This is the tenth in the Prospect's series on the 174 measures on state ballots this year.
Marriage equality is up for vote in four states. In three states, voters have a chance to affirmatively say yes to allowing their state to marry same-sex couples; in the fourth, voters can add a “one man-one woman” marriage clause to the state’s constitution. As we all know, support for LGBT issues in general, and marriage equality in particular, has been getting stronger every year, as more of us talk to our families and friends, explaining that love and devotion are the same whether you love a boy or a girl. Will this be the year that, at long last, we win at least one marriage vote at the polls?
For a long time, curmudgeonly commentators lamented the decline of voter turnout in America. Fewer and fewer of us found our way to the polls, distracted as we were by the love lives of motion picture celebrities or the latest models of sporting motor car. But then about a decade ago, something strange happened. First, some political scientists realized that everyone was measuring voter turnout wrong. The accepted rates, which said that fewer than half of Americans turned out on election day, were based on census data of the voting-age population (VAP). The problem is that there are a lot of people who are of voting age but aren't eligible to vote, either because they aren't citizens, or have had their voting rights taken away because they committed a felony (you can read about that in this article by Michael McDonald and Samuel Popkin). And second, voter turnout began going up.
To date, I haven’t made a formal forecast of the presidential election (though I will below). But I want to answer the question in the title of this post first, because it’s one that isn’t asked (or answered) enough.
“Thank 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 brick wall, Church Hill was clearly Obama territory.
If 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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”
"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.”