Archive | November, 2012

The legendary Tyrus Fain

My friend Tyrus Fain passed away today. He leaves behind the lovely Kate Fain, some grown up kids, and about thirty bazillion friends.

When I first met Ty he was a political consultant. Later when he moved to the Big Bend, he was the President of the Rio Grande Institute, doing his part to protect that great river. I first met him through then-Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro in 1991. Some of his other friends go back years further than that, perhaps all the way back to one of several Kennedy campaigns for President and/or US Senate, or even before.

I wouldn’t even know how or where to begin to describe Ty in a way that would do him justice. That’s why this is going to be a different kind of tribute, because Ty Fain was a different kind of man. So here’s the deal: there are so many stories about Ty Fain’s never-ending efforts to have fun, screw with Republicans, save the Rio Grande River, or otherwise be notable in some way, that no one person could know them all, much less begin to tell them. So I want to tell a couple of stories about Ty, but I want this tribute to be audience participation; those of you who knew Ty, please please PLEASE share your stories with the rest of the class, in the comments section. While it might not be particularly challenging to tell a great story about Ty, you might find it more challenging to think of one which can be told in mixed company. I know you’ll do your best.

Here are mine:

Ty loved to mess with Republicans. For some reason, he particularly loved screwing with Bush 41. George H.W. Bush was able to claim Texas residency in the 80’s only because he’d registered to vote using the address of a hotel room in Houston. So in 1988, in efforts to demonstrate to Ty’s fellow Texans the extent to which Bush wasn’t much of one, Ty and some friends rented that very hotel room in Houston, put out a bunch of bologna sandwiches, added a cardboard cut-out of Bush, invited the media, and had themselves a party. It got national news.

Ty was also completely absent-minded. He often told the story of how, when he was an advance man for Bobby Kennedy’s presidential campaign, he was advancing the next scheduled campaign stop after the one at which Kennedy was tragically killed. Ty was at that next event site preparing when they called to tell him the news. Ty was shell-shocked when he heard, and he jumped in his rental car, drove back to his hotel, packed his bag, took a cab to the airport, and returned to Washington.

Ty said it was a full six months later when one night, he bolted up out of a dead sleep in bed, suddenly remembering that he’d left that rental car, keys still in the ignition and the engine running, in front of his hotel somewhere in California. He called the rental car company, who upon hearing from him responded, “oh yes, Mr. Fain – we know all about you.” He claims to have been banned for life from renting from that company again.

Ty always offered a chilled shot of Patron tequila and great political war stories to anybody who came to visit he and Kate at their house in Marathon, Texas. Over the years I drank a lot of his liquor and listened to a lot of his stories. And I grew to love him and Kate (and also the tequila, come to think of it) more and more as time went by. I’m very sad that there will be no more visits with Ty.

The professional river guides on the Rio Grande always said that Ty Fain had a death wish. They said they often saw him do things in his kayak on that river that even they would never do. But he always emerged from the rapids on the other end of the run without a scratch. I imagine that Ty’s back floating on the river now, doing what he loved to do, where he loved to do it, pretty smugly happy with himself for leaving it all out on the field. He should be – he did.

Add your Ty Fain stories in the comments section so we can all enjoy ‘em, and so we can continue enjoying him. Meanwhile, I think it’s high time I had a chilled Patron while I fondly remember my old friend. Rest in peace, old scoundrel. You’ll never be forgotten.

 Update: apparently, settings in the comments section automatically correct “Ty” to “Thank you.” Despite the fact that is seems entirely appropriate, I hope I have changed the settings to disable this temporarily. I fear that the correction is distracting to the central message. Carry on.

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Letters From Texas Song and Dance Department

I have hidden talents. Unfortunately, this is not among them. But it’s fun to watch anyway.

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So, the election didn’t go your way?

You have my deepest sympathies. As a Democrat in Texas, I have considerable experience knowing how you must feel.

However, after the reality of it sinks in, you just have to move on, in a grown-up way.

Examples of some really grown-up things you could do in order to help you with your grieving process might be to push for secession and move away from the U.S. or relocate to a bunker and stock up on guns and ammo and express hatred for Democrats (including divorcing your spouse if he or she is one), and quit your job if your boss supports Obama, and crap on your Obama-voting neighbor’s yard, and fire your Democratic clients, and boycott businesses accepting government assistance for families, and spit at people and call them communist pigs, and and just in general have a good ol’ time comparing people to Nazis.

Yeah, that’ll probably do the trick. I bet you feel better already.

 

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Our long National nightmare may soon be over

Especially if this app is adopted in Austin.

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Texas is suddenly one 10-gallon hat short

Oh, come on. You didn’t really expect a blog named “Letters From Texas” to allow the passing of a fantastic Texan like Larry Hagman to go without notice here, did you? We all grew up with JR, loved to hate JR, hated to love JR, and wondered who shot JR. Way before that, he was the lucky guy who got to shack up with the way-hot Jeannie.

Aside from LBJ or either President Bush, it’s hard to imagine a man more closely associated with Texas and more universally recognizable than Larry Hagman. In fact, years ago I went down to Nicaragua chasing after a woman I never caught, and after arriving in the Managua airport, knowing very little Spanish and realizing I needed to be on the other end of the country, I hired a guy who  spoke very little English to drive me there in the middle of the night. The first thing he wanted to know after I told him I’m a Texan: what’s JR Ewing really like?

I laughed and told the driver I didn’t know. I’d only briefly met the man once, in the Texas Capitol. But when I heard that Hagman had passed away, I contacted a couple of other Texans who did know him. I was just as curious as my Nicaraguan driver.

My friend Mary Mapes of Dallas (the town, not the TV show), whose words have long graced the sidebar to your immediate left, knew him. Here’s what she had to say:

He had a great hissing laugh and a really good sense of humor. Very quick, and very self-deprecating. He was interested in journalism and had several subjects he really liked to talk about, including veterans and PTSD.

He loved Texas, and loved making fun of Texas and Texans in the way that only someone from here and of here can get away with.

A fascinating detail I always noticed is how different he looked, and even acted, without the big ol’ hat. I was at a party at Lisa Blue’s house and hadn’t met him yet, when I realized that the rather dignified man walking past me (hatless) was Larry. White hair, regal carriage, quiet, and elegant. Next time I saw him that evening, he had the hat on. And it was a transformation. He seemed taller, edgier, more of a rapscallion, crazy eyebrows, the whole JR look. He seemed to revel in his Texas alter ego.

Philanthropist, politico, and Dallas lawyer (the town, not the TV show – STOP THAT) Lisa Blue knew Larry Hagman well. He was not only among her closest friends, but she also serves as the founding board member of Hagman’s foundation.  He organized the foundation because, as Lisa explained, “he wanted to give back in some way.”

Lisa’s bottom line on her friend:

He was probably the kindest person I ever met. He went out of his way to make sure people were included, and always asked them about their background, and was always very kind to his fans. He was the kind of guy who, if went to the doctor, he’d find out all about the nurse – her interests, her passions. He wasn’t at all like the character he portrayed.

Lisa, who was with him this week, told me that he went the way he wanted to go – quickly, and surrounded by people who loved him, and whom he loved. She said that in their last conversation, he told her that he’d had a wonderful life. That he was blessed. That he was so in love with his wife and his family.

I wish I’d known all that before my Nicaraguan driver asked. Rest in peace, Mr. Hagman. Even in death, you’re bigger than life.

Here’s more about the Larry Hagman Foundation, with an opportunity to contribute.

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Yet another measure in which Texas is falling behind

Certain kinds of sports.

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Married couples don’t always have to agree on politics…

but it helps.

 

[h/t Ellen Sweets]

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Seceding from the Union: the return of Wackadoodleonia

Those true patriots who happened to get their asses handed to them in the election last week are so patriotic that now, they’re petitioning the White House to allow Texas to secede from the union.

The Clown Car is late to the game: we here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters contemplated this possibility more than two years ago.

 

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Rotkoff: Texas Democrats know how to win – we already are

Editor’s Note: I happily – even giddily – stand by what I wrote the other day about Texas Democrats needing to do better. After all, a political party barely scraping past 40% in statewide results must either do better, or admit the votes aren’t there. Since I refuse to concede the latter, I focus on the former. At the same time, there have been flashes of brilliance in district races all over Texas for years, several of them this year. That’s why I asked Jeff Rotkoff, who seems never to be far away from those flashes when they happen, to go through the specifics of how Pete Gallego walloped an incumbent member of Congress – a fresh case study in turning things around. Jeff was key to the team that turned it around for Gallego in the primary, and the team that won the election Tuesday night. His is only the second guest piece I’ve ever solicited for these pages, for good reason – this stuff is important. If you want Texas Democrats to do better than 40-something-percent moving forward, Jeff’s take-aways are important.

by Jeff Rotkoff

Speak for yourself, Cook!

It would be one thing if electoral results like these had been engineered by a Democratic Party so brilliant that they successfully attracted the coalition of women, minorities, working families, and disaffected Anglos with whom they won nationally last night. – Harold Cook, Letters From Texas

There I was, minding my own business, trying to figure out why @GovernorPerry took so long to block me on Twitter, when a tweet from San Antonio Express-News writer Nolan Hicks had to harsh my vibe:

Never mind the pesky fact that California Republicans suffered net losses, and Texas Democrats gained ground on election night! Let’s pretend getting your ass handed to you up and down the ballot compares to coming up short in like four races! They’re practically the same thing, right?

And now there’s this. Famed Texas letter writer Harold Cook published a piece on his blog making the argument that Democrats didn’t so much earn voters’ support in 2012, as the Republicans repelled them like a DEA agent at Phish concert in Denver.

Listen, y’all. I just can’t take it any more. So, I think I’ll do what I do best: I’ll pick a fight.

First, let me start with a caveat. The 2010 general election sucked. Two years ago was my third election cycle at the Texas HDCC, and on one night, we saw 4 years of gains totally wiped out, and more. Virtually every single race I worked on in 2010 was a loss, and it hurt. But, dear readers, it was only one cycle. Past may be prologue, but history goes back to before 2010.

Jeff Rotkoff: obvious fight-picker

I got my start as a campaign staffer working for then-Congressman Chet Edwards. It was a win mostly driven by the fact that Chet was a helluva incumbent and his opponent was a doofus who wanted to abolish the Department of Education. And in 2004, we kicked the crap out of Arlene Wholgemuth. I’d like to say our great field program drove the win, but the reality is that Arlene’s record of making it harder for sick kids to get health insurance, and her support of outlawing abortion – even in cases of rape and incest – probably had more to do with our win in a district drawn by Tom DeLay and Karl Rove.

In 2006 and 2008 I was proud to be a part of some really outstanding campaigns for the state House, helping to elect legislators like Chris Turner, Joe Moody, Carol Kent, Robert Miklos and plenty more. And Texas Democrats won a bunch of other impressive races before 2010. Wendy Davis was elected to the Senate. We defeated Henry Bonilla and Tom De-frickin-Lay for goodness sake.

Folks, it is time to get over our 2010 PTSD and admit it: Texas Democrats know how to win. We don’t always do so. Sometimes it’s the money that holds us back. Sometimes it’s the candidate. And sometimes it’s a race-fueled rage sweeping the country. But sometimes, hell, lots of times, we’ve figured out just what the heck it is we’re doing.

In 2012, I’m proud to have been involved in a couple of big projects that did exactly what Harold Cook says we probably didn’t: engineer a strategy to attract a coalition of women, minorities and working families. One key win – Pete Gallego’s race for Congress – wasn’t the state’s only big Democratic victory (for example, I take 0.0% of the credit for Wendy Davis’s outstanding reelection effort). But here’s a little about what Pete Gallego accomplished:

The formula was simple: the right message + innovative targeting + good old-fashioned field operation = a Gallego win.

The truth of the matter is that a lot of people never really gave ol’ Pete much of a chance. Confession time: I expressed serious reservations when he first asked me my opinion on running for CD 23. But I was wrong. Pete ran a campaign that was modern and innovative, but simultaneously refreshingly simple and traditional.

Pete damn near lost the primary runoff to Ciro Rodriguez. We came into it trailing 55-45, lost the endorsement of the 3rd candidate, and our own IDs reflected that 55-45 split. But then we did a few key things, and reinvented the race.

First, we ditched the message recommended by a now out-of-business pollster, that Pete should focus on his background as a prosecutor and run as Mr. Law and Order. Instead, we started talking about the issues that Latino Democrats in Bexar County, South Texas, and El Paso really care about: protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, and providing educational opportunities for our kids.

Second – it wasn’t quite Project Narwhal – but working with the teams at AMM Political, GQR Research, and the Pivot Group we implemented a truly innovate candidate support model, and worked off the best field and mail targeting I’ve ever seen.

And you know what? It turns out that when you to talk to the right voters with the right message, you can win an election nobody thinks you will.

That same mantra served Pete well in the general election: find the right voters and talk to them about the issues that make a difference in their lives.

In the general election, that meant introducing Pete to the electorate by telling his family’s story of middle class struggle, and connecting to the economic concerns of voters in 2012. Research showed that Latino voters in Bexar County particularly – who did not start off with strongly held opinions on Gallego – were concerned not just about making it to the middle class, but staying there once they arrived. Sharing Pete’s personal story – in English and in Spanish – showed voters he shared their priorities and their values.

Pete Gallego: he’s going to Congress, and you’re not

Next, the campaign did something our opponent never saw coming: we hit him from the right, highlighting his votes against combat pay raises for American soldiers. In a district with four military bases nearby, the ads struck a powerful chord.

Gallego closed out the campaign with another ad that didn’t play to type. It was a one-two punch that hit the Republican for opposing the DREAM Act , but voting to weaken border security. And it worked because voters in South Texas get that safe communities and a pathway to citizenship aren’t mutually exclusive.

On top of it all was a kick-ass field effort, run by hard working staffers who will never get enough credit (Michael! Crystal! Eli! Jenn!), and an outstanding manager, finance staff, and press team. Using models to predict voters’ willingness to listen to what we had to say, the campaign kept it simple: the right message to the right voters led to a pretty damn good election night.

Seems like a pretty good formula. And the great thing is, I’m not convinced it takes 3 million dollars in Super PAC money to execute (although that sure helped Pete). If I were running for County Commissioner in a 46% Democratic district somewhere in Texas, I think I’d have a decent shot to win using these same principles. I’d get on the Texas VAN – one of the best statewide Democratic voter files in the country – and use model scores to figure out which voters will never give a crap about what I had to say. Then I’d never ever talk to them. But I’d also ditch the money down-ballot candidates usually waste on nail files and balloons for the kids, and instead invest wisely in a little door-to-door program, and maybe a couple pieces of mail, talking to voters about the things they actually care about. Protecting the middle class…economic security…our children’s educations. That’s how Texas Democrats can turn 46% losses into 51% wins.

There is hope. We know how to win. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.

[Here's more about Jeff Rotkoff]

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Well this is awkward…

A political race ended with a tie – and the wife of one of the candidates didn’t vote.

 

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Election analysis: it wasn’t the demographics, it’s what Republicans did with ‘em

Republicans, I am not without my sympathies. As a Texas Democrat, I’ve been there. Hell, I live there.

The Republican Party simply cannot ignore—or worse, pick on, scapegoat, or otherwise rhetorically molest—entire swathes of the electorate all year, and then expect them to have collective amnesia, forgive all that, jump in the car and show up late at night on command, just because Republicans texted a booty call.

In politics, as in life, if you’re making enemies faster than you’re making friends, you’re doing it wrong. In the face of undeniable demographic and voting behavior shifts that have added to the clout of women and amplified the influence of minorities, too many Republican nominees said and did too many stupid things. They were richly punished for it.

It’s not hard to understand how it could happen. Republican candidates have understandably, over the past several election cycles, developed an absolute terror of their own primary voters. As Mr. Romney himself learned, the things you must say to win a Republican primary these days are nothing short of amazing. And the only thing worse than a candidate like Romney, who was faking it, are the Tea Party-fueled candidates—like Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana—who weren’t.

We Texans are used to this sort of thing. Since Democrats haven’t won a statewide election since 1994, when this year’s college freshmen were born, statewide Republicans well understand that all one must do to win public office around here is win their primary. And so, not irrationally, the only voters Republican candidates in Texas have effectively communicated with in recent years are their own primary voters. Too often they’ve done so by appealing to the worst instincts of the party faithful. The scapegoats in that narrative have included women, students, minorities, gay Americans, and disaffected Anglos. Sure, it’s been more than enough to win statewide elections. But it doesn’t grow a political party. Over time, in fact, it shrinks one.

“But what about our prize Latino, Ted Cruz?!” Republicans screech. Mighty good spin, but not only was Mr. Cruz not elected by Latino voters, last night’s results show that he didn’t even appeal to Latino voters in the slightest. Cruz was effectively elected by a tiny slice of the most right-wing, and Anglo, Texans: those who vote in Republican primary runoff elections. And in last night’s general, opposed only by a candidate who couldn’t have raised enough money to compete if he’d been given a gun, a ski mask, and a list of 7-11’s, Cruz got pounded in many of the counties controlled by Latino voters. Mr. Cruz was elected last night for only one reason: he wasn’t the Democrat in the race. That’s not exactly hero material, nor is it a path forward for a political party attracting fewer and fewer voters among the fastest-growing demographic in the state.

Wendy Davis’ win in the state senate race in Fort Worth represents another case in which Republicans are holding themselves back. Even though the federal courts had little trouble wrapping their heads around the intentional discrimination, as courts termed it, in the Republican-drawn redistricting maps, Republicans have been unwilling to acknowledge it. To be sure, Senator Davis is a great candidate, and she undoubtedly gets her fair share of independent voters. But minorities control the outcome of elections in that district, and this is the second election in which Davis has proved it by attracting virtually all of their votes, and winning. Yet best I can tell, Republicans made little effort, and no headway, in attracting minority support there.

It would be one thing if electoral results like these had been engineered by a Democratic Party so brilliant that they successfully attracted the coalition of women, minorities, working families, and disaffected Anglos with whom they won nationally last night. But I bluntly doubt we’re that brilliant. My strong suspicion is that Democrats won based on a coalition of voters that Republicans effectively offended and forced out.

Let me say that again, because Republicans should ponder it: Democrats didn’t so much create their winning coalition, as much as Republicans repelled the coalition with which Democrats won.

And therein also lies Texas Democrats’ greatest challenge looking forward. It’s not as if we’ve been doing a bang-up job statewide of working to attract those voters; underfunding in recent years has prevented the Democratic Party from doing so, to say nothing of the poor choices of various better-funded statewide Democrats. And it’s not as if any group anywhere is genetically predisposed to vote Democratic, or to show up and vote at all. Rather, it has mainly been the Republican Party’s focus on communicating only with its own primary voters which has alienated women and minority voters in the state and, at best, prevented Republicans from making inroads with them.

While Democrats benefitted from it last night—even in Texas—they’d be well-advised to learn how to stand on their own two feet with those voters, before Republicans crack the code.

(note: a version of this piece appeared originally in TexasMonthly.com)

Update: a companion piece to this one, guest-written by Jeff Rotkoff, is here.

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How to watch the Presidential election returns: a drunk viewer’s guide

As a service to you, the crap-reading public, I herein present the official 2012 Letters From Texas Guide to Watching Presidential Returns Come In, AKA the election night drinking game.

So without further adieu, here’s the deal: there are only a few battleground states left: Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and arguably, North Carolina. So they’re the states to watch.

They’ll be drinking too.

Assuming you’ve already voted by the time you get off work, congratulate yourself: have a drink. And when you get comfy in front of your TV, if you’re in Austin tune into YNN, where our Capital Tonight ongoing election night coverage will begin at 7 pm. The regular crowd – Paul Brown, Ted Delisi, Harvey Kronberg, and me – will be joined by the lovely and talented Scott Braddock.  Pour a bonus drink for that too.

By 6:30 pm central time (ALL times are central herein)  the polls will have closed in 9 states. Virginia closes at 6, and if the nets call it for Obama, consider it very good news: the state is tied in polling. Have a drink. If it goes for Romney, don’t sweat it. Ain’t no big thang.

North Carolina’s polls close at 6:30, and if they call it for Obama, have two drinks because it’s going to be an early night and Obama will win – the state leans heavily for Romney, and if Obama takes it – big trouble for Republican moose and squirrel.

Ohio also closes at 6:30, but I suspect returns won’t start coming in for a while (like, maybe December), nor do I think the exit polling will be very clear. But If Obama wins Ohio, then all he lacks is Florida, or Virginia plus Wisconsin, to win the election. Have a drink.

By 7:00 pm the polls in another 16 states will close, among them the aforementioned Florida, plus New Hampshire. Also closing at 7 is Massachusetts, so it’ll be time to start looking to see how Elizabeth Warren is faring in early returns. If she jumps out ahead, you know what to do: have a drink.

If the nets call Florida (which is tied/leaning Romney) for Obama, drink heavily, because Florida plus Ohio, or North Carolina, or Virginia,  and Obama wins the election. It’s almost impossible for Romney to win without Florida, or Ohio. Drink up.

By 8:00 pm the polls in another 14 states close, most notably Wisconsin, Colorado, and oh yeah Texas (this is actually a dirty trick – only El Paso closes at 8, but they get grumpy when we forget). Colorado is tied up, so if Obama takes it, drink. If Obama wins Wisconsin, and has already won Florida, drink heavily – he just won the election. If Obama loses Florida, but wins Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, drink heavily – he just won the election that way instead.

By now, the only way you’re still playing this game is if Obama has lost Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina. If that happens, start drinking heavily in the other “oh crap” direction, and instead look for election results in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Colorado. If he wins all of those, plus one of  Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire – he wins the election anyway, without winning Florida, Ohio, or North Carolina. DRINK.

Now the obvvi[ous prob;lem here is that by now yourreee really ddrunk. But that’s nooot reallly my probren, iz itt?

Let’s back up and look at this another way: If you make the assumption that Romney will win North Carolina, and that Obama will win Ohio (which are two assumptions I am fairly comfortable making), here are the clearest paths to victory for each candidate:

Obama to win: must only win Florida. If he doesn’t win Florida, he can win Virginia and Wisconsin. Or he can win Wisconsin and Colorado. Or he can win Colorado and Iowa. Each is a winning combination.

Romney to win: must also win Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Iowa. There are other winning combinations for him, but they are completely tortured.

See how difficult the electoral map is looking for the Mittster? Drink heavily.

Is this helpful? Good – Buy me a drink.

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Republican pundits’ tortured logic, and the horse they rode in on

First, let me get some disclosures of my own out of the way, so I can earn my seat at the high road table.

The vote fairy won’t be visiting Texas on Tuesday. There will not be a surprise winner in the U.S. Senate race here. There are no big upsets in store in any Texas state Senate race anywhere, except one – the only question mark is the Davis-Shelton race in Fort Worth. There are few state House races up for grabs – if you’re a Democrat who doesn’t live in the maybe 8-10 districts which are in play, your hopes and dreams will be shattered. Only two of Texas’ Congressional seats are in serious question – the ones in which Democrats Nick Lampson and Pete Gallego are running. And wish it as hard as you’d like, but of Texas’ 38 electoral votes, Barack Obama will be earning exactly zero of them on Tuesday.

If you don’t live within some of that prized real estate in Texas I just described and had hoped for a better outcome, sorry to disappoint you. Take solace that miracles – and accidents – do happen. Maybe your beloved candidate will be the recipient of one. Or maybe I’m just full of crap. But I doubt it, and now I’ve said what I honestly believe.

With that unpleasantness out of the way, now that I’ve demonstrated that I’m capable of acknowledging likelihoods even when they aren’t great news for my Party, what the hell is up with the national Republican pundits?

Over the last couple of days we’ve been treated to the most tortured logic I’ve seen in recent years out of them, all with the goal of them maintaining their ability to end their sentence with, “…and that’s why Mitt Romney will win.”

These pundits use “anecdotal evidence.” You know who uses evidence like that? Those who don’t have statistical evidence.

The statistical evidence they do use consists mainly of pulling outliers out of the pile of battleground state polling, using national polling to justify something – anything – specific about a given battleground state, or even isolating single crosstabs from some of the very same well-established polls those same pundits otherwise discount as “hopelessly skewed.” Today I even noticed one Republican using as “a promising trend” an isolated crosstab from a poll taken shortly after Obama’s first, disastrous, debate – when it’s clear from subsequent research that this “trend” reversed itself a week later.

To justify saying that which they already know is so utterly unlikely, they are hedging their bets by mentioning, “…well, but of course, the hurricane might have slowed Romney’s momentum.” Perfect target, that hurricane: it’s a factor beyond the control of any of the Republican pundits – some of whom raised and spent millions of dollars of rich peoples’ money and promised that for their investment they’d get a US Senate majority and the White House – which they can point to after Tuesday night and blame. Rove, late last week, was the first one I noticed using the storm as his big asterisk, but over the weekend I’ve noticed other pundits adopting this adorable little baby as their very own to love and hold as well.

Continuing to lie about what you really think is a lot easier than crediting the President’s team for having an effective message and sticking to it. It’s easier than admitting that the Democrats in targeted states are mopping the floor with Republicans on the ground game. It’s certainly easier than blaming Mitt Romney for embracing a far-right message, or blaming the Tea Party nutjobs who not only forced him there, but are also responsible for knocking more mainstream US Senate candidates off in the primaries, leaving the Republican Party with embarrassing losers.

What Democrats need to do – both in Texas and Nationally – is continue doing what you’re doing: get out the damn Democratic vote. What we should do is pretend we never heard the Republicans lie about what they think will happen, and pretend you never read how I responded. Because the GOTV activity – all of it – counts for something. In some areas of Texas, it counts for just about everything.

But don’t be fooled as the unintended recipient of the Republican pundit machine message – they’re just doing CYA duty for all the rich guys they pried money from. They’re creating the Wednesday morning narrative that starts with “Romney would have won, and we’d have a majority in the Senate, if only [fill in the blank with weather reports, or anything else not in the control of the SuperPAC you just gave millions to].” And their narrative ends with “and that’s why it’s not my fault.”

Democrats, continue to work your hearts out to win every one of these elections; you haven’t developed a narrative that ends that way. Your only remaining choice is to do everything doable to win whatever elections you’re working on.

 

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Game ON: Cook versus Delisi on a big election night prediction

Funny thing about making pre-election night predictions – every once in a while, somebody has to be very wrong. And this will be one of those times, since Republican Ted Delisi and I disagree about who will win the most closely-watched legislative race in Texas:

You can watch this entire episode of “Capitol Tonight” on YNN Austin this Sunday at 11 am, and you should definitely tune in on Tuesday night for our special election night show, from 7 pm until the wee hours, to see which one of us will have to eat crow about what we said.

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