Earlier today, the main group "urging" a Hillary for President campaign - and offering up creepy bumper stickers and apparel - noted they raised $1.7M in the first 3 months of 2014. The group has raised less than $6M since their launch roughly a year ago. That's not really great for a candidate dominating her primary opoonents and leading most of the Republicans. Which brings us to....
Ben Carson. He's never been a US Senator, Congressman, or Governor like most US Presidents in recent history. He's never even tried for elective office, and so the US Presidency seems like a bit of a stretch. Yet Dr. Ben Carson is quietly building a formidable support base that could yield results in 2016. In fact, a group supporting his efforts raised an impressive $3M-ish in just 6 months last year, putting the Carson draft neck-and-neck with the ready for Hillary crowd.
It's one thing to talk about Obamacare.
It's another thing to actually navigate it in a real life situation. I was forced to do that last night, and the failure that is Obamacare lived up to the hype. And the word affordable? Affordable to whom? At the end of the day, there was not a sign-up... but it doesn't mean we weren't counted as an enrollee.
It looks like it's going to be another tea party vs establishment battle in a Minnesota Republican primary. This time, businessman Mike McFadden is getting the support of the establishment and has been deemed the "electable" candidate by many party insiders. This is based, I guess, on his ability to raise money, which he has done. It isn't based on his ability to get Republican grassroots excited as he has not really run a campaign for them. McFadden could be a great conservative, but he has never run for political office and few really know anything about him. What does he really believe? How courageous is he? Is he even willing to take strong positions, or does that come after he secures the nomination? Can he even win an election as a first time candidate? While we get that the GOP would be attracted to a candidate who has raised a bit of many - and yes, that is very important - is it any wonder why conservatives are skeptical of the process and the picks the establishment churns out, usually to no greater result (and often, worse) than what the grassroots go for?
On the other hand, Julianne Ortman is the main alternative to McFadden and will likely be the "conservative alternative." There isn't really anything that would make Ortman not worthy of being supported by the establishment. She has a political record that Republicans could get behind, though couldn't be pigeon-holed as a "tea party extremist" by any measure, which is the establishment's main concern. She has a decent electoral history, including high-ranking positions in the State Senate. She also performs better than McFadden in polls against Franken despite being in the race for a shorter amount of time and having spent far less money.
In the upcoming 2014 Senate elections, South Dakota is a state that the GOP and most pundits have penciled in as a Republican pickup. But the same was also true in the early stages of the 2012 campaign for the US Senate seat in North Dakota that the GOP was supposed to win. (No, a "crazy tea party" candidate was not to blame for this should-have-won seat, but if they were we would never hear the end of it. Since it was an establishment pick: crickets.) In fact, the two states are eerily similar and, as such, Republicans need to not take any of these races lightly. Look how the two compare:
+ Romney won SD by 18 points and ND by 19 points in 2012. In 2008, Obama lost both states by an identical 8 points to McCain. Despite this margin of victory, the new Democratic Senate candidate won against the Republican.
+ Democrats Kent Conrad (ND) and Tim Johnson (SD) both enjoyed blowout victories before their votes for Obamacare. After voting for Obamacare, both opted to retire rather than face the voters. Their replacements faced - or will face - better-funded and more well-known Republican establishment approved challengers.
+ The other US Senate Seats went big-time Republican. In South Dakota, the Democrats did not even bother to challenge John Thune in 2010, and he won by default. In North Dakota that same year, former Governor John Hoeven won with over 70% of the vote in a seat vacated by another scared Democrat. The big ND win in 2012 gave GOP confidence in 2012 they would win the other Senate race in 2012 in what was an almost identical situation. They did not.
+ Both Republicans for 2012 ND and 2014 SD were strong in polling. For most of the 2012 campaign, Republican nominee Rick Berg had dominated the polling. He led the final three pre-election polls by an average of 6 points, and by as much as 10. Currently, Mike Rounds has double digit leads against an under-funded challenger.
Though the similarities are there, two key elements "should" prevent a repeat of 2012. First, Obamacare has returned to the front of the national debate. This had disappeared, by design, during the 2012 election. Second, it is a mid-term election and Republicans typically enjoy higher turnout in such elections. But still, Republicans should not take lightly any race in 2014.