Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

In (Brief) Defense of Earmarks.

Damian Paletta points out clues Obama left in his press conference yesterday on where he might be able to compromise with the new Republican House majority. One of them had to do with congressional earmarks: Earmarks: Mr. Obama said that this is one area where he could definitely find common ground with certain Republicans. “You know, I’m a strong believer that the earmarking process in Congress isn’t what the American people really want to see when it comes to making tough decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent,” he said. He acknowledged that “in the rush to get things done” he’s had to sign “a bunch of bills” with earmarks and that this “was contrary to what I had talked about.” He talked about working with Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) on a potential moratorium on certain earmarks going forward. Earmarks are scorned by many members in both parties. Indeed, John Boehner has never asked for an earmark, so if there is anyone willing to entertain a compromise on the issue, it will...

Partisan Voting.

Wonkette points out that Alvin Greene , the Democrats' unusual candidate in the South Carolina Senate race, picked up more votes than candidates in Nevada, West Virginia, and Arkansas, and in terms of percentage, performed better than Democratic candidates in North Dakota (22.2 percent), Idaho (25 percent), Oklahoma (26.1 percent), and Kansas (26.2 percent). If this shows anything, it's the enduring power of partisan affiliation as a simple heuristic for voting. Most people have neither the time nor inclination to research candidates or issues, and as such, the easiest thing to do is vote the party with which you most closely identify. That sounds like a recipe for trouble, but there is a fair amount of research in political science suggesting that even ill-informed voters are pretty good at voting their preferences, and that being highly informed isn't as much of an advantage as it seems. Put another way, if Alvin Greene were elected, there is a near certain chance that he would vote...

Extremism and Its Limits.

As someone pretty invested in an institutional view of politics, I should say that last night's elections show the limits of the approach. If economic performance were the sole predictor of political results, then Sharron Angle should have won the Nevada Senate race without a problem; at 14.4 percent, the state has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and Harry Reid -- with an approval rating in the low thirties -- was practically the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named of Nevada politics. As it stood, Angle was a terrible candidate with absolutely radical views. No matter how bad the economy was, it seems, Nevada voters weren't prepared to deliver a Senate seat to Angle. This should comfort progressives, at least a little bit; President Obama 's reelection odds still hinge on economic performance in 2012, but if Republicans nominate someone like Sarah Palin or Mike Pence , Obama could win, handily. Even with a bad economy, it seems that the electorate has an absolute threshold for...

How Much Blame Should Democrats Take?

TAP does the math on Tuesday's House losses.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick C. Boucher (AP Photo/Bristol Herald Courier, David Crigger)
It's fitting that the first post-election column by an elected Democrat would be from Indiana's lame-duck senator, Evan Bayh, whose calling card is inoffensive, business-friendly centrism. His explanation for Tuesday's Democratic losses -- "Democrats were too liberal" -- is likely to be the standard one going forward, for the simple reason that it's easy. Whenever Democrats suffer an electoral loss, moderates and conservatives flood the nation's op-ed pages with a torrent of editorials blaming the left for the party's losses, declaring that this is a "center-right nation" and that Democrats should have never bothered governing. I can't fault such critics -- why wouldn't you capitalize on electoral disarray? -- but the simple fact is that they're wrong, on both counts. The United States isn't a particularly conservative country, and liberals aren't to blame for Tuesday's results, at least not entirely. Indeed, "blame" shouldn't really enter the picture, given the systemic forces that...

Other Notable Things From Last Night.

There are a few things I didn't get to in last night's posting on the election. First is Alex Sink 's loss in the Florida gubernatorial race. That contest -- against Republican Rick Scott -- was extremely close, with neither candidate winning a majority. The black turnout promised by the Meek campaign wasn't as strong as hoped, and Sink suffered for it. More significant, in terms of the broader picture at least, is the fact that the 112th Congress will see two black Republicans in the House of Representatives. Florida's Allen West and South Carolina 's Tim Scott will be the first African Americans to serve in the Republican caucus since J.C. Watts retired in 2002. It remains to be seen whether they picked up support from local African American communities, but my guess is that they didn't, since black people aren't pure identity voters and don't support politicians with policies they oppose. Still, with West and Scott in the House, the GOP now has its largest African American "caucus...