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The NRSC's California gamble a bust

By Marc Thiessen

Monday, I wrote about the gamble the National Republic Senatorial Committee was taking in pouring $3 million into California during the final week of the election -- a spending surge that brought the committee's final investment in Carly Fiorina's campaign to almost $8 million, far more than any other Senate race in the country. Public polls had Boxer leading by 5 to 9 points, but the NRSC said its internal polls showed the California race to be a dead heat. By spending $8 million to help one of its star recruits, the committee took on added risk in places such as Colorado, Washington, Nevada, Alaska and other states in order to swing for the fences and go for the Senate majority.

Well, the results are in, and the NRSC's California bet was a bust. Turns out the public polls were right -- Fiorina got trounced by 9.8 percent. Meanwhile, Harry Reid pulled off a come-from-behind victory over Sharron Angle in Nevada, Ken Buck appears to be losing by the narrowest of margins in Colorado, and Washington State is still too close to call. In Alaska, the final results may not be known for some time, but the NRSC's final ads actually ended up helping Lisa Murkowski in her write-in campaign against GOP nominee Joe Miller. Instead of attacking Murkowski -- the candidate who most threatened the party's nominee -- the NRSC instead took aim at Democrat Scott McAdams, who had no chance of winning. Any support they drove from McAdams was far more likely to go to Murkowski than to Miller -- meaning the NRSC effort probably did more harm than good for Miller's campaign.

The NRSC's supporters respond that the committee spent plenty in those states, and it would not have had to do so had it not been saddled with so many Tea Party candidates. Put aside the fact that Tea Party-supported candidates such as Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee won last night despite the NRSC trying to defeat them in their primaries, the idea that the Tea Party was a dead weight the NRSC had to carry on election day is absurd. The fact is none of the GOP candidates who won last night -- whether establishment or insurgents -- could have made it across the finish line without the popular wave of enthusiasm created by the Tea Party.

Now the test for the NRSC is what it does for Joe Miller in Alaska. Like the hanging chad fights that followed the 2000 presidential election in Florida, there will now be a major battle over the validity and intent of every one of Alaska's write-in ballots. Is the NRSC sending teams of lawyers to Alaska to challenge these write-in ballots? Is it sending out urgent fundraising appeals today asking its supporters to help Miller in his fight with Murkowski? How strongly will it stand with Joe Miller in the weeks ahead?

Tea Party activists are watching.

By Marc Thiessen  | November 3, 2010; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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Next: Sean Bielat, sore loser

Comments

Lessons for Republicans from west of the Rockies:

Don't dare Harry Reid to "man-up."

And by all means, don't describe Barbara Boxer's hair as "so yesterday."

Posted by: HughBriss | November 3, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

The NRSC did not err in trying to harm Scott McAdams' appeal. Whatever the titles in the general election campaign, both Mr. Miller and Ms. Murkowski are Republicans and either would vote with the Republicans in January. The concern had to be that votes split between the two could let Mr. McAdams slip past. Reasonable view, that, so shrinking Mr. McAdams’s appeal made sense. The NRSC’s chief interest is or ought to be getting Republicans elected, not deciding which kind of Republican to support.

Posted by: ATKeys | November 3, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin is not my favorite for the GOP nomination for President. Better a current governor, like Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, or Chris Christie, with maybe a Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Marco Rubio, or Nikki Haley, if she governs well, for VP. Though Ms. Palin would be a far better President than Mr. Obama; her best role is her current one. She promotes the people and ideas of the right, while driving lefties nuts, but that’s a short and easy drive. (If she were serious about the presidency, she would have made a few well-publicized trips to other countries by now.)

Ms. Palin didn’t know of the skeletons Joe Miller kept buried in his backyard, to be uncovered, most likely, by oppo research. But she couldn’t stop supporting him, and, well, does anyone not know of the Palin-Murkowski history? Ambitious people who think that past mistakes won’t come to haunt them, and who can’t figure out ways to minimize them or seeming errors in their campaigns, or who make needless campaign errors, lost. In most cases, especially in Massachusetts, any Tea party-backed candidate or anyone with an (R) has to be twice as good as a (D) opponent. Think how it was for certain minorities to get into good colleges or to get good jobs some decades ago. Conservatives of any kind face a propagandistic and corrupt press relentless in support of leftist causes and personalities, and equally relentless in trashing conservative causes and personalities. Fortunately, the Internet, cable TV, and talk radio are leading disclosure of facts the lefty press hides, or presenting competing analyses and views on the nation’s goals, problems, and solutions.

Mr. Ignatius omitted Ms. Palin’s role in boosting Nikki Haley. That Ms. Haley succeeded lay in her ability to deal with her detractors and her ability to make a case for her election. The characterization of Ms. Palin as a “vocal self-promoter” errs. Ms. Palin uses Facebook and public appearances to promote people,, ideas, and views Mr. Ignatius no doubt opposes. She also writes and speaks against ideas and policies she opposes, e.g., those of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, ideas and policies Mr. Ignatius no doubt supports. So he twists what she does, and does most effectively, into self-promotion.

The “natural limits” notion is weak. One could also decry and thus dismiss the “natural limits” of any apparently minority view. But if facts and the national welfare support the minority view, it tends to become a majority view over time and the basis for majority-supported public policy. Soaring deficits and debts, and policies to discourage private business, will attract lots of people over time. And, as anyone can observe, most of the Tea Party adherents come from the “middle class” that Democratic Party pols claim they support.

Thanks to the blindness of folk like the President and Mr. Ignatius, opposition to the left should intensify and their opponents should grow in number. November 6, 2012 can’t come soon enough.

Posted by: ATKeys | November 4, 2010 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Chris Christie himself says he's not ready to run for president. And he's not.
Marco Rubio has JUST been elected. Should he declare his candidacy BEFORE he's even sworn in as Senator? What experience does he have, really?
Same with Nikki Haley.

Is the Republican party so bereft of leadership that they have to look to those who have just about no leadership experience? Those people in time will probably be great, but they need a little more than 10 minutes in their positions before they would be ready. I mean, the current occupant of the white house has no experience, and well, it shows.

HERMAN CAIN for 2012.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 4, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

The democrat party sold out America's future when it became the party of mass immigration from Mexico. The Republican sold out to business interest's desire for cheap labor and their own cowardice when confronted by the Dem's use of the race card.
Latinos, primarily Mexican peasants, granted citizenship by the million, become a reliable Democrat vote, but unfortunately expand the underclass and swell the ranks of the "takers" in the "takers" vs "makers" contest.
Witness the outflow of native born residents of high impact immigration areas. These native born are mostly white and Republican. They remove their productive contribution and votes, just when the impacted areas most need their tax revenue and the brake on spending represented by their votes.
The country is segregating itself along ethnic and economic lines. What begins in California becomes a national trend just like all the other California fads.
This is why the Dems want to do away with the Electoral College.
If Amnesty passes and millions more Latinos are added to the voting roles as the white voter ages and passes on, this trend will only accelerate.
The taxing authority of the Federal govt will then chase the income of the "makers" across state lines to redistribute it back to the failing "taker" states.
Partisanship will only deepen and become more vicious as a result. Hence the Tea Party movement and the vicious backlash it provokes.

Posted by: mercedesmans2000 | November 4, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I am a social and economic issues conservative, but have to agree with Gov. Daniels that the social issues must take second place, or words to that effect, to the financial ones. He needlessly and poorly expressed that, however, which suggests a verbal clumsiness that makes one worry about his candidacy and his governance. But beyond resolving spending and taxing issues, the President must support and achieve the shedding or trimming of accumulated federal responsibilities, while carrying them out effectively, minimizing harms. Barack Obama is remarkably ill-equipped to achieve that which the country needs.

Gov. Christie may say he is unready; he has much to do, a factor that held Bobby Jindal back in 2008. But Gov. Christie is not the fixed-mind ideologue that Barack Obama is. His ability and courage have let him take effective action to deal with his state’s tax and budget problems. He can make necessary, if unpleasant, decisions, like not committing billions of state dollars to another trans-Hudson tunnel. Not now.

I worry that the people currently being considered as presidential candidates have ideological or other flaws that make their winning either the nomination or the presidency doubtful, notably former Govs. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Others are good speakers and have good ideas, but their background in legislative roles make them ill-suited for the need this country has for a competent manager, who can ratchet down the power of the government unions. They present a bigger problem for this country than most people realize.

Please note, atimom 1234, that I suggested Marco Rubio and Nikki Haley for the vice presidential roles, not presidential. The presidential candidate, after some consultation with others, one hopes, nominates a VP candidate. I tried to suggest people of outstanding intelligence and policy soundness for VP. All I named would present problems for Gov. Jindal, my favorite for President. Do you have any other VP suggestions?

Marco Rubio can make the case for policy in an attractive manner and has the subtlety of mind to deal effectively with difficult problems without needlessly alienating people who favor other approaches. He was elected Speaker of the Florida House and championed tax reform. He is also a Protestant, surprisingly. He could attract votes and supporters for his party and political approach.

Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa Haley, a Sikh, is also an accountant and a fiscally conservative backer of government reform, who was elected majority whip in the South Carolina General Assembly. Either would be vastly superior to Joseph Biden, who voted against the trans-Alaska Pipeline (talk about “investing” in infrastructure), whose foreign policy votes were a series of dunderheaded errors, and whose public pronouncements, well, they could be better.

Experience matters, atimom 1234, but great ability matters more. The ideal, of course, is a combination of experience and great ability.

Posted by: ATKeys | November 4, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

My suggestion to the RNC is that the next time you are looking to unseat an incumbent Democratic Senator you should look for a candidate who is not such a complete phony as Carly Fiorina is. Where was the voice of Karl Rove when this many times failed CEO began her campaign in the California primary? Did you think that a candidate with business experience in outsourcing jobs to Asia, and who once told workers at HP that they shouldn't have any expectancy of job security under her reign could actually pull this election off? What were you guys thinking?

Posted by: dldbug | November 5, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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