Jamelle Bouie

Latino Enthusiasm Bounces Back

(Steve Rhodes/Flickr)
Latino enthusiasm is one of the wild cards of this election. In 2008, a record percentage of Latinos reported high enthusiasm for the election, and their turnout—9 percent of the electorate—was critical to Barack Obama’s victories in Colorado, North Carolina and Florida. Obama has managed to maintain his support among Latino voters, but for most of this year, their enthusiasm has lagged behind where it was four years ago. This summer, according to NBC News, Wall Street Journal and Telemundo , only 49 percent of Latinos were “highly interested” in the election, compared to 62 percent of all voters. Likewise, a Latino Decisions survey from the beginning of the year found lower enthusiasm compared to 2008; at the time , 38 percent of Latinos said they were more enthusiastic about 2012 while 46 percent said they were more enthusiastic back in 2008. Since the Democratic convention, however, all of this has changed. Not only has Obama increased his vote share among Latinos—according to the...

What Will Obama Do about Income Inequality? Not Much.

New data from the Census Bureau shows that the tepid recovery is exacerbating income inequality and pushing ordinary Americans into tougher economic circumstances. Here is the Los Angeles Times with more detail : The median household income, after adjusting for inflation, dropped 1.5% in 2011 from the previous year to $50,054. That is now 8.1% lower than in 2007, when the recession began late that year. […] The share of people falling below the poverty line—$11,702 for a single person under age 65 and $23,201 for a family of four—had increased steadily since 2006, when the rate was 12.3%. The census report said there were about 46 million poor people in the U.S. last year, essentially the same as in 2010. […] The latest census report showed that households with incomes in the 20th to 60th percentile saw their share of overall incomes fall last year to 23.8% of total income. Meanwhile, households in the top 20% saw their share of the total pie climb to an all-time high of 50%. With the...

Romney's Wrong Right Move

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns at D’Evelyn High School in Denver, Colorado over the weekend. Once it became clear that President Barack Obama received a significant bounce from the Democratic National Convention, the next question was whether this bounce would translate to an enduring advantage for his campaign. On Friday, polls from National Journal and Reason magazine gave Obama a 7-point lead over Mitt Romney, 50–43 and 52–45, respectively. Saturday was a quiet day for national polling, but Sunday saw the release of two tracking polls by Rasmussen and Gallup. Rasmussen was unchanged from the last few days ; Romney and Obama remain tied with 46 percent support, though Obama’s job approval has ticked down: 48 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove. Obama began last week in a similar position with Gallup, but both his approval—and performance against Romney—improved in yesterday’s tracking poll. He now earns 48 percent support to...

Today in Anti-China Rhetoric

Mitt Romney’s dwindling chances depend on outsized support from working-class whites in industrial states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Which is why, in recent weeks, he’s taken a harder line against Chinese economic practices. But his latest ad, “Stand Up to China,” crosses the line and moves into straight-up xenophobia. Take a look: It’s unfortunate—given the extent to which Americans are helped by a good working relationship with the Chinese—but anti-China rhetoric is par for the course in American elections. Both Democrats and Republicans indulge, despite the fact that neither party wants to harm our trade relationship with China (or be blamed for more expensive everything as a result of protectionist policies). But this ad—with its accusations of theft and shadowy insinuations of a Chinese conspiracy—goes beyond the pale. It also continues the Team Romney strategy of hitting President Obama with misleading economic statistics. Yes, there are fewer jobs than there were...

Blame Obama for Romney's Mediocrity

It’s almost banal to say at this point, but Mitt Romney is not a strong candidate. His past ideological heterodoxy makes him a poor fit for the contemporary GOP, his constant attempts to position himself with the right makes him seem dishonest to ordinary Americans, and his chief personal characteristic—stiff awkwardness—puts him at a disadvantage against a president known for his likeability. But as Kevin Drum reminds us , he was the best possible choice in a Republican presidential field that included luminaries like Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and former pizza magnate Herman Cain: Mitt Romney was pretty unanimously considered the strongest candidate in the Republican field—by a large margin. He was, without much question, the most electable of the primary bunch and the toughest opponent for Barack Obama. He was disciplined, well-funded, and had a moderate background that appealed to independents. He was, in short, the very best the...

Tim Kaine Tries His Hardest to Lose

Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie Tim Kaine speaks at a Democratic rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. B arack Obama’s 2008 win in Virginia came as a surprise to many observers, but his continued durability is not hard to explain. After four years, he still wins the overwhelming majority of African Americans, a large majority of Latinos, and a solid plurality of white voters. But Obama’s advantage has not carried over to Virginia Democrats. Despite his long tenure in Virginia politics—mayor of Richmond, lieutenant governor, and governor—Tim Kaine is performing at the level of a generic Democrat in the state. For most of the year he has been neck-and-neck with George Allen, the former governor turned former senator (Virginians tend to recycle their politicians) who lost his 2006 re-election race when he used an obscure racial slur to disparage a Democratic operative. That Kaine has been tied with an avowed neo-Confederate is, I’m sure, distressing for his campaign. Indeed, it explains his decision to buck...

Voter ID and Voter "Virtue"

If you want a sense of what motivates the politicans and activists who push for voter identification laws, look no further than this quote from Pennsylvania State Representative Darryl Metcalfe: I don’t believe any legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and takes on the according responsiblity that goes with that right to secure their photo ID will be disenfranchised. As Mitt Romney said, 47% of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that. [Emphasis mine] As always, it’s worth noting the extent to which the “47%” meme has penetrated the right-wing consciousness. It’s why Romney immediately doubled-down on the statement; he’s echoing many conservatives when he says that Obama’s supporters are people who won’t “take responsibility for their lives.” When it comes...

Dire Straits for Mitt Romney

We’ll know for certain in a few weeks, but judging from the current round of polls—two weeks removed from the Democratic National Convention—we seem to have reached an inflection point in the election. Even including today’s Rasmussen tracking poll , President Obama is leading in every likely voter national survey taken at least a week after the convention. The New York Times and CBS News have Obama leading 49% to Mitt Romney’s 46%. The Pew Research Center has him at 51% to Romney’s 43%. He reaches 50 percent in polls from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal , as well as the latest Public Policy Polling survey of likely voters. At 48%, Monmouth University gives him a 3 point advantage over Romney, and the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll places him at 48% but with a 5 point margin over the Republican nominee. Only Rasmussen and the Associated Press give him narrow leads—2 points for the former and 1 point for the latter. If you prefer to count swing states, he’s ahead in every contested...

The Right's Nonsensical Attack on "Redistribution"

In response to public furor over Mitt Romney’s "47 percent" remarks, conservatives have seized on audio from 1998 where Barack Obama gives his support for redistribution. Listen: The relevant quote comes at the end: “I believe in redistribution, at least a certain level, to make sure that everybody has got a shot.” If you listened carefully, you’ll notice that this is preceded by a fair amount of skepticism about government’s ability to help the poor, and acknowledgement that there’s truth to conservative attacks on the welfare state: “Some of it has been deserved. The Chicago Housing Authority has not been a model of good policymaking. And neither necessarily have been the Chicago public schools.” Obama is also concerned with designing programs that work well, so that—presumably—they maintain the trust and support of their beneficiaries and the wider public. These are sensible and mainstream views. They’re held by the bulk of the Democratic Party, and the large majority of our...

How Can Romney Bounce Back?

National Review editor Rich Lowry is not kind to Mitt Romney’s instantly infamous comments from a private gathering with fundraisers: “The overall impression of Romney at this event is of someone who overhead some conservative cocktail chatter and maybe read a conservative blog or two, and is thoughtlessly repeating back what he heard and read.” On that note, I’m increasingly convinced that the Romney campaign is beset by a clueless overconfidence about the election. How else do you explain a campaign that did nothing to sell its candidate as a positive figure, and is unable to respond to new attacks or crises? They have the skill, but it’s obvious they don’t see the necessity. After all, their operating assumption has been that, once voters tune in to the election, they’ll flock to Romney on account of the poor economy. When the campaign continues to insist that “the reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama Presidency, and Mitt Romney...

Rage Against the "Moochers"

As much as Mitt Romney is criticized for dishonest rhetoric in his campaign, he was remarkably honest last night when he took the stage in an unusual late night press conference to explain and defend his remarks on the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax and won’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Here’s the full video: Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news , world news , and news about the economy Rather than apologize for the remarks—which insult millions of Americans—he reiterated his view, calling this election “a question about the direction of the country”: Do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more benefits, or do you believe instead in a free-enterprise society where people are able to pursue their dreams? Romney said, “This is something I talk about a great deal in rallies and speeches … the president believes in a government-centered society, where government plays a larger and large role and provides more...

"Cling to Guns" vs. "the 47 Percent"

Quite a few commentators have compared Mitt Romney’s remarks to a private fundraiser—where he accused Americans who don’t pay income tax of not “taking responsibility for their lives”—to then-Senator Barack Obama’s comments on voters who “cling to their guns and religion.” The argument is straightforward—if Obama can escape damage for his comments, then Romney can make it through his. But the only thing these statements have in common is the fact that they were made to private audiences. Outside of that, there are crucial differences. Obama made his remarks before the primaries were over, before the public was familiar with him, and before the general election kicked into gear. What’s more, his eventual opponent—John McCain—saw no reason to capitalize on the remarks. After a brief flare, things calmed down and Obama escaped unscathed. There’s one other thing that kept Obama’s remarks from blowing up in his face. Here's the full text of his comment: But the truth is, is that, our...

Mitt Romney, Unzipped

Mother Jones has obtained a video of Mitt Romney at a private fundraiser where he offers a candid view of the election, voters, and the people who support Barack Obama. In the case of the latter, the former Massachusetts governor sounds more like a Tea Party activist than a mainstream politician: Here’s a partial transcript: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. […] [M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. To be...

Romney Promises to Move the Calendar Forward

Mitt Romney is out with a new ad that touts his economic plan. Take a look: The main problem with Romney’s “five point plan” to create jobs is that it has a tenuous relationship to actual job creation. It may or may not make sense to increase domestic drilling, crack down on China, devolve federal programs like Medicaid, cut taxes, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. I’m inclined to say that these are ineffective and potentially damaging policies, but they’re worth debating on the merits. It’s absurd, however, to sell these as job-creation measures. At best, they’ll help the long-term economy create jobs. But they do nothing to generate short-term demand—tax cuts might do the trick, but only if they aren’t paired with the promised cuts to domestic spending. The most glaring issue in this ad—and Romney’s plan—is his promise to create 12 million jobs by the end of his term. According to projections from Moody’s Analytics, the economy will create 12 million jobs if it remains on its...

The "Real Issue" Behind Voter Fraud

This, from the New York Times public editor, is an amazing example of what happens when journalists attempt to balance two unequal sides: In his article, which led last Monday’s paper, the national reporter Ethan Bronner made every effort to provide balance. Some readers say the piece, in so doing, wrongly suggested that there was enough voter fraud to justify strict voter identification requirements — rules that some Democrats believe amount to vote suppression. Ben Somberg of the Center for Progressive Reform said The Times itself had established in multiple stories that there was little evidence of voter fraud. “I hope it’s not The Times’s policy to move this matter back into the ‘he said she said’ realm,” he wrote. The national editor, Sam Sifton, rejected the argument. “There’s a lot of reasonable disagreement on both sides,” he said. One side says there’s not significant voter fraud; the other side says there’s not significant voter suppression. “It’s not our job to litigate it...

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