Election 2012

What's Next for Herman Cain?

Since his rapid rise to the top of the Republican presidential field, I’ve been adamant that the Georgia businessman is not a “real” candidate for the nomination. Aside from giving speeches at high-profile events, Cain has done nothing to show interest in actually becoming the GOP nominee—his organization in the early primary states is nonexistent, his fundraising is mediocre, and he boasts few endorsements from important stakeholders within the Republican Party. His campaign, more than anything else, is an exercise in vanity—an opportunity for him to boost his national profile, and sell a few books in the process. For the last month, none of this has mattered to Republican voters. In poll after poll, Republicans have declared their support and enthusiasm for the former CEO, who captured imaginations of conservatives with his sunny demeanor and excellent speaking skills. It also helped that he soothed the racial anxieties of white conservatives, with quips about President Obama’s...

Mixed Results for Voting-Rights Referendums

Republicans have spent 2010 overhauling voter laws to design their ideal electorate. Last night, voters in Maine fought back, approving Question 1, which restores Election Day registration. It won easily by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. As I detailed in the November issue of the magazine, when Republicans gained control of Maine's legislative chambers and governor's office, they set their sights on building a permanent majority by passing restrictive voter laws. They failed to push a voter-ID bill through the legislature, but Republican Governor Paul LePage signed a repeal of Maine's Election Day registration this summer. Maine has allowed voters to register at the polls on Election Day for nearly four decades (with only two prosecuted cases of voter fraud in that time) and consistently placed near the top of the country in turnout as a result. Around 60,000 Mainers took advantage of the regulation for the 2008 election. Think tank Demos (full disclosure: Demos is the Prospect...

Virginia Takeover

As of last night, Virginia Republicans are a handful of votes away from flipping control of the Virginia Senate from Democrats and gaining power over the entire legislature. The outcome depends on the final count of provisional ballots in the 17th District (home to Fredericksburg), where Republican challenger Bryce Reeves is narrowly leading Democratic incumbent Ed Houck by 86 votes. Democrats have held the state Senate majority since 2007, when they won a razor-thin majority of 21–19. That margin increased by one seat in 2010, when Democrat Dave Marsden won a special election to replace the position vacated by now-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. If Republicans win in the 17th District, they will have gained two seats in the senate, bringing the final composition to 20–20 –- with GOP Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling seving as the tiebreaker. Given the extent to which this would be a precarious majority, it’s unclear whether the Virginia GOP would use this as an opportunity to revisit...

Rick Perry's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Nostalgia

Rick Perry has tumbled from the top of the polls over the past two months with some polls this week putting him behind Newt Gingrich. Perry is the epitome of the Tea Party conservative on most issues, yet his slight divergences on immigration and an HPV vaccine mandate have convinced primary voters that the Texas governor is a RINO. How's he going to bounce back? By appealing to the vilest desires of the GOP base. During an interview with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour, Rick Perry offered some homophobic musings: When asked whether he'd reverse the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Perry accused President Barack Obama of appeasing "his political base" and said he would "go back and sit down with your commanders in the field and have that conversation." It was a "political statement" from Perry's vantage. But that political base that Obama supposedly appeased was the vast majority of Americans. According to one poll taken right before Congress voted to repeal the law last...

Democrats Misbehave, Obama Gets the Time-Out

http://www.flickr.com/photos/robr/2912198704/sizes/m/
When it comes to addressing the economic crisis, creating jobs, or tackling the deficit, Congress is at a standstill and the American people know it. This morning, a poll from the National Journal shows Americans have little faith that Congress will take on the issues that matter most. For example, 68 percent of respondents said it was "very important" for Congress to spend money in order to create new jobs, but only 27 percent thought it was likely to happen. Another poll, this one by The Washington Post , found that 50 percent of Americans believe Republicans are holding up President Obama's jobs bill for political reasons. The public sentiment expressed in these polls should spell disaster for Republicans who are perceived to be recklessly blocking popular legislation. In elections today and a year from now, these sentiments should play to Democrats' favor. The problem, however, is that in hard economic times, the president takes the blame, even if the other party deserves a hefty...

There Is No "Real" Mitt Romney

Peter Beinart has some encouraging words for conservatives worried about a Romney presidency, but this has relevance for liberals too: ...within weeks of Romney's election, his chief of staff would be culling through lists of potential deputy secretaries of the interior. The list would be generated by places like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and Chamber of Commerce. It would consist largely of people who served in the Bush administration, with perhaps a few entrants who stood out at the state level—which is to say, were particularly zealous in serving corporate interests—thrown in. This list would have been approved, if not actually assembled, by the very industries that the Interior Department regulates. It would be similar to the list that would have been assembled for President Perry or President Cain, and it would include no pro-regulation Republicans, because the people who produce such lists are in the anti-regulation business...

Bill Daley, Obama's Chief of Staff, Leaves the Stage

Last year, the White House brought on William Daley as chief of staff to manage the second phase of Barack Obama’s presidency. Republicans had just won a huge majority in the House of Representatives, and Daley was seen as someone with the skills necessary to cut deals and build relationships. But that didn’t work out. Republicans were committed to right-wing dogma and a strategy of complete intransigence that, when combined with a concilliatory White House, led to feckless compromise, legislative hostage taking, and a general sense that President Obama was ill-suited for the Oval Office. Between his push for the American Jobs Act and his newfound aggressive posture, Obama has regained some of that lost confidence. But Daley, as something of an emissary to both Republicans and Wall Street, just isn't right for this new confrontational approach. As a result, The Wall Street Journal reports , he’s been moved away from the day-to-day responsibilities of the White House chief of staff...

Why Iowa Conservatives Haven't Warmed to Perry

I'm going to contradict myself and briefly discuss Rick Santorum again. The former U.S. senator secured a key Iowa Republican's endorsement over the weekend, a move that won't significantly improve his chances at gaining the presidential nomination (still only a fan-fiction dream among personhood supporters). But the endorsement highlights the prevalence of discontent among the conservative base this year. Chuck Laudner has a nonexistent public profile—not just nationally, but within Iowa as well. However, he's just the sort of hire that successful presidential campaigns have been built upon in the past. Laudner worked for Steve Forbes in 2000, but his standing didn't truly rise until 2004, when he organized Steve King's first congressional run. Laudner followed King to Washington, where he served as the archconservative representative's chief of staff. He returned to Iowa after a few years and worked as executive director for the Republican Party there during the 2008 caucuses. Last...

Cain's High Crimes, Not Misdemeanors

Minutes ago, Sharon Bialek, one of the four women who alleged Herman Cain sexually harassed her, came forward in a press conference to recount what happened. In short, after losing her job at the National Restaurant Association in 1997, Bialek traveled to D.C. to meet with Cain for a discussion about her finding a new job. Before meeting with Bialek, Cain had her hotel room upgraded to an expensive suite and let her know he was responsible for the nice room. After drinks, he took her to a fancy Italian restaurant, then offered to show her the NRA offices. At that point, Cain allegedly parked the car, reached his hand under her skirt, pulled her head toward his crotch and said, "You want a job, right?" When she resisted, he drove her back to her hotel. This account is shocking on several levels. First, what the media have described up to this point as sexual harassment has in fact turned out to be sexual assault (though Bialek's lawyer, Gloria Allred, refused to define the crime as...

Sabotage?

In its most recent poll of Florida voters, Suffolk University asked respondents about the Republican Party’s relationship to President Obama. Did Floridians see the Republican Party as deliberately harming efforts to improve the economy in order to boost their election chances? According to the survey, a whopping 49 percent said yes, “they believe that the Republicans were intentionally hindering efforts to boost the economy so that Barack Obama would not be reelected.” The partisan gap was large –- 70 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents agreed with the statement, while 24 percent of Republicans disagreed. The Washington Post and ABC News asked a similar question in its most recent poll of voters and got similar results. Here’s the question: Which of the following statements comes closest to your point of view? Statement A: (President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics...

We Are Living in the Conservative Recovery

In talking about the economy, the Republican presidential candidates are quick to blame government spending for our current woes. “On my first day in office, I will send five bills to Congress and issue five executive orders that will get government out of the way and restore America to the path of robust economic growth that we need to create jobs,” said former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney when he unveiled his jobs plan in September. Likewise, in his plan, Texas Governor Rick Perry touts spending cuts as part of the road toward renewed economic growth: “The cut, balance, and grow plan paves the way for the job creation, balanced budgets, and fiscal responsibility that we need to get America working again.” The problem, as Neil Irwin reports for The Washington Post , is that sharp cuts to government have been terrible for the recovery. Thanks to lower revenue, limited federal aid, and budget-cutting state legislators, the public sector has cut 455,000 jobs since the beginning of...

Romney Robocalls, Perry Takes on Iowa

Last week, I speculated that Mitt Romney could still win the Iowa caucuses if he poured enough resources into the state over the next two months. Evangelical Christians might have the loudest voice in the Iowa GOP, but they don't constitute the whole party. They're matched by a set of business-minded Republicans who favor low taxes and defanging regulation and who are less concerned with the social issues that could derail Romney's campaign; thanks to the 2010 midterms, the ranks of registered voters from this wing has increased significantly since the last time Romney ran for president in Iowa. It looks like Romney may have come to the same conclusion. He has two stops scheduled along the state's eastern border today after he barely visited Iowa for the first ten months of the year. And on Friday, the AP reported that Romney has rolled out robocalls against his main opponent in Iowa: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid for automated telephone messages in Iowa accusing...

Mitt Romney's Public Option

If you want to be a serious presidential candidate, you have to offer just enough detail in your policy proposals that it appears that you're genuinely grappling with the issues, but not so much that you give people too much material with which to find fault. To that end, Mitt Romney has offered a plan that includes the following about Medicare: Medicare should not change for anyone in the program or soon to be in it. Nor should tax hikes be part of the solution. Reforms must honor commitments to our current seniors while giving the next generation an improved program that offers the freedom to choose what their coverage under Medicare should look like: • Give future seniors a choice between traditional Medicare and many other health-care plans offering at least the same benefits • Help seniors pay for the option they choose, with a level of support that ensures all can obtain the coverage they need; provide those with lower incomes with more generous assistance • Allow beneficiaries...

Ch-Ch-Changes (in the Democratic Party)

According to the latest Gallup survey , affiliation with the Democratic Party has dropped from a high of 50 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2011. This is lower than it was in June , but well within the average for the last two years: The details are straightforward: Democrats remain “less white, more female, more liberal, less religious, and less likely to be married than the general population.” Further, the Democratic Party remains disproportionately liberal and nonwhite. What’s significant is that the proportion of liberals and nonwhites has grown since 2008, from 33 percent to 36 percent. In addition, the Democratic Party has seen a corresponding decrease in the number of whites who identify with the party – from 66 percent to 63 percent. The proportion of liberals has also grown since 2008, from 35 percent to 37 percent. By and large, this is just a long way of saying that the Democratic Party has lost significant support from white, conservative, and moderate Democrats. These...

Ohio's in the Bag, but Mississippi and Maine are Toss-Ups in Referendum Votes

AP Photo/Bruce Newman
*** UPDATED *** Here are the latest polling numbers for today’s election: #winning Ohio Issue 2 : According to a Public Policy Polling released Sunday, 59 percent of voters plan to vote against Senate Bill 5 , which would severely limit the state’s public employees right to collective bargaining. Five percent of voters are still undecided, and 86 percent of Democrats are against the bill. Independents are also for repeal of the bill pushed by Governor John Kasich, who has a dismally low approval rating of 33 percent. The failure of SB5 will be a big and much needed win for labor in Ohio. Pins and Needles Mississippi’s Amendment 26: The Personhood amendment is the referendum to watch tonight, not only because its fate is up in the air, but because if the electorate makes this amendment a reality, it could set a dangerous precedent for how states approach abortion and women’s rights. 45 percent of voters support the amendment, and 11 percent of voters were still undecided as of...

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