Thursday, May 19, 2011

Butch Otter and the Idaho Republicans associate with a known liar.

A week or two ago I got into a tiff with Wayne Hoffman. Wayne runs the far-right conservative organization, Idaho Freedom Foundation. By proxy, he also runs Idaho Reporter, a function of Idaho Freedom Foundation. I've been critical of Idaho Reporter for quite some time now because it falsely purports to be a non-partisan, non-biased news organization, when it is in fact a right-wing propaganda arm for Idaho Freedom Foundation and the Bill Sali wing of the Idaho GOP.

Anyway, I posted a comment on IR's Facebook page a week or two ago when I learned that a couple of friends had been banned from commenting on that page. The impetus of this event was Hoffman's decision to invite the infamous liar, Andrew Breitbart, to be the keynote speaker for IFF's 2nd annual fundraiser (er, I mean banquet). A couple folks had made comments on the IR Facebook asking why IFF would invite a known liar to their fundraiser. Those comments were deleted, and those commenters were banned from commenting on the IR Facebook page. I thought this was silly, so I went ahead and left a comment of my own (shown left), and took a screencap of it because I had a feeling it would be deleted and I would be banned form commenting. I took the screencap because I wanted to be able to show that Wayne Hoffman was not deleting comments in the name of civility, but because he disagreed with them, and because he was embarrassed by the truth about Breitbart the liar.

Of course, Wayne did delete my comment and I called him out for it. He was completely unable to defend his claim that my comment was uncivil in any way, proving my point and proving that Idaho Reporter is not a legitimate news organization. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why would Wayne Hoffman be SO sensitive about comments regarding Breitbart? He had allowed criticisms of IR and IFF before, why would he start banning people now? This question tossed around in the back of my head for a while until today, when I found out that Governor Butch Otter, Lt. Governor Brad Little, and CD1 Representative Raul Labrador were all in attendance last night at IFF's Breitbart Liar Extravaganza--and it hit me. All the comments Wayne deleted made reference to the controversial events surrounding Breitbart's lies. I suspect that Wayne deleted those comments because he didn't want to attract any attention to Breitbart's status as a well-known liar. Such attention could have provided an incentive for Otter, Little, and Labrador to back out of his important fundraiser event.

The event is over now, but I still have questions. Why did the Idaho media completely ignore this? I couldn't find a single news story about IFF's association with Breitbart. Why didn't the media ask why Otter, Little and Labrador are so comfortable associating with a known liar? I, for one, would really like hear what Otter, Little and Labrador think about the Shirley Sherrod incident (you know, the one Breitbart is currently facing a defamation lawsuit over). This was a story that was completely ignored by the Idaho media. Otter, Little and Labrador should be made to answer for their conscious decisions to associate with a known liar. The Idaho media failed us utterly on this one. All I want to know is why? And what do we have to do to get the Idaho media to do it's job?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So if the republicans even mention the word filibuster then we should give up?

This question was asked me recently by a good friend. I will now attempt to answer it, and in the process I will make what I think are some very important points relevant to ALL Progressives and Democrats.

A filibuster effectively stops ALL debate on a bill until 60 votes are garnered to break the filibuster. You accuse Democrats of "giving up," but I'm not sure what it is that you think Democrats can do. Take Climate Change Legislation, for example. Republicans have filibustered any realistic form of Climate Change Legislation. What is it that you think Democrats should do about that? I'm very curious to hear your thoughts on this. Tell me what you think Democrats should do and I will evaluate whether or not those actions are feasible and/or would be even slightly effective.

The Health Care Legislation recently passed is another interesting thing to look at. The ideal legislation would have been single-payer, but instead we passed what we shall term "ObamaCare." I assume you would have preferred single-payer to ObamaCare. As would I. But what would have happened if Democrats had proposed single-payer? Well, obviously it would have been filibustered to hell. But . . .what if there were no filibuster? It still would not pass. In order to examine why single-payer could never pass through the Senate, we must look at the make-up of the Democratic Caucus.

Right now there are 60 Senators who caucus with the Democrats. Sounds good, right? Wrong. Take a look at this list of 16 "moderate" Democrats. These are 16 Senators who caucus with the Democrats, but consistently vote against the type of legislation which you and I would like to see enacted. Any Single-Payer legislation would have been rejected by at least 11 of these "moderate" Democrats, leaving less than 50 votes. Single-payer, the only alternative to Obamacare, was/is-currently un-passable. The same goes for the public option, though that one is a little more tricky. If there had been no threat of filibuster, Democrats might have had more success in pressuring 11 of those Moderate Democrats to vote for a bill that included a public option. However, since there were 40 Republicans and a Lieberman who upheld the filibuster, we will never know. My personal opinion is that at least 11 Moderate Democrats would have voted against any bill with a public option. This same analysis applies to pretty much any of the good progressive legislation which you and I want to see passed.

Optics: The funny thing about the previous analysis is what it says about optics. Optics are very important in politics. For example, the optics of Obama's tax compromise make it look like President Obama is a weakling who acquiesced to Republican demands for tax-cuts for the wealthy. Those optics are bad (IMHO the risk of a double-dip recession outweighs the risk of bad optics in that specific situation). I just wanted to introduce the concept of optics here for a second because it is necessary in order for us to understand what I am about to talk about next.

Democratic Senate Electoral Strategy
: We are going to talk about this in two subpoints.

A: The system of the Senate automatically presents problems for Democrats. As you know, there are 2 Senators from every state and they are elected by a plurality of voters in each state. This is as opposed to the House, where more populous states have many many more representatives. California, for example, has 53 representatives. This means that, in the House, California has about 26 times more representation than Idaho (as it should, at the very least). Of course, per capita, Idaho's representation in the House is quite a bit more than California's. And when you look at Idaho's representation in the Senate as compared to California's the disparity is STAGGERING. So, already you can see that rural states with lower populations have a massive advantage in the Senate. Of course, rural states have a very strong tendency to vote Republican. In those states, the will of the folks in more urban parts of the states are thwarted by the large amount of folks in more rural parts of the States. In Idaho, for example, Ada County always votes Democrat for Senate, but it does not matter because the rural parts of the state always vote Republican. If the Senate looked more like the House, we would have passed mounds of progressive legislation by now. Simply put, the House is more Democratic than the Senate. The Senate, really, is an unfair handicap for rural (Republican) America.

B: So, we can see that the Senate system is inherently stacked against the Democrats. What should the Democrats do? Well, this is a very interesting question. The strategy that the Democrats have fairly consistently followed for the past few decades is to run "moderate" Senate candidates in the Republican-leaning states where they think they actually have a chance of winning. In Idaho, this is not even an option. In Idaho it really does not matter who Democrats run for Senate if the candidate has a (D) next to their name. But look at Missouri, a Republican-leaning state that has a Democratic Senator. McCaskill joined the Senate in 2006 after a very tough election (about 49-47). It is a fact that a more progressive candidate would not have won that race. This is true of many conservative Senate Democrats. McCaskill is one of those who would likely have voted against any bill with a public option. If she had, she would certainly be voted out of office in her next election (she probably will anyway, but I'll get to that in a bit). It is equally true, though, that conservative Senate Democrats like McCaskill actually do personally oppose progressive legislation. Missouri Democrats nominated her for that very reason. They wanted a candidate who honestly appealed to Missouri voters because they knew that anything less would have much more likely resulted in a Republican Senator from Missouri. There was a similar case here in Idaho. Idaho Dems nominated Walt Minnick because they thought he was the only guy who could beat the embattled and relatively weak Bill Sali (mind you, he did so by a very very thin margin). This pattern has been carried out in Republican-leaning Senate races all throughout the country.

Back to optics: I have not offered any solutions yet, because I need to get back to the implications of the Democrats Senate electoral strategy regarding optics. Prima Facie, The Democrats Senate electoral strategy is not a completely incomprehensible strategy. It is a numbers strategy. This strategy would seem to make sense considering it is numbers which is required to pass legislation. However, it would appear that this strategy has backfired. Democrats do have numbers, but they have accomplished this by watering down their Senatorial Legislative capabilities dramatically. They have 60 Senators in their caucus, but cannot pass any meaningful legislation because 16 Senators within that caucus will oppose. This has three dramatic effects on optics.

A: First of all, if the Democrats are in power and they do not pass any progressive legislation, it looks to the American people as though the Democrats are either a) being sissies, or b) don't actually believe in their own ideas. Neither of these situations are the case, of course. Democrats can't pass progressive legislation because they simply don't have the numbers to do so. Americans don't pay enough attention to realize that this is a result of moderate democrats and that the un-Democratic nature of the Senate has a lot to do with the election of moderate Democrats. To these Americans, the Democrats look simply weak, ineffectual, and maybe even. These optics greatly angers the voters who voted for change.

B: Second. Imagine that the Democrats were somehow able to break a filibuster on a piece of real progressive legislation, and that the legislation were subject to an up-or-down vote. In terms of optics, what does it look like to the American people when the Democrats can't even get their own caucus to pass their own progressive legislation? Imagine if there were no filibuster and Democrats had pushed for single-payer health care. Well, the national debate would be centered around Obama trying to get those 16 moderate Democrats to vote for the legislation. That would be very bad optics, because it would result in Americans perceptions of Progressive Democrats as super hardcore left. The line of thought would go like this: If "Moderate Democrats" oppose progressive legislation, then that progressive legislation must be really really really hardcore leftist socialist. This is a result of electing Democrats to the Senate who don't support Progressive ideas.

C: So, let's focus now on Democrats recent legislative strategy. They knew they could not pass any really meaningful progressive legislation because it would be filibustered by Republicans and/or defeated by Republians and Moderate Democrats within their own caucus. They had TWO options. They could pass no legislation OR they could pass moderately progressive legislation. They went with option two. They passed Health Care. Now, the HCR bill is actually a very good bill. It provides insurance subsidies to any individual or family making less than 3X the poverty line, it ends recision, it ends denial-of-coverage based upon pre-existing conditions, it sets up a National HealthCare exchange, it allows people to stay on their parents health insurance until age 26. . .I could go on. At the same time, there are negative aspects. It doesn't do as much to control costs as we would like, it has a somewhat unsavory individual mandate, and it reinforces a health care system which is inherently flawed. However, compared with doing nothing, it is really good legislation. The unfortunate problem with this strategy is that the optics of it make Americans think that ObamaCare was the Democrats preferred legislation, when it most certainly was not. It highly upsets all the voters who voted for change because it is milquetoast in comparison to the change that they really wanted. Consider the financial regulation bill that passed. Objectively, it was good legislation. However, it didn't go far enough because it didn't end TooBigTooFail (ending TooBigTooFail, of course, could not have made it through the Senate). As a result, it looks to the American people as though the Democrats do not support TooBigTooFail. The truth, of course, is that liberal Democrats overwhelmingly support ending TooBigTooFail. In the end, Democrats were not even able to make a strong, unified, cogent argument for ending TooBigTooFail, mostly because of the optics involved in pushing for it while Republicans and Moderate Democrats push back. Additionally, when that legislation failed (as it no doubt would), Democrats would once again look weak and ineffectual while Republicans and Moderate Democrats would look strong for stopping legislation. Why stick your neck out for something that will only fail anyway, when that something's failure will weaken your position and possibly prevent you from passing any FinReg legislation?

You may have noticed that it seems like there is nothing Democrats can do that makes for good optics. This may be true. And if it is, it is a result of Democratic Senate electoral strategy. You see, current Democratic legislative strategy is inherently dictated by previous years Democratic electoral strategy. As we have seen, previous years Democratic electoral strategy has been to run "Moderate" Democrats for really tough Senate elections. Current Democratic Legislative Strategy is utterly bound by the previous year's Senate electoral strategy which resulted in 16 Moderate Democrats who oppose progressive legislation.

I have two main points as a result of all this analysis.

1) First of all, if you are a person who is unsatisfied with Democrats progress in addressing tough issues with progressive legislation, you would be a fool to blame the President or the House Democrats or anyone Senate Democrats other than the Republicans, the 16 Moderate Senate Democrats, and/or the state party Democrats who nominate these moderate Senate Democratic candidates. The Democratic leadership's legislative strategy is bound by previous years electoral strategy. Criticizing the Democrats who agree with us is stupid, provides fodder for the opposition, depresses the Democratic base (see: 2010 election), and ultimately results in Republican majorities and Republican rule. We should carefully consider the implications of Republican rule. I'll tell you one thing, though: Republicans are NOT interested in the same policy ideas that you and I are.

2) Second main point. I am an Idaho Democrat. I am not a Precinct Captain (If I could be, I would be), and I do not have a vote on the Central Committee. Eventually, I intend to attempt to garner a spot for myself on the IDP central committee. For now, I can only attempt to influence IDP as an outsider. The point is, this is where success for the progressive agenda starts. People like you and I have to find a way to work within the party infrastructure in our own state and influence the party to run candidates that actually push for progressive legislation. In Idaho, this starts small. Some of us have been advocating that Idaho look to Montana's Schweitzer model when nominating candidates. This is indeed a model wherein the candidate tacks to the center. However, the major difference between the Schweitzer model and the Minnick model, IMHO, is that while Schweitzer did tack to the center in many ways, he has still willing to push for a few progressive ideas that he thinks would appeal to Montana's Republican-dominated electorate. Minnick, otoh, did no such thing. As such, candidates like Minnick only reinforce the conservative high-moral frame, while candidates like Schweitzer do a pretty good job of introducing the progressive high-moral frame.

The truth of the matter is that, initially, a strategy like this will probably lead to less elected Democrats. This is true of the use of this strategy on a state-level and on a national-level. Maybe some other time we will talk about the implications of this strategy on state politics(pretty much the same implications, I think), but right now we are talking about national politics. The immediate disadvantage to the strategy proposed by myself and some others is the initial possibility of fewer elected Democrats and more elected Republicans. But let's look at the benefits. First of all, we would eliminate all of the optics problems mentioned above. Democrats would be free to push for true progressive legislation as a minority, and if they were elected on those ideas (as they were in 2008) they could push for true legislation as a majority, and actually enact such legislation. Democrats would not be forced to water down their own legislation/rhetoric and voters would not be forced to accept milquetoast change in lieu of the real change they voted for. I've said this before, but I'd much rather have fewer Democrats push for real progressive legislation in many areas as opposed to more Democrats pushing for milquetoast legislation (as well as failing to produce any progress on many issues). Real Democrats would be much more free to make real arguments that enforce a progressive high-moral frame. If you don't know what a high-moral frame is, read Lakoff, but I will tell you that the only way to actually change opinions on a political issue is through high-moral frames. The more real progressive legislation that Democrats are able to pass, the more enthused their base will become. As a result, more Democrats will be elected. If it's true that progressive legislation is good(and it is), then it is equally true that passing real progressive legislation will be popular.

We can see that the strategy of pushing "Moderate" Democrats into the Senate has failed on many levels. It didn't work for Minnick, it didn't work for the surprising number of Conservative and Blue Dog Democrats who lost their seat in this last election, and I highly doubt that it will work for McCaskill in her next election. The only two arguments for the "Moderate Democrats" Senate strategy are 1) that the majorities obtained as a result will allow Democrats to pass real legislation, and 2) that moderate Democrats will have an easier time retaining their seat in Republican-leaning districts. The past two years have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that both of those arguments are completely faulty.

If voting against progressive legislation does not help a Democrat retain a seat in a Republican-leaning district, then what is the point of doing so? It is contrary to all of our goals and produces no benefits. We are much better off sticking to our guns when it comes to Senate electoral strategy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More IDP inter-party analysis

This is just some on-the-fly commentary on George Prentice's recent interview with John Foster, so it's going to be short. And in bulletin-format. And in no particular order.

1. The good news seems to be that Mr. Foster has accepted a position as VP for a Seattle-based Public Affairs Company. Hopefully that means he won't be bothering us anymore. Just to be clear, I'm not saying he has no place within the party. I just don't think he does well at the top.

2. I have to point out the irony inherent in his obtaining such a lofty position within a Public Affairs company not even a month after essentially running one of the worst campaigns (mind you, a campaign is nothing BUT public affairs) in Idaho history. He made so many ridiculous missteps that I find it very ironic that he would move from this on to Public Affairs. Is it just me?

3. Okay, now I'm going to build some analysis around a couple of Foster quotations that I think are emblematic of some recent problems with the IDP.

"I recognize that most of the people opining about what happened are doing it because they weren't in the middle of it and never will be. So they're inconsequential as a result."

Okay, so the thing about this is that it indicates a leadership problem. An important function of leadership is ability to listen to constructive criticism and accept it when it is fair. This aspect of leadership is 100X more important in party politics. If you are at the top you NEED to be able to listen to the folks at the bottom and incorporate their ideas into your strategy. In this case, we can see that Mr. Foster perceives those of us at the bottom as "inconsequential." That's a problem. Is there a "Foster-wing" of the IDP that agrees with him? Hard to say. A lack of inter-party communication makes it tough to gauge who thinks what. That's another problem. Lack of inter-party communication within the IDP. Some of you who know me may know that I publicly asked Mr. Foster to quit running dog-whistle ads before the election. He "de-friended" me on Facebook as a result. I realize that, as an Idaho Democrat, it was kind of controversial for me to criticize Foster's methods right before the election. Normally, I don't do that. But I did it for a reason this time. Foster was ignoring all the folks at the bottom who were sending private messages up the chain. I didn't want him to be able to lose this election and then say "there was no way we could have known." There was a way he could have known--because we told him. Loudly. And he ignored us. Anyway, back to my main point. It's 100X more important in party politics to be able to listen to the folks at the bottom. I'm not saying this just to castigate Foster. He's moving on to other things so that doesn't matter. I'm saying it because we need to somehow find a way to make sure the next IDP-ED is someone with the proper leadership qualities to actually run the IDP.

We were ahead in all of our internal polling all the way up to the final days. Every single undecided voter broke against Walt. I'll make one comment about some of the post-election analysis: There seems to be an assumption that Democrats stayed home. The reality is that there are a lot fewer of them. The state has become a lot more red. More Democrats became independent and more independents became Republicans.

An "assumption"? Ummm, no Mr. Foster. An assumption is something you make when you have no evidence to back up your claim. However, Sisyphus, Interstics Blog, and Randy Stapilus have done a very effective job of showing that it is a FACT, not an assumption, that Democrats stayed home this election. And if there ARE fewer of them, it may be because of the fact that the IDP has moved Idaho Democrats so far to the right that (1) it doesn't really makes sense for many Idaho Democrats to support them, (2) they no longer offer a real choice to Idahoans, (3) they tarnish the brand. Nobody wants to vote for a party that hates itself, and (4) (and I think this is the most important one, personally) it strengthens the conservative high-moral frame in Idaho voters when we should be establishing the progressive high-moral frame in Idaho voters. How do you think folks like Schweitzer do so well in Montana? They stick to progressive high-moral frames and don't back down. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, please please PLEASE read George Lakoff. And not just this article I'm linking to. Read lots of Lakoff, until you are sure you understand the complicated subject-matter he is attempting to convey.

I say this as a former executive director of the state Democratic Party. There is no Democratic Party in Idaho. A party is infrastructure. A party is operation and fundraising. There is simply no party.

No criticisms of Foster from me on this point. Just questions. Is this a fair assessment of IDP? If so, what can be done about it?

The state is ruby-red Republican, and likely always will be. Any advice I would have to give would be to accept that reality and move on. Do not assume that you're going to get the state to change. It's Republican. It's conservative. Your strategy needs to be built around that reality.

Okay, this is just horrible advice from Foster. This guy was IDP-ED? No WONDER IDP has done so poorly recently. Look, running against our own policies tarnishes our brand. And that's just here in IDP. Electing rabid Blue Dogs tarnishes the brand nationally as well. Consider the fact that Democrats are about to be forced to extend the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy. They are being forced to do that because about 10-12 of the Senate Democrats are conservative Blue Dogs. Here's the thing: The American people don't care about Democratic Blue Dogs. They really don't give two shits. Most of the folks in the middle don't even realize the implications of this. All they know is that Democrats control the House AND the Senate right now and the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy are about to be extended. This tarnishes our national brand CONSIDERABLY! I'm not sure how to explain this in simpler terms, but I will say this: I'd rather have less-than-fifty Democratic Senators who are willing to push forth a progressive argument rather than fifty-plus Democratic Senators who can't do that because 10-12 of them disagree with the party platform. It makes NO sense whatsoever. If we can't put forth a Democratic argument we can't win elections. It's as simple as that.

The only other thing I'll say about this final Foster quote is to reiterate that we need to use the Schweitzer method of actually pushing good progressive arguments, thereby reinforcing progressive high-moral frames in Idaho voters. It's really the only way. Again, if you don't know what I'm talking about when I say high-moral frames please read Lakoff. Any Lakoff. It really doesn't matter.

8. Anyway, I wrote more than I meant to, but I feel better now. Thanks to Sisyphus, who has been at the forefront of this effort to formulate a strategy for IDP that makes sense.

Monday, September 27, 2010

District 6 Update

Things are pretty interesting here in Idaho's sixth district, Latah County. Latah County Dems are on the front lines of one of the most important races in Idaho this election.

The District 6 Senate Seat.

The interesting thing about this race is that the seat in question is currently held by Republican Gary Schroeder. Representative Schroeder is one of the very few moderate Republicans serving in the Senate. It is for this reason that some of the Tea Party radicals in this area mounted a primary challenged against Rep. Schroeder.

Schroeder lost to Gresham Bouma, a Tea Party radical.

Just so you can get a feel for this guy's wingnut cred, check out this next image, garnered from Mr. Bouma's facebook feed:

That's right. He supports Rex Rammel for Governor. I'm sure many reading this have a fairly strong recollection of just how . . .intriguing . . .of a candidate Rex Rammell is.

Anyway, I did some research into this race and found that Rep. Schroeder won his last election in 08 57-43. For an Idaho race with a long-time incumbent, that's pretty darned close. A couple of things lean in our favor. First of all, the fact that this is an open seat. It is much easier for us Dems to win an open seat that it is for us to try to unseat an incumbent. Second, the fact that Gresham Bouma really is so far to the right that it turns off many of the Republicans who would have otherwise likely voted for Schroeder.

Of course, this is by no means in the bag. Everyone knows that Republican voters are motivated and Democratic voters are disillusioned this election cycle. Still, Latah County Democrats and UI Democrats are doing whatever they can to get out the message and the vote. This is a race where Democrats actually stand a chance of picking up a seat. If you are going to donate to any local race in Idaho this election cycle, I humbly suggest that you make it this one.

By doing so, we can help Dems pick up another seat by putting a great guy, Dan Schmidt, in there. At the same time we will be preventing a radical rightwing Tea Party extremist from making law in the Idaho State Senate. I'm telling y'all, the more Tea Party nutbaggers get into the Idaho Senate, the more the Idaho Senate will start to resemble the Idaho House. A scary prospect.

I think Democrats in Latah County would do well to emphasize to voters the extremist nature of Mr. Bouma. I've also heard rumblings that Bouma may be connected to Moscow's controversial Conservative-oriented Christ Church, which is lead by the even more controversial Doug Wilson, who once wrote a book in defense of southern slavery.

Any thoughts on this race? Or on races in your own district?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

CD1 Latino voting patterns

There's been a bit of analysis as of late in regards to the CD1 race between Walt Minnick and Raul Labrador.

First, McJoan of the DailyKos said that Raul will make a tougher opponent than Ward would have. Her basic argument was that Labrador will make a better candidate just because Ward was such a ridiculously embarrassing screw-up that *anyone* would have to be better than Ward. I think she also said something about Labrador's potential appeal to moderates.

Then, Sisyphus came in with some impressive analysis. I'll break it down into three quick main points here just for the sake of posterity. (1) Labrador, like Sali, pissed off the moderate wing of the Idaho Republican Party by supporting the ousting of Kirk Sullivan, (2) "Labrador's anemic fundraising is evidence of the fact that the same informal coalition that got Minnick elected is still in tact.", and (3) teabagger enthusiasm has waned in Idaho (as evidenced by the incredibly poor turnout for the recent Palin event). So, Sisyphus disagrees with McJoan and believes Raul will be an easier candidate for Minnick to run against than Ward would have.

All of this analysis is very interesting, I think, and relevant/helpful if we are to analyze Idaho’s political climate and make political decisions in light of such analysis. I would like to take it down a slightly different direction. I’d like to explore how Raul’s Latino background might influence CD1 Latino voting patterns.


My starting thoughts (completely prima facie b/c I’m not currently anything close to an expert on Idaho Latino voting patterns) are that it seems to me like Raul’s Latino background may win him votes. I mentioned my idea to a few people, most of whom informed me that CD1 Latino voting turnout is very low. I also found this article, which implied the same thing. I looked for hard evidence to back this claim up, but could not find any. I felt like I’d hit a dead end, so I turned elsewhere.

I contacted Dr. Gary Moncrief, a well-known and highly respected Boise State University Political Science Professor, and author of four books. I asked him where I could find information on CD1 Latino voting patterns:

Moncrief: it is not possible to know specifically how latinos vote in the first CD, because (obviously) ballots are secret. There are only two ways to infer--one is from polling data that breaks out voters by ethnicity. I doubt there is any such data for the 1st CD. The best you can really do is look at the vote patterns by precinct, matching precinct data to census bureau data at the block level. The problem, of course, is that until the new census data is released next year, you are dealing with data that is almost 10 years old. Nonetheless, that is the standard way to do the sort of analysis you want. It is also true that many latinos are not registered to vote, and that complicates the analysis a bit.

I offer 3 points of analysis:

1. It seems like it may be currently impossible to get the type of voting data I am talking about. I can’t seem to find any Idaho election results by precinct, though the Secretary of State Website says that the “official” election results will be available June 9th. I am not sure if those results will include a precinct breakdown or not, but that would be good if it did.

2. Of course, even if it did we would still have to use Census data from 10 years ago, which would indeed by very inaccurate.

3. Moncrief claims that “many latinos are not registered to vote”. He is certainly an expert, and so I take him for his word on this, but I do wonder if there is any hard evidence to back this claim up.

Readers and friends, if you know of any way to find the information I am talking about, please let me know in the comments below. For now, in lieu of hard evidence, I would like to make a few subjective remarks about CD1 Latino voting patterns.

1. I’ve heard a few people point to Robert Vasquez as evidence that the Latino community won’t coalesce around a Latino who adopts Republican position just because s/he is Latino.

2. I think it is safe to say that, so far, identity politics has not played a large role (or nearly any role at all) in Idaho politics.

3. However, I think it is also safe to say that outreach to the Latino community, by both parties, has been inadequate.

4. It seems to me, that if the Latino vote were more organized, issues that effect the Latino Community would be more effectively addressed by CD1 politicians (and Democrats would probably benefit electorally).

5. Back to Raul, now. I think the strongest argument in favor of the idea that he will have no significant appeal to the CD1 Latino Community is the fact that the CD1 Latino community does not have very much voting power right now (as evidenced by their supposed low turnout). This does not give him very much incentive to try to appeal to Latino voters. Further, we all know that the Latino community tends to vote Democrat, and I believe this is because the Latino community agrees with Democratic policy positions. Raul’s policy positions, in general, are likely to be viewed negatively by the Latino community.

6. However, there is still the potential that the Latino community could coalesce around Raul. Not very many Latinos have run for National office in Idaho.

7. Robert Vasquez ran in 2006 for the same seat and did not gain the support of the Latino community. This is true. However, he was an anti-immigration firebrand to the Nth degree. He pushed the Latino community away by making anti-immigration policy issues his number one issue. As such, I do not think his candidacy provides a very good example of how the CD1 Latino community is likely to react to a more moderate Latino candidate. By contrast, Raul is far from an anti-immigration firebrand. He has spent a lot of time as an immigration lawyer. He might be extra formidable if he can walk that tightrope between assuring Latino’s that he is sympathetic to their cause and assuring xenophobic Idahoans that he is also on their side. This, of course, may be impossible. More likely, he will spend a good chunk of his campaign trying to befriend the xenophobes.

Final analysis: There does not seem to be any hard data anywhere on CD1 Latino voting patterns. This is something the IDP should work on to garner. If I had to make a guess, I would guess that Raul’s strategy will be to ignore the Latino vote in favor of the more conservative vote. He will probably try to show how much more conservative than Minnick he is, in which case it would not make much sense for him to make a play for the Latino vote. Also, we must consider that Raul will not be able to procure the votes of many xenophobic Idahoan Republicans. How many Idaho Republicans will turn their nose at Labrador?

Anyway, I started this analysis because I wanted to answer the question of whether or not the Latino community might coalesce around Raul's candidacy. In short, I do not think this will happen, but I do think it is something the Minnick campaign should be prepared for. My exploration of CD1 Latino voting patterns has, however, left me with the thoughts that (1) Democrats need to encourage voting within the Latino community, not just because it is likely to benefit them electorally but also because it would very likely benefit Idaho's Latino community as well, and (2) Democrats need to keep statistics on Latino voting patterns, especially in CD1. Most of all, after having really analyzed the issue in-depth, I feel a lot less worried about Labrador's candidacy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


1. Have had this John Heilemann article saved on a perpetual tab for at least a day now. I'll get to it sooner or later. Looks pretty interesting.

2. Feeling pretty ambivalent about the Ward/Raul race. I saw the debate and came away with a clear preference for Raul over Ward, but I liked the idea of a Minnick v. Ward face-off b/c I think that would be an easier race to win at this point. So I remain ambivalent, I guess.

3. It occurs to me that I haven't written on this blog in a while. I've got a full summer of relaxing until grad school starts in the Fall, so maybe I'll write a bit more.

4. I am laughing my *ass* off over the infighting going on in this link which links you to a conversation being had on Vaughn Ward's facebook fan page. If you want to laugh really hard, read those comments.

5. Glad we won't have to listen to any more commercials from that crazy old man with the crazy beard.

6. I heard someone say Raul received a 6,000+ vote increase after ada county reported 49 precincts. or something like that.

7. This guy makes a lot of sense to me. I prefer the political analysis of Al Giordano types or John Cole types over Glenn Greenwald types.