Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

The Economy Is Set for Big Growth Next Year

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

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

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...

The President as Metaphor

(Flickr/Adam Jones)
(Flickr/Adam Jones) C haracter 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...

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 odd to see the Romney campaign stumble so badly with the Jeeps being built in China attack. 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...

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

Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie A group of real Americans protest President Obama. 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. To most observers, this narrow majority of voters represents a broad cross-section of the country. To Politico ’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, it’s a dangerously limited coalition. Why? Because it doesn’t include enough white people, and particularly, downscale white men: If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic...

Tuesday Predictions

270toWin.com If you read yesterday’s look at the swing states, you’ll have a good sense of how I think this election will end on Tuesday. In short, President Obama will win reelection and keep every state where he currently holds a lead. It looks like Obama will lose around 2.5 points from his national vote share in 2008. This is a bit crude, but if you subtract that from his 2008 totals in every swing state, you end up with this map, and my prediction for November 6: An Obama win in New Hampshire, Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada, with Romney wins in North Carolina and Florida. That means the president claims 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 235, and he ekes out a popular-vote victory of 50.4 percent to Romney’s 48.2. How do I figure all that? Averaging the polling averages, Obama holds greater than 2-point leads in Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Unless something catastrophic happens between now and Tuesday, it’s safe to say he’ll keep them...

Sun, Nov. 04 Electoral Vote Predictor

(Flickr/Steve Garfield)
Obama Appears to Have Momentum A new PPP poll released late yesterday has President Obama leading Mitt Romney 50 percent to 47 percent nationally. This is the first lead of 3 points either candidate has had for weeks. Obama led in all three days of the poll (Nov. 1-3). His approval rating is now positive (48 percent to 47 ercent). A week ago PPP found him to be deep under water (44 percent to 52 percent) so this is a 9-point gain in a week for Obama. Other recent national polls show it to be closer. Both the WaPo /ABC and Rasmussen national tracking polls released yesterday show the race to be tied at 48 percent apiece. Click here for full story

Four Things to Look for at the Polls on Election Day

Earlier this year, the outlook for voting rights was downright terrifying. Across the country, Republican legislatures had passed strict voter-ID laws, which reports showed could disenfranchise millions of voters . The political motives were clear: The people most likely to be without ID are poor and of color—groups that tend to vote for Democrats. By the summer, there was another threat to voter participation: purges of voter rolls. In Florida, and later in Colorado and Texas, voters began receiving letters saying their registrations were being questioned. While many who received the letters responded, activists worried about those voters who missed them or threw them away without responding—what if they arrived on Election Day only to discover their names had been deleted? Now, two days from Election Day, election proceedings appear significantly sunnier. When it came to voter ID, judges forced states to broaden acceptable forms of identification or delay the laws until the...