Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

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. "For you and for most Americans protecting women's health is a mission that stands above politics," Obama says in the two-minute video. "And yet over the past year you've had to stand up to politicians who want to deny millions of women the care they rely on, and inject themselves into decisions that are best made between a woman and her doctor." The...

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 what The 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. According to a Gallup poll from March 8-11, only 35 percent of Republicans would vote enthusiastically for Romney. The halfhearted approval for the former Massachusetts governor continues as you move up the echelons of the party—the candidate has only won the endorsement of 91 GOP members of Congress so far. As a result, primary turnout has lagged, a trend that some Republicans fear will translate to the general election. But things aren’t looking too...

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. Thankfully that shift has also largely put an end to talk of a brokered Republican convention. I've written in the past that even if Romney fails to secure the required 1,144 delegates, the party wouldn't have been inclined to overturn the popular vote, and the ranks of possible saviors are thinning as Bush and others throw their lot behind Romney. A CNN poll this week found that a majority of Republican voters have also tuned out Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum's fantasy of a brokered convention. But it was only a slight 53 percent majority. A whopping 43 percent said they would prefer to have the...

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. Nevertheless, the Post has also managed to find a few people who are nuts for the Mittster: These are the sasquatches of American politics...

The Best Signs from Yesterday's Tea Party Rally

(Photo: Patrick Caldwell)
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. The rally on a lawn north of the Capitol was hosted by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' political arm that has funded many of the Tea Party's major gatherings. AFP president Tim Phillips kicked off the proceedings, leading the crowd in chants of "repeal the bill." A sea of over a thousand Tea Partiers—largely middle-aged or elderly, and almost all white—in red "Hands Off Health Care" t-shirts were in attendance from across the...

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. His favorability score is the lowest since ABC News and the Washington Post began polling in 1984, and his unpopularity is matched only by Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton circa 2008. The big problem for Romney, as far as his popularity goes, is that Republicans are still “meh” about his candidacy. Only 62 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of conservatives view him favorably. Of course, this isn’t insurmountable. When the...

Be Prepared

(Flickr / Calsidyrose)
Today wasn't a good day for Obamacare. As Mother Jones reporter—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—and Paul Clement and the Supreme Court bench are pretty scary people to face—you come prepared. Today's health-care blunder isn't the only political battle this season featuring mismatched opponents. Santorum definitely brought a knife to the primary gun fight. At every turn Santorum—who owes his first success of the primary to a trusty pick-up truck thanks to his nonexistent infrastructure— is outspent , outraised , and outpaced in delegate collecting. Poor guy just wasn't ready for the big leagues. But, when Mitt Romney jumps...

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. But given the degree to which Latinos are extremely disdainful of the GOP’s five-year battle against comprehensive immigration reform, its routine attacks on immigrants, and its smear campaign against Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, it will take much more than an off-brand DREAM Act to build support. There’s a fair chance that Republicans will try to rehabilitate their brand by giving Rubio the vice-presidential nod, but even that relies on the assumption that...

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. The doves in the administration have growing public sentiment on their side. A New York Times /CBS News poll released Monday revealed an American public increasingly weary of the conflict. A 69 percent majority said that the country...

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. Chances are you think such a thing is unlikely. After all, the politician would never have gotten elected in the first place without proclaiming his belief in God. It has happened, however—just not in America. The current prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, is forthright about her atheism and did not put her hand on a Bible at her 2010 swearing-in, generating a meaningful but not outsize controversy . Back here in the United States, however, our politics seem to be consumed more with religion than they have been in quite a while. That's partly because we're in the midst of a contentious Republican primary in which candidates are competing to...

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 would never suggest Americans are uninformed .” Truth is, the public is poorly informed about politics and public policy, something that has proved true since the start of election survey research. In a 2007 survey , the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press quizzed the public on an array of public affairs questions. Translating the results into a common grading rubric, they found “Americans did not...

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. Romney is trying to pretend his opponent no longer exists—in an interview with Wolf Blitzer today, he said, “I'm not going to worry too much about what Rick is saying these days,” which is basically the tack that all the party elite have taken with the Santorum campaign. As pressure mounts, so does Santorum’s anger, as...

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. I was outside the court this morning talking with protesters rallying for and against the bill (more on that to come later) but Prospect alum Adam Serwer was inside for Mother Jones listening to the judges debate the first issue at hand: can they even decide on the qualms with the law or do they need to wait until after 2014 when ACA is fully in effect? According to the 1867 Tax Anti-...

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...

The Party Has Decided on Romney

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Rick Santorum won the Louisiana primary on Saturday by a huge margin. Despite the breathless media coverage, it doesn't mean much for the Republican nomination contest. What was true last week is still true now: Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee, and all that's left is for him to accumulate the delegates he needs to make that official. As we go through the remaining primaries, there are a few things you should look for. The first, and most obvious, is what party leaders have to say about the candidates. With Romney the unofficial winner, party leaders will want to begin to move to the general election, but that won't be possible if Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul are still contesting the eventual Romney nomination. As such, you should expect influential Republicans to try to push the remaining candidates out of the race. Already, Tea Party leader Jim DeMint has encouraged the other candidates to re-evaluate their decision to stay in: "We all need to look at this...

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