It’s Demographics, Dummies

November 11th, 2012


Today’s Meet the Press panel on the demographic bomb that helped to decide this election.

I joked this week that the good news for Mitt Romney is that he won the white vote decisively. The bad news is that it’s not 1952…

As Chuck Todd wrote the day after the election:

Yes, the auto bailout mattered in Ohio. Sure, Hurricane Sandy helped the president. And, yes, the economy was the No. 1 issue. But make no mistake: What happened last night was a demographic time bomb that had been ticking and that blew up in GOP faces.

Steve Schmidt points out that the last Republican to win 60% of the white vote was George H.W. Bush and he won 400 electoral votes as a result. This week, Mitt Romney won 206 with a similar percentage. Not only did Obama benefit from increased numbers of Hispanics in the electorate,  his get out the vote efforts brought out a higher percentage of African Americans in 2012 than in 2008, as well as (contrary to most predictions) increasing youth turnout, with 60% of 18-29 year olds voting for him. Romney also took a beating at the hands of single women, losing that demographic by a whopping 36%.

Four More Years

November 11th, 2012

Romney Doesn’t Have The Mojo

November 4th, 2012

Well, here we are.

After all of the blood, sweat, tears and trash talk, the election is one and a half days away. I don’t think a day has gone by in the last four months in which I didn’t check the polls for the day. Real Clear Politics is the biggest aggregator of polls in the country, and I’m on that website every day despite their obvious Republican bias. One thing you do get from Real Clear Politics, is a sense of how different news sources provide alternate realities. The Republican flacks have all come out to predict their candidate’s victory on Tuesday. To read Michael Barone and Dick Morris, we are headed to a Mitt Romney Electoral College landslide. Even George Will, an Obama hater to be sure, but at least someone who has been intellectually honest in the past, predicted a Romney Electoral College victory of 321 to 217 (including Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire). 

I do find that the Left is more intellectually honest in their analyses of the situation, but then again, they have had the numbers in their favor for the last year. Statistician and election prognosticator Nate Silver has been a target of the Right lately because his model has consistently been predicting an Electoral College win for President Obama. Currently, his model is forecasting an 85% chance of President Obama winning the Electoral College. Do I think that Barack Obama is an 85% favorite in this race? I’d say that’s aggressive, but it’s very difficult to argue that he is not the favorite.

When you are winning an argument, you don’t need to jump up and down to mke your points. You usually just need to calmly recite the facts. Silver has done exactly that over the past few days and in the process has made a very convincing case for an upcoming Obama victory. The key to the Obama victory is what has been called his “Electoral College Firewall,” comprised of Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and/or Nevada. The theory in a few sentences: in the week and a half after the first debate, Mitt Romney caught up in Colorado and Virginia and took a narrow lead in Florida, but his gains were not enough to overtake Obama in enough states to win the Electoral College. The easiest path for Mitt Romney to flip this result are winning either Ohio or Wisconsin, and Iowa or Nevada. Even with a win in Ohio or Minnesota, he’s not guaranteed victory unless he can hold Virginia and Florida (and in some scenarios Colorado). 

Obama’s Firewall

October 22nd, 2012

Sometimes I lag a little and someone writes the article I wanted to write. This Sunday was one of those days, when I awoke to John Cassidy’s article in the New Yorker. So I am writing the original post I wanted to write and stealing Cassidy’s graphic (above). Without any further ado…

It’s hard to overstate the damage Barack Obama sustained in the aftermath of his no show debate performance a few weeks ago. He basically ceded all of his post convention bounce and then some. Romney now has narrow but real leads in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia and has pulled even in Colorado. There is some evidence that the race has begun to stabilize, but it’s too early to speculate on whether Obama will be able to roll back those gains.

Still, amidst the bad news is a ray of sunshine for the president: For now at least, he has been able to maintain what amounts t0 a firewall in three to four states that give him a lead in the the Electoral College. Let’s assume that the President can’t count on North Carolina, Florida, Virginia or Colorado, but give him Pennslyvania. In this scenario, the most likely path to 270 for the President is through the states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and/or Nevada.

The lynchpin of this firewall is Ohio, where President Obama has maintained a solid lead over Mitt Romney for the last year. In the few weeks after the first debate, Mitt Romney has made inroads on the seven point deficit he faced, but President Obama still holds a 2% lead in the Real Clear Politics average.

The Real Mitt Romney

October 21st, 2012

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I’m having a long and heated debate with my  conservative uncle about whether the result of the election will be solely determined by the two questions “is the economy good” and “who do you think would do a better job of managing the economy?” He, of course, believes the latter, while I maintain that this is a much more complex decision driven by many varied factors. More on that later, but I want to focus on one factor that clearly still matters which is “which guy do you want in your living room for the next four years.”

Check out James Lipton on how Romney reminds you of “the  kind of boss with whom you never feel comfortable or sure of yourself.” This is a brilliant insight into the way that Mitt Romney came off during that debate, and more importantly, what it reveals about his character. Chris Matthews said that “Romney is the guy on the plane who won’t turn his cell phone off.” Charles Pierce cut even closer. Referring to Romney’s jaw dropping, “You’ll get your chance, I’m speaking now” comment:

To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment’s sleep… Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I’ve certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He’s lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose.

Obama Bounces Back

October 20th, 2012

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Great summary of the Obama-Romney debate from Chuck Todd on the Daily Rundown.

Todd notes that, if the debate ended at 10:10 Eastern Time, then it would have been called a draw, but then came the exchange on Benghazi. You could see Romney thinking that he had the president cornered when he said that he never called it a terror attack, but Obama was cool as a cucumber. Didn’t take the bait at all. He just said “Please proceed Governor Romney…”  Romney should have known something was up, but kept going.

Then Candy Crowley fact checked him right on the spot and Obama amplified it with “Can you say that a little louder Candy?”

Republican Schizophrenia on Middle East Policy

October 20th, 2012

Here’s a Jon Stewart riff from a couple of weeks ago on the hypocrisy of Republicans using the death of the Ambassador in Libya as a reason to attack Obama’s foreign policy.

Republican critiques of Middle East policy are actually more complex than just the usual Republican hypocrisy in that they get to the heart of a real rift in the Republican party on Middle East Policy. On the one hand, you have what we might want call the “The Arabs Only Understand Force” Republicans–the people who believe that the solution to almost every problem is military force and the threat of military force. These people want to play a version of Cold War era global chess with the Middle East, supporting our dictator friends and deposing the others. They don’t give a shit about democratization and many of them believe that the Arabs can’t handle the freedom. On the other hand, we have the neo-cons, who think that the key to our security in the Abab world lies in allowing these countries to democratize. The theory here is that democracy and freedom lead to economic growth, and economic growth leads to stability, and stability leads to less terrorism which leads to our security. Whether that is actually true is the central question of the Middle East for the next few decades and a topic for another day.

The problem with Republicans under Obama is that they are so mixed up that they constantly shift from one pole to another. This is what allows Republicans who scoffed at Democratic arguments that we should get rid of George W. Bush when he invaded the wrong country, Al Qaeda rushed in and fanned the flames of a sectarian war and 100,000 people died, but have the temerity to say that Obama’s Middle East policy is a failure because of an attack on our embassy and protests across the Middle East. A few weeks ago, my conservative uncle, who was an ardent Bush supporter eight years ago, actually tried to make the argument that Obama should be voted out because “the Middle East is in flames” and people are protesting against our embassies after Obama said that everyting would be better after he was elected. I pointed out that he is suffering from the same short term memory that so many of his fellow Republicans seem to be experiencing these days.

Moderate Mitt

October 15th, 2012

Gotta love Bill Clinton.

Joe Biden Opens Up a Can on Paul Ryan

October 15th, 2012

 

Joe Biden was on fire Thursday night.

Lots of debate on whether or not he was inappropriate or rude, but I think it’s hard to argue that he was not effective. Biden dominated the debate, refusing to let Ryan sanctimoniously lecture on the inadequacies of the Obama record and laughing not only at the blows that he tried to land, but at Ryan’s whole persona and the persona of Mitt Romney as well. Obviously this was a tactical decision on Team Obama’s part, and it has roots in the historical messaging of the campaign.

Early on in the campaign, Obama’s campaign had to make a decision on whether to attack Mitt Romney for the far right positions that he took throughout his 6 year campaign for the presidency, or on his historical habit of changing his positions depending on what office he was running for. They chose the former and, aside from destroying the contention that he was a “job creator,” their campaign was mostly about the extreme positions that Romney had based his campaign on to date. Team Obama knew that this was never an either/or choice, because if Romney started to move towards “Moderate Mitt,” they could always go back to the flip-flopper charge.

Just before Romney locked up the Republican nomination, top advisor Eric Fehrnstrom noted that once a nominee locked up the nomination, it represented a reset for the campaign, sort of like shaking up an Etch-a-Sketch. Most people assumed that this, in fact, would be Romney’s strategy.   What most people underestimated was how much the far right prevented Romney from moving to the center. This was made evident in August when Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul dared to mention Romney’s Masachussets health care reform in a positive light and the right wing threw a three stage hissy fit. Ann Coulter even demanded that Andrea Saul be fired for daring to suggest that Romney’s major accomplishment as governor could be seen positively. Given these constraints placed on him by his own party, it was perhaps understandable that Romney would not be able to move effectively to the center, but I think the Obama campaign was surprised how Romney neglected to even try.

Obama’s Debate Performance Erases Post-Convention Bounce

October 11th, 2012

Yikes!

A week later, Nate Silver on how post debate polls show that Obama basically erased his convention bump with his no- show at the debate last week.

Lot’s of hard work gone to waste because the guy decided to phone it in.

Plenty of time to turn things around,  but it needs to start now. The Pres can’t afford another week like the last one.

What He Said

October 11th, 2012

This is the best expression I’ve seen of the frustration most Obama supporters feel after Obama’s no-show at the debate last week. If you want the humor first, start with this one.

Debate Serves As Wake Up Call for Obama

October 7th, 2012

Like a lot of other Democrats, I spent Wednesday night yelling at the TV while watching President Obama debate Mitt Romney. Explanations for his performance abound, but I think it mostly comes down to complacency on the campaign and especially on Obama’s part. 

The President has been leading in enough swing states to win the election for over a year, got a very nice bump coming out of the convention, and the country has spent the past three months watching Mitt Romney self-immolate with a series of unforced errors.  When Jon Stewart recently did a bit on how Romney had seemed to get dumber as the election progressed, his audience cheered wildly. Stewart interrupted them to say “Really? Is that how you want to win this thing? The other guy tears his ACL?” That didn’t seem far from the truth, as a bruising Republican primary in which he sold himself out over and over, a brilliant negative Obama media campaign that destroyed his business record, and gaffe after gaffe, increasingly made Romney seem like an unviable alternative.

Given this set of circumstances, it’s understandable that the Obama campaign would have a conservative strategy in the debates, but that still doesn’t explain the many missed opportunities, the total lack of a strategy to tie the individual policy details they were arguing about into a coherent theme and the general lack of enthusiasm the President showed for being there. What it most reminded me of was George W. Bush’s first debate with John Kerry, when President Bush mostly seemed annoyed that he had to be there. His attitude was something like: I’ve been working my ass off here, making the tough decisions of governing this country while you’ve been running around doing nothing but complaining for a year and a half. I’m the president. Do I really need to explain myself to you? The answer, of course, is “yes.” No matter how lacking in credibility the challenger is, we still expect the President to defend his record voiciferously and with energy, like his job depends on it. Because it might.

To use a boxing analogy, Obama had Romney on the ropes before this debate and could have gone for the knockout punch. Instead, he danced around the ring, playing mostly defense, hoping to win on points. Meanwhile, Romney fought as if his political life depended on it, because it did. If the Obama team thought this was a viable strategy before, you can bet they don’t anymore.

Wonk in Chief Demolishes Romney-Ryan

September 9th, 2012

The Democrats wrapped up an amazing Convention last week, but the best speaker by far was former President Bill Clinton. In a speech that was remarkably full of wonky policy details (someone on Twitter refered to it as ”45 minutes of wonk porn” and Ezra Klein dubbed him the Wonk in Chief),  Clinton dismantled the case for a Romney-Ryan Presidency piece by piece.

He spoke about Democratic vs. Republican economic philosophies and economic records:

We Democrats, we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it, with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. You see, we believe that “We’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “You’re on your own.”

So who’s right? Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private- sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans: twenty-four million. Democrats: forty-two.