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Diplomacy in Action

Analysis of the May 18th Primaries in Arkansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania

FPC Briefing
David Lublin
Professor of Government, School of Public Affairs, American University
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC
May 19, 2010


Date: 05/19/2010 Location: Washington D.C.  Description: David Lublin, Professor of Government, School of Public Affairs, American University gives analysis of the May 18th Primaries in Arkansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania at the Washington Foreign Press Center on May 19, 2010. - State Dept Image

Audio

MR. LUBLIN:
(In progress) My expertise generally has been on sort of African American and Latino politics in the U.S., more elections in general. So right now, I’m actually studying electoral systems and minority representation in democracies around the world. So, an interesting time to do that too.

So, I guess, fire away whenever you’re ready.

QUESTION: So the conventional wisdom here is that this was, you know, a vote against Washington and incumbents. Do you share that? And, I mean, what can we expect for November?

MR. LUBLIN: I guess I’d say two things about the conventional wisdom, is that people who have jobs like yours have a desperate need to find a theme that fits the election so that you can write a story and give it a headline. And that doesn’t mean that the theme necessarily is true even if you make it fit things. The second thing is that American politicians have been running against Washington ever since the city was founded. So what you say is certainly true. It may be particularly true this year. But it’s really a recurring theme in American politics.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) So how do you think – is it different from the past outside-Washington sentiment or it’s just different – if it’s different from the past – is it different from the quality of difference or is it just it’s different depth of difference?

MR. LUBLIN: Well, I think where it’s similar to the past is during past times of deep economic difficulty such as the recession of the late 1970s or early 1980s, is that people are upset because their lives are not getting better; currently, they’re getting harder and they tend to take such anger out on the politicians.

I think what’s interesting and different is that this time, you’re seeing even within the parties that people seem quite willing to harness that sort of anger and not necessarily to be told who they should vote for by their party leaders on either side.

QUESTION: Actually, you think that when American people chose Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, they signed up for change aspects of the – of what the party represented. But now, well, a lot of people are saying they don’t want this kind of change and just – so they will be confused here (inaudible).

MR. LUBLIN: The – well, I think people signed up for change, but the problem is that, like – where are you from?

QUESTION: I’m from China.

MR. LUBLIN: From China.

QUESTION: We get used to change.

MR. LUBLIN: So – yes, well, I don’t think you can put an ancient Chinese curse when you live in interesting times, and I hope we’ve had enough interest lately, at least in my retirement account. The – I think just as people – people may savor change, but what they savor as a change can vary. Often change, even if you want it, is sometimes difficult.

I think also, as some of the things President Obama has tried to do, it’s not always easy to articulate how they play into people’s concerns, such as – either that or maybe they should have done a better job of that. So healthcare reform was articulated as giving healthcare to people who don’t have it. It wasn’t presented perhaps as it should have been, as something that could help the economy, because right now, since our healthcare is so tied to our jobs, you have people who are afraid to retire because they or their children may lose healthcare.

They’re afraid to, say, start a business because small businesses, you have to pay for your own healthcare. It’s not done by your employer. And when people stay in jobs that they might not otherwise stay in, also that means other people can’t take them. So it wasn’t sold as directed towards the economy. Also, the economy is starting to turn around, but it takes time and unemployment remains really high. So people are naturally concerned about that, and the unemployment figures, if anything, understate the severity of the problem because so many people have left the labor force. And so when we actually finally had serious hiring (inaudible) – I think it was last month – the unemployment rate actually went up because more people entered – reentered the labor force.

Now, obviously, we want more jobs even if it has temporary unemployment spikes in our way, but it – we got a long ways to go before we get back to sort of what people consider acceptable. And I think here in Washington, anger is directed towards us both at how could we allow this to happen, how could – how come the government is spending so much of our money to save these people who did – it’s such a problem. And it’s very difficult to sort of explain, even if sort of financial leaders and political leaders think that what the Bush Administration did and what the Obama Administration did to save the financial system was actually a good thing and that we would all be in much worse shape if we allowed the entire banking system of the world to collapse.

QUESTION: What about the Tea Party later? They’re kind of – you talk about a party, but that movement that is – their claim to victory and what do you think about their influence? Is it over-bloated? Or what’s your take?

MR. LUBLIN: Well, I think it’s really interesting. The Republican Party is reacting to its severe defeat in 2008 by a combination of becoming more radical and returning, perhaps, in some ways, to older principles. It historically was the party that opposed the deficit. That kind of changed when Ronald Reagan became much more about tax cuts than about deficits, even though he always spoke against them. And so now, they seem very anti-deficit.

On the other hand, they’re switching to – getting more right wing on a lot of issues. It’ll be interesting to see how that aids or hurts the Republican Party. It helped them mobilize their base, but it may also alienate centrist voters they need to win. I think Republican leaders are very excited to see this excitement within their party. On the other hand – I guess it’s my day for Chinese sayings – what’s the one about he who rides the tiger may find it hard to dismount. They’re – they would love to harness the energy of the movement, but they’re not sure they can control it.

And that was most visible yesterday in that Senator Mitch McConnell, who is the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate nationally, but also, unquestionably, the king of Republican politics in his state – his chosen candidate was utterly defeated. And it was also significant that it was in a primary, not in a convention, which tends to attract more radical people of the type that unseated the incumbent senator in Utah, Senator Bennett, recently.

Sure.

QUESTION: I would like to know about Lincoln, who is having a very tight reelection, and part of her political campaign was, you know, let’s go after Wall Street, let’s go after financial regulations going on right now. But because of her campaign yesterday, then she was out of town and you saw Chris Dodd kind of watering down her performance. If that kind of conflict’s present then she might not have much of a political, you know, chance to campaign on it in the runoff primary.

MR. LUBLIN: Well, it’s interesting to see what happens in the runoff in that state, both because on the one hand, the person who got the – came in third with about 13 percent of the vote is actually more right wing than Lincoln, which should benefit her since she’s perceived as more moderate than her main challenger. Halter, however – incumbents, however, usually – incumbents who can’t win primaries are in pretty big trouble in runoffs, and she only leads her challenger by a little bit.

She may have campaigned against Wall Street; ironically, I think she got a lot of her challenge precisely because she was perceived as maybe to close to business interests. We’re seeing in both parties a greater willingness of sort of party stalwarts to punish people who they feel deviated too much. I think there was a lot of anger within the Democratic Party over Senator Lincoln’s hesitancy to endorse healthcare reform, a centerpiece of the President’s agenda, anger from unions who are crucial to supporting her opponent over the check card issue. And they were able to capitalize on questions about how effective she was after several terms in the Senate.

There is a bit of difference between the Tea Party and the Democratic challengers, though. Tea Party challengers are unquestionably more radical in a lot of ways and really sort of different in harnessing a movement. The Democratic challengers ultimately fall very much in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. I mean, if you look at Sestak in Pennsylvania, he’s the mainstream Democratic congressman. He is not a particularly radical liberal in the party. Neither is Mr. Halter in Arkansas.

So they may be harnessing anger at the incumbents, but – and in Pennsylvania, you had the unusual situation of a party switch where Senator Specter had trouble remembering in speeches which party he should be referring to at which time; not a good way to win over your base.

Sure.

QUESTION: Several questions. First is about the people who – people who are participated in. Are there different people who only consolidate people who had shown as a strong support during the Bush Administration? Figures like religious conservatives or like very right-wing conservatives – are they different or same kind of people who have had different hats or different points of focus?

MR. LUBLIN: Well, I think we’re still trying to figure that out and it can be difficult at times, partly because the Tea Party movement is so suspicious of authority that they don’t organize themselves that much. In many ways, very similar type people – but it’s much more of a grassroots-oriented, bottom-up movement. And that’s what makes them, for the Republicans, potentially so exciting because that’s the kind of support you want. But also, it makes the politicians very fearful because they won’t be – if they can’t control who wins nominations like in Kentucky, they’ll fear, first of all, losing their own jobs and secondly, that their party may choose to nominate people who can’t win.

Part of – both of our parties at times are torn between sort of the rather-be-right faction – in other words, we’d rather nominate the pure, perfect ideologue, or do we want to nominate the win – the candidate who can win? And right now, it seems the Republicans are not very clear which – if the Tea Party candidates can win. In some states, though, they may be doing – not hurting themselves at all. It’s not all clear to me. In Utah, one suspects that the new Republican nominee will win the election quite easily, and that was not a silly mistake. In Florida, it may pay dividends as well.

QUESTION: Can I – sorry, can I ask a question?

MR. LUBLIN: Sure.

QUESTION: Then, you know, like primary in general is always full of (inaudible) – like, both parties – like, more left and more right (inaudible). So how should I think that the results – they reflect in general election? Like, where is the majority of those people who are being in – how – like, two, how do you figure out – how (inaudible)?

MR. LUBLIN: Well, I think the – for some reason, just to be professorial for a minute, the one lesson that’s important to emphasize is sort of how open and democratic our nomination processes are, that in most countries – you contrast that with the United Kingdom where we’re relatively small groups of party leaders and each constituency picks their party’s candidates for parliament.

In the U.S., anyone who registers with a party and perhaps that just means you check a box when you register to vote – and in many states, you don’t even have to do that, you just show up to vote – you can participate. So it’s very large numbers of people participate in these events. However, as you say quite rightly, the Democrats who vote in Democratic primaries are more left wing not that just the population, but than Democrats. And the Republicans are more right wing.

So what it does seem to mean is that the polarization that people talk about not so much in the electorate, but among the politicians will continue to grow, because it gets harder and harder for sort of moderate types to win elections, and that, ironically, the candidates who may best sort of be in – amid all of the electorate and thus able to grab ideas from both find it harder and harder to win. And if they do win, they risk being punished by voters through challenges both in the Democratic and in the Republican parties.

QUESTION: Especially (inaudible) ability to win them, also the (inaudible) ideologues of (inaudible). And I’m just wondering, say, like, Senator Lincoln from Arkansas – well, if, say, it comes up in the state as far as I understand, Arkansas – well, if a more left wing candidate from the Democratic Party was chosen to run in the mid-term elections in that state, will that help – will that be – they’re in a hunt for him – for her to win the election in that state?

MR. LUBLIN: Well, it’s sort of interesting. I mean, as I said, I don’t think the Democratic candidates are as radically different as perhaps some of the Republican candidates. They’re less strident. One thing that can benefit some of these people, be they Democratic or Republicans, is precisely that they’re not in office. And so to the extent that we saw an anti-incumbency trend yesterday, they may benefit by not being in Washington.

I mean, you saw, everyone campaigns against Washington. Congressman Sestak campaigned as being an outsider, even though he serves in the other body in the Congress. Somehow, he’s more of an outsider than Senator Specter is. All – that’s what people do in campaigns, that they’re going to change things, they’re more in touch with the people than the regular trough of American politics.

But yes, if they – if too much of this occurs, it’ll be very interesting to see in Florida, for example, that if Crist is able to capture enough of the center ground or Democratic votes, that Marco Rubio, instead of, like, sort of securing a seat for the Republican right wing will instead cost the Republicans a seat and will get another sort of centrist independent who – which party he will work with in Congress is not clear. One suspects increasingly maybe the Democrats, since those are the people he may need to woo in order to win.

So it’s very interesting to see how these games play. It’ll be interesting to see if the parties are strategic about these things or not. Democrats who (inaudible) Joe Lieberman for being too right wing in Connecticut were mad not just that he was right wing, but they perceived it as being right wing from a state that’s a very safe Democratic state, that he doesn’t need to move to the center. Versus the same group of people are often unhappy with Ben Nelson from Nebraska, but they view Nebraska as a state that – where they’re lucky to have somebody, and so that the outrage towards him tends to be more exasperation than we need to replace him.

QUESTION: So it’s just, you know, just perhaps a little bit off the subject – immigration , will that be a real issue in the elections? You know, that we have primaries in Arizona, for example? They’re – McCain has been kind of flip-flopping in his stand on immigration issue. And you’re talking about the Latino electorate, which has always been big and is bigger and for immigration reform. What’s going to cause the real issues (inaudible)?

MR. LUBLIN: I think it is, even though both parties desperately would like it not to be, okay? The Republicans don’t want it to be for two reasons. First, that their voters increasingly demand a strong anti-immigrant stance, but they’re terrified that it’s going to alienate Latino voters, who are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate, and also there are business supporters who basically favor high rates of immigration for the same reason that organized labor in the United States, which is a Democratic group, tends to not be so keen on that, or free trade agreements.

Democrats have somewhat sort of mixed views on it. Some represent constituencies opposed, some for. Increasingly, because of their strong support among many Latinos and minorities, they feel like they need to be for it, but they’re very worried about losing support from voters who opposed it or see it cast as potentially allowing terrorists to come in the country, so – but they may be forced to.

The Arizona law that was recently passed seems to have heightened the issue a lot. It may – the Arizona law may be tremendously helpful to Democrats in a year where they’re worried about losing support, because it essentially provides an incredible incentive for Latinos to naturalize citizens and to participate. And the Republicans have, shall we say, in the U.S., seen this movie before in California, where Pete Wilson, who was a Republican governor, ran against immigrants, and he did get one more term, but it’s a cost of having made Latinos in his state much more Democratic than the past, and how – and partly explains why California, which used to be a Republican state or a swing state, is now seen as a very Democratic state. So that could mobilize them.

The Republicans hope they can maybe mobilize it the other way, but it’s very tricky. Both of our parties want to be big tents and include as many people as possible, but the immigration issue is always a tough one. It’s one that’s risen in the past in this country, doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Personally, I think we’ve always been very lucky to have that amendment in our Constitution passed after the Civil War that said anyone born in the United States is a citizen of the United States because it means we don’t have, as some countries do, like, sort of multi generations of people who are not citizens even if they grew up in this country and are a part of it.

So – and this is part of the reason the Republicans feel a pressure to incorporate them, it’s because even though only slightly more than half of Latinos in the country are citizens, over 85 percent of Latinos under age 18 are citizens. And the one thing we know about politics is that young people tend to become older and then they’ll be able to vote by right because they’re citizens in the country. So it’s a problem.

Sure.

QUESTION: Turning back to the midterm election. What will be the general strategy of Republicans versus Democratic Party? I understand that they will be very critical of each other, but, can you elaborate on that?

MR. LUBLIN: Yes. They’re not going – yes, they will be critical about each other and you needed to come hear me say that, I’m sure. I think both parties, in midterm elections, are much more focused about getting out their base than about reaching to the center, because they perceived it as a turnout game. In years where one party has been able to really do better than the other party at getting out their vote, both through mobilizing them through passionate issues or running simply a better electoral machine, they’ve done better.

This remains – in the past, this has been a major – the major question in terms of politics electorally for the Republicans are a couple. First, can they get their party machinery up to doing this again? Can they raise money? Can they actually have people who can help get voters to the polls? And this remains a really open question after that special election in Pennsylvania where they had to focus just on one district, and this is the one district in the country that John McCain won that John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, had won four years earlier. And so this district was seen as ripe for the plucking by Republicans, and they lost pretty convincingly in the end by about 10 points.

And so this raises a real question: Can the Republicans do a good job or will perceived Democratic strength and organizing mitigate their potential losses? The other question is: Can the Republicans raise issues enough to anger their base and mobilize them to vote enough without alienating too many voters in the center, who even though I said it serves us a base, you don’t want to alienate – you don’t want to scare everyone else into voting against you. So how you tread those two things is not clear. In the past, the Republicans have been good at focusing to do that, less good.

The Democrats’ votes is the anti-incumbency fever, which benefitted them so much over 2006 and 2008 is going to now come back and smack them in the face, or are they going to be able to use their greater electoral skill currently, which is a relatively new thing? Because it used to be the Republicans who were better organized to mitigate these issues. And how does this translate in terms of the President’s popularity?

What I find interesting is there seems to be a fair amount of anger against the Administration, but ultimately, he’s not – he remains pretty popular, and in the sense of that we’re in the middle of a very severe recession. As many people seem to like him as dislike him, maybe slightly more seem to approve of him. So it’s not clear to me how much this necessarily – is there really going to be a wave or not? Or is it – the Tea Party is loud and we’ll have to see. I think the Democrats are very worried.

The early signs are bad for the Democrats in the sense that – the way the elites are behaving, okay? We’re seeing a lot of Democratic candidates deciding this is a good year to retire, okay? Which is odd in the sense of, wait, your party just got back into power, so now you want to leave, right? Most people run for office to be in power, right? It’s much more fun to run the government, so – which may indicate they’re worried about the upcoming elections. The Republicans seem to be recruiting strong candidates in many areas, showing that people in their party think this is a good time to run. And when people who hold office already at the lower level are willing to give up their current office to run for higher office, that’s a sign they see trends favoring them.

So I would say the early signs seem to favor the Republicans. The question is how much and will it really translate into a wave election or not? I mean, one reason I talk about the President’s popularity is the Republicans are making analogies to 1994. But President Obama is markedly much more popular now than Bill Clinton was in 1994.

So on the other hand, because of our electoral system, the way the districts are drawn, all things being equal, the Republicans actually have an edge, because if you go back to like, the 2000 election, which was split perfectly evenly, even though the country was divided nationally, there were more Republicans in more congressional districts than in Democratic districts because the Democrats tend to be concentrated in places like cities, and as you saw in the British elections, where your share of the vote doesn’t necessarily relate well to your share of the seats, here we have – we can have similar issues where the Democrats can have too many people in the wrong seats.

And so it made it harder for them to win Congress back. It makes it – continues to make it harder for them to keep it. That’s going to be accentuated by reapportionment and redistricting prior to 2012, which tends to create new seats in Republican areas and destroy them in Democratic areas, simply because of population movements.

QUESTION: There have been lots of reports that Senator Harry Reid is in trouble with his reelection campaign. Are you seeing the same thing with Pelosi and Steny Hoyer as well, and also have you heard anything about the Democratic Party, if Reid loses, who they think will take over the leadership position?

MR. LUBLIN: I’m sure lots of senators have thought about it. (Laughter.) I think some talk – I think – I’m trying to remember who his number two is again. Is it Dick Durbin? Yeah, I think a lot of people would expect that Senator Durbin would be well positioned to try and take over. It all depends on who the Democrats are and who are in office. Harry Reid tends to discourage some of the stronger challengers in Nevada. He’s also benefitting a bit from scandals in the state which are falling a bit more on the Republicans than on the Democrats. And I think business leaders in the state sort of see advantage to having such a powerful person in office.

Having said that, even after several terms he’s still not seen as a colorful person, particularly in a state that’s known for having a lot of color. Nevada is known for many things but not for being boring. Harry Reid, not so exciting. But I don’t know if that matters or not. Nancy Pelosi represents one of the safest districts in Congress. She’ll be fine. Steny Hoyer’s district is safe as well. He has a primary challenge but from someone who is unlikely to get more than a small share of the vote. So I think all these people will be – all those people will be fine in the House. In the Senate, Reid could very well be in trouble.

QUESTION: What is the evaluation of the Obama Administration of yesterday’s primary and what kind of effect does it give to the (inaudible) for the general election of Obama?

MR. LUBLIN: Well, I guess I should mention two things first, because even though the government asked me to come here, these are all strictly my opinions and not those of the government. Related to that, it may surprise you, the Obama Administration didn’t call me last night and tell me how they’re evaluating things, so I could tell you, oh, they’re – a lot of people will pretend they know. So I think they’re very worried about the anti-incumbency mood, they’re very worried about the Republicans mobilizing people, and they’re very worried about losing their congressional majorities, which will make the President look weak.

And it’s particularly dangerous precisely for the President – one begins to wonder how will they govern the country if – we frequently have divided government where one or both houses of Congress are controlled by one party and the presidency by another, but when the two parties view obstructionism of the other’s agenda as winning, it can make it very hard to get anything done. In the end, Congress has to get a lot of things done. So it’s interesting to see that – what’s interesting to see is, like, this is where public opinion matters a lot. The Republicans were getting ready to filibuster and try and block the financial reform bill. The Democrats were quietly saying would you please do this, would you please do this, because it would be the greatest thing for them politically if the Republicans – the Republicans, at a time when the entire world is mad and banks and financiers, if they want to ally their party with these people, please go right ahead. Even the Republicans, however, weren’t going to do that in the end and it’s noticeable that after trying to stop healthcare reform with every bone, trying to stop all these bills, the financial reform bill they’ve caved a lot. So maybe that holds out some hope that things can ultimately be done, but it’s very difficult. And the Republicans are going to have to figure out how they respond to the Obama Administration if they do take control of one or both houses of Congress, because the President is almost invariably better regarded than the leader of both houses of Congress regardless of the party and has a much bigger bully pulpit, much bigger podium on which to lead people. And when a speaker of the House or a majority leader tries to take on the president, they often end up losing.

And it would be interesting to see how – I think President Obama – the other thing I’d say about him, he’s been very careful not to link himself too closely to any local candidate. He doesn't want his whole administration to rise or fall on the success of any candidate. Much was made about whether or not he supported this candidate or that candidate in the Democratic primaries. Truth be told, he can work with either – he could work with either Sestak or Specter, Lincoln or Halter. He’s supported the incumbents partly because he needs their support now to get things done, but he’ll be able to work fine with either of these people should they make it to Washington.

I think one thing the President will certainly try and do is use his formidable fundraising power to try and make sure that the Democratic Party effort is very well funded this November. But if they do call me, I’ll be sure to let you know. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: How seriously did the president, and the administration, support Specter? And how did he feel on (inaudible)?

MR. LUBLIN: He did. That was interesting that towards the end they kind of bailed on him. The question is: Does this mean the Administration is undependable? I think from the Administration’s point of view, not such a bad thing because Specter was a centrist and if he was reelected for what one tends to think was going to be his final term, would he feel rather free to thumb his nose at the Administration if he was reelected, versus Sestak if he wins is likely to be a pretty loyal Democrat. So it may be not such a bad thing for the Obama Administration. I mean, it’s also – also, it wasn’t just President Obama but (inaudible) a lot of the Democratic establishment put their prestige behind Senator Specter and it didn’t pay off for him. I think it clearly shows – I mean, one thing that the electorate doesn't seem to like to be dictated to by anybody in terms of choosing these party nominees. So again, you really have to remember the local circumstances of him having been a Republican senator for decades, how you make that jump elegantly, particularly at a time when both parties seem less keen on centrists.

QUESTION: Do you think that Obama’s foreign policy will have some impact on the election?

MR. LUBLIN: Is there some aspect in particular?

QUESTION: No, in general. There is the idea that generally in the United States, people don’t care about foreign policy.

MR. LUBLIN: I think they care about it when it starts to affect them. Democratic presidents are always keen to look strong on security because the Republicans attack then on that. There’s also always the sort of ethnic bases in the U.S. in terms of different ethnic groups have their little particular interests. But overall, I mean, we’ll have to see. To be honest, I think the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is far more likely to have a big impact. The question is how so. I mean, President Obama, in remarkably bad timing, had announced he’d agreed to allow oil drilling just a few weeks before, and it was actually sort of a very nice move to reach out to Republicans. On the other hand, the Republicans, who a lot of his candidates signed on to the “Drill, baby, drill” program enunciated by many Tea Party supporters just may be less popular in some places like Florida this month and Louisiana. So it’ll be interesting to see.

It’s also a real test to the President in the sense of, like with Hurricane Katrina was for the Bush Administration – the Bush Administration was already reeling from a number of problems, but Hurricane Katrina undermined one of their central themes, which is that we’re the really competent people. And regardless of how one views they handled the disaster, the people viewed it as they handled it badly. The press was certainly handled very badly. I mean, I was struck by when they had Air Force One, President Bush’s first response was to – you may recall his plane didn’t fly directly back from Texas to Washington, but he flew over New Orleans. So you had the image of the President of the United States looking down on his people from his private airplane, okay? Not the way to play it. And so you had the image of competence and of caring, which President Bush – love him or hate him – is certainly a personable individual and was very likable, okay? President Obama, I think for him, this is sort of a real test of competency and of commitment, and so I think people are going to – it’ll be interesting to see how this goes on. It’s also going to be interesting, because even if they finally manage to cap the well, an awful lot of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. How are we going to deal with this? States like Florida – it’s really hard to attract people to come see your beaches when they’re filled with oil and dead sea creatures.

MODERATOR: Any further questions?

QUESTION: We’ve seen that the Republican National Committee has been (inaudible) by a lot of scandals lately. And Michael Steele is kind of seen as – some press reports say that his popularity is dropping and maybe he’s incompetent and (inaudible). Do you see that there is going to be a more powerful or more capable figure like Karl Rove in the GOP who will be leading things secretly from behind?

MR. LUBLIN: I’m always amazed when Karl Rove is declared to be so competent when he masterminded – the guy who said he was going to make the Republicans the majority party and instead made the Democrats the majority party through his proposals. So I’m not so sure I say he’s so great.

Michael Steele tends to be followed more by Washington insiders. I honestly doubt most Americans know or care who the particular head of either the Democratic or Republican parties is. The problem is when Michael Steele does things that either embarrass the party, which is about the worst thing a party leader can do, I think the Republicans are also more concerned simply about the organizational aspects that the Democrats under Howard Dean and now under former Governor Kaine seem to be capable and focused on these areas. Is Michael Steele focused on that or is he focused on advancing his own career? He’s – for Michael Steele, this was also a big jump up. He’d never been elected to office in his own right. He was the lieutenant governor of my state, but that’s on the ticket so how much he played a role is unclear. This is a big advance up.

On the other hand, he also presents – he’s also a very – he presents sort of a hipper, younger face for the Republican Party and also provides some diversity for the party, which they really need. I think one of President Bush’s goals that he really failed on is when he was elected in 2000 he wanted to make the party look more appealing to people of color and outside (inaudible). I think ultimately, because of the divisiveness of his election and other issues, he really didn’t succeed in that even though I don’t think, like Pete Wilson, he was inherently a polarizing figure racially. He didn’t – President Bush was pro-immigration and so forth. So we’ll have to see, but I don’t think a party leader can really address that. It’ll be interesting to see also how does the Tea Party movement relate to the party.

Well, thank you all for your patience. Just like most professors, I have a tendency to talk --