Election 2012

One Speech, Two Speech, Red State, Blue State

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
(AP Photo/The Greeley Tribune, Joshua Polson) Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan makes his way through the crowd shaking hands and greeting attendees individually after his speech at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley, Colorado on November 1, 2012. Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan is criticizing President Barack Obama's suggestion of creating a secretary of business. I n Colorado, polling shows that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are still neck and neck. Both campaigns are fighting for every vote, and held campaign events only 50 miles apart Thursday. In the morning, Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan visited Greeley, a city of almost 93,000, where local county commissioner Sean Conway warmed up the crowd. By the time early in-person voting ends today, the secretary of state estimates that 80 percent of voters will already have voted, either at the booth or by mail. Conway asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had already voted, and said, “Well...

Heckuva Job, Barry

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Although some may find it crass to speculate on the political impact of The Storm, I'm going to go ahead and do it, for two reasons. First, I've earned the right , and second, because complaints that things are "politicized" are almost always misconceived. Politics is important. It concerns choices that affect all our lives. And campaigns ought to be connected to the actual business of governing, so when an event occurs that implicates our government, it should be talked about. Problems sometimes arise not from the fact that something is politicized, but the way it's politicized. For instance, when in the 2002 election, Republicans charged that Democrats were on the side of al Qaeda because those Democrats favored a different bill establishing the Department of Homeland Security than the bill Republicans favored, it was despicable not because September 11 had been "politicized," but because of the manner in which it was politicized. Anyhow, back to the storm. This morning, an editor...

How to Poll

California’s venerable Field Poll released the first in its final series of pre-election polls today, and in the process provided a wonderful example to all its fellow pollsters. At a moment when a number of polls have come under criticism for not employing interviewers who can speak Spanish, the Field Poll responded to California’s growing diversity by conducting its interviews in English and Spanish—and Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese. The funding for these Asian-language interviews was provided by New American Media, which itself had received a grant for this project from the San Francisco Foundation. The poll itself measured support for the two rival tax hike/school spending measures on the California ballot next week—Proposition 30, backed by Governor Jerry Brown and teachers unions, among others, which would raise income taxes on the wealthy and impose a quarter-cent sales tax hike to provide $6 billion yearly to the state’s K-12 schools and its public colleges and...

Seven State-Level Races to Watch

Quick—who's your state legislator? If you're like most people, you have no idea. (If you do know, well la-dee-da!) State legislative races don't usually get much attention, and in a big presidential year, they're lucky to get any. But who runs the legislature is crucial in setting policy. Two years ago, when Tea Party fervor swept across the nation, Republicans knocked Democrats out of power in 21 state House and Senate chambers. Twenty states had Republicans in charge of the Senate, House, and governor's mansion concurrently. The impact was swift. These new majorities slashed social programs and weakened reproductive rights. They passed new voter-ID laws and anti-union measures. This year the stakes are just as high—if not higher. As I wrote in a September column : States’ refusal to expand Medicaid could derail Obama’s health-care plan. Anti-immigration laws will continue to proliferate in the states while Congress hems and haws about comprehensive reform. Republican lawmakers will...

Ohio's Brown Revolution

(Flickr/SEIU)
United States Senator Sherrod Brown is wearing Velcro strap sneakers. They are distinctly geriatric in flavor, black and sturdy-looking, the sort that might be found in the “Mall Walking” section of the shoe wall at FootLocker. Brown is wearing them with a suit. On stage. At a big Teamsters rally a couple of weeks before Election Day. Say what you will about Brown—and plenty has been said about the liberal bête noire of national conservatives during this election cycle—but the man certainly has his own distinct brand of business casual. And in his fierce race to maintain his Senate seat against Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel, it just might be Brown’s brand of who-gives-a-hoot sartorial schlump and off-the-cuff crankiness that is winning Ohio voters over. His opponent is a trim, smooth-faced 35-year-old Iraq War veteran who favors pin-neat suits and a crisp haircut reminiscent of a Marine buzz. Mandel stands in stark physical contrast to the 59-year-old Brown, who sports an...

Equality's Amazing Vanishing Act

(Flickr/Major Bonnett)
This year in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington, citizens will have a chance to vote on marriage equality. In the first three, the question posted to voters is phrased affirmatively—Should the state issue civil-marriage licenses to same-sex pairs?—while in Minnesota, voters will be asked whether marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman. When I reported on the pro-equality campaigns in Maine and Maryland , I outlined what LGBT advocates now take as givens in any ballot campaign: The undecideds will vote against us. In the pre-ballot polling, the point spread between those supporting and those opposing marriage equality is meaningless. The percentage against plus the percentage that is undecided is the real numbers to watch. We lose 2 to 5 percent of our support at the polls. Of those who tell pollsters they’re on our side, 2 to 5 percent change their mind when they face the ballot question, alone in the booth. We don’t gain any support during the campaign...

Mitt's Parallel Universe

Last week, when the campaign was still trying to project momentum, Mitt Romney promised to close his campaign with “big ideas”: plans for jump-starting the economy, reducing the debt, and giving every American a pony. Of course, little of this was credible: Analysts have debunked Romney’s jobs plan (which simply takes credit for jobs that would have been created anyway), challenged his tax plan (doesn't add up), and noted the extent to which his proposals for tax cuts and higher military spending would explode the deficit . (The pony proposal has gone unscored, however.) This week, the tone from Team Romney is a little more somber. According to the polling averages, Obama is either leading or tied in every swing state other than Florida and North Carolina, and there, he’s gaining ground. Part of the problem is that, in Ohio especially, Obama has successfully run on the automobile bailout. Romney tried to argue against the bailout as unwise, but that didn't work. So instead, he’s just...

Will Undecided Voters Break Overwhelmingly to Romney?

One piece of zombie conventional wisdom—it comes up every election—is the idea that undecided voters will always break for the challenger. It’s what gives hope to Republicans in this race, who assume that the last-minute decisions of undecided voters will push Mitt Romney to the top. Unfortunately for Republicans, there just isn’t much evidence for this assertion. Yes, there are elections where undecided voters broke decisively for the challenger—1980 for Ronald Reagan, 1992 for Bill Clinton. But by and large, undecided voters tend to break evenly, with a slight advantage for the challenger. This past summer, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver tried to quantify this trend . What he found was that the incumbent party candidate—George H.W. Bush in 1988, or Al Gore in 2000—gains an average of 3.5 points between the September polls and his actual performance on Election Day. The challenger gains slightly more—3.9 points. Among true incumbents, like Obama, the numbers are a little better for...

Power and Privilege in the Workplace

Flickr/daysofthundr46
Today, Adele Stan uncovers another example of a big employer trying to bully their employees into voting for Mitt Romney. We've seen a number of these stories in the last few weeks, as one company after another sends out notices to their workers saying, Hey, we're not telling you whom to vote for or anything, but if that socialist Barack Obama gets elected, we might have to fire you. The twist in this case is that the company, home improvement retailer Menards, is using an online "civics" course as its means of persuasion. Employees who take the "voluntary" (which means you don't have to take it, but your bosses are keeping account of who did and who didn't) course are fed a bucket of anti-Obama propaganda. As this kind of thing becomes more common, there are a couple of things to remember. First, though the CEOs inevitably say they're just giving their employees the straight dope on business realities, this has absolutely nothing to do with business realities and much more to do with...

Richard Carmona, Centrist Avenger

United States Department of Health and Human Services
This is the first in a Prospect series on key U.S. Senate races. Richard Carmona might be new to campaigning, but he’s not exactly new to politics. In 2005, he was a recruiting target for Republican Senator Jon Kyl and his ally in the statehouse, then-secretary of state Jan Brewer. Phone calls were made, meetings were held, and Kyl even sent Carmona a handwritten note on his personal letterhead: “For someone who’s ‘not so political’ you sure leave an audience in awe,” Kyl wrote. “Thanks for all you did for me in Phoenix last week. I look forward to continuing our discussion at your convenience.” It’s not hard to see why Kyl—and by extension, the Republican Party—had an interest in Carmona. Just look at his biography: A Puerto Rican raised in Harlem, he dropped out of high school at 16, and shortly after enlisted in the Army. He earned his G.E.D, joined the special forces, fought in the Vietnam War, and received training as a combat medic. He’s received degrees in nursing, biology,...

Bubba Turns on the Charm in Colorado

(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
By the time President Bill Clinton walked into the gym at Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colorado, the crowd was ready. Just before 6 p.m., the former president entered the stage; the students and faculty soaked him with wild applause, bringing out the familiar Clinton smile that feeds on such adoration. He thanked the school’s principal and superintendent, cracked a few jokes about being on the campaign trail, then turned serious. “I am more enthusiastic about President Obama this time than I was when I campaigned for him four years ago,” he said. “I’d like to tell you why.” That launched one of Clinton’s famous lists. There are three big questions about the future of this country. But the number of issues he enumerated in a speech that lasted almost an hour was more than three. The former president touted Obama’s accomplishments better than Obama has himself done thus far: halting the Great Recession, bringing back Detroit, expanding health-care coverage, and improving...

Chris Christie's Sly, Futile Move

(Flickr/New Jersey National Guard)
Once again, Barack Obama has proven to be the luckiest politician alive. Just when the race was tightening to a dead heat in the election’s closing days, one spectacular betrayal and one rank miscalculation on the Republican side have turned the contest back in Obama’s favor. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will tour his storm-ravaged state today with President Obama, was all over the networks Tuesday telling what a wonderful leader his president was. “I spoke to the president three times yesterday,” Christie boasted, calling Obama “outstanding.” When Fox co-host Steve Doocy meekly asked Christie if he planned any events with Romney, Christie snarkily replied, “I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested.” Christie’s caper, of course, is so opportunist that it almost makes Mitt Romney look principled—almost. What a swell party of back-stabbers is our GOP. For Christie, who is up for re-election next year in a blue state, this caper accomplishes three things:...

Romney's Continent-Crossing Coattails

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP PHOTO/Nati Harnik) Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu, left, glances at Prime Minister Shimon Peres during a ceremony at the Knesset in Jerusalem Monday, June 17 1996. Netanyahu is expected to present his new government to the Knesset Monday, and reportedly is shaping a cabinet which will exclude or sideline his rivals in the right-wing Likud party. S himon Peres, just 89 years young, is under pressure "from politicians and ex-generals" to run again for prime minister of Israel against Benjamin Netanyahu, or so say unsourced news reports. Peres, in politics since the time of King David or at least of FDR, denies he'll give up his ceremonial post as Israel's president for another run. Ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert, according to other unreliable reports, awaits the outcome of the U.S. election before deciding whether he'll return to politics in a bid to unite Israel's fragmented center and left and save the country from Netanyahu. As the American campaign heads toward a...

Anti-Obamacare Ballot Measures: Purely Symbolic, Sometimes Ironic

(Flickr/Fibonacci Blue)
This is the seventh in the Prospect's series on the 174 measures on state ballots this year. Ever since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, Republicans have been desperate for ways to gut it. They hoped the Supreme Court might do the dirty work, but the Court ruled this summer that the law was constitutional. They hoped to pass new legislation, but as long as Democrats have the White House and the Senate, that's a non-starter. So instead, for the time being, they are turning to purely symbolic acts of defiance. Four states have ballot measures on November 6 that, if passed, would directly conflict with the ACA. In Alabama, Florida, Montana, and Wyoming, voters can ostensibly decide to ban any and all mandates that residents get health insurance. But these "bans" would exist in name only. That's because the measures would violate Obamacare, which requires that the state's residents get health insurance or pay a fine (which the Supreme Court calls a tax). These measures will have no...

Obama to the Rescue

When Chris Christie delivered the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in August, he had some choice words for President Obama. “It’s time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House,” Christie thundered . If he ever genuinely believed that Obama was an “absentee leader,” the New Jersey governor has certainly had a dramatic change of mind. With his state confronting a historic level of destruction courtesy of Superstorm Sandy, Christie has been full of praise for his "pro-active leadership." This morning, he said , “The federal government’s response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president; personally, he has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area. The President has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA.” Obama has indeed appeared to be at his calm, commanding best during this crisis. He has made the case not only for himself but...

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