Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

The Anti-Women VP Choice

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
As Paul Waldman noted earlier this morning, Mitt Romney will be in a tight spot once he's finally clinched the nomination and has to pick a vice-presidential candidate for his ticket, a decision that gets trickier by the day thanks to the elongated primary season. On one side he'll be pressured to appease all of Rick Santorum's supporters, either by granting the second slot on the ticket to the runner-up or another social conservative of his ilk. On the other hand, Romney will have just finished a nomination that has pushed him further and further to the right, so he'll need someone who won't alienate the broader general-election voter base. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's name is often near the top when people list possible VPs. He's popular among the conservative grassroots, but falls under the category of typical bland white guys that voters are accustomed to and will receive little notice. It doesn't hurt either that he is the sitting governor for an important swing state. Yet...

With Santorum’s Goofy Views, Why’s Obama Down in the Polls?

(Flickr/sangroncito)
What should we make of those scary poll numbers? The most recent New York Times /CBS poll, conducted March 7 to March 11, reported a big drop in President Obama’s favorability ratings, which declined to 41 percent from 50 percent just a month ago. This occurred during a period when the economic news was relatively good—the economy created more than 200,000 jobs for the third straight month; gas prices rose but not steeply; and Obama acquitted himself well on the treacherous terrain of resisting Iran’s nuclear ambitions without embracing war. It was also a period when the Republicans seemed to be imploding with women, thanks to their clumsy blurring of the issues of abortion and contraception. The White House has revved up its outreach to women voters, who presumably don’t want the government messing with their right to contraception. Yet in this poll, the president’s approval rating declined among all groups, even women. What gives? First, it’s only one poll. In the most recent Gallup...

Blame It (on the GOP)

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Writing in Politico , Glenn Thrush finds Republicans terrified of the possibility that their likely nominee—Mitt Romney—has completely alienated Latinos with his harsh, anti-immigration rhetoric, and left Obama with the space to rack up a huge margin of support among the Latino community. Here’s Thrush : Hispanics, a powerful bloc whose vote could decide the outcome in pivotal states such as Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Arizona, seem to have responded by abandoning Romney, with only 14 percent of Hispanic voters favoring him over Obama in a recent Fox Latino poll — one-third of the Hispanic support George W. Bush enjoyed in 2004. “In 2008, John McCain paid the price with Latinos for what other Republicans … had said and done,” said Ana Navarro, a Republican Party operative who worked for McCain in 2008 and is a longtime friend of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who remains popular with that state’s large Latino population. “Romney could very well pay an even higher price with Latinos, but it...

The Campaign Film: A Look Back

1984 Reagan convention video
Tonight, the Obama campaign will release a sort-of-anticipated 17-minute video, telling the story of the Obama administration's challenges and achievements in an effort to help frame the debate about how to understand its first term. I'll offer some comments on it tomorrow, but for now I thought I'd take the opportunity to assemble some of these videos from prior campaigns. Presidential campaigns have aired ads since the 1952 campaign, and some of the early ones felt more like documentary films than ads. Here's a dynamite segment from a 1964 Barry Goldwater film, talking about the spread of smut and crime, full of sex shops and young people doing The Twist: But the real ancestor of what the Obama campaign has put together is the 1984 convention video produced for Ronald Reagan. Titled "A New Beginning," it was interesting enough to produce at least one book of film criticism on it. Here's the first half: And this is the second half (even though it's labeled Part 1), which contains a...

A Get-Together to Tear It Apart

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Thus far, I’ve been convinced that Republicans will rally around Mitt Romney if and when he wins the nomination. The former Massachusetts governor might not be popular with Republican voters, but Barack Obama is the most hated figure in the GOP, and unity is necessary if Republicans want a shot at taking the White House. But the latest Pew poll suggests division within Republican ranks; in a general-election contest between Obama and Romney, 75 percent of Romney supporters in the primary say that they would back the former governor “strongly.” Among Santorum supporters, that number drops to 55 percent. On the other end, in the unlikely event of an Obama-Santorum matchup, the former Pennsylvania senator could count on strong support from 83 percent of followers, while only 47 percent of Romney supporters say that they would strongly back Santorum. In fact, 20 percent of Romney supporters say that they would vote for Obama if Santorum is the nominee. There is always some division during...

The Horns of Mitt's Dilemma

Republican VP candidates: Feel the excitement!
The other day I rather superficially raised the issue of whom Mitt Romney might choose for his vice-presidential nominee and said it would no doubt be some boring white guy, in keeping with Mitt's risk-aversion. But after thinking about it some more, I've decided this may turn out to be more complicated than it appears. I'm assuming, of course, that Romney will be the nominee, something that has perhaps gone from a near certainty to a high likelihood this week. In any case, since everyone will be talking about this for a brief period starting in a few months, and we here at the Prospect like to keep you not just up with today's news but at the bleeding edge of tomorrow, it's worth giving this another look. Most presidential candidates have one problem they want to solve with their choice. Sometimes it's the relatively inexperienced outsider choosing the old Washington hand—Barack Obama with Joe Biden, George W. Bush with Dick Cheney, Michael Dukakis with Lloyd Bentsen, Jimmy Carter...

Mad Lib Mitt

(Flickr/NewsHour)
The rightward trek of Mitt Romney has been the Manifest Destiny of the GOP campaign. The more Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich hoard the evangelical and ultra-conservative vote, the more pundits and politicos say that Romney has no choice but to continue shuffling away from his past policy positions to make himself look more appetizing to “the base.” Last night’s third-place finishes in Alabama and Mississippi did nothing to change the conventional wisdom. Romney will clearly have to pick a vice-presidential nominee who satiates the hard right. But the idea that Romney is left with no choice but to shed his remaining moderate cred to appease the far right may prove to be as overblown as the fear (or, in some circles, joyous anticipation) of a contested convention. It’s easy to forget amid the nonstop national coverage, but GOP primary voters aren’t the whole Republican Party (nor, of course, do they resemble most Republican-leaning independents). Prior to yesterday, only 11.5 percent...

What Happened to the Endless Debates?

The GOP candidates gathered in Iowa for an August debate (Flickr/IowaPolitics.com)
After the flurry of debates during the invisible primary, the cable airwaves have recently been bereft of candidates bickering with each other face to face. A final debate had been scheduled to take place this coming Monday, March 19, in Portland, Oregon—a state that doesn't hold it's primary until the middle of May. The local party and media were moving ahead with preparations, announcing moderators last week, but it looks like that debate won't come to fruition. Mitt Romney's press secretary e-mailed Politico last night and confirmed that the leading candidate won't be attending the debate, skipping out to campaign in Illinois before that state's primary next Tuesday. Without the front-runner there's little incentive for the other candidate's to depart from the trail, and it looks like Ron Paul and Rick Santorum won't attend either. There hasn't been a debate since a CNN-hosted event in Arizona on February 22. A pre-Super Tuesday confrontation had been slotted for Georgia on March 1...

The Other Glass Ceiling

(Eric Palma)
“A divide that existed between the political fortunes of black and white Americans has just been erased, and I guess it’s been erased for all time.” That was the assessment of Julian Bond, the legendary civil-rights leader and former NAACP chair, after Barack Obama won the presidency. It was echoed by prominent African American figures of all generations, who were hopeful that Obama’s victory would usher in a new age of successful black politicians. “In the twenty-first century,” wrote journalist Gwen Ifill in The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, “the breakthrough generation of black politicians is aiming to capture much bigger territory. Obama’s relentless and disciplined giant-slaying campaign is by no means the only story.” But since the momentous 2008 election, there has been no great flowering of black political life, no renaissance in black political leadership. In a year when the first black president is running for re-election, the only African American...

2012 Is a Real Big Deal

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
Ruth Marcus is bored by the 2012 presidential election and wants us to turn our attention to 2016 which, she argues, will be a lot more interesting: Enough about the 2012 election already. Let’s talk 2016, which promises to be far more interesting — and consequential. The precise contours of that election, of course, will be shaped by what happens this November. Yet either way, the 2016 campaign will be, much more than 2012, a battle for the ideological soul of one or both parties. Two things. First, for as much as political observers have a sports-like obsession with the back-and-forth of politics, it’s important to remember that there are stakes involved in the outcome of a presidential election. From the future of health-care reform and the welfare state, to the environment and foreign policy, presidential elections have a profound effect on the lives and livelihoods of countless people. That Marcus is bored with 2012 is a sign that she doesn’t take that seriously enough. That...

It's All about the Delegates

(Flickr/Talk Radio News Service)
Rick Santorum nabbed a nominal victory last night, placing first in both Alabama and Mississippi. But the wins do little to change the basic dynamic of the Republican nomination fight. Major newspapers and pundits may opine that the 2012 campaign is a competition driven by momentum, but at the end of the day, delegates are all that matter, and on that count, Santorum didn't make any progress. He won Mississippi 33 percent to 30 percent over Mitt Romney, yet per the AP's delegate count, Romney will receive 14 of Mississippi's delegates compared with 13 for Santorum. It was the same story in Alabama; Santorum's five-point win over Romney's third-place finish only netted the former Pennsylvania senator 19 delegates compared with 12 for Newt Gingrich and 11 for Romney. Results from America Samoa and Hawaii wipe out the two headlining Santorum victories, with Romney picking up 17 delegates between the two, compared with just three for Santorum. March was supposed to be Rick Santorum's...

Gingrich the Undeterred

(Flickr/Joe Crimmings Photography)
Mitt Romney is the candidate of the Northeast, the industrial Midwest, and the Mormon West. Rick Santorum is the candidate of the Plains states and both the upper and lower South. Newt Gingrich is the candidate of—well, not much. Yesterday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, the white South’s dankest backwaters, produced clear victories for Santorum and ended Gingrich’s already-modest hope that he could at least be the candidate of a region. Barring some upheaval, it’s hard to see where Gingrich could win another state. Last week, he ran fourth—behind Ron Paul, dead last—in five of the ten states holding Super Tuesday contests. Like most of the states still to vote, those five were all outside the South. If Gingrich stays in the race, he’ll likely be dueling with Paul for the distinction of coming in next to last. Before this week, by staying in the race, Gingrich deprived Santorum of key victories—in Michigan and Ohio, surely—by splitting the ultra-conservative vote. Yesterday,...

It Ain't About the Grits

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
By now, Mitt Romney was supposed to have this thing wrapped up, but it turned out that he had to go down South and compete in Mississippi and Alabama. Romney called it an "away game," but he did his best, talkin' bout grits and saying "y'all." Shockingly, the Republicans of Dixie didn't quite buy it. But they did buy the guy from Pennsylvania. Which holds a lesson: Cultural affinity isn't just about culture. It's good if you can talk the way a particular group of people do and say sincerely that you eat what they eat, listen to the music they do, and share a common upbringing. That helped Mike Huckabee do so well in the South four years ago. But Rick Santorum is no Southerner, and yet he was the guy whom Republicans in the Southernest of Southern states identified with (and not, notably, Georgia's Newt Gingrich, although Newt was actually born and raised in Pennsylvania as well). So what was that identification about? Put up against Romney, Santorum was more than enough of a Southern...

Democrats' Poisoned Chalice

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay) Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during his election night party, Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Lafayette, La. The pre-election polls for the Republican primaries in Alabama and Mississippi showed a close race. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich were in a near-three-way tie for the first-place spot in both states, with Gingrich edging out his competitors in Mississippi, and Romney taking the slightest of leads in Alabama. That the former Massachusetts governor was even in the running for either state must have been a huge relief to his campaign. More than any other region, the Deep South is fiercely conservative and heavily evangelical—turf that Romney doesn't play well on. To stop Santorum in either state would have been to free the Romney campaign from the bloody slog of an extended nomination fight, allowing the candidate to establish himself definitively as the presumptive nominee. This prospect led to a...

Dumbed Down in Dixie

AP Photo
As usual when the national media look south, there’s been endless “how dumb are they?” chatter this week about the yokels—particularly the white, conservative Republican ones—who live in today’s big primary states, Alabama and Mississippi. The New York Post headline about the tight race between Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum caught the mood perfectly: “It’s Redneck-and-Neck.” Elsewhere, the coastal elites were all abuzz about Alexandra Pelosi’s video on Real Time with Bill Maher , where “average” Mississippians ( i.e. , the white, male, rural minority) say the gol-darndest things, and the survey showing that most Republicans in both states think Obama’s a Muslim and don't believe in evolution. (Just wondering: Have they tried those poll questions out on Republicans in Idaho or Nebraska?) It’s been a reminder that Dixiephobia remains one of the last socially acceptable forms of American bigotry. And one thing’s for sure: The candidates have done nothing to smarten...

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