Election 2012

These Guys Are Running for Office!?

(Flickr/Candie N)
The trouble with democracy is you gotta represent the crazies too. And nowhere does that better than state legislatures. In these so-called "laboratories of democracy," the range of experience and IQ are about about as wide as, well, those of the general population. This year, with just about everyone's eyes on the presidential race, state legislative coverage is particularly scanty. The "D" or "R" (or "G" or "L" or "I") beside a candidate's name goes a long way in determining whether they win, and can matter a lot more than some op-ed they might have written a few years back. Even so, you'd think there might be some limits (besides being a convicted felon, I mean) to what candidates can say or do and still get support. But plenty of the weirdest or most disturbing candidates are running for re-election . Take Arkansas, where not one, not two, but three different state legislators have all made blatantly racist arguments. The Natural State is the last Democratic stronghold in the...

The No-Brainer Progressive Case For Obama

Should it be surprising President Obama has largely maintained the support of the left of the Democratic Party? According to a number of critics—notably Matt Stoller and David Sirota of Salon— the answer is yes. Essentially, this contrarian case depends on obscuring two crucial truths: Either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama will win the 2012 presidential election. Whether you're a moderate liberal or a democratic socialist, Obama is much better on many issues and worse on none . In obfuscating this case for supporting Obama despite the undeniable flaws of his administration, third-party fantasists rely on three categories of argument: dismissing the achievements of the Obama administration, inventing a moderate of Mitt Romney, and exaggerating the benefits of third-party nihilism. None of these arguments can withstand any scrutiny. Underrating Obama's achievements To put this in plain terms, Obama has the third most impressive record of progressive achievement of any president of the last...

Life Imitates "The Simpsons": Mitt Romney Edition

Google
Mitt Romney, this morning in Sanford, Florida, where he made his final—painfully generic—pitch to the state’s voters: “Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow,” he told the crowd of over 3,000 people. “Your work is making a difference. The people of the world are watching. The people of America are watching. We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow, and with the help of the people in Florida, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.” The Simpsons , circa 1996, in the seventh “Treehouse of Horror” episode, where two aliens—Kang and Kodos—abduct and impersonate presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole: For those of you who can’t watch video: My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball. But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

Long Lines and John Legend: Early Weekend Voting’s Last Day in Ohio

Clare Malone
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan) Reverend Jesse Jackson greets voters waiting in line at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on the final day of early voting Monday, November 5, 2012. About 1.6 million people have already voted early in Ohio. "Y ou don’t have to know how to sing, you just have to be a man.” It’s early Sunday afternoon, and Pastor Paul Hobson Sadler Sr., wearing an iridescent black vestment and owlish glasses, is bringing the two-hour service at Mount Zion Congregational Church to a close, eliciting chuckles as he makes the hard sell for a men’s choir rehearsal on Tuesday night. The worship space of Mount Zion, with plush red seats and words of scripture projected onto the front walls of the altar, dates to the 1960s, but the institution has been a fixture in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland for 140 years, surviving a bombing during the 1950s back when, as one member of the almost all-black congregation told me, “they didn’t want us here.” While...

The Only Mandate That Matters

On Wednesday, we'll begin talking about whether whoever gets elected has a "mandate." We'll talk about it even more if Barack Obama is re-elected, because when a new president takes office we accept that he'll be doing all kinds of new things, changing course on almost every policy, replacing all the members of the other party who populate the executive branch with members of his own party, etc. With a re-elected president, on the other hand, there's a real question about where he goes from here and how much he can try to accomplish. There's a fundamental problem with the mandate idea, however, that makes it almost meaningless in today's Washington. The mandate notion assumes that the larger the president's margin of victory, the greater the proportion of the public has signed on to his policy agenda. That's not completely unreasonable, though in practice most voters have only the vaguest notion of what the person they're voting for wants to do. But the idea of the mandate is about...

Say Hello to President Romney

(270toWin.com)
For those of us who think Barack Obama will win re-election tomorrow, the weight of evidence is on our side. The most recent national polls—from Pew , NBC News , CBS News , YouGov, and ABC News —show the president with a slight lead over Mitt Romney. Obama holds leads by greater than two points in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nevada—the states that give him 271 electoral votes—and he's just as ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire. Like I said in my prediction yesterday , if you gave Obama every state where he held a lead, he would win with 303 electoral votes. It’s no wonder that the election forecasters— Nate Silver , Sam Wang , Drew Linzer —place Obama’s probability of winning in the 85 percent to 90 percent range: Barring a huge Obama bias in the polling, the president is virtually certain to be re-elected. With that said, life isn’t as predictable as we’d like to believe, and anything can happen. It is possible that the pollsters have failed—or at least, are missing something important in the...

GIF Out the Vote

Sarah Palin abandons her bus tour after no one pays attention. Michele Bachmann wins the Ames straw poll. Santorum just can't get away from Dan Savage's definition of his name. Romney, the presumptive nominee, gets ready for his close-up. "Corporations are people, my friend." Herman Cain and his advisers devise the 9-9-9 plan. Newt promises us a moon colony. "Oops!"—Rick Perry Romney campaign adviser outlines the Etch-a-Sketch strategy. Romney takes a gaffe-filled European tour. Mitt chooses Paul Ryan as his running mate. Most of America is confused. The Republican National Convention is delayed by a storm. Bill Clinton steals the show at the Democratic National Convention. Romney refuses to release his tax returns. Obama points out that wealthy Americans and business owners "built it" with some significant help from government. Romney is booed at the NAACP. Biden says the GOP will put Americans "back in chains." Todd Akin defines "legitimate rape." Mitt Romney calls 47 percent of...

The President as Metaphor

(Flickr/Adam Jones)
(Flickr/Adam Jones) C haracter is destiny, said the Greek philosopher Heraclites—a romantic, maybe, since the implication is that sooner or later the good guy wins. It’s probably a character flaw on my part, indicative of smugness, to assume this maxim will be tested tomorrow on Election Day in terms of both the two presidential candidates running and the country itself. Such an assumption implies that the good guy’s identity is evident. This may not be the first time in our lives when a national election is about nothing less than the meaning of America. More than 1968 or 1932, however, the views and values of both sides are so distinctly different that what’s unsettling isn’t each side believing the other represents the forces of darkness and that the future of the country is at stake; everybody believes these things during a heated campaign. What’s unsettling is that, for once, these things may be true. This is what makes tomorrow such a dreadful crossroads and what makes after...

Why the Romney Campaign Screwed Up

Mitt Romney's last-minute screw-up.
In the last week or so, Mitt Romney has accused Barack Obama of focusing his campaign on "small things," but let's be honest—at this point, everybody is focused on small things. And these small things are unlikely to make much of a difference with so little time left. Which is why it was odd to see the Romney campaign stumble so badly with the Jeeps being built in China attack. How did they manage to take a criticism that would likely have just glanced off Obama anyway, and turn it into something that not only had everyone talking about Obama's best case to Ohio voters (the auto bailout), but also made Romney look cynical and dishonest? Here's what I think happened. They heard the first, somewhat unclear report that Chrysler was going to be manufacturing Jeeps in China, without quite understanding what it meant, namely that they will be making them for the Chinese market (because of Chinese tarriffs, Chrysler would only be able to sell the Jeeps there if they make them there). By the...

Sorry Women, Blacks, Latinos, and Young People—You Don't Count

Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie A group of real Americans protest President Obama. It goes without question that, if President Obama wins reelection, he will have done so with one of the most diverse coalitions ever assembled by a major party nominee. He will have won large majorities of women, young people, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. To most observers, this narrow majority of voters represents a broad cross-section of the country. To Politico ’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, it’s a dangerously limited coalition. Why? Because it doesn’t include enough white people, and particularly, downscale white men: If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic...

Don't Marry Me in Minnesota

(Flickr/Fibbonaci Blue)
(Flickr/Fibonacci Blue) The Capital Rotunda in St. Paul, Minnesotta. Participants in African-American Lobby Day occupy the first floor while protestors against the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage fill the halls on the second floor. A s I’ve been writing here, marriage is on the ballot in four states on Tuesday: Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota. The upbeat news from the first three is that voters have a chance to say "yes" to letting same-sex couples get married; the ballot question is some variant of this sentence: Should [our state] issue civil marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples, while preserving religious freedom and protecting clergy from having to perform such marriages if doing so violates their tenets? The fight in Minnesota is harder. Its ballot measure is the bad old kind that will amend the state constitution to insist that civil marriage licenses can only be issued to different-sex couples. Here’s the background. In 1971, waaaay back...

Tuesday Predictions

270toWin.com
270toWin.com If you read yesterday’s look at the swing states, you’ll have a good sense of how I think this election will end on Tuesday. In short, President Obama will win reelection and keep every state where he currently holds a lead. It looks like Obama will lose around 2.5 points from his national vote share in 2008. This is a bit crude, but if you subtract that from his 2008 totals in every swing state, you end up with this map, and my prediction for November 6: An Obama win in New Hampshire, Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada, with Romney wins in North Carolina and Florida. That means the president claims 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 235, and he ekes out a popular-vote victory of 50.4 percent to Romney’s 48.2. How do I figure all that? Averaging the polling averages, Obama holds greater than 2-point leads in Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Unless something catastrophic happens between now and Tuesday, it’s safe to say he’ll keep them...

Four Things to Look for at the Polls on Election Day

(Flickr/seanmcmenemy)
Earlier this year, the outlook for voting rights was downright terrifying. Across the country, Republican legislatures had passed strict voter-ID laws, which reports showed could disenfranchise millions of voters . The political motives were clear: The people most likely to be without ID are poor and of color—groups that tend to vote for Democrats. By the summer, there was another threat to voter participation: purges of voter rolls. In Florida, and later in Colorado and Texas, voters began receiving letters saying their registrations were being questioned. While many who received the letters responded, activists worried about those voters who missed them or threw them away without responding—what if they arrived on Election Day only to discover their names had been deleted? Now, two days from Election Day, election proceedings appear significantly sunnier. When it came to voter ID, judges forced states to broaden acceptable forms of identification or delay the laws until the...

Can Unions Stop Romney?

(Flickr/Steve Rhodes)
Labor started early this year. America’s most politically active union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), first deployed staffers to Ohio and key battleground states in March, says SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, with whom I spoke by phone on Saturday afternoon as she walked precincts in Cleveland. SEIU hasn’t confined its outreach to its roughly 30,000 Ohio members: 151 members from other states have taken off from their jobs to work fulltime in Ohio, 140 paid canvassers were hired for a joint project with another voter mobilization group, Progress Ohio, and roughly 2,300 SEIU members have volunteered to walk and phone this weekend and on Monday and Tuesday All these campaign workers are focusing not just on SEIU members but on the state’s African-American and Latino voters as well. That focus reflects a high level of strategic coordination within what is still, formally, a divided labor movement. While SEIU has emphasized registering and mobilizing black and Latino...

The State of the Swing States

Electoral-Vote.com
Electoral-Vote.com With only three days left, where does the race stand in the nine swing states that will determine the election? The best way to figure this out is to focus on the polling averages calculated for each state. There has been a torrent of polls released in the last two weeks, and—collectively, never individually—they give us an accurate picture. Rather than use one average, we’ll average all of the averages—from Real Clear Politics , Pollster , Talking Points Memo , and FiveThirtyEight —in order to get the fullest picture. Since the swing states are divided into four regions—Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest, we’ll tackle them in that order. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s unusual—if not rare—for candidates to lose states where they lead by two points or more this close to Election Day. It can happen, but it’s far from likely. The Northeast There’s only one swing state in this heavily Democratic region of the country, and that’s New Hampshire , with...

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