Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

In Fact, Obama is Stronger Than He Looks

(White House/Flickr)

Lately, whenever I note a poll showing good results for President Barack Obama, I feel compelled to include a note about the reliability of polls this far out from the election—they're not particularly reliable—and the fact that other presidents who have been polling well have nonetheless gone down in defeat come November. The most salient example for this is President George H.W. Bush, who rode high in public opinion after the Gulf War, but was brought down by a rapidly deteriorating economy. It has never been hard to imagine a similar trajectory for Obama; the post-Osama bump, followed by a prolonged slide.

Obama Rallies the Planned Parenthood Troops

(Photo: screenshot from Planned Parenthood video)

Republicans haven't been quite as eager to moralize against contraception after Rush Limbaugh gave voice to their true feelings, but Democrats aren't ready to let their argument that the GOP is waging a war on women slip by the wayside. Mitt Romney, a candidate who rarely seems comfortable when the discussion strays from the economy, is hoping that the issue will become a non-factor once he officially dismisses Rick Santorum and heads to the general election. Barack Obama clearly has a different view. The president issued a new subtle attack yesterday in a video where he directly addresses supporters of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Superfan Snoozefest

(Flickr / sethdickens)

Joe McCutchen isn’t your average Mitt Romney supporter. When it comes to the Republican front-runner, the seventy-two-year-old former carpet mill owner “is just so fired up, [he] can’t even sleep at night,” and makes sure to wear a campaign sticker on his lapel every day. McCutchen is whatThe Washington Post called one of the “sasquatches of American politics: rumored, hoped-for, so elusive that they can seem imaginary … Mitt Romney’s superfans”—of which only 346 have been found in the wild. Most Romney supporters are a bit more tepid.

Republican Grassroots Trust Establishment Over Themselves

(Flickr/BlueRobot)

Reporters and Republicans alike have finally come to their senses and begun to treat Mitt Romney as the presumptive nominee. Republican officials such as Jeb Bush and Kevin McCarthy have recently endorsed Romney, and a Rick Santorum victory in a southern state (Lousiana this past weekend for those keeping track) no longer sets off a round of speculation on whether Romney might be derailed.

Voters Pre-Disappointed In Mitt Romney

I'm not so bad, am I? (Flickr/davelawrence8)

As Jamelle noted, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll reinforces what other polls have shown, that folks haven't really taken a cotton to Mitt Romney. Most worrying for him is that only 35 percent of independent voters view him favorably. The good news for him is that voters, having already been disappointed with him, won't go through that inevitable period of a presidency in which your unreasonably high hopes are dashed and you turn against the president.

The creation of those unreasonable hopes requires two things: an inspiring individual and an inspiring story. Sometimes "change" is enough of an inspiring story, but without the inspiring individual, change doesn't sound poetic and glorious. And all along, Romney has presented himself primarily as an effective manager, which might be what you need, but it won't make your heart go all aflutter.

The Best Signs from Yesterday's Tea Party Rally

(Photo: Patrick Caldwell)

Tea Party

Tea Partiers descended on the Capitol Tuesday afternoon to voice their disapproval of Obamacare as the Supreme Court debated the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which will require citizens to purchase health insurance or else face a nominal fee once the bill has been fully implemented in 2014. Initially a conservative solution—originating at Bush's favorite think tank The Heritage Foundation—the mandate has come to symbolize conservative distaste with the bill that will expand coverage to millions of currently uninsured Americans. 

No One Likes Mitt Romney

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)

Throughout the year, Mitt Romney’s favorability ratings have been consistently under water; by double-digits, more Americans dislike than like the former Massachusetts governor. As time went on—and voters grew familiar with him and his record—the assumption was that this would improve. So far, however, it hasn’t. According to the latest poll from ABC News and the Washington Post, Romney has an unprecedently high unfavorability rating. Fifty percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the presumptive Republican nominee, while 34 percent rate him positively.

Be Prepared

(Flickr / Calsidyrose)

Today wasn't a good day for Obamacare. As Mother Jonesreporter—and Prospect alum—Adam Serwer pointed out on Twitter, it was as if "Obama's lawyer brought a butter knife to a bazooka fight." In the aftermath of the second day of hearings on the Affordable Care Act, the fate of the legislation seems much more precarious thanks to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's unfortunate stab at defending the individual mandate. When you're going in against the big guns—andPaul Clement and the Supreme Court bench are pretty scary people to face—you come prepared. 

Will Marco Rubio Win Latino Votes? Probably Not.

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

It’s obvious that the GOP is beginning to panic about their poor performance with Latino voters. The Hill, for example, reports that Senate Republicans are working on a watered-down version of the DREAM Act, in an attempt to win back some Hispanic support. Senators Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchinson are working on one variation, while the GOP’s Great Latino Hope—Senator Marco Rubio of Florida—is working on another. Both are expected to be unveiled when Mitt Romney official wins the Republican presidential nomination.

Americans Want Out of Afghanistan

(Flickr/The U.S. Army)

The Afghanistan War is on shakier ground with each passing day. The Obama administration has been eying the conflict warily for some time, and the massacre of Afghani citizens by an errant soldier has forced the White House and its NATO allies to re-evaluate the conflict and its potential end date. According to reports, the Obama administration is weighing if it should speed up the withdrawal of the troops before the 2014 exit date. The 33,000 sent over as part of the surge in 2010 are scheduled to depart next summer, but that will leave 68,000 troops on the ground, and the administration is still considering whether to heed the advice of military leaders to leave the troops in place or to pack up and admit that the fight has become an impossible quagmire.

One Nation, Not Under God

(Flickr/djwhelan)

Picture this scene: A recently elected president announces that he will decline to place his hand on a Bible when taking the oath of office. When people object, he replies that he doesn't believe in God, so it wouldn't make much sense for him to go through the motions of a religious ritual when he does not share that religion's beliefs.

Most Voters Aren't Stupid

(Flickr / Columbia City Blog)

During the February 22 Republican primary debate in Arizona, moderator John King of CNN set up a question about global instability and the president’s ability to affect gas prices by noting that “the American people often don't pay much attention to what's going on in the world until they have to.” The next day, Politico media blogger Dylan Byers flagged the question, describing it “as a comment that warranted explanation” even though it was “not necessarily wrong.” Later that day, King sent Byers a statement defending his question, claiming that he “did not ‘suggest’ and

Drop Out Like It's Hot

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The GOP primary is finally starting to fall into the groove reporters and pundits have insisted it was in all along. Romney is comfortably ahead in delegates, endorsements, and attacks from Democrats, and his current opponents are having a harder and harder time proving their relevance. Newt Gingrich is finally starting to fade from the limelight; his insistance that his campaign will make it to Tampa falls increasingly on deaf ears as embedded reporters flee his side with alacrity. And Rick Santorum—the conservative point man in the race—is starting to buckle under pressure to cede the nomination to Romney so the party can turn its attention to beating Barack Obama.

A Decision Is Coming

A crowd of protesters outside the Supreme Court on the first day of ACA hearings (Photo: Patrick Caldwell)

The Supreme Court opened hearings today on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—PPACA if we're going to be technical—but more commonly known as Obamacare. The six hours slotted for oral arguments are spread out across three days, and while the constitutionality of the individual mandate is the main issue at stake, there will be a host of other topics discussed, ranging from severability (whether the rest of the law can stand if the mandate is struck down) to whether Congress was within its bounds when it redefined Medicaid eligibility to include swaths of new people currently uninsured.

Dogs and Cats Living Together

Santorum isn't saying Obama personally kidnapped and murdered this child. But kind of.

It often happens that when campaign negativity reaches a fever pitch, a candidate will take a small step back from the vitriol and say something like, "My opponent is a nice guy—he's just wrong about everything." What they almost never do, however, is say, "My opponent is wrong about a lot of things, and if he gets elected, things won't be good. I'm not saying it'll be a disaster, but it'd be better if you elected me." The imperatives of campaigning lead candidates to spin out the most disastrous scenarios and apocalyptic warnings. And there's no doubt that some people believe them; you wouldn't have to interview too many Republican voters to find a few who sincerely believe that if Barack Obama is re-elected, within a few months freedom will disappear, Christianity will be outlawed, everyone's guns will be confiscated, and so on. But usually, presidential candidates—who know they must appeal to people who retain a grip on reality—try to keep these arguments within limits.

But not all of them. Ladies and gentlemen, Rick Santorum:

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