Jamelle Bouie

A Tale of Two Mitts, Foreign Policy Edition

In an attempt to build his post-debate momentum, Mitt Romney gave a speech on foreign policy this morning. The overall consensus is that it was a whole lot of nothing new: Writing at Foreign Policy , Daniel Drezner notes that there is “almost no new policy content” in the speech. Indeed, it was mostly the usual laundry list of complaints against President Obama for lacking “resolve,” while Romney pledged to pursue the same policies that have defined the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy. Wired ’s Spencer Ackerman points out the similarities: On Iran, he’ll propose “new sanctions” and to “tighten the sanctions we currently have,” which is the cornerstone of Obama’s Iran policy (along with cyberattacks). On Afghanistan, he “will pursue a real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014,” which is the cornerstone of Obama’s Afghanistan policy. On Libya, Romney will “support the Libyan people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that...

Smaller Deficits Are Bad News

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the deficit has declined by $200 billion, bringing it to where it was when Obama took office. Here’s the key passage: The federal government’s fiscal year 2012 has come to a close, and CBO estimates that the federal budget deficit for the year was about $1.1 trillion, approximately $200 billion lower than the shortfall recorded in 2011. The 2012 deficit was equal to 7.0 percent of gross domestic product, CBO estimates, down from 8.7 percent in 2011, 9.0 percent in 2010, and 10.1 percent in 2009, but greater than in any other year since 1947. CBO’s deficit estimate is based on data from the Daily Treasury Statements; the Treasury Department will report the actual deficit for fiscal year 2012 later this month. There’s an excellent chance that President Obama will tout this in upcoming speeches and campaign events. But that doesn't mean it's a good thing—a large portion of this is almost certainly the result of a conservative...

Mitt Romney Finally Gets a Bounce

(Jamelle Bouie)
This weekend, the questions for everyone tracking the election was straightforward: Has Mitt Romney received a bounce in the polls on the strength of his debate performance? And has it turned the race into a toss-up? The national pollsters have yet to release their live-interviewer surveys from the last several days, but swing-state polls show signs of improvement for the former Massachusetts governor. October 5–7 Pollster Date State LV/RV Obama Romney Margin Gallup 10/06 USA RV 49 46 O+3 Rasmussen 10/07 USA LV 47 49 R+2 Rasmussen 10/05 Florida LV 47 49 R+2 We Ask America 10/05 Florida LV 46 49 R+3 Rasmussen 10/05 Virginia LV 48 49 R+1 We Ask America 10/05 Virginia LV 46 49 R+3 Rasmussen 10/05 Ohio LV 50 49 O+1 We Ask America 10/05 Ohio LV 46 47 R+1 McLaughlin/ACU 10/05 Colorado LV 46 50 R+4 Gravis Marketing 10/05 Nevada LV 49 48 O+1 Public Policy Polling 10/06 Wisconsin LV 49 47 O+2 University of Denver 10/06 Colorado LV 47 43 O+4 Gravis Marketing 10/06 Colorado LV 46 49 R+3 With the...

Romney Wins ... and It Won't Matter

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney embraces granddaughter Chloe at the end of the first presidential debate. For the last two weeks, I have argued—consistently—that the debates don’t matter for the outcome of the presidential election. And now that we’ve had the first debate , I still think that’s true. Which is not to say that this wasn’t interesting. For the first time since he began running for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney looked comfortable. During his debate with President Obama, he took command, clearly explained his points of disagreement, and offered a little humanity with stories of the unemployed and suffering. He even shook the Etch-a-Sketch; on everything from tax policy—he disavowed his plan to cut taxes across-the-board—to health care (where he praised his Massachusetts reform bill), Romney made an abrupt move to the center, and it was hugely effective. It’s no exaggeration to say that...

Why Don't the Debates Matter?

(AP/Pablo Martinez and Evan Vucci)
(AP/Pablo Martinez and Evan Vucci) Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in Ohio. On the question of whether presidential debates matter in the outcome of the election, the research is clear—they don’t. A quick look at decades of Gallup polling shows little change in the election after the debates, and political scientists find that “the best prediction from the debates is the initial verdict before the debates.” Put another way, if you want to know how the race will look after the debates, pay attention to what it looks like before the debates. At most, there are two instances where you could plausibly say that the debates mattered for the election: the 1960 debates between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy, and the lone 1980 debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. And even then, this had more to do with the unique circumstances of both elections than it did with anything intrinsic to the debates. To be fair to those who see these encounters as crucial events in the...

Romney's 47 Percent Ceiling

If you were feeling generous, you could call Monday the beginning of Mitt Romney’s “comeback.” Not only has he gained ground in national polls—he's pulled within 2 points of Obama in the latest survey from ABC News and the Washington Post —but there’s been positive movement in several swing states. Gravis Marketing now has Florida as a toss-up, and Public Policy Polling shows a tie in North Carolina, echoing the close race of 2008. October 1 Pollster State LV/RV Obama Romney Margin CNN USA LV 50 47 O+3 ABC News/ Washington Post USA LV 49 47 O+2 Politico/GWU/Battleground USA LV 49 47 O+2 Gallup USA RV 49 45 O+4 Rasmussen USA LV 50 47 O+3 Public Policy Polling Ohio LV 49 45 O+4 Gravis Marketing Florida LV 49 48 O+1 We Ask America Iowa LV 48 44 O+4 Public Policy Polling North Carolina LV 48 48 Tie American Research Group North Carolina LV 46 50 R+4 We Ask America Colorado LV 49 46 O+3 University of New Hampshire New Hampshire LV 54 39 O+15 This is better news for the Romney campaign, but...

Romney's Ohio Troubles

We are another week closer to the presidential election, and Mitt Romney is still behind. While American Research Group shows Romney in a tight race for Virginia, its track record over the course of this year is not good . If you want a better sense of where the race in the commonwealth stands, you should look to the polling averages, which show President Barack Obama with a consistent lead. September 28–30 Pollster State Date LV/RV Obama Romney Margin American Research Group Virginia 09/28 LV 49 47 O+2 American Research Group New Hampshire 09/28 LV 50 45 O+5 Gravis Marketing Michigan 09/28 LV 50 46 O+4 Morning Call Pennsylvania 09/28 LV 49 42 O+7 Rasmussen Maine 09/28 LV 52 40 O+12 Gallup USA 09/30 RV 49 44 O+5 Rasmussen USA 09/30 LV 48 46 O+2 Des Moines Register Iowa 09/30 LV 49 45 O+4 Columbus Dispatch Ohio 09/30 LV 51 42 O+9 Rasmussen Washington 09/30 LV 52 41 O+11 Boston Globe Massachusetts 09/30 LV 57 30 O+27 The other bright spot for Romney comes by way of Gallup, which shows...

Guess Who's More Popular than Mitt Romney? George W. Bush

Wikipedia
This is incredible: According to the most recent Bloomberg national poll, President George W. Bush—the man whose administration left us with two wars, crushing debt, a broken economy, and a tattered reputation—is more popular than Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Bush receives a favorable rating from 46 percent of those surveyed, and an unfavorable rating from 49 percent. By contrast, Romney receives a 43 percent favorable rating, and a 50 percent unfavorable. This makes Bush more popular than Vice President Joe Biden (42–45) and the Republican Party as a whole (41–46). Two observations: First, if this result is accurate—and given Mitt Romney’s low favorability ratings across polls, there’s no reason to think it isn’t—then it’s partly a reflection of current conditions. The economy is worse now than it was at any point during the Bush administration. Even if Bush bears plenty of responsibility for the economic crisis, voters still look to the past as a better time, because in a narrow...

A Bright Spot in Nevada

(Thomas Hawk/Flickr)
President Obama’s margin in national polls hasn’t diminished at all this week—he still maintains a strong position among registered voters and likely voters. What is interesting, however, is his position in Nevada and Arizona. Thursday, September 27 Pollster State LV/RV Obama Romney Margin Reuters/Ipsos USA RV 49 42 O+7 Fox News USA LV 48 43 O+5 Gallup USA RV 50 44 O+6 Rasmussen USA LV 46 46 Tie Suffolk/WWBT Virginia LV 46 44 O+2 NBC/WSJ/Marist Nevada LV 49 47 O+2 NBC/WSJ/Marist New Hampshire LV 51 44 O+7 NBC/WSJ/Marist North Carolina LV 48 46 O+2 Rasmussen Arizona LV 52 42 R+10 Moore Information Arizona RV 42 46 R+4 As Nate Cohn points out , it’s been long assumed that Nevada will fall easily into Obama’s column this year. He won with a 12-point margin in 2008, and his strong performance with Latino voters is a sign that he holds the advantage. On the other hand, Nevada was hard hit by the housing collapse, and has one of the weakest economies in the country—unemployment continues to...

Should You Vote for Barack Obama?

(Flickr/Jonathan Mcintosh)
If you were to judge them against the records of previous Democratic presidents, it’s clear that President Obama is the most liberal president since Lyndon Johnson. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act prevented a second Great Depression and invested billions in education, clean energy, and future technologies. The Affordable Care Act has put the United States on the path toward universal health coverage, and a more sustainable health care system. Dodd-Frank is the most important piece of financial regulation in a generation. It’s not perfect, but—all things considered—it’s pretty good. National security is a different story. Obama campaigned as someone who push back against the civil liberties abuses of the Bush era. As president, he has doubled-down on them. The drone war in Pakistan, expanded by the Obama administration, has claimed hundreds of innocent lives, and is conducted under a veil of secrecy. The “militants” targeted by the United States are often just military-aged...

"47 Percent" Is Destroying Romney's Candidacy

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
At a certain point, it’s a little boring to say that Mitt Romney is suffering in the polls. But here we are, and Mitt Romney is still losing support nationwide. As always, the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls show a much tighter race than the larger surveys commissioned by media outlets. Bloomberg has President Barack Obama up six among likely voters, compared to the tie registered by Rasmussen. Gallup also has Obama ahead by six, but this is among registered voters; his margin is certain to narrow once Gallup screens for likely voters. The big news, as you can see, is in the swing states. The latest poll from CBS News, The New York Times , and Quinnipiac University has Obama with a 9-point lead in Florida and a 10-point lead in Ohio. Public Policy Polling gives Obama a 7-point advantage in Iowa, and the Florida-Times Union has Obama with a more modest lead of 49 to Mitt Romney’s 46. September 26 Pollster State LV/RV Obama Romney Margin Bloomberg USA LV 49 43 O+6 Gallup USA RV 50...

How the Tea Party Could Cost Republicans the Senate, Again

Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson built his reputation as a moderate, policy-oriented Republican. But in his Senate race against Democrat Tammy Baldwin, he has had to go through the same uncomfortable shift to the right faced by other Republicans who made their names in a less dogmatic GOP. To wit, this video—filmed in June—shows Thompson telling a Tea Party group that he is best suited to “come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare,” as the conservative governor who pioneered welfare reform in the 1990s. Take a look: In a state where 13.9 percent of the population is over the age of 65, it’s not a good idea to bill yourself as the guy most qualified to end the most popular program administered by the federal government. More broadly, if Thompson loses—Baldwin currently leads by an average of 5 points—it will be another instance where complete adherence to GOP orthodoxy cost the party a shot at winning the Senate. Indeed, if Democrats hold the Senate this fall...

The Ohio Problem

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally, Wednesday, September 26, 2012, in Westerville, Ohio. I wrote yesterday that President Obama is building a solid margin over Governor Romney in the state. The picture is similar in Ohio—where Obama has led in every poll since the Democratic National Convention—and Nevada, where he's led in almost every survey since the beginning of the year. Tuesday's polls reinforced both trends, and highlighted the extent to which Romney is on something of a downwards trajectory. September 25 Pollster State LV/RV Obama Romney Margin RAND USA LV 50.18 42.83 O+7.35 Gallup USA RV 48 45 O+3 Rasmussen USA LV 47 46 O+1 Washington Post Florida LV 51 47 O+4 Washington Post Ohio LV 52 44 O+8 Gravis Marketing Ohio LV 45 44 O+1 Retail Association of Nevada/POS Nevada LV 46 46 Tie Public Policy Polling Nevada LV 52 43 O+9 Monmouth University New Jersey LV 52 37 O+15 Talk Business...

In Florida, Romney Has Hit the Danger Zone

Jamelle Bouie
Mitt Romney has a few paths to victory, some more likely than others. He could repeat George W. Bush’s performance in 2004 and carry the White House with wins in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio. He could cede Virginia to Obama and take Colorado and New Hampshire. He could give up Colorado and New Hampshire but win Wisconsin and the single electoral vote in Omaha, Nebraska. He could lose Ohio and make up for it with Virginia, Colorado, and Wisconsin. But what Romney can’t do—under any remotely plausible scenario—is win the White House without Florida. Take Florida away from Romney, and he doesn’t have a path to 270 electoral votes that doesn’t involve winning a traditional blue state. Mitt Romney could run the table , win New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Colorado, and still fall short of 270 electoral votes. To win, he’d have to overcome a year-long, seven-point deficit in Nevada, which—on top of everything else—is not something I’d bet...

The Night's Watch

Seven swing state polls came out today and each showed President Obama with a decisive advantage over Mitt Romney, making this a bad start to the week for the Republican presidential nominee. In Colorado, Public Policy Polling gives Obama a six-point lead over Romney. In Michigan, Rasmussen puts Obama 12 points ahead of Romney, 54 to 42, which is similar to the results in Wisconsin, where We Ask America gives Obama a double-digit lead , 53 to 41. According to the latest polls from American Research Group, Obama is ahead by seven points in Iowa and Nevada , and by 5 points in Florida, 50–45. Finally, the conservative Civitas Institute released a survey of North Carolina, which found Obama with a four-point lead over the former Massachusetts governor, 49 percent to 45 percent. If you’re unconvinced that the race isn’t a toss-up, keep in mind that Obama is leading in every single national poll. Even pollsters with Republican-friendly results, like Rasmussen, show a race that has broken...

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