Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Get Out the Instagram

(Flickr/Stickware)
Michael Collis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania No line at the University of Pennsylvania polling place. Laurence Moore, Santa Clara, California Johanna Brugman, Washington state (where all ballots are by mail) Aryeh Cohen-Wade, Rochester, New York Jason Packman, Japan I live in Japan, and the county where I am now registered allows overseas voters to send in their ballot by fax (albeit with a waiver saying you forfeit your right to a secret ballot) So here is the fax machine I used the morning of the sixth in Japan to send in my ballot. Njaila Rhee, Newark, New Jersey Bernadette Kelly, New York City Baruch College. Hour wait. Jeremy, New York City Here is my roommate Alex voting in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY Jamelle Bouie, Virginia Patrick Caldwell, Washington, DC Lisa Edelson I voted absentee last week from this computer in Lausanne, Switzerland. I'm still waiting for them to e-mail back my "I voted" sticker. :-) Dawn Thomas My three children walking with me to vote. Jeremy, Michigan...

Wooing Old Dominion

Patrick Caldwell “T hank you for what you are doing.” Liz Childress, a 22-year-old volunteer for the Obama campaign, heard this refrain as she knocked on doors in Church Hill, a predominately African American neighborhood east of downtown Richmond, where dilapidated vacant homes dominate many of the blocks. Childress, in a navy pea coat with a Joe Biden pin fastened to the lapel, was canvassing as part of the Obama team’s final get-out-the-vote effort in Virginia. Gone were the days when the campaign sought to reach persuadable undecided voters. Even a week ago, Childress would have talked up Barack Obama to everyone she encountered, with arguments on why the president deserved their support. On the final weekend before Election Day, though, the campaign was pursuing a different strategy: Childress was only checking in with reliable Democrats and reminding them to go to the polls. From the Democratic signs in almost everyone’s yard to the “Occupy Richmond, VA,” spray-painted on a...

Ohio Legal Showdown?

(Flickr/thepodger/rheanvent)
(Flickr/rheanvent) I f you’re confused by the reports coming out of key battleground state Ohio about last-minute changes to voting rules there, you’re not alone. The state’s current voting regulations have more moving parts than a live Lady Gaga show. On Election Day, speculation abounds about legal battles that could lie ahead come Wednesday morning. I called up Ned Foley, professor at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and director of Election Law @ Moritz , a bipartisan center on electoral procedure, to guide me through the wilderness. Foley, it should be noted, thinks that the possibility we won’t know the winner of the presidential race by late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning is “quite unlikely,” despite the fact that the chattering classes have been talking about Ohio as this year’s potential Florida. That being said, semper paratus (always ready). “It’s not like there are seven different things that might happen on November 7,” Foley said. “It’s like we...

The GOP Apostate Campaigns for Obama in Virginia

(Patrick Caldwell)
Patrick Caldwell Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee at an Obama field office in Henrico, VA. 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. From there they split. Romney, of course, disavowed his moderate image to run for president in 2008, sticking to his severely conservative mantra up until the final month of this year's presidential campaign. Chafee, on the other hand, disavowed his party after he lost his Senate seat to a Democrat in 2006. He endorsed his former Senate colleague Barack Obama...

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. Romney has lied about Obama raising taxes on the middle class. He’s invented an overseas “apology tour." He’s sworn up and down that the president cut $500 billion from Medicare. He's claims that under Obama, the federal government...

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 … To move from the metaphoric to the actual, the contribution in question here was an $11 million check that came in several weeks ago to a Sacramento-based right-wing business organization called the Small Business Action Committee that is running a campaign against Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which would raise taxes chiefly on wealthy Californians in order to keep school and public-university budgets from falling through the floor, and the campaign for Proposition 32, which would make it much harder for unions to access their members’ dues for their political activities. The Sacramento organization, required by California law to reveal the source of the...

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. “The die is cast for a much stronger recovery,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Moody’s Analytics Inc. He sees growth this year and next at about 2 percent before doubling to around 4 percent in both 2014 and 2015 as consumption, construction and hiring all pick up. Yes, there’s the fiscal cliff. But odds are best that Congress and the White House will avoid a situation where the economy is hit with a burst of contractionary policy. In all likelihood, the winner of tomorrow will be able to claim credit for a growing economy, even if his policies...

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. 10. Corn Dogs vs. Status Quo Incumbent Kristi Noem and Democratic challenger Matt Varilek are vying for a U.S. House seat for South Dakota, and a race that looked like an easy re-election for Noem has turned into a close fight. Noem, who markets herself as South Dakota...

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. But plenty of the weirdest or most disturbing candidates are running for re-election . Take Arkansas, where not one, not two, but three different state legislators have all made blatantly racist arguments. The Natural State is the last Democratic stronghold in the...

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: Either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama will win the 2012 presidential election. Whether you're a moderate liberal or a democratic socialist, Obama is much better on many issues and worse on none . In obfuscating this case for supporting Obama despite the undeniable flaws of his administration, third-party fantasists rely on three categories of argument: dismissing the achievements of the Obama administration, inventing a moderate of Mitt Romney, and exaggerating the benefits of third-party nihilism. None of these arguments can withstand any scrutiny. Underrating Obama's achievements To put this in plain terms, Obama has the third most impressive record of progressive achievement of any president of the last...

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.” The Simpsons , circa 1996, in the seventh “Treehouse of Horror” episode, where two aliens—Kang and Kodos—abduct and impersonate presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole: For those of you who can’t watch video: My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball. But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

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

Clare Malone
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan) Reverend Jesse Jackson greets voters waiting in line at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on the final day of early voting Monday, November 5, 2012. About 1.6 million people have already voted early in Ohio. "Y ou 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.” While...

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. The mandate notion assumes that the larger the president's margin of victory, the greater the proportion of the public has signed on to his policy agenda. That's not completely unreasonable, though in practice most voters have only the vaguest notion of what the person they're voting for wants to do. But the idea of the mandate is about...

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...

GIF Out the Vote

Sarah Palin abandons her bus tour after no one pays attention. Michele Bachmann wins the Ames straw poll. Santorum just can't get away from Dan Savage's definition of his name. Romney, the presumptive nominee, gets ready for his close-up. "Corporations are people, my friend." Herman Cain and his advisers devise the 9-9-9 plan. Newt promises us a moon colony. "Oops!"—Rick Perry Romney campaign adviser outlines the Etch-a-Sketch strategy. Romney takes a gaffe-filled European tour. Mitt chooses Paul Ryan as his running mate. Most of America is confused. The Republican National Convention is delayed by a storm. Bill Clinton steals the show at the Democratic National Convention. Romney refuses to release his tax returns. Obama points out that wealthy Americans and business owners "built it" with some significant help from government. Romney is booed at the NAACP. Biden says the GOP will put Americans "back in chains." Todd Akin defines "legitimate rape." Mitt Romney calls 47 percent of...

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