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.
One of the striking things about the current political moment is the extent to which anti-incumbent sentiment hasn’t abated since last year. The poor economy has left Americans in a continuous state of anger toward their elected officials, regardless of political affiliation. In particular, according to the latest poll from United Technologies and National Journal, voters are down on both the congressional GOP and President Obama.
At New York, John Heilemann ponders Mitt Romney's standing in Iowa. Early in the campaign, team Romney made a deliberate decision to downplay his presence in the first-in-the-nation caucus. He would not repeat his 2008 mistake, where he invested heavily in Iowa only to lose handedly to Mike Huckabee , a candidate who had been buoyed by a wave support from Iowa's active evangelical Christian base. Romney has made just three Iowa trips to date this year, and his Hawkeye staff is limited to five people with no television or radio purchases to his name.
At the end of my post this morning, I wondered if the Right would rally around Herman Cain following Politico’s allegations of sexual harassment, as if to replay the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Via Real Clear Politics, we have our answer. Here is Rush Limbaugh as he defends Cain and attacks the Politico story as an “unconscionable racially charged attack”:
The Politico and the mainstream media has launched an unconscionable, racially stereotypical attack on an independent, self-reliant conservative black because for him that behavior is not allowed. […]
Rick Perry's campaign spent last week floating the possibility that the Texas governor might skip some, if not all, of the remaining presidential debates. Their logic was pretty clear: Perry entered the field as the newly crowned frontrunner in August, only to see his stock plummet after a series of inept debate performances. They hoped to pull their candidate from the debate podium and counted on having few primary voters notice or care. As Jamelle noted last week, that was a risky strategy, which could alienate the conservative elite who already wary to support the governor after his stumbles.
Speaking to the The New York Times, Rob Jesmer, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, makes a good point about efforts by congressional Democrats to distance themselves from President Obama:
“Whether they get on stage with him is not going to matter,” said Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “They are going to rise or fall with him in most cases. The reason he is unpopular is because of his policies and these are the policies they have voted for – health care, the stimulus, now a second stimulus. There isn’t any daylight in the minds of voters.” [Emphasis mine]
As recently as June, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was on record as accepting climate change, and acknowledging the extent to which humans were major contributors, “I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that.” Over the weekend, in a characteristic move, Romney changed that position outright:
“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” he said, according to CBS. “And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”
The Des Moines Registerreleased their latest caucus poll over the weekend, and Herman Cain is the official favorite to win Iowa two months before caucus day. Cain posted support from 23 percent of likely voters, narrowly edging out Mitt Romney at 22 percent. No one else could even come close to touching the top two. Ron Paul gathered 12 percent. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry—both of whom were crowned caucus frontrunners at one point in 2011—only had eight and seven percent respectively.
The talk of the town today is of course Politico's story detailing how two women who worked for Herman Cain at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990's accused him of sexual harassment, and were then given payouts to leave the organization (and made to sign non-disclosure agreements, of course). Although Politico relied extensively on anonymous sources for their story and obtained only some details about the alleged harassment, it does appear that they worked it pretty hard and didn't publish until they were confident about the facts they had.
Before the Republican presidential primary debate in Nevada, 2012 GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review Journal that government shouldn’t be in the business of trying to help families about to lose their homes. “Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process,” he said.