Thank you, great to be here, even though it's so early in the morning.
"…it's past noon."
Depends on what time zone you're in.
"…right. So anyway, I know you were watching the election results on Tuesday. For those that don't know, there were elections for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, as well as a handful of smaller contests. You've been forecasting the fall of the Tea Party for a while now. I take it that the results of the election weren't a surprise, then?"
Oh, yes. The Tea Party and the Republican old guard are seeing their relevance vanish faster than expected. Virginia is proof.
"But the D's only won by 3 percentage points. How is that proof?"
Okay, Virginia's contest for governor was between the state AG Ken Cuccinelli for the R's and Terry McAuliffe for the D's. The failure of the Obamacare web site and people losing their coverage is poison for the D's. Cuccinelli not only stuck to Tea Party rhetoric, he also embraced the old guard, making firm stances against abortion rights and gay rights. And yet, he still lost to a politically connected D with no previous political experience. McAuliffe was the Clinton's chief fundraiser, he's never held elected office. The Clintons, Obama, Reid, every D who is anyone was stumping for him. Of course, the government shutdown didn't help -- the Tea Parties made that happen, and don't forget just how much of Virginia's economy depends on military bases and federal jobs. McAuliffe's team outspent him on ads pointing all this out, and Cuccinelli was a street pizza. People would rather have the kind of politician they hate and make fun of than a firebrand that would destroy their rights and livelihoods.
"So you think the Tea Partiers are in trouble?"
Major. If you look at how everyone is behaving, there is a concerted effort between the R's and the D's to get rid of the Tea Partiers. The first step is to get rid of the national forums they got during the 2010 and 2012 elections, and keep them from getting more. And they have to do this despite the R's selection process.
"What selection process?"
The R's don't have open conventions, where more moderate candidates can get in and get a following. They got rid of those in favor of primaries which reward those who bow to the party line and stick them with extremist candidates. The rank and file in the GOP want to leave the past behind, to not be known as the party of discrimination. The people in charge, however, are going to do whatever they can to keep such people from getting in positions of influence. So they have to work around that. You are watching a revolution happen right before your eyes.
"What does that mean about Ted Cruz and Rand Paul?"
I'll get to them in a minute. Suffice it to say, they know they are in trouble, and Christie in Noo Joisee is the proof.
"Okay, explain how."
Christie won with 51% of the vote. As in, he won completely. Jersey usually leans Democrat, and don't forget, in 2012, Obama became the first D since FDR to win two Presidential terms with more than 50% of the vote. What's more, no R governor has gotten over 50% of the vote since Shrub became governor of Texas back in 1988. When Christie sat out the sniping of the 2012 Presidential campaign to focus on fixing up his state after Hurricane Sandy, it was the best thing he could have done. He won most of the female vote, most of the Hispanic vote (and, in fact, held his victory speech in Union City, which is heavily Hispanic), and a full third of D votes. Because he is focusing on compromise and getting work done instead of hard line ideology.
"He's middle of the road."
Yup. The days of being partisan are over, and he knows it. He is in the perfect spot to get the R nomination for President in 2016.
"You're making a prediction like that this far in advance?"
You bet. First, he becomes president of the Republican Governors Association this January. That means he has access to the big money donors in each state and can build his brand with them. Second, he's a governor, not a congressman, so he's not beholden to deals and backstabbing like they are. his biggest competitors for the MOR vote are gone. Bobby Jindal and Mark Rubio have both lost all their stock in the R's. They are afterthoughts, they'll never get the nomination now. His only competition is Ted Cruz and Randroid Paul, and they are taking care of themselves.
They are feuding with each other. There aren't enough old guard and Tea Party votes to go around anymore, and the numbers continue to dwindle every day. The primary season starts, they split the vote, and the alternative candidate, Christie, starts winning. The more entrenched candidate just has to outlast the others, as we saw with Mittens, as we saw with McCain, as we saw with Shrub. Hell, it was how Reagan got in -- the other candidates were so like each other, leaving Reagan the only one of his kind. His numbers stayed consistent while everyone else went up and down and tore each other apart. By the time they realized the lead he was building, it was too late.
"Will Cruz and Paul form an alliance?"
No. Each one wants the presidency, and neither will be willing to help the other get it. They will cut each other's throats, and Christie is handing out the razors.
"So what comes next? Midterms begin almost exactly one year from now."
The D's are going to have to push hard. They are caught in an ideological trap. They have spent so much time supporting Obamacare that they can't undermine it. But they are being urged to. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is urging stretching out the sign-up deadline. Eleven other senators are backing her. Seven of them are up for re-election next year and the poll numbers at tight. Arkansas and Alaska are almost in the R's pocket, and they have excellent shots at Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. That's five out of six seats they need to take control of the Senate. And if you doubt me, an eighth backing Shaheen's recommendation is Michael Bennet, the senator from Colorado who also just happens to be the chair of the D's Senate campaign committee. They know they are in trouble and, after seeing what unyielding focus on ideology has done to the R's, are trying to get others to see the warning signs.
"What about the R's?"
The D's need to grab 17 seats to take control of the House. The R's are weeding out the Tea Partiers, so without them to blame for the government shutdown, combined with people not being able to keep their insurance under Obamacare, puts them on the run. Cuccinelli had so much ammo, but he couldn't bring down a D because he's an asshole. The other candidates have already learned not to act like assholes.
"So what can we look to to see if Christie can win against Hillary in 2016?"
36 governors are up for re-election next year. A lot of these are states that swing the biggest sticks in presidential elections. You got Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, and Florida in there. If the compromisers win and those states stay R, Christie has an excellent chance as being a true moderate leader and getting past Hillary.
"Next year is going to be interesting."
Very. Get lots and lots of popcorn.