Part III: Liabilities 7-8 “Our first job is to vote out all politicians, local, state and federal, who work against the founding philosophy and principals of our country.”[i] W. David Stedman, Ret. Chmn., Stedman Corporation, Asheboro, The Destruction of the Great American Dream This is Part III in a series of reports suggesting that the
Part III: Liabilities 7-8
“Our first job is to vote out all politicians, local, state and federal, who work against the founding philosophy and principals of our country.”[i]
W. David Stedman, Ret. Chmn., Stedman Corporation, Asheboro, The Destruction of the Great American Dream
This is Part III in a series of reports suggesting that the North Carolina Democratic Party is much like the Toyota Motor Company in that they are both among the great organizational successes in American history, and both are losing market share because of sloppy standards and corrupt leaders.
Forbes.com carried an editorial on April 26, 2010, titled, The Real Reason for Toyota’s Troubles, in which Kenneth Brill, founder of the Uptime Institute, hypothesized that the random catastrophic failure of Toyota’s acceleration systems was most likely the result of multiple and perhaps unrelated interacting causes. “At least five and as many as ten things must interact to produce the failure of a well-designed system,” said Brill, “Any one thing by itself will cause a problem but not a catastrophic event.”
What makes 2010 potentially catastrophic for North Carolina Democrats is that there are ten political liabilities unfolding at the same time. Any one or several of the Top 10 Political Liabilities Leading to a Loss of Market Share would not be politically catastrophic. Many times down through the decades, Democrats have weathered eras of corrupt leaders; they have overcome Republican-friendly years, weak governors, high turnover of incumbents, unpopular presidents, budget problems, economic slumps, anti-establishment voters, third party movements, low turnout, declining party loyalty, high unemployment, unpopular wars and a surge in opposition strength … but not at the same time like we are seeing today.
In Parts I and II of the series, I wrote about liabilities including:
#1: A Weak Democratic Governor Will be a Drag on Democratic Candidates
#2: Basnight’s Cash on Hand Down by 30% with a Tougher Hill to Climb
#3: Democrats have all of the Power and Get all of the Blame
#4: A Nation and State of Voters Fearing Financial Collapse Due to Spending
#5: Corrupt Leaders: Toyota the Safety Automaker; Perdue the Ethics Governor
#6: The Issue is the Economy, and Democrats Own the Economy
Here are liabilities 7 and 8:
#7: Regnat Populus! Dissatisfied Voters View “Ins” as Dismissive and Un-American
Wednesday, Gallup announced that so far in 2010, an average of only 23% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. The 2010 average is “well below the 40% historical average” over the past 30 years, and is the “lowest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, dating to 1982.”[ii]
To put this percentage in perspective, the all-time high was 71% in February, 1999, when we were enjoying the longest period of economic expansion in U.S. history. The all-time low was 7% in October 2008, leading to catastrophic losses for the “ins”: Republicans.
The dissatisfaction sweeping the county first became apparent last summer with TV news footage of awkward and embarrassed incumbents taken aback by the ire of finger-wagging-in-your-face constituents at Town Hall Meetings. The political significance of the dissatisfaction played out with upsets in the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey, and with the shocking upset election of Republican Scott Brown in former Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat.
In April, another key antiestablishment signal came with the stunning turnabout in the U.S. Senate GOP primary race in Florida, where incumbent GOP Gov. Charlie Crist dropped out to run as an Independent because the more conservative GOP candidate had a 2-to-1 advantage.
Last week, we saw the antiestablishment ouster of incumbents like Republican Bob Bennett in Utah and West Virginia Democrat Allan Mollohan. This week we saw the antiestablishment overthrow of Pennsylvania’s Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, along with the big Tea Party antiestablishment upset in Kentucky as Rand Paul was elected GOP Senate nominee despite Republican Party establishment opposition.
In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a primary runoff with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter as the antiestablishment/anti-Washington virus spread west of the Mississippi, reinforcing the meaning of the state’s motto, “Regnat Populus,” meaning “The People Rule.”
David Stedman, Ret. Chmn., Stedman Corporation, Asheboro, writes in his latest book, The Destruction of the Great American Dream, “Our first job is to vote out all politicians, local, state and federal, who work against the founding philosophy and principals of our country.”[iii] Based on what voters have done since last summer, it looks like a lot of folks read his book!
Just like Republicans, who were in trouble in North Carolina when satisfaction with the direction of the country was low in 2008, Democrats in North Carolina are in trouble with low satisfaction with the direction of the country in 2010 … the “lowest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, dating to 1982.”v]
#8: Enthusiasm + Internet = Turnout; Party Infrastructural Advantage Threatened
Imagine a parade without a leader; a parade that simply forms in the street and grows in number as people come out of their kitchens and backyards and join those already on the march. That’s what’s happening in American politics today. Pundits and party pros snobbishly criticize the lack of organization of groups like the Tea Party movement, in denial that these folks are a bottom up parade of angry citizens who are using the Internet rather than the party as a means of communicating with each other and turning out their like-minded voters.
In a Politico story yesterday titled, Activists seize control of politics, Jim Vande Hei wrote, “The old structures that protected incumbent power are weakening. New structures, from partisan news outlets to online social networks, are giving anti-establishment politicians access to two essential elements of effective campaigns: publicity and financial support.”[v]
Take a look at the following political ad for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture. This is a great example of the power of the internet as an equalizer to traditional party communications advantages:
This ad has been posted for one day and has been seen by 818,244 people … including you. Cost to the candidate for those 818,244 views? $0. This guy is going to win without the party.
Even the most liberal sources acknowledge the Internet as a means to bypass the traditional party infrastructures and win campaigns. This week, Markos Moulitsas of the liberal Daily Kos said, “The old structures have been eroding, … we’re building a world in which people can bypass their parties’ institutional forces and make up their own minds on who to support.”
On Tuesday, Gallup unveiled a new national poll on enthusiasm in which they concluded, “Conservatives are significantly more enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s congressional elections than are liberals or moderates. Those who say they are “very” conservative are the most enthusiastic of all.”
Experts have concluded that catastrophic failure of Toyota’s acceleration systems was most likely the result of multiple causes happening at the same time. What makes 2010 potentially catastrophic for North Carolina Democrats is that there are 10 political liabilities unfolding at the same time, not the least of which are the historic low level of satisfaction with the direction of the country and the high level of enthusiasm for voting among conservatives.
[i] The Destruction of the Great American Dream, W. David Stedman, Published 2009; Pg. 37
[ii] Gallup, May 19, 2010; http://www.gallup.com/poll; Satisfaction with U.S. Historically Low for Midterm Year
[iii] The Destruction of the Great American Dream, W. David Stedman, Published 2009; Pg. 37
There was a drowning man, 50 feet from shore. A 50 foot rope lay on the beach. A Republican came along and seeing the man struggling threw him 25 feet of rope and said, “If you’ll swim half way I’ll pull you on in.” A Democrat came along and seeing the man struggling threw him
There was a drowning man, 50 feet from shore. A 50 foot rope lay on the beach. A Republican came along and seeing the man struggling threw him 25 feet of rope and said, “If you’ll swim half way I’ll pull you on in.” A Democrat came along and seeing the man struggling threw him 50 feet of rope, then dropped the rope and went off to do another good deed. The man drowned.
As we begin the 2010 election year, all indicators are pointing favorably towards Republicans. We saw in Virginia and New Jersey last year that President Obama’s base is a mile wide and an inch deep. They didn’t vote. Obama’s liberal notions are beginning to raise doubts about his leadership in a nation where 8 out of 10 voters are either conservative or moderate.1 In our state, Democrats are rocked by scandal, a budget crisis and the fall of the Basnight/Rand Empire.
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On December 19, 1998, after a year of Congressional investigations and testimony riddled with salacious scandal, the U.S. House voted to impeach President Clinton. The next day, December 20, 1998, Clinton’s approval rating jumped ten points to 73 percent, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, an all time high for the embattled president, and higher
On December 19, 1998, after a year of Congressional investigations and testimony riddled with salacious scandal, the U.S. House voted to impeach President Clinton. The next day, December 20, 1998, Clinton’s approval rating jumped ten points to 73 percent, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, an all time high for the embattled president, and higher than the highest approval rating ever achieved by President Ronald Reagan. At the same time, the number of Americans with a favorable view of the Republican Party fell ten points.
On Monday of this week, an Associated Press story1 reported that a new conservative group called Wake Up America has been organized here in North Carolina, a group intent on saving our state from corrupt, socialistic Democrats. Their TV ad2 states that “Corrupt Democrat leaders have been jailed in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008,” and raises the question, “Are NC Democrats the most politically corrupt in America?”
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Labor Day marks the traditional kickoff of the 2009-2010 political racing season, with the victory lane winner earning the right to draw congressional and legislative districts for the next decade. Democrats start the race for partisan advantage in the pole position, the coveted front row, inside lane in motor sports. Democrats won the pole position
Labor Day marks the traditional kickoff of the 2009-2010 political racing season, with the victory lane winner earning the right to draw congressional and legislative districts for the next decade. Democrats start the race for partisan advantage in the pole position, the coveted front row, inside lane in motor sports.
Democrats won the pole position by seizing all of North Carolina’s political power, including a majority in the state Senate and House, the congressional delegation, and the state Court of Appeals. Democrats own the keys to the governor’s mansion, and have an 8 to 2 advantage on the North Carolina Council of State. The only majority held by Republicans in state government is their 4 to 3 advantage on the “nonpartisan” (wink-wink) state Supreme Court. But does the pole position increase the odds of winning?
The greatest advantage of having almost all of the political power is that you get almost all of the political money. Money, most of which is contributed by the affluent, matters a whole lot in political racing. The candidate with the most money wins 87% of the time.
However, there is growing speculation that we are seeing a decline in the influence of affluence in American politics due to the Internet and the recession. Of the $745 million raised by Barack Obama in 2008, $500 million was raised on the Internet, with 6 million donations in increments of $100 or less. The have-nots contributed more than the haves.
The declining influence of affluence will also be apparent in the 2009-2010 election cycle because there are fewer contributors financially able to write big checks. Americans have reportedly lost $3 trillion in home equity and $7 trillion in shareholder wealth. We are seeing an additional 2.4 million new foreclosures this year, and unemployment is expected to reach 10% by year’s end.1 Don’t count on contributions from these folks.
The greatest disadvantage of having almost all of the political power is that you get almost all of the blame for everything bad that happens. As of the last week of August, Gallup’s national poll shows Obama’s job approval in a free fall since his January high of 69%, down to 50% at summer’s end.2 Two major concerns are driving the growing loss of confidence in the president: his handling of the economic crisis and healthcare reform.
According to mid-August Rasmussen Reports,3 more Americans trust Republicans on the healthcare issue than Democrats by 44% to 41%, with Democrats way down from their 10-point lead on the issue in June. This time a year ago, Democrats led Republicans on every major issue of the day except terrorism. Today, according to Rasmussen, voters prefer Republicans over Democrats on 8 out of the top 10 major issues of the day, including education and social security, issues in which Democrats have long enjoyed a public opinion advantage.
Further evidence that the Democrats may have a tough race ahead of them in 2010 is the fact that for the first time in two years, Republicans lead Democrats in the “generic congressional ballot,” with about 42% of Americans saying they are more likely to vote Republican in next year’s congressional elections and about 38% more likely to vote for the Democrat. This time a year ago, Democrats had a 10 point advantage over Republicans on the same generic congressional ballot.
Democrats in North Carolina are facing a litany of grievances that they will have to defend throughout the race, like their handling of the state budget crisis, which includes raising taxes by over $1 billion and making unpopular budget cuts like the loss of thousands of teachers and state employees and the closing of prisons, cuts that were deemed necessary by the same budget writers who approved a $25 million fishing pier. Can’t you hear that ad?
Democrats will also have to defend the out-of-control growth of high-paying administrative jobs in the UNC system, jobs characterized by system President Erskine Bowles as “an absolute embarrassment.” They are also facing voters angry about the misuse of political power, like Mary Easley’s $170,000 salary scandal that has led to the resignation of the Chancellor of NC State University, along with the provost and the chairman of the Board of Trustees. That scandal now includes allegations that State Auditor Beth Woods withheld an audit critical of Easley’s compensation package.
Former Governor Mike Easley, whose actions are under scrutiny by a federal grand jury, faces a growing list of allegations of a breach of the public trust that now include the mysterious disappearance of flight records in the hands of the North Carolina Highway Patrol. A federal grand jury has been gathering evidence for months. Surely indictments will follow.
This summer, we witnessed a spontaneous combustion among paycheck-to-paycheck voters at Town Hall meetings, voters shouting members of congress into a corner with in-your-face accusations of incompetence. Throughout the state and nation self-made challengers are stirring about, talking to family and friends and political insiders about exploiting this era of voter ire … an era in which voters are more likely to pull for the underdogs running on shoestring budgets and aided by unemployed volunteers using the Internet to organize and get out their messages … underdogs raising what money they can from many facing financial hardship but mad enough to write a small check to one of the little guys who will take a stand for have-nots.
Granted, the Democrats in North Carolina have the pole position at the Labor Day kickoff of the 2009-2010 political racing season. But, does the pole position increase the odds of winning? A recent study of the 2,102 NASCAR races held between 1949 and 2005, shows that “the marginal probability that the pole-sitter wins a race has been steadily declining over time.”4 Only 480 of the pole-sitters won those 2,102 races.
- The Financial Forecast Center; http://forecasts.org/unemploy.htm
- Gallup Poll, 8/26/2009
- Rasmussen Poll, 8/13/2009
- The Value of the Pole: Evidence from NASCAR, Craig Depken, II, Department of Economics, Belk School of Business, UNC-Charlotte; May 2008