Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

More Confusing Data on the November Elections.

As everyone knows, this November's election will be a disaster for Democrats. Or will it be? As Mark Blumenthal tells us , most (not all, but most) of the political scientists who presented their forecasts to the American Political Science Association's annual meeting agreed that, according to their projections, the GOP will take the House, perhaps by a comfortable margin. On the other hand, Gallup, which last week reported the biggest advantage for Republicans in the generic ballot test it had ever recorded, has this week's result snapping right back to a tie (more evidence of why you should never put too much stock in one poll result). Problem is, both polls and these kinds of projections work from national conditions and results to get a bead on what are actually 435 separate races. To confuse things further, here's something important that I haven't seen discussed much: Democrats have a substantial money advantage. Not just the party committees, but individual candidates. Look at...

Things Get Depressing in California.

As you probably know, California suffers under an absurdly dysfunctional political system, particularly when it comes to the budget. Because of the diabolical Proposition 13 passed in 1978, raising taxes requires a two-thirds supermajority of both houses of the legislature. A two-thirds supermajority is also required to pass every budget. And of course, no one wants their services cut, which means the state is perpetually beset by deficits and budget crises. This November, they'll get a new governor, either Republican billionaire Meg Whitman , or 1970s retread Jerry Brown (see the Prospect 's story on Brown's candidacy here ). Whitman has already spent a staggering $120 million on the race, and now Brown is finally up with his first TV spot. Let's take a look: Brown wasn't really anybody's favorite candidate, but this is truly depressing. There are some ads that seem to be written right from polling and focus group results, but you'll seldom find one that comes so directly from the...

Your Morning Economic Pessimism.

With his usual clarity, Paul Krugma n explains why the current economic situation is looking a lot like 1938. It's not a pretty picture, and what's so bracing about Krugman's analysis is that despite the note of hope on which he ends, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that our current political situation makes doing what's necessary all but impossible: The economic moral is clear: when the economy is deeply depressed, the usual rules don’t apply. Austerity is self-defeating: when everyone tries to pay down debt at the same time, the result is depression and deflation, and debt problems grow even worse. And conversely, it is possible — indeed, necessary — for the nation as a whole to spend its way out of debt: a temporary surge of deficit spending, on a sufficient scale, can cure problems brought on by past excesses. But the story of 1938 also shows how hard it is to apply these insights. Even under F.D.R., there was never the political will to do what was needed to end the Great...

Will the Right's Coalition Hold?

Like all raucous celebrations, the Tea Party will eventually wind down.

A few weeks ago, two conservative culture-war mainstays, the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council (FRC), announced that they were launching a campaign to preserve the Bush tax cuts. It may have seemed odd -- after all, does the New Testament mandate low taxes for the wealthy? -- but you could see it as a bid for conservatives to retain their relevance, since the expiration of the tax cut is a looming battle, and in a bad economy their usual fights for Puritan sexual ethics have become less salient. It's also a good example of one of conservatives' greatest strengths: the willingness to stick together and work on behalf of causes that might seem outside their immediate interests. It's not that the left is incapable of doing the same, but such an approach doesn't seem quite as tightly woven into liberals' political DNA. There are efforts like the Blue Green Alliance , a coalition of labor and environmental groups advocating investments in renewable energy. But there you...

One Sharp-Looking Campaign.

Last year, I wrote a column about how the Obama design aesthetic -- including, but not limited to, the use of the Gotham font and the reassuring palette of blues the campaign used -- was spreading around the world. If you're into this kind of thing, we learn ( Via ) that Scott Thomas, the design director of the 2008 Obama campaign, has created a book called Designing Obama , which describes the process that went into creating the Obama visual brand. You can read the whole thing online, get a hardcover version, or, of course, get it for your iPad. It's safe to say that no campaign in history paid as much attention to design as the Obama campaign did (has any other campaign even had a design director?). But maybe it will set a trend. If our campaigns aren't going to get any more high-minded or edifying (and of course they won't), at least they might be more pleasing to the eye. -- Paul Waldman