Bob Moser

Bob Moser is senior editor at National Journal and author of Blue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority (Times Books). He is the former editor of The Texas Observer, senior editor/writer at The Nation, and executive editor of The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

May the Best Candidate Win?

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
The Nate Silvering of election analysis—the endless and addictive parsing of exit polls and demographics and historical precedents and outliers and predictive models and Intrade odds—has made campaigns increasingly look, to politicos at least, more like science than art. But there is one “predictive model” that matters more than any other—and it’s entirely the province of unmeasurable, flesh-and-blood, gloriously subjective intangibles. It’s also refreshingly simple: In general elections, the best campaigner wins. Think about it: When was the last time the superior campaigner of either party lost the presidency? Barack Obama out-talked, out-charmed, and out-disciplined John McCain by a country mile in 2008. George W. Bush, despite his oratorical handicaps, communicated more warmly and stayed on message more relentlessly (and repetitiously) than Al Gore or John Kerry. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were, of course, masterful on campaign stumps and television screens alike. George H.W...

Playing With Fire

When Michigan Democrat Crystal Larson voted today in Dearborn Heights, she told CNN it “felt like I made a deal with the devil.” The devil, in this case, is Rick Santorum, whose quest to upset Mitt Romney in his native state is getting a boost from Operation Hilarity, the Daily Kos effort to convince Democrats like Larson to throw a wrench into the GOP campaign. “Do you want this primary season to be over, or do you want this primary season to be hilarious?” asks a cheeky video at Kos, recommending a vote for the former Pennsylvania senator. With its open primaries, Michigan has a long tradition of crossover voting designed to trip up the other party—including yuk-fests that helped Democrat George Wallace win the state in 1972, and helped Republican John McCain temporarily slow George W. Bush’s momentum in 2000. In the latter primary, Democrats made up 17 percent of the vote. Today, the numbers aren’t expected to be so high—despite Santorum’s own robo-call urging Democrats to support...

Santorum's Snobbery

With Michigan’s crucial Republican primary looming on Tuesday, Rick Santorum was doing his best George Wallace impression over the weekend, gunning for Tea Party votes by denouncing those “pointy-headed intellectuals” who always think they know better than real folk. “President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum said at an Americans for Prosperity rally. “What a snob!” The president has actually called for a substantial investment in worker training—not for everybody to attend a four-year university. But no matter: Santorum’s campaign is targeted at culturally fretful whites in industrial and Southern states—places where college often seems like a fine idea except that it turns people into liberals and atheists. “There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor,” Santorum said. “That’s why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want...

Romney's Clunker

“This is not exciting and barn-burning,” Mitt Romney admitted as he stood today amid 65,000 empty seats at Detroit’s Ford Field to deliver what was billed as a major economic address, “but it’s important.” He was right, at least, about the first part. The awful optics—the 1,200 supporters who showed up didn’t even fill the rows of chairs that stretched to the end zone—occasioned derision from just about every politico with a Twitter account. (See “Daily Meme,” below.) But what did Romney actually say? Nothing surprising. He called for cutting income tax rates by 20 percent, anticipating that economic growth and curtailing some (unspecified) tax breaks will keep the deficit from skyrocketing. He announced his intention to raise the minimum age for Social Security and to create a voucher system for Medicare. And he reiterated that he would drop the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, the rate that Obama’s new tax plan reserves for manufacturers. Along the way, the “resolute” Romney...

Mitt, Rick, and the Ultimate Irony

Last night in Mesa, Arizona, we learned (thanks to Rick Santorum) that birth control leads to more unwanted pregnancies. We discovered that Newt Gingrich thinks his best one-word description is “cheerful.” We couldn't help noticing that Ron Paul (see below) has become Mitt Romney’s most valuable campaign surrogate. But there was one relevation odder still: that Santorum is (are you sitting down?) a raving moderate compared to that beacon of conservative consistency, Romney. It is no small feat for a formerly pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-universal-health-care governor of Massachusetts to transform one of the nation’s leading right-wing Neanderthals into an unprincipled, wavering compromiser of conservative values. But give Romney (and his wingman Paul) their due, because they’ve now managed it twice in one campaign. First it was that other Neanderthal, Texas governor Rick Perry, who—long before “oops”—was badly wounded by a barrage of criticism from Paul (and Michele Bachmann) that he was...

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