Equivalence in Kentucky: Healthcare and votes

Mitch McConnell did this during the recent debate with Alison Lundergan Grimes:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Monday he wouldn’t mind if the state healthcare insurance exchange known as Kentucky Kynect stayed but reiterated his call for the full repeal of ObamaCare.
Policy experts have questioned the feasibility of preserving the popular state exchange while also repealing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which set it up and similar exchanges around the country.

“Kentucky Kynect is a website. It was paid for by a two-hundred-and-some-odd-million-dollar grant from the federal government. The website can continue but in my view the best interests of the country would be achieved by pulling out ObamaCare root and branch,” McConnell said in a debate with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for Senate.

Now Mitch knows that Kynect and Obamacare are the same thing. And he knows that if you repeal Obamacare, you repeal Kynect.

He also knows that Kynect is popular in the Bluegrass State, which is why he says keep the Web site.

Which is meaningless.

Mitch thinks Kentucky voters are idiots. Unfortunately, some are:

Greg Sargent gets a great nugget from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who “recently conducted a statewide poll in Kentucky for an unnamed client and found that Kynect polls very positively, in contrast to Obamacare, which is underwater.”

Kynect is the Kentucky version of the Affordable Care Act exchange. To the extent the polling is correct, these results are another example of people loving the ACA but hating Obamacare.

Which just isn’t very surprising. People still don’t really know what “Obamacare” is. Why should they? There’s nothing labeled “Obamacare” that anyone has to deal with; almost nothing labeled “Affordable Care Act;” and there aren’t even all that many noticeable parts of the new system. Of course, Kynect is one of those new things, but there’s no reason for anyone in Kentucky to know that it has anything to do with the national law.

Alison should have been able to kick his ass on this subject. But she’s too busy not saying whether she voted for Obama. So her mealy mouthed stance on her vote is being treated as the equivalent of Mitch taking healthcare away from people who were never able to afford it before.

Oh, and when Alison was asked about Obamacare in May, here’s what happened:

Alison Lundergan Grimes made big news the other day by refusing to say whether she would have voted for the Affordable Care Act. She did say: “I am not and will not be for taking away insurance that 400,000 Kentuckians just recently got access to.” But Grimes’ position remains careful. She subsequently followed up by clarifying that the law would look “different” if she’d been in the Senate.

And that’s why Alison is screwing up this election.

Act like a Democrat, already!


Alison: Your aim is not true

So, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Democrat running for Republican Mitch McConnell’s Senate seat, got hit with this ad for refusing to say if she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012:

Alison, it’s a simple yes or no. If you did, you piss off Republicans who aren’t going to vote for you anyway. If you didn’t, then Democrats should be pissed off because that means you thought Sarah Palin was qualified to be president if the old guy died, or you had no issues with Mitt Romney saying 47 percent of your state consisted of moochers who suck on the federal teat: You know, Republicans on Social Security who attend Sarah Palin rallies tugging oxygen tanks and riding wheelchairs they got from Medicare:

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn’t a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — “Government’s not the solution! Government’s the problem!” — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

“The scooters are because of Medicare,” he whispers helpfully. “They have these commercials down here: ‘You won’t even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!’ Practically everyone in Kentucky has one.”

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

And for some reason, Grimes thinks running this ad in Kentucky is a good idea:

Look, there are a lot of immigrants in the Bluegrass State who want to support a Democrat because they know the GOP wants to send them south of the border, and that doesn’t mean to Tennessee. So go ahead and write off those votes so you can appeal to the previously mentioned Republicans who aren’t going to vote for you anyway.

Maybe the Grimes campaign is in the midst of some super genius strategy where it is convinced the voters of Kentucky are a bunch of barefoot, one-toothed hicks in bib overalls and straw hats who are easy to outsmart on Election Day. Maybe this is the path to a landslide victory for the Democrat.

I doubt it.

But, Alison, you have to know you are really pissing off registered Kentucky Democrats who were fired up about the possibility of getting rid of Mitch. Instead, you’re pandering to the cowards who say they’re “Independents,” the 2014 political designation for humiliated Republicans who don’t want people to know they voted twice for George W. Bush (the dumber).

As I’ve said before: If you’re going to run on a Republican platform, you should have challenged Mitch in the primary.

You might think a Democrat running as a conservative is a good idea. But the only Blue Dog in Kentucky that a rational person needs is the bakery and cafe on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville.

We don’t need a Blue Dog Democrat in the Senate who’s going to undermine everything progressives are trying to achieve. If you’ve paid any attention, you know that most Blue Dog Democrats have been voted out of office in recent elections. There used to be conservative Democrats in Kentucky’s congressional delegation in Washington. Do you want me to count how many there are today?


Wait a minute, let me do a recount.

Yep. Zero.

Time to appeal to your base. Start acting like a Democrat.

The Kentucky Senate race just got interesting

Despite a really bad start, things aren’t looking bad for Allison Lundergan Grimes’s bid for Mitch McConnell‘s Senate seat (via Daily Kos):

Is Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race a tossup? That’s what the Cook Political Report now says, citing surveys from Public Policy Polling and The Mellman Group showing Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes leading Mitch McConnell.

PPP’s survey, released yesterday and conducted last week on behalf of the progressive groups DFA and PCCC, showed Grimes narrowly leading McConnell by 45-44 margin. Mellman’s survey was released today and was conducted July 20-24. It showed Grimes leading McConnell by a 44-42 margin. (Update/edit: Mellman’s poll was conducted for the Grimes campaign and it was released by them.)

Both surveys show the depth of McConnell’s unpopularity: His net approval rating in PPP’s survey was -11. Mellman’s survey showed McConnell with just a 38 percent positive approval rating and 58 percent negative. Mellman’s survey showed Grimes with a net positive rating of +4. Her 33 percent positive rating nearly matches McConnell’s despite his higher name recognition.

PPP’s and Mellman’s polling were both conducted before Kentucky businessman Matt Bevin kicked off his primary challenge to McConnell. Grimes held her official kickoff on Tuesday.

McConnell’s campaign responded to the new numbers by claiming the results of the Mellman poll had been “concocted” and were “fictitious.”

Speaking of conspiracy theories, last week, Republican firm Wenzel Strategies—the pollster of record for World Net Daily aka Birther Central—released a poll conducted July 19-21 showing McConnell with an 8 point lead over Grimes. Aside from the WND ties, it’s worth pointing out that Wenzel Strategies also released a poll one week before the 2012 election showing Mitt Romney would win Ohio, so obviously Karl Rove loves them too.

There’s a strong possibility Mitch is going with the numbers that proved so positive for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. But the other side of this is that Mitch is going to be in a primary fight with an insane Tea Bagger, and if the Tea Bagger knocks him off, there’s no telling how Kentucky is going to go.

So Grimes has to hope that the Tea Bagger damages McConnell enough during the primary so that Mitch comes out a winner, but wounded. And she’ll have to be relentless in kicking him while he’s down.

It’s what Mitch would do if the tables were turned.

The race is on in Kentucky: Is Grimes ready to rumble?

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday that she will run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. Grimes is the Kentucky secretary of state and was probably one of the last hopes for Kentucky Democrats to unseat the five-term Republican.

Something seems off about her announcement in Frankfort:

Grimes delivered her remarks in front of a banner for her 2011 secretary of state campaign, spoke for just a few minutes and answered two brief questions before departing. The entire press conference, which began more than half an hour late, lasted less than five minutes.

Uh oh.

Maybe this is an overreaction, but when you’re taking on a guy who isn’t particularly loved in the state and you know he’s going to run a vicious campaign, maybe you want to make a more forceful presence when you announce you’re going to run.


— Stand in front of a banner that points to the future, not the past.

— Announce your candidacy outdoors in front of a crowd of supporters in your hometown. Grimes was born in Maysville in northeastern Kentucky near the Ohio border. She went to high school and made her career in Lexington, the heart of Bluegrass Country. But she made her announcement in the state capital, Frankfort. Not a wise move since Frankfort reinforces the idea that you’re a politician first and a Kentuckian second.

— Make sure there’s lots of cheering and enthusiasm for the television cameras so people in the state know you’re popular. Did you notice in the video above that you don’t see excited people and you don’t hear any cheering? That means there weren’t any excited people and there wasn’t much cheering, because the essence of television news is to present the best pictures and sounds (words are irrelevant). If the TV crew thought this was the best stuff they had to show, you’re in trouble.

— Don’t be late for your announcement. Unless your doing it in front of a crowd of enthusiastic supporters … then people see the television feed where you’re getting their congratulations and realize that’s what kept you from getting up on stage in time.

— Make sure your announcement lasts for more than “five minutes.” Five minutes is the time it takes for the bio film your staff put together to show you’re rise from modest beginnings to become one of the most powerful women in the state. Wait! What? There was no bio film?!

— Answer more than two questions at your press conference. Elections are like dates. First impressions count. If the first impression you leave is, “I can’t wait to get out of here,” folks are going to think you’re really not that serious about the job.

But maybe I’m not seeing the big picture here. I’m sure political experts in Kentucky have a better fix on this:

Even before Grimes made her decision, one prominent Democratic consultant grumbled to The Fix that it was a rollout unworthy of a major political campaign. “If it is a ‘yes,’ then this will go down as one of the worst rollouts ever,” said the Democratic consultant, who was granted anonymity to offer a candid assessment.

Oh, crap. Anything else go wrong?

* Grimes’s announcement was not promoted on her Twitter account, her Facebook page or really by anyone other than her top adviser, who told the Associated Press about the 3 p.m. announcement on Monday morning.

* As of Tuesday afternoon, Grimes still had no campaign Web site, though GrimesforSenate.com and AlisonforSenate.com appear to have been snapped up by someone. That means that anybody who was excited by her launch and wants to contribute money to her campaign has no outlet to do so.

* According to Ryan Alessi, a terrific reporter in Kentucky, people in the room at Grimes’s announcement described it as “unorthodox,” “unprecedented,” “fascinating” and even “surreal.” Grimes didn’t tell even her closest advisers about her decision until she made it.

Where do we begin?

— Look, it’s the 21st century. Social media is everything in campaigns, and it sounds like there’s no social media expertise here. You get buzz on Twitter and Facebook. You want people talking about your campaign even before you know you’re going to campaign. This is a pretty big oversight.

— Strike that. The fact you didn’t grab the URLs GrimesforSenate.com and AlisonforSenate.com months ago is huge. This is basic preparation. The easiest thing for people to guess for your campaign Web addresses are these two URLs. I really hope Grimes’s people have this and haven’t told anyone. Because if they don’t, I’d put my money on the likelihood that McConnell’s people have these addresses and will use them to screw over the Grimes campaign every chance they get. A parody page or, even worse, a pretend campaign site that looks serious but has all kinds of misleading posts. Look, if this is a political course, the syllabus name is Basic Ratfucking 101.

You don’t know what that means?

Rat-fuck: It was resurrected by the “USC Mafia” in school elections before they joined the Nixon administration and perfected the practice; it means to utilize dirty tactics (i.e. stealing ballots, changing the time of events with organizers, etc.) in political campaigns to win at any cost. This practice eventually led to the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation.

— Your closest advisers don’t know you’re planning to do this!!?? You know they have lives, right? And you know that a campaign of national importance is going to suck the life out of anyone who gets involved in it, right? You’ve got to let people know you’re going to do stuff like this so they can wrap their brains around the fact that this is going to be draining. More important, you have to let them know this is your plan so they can tell you things like: “Uh, Alison. I didn’t think we were going to rise to national prominence, so I didn’t tell you earlier that the Salvadoran nanny we have on our payroll sort of snuck in across the border.”

Can it get worse?

Jeebus Cripes! Mitch already has a parody ad out. In fact, Mitch has a major ad dump on YouTube right now. Twenty videos. Including this one:

Why the hell is Mitch obsessing over toilet paper?

There better be a response ad out tomorrow. Something like:

Mitch McConnell is living up to his reputation as a politician who will take the low road at any cost to preserve his fiefdom in Washington. I intend to make this campaign about the needs of our state and the ways we can build a brighter future for all Kentuckians. We know Mitch is in the pockets of the banks and corporate overlords. Five terms are enough for a politician who’s lost touch with the needs and desires of the people he’s supposed to serve. 30 years is enough for the mouthpiece of fat cats and the one percenters. It’s time for a change.

Grimes’s announcement should have set the tone for the election. Instead Mitch has decreed that the election is going to wallow in the gutter.

UPDATE: The folks with Team Mitch are a bunch of a tricky suckers. They’ve rigged the YouTube URL so it will come up with a different ad as they update the page. So the anti-Grimes ad I had up earlier switched to a patriotic Fourth of July ad on July 4th. And the day before, it was an ad that basically criticized Grimes for the things I thought she did wrong (now attached above). Gotta keep an eye on these guys. Here’s the ever changing link:

Pollster looks at Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race

The latest polling figures out of Kentucky:

A new Public Policy Polling survey of Kentucky finds Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes tied in a hypothetical match up at 45%. McConnell’s early positive advertising has done nothing to improve his prospects for reelection and in fact this is the actually the weakest position PPP has found him in yet. In April we found him leading Grimes by 4 points and in December he had a 7 point advantage over her.
Key findings from the survey include:
-McConnell continues to be unpopular with 44% of voters approving of him to 47% who disapprove. His numbers are even worse with independents, only 41% of whom think he’s doing a good job while 53% give him poor marks. Grimes, on the other hand, has a positive 34/24 favorability rating.
-There are strong indications within the poll results that McConnell’s record on key issues will give him trouble getting reelected. 50% of voters say they’re less likely to cast their ballots for him because of his support for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, compared to only 23% who consider that a positive. And 48% say McConnell’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage makes them less likely to vote for him, while
just 27% say more likely.

I’d like to say this is encouraging, but …

Kentuckians elected Rand Paul to the Senate. Here the map of his 2010 race.

390px-Robertson_fix_Kentucky_Senatorial_Election_Results_by_County,_2010.svgThat’s a lot of red.

Once you set the bar that low, it doesn’t take much for a Republican to clear it. All McConnell has to say is “Kenyan usurper,” and he’ll lock up 47% of the vote at the start, not matter how much people in the state hate him.

And McConnell knows how to fight dirty. That’s worth another 5 percentage points right there. This poll seems very dubious.