Guest Blogs

Monday
Jan142013

Ed Mosca - MYTH OF THE MACHINE

It seems to be an article of faith among some in the New Hampshire GOP that the down-ticket losses suffered by the NH GOP in the 2012 elections were primarily or even exclusively due to the Obama “ground game” or “machine.”  The numbers, however, do not support that explanation.

 

            Let’s begin with US House races in other states commonly labeled as “swing” or “battleground” states:

 

US House


GOP seats 2010

GOP seats 2012

% Change


Colorado

Obama +4%

4

4

0.0%


Florida

Obama +1%

19

17

-10.5%


Iowa

Obama +5%

2

2

0.0%


Nevada

Obama +6%

2

2

0.0%


New Hampshire

Obama +6%

2

0

-100.0%


North Carolina

Romney +2%

6

9

+50.0%


Ohio

Obama +2%

13

12

-7.7%


Virginia

Obama +3%

8

8

0.0%


Wisconsin

Obama +7%

5

5

0.0%


 

The NH GOP clearly underperformed other battleground states.  For example, although Obama won Wisconsin and Nevada by similar margins as New Hampshire, the GOP lost no seats in those states.

 

            The only other battleground state where there was a gubernatorial election was North Carolina, where the Republican candidate won by 55 to 43 percent, ten points better than Romney’s margin of victory.  In New Hampshire, Democrat Maggie Hassan also won by a twelve-point margin, which was double Obama’s.

 

            State legislative elections also fail to show a correlation between Obama’s performance and down-ticket results:

 


President

GOP state senate seats ’10-‘12


% Change

GOP state house seats ’10-‘12


% Change

Colorado

Obama +4%

15

16

+6.67%

33

28

-15.15%

 

Florida

Obama +1%

28

26

-7.14%

81

74

-8.64%

 

Iowa

Obama +5%

24

23

-4.17%

59

53

-10.17%

 

Nevada

Obama +6%

9

10

+11.11%

16

15

-6.25%

 

New Hampshire

Obama +6%

19

13

-31.58%

288

179

-37.85%

 

North Carolina

Romney +2%

31

32

+3.23%

67

77

+14.93%

 

Ohio

Obama +2%

23

23

0.00%

59

60

+1.69%

 

Virginia

Obama +3%

No State Elections in ‘12




 

Wisconsin

Obama +7%

15

18

+20.00%

58

60

+3.45%

 























            While the state senate races are not pure apple-to-apple comparisons because only Florida and North Carolina do not hold staggered elections, there clearly is no correlation between Obama’s performance and down-ticket races.  For example, in Nevada and Wisconsin, which Obama won by similar margins as NewHampshire, the GOP actually picked up senate seats.  The house races tell a similar story.  In Wisconsin, the GOP picked up house seats. And while the GOP lost house seats in Nevada, the degree of loss was insignificant compared to New Hampshire.     

 

            The next tables compare the GOP as a percentage of battleground state legislatures from 2010 to 2012, to take into account that the NH GOP held supermajorities in 2010. 

 


Total # Senate Seats

GOP seats 2010

% of Senate

GOP seats 2012

% of Senate

Change

Colorado

35

15

42.9%

16

45.7%

+2.9%

Florida

40

28

70.0%

26

65.0%

-5.0%

Iowa

50

24

48.0%

23

46.0%

-2.0%

Nevada

21

9

42.9%

10

47.6%

+4.8%

New Hampshire

24

19

79.2%

13

54.2%

-25.0%

North Carolina

50

31

62.0%

32

64.0%

+2.0%

Ohio

33

23

69.7%

23

69.7%

0.0%

Virginia


No State Elections



Wisconsin

33

15

45.5%

18

54.5%

+9.1%

Average without NH


54.4%


56.1%










Total # House Seats

GOP 2010

% of House

GOP 2012

% of House

Change

Colorado

65

33

50.8%

28

43.1%

-7.7%

Florida

120

81

67.5%

74

61.7%

-5.8%

Iowa

100

59

59.0%

53

53.0%

-6.0%

Nevada

42

16

38.1%

15

35.7%

-2.4%

New Hampshire

400

288

72.0%

179

44.8%

-27.3%

North Carolina

120

67

55.8%

77

64.2%

8.3%

Ohio

99

59

59.6%

60

60.6%

1.0%

Virginia


No State Elections



Wisconsin

99

58

58.6%

60

60.6%

2.0%

Average without NH


55.6%


54.1%


 

            While no battleground state went into the 2012 election with as high a GOP majority in the state senate as New Hampshire, three states had majorities near or above 60 percent and in only one of these states did the GOP lose seats.  And while the Florida state senate declined from 70 to 65 percent Republican that was nowhere near the 79 to 54 percent drop in New Hampshire. 

 

            House results were similar.  The Florida house declined from 67.5 to 61.7 percent Republican, in comparison to the precipitous 72 to 44.8 percent decline in New Hampshire, while the GOP extended its sizable majorities in Ohio andWisconsin.

 

            In sum, the data indicates that it would be a mistake to primarily attribute the down-ticket losses suffered by the NH GOP in 2012 to the Obama “machine.”  This is not to suggest that the NH GOP should not improve its “GOTV.”  Rather, what I am suggesting is that it would be a mistake not to also consider why the gubernatorial nominee substantially underperformed Romney and why the New Hampshire House, at 44.8 percent GOP, is well below the 54.1 percent average in battleground states.

 




Edward C. Mosca

Thursday
Dec272012

Ed Mosca - NH House Democrats Seek To Legalize Mob-Rule 

Incredibly (or perhaps not so incredibly if you were present on March 31, 2011 and watched House Democrats give a standing ovation to an unruly and menacing mob of protestors while they were being evicted from the House gallery), House Democrats are bringing forward legislation that would give their special interest constituencies the legal right to shut down the House and Senate whenever things aren’t going their way.  Specifically, Rep Tim Horrigan is sponsoring a bill that would require a body of the Legislature that closes its gallery while in session to immediately recess and to remain in recess until its gallery is reopened.  Let’s consider the implications if such a law had been in effect last session.

            During the budget bill debate on March 31, 2011, a raucous and apparently preplanned outburst of shouting from certain Democrat special interest constituencies who had packed the House gallery made it impossible to continue conducting legislative business.  The gallery was cleared and closed, and the House was able to resume its business, working through a series of dilatory amendments proposed by Democrats.  The gallery was reopened before the final vote, and the budget was passed.

            If Horrigan’s bill had been law and had been followed, the House would have had to go into recess and remain in recess until the gallery was reopened.  Which means that all the special interest constituencies would have needed to do to block the budget was to repack the gallery every time it was reopened, renew the protest, and force the House back into recess.  This is not democracy; this is mob-rule. 

            Horrigan’s bill is blatantly unconstitutional.  The New Hampshire Constitution gives the House (Part II, Article 22) and the Senate (Part II,Article 37) the exclusive authority to set their own rules of proceeding.  That means each body gets to decide on its own if to recess and and how long to recess. 

            Horrigan contends that his mob-rule bill is constitutional because it just effectuates what already is required by Part II, Article 8, which provides that “[t]he doors of the galleries, of each house of the legislature, shall be kept open to all persons who behave decently, except when the welfare of the state, in the opinion of either branch, shall require secrecy.”

            Horrigan confuses the means with the end.  The historical record of Part II, Article 8 makes it clear that its purpose was open government, to allow the citizens to be informed by preventing the Legislature from conducting its business in secret.  In 1792, physically keeping the doors to the House and Senate open to the public at all times was the only way to achieve open government.  Television, radio and Internet did not exist and were inconceivable.

            The House conducted its business after the gallery was closed on March 31, 2011 in a far more open manner than required by a literal reading of Part II, Article 8.  The proceedings continued to be live-streamed, and none of the press, television-cameras or recording equipment was removed.  To claim, as Horrigan does, that live-streaming does not effectuate the purpose of Part II, Article 8 is equivalent to claiming that the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment apply only to the forms of communication and the types of search technology that existed in the 18th century.    

            While it was unfortunate that some had to suffer because of the selfish and stupid actions of the protestors during the budge debate in 2011, it simply was not practical to immediately reopen the gallery.  It was eminently reasonable to assume, given the scale of the demonstrations occurring outside the Statehouse and the obviously planned nature of the outburst, that there was a sizable number of additional protestors who would enter the gallery, if it were immediately reopened, in order to renew the disruption.  Moreover, there was no efficacious way to prevent most of the expelled protestors from being readmitted to the gallery.  While some probably could have been identified because they were especially menacing and vociferous, there were simply too many to have any confidence that security had the capacity to identify and exclude most of them.

            Horrigan’s mob-rule bill can be understood as a manifestation of O-O-S: O’Brien-Obsession-Syndrome.  A visceral reaction against anything former Speaker O’Brien is for, and a visceral reaction for anything O’Brien is against.     

Saturday
Dec082012

Ed Mosca - NOW OR NEVER (OR AT LEAST NOT FOR ANOTHER FOUR TO SIX YEARS)

  Looking for a secure job?  Look no further than Governor of New Hampshire.  That is, as long as you are a Democrat who is pragmatic enough to pledge to veto an income or sales tax, who can exude an air of likability while running a ruthlessly negative campaign, and who can give the appearance of governing from the middle even when you are not. 

            Jeanne Shaheen: three terms, then left by her own choice to pursue higher office.  (Yeah, I know she won without taking the pledge her last term, but that campaign against Humphrey could have made even a David Axelrod wince.)  John Lynch: four terms, then made an early (some would say premature) decision to retire to his dacha in Hopkinton because he didn’t foresee Narwhal eating over one-half of the House Republicans.  While, on the other hand, poor Craig Benson (that’s poor in the figurative sense of course) was retired after one short term spent primarily butting heads with House and Senate Republican leadership (which in part was why he was a one-and-done Governor). 

            So history suggests that, if the New Hampshire GOP wants to stop Maggie Hassan from having a long shelf life, they better pull out all the stops in 2014.

            It should be self-evident after nine elections, and a winning percentage of barely above 10 percent, that the best possible candidate is essential.  No sacrificial lambs or sentimental favorites this time.  This race, not the United States Senate race or the Congressional races, is the most consequential for the future of the New Hampshire GOP and the future of the State. 

            While it is often said that New Hampshire has a weak Governor, the Governor still wields a veto and has the power to nominate judges and senior bureaucrats.  Despite all the histrionics about a “tea-party legislature” gone wild, 2011-2012 was far from transformative.  We still have a fiscally irresponsible defined-benefit retirement plan for public-sector employees, a fiscally irrational education funding system and a plethora of destructive, rent-seeking regulations. And despite an Executive Council consisting of five Republicans, Governor Lynch succeeded in putting not just a committed Claremontista on the Supreme Court, but a committed Claremontista who made no bones about being a committed Claremontista.  The New Hampshire GOP is never going to fundamentally change the political culture of this State without holding the Governor’s office.      

            It is also essential that Republican legislative leadership understand that the race for 2014 started as soon as the vote counting ended in 2012, and act in a manner that helps, not hurts, the next GOP gubernatorial nominee.  Shaheen and Lynch were able to portray themselves as bipartisan while governing as pragmatic partisans, and look at the political success they enjoyed.  Hassan, obviously, means to follow in their footsteps.  

            This doesn’t mean that Republicans in the House and Senate should obstruct simply for the sake of obstructing.  But they must not compromise simply for the sake of compromising.  There is considerable cause for concern because Senate Republicans and, based on their selection of Gene Chandler as Minority Leader, a small majority of House Republicans are smaller-government conservatives rather than small-government conservatives. 

            Smaller-government conservatism –moderating Democrat policies rather than presenting alternatives– plays into the hands of pragmatic partisans like Shaheen, Lynch and Hassan.  They get to grow government while wearing the mantle of bipartisanship.  While their base may grouse about the pace of change being too slow, the base clearly learned its lesson from the Mark Fernald debacle in 2002.  Just ask Jackie Cilley.

            Two areas are particularly concerning:gambling and an education funding amendment.

            Any gambling bill that does not dedicate all gambling-generated revenues to reducing existing taxes is a grow-the-government bill.  If the State Senate passes a gambling bill that provides some tax relief, but also materially increases spending, we might as well just ask Hassan how long she would like to serve and then tell Bill Gardner to leave the Governor’s race off the ballot until that point.  She will be able to run as a tax-cutter while doling out cash to her special interest supporters.  No Republican support for gambling unless it is a true tax-relief measure.

            Senate Republicans, and many House Republicans, have shown a willingness to support an education funding amendment that, while giving the elected branches more control over how to divvy up the education funding pie, cedes to the Court the authority to determine the size of the pie, its ingredients, and how it gets made.  Republican support for such an inadequate amendment would allow Hassan to run as the Governor who solved Claremont, without losing the support of the teacher unions.  Republicans need to stick to the amendment that passed the Senate last session and narrowly failed in the House.

Tuesday
Nov272012

Ed Mosca - THE DEMOCRAT WAR ON TAXPAYERS

Hold on to your wallets and purses; it has begun. I am referring of course to the Democrat War on Taxpayers, which is sometimes antiseptically referred to as formulating the next state budget.

            With a nominal party advantage of 221 to 179 in the House (it’s actually higher, as a practical matter, when fiscally-challenged Republicans are considered) and paradigmatic party-discipline, it is manifest that House Democrat leadership has the power to pass whatever budget they want.  And it is a safe bet that the budget they get passed will materially increase spending (the Democrats owe the public sector unions big-time) and raise some existing taxes (the tobacco tax for sure), and perhaps impose some new taxes.  But if history is any guide, and it should be in this case because the House Democrat leadership will likely be mostly the same crew that created an $800 million deficit between 2006 and 2010, the budget passed by the Democrat-controlled House will grossly overestimate future tax revenues in order to make the budget appear balanced.

            While House Republicans lack the numbers to prevent fiscal bad behavior by House Democrats (as noted above, the 179 actually overstates the true Republican strength in the House), they can accomplish two important things: (1) they can set the tone and provide an example for the Senate where Republicans, if they wish, can pass a fiscally responsible budget and (2) they can begin making their case to the voters for 2014.  Here are three things House Republicans should do:

            First, go big.  Establish an overarching objective that is consistent with Republican principles.  Examples are: no increase in spending from the prior budget, increasing spending only by the rate of inflation, spending at a certain percentage of anticipated revenue (using a realistic projection, of course) and dedicating the remainder to the rainy day fund and/or tax relief.   

            Second, watch what you say.  Believe it or not, folks outside Concord hear “cut the budget” and think that spending is actually going to be less than it was in the prior budget (which allows Democrats to argue that Granny is going to be left at the curb to die), when “cut” often refers to merely reducing the extent to which the Governor’s budget wants to increase spending.  Unless you are actually proposing reducing spending from the level in the prior budget, don’t use the word “cut.”  And if you just can’t resist, how about “cutting new spending” or “cutting new spending from the Governor’s proposed budget,” rather than the misleading “cutting the budget.”  But the best thing would be to, whenever possible, “go big” and eschew debating the merits of individual programs which give Democrats the opportunity to demagogue.

            Third, understand the purpose of amendments and debate.  They are not going to change Democrat minds.  They can be, when utilized properly, a tool to educate the public and to establish a record to run on and against.

Thursday
Nov222012

Ed Mosca - SOME THOUGHTS ON THE 2012 ELECTIONS AND THE FUTURE FOR THE NH GOP 

The 2012 elections confirm that New Hampshire is a blue state, but a unique shade of blue.

            You have togo back to 2000 for the last time the Republican presidential candidate got more votes than the Democrat, but that only tells part of the story because George W. Bush only got 48 percent of the vote while Al Gore (47 percent) and Ralph Nader (4 percent) combined for 51 percent.  You have to go back all the way to 1988 for the last time the Republican presidential candidate got more than 50 percent.  And the trend has been in the wrong direction.  While George W. improved to 49 percent of the vote in 2004, McCain garnered only 45 percent in 2008 and Romney essentially matched that with 46 percent in 2012.

            The elections for Governor have been almost as barren for Republicans.  With the exception of the 2002 election, Democrats have won all of the gubernatorial elections since 1996.  A good number of these victories were landslides.  The only really close race was in 2004, when Lynch knocked off Benson 51 percent to 49 percent.  Even in the tsunami year of 2010, Lynch won by a comfortable margin of 7.5 percent.

            Clearly, the Democrat success in electing governors is based on “taking the pledge.”  From 1988 through 1994, Republicans didn’t just beat pro-tax Democrats in the gubernatorial races; they demolished them.  In 1994, Steve Merrill won an incredible 70 percent of the vote.  But that changed in 1996, when Merrill decided not to seek a third term and Jeanne Shaheen took the pledge.   She easily defeated Ovide 57 percent to 40 percent, and with the exception of the single Benson term, Democrats have held the governor’s office ever since.

            No Democrat, with the exception of Jeanne Shaheen in 2000, has been elected Governor without taking the pledge.  Mark Fernald ran explicitly on an income tax in 2002 and didn’t even crack 40 percent.  And in 2000 Shaheen did not crack 50 percent, although it should be pointed out that she might have had not Mary Brown (6 percent) run as an independent on a pro income tax platform.   Mark Fernald’s blowout loss to Benson only two years later in an election that was a referendum on an income tax suggests that Shaheen’s victory in 2000 was despite of, not because of, her abandonment of the pledge.

            And that is what makes New Hampshire a unique shade of blue.  While the Democrat mantra in this past national election was that income tax rates on the “rich” need to go up, in New Hampshire Maggie Hassan repeatedly pledged to veto an income tax.  A good call on her part when you consider the constitutional amendment to ban the income tax, while it did not get the necessary two-thirds, did get 57 percent of the vote.   

            And while the ban-the-income-tax amendment came up short, the 57 percent of the vote it garnered is especially impressive considering that a significant percentage of the voters may have been voters who were inclined to vote a straight Democrat line.

            There were over 99,000 same-day registrations in 2012, which is 14 percent of total voters.  Some of these undoubtedly were new voters turned out by the vaunted Obama machine, while others were voters who had to re-register because they had moved or because of redistricting.   Let’s assume that only one-half of same-day registrants were new voters turned out by Obama.

            That is still a swing of 7 percent, which suggests that absent this turnout effort the state would have gone to Romney and, assuming the voters turned out by Obama voted straight Democrat and an even split between districts, Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass would have won as well, which is what one would have expected given the sorry condition of the economy.  However, Hassan still would have handily defeated Ovide.

            Clearly the New Hampshire GOP, and the GOP in general, has to do a much, much better job of identifying persuadable voters and getting these voters to vote.  But just as clearly that will not be enough to win gubernatorial elections or, it is probably safe to assume, down-ballot state elections in anti-tax districts where the Democrat takes the pledge.  

            The major problem that the New Hampshire GOP has in state elections is that it still has not figured out how to run against candidates that take the pledge.  Here are some suggestions.

            Update the pledge:  Instead of pledging just to veto an income and sales tax, pledge to veto any new tax.  Or any new tax or any increase in existing taxes.  Or expand the pledge to veto any budget that increases state spending more than the rate of inflation. 

            Pick your battles wisely:  I cannot understand the position that civil unions are ok, but civil same-sex marriages are not.  What’s the point in fighting that battle?  

            Draw clear and meaningful distinctions with the Democrats:  Any Republican who advocates gambling on the ground that the state needs more revenue should be flogged with a cat o’ nine tails and then be made to walk the plank.  Saying the state needs more revenue is just a lovely euphemism for saying we need to grow government.  To the extent that Republicans support gambling, it should be as a tax relief measure.  The condition antecedent for Republican support of any casino-gambling bill is a statutory guarantee that every penny in taxes collected from casino-gambling reduces existing taxes.

            Run better candidates:  In many respects, New Hampshire has changed dramatically since the halcyon days of Sununu/Gregg/Merrill.  Understand how it has changed and run candidates who can make Republican principles relevant to today’s New Hampshire.