Consider this an addendum to yesterday’s post on Nate Silver’s forecast of the 2012 election. According to a recent poll from USA Today and Gallup, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are tied in 12 swing states: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.
With controversy circling Herman Cain all week, pundits have begun searching for the next conservative bubble. With Mitt Romney unable to top 25 percent in the polls, some candidate must step in to fill the conservative void, or so the thinking goes. Perhaps Newt Gingrich will get his moment in the sun. Or maybe Rick Santorum will steal away Cain's supporters in Iowa polls.
Q: (me) What are the basic conclusions of the literature regarding overall spending in US elections?
A: (Therriault): With regard to overall spending, Jacobson (1978) was the first to show an effect on vote outcomes, but this effect was mainly present for challengers [in Congressional elections]. In subsequent years, the effect of challenger spending was confirmed, but others also found effects for incumbent spending as well (e.g. Green & Krasno 1988, Erikson & Palfrey 1995, Gerber 1998). The basic takeaway is that spending more is clearly effective for challengers, and probably also matters for incumbents too, but solving the causal direction problems involved makes it very difficult to be really certain of any of these findings.
One problem is we know that winning candidates generally have more money, but whether money helps candidates or is just a signal of unobserved candidate quality [i.e., people give more money to better candidates] is unclear. Another problem is that not only are donors attracted to high-quality candidates just as voters are, but they are also attracted to winning candidates—that is, if money is given in order to get access to elected officials, donors are more likely to give to candidates who are expected to do well, because the expected return is greater. In both cases, we could observe an empirical relationship between winning and having more money for your campaign, without the money actually “causing” the victory.
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.
In his weekly back-and-forth with Gail Collins at The New York Times "Opinionator" blog this week, David Brooks finds a backhanded way to blame a woman for being forced out of a job by her supervisor's sexual advances. He doesn't seem to realize that his comment blames anyone who asks for compensation for an employer's negligence or harm:
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?