Election 2012

Party of Rich Guys Suffers from Image as Party of Rich Guys

Typical Republican youth.
Losing is never good for your party's image, but Mitt Romney may have left the GOP in a particularly bad position by reinforcing the party's most unappealing characteristic. As a son of privilege worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Romney would have to have labored hard to convince voters he wouldn't just be a representative of his class, perhaps in the way George W. Bush did 12 years before (though buying a ranch, putting on a cowboy hat, and clearing brush might not have worked as well for Romney). Instead, he did just the opposite, again and again drawing attention to the fact that he was a rich guy representing a party of rich guys ("Corporations are people, my friends," "47 percent"). Combine that with the current argument over upper-income tax cuts, and Republicans are going to have a particularly difficult time in the near future convincing voters they have their interests at heart. Not that this is a new problem. As John Sides explains , "Party images do not change quickly...

Reclaim the Courts

This piece is part of the Prospect' s series on progressives' strategy over the next 40 years. To read the introduction, click here . Lewis Powell built much of his strategic advice to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the premise that “the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic, and political change.” Powell was both making an observation about the decades preceding his memo and issuing a call to arms to his corporate audience about the strategic prominence the courts should be given within a broader set of goals. Through the early 1970s, the courts led the way in dismantling the legal structure of racial segregation in marriage, education, and housing, enforcing the separation of church and state, guaranteeing the right to vote, overturning bans on contraception and abortion, and expanding consumers’ rights. The courts recognized that citizens’ noneconomic values—matters such as liberty and privacy and protecting the...

Ongoing Conservative Delusions

Ted Cruz, the future of the Republican party. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
There's a phenomenon I've long noticed among liberals dissatisfied with Barack Obama, whereby they'll say, "He's never said X!", with X being some kind of defense of liberal values or articulation of the liberal position on a particular issue. But if you look through his speeches and comments, you'll find that just about every time, he has in fact said whatever it is he's being blamed for never saying. Maybe he hasn't said it often enough for your liking, but the real problem is probably that saying it didn't have the effect you wanted. I thought of that reading this article by Molly Ball about a gathering of conservatives yesterday at which new senator Ted Cruz of Texas was the headliner: "More than a few conservatives say, well, if the voters want to bankrupt our country, let them suffer the consequences," he said. But the real problem, Cruz said, was that "Republicans were curled up in the fetal position, so utterly terrified of the words 'George W. Bush'" -- for whom Cruz once...

The Wages of Mediscare

Google
One of the more interesting results in yesterday’s Washington Post /ABC News poll , as the Post 's Greg Sargent alluded to this morning, is the overwhelming opposition to Medicare cuts from Republican voters. Sixty-eight percent of self-identified Republicans—and 68 percent of self-identified conservatives —oppose cuts to the health-care program for seniors. There’s no question that this is the result of the GOP’s demographics. Sixteen percent of all voters this year were 65 or older, and they broke for Mitt Romney, 56 percent to 44 percent. If you disaggregate by race—and count only white seniors—that margin widens by 5 points in Romney’s direction. And if you include the age group just below seniors—a large portion of whom are several years away from claiming Medicare benefits—you have Romney winning 61 percent of white voters who are 45 or older. In other words, it’s no wonder GOP voters are opposed to Medicare cuts—it’s money out of their livelihoods in a way that’s concrete and (...

Jon Huntsman Critiques the Republican Party

Wikipedia Commons
Jamelle Bouie In the Huffington Post yesterday, Jon Huntsman gave his thoughts on the current state of the Republican Party: His sharpest words were directed not to the future of the GOP but at the not-so-distant past. Huntsman described the Republican primary process as corrosive, producing pledge-signing, cookie-cutter candidates more interested in money and publicity than policy. Recalling one particular debate, Huntsman described the sensation he felt observing his fellow White House aspirants. “Some do it professionally. Some were entertainers,” he said of the Republican presidential field. “I looked down the debate stage, and half of them were probably on Fox contracts at one point in their career. You do that. You write some books. You go out and you sell some more. You get a radio gig or a TV gig out of it or something. And it’s like, you say to yourself, the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low.” Of course, there’s a certain amount of sour grapes in this...

The Ovaltine Summit in the Oval Office

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Romney: Thanks for having me here to the Oval Office to bury the hatchet, Mr. President. I know we both care deeply about America and its future. Obama: Really? Because that's not what you said about me during the campaign. You said I didn't understand America and I had foreign ideas. Romney: Oh, that was just campaign stuff! I didn't mean any of that. What is it the kids say? Don't hate the player, hate the game. Obama: You getting a little hip-hop on me there, Mitt? Romney: Well sir, I've long prided myself on my ability to be "down" with young people and their culture. And as I understand it, even many white kids listen to hip-hop these days. Imagine that! Obama: Yeah. Anyway, how's the post-political life treating you? Romney: Not too bad, although I have to admit it's a little slow. I know you're going to say, "Hey, he's rich, he must spend his days literally bathing in cash and gold coins like Scrooge McDuck." Common misconception. My money isn't in cash in a room in my house,...

Snatching Defeat out of the Jaws of Victory

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Invited guests listen as President Barack Obama speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building about extending middle-class tax cuts before they expire in January. The president said he believes that members of both parties can reach a framework on a debt-cutting deal before Christmas. P resident Barack Obama, to his great credit, has drawn a bright line. Taxes have to revert to the rates that were in effect before the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent. This is crucial because the less the very rich pay, the more others have to pay either in the form of less tax relief for the bottom 98 percent or on program cuts like Social Security and Medicare. Or has he drawn that line? Yesterday, the White House put out the word that the president was willing to be “flexible” on the question of tax rates for the top bracket. Specifically, that means the president will accept the Republican idea of getting some of the needed revenue by closing loopholes rather than...

The Coming Liberal Wave

Photograph by Scout Tufankjian for Obama for America
Photograph by Scout Tufankjian for Obama for America One of the surprises on Election Day was turnout among young voters. Rather than decline, the youth vote went up as a proportion of the electorate, from 18 percent to 19 percent. The most recent analysis from the Pew Research Center, which looks at the composition of the youth vote, offers a few clues as to why that may have been the case. To wit, there were fewer whites among young voters than among any other age cohort. Here’s the chart: Among those age 18 to 29, whites are 58 percent of all voters. By contrast, the proportion is much higher among those above the age of 30. When you consider the high turnout among blacks and Hispanics, it’s no wonder that youth mobilization was up—they were simply a greater share of young voters this year. It should be said that this does not bode well for the Republican Party. One of the enduring facts of American political life is that partisan preferences tend to solidify in the mid–20s. If you...

What's Next for Marriage Equality?

(AP Photo/The Capitol, Paul W. Gillespie)
In case you missed it, Team Marriage Equality just won five different statewide votes (I’m counting the Iowa race, where NOM failed in its attempt to recall one of the Supreme Court justices who voted for equal marriage). Okay, so maybe you heard. Everyone and her brother has been reporting on the ballot breakthrough, including me in my most giddily Tiggerish incarnation. There’s been some fabulous reporting on what made the difference. Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed wrote a careful report on the behind-the-scenes research and the shift in emphasis in the messaging, which is well worth reading in full. Here’s a snippet: Among the key changes were a shift away from talk of "rights" to a focus on committed relationships; a decision to address "values" directly as being learned at home; and an attempt to give voters "permission" to change their minds…. The research was sponsored by Third Way — a centrist Democratic think tank — that conducted an extended round of surveys beginning in...

The Election Heard Round the Watercooler

(Flickr / striatic)
This year's election wasn't the most negative in history, or the most trivial. But it did see a few new developments, including one particularly troubling one: the spread of politics into some places it used to be unwelcome. And not just any politics, but a kind of ill-informed, antagonistic kind of politics, the kind that says that your party losing is literally a national catastrophe and that there is no such thing as an opponent, only an enemy. When we hear ridiculous stories like that of the gun store owner in Arizona who took out an ad in the local paper proclaiming, "If you voted for Barack Obama, your business is NOT WELCOME at Southwest Shooting Authority," we aren't surprised. After all, hundreds of thousands of people—maybe millions—got an extra dose of partisanship at their jobs this year for the first time. When the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case in 2010, most of the focus was on the fact that the decision allowed corporations and wealthy individuals to...

Donald Trump Continues to Troll Everyone

Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Donald Trump, America’s most prominent purveyor of the “birther” conspiracy, thinks the Republican Party ought to be less “mean-spirited” and “unwelcoming” toward people of color. No, seriously : “Republicans didn’t have anything going for them with respect to Latinos and with respect to Asians,” the billionaire developer says. “The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump says. “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.” And, in case you’ve forgotten, this is the same Donald Trump whose demagoguery compelled President Obama to reveal his birth certificate in a press conference, and who offered to give $5 million to charity if Obama would release his college transcripts and prove that he is “qualified” (read: not an affirmative-action beneficiary) to be president. Here’s a honest piece of advice for Republicans: If you...

How Not to Appeal to Asian Americans

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem / Flickr
House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem / Flickr Of the various post-election stories, the GOP’s “Latino problem” is one of the most prominent. At some point over the last three weeks, every prominent Republican leader has had something to say about the party’s poor performance with Latino voters. Less remarked upon, but just as important, is the GOP’s abysmal showing with Asian Americans. Most exit polls show President Obama winning Asian Americans 3-to–1 , a larger spread than his margin among Latinos, and second only to African Americans, who gave nearly all of their votes to the president. As with Latinos, Asian American movement to the Democratic Party has a lot to do with with the explicitly anti-immigrant stance of the GOP, as well as the overwhelming sense that the GOP is a party for hidebound whites, and actively hostile toward nonwhites of all stripes. There’s a policy component in this as well; the Asian American community is highly diverse (ethnically,...

Do Republicans Have a Southern Problem?

(Flickr/change-of-venue)
One of the more interesting elements of President Barack Obama’s re-election victory was his strong performance in the South. He won Virginia and Florida—again—and came close to a win in North Carolina, where he lost by just two points. “Obama’s 2012 numbers in the Southeastern coastal states,” writes Douglas Blackmon for The Washington Post , “outperformed every Democratic nominee since Carter and significantly narrowed past gaps between Democratic and Republican candidates.” Indeed, Blackmon—who won a Pulitzer for the book Slavery by Another Name —sees this as a crack in the Republican Party’s otherwise solid hold on the South. A growing African American population, combined with greater Latino immigration and a shrinking white electorate (the share of white votes in Florida dropped to 66 percent, for example) has allowed Democrats to make gains in states that were once GOP strongholds. Judging from Election Day, this is most true in the five states that hug the coast: Virginia,...

Another Defeat for the NRA

Earlier this year, I did a lengthy series for Think Progress detailing how the National Rifle Association's power to influence elections is wildly overestimated by nearly everyone in Washington (here's Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , and Part 4 ). The group's advocates argued that I was wrong, and in fact the NRA retains the ability to get its friends elected and defeat its enemies. So how did they do in this year's election? The answer is, abysmally. The Sunlight Foundation put together data on outside spending from a variety of interest groups, and the data show how poorly the NRA did. At the top of the ticket, of course, they failed to defeat the man whom they have promised is coming to take everyone's guns (despite the fact that he is not actually coming to take anyone's guns). Through their two political committees, the Political Victory Fund and the Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA spent $13.4 million on the presidential race, to no avail. But the Senate is where their...

Scott Walker Figures It Out

What does a 2016 presidential aspirant do when his state votes Democratic? Rig the next election, of course. Wisconsin didn't turn into the swing state Scott Walker, Mitt Romney and the GOP had wished, with Obama carrying it by more than six percent and Democrat Tammy Baldwin winning an open Senate seat. Walker, the union-busting Koch brothers buddy, has pinpointed the source of the GOP's woes in Wisconsin—its liberal voting laws. "States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems," Walker Those senior citizens aren't Walker's real problem, of course—it's Wisconsin's voter-friendly election laws. Since taking office he's been itching to dismantle them. In 2011, Walker signed a bill to implement a photo-ID requirement. The courts eventually overturned the proposal as unconstitutional. Dismantling same-day registration, however, likely wouldn't violate the state constitution—but could prove just as suppressive as a photo-ID law. The eight states with same-day...

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