Yes, it’s Christmas, but I just binge watched the last 8 episodes of The Newsroom, a thoroughly manipulative and often reprehensible, yet strangely addictive and compelling television program to people - like me - who are susceptible to witty and intelligent yet completely unbelievable banter, and who want to believe that everything ends well and the guy and the girl always get together in the end. In other words, hopeless romantics. It’s an Aaron Sorkin thing: I hate myself for being manipulated while simultaneously wanting to live in a world where the stupid yet awesome things he likes to portray actually happen.
So now I’m all charged up about all the cool stories that I have in mind for the next few weeks. Here you go. I need to go watch a horror movie or something to rebalance my brain.
1. In six days, we reach the end of the Q4 campaign finance reporting period. These numbers - which by the way won’t be filed until January 31 - will be the last formal measure of the fundraising efforts of all the Senate and House candidates before early voting starts on April 14. The 2016 Q1 reports won’t be due until the next day, April 15. What will the numbers look like? From everything I hear from a wide range of sources, the operative word is “down.” What will matter in the great majority of situations is “how far down?” and “how did the other guys do by comparison?”
2. Campaign strategies will begin to take shape in a way that we as observers will be able to, well, observe. Who’s got the best ground game? Who’s active in what kind of outreach activity? Who goes on the air, and what kind of message will they be delivering? Who jumps first into the direct mail pool?
3. Polls. There’s only been one internal House poll in CD8, one outside poll in the Senate, and none in CD4. I’ve been hearing rumors about more polls, but nothing concrete, not even for the guy willing to report rumors if enough people are talking about them. It’s all vague and contradictory right now, but I’m going to try to dig up what I can.
4. The candidates going to Annapolis for days starting on January 13: Kumar Barve, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Jamie Raskin, Dereck Davis, and Joseline Pena-Melnyk. Barve and Davis are committee chairs. How will they and the others manage the competing demands of session and a primary that is now 123 days away? Striking a balance is critical: too much Annapolis means you lose the primary, but too much campaign means you get criticized for not doing your job, which means you lose the primary. See Cardin, Jon, 2014.
5. Issues. Every legislative session brings issues to the fore that nobody was thinking about when session began. Criminal justice reform, police accountability, veto overrides, education, alcohol, the budget, I’ll be doing my best to keep tabs on all of them, not to mention stuff we aren’t even thinking about right now.
6. The presidential primaries. After months and months and months and months of blather, the first votes will be cast in Iowa in 38 days, and in New Hampshire in 46. I’ll be following that too. Right now, if you put a gun to my head, I’d bet that when the smoke clears, it’s going to be Clinton vs. Cruz.
7. Whatever other crazy shit that Maryland politics, the Internet, and my loopy brain can dredge up for your entertainment and amusement.
Hope that’s enough. Going to watch that movie now.