Election 2012

They're Just Not That into You

A White House Hanukkah celebration. You'll notice that Biden is seriously digging it.
I'd like to pre-predict something about the 2016 presidential race. During that race, there will be an article or two in Politico interviewing a few grumpy alter kockers in Palm Beach who say that this time, they've really had it with those Democrats. Republican politicians will assure reporters that the GOP's unswerving Likudnik loyalties are finally winning American Jews around. And then the Democratic nominee, whomever he or she may be, will get the overwhelming majority of the Jewish vote, somewhere between 70 and 80 percent. How do I know this? Because that's what always happens. John Sides at the Monkey Cage alerts us to a new paper by political scientist Eric Uslander explaning how once again GOP hopes were dashed in 2012: The realignment of the Jewish vote didn't happen. To be sure, Obama lost some support among Jews compared to 2008, but he lost votes among most groups in an election that was closer than four years ago. The story of Jewish voting in 2012 is straightforward...

The Fundamentals Were Right!

Drew Linzer / Votamatic
This afternoon, Drew Linzer—whose election forecasting site, Votematic, rivaled Nate Silver’s for accuracy–tweeted two charts showing key election fundamentals: Second quarter GDP growth, and the president’s net approval rating in June. Those presidents with a growing economy and a positive approval rating almost always win, and those with a shrinking economy and a negative approval rating almost always lose. And while Republicans spent the year thinking this wouldn’t be true for President Obama, as Linzer shows, it was. Here’s where 2012 fell on a graph showing 2nd quarter GDP growth and the incumbent party’s share of the two-party vote: And here’s where it fell on a graph showing the incumbent’s vote share and his net approval rating in June: In other words, with just those two data points from the middle of the summer, you could have predicted an Obama win with a small majority of the two-party vote, and that’s exactly what happened. Does that mean the campaign was irrelevant? Not...

Fixing Obama’s Second Term

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) President Barack Obama waves to the crowd at his election night party celebrating his victory over challenger Mitt Romney. I n the president’s first term, a gauntlet of procedural hurdles stood in the way of progressive change. As Majority Leader Harry Reid promises to reform the filibuster—on the magical day when the new Senate convenes and can make new rules—most progressives are wondering whether it’s an end to many of President Barack Obama’s problems. After all, without the constant threat of a filibuster, Senate Democrats wouldn’t have had to scramble for votes from the centrists who watered down health-care legislation and stalled action on climate change in Obama’s first two years, when he had an outright majority in the Senate. But the filibuster was only the most obvious procedural challenge to a more progressive Obama first term. There are other things the president did in his first four years that caused important legislation to sputter and fail...

Gun Control, No Longer the Dems' Electoral Kryptonite

Lawrence Jackson / White House
The most notable thing to come out of President Obama’s speech last night—eulogizing the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut—was his unambiguous commitment to pursuing new gun regulations in the coming weeks. Granted, he didn’t use the word “gun,” but the implications were clear: If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try. In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such...

Republicans (Probably) Don't Have to Reform on Immigration

Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr
Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr Here’s why I don’t expect Republicans to sign on to comprehensive immigration reform, even as they understand a need to better appeal to Latino voters and other immigrant groups: A poll released Wednesday by Resurgent Republic, a GOP research group, of Hispanic voters in Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada—all important swing states in presidential elections—found overwhelming support for a range of policies that are expected to be part of immigration legislation. Policy aside, some Republicans worry that offering citizenship would create millions of new Democratic voters , said John Feehery, a Republican consultant, who doesn’t subscribe to that view. [Emphasis added] The simple truth about Latino voter is that—by and large—they lean Democratic on most issues. They support more government spending on education, infrastructure, and social welfare, and they support a larger federal role in the economy. Even if Republicans had taken a strategy of...

Mitt, Biggest Fibber of the Year

In the last frantic days of the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney turned to desperation. His campaign realized that Ohio was slipping out of contention and turned to untruths to peel white, working-class voters away from Obama. They rolled out a campaign ad charging that, under Obama's auto bailout, Chrysler would be shipping Jeep manufacturing over to China. That, of course, was an outright lie. Even Chrysler jumped in to dispute the claims, but Romney was not dissuaded, assuming the public wouldn't be smart enough to parse through the dispute. That fib landed Romney Politifact's "Lie of the Year" award on Wednesday. "The Jeep ad was brazenly false," they concluded. Politifact, the Florida-based publication at the forefront of the newspaper fact-checking movement, has annoyed liberals in the past; earlier this year, Rachel Maddow made a habit of tearing apart the organization, once terming it "shockingly, shockingly bad" during one epic tirade. And in crowning Romney as the king liar of...

Election Officials Defend Their Partisan Status

Flickr/Steve Rhodes
This campaign cycle, even election rules were grounds for partisan fighting. Republican Ken Detzner, Florida’s secretary of state, attempted a purge of the voter rolls, prompting accusations of discrimination. In Colorado, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, also a Republican, tinkered with a similar effort. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele, another Republican appointed by Governor Tom Corbett, openly supported the state’s voter-ID law. Most famously, there was Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, whose decision to limit early-voting hours to keep them consistent across the state prompted cries of outrage. All of the partisan wrangling makes Wisconsin, which has a nonpartisan model for running elections , look pretty appealing. In 2008, the Badger State created Government Accountability Board, a group of retired judges approved by members of both parties who administer elections for the state. While it doesn’t stop legislative tinkering—the state...

The Billionaires' Long Game

AP Photo
From left to right, the largest Republican donors: Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire; Harold Simmons, owner of Contran Corp.; Bob J. Perry, head of a Houston real estate empire; Robert T. Rowling, head of Dallas-based TRT Holdings; and William Koch, an industrialist. I keep hearing that the billionaires and big corporations that poured all that money into the 2012 election learned their lesson. They lost their shirts and won’t do it again. Don’t believe that for an instant. It’s true their political investments didn’t exactly pay off this time around. “Right now there is stunned disbelief that Republicans fared so poorly after all the money they invested,” said Brent Bozell, president of For America, an Alexandria, Maryland-based nonprofit that advocates for Christian values in politics. “Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle,” Donald Trump tweeted. “Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money.” Rove’s...

Dick Morris, Con Artist

And I mean that literally

A few weeks before the election, the invaluable Rick Perlstein published a lengthy article in The Baffler titled "The Long Con," about how successful conservative entrepreneurs have been at separating the right-wing rank and file from their money over the past few decades. If you were to sign up for updates from the likes of Human Events or World Net Daily , you'd be inundated not only with come-ons from political groups but with innumerable offers for miracle cures for every ailment under the sun. "The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march," Perlstein wrote, "of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began." In today's political universe there may be no pundit more ridiculous than Dick Morris, who never hesitates to offer a prediction...

Can the Republican Party Move Back to the Center?

Those two guys in the front knew how to do it. (White House/Pete Souza)
Shaping the next phase in the history of the Republican party is an ongoing project that won't really be completed until they have another president, and their 2016 nominee could well be that person. Part of what makes this process interesting is that there is no obvious choice. Republicans are famous for nominating the person who is "next in line," usually someone who ran previously and lost. Every Republican nominee dating back to Richard Nixon has fit this pattern, with the exception of George W. Bush in 2000 (and Gerald Ford, who is obviously a special case). But the people who lost to Mitt Romney in 2012 revealed themselves to be an extraordinarily unappealing group; Paul Ryan didn't exactly emerge from the race looking like a giant; and there are multiple governors like Bobby Jindal and Mitch Daniels who could be strong competitors. So the next GOP nominee could be a hard-right conservative, or a relative moderate, or something in between. As E.J. Dionne points out in his column...

It Isn't Easy Being Fox

Karl Rove on election night, insisting it wasn't over.
Fox News has been in the news a bunch over the last two days, with stories like Roger Ailes' wooing of David Petraeus, and now the discovery by Gabriel Sherman of New York that the network has benched Karl Rove and Dick Morris, though for slightly different reasons. Morris is just an embarrassment because he's always so hilariously wrong about everything, while Rove apparently angered top management by challenging the network's call of Ohio for Obama on election night. "Ailes's deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris." This highlights something we liberals may not appreciate: it isn't easy being Fox. For starters, MSNBC and CNN don't get nearly as much attention for their internal conflicts as Fox does. That's not only because there's a healthy appetite among liberals for these kinds of stories, but also because there seem to be many people within Fox who are happy to leak to...

Do Republicans Really Believe ACORN Stole the Election?

Wikipedia
If this poll from Public Policy Polling is any indication, a fair number of Republicans have convinced themselves Barack Obama won re-election with fraud and other nefarious efforts: 49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore. Kevin Drum calls this evidence of the “Fox News effect”—the process by which conservative propaganda outlets convince their viewers of things that just aren’t true—but I think there’s a better, more charitable explanation. In short, a large number of Republicans don’t like President Obama, and when offered a chance to endorse something that signals that dislike, they did it, even if the “something” is absolutely insane. I doubt that—if you pressed respondents on their answers—49 percent would say that the...

The Importance of Elizabeth Warren

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
The Boston Globe , Politico, and Huffington Post are all reporting that Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren has been granted her wish to get a seat on the Senate Banking Committee. This victory for progressives is huge. It means that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—who makes the committee selection, later ratified by the Democratic caucus—did not cave to pressure from either the financial lobby or from Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who is effectively part of that lobby. (South Dakota gutted its usury laws decades ago to make the state hospitable to the back office operations of the biggest banks.) It isn’t just that Warren is a resolute progressive. It’s that she knows so much about the financial industry, from her years as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP, and before that as one of the leading scholars of bankruptcy and consumer abuses. And it’s that she’s incorruptible, as well as very smart. More than your typical freshman...

Election Counterfactuals

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect Could this guy have beat Barack Obama? At National Journal , Jill Lawrence presents four ways the 2012 campaign could have led to a different president. Here’s a quick paraphrase: First, Mitt Romney could have done better with Latinos instead of losing them by a 44 percent margin (71 to 27) to President Barack Obama. Second, if the Ames straw poll in Iowa didn’t exist, a candidate like Tim Pawlenty might have stayed in the race, overtaken Romney, and emerged as a formidable challenger for Obama. Third, if Rick Perry had made a quicker recovery from his back surgery, he might have offered a genuine challenge to Romney, running as the intensely conservative governor of the nation’s second-largest state, with a solid record of job creation and conservative policy success. Finally, if Team Romney had been able to formulate a decent response to the attacks on Bain Capital, they might have neutralized the issue and bolstered Romney’s favorability, which...

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Since President Obama unveiled his proposal for the fiscal cliff last week, Republicans have been complaining that it’s nothing new. “After the election, I offered to speed this up by putting revenue on the table and unfortunately, the White House responded with their la-la land offer that couldn’t pass the House, couldn’t pass the Senate, and it was basically the president’s budget from last February,” House Majority Leader John Boehner told reporters this afternoon. As such, there’s been some anticipation about what Republicans would offer. If the GOP is so opposed to old ideas, then surely they’d come up with something new and exciting to break the impasse over the fiscal cliff? Nope. To be fair, House Republicans haven’t actually offered anything yet—instead, they’ve presented an earlier House budget bill as what they would offer if they took the White House proposal seriously. This of course flies in the face of Boehner’s disdain for “old” policies, but at this point there’s no...

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