Monday Musings: New GOP generation rising, still waiting for Rubio surge

So we are a year out from the 2016 elections. Where are we exactly? Not sure, but some observations:

A new GOP generation advances – The generational wheel took a significant turn this week with strong debate performances from Rubio and Cruz, and Paul Ryan’s ascension to the Speakership. The rise – and strength – of the 40something Gen X Republicans is becoming a significant event in American politics. While the Democrats may be winning the hearts and minds of an emerging America of the 21st century, the GOP may have short term advantages i having a new and better prepared “next” generation rising now, one aided by the incredible exposure the aggressive GOP debate schedule is offering them. Be sure to read more from me on this new GOP generation, one I’ve called the “children of Reagan.”

Clinton leads the Dems, still waiting for the Rubio surge– Not clear that the dynamics of the race have changed in the past week. Hillary continues to put impressive numbers across the board, and is seeing more of the Party leadership rally to her side. Bernie Sanders has gone up on the air in Iowa and New Hampshire, and is signaling that he has the resources and commitment to give Clinton a real challenge.

Nothing much appears to have changed on the GOP side, and for all the hype around Rubio, he is still way back in the back nationally and in the early states, has never polled regularly in double digits, and is not well funded. Roughly a third of the GOP electorate falls into the restrictionist anti-immigrant camp, and I remain skeptical these voters will fall in line behind a Rubio candidacy if he wins the nomination.  As of today four GOPers seem to have momentum - Trump, Carson, Rubio and Cruz - an odd lot for sure.  

Obama's job approval remains in a healthy place for Democrats in 2016, something we will be discussing more in future editions of MM. 

The debate over debates continues – The ongoing disquiet from almost all the candidates in both parties over the debates this fall highlight just how important these events have become in choosing our leaders. At its core GOP candidate concerns about the toughness of the debate questions coming from a TV network long associated with conservative politics – particularly when it is now clear that Rubio, Carson and Trump offered huge whoppers as responses – reinforces how new to the game many of these candidates are. But in each party’s debate over their debates important principles are being discussed now, and I remain concerned about the how little exposure the Democratic debate schedule is providing its candidates and future leaders this cycle.

Tally so far: 3 GOP debates, 60-62m viewers. 1 Dem debate, 16m viewers. Rs have debates scheduled on Tue Nov 10th and Tue Dec 15th. Next Dem debates are Sat Nov 14th and Sat Dec 19th. By year’s end Rs will have had 5 weekday primetime debates. Dems will have had 3 debates in total, w/only 1 during the week in primetime and 2 on Saturday nights, one of the least watched times in television. And as a reminder, there is NO evidence so far suggesting the more aggressive debate schedule is hurting GOP candidates.

Your Guide to the VP Debate

As the hour of the Vice Presidential debate approaches, the web has been flooded by all manner of analysis, punditry and bloggery (plus the occasional piece of news). We're here to offer you a guide  to the madness so you know what to expect and can impress your date during pre-debate cocktails.

The big question is: How will Sarah Palin fare?  Her previous public appearances have been mixed. At the Republican National Convention, she killed. As Sam Harris wrote in Newsweek, her speech was extraordinarily effective political communication.

Since that day she has been in constant decline. First came her interview with Charlie Gibson and the "Bush Doctrine" gaffe, then over the past week she's taken major blows as her damning serialized interview with Katie Couric has aired. After double lampoonings on SNL, Palin is on the verge of becoming nothing more than a laughing stock to many. See Simon's link to TPM for video of Sarah's greatest hits.

But debates are a different game, and Palin has had success in the past. The LA Times reports that she ought not be underestimated: She keeps it simple and is irresistably charming. The NY Times, likewise, says that though she's often unclear in her answers, she appears confident and wins viewers. This debate could be her chance to recover some of the ground she's lost.

The Obama camp will not be underestimating her. Campaign manager David Plouffe called Palin a "terrific debater," and said he expects she'll perform well against Joe Biden. Nobody knows her skills better than Andrew Halcro, who faced her when they both ran for governor of Alaska. He describes her as a "master of the nonanswer," but says that if she can "fill the room with her presence," she may do well. Even Joe Biden has said that she looks "pretty doggone confident."

Biden comes into the debate with some concerns of his own. As the Washington Post wrote yesterday, "letting Biden be Biden" has occasional downsides: He has a freewheeling style, and when he runs with it, he can make mistakes. The NY Times also discusses his "legendary loquatiousness," making the point that, debating a woman, Biden runs the danger of looking like a bully. According to the Financial Times, the Obama campaign is training Biden to avoid verbal missteps.

There has been controversy surrounding debate host Gwen Ifill. Because she is currently writing a book about Barack Obama, among other new black politicians, some Republican pundits have cried bias.  Marc Ambinder thinks this is nonsense, and Ifill herself has dismissed the concerns.

George Bush and Geraldine Ferraro, who faced off in the first male vs. female VP debate in 1984, reminisce about their experience and offer their thoguhts the Palin-Biden matchup.

Michael Tomasky of the Guardian gives his forecast for tomorrow night in a fun video.

Roger Simon at Politico provides 10 ready-made answers to Sarah Palin. Respond to any question with ease!

And if it's all getting too serious for you, Newsweek invites you to play VP bingo.

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