- On the Future of the Middle Class, Independent voters give both parties 38%
- On Foreign Policy, 52% of Independent voters trust Republicans; 26% trust Democrats
The poll was conducted by a bipartisan team that included Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Republican Whit Ayers of Resurgent Republic.
If President Obama’s job approval remains in the low to mid 40s this Fall, he will be a drag on all Democrats running for the U.S. Senate, including Kay Hagan.
A growing list of scandals, as well as ongoing domestic and foreign policy challenges, suggest that Obama’s Job Approval will not likely recover enough by Oct/Nov for him to be a positive force for Democrats.
The national Tea Party groups like Americans for Prosperity, Tea Party Nation and Freedom Works cannot claim victory in the downfall of Eric Cantor because they did not spend one penny backing his opponent, David Brat, a Randolph-Macon College economics professor.
Brat spent only $122,000 on ads arguing that Cantor had become liberal because of his support for a pathway to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants and because of his votes for budget deals. You don’t win on the issues with ads when you are outspent 26-to-1.
The Tea Party didn’t win this election. Eric Cantor lost the election.
This was not an anti-establishment anti-incumbent vote. Only one incumbent member of the U.S. House has lost this year: Ralph Hall, the oldest member of Congress at 91-years old.
This was an anti-Eric Cantor vote. An anti-Eric Cantor’s staff vote.
Oh, and he also lost because thought that he could win in 2014 like he always had; that he didn’t need to do anything different in 2014. That he could fight the last war.
Per AP Thurs, May 29, 2014: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has begun reserving “almost $44 million in advertising time” with television stations in 39 fall races.
North Carolina Implications: No North Carolina Congressional race is on the list of the 39 targets. That’s because there are no opportunities for Democrats to pick up a seat in North Carolina in 2014. Following the November elections, North Carolina will have 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats in the delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Per AP: “In all, the campaign committee plans to spend money in 19 districts to defend incumbent Democrats, mostly newcomers, and in 17 districts that are in Republican hands.”
Per AP: “That’s [$44 million] the largest ever from the committee and the biggest so far this election year from a party-run campaign committee.” By booking the time early, the DCCC locks in a lower price and a “discount of up to 35 percent.”
To date, no non-partisan observer has argued that Democrats can net 18 wins in 2014, the number needed to take the US House majority from Republicans (who have 233 seats to 199 seats held by Democrats). There are three vacancies.
Here are the 39 targeted races with cities highlighted:
North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson, one of the three Democrats on the “non-partisan” seven-member court, is likely to win her race this fall against Republican Eric Levinson, a Mecklenburg Superior Court judge, thereby earning a third term on the state’s highest court, all thanks to an ill-conceived primary TV ad accusing her of being soft on child molesters.
The Republican ad was ill-conceived for two reasons. One, voters who participate in midterm primary elections are older and wiser; wise to the wily ways of political TV ad consultants. For emphasis: They are the least likely voters to be duped. Two, the allegation that Justice Hudson is soft on child molesters is so far outside the boundaries of believability that it backfired.
On January 3, 2014, the John Davis Political Report raised the possibility of “waking up the morning after General Election Day 2014 with a Republican Governor, a Republican majority state Senate and House, a Republican majority state Supreme Court, a Republican majority Court of Appeals, a 10-3 Republican U.S. House delegation and two Republican U.S. Senators joining Republican majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House in Washington, DC.”
That “possibility” is now a probability. The difference? GOP unity and enthusiasm during a midterm election year when the party in the White House always loses most of the close races.
North Carolina Democrats really need social and economic Republican hardliners to divide and weaken the GOP in 2014. That’s because they, the Democrats, lack the wherewithal to win against a united Republican Party. Unfortunately, Republicans are not cooperating.
So why aren’t Republicans likely to divide and conquer each other in 2014? Because the social and economic hardliners are out of favor. The government shutdown in October 2013 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Republicans have now turned their attention away from ideological purity to winning legislative majorities, the U.S. House, and seizing the U.S. Senate.
If I had to choose only one bit of information for forecasting partisan fortunes in 2014, like the winner in the North Carolina U.S. Senate race, it would be the answer to the question: Is the new GOP Honeybadger just another Republican Orca, or is it a Democratic Narwhal?
Narwhal? Orca? Honeybadger?
Project Narwhal is Democratic President Obama’s 2012 $100 million “get out the vote” digital data-mining, voter contact and turnout tracking operation. Project Narwhal drove up the turnout of the most unlikely voters in 2012, like African Americans in Ohio and young people everywhere, giving Obama another four years in the White House.
Orca? Orca is Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 “get out the vote” app that was supposed to neutralize Obama’s Project Narwhal. Instead, Orca crashed. It turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Never beta tested! In Boston, on Election Day, a Romney campaign aide told the Washington Times, “Somebody said Orca is lying on the beach with a harpoon in it.”
New Jersey and Virginia Signal Good Year for Incumbents
Virginia and New Jersey were the only two states in 2013 with gubernatorial and legislative elections. The political trends in those two states are almost always reliable predictors for North Carolina a year later. Read the predictive trends from those states for North Carolina in 2014.
Congressional and Legislative Races Will Not be Close
Read the big-picture forecasts for North Carolina in 2014 based on trends from 2013 and early indicators of likely advantages, like incumbency, fundraising and non-presidential election year turnout.
Tillis Likely GOP U.S. Senate Nominee with No Runoff
As to statewide races in New Jersey and Virginia, the overarching trend was the demand for leaders who placed a higher premium on getting things done over those who thought sticking to their beliefs was more important even if nothing gets done. In North Carolina’s U.S. Senate GOP primary race, that trend favors the election of Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, outright on May 6.
The safest place in America for Democrats is the District of Columbia, where 72% of the adults are Democratic/Lean Democratic and 14.3% are Republican/Lean Republican. The next best place in America for Democrats is New York, followed on the Top 10 Most Democratic states by Hawaii, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, California, Illinois and Delaware.
The safest place in America for Republicans is Wyoming, where 60.1% of adults are Republican/Lean Republican and only 20% are Democratic/Lean Democratic. Joining Wyoming among the Top 10 Most Republican states are Utah, North Dakota, Idaho, Kansas, Alaska, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Oklahoma.
Where is North Carolina ranked on the list of state party leanings?
- North Carolina is right square in the middle of Gallup’s list of state party leanings
- 41.3% of North Carolina adults are Democratic/Lean Democratic; 41.9% are Republican/Lean Republican
- North Carolina is nestled in the middle of the list between Wisconsin and Ohio on the Democratic side; Arizona and Virginia on the Republican side
- North Carolina is closer in partisan identity to Minnesota, Maine and Oregon than Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama
Now you know why it’s so expensive to run for political office in North Carolina. Neither party has a partisan advantage.
If you take a look at the midterm elections during the second term of the last two presidents you will discover that they were not very favorable for North Carolina Republicans. Those two election years, 1998 and 2006, were years in which the GOP learned the hard way that you can’t win just by exploiting the misfortunes of Democrats. That strategic misjudgment could easily by repeated in 2014 if the GOP spends the year attacking Democrats on ObamaCare.
In 1998, the second term midterm elections of sex scandal-plagued Democratic President Bill Clinton, the state GOP suffered the loss of the majority in the North Carolina House of Representatives and lost Lauch Faircloth’s U.S. Senate seat to upstart John Edwards. At the federal level, Democrats actually gained five U.S. House seats and did not lose any Senate seats.
In 2006, Republicans lost the majority in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, the majority of the governors and the majority of state legislatures in great part due to a scandal-plagued Republican Congress that broke all records for pork barrel spending.
Here in North Carolina, Republicans lost six-term U.S. Congressman Charles Taylor from Transylvania County, contributing to the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House.
At the state level, Republicans lost three out of four North Carolina Supreme Court races in 2006 (Democrats Sarah Parker, Patricia Timmons-Goodson and Robin Hudson won), and lost ground in both the state House and Senate despite the year-long scandal involving Speaker Black.
Important: Congressional Republicans humored the middle with liberal spending but lost their base voter. If you win the middle voters, but lose your base voter, you lose the war.
Then, on January 21, 2014, perhaps the biggest surprise of all January Republican surprises.
Glenn Beck, former Fox News commentator with a reputation for irrational diatribes and hateful commentary, said in an interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, “I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language. Because I think I played a role unfortunately in helping tear the country apart. And it’s not who we are. I didn’t realize how really fragile the people were. I thought we were kind of a little more in it together.
And now I look back and I realize if we could have talked about the uniting principles a little more, instead of just the problems, I think I would look back on it a little more fondly.”
Oh my goodness. Glenn Beck admitting on Fox News that his uncivil commentary helped tear the country apart. Admitting that words can hurt your party’s brand among voters in the middle. A clear sign of shifting priorities among Republicans.
The GOP’s failure to take back the White House and U.S. Senate in 2012 sparked a year of bitter feuding. Establishment conservatives and Tea Party insurgents blamed each other for destroying yet another opportunity to right the nation’s ship. But, then came October 1, 2013; the day of the government shutdown. A fiasco that damaged Republicans so badly that it became the startup of corrective action for a GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate in 2014.
Granted, American voters blamed everyone associated with the shutdown, even dubbing the 113th Congress the “Worst Congress in History.” A Democrat-led Senate; Republican-led House. According to Gallup, only 5% of Democrats approved of the job Congress was doing in October 2013; only 13% of Independents and 15% of Republicans approved.
But most of all, voters blamed the Republican Party. Ten times more than the Democrats.
Of course, the great hope of Brannon/Harris/Flynn/Grant is to force a primary runoff by ganging up on Tillis with enough outside super PAC attack ads that keep his vote below 40%. However, the odds are greater that they will splinter the hard right conservatives and Tillis will parlay a sizable cash and organizational advantage into a primary victory on May 6, 2014.
Tillis’ legislative accomplishments are such that it will simply be too difficult for any Republican to get very far with an attempt to discredit his commitment to the conservative cause. In other words, even his on primary detractors will not likely stay divided against him for long. They want to defeat Hagan.
The Shutdown last December taught most Republicans two important lessons: one, bitter ideological divisions hurt them more than the Democrats; two, just saying no without an alternative proposal is not acceptable to most Americans as leadership.
Imagine waking up the morning after General Election Day 2014 with a Republican Governor, a Republican majority state Senate and House, a Republican majority state Supreme Court, a Republican majority Court of Appeals, a 10-3 Republican U.S. House delegation and two Republican U.S. Senators joining Republican majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House in Washington, DC.
If you are a member of the GOP, or if you prefer conservative solutions to problems, nothing could be finer. If you are a Democrat … ummmm, need I say more?
It could happen.
John Davis Political Report
The Best of 2013
We are a negative-weary electorate. We yearn for economic recovery, full employment, affordable healthcare and a correction of unsustainable government programs that undermine our financial integrity. Yet we have seen our hopes for solutions to national and state governmental problems dashed throughout 2013 by uncompromising Republicans and Democrats.
The year of our nation’s partisan madness demands candidates in 2014 who are optimistic and willing to collaborate on bipartisan plans to solve national and state problems. It will be the winning advantage.
That’s what we can expect in North Carolina in 2014. Super PAC attacks, where one or two checks from out-of-state wealthy donors can marginalize the total given by all traditional in-state campaign funding sources.
North Carolina has 8 statewide races in 2014: 4 of 7 seats on the state Supreme Court, 3 of 15 Court of Appeals seats and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s seat. Americans for Prosperity is already busy in North Carolina running attack ads against Senator Hagan. According to North Carolina FreeEnterprise Foundation’s 2014 Independent Expenditure Tracker, over $4 million has already been spent in the U.S. Senate race, $3.2 million (77%) having been spent against Hagan.
You can point to many reasons why Cuccinelli lost the governor’s race, like being outspent because the Republican establishment would not finance his campaign, like the fact that he turned off women voters with his hard right social conservatism, or like the fact that McAuliffe’s campaign had a high tech turnout operation that reversed the 2009 trends among blacks and young voters to more favorable numbers. But ultimately it all comes down to guilt by association with those responsible for the government shutdown within weeks of Election Day, the Tea Party.
If the Tea Party recruits candidates like Ken Cuccinelli in North Carolina in 2014, those who believe that it is more important to “Stick to Positions” than “Compromise” at a time in our nation’s history when solutions to great problems are desperately need, then they will suffer the same fate. They will drive away financial support, they will drive away women, young people and independent voters, they will weaken the Republican brand and the GOP’s chances of winning races for Congress, the legislature and the appellate courts in North Carolina.
In 1982, when the Congress was brimming with conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, 344 of 435 members in the US House of Representatives were rated by the National Journal somewhere in the political middle between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat.
By 2002, the number of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans had eroded so greatly that only 137 members were rated somewhere between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat. Last year, only 11 of 435 members of Congress were rated in the political middle.
The political middle is gone. An era of ideological ruthlessness more reminiscent of the Middle Ages has produced a dysfunctional government. Absolute loyalty to the ideology is demanded or else.
You’d better not be caught being a statesman in the United States Congress today!
Keys to Political Recovery for NC DEMOCRATS
What follows is a 10-part series on the keys to political recovery for North Carolina Democrats. As with the 10-part series on Republican political longevity below, no state legislator or legislative staff member was interviewed. All interviews were conducted with the promise of anonymity.
Now you know how those who are center-right on fiscal and other issues feel in today’s North Carolina Democratic Party. They feel condemned by the liberal inquisition of the left; not welcome.
Most of those who have left the North Carolina Democratic Party do not want to be Republicans. They are simply fiscal conservatives or center-right Democrats on the most important issues of the day.
North Carolina voters are not becoming more Republican.
If the state was becoming more Republican, it would show up in the voter registration numbers. The fact is, the percentage of Republicans on our voter rolls is shrinking. Why? They are just like the Catholic Church and the state Democrats; they condemn and drive away all but the hardliners.
- January 25, 2011, the day the first GOP legislative majority in a century was sworn in, Republicans had 31.54% of all NC voters (Democrats 44.59%; Unaffiliated 23.70%)
- Today, after three years of Republican legislative dominance, the GOP has shrunk to 30.77% of all NC voters ((Democrats 42.77%; Unaffiliated 26.13%)
The good news for state Democrats is that among the state’s prized 1,688,079 Unaffiliated voters, “Improving Public Education” is seen as important as “Economy and Jobs” on the list of issues they think the North Carolina General Assembly should make the “highest priority.”
- In 2010, 41% of NC Unaffiliated voters said the highest state legislative priority should be “Economy and Jobs,” while only 15% said “Improving Public Education.”
- In 2013, 32% of NC Unaffiliated voters said the highest state legislative priority should be “Economy and Jobs,” and 32% said “Improving Public Education.”
But what are Democrats focused on? Republican election law reform.
Despite desperate attempts by North Carolina Democrats to weaken state Republicans by convincing the world that the GOP’s new election laws have returned the state to its roots in social injustice, all they have done is brought attention to just how out-of-touch they are with what’s important to North Carolina voters; especially the state’s 1,688,079 Unaffiliated voters.
But let’s assume for a minute that there was a bit of political mischievousness by Republican Senate and House members with the election law reform package. Let’s assume that they, like the Democrats before them, enacted election laws that were less favorable to their opponent’s constituencies.
Ladies and gentlemen, an announcement if I may: Political mischief is not unconstitutional.
Throughout the fall of 1991, Bill Clinton delivered a series of policy speeches to students at Georgetown University, his alma mater, reflecting his centrist “New Democrat” views of governance.
“We’ve got to move away from the old Democratic theory that says we can just tax and spend our way out of any problem we face,” said Clinton, adding, “Expanding government doesn’t expand opportunity. And big deficits don’t produce sustained economic growth, especially when the borrowed money is spent on yesterday’s mistakes, not tomorrow’s investments.”
President Clinton, who prescribed centrist remedies to economic problems throughout his two terms from 1993 – 2001, presided over the longest period of economic expansion in US history and left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any president since World War II.
“Stale theories produce nothing but stalemate,” Clinton added for emphasis to his conclusion that Democrats were bogged down in old solutions to the more complex problems of the day.
That’s where North Carolina Democrats are today. Stale theories. How do they break the stalemate? By drafting a new covenant founded on government accountability and personal responsibility.
A Guest Report by Madison McLawhorn, Senior Communications Major, North Carolina State University
The State Executive Committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party convened Saturday, August 17, 2013 in Greensboro. As expected, the theme of meeting was reparative; it was apparent that many came “fired up and ready to go” and prepared to tackle the restorative effort.
My attendance at my first State Executive Committee meeting this past Saturday was both reaffirming and eye-opening. Of the several hundred members and guests—I’ll estimate 600 total—probably less than 10 percent of those were relatively young, like me. I’m 21.
What was even more glaring was the lack of young women. I had the pleasure of speaking with a couple of college-aged women while I was there from Noon until 8 p.m., when the Sanford-Hunt-Frye reception ended. I spotted only three others.
Where are the others?
The state Democratic Party’s bread and butter social issues like this week’s claims of racist Republican elections laws are important for satisfying the appetites of the faithful, but most social issues are not likely to nourish moderate independent voters who are hungry for a meat and potatoes economy.
To recover politically, Democrats must offer moderate independent voters a new menu with revised recipes for meat and potatoes issues like jobs, the economy, education and healthcare.
Reading and listening to the national and state news commentators this week decrying how North Carolina’s election reform legislation, signed into law on Monday by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, is returning the state to the days of Jim Crow suppression of black voters reminded me of the old menu.
Here in North Carolina, women are registered in greater numbers than men. Women turn out to vote in higher percentages than men. Women favor Democrats over Republicans more often than not. The public policy priorities of women are more likely supported by Democrats. And, Democratic women have a well-established record of success for winning political campaigns against Republican men.
Since 2000, there have been 40 statewide General Election races in North Carolina that came down to a male candidate vs a female candidate. Women won 31 of those 40 races, or 77.5%.
More significant, 24 of those 31 female winners were Democratic women. Only 7 were Republicans. Democratic women have defeated Republican men in 80% of statewide matchups since 2000.
So, why isn’t the political investment community in a relatively progressive state like North Carolina willing to invest in the party that considers itself the party of bold, visionary leaders and ideas?
First, there is the obvious “the party doesn’t have any power” reason. Most political money is invested by those who want something in order to buy access to state government leaders who can help them.
But more important than access is this: Political investors inclined to help Democrats are struggling with the disconcerting sense that there is a missing generation of bold, visionary leaders. Others say Democrats have become the party of stale, old ideas; the party hanging on to half-century-old priorities. The party in denial about failed programs. The anti-business party.
Who are the bold, visionary leaders of today’s Democrats? What are the bold, visionary ideas?
Moral Mondays have been like a defibrillator for the hearts of Democrats, a life-saving jolt sparking a renewed sense of worth. An upward turn. Hope for political recovery.
However, in fomenting a successful political rebellion you have to do more than stand against the opposition. Your credibility comes from offering a more compelling slate of policy solutions to the problems facing the state, including revised solutions to your own failed policies. Your strength comes from turning passionate protesters into a disciplined political war machine focused on elections.
Is Randy Voller, the embattled chairman of the state Democratic Party, the right person to be the voice of state Democrats? The right person to ask major donors for a major commitment to the party’s political recovery? The right person to hire the right staff and consultants?
Rob Christensen, veteran political reporter and author of The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics, wrote a story in the June 19, 2013 N&O about Randy Voller and his leadership challenges.
Here are some words from the Christensen story that show just how deep a hole the party has dug itself into: “infighting;” “unusual settlement agreement with several of his critics,” “critics … calling for a vote of confidence on his leadership,” “squabbling;” “worst situation in a century;” “plagued by discontent;” “civil war;” “factionalism;” “complaints about him naming himself interim executive director;” “trip to Las Vegas with friends in March to watch a basketball game in which he used a Democratic Party American Express Card to charge $3,327;” “substantial consulting contracts awarded to friends;” “$7,000-per-month contract … in a party that is facing financially tight times.”
North Carolina, the 10th largest state in the nation, has grown at twice the national average for 20 years. Voter registrations have soared from 3.4 million in 1993 to 6.4 million voters today. In 2012, only about half of all voters were native North Carolinians.
Migration studies have consistently shown that most of North Carolina’s newcomers are not from the South. They are from states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and New Jersey. Polls show that newcomers are far less likely than natives to be conservative.
Urban newcomers in North Carolina favor Democrats over Republicans. They are more moderate than conservative, more tolerant than intolerant, more independent than partisan and more pro-government than anti-government. They are more likely to see a direct and positive relationship between public investment and private sector competitiveness, between public investment and quality of life.
Keys to Political Longevity for NC REPUBLICANS
What follows is a 10-part series on the keys to political longevity for North Carolina Republicans. As with the 10-part series on North Carolina Democratic political recovery above, no state legislator or legislative staff member was interviewed. All interviews were conducted with the promise of anonymity.
- Rule #1: Always remember that you are vulnerable
- Rule #2: Criminal indictments scare off contributors
- Rule #3: Keep your voters close, and your metropolitan voters closer
- Rule #4: Caring must be at the core of conservatism
- Rule #5: Lose the courts, lose the war
- Rule #6: Men do not equal a majority
- Rule #7: Welcome young voters with “Come as you are” Open Conservatism
- Rule #8: Obey the Golden Rule of Politics -“Those with the most gold rule”
- Rule #9: If it’s tied, it’s Turnout. If it’s Turnout, it’s Technology
- Rule #10: No Matter How Often You Read it, the Tortoise Wins and the Hare Loses. Slow and steady is the final key to longevity.
Today, Republicans are the ones with the absolute power in North Carolina. They, like the hare in The Tortoise and the Hare, risk becoming vulnerable by racing so fast to the public policy finish line that they lose sight of the need to bring the voters along with them. Without the support of North Carolina voters, Republican leaders, like Obama, will cause their party a world of hurt.
I say all of this to amplify the most startling fact from the 2012 elections: only about half of the state’s voters are native North Carolinians. According to the March 2013 North Carolina Data-Net, “… barely half of the state’s voters were native North Carolinians. Forty-nine percent [49%] were born elsewhere.”
Why should the growth of new urban voters matter to Republicans? Because the study shows that those who moved to North Carolina in the last 5-to-10 years voted for Obama by 62% over Romney’s 38%.
In just 20 years, our voter rolls have grown from 3.4 million to 6.4 million. That growth rate is projected to continue for decades, steadily shrinking the percentage of native North Carolina voters.
As to the impact of our growth on partisan politics, the Republican share is also steadily shrinking.
In 2006, North Carolina registered Republicans numbered 35% of the 5.5 million voters. By 2010, the Republican share of all registered voters was down to 32% of 6.2 million voters. Today, April 24, 2013, North Carolina Republicans number only 30.8% of 6,624,136 voters.
“It turns out there is an even higher tier of donors who are granted entree to the board of directors if they raise $1 million for two consecutive years, according to a memo that describes the organization’s “finance leadership levels.”
NY Times, 3/26/2013, regarding Pres. Obama’s new Organizing for Action “Social Welfare” organization
If President Obama can legally raise “unlimited amounts of money” for an organization that is a functioning arm of his presidency, North Carolina Republican leaders can do the same. And should.
Remember, it’s a means of keeping your political organization fine-tuned while operating as an IRS approved “social welfare” (wink, wink) organization.
There is a lesson here for North Carolina Republicans; a lesson taught well over the years by Democrats. That lesson is Rule #8: Obey the Golden Rule of Politics – Those with the most gold rule.
“I think this is a vast overreaction …,” Krauthammer told Bill O’Reilly, “He’s a leading Republican, obviously presidential timbre. He’s got the highest popularity of any governor and he’s in a blue state.” Charles Krauthammer on CPAC’s snub of Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey
Last year’s presidential race was the third in a row in which young voters favored the Democrat over the Republican. In 2004, John Kerry won the 18-29 year-old group by 9 points; in 2008, Barack Obama won the group by 34 points and by 23 points in 2012.
By way of partisan contrast, Ronald Reagan won 59% of 18-29 year olds in 1984. Those young Reagan conservatives are still conservative, and still more likely to vote Republican. However, they are now the keepers of a conservative litmus test nationally and here in North Carolina that Reagan could not pass.
Ronald Reagan would not have been welcomed to this weekend’s CPAC conference.
The next time a Republican man wants to say something about a gender-sensitive issue, like rape or contraception or reproductive rights, he should test his views over the intercom system at the nearest Target. Anytime between 5:30 pm and 9:30 pm; when working women shop.
John Davis Political Report, February 14, 2013
Only women who can afford to shop at Talbots go to Talbots. However, those who can afford to shop at Talbots also shop at Target, along with every other women’s demographic from age and education to family status. Single and married women with and without children; women with high school diplomas and those with university degrees; shop clerks and judges. Liberals shopping with conservatives. Target.
Why do women love Target? Because Target’s design strategy is to satisfy the needs of their guests, simplify their lives, make them feel great, at an affordable price for all. All women.
Should Republicans adopt a similar approach to rebranding the party for women voters? Satisfying needs? Simplifying lives? Making all women feel welcome?
Lady Justice may be blindfolded, and those scales she holds may be balanced, but if the case impacts the outcome of political races, Lady Justice will take that blindfold off to check the political party of the plaintiffs … then she will adjust the scales accordingly. John Davis Political Report, February 5, 2013
However, remember, North Carolina is a purple, battleground state trending blue. Blue is Democratic. Most of the growth in the next several decades will be in urban areas; Democrat-friendly areas.
If Republicans want to keep the majority on the appellate courts, they should:
- Pass legislation, like the Democrats, to give Republicans advantages in judicial races
- Continue to fund independent expenditure committees, like the Democrats started in 2006
“The typical Republican minority outreach program is a sham. It’s like the Republican ads with one or two African Americans or Hispanics standing around the candidate with a bunch of white people. Like the Minority Outreach staffer with no budget.” John Davis Political Report, 1/25/2013
When minority voters hear Republican leaders speak passionately about immigration, deficit spending, the national debt, taxes, entitlements, jobs and the economy, what they actually hear them say is, It’s time we put people aside and do what’s right. Conservatism over caring.
“Metropolitan voters are the least likely to vote Republican. Metropolitan voters are the largest and fastest growing group in North Carolina, which makes them an ever increasing threat to Republican longevity.” John Davis Political Report, 1/17/2013
Metropolitan voters are the least likely to vote Republican. It’s true nationally and here in North Carolina. They are more moderate than conservative, more pro-government than anti-government, more independent than partisan, more diverse and more socially tolerant.
Metropolitan voters are the largest and fastest growing group in North Carolina, which makes them an ever increasing threat to Republican longevity; and, the best hope for resurgent Democrats.
John Davis Political Report – January 11, 2013: How the North Carolina Republican Party Can Maintain Political Power for 114 Years. Rule #1: Always remember that you are vulnerable; Rule #2: Criminal indictments will scare off contributors
“Nothing will dry up a well of campaign contributions faster than the fear of being subpoenaed in a criminal proceeding.” John Davis Political Report, 1/11/2013
The arrogance of Democratic invulnerability in North Carolina has led to scandal after scandal, indictment after indictment, embarrassment after embarrassment, the loss of legislative power and political dominance, even scandal and academic fraud at our most revered universities.
Nothing will dry up a well of campaign contributions faster than the fear of being subpoenaed in a criminal proceeding. That’s what happened to Democrats during the last ten years.
No leader is more vulnerable than those who think they are not vulnerable.
“They lived in the cellular shadows, effectively immune to traditional get-out-the-vote efforts.” Time magazine’s Michael Sherer, Friended: How the Obama Campaign Connected With Young Voters
Geek up! It wasn’t the data; it was the geeks who knew how to manage the data that gave Obama an institutional advantage over the Romney team and their $100 million Super PACs led by GOP superstar consultants. It wasn’t the mobile devices like smartphones and tablets; it was the geeks who discovered how apps can allow friends to knock on “new doors” of friends. Digital doors. If you want to contact young voters, to persuade them, to get them to volunteer or contribute to your campaign, to get them to go out and vote, you are going to have to geek up.
Best of 2012
“Davis is actually unaffiliated.” News & Observer’s UNDER THE DOME, 12/21/2012
Biggest Winner: The North Carolina Republican Party. They invested early in a major commitment to personal voter contact, increasing the number of regional headquarters from 12 in 2010 to 24 in 2012; from 8 paid Get-Out-The-Vote staff in 2010 to 67 paid staffers in 2012. They neutralized Obama’s historic 2008 turnout advantage, thereby making this state the only swing state that Obama lost. Conservative Super PACs turned out to be the biggest losers of the 2012 election year. The biggest of the biggest losers? National Rifle Association.
North Carolina business and agricultural leaders did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left them.
By alienating business/agribusiness, the federal and state Democratic parties have lost their most reliable source of political contributions. It’s their greatest loss. North Carolina has become the Jurassic Park of pro-business Democrats. Extinct.
The North Carolina Democratic Party, the storied, national-model political war machine of 2008, is too deficient structurally to win 2012 battles.
The big mistake the Obama camp made this year in investing in North Carolina was in thinking that Obama carried the state in 2008 because he was a Democrat or because he was progressive or because he was charismatic. Fact: Obama was the only other option on the ballot at a time when voters had lost trust in the Republican leaders and their ideas.
Forecast: North Carolina will soon be taken off most “Swing States” lists and relabeled “Leaning Romney.” Obama will redirect NC resources to greener pastures.
The collapse of the strong leadership infrastructure of the North Carolina Democratic Party during the past 10 years and the concurrent building of a strong leadership infrastructure of the North Carolina Republican Party argue for a new era of GOP dominance in the Old North State.
Erskine Bowles was more than a serious threat to McCrory’s quest to be governor, his candidacy would have reinvigorated the North Carolina Democratic Party by attracting much needed national money and talent. Now, the steep political decline continues for Democrats as NC Republicans ascend to dominance.
John Davis Political Report – UPDATE: July 16, 2012: North Carolina Governor’s Race is McCrory’s to Lose; Democrats are Not Structurally Capable of Rescuing Dalton
Sen. Basnight reported $1,086,815 cash in July 2008; Sen. Nesbitt reported $45,000 cash in July 2012. No power, no money.
There is no greater indicator of structural deficiencies than fundraising results. According to The Associated Press, “The North Carolina Democratic Party, which has staggered through months of infighting in the wake of sexual harassment allegations at party headquarters, is well behind in the race for money with Republicans heading into the fall election.”
Pat McCrory, GOP nominee for governor, has $4.4 million cash. Walter Dalton, Democratic nominee, has $714,000 cash. Game over.
If the elections were held today, the structural deficiencies of the North Carolina Democratic Party are so profound that they would be incapable of stopping a Republican takeover of all three branches of North Carolina state government. For the first time in the lifetime of any North Carolinian, if the elections were held today, voters would likely elect a Republican Governor, Republican majorities to the Council of State, state Senate, state House of Representatives, state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” Jesus, New Testament, Luke 15:4-7
Although my North Carolina forecasts were dead on, including my forecast since Labor Day 2011 that Obama would not carry the state again, I changed my forecast that Obama would win the U.S. Presidential race in early October. Mistake. My lost sheep.
I got all 13 congressional races right; 47 of 49 state Senate races right, 114 of 120 state House races right. I got the Governor and Council of State right; and Supreme Court Justice Newby. But, the lost sheep.
Two years ago, November 2, 2010, North Carolina Republicans won majorities in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time since 1898.
They had exclusive legislative power. Power meant money.
One year ago, on July 27, 2011, legislative district maps, drawn by Republicans for the first time in over a hundred years, were enacted into law by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Yesterday, November 6, 2012, legislative election results were predictable. Maps + Money = Majority.
“Four years ago it was cool to be for Obama. Today, it’s cool to be independent.” Student in Hodding Carter’s Public Policy 70 Seminar at UNC-Chapel Hill
If President Obama loses his race for a second term, it will be because he disappointed his base on matters of the economy. Jobs. Unemployment. Debt. Disappointed his base.
I suspect that most of Hodding Carter’s students will vote for President Obama. I also suspect that they are not volunteering their time to turn out voters in record numbers this year; that they do not have Obama posters on their dorm walls.
Question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday, October 22, to Paul Begala, senior Democratic political consultant to pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action: “Has he [Obama] given up on North Carolina?” Paul Begala: “Yes.”
Money flows to those with power. Democrats no longer have power. No power, no money. No money, no resources to do political battle. That’s the key game-changing structural deficiency for the state Democrats. The other is the loss of enthusiasm for Obama.
The GOP will have at least a 9-4 majority following the November 6 General Election.
Mr. Romney should face what didn’t work the past 12 years. Republicans took some wrong turns, and they know it. Centrists and independents know it, too. Candor here, delivered in a spirit of honesty, without animus, would seem not like a repudiation but a refreshment. And this would be deeply undercutting of Mr. Obama, who needs this race to be a fight between two parties, not a fight between a past that didn’t work and a future that can.
The Bush family will understand. They respect politics, and its practitioners. Peggy Noonan, The Long Race Has Begun, Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2012
Gov. Perdue’s approval rating worst in America; National Journal sees NC as #1 state for GOP governor pickup; CNN on Obama’s North Carolina Math Problem
With Public Policy Polling stating that Gov. Perdue’s approval is now the worst in America, with the National Journal reporting that NC is the #1 state for a GOP governor pickup, and with CNN concluding that Obama has a math problem if he thinks he can carry North Carolina again, I repeat last weeks conclusion: Strong Republican leadership and unity and a time of weak Democratic leadership and disunity are what lead me to forecast a historic first North Carolina Republican Governor, Republican Senate, and a Republican House of Representatives on November 6, 2012.
Welcome to the John Davis Political Report
John Davis is a political analyst, writer and consultant who has followed North Carolina politics for 27 years. He is one of the state’s leading authorities on evaluating the strengths of candidates and predicting the outcome of political races. During the six election cycles since the beginning of this decade, Davis projected the winner in 1286 of 1399 North Carolina campaigns, for an accuracy rate of 96%.
“John Davis has one of the best political minds in North Carolina. He is practically a walking encyclopedia on legislative politics. I have long relied on his wisdom and insights in my own reporting. If you want to keep up with legislature, particularly now that the Republicans are in control, John Davis is the go-to-guy.” Rob Christensen, chief political reporter, The News and Observer and author of The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics
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John Davis’ 2013 Speech Title: North Carolina’s New Political Reality
Urban Voters … More Moderate than Conservative, More Pro-Government than Anti-Government, More Independent than Partisan, More Diverse and More Tolerant … Voters who Demand to be Recognized and Respected by those Elected to Manage the Most Important Problems List.
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“To meet Leadership North Carolina’s mission to inform, engage, and lead, top-notch speakers are essential. John’s presentation to the forty-four members of Leadership North Carolina Class XIX during our Government session was outstanding. Providing a baseline through the lens of the 2008 and 2010 elections helped our class understand the outlook for 2012. John’s always a hit and receives rave reviews!” Brian Etheridge, President, Leadership North Carolina, November 2011
“About 50% of the 250 people at our event came up to me afterwards raving about John Davis’ speech. He was both informative and witty. We could not have found a better keynote speaker!” Hal Routh, VP Business Development, Balfour Beatty Construction, October 2011
John Davis has made over 1,000 speeches in North Carolina and throughout the United States. He is known for his thoughtful analysis, his lively and humorous presentations, his candor and his accurate forecasts.
Sign up today for Davis’ 2013 speech titled, North Carolina’s New Political Reality. John discusses the dramatic shift in North Carolina’s center of political power to urban voters. Davis says they are, “More Moderate than Conservative, More Pro-Government than Anti-Government, More Independent than Partisan, More Diverse and More Tolerant … Voters who Demand to be Recognized and Respected by those Elected to Manage the Most Important Problems List.”
FEES: The fee for Triangle-based speeches is $500. The fee for all other state venues is $1,000 plus travel expenses. Out of state venues is $2,500 plus travel expenses.
“John- Thanks again for speaking as the keynote at the [North Carolina Agribusiness Council's 43rd Annual Meeting] dinner Monday night. I’ve heard nothing but RAVE reviews.” T. Ray Best, Duke Energy; President, NC Agribusiness Council, August, 2011
“John’s presentation to the National League of Cities Board of Directors in which he reviewed the politics and results of the 2008 presidential campaign and the mid-term elections and foreshadowed factors to watch in the 2012 races was informative, insightful, and entertaining!” Carolyn Coleman, Dir., Federal Relations, National League of Cities, Washington, D.C., July, 2011
“For over 15 years, members of the North Carolina Dental Political Action Committee have depended on Mr. Davis’ presentations at our annual sessions to keep abreast of happenings. No one has ever left the room when Mr. Davis speaks. At our past annual session several out of state guests stated ‘Where do we get a John Davis for our state?” Dr. Al Roseman, D.D.S, Wilmington, NC
While North Carolina Republicans lead the state during the 2013-2014 session of the North Carolina General Assembly, Democrats will be plotting and scheming how to retake the majority. John Davis is the best unbiased source observing and reporting to you candidly on the political implications of every move made by both parties.
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