Bob Moser

Bob Moser is senior editor at National Journal and author of Blue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority (Times Books). He is the former editor of The Texas Observer, senior editor/writer at The Nation, and executive editor of The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Carter Surprise

Ask Americans about Jimmy Carter, and the most popular response may well be: “Um. Wait. Was he a president or something?” After all, the man left office more than three decades ago, long before many voters were born. Unlike the Reagan years, there was nothing definitional about Carter’s presidency—which was one of its problems. And unlike Bill Clinton, the Man from Plains didn’t preside over a boom time—which was another one of his problems. He’s been a swell ex-president, but normal people don’t pay much heed to ex-presidents, especially the ones who run around doing fine things for humanity (yawn). Sure, to some politicos, “Jimmy Carter” is still synonymous with a gloomy and failed presidency. But for everybody else, Jimmy Carter was yesterday’s news 20 years ago. But he’s about to make a dramatic comeback, if the Romney campaign has anything to say about it. At Salon, Craig Unger reported today on the grand turnaround strategy that Team Romney is “ chortling with glee ” about: “to...

Early and Overconfident

Ringside Seat is the Prospect' s daily election-related newsletter. To sign up for it, go here . If Democrats weren’t already feeling blithely overconfident about President Obama’s re-election prospects, some are pointing to early voting as yet another source of sanguinity. The last time that there was a major “October surprise” in a presidential election, when Ronald Reagan “sealed the deal” against Jimmy Carter in a late-October debate, there was no such thing as early voting. Even absentee voting was in its infancy. But as part of progressive efforts to improve turnout, especially among low-income voters who sometimes can’t make it to the polls on Election Day, early voting has spread fast in recent elections—from 16 percent of all ballots cast in 2000 to about one-third of the total in 2008. This year, as many as 40 percent of Americans will vote early —which means they can, in the majority of states, already vote. And where does most early voting occur? In swing states. Iowa...

The Fable of 1980

As Mitt Romney’s poll numbers keep sagging, the 1980 election has become a kind of magical talisman for Republicans desperately seeking reasons to hope for a miraculous comeback win on November 6. (So has "poll-denial," the new birtherism; see Daily Meme, below.) In the summer, Rush Limbaugh helped revive the old legend of the Reagan Miracle. “I want to remind you of some history,” he told his listeners . “In June of 1980, Jimmy Carter led Ronaldus Magnus 39 to 32.” As summer 2012 turned to fall, and Romney swooned in the polls, a new reference point was discovered. The story now goes like this: Two days before 1980’s lone debate, little more than a week before the election, Ronald Reagan trailed Jimmy Carter by eight points in one poll. (Never mind the other polls, some of which had Reagan leading.) Then, after charming and convincing America that he wasn’t all those scary things Carter had said he was, Ronaldus Magnus won a near-landslide over the incumbent Democrat. It’s a...

The Comeback Mitt

Even for the flintiest of liberals, it was hard to watch the sad spectacle of Mitt Romney yesterday, after touching down for a rally in Dayton, Ohio, and not feel a little sad for the guy. Here was a beaten-up (and self-harmed) candidate coming off two catastrophic weeks, his poll numbers tanking in key battleground states, now forced to team up with his number two, Paul Ryan, because the campaign reportedly felt the ticket-topper wasn’t generating enough “excitement” on his own. Looking unusually worn and frazzled, standing in front of a banner proclaiming “America’s Comeback Tour,” Romney followed Ryan’s introduction by enthusing, in his best Mitt style, “Wow, that’s quite a guy, isn’t it, Paul Ryan, isn’t that something!” The folks assembled on the tarmac began to chant: “Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!” Romney quickly corrected them: “Romney-Ryan! Romney-Ryan!” The chant died away. The best reaction to the clip came from Joe Scarborough this morning; burying his head in his hands, he cried out...

The Great Polling Conspiracy of 2012

Around this time in 2004, liberals were panicking. The Democratic nominee for president, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, was lagging behind George W. Bush, who appeared to be on his way to a second term. This was baffling , and not in a Pauline Kael kind of way. It wasn’t so much that liberals couldn’t imagine the person who would vote Bush—at the time, it wasn’t hard to find a Bush voter—but that conditions were terrible, and it was a stretch to believe that America would re-elect a president who brought the country into two messy wars and the most sluggish economy since WWII. Obviously, these liberals decided, the problem was the polls. A cottage industry of liberal bloggers and pundits arose to explain how “biased” sampling had skewed the polls. If you weighted Republicans and Democrats correctly, they argued, then John Kerry would be ahead. But that was missing the point. Pollsters don’t weight the partisanship of the electorate in one way or another. They simply survey a large...

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