The Live Fix: Chris Cillizza on N.J. and Va. governors races, his BFF Raj Goyle and Sarah Palin as a third party candidate

Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 23, 2009; 11:00 AM

Every Friday, The Fix goes live, as Chris Cillizza discusses the latest news about Congress, the Obama administration, upcoming elections and all the latest political news.

A transcript follows.


Chris Cillizza: Good morning everyone.

Chat location: Fix home office

Beverage of choice: I got nothing

Music of choice: Dylan. Like every Friday.

I am roughing it this morning -- ie, no Starbucks -- since I have to get a bunch done at home before embarking on the long drive to northern New Jersey for Mrs. Fix's field hockey game tomorrow.

We are now just 11 days out from the governor's races in NJ and Va and the special election in NY-23. Lots to talk about it, so let's get to it.


Princeton, NJ : I go to to learn more about politics, not to read about lattes and pastry and pop music and field hockey and hoyas, whatever those are.

Please stick to politics.

Chris Cillizza: Huh. I wasn't aware we had made these chats mandatory. But, since it appears we have, I applaud that decision.


San Diego: So Palin endorses Hoffman? Did Palin give an impassioned, coherent speech in support of Hoffman in NY-23? Did she issue a well-written press release?

Oh, wait. She posted on her Facebook page.

What's the old saying about bread and circuses? I think Palin has the latter covered nicely. Just sayin'.

Chris Cillizza: As I wrote on Monday in the Morning Fix, Facebook has rapidly become Palin's preferred manner of communicating with activists, the media and everyone else.

She has nearly 1 million fans on Facebook, which gives her a large (and viral) platform on which to lay out her views.

But, you can't run for president on Facebook (someone alert Fred Thompson!).

At some point, Palin is going to have to campaign for candidates, sit down for interviews etc if she wants to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, which I am not sure she does.


Chevy Chase: Hey Chris, I love when you go on TV and throw your weight around.

Chris Cillizza: 1. Nice Chris Christie reference

2. I am actually losing weight since the arrival of Charlie Fix. I am wasting away to nothing.

3. Apologies in advance to Princeton. STAY ON TOPIC. POLITICS.


Somerset, UK: Is the latest on VA (viz. Anne Kornblut)--that Deeds is not just uncharismatic, but not willing to take 'good' advice--face-saving spin, or is it true?

Chris Cillizza: I think the general sense is that Deeds is not (and has never been) a particularly good candidate and that his general election campaign also hasn't been terribly strong.

I have written on many occasions that I think Deeds lost this race in mid-September when his campaign was slammed Bob McDonnell over this thesis.

Deeds needed to use the momentum gained from the thesis, which clearly damaged McDonnell, and start making the positive case for why voters should choose him.

He never did that. Instead, he stayed focused exclusively on McDonnell and the thesis. Once that issue ran its course, Deeds was left with nothing.


Fairfax: Dear Princeton, carefully remove the stick from your behind, okay? Thanks! And never refer to Dylan as "pop music"!

Chris Cillizza: HEYOO!

And, thanks Mom.


Leesburg, VA: Fix,

Not a question so much as a comment:

I have a prediction. Corzine wins NJ and McDonnell wins VA. The GOP declares the VA race to be a "referendum of the people against Obama," while they dismiss the NJ results as "NJ always goes Democrat." They completely dismiss the fact that VA almost always elects the opposite party to Governor of that that won: GWB2 - Kaine, GWB1 - Warner, Clinton2 - Gilmore, Clinton1 - Allen, GHWB - Wilder, Regan2 - Baliles, Regan1 - Robb.

I'm 28, for literally my entire life this state has voted the opposite of whomever just won the White House. If this happens again, can it really be considered a "Referendum" on anything other than the fact that Virginians are contrarian?

Chris Cillizza: I believe it goes all the way to 1977 in Virginia since the president's party won the state's governorship.

In 1980 and 1984 you had Reagan (twice) and Chuck Robb and Jerry Baliles.

In 1988, Bush won the presidency and the next year Doug Wilder won the governorship.

1992 and 1996 were Bill Clinton but 1993 and 1997 were George Allen and Jim Gilmore, respectively.

And, in 2000 and 2004 GW Bush won the presidency and Mark Warner (2001) and Tim Kaine (2005) won the Virginia governorship.

Fascinating trend.


Alexandria, Va.: Chris, you know what would make you cooler? If instead of all this Dylan talk, you'd listen and discuss Springsteen like Paul Kane! Did you see the Boss's set list from the last concert he did at the Spectrum? More than 3 hours and 31 songs. I'd like to see Dylan try to come even close to that!

Chris Cillizza: Are you kidding me? I can talk Springsteen.

But, remember that without Dylan, Springsteen never exists.


Evanston, Ill.: If you had to pick a winner in these two races, who would you say? How much does this matter in the grand scheme of national politics?

Chris Cillizza: I think McDonnell is clearly the favorite in Virginia and something big would have to happen to change the dynamic in the last 11 days of the race.

In new Jersey, predictions are almost impossible. Is Corzine in a better place than he was six weeks ago? Absolutely. But, that's largely because he has been able to peel voters away from Chris Christie and to independent Chris Daggett. Corzine's numbers haven't moved much in that time.

I have and continue to believe that it is REALLY tough for any incumbent to win when he is broadly disliked by voters and is unable to break 43 percent in any ballot test I have seen.

Obviously, if Daggett can continue to rise, Corzine's win number goes down and makes this race a possible Democratic hold.



a large (and viral) platform : Are you insinuating that Palin and H1N1 have something in common? Is this a play on the old "pig with lipstick" shtick from last fall? Hee hee! Me likey.

Chris Cillizza: Yes, yes. That is obviously what I meant. Thanks for reading between the lines ;)


Hazlet, NJ: That third party candidate seems kind of pesky in NJ -- is conventional wisdom that he'll cost Corzine more votes ?

Chris Cillizza: No.

My sense -- and this is born out by recent polling in the race, Daggett voters' second choice is Christie not Corzine.

Daggett remains almost entirely unknown by the state's voters but he continues to rise because he is not either Corzine or Christie who are broadly disliked by New Jerseyans (New Jersey-ites?).

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released earlier this week showed Daggett at 20 percent, which, if right, is absolutely amazing.

If Daggett gets 20, Corzine is very likely to win. If he gets 13 or under, Christie is likely to win. I still don't think Daggett can win the race outright but if he really is at 20 percent today, then a path may well exist.


Delaware: Counterfactuals are inherently speculative but would Terry M be doing better in the VA race? He is at least good on TV.

Chris Cillizza: Fix friend Adam Nagourney (of some newspaper called the New York Times) recently wrote about buyer's remorse setting in for some Democrats in Virginia.

I think it is REALLY difficult to predict what a McDonnell-McAuliffe race would have looked like. For all of Terry's strength (money, charisma) he also has significant weaknesses, weaknesses that cost him the Democratic nomination.

Given the long history of Virginia voters choosing against the president's party, this was always a tough race for Democrats. The campaign Deeds has run hasn't helped things at all but it started uphill.


Richmond, Va.: Why does Creigh Deeds continue to have post debate press gaggles? It seems like he would have learned his lesson the first time.

Chris Cillizza: I have NO idea.

I have been told that the Virginia press expects the candidates to do post-debate press conferences.

But, NO voters cares whether a politician skips out on that sort of thing. It's only the reporters that would get annoyed.

Deeds' decision to hold a press conference after the Sept. 17 debate may well have cost him the race as it provided fodder for THREE negative ads that painted him not just as a flip-flopper on taxes but also short-tempered.

Not. Good.


San Francisco: Morning, Chris. Do you find it interesting that the two Virginians "blamed" for Creigh Deeds' possible defeat in Virginia are African-American? Doug Wilder and Sheila Johnson were both significantly name-checked in you colleagues Rosalind S. Helderman and Anne E. Kornblut's report today. Deeds ignored advice, White House says (Post, Oct. 23)

Chris Cillizza: Not really.

Sheila Johnson and Doug Wilder didn't cost Creigh Deeds this race.


Vallejo, Calif.: If you had to describe the upcoming World Series matchup as a particular kind of specialty coffee drink, what would it be? And would it be the kind of beverage that left you refreshed and uplifted, or somewhat grumpy?

Chris Cillizza: I assume you mean a potential Yanks-Phils matchup?

If so, it is best described as a regular cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts and a glazed donut.

If it's Angels-Phillies, I would say caramel macchiato with some sort of low-fat pastry on the side.


San Francisco: Good morning, Chris. Thanks for chatting today. Will Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann suffer with the institutional GOP for their endorsement of the non-GOP candidate in NY-23?

Chris Cillizza: I doubt it.

Palin, as I wrote this morning in the aptly titled "Morning Fix", is far more loyal to her conservative principles than her party.

And, because of her fundraising ability and the sheer attention she creates, she is still of value to certain Republicans who need to rally the base of the party behind her candidacy.

Palin is, oddly, something of an a-political figure. She is much more closely aligned with the ideas that animated the tea parties and town hall protests than she is with the approach to governance taken by party leaders in Washington.

Did someone say third party bid for president?


Austin, Tex.: Any idea how this cycle's Kinky Friedman Experiment is going to play out? He was a disaster as an independent candidate, do you see him more viable running as a Democrat?

Weekly music pick: Built To Spill, playing in Austin tomorrow night.

Chris Cillizza: Kinky's best role was as a member of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue.

It's hard to see how Democrats win the governorship in Texas this time around despite the battle that is coming between Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).

The party may -- and I repeat may -- have a shot in the Senate special election that will be set off if and when KBH does step aside.

As for Built to Spill, I have heard good things...need to get on that...others?


Arlington, Va: On Corzine's low favorable numbers, didn't Rick Perry win in Texas last time with a low percentage because his opponents split four or five ways?

Chris Cillizza: He did. And Rod Blagojevich (remember him) won re-election in 2006 with similarly terrible numbers.

It can happen. It's just the exception not the rule.


Washington, D.C.: Are you going to take any non-New Jersey or Virginia question today?

I've got a question about Raj Goyle in Kansas...

No, just messing. A joke that only somebody who read last week's Live Chat might get.

But with all the talk about Governor's race for here and there, I think the weakest primary looks to be Kansas' Democratic gubernatorial one. Was the Democratic Party of Kansas really a one-woman show in Kathleen Sebelius and when Team Obama picked her, they sank the statewide party? I mean I REALLY thought she was going to run for U.S. Senate in 2010 and had a real shot at getting Kansas blue for the 1st time the Great Depression which long-term is bigger plus then what she is doing right now (campaigning for Specter and showing Chuck Todd the right way to sneeze).

So, I'll put my question this way, what's the matter with Kansas' Democratic Party (besides The Fix's BFF Raj)?

P.S. Loved the quote from Santorum's endorsement of Tiahrt.

Chris Cillizza: I cannot pass up a Raj Goyle reference!

I think Sebelius was a one-woman show and the way Democrats in the state handled the opening created by her departure was, um, not good. The acting governor made clear he would not run for a full term and then picked a lieutenant governor who also didn't want to run.

Um, what? Just inexplicable.


Red Sox Nation: "I assume you mean a potential Yanks-Phils matchup?

If so, it is best described as a regular cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts and a glazed donut."

As a Red Sox fan, I am deeply offended that you would use anything from Dunkin Donuts to describe the Yankees. Would you care to edit your analogy?

Chris Cillizza: OOOh. Fair point.

How about this: a pretzel with mustard, a slice of pizza and a cup of black coffee from a street vendor.


Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: I just heard that President McCain will be on Face the Nation on Sunday. This will be his 40 bazillionth appearance on a Sunday show since he won the election. Can you write that story about how he is overexposed and it is damaging his agenda again? I don't think he read the first one.

Chris Cillizza: Sen. McCain reads every word I write.


Also, why has no one began the "Chris Cillizza is the homeless man's Bill Simmons" campaign yet. This could catch on. I am dead serious. I smell a Facebook group.


No coffee -- no joke: I'm curious don't you have a coffee maker at home or is the wife out shopping ?

Chris Cillizza: As regular chatters know, I dislike normal coffee. I like my coffee with lots of sugar and fancy stuff in it. And, I can't do that at the Fix homestead.


Austin, Tex.: Re: Democrats winning in Texas.

I was under the impression that Chris Bell probably would have beaten Rick Perry if the two Indie candidates weren't there. Your thoughts?

Chris Cillizza: Much like the "Would Terry McAuliffe have been a better candidate than Deeds" debate.


But, I don't think so.


New Brunswick, N.J.: The real issue in New Jersey politics: does television mean that Howard Taft was the last literal heavyweight to be successful in politics?

Chris Cillizza: Just a terrific Taft reference.

And, all streaks are made to be broken. Political guru Stu Rothenberg once wrote a column about how it's impossible (or next to it) to get elected to the Senate with a beard.

Then along came Jon Corzine and his big pile of money....the rest is history.


New York, N.Y.: Poor Bob Dylan. He takes walks and neighbors complain about a suspicious character lurking. He picks his grandchildren up at school and the school calls for assistance. He had trouble getting into one of his own concerts because a security guard wouldn't let him in. Is this any walk for an icon to be treated in his later life?

Chris Cillizza: He is ROUGH looking these days. But, did you see the Joan Baez documentary on PBS? Dylan is interviewed it and he comes across as totally with it. I will admit I was somewhat surprised.

And, for those of you looking for holiday presents I would recommend a trumpet for Halloween and a drum for Christmas.


Sarah Palin as a 3rd party candidate?: She has zero appeal to anyone who is not already an ultraconservative Republican. She would get 2% of the vote, all of it from the GOP. Obama should secretly fund her.

Chris Cillizza: Now THAT would be a good story.


"I go to to learn more about politics, not to read about lattes and pastry and pop music and field hockey and hoyas, whatever those are. ": I, on the other hand, have given up on caring about politics. I go to to learn more lattes and pastry and pop music and field hockey.

I do try, however, not to step in the hoya when I have my nice shoes on.

Chris Cillizza: Well played.


Re: And, I can't do that at the Fix homestead.: The WashPost should buy you a cappuccino machine for your home office. You've earned it!

Chris Cillizza: Forwarding this to my betters at the Post as we speak....


Anchorage AK = Alaska: Are you going to read Going Rouge?

No, that's the other book. Is that a book funded by The Nation? Didn't get the whole story.

Sounds like a hoot. Maybe they can get Tina Fey to do the audio CD!

Enjoy Sarah. We're well used (tired) to (of) her.


Chris Cillizza: Definitely will read Going Rogue. Not so sure about Going Rouge.

And, I know it's easy to dismiss Palin. But, #1 on Amazon for weeks says something. There is a HUGE amount of interest (good and bad) in her in the country.

Make sure to check the Fix after the chat ends for my latest ranking of the top 10 most influential Republicans in the party.


Providence, R.I.: Your mom lives in Fairfax?

For some reason, I had it in my mind that your folks lived in Marlborough (near my folks plus my ancestors have lived in that area for centuries)?

Just curious, how far back back do your roots in Connecticut go?

Chris Cillizza: No, no.

Mom is in town but parents still live in CT. Keeping it real.

My roots in CT go back to when Dom Perno coached UCONN basketball and the Whalers still ruled the Mall.


Charlottesville Virginia: Do the Mike Pences and Sarah Palins of the world face a backlash for their party disloyalty in the NY 23 special? It seems to me that the Republican party is in bad shape if the House conference chair and the party's VP nominee care less about winning and being a big tent party than being ideologically pure.

Chris Cillizza: See my answer above.

The Palins/Armeys etc of the world see NY-23 as a microcosm of the national fight for the future of the Republican party.

They believe that how a candidate feels on the issues is far more important than whether or not there is an "R" after his or her name.

Again, that's not the traditional way party leaders have acted but Palin is, um, not the traditional party leader.


Princeton, NJ is wrong: No question. One of the nice things about this chat is that we get a political fix and a little of your personality. All politics can be boring/depressing/overload. I guess Princeton would not listen to Kornheiser's supposedly sports radio show because he also discusses music and movies, not to mention his neuroses.

Chris Cillizza: Mr. Tony!

If I can't get the "Chris Cillizza is a homeless man's Bill Simmons" movement started, maybe I could get the "Chris Cillizza should sing the mailbag song for TK" movement under way.


Columbia, Md.: Princeton is betraying his ignorance of political matters by declaring coffee as a non-political topic. Wasn't the rejection of British tea one of the founding principles of our country?

Chris Cillizza: OOOH. No. You. Didn't.

And, thanks to everyone jumping to the ole Fix's defense today. Nice to know my back is had.


If Dylan is the #1 rock songwriter: Who is #2? Neil Young? Elvis Costello? Bruce Springsteen? Prince? John Lennon? Pete Townshend? Lucinda Williams?

Chris Cillizza: 1. Dylan

2. Lennon/McCartney

3. John Prine (controversial!)


"How about this: a pretzel with mustard, a slice of pizza and a cup of black coffee from a street vendor. ": Don't forget the cig-butt floating in the coffee and the casual air of superiority about everything you described.

Chris Cillizza: I just threw up in my mouth a little. Ah, New York!


Charlottesville, Va.: Does Terry McAuliffe understand he LOST the presidential primary with HRC and then LOST the Democratic primary to replace Tim Kaine.

I don't know, the way he acts about those big losses is more the way somebody acts about loosing a heads or tails flip of the coin rather then being rejected through the will of the citizenry.

Chris Cillizza: Terry, are you reading this?


Madison, Wisc.: Who is Raj Goyle and why is he The Fix's BFF?

Chris Cillizza: Raj Goyle is a Democrat running for House in Kansas' 4th district who raised $400K in the third quarter.

He is NOT the Fix's BFF.

There were just a preponderance of Goyle questions in last week's chat.


Washington, DC: CC: "Huh. I wasn't aware we had made these chats mandatory."

It was part of Obama's off-the-record briefing. Must avoid Fox, must do Cillizza chat. Pain in the neck, but what can you do?

Chris Cillizza: yeah, now that I think about it, that WAS in the contract I signed....


Belfast, Maine: Chris, any thoughts about this theory? With the two major parties geographically polarized (Dems in the NE and west coast, Reps in the south) is there an opportunity for a third party to grow bottom up to provide an alternative to the dominant party in the area? Or is this just wishful thinking?

Chris Cillizza: Check out the post I wrote on the Fix yesterday about the rise of independents.

While more people than ever are identifying themselves as political independents, the financial and organizational hurdles to run (and win) as an independent for national office are very high and very tough to overcome.


Palin not campaigning: I don't think Palin would ever run for office again - she can rake in pricey appearance fees & be as inflammatory as she wants to rile up the base, without ever being held accountable to the taxpayers. No decisions to make except who will write your books & opinion speeches for you and who will manage the money you'll make.

Chris Cillizza: I think this is an astute analysis.

I think Palin is genuinely conflicted about running for national office...and won't make any sort of decision for a while now.


Montclair, NJ: So what Dylan do you like best? Political Dylan? (The Times the Are a Changin), Electric Dylan (Highway 61), Country Dylan (Nashville Skyline), Personal Demons Dylan (Blood on the Tracks), Jesus Dylan (Saved), Oh my goodness, this is embarrassing Dylan (Under the Red Sky), Morbid Dylan (Time out of Mind), Victoria's Secret Dylan or... Christmas Album Dylan

Chris Cillizza: Man, this is a GREAT question.

I think I would go with Country Dylan.

Then Political Dylan and Personal Demons Dylan.

Least favorite: Saved Dylan.


Anonymous: YOU LIE!

You're not BFF with Raj Goyle.

You don't even follow him on Twitter

Chris Cillizza: I JUST said I wasn't BFF with Raj Goyle.


And, did I mention that you should follow me on Twitter.


Illinois: Chris, what was the Santorum quote as referred to by a previous chatterer? I'm always looking for a good laugh, especially by the far right.

Chris Cillizza: It's about courage. And his endorsement of Rep. Todd Tiahrt in the Kansas Senate race.

And, it's in the Morning Fix which, I can only assume, you have read 5-10 times today but happened to miss that quote.


Go Cardinals!: My wife is catching a bus down for the Catholic University of America homecoming (should she keep her eye out for the fix?) and her birthday is in a couple of weeks. Should I bow to her on Sunday and salute her when her birthday comes?

Chris Cillizza: Absolutely. It's the right move.

In other news, the Fix mom, who is on Twitter too at just delivered a venti caramel macchiato.



OOOH. No. You. Didn't. : Is Chris Cillizza really Monique in a costume?

Chris Cillizza: I don't know what this means. But I did laugh.


Salinas, CA: Chris, when it comes to American songwriting, there is nothing controversial about John Prine's place in it.

Chris Cillizza: Thank you.

Is there a better break up song than "The Great Compromise". Just bitter. And sad.


Clifton, Va.: Sorry Chrissy but it is a referendum against Obama in VA if Cucinelle wins the AG race.

The man won his Senate seat by less than 100 votes 2 years ago against a candidate who makes Deeds look like Bill Clinton.

Sorry you wrong. Field hockey is for sorority girls. Real women play college rugby. And drink you under the table!

Chris Cillizza: Spell check is a feature on most modern computers.

Also, I will not have anyone badmouthing field hockey in this space. YOU SHALL NOT PASS.


Chris Cillizza: And that's time!

Thanks to everyone for participating -- including you "Princeton" -- and a special thanks to Live Fix producer extraordinaire Andrea Caumont who braved a fire drill and a swine flu chat to bring the questions to me.

Have a great weekend.



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