One thing we can reliably expect in any presidential campaign is that each side will complain that the other side's attacks are beyond the pale of civilized politics. Back in August, New York magazine writer John Heilmann tweeted "Truth: 2012 will be most negative pres campaign of our lifetimes" (I ridiculed the notion here). News flash: Campaigns often involve candidates criticizing each other, and this one will be no different. So Ben Smith explains that once again, Barack Obama is preparing a relentlessly negative campaign that will nonetheless not leave him tarred as a meanie.
When Politicorevealed the sexual-harassment charges against Herman Cain over the weekend, it would have been fairly easy for the Republican candidate to dismiss their relevance. They were the musings of the liberal media! Or a targeted hit from an opposing campaign! As Jamelle noticed Monday, conservative luminaries like Rush Limbaugh jumped to defend Cain. Politico followed up yesterday morning with a story about how unconcerned Iowa Republicans were with the scandal.
Earlier last month, Pennsylvania Republicans floated a proposal to allocate the state’s 22 electoral votes by congressional district instead of winner-take-all. The change would have rigged the game in favor of the Republican presidential candidate, given the partisan composition of the state’s congressional districts. Democrats cried out against the proposal, and voters voiced their disapproval as well. Human Events reports that Pennsylvania House Republicans have backed away from the proposal, citing the potential for voter backlash:
Last month, I argued that Mitt Romney was on his way to winning the Republican presidential nomination, despite the large anti-establishment faction within the GOP base. Herman Cain might be surging among Republican voters, but recent polls affirm that view.
In David Frum’s most recent op-ed, he describes the “menu of possibilities” for non-Tea Party Republicans in 2012. His second possibility –- in which Mitt Romney wins the nomination but loses the general election -– is one I’ve been thinking about for some time. Here is Frum’s assessment of what might happen as a result of that outcome:
For this week’s New York TimesMagazine, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver offers a forecast of the 2012 election. He considers three election fundamentals—economic growth, incumbent popularity, and the ideology of the opposing nominee—and gives four scenarios based on varying configurations. For President Obama, the picture isn’t great.
Yesterday, The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis arrived at the conclusion that Mitt Romney's famous flip-flopping and President Obama's pragmatism were one in the same:
A politician who considers himself driven more by case-by-case pragmatism than any overarching philosophy, who likes to get all the smartest people in the room to hash out an issue, probing each side with questions and counters to arrive at some kind of workable middle ground. Does that sound familiar?
Even for someone who specializes in consistently saying the most offensive and irrelevant things, Ann Coulter's statements about black Republicans in an interview with Sean Hannity Monday crossed the line. In a segment discussing accusations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain, Coulter and Hannity completely sidestepped the allegations and instead ranted about why liberals target African American Republicans. Of course the argument moved away from issues of sex and workplace harassment and moved on to how Barack Obama is only half-black and his father wasn't even an American.
Politico's Ben Smith wrote a long article about America's fact-checking industry (PolitiFact, FactCheck, etc.), and he does a good job of describing the tug-of-war between these sites and political spin-meisters, as well as addressing some of the inherent weaknesses in the criteria they use to find the line between truth and falsehood. But there's one very important question missing from the article: Does fact-checking work?
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but the latest Gallup survey of Republican voters shows Georgia businessman Herman Cain leading the pack with a high positive intensity score. Cain scores 29 on the positive intensity score, a measure of how much voters like a particular candidate. He leads Mitt Romney by 17 points—a sign of Romney’s low favorability among GOP voters—and beats Rick Perry by 23 points. What’s more, Cain is the only candidate whose rating has gone up since entering the race. Here’s Gallup with more:
Changes in electoral law often shift elections in ways that cannot be predicted. Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination in '76 thanks to his understanding of the new primary rules that favored victories in early states rather than hobnobbing with party elites in smoke-filled rooms. The rise of the super PAC could play a similar role in 2012, completely revamping the operation of presidential campaigns. Thanks to the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, this new type of group is allowed to raise unlimited campaign funds from both individuals and corporations.
As I mentioned earlier today, we are just beginning to observe the role super PACs will play in the 2012 election. A handful of groups capitalized on the Citizens United ruling to begin spending money in 2010, but the extra preparation and heightened interest in presidential politics means the money spent by these groups will skyrocket over the next year.