Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Just Can't Hide It

(Flickr/Barack Obama)
Mitt Romney's struggles to win over the conservative wing of the GOP base have often been dismissed as a problem for the general election. Even if evangelicals and social conservatives in Alabama want to vote for Rick Santorum over Romney, they're unlikely to turn around and cast their ballot for Barack Obama in November. Still, enthusiasm plays a role in elections. On that mark, the Democrats are in the lead, at least for the moment. According to national numbers from Public Policy Polling, 57 percent of Democrats describe themselves as "very excited" to vote this year, compared with just 46 percent of Republicans. Back in January, there was just a three-point spread between the parties, but it's grown steadily over the intervening months except for a momentary jump in excitement for both parties in March. The biggest change has come on the Republican side. In January, 54 percent listed themselves as "very excited," but as the primary continues to drag on, Republicans, much like the...

4,446 Lonely D.C. Republicans

Flickr/DonkeyHotey
One of the strange things about living in Washington, D.C. is the ongoing presence of lots and lots of Republicans. In my adult life I've lived in two other large cities (San Francisco and Philadelphia), and in both of those members of the Grand Old Party are not only few in number but nearly invisible. Sure, there are a few cities where Republicans are plentiful (Dallas, I hear), but on the whole the more urban the area you're in, the more likely Democrats are to dominate the place's political, cultural, and social life. But here in the nation's capital, Republicans are plentiful. You see them going in and out of think-tank offices, traipsing about Capitol Hill, even walking down the street in broad daylight. Famous ones, ordinary ones, ones in all sizes and ages and genders. They're everywhere. Except almost none of them actually live in the District of Columbia. Anyone who's been here for any time knows this; if you're a Republican in these parts, you live in Virginia. You can...

The Nightmare Scenario

Flickr/DonkeyHotey
"We won without winning!" So said longshot candidate George Wallace after taking a surprising 34 percent of the vote in the 1964 Wisconsin primary, but it might as well be a prediction of how Rick Santorum will try to frame today's primaries. Mitt Romney is comfortably ahead in Maryland and the District of Columbia (where Santorum isn't even on the ballot), and the front-runner is currently ahead 7.5 percent in Real Clear Politics' average of the polls in Wisconsin. Nate Silver predicts that Santorum will copy Wallace's low-thirties haul, but Rick has passed the point of the primary where he can convincingly claim that as a win. Unless Santorum wins in Wisconsin, it's a big lose for him and a big win for the party elite, which is eager to put a bow on the Romney nomination. If Santorum did manage to squeak out a surprise victory in the Badger State, it would be a big headache for the Grand Old Party, a bigger headache than any of the former senator's previous insubordinate victories...

Obama Runs Anti-Romney Ad

(Photo: Screenshot from Obama campaign ad)
It’s clear that the Republican elite no longer wants to see this nomination contest drag on any longer. Sought after endorsers such as Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio have finally lent their support to Romney, and on Sunday Senator Ron Johnson said that he had been selected by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to coordinate the message between the Romney campaign and Senate Republicans. The early calls for Santorum’s departure will become an avalanche if, as largely expected, Romney runs up the delegate score in tonight’s primaries. You know who else seems ready to put this primary campaign behind him? None other than Romney’s general election opponent Barack Obama. The president’s reelection campaign has been gearing up to face Romney all year, and, at certain moments, have injected themselves into the Republican primary to pester Romney while he was still fending off Santorum or another conservative challenger. Now they’re going a step further and running an ad against Romney in a handful...

A Truly Ideological Campaign?

Are you ready for some campaignin'? (Flickr/Obama campaign)
Barack Obama's re-election campaign has finally begun in earnest, with a TV ad hitting Mitt Romney as an ally of the oil industry and a speech coming up later today in which he'll attack Paul Ryan's budget, which almost every Republican in the House voted for and Mitt Romney endorsed. Ryan's budget won't ever pass, but it's a pretty forthright ideological statement, and the Obama campaign is endeavoring to make sure everyone understands where it's coming from. And in doing so, he's offering more hints that his campaign could actually turn this into more of a real debate about fundamental values, and less of a clown show about things like who loves America more. Here are some advance excerpts : Disguised as deficit-reduction plan, it's really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It's nothing but thinly veiled Social Darwinism. It's antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who’s willing to work for it — a place where...

Paul Ryan's Great Gift to Obama

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Easter is a minor gift-giving holiday in the American calendar, and for the last year—and counting—President Obama’s Easter gift has come in the form of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. Last year, Ryan penned the “Roadmap,” a budget document for House Republicans that laid out their priorities for the long-term: deep cuts to existing social programs, deep cuts to Medicare, and big tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans. With the Tea Party at the height of its power, Republican lawmakers were eager to sign on to Ryan’s “right-wing social engineering” (to borrow a phrase), even if it was anathema to public opinion. For a president who was floundering in the eyes of liberals—who wanted to see a little more fight—this was a godsend. In a speech at George Washington University, Obama posed his vision of “balanced” deficit reduction against Ryan’s plan to funnel money away to the richest Americans. He didn’t attack the Wisconsin congressman by name, but he challenged his ideas, and the...

Romney's Veep Calculations

(Flickr/Halsey Hemingway)
It's GOP primary day once again, the first major day of competition on the calendar since Mitt Romney won the Illinois primary two weeks ago. If polls are to be believed, Romney is on track toward a clean sweep tonight in D.C., Maryland, and Wisconsin, with the last state as the only contest whose results are not a sure bet (the latest polls have Romney up 7 percent). No matter what happens, the primary campaign is coming down to its final days. A second mini-Super Tuesday on April 24—with a lineup heavily tilted to the Northeast—will strongly favor Romney and serve as the likely death knell for Rick Santorum's campaign. One of the easiest ways to note that the real primary season is a thing of the past has been the start of the veepstakes as journalists begin to question who might slide into the second spot behind Romney. New York 's John Heilemann knows a thing or two about how presidential campaigns select running mates after he reported on the process by which Sarah Palin was...

Too Good to Check, Santorum Edition

You might not want to believe a thing I say.
A couple of weeks ago, Rick Santorum got into some trouble for saying that Barack Obama was "a snob" for wanting every American kid to be able to go to college. Santorum elaborated that universities today indoctrinate people in dangerous liberal ideas and convince them to abandon their religious beliefs. And now he's offering more details on just how un-American universities are: I was just reading something last night from the state of California. And that the California universities – I think it's seven or eight of the California system of universities don’t even teach an American history course. It's not even available to be taught. Shocking! And it would be even more shocking if it were even remotely true. But as Think Progress notes , "In fact, of the 10 UC system schools, just one (San Francisco) doesn't offer American history courses. But that’s because it doesn't offer any humanities courses at all — it's a medical school." When Santorum says "I was just reading something last...

The Other Wisconsin Primary

(Flickr/isaflcio)
As the 2012 Republican nomination contest peters to a close, each successive primary becomes less exciting than the last. Tomorrow's Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C. primaries are no Super Tuesday, and April's slate of races looks to be the most Romney-friendly yet. The contest in Wisconsin is particularly odd because the state's GOP elite is almost unanimously pro-Romney—a consensus that the front-runner has lacked in other bellwether states. The pro-Romney bandwagon is partly due to the fact we're in the primary's coda, but there's a state-specific reason too. The Wisconsin GOP isn't thinking about tomorrow—they're thinking about June 5 and Governor Scott Walker's recall election. A new Rasmussen poll shows that 52 percent of likely voters want to recall Walker, and Republicans in the state are trying not to mimic their presidential candidates' fondness for discord. “The party as a whole is more united behind Scott Walker than it’s been for anything it’s ever done,” said Mark Graul, a...

Who Benefits From Paul Ryan's Tax Cuts?

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
Via Ezra Klein, here are handful of charts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that perfectly captures how Paul Ryan's budget would essentially wipe out all government services for those in need in order to fund a massive redistribution of wealth back up to those at the top of the income scale. Ryan's budget goes beyond the GOP regressive standard of turning all of the Bush tax cuts permanent and includes a number of other tax reductions that would benefit the wealthy. According to the Tax Policy Center that adds up to an extra $265,000 average windfall in fewer taxes that people earning over $1 million wouldn't have to pay each year. The total distribution of those tax cuts would tilt sharply toward the country's highest income bracket. It'd be one thing if this plan just represented the views of a lone congressman from Wisconsin, but the Ryan plan has become accepted dogma in the GOP. Only 10 House members broke ranks to vote against it last week, and the plan has a seal...

Paul Ryan No Longer Thinks the Military Is Lying

(Flickr/SpeakerBoehner)
Last Friday I noted Paul Ryan’s comments where he, in essence, accused the top military brass of lying to Congress to cover-up potential harm to the nation’s security in Obama’s proposed budget. To Ryan’s credit, he went on the Sunday shows to retract the claims. Per TPM : “I really misspoke,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union . “And I did not mean to impugn the integrity of the military in any way.” Asked whether he has apologized to Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ryan said, “Yeah, I called him and told him that.” It was not the impression I meant to give,” Ryan added on ABC’s This Week . “I talked to General Dempsey on it, and expressed that sentiment.” Calling his words “clumsy,” Ryan doubled down on his broader point that the Pentagon is conforming to adjusted military spending levels in President Obama’s budget, when he argues they should have put out their plan first. Good on Ryan for stepping back rather than going for the typical politician...

Women Flee the GOP

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
It’s always an open question as to whether Beltway-based controversies spread out to the public at large. Etch A Sketch is an incredibly apt way of describing Mitt Romney’s persona, but so far, the comment has gone unnoticed by those who don’t follow politics for entertainment or for a living (two overlapping spheres). By contrast, the controversy over contraception has definitely made its way onto the political landscape. At the very least, ordinary Americans know that the Obama administration mandated “free” birth control for women, Republicans spoke out in opposition, and—most important—conservative figures like Rush Limbaugh denounced supporters of the administration as “sluts.” And together with the previous fight over the Komen Foundation’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, the proposed bill in Virginia that forced transvaginal ultrasounds (read: penetration) on women who received abortions, this knowledge grew into something more dangerous for Republicans—a...

A Grand Unified Theory of Romney

Flickr/DonkeyHotey
In advance of Tuesday's primary in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel gave a tepid endorsement to Mitt Romney, worrying that "Romney's finger-to-the-wind tacking across the political sea leaves us to wonder if he is anchored anywhere," but also citing his "moderate inclinations" and saying, "it's those moderate impulses that make Romney the best candidate. His challengers don't share the same sense of pragmatism or were woefully shortchanged on the temperament gene." But here's the question: What, exactly, is the evidence that Mitt Romney has moderate inclinations? Here's what we actually know. When Romney ran for Senate and then governor, he was a fairly liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay Republican—in other words, the only kind of Republican who would have had a chance to win in Massachusetts. Then when he ran for president, he became a fire-breathing conservative—the only kind of Republican with a chance to win his party's nomination. The only way you can conclude that he's a...

The Prodigal Son Returns

AP Photo
Barack Obama’s visit to Burlington today was a welcome surprise for Vermonters, who haven’t hosted a president since 1995. There’s a political reason for the visit: If there’s a state for liberals to call home, it’s Vermont. So why did Obama take a pit stop in the Green Mountain State instead of scavenging for swing votes? It comes down to money. Tickets for the luncheon Obama spoke at today started at $7,500 , and about 100 supporters showed up. Around 5,000 supporters paid $40-100 to attend a rally at the University of Vermont campus, enthusiastically chanting, “Four more years!” Tonight, Obama will speak to about 130 supporters at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, a state in which he is currently leading in the polls 58-35. Tickets for that event start at $5,000 a head. Today’s excited fans, which translate into plentiful donations, have a hopey-changey glow circa 2008 about them, but the fact that Obama needed to go to Vermont and Maine to find them is a reminder that this isn'...

Paul Ryan's "Smoke and Mirrors"

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
Paul Ryan, the supposed champion of fiscal restraint among right-wing Republicans, has put his colleagues in an awkward bind. His budget includes a host of unpopular provisions, and if implemented, would eviscerate almost every part of the government except defense, health care, and Social Security by 2050 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Yesterday, all but 10 House Republicans entered their name in the congressional record as supporters of the bill, providing Democrats with ample material for negative campaigning this fall. Ryan's proposal shows a reckless disregard for the country's less fortunate. Any social safety net for non-senior citizens would disappear, and while the plan would largely maintain Medicare for current retirees, the move to premium support would rob future generations of needed health care coverage, all to achieve lower taxes It might seem like Ryan has never run across a federal program he would like to destroy, but he debunked that...

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