From Reid Wilson at The NationalJournal:
Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party's path to the Oval Office.
Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party's majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.
Tweaks of electoral-vote rules are hardly unprecedented, according to Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University. State legislatures routinely changed Electoral College allocation rules in the early years of the Republic; the political fallout then can inform present-day lawmakers considering the changes.
In the long run, Republican operatives say they would like to pursue similar Electoral College reform in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. Obama won all three states, but Romney won a majority of the congressional districts in each state.
Any changes to the allocation of Electoral College votes would have a major impact on each party's path to the White House. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have given Democrats their collective 246 electoral votes in each of the last six elections. That virtually forces Republicans to run the swing-state table.
From Julian Walker at PilotOnline.com:
Virginia's marquee race next year is the gubernatorial race which, according to the poll, is a statistical dead heat with Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe narrowly ahead of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 43 percent to 42 percent.
The [Public Opinion Strategies] survey found 15 percent of likely voters in that contest are undecided.
From Karl Rove at Rove.com:
As the country waits to see if Washington avoids plummeting over the "fiscal cliff," let's consider what President Obama's demands reveal about his motivations.
Mr. Obama wants more revenues, lots more. He's asking for $1.6 trillion over the coming decade, twice as much as he had tentatively agreed to with House Speaker John Boehner this summer (until the president blew up the deal by demanding more).
So why ask for these things? Part of the explanation is ideological. The president does want to expand government's size, cost and reach in order to, in his words, "transform" America.
But the president is now less interested in raising revenues than in raising marginal tax rates on top earners. He apparently believes that Republicans, in a weakened state and defending an unpopular position, might buckle on a central GOP tenet, opposition to any increase in marginal rates. That might kick off a Republican civil war, resulting in divisive party primaries in 2014 that leave the president's opposition even more weakened and produce more subpar candidates like this year's Republican Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri.
This brings us to Mr. Obama's real goal: having Democrats recapture the House in 2014 and once again stave off losses in the Senate.
Moreover, it is likely that the GOP will retain and even grow its House majority in 2014. Since 1938, the incumbent president's party has lost an average of 33 House seats and seven Senate seats in the midterm following a re-election.
Embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s decision to withdraw her name from consideration for secretary of state was in the best interest of the Obama administration.
Right now, the president has public opinion on his side, and for President Obama to push for her confirmation, he would have to expend a lot of political capital that is best used elsewhere.
The American public may not be following the terrorist attack that unfolded in Benghazi all that closely, but it is important to keep in mind that we have four dead Americans and no answers.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"
Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa Jr. says Michigan’s passage of a right-to-work law on Tuesday “basically betray[s] democracy.” Actually, it portrays democracy — and reasonably accurately.
For decades, Hoffa, his father, who also led the Teamsters, and almost all leaders of major unions have unabashedly and unashamedly aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. They provided foot soldiers for campaigns and money when necessary to pave the way for Democrats to win public office.
Those officeholders, in turn, rewarded them with union-friendly laws, expanded social services, high salaries and generous benefits for union members in the public and private sectors, as well as fostered a climate that enhanced — rather than challenged — the power of the leaders themselves.
A perfect storm had to come together to topple union power in what can be considered the birthplace of the big-time American labor movement. And it did. Unions overreached this fall and had a ballot initiative to enshrine union rights in the state constitution. It fell 57-42.
That was the signal Rick Snyder, the state’s Republican governor, and the Legislature needed that Michigan residents had tired of blind government support for unions and would consider alternatives.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill's Pundits Blog
From The Washington Post:
The conservative groups that supported Michigan’s new “right to work” law — winning a stunning victory over unions, even in the heart of American labor — vowed Wednesday to replicate that success elsewhere.
But the search for the next Michigan could be difficult.
“If Michigan can do it, then I think everybody ought to think about it,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. He said he thinks at least one more state will adopt such a law before the end of 2013, and listed Alaska, Missouri, Montana and Pennsylvania among the top contenders. “Very confident. It will happen. [But] I can’t tell you where the next one is.”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) might be leaving the upper chamber, but the conservative favorite is likely to remain a force to be reckoned with in the 2014 cycle.
DeMint has not publicly discussed how active he plans to remain in Senate primaries, one of his major focuses during his last few years in Congress.
If he decides to focus more on policy and not get involved in the actual contests, that could leave a void on the right and let the National Republican Senatorial Committee become more involved in recruiting and aiding primary candidates.
DeMint also pressured the NRSC and its outgoing chairman, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), not to endorse any candidates in 2012. While the organization was involved in some candidate recruitment, it did not get publicly involved in any primaries.
The NRSC faces a tricky situation. The ever-expanding influence of outside groups and rowdy grass roots quick to react against any perceived meddling has both weakened their ability to influence primaries and heightened the risk that any efforts for a candidate will backfire.
“There are some very big opportunities in 2014. The question is whether or not the NRSC delivers in the primaries, whether or not they step in,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who has been involved in a number of Senate races (and contributes to The Hill’s Pundits Blog). “You saw the grief that Cornyn got in 2010 — there was always grumbling if they entered too much, or not enough. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Right now we have six relatively toss-up races and they have to clean the slate if they want to be back in power or come close to it.”
Read more from Cameron Joseph at The Hill
The top stories of 2012 tell us that a candidate’s own voice is still the most important communication channel for any campaign to master. The consistently articulate candidate has a formidable tool to push back against negative messaging. For those candidates who can’t stay on message, don’t have a message or have that special talent for mangling the message, there is an inexhaustible supply of aspiring videographers looking for the next “gotcha” clip.
Now that you’ve seen what happens to experienced candidates with debate coaches and media handlers, you may want to think twice about your of-the-cuff remarks at the local diner. In the live-streaming media environment, public events and even many private moments are just a YouTube upload away from worldwide broadcast.
Read more from Steve Pearson and Ford O'Connell at Campaigns & Elections
If Republicans think President Obama is going to railroad them on the "fiscal cliff," just wait - because he plans to push immigration reform early in 2013. My advice to Republicans is don't want for Obama's to make the first move on this issue, but take control of immigration reform and make it a GOP issue. The Los Angeles Times' Brian Bennett has more:
As soon as the confrontation over fiscal policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, according to officials briefed on the plans.
While key tactical decisions are still being made, President Obama wants a catch-all bill that would also bolster border security measures, ratchet up penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and make it easier to bring in foreign workers under special visas, among other elements.
Senior White House advisors plan to launch a social media blitz in January, and expect to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.