All you need to know about last night’s Republican debate in Florida:
1) Best line: Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson got his first chance to join the Gang of 8, and got the biggest laugh of the night, when he said his neighbor’s dogs have “produced more shovel-ready jobs” than Obama’s jobs program. Sadly, the joke was stolen from Rush Limbaugh. Oops.
2) Mitt Romney actually made himself look human when he gagged at Rick Perry’s suggestion that his ideal vice presidential candidate would result from cross-breeding New Gingrich and Herman Cain. Some love child.
3) Perry gave a smooth and practiced statement about being lobbied by a young woman with cervical cancer for his controversial HPV program, which was moving, poignant and…a lie, according to a tweet from Texas native Arlette Saenz of ABC News: “Perry met Heather Burcham, the woman who died of cervical cancer, AFTER he issued the executive order.”
4-Michele Bachmann’s 100% totally wrong fact this time out was her claim that Obama’s 38 percent favorability rating is the lowest of any president in history; simply not so tweets Marcus’ Beard who reports that W. fell to 25, Truman 22, Nixon 29, Bush I 29 and Carter 28.
5) The audience at the first debate raucously cheered Perry’s mention of his world record on executions, the second exalted about letting an uninsured guy in a coma die and last night’s crowd kept the sicko-meter streak alive by loudly booing Stephen Hill, a gay soldier serving in Iraq, who asked if the candidates would repeal don’t ask don’t tell. Not a word of reproach from any of the wannabe leaders of the free world. In fact, the revolting Rick Santorum compounded the ugliness.
Bottom line: another good night for Obama.
Grand Old Pratfall: Republicans now represent 30.9% of California’s registered voters, which raises an intriguing question: How does the state party define success?
The state GOP has lost 11% of its overall registration in the last 10 years, 21% in the last 20; at this rate, they’ll be closing in on 25% by the next census. So what will their final victory look like – 20% registration? 15? Or do they have the smarts and moxie to go all the way and drive it straight to single digits?
The question occurs following the state GOP’s latest sad spectacle of political fratricide, their set-to over the party platform last weekend. As we reported in advance, a group of endangered species moderates had put forth a proposed revision of the current arch right-wing platform; the thrust was to delete some red meat on polarizing matters like abortion, gay marriage, gun control and immigration in favor of a more focused emphasis on economic development issues, along the lines of what Calbuzz suggested shortly after voters last year dealt state Republicans their latest in a long series of humiliating defeats.
No surprise, the troglodyte caucus came out in full force last Sunday to crush those who dared to think – hey, how about this, why don’t we try something new that, you know, appeals to voters?
Not content with just winning the day, the GOP forces of doom later went out of their way to insult and trash talk those who had the unmitigated gall to raise the idea of changing the depressing status quo.
Honing in on Republican donor Chuck Munger, who bankrolled the moderate effort, the state party’s leading apparatchik – oh what’s his name, again? - compared Munger to Sauron, the satanic Dark Lord arch-villain in “Lord of the Rings,” attacking him as “divisive” for trying to amend the platform “into something more to his liking.” Huh. And here we thought maybe Munger was trying to amend it into something more to the voters’ liking.
Marin, Mariposa and male menopause: Yeah, we know nobody reads the platform except for uber-nerds and it really doesn’t matter, etc. etc. Except that it does: in politics, what people say does matter, and platforms are a pretty good predictor of what its candidates think are the most important priorities for a governing agenda.
And you can see clearly what Californians think of the current GOP agenda by the number of statewide offices held by Republicans, and by the fact that the only semblance of significance they have left is its dead-ender, head-in-the-sand caucus in the senate and its male-menopause afflicted leadership.
The reaction of Republican thought police to these such crazy notions doubtless will be – aargh…grumble…Calbuzz…lefty commie socialist Fabian Marxists…arrgh…grumble..aargh.
So let’s be clear: the only rooting self-interest we have is that it would be a helluva’ lot more stimulating, engaging and entertaining to cover politics in a state that actually had two vital and relevant parties; unfortunately, instead of compelling and thought-provoking ideas, all the status quo Republican reactionaries are currently contributing to the debate is a narrow and discredited ideology that demonstrably doesn’t work.
There’s no doubt that Democrats have their own problems with declining support, but by comparison they’ve lost voters at a much slower pace — 3% off registration in the last 10 years, 11% in the last 20; and of course, decline-to-state independents routinely favor Democrats over Republicans.
Put another way, the top 10 counties in Democratic registration are: Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Sonoma, San Mateo, Imperial, Los Angeles and Contra Costa. The top 10 Republican counties are: Modoc, Placer, Lassen, Shasta, Colusa, Sutter, Tulare, Glenn, Mariposa and Amador.
Keep it up, GOP: you’re well on your way to 10%.
Tea Kettle Losing Steam: The most important finding in the latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California – at least as it relates to national politics – is the declining approval California voters express about the so-called Tea Party movement.
Last October, 30% of California voters had a favorable view of the TP movement, compared to 47% with an unfavorable view. In PPIC’s September survey, the TP’s favorability has fallen to 28% positive and 57% negative – a 12 point swing toward unfavorable.
And it’s not just among Democrats, whose view is now 9-74% unfavorable, compared to 10-65% unfav last October. It’s also among independents: now 29-57% unfavorable compared to 31-50% negative back in October.
Worse, for the TP, the slide is happening among Republicans, too. Their view is now 56-30% favorable, compared to 59-21% favorable last October. That’s a 12-point drop in favorability among California Republicans.
This is what Texas Gov. Rick Perry is counting on – if he’s counting at all – when he looks at the potential for a race against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, should there be one next June in California. That he would appeal to the Tea Party wing of his party and capture the lion’s share of California’s 172 GOP delegates.
There’s logic in this. A 56% favorability for the Tea Party among California Republican voters is nothing to sneeze at. Of course, with 74% of Democrats and 57% of independents holding an unfavorable view of the Tea Party, there’s no percentage in being linked to these knuckle-draggers in a general election.
But the first order of business for Perry (and for Romney) is to get the Republican nomination. And it looks like being identified with the Tea Party is an asset in that struggle. At least for now.
And while it’s not a favorability measure, but a much tougher job performance rating, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval has remained about where it’s been for months – at 41% of Californians and 45% of likely voters – while the Legislatures continues to lag nearly 20 point behind.