Charlie Cook

More polls are suggesting that the Democrats' attempts to cast Mitt Romney as a self-interested, slice-and-dicing wheeler-dealer are gaining ground with swing-state voters, despite the much-ballyhooed reservations of the mayor of the 68th biggest city in the country.

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Charlie Cook points to reasons for historical caution: There is no historical precedent for the party of a president seeking reelection scoring a net gain of more than 15 seats; presidential re-election coattails do not exist. Franklin Roosevelt’s Democrats only picked up 11 seats in 1936, Dwight Eisenhower’s Republicans lost two in 1956; Republicans under Richard Nixon picked up 12 seats in 1972 and 14 seats in 1984 under Ronald Reagan.   In the last two reelection years, Democrats gained nine seats in 1996 under Bill Clinton and Republicans three in 2004 under George W. Bush.

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With polls showing Democrats Kathy Hochul surging and likely to win today, the spin about what the race means is going to supercede the election itself. Republicans say the race tells you nothing about the Republican budget, which became its central issue, or the state of public opinion. (Here’s some spin from Eric Cantor and American Crossroads.) Mainstream analysts are taking a very cautious approach to interpreting the race. (Here’s a cautious Nate Silver, and an even more cautious Charlie Cook.) I’m not so cautious. I think the race is quite significant.

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A few days ago I wrote about the bizarre sense of disappointment among liberals with the Obama administration, which has rung up the most impressive list of progressive domestic achievements since the Johnson administration. A reader who would like to withhold his name for professional reasons has a thoughtful reply. I'm posting it here, with my own thoughts hopefully to follow next week: What I found frustrating was the claim that the "sheer sullenness of the liberal base does seem to be avoidable and puzzling," which echoes the views Allen & VandeHei attribute this a.m.

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Rick Perry should be riding high. Chasing his third full term as governor of Texas, Perry is a blood-red conservative running in a blood-red state in a blood-red cycle. In April of last year, he cheered a bill in the statehouse aimed at reasserting Texas’s sovereign rights against an “oppressive” federal government. A few days later, he began publicly musing about how, in its struggle against tyranny, Texas might find it necessary to secede.

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&c

-- Kevin Drum thinks getting rid of the filibuster is good for liberals. -- The RNC wishes Medicare happy birthday, despite the party's record opposing it. -- Charlie Cook wonders about a turning point for Democrats.

In the wake of Scott Brown's Senate win, when the whole world (including liberals like Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner) pronounced health care reform dead, I predicted that it would live: The fundamentals of the situation remain exactly the same. Most Americans oppose health care reform. However, a significant chunk -- enough to form a sizable majority when combined with supporters -- oppose it because it doesn't go far enough. Which is to say, the Democrats' position commands the center in a polarized atmosphere.

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Yesterday, John Judis  -- last seen invoking the specter of McGovern, which he had also done in 2008 -- turned shockingly optimistic about the Democrats' political prospects: I hate political predictions, and I have certainly heard my fill of them lately. The recent Conservative Political Action Conference echoed with predictions that the Republicans would obliterate the Democrats in November 2010. And the esteemed Charlie Cook has recently pronounced the Democrats to be toast in 2010.

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The conventional wisdom is quickly settling on the view that President Obama miscalculated by pursuing health care reform. "I think choosing to take a Captain Ahab-like approach to health care — I’m going to push for this even in the worst downturn since the Great Depression — is roughly comparable to Bush’s decision to go to war," says Congressional handicapper Charlie Cook. Likewise, my friend Dana Milbank argues: Obama's greatest mistake was failing to listen to [Rahm] Emanuel on health care.

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Panic!

Democrats across the country are starting to wonder aloud if they misjudged the electorate over the last year, with profound ramifications for the midterm elections this year and, potentially, for Mr. Obama’s presidency,” wrote Adam Nagourney in The New York Times on January 17. A similar theme appeared that day in a Washington Post piece by Dan Balz, that paper’s lead political analyst.

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