Jamelle Bouie

Do Republicans Really Believe ACORN Stole the Election?

Wikipedia
If this poll from Public Policy Polling is any indication, a fair number of Republicans have convinced themselves Barack Obama won re-election with fraud and other nefarious efforts: 49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore. Kevin Drum calls this evidence of the “Fox News effect”—the process by which conservative propaganda outlets convince their viewers of things that just aren’t true—but I think there’s a better, more charitable explanation. In short, a large number of Republicans don’t like President Obama, and when offered a chance to endorse something that signals that dislike, they did it, even if the “something” is absolutely insane. I doubt that—if you pressed respondents on their answers—49 percent would say that the...

News Flash: Americans Still Don't Understand Deficits

Business Insider
At Business Insider, Walter Hickey reports results from an online survey (commissioned by the website) that show a public muddled over the consequences of going over the fiscal cliff. Per the survey, 47.4 percent of Americans said that the deficit would increase if we went over the cliff, only 12.6 percent say that it would decrease. Here are the full results: Yes, this is an online poll, and you should take the results with a grain of salt. Still, this remarkable, given the fact that the whole reason to worry about the cliff is that it would put the United States on a path of large and (relatively) rapid austerity. With that said, I’m not too surprised; most Americans don’t actually understand what the deficit is—opinions of the deficit are essentially a proxy for opinions of the economy writ large. Voters associate high deficits with poor economic performance—the public might say that it wants more action to lower the deficit, but what it means is that it wants Washington to improve...

Election Counterfactuals

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect Could this guy have beat Barack Obama? At National Journal , Jill Lawrence presents four ways the 2012 campaign could have led to a different president. Here’s a quick paraphrase: First, Mitt Romney could have done better with Latinos instead of losing them by a 44 percent margin (71 to 27) to President Barack Obama. Second, if the Ames straw poll in Iowa didn’t exist, a candidate like Tim Pawlenty might have stayed in the race, overtaken Romney, and emerged as a formidable challenger for Obama. Third, if Rick Perry had made a quicker recovery from his back surgery, he might have offered a genuine challenge to Romney, running as the intensely conservative governor of the nation’s second-largest state, with a solid record of job creation and conservative policy success. Finally, if Team Romney had been able to formulate a decent response to the attacks on Bain Capital, they might have neutralized the issue and bolstered Romney’s favorability, which...

Resistance (on Tax Rates) Is Futile

Google
Google Obama will force you to bend to slightly higher tax rates on rich people. It seems that Republicans are beginning to understand the futility of their opposition to higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Writing for the Washington Examiner , Byron York reveals the extent to which GOP lawmakers know the weakness of their position: [M]any in the GOP do not believe that raising the rate on top earners from 35 percent to 39.6 percent (the rate before the Bush tax cuts) would seriously damage the economy. Second, they know that most Americans approve of higher taxes on the top bracket, and President Obama, having campaigned and won on that platform, seems dead-set on higher rates. Third, they fear that if the government does go over the cliff and Democrats propose re-lowering taxes for everyone except the highest earners, Republicans would be in the impossible position of resisting tax cuts for 98 percent of the country on behalf of the top 2 percent. It’s hard to overstate...

Conservative Pundits Fail Again

The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute Conservatives: Don't listen to this guy. The conventional wisdom on fiscal cliff negotiations is that President Barack Obama holds most, if not all, of the leverage. If Republicans refuse to budge, the government automatically imposes policies that Republicans fear—higher tax rates and sharp cuts to military spending. Insofar that the GOP has any leverage, it comes from the fact that the White House wants to protect the recovery, which is threatened by the fiscal cliff’s combination of large spending cuts and tax increases. But since refusing to cooperate leads to outcomes they want to avoid as well, they have a strong incentive to work with Obama. Fred Barnes, writing at The Weekly Standard , begs to disagree. By his lights, it’s Republicans who have the leverage in this fight, and they should use it to force concessions from the president: Republicans are in a stronger position than in 2009. Obama isn’t. He won reelection thanks to a negative campaign of historic...

How Both Parties Borrow from Europe

Wegmann, Ludwig / Wikipedia Commons
Wegmann, Ludwig / Wikipedia Commons Europe: Home of silly hats and serious ideas. Conservative politicians are fond of warning against European influence in American life. Throughout his campaign for the presidency, for example, Mitt Romney would make declarations like this one : “What we have to do in America is not to make us more like Europe, but to make America more like America.” Likewise, according to right-wing wunderkind Paul Ryan, “we will turn out just like Europe if we stick with European policies,” by which he means modest attempts to bolster and pay for the welfare state. But it isn’t just politicians; conservative intellectuals are fond of this rhetoric as well. Here’s Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield in an interview with The Wall Street Journal : “We have now an American political party and a European one. Not all Americans who vote for the European party want to become Europeans. But it doesn’t matter because that’s what they’re voting for. They’re voting for...

Sad Mitt Is Sad

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect Over the weekend, The Washington Post profiled a post-election Mitt Romney. The picture, according to friends and associates, is of a man who—for the first time in his life—is aimless: Gone are the minute-by-minute schedules and the swarm of Secret Service agents. There’s no aide to make his peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. Romney hangs around the house, sometimes alone, pecking away at his iPad and e-mailing his CEO buddies who have been swooping in and out of La Jolla to visit. […] Four weeks after losing a presidential election he was convinced he would win, Romney’s rapid retreat into seclusion has been marked by repressed emotions, second-guessing and, perhaps for the first time in the overachiever’s adult life, sustained boredom, according to interviews with more than a dozen of Romney’s closest friends and advisers. One is inclined to feel sorry for the guy, until you remember that he ran a campaign that combined a narrow economic...

Refighting the 1950s

Pat McDermott-public relations
Pat McDermott-public relations Ross Douthat says women should be more open to child-rearing, as in this scene from Leave it to Beaver . I t’s hard to overstate the role of demographics in shaping the challenges that face the United States over the next few decades. To use one prominent example, the rush to reform entitlements and the focus on restraining health-care costs owe themselves to demographics—an unusually large cohort of people are due to retire from the workforce and will begin to strain our social insurance programs. Likewise, efforts to prepare for this inevitability—such as the Affordable Care Act—are hampered by, again, demographics; as we saw in the 2010 midterm elections, older voters are loath to sign on to anything that looks like a change to the status quo. With that said, if the United States has a distinct advantage over its similarly situated fellow travelers in Europe and elsewhere, it’s due to demographics. Thanks to mass immigration, our birthrate has held...

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 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...

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,...

Nobody's Fault but Their Own

(Flickr/George Allen for Senate)
George Allen for Senate Former Virginia senator George Allen meets with supporters. I f there was anything Republicans should have been surprised about in this month’s elections, it was their rout in the Senate. Not only did they lose races against vulnerable Democratic incumbents in GOP leaning states—Missouri, Florida, and Montana, for instance—but they also lost almost every competitive open race and failed to hold a vacant one in Indiana. Politico reports that GOP leaders are working to prevent a repeat of this scenario by exerting more control over the nomination process. Republicans believe that they would have done better had they kept politicians like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock out of the picture. The goal for the next four years is to erase the Tea Party-versus-Washington narrative that has made it difficult to get establishment Republicans through the primary process: “We ought to make certain that if we get engaged in primaries that we’re doing it based on the desires,...

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