Vote 2008: Election Analysis

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HORIZON revisits election results and examines races that are still undecided.

Ted Simons: Tonight on Horizon, the U.S. Makes history on election night. What's next for President-Elect Obama. Will Arizona governor Janet Napolitano leave the state for a position in the Obama administration? She's already on the Obama transition team, and faces a more conservative Arizona legislature. And Sheriff Arpaio and county attorney Andrew Thomas win reelection. We'll talk about all that and more next on Horizon.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and thanks for joining us tonight on Horizon. I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons: Arizona House Republicans and Senate Democrats picked new leadership today. Kirk Adams beat out Jim Weiers for speaker of the house. John McCombish was elected majority leader while Andy Toe been was elected whip. In the Senate, Jorge Garcia got the job as minority leader, Rebecca Rios got the job of assistant minority leader while Linda Lopez was named minority whip. There's talk of special session this month or next to deal with a deficit. The governor and lawmakers met today to try to come up with ideas to close the budget gap.

Ted Simons: The presidents of Arizona's three universities announced what they would like to see for tuition increases. Recommendations range from a 10-14% increase. The requests must be approved by the Board of Regents in their meeting next month.

Ted Simons: Though the country went blue, Arizona seems to have gone a deeper shade of red this election. Nationally Barack Obama was elected president and Democrats picked up seats in congress, but in Arizona, Republicans picked up seats in the legislature. One prize for state democrats, the Corporation Commission. Democrats picked up three seats on that commission. Here in Maricopa County, the get tough on illegal immigration sheriff and county attorney easily won reelection. Here to talk about all that and more, political analyst Stan Barnes of Copperstate Consulting and Bob Grossfeld of The Media Guys. Let's start with you, Stan, and start with the Republican side. Why did John McCain come up short?

Stan Barnes: You throw that at me?

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Stan Barnes: Well, I think he came up short because no man, no matter how good, no matter how deep his resume and credibility, was going to overcome the wave that was this particular election. When we're in it it's hard to see it. But when you look back on it, it's pretty clear. Even at this short term. The nation is in its economic trouble that is more marked than any I've experienced in most voters, and the war is so heavy on so many people. Those two things combined under a Republican administration, was more than any Republican nominee could carry. Particularly held up against a man who is an incredibly gifted orater and confidence builder. That all together was the demise of the John McCain campaign.

Ted Simons: No-win situation for John McCain?

Bob Grossfeld: I'm not sure. I think it may be a bit more fundamental than that. McCain certainly made mistakes, and probably going back to 2000 and all the years in between, of trying to reposition himself and to kiss and make up with the Bush family, and get their support and all of that. And then bringing all of the Bush operatives on to run his campaign. I think on the Republican side in general, because it wasn't just losing the White House, they lost Senate seats, massive number of House seats, and I really think it came down to at least at the presidential level, President-Elect Obama was addressing the country as citizens. And the Republicans were continuing to address people as consumers. And this was a time for citizenship. This was a time for the country coming together for letting go of nonsense that has been dividing us.

Ted Simons: Was that personified in the Sarah Palin selection for vice-president?

Bob Grossfeld: I think so. Absolutely. Because it was so transparent. And it was reported widely, and there was no real denial. There was a lot of denial, nondenial-denial. No, I -- and God bless them, the senator was trying to do his best trying -- following that day's advice from that set of advisors. If he had walked into the Republican convention without something in his back pocket like Sarah Palin, they'd have gone berserk, because they didn't like him.

Ted Simons: Sarah Palin, the selection. How much of an impact?

Stan Barnes: My only opinion is it was a net positive, which I -- I understand both sides of it. I have personal friends that voted against John McCain because of Sarah Palin. I understand that. But she brought the base home, which was part of the equation about how you're going to get there if you're going to get there. She is going to take -- she's going to be the focus of a lot of debate in the near term going forward, because the Republican party looks for itself, how to find itself. In the meantime, I think the most major item was she was the net positive for the ticket.

Ted Simons: is Sarah Palin going to be, as the Republican Party looks at itself, are they going to see Sarah Palin in the mirror?

Stan Barnes: I don't think so. I think she's an attractive candidate for who she is in Alaska. She'll probably be a U.S. Senator from Alaska, she'll be on the national stage at some level. But I don't think she's got all by herself, without John McCain, I don't think she's got the moxie and the leadership quotient figured out for filling the vacuum. And the vacuum nationally and even locally is huge, is tremendous. I don't think she's one to fill it.

Ted Simons: Talk about Republicans in general. Nationally and to a lesser extent I think Arizona, but I think Arizona can be included as well, is this the kind of election where we -- Republicans say, we were like this, we have to be different from now on.

Stan Barnes: The way I see it, the party's in a thousand pieces on the floor, and all the pieces are about the same size. And it's already beginning in my circle even today with people talking amongst themselves, what do we do now? Because we're kind of leaderless nationally, and we don't even know if we have a central argument anymore, because so many people have lost faith in the Republican brand of the limited government party, and the strong military party, all that stuff. So the rebuilding is going to take place. It's going to take a while. This was a cathartic watershed election for my party, the Republican Party -- and it's going to take some time to come out of it.

Bob Grossfeld: See, Stan, you just validated what I was saying about the Republicans approaching us as consumers. The Republican brand. It's not a brand, it's a party. And there are candidates, and there are real, live issues that affect people. And to the extent that your party continues to approach things as, well, you know, you get enough money, do you some research, you find a candidate, package them up right, throw some commercials out there, and you really have to trash the other guy. It's not going to work.

Stan Barnes: Did I say any of that? I don't think I said one word of that. The Democratic Party is already beginning to feel its own gloat at the national victory and as Bob is saying -- their risk is overstepping it, and maybe they will. Maybe sooner than later.

Ted Simons: Let me give you an analogy. For decades the Democratic Party has been fighting itself, fighting maybe some extreme wing elements, more liberal elements, all the way back to the '60s. Finally seems -- things seem to be coalescing toward the center. Are the Republicans facing that same fight with elements far outside the mainstream, with extremist folks within the party? Are they fighting the same fight that Democrats have fought for the past 30 years?

Bob Grossfeld: Oh, sure. Sure. And that's what I think the Palin nomination was about. You're absolutely right. I mean, she was a necessary ingredient to bring home that Republican base. But that Republican base shrunk. And that was a major strategic error, because while it would have probably prevented the Republican Convention from blowing up, they had to turn right around and go out, and the John McCain that could have appealed to independents, who made a name for himself appealing to independents, lost that.

Stan Barnes: I still think the country is a center right country, and the Republican Party is a center right party. But it's in the deep minority, because when it had its hands on the levers, it just blew it. We in Washington, when we had the White House and the congress, wrecked it. Did terrible -- I'm not saying anything that nobody knows -- everyone understands what's I'm saying. When I say brand, what I'm using is political lingo to describe that there's no faith in the Republican Party's message anymore by voters looking to place their faith in something. To earn that faith back is going to take a lot for the Republicans.

Ted Simons: John McCain, he runs again in 2010?

Stan Barnes: It's my guess he does. He's a senior, important, respected U.S. Senator, and I don't know what else he's going to do. I think he'll run.

Ted Simons: Does he run again, A, and does he win again, against all comers or any comers?

Bob Grossfeld: He's moving into that category of an Arizona institution. And I think it will be very, very difficult to beat him. If he wants to run. If he's in good health. In large part right now because his opportunity to salvage his legacy is to go back to the senate and be the John McCain that he always wanted to be, but he was pushed and shoved and pulled and maneuvered over the course of easily two years and probably 10 in his run for the presidency. And I think I would suspect, without having talked to the man, I would suspect in some ways he's feeling very, very free. Like a burden is off him. He can go be what he wants to be.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the president-elect. What does a Barack Obama presidency mean to Arizona?

Bob Grossfeld: Hopefully I think it means a stable economy. It means a foreign policy that is not based entirely upon the military. I think in terms of our local economic base, it should mean a fairly dramatic increase in solar technology and federal interest in those kind of investments. And I'm absolutely convinced that the president-elect will call Senator McCain in, ask him to take the lead on passing comprehensive immigration reform in this upcoming congress, and that should go a long way towards solving some of the insanity that's been going on around here.

Stan Barnes: I think some of those insights are accurate. More directly it means we're going to switch governors again midstream. I think Janet Napolitano is probably going to go to Washington, because she's highly qualified and went in early at her own political peril with the Obama team, and I think she would do Arizona great in his cabinet, and she probably will, it's my guess, having no special information. But once again, in my 20 years, which is not that long a time, we're going to move a secretary of state into the governor's spot, which means we go from a center left governor to a center right governor in Jan Brewer and a whole new day.

Ted Simons: Let's get to that question. It seems like it's on everyone's mind. We had the governor in the other night, and I asked her, I got same response I always get, but you gotta ask, and she's ever she just says -- different response this time. This time instead of "I've got a job to do," it's "we've got to give the president-elect time to make these decisions." Attorney general, isn't everyone in agreement, as attorney general she goes? Pretty much? Speculate.

Bob Grossfeld: Is this a toss-up question?

Ted Simons: yes.

Bob Grossfeld: I don't know. The only thing I know for certain is that if the president of the united states calls somebody and says, I need you, and your country needs you, it's very, very difficult to say no.

Stan Barnes: I'm going to give George Bush a call and see if you can say no to him. I think Janet will -- our governor, Napolitano, I believe she will go if asked in almost any cabinet position. But particularly attorney general. Because she's a former U.S. Attorney, and a former attorney general, and well thought of lawyer --

Ted Simons: Homeland Security.

Stan Barnes: There's a number -- they're all important. Agriculture is not as important as it used, to but secretary of state, and all these important jobs, she's going to have one of them, I believe, and that means we'll have a domino shift.

Ted Simons: Talk about the shift. What happens at the state house should she leave, here comes Governor Brewer, here comes now a more conservative house and senate, what happens?

Stan Barnes: It means that the answer to the central question facing the legislature now, which is what do we do this with -- with this financial mess, is going to be a different answer than it would have been. It might mean more cuts and less borrowing. Hopefully it will mean less of an ugly compromise between the parties in the middle in order to get the necessary votes. It's lost on most people because most people just aren't paying attention that closely. But what is done in order to band-aid the budget at the legislature would put most businesses or individuals in jail because of the way it's done. It is so outlandish. But it's not their fault, in a manner of speaking. There's only so many tools they have, and they can't even cut the kinds of things they want because of the voter protections that are built into the system. So no one really wants to be in a position of making these tough decisions in their political life, but the Republicans are going to find themselves running the state of Arizona in the worst financial shape we've been in any of our political lifetimes. That's going to be a pretty dangerous water. It's an opportunity as well for the party to show that it can deliver.

Ted Simons: How do Democrats see a Governor Jan Brewer?

Bob Grossfeld: At a distance. I don't think -- this speculation has been going on really for a very, very long time. And I'm not convinced it's going to happen, but should that happen and I've known Secretary Brewer back when she was in the state senate, and I'll trust her, she'll be my governor, same way as Janet is Stan's governor. But I think the opportunity will be for the Republicans to shed the cut taxes at any cost ideology and just deal with the problem. Because they're not going to be able to solve a problem by cutting a whole lot more, because there's not a whole lot more to cut. And they're going to have to start looking at, well, where do we get money from?

Stan Barnes: I can promise you they're not going to take bob's advice, when they get their arms around, and the governor -- governor Brewer, should she be governor, is not. It's unspoken but true that the budgets of the last few years have been democratic budgets. They've -- the governor has gotten her way, has had her way in the game of what are we going to do when we have more spending than we have money. There's been a lot of borrowing and shenanigans. That's kind of normal government in a tight time. Republicans are going to take the reigns on that and have no excuses, because if the governor is a republican, they're going to have to come together and make it happen.

Ted Simons: New speaker, new leadership, really, all over the place down there at the capitol. What do you see as far as the future? Jim Weiers out, Kirk Adams in, what does that mean?

Bob Grossfeld: If you take Representative Adams at his word and the things he's written about, he has written about a real different openness down there, where the budget's open, meetings are open, things of that nature. And those are things Democrats have been asking for for a very, very long time. How far he can push that, what he's actually able to do might be a different situation. But at least that -- to that extent that's got to be good news.

Ted Simons: Kirk Adams, the likely speaker, burns the senate president. What do you make of this? This sounds more conservative to me as far as dealing with -- again, you could be dealing with a Governor Brewer. That changes the dynamics.

Stan Barnes: It does. The state government is going to be more conservative, and it's not necessarily because the leadership is traded out, although you can make that argument. It's more to the point that they gained seats in the house, and they gained the seat in the senate, they being the Republicans, and you're not likely to get the situation where one or two Republicans hold the rest of the caucus hostage for different kinds of policy ideals done with the minority. Which has been the case in the past. And so the policies that come out of the legislature will be more Republican with a small r, in that there's a Republican governor, there won't be the tension between the branches that is -- there's always a natural tension, but there won't be the partisan tension on top of the natural tension, and there ought to be an easier way to get out of this particular mess we're in.

Bob Grossfeld: I think one would hope that if that situation comes about, Secretary Brewer would look back on Governor Hall as a model to follow. Where things were done in a more appropriate way, the ideological tensions were kept out of things to a greater extent. And at least things could function and move forward, and problems could be solved.

Ted Simons: Congressional delegation 5-3, Democratic majority. What does that mean to Arizona?

Bob Grossfeld: That means in a way, much, much more. Because it allows the congressional Democrats to go back to Washington and start doing what some of our Republican members just won't do. Which is actually go get federal funding for needed projects. There's been such a -- just this caricature of every spending project is pork. Well, no. Most of them are not. The pork barrel add-ons are very, very small percentage of the federal budget. But to not go back and try and get funding for highways, or for hospitals, or for needed services is like, well, why are we sending you there? And I think you'll see that change dramatically.

Stan Barnes: Then Arizona is going to have a bigger seat at the table and the house. The Republicans have 170 something now, I think, in Washington, and they're almost going to be totally ignored, because the majority has got votes to spare. How individual members from Arizona behave in that environment, in the majority -- I'm thinking of everyone from Mr. Hall, pastoral, to our newcomers. That's going to determine a lot of the flavor in terms of how it affects Arizona.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Gabriel Giffords is not a new name, but did well again. Are these folks we could see in the future for other offices?

Bob Grossfeld: They're on their way, absolutely.

Stan Barnes: I believe so too. They're both highly talented, highly likeable, articulate women in politics, and they've got a bright future.

Ted Simons: What about Andrew Thomas, who won again, county attorney race, and won I think with maybe surprise? Some were surprised. They saw a little closer race. Didn't happen. What kind of future ambitions might he have and how successful could he be?

Stan Barnes: I think he's got a lot of ambition. He could be successful. What you touched on, there's a really bad day for the Democratic Party in Arizona. Save for the congressional and statewide corporation commission thing, the legislature is a very serious place, but also the county attorney level in Maricopa County. The governor and her allies went all in in a very different way. They raised a lot of money, targeted races, they ran great campaigns, they outspent the other guys by a lot and still lost. And so there's a lot of surprised Democrats today who knew the tide was turning in Arizona as well as nationally, and it just didn't happen.

Ted Simons: Why did the country go one way and Arizona the other?

Bob Grossfeld: I don't think anybody has a clue. Other than, you know, we can look at some of the statistical features. Turnout was way below what it was projected to be and certainly what it was --

Ted Simons: What was going on with those numbers? 80% winds up in the 60s?

Bob Grossfeld: It is troublesome. I'm not sure anybody has given me a good answer yet. And in terms of boots on the ground, there seemed to be a sufficient number of volunteers. There seemed to be more than enough money. And for it to actually have a turnout that was going the wrong direction seems to be just plain odd.

Stan Barnes: It is counterintuitive. The turnout this time was markedly less than the last presidential election we had because it seemed hype if nothing else was so high. History in the making one way or the other. But it didn't play out, much to the surprise of the chattering class.

Ted Simons: That being said, Colorado is now a battleground state, officially. Is Arizona a battleground state of the future? Or will Arizona always be kind of what we just saw the other night?

Stan Barnes: Well, as long as we've got five democratic federal members and three Republican, it's going to be seen nationally as a battleground state. And we just elected in a statewide contest three Democratic members, though for the corporation commission, though the one seat may still be in doubt, because there's a few hundred thousand, a couple hundred thousand votes yet uncounted, and the race is close enough. But having said that, it's -- I think it's going to be seen by the national guys as purple.

Ted Simons: We've got about 30 seconds.

Bob Grossfeld: Absolutely. And not just because of this election, but you go back last election, the one before that, how close Clinton-Gore came, how they won at one point, and this will be I think generally written off as, well, it was McCain's home state. What do you expect?

Ted Simons: Ok. We'll stop it right there. Fascinating stuff, and I'm sure we'll be going over this in future times as well. We'll do it tomorrow at the Journalists' Roundtable. A whole different variety of folks. Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: Tomorrow on Horizon, what are the governor's prospects in the Barack Obama administration, and where does that leave Arizona?

Ted Simons: Also, an update on some of those state and local races that are still out there. That's Friday on the Journalists' Roundtable. Well, that's it for now. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

Stan Barnes:Copperstate Consulting;

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