Election 2012

Foxes and Hedgehogs on the Campaign Trail

I'm not sure how conservatives are talking amongst themselves about the rise of Newt Gingrich, but among liberals, the dominant reaction is amazement. Newt may not be as purely radical as someone like Michele Bachmann, but he is so tremendously unlikeable that it's almost impossible to see him winning a presidential election, no matter how much national conditions like the economy favor his party. Even apart from how personally repellent he is, always ready with a self-important comment and an arrogant sneer, he offers what you might call a target-rich environment for attacks. Let's say you try criticizing him for the fact that he cheated on and then dumped two wives, trading them in for younger women. That doesn't work?

God Help Us

Will Rick Perry’s blend of Christian-right, small-government, and pro-corporate fervor land him in the White House?

In April, Rick Perry traveled to North Texas for a taping of televangelist James Robison’s TV show, Life Today. For six months, starting as soon as he was re-elected Texas governor in November 2010, Perry had been crisscrossing the country to promote his second book, Fed Up!, while testing the presidential waters with potential donors and conservative activists. His visit with Robison, a hellfire-breathing pastor known as “God’s hit man” (for “giving ’em so much hell nobody will ever want to go there”), had the potential to pay serious dividends.

Manning Up

Rick Perry, the man George W. Bush pretended to be, personifies the allure of Texastosterone.

John Cuneo

IIn Master of the Senate, the third volume of his massive, still-unfinished biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro devotes a memorable paragraph to the great man’s fondness for exhibiting his sexual equipment, which, with characteristic humility, he called “Jumbo.”

A Big Endorsement for Gingrich

(AP Photo/Erik Kellar)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich signs a copy of his book "A Nation Like No Other" as he and his wife Callista Gingrich greet supporters during a book signing event at Books-A-Million in Naples, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011.

Behold the Majesty of GloboNewtCorp

When you think about the Republicans' businessman-candidates, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are the ones who come to mind. But credit has to be given to the man who managed to build a unique family of enterprises I like to call GloboNewtCorp. There may be no politician in recent years, not even Sarah Palin, who has turned his or her political celebrity into as lucrative a money machine as Newt Gingrich. Politico has some details:

During his decade on the political sidelines, Newt Gingrich got rich by building a network of companies and think tanks that pulled in more than $115 million in contributions and fees from powerful corporations and individuals...

John Thune Endorses Romney

Mitt Romney is slowly becoming the consensus candidate for Republicans that took a pass at making their own 2012 runs. He's already been endorsed by former candidate Tim Pawlenty and and the much-hyped Chris Christie. Now South Dakota senator John Thune has thrown his support behind Romney as well. Thune—who looks like the Hollywood caricature of a president—had been contemplating a presidential run but ruled it out in February.

Revenge of the Neocons

As much as Hope and Change defined Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, his success was a clear rebuke of the policies in the George W. Bush presidency. Bush's approval rating hung at 25 percent on the day Obama was elected, and John McCain did everything he could to distance himself from the incumbent Republican president. Bush's legacy was tarnished for a number of reasons, but none more so than his foolhardy foreign-policy agenda. When the Democratic candidate who rose to fame for his early opposition to Iraq won the presidency, it appeared the neo-con age had come to a close.

For Gingrich, a Glimmer of Hope

As far as substance is concerned, last night’s Republican presidential debate on national security was terrible. With few exceptions, the candidates had little to say on America's withdrawal from Iraq, the prospects for preventing a nuclear Iran, the defense cuts in the Super Committee “trigger,” and the nation’s relationship with China. Likewise, CNN failed to ask the candidates about the ongoing collapse of the European economy or our detainee policies. As for less glamorous but equally important issues like the effort to reduce our nuclear arsenal, or the medium-term status of the North Korean regime? Absolutely nothing.

A Rare Glimpse of Sanity

Yesterday's Republican presidential debate in Washington focused on national security, so of course the candidates readily took the opportunity to dive into the dangers of illegal immigration. "An insecure border is a national security threat… we know that terrorists have come into this country by way of Mexico," Herman Cain said.  "As the President of the United States," Rick Perry said, making a now outlandish proposition, "I will promise you one thing, that within 12 months of the inaugural, that border will be shut down, and it will be secure."

The Huntsman Dilemma

After spending $800,000-plus on media over the last several months, Our Destiny PAC, the pro-Jon Huntsman political action committee, plans to spend an additional $650,000 on new television ads for the New Hampshire primary. If Huntsman were a viable contender, this might make sense. As it stands, it seems like a huge waste of cash for a candidate with little shot of catching on.

Can Gingrich Win?

Writing for The Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Anderson wonders if Newt Gingrich is just as electable as Mitt Romney:

What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

  • The Center for American Progress released a report today that lays out how they see the 2012 election playing out, and their prescription for what Obama needs to do to win:

Forecasting Elections with Real-Time Economic Data

This post is jointly written with Anton Strezhnev, a very bright Georgetown undergraduate.

One of the challenges in forecasting elections is that economic data are often inaccurate when first released. Some of the adjustments are substantial.  Just to illustrate this point, the image below (source) shows the change from original issue to current estimate in a composite index of economic performance: the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI).

Not All Endorsements Are Created Equal

Slate's Dave Weigel takes The Washington Post to task for running an inane article listing the "big six 2012 endorsements." As a general rule, I'm opposed to these types of lists, which are typically desperate exercises reporters turn to when they have a deadline staring them down and no new ideas. But while he's right to criticize the lazy idea, Weigel takes it a little too far when he uses Chris Christie's support for Mitt Romney as evidence that endorsements play no role:

The Lying Lies of Mitt Romney

With a little more than a month before the New Hampshire Republican primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has released his first ad of the campaign, a blistering attack on President Obama’s economic record: