Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

The GOP Apostate Campaigns for Obama in Virginia

(Patrick Caldwell)

Mitt Romney and Lincoln Chafee have surprisingly similar family backgrounds, both the product of prominent Republican households. Their fathers governed states as Rockefeller Republicans—George Romney in Michigan, John Chafee in Rhode Island—then served together in Richard Nixon's cabinet. The sons followed their fathers' molds as moderate Northeastern Republicans to great success a decade ago. Romney became the governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and Chafee replaced his father in the Senate, each serving one term in their respective roles.

Will Mendacity Win?

Looked at from a certain angle, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has been a grand experiment in whether it's possible to lie your way to the White House. Sure, all politicians stretch the truth like Play-Doh. They dissemble. They exaggerate. They tell the occasional out-and-out whopper. Traditionally, though, politicians tend to stick with truthiness, in the Colbert sense. Until now, there’s never been a presidential campaign built almost solely on a foundation of lies. Romney’s people have made no bones about it; his pollster, Neil Newhouse, told media at the Republican National Convention, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." Strangely, that might have been the single most honest statement to come out of the campaign.

Follow the Money—Where?

During the past few hours in California, the new model of Republican/Big Money campaign finance has become clear. It’s the Russian Doll model—every time you think you’re about to identify the source of a major contribution, you open it up and lo! There’s another doll that you have to open up and lo! There’s another …

The Economy Is Set for Big Growth Next Year

(401K/Flickr)

Bloomberg finds that—regardless of who wins the election tomorrow—the economy is set for stronger growth in 2013 and beyond:

Consumers are spending more and saving less after reducing household debt to the lowest since 2003. Home prices are rebounding after falling more than 30 percent from their 2006 highs. And banks are increasing lending after boosting equity capital by more than $300 billion since 2009.

This Is the Election on Advertising

Tomorrow brings the season finale of the 2012 election, which means saying goodbye to the endless stream of political ads that flood every commercial break. The ads were mostly traditional fare featuring candidates sniping at opponents with bitter attacks and playground chants, leaving exhausted and disenchanted voters in its wake. This election cycle, though, also had a few hilarious and bewildering campaign pitches, some achieving a surrealist level rarely seen in the never-subtle world of American politicking. We've rounded up the weirdest of this year's political advertisements—if we left out any of your favorites, let us know in the comments, and look out for our list of the lying-est political ads tomorrow.

These Guys Are Running for Office!?

(Flickr/Candie N)

The trouble with democracy is you gotta represent the crazies too. And nowhere does that better than state legislatures. In these so-called "laboratories of democracy," the range of experience and IQ are about about as wide as, well, those of the general population. This year, with just about everyone's eyes on the presidential race, state legislative coverage is particularly scanty. The "D" or "R" (or "G" or "L" or "I") beside a candidate's name goes a long way in determining whether they win, and can matter a lot more than some op-ed they might have written a few years back. Even so, you'd think there might be some limits (besides being a convicted felon, I mean) to what candidates can say or do and still get support.

The No-Brainer Progressive Case For Obama

Should it be surprising President Obama has largely maintained the support of the left of the Democratic Party? According to a number of critics—notably Matt Stoller and David Sirota of Salon—the answer is yes. Essentially, this contrarian case depends on obscuring two crucial truths:

Life Imitates "The Simpsons": Mitt Romney Edition

Google

Mitt Romney, this morning in Sanford, Florida, where he made his final—painfully generic—pitch to the state’s voters:

“Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow,” he told the crowd of over 3,000 people. “Your work is making a difference. The people of the world are watching. The people of America are watching. We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow, and with the help of the people in Florida, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

Long Lines and John Legend: Early Weekend Voting’s Last Day in Ohio

Clare Malone

"You don’t have to know how to sing, you just have to be a man.”

It’s early Sunday afternoon, and Pastor Paul Hobson Sadler Sr., wearing an iridescent black vestment and owlish glasses, is bringing the two-hour service at Mount Zion Congregational Church to a close, eliciting chuckles as he makes the hard sell for a men’s choir rehearsal on Tuesday night. The worship space of Mount Zion, with plush red seats and words of scripture projected onto the front walls of the altar, dates to the 1960s, but the institution has been a fixture in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland for 140 years, surviving a bombing during the 1950s back when, as one member of the almost all-black congregation told me, “they didn’t want us here.”

The Only Mandate That Matters

On Wednesday, we'll begin talking about whether whoever gets elected has a "mandate." We'll talk about it even more if Barack Obama is re-elected, because when a new president takes office we accept that he'll be doing all kinds of new things, changing course on almost every policy, replacing all the members of the other party who populate the executive branch with members of his own party, etc. With a re-elected president, on the other hand, there's a real question about where he goes from here and how much he can try to accomplish. There's a fundamental problem with the mandate idea, however, that makes it almost meaningless in today's Washington.

Say Hello to President Romney

(270toWin.com)

For those of us who think Barack Obama will win re-election tomorrow, the weight of evidence is on our side. The most recent national polls—from Pew, NBC News, CBS News, YouGov, and ABC News—show the president with a slight lead over Mitt Romney. Obama holds leads by greater than two points in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nevada—the states that give him 271 electoral votes—and he's just as ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Like I said in my prediction yesterday, if you gave Obama every state where he held a lead, he would win with 303 electoral votes. It’s no wonder that the election forecasters—Nate Silver, Sam Wang, Drew Linzer—place Obama’s probability of winning in the 85 percent to 90 percent range: Barring a huge Obama bias in the polling, the president is virtually certain to be re-elected.

With that said, life isn’t as predictable as we’d like to believe, and anything can happen. It is possible that the pollsters have failed—or at least, are missing something important in the electorate. If that’s the case, Obama’s victory isn’t as certain as it looks. Put another way, even at this late stage, a Romney victory is still possible.

GIF Out the Vote

Sarah Palin abandons her bus tour after no one pays attention.

The President as Metaphor

(Flickr/Adam Jones)

Character is destiny, said the Greek philosopher Heraclites—a romantic, maybe, since the implication is that sooner or later the good guy wins. It’s probably a character flaw on my part, indicative of smugness, to assume this maxim will be tested tomorrow on Election Day in terms of both the two presidential candidates running and the country itself. Such an assumption implies that the good guy’s identity is evident. This may not be the first time in our lives when a national election is about nothing less than the meaning of America. More than 1968 or 1932, however, the views and values of both sides are so distinctly different that what’s unsettling isn’t each side believing the other represents the forces of darkness and that the future of the country is at stake; everybody believes these things during a heated campaign. What’s unsettling is that, for once, these things may be true. This is what makes tomorrow such a dreadful crossroads and what makes after tomorrow such an inevitably daunting path.

Why the Romney Campaign Screwed Up

Mitt Romney's last-minute screw-up.

In the last week or so, Mitt Romney has accused Barack Obama of focusing his campaign on "small things," but let's be honest—at this point, everybody is focused on small things. And these small things are unlikely to make much of a difference with so little time left. Which is why it was so odd to see the Romney campaign stumble so badly with attack about Jeeps being built in China. How did they manage to take a criticism that would likely have just glanced off Obama anyway, and turn it into something that not only had everyone talking about Obama's best case to Ohio voters (the auto bailout), but also made Romney look cynical and dishonest?

Here's what I think happened. They heard the first, somewhat unclear report that Chrysler was going to be manufacturing Jeeps in China, without quite understanding what it meant, namely that they will be making them for the Chinese market (because of Chinese tarriffs, Chrysler would only be able to sell the Jeeps there if they make them there). By the time they figured out all the facts, Romney had already mentioned it on the stump, saying inaccurately that the company was "thinking of moving all production to China." So the campaign probably figured, we can still use this to try to discredit the bailout, we'll just be careful about the words we use.

And that's where they didn't quite grasp the implications of what they were doing...

Sorry Women, Blacks, Latinos, and Young People—You Don't Count

Jamelle Bouie

It goes without question that, if President Obama wins reelection, he will have done so with one of the most diverse coalitions ever assembled by a major party nominee. He will have won large majorities of women, young people, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.

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